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Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Mrs. Hannah More. By William

ROBERTS, Esq., author of the “Portraiture of a Christian Gentleman." In 2 vols. 1834.

For many years, no future biography has been looked for with anticipations of deeper interest, than that of HANNAH MORE. This aged and venerated female, having at last closed her earthly course, and entered

her reward, such a book has now made its appearance. We scarcely need add, that its contents afford much gratification in their perusal. It was impossible, that the records of so long a life, passed in so extensive a circle of admiring friends, many of them, like herself, distinguished for literary attainments, should prove otherwise. Mr. Roberts, to whom the office was intrusted, of thus embalming the memory of his deceased friend, one, known for half a century as exerting a powerful influence, by her writings, example, and charities, on the christian world,-bas availed himself of the ample materials placed at bis disposal, and given us a full, connected view of the principal events of her life, and her intercourse with others. It can hardly be said, indeed, that the biographical part of the work bears a large proportion to the other parts. The plan which he has adopted, though probably not so satisfactory to the hasty reader, whose desire is, to embrace at once the whole incidents of a long lise, and the traits of cbaracter exhibited, yet possesses its advantages; and the book will be a gratifying one to those, who are desirous of forming a true estimate respecting the development of Mrs. M's. mind, under the operation of the various influences by which she was surrounded. Mr. Roberts, doubtless, had in view as his model, Hayley's Life of Cowper, or some such biography : at all events, he has adopted a similar method of presenting his subject to his readers. Interweaving short notices of her life, at various periods, with copious extracts from her valuable correspondence, he has given us a work, which is a sort of literary mosaic, enriched with the sentiments of many persons, whose names stand high in the literary world. In these letters from herself and friends, may be found, short sketches of character, and graphic representations of passing events; which are the more valuable, as they were struck off at once, in the moment of familiar correspondence, and probably without any expectation of their future appearance before the public. We are thus introduced into the circle of Hannah More's friendships ; and while much new information is furnished us, respecting many well-known characters, we are enabled to mark, froin year to year, the glorious advancement of her gifted mind, in the industrious application of her powers to every good work; and especially, her increasing growth in grace, and devotedness to her Savior. The lengthened period of her earthly pilgrimage; the celebrity which she so early acquired, and which brought her into such extensive acquaintance with so many who were lavish in their tributes of admiration and applause; the endearing society of the sisterhood, who passed their days together, beneath the same roof; are circumstances in her history, well calculated to display a character, which, all will admit, was no ordinary one. Hannah More is thus presented to us in a variety of situations :-in scenes of worldly fame and prosperity, caressed by the great, the learned, and the good, as well as by the high-born and the gay; in the midst, too, of much that is painful, being called to part with old and longtried friends, and beloved relatives, and to recall all those numerous and cherished remembrances, which crowd upon the mind with each successive change of situation. We may thus trace her progress, from her first entrance upon her course of usefulness, till, having nearly reached her fourscore and ten years, the last survivor of five sisters, for more than half a century knit together by a constant, delightful reciprocation of affection, she peacefully sinks to rest, supported by the same calm and holy trust in Jesus, which was exemplified so remarkably during her whole life, and which, with all the powers of her fine mind, she so earnestly and unweariedly sought to inculcate on others. Our particular purpose now, however, is, not to delineate her character, but, leaving such an estimate, both of her character and writings, for a subsequent period, we shall merely sketch the prominent incidents of her life, as they are contained in Mr. Roberts' work ; adding such extracts from different portions of these volumes, as may serve to illustrate the several periods of her history.


HANNAH MORE, the youngest but one of five daughters, was born in 1745, in the parish of Stapleton, in the county of Gloucester. The families from which her parents descended, were respectable; and several interesting anecdotes are given by Mr. Roberts, concerning her grand-parents and other relatives. At a very early age, she is said to have been distinguished for great quickness of apprehension, retentiveness of memory, and a thirst after knowledge. Among the circumstances relating to her childhood, it is mentioned, that her purse bad once lived in the family of Dryden ; and that little Hannah was ever desirous of hearing some stories respecting the great poet. Here, probably, were the dawnings of that taste for poetry, which was afterwards so conspicuously displayed; and the future poetess may have been thus formed under the promptings of genius so nurtured. Her taste for writing, very early developed itself, and essays, little poems, etc., were the fruit of her childish attempts. These were committed to the guardianship of one of her sisters, who seems to have done

what was in her power, to foster the talent of the young authoress. At this period, it was a frequent amusement of little Hannah, to speak of riding to London; to see bishops and booksellers. We pass over, however, the details of the history of her earlier years, in which there is much that is interesting, and during which time, she profited by the instruction of her father, and under the care of her elder sisters. Her sisters had commenced a boarding-school, at Bristol ; where, at the age of twelve, she went to avail herself of the benefit of masters in the modern languages. Her progress, in these pursuits, appears to have been rapid and satisfactory. In her sixteenth year, we find her introduced to the elder Sheridan, in consequence of a copy of verses, which she presented bim through a friend, and which led bim to seek an acquaintance with their author. An amusing instance of the fascination of her powers of conversation, at this time, occurs in the following anecdote :

* About the same period, a dangerous illness brought her under the care of Dr. Woodward, a physician of eminence at that day, and distinguished by his correct taste. On one of his visits, being led into conversation with his patient, on subjects of literature, he forgot the purpose of his visit, in the fascination of her talk; till suddenly recollecting himself, when he was half-way down stairs, he cried out, "" Bless me! I forgot to ask the girl how she was ;” and returned to the room, exclaiming, “How are you to day, my poor child ?”! vol. i.

In her seventeenth year, she wrote her poetical drama, called “ Search after Happiness,” for recitation by the young ladies of the school. Mr. Roberts thus relates her advancing pursuit of knowledge :

• At the age of twenty, having access to the best libraries in her neighborhood, she cultivated with assiduity the Italian, Latin, and Spanish languages, exercising her genius, and polishing her style in translations and imitations, especially of the odes of Horace, and of some of the dramatic compositions of Metastasio, which were shown only to her more intimate literary friends, of whom some have left their testimonies to their spirit and elegance. She was not, however, in sufficient good-humour with these, or any of her very early compositions, to allow them to live. The only one which was rescued was Metastasio's opera of Regulus, which, after it had lain by for some years, she was induced to work into a drama, and publish, with the title of “ The Inflexible Captive."

It is related of her, in proof of the ease with which she transfused the spirit of the Italian authors into her own language, that being present at a celebrated Italian concert, to gratify one of the company, who was desirous of knowing the subject of some parts of the performance, she took out her pencil, and gave a translation of them, which was snatched from her, and inserted in the principal magazine of the day. She ranked among her literary friends at this time, Dean Tucker, Dr. Ford, and Dr. Stonehouse ; persons, to mix with whom upon equal torms, was proof Vol. VI.



sufficient (for she was then only between twenty and thirty) of her early maturity of understanding.' vol. i. p. 27.

Soon afterwards, her hand was solicited in marriage, by a gentleman of fortune, though much older than herself. Mr. Turner, the gentleman alluded to, is said to have been a man of strict honor and integrity, of liberal education, and of intellectual character, having a taste for poetry, fine scenery, etc., but deficient in a cheerful and composed temper. The parties were actually engaged, and the day more than once fixed for their marriage; but it was postponed by himself. These repeated instances of irresolution, caused the interference of her sisters and friends; and a final dissolution of the engagement was agreed upon, by mutual consent. Mr. Turner proposed settling upon her an annuity, but Miss More would not consent to the proposal ; and it was not till some time after the whole affair was concluded, that she was prevailed upon, by the importunity of her friends, to accept of an annual sun, which might enable her to devote herself to literary pursuits ; and which Mr. T. had placed in the bands of Dr. Stonehouse, as agent and trustee ; desirous thereby of making some slight compensation for the robbery which be bad committed upon her time. Mr. Turner, it is said, always spoke in the highest terms of Miss More; and at his death, also bequeathed her a legacy of a thousand pounds. Soon after this, her hand was again solicited by another person, and again refused; and, as before, the attachment was succeeded by a mutual cordial respect through life. Her biographer next presents her to us, as introduced into the society of London, mingling in easy intercourse with such persons as Garrick, Reynolds, Johnson, the Burkes, Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Carter, and others of similar standing in the literary and fashionable world. Her letters, at this time, display an enthusiastic admiration of genius and talent; a weakness, if it is one, which may be pardoned in a young person, just introduced into the society of those, whose acquaintance was sought by multitudes, both at home and from abroad. Although here and there, in the records of this period, we discover traces of the influence of a pious education, yet there was evidently not that deep-seated vitality of religious feeling, which was so eminent in the after periods of her life. The author, indeed, (and we coincide in his opinion,) considers her as now pious; but he has no where given an intimation, as to what time we are to ascribe the dawnings of that holy principle, which had found a lodgment in her bosom, and which, as a talisman of superior power, guarded her in her entrance upon the world, and, though it did not altogether withdraw her from the fascinations of fashionable life, yet « broke and defeated its spells and its forgeries.” There is much to interest the reader, in the correspondence which is connected with this period of her life. Her first visit to London, was in com

pany with two of her sisters, in 1773 or '74, where she remained about six weeks, and then returned with them to Bristol. Her deliveation of the effect produced upon her by Garrick's Lear, in a letter to a common friend, led him to seek her acquaintance; and the consequence was, that a foundation was laid of a lasting friendship with bimself and Mrs. Garrick, by both of whom she was soon introduced to their large circle of acquaintance. The following year, in 1775, she made a second visit to the city, of the same length as the first. In the interval which elapsed between this visit and the succeeding one, made in January, 1776, she composed her legendary tale of Sir Eldred of the Bower, and the little poem of The Bleeding Rock. These works were properly her first appearance before the public as an author, and complimentary letters and visits flowed in upon her from every quarter ; so that from this time, her fame may be considered as established, although the acceptance of her tragedy of Percy, the year after, was a still higher triumph, which awaited her.

We add a few extracts from that part of the work, which is occupied with this period of her life, principally from the letters of one of her sisters :

· London, 1774. We have paid another visit to Miss Reynolds. She had sent to engage Dr. Percy, (Percy's collection,-now you know him,) quite a sprightly modern, instead of a rusty antique, as I expected. He was no sooner gone, than the most amiable and obliging of women (Miss Reynolds,) ordered the coach to take us to Dr. Johnson's very own house ; yes, Abyssinia's Johnson ! Dictionary Johnson ! Rambler's, Idler's, and Irene's Johnson ! Can you picture to yourselves the palpitation of our hearts, as we approached his mansion? The conversation turned upon a new work of his, just going to the press, (the Tour to the Hebrides,) and his old friend Richardson. Mrs. Williams, the blind poet, who lives with him, was introduced to us. She is engaging in her manners ; her conversation lively and entertaining. Miss Reynolds told the doctor of all our rapturous exclamations on the road. He shook his scientific head at Hannah, and said, " She was a silly thing.When our visit was ended, he called for his hat, (as it rained,) to attend us down a very long entry to our coach, and not Rasselas could have acquitted himself more en cavalier. We are engaged with him at Sir Joshua's, Wednesday evening. What do you think of us?

I forgot to mention, that not finding Johnson in his little parlor when we came in, Hannah seated herself in his great chair, hoping to catch a little ray of his genius; when he heard it, he laughed heartily, and told her it was a chair on which he never sat. He said it reminded him of Boswell and himself, when they stopped a night at the spot (as they imagined,) where the Weird Sisters appeared to Macbeth: the idea so worked upon their enthusiasm, that it quite deprived them of rest : however, they learned, the next morning, to their mortification, that they had been deceived, and were quite in another part of the country. vol. i. pp. 37, 38.

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