1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hannah More

Crito, "Female Writers: Hannah More" The Intellectual Regale or Ladies' Tea Tray [Philadelphia] 1 (3 December 1814) 40-41.



Miss Hannah More, several years ago, wrote many interesting little tracts for the poor, which were published with the title of the "Cheap Repository;" and his since favoured the world with a dull "flat and unprofitable" volume, entitled "Piety Promoted." The work contains truth, but there is such a frigidity of style that the reader must rise from its perusal tired of the author and displeased with the subject. In her younger days the productions of Miss More were very superior; but since she has descended into the vale of years without a fond husband to cheer her desponding spirits, all her writings are tinctured with melancholy dulness.

CRITO.

The editress is sorry she cannot, in all parts of his review, coincide with her valued correspondent Crito; so highly do all the productions of Miss Hannah More's pen stand in her estimation, and so much does she admire the pure morality that breathes through all the writings of that highly gifted lady, that she cannot discern the faults which he points out, and has never yet experienced the fatigue in the perusal of her works of which he complains. But the editress supposes Cato to be some warm hearted youth, who wishes to discountenance a state of celibacy in the female sex, by insinuating that the society of a husband would be a source of animation to Miss More; thus inferring that woman degenerates into insipidity by remaining unmarried. Nay, perhaps he is in love, "and beauty smiles not on his vows, but hears each sigh unmoved."

The following extract from Miss Hannah More contains so much truth, and so plainly shows woman her proper place in society, that the editress deems it worth all the effusions of fancy that will ever be written against her.

Would you, ye fair, the bright example give,
Fired with ambition, men like you would live,
Would choose for merit, and esteem for sense,
And taste the solid transports these dispense,
No longer would disdain the virtuous wife,
Nor the dear blessings of domestic life;
But, shunning each delusive path of sin,
All joy without, all sweet content within,
Would rouse at virtue's, and at honour's voice,
And love from reason, whom they liked from choice;
Then marriage would with peace go hand in hand,
And Concord's temple close to Hymen's stand.

How blest, would each to reason's voice submit,
Nor man affect control, nor woman wit.
Harmonious union must forever cease,
If once contention breaks the bond of peace:
Abhor beginnings — always dread the worst,
Admit a doubt, and you're completely curst.
Nor vice alone, e'en foibles may destroy
Domestic peace, and taint the nuptial joy.

Let woman, then, her real good discern,
And her true interests of Urania learn;
Her lowest name, the tyrant of an hour,
And her best empire, negligence of power:
By yielding, she obtains the noblest sway,
And reigns securely when she seems t' obey.