Hannah More.

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wards the church-yard, not daring to look to the
right or left, for fear she should spy Jacob, who
'would have offisred to walk with her, and so
have spoilt aU. As soon as she came within
sight of the wall, she spied a man sitting upon
it : Her heart beat violently. She looked arain ;
but alas I the stranger not only had on a black
coat, but neither luiir nor eyes answered the
description. She now happened to cast her
eyes on the church-clock, and found she was
two hours before her time. This was some
comfort She walked away and got rid of the
two hours as well as she could, paying great at-
tention not to walk over any straws which lay
aeroM; and carefully looking to see if there were
never an old horse-shoe in the way, that infal-
lible symptom of good fortune. Wriile the clock
was striking seven, she returned to the church-
yard, and O ! the wonderful power of fortune-
tellers ! there she saw him \ there sat the very
man ! his hair as light as flax, his eyes as blue
as botter-mllk, and liis shoulders as round as a
tub. Every tittle agreed to the very nosegay in
his waistcoat button-bole. At first, indeed, she
thought it had been sweetbriar, and glad to catch
It a straw, whispered to herself, it is not he,



and I shall marry Jacob still ; but on looking
again, she saw it was southern-wood plain
enough, and that of course all was over. The
man accosted her with some very nonsensical,
but too acceptable, complfments. She was na-
turally a modest girl, and but for Rachel's wick-
ed arts, would not have had courage to talk with
a strange man ; but how could she resist her
fate you know? After a little discourse, sh»
asked him, with a trembling heart, what might
be his name ? Robert Price, at your service, was
the answer. * Robert Price ! that is R. P. as
sure as I am alive, and the fortune-teller was a
witch ! It is all out * O the wonderful art of for-
tune-tellers !*

The little sleep she had that nighi was dis-
turbed with dreams of graves, and ghosts, and fb-
nerals, but as they were morning dreams, she
knew those always went by contraries, and that a
funeral denoted a weddin?. Still a sigh would
now and then heave, to think that in that wed-
ding Jacob would have no part Such of my
readers as know the power which superstition
has over the weak and credulous mind, scarcely
need be told, that poor Sally's unhappiness was
soon completed. She forgot all her vows to
Jacob; she at once forsook an honest man whom
she loved, and consented to marry a stransfer,
of whom she knew nothing, from a ridiculoas
notion that she was compelled to do so by a de*
cree which she had it not in her power to resist
She married this Richard Price, the Strang*
gardener, whom she soon found to be very
worthless, and very much in debt He had no
such thing as * money beyond sea,' as the for-
tune-teller had told her ; but alas ! he had an
other wife there. — He got immediate possession
of Sally's twenty pounds. Rachel put in for
her share, but he refused to give her a farthing,
and bid her get away or he would have her
taken up on the vagrant act He soon ran
awav fVom Sall^, leaving her to bewail her own
weakness ; for it was that indeed, and not any
irresistible fate, which had been the cause of
her ruin. To complete her misery, she herself
was suspected of having stole the silver cup
which Rachel had pocketed. Her master, how-
ever, would not prosecute her, as she was fall
ing into a deep decline, and she died in a few
months of a broken heart, a sad warning to all
credulous girls.

Rachel, whenever she got near home, used to
drop her trade of fortune-telling, and only dealt
in the wares of her basket Mr. Wilson, the
clergyman, found her one day dealing out some
very wicked ballads to some children. He went
up with a view to give her a reprimand ; but had
no sooner begun his exhortation than up came
a constable, followed by several people. — * There
she is, that is the old witch who tricked my
wife out of the five guineas,' said one of them,
*Do your ofiice constable, seize that old ha^r.
She may tell fortunes and find pots of gold m
Taunton jail, for there she will have nothing
else to do !' This was that very farmer Jenkins,
whose wife had been cheated b^ Rachael of the
five guineas. He had taken pains to trace her
to her own parish : he did not so much value
the loss of the money, as he thought it was a
duty he owed the piblic to clear the counf ry of



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soch vermin. Mr. Wilsoii immediately com*
mitted her. She took her trial at the next as.
-siies, when she was sentenced to a year*8 im-
prisonment In the mean time, the pawn-
broker to whom she had sold the silver cup,
which she had stolen from poor Sally's master, im-
peached her; and as the robbery was fully proved
upon Rachel, she was sentenced for this crime
to Botany Bay ; and a happy day it was for the
oounty of Somerset, when such a nuisance was
sent out of it. She was transported much about
the same time that her husband Giles lost his
life in stealing the net from the garden wall, as
related in the second part of poaching Giles.

I have thought it my duty to print this little
history, as a kind of warning to all young men
and maidens not to have any thing to say to
cheaUy impostors, cunning'toomen. fortune-tel-
leri, conjurors, and interpreters of dreams. Lis-
ten to me, your true friend, when I assure you
that God never reveals to weak and wicked wo-
men those secret designs of his providence,
which no human wisdom is able to foresee. To
consult these false oracles is not only foolish,
but sinfuL It is foolish, because they are them-



selves as Ignorant as those whom they pretend
to teach : and is sinful, because it is prying into
that futurity whiph God, in mercy as well as
wisdom, hides from men. God indeed orderB
all things ; but when you have a mind to do a
foolish thing, do not fancy you are fated to do
it This is tempting Providence, and not trust,
ing him. It is indeed charging Ood withfoUy
Prudence b his gift, and you obey him better
when you make use of prudence, under the di-
rection of prayer, than when you madly run
into ruin, aud think you are only submitting to
your fate. Never fancy that you are compelled
to undo yourself or to rush upon your own de-
struction, in compliance with any supposed fa-
tality. Never believe that Gbd conceals his wiH
from a sober Christian who obeys his laws, and
reveals it to a vagabond gypsy who runs up and
down breaking the laws both of God and man
King Saul never consulted the witch till he left
off serving God. The Bible will direct us wha^
to do better than anv conjurer, and there are nc
days unlucky but tnose which we make 00 bi
our own vanity^ sin, and fblty.



THOUGHTS



ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MANNERS OF THE GREAT,
TO GENERAL SOCIETY.

* You are the makers of nwinncrs.' — Shakspeare,



To a large and honourable class of the com-
munity, to persons considerable in reputation,
important by their condition in life, and com-
mendable for the decency of general conduct,
these slight hints are respectfully addressed.
They are nrl intended as a satire upon vice, or
ridicule upjn fblly, being written neither for the
foolish fiuf the vicious. The subject is too se-
rious for ridicule ; and those to whom it is ad-
dressed are too respectable for satire. It is re-
commended to the consideration of those who,
filling the higher ranks of life, are naturally .
regarded as patterns, by which the manners of '
the rest of the world are to be fashioned.

The mass of mankind, in most places, and
especially in those conditions of life which ex-
empt them fr^m the temptation to shameful
▼ices, is perhaps chiefly composed of what is
commonlv termed by the courtesy of the world
good kind of people ; for persons of very flagitious
wickedness are almost as rare as those of very
eminent piety. To the latter of these, admoni-
tion were impertinent; to the former it were
superfluous. These remarks, therefore, are
principally written with a view to those persons
of rank and fortune who live within the re-
straints of moral obligation, and acknowledge
the truth, of the Christian religion ; and who,
if in certain instances they allow themselves
in practices not compatible with a strict pro-
fession of Christianity, seem to do it rather from
habit and want of reflection, than cither from
disbelief of its doctrines, or contempt of its pre-
cepts.



Inconsideration, fashion, and the world, ar»
three confederates against virtue, with whom
even good kind of people often contrive to live
on excellent terms; and the fair reputation
which may be obtained by a complaisant con-
formity to the prevailing practice, and by mera
decorum of manners without a strict attenUoa
to religious principle, is a constant source of
danger to the rich and great There is some
thing almost irresistibly seducing in the conta •
gion of ^noral example ; hence the necessity of
that vigilance, which it is the business of Chri»
tianity to quicken by incessant admonition, an4
which it is the business of the world, to lay
asleep by the perpetual opiates of ease and plea,
sure.

A fair reputation is among the kudable ob»
jects of human ambition ; yet even this really
valuable blessing is sometimes converted into a
snare, by inducing a treacherous security ai
soon as it is obtained ; and by leading hhn who
is too anxious about obtaining it to stop short
without aiming at a higher motive of action.
A fatal indolence is apt to creep in upon the
soul when it has once acquired the good opinion
of mankind, if the acquisition of that good opi-
nion was the ultimate end of its endeavours.
Pursuit is at an end when the object is in pos-
session ; for he is not likely to » press forward,'
who thinks he has already 'attained.* The
love of worldly reputation, and the desire of
(?od*8 favour, have this specific diflSsrence, that
in the latter, the possession alws^s augments
the desire: aud the spiritual mind acoounti



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octhing done while eoy thing remains nn-
done*

But after all, a fiur fiune, the sapport of num.
hers, and the flattering concurrence of human
opioion, is obviously a deceitful dependence ; for
as every individual must die for himself, and
answer for himself, both these imaginary re-
sources will fail, just at the moment when they
oould have been of any use. A good reputation,
even without internal piety, would be worth ob-
taining, if the tribunal of heaven were fashioned
after Uie manner of human courts of judicature.
If at the general Judgment we were to be tried
by a jury of oor mllow mortals, it would be but
common pnideaoe to secure their favour at any
price. But it can stand us in little stead in the
great day of decision, ii being the consummation
of infinite goodness not to abandon us to the
mercy of each other's sentence ; but to reserve
us for Atf final judgment who knows every mo-
tive of every action : who will make strict in-
quisition into singleness of heart, and upright-
ness of intention; in whoee eyes the sincere
prayer of powerless benevolence will outweigh
the most splendid profession or the most daz-
iling action.

We cannot But rejoice in every degree of hu-
man virtue which operates favourably on society,
whatever be the motive, or whoever be the actor ;
and we should gladly commend every degree
of goodness, though it be not exactly squared by
our own roles and notions. Even the ^ood ac-
tions of such persons as are too much actuated
by a regard to appearances, are not without
their beneficial enects. The righteousness of
those who occupy this middle region of morality
among us, certainly exceed the righteousness
of the Scribes and rharisees ; for they are not
only exact in ceremonials, but in many respects
fulfil the weightier matters of law and con-
science. Like Herod, they oilen * hear gladly,*
and * do many things.* Yet I am afraid I shall
be thought severe in remarking that in general
those <%aracter8 in the New Testament, of
whose future condition no very comfortable hope
is given, seem to have been taken, not from the
profligate, the abandoned, and the dishonourable;
but from that decent class commonly described
by the term good $ort of people, that mixed kind
of character in which virtue appears, if it do
not predominate. The young ruler was certainly
one of the first of this order ; and yet we are
left in dark uncertainty as to his final allotment
The rich man who built him barns and store-
houses, and only proposed to himself the full en-
joyment of that fortune, which we do not hear
was unfairly acquired, might have been for all
that appears to the contrary, a very good $ort of
man , at least if we may judge of him by mul-
titudes who live precisely for the same purposes,
and yet enjoy a good degree of credit, and who
are rather ccmsidered as objects of respect, than
of censure. His plan, like theirs, was * to take
his ease, to eat, drink, and be merry.*

But the most alarming instance is that of the
splendid epicure, who was clothed in purple and
fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day.
He committed no enormities that have been
transmitted to us ; for that ho dined well and
dressed well, oould hardly incur the bitter pe.



nalty of eternal misery. That his expenses
were suitable to his station, and his splendour
proportioned to hb opulence, docs not exhibit
one objection to his character. Nor are we told
that he refused the crumbs which Lazarus soli-
cited. And yet this man on an authority which
we are not permitted to question, is represented,
in a future state, as lifting up his eyes being in
torments. His punishment seems to have &en
the consequence of an irreligious, a worldly
spirit, a heart corrupted by the softness and de-
lights of life. It was not^ because he was rich,
but because he trusted in riches ; or, if even he
was charitable, his charity wanted that princi-
ple which alone oould sanctify it His views
terminated here; this world's good, and this
world's applause, were the motives and the end
of his actions. He forgot God ; he was destitute
of piety ; and the absence of this great and first
principle of human actions rendered his shining
deeds, however they might be admired among
men, of no value in the sight of God.

There is no error more common, or more dan-
gerous, than the notion that an unrestrained in-
dulgence of pleasure, and an unboimded grati-
fication of the appetites is generally attended
with a liberal, humane, and merciful temper.
Nor is there any opinion more false and more
fatal, or which demands to be more steadily con-
troverted, than that libertinism and good-nature
are natural and necessary associates. For after
all that corrupt poets, and more corrupt philoso-
phers, have told us of the blandishments of plea-
sure, and of its tendency to soften the temper
and humanize the affections, it is certain, that
nothing hardens the heart like excessive and un-
bound^ luxury ; and be who refuses the fewest
gratifications to his own voluptuousness, will

fenerally be found the least susceptible of ten-
erness for the wants of others. In one reign
the cruelties at Rome bore an exact proportion
to the dissoluteness at Capreie. And in another
it is not less notorious : that the imperial fiddler
became more barbarous, as he grew more pro-
fligrate. Prosperity, says the Arabian proverb,
fills the heart until it makes it hard ; and the
most dangerous pits and snares for human vii -
tue are those, which are so covered over with
the flowers of prosperous fortune, that it requires
a cautious foot, and a vigilant eye, to escape
them.

Ananias and Sapphira, were, perhaps, well
estet^med in society ; for it was enough to esta-
blish a very considerable reputation to sell even
part of their possessions for religious purposes :
but what an alarm does it sound to hypocrisy,
that, instead of being rewarded for what they
brought, they were punished for what they kept
hack ! And it is to be feared, that this deceitful
pair are not the only one, upon whom a good
action, without a pure intention, has drawn down
a righteous retribution.

Outward actions arc the surest, and, indeed,
to human eyes the only evidences of sincerity,
but Christianity is a religion ofmotives and prin.
ciples. The Gospel is continually referring tc
the heart, as the source of good ; it is to the poor
in spirit, io the pure in heart, that the divine
blessing is annexed. A man may correct many
improper practices, and refrain from many im-



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moral actions, from merely hamaD motives ; bat i not always tboaf ht bindinjr, not only on ths



though this partial amendment is not without
its uses, yet this is only attacking symptoms,
and .eglecting the mortal disease. But to sub-
due a worldly temper, to controul irregular de-
tires, and to have * a clean heart,* is to attack
■in in iu strong holds. Totally to accomplUh
this, is, perhaps, beyond the narrow limits 4>f
human perfection, the best men being constantly
humbled to find, that when they * would do good,
evil is present with them ;* but to attempt it,
with an humble reliance on superior aid, is bo
fiir from being an extravagant or romantic flight
of virtue, that it is but the common dut^ of every
ordinary Christian. And this perfection is not
the less real, because it is a point which seems
constantly to recede from our approaches, just
as the sensible horizon recedes from our natural
eye. Our highest attainments, instead, of bring-
ing us * to the mark,* only teach us that tiie
mark is at a greater distance, by giving us more
humbling views of ourselves, and more exalted
conceptions of the state after which we are la-
bouring. — ^Though the proflrress towards perfec-
tion may be perpetual in wis world, the actual
attainment is reserved for a better. And this
restless desire of a happiness which we cannot
reach, and this lively idea of a perfection which
we, cannot attain, are amon^ the many argu-
ments for a future state, which seem to come
little short of demonstration. The humble Chris-
tian, takes refuge under the deep sense of his
disappointments and defects, in this consoling
hope, *■ When I awake up after thy likeness I
•hall be satisfied.*

Let me not here be misunderstood as under-
valuing the virtues which even worldly men
may possess. I am charmed with humanity,
generosity, and integrity, in whomsoever they
may be found. But one virtue must not intrench
upon another. Charity must not supplant faith.
If a man be generous, good-natured, and hu-
mane, it is impossible not to feel for him the
tenderness of a brother ; but if, at the same time,
he be irreligious, intemperate, or profane, who
shall dare to say he is in a safe state 7 Good hu-
mour and generous sentiments, will always
make a man a pleasant acquaintance ; but who
■ball lower the doctrines of the Grospel, to ac-
commodate them to the conduct of men 7 Who
■hall bend a straight rule to favour a crooked
practioe 1 Who shall controvert that authority
which has said, that without holine$$ no man
$hall tee the Lard 7

May I venture to be a little paradoxical ; and
while so many grave persons are descanting on
the mischiefs of vice, may I be permitted to say
a word on the mischiefs of virtue, or, rather, of
that shining counterfeit, which, while it wants
the specific gravity, has much of the brightness
of sterling worth 7 Never, perhaps, did any
age produce more beautiful declamations in
praise of virtue than the present ; never were
more polished periods rounded in honour of hu-
manity. An ancient Pagan would imagine that
Astrca had returned to take up her abode in our
metropolis; a primitive Christian would con-
elude that * righteousness and peace had there
met together.* But how would they be surprised
to find that the obligation to these duties was



reader, but on their ek)quent encomiasts them-
selves. How would they be surprised to find
that universal benevolence may subsist with
partial injustice, and boundless liberality with
sordid selfishness ! that a man may seem eager
in redressing the iniuriee of half the globe, with-
out descending to the petty detail of private vir
tues : and burn with seal for the good of mil
lions he never saw, while he is spreading vio^
and ruin through the little circle of his own per
sonal influence !

When the general texture of an irregular life
is spangled over with some constitutional pleas-
ing qualities; when gayety, good humour, and
a thoughtless profusion of expense, throw a lus-
tre round the faultiest characters, it is no woo-
der that common observers are blinded into ad-
miration; a profuse generosity dazzles them
more than all the duties of the decalogue. But
though it may be a very good ele^oneering
virtue, yet there are many qualities which may
obtain popularity among men, which do not tend
to secure the favour ox God. It is somewhat
strange that the extravagance of the great should
be the criterion of their goodness wiUi those very
people who are themselves the victims to this
idol ; for the prodigal pays no debts if he can
help it ; and it is a notorious instance of the
danger of these popular virtues, and of the false
judgments of men, that in one of the wittiest and
most popular comedies* which this country has
ever produced, those very passages which exah
liberality, and turn justice into ridicule, were
nightly applauded with enthusiastic rapture by
those deluded tradesmen, whom, perhaps that
very sentiment helped to keep oufiof their
money.

There is another sort of fashionable cbarac
ter, whose false brightness is still more pemi-
cious, by casting a splendour over the most de-
structive vices. Corrupt manners, ruinous ex-
travagance, and the most &tal passion for play,
are sometimes gilded over with many engaging
acts of charity, and a general attention and re-
spect to the ceremoniaU of religion. But this is
degrading the venerable image and superscrip-
tion of Christianity, by stamping them on a
baser metal than they were ever intended to im-
press. The young and gay shelter themselves
under such examples, and scruple the less to
adopt the bad parts of such mind characters,
when they see that a loose and negli^nt, not to
say immOTal conduct, is so compatible with a
religious profession.

Boi I digress from my intention ; for it is not
the purpose of this address to take notice of any
actions which the common consent of mankind
has determined to be wrong : but of such chiefly
as are practised by the sober, the deoent, and
the regular ; and to drop a fbw hints on such
less obvious oflTences as are, in general,

Safb fVom^Uie bar, the pulpit, and the throne.

Nor will the bounds which I have prescribed
myself allow of my wandering into a wide and
general field of observation.

The idea of the present slight perfbrmanoe
was suggested by reiading the king*8 late exoeV
* The School fbr ScandaL



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THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.



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lent proclamation against irreligion and iirnno-
rality.* Under the shelter of so nigh a sanction,
It may not be unseasonable to press on the hearts
of the better disposed, such observances as seem
to be generally overlooked, and to remark such
offences as commonly elude censure, because
thev are not commonly thought censurable.

It is obvious to all pious persons, that that
branch of the divine law, against which the bet*
ter kind of people trespass with the least scruple,
b the fourth commandment Many who would
shudder at the violation of the other nine, seem
without ceremony to expunge this flrom the Di-
vine code ; but by what authority they do this, has
never been explained. The christian legislator
does not seem to have abridged the command-
roents : and there is no subsequent authority so
much as pretended to by Protestants.

It is not here intended to take notice of such
flagrant offences as lie open to the cognizance
•f higher tribunals ; or to pollute this paper with
descanting on the holders of card assemblies on
Sundays ; the frequenters of taverns and gaming
houses ; the printers of Sunday newspapers ; the
proprietors of Sunday Stage-coaches; and others
who openly insult the laws of the land ; laws
which will always be held sacred by good sub-
jects, even were not the law of God antecedent
to them.

Many of the order whom I here address are
persons of the tenderest humanity, and not only



Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 60 of 135)