William Hone to John Childs, 3 February, 1819

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William Hone to John Childs, 3 February, 1819.1-TEI-

Ludgate Hill,

3rd. Feb. 1819.
My dear Sir,

Yesterday I could not get off the Notes on account of a spurt which ran us out before I was aware of it — to-day you have £2 worth enclosed.

Your kind offer of prospectus-using I most thankfully embrace; indeed, such have been my troubles of the brain that if I fail in my undertaking, it would not be wonderful to myself.

Could I be persuaded of realising something like certainty for my wife, and be assured that my children would be so placed in the world as to give her no uneasiness for their fate, I could pass with cheerfulness to 'where the weary are at rest and where the wicked cease from troubling.'2 Perhaps water drinking and sunshine and good digestion, and a conscience void of offence towards God and man, may dispel some of the perilous stuff about my heart, and yet it has increased on me of late till sense has nearly suffocated—I feel that my mind is not as it ought to be, I am very miserable and for want of a friend to sympathise with, carry about my burden unseen and in silence.

Old De Foe is a man after my own heart, respecting whom and his works I know more, perhaps, than any other living admirer of him—his 'Jure Divino' is indeed a famous old book, and yet I fear would not (I wish it would) bear re-printing.3

I dined at John Hunt's on Sunday with Mr. Hazlitt, for whose work on the prospectus I have just concluded a bargain, and given Mr. Creery this morning copy to begin with4 — Hazlitt is a De Foeite.

The affair of the Bible prosecutions instituted by Strahan & Spottiswoode, King's printers, might be made of great service to the booksellers. I am morally certain that by firm co-operation and stout attack, the patent might be thrown open.5 —The Booksellers' Committee meet and enquire, and enquire and meet, and will make a Report which will end in smoke.

My wife presents her respects to Mrs. Childs. I am rather late for the mail.

I am, My dear Sir
Yours most truly,
W. Hone

Mr. John Childs.

Hackwood, pp. 211-12. For a detailed, contextual reading of this letter, see the "Conversation" on the early friendship of Hone and Childs. [return]
The lines, slightly misquoted, make up the refrain from Henry Hart Milman's "Burial Hymn." [return]
For further commentary on both Childs's and Hone's interest in Defoe, see the Introduction to Hone's edition of The Right Divine of Kings to Govern Wrong!.
The persons mentioned here are John Hunt (brother of Leigh Hunt and co-publisher of The Examiner), William Hazlitt (essayist and political writer; Hone would publish Hazlitt's Political Essays, with Sketches of Public Characters later in 1819), and John McCreary (sometimes "McCreery" or "M'Creery" or just "Creery"; a printer and long-time friend of Hone's). [return]
The reference here is to contoversy regarding the bible-publishing patent in England. Publication of the Bible was restricted to just three presses: the "King's Printer," Oxford, and Cambridge. Many—especially among the dissenters—were unhappy with this state monopoly and both Hone (with his Apocryphal New Testament in 1820) and Childs (with his court testimony and principled stand against the Church Rates in the 1830s) were to take active roles in challenging that patent. [return]
William Hone. Date: 2014-03-16