Frances Power Cobbe, an English authoress, born in Dublin in 1822. She is of English extraction, her father having derived his estates from his great-grandfather, Charles Cobbe, who was archbishop of Dublin. Her attention was early directed to theological studies, and after a wide course of reading she became deeply interested in the writings of Theodore Parker. Upon the death of her mother, which occurred while she was still young, she made inquiries of Parker in regard to a future existence. His reply was contained in his "Sermon of the Immortal Life." She became his warm friend and admirer, and edited the excellent English edition of his works. After her father's death she visited Italy and the East, and as the fruits of her travels wrote "The Cities of the Past" and "Italics" (London, 1864). On returning to England she assisted Miss Mary Carpenter for a time in the Red-house reformatory. Her labors were soon discontinued in consequence of an accident, but they furnished her with the materials for several papers upon the condition of the poor and friendless, which, after appearing as pamphlets and in magazines, were published with other essays under the title of " Studies New and Old of Ethical and Social Subjects" (1866), and "Hours of Work and Play" (1867). In 1860 she made a second visit to Italy, and was with Theodore Parker at Florence during the last days of his life.
Since his death she has been an earnest exponent of his religious ideas. Besides contributing largely to various periodicals, in some of which her sympathy for the United States during the civil war was manifested, she has written much on moral and religious subjects. In "Broken Lights" (1864) may be found a statement of the doctrines of the different divisions of the English church, and also a discriminating view of the writings of Renan. In her " Essay on Intuitive Morals" (1859), perhaps her ablest production, she controverts with great force of reasoning the utilitarian theory of ethics as set forth by its English advocates. Her book entitled "Religious Duty" (1865) may be considered as a sequel to this essay. Her latest work, entitled "Darwinism in Morals, and other Essays" (London, 1872), treats of unconscious cerebration, dreams, and other questions of psychology. Miss Cobbe's present residence (1873) is in London, where she holds a prominent place in philanthropic and reformatory movements, as well as in literature.