Most members of the Kenyon family know Hannah More only from the song "Philander Chase," in which the College's founder is reported to have "knocked at every noble's door/And also that of Hannah More." While a relatively minor figure in Kenyon's history, Hannah More occupied a much more noble — and controversial — role in British social history.

Nevertheless, at a time when the College is seeking to honor its female as well as its male forebears, More is worthy of a closer look. After all, the first women students appropriated her name for an early service group, the Hannah More Society. So, to mark the twenty-fifth year of women at Kenyon, the College recently bought a collection of More's writings for the library's special collections.

"This purchase is not only a way for us to note Hannah More's role as one of the few women associated with Kenyon's founding," says Special Collections Librarian Jami Peelle. "It also gives students an opportunity to use real primary materials, to hold in their hands something that was actually written by a notable person."

The acquisition includes approximately one hundred items written by More, including some letters and a series known as the Cheap Repository Tracts. Written between 1795 and 1798, the Cheap Repository Tracts were a series of inexpensive publications designed to be read by poor and working-class Britons as well as British colonial subjects. The tracts generally took the form of short, moralistic fables or rhymed poetry.

The ingenious idea behind the Cheap Repository Tracts was to mimic the era's popular forms of writing in order to lure people away from the often bawdy, irreverent pieces they were already buying (and singing) in alehouses. The eighteenth-century's equivalent of supermarket tabloids, these popular literary forms included broadsides, large single sheets printed on only one side of the page, and chapbooks, or small booklets. The Cheap Repository Tracts sold well, with nearly two million circulat­ing in one year. Some were also given away in workhouses, prisons, and missions.

Bawdy songs were not More's only target. Anglican Bishop John Porteus urged her to write to counteract the "subversive doctrines" espoused by Thomas Paine's revolutionary "The Rights of Man," as well as documents circulating from the French Revolution. More, an Evangelical reformer, felt that poverty was an inevitable part of life and that education was the best way to reconcile the lower classes to their lot, with Christian forbearance and docility.

In addition to her work as a writer, More was also a philanthropist, a play­wright, and a member of the literary club that came to be nicknamed the Blue Stocking Society (hence the pejorative term "bluestocking"), women who attempted to replace card-playing as the primary leisure activity with educational and literary conversation. Noted actor David Garrick produced two of More's plays on the London stage.

Scholars today debate the merit of More's reforms, given her problematic views of the lower classes. In her book "Their Fathers' Daughters: Hannah More, Maria Edgeworth, and Patriarchal Complic­ity," former Kenyon Assistant Professor of English Elizabeth Kowaleski-Wallace discusses the condescending, patronizing view that More and other middle-class reformers took toward the people they attempted to "improve." Kowaleski­Wallace quotes More as describing her work as an effort to "tame" the rural poor, whom she described as a "stupid race." Kowaleski-Wallace concludes that the Evangelical reforms of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centu­ries offered opportunities to middle-class women such as Hannah More at the expense of the working class.

Hannah More has remained the subject of another controversy as well: whether she was a saint or a social climber. While her true motives remain a mystery, there is no question that More cultivated friends in high places. Others of More's notable acquaintances in­cluded Dr. Samuel Johnson and fellow writers Horace Walpole and William Cobbett.

The library's newest antiquarian acquisition enables Kenyon students and scholars to make their own decisions about Hannah More and her motives by studying her original works. 


More wrote most of the Cheap Repository Tracks, with some help from her sisters and others. She usually signed her works "Z" or "Will Chip," the adoption of pseudonyms being a common practice among women authors of the time. The woodcut illustrations have been attributed to artists John Lee and, in some cases, John Bewick.

Read the tracks in full below, or download each as an image: "Patient Joe" | "The Carpenter."

From "Patient Joe; Or, the Newcastle Collier"

Tho' his wife was but sickly, his gettings but small,
A mind so submissive prepar'd him for all;
He liv'd  on his gains were they greater or less,
And the Giver he ceas'd not each moment to bless.

From "The Carpenter; Or, the Danger of Evil Company"

No handsome Sunday suit was left,
     Nor decent holland shirt;
No nosegay mark'd the Sabbath day
     But all was rags and dirt.

No more his Church he did frequent,
     A symptom ever sad;
Where once the Sunday is misspent,
     The weekdays must be bad.

Becki Miller '93 is a graduate student in English at the University of Virginia and a member of the Contributing Writers Group of the Bulletin.

Jami Peelle is the College's special-collections librarian and the curator of a recent exhibit in Olin Library of More memorabilia.

Patient Joe; Or, the Newcastle Collier.

Patient Joe

Have you heard of a Collier of honest renown
Who dwelt on the border of Newcastle Town?
Hi name it was Joseph — you better may know
If I tell you he always was called patient Joe.

Whatever betided he thought it was right
And Providence still he kept ever in sight;
To those who love GOD, let things turn as they wou'd
He was certain that all work'd together for good.

He prais'd his Creator whatever befel;
How thankful was Joseph when matters went well!
How sincere were his carols of praise for good health,
And how grateful for any increase in his wealth!

In trouble he bow'd him to GOD's holy will;
How contented was Joseph when matters went ill!
When rich and when poor he alike understood
That all things together were working for good.

If the Land was afflicted with war, he declar'd
'Twas a needful correction for sins which he shar'd;
And when merciful Heaven bid slaughter to cease
How thankful was Joe for the blessing of peace!

When Taxes ran high, and provisions were dear,
Still Joseph declar'd he had nothing to fear;
It was but a trial he well understood,
From HIM who made all work together for good.

Tho' his wife was but sickly, his gettings but small,
A mind so submissive prepar'd him for all;
He live'd on his gains were they greater or less
And the GIVER he ceas'd not each moment to bless.

When another child came he received him with joy,
And Providence bless'd who had sent him the boy;
But when the child dy'd — said poor Joe I'm content,
For GOD had a right to recal what he lent.

It was Joseph's ill fortune to work in a pit
With some who believ'd  that profaneness was wit;
When disasters befel him much pleasure they shew'd
And laugh'd and said — Joseph, will this work for good?

But ever when these wou'd prophanely advance
That this happen'd by luck, and that happen'd by chance,
Still Joseph insisted no chance cou'd be found,
Not a sparrow by accident falls to the ground.

Among his companions who work'd in the pit,
And made him the butt of their profligate wit,
Was idle Tim Jenkins, who drank and who gam'd,
Who mock'd at his Bible, and was not asham'd.

One day at the pit his old comrades he found,
And they chatted, preparing to go underground;
Tim Jenkins as usual was turning to jest
Joe's notion — that all things which happen'd were best.

As Joe on the ground had unthinkly laid
His provision for dinner of bacon and bread,
A dog on the watch seiz'd the bread and the meat,
And off with his prey ran with footsteps so fleet.

No to see the delight that Time Jenkins express'd!
"Is the loss of thy dinner too, Joe, for the best?"
"No doubt on't," said Joe, "but as I must eat,
'Tis my duty to try to recover my meat."

So saying he follow'd the dog a long round,
While Tim laughing and swearing, went down under ground.
Poor Joe soon return'd, tho' his bacon was lost,
For the dog a good dinner had made at his cost.

When Joseph came back, he expected a sneer,
But the face of each Collier spoke horror and fear;
What a narrow escape has thou had, they all said,
The pit fall'n in, and Tim Jenkins is dead!

How sincere was the gratitude Joseph express'd!
How warm the compassion which glow'd in his breast!
Thus events great and small if aright understood
Will be found to be working together for good.

"When my meat," Joseph cry'd, "was just now stol'n away,
And I had no prospect of eating today,
How cou'd it appear to a short-sighted sinner,
That my life wou'd be sav'd by the loss of my dinner!"

The Carpenter; Or, the Danger of Evil Company.

The Carpenter

There was a young West-county man,
A Carpenter by trade;
A skilful wheelwright too was he,
And few such Waggons made.

No Man a tighter Barn cou'd build,
Throughout his native town,
Thro' many a village round was he,
The best of workmen known.

His father left him what he had,
In sooth it was enough;
His shining pewter, pots of brass,
And all his household stuff.

A little cottage too he had,
For ease and comfort plann'd,
And that he might not lack for ought,
An acre of good land.

A pleasant orchard too there was,
Before his cottage door;
Of cider and of corn likewise,
He had a little store.

Active and health, stout and young,
No business wanted he;
Now tell me reader if you can,
What man more blest cou'd be?

To make his comfort quite compleat,
He had a faithful Wife;
Frugal and neat and good was she,
The blessing of his life.

Where is the Lord, or where the Squire,
Had greater cause to praise,
The goodness of that bounteous hand,
Which blest his prosp'rous days?

Each night when he return'd from work,
His wife so meek and mild,
His little supper gladly dress'd,
 While he caress'd his child.

One blooming babe was all he had,
His only darling dear,
The object of their equal love,
 The solace of their care.

O what cou'd ruin such a life,
And spoil so fair a lot?
O what cou'd change so kind a heart,

All goodness quite forgot?

With grief the cause I must relate,
The dismal cause reveal,
The source of every ill.

A Cooper came to live hard by,
Who did his fancy please;
An idle rambling Man was he,
Who oft had cross'd the seas.

This Man could tell a merry tale,
And sing a merry song;
And those who heard him sing or talk,
Ne'er thought the ev'ning long.

But vain and vicious was the song,
And wicked was the tale;
And every pause he always fill'd,
With cider, gin, or ale.

Our Carpenter delighted much,
To hear the Cooper talk;
And with him to the Ale-house oft,
Wou'd take his evening walk.

At first he did not care for drink,
But only lik'd the fun;
But soon he from the Cooper learnt,
The same sad course to run.

He said the Cooper's company,
Was all for which he car'd;
But soon he drank as much as he,
To swear like him soon dar'd.

His hammer now neglected lay,
For work he little car'd;
Half finished wheels, and broken tools,
Were strew'd about his yard.

To get him to attend his work,
No prayers cou'd now prevail;
His hatchet and his plane forgot,
He never drove a Nail.

His chearful ev'nings now no more
With peace and plenty smil'd;
No more he sought his pleasing Wife,
Nor hugg'd his smiling child.

For not his drunken nights alone,
Were with the Cooper past;
His days were at the Angle spent,
And still he flay'd the last.

No handsome Sunday suit was left,
Nor decent holland shirt;
No nosegay mark'd the Sabbath day,
But all was rags and dirt.

No more his Church he did frequent,
A symptom ever sad;
Where once the Sunday is mispent,
The week days must be bad.

The cottage mortgag'd for its worth,
The favourite orchard sold;
He soon began to feel th'effects
Of hunger and of cold.

The pewter dishes one by one,
Were pawn'd, till none was left;
And wife and babe at home remain'd
Of every help bereft.

By chance he call'd at home one night,
And in a surly mood,
He bade his weeping wife to get
Immediately some food.

His empty cupboard well he knew
Must needs be bare of bread;
No rasher on the rack he saw,
Whence cou'd he then be fed?

His wife a piteous sigh did heave,
And then before him laid
A basket cover'd with a cloth,
But not a word she said.

Then to her husband gave a knife,
With many a silent tear;
In haste he tore the cover off,
And saw his child lay there.

"There lies thy babe," the mother said,
"Oppress'd with famine sore;
"O kill us both — twere kinder far,
"We cou'd not suffer more."

The Carpenter, struck to the heart,
Fell on his knees straitway;
He wrung his hands — confess'd his sins,
And did both weep and pray.

From that same hour the Cooper more,
He never wou'd behold;
Nor wou'd he to the Ale-house go,
Had it been pav'd with gold.

His Wife forgave him all the past,
And sooth'd his sorrowing mind,
And much he griev'd that e'er he wrong'd
The worthiest of her kind.

By lab'ring hard, and working late,
By industry and pains,
His Cottage was at length redeem'd,
And sav'd were all his gains.

His Sundays now at Church were spent,
His home was his delight;
The following verse himself he made,
And read it every night:

The Drunkard Murders Child and Wife,
Nor matters it a pin,

Whether he stabs them with a knife,
Or starves them by his gin.

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