To Lady Olivia Sparrow, December 29 1812

To: The Lady Olivia B Sparrow
Address: Brampton Park/ Huntingdon
Postmark: A31DE311812
Seal: Red Wax
Watermarks: Undetermined

Decr. 1812

MS: MS: British Library, Egerton 1965 ff. 5-6
Published: Undetermined

My dear Lady Olivia

The stings of my conscience get the better of all impediments to writing, and while I am constantly eating you at breakfast, and drinking you at dinner I can no longer rest under the load of ingratitude of not cordially thanking you for the affectionate interest you take in my health by your kind present of Arrow Root [1] – I must just observe by the way that it would have been more speedy as well as safe had both been directed to me at Mr. Adorns’s Wine Street Bristol.

But among all the sensual gratifications with which you furnish me, I must not forget those of the intellect. Your pleasant letter was a treat to me. I felt inclined, but I resisted the inclination, to envy your Bible feast[2] at Cambridge I am astonished how Mr. Cunningham continues to rise upon himself every time he speaks; but on this awakening Bible business, the heart helps out the head. It gives birth /to/ a joint production; piety as well as talent animating the piece Our County project for a Bible Society[3] is very uphill work. The Bishop against it[4] . The Aristocracy friendly. I have been charmed with a letter I have just read on the occasion from Lord Egmont, manly decision and deep piety were strongly expressed. The noble and Royal Meeting at Westonmister [sic], headed by five Princes of the blood, will I trust give a new impulse to the Provincial Societies[5] . Mrs. H. Hornton who was present, gave me an interesting report of the day.

I hope your holidays go on prosperously and that you have an improving as well as a merry Christmas . By the way that epithet has done infinite harm. I can only account for its introduction by the supposition, that it had not then the meaning we now annex to it. I have observed that some of the Saints and Martyrs of the Reformation are said to have been merry under their trials, which could only mean cheerful the sense in which the word was then used; but it has unhappily apologized for increased dissipation among the higher classes, and revelry and drunkenness among the poor. I know Clergymen who shelter their practices under the term.[6]

Tell dear Millicent, with my best love /I thank her/ for the honourable fidelity of her attachment to me But that the heart of a Christian is large, and his affections liberal, all his delight is in such as excel in Virtue and in this excellence I bow down before Mr. Whalley. Entre nous he wants nothing but a little of that merry-ness or cheerfulness of which I have spoken, to captivate young people. I have failed in my introduction of some of them to him; as he does not present the exterior of that happiness of which however his heart is full. I never saw the power of generous Christianity more exemplified than in this Saint.

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[7] . So dont be anxious about company.

Adieu my dearest Lady Olivia – May you and yours experience all the blessings and consolations (which I trow are as good as the compliments) of this hallowed and gracious Season. May God bless you and your dear children and carry you thro’ the important work of their education to their own eternal benefit, and his glory! – Most faithfully and affectionately
H More

I had almost forgot to say that ‘Christian Morals’ was sent to Bruton St. ten days ago. There are sad typographical errors; of which I sent a list, but the Printer would not stay to insert it, a new Edition having been called for, on the day this came out of the Press. I shall get into sad disgrace about it. Lord Gambier sent a kind Note with your letter, as this is single I will not trouble him with this. If Mr. T. Cunningham is with You I beg to be kindly remembered to him. – How go on your polemical Neighbours. You are really odly situated


Arrowroot was thought to help soothe and relieve the symptoms of stomach and bowel complaints.


The Bible Society feasts were social get-togethers and also money-raising events. They were usually held in the summer, in the open air, and food and drink was served.


The British and Foreign Bible Society was founded in London on 7 March 1804, and many prominent evangelicals were amongst its supporters. The Society’s single aim was to promote ‘the circulation of the Scriptures’ amongst all Christian denominations, regardless of language, origins, or liturgical differences. The broad membership, which included some high churchmen as well as dissenters, attracted some hostility from those who felt the Society endorsed the ‘heresy’ of varying Christian worship.


The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Richard Beadon had supported More during the Blagdon Controversy, but was High Church.


Considerable efforts were made during 1812 and 1813 to promote the formation of ‘Auxiliary Bible Societies’ in various districts of London. The Dukes of York, Kent, Cumberland, Sussex and Cambridge (George III’s second, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh sons) were heavily involved in the establishment of these ‘Auxiliaries’, in which work they were supported by several prominent members of the aristocracy.


More is incorrect in asserting that there had been a shift in the meaning of ‘merry’ in recent years. From the fourteenth century onwards a common meaning of ‘merry’ was to be ‘boisterous or cheerful due to alcohol’, and ‘Merry Christmas’ had been a greeting from the early sixteenth century. See ‘merry, adj.’ OED Online.


Corinthians 12:14