Hannah More to William Wilberforce

Tho this is but a romantic place as my friend Matthew well observed /yet/ You wou’d laugh to see the bustle I am in. I was told we shou’d meet with great opposition if I did /not/ try to propitiate the chief Despot of the Village , who is very rich and very brutal; so I ventured to the Den of this Monster, in a Country as savage as himself, near Bridgewater. He begged I wou’d not think of bringing any religion into the Country, it was the worst thing in the world for the poor, for it made them lazy and useless; in vain I represented to him that they wou’d be more industrious as they were better principled, and that for my own part, I had no selfish views in what I was doing; he gave me to understand that he knew the world too well to believe either the one or the other. Somewhat dismay’d to find that my success bore no proportion to my submissions, I was almost discouraged from more visits; but I found friends must be secured at all events, for if these rich savages set their faces against /us/, and inflamed the poor people I thought nothing but hostilities wou’d answer. So I made Eleven more of these /agreeable/ Visits, but I was by this time improved in the Arts of canvassing and had better success. Miss Wilberforce wou’d have been shocked had She seen the petty Tyrants Whose insolence I stroaked and tamed, the ugly children I praised, the Pointers and Spaniels I caressed, the cider I commended, the wine I drank, and the brandy I might have drank; and after these irresistible flatteries I enquired of each if he cou’d recommend me to a house; /said/ that I had a little plan which I hoped wou’d secure their orchards from being robbed, their rabbits from being shot, and their game from being stolen /and might lower the Poor Rates./ If effect be the best proof of Eloquence then mine was a good Speech; for I met with the hearty concurrence of the whole people, and their promise to discourage or favour the poor in proportion as they were attentive or negligent in sending their Children. Patty, who is with me says she has good hope the hearts of some of these wealthy poor wretches may be touched; they are as ignorant as the beasts that perish, drunk every day before dinner and plunged in such vices as make me begin to think London a virtuous place. By their assistance I procured immediately a good house, which when a partition is taken down, and a Window added will receive a great number of children. This house and an excellent Garden of almost an Acre of ground, I have taken at once for Six Guineas and a half Pr. Year. I have ventured to take it for seven Years, there’s courage for You! It is to be put in order instantly; for the night cometh, and it is a comfort to think that, tho I may be dust and ashes in a few weeks yet by that time this business I hope will be in actual Motion. I have written to different Manufacturing Towns for a Mistress but can get nothing hitherto; as to the Mistress for the Sunday School, and the religious part I have employ’d Mrs. Easterbrook , of whose judgment, (Demons out of the question) I have a good opinion. I hope Miss W. wont be frightened but I am afraid she must be a Methodist.

Hannah More to William Wilberforce

Patty is a little acquainted with Mrs. Charles Wesley , and says she is a very worthy, respectable person, a perfect Gentlewoman, of good family and Education. She has also a daughter, a young Woman of considerable parts and literature. When I knew a little of her some years ago indeed, she was more of a Wit than a Methodist, but I really believe they are both excellent, deserving Women. Of their circumstances I cannot speak so accurately, private fortune they certainly have none. Father John, as he was called allowed them £200 pr. An: during his Life, and we have heard that at his death he desired the Society to allow them £70 Pr. Ann: This I believe is all they have. We think they live with the two Sons who support themselves by Music, but were not comfortable Sons to their excellent father. By to day’s post I shall write to a friend to inform myself more exactly as to their circumstances, certainly making no mention of you in the business . Wesley’s Society I believe is very poor, his restrictions in the Article of dress &c having always frightened away the rich and gay, where /as they/ cou’d now and then sneak into Whitefield’s, who seemed to have judged more prudently in not acquiring any such outward and visible sign of conformity. –

Hannah More to William Wilberforce

Old Cadell sent me some time ago a petition for a charitable case to be sent to you, who he understood had a large sum bequeathed you for that purpose. An old hawks! he is ten times richer than you are. That is, he does not spend a tenth of his income I dare say. I cut the matter short, told him I shou’d not so much as name it to you – that the Legacy was pledged to specific Objects – That your charity greatly exceeded your ability; and that depending on you myself for large supplies for my own schemes, I made it a rule to apply to you for no other – So much for Maister Cadell – I hope you intend to get your Money of him at x times. I grudge that he is now making ten per Cent of it perhaps. Good old Newton has written to me to write to the Bp of London in favour of a Mr. Sheppard who was Curate to Cadogan and who is Candidate for the Lectureship of St. Giles. Now I do not care to do it, as I never heard so much as the name of Mr. Sheppard. Do you know any thing of him and is he the sort of man you cou’d recommend to the Bishop? Newton speaks of him as an upright moderate Man of good character, a good and diligent preacher poor, unprovided for, has a wife and children &c Mrs. W. will I dare say send me a line with your view of this Subject – It strikes me that you shou’d tell the Bp what a mischievous Man that Gun is. it is right the Bishops shou’d know that you disapprove of such mad fellows as much as they do, whereas they think if there is but methodism and certainty that alone disposes all in their favour.

Hannah More to Marianne Sykes Thornton, April 5th 1809

Charemile and Lady W. &c tell me they never see or hear of Mrs. W – I am disgusted at her want of decency, to say the least, in not concealing her satisfaction at quitting a place, so pleasant so advantageous /so congenial/ to her husband .7 The change must be an immense expence. W. and I have had a good deal of intercourse a few weeks ago about Mr. T.’s health – We agreed in thinking, that more relaxaxation [sic] from business without travelling about, and renouncing the comforts and accommodations of his pleasant home, was the best thing for him at this time of year. I hope he does relax and that you will soon if the Spring shoud ever begin, get to Battersea for your sake especially. – Shoud You see Charemile will you tell tell her that I will write to her on her kind proposal soon, and that we are soon looking out for the Barrister the Circuit being nearly over.8 I agree with you in wondering that your agreeable Nephew coud overlook that agreeable girl and chuse one so inferior both in mind and person.9 How can you read Godwin by way of learning to do good? An avow’d Atheist? An acquaintance of mine, Miss Lee woud have married him she said had he been only an Infidel, but he denied a first course.10 To me his writings are the blackness of darkness. Hume by his elegance, and Voltaire by his wit and the charms of his style are seducing. But tell Mr. T. if he reads it, not to let others read it, for I remember at Xt Church Miss Creswell and Miss Schim were frightened at his reading Hume’s Essays to them11 They were not then so strong in Religion as they are since become. Seriously I think Plays and Novels safe reading compared with books of subtel sophistry and promiscuous reasoning – I dont mean that you may not pack /up/ up good things in them. I have not yet read the C. O.12 but have run over Ingram13 which is very good, the second part I thought leaned a little more to Calvinism than I do, that is I thought it woud give the C. O. a rather more Calvinistic Air than it has lately assumed I am glad the C. O. takes up the Bp of Saint David’s Plan14 – I have been in constant correspondence (when able) [wi]th [tear] this good Bp on the Subject ever [s]ince [tear] he planned it. It is to raise the character morals, learning & piety of the Welch Clergy. I hardly know so pressing a cause. There will unavoidably, to save his credit be mixd with it a little too much High Church but we must be glad to do something if we cannot do all that is wanted. I subscribe and propose leaving a legacy to the St. David’s Plan. The building a sort of Welch College was partly my Suggestion. –

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, November 30 1812

I believe you had some part of your education at St. Omers *, or at least at Maynouth* – for was there not something a little jesuitical in your converting my hope into a promise? As to the other convention between us, that of the medical case, tho I dare not I fear shrink from a treaty which you will pretend was ratified, I must however plead for delay, and the more so as it will not be necessary to send it, till you are landed in that sink of sin and sea coal, as Will Honeycomb calls London.*

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, December 10 1812

I know not to what passage of Miss Seward you allude as she so frequently does me the honour of designating me by the appellation of the gloomy Calvinist*!10 Did I tell you of one egregious falsehood respecting me? She speaks of Mr. Newton preaching strange doctrines in a Mr. Inman’s Church, and that I flattered him to the Skies, and Mr. Inman said afterwards ‘how this Man has done more harm in my church in one sermon than I can repair in many Months’*. What will you think of the Lady’s veracity, when I tell you that Mr. Newton never saw Mr. Inman nor ever preached in his Church. Many such things might be adduced

Hannah More to William Hayley, 15 June 1815

As I am writing to the Bishop of Saint David’s I would not lose the occasion of telling you that he is ‘the pious, learned and laborious Prelate’* to which you refer in your very obliging letter . He treats the Subject more at large in a little work against the Catholic Claims entitled ‘Christ the Rock and not Saint Peter’*. But I must recommend a more recent publication of his Lordship’s with a view to the Socinian* friend to whom Your verses are addressed* – it is called ‘The Bible and nothing but the Bible the Religion of the Church of England’ * addressed to the Socinians. It is I think an able refutation, and, (which I always think a good quality in Controversy) it is a brief one.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 23 August [1815]

I congratulate you on your very triumphant Bible Meeting, and subsequent festivity. I had a very satisfactory account of it in a letter from Miss Powys to her Sister ,* who came down here on purpose to bring poor Lady Southampton [sic] children,* whom she was very desirous I should see as the little Lord was at home and she was too ill to come herself; she seems to be very suffering in body, but more cheerful in spirit . I grieve that the fine little boy is to leave Mr. Wind ’s* – some Calvinistic counsel I fear.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 23 August [1815]

Antinomian /ism/ * is growing in a most formidable manner in some friends of whom I had hoped better things. I am much alarmed at its pestilent progress. I think an open division will take place; and the religious World consist of two doctrinal classes. – pray write soon

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 13 December [1815]

I hope your abode is quite out of the reach of alarm. Mr. Shaw M. P. for Dublin* has sent me a frightful pamphlet artfully composed by the enemy called ‘Irish History’.* I had an alarming letter from the good Archbishop of Cashell on the dangers of his, and the neighbouring Diocese; but my fears have since been calmed by others from Dr. Woodward * and the Dean of Cork.* Yet it is impossible to be quite easy, especially since that abominable deed the restoration of the Jesuits.*

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 13 December [1815]

Those misguided Clergymen I named to you with Baring and Snow at their head, are I fear sadly extending the cause of Schism. They will have many followers among the young the hot headed, and the lovers of Novelty. I have read a correspondence between Mr. Baring and good Mr. Biddulph ; the latter wrote a most admirable letter to the other, deploring, exhorting, intreating. He begged him if he had any objections to the Establishment to withdraw himself quietly and without the presumptuous idea of forming a new Sect, to pass at least a year in retirement, meditation and prayer. The Answer I presume was composed by the whole Conclave, for it was artfully and, on their principles very well done. Mr. Baring locked /up/ his Church, sent the key to the Bishop with the resignation of his Living.* The Bishop returned an answer that as he was but a young Divine he hoped he might come to a better way of thinking, he would therefore give him six months for reflection before he would accept his resignation. He has ill rewarded this candor by setting up a Chapel for his own heresies in Salisbury under the very nose of the Bishop. They* are also buying chapels in various places, for the dissemination of their pestilent doctrines, for I think this is not too severe an epithet to express Antinomianism. Of one thing I am glad; they have it seems bought the Chapel of Mr. Huntington in London the late focus of Antinomian doctrines*, by this I trust they will identify themselves in the public opinion with this obnoxious Man. I am sadly grieved at this unhappy business Baring and Snow I thought would be very useful Men; and so they would had they confined themselves to their respective stations – but Men bred to business, without learning, and who have but a few years began even to read the Bible, might have contented themselves with being hearers without aspiring to be teachers. I pressed this strongly on Snow, telling him that we wanted pious Bankers and Merchants much more than pious Clergymen of which we had so many.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 13 December [1815]

One good however will spring out of this evil, we shall I hope get these noxious doctrines /weeded/ out of the Church: and, what I rejoyce to hear, the high Calvinists are preaching far more practically. Many good Men have been sadly deficient in this respect. Of poor insignificant me they have repeatedly said ‘Her writings make us sick of practice’.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 13 December [1815]

I have had a very interesting visit from my old friend /Revd/ Mr. Stewart , Son to Lord Galloway. You know I believe that this excellent young Man near ten years ago, quitted not only the luxuries of his Station and the enjoyments of Society /but the common comforts of life, / and with his Bishop’s consent left his church preferment to go on a Mission to Canada.* There he has been living obscurely but not uselessly, for the Protestants of that place, Montreal &c are at length so awakened by his labours that they have agreed at their own expence to build four Churches and he is come to Europe for the sole purpose of procuring right sort of Ministers, and to claim the Stipend allowed by Government and the Society for Propagating the Gospel for those parts. I shall be looking out for pious prudent Men for him

Hannah More to Marianne Thornton, November 1817

If ever I could be disposed to wish myself a Papist it would be immediately on the death of one in whom one has taken a warm interest. It seems comfortless, that after one has watched over them and offered up petitions for them, that in the moment of the greatest interest, that of their dissolution prayer must cease, the object of your solicitation is beyond its reach, and what was duty one moment is become unlawful the next.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 2 October [1817]

You have doubtless heard of Mr. Cowan ’s Eccentricities. He has formally renounced the Church, and is setting up a religion of his own, if it can be called his own which is so identified with the doctrines of Baring & Co .* He has published his ‘Reasons for quitting the Church,’ in an ill written inconsistent Antonomian Pamphlet.* I am glad at any rate to get such doctrines out of the Church, but I am sorry for this misguided Man. His principal friends have forsaken him. His inferior Adherents are getting Subscriptions for building him a Chapel, but are not so successful as they expected.* They came to me and I had an hour’s conflict in justifying my refusal to subscribe. I assured them it was not to save a few Guineas for I had a personal kindness for Cowan, but I could not answer it to my Conscience to give any support to a plan which was intended to be subversive of the Establishment, and to propagate doctrines hostile to her principles.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, [23 March 1818]

I have delay’d answering dearest Millicents excellent letter, from a daily expectation of this final event, else what delightful matter /in her letter/ had I to write about! My dearest Lady you were Providentially sent to Nice for the purpose of converting that valuable Roman Catholic who I doubt not will be one of the many who will bless you in heaven either for temporal or spiritual benefits. The frame of mind visible in your daughter’s letter is admirable. For all our sakes, but especially for her sake, I exhort you, I beseech you take care of your health. There is yet a great deal for you to do in this world You know not to how many souls you may be the instrument of good. God has already honoured you in this /way/

Hannah More to Marianne Thornton, 28 January 1819

Two mornings successively I have set aside for answering your letter with one or two others, but from breakfast till now when the dinner is almost ready, I have had a number of visitors one after another till I lost my patience as well as my time . However tho I have lost a few minutes (for an inflammation in my eyes prevents my doing any thing by candle light) I snatch up my pen, as perhaps you may be waiting for an answer respecting Mr. Coan, thus he spells his name. * I am however not well qualified to give an opinion as I do not know him at all. I believe him to be a very pious young /man/ of the Calvinistic School. But he is an Irishman with all the warmth and impetuosity of his country. I should be grieved to say any thing that might be injurious to a deserving Man but it /is/ my private opinion that he would not be well calculated for the temperate zone of Clapham. He has got himself into two or three little scrapes and tho I really am inclined to think he was not the aggressor yet the habit of getting into scrapes generally indicates the want of a cool temper. If Clapham was an obscure Village I should not have said a word of this, as few villages are perhaps better supplied but he does not stay long in a place I observe. I should /think him/ not fit for so enlightenedPatty would say critical congregation as Clapham. Pray present my best regards to Mr. Daltry * and tell him I begin to fear I must wait till we meet in a better world before I shall /enjoy/ that long indulged wish of making his acquaintance I entertain better hopes as to seeing you and your admirable friends if it please God to spare me till the Summer I beg my most affectionate respects to them and love to dear Lucy who is to be of the Barley Wood party.

Hannah More to Henry Thornton, September 12th 1799

This Subject of Money leads me to say (which I did not intend) that I believe I must desire you not to give away the Interest of Mrs. Bouveries’s Money any more but to let me have it; do not however tell her this just now. I am now engaged for such very large expences, that, humanly speaking, I do not very well see how I shall get thro it, and my faith /which is not over strong/ is kept pretty much on the sketch. Assessed Taxes and some other things have reduced my Sisters’ Income £150 a Year and they spent all before; as I shall feel it right to help towards this deficiency I shall not be able to make /the new/ addition towards the Schools which I had hoped I will not however distrust that Providence which has so unexpectedly carried me on hitherto and I hope to use these little difficulties and uncertainties as an exercise of my trust in him, You will think so when I tell you that in spite of the continued opposition at Wedmore we are building a house there P. says she thinks we tire you with our Stories, I will however tell you one which I think will be much to Mrs. Clarke’s taste. After going on Sunday to Wedmore (30 miles there and back) on the wettest day I was ever out in we found our poor 300 Children assembled in the half finished room without a floor a door or a window, we taught them with great peace and content, not one of the Farmers condescending to come nigh us, or offering the least accommodation tho the rain was so violent /but I borrowed a Cottage/ At length the season came out – The children had /been/ trying to sing for the first time one of Watt’s Hymns, this brought a Farmer who said now he was sure we were Methodys; on being asked what gave the Parish such a terror of Methodists he said this was his answer – ‘Some years ago a Methody preacher came and preached in our Orchard under my Mother’s best apple tree, immediately after the leaves withered and the tree died; we saw at once this was a judgment, and called a vestry to see what could be done to save our Orchards; We there agreed that we shoud not have an Apple left in the parish if we suffered a Methody to stay, so we ordered the people to get all the stones and rotten eggs they could muster, and beat the whole crew out of the Parish; they did so, and sure enough it saved our Orchards for we have not lost an Apple tree since’. I have told it verbatim – This is the enlightened 18 Century! One woud put up with a little ill treatment to instruct such a parish as this in spite of itself

Hannah More to Henry Thornton, September 12th 1799

But we have difficulties of a far more serious nature than this which I wou’d not trouble you with an account of, but that perhaps you may be able to suggest some useful hints to us. In two or three of our most established parishes where most good seems to be doing, there is arisen a most violent opposition agt. us or rather against. religion. They let P. and I go on quietly while there was no serious Clergymen in the Country, but two or 3 of our Oxford Young Men having been down in the Summer and preached about at our Clubs &c has excited an Animosity that is dreadful. One of the worldly Clergy has declared he will /give himself the trouble to/ set up an Evening Lecture at the Church as the only means he can devise to destroy our evening Reading. I shoud rejoyce at this did I not know what stuff he will preach. If he does however I shall endeavour to make our people go, but as many of them seem really serious I fear they will not. – Our other great trial is at Blagdon, where the Clergyman (the Magistrate you saw here once) is such a hypocrite that he affected to shed tears when I was ill, and said in a canting tone ‘what wou’d become of the Country’, yet is doing all he can to knock up the School, thro a genuine hatred to Xtianity and a personal hatred to one of our serious young Ministers who has awakend a dying woman and several others. This Blagdon Parson has been reading Socinian books, and now boldly preaches against the Trinity, St Paul &c. and tells the people that they need pay no attention to any part of Scripture but the Sermon on the Mount. He has so disturbed the faith of the whole parish nearly that they are afraid to attend at the school where they say other doctrines are taught, and if the Parson is in the right, the ladies must be in the wrong. I am extremely distressed what to do having no Bishop no Rector who cares for any of these things. I am well tried on all sides and am rather more worked than my nerves will bear tho I am better. Remember me kindly to Mrs. T. and excuse this long scrawl