To Lady Olivia Sparrow from Mary Roberts on behalf of Hannah More, 14 April [1832]

To: The Lady Olivia B Sparrow
Address: Brampton Park/ Huntingdonshire
Stamped: BRISTOL AP14 1832C
Postmark: None
Seal: Black Wax
Watermarks: Undetermined


MS: British Library, Egerton 1965 f. 100-1
Published: Undetermined

Dear Madam

I feel it necessary to apologise for this intrusion, but hope that the motive which has prompted it may obtain its excuse. Your Ladyship must be well aware that our dear Friend Mrs. Hanh. More has a considerable number of your letters to her, in her possession ; these letters, as well as those of many other of her valued correspondents, she has been fond of looking over, but being no longer capable of exercising the same care & caution as formerly, she suffers them to lie scattered on her Table, liable to the inspection of any person who may have more curiosity than honour. We have however, prevailed upon her to deposit your letters Madam, with those of Mr. Wilberforce &c with us, & they are at present in our possession – I can with truth affirm unread.

I would therefore take the liberty of proposing a reciprocal exchange of your Ladyship’s & Ly. Mandeville’s letters to dear Mrs H More, & of her’s to you, all those passages in her’s which relate to any private or confidential matters being of course previously obliterated: our dear Friend has authorized us to make similar applications to some of her Friends which we have done in many instances successfully. It will very much add to the interest of her future Memoir, the materials for (which we propose to place in the hands of an able Editor) that it should be enriched by a selection of her letters & we candidly avow that it would be highly desirable & serviceable to us, to obtain thro’ the kindness of some of her intimate correspondents an early possession of as large a portion of her letters as is possible, in order that we may while we have leisure select a few from each parcel of those which are the most interesting & worthy of insertion –

Perhaps I ought to mention, that she has confided all her papers at her death to the care of my Sister & myself[2]

If your Ladyship should think proper to accede to this proposal, will you have the goodness, when it suits with your convenience, to inform me to what place we are to direct the packet containing your letters, & to send those of our dear Friend directed for her to be left till called for, at Mr. Bulgin’s Bookseller Corn St. Bristol –

I am happy to be enabled (thro’ Divine Mercy) to say that this dear venerable Friend enjoys a greater share of health than was perhaps at any former period of her life allotted to her, & altho’ her memory visibly & almost daily declines, yet her sweet & kind affections, her placidity, her desire to make all around her happy, & her readiness, nay eagerness to distribute for every pious & benevolent purpose, remains in fuller vigour than ever, & render the mild lustre of her setting Sun most lovely & attractive: & your Ladyship will be happy to hear, that at times when she has thought herself about to be called to her Heavenly Rest, she has expressed her entire willingness to depart, & her fine & sure hope of Salvation thro’ the alone merits of her Redeemer

My Sister begs to unite with me in cordial respect, to your Ladyship, & I have the honour to be
Dear Madam, Your’s very faithfully
Mary E Roberts


The letter is dated based on the postmarks.


Mary and Margaret Roberts were More’s joint literary executrixes, though Mary Roberts ultimately predeceased More, dying in 1832. Margaret eventually handed on the papers she had gathered to her brother, William Roberts, who used them for his 1834 biography of More.