Holy Lives, Happy Deaths

If time moved backwards, Hannah More (1745-1833) could have been the offspring of Dobson and Prudence Foxglove:

She helped to initiate a line of publications called Cheap Repository Tracts. These were inexpensive chapbooks – softcover books of four to twenty-four pages that often were illustrated with woodcuts. More embarked on this project, which she said “barely leaves me time to eat”, because she was disturbed that contemporary chapbooks were secular works that often were ribald. She told Hester Piozzi that “30,000 Hawkers are maintain’d by this dissolute Traffic, and Boat loads of it [chapbooks] are sent away from the Trading Towns to infect the villages”. She wanted to circulate “Religious and Useful Knowledge as an antidote to the poison continually flowing thro’ the channel of vulgar and licentious publications”.

The “religious and useful knowledge” would be contained in short stories about “Striking Conversions, Holy Lives, Happy Deaths, Providential Deliverances, Judgements on the Breakers of Commandments, Stories of Good and Wicked Apprentices, Hardened Sinners, Pious Servants &c”. More wrote many tracts herself (they were published anonymously but those marked Z were written by her). The tracts are well written and often describe accurately the lives of the rural poor, but they always have a predictable ending. According to Anne Stott, More’s biographer, “everything always turns out for the best provided one goes to church and keeps the sabbath”.

From The Peculiar Life Of Sundays by Stephen Miller

2 thoughts on “Holy Lives, Happy Deaths

  1. If time moved backwards, would Hannah More’s dates have been 1833-1745? Or maybe we should still have counted from zero. But in what sense, then, would time be flowing backwards? [Isn’t there a popular cinematographic presentation about this at the moment? (I keep misreading it as ‘The Strange Case of Benjamin Britten’ as I hurry past the cinema.)]

    >could have been the offspring of Dobson and Prudence Foxglove

    Surely this would would have required a considerable increase in human longevity?

    Or have Dobson and Foxglove bequeathed cryogenically-preserved genetic bits’n’pieces to posterity (or to the past, according to the present trope)?

    If so, let Dobson’s spawn become incarnate, without delay. I’m sure Mary Warnock, Richard Attenborough, et al, would lend their imprimatur and practical skills.

    Just thinking aloud, really.

  2. Anon : These are cogent questions. A new gang of interns* will be joining the ever-growing global empire that is Hooting Yard shortly, and I will put one (or possibly two) of them to work researching the significant issues you have raised.

    * In Hooting Yard parlance, an “intern” is an indoor tern, that is, a domesticated seabird. Interns can be surprisingly adept at research tasks, unlike inguillemots and inauks.

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