William Hone to John Childs, 24 April, 1826 — An Electronic Edition

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William Hone to John Childs, 24 April, 1826.1-TEI-

24 April, 1826
My Childs,

2My family is thrust out from Ludgate Hill and I am in the Rules of the Kings Bench Prison. From the moment I found my affairs irretrievable which was within two hours after I was arrested (it being made plain to me by my solicitor and I had not dreamed it before) I worked like a horse to put the "Every Day Book" beyond the reach of destruction by transferring it to Messrs. Hunt and Clarke, in trust, for my Creditors, & [two words][?] out of my power, or the power of any one man to touch in preference to another. All was removed into their warehouse in a few hours, & my papers secured, with the books necessary to conduct the work, and I was transferred hither, after writing a No. in the lock up house, since when I got out last weeks, arranged the Index to make the first volume an immediately productive asset, & have just the proofs from the printers which when read will go to press.

But my family are in great distress. My wife and six of the children, as I am informed, sleep in one room of my father's house whither they ran for shelter when executions came in. I went to prison, with 3/6 in my pocket, a week before my daughter Fanny was to have been married—this state of affairs rendered it necessary to defer that, but it can be deferred no longer without more than the risk, I may add with the certainty, of the match being off and my poor girl being deserted and heart-broken. That step therefore is indispensible immediately for the sake of her future happiness. It could even have taken place at the time first appointed if [I] had possessed the means of raising Ten pounds to clothe her—my sudden destitution & the necessity under the exigency, of my resigning all power to reach a single shilling, deprived me of the [best? least?] ability, and now, that, for the reason I have stated, the day is fixed for next Saturday she must go to her future home, without under-linen, or other than the gown she has on her back, exposed to the derision of her husband's family, who by their jeers at my downfall, & remonstrances against the marriage have nearly swayed him from it; & also subject to the chance of his contempt under such circumstances of harrassing from his friends. He is an honest & worthy young man, but the poor fellow has been nearly worried out of his life, and though he will be able to maintain her, yet in expending his little all in providing a humble home for her, it cannot be expected that a [demand] on her part for clothing would contribute towards an outfit of happiness if it were even in his power to comply with it. It is not, and therefore the anticipation we all have is that her marriage will be embittered in the outset. In this state of things, & not knowing to whom to fly, I represent the facts to you, with the hope that you may find it in your means & disposition to aid me with the means of obviating the condition wherein she will appear on her wedding day & afterwards. They are absolute necessaries that she is in want of—for I should be ashamed of myself if in my present circumstances she were to appear otherwise than accomodated to them.3

It is not possible, I think, that my creditors will refuse the proposition that will be submitted to them generally, & to which those who have been already seen have assented, for the continuation of the "Every Day Book," and employing me, under Trustees, at such a rate as shall barely maintain the family on the smallest weekly allowance until I have satisfied them in full—it is my wish & will be my endeavour to do it, & nothing short of being allowed to make that endeavour, & pay them 2'of in the £ will satisfy me. To remove all suspicion that I might desire the benefit, as it is called, of the Insolvent Court, I have forborne entering the prison walls, which is a requisite enjoined by the law before a debtor can petition for relief. Bankruptcy seems altogether out of the question. It would be the best thing for me, & the worst for my creditors, & as I am willing to work for them, at the price of a bare existence, they will scarcely reject the offer. Either way I should be enabled4 to repay the money. If the arrangement I see takes place I would liquidate it by a pound a month—if Bankruptcy ensued, it is not possible to confine my pen & I should be enabled to repay it, probably earlier. You will enter into my feelings, I think, as a father, & if I could here state all the particulars that render it desirable, you would see that they are more strong than you will imagine from what I have written.

I know not whether Mr. John Childs be at home, but I direct so as for this to be opened by either him or Mr. Robert Childs, and to both, or either, I say I shall highly value the obligation if both, or either, can confer it. My direction (and on account of similar numbers in the street it is necessary to be precise) is "Mr Hone at Mr Poole's, Tobacconist No 2 Great Suffolk Street, opposite the Old Windsor Castle, Borough, London." Though I have even lacked necessaries, I mean meals, since I have been here, I have not made known that I had not wherewithal to obtain them, for I am not a beggar. Had I been dishonest to my creditors I should not have been in want, &, as it is, I am as above the meanness of a begging letter, as I am of appropriating a farthing of the money. I now speak of to other than my child's use.

I am Dear Childs
Yours sincerely
W Hone

[Letter addressed:]
Mr. Childs
Bungay, Suffolk

British Library, Add. MS 40856, ff. 25-26. [return]
Hone's letter fills up three undivided sheets in a smaller hand than usual. The paragraph divisions below are inserted by the editor for the sake of easier on-screen reading. [return]
Whether by Childs' assistance or not is not clear, but the wedding between Fanny Hone and Thomas Hemsley took place on 29 April, 1826, attended by (at least) William Hone and his daughter Matilda. [return]
possibly "unable"?, though the "d" is rather prominent. [return]
William Hone. Date: 2014-04-02