To Lady Olivia Sparrow, December 10 1812

To: The Lady Olivia Barnard Sparrow
Address: Brampton Park/ Huntingdon
Postmark: C12DE121812
Seal: Red Wax
Watermarks: Undetermined

Decr. 1812

MS: MS: British Library, Egerton 1965 ff. 3-4
Published: Undetermined

My dear Lady Olivia

I feel that I am assuming a new and a false character – that of an eager and punctual correspondent. I should not however have followed your traces to Brampton so soon, but that I wish to clear Mr. Cunningham in your opinion, and to take upon myself the fault of indiscretion. He did write to Mr. Macaulay what I read, and what I ought not to have read without finishing the sentence, which was ‘this must be entirely a secret.’ It woud grieve me if I am not in time to prevent your naming it to Mr. C – He, you see, trusted it to his confidential friend, and M. in the same confidence trusted it to me, with whom it remains, tho in the openness of my heart I read it to your Ladyship.

Mr. Sandford brought me your very kind letter yesterday. Oh never make apologies for writing to me! You cannot do me a greater pleasure. I am delighted that you have seen my Saint of Chelwood – other Saints are going to heaven, but he is already there pour ainsi dire. I pity him for his disappointment of your not dining with him.

Miss M – y is, as you say, well disposed on many points, but by the length and frequency of her visits, and her conceited and nervous manner she used constantly to recal to my mind, the children’s play, of Neighbour I’m come to torment you[1] .

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[2] ! 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’[3] . 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

A thousand thanks for the large Cargo of Miserable. 14 This is not the only good thing that is traduced by a bad name. We all like it much, and I doubt not I shall soon prefer it. I already find it sits much lighter on the Stomach

Pray send me at your leisure my dear Young friend’s Essay. I am glad she begins to addict herself to this wholesome Exercise If you give the topics, I would advise not always to give very serious ones at the beginning but vary them with subjects of morality and taste, as well as serious piety

Mr. Sandford let out in the joy of his heart that he and his Mary were to go to Brampton Park in May. Now I know my beloved Lady Ol[ivi]a will forgive me for saying, I hope if [tear]uld indeed be so happy as to make that pleasant visit it will not be at the same t[ime] [tear] I have a great regard for Mr. S. as a pleasant kind Neighbour, I think too that he is an improving character, but I can see him at home. I said not a word of my hope respecting my own visit, but I know he would like to make a party, and besides that tho very amiable he is not particularly intellectual I have another reason why I had rather be excused from joining them, it is too long, and too inconsiderable to trouble you with at present. I trust to that candor which I may say without flattering, makes so amiable a part of your character, to pardon this freedom, and to manage for me.

May God bless you my dearest Madam! may his holy Spirit guide, direct and sanctify all your actions to his glory and your own eternal happiness is the cordial prayer of dear
Lady Olivia Your faithful
and obliged H More

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


A game involving two participants, or neighbours one of whom enacts a series of bodily contortions having uttered, ‘Neighbour, I am going to torment you’. The other participant is supposed, in the spirit of the game, to be inflicting the contortions upon their neighbour.


Anna Seward did not, in fact, call Hannah More a ‘gloomy Calvinist’, but described her ‘talents and virtues’ in a letter to Whalley of 19 November 1801, published by Sir Walter Scott in his six-volume edition of Seward’s correspondence, which had appeared in 1811. In a subsequent paragraph Seward asserted that ‘The misery, the despair, which the gloomy Calvinistic tenets have produced, makes me abhor them; they are not Christianity; they are not common sense’ (p. 412). See Letters of Anna Seward: Written Between the Years 1784 and 1807 (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable & Co et al, 1811), pp. 411-12.


Anna Seward’s letter to Thomas Sedgwick Whalley of 19 November 1801 takes Mr. Inman’s side, though the words placed by More in quotation marks here are not found in Seward’s account of events. She writes that More had ‘distressed the feelings of that dear saint, that genuine Christian, Mr Inman, by introducing into his pulpit the rank Methodist, Mr Newton, which induced me to believe, that her endeavours to promote Methodist principles were continued in her neighbourhood’ (p. 411). A subsequent letter, to William Hayley of 7 March 1803, describes the same event in terms that more closely match those of More’s allegation: ‘When church was over Mr Inman expressed deep regret for having, however reluctantly, granted Miss More’s request. Now, said he, has this man, in one hour perhaps, rendered fruitless my labour of many years to keep my parishoners free from those wild, deceiving principles, which have turned the heads of half the poor ignorant people in this country’ (Letters of Anna Seward vol. 6, p. 65).