John Childs to William Hone, 15 January, 1821

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John Childs to William Hone, 15 January, 1821.1-TEI-

15 Jany 1821
Dear Hone,

The Job was done admirably & it has succeeded beyond expectation, but I hope you have prevented the possibility of its being traced—did you have the MSS copied? they (the parties here) will spare no pains to come at it & they have access by one means or other to all Printing offices—2 I send you a piece of your Son's first composition—which in imitation of the Great Black Dwarf he composed without copy & I suppose is as easy to be understood.3 & would be quite as effectual if passed into a Law as any New Bill which the fools and knaves will project—

We are very sorry to learn that you do not intend to come to see us, as your emphatical "I have said it!!" as we were parting in London led me confidently to anticipate the pleasure of your company.

I am really glad to find you have turned your attention to Defoe—you cannot find a finer Subject, and there is no person extant who could make it turn to so good account.4 You say the Devil is assisting Wilberforce & Derry-Down. I send you a portrait of the first of these great Statesmen, taken on the [one word][?] & looking down on the peace festival in this town, with all the regret & chagrin incident to his loss of occupation at the Close of the War, it was most likely at this period, & under the reflections which he appears to be laboring under, that he came to the determination to assist with all his mighty power in furthering the plans of his two present worthy associates.

When you publish these little things I wish it were compatible with your hurried & active life to think of me & send abt 20— I rec'd the following from a friend the other day on the subject of the Liturgy, "Why don't the Bishops set their heads to work [to] remodel all the Book of Common Prayer (Perhaps they're waiting till the Duke of York bc King: he now is the presumptive Heir) as Bishop he might [help] the holy Book (of Business on this earth he has his share) Oh! happy man! to whom such hopes are given the Kingdom of great Britain & of Heaven.

I was a little surprised at your comments abt William, as I can assure you with the same truth, which I should hope any friend would speak to me of my Children, that the Boy has behaved himself extremely well since he has been here, and I had remarked that I thought him an excellent tempered Boy. There may be a little humor abt him which wants restraining but I confess I do not think enough character to be dreaded, has developed itself which ought to cause you or his Mother any uneasiness—.

We have just got another letter of Dreyer's proscribing a Man from their society for illuminating.5 We shall print it for the benefit of Clergy but there is no subscription wanted. Brightly went fairly into the Vortex of Loyalty on Saturday, by dining & meeting a party of ultras at Dreyer's House!! — I am sorry for this as time you see is no security against Defection——

I hope Brewer will be patient (which I think he is, & you will then I hope have no real regrets abt the Boy — Give our Kind respect to the Good Wife, & believe me Dr Hone

Yrs faithfully,
John Childs
Ogden MSS, 73(3), f. 11. [return]
Exactly what "Job" Childs refers to here is unclear. One might speculate that it has something to do with the manuscript letter from Rev. Dreyer that Childs enclosed in his letter to Hone in early December, but it is quite likely that no concrete evidence survives. Clearly Childs and Hone were working together to forward some cause that required a degree of secresy. [return]
This letter was written on a printed sheet; across the bottom of the sheet is an example of Hone's son William's first efforts on the printing press. Young William (b. 1807) had recently begun an informal apprenticeship in Childs's printing office, and, as the facsimile image shows, he was practicing the craft without worrying about actual English words. (Interestingly, a section called "A Nondescript" from Hone's Slap at Slop and the Bridge Street Gang (1821) has a similar "text" made up of seemingly random characters.) The joking reference to the "Black Dwarf" is to T. J. Wooler, who sometimes composed directly onto a compositor's stick rather than working from a manuscript copy (see A Verbatim Report of the Two Trials of T. J. Wooler [London: T. J. Wooler, 1817] p. 17). [return]
Hone had recently turned his attention to a revision of Defoe's Jure Divino (1706). The revision, entitled The Right Divine of Kings to Govern Wrong, would be published in mid-March of 1821. [return]
For the background on Dreyer see letter from Childs to Hone, 7 December 1820, n. 2. The person mentioned in the next sentence is Charles Brightly, the Bungay printer who established a printing office—joined in 1805 by John Childs—that eventually became "Childs and Son" of Bungay. [return]
John Childs. Date: 2014-03-21