To Lady Olivia Sparrow, January 16 1815

To: The Lady Olivia B. Sparrow
Address: Brampton Park/ Huntingdon
Postmark: C18JA181815
Seal: Red Wax
Watermarks: Undetermined

January 1814

MS: MS: British Library, Egerton 1965 ff. 28-9
Published: Undetermined

My dearest Lady Olivia

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[1] , a letter from Mr. Wilberforce[2] 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[3] , 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[4] 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 !

I have not heard from you of an age. Do give me a line to say when you go to Town, that I may know where to send Saint Paul to wait on you. The printing will be finished to morrow I hope and it will probably be out in [deletion] ten days. I have sent your name to Cadell to send Your copy; with that of your neighbour Bishop to Huntingdon, but if you are moving you woud perhaps like it better to meet you in Town. I am also going to order [to] Hatchard to send You the new Edition of the Dramas with the Additional Scene in Moses .[5] Pray speak of this to your friends to prevent their encouraging the pirated Editions – The genuine is only printed by Cadell and Davies.

I long to know how your health /is/ and whether you have gained strength by living quietly at home. I have had an Ophthalmia [6] 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.

Patty joins me in every kind regard to dear Millicent, not forgetting our good Mr. Obins.

Adieu my dearest lady – I must end as I began – poor dear Mrs. Thornton! – When you write tell me if Mr. Hodson is at Cambridge
Your Ladyship's
obligd H More

Are you not pleased with Mr. Whalley's little book ? I am delighted, but not with the Title


Henry Thornton's case was indeed hopeless; ironically More wrote this letter on the day of Thornton's death at the home of his close friend William Wilberforce following a 'fit'. He had been unwell for several years with suspected tuberculosis. He was buried at St. Paul's in Clapham the following week.


Henry Thornton had moved to Wilberforce's home at Kensington Gore towards the end of 1814 in order to be cared for in his final decline. See Anne Stott, Wilberforce: Family and Friends (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 180.


Marianne Sykes had married Henry Thornton on 1 March 1796. The couple had nine children: the youngest, Charles, was just four years old at his father's death.


Thornton was attended principally by two medical men, Dr Pennington and Sir Henry Halford; the latter had been appointed physician-extraordinary to George III in 1793, became FRS in 1810, and was considered at this time to be one of the most eminent doctors in London.


The eighteenth edition of Sacred Dramas (originally published in 1782) was brought out in 1815 by Cadell and Davies. More added a fourth scene to 'Moses in the Bulrushes', the first of the 'Sacred Drama'. In the new scene Moses's sister outlines her brother's future greatness.


An inflammation of the eye. More had frequent bouts of poor health in her eyes as she aged. These episodes at times made it difficult to maintain her correspondence without assistance.