Hannah More (1745 – 1833) was regarded by England’s intelligentsia as one of the most learned women of her time. She was a member of the original Bluestocking Society, an informal gathering of educated women, which attracted some of Great Britain’s most influential men to its discussions.
Hannah More and her sister were notable, among other things, for assisting William Wilberforce in his crusade to abolish slavery in England. An expert on the social conditions of England, Hannah devoted much of her energy to improving the conditions of the lower classes. She also wrote a great deal of instructional literature for young women.
We would like to share with you one comment she made on the education of women during her time:
…in this land of civil and religious liberty, where there is as little despotism exercised over the minds, as over the persons of women, they have every liberty of choice, and every opportunity of improvement; and how greatly does this increase their obligation to be exemplary in their general conduct, attentive to the government of their families, and instrumental to the good order of society!
She who is at a loss to find amusements at home, can no longer apologize for her dissipation abroad, by saying she is deprived of the benefit and the pleasure of books; and she who regrets being doomed to a state of dark and gloomy ignorance, by the injustice, or tyranny of the men, complains of an evil which does not exist.
Hannah More, Essays on Various Subjects Principally Designed for Young Ladies
This Mother’s Day we would like to re-post the tribute that I read aloud to our dear mother Victoria Botkin, a true dominion woman, on my 21st birthday:
I would like to take this opportunity to call to your attention the ones that really deserve the credit for my 21 years of life. I had very little hand in it, I can assure you.
First, my Heavenly Father, Who is the author of my existence and my future – my Sustainer and the Giver of Eternal Life.
And my earthly father, my God-ordained authority and protector.
And the woman that I call “blessed.” A woman who lost her life for His sake and found it, who made her husband great, and was subordinate to him in everything, though inferior to him in nothing.
My mother was God’s instrument to teach me what it meant to be a virtuous woman. Partly through her verbal instruction, but mostly through the silent example of her actions and deeds. Most of all, through the way she executed her duty to complement and complete my father. She is his perfect match and the sine qua non of his greatness. She delights him with her company and conversation, sustains him with her strength, stimulates and sharpens him with her wisdom and intelligence, emboldens him with her praise, bolsters him with her cheerfulness, comforts him with her love, and heartens him with her courage.
Maybe the most significant way that she contributed to his success was by instilling his vision into his children. The things she chose for us to study, the things she taught us were important, the projects she encouraged us to pursue, were all in perfect harmony with his objective for our family.
She is uniquely suited to be the teacher of his children because the qualities that our father wants his family to be known for – dominion focus, ingenuity, creativity, entrepreneurialism, love of learning, a pioneer spirit – are all qualities that our mother models in every thing that she does.
The most important things I learned come from observing her two greatest strengths. First of all, her Humility.
I see her humility in her willingness to be overshadowed by Dad. She prefers to bask in his shadow than to chase after the fame and adulation that could so easily and rightly be hers. I’ve never known a woman who cared about personal glory less, or who deserved it more. She will be remembered with more respect than her contemporaries, who fought with religious zeal for recognition and prestige, and now have no one to rise up and call them “blessed.”
The other strength I would mention is her Courage.
Like a true pioneer, Mother was never affected by the fact that she was often standing alone, being “the only one” faithful in an entire country, and doing things no one else was doing. She never even considered the wave of disapproval that came from all sides for her decision to follow Scripture instead of modern culture.
At the altar, Mother promised to go wherever our father went, and to gratefully share in whatever Providence had in store for him, sometimes respect and appreciation, sometimes persecution and rejection, sometimes a high station, sometimes a low one. It’s her calm and unquenchable energy, her willingness to forego comfort and stability, her ability to adapt gracefully to any situation, that allows my father’s heart to safely trust in her. When a man’s heart can safely trust in his wife, it allows him to be a visionary, an entrepreneur, who can live boldly and dare to do great things.
He knew, as I did, that whenever times were the toughest, that’s when Mother is the strongest. That’s why, seven years ago, Dad was not nervous about asking her to leave her country that she loved, to follow him to the ends of the earth.
Last but not least, I appreciate her courage to go through painful labor to bring me into the world. The fact that I’m here to stand before you now is a testimony to that courage. It’s that courage that I especially would like to honor today.
Dear Anna-Sofia and Elizabeth,
I recently read your book ‘So Much More’ and it was instrumental in changing my views on my role as a woman of God, and I am so thankful for it.
I live in the U.K. and in September 2005 I began attending a teaching college, and I actually completed my first year there. I was a Christian, however my contact with Christian education had been very limited and it never even occurred to me as an option – in my opinion I was going to teach in the State schools and act as witness there, I could see no contradiction between being a Christian and teaching what the State required. However my brother-in-law and sister had very different convictions on education (they have 5 children and are home-schooling the oldest three) and they bought me ‘The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum’ by Rushdoony. Reading that book was the beginning of a massive change in my views of education, and I began to realise how essential it is to proclaim Christ’s authority in all things, of course once I realised that, I realised that I could not (without compromise) teach in the State schools. I began to discuss my new found convictions with my parents and although they understood and agreed with many of the things that I said, it was very much their desire that I should finish college and get a degree.
It was around this time that a friend told me of an American college called the Whitefield who offered courses by correspondance, and one of those courses was in Christian education, moreover my friend’s niece was planning on doing this course and so I would have someone to talk to about it! I was delighted, and my parents were encouraged to find that I could be trained in Christian education – however they still wanted me to finish my original degree. I felt torn as I did not want to disobey my parents, but I did not desire to spend three more years being influenced in humanisim at college. Nevertheless, I finished my first year at college and applied for the Whitefield and trusted that if it were the Lord’s will, He would give my parents a change of heart.
… I ought to explain that from the time I was very young, I had always maintained that I was not going to get married, and I felt that a mother could send her children to school and go and get a job herself. My sister’s example challenged this view, and on a previous occasion when staying with them I had read ‘Praise Her in the Gates’ – this changed my view on motherhood, and I was very keen to encourage my married cousins to remain in the home, but I still refused to apply it to myself and remained stubbornly determined that I was not going to get married. In my mind, marriage was for some people, but not for me.
About a month into a recent stay at my sister’s I read ‘So Much More’. I remember the day that it arrived my sister was looking through it and her first comment was ‘I like this book’ and then she sat and giggled to herself! I asked why, and she referred to your comments regarding singleness, and how it is not a gift for us to choose (my sister and brother-in-law greatly desired to see my views on marriage and femininity change). I began reading it, and was greatly convicted by it. I had thought that I was opposed to feminism and that I did not desire independence, but I began to see that there was much I did not know of myself! By the time I was half-way through your book I realised that my thoughts on marriage and my role were unbiblical and I repented of them (much to the delight of my sister). It also caused me to view the time that I would spend helping my sister in a different light, previously I had simply thought of it as helping my sister, but then I realised what a wonderful opportunity it was for training me in the running of a home and embraced it as such.
I spent six months with my sister and brother-in-law and it was a wonderful opportunity for me and from my sister’s example, and from practice at running a home (and even a house move!) I learnt much about my role – yet if it had not been for the change in my views, I believe that I would have lost much of the blessing that that opportunity afforded me.
I am now home, and my father has read parts of ‘So Much More’ (specifically the parts regarding college) and I believe that his own attitude has been changed by reading it. I’m now seeking to use my time to help my family and develop skills that will be useful to me as a wife and mother, and will make me a blessing to others.
Thank you so much for your book, it has been a blessing to me and I am so thankful that I read it! It has been such an encouragement for me to realise (through your book and your web-site) that although I do not necessarily know many people who share this vision, yet there are others out there who are living it out daily and God honours those who honour Him.
your sister in Christ