To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 13 December [1815]

To: No name
Address: None
Stamped: None
Postmark: None
Seal: None
Watermarks: Undetermined


MS: British Library, Egerton 1965 ff. 42-5
Published: Undetermined

My dearest Lady Olivia

At length I have to thank you for a most interesting nice long letter, written on respectable whole sheets of Paper not crammed and stuffed by scraps into corners hardly decypherable for want of space, but ample and liberal as to paper, as well as delightful as to matter and manner. Whether this one only symptom of good which your letters ever wanted be acquired by your writing from the large-hearted and liberal minded country you now inhabit (for such I have always conceived Ireland with all its faults to be) or whether your desire of increasing my pleasure has generously increased with your distance from me I shall not enquire : in any case as I have the benefit so you have the praise –

Your whole tour, the exquisite natural beauties with which your eyes and your mind were feasted – for I hold fine natural scenery to be partly an intellectual pleasure – the society of some of my favorite friends, altogether made my mouth water; but I was however generous enough to rejoyce that you were enjoying delights for which I myself have so high a relish; indeed there are no merely earthly pleasures to be put into competition with the beauties of nature, where they are in their highest beauty, and with the enjoyments of friendship; but then to render the latter compleat one must have a strong assurance that the friendship we are cherishing will be an immortal friendship. Without this, the highest participation even of mental excellence will leave an unsatisfactory, uncaring void in the heart that has devoted itself to the service of God.

I am sorry you saw so little of Mrs. La Touche I earnestly hope that visit will be yet made; to say nothing of her residence which I wish to see of all places, she is herself very interesting, and a character of inestimable value. (by the way) I am astonished at what you tell me of Mr. Knox, if there is any coolness it must be on his part. I am sure it has not been on mine. We have not indeed corresponded as largely as we used to do, but he himself has apologized for it, from his other pursuits. My esteem for his virtues and admiration of his talents are great and undiminished. We do not indeed think alike on certain religious points and Mr. Jebb (whom I also much love) had the candor to tell me that our difference in this matter was the reason why he did not write to thank me for my books . but I did not know why this should make any coolness among /Christian/ friends, I am sure it will make none in heaven, and I am the last person who would lower my regard for a friend on account of their opinion of my writings. I shall hope to see both Knox and Jebb next Summer.

General Macaulay who has been with us , boasts much of some pleasant hours spent with you in Wales. He is a superior Man, brimful of information One of our best Orientalists. He is just returned from his second visit to the City of sin, whither he went to see his friend the Duke of Wellington.[2] He is going again on a Mission about the French New Testament, which I am happy to say hi /a/ s /been/ circulated by many Priests, to the amount of three Editions. – I hope you have seen Mr. Roberts’ excellent Article on ‘The Church in Danger’ in the last British Review .[3] I am glad to find that valuable work is in high repute.

We had a visit lately from my excellent friend the Bp of Gloucester who is raising the tone of religion in his new See as he has done at Wells.

Your account of Lady Gosford is truly gratifying May it please her heavenly Father to bless her with all peace and joy in believing! May she find more and more of the internal support of that blessed principle which none but real Christians can either feel, or believe, or understand! May her amiable Lord follow her steps! What you tell me of their family worship is quite exhilarating. Lady G, now her fine sense has found its best and noblest object will make no common Christian.

I hope your abode is quite out of the reach of alarm. Mr. Shaw M. P. for Dublin[4] has sent me a frightful pamphlet artfully composed by the enemy called ‘Irish History’.[5] 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[6] and the Dean of Cork.[7] Yet it is impossible to be quite easy, especially since that abominable deed the restoration of the Jesuits.[8]

We have got a new Neighbour Mr. C. Maude a Son of Lady Haywarden,[9] who is curate of Blagdon, Lady Lifford &c wrote to recommend him strongly to me. He is but just three and twenty, very amiable with much naiveté and good nature, takes advice kindly, and allows me to say any thing to him, and I try to give my opinions in a fine cheerful way not to frighten him. He has of course much to learn, being but just escaped from Christ Church ;[10] he is very kind to the poor and already much liked by them, he seems humble, has no high notions, but talks of his little self denials and frugal management with much openness. I let him come when he likes and hope to be in some little degree useful to him as I know the people . He is about to marry a very young Girl, much will depend on her turn of Mind.

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.[11] 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[12] 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[13] , 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.

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’.

How have I run on. I never write long letters but to you. Indeed I seldom write at all to my real and beloved friends. My whole time almost goes to strangers. I think I have had no less than eight letters lately from North America where a good spirit of religion seems to prevail while Virginia and the Southern Provinces are as profligate and irreligious as Paris itself.

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.[14] 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


The letter is dated using contextual evidence, which reference events in Paris and London.


The Duke of Wellington concluded the Treaty of Paris on 20 November 1815, under which French borders were returned to their 1790 position, and punitive reparations levied.


In the November issue of The British Review, and London Critical Journal, Roberts published a lengthy article entitled ‘The Church in Danger’ in which he discussed several of the pamphlets written on the subject of the British and Foreign Bible Society, including the letter to the Bishop of Gloucester written by Thomas Gisborne (see also 'To Olivia Sparrow, 20 October 1815'). Roberts’s article featured missives from both sides of the argument, though his own view was firmly in favour of the work of the Bible Society for having raised ‘a great proportion of these neutral beings’ (by which he meant the poor) ‘into a state of positive religion’ (The British Review, November 1815, pp. 252-287 (p. 255)). (Read on Google Books.)


Robert Shaw (later Sir Robert; 1774-1849), who was elected MP for Dublin in 1804 (having previously served as MP for Bannow). Shaw retired from parliament in 1826. In addition to his political role, Shaw was also a prominent financier, and played a role in establishing the Royal Bank of Ireland.


The pamphlet More mentions may be "A sketch of Irish history, : compiled by way of question and answer for the use of schools", written by Mother Ursula Young (an Ursuline Sister) and printed in Cork by J. Geary in 1815. (Read on Google Books.) This pamphlet, something of an Irish nationalist catechism, was frequently cited in debates about the dangers of Catholic education in Ireland. Before a select committee on 'the State of Ireland' in 1825-26, the Archbishop of Dublin declared that had received a copy of this book in 1815, and found it "so monstrous" that he sent a copy to a member of parliament. The MP in question may have been Shaw, who then forwarded it to More. (Read the parliamentary discussion on Google Books.)


Dr Woodward was the Rector at Balleyloch in County Cork.


William Magee (1766-1831) was Dean of Cork at this time, having been appointed in 1814. Magee held high church evangelical views, and was a political conservative.


The Society of Jesus had been suppressed by Pope Clement XIV in 1773; it was not restored until 1814, when Pope Pius VII issued a bull titled ‘Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum’ (The Care of all Churches), allowing for the Jesuits to operate across the Catholic world.


The Rev. Hon. John Charles Maude was appointed curate at Blagdon in October 1815. He was the son of Cornwallis Maude, first Viscount Hawarden (1729-1803), and his third wife, Anne Isabelle Monck (1759-1851).


Christ Church, Oxford. According to Alumni Oxonienses, Maude maticulated in 1812 and graduated BA in 1815.


George Baring had been vicar of Winterbourne Stoke in Wiltshire.


This group was known as ‘the Baring Sect’, and were the group behind the ‘Western Schism’. (See also 'To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 13 Deceber 1815)


William Huntington (1745-1813), a Calvinist preacher, had opened a ‘Providence Chapel’ in London in 1783. There, his evangelical sermons attracted a numerous and varied congregation, which included some prominent members of the nobility, though his popularity with the poor perhaps contributed to the anxiety of those critical of his message. In July 1810 the chapel burned to the ground. Huntington was able to raise the funds to build another, ‘New Providence Chapel’, on Gray’s Inn Road, less than a year later. After Huntington’s death the chapel remained proprietary (belonging to a private individual, though open to the public) until 1836. It does not ultimately appear to have passed into the hands of the Baring Sect.


The Hon. Charles Stewart (1775-1837) was the third surviving son of the Earl of Galloway, John Stewart. Ordained deacon in 1798 and priest in 1799, Stewart was selected as a missionary to north America in 1807. For the next twenty years he was extremely active over a vast swathe of the eastern part of the continent, travelling thousands of miles some years between Montreal in the north and Vermont in the south. As a result of his ministry twenty-four churches were built in the region, all of which attracted large and loyal congregations. Stewart was generous with money, and gave support to various charitable causes. He would be consecrated Bishop of Canada in 1826.