To Lady Olivia Sparrow, December 10 1812
Address: Brampton Park/ Huntingdon
Seal: Red Wax
I feel that I am assuming a new and a false character – that of an eager and punctual
correspondent. I should not however have followed your traces to
Mr. Sandford brought me your very kind
letter yesterday. Oh never make apologies for writing to me! You cannot do me a
greater pleasure. I am delighted that you have seen my Saint of Chelwood – other Saints are
going to heaven, but he is already there
Miss M – y is, as you say, well disposed on many points, but by the length and frequency of her visits, and her conceited and nervous manner she used constantly to recal to my mind, the children’s play, of Neighbour I’m come to torment you .
I know not to what passage of Miss Seward you
allude as she so frequently does me the honour of designating me by the appellation
A thousand thanks for the large
Pray send me at your leisure my dear Young friend’s Essay. I am glad she begins to addict herself to this wholesome Exercise If you give the topics, I would advise not always to give very serious ones at the beginning but vary them with subjects of morality and taste, as well as serious piety
Mr. Sandford let out in the joy of his
heart that he and his Mary were to go to
Lady Olivia Your faithful
A game involving two participants, or neighbours one of whom enacts a series of bodily contortions having uttered, ‘Neighbour, I am going to torment you’. The other participant is supposed, in the spirit of the game, to be inflicting the contortions upon their neighbour.
Anna Seward did not, in fact, call Hannah More a ‘gloomy Calvinist’, but described her ‘talents and virtues’ in a letter to Whalley of 19 November 1801, published by Sir Walter Scott in his six-volume edition of Seward’s correspondence, which had appeared in 1811. In a subsequent paragraph Seward asserted that ‘The misery, the despair, which the gloomy Calvinistic tenets have produced, makes me abhor them; they are not Christianity; they are not common sense’ (p. 412). See Letters of Anna Seward: Written Between the Years 1784 and 1807 (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable & Co et al, 1811), pp. 411-12.
Anna Seward’s letter to Thomas Sedgwick Whalley of 19 November 1801 takes Mr. Inman’s side, though the words placed by More in quotation marks here are not found in Seward’s account of events. She writes that More had ‘distressed the feelings of that dear saint, that genuine Christian, Mr Inman, by introducing into his pulpit the rank Methodist, Mr Newton, which induced me to believe, that her endeavours to promote Methodist principles were continued in her neighbourhood’ (p. 411). A subsequent letter, to William Hayley of 7 March 1803, describes the same event in terms that more closely match those of More’s allegation: ‘When church was over Mr Inman expressed deep regret for having, however reluctantly, granted Miss More’s request. Now, said he, has this man, in one hour perhaps, rendered fruitless my labour of many years to keep my parishoners free from those wild, deceiving principles, which have turned the heads of half the poor ignorant people in this country’ (Letters of Anna Seward vol. 6, p. 65).