William Hone to Francis Jeffrey, 5 November, 1823: An Electronic Edition

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William Hone to Francis Jeffrey, 5 November, 1823.1-TEI-

Francis Jeffrey, Esq.


Accidentally mentioning to a friend who knows the injustice of the imputation referred to in the annexed letter that I should contradict it in a public refutation of certain Tory calmunies under which I conceive I have too long remained silent, he insisted on the propriety of my addressing you in preference. This being the first time I think that my name has appeared in the Edinburgh Review there is a seeming of hostility in coupling me with infamy and though it would be grateful to me that the Review should rectify its own mistake yet unless you oblige me by a line through the Post office intimating the probablility I shall despair of such correction. The kindness of that intimation will give me sincere pleasure. I solemnly assure you that the charge is wholly unfounded nor can I conceive cause for the attack but if you desire explanation of any point connected with the subject you shall have it without reserve.2

I am, Sir,
Most respectfully
Your mo. ob. Servt
W Hone

5 Nov. 1823

Note: [On the verso of this draft is a thoroughly edited and then lined-through draft of a letter "To the Editor of the Edinburgh Review" which was likely going to be the "public refutation" Hone mentions in his draft to Jeffrey. Immediately below this short draft is the following:]

Extract from Edinburgh Review
We see no reason for congratulating the friends of public honour or public morals in the fact that Hone or Benbow is enriched with the spoils of Moore or Byron. Fame is very good as garnish, but something more immediate is required. The literary thief knows he cannot be indicted; himself a pauper, he laughs at the damages of an action; & it must be an odd book indeed, of a popular nature, from which a doubt, which some possible chancellor may not think reasonable may be extracted.3

British Library, Add. MS 40120, ff. 200. [return]
Hone's objection to the Review's "coupling [him] with infamy" is a reference to the linking of Hone and William Benbow, a notorious pirate publisher (see the postscript below). Jeffrey replied to Hone's note on 8 November 1823 (Add. MS 40120, f. 201). The reply is warm and diplomatic; Jeffrey thanks Hone for his note and says that he has referred the matter to the author of the article in question. He hopes to have some resolution soon. The refutation (which Hone copied out in his own hand—Add. MS 40120 f. 212) appeared in the Edinburgh Review in February, 1824, p. 501:

"In our Number for last May, p. 306, there is a passage which imputes to Mr Hone a piracy of Mr Moore's poems. Upon inquiry, we find that there is not the least ground for such an imputation. It is of no consequence now to explain how the author of that passage was led into the error; but is no more than justice to Mr Hone to state, that the result of a very diligent investigation has been to satisfy us, not only that he is perfectly free from blame as to the publication, but that, in the whole course of his professional dealings, he has conducted himself with the most unimpeachable fairness and propriety." [return]
The quotation can be found in the Edinburgh Review, May, 1823, p. 306. [return]
William Hone. Date: 2014-03-26