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FROM THE KITTEN.
The nimblest tumbler, stage-bedight,
But not alone, by cottage fire, Do rustics rude thy tricks admire; The learned sage, whose thoughts explore The widest range of human lore, Or, with unfetter'd fancy, fly Through airy heights of poesy, Pausing, smiles, with alter'd air, To see thee climb his elbow chair; Or, struggling on the mat below, Hold warfare with his slipper'd toe. The widow'd dame, or lonely maid, Who in the still, but cheerless shade Of home unsocial, spends her age, And rarely turns a letter'd page; Upon her hearth for thee lets fall The rounded cork, or paper ball; Nor chides thee on thy wicked watch The ends of ravell'd skein to catch, But lets thee have thy wayward will, Perplexing oft her sober skill. Even he, whose mind of gloomy bent, In lonely tower or prison pent, Reviews the wit of former days, And loathes the world and all its ways;
What time the lamp's unsteady gleam
Whence hast thou, then, thou witless puss,
WELCOME BAT AND OWLET GREY.
welcome all! to me ye say,
dawn of day, in rosy bower,
This talented and heavenly-minded advocate of pure religion and female excellence was born in the parish of Stapleton, Gloucestershire, in 1745. Her father, who was in impoverished circumstances, and designed her, as well as his other four daughters, for the office of a teacher of a school, taught her the elements of Geometry and Latin, as well as the usual branches of education, and these she acquired with great facility. Afterwards she removed from home to the boarding-school kept by her elder sisters, and here her progress in the more elegant departments of learning was so conspicuous, that she became the favourite of all those literary characters who obtained her acquaintanceship. Her first publication, in 1762, was The Search after Happiness, which originated in the noblest of motives. At that time exercises for the memory of young scholars were scarcely thought of, and Hannah wished to compose for them something more pure and select than had been hitherto attempted. By the time she had reached her twenty-second year, her talents and literary acquirements had obtained for her so high a reputation, that in London she numbered among her acquaintances Garrick, Mrs. Montague, Edmund Burke, and Dr. Johnson. Her next poetical productions to The Search after Happiness were the legendary tale of Sir Eldred of the Bower, and The Bleeding Rock. On perusing the first of these poems, Dr. Johnson declared that “Miss More had only one fault, that of suffering herself to gaze upon the barren rocks of Bristol, while the rich pastures of London had no fence to exclude her from them.” In consequence of her love of the drama, and acquaintanceship with Garrick, Miss More afterwards produced the tragedy of Percy, which was brought upon the boards in 1777, and with great success, while four thousand copies of the work were sold within a fortnight after publication. Encouraged by the success of this attempt she wrote another tragedy, entitled Fatal Falsehood, but its good fortune was inferior to that of its predecessor.
The time, however, had now arrived when the pen of Miss More was to be employed in subjects especially connected with religion. For several years her masculine intellect had been exclusively directed to the subject of Theology, and she had studied it not merely as an exercise of the intellect, but with reference to its infinite importance upon her own character and destiny, both for time and eternity. It was impossible that such a labour could end other. wise than in an increased capacity and improved taste, of which the world was soon to reap the fruits. In 1782, she published her Sacred Dramas, a work not intended for the stage but the closet, and designed by the illustration of important historical events in scripture to allure the accomplished mind to a more careful study of the Bible. The success of this production was great, and even the religious world, that had been startled at the idea of dramatising any portion of holy writ, had their scruples completely overborne by the propriety with which the subjects were treated. In 1784, appeared her Bas Bleu, a poem in which she showed that religion had neither destroyed nor impaired her natural cheerfulness of spirit; after which appeared her prose work, entitled, Thoughts on the Manners of the Great, a work which Bishop Porteus wished to see in the hands of every person of fashion in London. The agitation upon the Slave Trade naturally interested her benevolent heart, and during the heat of the contest she produced a poem on Slavery, which procured her the friendship of the amiable Wilberforce, the uncompromising advocate of Negro emancipation. In the following year, Mrs. Hannah More and her sisters heroically devoted themselves to the instruction of the ignorant peasantry in the parish of Chedder, by the opening of Sunday Schools, which were eminently successful, not only in their immediate and local effects, but by the powerful example which they afforded to those persons who, with similar desire to benefit society, had not the courage to be singular by commencing it.
It would exceed our limits to enumerate the several works that proceeded from the pen of this elegant and strong-minded writer, and which obtained such a wide celebrity in the religious and literary world as in some measure to eclipse her poetical reputation. After an active and benevolent life, protracted to the utmost limits, Mrs. More died on the 6th of September, 1832.
To recollect her scatter'd thought,
And shun the noon-tide hour, The lovely bride in secret sought
The coolness of her bower.
Impatient at her stay;
When Birtha was away;
Betakes him to the secret bower;
His footsteps softly move; Impell’d by every tender power,
He steals upon his love.
O, horror! horror! blasting sight!
He sees his Birtha's charms,
Within a stranger's arms.
“Die, traitor, die! thy guilty Aames
Demand th’avenging steel!”—
From Sir Eldred of the Bower.
Young Polydore was rich in large domains,
Too soon he heard of fair Ianthe's fame,
Such sweet perfection all his wonder moved;