1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hannah More

David Rivers, in Literary Memoirs of Living Authors (1798) 2:59-60.



HANNAH MORE, formerly a School-mistress at Bristol, and a lady justly celebrated for her literary accomplishments. The elegant simplicity of her poems, and the pious and virtuous sentiments which they inculcate, come with peculiar grace from a female pen. Her first publication was a pastoral drama, entitled, The Search of Happiness, which appeared in 1773. It was written at the age of eighteen for some female friends, who played the respective characters in private parties. Though the plot of this little piece is perfectly inartificial, the poetry which it contains does infinite credit to the powers of such early years, and it experienced a very favourable reception. In the following year, Mrs. More published the Inflexible Captive, founded on the story of Regulus, an excellent tragedy considered as a literary composition, and which was acted one night at Bath. Sir Eldred of the Bower, and the Bleeding Rock, two beautiful legendary tales, were published together, in quarto, in 1776. The latter is in the manner of Ovid, and the pretty fiction at the conclusion had its origin from a rock, near the author's residence in Somersetshire, whence a crimson stream flows, occasioned by the red strata over which the water makes its way from the mountains. Mrs. More has also written an Ode to Dragon, Mr. Garrick's House-Dog; Essays on various Subjects, principally designed for young Ladies, an octavo volume; the tragedy of Percy, founded on the Gabrielle de Vergy of M. de Belloy; the Fatal Falsehood, a tragedy; Sacred Dramas, the subjects of which are taken from the Bible, and Sensibility, a poem; Florio and the Bas Bleu, two poems; Slavery, a poem; and Remarks on the Speech of M. Dupont, made in the National Convention of France, on the Subjects of Religion and public Education. The profits of the last of these publications were to be given to the French emigrant clergy. Each of these performances bears genuine marks of the sterling abilities and proficiency of their author. United, they entitle her to high eminence, indeed, among female writers. Mrs. More wrote the preface to Anne Yearsley's (the Bristol Milk-maid) poems, and is supposed to be concerned in several little pieces distributed among the poor, by a society under the active patronage of the worthy Bishop of London. The useful little tract, An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World, is also attributed to her.