The Quotable Hannah More – Part 1

J.R. Waller, MBA

Introduction

February 2021 marks an important step forward for The Greater Heritage as we set out to re-publish Hannah More’s complete works. This grand and sweeping project begins with the publication of The Complete Hannah More Volume 1: Essays on Various Subjects – Principally Designed for Young Ladies.

It is More’s famous series of essays for women that highlight the importance of Christian conduct. In anticipation of the release we thought we’d share some Hannah More quotes from the volume that caught our eye during the production process.

About Hannah More

Hannah More (1745-1833) was one of the defining Christian female voices of Georgian Britain. An influential Evangelical writer, her vast literary output included essays, hymns, plays, poems, popular tracts (her Cheap Repository Tracts sold millions of copies) and a novel, while her philanthropic spirit established schools for children, women’s clubs and improved the conditions of the poor.

She was a member of The Blue Stockings Society of England, and was connected with many notable figures of her era, including Edmund Burke, David Garrick, Samuel Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Horace Walpole, and the abolitionist William Wilberforce, whose campaign to end the British slave trade was greatly aided by her poem Slavery.

Hannah steadfastly supported piety, traditional Christian values and education – her zeal even taking on Thomas Paine and the French Revolution.

As England began to grapple with its industrial and scientific revolutions, More helped prepare British society for the challenges of the 19th century by promoting Biblical values and Evangelical social reforms. She was a paragon of her age, and beacon for Christ.

Hannah More Quotes from The Complete Hannah More: Volume 1

The Introduction

Nature, propriety, and custom, have prescribed certain bounds to each [men and women]; bounds which the prudent and the candid will never attempt to break down; and, indeed, it would be highly impolitic to annihilate distinctions from which each acquires excellence, and to attempt innovations, by which both would be losers.

On Dissipation

The prevailing manners of an age depend, more than we are aware, or are willing to allow, on the conduct of the women: this is one of the principal hinges on which the great machine of human society turns.

She who dedicates a portion of her leisure to useful reading, feels her mind in a constant progressive state of improvement.

The remark may, perhaps, be thought too strong, but I believe it is true, that, next to religious influences, a habit of study is the most probable preservative of the virtue of young persons.

They think that sin, like matter, is divisible, and that what is scattered among so many, cannot materially affect any one; and thus individuals contribute separately to that evil which they in general lament.

The rage for reformation commonly shows itself in a violent zeal for suppressing what is wrong, rather than in a prudent attention to establish what is right; but we shall never obtain a fair garden merely by rooting up weeds – we must also plant flowers.

The women of this country were not sent into the world to shun society, but to embellish it; they were not designed for wilds and solitudes, but for the amiable and endearing offices of social life. They have useful stations to fill, and important characters to sustain.

Thoughts on Conversation

When the arrow is lodged in the heart, it is no relief to him who is wounded to reflect, that the hand which shot it was a fair one.

On Envy

Anger is a violent act, envy a constant habit – no one can be always angry, but he may be always envious.

More reputations are thus hinted away by false friends, than are openly destroyed by public enemies.

As this enormous sin [envy] chiefly instigated the revolt, and brought on the ruin of the angelic spirits, so it is not improbable, that it will be a principal instrument of misery in a future world, for the envious to compare their desperate condition with the happiness of the children of God; and to heighten their actual wretchedness by reflecting on what they have lost.

To hint at a fault, does more mischief than speaking out.

On The Danger of Sentimental or Romantic Connections

But youth, like cunning, though very conceited, is very short-sighted, and never more so than when it disregards the instructions of the wise, and the admonitions of the aged.

Error is never likely to do so much mischief as when it disguises its real tendency, and puts on an engaging and attractive appearance.

On True and False Meekness

A meek spirit will not look out of itself for happiness, because it finds a constant banquet at home; yet, by a sort of divine alchemy, it will convert all external events to its own profit, and be able to deduce some good, even from the most unpromising: it will extract comfort and satisfaction from the most barren circumstances.

Meekness may be called the pioneer of all the other virtues, which levels every obstruction, and smooths every difficulty that might impede their entrance, or retard their progress.

For more Hannah More quotes stay tuned for future posts!

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