Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hone, William
HONE, WILLIAM (1780–1842), writer and bookseller, eldest son of William Hone (1755–1831) and Frances Maria Stawell, his wife, was born at Bath 3 June 1780 (see Early Life and Conversion of W. Hone, 1841, p. 27). The elder Hone's religious views were severe, and the son was taught reading from the bible alone. When ten years of age young Hone was sent to London to an attorney's office, and was influenced by the democratic principles of the London Corresponding Society. His father removed him in consequence to the office of another attorney at Chatham. Here he remained two years and a half, and returned to London as clerk to a Mr. Egerton in Gray's Inn. He left the law, and, having married in July 1800, began business as a print and book seller in Lambeth Walk. Afterwards he removed to St. Martin's Churchyard, where he suffered losses from fire.
At the time of the invasion alarm he was a member of the Prince of Wales's volunteer corps. In 1806 he published Shaw's ‘Gardener,’ and with his friend John Bone established an institution, styled ‘Tranquillity,’ in Albion Street, Blackfriars Bridge, combining the features of a savings bank, insurance office, and registry office. Sir William Stirling and other persons of substance acted as trustees, but, like Hone's other philanthropic and commercial schemes, the bank soon failed. A partnership with Bone as a bookselling firm was also unsuccessful. Hone became bankrupt, but again started business in May's Buildings, St. Martin's Lane, and High Street, Bloomsbury, where he compiled the index to an edition of Berners's ‘Froissart.’ On the retirement of John Walker, he was chosen by the booksellers in 1811 as trade auctioneer, and had a counting-house in Ivy Lane. He still paid more attention to public than to personal affairs—lunatic asylums now chiefly occupied him—and he failed a second time. With a family of seven children he lived in humble lodgings in the Old Bailey, and supported them by stray contributions to the ‘Critical Review’ and the ‘British Lady's Magazine.’ He took a small shop at 55 Fleet Street, and was twice robbed. In 1815 he published the ‘Traveller’ newspaper, wherein he defended Elizabeth Fenning [q. v.] He was a witness at inquests held on two persons shot during the Corn Bill riots on 7 March before the house of Mr. Robinson, in Old Burlington Street, and published reports of both inquests.
On 1 Feb. 1817 he commenced the ‘Reformer's Register,’ a weekly periodical, which the cares of ‘a little business and a large family’ prevented him from carrying beyond 25 Oct. In the same year he began to write and publish small satirical pieces directed against the government. Among them were ‘The late John Wilkes's Catechism,’ ‘The Sinecurist's Creed,’ and ‘The Political Litany,’ with cuts by Cruikshank, and parodying the litany, Athanasian creed, and the church catechism. For these he was prosecuted by the attorney-general, was brought to trial (17–19 Dec.) on three separate charges, and acquitted on them all. On the trials on the second and third charges Ellenborough presided. ‘The popular opinion was that Lord Ellenborough was killed by Hone's trial, and he certainly never held up his head in public after’ (Campbell, Lives of the Chief Justices, iii. 225). The courage, learning, and mental vigour displayed by Hone in his three speeches in his own defence excited much public sympathy for him. A public meeting was held at the London Tavern 29 Dec. for the promotion of a subscription (see Trial by Jury and Liberty of the Press, 1818), and ultimately a sum of over 3,000l. was collected. Hone was thus able to move from the Old Bailey to a large shop at 45 Ludgate Hill.
Cruikshank etched several caricatures on the result of the trial, as well as a series of reduced copies of some engravings by Gillray, which Hone intended to publish in a work justifying his parodies. The connection between Hone and Cruikshank began in 1815, and for the next twenty-seven years the two remained firm friends. Cruikshank considered that the ‘great event of his artistic life’ was the Bank Restriction Note, 1820, designed by him, but possibly suggested by Hone. In 1819 Hone wrote his well-known ‘Political House that Jack Built,’ which soon ran through fifty-four editions. Numerous imitations were published, among them ‘The Dorchester Guide, or a House that Jack Built,’ the ‘Royalist's House,’ the ‘Financial House,’ and many others. The extraordinary popularity of the ‘Political House’ was largely owing to the forcible woodcuts of Cruikshank, who adorned in the same style Hone's other squibs on the regent and his domestic troubles. ‘A Slap at Slop’ (1820) was a burlesque on the ‘New Times’ newspaper, ridiculing Dr. Stoddart and the Constitutional Association. Hone was attacked in some verses in his own style, entitled ‘Slop's Shave at a Broken Hone.’ He issued a ‘Catalogue of Ancient and Modern Books’ on sale at Ludgate Hill, including trials, engraved portraits, and a few oil-paintings. He was the publisher of cheap popular reprints at 6d., known as ‘Hone's editions.’ On the occasion of the illuminations, 11 to 15 Nov. 1820, ‘to celebrate the victory obtained by the press for the liberties of the people, which had been assailed in the person of the queen,’ Cruikshank painted for Hone's shop-front a transparency, engraved in the ‘Political Showman.’ Hone announced that he was about to publish a ‘History of Parody’ in eight monthly parts, with engravings. The book never appeared, although advertised from time to time from 1820 to 1824. His ‘Apocryphal New Testament’ (1820) was very severely criticised in the ‘Quarterly Review,’ October 1821.
Hone gradually withdrew from politics. In 1823 he brought out ‘Ancient Mysteries,’ an interesting volume compiled from the historical materials collected for his defence during the three trials. In 1824 he wrote a pamphlet, ‘Aspersions Answered,’ partly with reference to the notice in the ‘Quarterly Review,’ and partly refuting a statement which had been made that Hone's brother, who was a barrister, had suffered from his own evil reputation. The interesting weekly miscellany with which Hone's name is most favourably connected, the ‘Every Day Book,’ was commenced in May 1826. The sale was small, however, and he was arrested for debt and consigned to the King's Bench. Here he finished the ‘Every Day Book,’ followed by the ‘Table Book’ (1827–8), and by the ‘Year Book’ (1839). For the last work Tegg gave him 500l.
In 1827 Hone collected a few complete sets of his controversial pamphlets, and issued them as ‘Facetiæ and Miscellanies, with one hundred and twenty engravings drawn by G. Cruikshank,’ ‘a volume now of considerable rarity, and which I regard as perhaps the most interesting and permanently valuable in the whole cycle of Cruikshankiana’ (W. Bates, G. Cruikshank, 1879, p. 18). A vignette on the title-page represents the artist and publisher-author on opposite sides of a writing-table. The motto is ‘We twa hae paidlt.’ In 1830 Hone edited Strutt's ‘Sports and Pastimes,’ and during the struggle for reform two years later produced a couple of squibs in his old manner. His friends helped him to take the Grasshopper Coffee-house in Gracechurch Street. The venture was not successful. He contributed to the early numbers of the ‘Penny Magazine.’ He afterwards publicly joined a religious community, and thenceforward became very devout (Some Account of the Conversion of the late W. Hone, 1833, sm. 8vo). At the suggestion of the Rev. T. Binney, an independent minister, he frequently preached at the Weigh House Chapel, Eastcheap. In 1837, while sub-editing the ‘Patriot,’ he had an attack of paralysis. He died at Tottenham, 6 Nov. 1842, in his sixty-third year. Cruikshank and Dickens attended the funeral (Forster, Life of Dickens, ii. 11–13, see also iii. 520–1).
Hone's library and collections were sold by Henry Southgate & Co. on 25 Feb. 1843 (Notes and Queries, 6th ser. ii. 31). Hone's ‘Scrap Book,’ a supplementary volume to the other ‘Books,’ was advertised about 1865, but is still unpublished (ib. 6th ser. i. 354). Hone had twelve children, nine of whom, together with his widow, survived him. The ‘Quarterly Review’ naturally styled Hone ‘a wretch as contemptible as he is wicked,’ and ‘a poor illiterate creature.’ Although of small literary value, his political satires enjoyed a popularity far beyond any others of the kind in their day. His antiquarian volumes are meritorious compilations, and his ‘Every Day,’ ‘Table,’ and ‘Year Books,’ in which he was assisted by many contributors, were warmly commended by Scott, John Wilson, Horace Smith, and by Southey, who said, ‘I have not seen any miscellaneous books that are so well worth having.’ Lamb's verses in the ‘London Magazine’ commencing ‘I like you and your book, ingenuous Hone,’ are well known; the ‘Every Day Book’ was dedicated to Lamb, with a recognition of his and ‘Miss Lamb's sympathy and kindness.’ Hone was a thoroughly honest and conscientious man, and deserves to be remembered for his sacrifices on behalf of the freedom of the press and cheap literature. There is a portrait of him in stipple by Rogers from a drawing by Cruikshank. Towards the end of his life (1833) he is said to have been ‘rather corpulent, dressed very plainly; and his lofty forehead, keen eye, grey and scanty locks, and very expressive countenance, commanded respect’ (Notes and Queries, 6th ser. i. 92).
There is no satisfactory bibliography of Hone's numerous pamphlets and squibs. Many of those usually said to have been written were only published by him. The following list is believed to comprehend the most important: 1. ‘The Rules and Regulations of an Institution called Tranquillity, commenced as an Economical Bank,’ London, 1807, 8vo. 2. ‘The King's Statue at Guildhall,’ 1815 (broadside). 3. ‘Report of the Coroner's Inquest on Jane Watson,’ 1815, 8vo. 4. ‘Report of the Evidence and Proceedings before the Coroner's Inquest on Edward Vyse,’ 1815, 8vo. 5. ‘The Case of Elizabeth Fenning,’ 1815, 8vo. 6. ‘The Maid and the Magpie,’ 1815, 8vo. 7. ‘Appearance of an Apparition to James Sympson of Huddersfield,’ 1816 (political broadside). 8. ‘View of the Regent's Bomb now uncovered in St. James's Park,’ 1816 (broadside). 9. ‘Authentic Account of the Royal Marriage, containing Memoirs of Prince Leopold and Princess Charlotte,’ 1816, 8vo. 10. ‘Interesting History of the Memorable Blood Conspiracy in 1756,’ 1816, 8vo. 11. ‘Four Trials at Kingston, April 5, 1816,’ 1816, 8vo. 12. ‘Trial of Lord Cochrane at Guildford, Aug. 17,’ 1816, 8vo (a list of the trials published by Hone is given in Lowndes's Manual, Bohn, ii. 1104). 13. ‘Christian Slavery at Algiers,’ 1816, 8vo. 14. ‘Account of the Riots in London, Dec. 2, 1816,’ 1816, 3 pts. 8vo. 15. ‘The Reformist's Register and Weekly Commentary, Feb. 1 to Oct. 25, 1817,’ 8vo. 16. ‘The whole of the Burial Procession and Obsequies [of the Princess Charlotte],’ 1817, 8vo. 17. ‘Official Account of the Noble Lord's [Lord Castlereagh's] Bite,’ 1817, 8vo. 18. ‘Another Ministerial Defeat,’ 1817, 8vo (the trial of the Dog). 19. ‘Bartholomew Fair,’ 1817, 8vo. 20. ‘Bags Nodle's Feast, or the Partition and Re-union of Turkey,’ 1817, fol. (ballad on the alleged meanness of Lord and Lady Eldon). 21. ‘The Bullet Te Deum, with the Canticle of the Stone,’ 1817, 8vo. 22. ‘The late John Wilkes's Catechism of a Ministerial Member,’ 1817, 8vo. 23. ‘The Sinecurist's Creed or Belief, as the same can or may be Sung or Said,’ 1817, 8vo. 24. ‘The Political Litany diligently Revised, to be Said or Sung until the appointed Change comes,’ 1817, 8vo (Nos. 22, 23, and 24 are the parodies for which Hone was tried). 25. ‘First Trial of W. Hone,’ 1817, 8vo; ‘Second Trial,’ 1817, 8vo; ‘Third Trial,’ 1817, 8vo (many editions of each trial were published; ‘The Three Trials,’ 1818; also, ‘with Introduction and Notes by W. Tegg,’ 1876, 8vo). 26. ‘Trial by Jury,’ 1818, 8vo. 27. ‘The Political House that Jack Built,’ 1819, 8vo (fifty-four editions). 28. ‘Sermons to Asses, to Doctors of Divinity, &c., by Rev. James Murray, with a Sketch of his Life,’ 1819, 8vo. 29. ‘The Englishman's Mentor,’ 1819, 8vo (a Paris guide). 30. ‘Don Juan, Canto the Third,’ 1819, sm. 8vo (imitation of Byron). 31. ‘Sixty Curious Narratives and Anecdotes,’ 1819, sm. 8vo (reprinted in Boston, U.S., 1825). 32. ‘The Man in the Moon,’ 1820, 8vo (twenty editions). 33. ‘The Queen's Matrimonial Ladder, a National Toy, with fourteen Step Scenes and Illustrations in Verse,’ 1820, 8vo (the pamphlet and ladder-toy were issued together at 1s. the two; the ladder is usually wanting). 34. ‘The Midnight Intruder, or Old Nick at Carlton House,’ 1820, 3 pts. 8vo. 35. ‘In Parliament: Dropt Clauses of the Bill against the Queen,’ 1820, 8vo. 36. ‘Non mi ricordo,’ 1820, 8vo (thirty editions). 37. ‘The Form of Prayer, with Thanksgiving to Almighty God, to be used Daily by all devout People throughout the Realm for the Happy Deliverance of Queen Caroline from the late most traitorous Conspiracy,’ 1820, 8vo (five editions). 38. ‘Buonapartephobia: the Origin of Dr. Slop's Name,’ 1820, 8vo (ten editions). 39. ‘Plenipo and the Devil,’ 1820, 8vo. 40. ‘The Apocryphal New Testament, being all the Gospels, Epistles, and other Pieces now extant attributed in the first four centuries to Jesus Christ, His Apostles, and their Companions, and not included in the New Testament by its Compilers, translated from the Original Tongues, and now first collected into One Volume,’ 1820, 8vo (several editions). 41. ‘The Bank-restriction Barometer’  (the original edition was printed as a large open half-sheet to serve as an envelope for Cruikshank's ‘Bank Note not to be Imitated,’ printed on thin bank-paper). 42. ‘The Political Showman at Home,’ 1821, 8vo (twenty-three editions). 43. ‘The Right Divine of Kings to Govern Wrong,’ 1821, 8vo. 44. ‘Trial of the King v. John Hunt, Feb. 21,’ 1821, 8vo. 45. ‘The Right assumed by the Judges to Fine a Defendant,’ 1821, 8vo (case of King v. Davison). 46. ‘To the King,’ 1821, 8vo (a letter). 47. ‘The Spirit of Despotism, by Dr. Vicesimus Knox, 1795,’ reprinted 1821, 8vo. 48. ‘Imaginary Interview between W. Hone and a Lady,’ 1822, 8vo. 49. ‘Most Humourous Description of the Mill between Gammon and Dandy the Black,’ 1822 (broadside on the fight between Bill Hall and Sampson, a negro, 23 July). 50. ‘The Miraculous Host Tortured by the Jew,’ 1822, 8vo (an incident in 1290). 51. ‘A Slap at Slop and the Bridge Street Gang,’ 1822, 8vo. 52. ‘Ancient Mysteries Described, especially the English Miracle Plays,’ 1823, 8vo. 53. ‘Aspersions Answered: an Explanatory Statement to the Public at large and every Reader of the “Quarterly Review,”’ 1824, 8vo (five editions). 54. ‘Another Article for the “Quarterly Review,”’ 1824, 8vo (five editions; No. 53 was noticed in the ‘Quarterly Review,’ August 1824, this is a reply). 55. ‘Der Freischütz Travestie,’ 1824, 8vo. 56. ‘The Every Day Book, forming a Complete History of the Year, Months, and Seasons, and a perpetual Key to the Almanack,’ 1826–7, 2 vols. 8vo. 57. ‘The Table Book,’ 1827–8, 2 vols. 8vo (Nos. 56 and 57 reissued in 3 vols. 1831). 58. ‘Facetiæ and Miscellanies, with 120 Engravings drawn by Cruikshank,’ 1827, 8vo (contains Nos. 27, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 42, 43, 41, 38, 53, and 54, in this order; also issued as Hone's ‘Popular and Political Tracts’). 59. ‘Poor Humphrey's Calendar,’ 1829 (an almanack). 60. ‘Full Annals of the Revolution in France,’ 1830, 8vo. 61. ‘The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, by Joseph Strutt; New Edition, with an Index,’ 1830, large 8vo. 62. ‘The House of Reform that Jack Built, and the Political Advertiser’ , 8vo (several editions). 63. ‘The Year Book of Daily Recreation and Information, concerning Remarkable Men, Manners, Times, Seasons, Solemnities, &c.,’ 1832, 8vo (generally to be found with Nos. 56 and 57; the first editions of the four volumes are sought after; frequently reissued by Messrs. Tegg. A new edition of the three works was issued by the same publishers in 1874). 64. ‘The Early Life and Conversion of William Hone, by Himself, Edited by his Son, Wm. Hone,’ 1841, 8vo. 65. ‘Some Account of the Conversion of the late W. Hone, with further Particulars of his Life and Extracts from his Correspondence,’ 1853, sm. 8vo (frequently confounded with No. 64).
[Biographical notices in Gent. Mag. May 1843, pt. i. p. 96; Some Account of the Conversion of W. Hone, 1853; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. iv. 25, 105, 241, vii. 154, 3rd ser. iv. 429, 4th ser. x. 351, 399, 528, 5th ser. i. 477, viii. 446, 6th ser. i. 92, 171, 354, 522, ii. 31, 283, iii. 426; The Three Trials of W. Hone, with Introduction by W. Tegg, 1876, 8vo. For Hone's connection with Cruikshank see G. W. Reid's Catalogue, 1871, 3 vols. 4to; W. Bates's G. Cruikshank, 1879, 4to; B. Jerrold's Life of G. Cruikshank; and F. G. Stephens's Memoir of G. Cruikshank, 1891. For bibliography see Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), ii. 1103–5; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. xii. 271–2; see also lists at the end of Hone's Political Showman, 1820, and advertisement of Hone's editions, 1820.]