Joseph Hone to William Hone, 23 October, 1823: An Electronic Edition

[1780-1818] - [1818-1824] - [1825-1832] - [1832-1842] - Hone Correspondence

Joseph Hone to William Hone, 23 October, 1823.1-TEI-

40, Chancery Lane;

23d October, 1823.

You have called my attention to the following passage in the circular,2 which to my great regret has lately appeared in some public newspapers, namely, "So far is Mr. Hone from adopting his brother's religious or political opinions, that he actually abandoned his society after having made the most affectionate and earnest, though unavailing protests against his proceedings." You consider that this passage is open to the construction, that I abandoned your society in consequence of irreligious opinions, or conduct on your part, during the time we were associated; you ask me to explain that part of the circular which I do the more readily on account of the anxiety you express concerning it.

In our former familiar conversations, you have sometimes questioned parts of the text of the Old and New Testament, and controverted certain doctrines; this led to the differences which usually arise on discussions between persons of opposite theological principles: however, I did not understand you to reject Christianity, or to deny or impugn the genuineness or authenticity of the Old or New Testament as a whole. Since your Trials, numerous imputations of irreligion have, as you are aware, been publicly urged against you; but, if it be inferred that, as your brother, and from my private knowledge of your sentiments on religious subjects, during our intercourse within that period, I knew those imputations to be true, the inference is erroneous; yet your silence under them for the last three years or more, induced me, in common with many other persons, to conclude that you admitted the charge, and hence, during the latter period, I have abstained from having any further intercourse with you, although my brotherly regards were far, very far, from being extinguished.

I have thus made a short point of my explanation, instead of going into the subject or minutiæ.

I would now add a few words to this, which is, probably, nearly the last letter which I shall have occasion to write to you before I leave England, preparing, as I am, to depart ere long for a very distant part of the world; I anticipate with, I assure you, the keenest sensations, the moment when I shall have to say farewell to you for, at least, some years: as future events are wisely kept from our knowledge, it may, possibly, prove a final parting in reference to this world; and at such a time it is my heart's desire that we, who are the children of the same parents, should take leave as brethren, each, as he hopes for forgiveness from the Father of Mercies, frankly forgiving the other every wrong that he may consider his brother to have done him in any way whatever. This will afford peace of mind to both, and, though personally far apart, we may yet remain one in heart and affection, and if preserved to meet again in this life, which I earnestly pray may be the case, I trust that each may learn that the other has been walking in the path of rectitude, and reaped the full reward of honourable conduct. The immense distance at which, in a few months, we shall be placed from each other, will prevent either of us from practically ministering to the necessities, if any, mental or pecuniary, of the other; nevertheless, one thing may be done,—we may entreat him who has been our Protector from our infancy to manhood, to further us with his continual help, and thus be assured of weathering every storm.

Before I close my letter, I would remark, that it has hitherto been my most studious endeavour to avoid every thing that might have the semblance of an attack upon your character or reputation, and I much regret that the diction of the circular should be liable to have such a construction upon it, or be considered in that light by yourself or your friends, as I can truly affirm that it was never so intended. Of course I have had my own opinion of the nature and tendency of your public acts, nor have I concealed that opinion at such times as it became necessary for me to avow it, though even then I did not forget our near relationship, nor could it possibly have escaped attention, that, on these occasions a brother's feelings were creating a painful conflict in my mind.

Numerous arrangements for my departure have unavoidably prevented me from writing to you ere this; and, in conclusion, I would express a hope, that nothing I have said will be deemed by you as recrimination: that is far from my intention. Neither have I ventured to offer any thing in the shape of advice, as it might be deemed surplusage and obtrusive: you know my heart and views, and I think that I know your's;—each may therefore conclude what would be the counsel of the other; and, if there be a reciprocal determination to continue to act with truth and integrity, we and our families must ultimately be benefited, and our happiness and their's will be promoted and secured.

Believe me,
My dear William,
Your ever affectionate Brother,
Published in Aspersions Answered (1824), pp. 10-12. [return]
The "circular" is an open letter signed by three associates of Joseph Hone that describes the professional difficulties that have beset Joseph on account of the reputation for blasphemy of his brother William. The letter was eventually published—by whom is not clear—in an effort to collect enough money to help Joseph Hone and his family emigrate to "Van Diemen's Land" (present Tasmania). [return]
Joseph Hone. Date: 2014-03-25