Samuel Butler to William Hone, 6 or 7 October, 1824

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

Samuel Butler to William Hone, 6 or 7 October, 1824.1-TEI-

Note: [Butler's secretary:] The original was so cut about & the draft had evidently given Dr. B. so much trouble that I destroyed it.

to Mr. W. Hone
45 Ludgate hill, London
Oct. 6 or 7. 1824.

I should be wanting not only common civility but in feelings of a much higher & better nature if I deferred to thank you for the very courteous & candid letter which accompanied the small packet I was favoured with from you last night.2

The sentiments which you so well & feelingly express are in unison with the best sympathies in our nature, & I give you full credit for sincerity. I shall therefore deal very plainly & perhaps at some length with you in reference to your letter.

I must premise that if I had taken offence at anything you had said in your pamphlet, I could niether have so long retained it, or in any case could have remained offended after the letter I yesterday received from you. But I assure you I never felt offence. I was quite aware that a man who throws stones must not expect his enemy to throw him roses in return, and had you spoken more harshly than you did I shall still have felt no animosity—in fact I think I see in all you have said a wish to have said less. & something more than mere absence of personal hostility.

With regard to what you say respecting the quotations from Mr Justice Bayley's prayer book.3 To be perfectly explicit with you, I read the little sentence which heads the two columns of the Apostle's Creed on page 73. I did not read the preliminary matter on page 72 & if I had (& I admit I ought to have done so) I trust you will believe that I never should have made such a statement as that which you have justly corrected.

With regard to Jones it would be to my advantage to let you suppose that I had not his books. It was in my library and I ought to have turned to it, but his Codex Apocryphus was on my table, & I never thought of looking to translations.

I certainly had heard that another person had translated & rendered into verses the tracts you published & had assisted you with the preface. I believed this then, but am now fully persuaded by your statement to the contrary. I neither know nor have ever heard who is your reviewer in the Quarterly. People who live so almost entirely at a distance from the metropolis as I do lose a good deal of that literary gossip which Londoners are continually hearing.

And now, Sir, I am sure you will not think I mean to offend you if I say with the frankness which your letter deserves, that after having read both your pamphlets I see no ground to alter my opinions as the the mischievous tendency of the publication which has originally brought us into communication, though I see much ground to alter the opinions I had formed of your character & sentiments. The book in the form in which it is published still appears to me calculated to do much harm, & I see no counteraction to that mischief in the preface or headings to the various tracts. The reader is left in a state of doubt & uncertainty likely to create doubt & uncertainty as to the authenticity of the genuine books, in the minds of uneducated persons, or of persons of some education, whose notions are unsettled. It may be a convenient text book in the hands of designing men to unhinge the belief of those who are easily led to adopt the conclusions of others in order to save themselves the trouble of thinking.

Whether these consequences were clearly before you at the moment of your publication, or whether you intended it merely as an annoyance to your political opponents, among whom you particularly included the clergy of the established church, is not for me to say, but I will say that I do not believe you would now publish such a work with such a spirit, or that you view the publication with pure & unmixed satisfaction.

For you avow yourself a Christian, & your letter is written in a tone which forbids my doubting your assertion. What your peculiar religious opinions may be I have neither the right nor the wish to ask. They are probably materially different from mine, but I have not the slightest wish to make you a proselyte & only send the little book that accompanies this letter4 as a means of conveying to you my sentiments on an important point of practical Christianity, and at the same time of offering you a little acknowledgement for your courtesies and a token of good will. You will, I hope, accept it as such, and believe me to be, Sir,

Your sincere well-wisher
& obed't Serv't
S Butler
The Venerable
The Archdeacon Butler.
British Library, Add. MS 34585, ff. 378-80. This document appears to be a secretary's transcription of a letter sent to Hone. (See headnote by the secretary at the top of the letter.) [return]
Butler refers to Hone's letter of 5 October accompanying a pre-publication copy his pamphlet, "Another Article for the Quarterly Review." [return]
The reference is certainly to Justice John Bayley's Book of Common Prayer, with Notes on the Epistles (1813)[return].
Butler's secretary adds a note: "No doubt 'the little book' above mentioned was the Sermon on Christian Liberty, already mentioned." [return]
Samuel Butler. Date: 2014-02-20