To Lady Olivia Sparrow, 11 August [1819]

To: The Lady Olivia Sparrow
Address: Brampton Park/ Huntingdon
Postmark: B13AU131819
Seal: Capital M in red wax
Watermarks: Undetermined

Augst. 1819 –

MS: British Library, Egerton 1965 f. 76-7
Published: Undetermined

My dearest Lady Olivia

Such a letter as your last should not have been unanswered a day, if I could have commanded my time, but in different ways I have really been working double tides. So much company, such an over-flow of letters, to say nothing of a presumptuous book of between 5 and 6 hundred pages hurried over in a few Months. [2] – It will be abused, and I am prepared for it. I hope Hatchard has by this time sent it you as I directed before publication Professor Farish who was here the other day gave us an interesting account of your Bible Meeting. I rejoyce that Episcopal tyranny could not defeat your pious labours. I have heard such stories lately from that quarter, as I had rather repeat than write.[3]We too in our little way had a most prosperous Meeting[4] 40 Clergymen &c – 120 dined at Barley Wood in the Garden chiefly, and 200 drank tea – I shall thankfully forwards your kind Subscriptions to the French Translation, as soon as I am informed that my former one was received. [5] They frightened me by calling the Tracts Contes Moraux, that Rogue Mamontal’s Title I have as I think I told you prefixed the Epithet Nouveaux which I think will obviate it.[6] The priests are very watchful and we must be prudent. I have got in the Conservateur, as well as the News papers of Paris, such abuse of the Bible Society![7] – Poor Dr. Hamilton! his society was rather too much for you! Painful recollections must have been inseparable from the sight of him. – And there is no hope![8]

I cannot express to you how much I was gratified with the long, interesting and very pleasant journal with which Miss Sparrow favoured me . But though the letter in itself was in high degree pleasing yet the circumstance of a very young lady situated as she is, and occupied as she was finding time and disposition, and will, and kindness to bestow so much attention on an old friend, merely because she knew it would give /pleasure,/ is a trait of character truly delightful; the kindness was not lost upon me, and if I could I would love her better than I did before. I will not keep back, as I had intended, my letter for a cover tho’ we are expecting within a few days, three frankers, and also dear friends in succession; for our small Accommodations do not extend to many guests at once – These are the Secretary for Ireland,[9] the Bishop of Gloucester and Mrs. Ryder, and the Bishop of St. Davids - I woud have waited to tell you about them, were I not desirous to answer the private part of your letter which indeed I ought not to have delayed so long.

On the first reading, this confidential part of your letter was perfectly unintelligible to me, but on considering it repeatedly, I found the suggestion could Only have reference to one person, as that person is the only /one/ I have seen who has been much in your way, either personally or in correspondence – I can then truly say I heard nothing from that person in the slightest degree derogatory, or disadvantageous to your so deservedly beloved daughter. If I had it must have made an impression on me; but no such impression more or less remains on my mind. She did say she was admired and sought, and named one or two young Noblemen who were said to admire her; but this was all natural, and I should have wondered if they had not. She regretted not being able to see more of her. I alleged the shortness of your stay, and the restrictions which your wisdom had suggested, and I do not remember the slightest hint that might be construed into disapprobation. Your intimations grieve me, tho they rather tend to justify, what will be thought by many, my [tear] severe animadversions on foreign Associations. They do entirely as I have found in many instances, induce a lowering of strictness, and a restlessness at staying at home.[10] I hope what I have said will quite relieve your mind, and remove the apprehensions your delicacy might have entertained

Your situation respecting this important child is instead a most delicate one. But I know you have long been accustomed to cast your care in Him who careth for you; at the same exercising the nicest discretion, most wakeful discernment, and most tender vigilance. Your having accustomed her to make accurate observations, and to live in the exercise of her own excellent and highly cultivated understanding was the dictate of sound wisdom; and her own highly principles, and tender affection for the parent from whom she has imbibed them, will I doubt /not/ insure the blessing of God, and her own comfort here, as well as her eternal happiness hereafter.

May our gracious God, my dearest Lady Olivia, bless direct and guide you both is the heartfelt prayer of your Ladyships truly
grateful & affectionate
H More

Tell M. I thank her a thousand times for her letter, and hope to answer it

[Inserted upside down between the salutation and the first line of the letter proper] Kindest regards from both to Mr. ObinsP. sends her [sic] to you both


The letter is dated using the postmarks.


More’s Moral Sketches (London: Cadell and Davies, 1819), had been published in June. (Read online


Although it has not been possible to identify the particular incidents to which More refers, evangelical innovations, such as Bible Meetings, had for many years attracted hostility from high church Bishops, who considered such activity unauthorized by the Church of England, and therefore a challenge to episcopal authority.


The Annual Meeting of the Wrington Auxiliary Bible Society, an event hosted by More and her sisters every year.


It is likely that this is a reference to a French translation of More’s Cheap Repository Tracts, plans for which had reached an advanced stage by June 1819. The translation was to be completed by James Hillhouse. See Leonard Bacon, Sketch of the life and public services of Hon. James Hillhouse of New Haven, pp. 563-4. (Read on Google Books.)


Jean-François Marmontel’s Contes Moraux were published in an English translation in 1763 as Select Moral Tales, translated from the French by a Lady (Glocester). More’s Moral Tales was published in 1819 by Cadell and Davies. See Smith, The Literary Manuscripts and Letters of Hannah More, pp. 110-1.


Le Conservateur, a French journal, took exception to the disregard shown by Bible Societies to doctrinal distinctions which, it was felt, did damage to the ‘true’ Christian message. See Le Conservateur, vol. 3 (1819), 'Des Societes Bibliques'. (Read on Google Books.) See also the letter from the Rev. C. Chabrand, Toulouse, 21 August, 1819: 'A journalist, whose publication is entitled the Conservateur, has just inserted in one of his last numbers a violent aspersion of the Bible Societies, and the principles of the Reformation in general' (The Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 15 (1819): 103 (Read on Google Books.)


According to HM, Dr Hamilton was Secretary of the Edinburgh Sabbath Schools - see her letter to Zachary Macaulay, [Jan 1821], printed in Letters of Hannah More to Zachary Macaulay, Esq, p. 175


Charles Grant the younger served as Chief Secretary of Ireland from 1818-21, succeeding Robert Peel (later Sir Robert).


More’s severe antipathy towards foreign travel (especially to France) was frequently expressed in her letters of this period, including several to Lady Olivia Sparrow, and to her goddaughter Marianne Thornton.