Hannah More to Marianne Thornton, November 1817

Stamped: None
Postmark: None
Seal: None
Watermarks: SS 1815


MS: Cambridge University Library, Add.7674/1/E7
Published: Undetermined

My dearest Marianne

You will believe that we must both have been very poorly indeed when we could be capable of such a piece of self denial as to postpone the offered gratification of seeing you and your invaluable Inmates. I hope you will not punish /us/ for not receiving you in the Winter by keeping away in the Summer, if we live so long.

I took your letter very kindly. In a world where generosity is more valued than justice, a free will offering is more acceptable than the payment of a debt, of course your letter was more welcome than if you had owed it me.

Time tho it has somewhat tranquilized our spirits, has not lightened the feeling of our irreparable loss. Whether we consider the bereaved Prince, or the Country, the calamity is unspeakably great.[2] An exquisitely fond and happy, as well as a virtuous and pious Prince and Princess sounded like a Romance, but the woeful catastrophe has brought us back to /the sadness of/ real history. Notwithstanding the delightful and truly Christian letter with which Mr. Inglis favoured /me/ I cannot help considering the Event as a frowning Providence. Why do we slide so much, nationally, from our daily and hourly dependence upon God? Why were no public prayers offered up for this sweet Princess? Why was the abundant harvest, a blessing as unexpected as underserved, never acknowledged at least in our Churches? Why are our Rulers in the Church so much less vigilant and active than those of the State? /Yet/ Why are our public recognitions of divine Mercy, so much less frequent as well as less fervent than those of the [firstborn?] States? I sometimes lay this flattering oration to my Soul, that perhaps we feel more than we say, and they say more than they feel.

If ever I could be disposed to wish myself a Papist it would be immediately on the death of one in whom one has taken a warm interest. It seems comfortless, that after one has watched over them and offered up petitions for them, that in the moment of the greatest interest, that of their dissolution prayer must cease, the object of your solicitation is beyond its reach, and what was duty one moment is become unlawful the next.

Dear Lady Olivia! She will I fear be a sacrifice to this hopeless case. I wish the Doctors would let poor suffering creatures, when hope is extinguished, die in their own beds, and not embitter their pains by the addition of wearisome journeys and inconvenient lodgings.[3] How fortunate, especially for poor Millicent, was your meeting. It must have cheered her heart.

Bristol quite rivals London both in grief of heart and its outward expression. Scarcely a dry eye at all the crowded Churches on Wednesday[4] We sent all our Servants in and outside of the Carriage that some of the Family at least might be benefited by the Sermon, at our own Church there was none!

I have obeyed Mr. Inglis’ commands in writing to the Miss Roberts’ on the Subject of the Bristol Review, I shall see them soon when I shall be more explicit. I wished, when I read it that some of those horrid quotation from that Wretch Lady Morgan[5] had been omitted, for tho they were doubtless inserted with a view to inspire horror, yet religion is more honoured by their exclusion than by their condemnation. Mr. R I believe did not write it, yet as Editor[6] he might have prevented. As to Llalla Rooks[7] (I don’t know how to spell it) and other mischiefs of the Byron School they are so nauseous to me that I rarely look at them. I find the Review of Sheridan was by Roberts[8] . I think it a Masterly criticism. I fancy too by the style that he reviewed French Literature[9] . I cannot agree with you in the condemnation of this Article. There was a passage or two I think I did not like, but I cant recollect what. I think it a very able Review. I know few persons who could have written it, because few possess such a knowledge of the French Writers. I do not agree him in his censures of Borleau [sic] or Racine but that is more matter of taste. I was afforded [letter ends abruptly]


The letter is dated based on the reference to the funeral of Princess Charlotte.


The death of Princess Charlotte, the heir presumptive, in November 1817 had hit More and the country hard.


Lady Olivia Sparrow’s only son, Robert, was dying from consumption. His mother travelled with him into Europe in an attempt to secure relief from the condition.


Princess Charlotte was buried on Wednesday 19 November 1817 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.


William Roberts published a review of Lady Morgan’s France (2 vols, 1817) in The British Review 10 (1817), 333-50, which concluded with the phrase, ‘Therefore it is - that we have held her book up to the disgust of the modest, the horror of the pious, and the ridicule of the wise’ (p. 350). Read online.)


William Roberts was editor of the British Review, and London Critical Journal from 1811-22.


Lalla-Roohk (1817) by Thomas Moore.


Article XIII, 'Memoirs of the Rt. Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan', British Review, 10 (Nov, 1817), 241-95.


Article XX, 'French Literature and Criticism', British Review, 10 (Nov, 1817), 434-84.