Mrs. Gilman, in her autobiography, page 55 of the present volume, makes a very pleasant allusion to Hannah Adams, the venerated author of the “History of Religions,” the pioneer, almost, of American female authorship. The account of her which follows is taken, with very slight verbal alterations, from “Woman’s Record,” by Mrs. Hale, and may be considered as an additional extract from that valuable work.
“Hannah Adams was born in Medfield, Massachusetts, in 1755. Her father was a respectable farmer in that place, rather better educated than persons of his class usually were at that time; and his daughter, who was a very delicate child, profited by his fondness for books. So great was her love for reading and study, that when very young she had committed to memory nearly all of Milton, Pope, Thomson, Young, and several other poets.
“When she was about seventeen her father failed in business, and Miss Adams was obliged to exert herself for her own maintenance. This she did at first by making lace, a very profitable employment during the revolutionary war, as very little lace was then imported. But after the termination of the conflict she was obliged to resort to some other means of support; and having acquired from the students who had boarded with her father, a competent knowledge of Latin and Greek, she undertook to prepare young men for college; and succeeded so well, that her reputation was spread throughout the State.
“Her first work, entitled “The View of Religions,” which she commenced when she was about thirty, is a history of the different sects in religion. It caused her so much hard study and close reflection, that she was attacked before the close of her labours by a severe fit of illness, and threatened with derangement. Her next work was a carefully written “History of New England;” and her third was on “The Evidences of the Christian Religion.”