The main sources for the life of Hannah More are the four volumes of the Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Mrs Hannah More, including some pages of her Diary, edited by William Roberts, Esq., and published in 1834, and Miss More's own works published between 1773 and 1825. Roberts Memoirs were subjected, during and after his lifetime, to severe and not unmerited criticism. Few persons could have been less well equipped to write Miss More's memoirs or to edit her letters. He possessed neither literary grace nor constructive gifts. He was not always informed, and as comparison of some of the published letters with their originals shows, he corrected Miss More's letters and diary when in his judgement they required emendation. Far more questionable was his unfortunate omission of that part of her letter to the Bishop of Bath and Wells, during the Blagdon Controversy, in which she admitted her participation in Holy Communion at the Presbyterian Meeting House in Bath--an omission presumably intended by Roberts to safeguard her reputation, but which, instead, impugned Hannah More's most striking characteristic, her honesty.
Contemporary letters make clear that some at least of Miss More's contemporaries regarded Roberts as an unsuitable choice as her biographer and were unwilling to lend him letters of Miss More in their possession. 'Hannah More', said Miss Marianne Thornton in her Recollections, with characteristic vigour,
calls Sir Thomas Acland in one of her notes 'the recreant Knight of Devonshire', which Roberts, thinking uncivil, I suppose, altered to 'the excellent and estimable Sir Thomas Acland', two words which that playful woman never used in her life. Somewhere she began a letter to me, 'When I think of you I am gladerer and gladerer', which he, thinking it bad English, has done into 'I am very glad'. Now if such an oaf as that will write a book at least he should be honest.
'Had it been possible for any literator, with Mrs More's corres-