The Collected Letters of Hannah More

health, (More's own)

Hannah More to William Wilberforce

I never so much as heard of Howe’s Treatise on delighting in God – O give me a Book which will teach me to do so! The very name gets one an Appetite, or rather makes one long to get it. – Indeed I read little of Spiritual things, and of other things scarcely one Word. I am something like a gouty or intemperate General Officer, I am either in my bed or in the Field; pain and Action pretty equally divide my life between them, with some preponderance, however, I thank God on the latter side, but reading and writing are things almost as much out of the question with me as with the poor savages I live with, for if I am well enough to be up I am well enough to be out, in a general way.

Hannah More to William Wilberforce

Mrs. W and all of you must have thought me if not “rather a kind of imposter”, yet rather a kind of a brute not to have written a word since we parted, so kind as you all were to me! But I know how you are overdone with writing and I spare you every unnecessary line. To speak the truth I have been a little worked myself and for the few last days have been confined to my bed by one of my feverish colds; I am sitting up a little to day but not in very good writing plight having a blister on my back as broad as little William’s face. I wonder if I shall ever see that said little William? – To thank you over-warmly for your feeling and affectionate letter would be to imply that it was possible I coud have suspected your large liberality and considerate kindness . I shall obey you by dedicating Mrs. Barnards kind legacy to the purchase of a post Chaise, and her Annuity to the maintaining it . I hope I shall keep within the limits of your allowance. Any two periods of the year it will be the same to me to receive it. Christmas and Midsummer are my usual grand seasons, but if a Month or two or three later will suit you better, I can manage as I shall have some money of my own to take.

Hannah More to William Wilberforce

An inflammation in my eyes making a part of my indisposition compells me to end –

Hannah More to Marianne Sykes Thornton, April 5th 1809

I write a few lines to thank you for your kind solicitude about me, when you yourself were probably suffering so much more. Mrs. R. T. confirms the account of your very oppressive cold, Which I hope /will be removd by/ the blessing of God on this fine change in the weather, for it is now raining green pease and goosebery Tarts: and our grass, which on Sunday was as brown as a Mat is now as green as an Emerald. I thank God my fever has given way and I am again much better, tho I had an ague fit the night before last, as I generally have on every change of weather. I heartily rejoyce at the improvd account of Mr. T. Lady Waldegrave who spent a long day here Yesterday (which prevented my writing) thinks he looks tolerably. In addition to her heavy sorrows,2 she is now involv’d in two or three /law/ suits which are this moment trying at Our Assizes, and in which, as her Antagonist (her late Steward) a friend of Mr. Bere’s3 a deep designing Man has made a party against her, I fear she will be cast. Every thing however which relates to money is a trifle compared with her other causes of sorrow.4

Hannah More to Marianne Sykes Thornton, 28 November 1814

This is my first letter since my visitation. – not but that I could write, for my Sword Arm escaped the fire. But thro’ the extreme and undeserved kindness of my friends, I suppose there have been not much less than a hundred letters of inquiry to answer, and tho it sadly overloads P. who is not well and assisted by S – yet I forbear writing to those to whom I wishd that I might conscientiously say I had written to none – this has given me a little time for my other business. I have generally managed in the same way with visitors, which I believe includes every creature /(visitible)/ within ten Miles, so that having so good an excuse I have rather gained time than lost.

Hannah More to Marianne Sykes Thornton, 28 November 1814

How mercifully have I been dealt with! and how often has that promise occurred to me – ‘When thou passest thro the fire’ &c! I often wonder I was not more overcome with terror at seeing myself one Sheet of flame. Miss Roberts’s grievous wounds, for she was entirely burnt from her wrists to her fingers ends and was obliged to have her ring filed off, are healed sooner than my slight ones. My shoulder and Arm only were burnt, not a single thread of the Sleeve of my Chemise remained; it is however at present only an inconvenience, and not a suffering – I cannot yet put on a gown – but it is nothing more.

Hannah More to William Hayley, 31 August 1811

Allow me to offer You a plain and simple, but sincere and cordial assurance of my gratitude for the great honour you have done me, and the great gratification you have given me, by your elegant and beautiful Poem *. Tho I feel myself, (and there is no affectation in declaring it) very unworthy of the kind and flattering things it contains, yet I feel a considerable addition of pleasure in perusing it, from the idea that it is your approbation of the serious Spirit in the little work* which you are so good to commend which disposes You to overlook any defects in the composition; defects multiplied by bad health which indisposes, and partly incapacitates me from correcting coolly, tho it does not yet always prevent me from writing rapidly, and therefore I fear, carelessly.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, November 30 1812

Now for the reason why I did not write on Saturday – Since you left us I have had and still have, a most severe bilious attack which I am thankful waited your departure before it appeared, as I should have been grieved to have lost any of the little time in which I was within reach of enjoying your Society.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, December 1812

I feel quite thankful that I was enabled to keep us so stoutly while you were with us, as I have fallen back into my natural, that is my bad state ever since. I am however better to day; I fancy I feel more thankful for a day’s ease and a night’s rest than those can do whose days and nights suffer no such interruptions. Yet I am conscious of not feeling half grateful enough for the unnumbered and undeseved [sic] mercies I enjoy.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, December 10 1812

I feel the benefit of this dry Air and have suffered less and Slept more since the frost, severe as it is, set in. My love to your fair Companion My Sisters present best respects

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, December 29 1812

When I get a good day, which is not often that [tear] fair and alluring vision of Brampton Park dances before my eyes and P. and I actually ta[lk] [tear] of plans and measures. Should this favorite pray[er] be realized I think we should, with submission to /the will of/ a higher power manage to be with you the middle of May at farthest. Remember that I Visit you on an Apostolic principle seeking not yours but you*. So dont be anxious about company.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, January 1813

I this moment receive your too kind letter, and tho it is late, and tho it is not a writing day,* and tho I have been so unusually ill the whole week, I could not sleep if I did not send you a line. I cannot express the vexation the mortification, I feel at your not having got the book from me. * I directed not Hatchard, but Cadell the Publisher who is always the dispenser of presents because they are sent a few days before publication to send one the very first hour to Bruton Street – and you have not had it – I should have ordered it to Huntingdon with the Bishop's but you my dearest Lady preferred your town House. Such a thing ought not to vex me so much as it does. If you do not find it in Bruton Street – which you will be charitable enough to tell me, I will order Hatchard /Cadell/ to send you the very first of the 2d. Edition, which as the delay has been already so great will I hope put you in possession of a more correct copy. Believe me, it is not that I overrate the Book, by laying so much stress on this disappointment, but that I cannot bear the suspicion of neglect, where both my affections, my esteem and my gratitude are equally concerned.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, January 7 1813

With such a provision as you have furnished for my body and mind, added to my many mercies, I must not complain of solitude and silence, for tho I have been so ill the last ten days as scarcely to be able to see any body, much less to talk to them I can read and drink Soda, two luxuries which so many invalids have not, or having, cannot enjoy.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, March 18 1813

Being to day under the disqualifying dominion of Calomel*, I can only write a hasty line on the principal topics of your little /but/ kind letter. As far as two sickly human beings can venture to determine, P. and I hope to appear to you at Brampton Park by the middle of May; but the precarious state of my eldest Sister adds to our uncertainty, tho she is much /better/

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, August 1814

Such a nice, long and truly interesting letter as you sent me had a claim to earlier notice. But even now I must rather be contented to thank you for it than to answer it. I have had a severe attack of illness. To others it would have been but a cold, to me it has been a bad-ish fever. I am so far on the recovery as to sit up. But I am so thankful to quit my bed that I am satisfied to keep my room which I however hope to leave in a few days

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, August 1814

If I can get rid of my cough P. and I are engaged to go to our dear Dean of Wells about the 29th., being there we must also acquit ourselves of a long promise to stay a little with the Bishop. there will be a little difference in these Visits!! Mr. Way I trust will not be likely to come just at that time as it is the only time I shall be from home. Indeed the Dean I believe will be of the Jew party at Bristol .

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, August 1814

Tho this sickness has separated me from my Apostle, I shall conclude in his words by recommending you and yours to God and the word of his Grace . I am with true affection ever my dearest Lady O –
faithfully yours HM

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, January 16 1815

Tho I have nothing /to say,/ and am not well enough to say it if I had, I cannot forbear writing a line to unite in sympathy with you, on the, I fear hopeless, state of our dear invaluable Henry Thornton *, a letter from Mr. Wilberforce * and another from the Macaulays last night, leaves us little or nothing to hope. Oh! what a chasm will his death make in the world! It will not only be irreparable to his broken hearted wife , and poor children*, but to multitudes of the poor and the pious. May God comfort us all, especially his own family, and sanctify to us this heavy loss, by quickening us in our preparation for our own great change! For my own part, my hopes have been long very faint, tho in opposition to the declaration of his eminent Medical Attendants* I shall always think / entre nous/ that corroding grief for his unfortunate brother preyed on his vitals, and laid his weak constitution open to any disease which might attack it: I dread that every post may bring us the final issue of this long disease !

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, January 16 1815

I long to know how your health /is/ and whether you have gained strength by living quietly at home. I have had an Ophthalmia * most suffering. If all the dispensations of God were not just and right, I should have said it came unseasonably when I had so much [tear] for my eyes. I bless God they are [tear] to me, after being consigned for some time to darkness and idleness.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, February 22 1815

Tho I sent you a few days ago a longer letter than I write to any body else, yet I thought you would wish to hear from me on a Subject so interesting to you. The day after Mr. Hodson got my letter he and his pupil presented themselves in the morning and spent the day here. With the latter I had only general intercourse, my chief object with him being to make myself as pleasant as my state of health allowed, and to remove any prejudice he might have entertained of my being severe and dictatorial. While I sent him walking and talking with young Gisborne, I took the Tutor into my room for a couple of hours. I will as nearly as I can recollect, tell you our chief discourse. His first endeavour has been /not/ to give him any disgust, but to gain his affection. He finds him conformable and complying with his injunctions, but not in habits of application, or much given to reading He is more anxious at first to bring him to stated habits and a regular disposition of time than to force too much reading upon him till he discovers more liking to it. At half past 8 he gives him, I think about a dozen verse of the Greek Testament to study and meditate upon alone. At Nine he sets him to construe those passages to him and after they have discussed the Greek in a literary and grammatical point of view, he then expounds them to him spiritually and Theologically: then their devotions and a little walk before breakfast. I suggested that as he is inclined to sit over his Meals that a short thing, a medium sort of reading such as a paper in the Rambler * might be well taken up. His Mornings are at present engaged with Quintilion whom they study /both/ separately and together. I ventured to give my opinion that as he would fill a great station in the world, and was not much addicted to study it might be well to endeavour to imbue his mind with general knowledge such as would be useful in life, and to allure him to the perusal of history and Travels; to make him learn a passage from the Orations of Demosthenes or Cicero, in the Greek & Latin and then to translate and recite them in English, and to labour after a good manner of recitation. Mr. H. told me, and Mr. S. himself told my Sisters that they had spent their time in the most trifling manner at Harrow, and that very little was required of them there. In consequence Mr. H says his habits of conversation are too frivolous, horses &c &c being the favorite theme. Before evening prayer Mr. H. reads and again expounds Scripture. This he says is all the formal religious instruction he gives, for he /is/ afraid to weary him, but he tries to make their walks, their common reading instructive. I insisted much on the necessity & importance of this, knowing it is the best way to mix up instruction with the common pursuits of life. They sometimes dine and drink tea out, but as it is in correct and pious company, I thought it better for his youth than to be confin’d to a tete a téte always with his Tutor. The latter likes his young friend who has yet given him not the slightest cause of complaint.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 16 March [1815]

Conceiving that you will be glad to hear from time to time a word from me respecting your Son, I resolve to scribble a line, tho yesterday was a peculiarly bad day. Mr. Sparrow his Tutor and Mr. Hensman spent a long day here lately. I took Mr. H. as usual into my room; we had a very long discussion, and I required an explicit account of their goings on, which he very minutely gave me. I have the satisfaction of reporting that every thing seems very promising; if the improvements are not rapid they are at least progressive. At my request he has begun to attempt composition. He reads Watts’s Logic*and Mr. H. makes observations on their joint perusal both of that and whatever else they read together. As the days lengthen he rises earlier which gives him more time for the Greek Testament before breakfast. He is translating some passages from Demosthenes* which will help to form his Style. I suggested that here after he should learn and recite some fine passages in Burke’s Speeches.* He reads by himself more than he did, and I lent for that purpose Plutarch’s Lives ;* and Travels thro Germany .* I have also presented sent him with the Saint Paul of Barley Wood ,* which he has promised to read; I told him that being written by one who had the honour to be his Mother’s friend, it might interest him more. Mr. H. says that tho he cannot say he sees as yet any decided piety, yet he has great pleasure in seeing that he [has] not the slightest prejudice against religion or religious people. This is /a/ great point for ‘a Harrow fellow’.* But what I rejoyced at as the most gratifying circumstance, was that he told me he possessed great purity of mind. This is a blessed thing at an age when boys have commonly their minds tainted. May God’s blessing preserve it to him! I think Clifton a very fortunate situation for him. I think now he is getting a step towards manhood he would hardly endure the dullness & total want of society of an obscure Village, where he woud probably be too solitary, or led into inferior company. Now at Clifton their little social intercourse is entirely among religious, and well mannered people, and his Sunday’s Instruction sound and good. It was Providential for poor distressed Hensman to get Hudson to fill at once the Niche so fortunately vacated by Cowan,* or he might have forced himself into it again at his return. There appears to subsist a pleasant affection and confidence between the Tutor and Pupil and Hensman says the latter has easy access to his house where he often calls, and where he will get nothing but good. I have said so much about this interesting youth that I have left myself no room for other Subjects.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 25 March [1815]

Death has again been thinning the ranks of my beloved friends. Mrs. Porteus has followed her dear Bishop, I trust to the land of everlasting rest. She was to me a faithful and attached friend for 35 Years, and one of that sure and steady character that, in that long period, I never experienced from her a wry word; /or a cold look. I always spent June with them./ She had been thro life the healthiest Woman I ever knew, and her fine person and sound health gave you no idea of age. She taken, and I spared! Such is the dispensation of infinite wisdom!

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 27 April [1815]

You are very good to express so kind a wish to see us at Brampton. Few things would give us more pleasure. But I really think home is the only place for invalids, tho the sick in general seem to act on the direct contrary principle But there is another reason – we have already refused some invitations, to travel with /some/ friends and to go to meet others. Among the latter dear Mrs. H. Thornton * wished us to join her at Malvern in case she should be able to go. It was with reluctance I was obliged to say I feared we should not be able to accomplish it; tho, her sad situation considered, if we did any thing, it ought to be with a view of seeing her. Notwithstanding her Christian exertions, every letter from her seems to wear a deeper shade of woe.

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 23 August [1815]

But to return for one moment to your Bible Gala – How I should have delighted to have made an unworthy guest at this hallowed festival! What did your Neighbour say to your muster roll of Peers and Peeresses? What honour would he have done himself by joining it! A propos of Bible Meetings – Our excellent Bishop of Gloucester rode over Mendip one broiling Morning to invite P. and I to spend the week at Wells and attend a B. Meeting at Glastonbury of which he is President .