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religion, should some one present to the public, a critical moral estimate of her principal publications. There is really less need of an attempt of this kind, at present, since her biographer has executed that part of his work with sufficient ability, and with good effect. In expressing our own opinion of Mrs. More, as a writer, and, through her writings, as a religious teacher, all we can think of doing, is, to make a few general remarks, with an occasional reference to particular pieces. If we may judge, either from their popularity or from their effects, they must be supposed to possess striking and substantial merit. No modern writings, probably, have been more widely diffused, or have been translated into a greater number of languages. And as to their effects, some intimations have already been given, but we might easily enlarge on this topic. It is recorded, that Pythagoras once tamed an eagle, so far, that by pronouncing certain words, he could stop it in its fight, or bring it down from the sky. The words of this accomplished female writer, have a charm more potent, than the talisman of the philosopher. The British lion, as she spoke, was soothed into gentleness and good nature, nor even dared to leap the inclosure which was guarded by the sanctity of law and religion. To speak less figuratively, the writings of Hannah More restrained a people, -in its higher orders, bent on luxury and dissipation; in its lower orders, goaded by suffering, and ripe for rebellion; and in all its orders, excited by the political changes, that were taking place on the continent,—from a course which threatened destruction to all right, virtue, and tranquillity. Her soft accents of persuasion, alike with her startling tones of reproof, seemed providentially to arrest the progress of political and moral ruin, among a great nation.
But we will not dwell on this particular effect, in a period of excitement and danger. The general and more permanent influence of her writings seemed to be, and it promises still to be, to a remarkable extent, propitious and happy. They are adapted to the production of a wide and lasting effect ; for they speak to the common principles of human nature, in all ages and climes. They embody the suggestions of a mind, which, reading the human heart, as with intuition, and capable of expressing its views almost to perfection, carries other minds, yielding, chastened, and subdued, along in the current of its own meekness, and purity, and truth. Both in character and design, they are highly practical. Hannah More, neither in her poetry nor prose, speaks the language of soliloquy and abstraction; she has no moody, unsocial vein,—no dreaming notions; she makes no display of her powers, in order to draw attention to herself; she troubles her readers with none of her idiosyncrasies or whims. She seems never to have taken up her pen, on purpose to pass away her time,—to amuse Vol. VII.
her mind by an elegant employment,—to ascertain how finely sh could write, or to gain the applause of men, not even of the wis and good. Her objects are evidently aside from such ephemera and selfish gratifications. In every piece, and in every paragraph she aims, apparently with honest feelings, to set in a clear ani convincing light, some point of truth or duty. Her whole sou shows itself bent on some purpose of good. In the survey, tha she took of human life, or the condition of her country, she say some wrong which she wished to correct, some false principle which she considered it important to expose, some virtue whicl she wanted to inculcate, some interest which she desired to cherish or some danger to souls or to society, which she was anxious to avert Hence she went to work, with a determination to effect, if possible, her benevolent purposes: and, shaping her instructions to the tastes of different classes of readers, and giving those instructions the form of ballads, or allegories, or tales, or elaborate didactic disquisitions, as she deemed most suitable, she turned, successively, the attention of all orders of society, to the duties or to the dangers of their stations. So adapted were they to the spirit and wants of the age, that the effects were immediate; while the unchangeable principles of moral and religious truth, which she habitually inculcated, are fitted to be beneficial equally to every age. Our own age is the better for her wise and pious precepts; and though, among the new forms of evil which have begun to afilict society, we know not what will be the immediate issue, we cannot but think, that her writings will continue to exert their share of inAuence, in sustaining the institutions of religion and of society.
We have before spoken of that new class of her productions, which we find in her memoirs,-her letters. It may be added, that these effusions of friendship and sentiment, showing, as they do, her interior self, bringing out her feelings on an immense variety of subjects, and detailing her every-day habits of life, are a rich banquet to taste and piety. Besides all the fascinations of style, and classical allusions; besides all the interest of story, and anecdote, and wit; out of them might be extracted, we verily believe, almost every thing, that would go to make a manual of moral and religious duty, a compendium of prudential rules for the conduct of life, and a code of criticism. Presented in her easy and graceful diction, we can scarcely conceive any communications of the kind, to promise more improvement to the intellect and heart. The occasions and circumstances of her various publications, the opinions formed of them, the effects produced by them, and the interest which they excited in the literary and religious world, are so minutely recorded in her correspondence, that we are much mistaken, if attention is not turned, more eagerly than ever, to her works. Our own curiosity, we acknowledge, has
been greatly augmented, to refresh our memory with a reiterated perusal. We remark, too, with a melancholy interest, in the course of her long correspondence, how, one after another, the brilliant stars of literature or religion, disappeared from the heavens in which they had shone ; and what comments genius and friendship made, on the mutability of the best temporal blessings.
of the poetry which Mrs. More wrote and published, we have little to say, although much might be said. She began her literary career in a devotion to the muses,- a mode of intellectual effort and exbibition, in which genius most commonly first essays its powers. Not only professed poets have first written poetry, but likewise historians, mathematicians, philosophers, and legislators. And what those who have afterwards become eminent in other pursuits, might have proved to be in poetry, had they continued to cultivate the art, it would not, perhaps, be difficult to tell. Plato says of Solon, who was much addicted to poetry in his youth, that, if he had finished all his poems, and particularly his History of the Atlantic Island, which he brought out of Egypt, and had taken time to revise and correct them, as others did; neither Homer, Hesiod, nor any other ancient poet, would have been more famous. But it happens well, that few, comparatively, continue to deal in “ Hesperian” or other " fables," all their days.the dreamings of fancy. It is certainly not to be regretted, that Mrs. More held the muse in subserviency to higher objects, and that she renounced the secular drama altogether, although in that she bid fair to rival the greatest masters. She occasionally, indeed, wrote poetry at every period of life ; but the proportion of her poetic, to her prose compositions, is inconsiderable. She, however, produced several excellent pieces, especially in the earlier part of her life; and thus showed what she might have done, had she fully applied her mind to that species of writing. “Bas Bleu," or Conversation, Dr. Johnson pronounced " a great perforinance.” “Sensibility,” the “Slave Trade,” and “Reflections of King Hezekiah," are fine specimens of the art. She, however, wrote Dothing, even in poetry, merely to please. With her, “the flowers of verse" were designed only to allure the reader to the truth, often the humbling, evangelical truth, which she wished to impress on the conscience. Criticism, therefore, if it could detect faults, is disarmed by the sanctity of the " end and aim.”
Of Mrs. More's prose publications, in particular, we ought to say more; and yet our limits preclude us from dwelling as much upon them as we could wish. They have laid the surest foundation of her clain to the admiration and gratitude of posterity, as they have already made her precious, wherever genius and virtue are revered. Among so many, that are excellent in various respects, it is not easy to distinguish the more deserving productions. Cælebs, as a novel, rich, not in incidents, but in sentiments,-ingenious, not in the story, but in the delineation of the character, -is probably more universally attractive than any other. It is a beautiful exhibition, in the heroine of the work, of all that is really excellent in the female character, as formed on the model, and breathing the spirit, of the gospel. Her Practical Piety, and Christian Morals, as grave, didactic works, on the most serious subjects, and designed to effect a reformation, in the deep sources of human feeling and action, are invaluable productions, and rank among her best. Having been asked, by some one, to express her opinion, respecting the comparative merits of these two works, she gave the preference to the latter. She was certainly less mistaken, than some other eminent writers have been, in the judgments formed of their own works, as compared with each other. Her Moral Sketches, which was a continuation of the design of the two former works, possesses the same general character, and, by some, would even be preferred to either of the others, as a livelier and more discriminating work. A good judge, Dr. Wilson, the present bishop of Calcutta, it seems, considered neither of these works equal to her - Strictures,” or to her “ St. Paul.” The last two are, doubtless, great works, especially the Strictures, which excels in originality, and in powerful, characteristic remark. Every reader, nevertheless, will decide according to his own laste, and, therefore, may decide differently. It is, on the whole, more a matter of curiosity than of usefulness, except for the sake of critical discrimination, to determine the comparative excellence of works, all of which are of a high order of merit, and can be commended, as among the safest human guides, in respect to the spiritual interests of men.
It is a striking quality of Mrs. More's writings, taking them in the aggregate, that they are calculated to make distinct and deep impressions on the mind, almost in defiance of itself. Her thoughts arrest the reader, by their weight and importance. They have a point and appropriateness which are always felt, for they are never lost in generalities. Every sentence, almost, is an adage. Her illustrations possess an inexhaustible richness and variety ; and her manner is at once lively and earnest, faithful and kind. Her clear and comprehensive understanding, always elicited distinct and enlarged views. She was skillful in bringing out points of contrast or agreement, in holding up an object in every variety of aspect, and, somewhat after the manner of Johnson, in separating the principal idea into its component parts; thus imparting an individuality to each conception, while the whole is grouped together in powerful combination. Every reader of Mrs. More, must
have noticed those detached, explanatory thoughts, each having a shade of difference, which she presents in continuity, for the purpose of giving force to the leading position. Hence it is, that she most clearly presents her ideas to the mind of the reader, while she fastens them there by the power of a discriminating reiteration. We are not aware, that this quality of her writings has been particularly noticed by the critics, though we think it must be obvious to every observant reader. We will quote a single short paragraph from her Christian Morals, to exemplify our meaning. * Wbile it is the nature of scientific principles, to adapt themselves only to one particular bent of the mind, and of the inventive powers, to address persons of imagination only; it is the character of christianity, and should be the aim of the christian writer, to accommodate their instructions to every class of society, to every degree of intellect, to every quality of mind, to every cast of temper. Christianity does not interfere with any particular form of study, any political propensity, any professional engagement, any legitimate pursuits. It claims to incorporate itself with the ideas of every intelligent mind which lies open to receive it; it infuses itself, when not repelled, into the character of every individual, as it originally assimilated itself to that of every government, without sacrificing any thing of its specific quality, without requiring any mind of a peculiar make for its reception."
It is, also, an excellence of Mrs. More's writings, that they are highly convincing and persuasive in their character. She makes the reader feel, that she has right and truth on her side. She carries his heart and conscience along with her, in her representations and reasonings. She commends herself to the reflecting and candid, by her soberness and moderation ; and overcomes prejudice, by the evident honesty of her purpose, and the kindness of her spirit. Commencing with positions, that are fortified by plain reason, she leads her readers, step by step, to conclusions, which, though more removed from the application of ordinary principles, are yet inevitable. Such are some of the sublime truths of religion, which she has explained and inculcated in the happiest manner, and with excellent effect. With admirable skill, she touches the strings of the heart; she mingles with the interior elements of our being; she comes home to our very consciousness,—to our sense of right, and justice, and truth. Whoever has read her Cheap Repository pieces, will perceive in them, numerous examples, in a familiar way, of the quality we are describing.
She convinces us, beyond the power of doubt; and, perceiving how exactly she has hit the various characters introduced into those pieces, we feel, as if nothing could be better said, or even said differently. Her larger prose works are equally abundant in examples, on a higher