To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 23 April [1816]

To: [In another hand] The Lady O B Sparrow
Address: Tennant’s Hotel/ Southville St/ Dublin
Postmark: Present but not readable
Seal: Red wax
Watermarks: Undetermined

Market Hill/ April twenty eighth 16/ Gosport

MS: British Library, Egerton 1965 ff. 48-50
Published: Undetermined

My dearest Lady Olivia

It is high time that I should thank you for your very kind, interesting, nice, long letter. One sentence was more peculiarly welcome, the hope you gave of setting foot on English ground, and of gratifying me with the sight of you. How pleasant when that is realized. Your Right Revd. Anecdotes are most painful. You may depend on my discretion. Besides committing You, I do not love to repeat evil of dignities; especially not to biting painful truths to the ungodly. – I sympathize with you on the death of Lady Longford,[2] but rejoyce with you, in that I hear she died the death of the righteous Her saviour I trust had been sanctified to her, and drawn her nearer to her God and Saviour. Oh! how soon will the time arrive when we shall, all (true Christians I mean) acknowledge that our trials were among our chief mercies. In the mean time it is consolitary to know that ‘in all our afflictions He is afflicted’. It is a dying world.

We have lately had to mourn the loss of several dear friends. Mrs. Wm. Hoare,[3] eldest Grandaughter of my dear Lord Barham[4] has left Six Motherless children; producing the last was the immediate cause [unclear] of her Son. She was a Saint indeed! I never knew a more exemplary creature. Her trials had been great Her husband, on whom she doated, has long been in an alarming state of low spirits, and seems now perfectly torpid, except when any plan of benevolence awakens him. Gerard Noel, went down to preach his Sister’s funeral Sermon; at his return he found two of his children dead and his wife delirious![5] These things shew that the peculiar Servants of the Lord are not exempt from the common calamities of life, and that health and prosperity are no certain marks of God’s favour. [six lines of deletions]

I have not seen Mr. Hodson since his illness. He now only waits for fine weather. Mr. Sparrow dined here some time ago. He was in good health, and very open and frank, and bore his part in conversation extremely well. Mr. H wrote me he was applying mine diligently. I expect them both every day. I feel what you say on this subject, and think you judge perfectly right. Another long interruption just now might be unfavourable. If Mahomet does not go to the Mountain I trust it may bring the Mountain to Mahomet. – Shall you be in Town at the Saint’s Jubilee,[6] which I think includes most of the Month of May?

I am very uneasy about Mr. Wilberforce /he is ill/ . Much as he has done, he has not compleated his work, and I am base enough to fear his being called to his rest and his reward, from a world which still wants him. [7] I think I never was so delighted as at his present call of Providence. King Henry the first of Hayti, late Christolphe, has sent to him to send him out teachers in Natural and Experimental Philosophy, a Surgeon, School Masters &&c Is it not marvellous? But what most delights me in said King Henry is, that as he has shaken off the French /Tyranny/ he wishes also to abolish the French language. Accordingly W– has obtained of the Bible Society to send him out 5000 Testaments printed in French and English in Columns!! Is not this delightful. The new King wants to make an improved population, Wilbe. to make a Christianized one.[8] He writes to me about books Teachers &c. The latter it will be rather difficult to procure as they should know something of French. [9] I am charmed with the energy of poor infirm Sir Joseph Bankes, who says if he were not so old he would go himself.[10] I wish we could see more of this Missionary Spirit in our young Church Ministers. By the way the Missry. Meeting lately held in Bristol raised, in these distressing times above £800 besides Jewels to a considerable amount.[11]

My friend Dr. Whalley who is living at Brussels, writes me that he is lodging in the same Hotel with Cambesceres, and sees a great deal of him – He gives a curious account of the quandam Emperor, who he says used to kick and cuff his Marshalls, and knock down poor Josephine.[12]

I hope to see our dear Saint Whalley once more, he has half promised to come if he gets no worse in a week or two –

We have lately had a visit from Mr. Wm. Parnell,[13] a most sensible and I believe pious Man ; he seems to have taken a deep interests in the improvement of Ireland, and to be thoroughly acquainted with the existing state of things. I am expecting him again before he returns. He speaks most highly, that is more justly, of our friend Daly. I hope e’re this you have made your visit to Dublin and the Environs. I want you much to see my very interesting friends in that district. Pray my kindest remembrances to Mr. Dunn when you encounter him either by pen or person. My poor Sister Sarah we fear is far gone in a dropsy! the others poor invalids. I think I am rather the best of a bad bunch. Love to dear Millicent. I commend you to God and the word of his grace the Apostolic benediction. [14]

Ever my dearest Lady
Yours faithfully
H More


Letter dated by the references to the various deaths mentioned by More.


Lady Longford, born Catherine Rowley, died on 12 March 1816. She was the mother of Lady Olivia Sparrow’s good friend, Catherine Pakenham Wellesley, wife of the first Duke of Wellington. Catherine Rowley had married on 25 June 1768 Edward Michael Pakenham, second Baron Longford.


Louisa Elizabeth Noel Noel (1784/5-1816), wife of the banker William Henry Hoare (1776-1819). Her mother was Diana Middleton Noel, only daughter of Thomas Middleston, first Baron Barham.


Thomas Middleton, first Baron Barham (1726-1813), had been an acquaintance of More’s since the mid 1770s. Although both Barham and More were evangelical Christians, Barham’s faith was of the more severe Calvinistic kind, which More disliked. Barham was, however, an abolitionist, and supported efforts to abolish the slave trade both in the House of Commons (where he had been elected MP for Rochester in 1784), and in a private capacity, by offering hospitality to those of similar views.


The Reverend Gerard Thomas Noel (1782-1851), second child of Diana Middleton and Sir Gerard Noel Noel. Two daughters, whose names are not recorded, died in infancy.


More refers here to the ‘May Meetings’, a tradition amongst members of the Clapham Sect and their extended circle of gathering every May in London for the meetings of the many philanthropic or campaigning bodies with which they were connected. E. M. Foster, great-nephew of More’s goddaughter Marianne Thornton, records that ‘Pious people [...] came up for the meetings from all over England, followed the reports and discussions, took part in the voting and contributed to the collections. For some, the Week also acquired the aspect of a dramatic festival; they loved the crowds, the scenes on the platform and in the audience. Hannah More herself had written plays in her day, and must have enjoyed Marianne’s vivid reports on the proceedings.’ See E. M. Forster, Marianne Thornton: A Domestic Biography, 1797-1887 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc, 1956), p. 131.


Wilberforce’s health had never been particularly strong, and from 1812 onwards he had begun to reduce his public commitments.


Henri Christophe (1767-1820), self-styled King Henri I of Haiti, had played an important part in the liberation of Haiti from French rule in 1804, and since 1807 had been king of the northern part of the island (the southern half was ruled separately as a republic by Alexandre Pétion). In 1814 he began a correspondence with Wilberforce, largely on the subject of education, though Wilberforce also took a keen interest in Christophe’s plans to convert Haiti to Protestantism, and to abolish the use of French as the national language. Many of these changes would not ultimately come to pass, but in education Wilberforce had some success. In 1816 he agreed to send Christophe seven schoolmasters in addition to a private tutor for Christophe’s two daughters, as well as seven scholars, including a surgeon, with whom Christophe was to form a Haitian Royal Academy. Wilberforce drew on the support of the British and Foreign School Society, and the British and Foreign Bible Society, to source suitable teachers, and to facilitate the dispatch of 5000 bilingual editions of the Bible. However, the editions that arrived in Haiti were not parallel, as had apparently been promised, but presented the Biblical text in sections first of French, then English.


Wilberforce corresponded with several members of the Clapham Sect as part of his efforts to secure suitable resources to send to Haiti: Thomas Clarkson and Zachary Macaulay were also involved. Between them, they were able, despite More’s misgivings, to send several well-qualified and energetic teachers to Haiti, so that by 1818 nine schools had opened, a Royal College was training a new professional class, an art school had opened, and a Haitian printing press had begun producing textbooks for use in the rapidly-multiplying educational establishments.


Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) had, in his youth, travelled with Captain James Cook first to the eastern seaboard of Canada, and then to uncharted regions of the south Pacific in the Endeavour. He did not travel himself again, but remained for the rest of his life at the centre of a vast and complex network of government officials, nobility, scientists and prominent figures, maintained through voluminous correspondence, and through which Banks was able to wield enormous influence in support of enterprises such as Wilberforce’s in Haiti. (See The Indian and Pacific Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, edited by Neil Chambers (Pickering and Chatto, 8 vols.) He corresponded with Wilberforce about Henri Christophe’s activities, with both men so enthused that they professed in their letters a desire, should their age allow, to travel to the island themselves.


It has not been possible to verify the figure More gives here, though it was certainly the case that auxiliary branches of the Church Missionary Society contributed large sums in 1816.


Jean-Jacques Regis de Cambaceres (1753-1824), lawyer, revolutionary and Second Consul to Napoleon Bonaparte, he was the author of the Code Napoleon, the basis for the system of French civil law instituted by Napoleon in 1804. During the Empire Cambaceres acted as effective head of state when Napoleon was abroad. After the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy Cambaceres was exiled from France. He arrived in Brussels on 16 February 1816, staying first at the Imperial Crown Hotel before moving, ironically, to the Wellington Hotel.


William Parnell (c. 1780-1821), who resided in County Wicklow in Ireland. Parnell was a supporter of Catholic emancipation, and held other views that More would have found objectionable. He was, however, extremely active in support of improving the condition of the Irish people and their country.


The Apostolic Benediction comes from 2 Corinthians 13:14: ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen’ (KJV).