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Bt Propessor Jamks Bhoads.
Hajtnah More was the favourite of Dr. Johnson, the admired of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the witty and eloquent companion of Sheridan and Burke, the brave monitor of Walpole, the honoured counsellor of Porteus and Wilberforce, and the familiar fiiend of David Garrick; she was one of the most voluminous and successful writers of her time, extensively engaged in works of practical benevolence and educational reform. Of a woman so distinguished, of such fertile mind and such active industry, there is much more to be said than can be compressed within the limits of an article like this. A ihort sketch of her life and character will, however, though necessarily imperfect, be both interesting and useful.
She was the youngest of the five daughters of Jacob More, a respectable village schoolmaster, and was born at Stapleton, in Gloucestershire, England, in the year 1745. Her remarkable talents developed themselves at an early age. When but seventeen she published & pastoral drama, The Search after llappiness, which was so well received that in a short time it went through three editions. One year afterward appeared her tragedy of The Inflexii-U Captive, and numerous other poetical works
from her pen followed. It is worthy of remark, however, that though all her poems evince much poetic merit, especially her dramatic ones, and though all were received with favour by the publie, they are at the present time comparatively forgotten, and her enduring and enviable fame now rests almost altogether upon her prose works, which were principally the labours of her more mature years. About 1773 she made her entrance into society in London, where she was cordially received by the most distinguished men of the day. Of her first interview with Dr. Johnson, we have the following vivid sketch from the lively pen of one of her sisters.
"We 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 sprightly of women, Miss Reynolds, ordered the coach to take us to Dr. Johnson's very own house: yes, Abyssinian Johnson! Dictionary Johnson! Ramblers, Idlers, and Irene 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. 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 little 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 on Wednesday evening—what do you think of us? I forgot to mention that not finding Johnson in his little parlour 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 upon which he never sat. He said it reminded him of Boswcll and himself, when they stopped at night, as they imagined, where the weird sisters appeared to Macbeth. The idea so worked on 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."
About two years afterward the same sister, after the publication of Hannah's "Sir Eldred of the Bower," alludes thus to the increased intimacy between her and the great man. "If a wedding should take place before our return, don't be surprised—between the mother of Sir Eldred and the father of my much-loved Irene; nay, Mrs. Montagu says if tender words are the precursors of connubial engagements, we may expect great things, for it is nothing but 'child,' 'little fool,' 'love,' and 'dearest.'" This friendship of Johnson thus pleasantly described, was not a transient feeling, not a momentary whim, but a settled and permanent affection, founded upon a right appreciation of
the talents and characters of Hannah and her sisters. There was perhaps nothing in connexion with them which struck his mind more forcibly, than the perfect harmony and love which subsisted among them. Upon one occasion on parting with two of them, he thus characteristically alluded to it. "I love you both," he said—" I love you all five. I never was at Bristol—I will come on purpose to see you. What! five women live happily together! I will come and see you—I have spent a happy evening—God for ever bless you! you live lives to shame duchesses."
But though returning with warmth the kind feelings of all her distinguished friends, it was to Garrick that her heart clung most strongly, and from early womanhood to extreme old age her feelings of love and reverence for him knew no ebb. Only a few years before her death, and almost half a century after his dust had been laid in England's great "Abbey," to mingle with that of the most illustrious for ages, she spoke of him and his friendship in the most tender and affectionate terms. "Ah," she said, "if He had been alive, it would have been indeed a trial to have retired from the world." Alluding to his death, she said upon the same occasion,—"I should have liked to look upon his face once more, but they only showed me his coffin."
The last, or nearly the last of her published poems was entitled The Bos Blue, or Conversation. It was written to eulogize the Blue Stocking Club, a literary assembly that met at Mrs. Montagu's. This singular appellation, Blue Stocking, which was given to the club in consequence of one of its most admired members, Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet, always wear
ing blue hose, has since been generally adopted in our language, as the distinctive family name of pedantic, or affectedly literary ladies. This poem was very highly complimented. Johnson called it a great performance. The following couplets may be quoted as a sample of its terse and spirited character :—
"id men this blunder still you find,
u Small habits well pursued betimes
Soon after the publication of "BasBleu," Hannah retired from the gay world, and went again to live with her sisters, who kept a flourishing boarding-school near Bristol. In 1788, appeared her first prose work, Thought* on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to General Society. This was followed three years afterward by an Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World. Her next important work was a series of political tales, advocating or instilling conservative doctrines, and designed as an antidote to the democratic sentiments which became prevalent at the time. These tales appeared in monthly numbers, and are said to have attracted so much attention, that there were sold upwards of a million of each. With respect to her other works, I must content myself with merely giving the titles and dates of publication of some of the principal, hoping it the same time, that some at least, of those who may honour this hasty memoir with a perusal, will make themselves better acquainted with many of them. Village Politics, about 1794; Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, 1799; Hints towards forming the Character of a Young Princess, 1805; Ccelebs in Search of a Wife, comprehending Observations on Domestic Ilabits and Manners, Religion and Morals, 1809 ; Practical Piety, or the Influence of the Religion of the Heact on the Conduct of Life, 1811; Christian Morals, 1812; Essay on the Characttr and Writings of St. Paul, 1815; Moral Sketches of Prevailing Opinions and Manners, Foreign and Domestic, with Reflections on Prayer, 1819. Coelebs in Search of a Wife, one of the best of her performances, was so popular that it ran through ten editions in the first year after its publication, and it has run through almost innumerable editions since. It is a remarkable fact that this master-piece of its kind, was written while the author was confined to her bed, with a disease which caused excruciating pain, and had afflicted her for a long time previously.
INSCRIPTION OX THE MONUMENT Op BISHOP PORTEU8.
"To Beildy Portecs, late Bishop of London. In grateful memory of long and faithful friendship.—II. M."
The great success of her works placed her pecuniarily in an independent position, enabling her to live at her ease, and to dispense liberal charities to the poor around her. About 1800, she and her sisters purchased a property of considerable extent, in Somersetshire, and built upon it Barley Wood Cottage, in which they afterwards resided for many years, and in view of which they now repose in Wrighton Churchyard. Among other interesting objects in the Barley Wood grounds are two monuments, one to Locke and one to Porteus. (See engravings.) The neighbourhood of this country residence soon became the scene of labours on the part of the sisters, even more honourable than all literary triumphs. Within a circuit of eight or ten miles of their new abode, a concurrence of unhappy circumstances had reduced large numbers of the inhabitants to a state of ignorance, almost inconceivable to an American, accustomed to the universal intelligence which pervades his own country. Among these, the sisters determined to endeavour to diffuse the blessings of education and religion. After many difficulties and vexations, not the least of which proceeded from the perverseness of the ignorant beings themselves, some of whom demanded pay for sending their children to school, they were so far successful that, "on the hills of Cheddar, they had the j gratification of witnessing the celebration of a i yearly festival, where upwards of a thousand children, and numerous members of the female clubs of industry, after attending church service, were regaled at the expense of their benefactresses."
Not the least interesting part of the life of Mrs. More is yet to be noticed,—her green old age. Without being entirely free from the infirmities of temper and disposition so commonly attendant upon advanced years, she retained, in a remarkable degree, that youthful freshness of heart which, in a person of her age, like the autumn rose, exhales a fragrance grateful in itself, and still more so because it is so rare. An aneedote is related of her, when in her eightieth year, which is interesting as an elucidation of this fact. A widow and her little son paid a visit to Mrs. More at Barley Wood. When they were about to take their leave, Hannah stooped to kiss the boy— "not," says an eyewitness, '' not as old maidens usually kiss children—with a kiss of necessity —or a kiss of compliment. She took his smiling, rosy face fearlessly between her hands, and looked down upon it for a moment, as a mother would, then kissed it fondly more than once."
"And when you are a man, my child, will you remember me?" The boy's eyes glanced at the remnants of the fruit cake upon the table from which he had been eating,—" Well, remember the cake at Barley Wood," said she, reading his thoughts and laughing.
"Both," replied the little fellow; "it was nice cake, and you are so kind."
"That is the way I like the young to remember me," she rejoined, "by being kind— then you mil remember old Mrs. Hannah More?"
"Always, ma'am," he answered, "I'll try to remember it always."
"What a good child!" said she after he and his mother were gone; "and of a good stock; that child will be true as steel! I so enjoyed his glance at the cake, it was so much more natural that he should remember that than an old woman, so little taller than himself!—Children always connect size with respect,—a dear child—I hope he may be spared to his lonely mother."
Hannah More died on the 7th of September, 1833, aged eighty-eight. She was buried in Wrighton Churchyard, in a quiet and retired spot, beneath an old, but still vigorous and flourishing tree. An iron railing surrounds the lowly resting-place, and on the flat stone which covers it is this inscription:—
BENEATH ARE DEPOSITED THE MORTAL REMAINS OF FOUR SISTERS.
Mart More, died 18th April, 1813, aged 75 years.
Elizareth More, died 14th June, 1816, aged 76 years.
Sarah More, died 17th May, 1817, aged 74 years.
Martha More, died 14th September, 1819, aged 69 years.
Hannah More, died 7th September, 1833, aged 88 years.
These All Died In Paith; Accepted And BeLoved.
Heb. ch. xiv., 13.
BY GEORGE CHAMBERS.
This distinguished scholar and poet was born in London, on the tenth day of February, 1791, and is consequently, at the present time, just fiftynine years of age. He is the youngest of the three sons of Sir Francis Milman, an eminent member of the medical profession, Fellow of the Royal Society, and President of the London College of Physicians. His mother was Frances, daughter of William Hart, Esq., of Stapleton, in Gloucestershire. During his early youth he attended school at the academy of Dr. Charles Burney, of Greenwich, and afterward, daring nine years, at Eton. At the age of nineteen he was sent to Oxford, and entered at Brazennose College. His application to his studies at the University, and the energy and talent which he possessed to make his application effective, may be appreciated when it is remembered that he obtained the greatest number of prizes ever secured by one individual. Even thus early he exhibited evidence of the eloquence and the poetic power which have since made him so well known; one of the prizes to which we have just alluded was for English verse, a second for Latin verse, and a third and fourth for an English and a Latin essay.
In 1817, Mr. Milman entered into holy orders, and received the vicarage of St. Mary's, Reading. In the same year he first claimed public attention as a poet by the publication of a play called " Fazio," which though not eminently successful upon the stage, abounds in true poetry, and has many passages of remarkable merit. His next work, "Samor, Lord of the Bright City," was published about one year afterward. "Samor" is an heroic poem, celebrating an imaginary event—the defeat and expulsion of the Saxon invaders from Great Britain. An estimate of its merit may be formed from the praise which it extorted from the London Quarterly Review. "There is," says the reviewer, "scarcely a page of the book (of 374 pages) which does not testify that the author is a poet of no ordinary powers;
every one exhibits some beautiful expression, some pathetic turn, some original thought, or some striking image."
His next work, a dramatic poem, entitled the "Fall of Jerusalem," made its appearance in 1820. That it did not injure the reputation he had acquired by his previous efforts, may be inferred from the fact of his election, not long afterward, to the professorship of Poetry in the University of Oxford. The principal results of his after labours were his dramatic poems, "Anne Boleyn," "The Martyr of Antioch," and "Belshazzar;" "A History of Christianity from the Birth of Christ to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire," 3 vols.; a "History of the Jews," 3 vols.; and a laboriously annotated edition of Gibbon's " Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," 12 vols.
Mr. Milman's literary labours though so extensive were not suffered to impair his usefulness in the Church, his position in which has been constantly advancing. From the vicarage of St. Mary's he removed to that of St. Margaret's, Westminster, thence to a prebend stall in Westminster Abbey, and recently to the Deanery of St. Paul's, to which accrues an annual revenue of two thousand pounds.'