A philanthropist. John Howard is immortalised by his efforts to improve the condition of prisoners. “He visited all Europe,” says Burke, “not to survey the sumptuousness of palaces or the stateliness of temples; not to make accurate measurements of the remains of ancient grandeur, nor to form a scale of the curiosity of modern art; not to collect manuscripts—but to dive into the depths of dungeons; to plunge into the infection of hospitals; to survey the mansions of sorrow and pain; to take the dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt; to remember the forgotten; to attend to the neglected; to visit the forsaken, and to compare the distress of all men in all countries. His plan is original, and it is as full of genius as it is of humanity. It was a voyage of discovery; a circumnavigation of charity.” (John Howard, 1726-1790.)
“The radiant path that Howard trod to Heaven.”
What could ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards? Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.
What will “all the blood of all the Howards” say to Mr. Walter Rye who, in his History of Norfolk (1885), tells us that “Howard is from hog-ward,” and that the original Howards were so called from their avocation, which was to tend the pigs.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894