William Hone to William Behnes, 2 June, 1830

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

William Hone to William Behnes, 2 June, 1830. 1-TEI-

13 Gracechurch Street
2 June 1830
My dear Sir

Generally speaking no one knows better than you the afflicting struggles I have made for my family, and the difficulties of my situation for the last five years. You are not however so well acquainted with what I have lately endured — I mean in the course of the last year.

Before Christmas last I had a dawn of hope and in the early part of the year my prospects brightened into day. Now, however, "evening shades prevail," and I shall be lost in thick darkness unless friendly and unknown hands are stretched forth to my aid.

The printed statement accompanying this2 will inform you somewhat of particulars — but to you I make this important disclosure, that, unless instant assistance be obtained, to fourfold the extent that appears to the present day, towards our immediate exigency, all that has been laid out on these premises, every effort that has been made, will be valueless, and I shall have the additional misery of being involved in debt and inextricable ruin. Since Christmas £840 have been expended in getting the place ready — the expenses exceeded the estimates — three months have elapsed, during which the house has been in a state fit to open, but could not be opened for want of funds for numerous requisites, and during that three months, Rent, Taxes, living-charges &c have increased.

Every private channel had been exhausted before Mr. Southey's generous notice of my lost labours occasioned the correspondence between us, which with his permission has been made public for the express purpose of disclosing the circumstances we are in, and affording the readers of the works he favored, an opportunity of assisting their author and his family. They do not however seem alive to the appeal. All admire the Every Day Book, every family it has gone into is recreated and benefited by it, and few, very few have stepped forth to help me "in my utmost need." This is the last effort I can make in life for a standing place in the world. There must be hearts with among so many who have purses — if not, I have written in vain. I know that my book has largely made its way among the opulent — if they feel not what I have written, then, I say, I have written in vain. I am heartsore with striving for a little of "the mammon of unrighteousness" to complete the means which will enable my family by industry and attention to obtain a comfortable maintenance. For three months the cup has been close to our lips — our hands have not strength to raise it to our taste.

So, my dear friend, I earnestly conjure you, seek out some generous natures whom you can interest at this crisis of our fate. My head is too distracted at this moment to write let me write coolly but if, if, if, there be a human being with disposition and power to help us, to such an one I could calmly state the entire particulars whereon a just judgment could be formed of the efforts I have made & am making to live, and the sort of claim I set up to the consideration of my fellow beings. Until we meet I venture to rely on your endeavours with the printed papers. My reclusive habits prevented me from making friends when I had the opportunity — and now I have none, save you and one more3 who has done & is doing me all the good in his power.

I remain My dear Sir
Yours most sincerely
W Hone
William Behnes Esq.
Hone Collection, Adelphi University, Series 1A, Bx 1, f. 1a. [return]
The "printed statement" is likely a notice of the subscription that had been established to help Hone fund his proposed coffeehouse. Details about this episode can be found in the letters from late 1829 and from the "conversation" with Southey (see especially paragraph 10).[return]
The reference is likely to Charles Lamb who was instrumental in arranging for the publication of Southey's letter of support in The Times. [return]
William Hone. Date: 2014-12-17