William Hone to Dr. Thomas Raffles, 6 November, 1829

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

William Hone to Dr. Thomas Raffles, 6 November, 1829.1-TEI-

Angel Inn Liverpool

6 November 1829.

I came hither ten days ago solely for the purpose expressed in the accompanying paper, which I hoped to accomplish in Liverpool.2 You will see by the names that I have succeeded to a very small extent, and as my views are baffled I am just on the eve of leaving. Reflecting, however, on the possibility of a remaining chance your name occurred to me,3 for you honored me with an albumizing[?] visit for a few minutes in London some years ago, and I just venture to state briefly how I am circumstanced.

Since arriving at Liverpool I have moved privately and quietly among a few gentlemen who I informed of my object by degrees, and they expected, and led me to expect, that all I desired would be compleated in this town, and indeed except a pressing call on one gentleman at Manchester whom I know there is no other town I have thought of going to. But I find the endeavours I have made here are crippled by a prevailing presumption, that I am just what some newspapers a dozen years ago represented me to be, and all that I have written of a different nature goes for nothing, inasmuch as what I have written has not been read.4 Persons who hold this notion are too well bred and too insincere to tell me this personally, and therefore I have not been afforded an opportunity, if I had even the inclination, to attempt dispersion of these aspersing ideas. Whether even you may not be thus inclined to think of me I know not, but at all events, I hazard conjecture that you may be better informed, and that, at least, you may have some acquaintance with the "Every Day Book," wherein you must have perceived my earnest exertions to socialize the feelings of my readers, which I aimed at amusing and informing their minds.

What I am now writing is the result of a sudden thought after a sleepless night. If you have even the inclination you may not have the courage to see me after the statement of the difficulties I have mentioned. Yet there may, & indeed, I think there must be enlightened & opulent persons in your connexion, to whom perhaps you could make known my situation -- and to you and them I should be most happy to state how I have been brought into that situation, and why I have elected to forgo the use of my pen for an occupation apparently foreign to my inclinations. I should have no difficulty in making money were I to prostitute my powers by vitiating or pandering to the frivolities of the public taste and could I stoop to expediency I could carry from Liverpool the sum I desire. I cannot consent to live, or to be served, on terms that would rot my heart.

Time urges me to conclude, by saying, that if you can excuse this abrupt intrusion, & allow me to extenuate it by the exigency of the moment, and if you think you can render me a substantial benefit, a line by the bearer will bring me to you immediately. If otherwise, be pleased to return this letter, & the paper enclosed, by his hands. In either case I shall remain, as I am,

Yours most respectfully,
W Hone

[Addressed:] Dr. Thomas Raffles.

Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Shelfmark: HM 7196. [return]
Hone spent several weeks in late 1829 travelling to Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and other towns hoping to raise enough money to enable him to open his proposed coffeehouse, The Grasshopper. [return]
Thomas Raffles (1788-1863) was an influential Congregational minister as well as an avid antiquarian and autograph and manuscript collector. His collections are now held in the John Rylands University Library in Manchester. [return]
In the years after his 1817 trials and (especially) after his 1820 publication of the Apocryphal New Testament, Hone was frequently vilified in the press as a malicious anti-Christian. This characterization was not accurate, but it dogged Hone for the rest of his life, even after his late-life conversion. Clearly, Hone saw his anti-Christian reputation as undermining the success of his antiquarian publications. [return]
William Hone. Date: 2014-04-15