1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hannah More

John Langhorne, 1773; European Magazine 17 (February 1790) 104.



In 1773 the Doctor resided for a few months at Weston-supra-Mare, in Somersetshire, for the benefit of the sea-air. The celebrated Miss Hannah More, at the same time, and for the same reason, resided at Uphill, a mile from Weston. — Meeting one day upon the sea-strand, the Doctor wrote, with the end of his stick, upon the sand,

Along the shore
Walk'd Hannah More:
Waves, let this record last.
Sooner shall ye,
Proud earth and sea,
Than what she writes be past.
JOHN LANGHORNE.

Underneath the above Miss More scratched with her whip:

Some firmer basis, polish'd Langhorne! chuse,
To write the dictates of thy charming muse;
Her strains in solid characters rehearse,
And be thy tablet lasting verse.
HANNAH MORE.

The doctor praised her wit, and copied the lines, which he presented to her at a house near the sea where they adjourned, and Miss More immediately wrote under as follows:

Langhorne! whose sweetly-varying Muse has pow'r
To raise the pensive, crown the social hour:
Whose very trifling has the charm to please
With native wit and unaffected ease:
How soon, obedient to thy forming hand,
The letters grew upon the flexile sand.
Should some lost traveller the scene explore,
And trace thy verses on the dreary shore,
What sudden joy would flash his eager eyes!
How from his eyes would burst the glad surprize!
Methinks I hear, or seem to hear him say,
"This letter'd shore has smooth'd my toilsome way.
Hannah! (he adds) tho' honest truths may pain,
Yet here I see an emblem of the twain;
As these frail characters, with ease imprest
Upon the yielding sand's soft wat'ry breast,
Which when some few short hours they shall have stood,
Shall soon be swept by yon impetuous flood;
Presumptuous maid! so shall expire thy name,
Thou wretched, feeble candidate for fame!
But Langhorne's fate in yon firm rock I read,
Which rears above the cloud its tow'ring head:
Long as that rock shall rear its head on high,
And lift its bold front to the azure sky;
Long as these adamantine hills survive,
So long, harmonious Langhorne! shalt thou live;
While Envy's waves shall lash and vainly roar,
And only fix thy solid base the more."
HANNAH MORE.
Uphill, Sept. 11, 1773.

The Clergyman of Weston being in company was asked his opinion of the above verses, which he expressed thus:

Weston may justly boast a bard divine,
And Uphill too, great praise is due to thine.
Weston's great genius we must all confess;
Uphill! thy maid will "Search for Happiness."
Rise Fame, and to the world their works repeat,
Then as their merit will their praise be great.
DAVID POWEL.