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of her black rolling eyes, and her little pieces of poetry, to be noticed; and by the produce of a subscription, among the charitable people of the wealthy city of Bristol, on which occasion Dr. Stonehouse was, I believe, very useful, they were enabled to open a boarding school for young
ladies in Park-Street.
In this improving situation of their affairs, the five sisters, according to their several abilities, contributed to the general interest; one assuming the title of GOVERNESS, moderated the general con-' cern, one marketed, one superintended the refectory part, and the others, with proper masters, taught the young ladies the usual routine of boarding school education. The scholars multiplied in a few years; and some small publication of minor poetry tended to advertise the school. Like most young women, the Misses More, and particularly Miss Hannah, were much addi&ted to attendance at the Theatre; and their scholars often accompanied them. It was thus Hannah conceived the idea of her being competent for dramatic writing, and at a loss for a subject, undertook to travestie the sacred stories. As, however, her poems are printed without any regard to the date of composition, I will, in my remarks, observe the order of the volumes.
Her first volume begins with detached little poems, of but very inferior merit. The verse is of the Hudibrastic measure, not difficult to write, and of the poetry may be pronounced what Dr. Johnson said of Fingal, when asked if he thought there were in the present age any author capable
of writing such a work, Yes, many men, many women and many children.” That she has read a great variety of books cannot be denied, and from these she has picked and culled whatever suited her purpose, and cast it into verse of easy construction; but there is no poetry. In a preface, written within these three years, to the last impression of her works, and not improbably the last that will ever be worked of them, she herself acknowledges, that she does not presume to hope that she “ has added to the mass of general know
ledge, by one original idea ; or to the stock of “ virtue, by one original sentiment. To what is “ called learning she never had pretensions. Life “ and manners have been the objects of her un“ wearied observation; and every kind of study “and habit has more or less recommended itself
to her mind, as it has had more or less reference “ to these objects.” But she was young and ambitious, and write she must.
“ Morning from noon, there was no knowing,
" Yet tender was this hen so fair, " And hatch'd more chicks than she cou'd rear." She wrote one or more novels, of which one of her sisters passed as the author.
“ A foolish foster-father-mother." By reason of her sex, and on account of her circumstances, and perhaps friendship, the fastidiousness of criticism was mitigated, and she was encouraged by Reviewers. The itch for writing was
incurable; and she became literally a book maker. The first piece worthy of notice is the “Bas Blue:" or “ Blue-Stockings,” a short poem on “ Conversation.” There was a club called by that name, consisting of ladies of a literary turn of mind, some of whom were persons of rank, talents, and respectable for their character, who met at Mrs. Vesey's and other houses, for the purpose of conversation only, cards not being allowed. She thus sings the praise of conversation:
“ Enlighten'd spirits ! you, who know
Speak, for you can, the pure delight
“ Still kindled souls demand alliance." In such poetry the praises of Mrs. Vesey and others are sung; and Aspasia, Alcibiades, Maro, Cæsar, and other names of antiquity, mentioned to make a shew.
BONNER's Ghost is made to appear to a modern protestant Bishop, who was pruning a walk through a thicket to a chair which belonged to the popish Bishop. It is a proof of liberality, real or affected. She, however, as she goes on ridicules mystical creeds. Altogether it is a poor thing.
With a dedication to the Hon. Horace Walpole, afterwards Earl of Orford, a poem, entitled FLORIO, in two parts, next presents itself. In the character of Florio, which is far from well drawn, liberality in philosophy and religious charity are attempted
to be ridiculed. That philosophy enlargeth the capacity, and extendeth the knowledge of man, we all know, for philosophy or reason is what distinguisheth him from the brute ; and where charity does not exist there can be no religion. But taking the subject on her own statement of it, let my reader judge which system seems most friendly to man, and worthy of the attributes of the deity, that which inculcates annihilation (a doctrine I abhor) or that which teaches that God is glorified by having from eternity predestined 999,999 souls in a million to torments without end. True philosophy, however, and the gospel present no such picture of the divine attributes. The character of Florio is made contemptible, and that of Bellario wicked, with the evident purpose of discrediting philosophy. In the poetry there is little passion or tenderness. It seems to be all her own, with but little friendly embellishment, She talks of love like a Dutch woman, as if she had never felt it; though at one period of her life nature was very sportive with her, and drove her to write at least valentines. In her, love seems to be only artfulness and cunning, and tenderness only selfishness.
If Hannah More has information and genius, (and that these are but fačtitious, I think will presently appear) she has not used either when choosing her theological system. Her divinity is indeed not calculated to increase our admiration of the divine perfections, or improve and enlarge our charity to
man. In all she says on that subject there is a Je• suitical mystery.
Let me here select some passages, as a specimen of her poetry and sentiments, for the gratification of my reader, who will probably not choose to be at the expence of 21. 25. for eight volumes of inanity, much chaff and little wheat. In the following extract there is a false rhyme, “ known & town."
" And pleasure was so coy a prude,