Christian Morals (in 2 vols.)
London: Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1813.
London: Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1813. First edition. Half calf over marbled boards, rebacked to style with gilt to spines and preserving original drab endpapers. All edges speckled red. Measuring 190 x 112mm and collating complete: xii, 298; iv, 332. Early ownership signature of Harriet Marie Lumsden (Harriet Christian Nevin Lumsden neé Leith-Hay, d. 1820) to headers of both titles. Bindings clean and tight, with minimal shelfwear to boards; occasional light scattered foxing, but overall a pleasing, clean text.
Like so many of Hannah More's works, Christian Morals was an immediate best-seller, bringing her reflections on Puritan spirituality to a wide audience. "T. Cadell said the whole of the first edition was pre-sold before the publication day: he hurriedly sent More a copy to correct for a second edition. It went through eleven editions, nearly then thousand copies" (Orland Project). By this time in her life, More had established a firm reputation not only as an educator and women's education activist, but as a leading religious thinker capable of using her pedagogical training to encourage English and American readers toward a greater understanding of Puritan thought. Christian Morals stands among her mature works as evidence of her "brilliant mind and Christian convictions" and of her realization that "Christianity was not about performance, but about a 'turning of the whole mind to God.' This should influence how people spent their time, energy, and talents" (Penner). Volume I emphasizes these themes, providing readers with information on pious books and authors, as well as considerations of providence and the humble use of talent in the service of God. Volume II shifts focus to the relationship between retirement and inquiry, considering both the benefits and dangers of giving either element too much free reign; and she concludes with thoughts about how easily Christians can fall into behaviors inconsistent with true Christianity.
A cornerstone Puritan work by one of the most influential and best-selling Puritan writers. And the female provenance of this particular copy speaks to More's capacity to reach beyond a self-declared Puritan audience; for Harriet Lumsden, the member of two prominent military and land-owning families, has no public record of dissent against the Anglican Church. Yet her ownership and readership of such a work is evidence of how effectively More was able to write and draw people toward Puritan ideas. (Item #5143)