More, Or Less?

Written by Anthony Douglas on 16 March 2019.

MoreWe don’t remember her name much today, but in her time, Hannah More was a famous literary figure. She managed to turn her talent as a writer into a decent fortune in England during the 18th and 19th centuries. That, however, is not why she is remembered around Bristol.

Rather, it was what she did with her wealth. She was extraordinary in her generosity, and on top of that she founded a number of schools for those who couldn’t afford the expensive private institutions of her day. We know of at least a dozen, but there were certainly others.

Yet of greater significance than this was her tireless work in the campaign to end the slave trade. It took decades, but a small posse of abolitionists succeeded in ending slavery throughout the British Empire, and More’s pen was a valuable weapon in the court of public opinion.

She lived to 88, and increasingly depended on the support of her household servants for her physical needs. Thus, it was a cause of grief to learn that they had, collectively, conspired to defraud her for years. They would throw parties for their friends from the local area, elaborate and expensive balls.

When she found out, it was hard to believe. “Susan unfaithful, who has lived with me so many years? And Timothy, whose relations I have fed and clothed? And Teddy and Rebecca and Jane? What? Not one faithful?”

So the old woman left her home, never to return. And to each thieving servant she gave three months’ wages - a woman of grace to the end. Those who have been loved love much, even in the face of betrayal.

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