The dangerous illness of Mr Hood <1> the eminent author, some particulars of which you will learn from the enclosed extract from the current number of his magazine will I trust furnish the apology, as it constitutes the occasion, of my venturing to address you.
The extreme debility to which Mr Hood is reduced prevents him from writing so much as usual for his magazine – (which is his sole dependence for the support of himself and his family) – & renders it of great importance to him to seek efficient aid from others in order to keep up the reputation and sale of the periodical; lest to the loss of health should be added the double calamity of the loss of income.
Mr Hood’s serious productions are many of them of the highest order – and in several instances, as lately in that of the “Song of a shirt”, have struck a deep chord of the public feeling, & done good service to the cause of humanity.
The double pressure of incurable illness, & pecuniary anxiety, weighing on a man of eminent genius, always honorably, often most humanely applied, seem to constitute a strong claim to the sympathy & support of good & feeling men: a claim which has, indeed, been acknowledged by Mr Dickens, Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, Mr Milnes, Mrs Norton, <2> & several other of our ablest writers, who have either given or promised their support – though at considerable inconvenience to themselves, & to the interruption of other engagements & pursuits.
Under these circumstances I venture to ask you to furnish the important assistance which the magazine would derive from an article by you, descriptive of your work “The pencil of Nature”, <3> & illustrated with a specimen of the novel sun-produced designs which that publication is to contain. I need not add that the article would be paid for, & the expense of the calotype illustration defrayed, by the proprietor of the magazine.
I am during Mr Hoods illness assisting him in Editing his magazine; in which I have no other interest than that which results from my esteem & regard for Mr Hood. I trust that the sad & urgent circumstances under which this appeal is made, will excuse its importunity, and incline you to grant the request I have ventured to prefer; in which hope, with renewed apologies, I remain
Sir Your obedient Servt
F. O. Ward.
1. Thomas Hood (1799–1845), writer and humorist, fell seriously ill with TB in December 1844 and died the following May. The extract ‘from the current number’ of Hood’s Magazine (attached to this letter) refers to ‘Thursday the 23d’ which dates this document to January 1845.
2. Charles Dickens (1812–1870); Edward George Bulwer, later Bulwer Lytton (1803–1873); probably Moncton Milnes (1809–1885); Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton (1808–1877).
3. WHFT, The Pencil of Nature (London: Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, June 1844–April 1846 [issued in six fascicles]).