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Title: Harriet Martineau
Author: Miller, Florence Fenwick
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Famous Women._


  _Already published_:

  GEORGE ELIOT. By Miss Blind.
  EMILY BRONTË. By Miss Robinson.
  GEORGE SAND. By Miss Thomas.
  MARY LAMB. By Mrs. Gilchrist.
  MARGARET FULLER. By Julia Ward Howe.
  MARIA EDGEWORTH. By Miss Zimmern.
  ELIZABETH FRY. By Mrs. E. R. Pitman.
  HARRIET MARTINEAU. By Mrs. F. Fenwick Miller.
  RACHEL. By Mrs. Nina H. Kennard.
  MADAME ROLAND. By Mathilde Blind.
  SUSANNA WESLEY. By Eliza Clarke.
  MRS. SIDDONS. By Mrs. Nina H. Kennard.
  MADAME DE STAËL. By Bella Duffy.

[Illustration: FAMOUS WOMEN]




_Copyright, 1884_,



The material for this biographical and critical sketch of Harriet
Martineau and her works has been drawn from a variety of sources. Some
of it is quite new. Her own _Autobiography_ was completed in 1855; and
there has not hitherto been anything at all worth calling a record of
the twenty-one years during which she lived and worked after that date.
Even as regards the earlier period, although, of course I have drawn
largely for facts upon the _Autobiography_, yet I have found much that
is new to relate. For some information and hints about this period I am
indebted to her relatives of her own generation, Dr. James Martineau,
and Mrs. Henry Turner, of Nottingham, as well as to one or two others.
With reference to the latest twenty-one years of her life, my record is
entirely fresh, though necessarily brief. Mrs. Chapman, of Boston,
U.S.A., has written a volume in completion of the _Autobiography_,
which should have covered this later period; but her account is little
more than a repetition, in a peculiar style, of the story that Miss
Martineau herself had told, and leaves the later work of the life
without systematic record. As a well-known critic remarked in
_Macmillan_--"This volume is one more illustration of the folly of
intrusting the composition of biography to persons who have only the
wholly irrelevant claim of intimate friendship." But it should be
remembered that when Miss Martineau committed to Mrs. Chapman the task
of writing a memorial sketch, and when the latter accepted the
undertaking, both of them believed that the life and work of the
subject of it were practically over. I have reason to know that if
Harriet Martineau had supposed it to be even remotely possible that so
much of her life remained to be spent and recorded, she would have
chosen some one more skilled in literature, and more closely acquainted
with English literary and political affairs, to complete her "Life."
Having once asked Mrs. Chapman to fulfill the task, however, Harriet
Martineau was too loyal and generous a friend to remove it from her
charge; and Mrs. Chapman, on her side, while continually begging
instructions from her subject as to what she was to say, and while
doubtless aware that she would not be adequate to the undertaking which
had grown so since she accepted it, yet would not throw it off her
hands. But her volume is in no degree a record of those last years,
which constitute nearly a third of Harriet Martineau's whole life. I
have had to seek facts and impressions about that period almost
entirely from other sources.

My deepest obligations are due, and must be first expressed, to Mr.
Henry G. Atkinson, the dearest friend of Harriet Martineau's maturity.
It is commonly known that she forbade, by her will, the publication of
her private letters; but she showed her supreme faith in and value for
her friend, Mr. Atkinson, by specially exempting him from such
prohibition. Her objection to the publication of letters was made on
general grounds. Her own letters are singularly beautiful specimens of
their class; and she declared that she would not mind if every word
that ever she wrote were published; but she looked upon it as a duty to
uphold the principle that letters should be held sacred confidences,
just as all honorable people hold private conversations, not to be
published without leave. But in authorizing Mr. Atkinson to print her
letters, if he pleased, she maintained that she was not departing from
this principle; for it was only the same as it would be if two friends
agreed to make their conversation known. I feel deeply grateful to Mr.
Atkinson for allowing me the privilege of presenting some of her
letters to the public in this volume, and of perusing very many more.

I have been permitted, also, to read a vast number of Harriet
Martineau's letters addressed to other friends besides Mr. Atkinson,
and how much they have aided me in the following work and in
appreciating her personality, may easily be guessed; but, of course, I
may not publish these letters. Amongst many persons to whom I am
indebted for helping me to "get touch" with my subject in this way, I
must specially thank two. Mr. Henry Reeve, the editor of the _Edinburgh
Review_, was a relative and intimate friend of Harriet Martineau; and
her correspondence with so distinguished a man of letters was,
naturally, peculiarly interesting--not the less so because they
differed altogether on many matters of opinion. Her letters, which Mr.
Reeve has kindly allowed me to see, have been of very great service to
me. Miss F. Arnold, of Fox How, (the youngest daughter of Dr. Arnold,
of Rugby,) is the second to whom like particular acknowledgments is
due. She was young enough to have been Harriet Martineau's daughter;
but she was also a beloved friend, and was almost a daily visitor at
"The Knoll" during the later years of Miss Martineau's life. The
letters which Miss Arnold, during occasional absences from home,
received from her old friend, are very domestic, lively, and
characteristic of the writer. It has been of great value to me to have
seen all the letters that have been lent me, but especially these two
sets, so different and yet so similar as I have found them to be.

I have visited Norwich, and seen the house where Harriet Martineau was
born; Tynemouth, where she lay ill; Ambleside, where she lived so long
and died at last; and Birmingham, to see my valued friends, her nieces
and nephew. If I should thank by name all with whom I have talked of
her, and from whom I have learned something about her, the list would
grow over-long; and so I must content myself with thus comprehensively
expressing my sense of individual obligations to all who have laid even
a small stone to this little memorial cairn.

F. F. M.




THE CHILD AT HOME AND AT SCHOOL                          1




EARLIEST WRITINGS                                       49


GRIEF STRUGGLE, AND PROGRESS                            67


THE GREAT SUCCESS                                      100


FIVE ACTIVE YEARS                                      130




THE HOME LIFE                                          178


IN THE MATURITY OF HER POWERS                          200


IN RETREAT; JOURNALISM                                 231


THE LAST YEARS                                         264




When Louis XIV. of France revoked the Edict of Nantes, in 1688, a
large number of the Protestants who were driven out of France by the
impending persecutions came to seek refuge in this favored land of
liberty of ours. Many who thus settled in our midst were amongst the
most skillful and industrious workers, of various grades, that could
have been found in the dominions of the persecuting king who drove
them forth. They must have been, too, in the nature of the case,
strong-hearted, clear in the comprehension of their principles, and
truthful and conscientious about matters of opinion; for the
cowardly, the weak, and the false could stay in their own land. From
the good stock of these exiles for conscience-sake sprang Harriet

Her paternal Huguenot ancestor was a surgeon, who was married to a
fellow-countrywoman and co-religionist of the name of Pierre. This
couple of exiles for freedom of opinion settled in Norwich, where the
husband pursued his profession. Their descendants supplied a constant
succession of highly-respected surgeons to the same town, without
intermission, until the early part of this century, when the line of
medical practitioners was closed by the death of Harriet Martineau's
elder brother at less than thirty years old. The Martineau family thus
long occupied a good professional position in the town of Norwich.

Harriet's father, however, was not a surgeon, but a manufacturer
of stuffs, the very names of which are now strange in our
ears--bombazines and camlets. His wife was Elizabeth Rankin, the
daughter of a sugar-refiner of Newcastle-on-Tyne. A true Northumbrian
woman was Mrs. Martineau; with a strong sense of duty, but little
warmth of temperament; with the faults of an imperious disposition,
and its correlative virtues of self-reliance and strength of will.
These qualities become abundantly apparent in her in the story of her
relationship with her famous daughter. On both sides, therefore,
Harriet Martineau was endowed by hereditary descent with the strong
qualities--the power, the clear-headedness, and the keen
conscience--which she interfused into all the work of her life.

Thomas and Elizabeth Martineau, her father and mother, were the parents
of eight children, two of whom became widely known and influential as
thinkers and writers. Harriet was the sixth of the family, and was born
at Norwich, in Magdalen street, on the 12th of June, 1802, the mother
being at that time thirty years old. The next child, born in 1805, was
the boy who grew up to become known as Dr. James Martineau; so that the
two who were to make the family name famous were next to each other in
age. Another child followed in this family group, but not until 1811,
when Harriet was nine years old, so that she could experience with
reference to this baby some of that tender, protective affection which
is such an education for elder children, and so delightful to girls
with strong maternal instincts such as she possessed.

The sixth child in a family of eight is likely to be a personage of but
small consequence. The parents' pride has been somewhat satiated by
previous experiences of the wonders of the dawning faculties of their
children; and the indulgence which seems naturally given to "the baby"
gets comparatively soon transferred from poor number six to that
interloper number seven. Mrs. Martineau, too, was one of that sort of
women who, as they would say, do not "spoil" their children. Ready to
work for them, to endure for them, to struggle to provide them with all
necessary comforts, and even with pleasures, at the cost, if need be,
of personal sacrifice of comfort and pleasure, such mothers yet do not
give to their children that bountiful outpouring of tender, caressing,
maternal love, which the young as much require for their due and free
growth as plants do the floods of the summer sunshine. To starve the
emotions in a child is not less cruel than to stint its body of food.
To repress and chain up the feelings is to impose as great a hardship
as it would be to fetter the freedom of the limbs. Mothers who have
labored and suffered through long years for the welfare of their
children, are often grieved and pained in after days to find themselves
regarded with respect rather than with fondness; but it was they
themselves who put the seal upon the fountains of affection at the time
when they might have been opened freely--and whose fault is it if,
later, the outflow is found to be checked for evermore?

The pity of it is that such mischief is often wrought by parents who
love their children intensely, but who err in the management of them
for want of the wisdom of the heart, the power of sympathetic feeling,
which is seen so much stronger sometimes in comparatively shallow
natures than in the deeper ones that have really more of love and of
self-sacrifice in their souls. Those who lack tenderness either of
manner or feeling, those to whom the full and free expression of
affection is difficult or seems a folly, may perhaps be led to reflect,
by the story of Harriet Martineau's childhood, on the suffering and
error that may result from a neglect of the moral command: "Parents,
provoke not your children to wrath."

"My life has had no spring," wrote Harriet Martineau, sadly; yet there
was nothing in the outer circumstances of her childhood and youth to
justify this feeling. Her mother's temper and character were largely
responsible for what Harriet calls her "habit of misery" during
childhood. It is right to explain, however, that this unhappiness was
doubtless partly due to physical causes. She was a weakly child, her
health having been undermined by the dishonesty of the wet nurse
employed for her during the first three months of her life. The woman
lost her milk, and managed to conceal the fact until the baby was found
to be in an almost dying condition from the consequences of want of
nourishment. How far her frequent ill-health, during many succeeding
years, was to be ascribed to this cannot be known; but her mother
naturally attributed all Harriet's delicacy of health to this cause,
even the deafness from which she suffered, although this did not become
pronounced till she was over twelve years of age.

Her deafness, which was the most commonly known of her deficiencies of
sensation, was not her earliest deprivation of a sense. She was never
able to smell, that she could remember; and as smell and taste are
intimately joined together, and a large part of what we believe to be
flavor is really odor, it naturally followed that she was also nearly
destitute of the sense of taste. Thus two of the avenues by which the
mind receives impressions from the outer world were closed to her all
her life, and a third was also stopped before she reached womanhood.
The senses are the gates by which pleasure as well as pain enter into
the citadel where consciousness resides. Of all the senses, those which
most frequently give entrance to pleasure and seldomest to pain, were
those which she had lost. "When three senses out of five are
deficient," as she said, "the difficulty of cheerful living is great,
and the terms of life are truly hard."

She suffered greatly, even as a little child, from indigestion. Milk
in particular disagreed with her; but it was held essential by Mrs.
Martineau that children should eat bread and milk, and for years poor
Harriet endured daily a lump at her chest and an oppression of the
spirits, induced by her inability to digest her breakfast and supper.
Nightmares and causeless apprehensions in the day also afflicted the
nervous and sensitive girl, and she had "hardly any respite from

A child so delicate in health could not have been very happy under any
home conditions. Only a truly wise and tender maternal guardianship
could have made the life of such an one at all tolerable; but Harriet
Martineau was one of the large family of a sharp-tempered, masterful,
stern, though devoted mother, whose cleverness found vent in incessant
sarcasm, and in whom the love of power natural to a capable, determined
person degenerated, as it so often does in domestic life, into a severe

Mrs. Martineau's circumstances were such as to increase her natural
tendency to stern and decided rule. Dr. Martineau tells me that all
who knew his mother feel that Harriet does not do justice in her
"Autobiography" to that mother's nobler qualities, both moral and
intellectual, and especially the latter. Harriet and James Martineau,
like so many other men and women of mark, were the children of a mother
of uncommon mental capacity. Her business faculties were so good, and
her judgment so clear, that her husband (a man of a sweet and gentle
disposition) invariably took counsel with her about all his affairs,
and acted by her advice. There are still inhabitants of Norwich who
remember Mrs. Martineau, and their testimony of her is identical with
her son's. "She was the ruling spirit in that house," says one of them.
"Whatever was done there, you understood that it was she who did it."
The way in which this gentleman came to know so much of her
corroborates Dr. Martineau's declaration that "she was really devoted
to her children, and would do anything for them; if we were miserable
in our childhood (a fact which he does not dispute) it could not be
said to be consciously her fault." Mr. ---- was the husband of a lady
who had been reared from early childhood by Mrs. Martineau, having been
adopted by her simply in order to provide her little daughter, Ellen,
who was nine years younger than Harriet, with a child companion
somewhat about her own age. This lady, her widowed husband tells me,
retained a most warm admiration and affection for Mrs. Martineau.
Mothers who have brought up eight children of their own can appreciate
the self-devotedness of this mother in receiving a ninth child by
adoption in order to increase the well-being of her own little

Several other instances were told to me of Mrs. Martineau's benevolence
and kindness of disposition. Young men belonging to her religious body,
and living in lodgings in Norwich, were uniformly made welcome to her
house, as a home, every Sunday evening. One of the Norwich residents,
with whom I have talked about her, received a presentation from her to
the Unitarian Free School, and afterwards, in his school life, met with
constant encouragement and patronage at her hands. He tells me that he
has never forgotten the stately and impressive address with which she
gave him the presentation ticket, concluding with a reminder that if he
made good use of this opportunity he might even hope one day to become
a member of the Town Council of that city,--and at that giddy eminence
her _protégé_ now stands.

For the sake of the lesson, it should be understood that she was thus
truly benevolent and kindly, and no vulgar termagant or scold. It is
for us to see how such a nature can be spoiled for daily life by too
unchecked a course of arbitrary rule, and by repression of outward
signs of tenderness.

Not the least evil which a stern parent, who maintains a reserve of
demeanor, and who requires strictness of discipline within the home,
may do to himself and his children, is that by denying expression to
the children's feelings he closes to himself the possibility of knowing
what goes on in their young minds. Thus, a child so restrained may for
years suffer under a sense of injustice, and of undue favoritism shown
to another, or under a belief that the parent's love is lacking, when a
few words might have cleared away the misapprehension, and given the
child the natural happiness of its age.

Speaking of her childhood, Harriet says: "I had a devouring passion
for justice; justice, first, to my own precious self, and then to
other oppressed people. Justice was precisely what was least understood
in our house, in regard to servants and children. Now and then I
desperately poured out my complaints; but in general I brooded over
my injuries and those of others who dared not speak, and then the
temptation to suicide was very strong."

The most vivid picture that she has drawn of the discipline under which
such emotions were induced in her is found in a story, _The Crofton
Boys_, which she wrote during a severe illness, and under the
impression that it would contain her last words uttered through the
press. Mrs. Proctor, in _The Crofton Boys_, is depicted with remarkable
vividness by a series of little touches, and in a succession of trivial
details, with an avoidance of direct description, that reminds us of
the method of Jane Austen. Harriet never achieved any other portrait of
a character such as this one; for this is treated with such minute
fidelity, and such evident unconsciousness, that we feel sure, as we
sometimes do with a picture, that the likeness must be an exact one. So
distinct an individuality is shown to us, and at the same time, the
evidences of the artist's close and careful observation of his model
are so obvious, that, without having seen the subject, we _feel_ the
accuracy of the likeness. So does the "portrait of a mother" in that
tale which Harriet wrote for her last words through the press, show us
the nature of Mrs. Martineau in her maternal relation.

"Mrs. Proctor so seldom praised anybody that her words of esteem went a
great way.... Everyone in the house was in the habit of hiding tears
from Mrs. Proctor, who rarely shed them herself, and was known to think
that they might generally be suppressed, and should be so."

If any person were weak enough to express emotion in this way in
her presence, Mrs. Proctor would promptly and sternly intimate her
disapproval of such indulgence of the feelings. When the little lad was
leaving home for the first time, all the rest of the household became a
little unhappy over the parting.

"Susan came in about the cord for his box, and her eyes were red,--and
at the sight of her Agnes began to cry again; and Jane bent down over
the glove she was mending for him, and her needle stopped.

"'Jane,' said her mother, gravely, 'if you are not mending that glove,
give it to me. It is getting late.'

"Jane brushed her hand across her eyes, and stitched away again. Then
she threw the gloves to Hugh without looking at him, and ran to get
ready to go to the coach."

So little allowance was ordinarily made in that house for signs of
affection, or manifestations of personal attachment, that the child who
was going away for six months was "amazed to find that his sisters were
giving up an hour of their lessons that they might go with him to the
coach." Even when Hugh got his foot so crushed it had to be amputated,
though his mother came to him and gave him every proper attention, yet
"Hugh saw no tears from her"; nothing more than that "her face was very
pale and grave." His anticipations of her coming had not been warm; his
one anxiety had been that he might bear his pain resolutely before her.
"As Hugh cried, he said he bore it so very badly he did not know what
his mother would say if she saw him." And it was well that he had not
anticipated any outburst of pity or expression of sympathy from her,
for, when she did come, "she kissed him with a long, long kiss; but she
did not speak." Her first words in the hearing of her agonized child
were spoken to give him an intimation that the surgeons were waiting to
take off his foot. The boy's reply was--not to cling to her for
support, and to nestle in her bosom for comfort in the most terrible
moment of his young life, but--"Do not stay now; this pain is so bad! I
can't bear it well at all. Do go, now, and bid them make haste, will

Later, when the leg was better, the poor boy's mental misery once
overpowered him, even in his mother's presence. Sitting with her and
his sister--"... He said, 'He did not know how he should bear his
misfortune. When he thought of the long, long days, and months, and
years, to the end of his life, and that he should never run and play,
and never be like other people, and never able to do the commonest
things without labor and trouble, he wished he was dead. He would
rather have died!' Agnes thought he must be miserable indeed if he
would venture to say this to his mother." Such was the idea that these
children had of maternal sympathy and love! So little did they look
upon their mother as the one person above all others to whom their
secret troubles should be opened!

It is proper to observe that the mother came out of this test well.
There is no record that Mrs. Martineau was ever found wanting in due
care for her children when the pent-up agony of their bodies or spirits
became so violent as to burst the bonds of reserve that her general
demeanor and method of management imposed upon them. Her children's
misery (for Harriet was not the only one of the family whose childhood
was wretched) came not from any intentional neglect, or even from any
indifference on her part to their comfort and happiness, but solely,
let it be repeated, from her arbitrary manner and her quickness of
temper. It is worth repeating (if biography be of value for the lessons
which may be drawn from it for the conduct of other lives) that the
mother whose children were so spirit-tossed and desolate was,
nevertheless, one who gave herself up to their interests, and labored
incessantly and unselfishly for their welfare. It was not love that
really was wanting; far less was it faithfulness in the performance of
a mother's material duties to her children; all that was lacking was
the free play of the emotions on the surface, the kisses, the loving
phrases, the fond tones, which are assuredly neither weaknesses nor
works of supererogation in family life. By means of candid expression
alone can the emotions of one mind touch those of another; and from the
lack of such contact between a child and its mother there must come, in
so close a life relationship, misery to the younger and disappointment
to the elder of the two.

"I really think," says Harriet, "if I had once conceived that anybody
cared for me, nearly all the sins and sorrows of my anxious childhood
would have been spared me." Yet, not only was she well fed, well
clothed, well educated, and sent to amusements to give her pleasure
(magic lanterns, parties and seaside trips are all mentioned); but
besides all this, when she did burst forth, like Hugh Proctor in the
book, with the expression of her suffering, she was soothed and cared
for. But this last happened so rarely--of course entirely because it
was made so difficult for her to express herself--that the occasions
lived in her memory all her life.

The moral consequences of all this were naturally bad. Even with all
motherly sympathy and encouragement, so sickly a child would have been
likely to suffer from timidity, and to fall into occasional fits of
despondency and irritability; but, with fear continually excited in
her mind, and with an eternal storm of passionate opposition to
arbitrary authority raging in her soul, it is no wonder that the poor
child made for herself a character for willfulness and obstinacy,
while internally she suffered dreadfully from her conscience. "In my
childhood," she says, "I would assert or deny anything to my mother
that would bring me through most easily.... This was so exclusively
to one person that, though there was remonstrance and punishment, I
was never regarded as a liar in the family." Her strength of will
was very great; and when she had been placed in a false position by
her dread of rebuke, the powerful will came into play to maintain
a dogged, stubborn, indifferent appearance. Yet all the while her
conscientiousness--the strong convictions as to what was right, and
the ardent desire to do it, which marked her whole career--was at work
within her, causing a mental shame and distress which might have been
easily aided by gentle treatment to overcome the fear and the firmness
which were acting together to make her miserable and a sinner.

It is altogether a sad story, but I have not told it at length without
reason. The fact that other children are suffering similarly every day
makes the record worth repeating. But, besides this, her vivid
remembrance of her childish pangs tends to show how warm and strong
were her natural affections. If Harriet Martineau's mind had not been
sensitive and emotional, and if her love for those united to her by
family ties had not been ardent, she would not have felt as she did in
her childhood, and she would not have remembered, all through her life,
how she had suffered in her early years from unsatisfied affection.
Now, this soft, loving, emotional side of her character must be
recognized before her life and her work can be properly appreciated.

The intellectual influences of her home life were not more happy than
the moral ones. She was thought by her family anything but a clever
child. Indeed, Dr. James Martineau (whose recollections are peculiarly
valuable, both from his nearness to Harriet in age and from their great
attachment in early life) still thinks that she really was a dull
child. Her intelligence, he believes, awoke only in her later youth,
coincidentally with some improvement in health. It is hard to guess
what the impression of her childish intellectual powers might have been
under different conditions. She suggestively remarks[1]: "It should
never be forgotten that the happier a child is the cleverer he will be.
This is not only because in a state of happiness the mind is free, and
at liberty for the exercise of its faculties instead of spending its
thoughts and energy in brooding over troubles, but also because the
action of the brain is stronger when the frame is in a state of
hilarity; the ideas are more clear, impressions of outward objects are
more vivid, and the memory will not let them slip." Moreover, it is a
fact worthy of note that the recognition by her family of her mental
development followed upon her return home after she had been away for a
time, and had been learning at a boarding-school under "the first
person of whom she never felt afraid." Still, the fact remains that
Harriet was the ugly duckling of her family, and supposed to be the
most stupid of the group of Martineau children.

          [1] _Household Education_, p. 202.

She was active-minded enough, however, to begin early that spontaneous
self-education which only intellects of real power undertake, either
in childhood or in later years.

Milton was her master. When she was seven years old she came by
accident upon a copy of _Paradise Lost_ lying open upon a table. Taking
it up, she saw the heading "Argument," and in the text her eye caught
the word "Satan." Instantly the mind which her relations thought so
sluggish was fired by the desire to know how Satan could be argued
about. She sought the passage which tells how the arch-fiend was--

    Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
    With hideous ruin and combustion, down
    To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
    In adamantine chains and penal fire.

For the ensuing seven years her thoughts dwelt daily in the midst of
the solemn scenes, and moved to the sound of the sonorous music of
Milton's poetry. "I wonder how much of it I knew by heart--enough to
be always repeating it to myself with every change of light and
darkness, and sound, and silence, the moods of the day and the seasons
of the year." The dull child, who neglected her multiplication table,
did so because her mind was pre-occupied with thoughts of this grander

Her love of books increased, and her range of reading became wide.
Milton, although the favorite, was by no means her only beloved
author. She read rapidly, and, as clever children often do,
voraciously. Whole pages or scenes from Shakespeare, Goldsmith,
Thompson, and Milton she learned by heart, until she knew enough
poetry to have fitted her for the occupation of a wandering reciter.
In this way her self-education in the English classics, and in
literary style, went on at the same time with her daily education by
living teachers.

Harriet's formal education was somewhat desultory; but it is a
noteworthy fact that it was, so far as it went, what would have been
called a "boy's education." In this respect the history of her mental
development is the same as that of many other illustrious women of
the past. Girls' High Schools, and University examinations for
young women, are products of the present day, and are rapidly
rendering obsolete the old ideas about the necessary differences and
distinctions between the education of boys and girls. But up to the
first quarter of this century, the minds of boys and of girls were
commonly submitted to entirely different courses of training. While
the boys learned precision in reasoning from mathematics, the girls
were considered sufficiently equipped for their lot in life by a
knowledge of the first three rules of arithmetic. While any faculty of
language that a lad possessed was trained and exercised by the study
of the classics, his sister was thought to require no more teaching in
composition and grammar than would enable her to write a letter.
Elaborate samplers, specimens of fine stitching, of hemming done by a
thread on the most delicate cambric, of marking in tiny stitches and
wonderful designs, and of lace more noticeable for difficulty in the
doing than for beauty, have come down to us from our grandmothers'
days, to show us how the school-time of the girls was being disposed
of, while the boys were studying Euclid, Virgil, and Homer. If we have
changed all that, and are now beginning to give a considerable
proportion of our girls the same mental diet for the growth and
sustenance of their minds with that which is supplied to boys, it is
largely owing to the direct efforts in favor of such a course put
forth by women such as Harriet Martineau, who had themselves been, at
least partially, educated "like boys," and were conscious that to such
education they owed much of their mental superiority over average

In her earlier years Harriet was taught at home by her elder brothers
and sisters, with the addition of lessons in some subjects from
masters. She was well grounded in this manner in Latin, French and the
ordinary elementary subjects. But her systematic education did not
begin until she was eleven, when she and her sister Rachel were sent
to a school kept by a good master, at which boys also were receiving
their education.

The school-life was delectable to Harriet. Mr. Perry, the master, was
gentle in his manner, and methodical in his style of teaching; and
under his tuition the shy, nervous child felt for the first time
encouraged to do her best, and aided not merely to learn her lessons,
but also to expand her mental faculties. The two years that she
remained at Mr. Perry's school gave her a fair insight into Latin and
French, and enabled her to discover that arithmetic was to her mind a
delightful pastime rather than a difficult study. English composition
was formally and carefully taught. This was Harriet's favorite lesson;
but she would spend her playtime in covering a slate with sums for the
mere pleasure of the exercise.

When Harriet had been at this school for about two years, Mr. Perry
left Norwich. The home system of education was then resumed. She had
visiting masters in Latin, French, and music. For the rest, Mrs.
Martineau selected a course of reading on history, biography, and
literature. One of the girls read aloud daily while the others did

"The amount of time we spent in sewing now appears frightful; but it
was the way in those days among people like ourselves." Harriet became
a thoroughly accomplished needle-woman. She had, indeed, a liking for
the occupation, and continued to do much of it all through her life.
Many of her friends can show handsome pieces of fancy-work done by her
hands. Again and again she contributed to public objects by sending a
piece of her own beautiful needle-work to be sold for the benefit of a
society's funds. Not even in the busiest time of her literary life did
she ever entirely cease to exercise her skill in this feminine
occupation. In fact, she made wool-work her artistic recreation.

But with all her liking for needle-work, and with all the use that she
made of her skill in the art, she did feel very keenly how much her
time and strength had been wasted in childhood upon the practice of
this mechanical occupation that should have been employed in the
cultivation of her mental powers. A girl then was required to become a
proficient in the making of every kind of garment. It was considered a
good test of her capacity to know at an early age how to cut out and
put together a shirt for her father; drawing threads to cut it by, and
drawing threads to do the rows of fine stitching by, and stitching
evenly and regularly, only two threads of the finest material being
taken for each stitch! The expenditure of time out of a girl's life,
involved in making her capable of doing all this, was something
shocking. In these days, when the development of the means of
communication has made division of labor more generally practicable
than of old, and when nearly all men and women, from the richest to
the artizan classes, wear garments made chiefly by machinery, I doubt
if many readers can be got to realize how much a girl's intellectual
training was diminished when Harriet Martineau was a child by the vast
amount of time consumed in training her as a seamstress. Harriet was
taught how to make all her own clothes, even to covering shoes with
silk for dancing, and to plaiting straw bonnets. It is as though every
boy were taught in his school-life to be a thorough carpenter, so as
to be able, in youth, to turn out, unaided, any article of furniture.
It is obvious how much time such technical training must swallow up.
To conceive how a girl was held back by it, we must ask ourselves:
What was her brother doing while she was learning needle-work?

The matter did not end with the waste of time alone. Health, strength
and nerve-force--in a word, _power_--was squandered upon it to a
degree truly lamentable. Harriet Martineau's testimony[2] upon this
point may be taken, because of her real fondness for the employment
and the skill which she displayed in it:

          [2] _Household Education_, p. 286.

    "I believe it is now generally agreed among those who know best
    that the practice of sewing has been carried much too far for
    health, even in houses where there is no poverty or pressure of
    any kind. No one can well be more fond of sewing than I am, and
    few, except professional seamstresses, have done more of it, and
    my testimony is that it is a most hurtful occupation, except where
    great moderation is observed. I think it is not so much the
    sitting and stooping posture as the incessant monotonous action
    and position of the arms that causes such wear and tear. Whatever
    it may be, there is something in prolonged sewing which is
    remarkably exhausting to the strength, and irritating beyond
    endurance to the nerves. The censorious gossip, during sewing,
    which was the bane of our youth," she adds, "wasted more of our
    precious youthful powers and dispositions than any repentance and
    amendment in after life could repair."

Harriet's reading for pleasure in childhood had mostly to be done by
snatches. She learned much poetry by keeping the book under her work,
on her lap, and glancing at a line now and another then. Shakespeare
she first enjoyed, while a child, by stealing away from table in the
evenings of one winter, and reading by the light of the drawing-room
fire, while the rest lingered over dessert in the dining-room. In this
way, too, she had to read the newspaper.

The older she grew, the less time was afforded her from domestic
duties for study. She was sent, at the age of fourteen, to a
boarding-school near Bristol, kept by an aunt of her own, where she
stayed fifteen months, and on her return home her education was
considered finished. Thenceforth it was a struggle to obtain
permission to spend any time in reading or writing, and such
opportunities as she got, or could make, had to be taken advantage of
in secrecy.

It is melancholy to read of her "spending a frightful amount of time
in sewing," and being "expected always to sit down in the parlor to
sew," instead of studying; of her being "at the work-table regularly
after breakfast, making my own clothes or the shirts of the household,
or about some fancy work, or if ever I shut myself into my own room
for an hour of solitude, I knew it was at the risk of being sent for
to join the sewing-circle;" and of the necessity that she lay under to
find time for study by stealing secret hours from sleep. But it is
needful to lay stress upon these hindrances through which the growing
girl fought her way to mental development. Wide though her knowledge
was, great though her mental powers became, who can tell how much was
taken from her possibilities (as from those of all other great women
of the past) by such waste of her powers in childhood and youth?

It is distressing to think about. The only comfort is that it was
inevitable. Of all the causes that unite to make the women of the
present more favorably circumstanced than those of the past, none is
more potent than the progress of mechanical discovery having relieved
them from the necessity of making all the clothing of mankind with
their own hands. From the era when Errina, the Greek poetess,
mournfully lamented that her mother tied her to her distaff, down to
the days in which Harriet Martineau studied by snatches, and spent her
days in making shirts in the parlor, an enormous amount of feminine
power has been squandered wastefully in this direction. If women
hereafter draw out a Comtist calendar of days upon which to reverence
the memory of those who have helped them on in the scale of beings,
assuredly they must find places for the inventors of the
spinning-mule, the stocking-loom and the sewing-machine.

Religion formed the chief source of happiness to Harriet Martineau in
childhood and early youth. Her parents were Unitarians, and their
child's theology was, therefore, of a mild type, lacking a hell, a
personal devil, a theory of original sin, and the like. She did not
fear God, while she feared almost all human beings, and her devotion
was thus a source of great joy and little misery.

When she was at the Bristol boarding-school, she came under the
ministerial influence of the great Unitarian preacher, the Rev. Dr.
Carpenter. The power of his teaching increased the ardor of her
religious sentiments. She was just at an intense age--between
fourteen and sixteen. Dr. Carpenter's religious instructions made
the theism in which she had been educated become a firm personal
conviction, and caused the natural action of a sensitive conscience,
the self-devotion and humility of a deep power of veneration, and
the truthfulness and sincerity of a rare courage, to be blended
indistinguishably in their exercise with emotional outpourings of the
spirit in worship, and with attachment to certain theological tenets.

Her younger sister well remembers that Harriet's fervent and
somewhat gloomy piety was the cause of a good deal of quizzing
amongst her elders, when she returned home from Bristol; their
amusement being mixed, however, with much respect for her sincerity
and conscientiousness. But, as her mind expanded, she thought as
well as felt about her theology, and her religious development did
not end with childhood.



Old Norwich, in the early years of this century, was a somewhat
exceptional place. It so chanced that besides the exclusiveness
natural even now to the society of a cathedral town--besides the
insular tone of thought and manners which most towns possessed in
those pre-railway days, and while our continental wars were holding
our country-people isolated from foreign nations--besides all this,
Norwich then prided herself upon having produced a good deal of
literary ability. Her William Taylor was considered to be almost the
only German scholar in England, and other men, whose names are now
nearly forgotten, but who in their day were looked up to as lights of
learning and literature--Sayers, Smith, Enfield, Alderson, and
others,--gave a tone to the society of Norwich, which, if somewhat
pedantic, was, nevertheless, favorable to the intellectual life. It is
no small testimony to the healthy and stimulating mental atmosphere of
old Norwich that there successively came out from her, in an age when
individuality and intellect in woman were steadily repressed, three
women of such mark as Amelia Opie, Elizabeth Fry and Harriet

But even in Norwich the repression just alluded to was felt by women.
Even there it was held, to say the least, peculiar and undesirable for
a girl to wish to study deep subjects. "When I was young," Miss
Martineau writes, "it was not thought proper for young ladies to study
very conspicuously; and especially with pen in hand." They were
required to be always ready "to receive callers, without any sign of
blue-stockingism which could be reported abroad. My first studies in
philosophy were carried on with great care and reserve.... I won time
for what my heart was set upon either in the early morning or late at

It was thus at unseasonable hours, and without the encouraging support
of that public feeling of the value and desirability of knowledge, and
the honorableness of its acquisition, by which a young man's studies
are unconsciously aided, that Harriet in her young womanhood continued
to learn. She read Latin with her brother James, and translated from
the classics by herself. Her cousin, Mr. Lee, read Italian with her
and her sister; and in course of time they undertook the translation
of Petrarch's sonnets into English verse. She read Blair's Rhetoric
repeatedly. Her Biblical studies were continued until she was in that
position which, according to Macaulay, is necessary "for a critic of
the niceties of the English language;" she had "the Bible at her
fingers' ends."

But her solitary studies went also into heavier and less frequented
paths. Dr. Carpenter had taught her to interest herself in mental and
moral philosophy. She read about these subjects at first because he
had written upon them, and afterwards because she found them really
congenial to her mind. Locke and Hartley were the authors whom she
studied most closely. Then the works of Priestley, and the study of
his life and opinions--which she naturally undertook, because Dr.
Priestley was the great apostle and martyr of Unitarianism--led her to
make a very full acquaintance with the metaphysicians of the Scotch

To how much purpose she thus read the best books then available, upon
some of the highest topics that can engage the attention, soon became
apparent when she began to write; but of this I must speak in due
course later on. Two other of the most important events, or rather
trains of events, in the history of her young womanhood, must be
mentioned first.

The earlier of these was the gradual oncoming and increase of her
deafness. She began to be slightly deaf while she was at Mr. Perry's
school, and the fact was there recognized so far as to cause her to be
placed next to her teacher in the class. How keenly she even then felt
this loss, she has in part revealed in the story of Hugh Procter; and
a few lines from an essay of hers on Scott may here be added:

"Few have any idea of the all-powerful influence which the sense of
personal infirmity exerts over the mind of a child. If it were known,
its apparent disproportionateness to other influences would, to the
careless observer, appear absurd; to the thoughtful it would afford
new lights respecting the conduct of educational discipline; it would
also pierce the heart of many a parent who now believes that he knows
all, and who feels so tender a regret for what he knows that even the
sufferer wonders at its extent. But this is a species of suffering
which can never obtain sufficient sympathy, because the sufferer
himself is not aware, till he has made comparison of this with other
pains, how light all others are in comparison."

As pathetically, but more briefly, she says about herself:--"My
deafness, when new, was the uppermost thing in my mind day and night."

Her inability to hear continued to increase by slow degrees during the
next six years; and when she was eighteen "a sort of accident"
suddenly increased it. Music had, until then, been one of her great
delights, and it shows how gradual was the progress of her deafness,
that she found herself able to hear at an orchestral concert, provided
she could get a seat with a back against which she could press her
shoulder-blades, for a long time after the music had become inaudible
without this assistance. Such a gradual deprivation of a most
important sense is surely far more trying than a quick, unexpected,
and obviously irremediable loss would be. The alternations of hope and
despair, the difficulty of inducing the sufferer's friends to
recognize how serious the case is, the perhaps yet greater difficulty
to the patient to resolutely step out of the ranks of ordinary people
and take up the position of one deficient in a sense, the
mortifications which have to be endured again and again both from the
ignorance of strangers and the mistaken sympathy of friends--all these
make up the special trial of one who becomes by degrees the subject of
a chronic affliction. No sensitive person can possibly pass through
this fiery trial unchanged. Such an experience must either refine or
harden; must either strengthen the powers of endurance or break down
the mind to querulous ill-temper; must either make self the centre of
creation or greatly add to the power of putting personal interests
aside for the sake of wider and more unselfish thoughts and feelings.
Which class of influences Harriet Martineau accepted from her trial
the history of her courageous, resolute life-work, and her devotion to
truth and duty as she saw them, will sufficiently show.

How much she suffered in mind was quite unknown to her family at the
time. She was always reserved in speaking about her own feelings and
emotions to her mother, and in this particular case Mrs. Martineau,
with the kindest intentions, discouraged, as far as possible, all
recognition of the growing infirmity. The society of Norwich had never
been very attractive to the young girl, who was above the average in
natural abilities, and still further removed from the petty and
frivolous gossip of the commonplace evening party, by the extensive
and elevating course of study through which her mind had passed. Had
she been well able to hear, she could have quietly accepted what such
intercourse could give her. This would have been much. Kindliness and
good feeling, common sense, and ideas about man and his circumstances,
are to be enjoyed and gained quite as much in ordinary as in what is
commonly called intellectual society. But in the freshness of her
sensitive suffering Harriet shrank from the Norwich evening parties.
Her mother, however, insisted upon her taking her full share of

The case was made worse by the customary errors in the treatment of
deaf persons; namely, the endeavoring to keep up the illusion that she
was not deaf, the occasional assurances that she could hear as well as
ever if it were not for her habits of abstraction, and so forth, and
the imploring her to always ask when she did not hear what was said,
followed by scoldings (kindly meant, but none the less irritating to
the object) when it was found that she had been silently losing the
larger part of a conversation. False pride, pretence, and selfish
exactions were thus sought to be nourished in her; while the blessings
of an open recognition of her trouble, and a full and free sympathy
with her pain and her difficulty in learning to bear it, were at the
same time withheld.

I have spoken of this method of treatment of such a case as erroneous.
But in such a matter only those who have gone through the experience
and have come out of it at last, as she did, with the moral nature
strengthened, and the power of self-management increased, can be really
competent to express an opinion upon the proper method of behavior to
similar sufferers. I hasten to add, therefore, that in substance the
view that I have given is that expressed in Harriet Martineau's _Letter
to the Deaf_, published in 1834. In that remarkable fragment of
autobiography she appealed to the large number of people who suffered
like herself, to insist upon the frank recognition of their infirmity,
and to themselves acquiesce with patience in all the deprivations and
mortifications which the loss of a sense must bring. The revelation in
this essay of her own sufferings is most touching; and very noble and
beautiful is the way in which she urges that the misery must be met,
and the humiliation must be turned aside, by no other means than
courage, candor, patience, and an unselfish determination to consider
first the convenience and happiness of others instead of the sufferer's

    "Instead of putting the singularity out of sight we should
    acknowledge it in words, prepare for it in habits, and act upon it
    in social intercourse. Thus only can we save others from being
    uneasy in our presence, and sad when they think of us. That we can
    thus alone make ourselves sought and beloved is an inferior
    consideration, though an important one to us, to whom warmth and
    kindness are as peculiarly animating as sunshine to the caged
    bird. This frankness, simplicity, and cheerfulness can only grow
    out of a perfect acquiescence in our circumstances. Submission is
    not enough. Pride fails at the most critical moment. But hearty
    acquiescence cannot fail to bring forth cheerfulness. The thrill
    of delight which arises during the ready agreement to profit by
    pain (emphatically the joy with which no stranger intermeddleth)
    must subside like all other emotions; but it does not depart
    without leaving the spirit lightened and cheered; and every
    visitation leaves it in a more genial state than the last.... I
    had infinitely rather bear the perpetual sense of privation than
    become unaware of anything which is true--of my intellectual
    deficiences, of my disqualifications for society, of my errors in
    matter of fact, and of the burdens that I necessarily impose on
    those who surround me. We can never get beyond the necessity of
    keeping in full view the worst and the best that can be made of
    our lot. The worst is either to sink under the trial or to be made
    callous by it. The best is to be as wise as possible under a great
    disability, and as happy as possible under a great privation."

It is essential, for a correct understanding of her character, that
this great trial of her youth should be presented amidst the moulding
influences of that time with as much strength as it was experienced.
But it is difficult, within the necessary limits of quotation, to
convey an idea to the reader of either the intensity and bitterness of
the suffering revealed, or of the firmness and beauty of the spirit
with which the trial was met. Nor was the advice that she gave to
others mere talk, which she herself never put in practice. If her
family did not realize at the time how deeply she suffered, still less
could her friends in later life discover by anything in her manners
that her soul had been so searched and her spirits so tried. So
frankly and candidly, and with such an utter absence of affectation,
did she accept this condition of her life, that those around her
hardly realized that she felt it as a deprivation; and a few lines in
her autobiography, in which she mentions how conscious she was of
intellectual fatigue from the lack of those distractions to the mind
which enter continually through the normal ear, came like a painful
shock to her friends, making them feel that they had been unconscious
of a need ever present with her throughout life.

For some time after the deafness began, she did not use an
ear-trumpet. Like many in a similar position, she persuaded herself
that her deafness was not sufficiently great to cause any considerable
inconvenience to others in conversation. At length, however, she was
enlightened upon this point. An account appeared in a Unitarian paper
of two remarkable cures of deafness by galvanism, and Harriet's
friends persuaded her to try this new remedy. For a brief while, hope
was revived in her; the treatment threw her into a state of nervous
fever, during which she regained considerable sensibility in the organ
of hearing. The improvement was very temporary, but it lasted
sufficiently long to let her know how much her friends had been
straining their throats for her sake. From that time she invariably
carried and used an ear-trumpet, commencing with an india-rubber tube,
with a cup at the end for the speaker to take into his hand, but
afterwards employing an ordinary stiff trumpet.

Into this existence, which had hitherto been so full of sadness, there
came at length the bright-tinted and vivid shower of light, which
means so much to a woman. Love came to brighten the life so dark
hitherto for lack of that sunshine. Much as it is to any woman to know
herself beloved by the man whom she loves, to Harriet Martineau it was
even more than to most. It was not only that her character was a
strong one, and that to such a nature all influences that are accepted
become powerful forces, but besides this she had always loved more
than she had been loved; and her self-esteem had been systematically
suppressed by her mother's stern discipline, and afterwards injured by
the mortifications to which the on-coming of her deafness gave rise.
How much, in such a case, it must have been, when the hour at last
came for the history of the heart to be written! How delightful the
time when she could cherish in her thoughts a love which was at once
an equal friendship and a vivid passion! How great the revolution in
her mind when she found that the man whom she could love would choose
her from all the world of women to be his dearest, the partner of his

It would be a proof, if proof were needed at this time of day, that it
is well-nigh impossible for any person to give a candid, full and
unerring record of his own past, and the circumstances in it which
have most influenced his development, to turn from the brief and
cursory record which Harriet Martineau's autobiography gives of this
attachment, to the complete story as I have it to tell, here and in a
future chapter.

The strongest of all the family affections of her childhood and youth
was that which she felt for her brother James. He was two years
younger than herself. They had been playmates in childhood, and
companions in study later on. Harriet's first attraction to Mr.
Worthington was that he was her brother's friend. The two young men
were fellow-students at college, preparing for the Unitarian ministry.
Worthington was already well known to Harriet from her brother's
letters before she saw him. He then went on a visit to Norwich, to
spend a part of the vacation with James, and the interest which the
friend and the sister already felt in each other, from their mutual
affection for the brother, soon ripened into love. This was, I
believe, in 1822, when she was twenty years old.

Her father and mother looked not unkindly upon the dawning of this
affection. The brother, however, who knew the two so well, felt quite
certain that they were not suited for each other. Harriet was of a
strong, decided temper, even somewhat arbitrary and hasty, quick in
her judgments, and firm in her opinions. The temperament of
Worthington, on the other hand, was, I am told, gentle, impressionable
and sensitive in the extreme. He was highly conscientious, and
ultra-tender in his treatment of the characters and opinions of
others. The two seemed in many respects the antipodes of each other.
He who knew them both best was convinced that they would not be happy
together, and that opinion he has never changed.

It is above all things difficult to predict beforehand whether two
apparently antagonistic characters will really clash and jar in the
close union of married life, or whether, on the contrary, the
deficiencies of the one will be supplemented by those opposite
tendencies which are rather in excess in the other. It is notorious
that marriages are seldom perfect matches in the view of outsiders;
the incongruities in the temperaments and the habits of life and
thought, are more easily discerned than the fusing influence of ardent
love can be measured. Nor, indeed, can the changes which will be
worked in the disposition by a surrender to the free play of emotion
be accurately foreseen. Considerations such as these, however, do not
have much weight in the mind of a young man whose experience of the
mysteries of the human heart is yet to come; and James Martineau was
strongly averse to the engagement of his sister and his friend. Their
attachment was not then permitted to become an engagement. Worthington
was poor--was still only a student--Harriet was supposed, at that
time, to be well portioned; the sensitive temperament of the young
lover felt the variety of discouragements placed in the path of his
affection, and so that affection which should have brought only joy
became, in fact, to Harriet the cause of sorrow, suspense and anxiety.
Yet its vivifying influence was felt, and the true happiness which is
inseparable from mutual love, however the emotion be checked and
denied its full expression, was not lacking. For some insight into
what Harriet Martineau knew and felt of love, we must look elsewhere
than in the formal record of the Autobiography.[3] But this, like all
the other chief events of her life, has found a place in her works
under a thin veiling of her personality. Let us see from one of her
early essays how Harriet Martineau learned to regard love. The essay
is called "In a Hermit's Cave."

          [3] Mr. H. G. Atkinson writes to me: "She had written much
          more at length (than is published) in her Autobiography about
          her courtship; but she consulted me about publishing it, and
          I advised her not to do so--the matter counted for so little
          in such a life as hers." The quotation which I give here
          shows for what it did really count in the history of her
          mental development. But so difficult must it needs be for the
          writer of an autobiography to speak frankly of the more
          sacred experiences of the life, that it is not surprising
          that Harriet Martineau "destroyed what she had written," when
          so advised by the friend whom she consulted. I need only add
          that the many new details about the facts of this matter,
          which I am able to give, I have received from two of her own
          generation, both of whom were very intimate friends of hers
          at the time when all this occurred.

    "The place was not ill-chosen by the holy man, if the
    circumstances could but have been adapted to that highest
    worship--the service of the life.... But there is yet wanting the
    altar of the human heart, on which alone a fire is kindled from
    above to shine in the faces of all true worshippers for ever.
    Where this flame, the glow of human love, is burning, there is the
    temple of worship, be it only beside the humblest village hearth:
    where it has not been kindled there is no sanctuary; and the
    loftiest amphitheatre of mountains, lighted up by the ever-burning
    stars, is no more the dwelling-place of Jehovah than the Temple of
    Solomon before it was filled with the glory of the Presence....

    "Yes, Love is worship, authorized and approved.... Many are the
    gradations through which this service rises until it has reached
    that on which God has bestowed His most manifest benediction, on
    which Jesus smiled at Cana, but which the devotee presumed to
    decline. Not more express were the ordinances of Sinai than the
    Divine provisions for wedded love; never was it more certain that
    Jehovah benignantly regarded the festivals of His people than it
    is daily that He has appointed those mutual rejoicings of the
    affections, which need but to be referred to Him to become a holy
    homage. Yet there have been many who pronounce common that which
    God has purified, and reject or disdain that which He has
    proffered and blest. How ignorant must such be of the growth of
    that within! How unobservant of what passes without! Would that
    all could know how from the first flow of the affections, until
    they are shed abroad in their plentitude, the purposes of creation
    become fulfilled. Would that all could know how, by this mighty
    impulse, new strength is given to every power; how the intellect
    is vivified and enlarged; how the spirit becomes bold to explore
    the path of life, and clear-sighted to discern its issues.... For
    that piety which has humanity for its object--must not that heart
    feel most of which tenderness has become the element? Must not the
    spirit which is most exercised in hope and fear be most familiar
    with hope and fear wherever found?

    "How distinctly I saw all this in those who are now sanctifying
    their first Sabbath of wedded love.... The one was at peace with
    all that world which had appeared so long at war with him. He
    feared nothing, he possessed all; and of the overflowings of his
    love he could spare to every living thing. The other thought of no
    world but the bright one above, and the quiet one before her, in
    each of which dwelt one in whom she had perfect trust.... In her
    the progression has been so regular, and the work so perfect, that
    any return to the former perturbations of her spirit seems
    impossible. She entered upon a new life when her love began; and
    it is as easy to conceive that there is one Life Giver to the
    body, and another to the spirit, as that this progression is not
    the highest work of God on earth, and its results abounding to His
    praise.... To those who know them as I know them, they appear
    already possessed of an experience in comparison with which it
    would appear little to have looked abroad from the Andes, or
    explored the treasure-caves of the deep, or to have conversed with
    every nation under the sun. If they could see all that the eyes of
    the firmament look upon, and hear all the whispered secrets that
    the roving winds bear in their bosoms, they could learn but little
    new; for the deepest mysteries are those of human love, and the
    vastest knowledge is that of the human heart."

Even more vividly, at a later period, she told something of her
experiences in one of her fictions, under the guise of a conversation
between a young husband and wife:--

    "Do you really think there are any people that have passed through
    life without knowing what that moment was, that stir in one's
    heart on being first sure that one is beloved? It is most like the
    soul getting free of the body and rushing into Paradise, I should
    think. Do you suppose anybody ever lived a life without having
    felt this?"

    Walter feared it might be so; but, if so, a man missed the moment
    that made a man of one that was but an unthinking creature before;
    and a woman the moment best worth living for....

    "It seems to me," said Effie, "that though God has kindly given
    this token of blessedness to all--or to so many that we may nearly
    say all--without distinction of great or humble, rich or poor, the
    great and the lowly use themselves to the opposite faults. The
    great do not seem to think it the most natural thing to marry
    where they first love; and the lowly are too ready to love."

    "That is because the great have too many things to look to besides
    love; and the lowly have too few. The rich have their lighted
    palaces to bask in, as well as the sunshine; and they must have a
    host of admirers, as well as one bosom friend. And when the poor
    man finds that there is one bliss that no power on earth can shut
    him out from, and one that drives out all evils for the time--one
    that makes him forget the noon-day heats, and one that tempers the
    keen north wind, and makes him walk at his full height when his
    superiors lounge past him in the street--no wonder he is eager to
    meet it, and jogs the time-glass to make it come at the soonest.
    If such a man is imprudent, I had rather be he than one that first
    lets it slip through cowardice, and would then bring it back to
    gratify his low ambition!"

    "And for those who let it go by for conscience sake, and do not
    ask for it again?"

    "Why, they are happy in having learned what _the one feeling is
    that life is worth living for_. They may make themselves happy upon
    it for ever, after that. Oh! Effie, you would not believe, nothing
    could make you believe, what I was the day before and the day after
    I saw that sudden change of look of yours that told me all. The one
    day, I was shrinking inwardly from everything I had to do, and
    every word of my father's, and everybody I met; and was always
    trying to make myself happy in myself alone, with the sense of God
    being near me and with me. The other day, I looked down upon
    everybody, in a kindly way; and yet I looked up to them, too, for I
    felt a respect that I never knew before for all that were suffering
    and enjoying; and I felt as if I could have brought the whole world
    nearer to God, if they would have listened to me. I shall never
    forget the best moment of all--when my mind had suddenly ceased
    being in a great tumult, which had as much pain as pleasure in it.
    When I said distinctly to myself, 'She loves me,' Heaven came down
    round about me that minute."[4]

          [4] _Illustrations of Political Economy_: "A Tale of the
          Tyne," pp. 54, _et seq._ This passage is doubly interesting
          from the fact that Mr. Malthus, the discoverer of the
          Population Law, sent specially to thank her for having
          written it.

This tells how Harriet Martineau could love in her youth. Perhaps the
stream ran all the more powerfully for its course being checked; for
it was over three years after she met and became attached to Mr.
Worthington before their love was allowed to be declared, and their
engagement was permitted--a long period for hope and fear to do their
painful office in the soul, a long test of the reality of the love on
both sides.

Her extensive and deep studies, her sufferings and inward strivings
from her deafness, and the joys and anxieties of her love, were the
chief moulding influences of her early womanhood. We shall soon see
how she came to seek expression for the results of all these in



Harriet Martineau's first attempt to write for publication was made in
the same year that her acquaintance with Mr. Worthington was formed; in
1822, when she was twenty years old. It was, apparently, at the close
of the vacation in which Worthington had visited his friend Martineau
at Norwich, that she commenced a paper with the design of offering it
to the Unitarian magazine, _The Monthly Repository_. She had told James
that when he had returned to college she should be miserable, and he
had, with equal kindness and sense, advised her to try to forget her
feelings about the parting by an attempt at authorship. On a bright
September morning, therefore, when she had seen him start by the early
coach, soon after six, she sat down in her own room with a supply of
foolscap paper before her to write her first article.

The account which she--writing from memory--gives in her autobiography,
of this little transaction, is curiously inaccurate, as far as the
trifling details are concerned. Her own statement is that she took
the letter "V" for her signature, and that she found her paper
printed in the next number of the magazine, "and in the 'Notices to
Correspondents' a request to hear more from 'V' of Norwich." Her little
errors about these facts must be corrected, because the truth of the
matter is at once suggestive and amusing.

The article may be found in the _Monthly Repository_ for October, 1822.
It is signed, not "V," but "Discipulus." This, it need hardly be
pointed out, is the _masculine_ form of the Latin for learner, or
apprentice. The note in the correspondents' column is not in that same
month's magazine; but in the number for the succeeding month, the
editor says in his answers to correspondents: "The continuation of
'Discipulus' has come to hand. _His_ other proposed communications will
probably be acceptable." If more proofs than these were required that
the youthful authoress had presented herself to her editor in a manly
disguise, it would be furnished by a passage in one of these
"Discipulus" articles, in which she definitely figures herself as a
masculine writer, speaking of "our sex" (_i.e._ the male sex) as a man
would do. The interesting fact is thus disclosed that Harriet Martineau
adds another to the group of the most eminent women writers of this
century who thought it necessary to assume the masculine sex in order
to obtain a fair hearing and an impartial judgment for their earliest
work. Surely, as our "Discipulus" takes her place in this list with
George Eliot, George Sand, and Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, a great
deal is disclosed to us about how women in the past have had to make
their way to recognition _against the tide_ of public opinion.

That first printed essay is interesting because it was the precursor
of so long a course of literary work, rather than for itself. Yet it
is not without its own interest, and is very far indeed from being the
crude, imperfect performance of the ordinary amateur. The subject is
"Female Writers of Practical Divinity." Here are the first words that
Harriet Martineau uttered through the press:

"I do not know whether it has been remarked by others as well as
myself, that some of the finest and most useful English works on the
subject of practical Divinity are by female authors. I suppose it is
owing to the peculiar susceptibility of the female mind, and its
consequent warmth of feeling, that its productions, when they are
really valuable, find a more ready way to the heart than those of the
other sex; and it gives me great pleasure to see women gifted with
superior talents applying those talents to promote the cause of
religion and virtue."

There is nothing remarkable in the literary form of this first
article. How soon she came to have a style of her own, vivid,
stirring, and instinct with a powerful individuality, may have been
gathered already from the quotations given in our last chapter. But in
her first paper the style is coldly correct; imitative of good but
severe models, and displaying none of the writer's individuality. Two
points as regards the matter of the essay are of special interest, and
thoroughly characteristic. It is interesting, in the first place, to
know that she who was destined to do probably more than any other one
woman of her century for the enlargement of the sphere of her sex in
the field of letters, should have written her first article on the
subject of the capacity of women to teach through their writings. The
second point worth noticing is that her idea of "practical Divinity"
is simply, good conduct. Theological disputation and dogma do not
disturb her pages. Her view of practical Divinity is that it teaches
morals; and it is largely because the women to whose writings she
draws attention have occupied themselves with the attempt to trace out
rules of conduct, that she is interested in their writings, and
rejoices in their labors. Indeed, she only alludes once to the
opinions on dogmatic theology of the writers whom she quotes, and then
she does it only to put aside with scorn the idea that morality and
teaching should be rejected because of differences upon points of

Encouraged by the few stately words with which the editor of the
_Repository_ had received the offer of more contributions, "Discipulus"
continued his literary labors, and the result appeared in a paper on
"Female Education," published in the _Monthly Repository_ of February,
1823. This is a noble and powerful appeal for the higher education of
girls and the full development of all the powers of our sex. It is
written with gentleness and tact, but it courageously asserts and
demands much that was strange indeed to the tone of that day, though it
has become quite commonplace in ours.

The author (supposed to be a man, be it remembered,) disclaimed any
intention of proving that the minds of women were equal to those of
men, but only desired to show that what little powers the female
intellect might possess should be fully cultivated. Nevertheless, the
fact was pointed out that women had seldom had a chance of showing how
near they might be able to equal men intellectually, for while the lad
was at the higher school and college, preparing his mind for a future,
"the girl is probably confined to low pursuits, her aspirings after
knowledge are subdued, she is taught to believe that solid information
is unbecoming her sex; almost her whole time is expended on low
accomplishments, and thus, before she is sensible of her powers, they
are checked in their growth and chained down to mean objects, to rise
no more; and when the natural consequences of this mode of treatment
are seen, all mankind agree that the abilities of women are far
inferior to those of men." Having shown reasons to believe that women
would take advantage of higher opportunities if such were allowed
them, "Discipulus" maintained in detail that the cultivation of their
minds would improve them for all the accepted feminine duties of life,
charitable, domestic and social, and that the consequent elevation of
the female character would react beneficially on the male; cited the
works of a cluster of eminent authoresses, as showing that women could
think upon "the noblest subjects that can exercise the human mind;"
and closed with the following paragraph, wherein occurred the phrases
by which it is shown that our "Discipulus" of twenty is masquerading
as a man, more decisively even than by the termination of the Latin
_nom de guerre_:

"I cannot better conclude than with the hope that these examples of
what may be done may excite a noble emulation in _their own_ sex, and
in _ours_ such a conviction of the value of the female mind, as shall
overcome _our_ long-cherished prejudices, and induce _us_ to give _our_
earnest endeavors to the promotion of _women's_ best interests."

It is most interesting to thus discover that Harriet Martineau's first
writings were upon that "woman question" which she lived to see make
such wonderful advances, and which she so much forwarded, both by her
direct advocacy, and by the indirect influence of the proof which she
afforded, that a woman may be a thinker upon high topics and a teacher
and leader of men in practical politics, and yet not only be
irreproachable in her private life, but even show herself throughout
it, in the best sense, truly feminine.

Harriet contributed nothing more to the _Monthly Repository_ after this
(so far as can now be ascertained), for a considerable time. Encouraged
by the success of her first attempts with periodicals, she commenced a
book of a distinctly religious character, which was issued in the
autumn of the same year, 1823, by Hunter, of St. Paul's Churchyard.

The little volume was published anonymously. Its title-page runs thus:
"_Devotional Exercises_; consisting of Reflections and Prayers for the
use of Young Persons. To which is added an Address on Baptism. By a

The character of the work is perhaps sufficiently indicated by the
title. But it would be a mistake to suppose that the book is a
commonplace one. It contains a good deal of dogmatism and many
platitudes. It contains, likewise, however, many a noble thought and
many a high aspiration, expressed in words equally flowing and fervent.
A "Reflection" (something like a short sermon) and a prayer are
supplied for each morning and each evening of the seven days of the
week. She had already attained to such an insight into the human mind
as to recognize that religious devotion is an exercise of the emotions.
Proof, too, is given in this little work of the fullness with which she
realized that true religion must be expressed by service to mankind; to
those nearest to one first, and afterwards to others; and indeed, that
a high sense of social duty, with a fervent and unselfish devotion to
it, _is_ religion, rather than either the spiritual dram-drinking, or
the dogmatic irrationality to which that name of high import is
frequently applied.

The prayers in this little volume differ much from the supplications
for personal benefits which are commonly called prayers.

These are rather aspirations, or meditations. The highest moral
attributes, personified in God, are held up for the worship of the
imperfect human creature, with fervent aspiration to approach as
nearly as possible towards that light of unsullied goodness.

The lack of petitions for material benefits which appears in these
"Devotions" was by no means unconscious, instinctive, or accidental.
She had deliberately given up the practice of praying for personal
benefits, partly because she held that, since it is impossible for us
to foresee how far our highest interests may be served or hindered by
changes in our external circumstances, it is not for us to attempt to
indicate, or even to form a desire, as to what those circumstances
shall be. As regarded the emotional side of her religion, she had come
to prefer to leave herself and her fate to the unquestioned direction
of a higher power.

But there was more than this in it. In her philosophical studies, she
had, of course, met with the eternal debates of metaphysicians and
theologians on Foreknowledge, Fate, and Freedom of the Will. The
difficult question had, indeed, presented itself to her active and
acute young mind long before those studies began. She remembered that
when she was but eleven years old she found courage to offer her
questionings upon this point to her elder brother Thomas. She asked:
If God foreknew from eternity all the evil deeds that every one of us
should do in our lives, how can He justly punish us for those actions,
when the time comes that we are born, and in due course commit them?
Her brother replied merely that she was not yet old enough to
understand the point. The answer did not satisfy the child. She knew
that if she were old enough to feel the difficulty, she must also be
mentally fit to receive some kind of explanation. But under the
pastoral influence of Dr. Carpenter, the emotional side of her
religion was cultivated, and such doubts and difficulties of the
reason were put away for the time.

Not for all time, however, could the problem be shirked by so active,
logical, and earnest a mind. It recurred to her when she was left to
her own spiritual guidance. Long before the date of these "Devotions"
she had fought out the battle in her own mind, and had reached the
standpoint from which her Prayers are written. She had convinced
herself of the truth of the Necessitarian doctrine, that we are what
we are, we do what we do, because of the impulses given by our
previous training and circumstances; and that the way to amend any
human beings or all mankind is to improve their education, and to give
them good surroundings and influences, and mental associations; in
short, that physical and psychological phenomena alike depend upon
antecedent phenomena, called causes.

As soon as she had thus settled her mind in the doctrine of Necessity,
she perceived that prayer, in the ordinary sense of the term, had
become impossible. If it be believed that all that happens in the
world is the consequence of the course of the events which have
happened before, it is clear that no petitions can alter the state of
things at any given moment. A belief in the efficacy of "besieging
Heaven with prayers" implies a supposition that a Supreme Ruler of the
Universe interferes arbitrarily with the sequence of events. Those
whose minds are clear that no such arbitrary interference ever does
take place, but that, on the contrary, like events always and
invariably follow from like causes, cannot rationally ask for this
fundamental rule of the government of the universe to be set aside for
their behoof; even although they may believe in an all-powerful Divine
Ruler, who has appointed this sequence of events for the law under
which His creatures shall live and develop.

Still, however, Harriet Martineau supplicated for spiritual benefits,
as we have seen in the little volume of _Devotional Exercises_. These
aspirations not only gave her an emotional satisfaction, but were, she
then thought, justifiable on necessitarian principles; for each time
that we place our minds in a certain attitude we increase their "set"
in the same direction; and she believed at that time that a holy life
was in this way aided by frequent reflections on and aspirations
towards the highest ideal of holiness personified in the name of God.

Her religious belief was, then, pure Theism. To her, it was still very
good to be a worshipper of Jehovah, the Eternal Presence, the
Ever-living Supreme; and Jesus was His Messenger, the highest type
that He had ever permitted to be revealed to man of the excellencies
of the divine nature. But there was no Atonement, no personal Evil
One, no hell, no verbally-inspired revelation in her creed.

It will be unnecessary to say more about her theological beliefs till
the next twenty years have been recorded, for in that period there was
substantially no change in her views. There did come, indeed, a change
in her method of self-management and in her opinions as to the way in
which religious feelings should affect daily life. She soon concluded
that we are best when least self-conscious about our own goodness, and
that, therefore, we should rely upon receiving inspiration to right
and elevated feelings from passing influences, and should refrain from
putting our minds, by a regular exercise of volition, into affected
postures in anticipation of those high emotions which we cannot
command. Under these beliefs she soon ceased all formal prayer.
Meantime she was still, at twenty-one years old, in the condition of
mind to write _Devotional Exercises_.

The little book met with a favorable acceptance among the Unitarians,
and speedily went into the second edition. Thus encouraged, Harriet
began another volume of the same character. Such work could not
proceed very fast, however, for her domestic duties were not light,
and her writing was still looked upon in her family as a mere
recreation. She labored under all the disadvantages of the amateur.
But events soon began to crowd into her life to alter this view of the
case, and to prepare the way for her beginning to do the work of her
life in the only fashion in which such labor can be effectively
carried on--as a serious occupation, the principal feature of every
day's duties.

After a long period of poverty and distress, caused by the Napoleonic
wars, England, in 1824, experienced the special dangers of a time of
rapidly increasing wealth. There was more real wealth in the country,
owing to the expansion of trade, which followed on the re-opening of
the continent to our commerce, but speculation made this development
appear far greater than it was in reality.

There was, at that time, no sort of check upon the issue of paper
money. Not only did the Bank of England send out notes without limit;
not only could every established bank multiply its drafts recklessly;
but any small tradesman who pleased might embark in the same business,
and put forth paper money without check or control. Thus there was
money in abundance, the rate of interest was low, and prices rose.

The natural and inevitable consequence of this state of things, at a
moment when trade was suddenly revived, was a rage for speculation.
Not only merchants and manufacturers were seized with this epidemic;
the desire for higher profits than could be obtained by quiet and
perfectly safe investments spread amongst every class. "As for what
the speculation was like, it can hardly be recorded on the open page
of history without a blush. Besides the joint-stock companies who
undertook baking, washing, baths, life insurance, brewing,
coal-portage, wool-growing, and the like, there was such a rage for
steam navigation, canals and railroads, that in the session of 1825,
438 petitions for private Bills were presented, and 286 private Acts
were passed.... It is on record that a single share of a mine on which
£70 had been paid, yielded 200 per cent, having risen speedily to a
premium of £1400 per share."[5]

          [5] Harriet Martineau's _History of the Peace_, book ii,
          p. 8.

Periods of such inflation invariably and necessarily close in scenes
of disaster. Gold becomes scarce; engagements that have been
recklessly entered into cannot be met; goods have been produced in
response to a speculative instead of a legitimate demand, and
therefore will not sell; the locked-up capital cannot be released, nor
can it be temporarily supplied, except upon ruinous terms. Panic
commences; it spreads over the business world like fire over the dry
prairies. The badly-managed banks and the most speculative business
houses begin to totter; the weakest of them fall, and the crash brings
down others like a house of cards; and in the depreciation of goods
and the disappearance of capital, the prudent, sagacious and honorable
merchant suffers for the folly, the recklessness, the avarice and the
dishonesty of others.

Such a crash came, from such causes, in the early winter of 1825.
Harriet Martineau's father was one of those injured by the panic,
without having been a party to the errors which produced it. He had
resisted the speculative mania, and allowed it to sweep by him to its
flood. It was, therefore, by no fault of his own that he was caught by
the ebbing wave, and carried backwards, to be stranded in the
shallows. His house did not fail; but the struggle was a cruel one for
many months. How severe the crisis was may be judged from the fact
that between sixty and seventy banks stopped payment within six weeks.

The strain of this business anxiety told heavily upon the already
delicate health of Mr. Thomas Martineau. In the early spring of 1826
it became clear that his days were numbered. Up to the commencement of
that troubled winter it had been supposed that his daughters would be
amply provided for in the event of his death. But so much had been
lost in the crisis, that he found himself, in his last weeks,
compelled to alter his will, and was only able to leave to his wife
and daughters a bare maintenance. He lingered on till June, and in
that month he died.

It was while Mr. Martineau lay ill, that Harriet's second book,
_Addresses, Prayers, and Hymns_, passed through the press, and the
dying father took great interest and found great comfort in his child's
work. Much of it he must have read with feelings rendered solemn by his

This little volume so closely resembles the _Devotional Exercises_,
that it is unnecessary to refer to it at greater length. The hymns,
which are the special feature of this volume, do not call for much
notice. They are not quite commonplace; but verse was not Harriet's
natural medium of expression: she wrote a considerable quantity of it
in her early days, as most young authors do; but she soon came to see
for herself that her gift of expression in its most elevated form was
rather that which makes the orator than the poet.

The comparative poverty to which the family were reduced on Mr.
Martineau's death at once freed Harriet, to a considerable extent,
from the obstacles which had previously been interposed to her
spending time in writing. It was still far from being recognized that
literature was to be her profession; but it was obvious that if her
pen could bring any small additions to her income they would be very
serviceable. A friend gave her an introduction to Mr. Houlston, then
publishing at Wellington, Shropshire; and a few little tales, which
she had lying by, were offered to him. He accepted them, issued them
in tiny volumes, and paid her five guineas for the copyright of each
story. This, then, was the beginning of Harriet Martineau's
professional authorship.



The loss of pecuniary position did something more for Harriet
Martineau besides opening the way to work in literature. The knowledge
that she was now poor gave her lover courage to declare himself, and
to seek her for his wife. Poverty, therefore, brought her that
experience which is so much in a woman's mental history, however
little it, perhaps, goes for in a man's. A love in youth, fervent,
powerful, and pure; a love, happy and successful in the essential
point that it is reciprocated by its object, however fate may deny it
outward fruition; such a love once filling a woman's soul, sweetens it
and preserves it for her whole life through. Pity the shriveled and
decayed old hearts which were not thus embalmed in youth! Harriet
Martineau did have this precious experience; and her womanliness of
nature remained fresh and true and sweet to the end of her days
because of it.

There may be many married women old maids in heart--to be so is the
punishment of those who marry without love; and there are many, like
Harriet Martineau, who are single in life, but whose hearts have been
mated, and so made alive. I do not know that she would have gained by
marriage, in any way, except in the chance of motherhood, a yet
greater fact than love itself to a woman. On the other hand, her work
must have been hindered by the duties of married life, even if her
marriage had been thoroughly happy, and her lot free from exceptional
material cares. Matronage is a profession in itself. The duties of a
wife and mother, as domestic life is at present arranged, absorb much
time and strength, and so diminish the possibilities of intellectual
labor. Moreover, the laws regulating marriage are still, and fifty
years ago were far more, in a very bad state; and, leaving a woman
wholly dependent for fair treatment, whether as a wife or mother, upon
the mercy and goodness of the man she marries, justify Harriet
Martineau's observation: "The older I have grown, the more serious
have seemed to me the evils and disadvantages of married life, as it
exists among us at this time." The wife who is beloved and treated as
an equal partner in life, the mother whose natural rights in the
guardianship of her family are respected, the mistress of a home in
which she is the sunshine of husband and children, must ever be the
happiest of women. But far better is it to be as Harriet Martineau
was--a widow of the heart by death--than to have the affections torn
through long years by neglect and cruelty, springing less from natural
badness than from the evil teaching of vile laws and customs. Fifty
years ago marriage was a dangerous step for a woman; and Harriet
Martineau had reason for saying at last: "Thus, I am not only entirely
satisfied with my lot, but think it the very best for me."

For a while, however, the happy prospect of a beloved wifehood cheered
her struggling and anxious life. But it was not for long. Her actual
and acknowledged engagement lasted, I believe, only a few months. Mr.
Worthington had, at this time, but lately completed his course as a
Divinity student; and he had been appointed to the joint charge of a
very large Unitarian Church at Manchester. Conscientiousness was one
of the most marked features of his character, according to his college
friend; and Harriet herself declares that she "venerated his moral
nature." He had thrown himself into the very heavy pastoral work
committed to him with all the devotion of this high characteristic.
Moreover, the long doubt and suspense of his love for her before their
engagement, had, doubtless, worked unfavorably upon his nervous
system. The end of it was, that he was suddenly seized with a brain
fever, in which he became delirious. He was removed to his father's
home in Leicestershire, to be nursed; and in process of time, the
fever was subdued. But the mind did not regain its balance. He was
still, as she says, "insane"; but from one of her dear and early
friends, I hear that "his family did not call it insanity,"--only a
feeble and unhinged state, from which recovery might have been
expected hopefully.

In this state of things it was thought desirable that the woman he
loved should be brought to see him. The beloved presence, his
physician believed, might revive old impressions and happy
anticipations, and might be the one thing needful to induce a
favorable change in his condition. His mother wrote to beg Harriet
Martineau to come to him; Harriet eagerly sought her mother's
permission to hasten to his side; and Mrs. Martineau forbade her
daughter to go. The old habit of obedience to her mother, and the
early implanted ideas of filial duty, were too strong for Harriet at
once to break through them; she did not defy her mother and go; and in
a few more weeks--terrible weeks of doubt and mental storm they must
have been, between her love and her obedience dragging her different
ways--Worthington died, and left her to her life of heart-widowhood,
darkened by this shadow of arbitrary separation to the last. "The
calamity was aggravated to me," she says, "by the unaccountable
insults I received from his family, whom I had never seen. Years
after, the mystery was explained. They had been given to understand,
by cautious insinuation, that I was actually engaged to another while
receiving my friend's addresses." They had not appreciated how
submissive she was as a daughter; and their belief that her love was
insincere was not an unnatural one in the circumstances.

Had those relatives of the dead lover lived to read Harriet Martineau's
Autobiography, they would not have been made to think differently of
her feelings towards him; for there she goes calmly on, after the
passage above quoted, to say only: "Considering what I was in those
days, it was happiest for us both that our union was prevented." As we
have had to look outside the Autobiography for a record of what love
was to her, and what it did for her, so we must seek elsewhere for the
cry of agony which tells how she felt her loss. But the record exists;
it is found in an essay entitled _In a Death Chamber_, one of that
autobiographical series published in _The Monthly Repository_, from
which I have previously quoted.

This beautiful piece of writing--far more of a poem in essence than
anything which she ever published in verse--is spoiled as a
composition by mutilation in quoting. But its length leaves me no
option but to select from it only a few of the more confessional
passages, to aid us in our psychological study:

    This weary watch! In watching by the couch of another there is no
    weariness; but this lonely tending of one's own sick heart is more
    than the worn-out spirit can bear. What an age of woe since the
    midnight clock gave warning that my first day of loneliness was
    beginning--to others a Sabbath, to me a day of expiation.

    All is dull, cold and dreary before me, until I also can escape to
    the region where there is no bereavement, no blasting root and
    branch, no rending of the heart-strings. What is aught to me, in
    the midst of this all-pervading, thrilling torture, when all I
    want is to be dead? The future is loathsome, and I will not look
    upon it; the past, too, which it breaks my heart to think
    about--what has it been? It might have been happy, if there is
    such a thing as happiness; but I myself embittered it at the time,
    and for ever. What a folly has mine been! Multitudes of sins now
    rise up in the shape of besetting griefs. Looks of rebuke from
    those now in the grave; thoughts which they would have rebuked if
    they had known them; moments of anger, of coldness; sympathy
    withheld when looked for; repression of its signs through selfish
    pride; and worse, far worse even than this ... all comes over me
    now. O! if there be pity, if there be pardon, let it come in the
    form of insensibility; for these long echoes of condemnation will
    make me desperate.

    But was there ever human love unwithered by crime--by crime of
    which no human law takes cognizance, but the unwritten everlasting
    laws of the affections? Many will call me thus innocent. The
    departed breathed out thanks and blessing, and I felt them not
    then as reproaches. If, indeed, I am only as others, shame, shame
    on the impurity of human affections; or, rather, alas! for the
    infirmity of the human heart! For I know not that I could love
    more than I have loved.

    Since the love itself is wrecked, let me gather up its relics, and
    guard them more tenderly, more steadily, more gratefully. This
    seems to open up glimpses of peace. O grant me power to retain
    them--the light and music of emotion, the flow of domestic wisdom
    and chastened mirth, the life-long watchfulness of benevolence,
    the thousand thoughts--are these gone in their reality? Must I
    forget them as others forget?

    If I were to see _my_ departed one--that insensible, wasted
    form--standing before me as it was wont to stand, with whom would
    I exchange my joy?... But it is not possible to lose all. The
    shadows of the past may have as great power as their substance
    ever had, and the spirit of human love may ever be nigh, invested
    with a majesty worthy to succeed the lustre of its mortal days.

This is the poem of Harriet Martineau's love. This is what remains to
show that the girl whose intellect was so powerful, and who had
habitually and of choice exercised her mind upon the most abstruse
studies and the most difficult thoughts which can engage the
attention, could nevertheless feel at least as fervently, and deliver
herself up to her emotions at least as fully, as any feeble, ignorant,
or narrow-minded creature that ever lived. Surely, with the truth
emphasized by such an example, the common but stupid delusion that the
development of the intellect diminishes the capacity for passion and
tenderness, must fade away! This girl's mental power and her mental
culture were both unusually large; but here is the core of her heart,
and is it not verily womanly?

This experience did more than give her hours of happiness; it did more
than bring to her that enlargement of the spirit which she so well
described; for it taught her to appreciate, and to properly value, the
influence of the emotions in life. Never in one of her works, never in
a single phrase, is she found guilty of that blasphemy against the
individual affections, into which some who have yet sought to pose as
high priests of the religion of humanity have fallen and lost
themselves. In all her writings one finds the continual recognition of
the great truth which was in the mind of him who said: "If a man love
not his brother whom he hath seen, how shall he love God whom he hath
not seen?"--a truth of the very first consequence to those who aim at
expressing their religion by service to the progress of mankind.

The year 1826, to Harriet crowded so full of trouble, came to an end
soon after Mr. Worthington's death. In the following year, though she
was in very bad health, she wrote a vast quantity of manuscript. Some
of it was published at once. Other portions waited in her desk for a
couple of years, when her contributions to _The Monthly Repository_
recommenced, after a change in its editorship.

She wrote in the year 1827 various short stories, which were published
by Houlston, of Shrewsbury, without her name on their title-pages.
Their character may be guessed by the fact that they were circulated
as Mrs. Sherwood's writings! In tone, they resemble the ordinary
Sunday-school story-book; but there is a fire, an earnestness, and an
originality often discoverable in them which are enough to mark them
out from common hack-writing. Two of them, _The Rioters_ and _The Turn
Out_, deal with topics of political economy; but the questions were
thought out (very accurately) in her own mind, for at that time she
had never read a book upon the subject.

These little stories were so successful that the publisher invited her
to write a longer one, which should have her name attached to it. She
went to work, accordingly, and produced a good little tale, of one
hundred and fifty pages of print, which she called _Principle and
Practice_. It recounts the struggles of an orphan family in their
efforts after independence. As in all her writings of this kind, her
own experience is interfused into the fiction. No part of this story
is so interesting as that where a young man who has met with an
accident has to reconcile his mind to the anticipation of life-long
lameness--as she to deafness. The sisters of this orphan family, too,
make money by a kind of fancy-work by which she herself was earning a
few guineas from the wealthier members of her family, namely, by
cutting bags and baskets out of pasteboard, fitting them together with
silk and gold braid, and painting plaques upon their sides. _Principle
and Practice_ was so warmly received in the circle to which it was
suited that the publisher called for a sequel, which was accordingly
written early in the following year.

There was a vast quantity of writing in all these publications; and,
besides this, she was continually at work with her needle. Such
unremitting sedentary occupation, together with her sorrow, caused a
serious illness, from which she suffered during 1828. It was an
affection of the liver and stomach, for which she went to be treated
by her brother-in-law, Mr. Greenhow, a surgeon at Newcastle-on-Tyne.

Her remarkable powers of steady application, and her untiring industry,
were always[6] amongst her most noteworthy characteristics--as,
indeed, is proved by the vast quantity of work she achieved. In each
of her various illnesses, friends who had watched with wonder and
alarm how much she wrote, and how unceasingly she worked, either with
pen, or book, or needle in hand, told her that her suffering was
caused by her merciless industry. Her "staying power" was great; she
rarely felt utterly exhausted, and therefore she was impatient of
being told that she had, in fact, over-exerted her strength.
Sometimes, indeed, she admitted that she worked too much, and pleaded
only that she could not help it--that the work needed doing, or that
the thoughts pressed for utterance, and she could not refuse the call
of duty. But more often she said, as in a letter to Mr. Atkinson,
which lies before me, "My best aid and support in the miseries of my
life has been in _work_--in the intellectual labor which I believe has
done me nothing but good." So her immense industry in 1827 may have
seemed to her a relief from her heart-sorrows at the moment; but none
the less it probably was the chief cause of her partial breakdown in
the next year. A blister relieves internal inflammation; but a
succession of such stimuli too long continued will exhaust the
strength, and render the condition more critical than it would have
been without such treatment.

          [6] "I should think there never was such an industrious
          lady," said the maid who was with her for the last eleven
          years of her life; "when I caught sight of her, just once,
          leaning back in her chair, with her arms hanging down, and
          looking as though she wasn't even thinking about anything,
          it gave me quite a turn. I felt she _must_ be ill to sit
          like that!"

At Newcastle there was a brief cessation from work, under the doctor's
orders. But in the middle of 1828 Harriet began to write again for the
_Repository_, in response to an appeal put forth by the editor for
gratuitous literary aid. That editor was the well-known Unitarian
preacher, William Johnston Fox, of South Place Chapel. Mr. Fox became
Harriet Martineau's first literary friend. He had no money with which
to reward her work for his magazine; but he paid her amply in a course
of frank, full, and generous private criticism and encouragement. "His
correspondence with me," she says, "was unquestionably the occasion,
and, in great measure, the cause, of the greatest intellectual
progress I ever made before the age of thirty." Mr. Fox was so acute a
critic that he ere long predicted that "she would be one of the first
authors of the age if she continued to write;" while, at the same
time, he offered suggestions for improvement, and made corrections in
her work upon occasion. Her advance in literary capacity was now very
rapid. Her style went on improving, as it should do, till her latest
years; but it now first became an _individual_ one, easy, flowing,
forcible, and often most moving and eloquent.

During the latter half of 1828 and the early part of the succeeding
year, she contributed, more or less, to nearly every monthly number of
the _Repository_, without receiving any payment. She wrote essays,
poems, and so-called reviews, which last, however, were really
thoughtful and original papers, suggested by the subject of a new
book. Some of these contributions were signed "V"; but others,
including all the reviews, were anonymous.

Most of these articles are on philosophical subjects, and are written
with the calmness of style suitable to logical and argumentative
essays. In the _Repository_ for February, 1829, and the succeeding
month, for instance, there appeared two papers, headed, "On the Agency
of Feelings in the Formation of Habits," which are simply an accurate,
clear, and forcibly-reasoned statement of the philosophical doctrine
of Association, with which that of Necessity is inseparably connected.
These were, it has been already observed, the theories by which she
was learning both to guide her own action and to see that society is
moulded, however unconsciously, as regards most of the individuals
composing it. A clearer statement of the doctrines, or a more forcible
indication of how they can be made to serve as a moral impulse, cannot
be imagined. Here is very different work from _Devotional Exercises_,
or _Principle and Practice_. But it brought its author neither fame
nor money.

Another piece of work done in 1828, or early in the following year,
was a _Life of Howard_, which was written on a positive commission
from a member of the Committee of Lord Brougham's "Society for the
Diffusion of Useful Knowledge," who promised her thirty pounds for it.
The MS. was at first said to be lost at the office; eventually she
found that its contents were liberally cribbed by the writer of the
_Life_ which was published; but she never received a penny of the
promised payment. These were her times of stress, and struggle, and
suffering, and disappointment, in literature as in ordinary life. Her
great success, when at last it did come, was so sudden that her
previous work was obscured and pushed out of sight in the blaze of
triumph. But these years of labor, unrecognized and almost unrewarded,
must not be left out of our view, if we would judge fairly of her
character. Courage, resolution, self-reliance, determination to
conquer in a field once entered upon, are displayed by her quiet
industrious perseverance through those laborious years. Harriet
Martineau did not make a sudden and easy rush far up the ladder of
fame all at once; her climb, like that of most great men and women,
was arduous and slow, and her final success proved not only that she
had literary ability, but also the strength of character which could
work on while waiting for recognition.

Fresh trouble was yet impending. After Mr. Martineau's death, his son
Henry remained a partner in the weaving business which the father had
carried on so long; and the incomes (small, but sufficient for a
maintenance) of the widow and unmarried daughters had to be paid out
of the profits of the factory. Just three years after Mr. Martineau's
death, however, in June, 1829, the old house became bankrupt, with but
small assets. Mrs. Martineau and her daughters were thus deprived
suddenly of all means of support.

The whole family met this final blow to their fortunes with calm
courage. It was soon settled that the two girls who possessed all
their senses should go out to teach; but Harriet could not be set to
work in the same way--for pupils could not easily be found who would
say their lessons into an ear-trumpet. The husband of the lady brought
up by Mrs. Martineau with her youngest daughter tells me that upon
this occasion Harriet's mother said to her adopted child, "I have no
fear for any of my daughters, except poor Harriet; the others can
work, but, with her deafness, I do not know how _she_ can ever earn
her own bread!"

The first resource for Harriet was fancy work of different kinds. "I
could make shirts and puddings," she declares, "and iron, and mend,
and get my bread by my needle, if necessary--as it was necessary, for
a few months, before I won a better place and occupation with my pen."
During the winter which followed the failure of the old Norwich house,
she spent the entire daylight hours poring over fancy-work, by which
alone she could with certainty earn money. But she did not lay aside
the sterner implement of labor for that bright little bread-winner,
the needle. After dark she began a long day's literary labor in her
own room.

    Every night, I believe, I was writing till two, or even three, in
    the morning, obeying always the rule of the house of being present
    at the breakfast-table as the clock struck eight. Many a time I
    was in such a state of nervous exhaustion and distress that I was
    obliged to walk to and fro in the room before I could put on paper
    the last line of a page, or the last half-sentence of an essay or
    review. Yet was I very happy. The deep-felt sense of progress and
    expansion was delightful; and so was the exertion of all my
    faculties; and not least, that of Will to overcome my
    obstructions, and force my way to that power of public speech of
    which I believed myself more or less worthy.

She offered the results of this nightly literary toil to a great
number of magazine editors and publishers, but without the slightest
success. Totally unknown in London society, having no literary friends
or connections beyond the editor of the obscure magazine of her sect,
her manuscripts were scarcely looked at. Everything that she wrote was
returned upon her hands, until she offered it in despair to the
_Monthly Repository_, where she was as invariably successful. Her
work, when published there, however, brought her not an atom of fame,
and only the most trifling pecuniary return. She wrote to Mr. Fox,
when she found herself penniless, to tell him that it would be
impossible for her to continue to render as much gratuitous service as
she had been doing to the _Repository_; but he could only reply that
the means at his disposal were very limited, and that the utmost he
could offer her was £15 a year, for which she was to write "as much as
she thought proper." With this letter he forwarded her a parcel of
nine books to review, as a commencement. A considerable portion of the
space in his magazine was filled by Miss Martineau for the next two
years on these terms.

The essay previously referred to, on the "Agency of Feelings in the
Formation of Habits," which appeared in the _Repository_ for February
and March, 1829, was Harriet Martineau's first marked work. It was
followed up by a series, commencing in the August of the same year, of
"Essays on the Art of Thinking," which were continued in the magazine
until December, when two chapters were given in the one number, in
order, as the editor remarked, that his readers "might possess entire
in one volume this valuable manual of the Art of Thought."

"V," the writer of these articles, was supposed to be of the superior
sex. In those days, Mr. Fox would have shown rare courage if he had
informed his readers that they were "receiving valuable instruction"
in how to exercise their ratiocinative faculties from the pen of a
woman. In the Index, I find the references run--"V.'s" "Ode to
Religious Liberty"; _his_ "Last Tree of the Forest"; _his_ "Essays
on the Art of Thinking," etc., etc.

The "Essays on the Art of Thinking" are nothing less than an outline
of Logic. In substance, they present no great originality; but they
display full internal evidence that the thoughts presented were the
writer's own, and not merely copied from authority. It is really no
light test of clearness and depth of thought to write on an abstruse
science in lucid, perspicuous fashion, giving a brief but complete
view of all its parts in their true relations. Only an accurate
thinker, with a mind both capacious and orderly, can perform such a
task. The highest function of the human mind is, doubtless, that of
the discoverer. The original thinker, he who observes his facts from
nature at first hand, who compares them, and reasons about them, and
combines them, and generalizes a principle from them, is the one whom
posterity to all time must honor and reverence for his additions to
the store of human knowledge. But not far inferior in power, and equal
in immediate usefulness, is the disciple who can judge the
originator's work, and, finding it perfectly in accordance with facts
as known to him, can receive it into his mind, arrange it in order,
deck it with illustration, illuminate it with power of language, and
represent it in a form suitable for general comprehension. There is
originality of mind needed for such work; that which is done, the
adaptation of the truths to be received to the receptive powers of the
multitude, is an original work performed upon the truths, hardly
inferior in difficulty and utility to that of him who first discerns
them. This was the class of work which Harriet Martineau was beginning
to do, and to do well. But there was more than this in her purposes.

As these articles, though vastly inferior in execution to what she
afterwards did, nevertheless show the essential characteristics of her
work, this seems to be the most favorable opportunity to pause to
inquire what was the special feature of her writings. For, various
though her subjects appear to be, ranging from the humblest topics,
such as the duties of maids-of-all-work, up to the highest themes of
mental and political philosophy, yet I find one informing idea, one
and the same moving impulse to the pen of the writer, throughout the
whole series. Let us see what it was that she really, though half
unconsciously perhaps, kept before her as her aim.

It is obvious at once that her writings are all designed to _teach_.
A little closer consideration shows that what they seek to teach is
always _what is right conduct_. Abstract truth merely as such does not
content her. She seeks its practical concrete application to daily
life. Further, not merely has she the aim of teaching morals, but she
invariably makes _facts_ and _reasonings from facts the basis_ of her
moral teachings. In other words, she approaches morals from the
scientific instead of the intuitional side; and to thus influence
conduct is the invariable final object of her writings.

It would sound simpler to say that she wrote on the science of morals.
But the term "moral science" has already been appropriated to a class
of writing than which nothing could, very often, less deserve the name
of science. The work which Harriet Martineau spent her whole life in
doing, was, however, true work in moral science. What she was ever
seeking to do was to find out how men should live from what men and
their surroundings are. She must be recognized as one of the first
thinkers to uniformly consider practical morals as derived from
reasoned science.

Many of the articles contributed to the _Repository_ were naturally,
from the character of the publication, upon theology. Much that is
noticeable might be culled from amongst them; as, indeed, could be
inferred from the fact that an able leader of her religious body
allowed her to fill so very large a portion of the pages by which,
under his guidance, the Unitarian public were instructed. In all the
essays, a distinguishing feature is the earnestness of the effort put
forth to judge the questions at issue by reason, and not by prejudice.
It is true that the effort often fails. There comes the moment at
which faith in dogma intervenes, and submerges the pure argument; but
none the less do the spirit of justice and fairness, and the love of
truth, irradiate the whole of these compositions.

Mr. Fox soon asked her if she thought that any of her ideas could be
expressed through the medium of fiction. It so happened that the
suggestion precisely fell in with a thought that had already occurred
to her that "of all delightful tasks, the most delightful would be to
describe, with all possible fidelity, the aspect of the life and land
of the Hebrews, at the critical period of the full expectation of
the Messiah." She wrote a story which she called _The Hope of the
Hebrews_, in which a company of young people, relatives and friends,
were shown as undergoing the alternations of doubt and hope about
whether this teacher was indeed Messiah, on the first appearance
of Jesus in Palestine. The day after this story appeared in the
_Repository_ Mr. Fox was at an anniversary dinner of the sect, where
so many persons spoke to him about the tale, that he wrote and
generously advised Harriet not to publish any more such stories in his
magazine, but to make a book of them. She adopted the suggestion; the
little volume was issued with her name, and proved her first decisive
success. Not only was it well circulated and highly appreciated in
England, but it was translated into French, under high ecclesiastical
sanction, and was also immediately reproduced in the United States.

While this book was in the press, she went to stay for a short time in
London. Mr. Fox, hearing from her how anxious she was to earn her
livelihood by literature, succeeded in obtaining from a printer friend
of his an offer for her to do "proof correcting and other drudgery,"
if she liked to remain in London for the work. This would have given
her a small but certain income, and there could be little doubt that,
if she stayed in London, she would gradually get into some
journalistic employment which would enable her to support herself
tolerably well. There were no great hopes in the matter. Mr. Fox told
her that "one hundred or one hundred and fifty pounds a year is as
much as our most successful writers usually make"--success here
meaning, of course, full employment in hackwork. It had not yet
occurred, even to Mr. Fox, that she was to be really a successful
author. But to do even this drudgery, and to take the poor chance now
offered to her, implied that she must make her home in London; and she
wrote to inform her mother of this fact.

The same post which carried Harriet's letter to this effect, bore to
Mrs. Martineau a second missive, from the relative with whom her
daughter was staying, which strongly advised that Harriet should be
recalled home, there to pursue the needle-work by which she had proved
she could earn money. The good lady had been wont to ask Harriet day
by day "how much she would get" for the literary labor upon which she
had expended some hours; and the poor young author's reply not being
satisfactory or precise, her hostess looked upon the time spent at the
desk as so much wasted. She gave Harriet some pieces of silk, "lilac,
blue, and pink," and advised her to keep to making little bags and
baskets, which the kind friend generously promised to assist in
disposing of for good coin of the realm.

The mother who had stood between her full-grown daughter and the bed
of a dying betrothed, now thought herself justified in interposing
between the woman of twenty-seven and the work which she desired to
undertake for her independence. Mrs. Martineau sent Harriet a stern
letter, peremptorily ordering her to return home forthwith. Bitterly
disappointed at seeing this chance of independence in the vocation she
loved thus snatched away, Harriet's sense of filial duty led her to
obey her mother's commands. She went home with a heavy heart; and with
equal sadness, her little sister of eighteen turned out of home, at
the same despotic bidding, to go a-governessing. "My mother received
me very tenderly. She had no other idea at the moment than that she
had been doing her best for my good."

Harriet did not return to Norwich entirely discouraged. Resolution
such as hers was not easily broken down. The British and Foreign
Unitarian Association had advertised three prizes for the best essays
designed to convert Roman Catholics, Jews and Mohammedans respectively
to Unitarianism. The sum offered for each was but small: ten guineas
for the Catholic, fifteen for the Jewish, and twenty for the
Mohammedan essays. But it was less the money than interest in the
cause, and desire to see if she could succeed in competition with
others, that led Harriet to form the intention of trying for _all
three_ prizes.

She went to work immediately upon the Catholic essay, which was to be
adjudicated upon six months earlier than the other two. When it was
finished, she paid a schoolboy, who wrote a good hand, a sovereign
that she could ill spare, for copying the essay, which was about
two-thirds the length of this volume. The essays were to be
superscribed, as usual in such competitions, with a motto, and the
writer's name and address had to be forwarded in a sealed envelope,
with the same motto outside. In September, 1830, she received the
gratifying news that the committee of adjudication had unanimously
awarded this prize to her.

The other two essays were commenced with the spirit induced by this
success. One of them was copied out by a poor woman, the other by a
schoolmaster. Harriet was careful even to have the two essays written
upon different sorts of paper, to do them up in differently shaped
packages, and to use separate kinds of wax and seals.

The sequel may be told, with all the freshness of the moment, in a
quotation from the _Monthly Repository_ for May, 1831: "We were about
to review it [_i.e._ the Catholic essay] when the somewhat startling
fact transpired of her having carried off the other premiums offered
by the Association's committee for tracts addressed to the Mohammedans
and the Jews. We shall not now stop to inquire how it has happened
that our ministers would not or could not prevent the honor of
championing the cause of pure Christianity against the whole
theological world from developing upon a young lady. However that
may be, she has won the honor and well deserves to wear it."

The essays were published by the Unitarian Association. There can be
little doubt that, however many ministers may have competed, the
Committee did select the best papers offered to their choice. The
learning in all is remarkable; the freedom from sectarian bitterness,
from bigotry, and from the insolent assumption of moral and religious
superiority, is even more striking, in such proselytising

While waiting the result of the prize competition, Harriet wrote a
long story for young people, which she called _Five Years of Youth_.
It is one of the prettiest and most attractive of all her writings of
this class. It has a moral object, of course--a somewhat similar one
to that of Jane Austen's _Sense and Sensibility_; but the warning
against allowing sensitiveness to pass into sentimentality is here
directed to girls just budding into womanhood; and the punishment for
the error is not a love disappointment, but the diminution of the
power of domestic and social helpfulness.

Harriet's work of this year, 1830, comprised the doing of much
fancy-work for sale, making and mending everything that she herself
wore, knitting stockings even while reading, studying a course of
German literature, and writing for the press the following quantity of
literary matter:--_Traditions of Palestine_, a duodecimo volume of 170
printed pages; _Five Years of Youth_, 264 small octavo pages; three
theological essays, making a closely printed crown octavo volume of
300 pages; and fifty-two articles of various lengths in the twelve
numbers of the _Monthly Repository_.

And now she had touched the highest point of sectarian fame. The
chosen expositor to the outer world of her form of religion, and the
writer of its favorite Sunday School story-book of the hour, she must
already have felt that her industrious, resolute labor through many
years had at last borne some fruit.

But the moment for wider fame and a greater usefulness was now at
hand. In the autumn of 1827 she had read Mrs. Marcet's _Conversations
on Political Economy_, and had become aware that the subject which she
had thought out for herself, and treated in her little stories of _The
Rioters_, and _The Turn-Out_, was a recognized science. She followed
this up by a study of Adam Smith, and other economists, and the idea
then occurred to her that it might be possible to illustrate the whole
system of political economy by tales similar in style to those she had
already written. The thought had lain working in her mind for long,
and, in this autumn of 1831, the idea began to press upon her as a

There were many reasons why it was especially necessary just then that
the people should be brought to think about Social Science. The times
were bitter with the evils arising from unwise laws. None knew better
than she did how largely the well-being of mankind depends upon causes
which cannot be affected by laws. It is individual conduct which must
make or mar the prosperity of the nation. But, on the other hand, laws
are potent, both as direct causes of evil conditions (and in a less
degree of good conditions), and from their educational influence upon
the people. Harriet Martineau felt that she had come to see more
clearly than the masses of her fellow-countrymen exactly how far the
miseries under which English society groaned were caused directly or
indirectly by mischievous legislative acts. Moreover, the
circumstances of the moment made the imparting of such knowledge not
only possible, but specially opportune. The Bishops had just thrown
out the Reform Bill; but no person who watched the temper of the time
could doubt that their feeble opposition would be speedily swept
aside, and that self-government was about to be extended to a new
class of the people. Most suitable was the occasion, then, for
offering information to these upon the science and art of society.
Harriet was right in her judgment when she started her project of a
series of tales illustrative of Political Economy, under a "thorough,
well-considered, steady conviction that the work was wanted, was even
craved for by the popular mind."

She began to write the first of her stories. The next business was to
find a publisher to share her belief that the undertaking would be
acceptable to the public. She wrote to one after another of the great
London publishers, receiving instant refusal to undertake the series
from all but two; and even these two, after giving her a little of
that delusive hope which ends by plunging the mind into deeper
despair, joined with their brethren in declining to have anything to
do with the scheme.

Finally, she went to London to try if personal interviews would bring
her any better success. She stayed in a house attached to a brewery
(Whitbread's), belonging to a cousin of hers, and situated near the
City Road. Thence, she tramped about through the mud and sleet of
December to the publishers' offices day after day for nearly three
weeks. The result was always failure. But though she returned to the
house worn-out and dispirited, her determination that the work should
be done never wavered, and night after night she sat up till long
after the brewery clock struck twelve, the pen pushing on in her
trembling hand, preparing the first two numbers of the series, to be
ready for publication when the means should be found.

It was the kind friend who had helped her before who came to the
rescue at last at this crisis. Mr. W. J. Fox induced his brother
Charles to make her proposals for publishing her series.

Mr. Charles Fox took care to offer only such arrangement as should
indemnify him from all risk in the undertaking. He required, first,
that five hundred subscribers should be obtained for the work; and
second, that he, the publisher, should receive about seventy-five per
cent of the possible profits. Hopeless of anything better, she
accepted these hard terms, and it was arranged that the first number
should appear with February, 1832.

The original stipulation as to the time that this agreement should run
was that the engagement should be terminable by either party at the
end of every five numbers. But a few days afterwards, when Harriet
called upon Mr. W. J. Fox to show him her circular inviting
subscribers for the series, she found that Mr. Charles Fox had decided
to say that he would not publish more than two numbers, unless a
thousand copies of No. I were sold in the first fortnight! This
decision had been arrived at chiefly in consequence of a conversation
which W. J. Fox had held with James Mill, in which the distinguished
political economist had pronounced against the essential point of the
scheme--the narrative form--and had advised that, if the young lady
must try her hand at Political Economy, she should write it in the
orthodox didactic style.

Mr. Fox lived at Dalston. When Harriet left his house, after receiving
this unreasonable and discouraging ultimatum, she "set out to walk the
four miles and a half to the Brewery. I could not afford to ride more
or less; but, weary already, I now felt almost too ill to walk at all.
On the road, not far from Shoreditch, I became too giddy to stand
without some support; and I leaned over some dirty palings, pretending
to look at a cabbage-bed, but saying to myself as I stood with closed
eyes, 'My book will do yet.'"

That very night she wrote the long, thoughtful, and collected preface
to her work. After she had finished it she sat over the fire in her
bedroom, in the deepest depression; she cried, with her feet on the
fender, till four o'clock, and then she went to bed, and cried there
till six, when she fell asleep. But if any persons suppose that
because the feminine temperament finds a relief in tears, the fact
argues weakness, they will be instructed by hearing that she was up by
half-past eight, continuing her work as firmly resolved as ever that
it should be published.



The work which had struggled into printed existence with such extreme
difficulty raised its author at a bound to fame. Ten days after the
publication of the first number, Charles Fox sent Harriet word that
not only were the fifteen hundred copies which formed the first
edition all sold off, but he had such orders in hand that he proposed
to print another five thousand at once. The people had taken up the
work instantly. The press followed, instead of leading the public in
this instance; but it, too, was enthusiastic in praise, both of the
scheme and the execution of the stories.

More than one publisher who had previously rejected the series made
overtures for it now. Its refusal, as they saw, had been one of those
striking blunders of which literary history has not a few to tell. But
there is no occasion to cry out about the stupidity of publishers.
They can judge well how far a work written on lines already popular
will meet the demand of the market; but an entirely original idea, or
the work of an original writer, is a mere lottery. There is no telling
how the public will take it until it has been tried. Publishers put
into a good many such lotteries, and often lose by them; then nothing
more is heard of the matter. But the cases where they decline a
speculation which afterwards turns out to have been a good one are
never forgotten. Still, the fact remains that it was Harriet Martineau
alone who saw that the people needed her work, and whose wonderful
courage and resolution brought it out for the public to accept.

Her success grew, as an avalanche gains in volume, by its own
momentum. Besides the publishers' communications she had letters, and
pamphlets, and blue-books, and magazines forwarded to her in piles, in
order that she might include the advocacy of the senders' hobbies in
her series. One day the postmaster sent her a message that she must
let a barrow be fetched for her share of the mail, as it was too bulky
to come in any other way. Lord Brougham declared, that it made him
tear his hair to think that the Society for the Diffusion of
Knowledge, which he had instituted for the very purpose of doing such
work as she was undertaking, seemed not to have a man in it with as
much sense of what was wanted as this little deaf girl at Norwich. The
public interest in the work was, perhaps, heightened by the fact that
so ignorant was everybody of her personality, that this description of
Brougham's passed muster. But she was not little, and she was now
twenty-nine years of age.

She stayed in Norwich, going on writing hard, until the November of
1832, by which time eight numbers of her series had appeared. Then she
went to London, taking lodgings with an old servant of Mrs.
Martineau's, who lived in Conduit street. In the course of a few
months, however, Mrs. Martineau settled herself in London, and her
daughter again resided with her, in a house in Fludyer street,

The purely literary success which she had hitherto enjoyed was now
turned into a social triumph. However she might strive against being
lionized she could not avoid the attentions and honors that were
poured upon her. It is little to say that all the distinguished people
in town hastened to know her; it was even considered to give
distinction to a party if she could be secured to attend it. Literary
celebrities, titled people, and members of Parliament, competed for
the small space of time that she could spare for society.

This was not very much, for the work she had undertaken was heavy
enough to absorb all her energies. She had engaged to produce one of
her stories every month. They were issued in small paper-covered
volumes of from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty pages
of print. She began publication with only two or three numbers ready
written. Thus, to keep on with her series, she had to write one whole
number every month. It would have been hard work had it been simple
story-telling, had she been merely imaginatively reproducing scenes
and characters from her past experience, or writing according to her
fancy. But it was, in fact, a much more difficult labor upon which she
was engaged. Her scheme required that she should embody every shade of
variety of the human character; that her scenes should be laid in
different parts of the world, with topography and surroundings
appropriate to the story; and that the governments and social state of
all these various places should be accurately represented. In addition
to all this she had to lay down for each tale the propositions which
had to be illustrated in it; to assure herself that she clearly saw
the truth and the bearings of every doctrine of political economy; and
then to work into a connected fiction in a concrete form the abstract
truths of the science--representing them as exemplified in the lives
of individuals.

Political economy treats of the production, distribution and
consumption, or use, of all the material objects of human desire,
which are called by the general name of wealth. Thus, it is a subject
which concerns every one of us in our daily lives, and not merely a
matter belonging (as its name unfortunately leads many to suppose)
entirely to the province of the legislator. The great mass of mankind
are producers of wealth. All are necessarily consumers--for the bare
maintenance of existence demands the consumption of wealth. The
well-being of the community depends upon the industry and skill with
which wealth is produced; upon the distribution of it in such a manner
as to encourage future production; and upon the consumption of it with
due regard to the claims of the future. It is individuals who, as the
business of common life, produce, exchange, divide and consume wealth;
it is, therefore, each individual's business to comprehend the science
which treats of his daily life. A science is nothing but a collection
of facts, considered in their relationship to each other. Miss
Martineau's plan, in her series, was strictly what I have indicated as
being always her aim; namely, to deduce from an abstract science rules
for daily life--the secondary, practical or concrete science. It was
the union of a scientific basis with practical morals that made this
subject attractive to her mind, and led her (in the words of her
preface,) to "propose to convey the leading truths of political
economy, as soundly, as systematically, as clearly and faithfully, as
the utmost painstaking and the strongest attachment to the subject
will enable us to do."

She did her work very methodically. Having first noted down her own
ideas on the branch of the subject before her, she read over the
chapters relating to it in the various standard works that she had at
hand, making references as she read. The next thing to do was to draw
out as clearly and concisely as possible the truths that she had to
illustrate; this "summary of principles," as she called it, was
affixed to each tale. By this time she would see in what part of the
world, and amongst what class of people, the principles in question
were operating most manifestly; and if this consideration dictated the
choice of a foreign background, the next thing to be done was to get
from a library works of travel and topography, and to glean hints from
them for local coloring.

The material thus all before her in sheets of notes, she reduced it to
chapters; sketching out the characters of her _dramatis personæ_,
their action, and the features of the scenes, and also the political
economy which they had to convey either by exemplification or by
conversation. Finally, she paged her paper. Then "the story went off
like a letter. I did it," she says, "as I write letters; never
altering the expression as it came fresh from my brain."

I have seen the original manuscript of one of the Political Economy
Tales. It shows the statement just quoted to be entirely accurate. The
writing has evidently been done as rapidly as the hand could move;
every word that will admit of it is contracted, to save time. "Socy.,"
"opporty.," "agst.," "abt.," "independce.," these were amongst the
abbreviations submitted to the printer's intelligence; not to mention
commoner and more simple words, such as wh., wd., and the like. The
calligraphy, though very readable, has a somewhat slipshod look.
Thus, there is every token of extremely rapid composition. Yet the
corrections on the MS. are few and trifling; the structure of a
sentence is never altered, and there are but seldom emendations even
of principal words. The manuscript is written (in defiance of law and
order) on both sides of the paper; the latter being quarto, of the
size now commonly called _sermon_ paper, but, in those pre-envelope
ages, it was letter paper.

Her course of life in London was as follows: she wrote in the morning,
rising, and making her own coffee at seven, and going to work
immediately after breakfast until two. From two till four she saw
visitors. Having an immense acquaintance, she declined undertaking to
make morning calls; but people might call upon her any afternoon. She
was charged with vanity about this arrangement; but, with the work on
her hands and the competition for her company, she really could not do
differently. Still, Sydney Smith suggested a better plan; he told her
she should "hire a carriage, and engage an inferior authoress to go
round in it to drop the cards!" After any visitors left, she went out
for her daily "duty walk," and returned to glance over the newspapers,
and to dress for dinner. Almost invariably she dined out, her host's
or some other friend's carriage being commonly sent to fetch her. One
or two evening parties would conclude the day, unless the literary
pressure was extreme, in which case she would sometimes write letters
after returning home. During the whole time of writing her series, she
was satisfied with from five to six hours' sleep out of the
twenty-four; and though she was not a teetotaller, but drank wine at
dinner, still she took no sort of stimulant to help her in her work.

This was the course of life that a woman, of no extraordinary physical
strength, was able to maintain with but little cessation or interval
for two years. When I look at the thirty-four little volumes which she
produced in less than as many months, and when I consider the
character of their contents, I am bound to say that I consider the
feat of mere industry unparalleled, within my knowledge.

The _Illustrations of Political Economy_ are plainly and inevitably
damaged, as works of art, by the fact that they are written to convey
definite lessons. The fetters in which the story moves are necessarily
far closer than in the ordinary "novel with a purpose;" for here the
object is not merely to show the results, upon particular characters
or upon individual careers, of a certain course of conduct, and thence
to argue that in similar special circumstances all persons would
experience similar consequences: but the task here is to show in
operation those springs of the social machinery by which we are _all_,
generally quite unconsciously, guided in our _every-day_ actions, the
natural laws by which _all_ our lives are _inevitably_ governed. To do
this, the author was compelled to select scenes from common life, and
to eschew the striking and the unusual. Again, it was absolutely
necessary that much of the doctrine which had to be taught must be
conveyed by dialogue; not because it would not be possible to
exemplify in action every theory of political economy--for all those
theories have originally been derived from observation of the facts of
human history--but because no such a small group of persons and such a
limited space of time as must be taken to _tell a story about_, can
possibly display the whole consequences of many of the laws of social
science. The results of our daily actions as members of society are
not so easily visible as they would be if we could wholly trace them
out amongst our own acquaintances or in our own careers. The
consequences of our own conduct, good or bad, must _come round_ to us,
it is true, but often only as members of the body politic. Thus, they
are very often in a form as little distinguishable to the uninstructed
mind as we may suppose it would be comprehensible to the brain, if the
organs of the body had a separate consciousness, that it was
responsible for its own aches arising from the disturbance of the
liver consequent upon intemperance. But in a tale it is obviously
impossible to show _in action_ any more of the working of events than
can be exemplified in one or two groups of persons, all of whom must
be, however slightly, personally associated. The larger questions and
principles at issue must be expounded and argued out in conversations,
or else by means of an entire lapse from the illustrative to the
didactic method. Now, as ordinary people do not go about the world
holding long conversations or delivering themselves of dissertations
on political economy, it is clear that the introduction of such talks
and preachments detracts from the excellence of the story as a work of
art. Still less artistically admirable does the fiction become when a
lesson is introduced as a separate argument intruded into the course
of the tale.

Political economy as a science was then but fifty years old. Adam
Smith had first promulgated its fundamental truths in his immortal
_Wealth of Nations_, in 1776. Malthus, Ricardo, and one or two others
had since added to the exposition of the facts and the relationship
between the facts (that is to say, the science) of social
arrangements. But it was not then--nor is it, indeed, yet, in an age
when the great rewards of physical research have attracted into that
field nearly all the best intellects for science of the time--a
complete body of reasoned truths. Some of the positions laid down by
all the earlier writers are now discredited; others are questioned. In
a few passages, accordingly, these tales teach theories which would
now require revision. It must be added at once that these instances
are few and far between. The reasoning, the grasp of the facts of
social life and the logical acumen with which they are dissected and
explained in these tales are, generally speaking, nearly perfect, and
therefore such as all competent students of the subject would at this
day indorse. The slips in exposition of the science as it was then
understood are _exceedingly_ rare. Greater clearness, and more
precision, and better arrangement could hardly have been attained had
years been spent upon the work, in revising, correcting, and
re-copying, instead of each "Illustration" being written in a month,
and sent to press with hardly a phrase amended.

The accuracy and excellence in the presentation of the science were
admitted at once by the highest authorities. Mr. James Mill early made
honorable amends for his previous doubts as to the possibility of Miss
Martineau's success. Whately and Malthus expressed their admiration of
the work. Lord Brougham called upon her, and engaged her pen to
illustrate the necessity for reform in the treatment of the social
canker of pauperism. The Gurneys, and the rest of the Quaker members
of Parliament got Mrs. Fry to make an appointment to ask Miss
Martineau's advice as to their action in the House on the same
subject, when it was ripe for legislation. The Chancellor of the
Exchequer (Lord Althorp) even sent his private secretary (Mr.
Drummond, the author of the world-famous phrase "Property has its
duties as well as its rights") to supply Miss Martineau with
information to enable her to prepare the public for the forthcoming
Budget. The chairman of the Royal Commission on Excise Taxes gave her
the manuscript of the evidence taken, and the draft of the report of
the Commission, before they were formally presented to the Ministers
of the Crown (a thing without precedent!), in order that she might use
the facts to pave the way for the reception of the report in the House
and by the people. The whole public of male students of her science
paid her work what men consider in their unconscious insolence to be
the highest compliment that they _can_ pay a woman's work: the
milder-mannered ones said she had "a masculine intelligence"; the
stronger characters went further, and declared that the books were so
good that it was impossible to believe them to be written by a woman.
Newspaper critics not infrequently attributed them to Lord Brougham,
then Lord Chancellor; that versatile and (at the moment) most popular
politician was supposed either to write them all himself, or to supply
their main features for the inferior mind to throw into shape.

While statesmen, politicians, thinkers, and students were thus
praising the clearness and appreciating the power of the work as
political economy, the general public eagerly bought and read the
books, both for their bearing on the legislative questions of the day
and for their vividness and interest as stories. And indeed, they
richly deserved to be read as works of fiction. Remembering the
limitations to their artistic excellence previously adverted to, they
may be with justice praised for most of the essential features of good

The characters are the strongest point. Clearly individualized,
consistently carried out, thinking, speaking, and acting in accordance
with their nature, the characters are always personages; and some of
them must live long in the memories of those who have made their
acquaintance. The sterner virtues in Cousin Marshall, in Lady F----,
in Ella of Garveloch, and in Mary Kay, are no less clearly and
attractively depicted than the milder and more passive ones in the
patience of Christian Vanderput, in the unconscious devotion to duty
of Nicholas, in the industry and hopefulness of Frank and Ellen
Castle, in the wifely love and agony of Hester Morrison, in the quiet
public spirit of Charles Guyon, in the proved patriotism of the Polish
exiles, and in a dozen other instances. Her feelings and her spirit
are at home in depicting these virtues of the character; but none the
less does she well succeed in realizing both vice and folly. Her real
insight into character was quite remarkable; as Dr. Martineau observed
to me, when he said, "My sister's powers of observation were
extraordinary." If, on the one hand, her deafness often prevented her
from appreciating the delicacies and the chances of verbal expression
(which really reveal so much of the nature) in those around her, so
that she was apt to draw sharper lines than most people do between the
sheep and the goats in her estimation; on the other hand, she saw more
than those whose minds are distracted by sounds, the light and play of
the countenance, and the indications of character in trivial actions.
The excellence of her character-drawing in these novels gives abundant
evidence that the disqualification was more than counterbalanced by
the cultivation of the other faculty.

The unconsciousness of her mental analysis is at once its greatest
charm and the best token of its truthfulness. Florence Nightingale
realized how fully this was so with reference to the finer qualities
of morals. In her tribute to Harriet Martineau's memory Miss
Nightingale justly observes:--

    In many parts of her _Illustrations of Political Economy_--for
    example, the death of a poor drinking-woman, "Mrs. Kay,"--what
    higher religious feeling (or _one should rather say instinct_)
    could there be? To the last she had religious feeling--in the
    sense of good working out of evil into a supreme wisdom
    penetrating and moulding the whole universe; into the natural
    subordination of intellect and intellectual purposes and of
    intellectual self to purposes of good, even were these merely the
    small purposes of social or domestic life.

On the other side of the human character in her delineation of the bad
qualities, she as instinctively seeks and finds causes for the errors
and evils of the minds she displays. Foolishness, and ignorance, and
poverty are traced, entirely without affectation and "cant," in their
action as misleading influences in the lives of the poor sinners and

The stories told in the _Illustrations_ are frequently very
interesting. In this respect, there is a notable advance in the course
of the series. The earlier tales, such as _Life in the Wilds_ and
_Brooke Farm_, are not to be compared, as mere stories, with even
those written later on by only eight or nine stirring eventful months,
such as _Ireland_ and _The Loom and the Lugger_. Still better are the
latest tales. The _Illustrations of Taxation_ and _Illustrations of
Poor-Laws and Paupers_ are, despite the unattractiveness of their
topics, of the highest interest. _The Parish_, _The Town_, _The
Jerseymen Meeting_, _The Jerseymen Parting_; and _The Scholars of
Arnside_, would assuredly be eagerly read by any lover of fiction
almost without consciousness that there was anything in the pages
except a deeply interesting story.

Archbishop Whately pronounced _The Parish_ the best thing she had
done. _Vanderput and Snook_, the story dealing with bills of exchange,
was the favorite with Mr. Hallam. Lord Brougham, on whose engagement
she did the five "Poor-Law" stories, wrote most enthusiastically that
they surpassed all the expectations that her previous works had led
him to form. Coleridge told her that he "looked eagerly every month"
for the new number; and Lord Durham recounted to her how one evening
he was at Kensington Palace (where the widowed Duchess of Kent was
then residing, and devoting herself to that education which has made
her daughter the best sovereign of her dynasty), when the little
Princess Victoria came running from an inner room to show her mother,
with delight, the advertisement of the "Taxation" tales; for the young
Princess was being allowed to read the _Illustrations_, and found them
her most fascinating story-books.

Harriet's experiences, however, were not all quite so agreeable. Mrs.
Marcet, who "had a great opinion of great people--of people great by
any distinction, ability, office, birth, and what not--and innocently
supposed her own taste to be universal," formed a warm and generous
friendship for Miss Martineau, and used to delight in carrying to her
the "homages" of the savants and the aristocratic readers of the
_Illustrations_ in France, where Mrs. Marcet's acquaintance was
extensive. She one day told Miss Martineau, with much delight, that
Louis Philippe, the then King of the French, had ordered a copy of the
series for each member of his family, and had also requested M. Guizot
to have the stories translated, and introduced into the French
national schools. This was presently confirmed by a large order from
France for copies, and by a note from the officially-appointed
translator requesting Harriet Martineau to favor him with some
particulars of her personal history, for introduction into a
periodical which was being issued by the Government for the promotion
of education amongst the French people. The writer added that M.
Guizot wished to have Miss Martineau's series specially noticed in
connection with her own personality, since she afforded the first
instance on record of a woman who was not born to sovereign station
affecting practical legislation otherwise than through a man.

At the very time that she received this flattering note, Harriet was
engaged in writing her twelfth number, _French Wines and Politics_.
The topic treated in this story is that of value, with the subsidiary
questions relating to prices and their fluctuations. The tale takes up
the period of the great French Revolution, and shows how the fortunes
of certain wine-merchants near Bordeaux, and of the head of the Paris
house in connection, were affected by the course of that great social
convulsion. The scene was unquestionably happily chosen. The
circumstances were abnormal, it is true; but the causes which created
such vast fluctuations in prices, and such changes in the value of
goods, were, in fact, only the same fundamental causes as are always
at the basis of such alterations in price and value; it was merely the
rapidity and violence of the movement which were peculiar. The story
was well put together; and the "Illustration" was in every way
admirable for every possible desirable object, except only for the one
of being pleasant to the ruling powers in the France of 1833.

Harriet Martineau's constant sympathy with democracy, her hatred of
oppression and tyranny, and her aversion to class government, all
became conspicuous in this story. "The greatest happiness of the
greatest number" of mankind was her ideal of the aim of legislation;
and she well knew, as Bentham saw, that only the democratic form of
government can produce a body of laws approximating to this ideal. Her
efforts were constant, therefore, to prepare the people to demand, and
to afterwards wisely use, the power of governing themselves. Now,
though Louis Philippe was the citizen-king, though he was the head of
a republican monarchy, though his legislative chamber rejected in that
same year a ministerial document because it spoke of the people as
"subjects," yet it may be easily understood that this king and his
ministers did not care to stimulate the democratic feeling of the
nation any more than they found inevitable. The whole tone of this
work would be objectionable to them; and a dozen passages might be
readily quoted to show why royal and aristocratic rulers were little
likely to aid its circulation amongst the people whom they governed.
Here, for instance, is a portion of the passage on the storming of the

    The spectacles of a life-time were indeed to be beheld within the
    compass of this one scene.... Here were the terrors which sooner
    or later chill the marrow of despotism, and the stern joy with
    which its retribution fires the heart of the patriot. Here were
    the servants of tyranny quailing before the glance of the
    people.... The towers of palaces might be seen afar, where princes
    were quaking at this final assurance of the downfall of their
    despotic sway, knowing that the assumed sanctity of royalty was
    being wafted away with every puff of smoke which spread itself
    over the sky, and their irresponsibility melting in fires lighted
    by the hands which they had vainly attempted to fetter, and blown
    by the breath which they had imagined they could stifle. They had
    denied the birth of that liberty whose baptism in fire and in
    blood was now being celebrated in a many-voiced chant with which
    the earth should ring for centuries. Some from other lands were
    already present to hear and join in it; some free Britons to aid,
    some wondering slaves of other despots to slink homewards with
    whispered tidings of its import; for from that day to this, the
    history of the fall of the Bastile has been told as a secret in
    the vineyards of Portugal, and among the groves of Spain, and in
    the patriotic conclaves of the youth of Italy, while it has been
    loudly and joyfully proclaimed from one end to the other of Great
    Britain, till her lisping children are familiar with the tale.

Besides such passages as this, scarcely likely to please the French
king, there was the special ground for his objection that his
immediate ancestor, Egalité, was introduced into the story, and
depicted in no favorable light his efforts to inflame the popular
violence for his selfish ends, his hypocrisy, his cowardice, and so
on, being held up to contempt. Mrs. Marcet, when she read all this,
came breathless to Harriet Martineau to ask her how she could have
made such a blunder as to write a story that plainly would (and, of
course, in fact, did) put an end to the official patronage of her
series in France, and would destroy for ever any hopes that she might
have entertained of being received at the Court of Louis Philippe?
Greatly surprised was the good lady at finding Harriet's reverence for
that monarch so limited in extent. She replied to her kind friend that
she "wrote with a view to the people, and especially the most
suffering of them; and the crowned heads must for once take their
chance for their feelings."

At the very moment that Mrs. Marcet's remonstrance was made, Miss
Martineau was writing a story of a character likely to be even more
distasteful to the Emperor of Russia than this one to the King of the
French. She had found it difficult to illustrate the theory of the
currency in a story treating of the existence of civilized people. The
only situation in which she could find persons, above the rank of
savages, transacting their exchanges by aid of a kind of money which
made the business only one remove from bartering, was amongst the
Polish exiles in Siberia. She therefore wrote _The Charmed Sea_, a
story founded upon the terrible facts of the lives of the exiled Poles
"in the depths of Eastern Siberia," working in "a silver-mine near the
western extremity of the Daourian Range, and within hearing of the
waters of the Baikal when its storms were fiercest." Had the
melancholy tale been written in the service of the Poles, it could not
have been more moving. So powerful, and interesting was it, indeed,
that the criticism of the _Edinburgh Review_ was that the fiction too
entirely overpowered the political economy. The arrival of _The
Charmed Sea_ in Russia changed the favorable opinion which the Czar
had previously been so kind as to express about the _Illustrations_.
He had been purchasing largely of the French translation of the series
for distribution amongst his people. But now he issued a proclamation
ordering every copy in Russia of every number to be immediately burnt,
and forbidding the author ever to set foot upon his soil. Austria,
equally concerned in the Polish business, followed this example, and a
description of Harriet Martineau's person was hung in the appointed
places, amidst the lists of the proscribed, all over Russia, Austria,
and Austrian-Italy. Despots, at least, had no admiration for her

The only important adverse criticism in the press appeared in the
_Quarterly Review_.[7] The reviewer objected impartially to every
one of the twelve stories which had then appeared. Every circumstance
which could arouse prejudice against the series was taken advantage
of, from party political feeling and religious bigotry, down to the
weakness of fluid philanthropy, and "the prudery and timidity of the
middle-classes of England." The principal ground of attack was the
story which dealt with Malthusianism, _Weal and Woe in Garveloch_.

          [7] In the same number, by the way, appeared the notorious
          biting and sarcastic notice of Tennyson's second volume. It
          is a distinction, indeed, for a critical review, that one
          number should have devoted half its space to violently
          unfavorable criticisms of Alfred Tennyson's poetry and
          Harriet Martineau's political economy.

    When the course of my exposition brought me to the population
    subject, I, with my youthful and provincial mode of thought and
    feeling--brought up, too, amidst the prudery which is found in its
    great force in our middle class--could not but be sensible that I
    risked much in writing and publishing on a subject which was not
    universally treated in the pure, benevolent, and scientific spirit
    of Malthus himself.... I said nothing to anybody; and, when the
    number was finished, I read it aloud to my mother and aunt. If
    there had been any opening whatever for doubt or dread, I was sure
    that these two ladies would have given me abundant warning and
    exhortation--both from their very keen sense of propriety and
    their anxious affection for me. But they were as complacent and
    easy as they had been interested and attentive. I saw that all
    ought to be safe.

The _Quarterly Review_ seized the opportunity of the appearance
of this number to make a vile attack upon the series and its writer.
Harriet suffered under it to a degree which seems almost excessive.
The review is so obviously full of fallacies, as regards its Political
Economy, that any person whose opinion was worth having could hardly
hesitate in deciding that she, and not her critic, was talking
common-sense and arguing logically. As to the personal part of the
article, it is, though scurrilous, and even indecent, so very funny
that the attacked might almost have forgotten the insult in the
amusement. Nevertheless, the writers, Croker and Lockhart, did their
worst. Croker openly said that he expected to lose his pension very
shortly, and, being wishful to make himself a literary position before
that event happened, he had begun by "tomahawking Miss Martineau." All
that could be painful to her as a woman, and injurious to her as a
writer, was said, or attempted to be conveyed, in this article.

Let us see what it was all about. Garveloch, one of the Hebridean
islands, is seen in the "Illustration" rapidly multiplying its
population, both by early marriages and by immigration, under the
stimulus of a passing prosperity in the fishing industry. The influx
of capital and the increase of the demand for food, have led to such
an improvement in the cultivation of the land, that the food produce
of the island has been doubled in ten years. Ella, the heroine (a
fine, strong, self-contained, helpful woman--one of the noblest female
characters in these works), foresees that if the reckless increase of
population continues, the supply of food will by-and-by run short. Her
interlocutor asks how this will be the case, since the population will
surely not double again, as it has done already, in ten years? Then
the _Quarterly_ quotes Ella's reply, and comments on it:--

    "Certainly not; but say twenty, thirty, fifty or any number of
    years you choose; still, as the number of the people doubles
    itself for ever, while the produce of the land does not, the
    people must increase faster than the produce."

    This is rare logic and arithmetic, and not a little curious as
    natural history. A plain person now would have supposed that if
    the produce doubled itself in ten, and the people only in a
    hundred years, the people would not increase _quite_ so fast
    as the produce, seeing that at the end of the first century the
    population would be multiplied but by two, the produce by one
    thousand and twenty-four. But these are the discoveries of genius!
    Why does Miss Martineau write, except to correct our mistaken
    notions and to expound to us the mysteries of "the principle of

The reviewer goes on to suggest, in the broadest language, that she
has confounded the rate of the multiplication of the herring-fisher-women
 with that of the herrings themselves; reproves her for writing on
 "these ticklish topics" with so little physiological information; and
 tells her that she, "poor innocent, has been puzzling over Mr.
 Malthus's arithmetical and geometrical ratios for knowledge which she
 should have obtained by a simple question or two of her mamma." In
 one and the same paragraph, he tells her that he is "loth to bring a
 blush unnecessarily upon the cheek of any woman," and asks her if she
 picked up her information on the subject "in her conferences with the
 Lord Chancellor?"

This is enough to show to what a sensitive young lady was exposed in
illustrating "a principle as undeniable as the multiplication table,"
and in stating the facts upon which hangs the explanation of the
poverty, and therefore of a large part of the vice and misery, of
mankind. Miss Martineau's exposition was, of course, entirely right,
and the fallacy in the review is obvious, one would suppose on the
surface. The reviewer's error consists in his assumption--the falsity
of which is at once apparent on the face of the statement--that land
can go on doubling its produce _every_ ten years, for an indefinite
period. So far from this being true, the fact is that the limit of
improving the cultivation of land is soon reached.

Better agricultural treatment may easily make half-cultivated land
bring forth double its previous produce; but the highest pitch of
farming once reached--as it comparatively soon is--the produce cannot
be further increased; and even before this limit is reached, the
return for each additional application of capital and labor becomes
less and less proportionately bountiful. This is the truth known to
political economists as "the Law of the Diminishing Return of Land."
Taken in conjunction with the fact that the human race _can_ double
for ever, theoretically, and in reality _does_ multiply its numbers
with each generation, checked only by the forethought of the more
prudent and the operations of famine, war, crime, and the diseases
caused by poverty, this law explains why mankind does not more rapidly
improve its condition--why the poor have been always with us--and why
teaching such as Harriet Martineau here gave must be received into the
popular mind before the condition of society can be expected to be
improved in the only way possible, by the wisdom and prudence of its

Painful as was the attack she had undergone, intensely as she had
suffered from its character and nature, Miss Martineau did not allow
what she had felt of personal distress to have any influence on her
future writings. Her moral courage had been well trained and
exercised, first by the efforts that her mind had had to make in
following her conscience as a guide to the formation of opinions, in
opposition to the tendency implanted by her mother's treatment to bow
supinely before authority; secondly, by the lesson of endurance which
her deafness had brought to her. She had now to show, for the first,
but by no means the last time, that hers was one of those temperaments
which belong to all leaders of men, whether in physical or moral
warfare; that danger was to her a stimulus, and that her courage rose
the higher the greater the demand for its exercise.

Praise and blame, appreciation and defamation, strengthened and
enlarged her mind during this period. But at the end of it, Sydney
Smith could say: "She has gone through such a season as no girl before
ever knew, and she has kept her own mind, her own manners, and her own
voice. She's safe."



On the conclusion of the publication of the _Illustrations of
Political Economy_, Harriet went to the United States, and travelled
there for more than two years. Her fame had preceded her; and she
received the warm and gracious greeting from the generous people of
America that they are ever ready to give to distinguished guests from
their "little Mother-isle." She travelled not only in the Northern
States, but in the South and the West too, going in the one direction
from New York to New Orleans, and in the other to Chicago and
Michigan. Everywhere she was received with eager hospitality. Public
institutions were freely thrown open to her, and eminent citizens vied
with each other in showing her attention, publicly and privately.

The most noteworthy incident in the course of the whole two years was
her public declaration of her anti-slavery principles. The
Anti-Slavery movement was in its beginning. The abolitionists were the
subjects of abuse and social persecution, and Miss Martineau was
quickly made aware that by a declaration in their favor she would risk
incurring odium, and might change her popularity in society into
disrepute and avoidance. It would have been perfectly easy for a less
active conscience and a less true moral sense to have evaded the
question, in such a manner that neither party could have upbraided her
for her action. She might simply have said that she was there as a
learner, not as a teacher; that her business was to survey American
society, and not to take any share in its party disputes, or to give
any opinion on the political questions of a strange land. Such
paltering with principle was impossible to Harriet Martineau. She did
not obtrude her utterances on the subject, but when asked in private
society what she thought, she frankly spoke out her utter abhorrence,
not merely of slavery in the abstract, but also of the state of the
Southern slave-holders and their human property. She could not help
seeing that this candor often gave offense; but that was not her
business when her opinion was sought on a moral question.

The really searching test of her personal character did not come,
however, with regard to this matter, till she went to stay for a while
in Boston, the head-quarters of the abolitionists, fifteen months
after her arrival in America. It happened that she reached Boston the
very day a ladies' anti-slavery meeting was broken up by the violence
of a mob, and that Garrison, falling into the hands of the enraged
multitude, was half-murdered in the street. Harriet had given a
promise, long previously, to attend an abolitionists' meeting; and
though these occurrences showed her that there was actual personal
danger in keeping her word, she was not to be intimidated. She went to
the very next meeting of the ladies' society, which was held a month
after the one so violently disturbed, and there, being unexpectedly
begged to "give them the comfort" of a few words from her, she rose,
and as the official report says, "with great dignity and simplicity of
manner," declared her full sympathy with the principles of the

She knew well how grave would be the social consequences to her of
thus throwing in her lot with the despised and insulted abolitionists;
but she felt that "she never could be happy again" if she shrunk from
the duty of expression thrust upon her. The results to her were as
serious as she had apprehended. She received innumerable personal
insults and slights, public and private, where before all had been
homage; the Southern newspapers threatened her personal safety,
calling her a foreign "incendiary;" and, to crown all, she had to give
up an intended Ohio tour, on the information of an eminent Cincinnati
merchant that he had heard with his own ears the details of a plot to
hang her on the wharf at Louisville, before the respectable
inhabitants could intervene, in order to "warn all other meddlesome

All this abuse and insult and threatening from the lower kind of
persons, interested for their purses, had, of course, no influence
upon the hundred private friendships that she had formed. Ardent and
deep was the affection with which many Americans came to regard her,
and with some of them her intimate friendship lasted through all the
succeeding forty years of her life. Emerson was one of these friends,
and Garrison another. It was her frequent correspondence with these
and many others that kept her interest in the affairs of the United
States so active, and made her so well-informed about them as to give
her the great authority that she had, both in England and America,
during the life and death struggle of the Union, so that at that time,
when she was writing leaders for the London _Daily News_, Mr. W.
E. Forster said that "it was Harriet Martineau alone who was keeping
English public opinion about America on the right side through the

Loath to leave such friendships behind, and yet longing for home, she
sailed from New York at the end of July, 1836, and reached Liverpool
on the 26th August. A parting act of American chivalry was that her
ship-passage was paid for her by some unknown friend.

It was while she was in the United States that the first portrait of
her which I have seen was painted. She herself did not like it,
calling the attitude melodramatic; but her sister Rachel, I am told,
always declared that it was the only true portrait of Harriet that was
ever taken. At this point, then, some idea of her person may be given.

She was somewhat above the middle height, and at this time had a
slender figure. The face in the portrait is oval; the forehead rather
broad, as well as high, but not either to a remarkable degree. The
most noticeable peculiarity of the face is found in a slight
projection of the under lip. The nose is straight, not at all turned
up at the end, but yet with a definite tip to it. The eyes are a clear
gray, with a calm, steadfast, yet sweet gaze; indeed there is an
almost appealing look in them. The hair is of so dark a brown as to
appear nearly black. A tress of it (cut off twenty years later than
this American visit, when it had turned snow-white) has been given
to me; and I find the treasured relic to be of exceptionally fine
texture--a sure sign of a delicate and sensitive nervous organization.
Her hands and feet were small.

She was certainly not beautiful; besides the slight projection of the
lower lip the face has the defect of the cheeks sloping in too much
towards the chin. But she was not strikingly plain either. The
countenance in this picture has a look both of appealing sweetness
and of strength in reserve; and one feels that with such beauty of
expression it could not fail to be attractive to those who looked upon
it with sympathy.

The competition amongst the publishers for Miss Martineau's book on
America was an amusing contrast to the scorn with which her proposals
for her _Political Economy_ had been received. Murray sent a message
through a friend, offering to undertake the American work; and letters
from two other publishers were awaiting her arrival in England. On the
day that the newspapers announced that she had reached town no fewer
than three of the chief London publishers called upon her with
proposals. She declined those of Bentley and Colburn, and accepted the
offer of Messrs. Saunders and Otley to pay her £300 per volume for the
first edition of three thousand copies. The book appeared in three
volumes, so that she received £900 for it. She completed the three
goodly volumes in six months.

She had wished to call the book _Theory and Practice of Society in
America_, a title which would have exactly expressed the position that
she took up in it, viz., that the Americans should be judged by the
degree in which they approached, in their daily lives, to the standard
of the principles laid down in their Constitution. Her publishers so
strongly objected to this title, that she consented to call the work
simply _Society in America_. She held to her scheme none the less, and
the book proceeds upon it. She quotes the Declaration of Independence
that all men are created equal, with an inalienable right to life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that Governments derive
their just powers from the consent of the governed. "Every true
citizen," she claims, "must necessarily be content to have his
self-government tried by the test of the principles to which, by his
citizenship, he has become a subscriber." She brings social life in
the United States of 1834-6 to this test accordingly.

That method of approaching her subject had some advantages. It enabled
her to treat with peculiar force the topics of slavery, of the
exclusion of women from political affairs, and of the subservience to
the despotism of public opinion which she found to exist at that time
in America.

But she herself came to see, in after times, that her _plan_ (leaving
the details aside) was radically faulty. She was, as she says, "at the
most metaphysical period" of her mental history. Thus, she failed at
the moment to perceive that she commenced her subject _at the wrong
end_ in taking a theory and judging the facts of American society by
their agreement or disagreement with that _a priori_ philosophy. It
was the theory that had to be judged by the way in which the people
lived under a government framed upon it, and not the people by the
degree in which they live up to the theory. The English public wanted
a book that would help them to know the American public and its ways;
the Americans required to see through the eyes of an observant,
cultivated foreigner, what they were being and doing. It is this which
a traveller has to do--to observe _facts_: to draw lessons from them,
if he will, but not to consider the facts in their relationship to a
pre-conceived theory. Human experience is perennially important and
eternally interesting; and this is what a traveller has to note and
record. Political philosophies must be gathered from experience
instead of (what she attempted) the real life being viewed only as
related to the philosophy. In fine, her error was in treating
abstractedly what was necessarily a concrete theme.

With this objection to the scheme of the book, all criticism may end.
All criticism did not end (any more than it began) in this way in
1837. Speaking out so boldly as she did on a variety of the most
important social topics, she naturally aroused opposition, which the
power and eloquence of the style did not mitigate.

The anti-slavery tone of the book alone would have ensured violent
attacks upon it and its author, as, after her ostracism because of her
anti-slavery declaration, she well knew would be the case. "This
subject haunts us on every page," distressfully wrote Margaret Fuller;
and greatly exaggerated though this statement was, it certainly is
true that there is hardly a chapter in which the reader is allowed to
forget that the curse of humanity made merchandise, shadowed life,
directly or indirectly, throughout the whole United States. Neither by
the holders of slaves in the South, nor by their accessories in the
North, was it possible that she could be regarded otherwise than as an
enemy, the more powerful, and therefore the more to be hated and
abused, because of her standing and her ability. In estimating the
courage and disinterestedness which she displayed in so decisively
bearing her witness against the state of American society under the
slave system, it must be remembered not only that she had many valued
personal friends in the South, and amongst the anti-abolitionists of
the North, but also that she knew that she was closing against herself
a wide avenue for the dissemination of her opinions upon any subject
whatsoever. No book written by an abolitionist would be admitted into
any one of thousands of American homes. The abolitionists reprinted
portions of _Society of America_, as a pamphlet, and distributed
it broadcast. The result was that, up to the time when slavery was
abolished Harriet Martineau was continually held up to scorn and
reprobation in Southern newspapers, "in the good company of Mrs.
Chapman and Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe."

Even greater courage was displayed by Harriet Martineau in her
boldness of utterance upon some other points, about which freedom of
thought was as obnoxious in England as in America. When she maintained
that divorce should be permissible by mutual consent, provided only
that the interests of children and the distribution of property were
equitably arranged for; when she pleaded for the emancipation of
women; or when she devoted a chapter to showing the evils which spring
from the accumulation of enormous fortunes, and incidentally attacked
the laws and customs of primogeniture, of the transfer of land, and
the like, which are devised specially to facilitate and encourage such
accumulations: in these and other passages of an equally radical
nature, she braved a large body of opinion in English society, as
well as in the other country for which she wrote. She mentions
subsequently, that for many years she was occasionally startled by
finding herself regarded in various quarters as a free-thinker upon
dangerous subjects, and as something of a demagogue. I have little
doubt that the "advanced" political philosophy of _Society in America_
did originate such suspicions in minds of the Conservative order, "the
timid party," as she described them in this same book. Yet she adds:

    I have never regretted its boldness of speech. I felt a relief in
    having opened my mind which I would at no time have exchanged for
    any gain of reputation or fortune. The time had come when, having
    experienced what might be called the extremes of obscurity and
    difficulty first, and influence and success afterwards, I could
    pronounce that there was nothing for which it was worth
    sacrificing freedom of thought and speech.

There was but little in _Society in America_ of the ordinary book of
travels. As an account of the political condition and the social
arrangements of the American people it was of singular value. But
the personal incidents of travel, the descriptions of scenery, the
reminiscences of eminent persons, of all which Harriet Martineau
had gathered a store, were entirely omitted from this work. Messrs.
Saunders and Otley suggested to her that she should make a second
book out of this kind of material. She consented; and wrote her
_Retrospect of Western Travel_. She completed the manuscript of this
in December, 1837, and it was published soon afterwards in three
volumes. The publishers gave her six hundred pounds for it.

The fifteen hundred pounds which she thus earned exceeded in amount
the whole of what she had then received for her _Illustrations of
Political Economy_. The last-named great work was nearly all published
upon the absurdly unequal terms which Charles Fox had secured from her
in the beginning. It was characteristic of her generosity in pecuniary
matters and her loyalty to her friends, that although her agreement
with Fox was dissoluble at the end of every five numbers, she
nevertheless allowed it to hold good, and permitted him to pocket a
very leonine share of her earnings throughout the whole publication of
the original series, only claiming a revision of the terms when she
commenced afresh, as it were, with the "Poor-Law," and "Taxation"
tales. Thus the immense popularity of the _Illustrations_ had not
greatly enriched her. A portion of her earnings by them was invested
in her American tour; and now that she received this return from her
books of travels she felt it her duty to make a provision for the
future. She purchased a deferred annuity of one hundred pounds to
begin in April, 1850. It displayed a characteristic calm confidence in
herself that she should thus have entirely locked up her earnings for
twelve years. She clearly felt a quiet assurance that her brain and
her hand would serve to maintain her, at least as long as she was in
the flower of her age.

The six volumes about America were not the whole of her work during
the first eighteen months after her return to England. She wrote an
article on Miss Sedgwick's works for the _Westminster Review_, and
several other short papers for various magazines. The extraordinary
industry with which she returned to labor after her long rest requires
no comment.

Early in 1838 she wrote a work called _How to Observe in Morals
and Manners_. It forms a crown octavo volume of two hundred and
thirty-eight pages, and was published by Mr. Charles Knight. The book
is an interesting one, both for the reflections which it contains upon
the subject of its title, and as indicating the method which she had
herself pursued in her study of the morals and manners of the country
in which she had been travelling. There is certainly no failure in the
courage with which she expresses her convictions. She admits elsewhere
that the abuse which she received from America had so acted upon her
mind that she had come to quail at the sight of letters addressed in a
strange handwriting, or of newspapers sent from the United States. But
there is no trace in this her next considerable work of any tendency
to follow rather than to lead the public opinion of her time. One
paragraph only may be quoted to indicate this fact:

    Persecution for opinion is always going on. It can be inflicted
    out of the province of Law as well as through it.... Whatever a
    nation may tell him of its love of liberty should go for little if
    he sees a virtuous man's children taken from him on the ground of
    his holding an unusual religious belief; or citizens mobbed for
    asserting the rights of negroes; or moralists treated with public
    scorn for carrying out allowed principles to their ultimate
    issues; or scholars oppressed for throwing new light on the sacred
    text; or philosophers denounced for bringing fresh facts to the
    surface of human knowledge, whether they seem to agree or not with
    long established suppositions.[8]

          [8] _How to Observe_, p. 204.

The next piece of work that Harriet did in this spring of 1838 was of
a very different order. The Poor-Law Commissioners were desirous of
issuing a series of "Guides to Service," and application was made to
Miss Martineau to write some of these little books. She undertook
_The Maid of All Work_, _The Housemaid_, _The Lady's Maid_ and _The
Dress-maker_. These were issued without her name on the title-page,
but the authorship was an open secret.

She was a thoroughly good housekeeper herself. Her conscience went
into this, as into all her other business. "Housewifery is supposed to
transact itself," she wrote; "but in reality it requires all the
faculties which can be brought to bear upon it, and all the good moral
habits which conscience can originate." It was in this spirit that
she wrote instructions for servants. The fine moral tone invariably
discoverable in her works, is as delightful here as elsewhere. But
the little "Guides to Service," contain also the most precise and
practical directions for the doing of the household duties and the
needlework which fall to the hands of the classes of servants for whom
she wrote. Practical hints are given from which the majority of these
classes of women-workers might learn much, for _brains tell_ in the
mean and dirty scrubbery of life as well as in pleasanter things, and
science is to be applied to common domestic duties as to bigger
undertakings. The heart and mind of Harriet Martineau were equal to
teaching upon matters such as these, as well as to studying the deeper
relations of mankind in political economy, or the state of society in
a foreign land. Her great power of sympathy enabled her to enter fully
into every human position. So well was the maid-of-all-work's station
described, and her duties indicated, and her trials pointed out, and
how she might solace herself under those troubles discovered, and the
way in which her work should be set about detailed, that the rumor
spread pretty widely that Harriet had once occupied such a situation
herself. She regarded this mistake with complacency, as a tribute to
the practical character of her little work.

As a fact, she was herself a capable housewife. Her housekeeping was
always well done. Her own hands, indeed, as well as her head, were
employed in it on occasion. When in her home, she daily filled her
lamp herself. She dusted her own books, too, invariably. Sometimes she
did more. Soon after her establishment at the Lakes (an event which we
have not yet reached, but the anecdote is in place here), a lady who
greatly reverenced her for her writings called upon her in her new
home, accompanied by a gentleman friend. As the visitors approached
the house by the carriage-drive, they saw someone perched on a set of
kitchen steps, cleaning the drawing-room windows. It was the famous
authoress herself! She calmly went for her trumpet, to listen to their
business; and when they had introduced themselves, she asked them in,
and entered into an interesting conversation on various literary
topics. Before they left, she explained, with evident amusement at
having been caught at her housemaid's duties, that the workmen had
been long about the house; that this morning, when the dirty windows
might for the first time be cleaned, one of her servants had gone off
to marry a carpenter, and the other to see the ceremony; and so the
mistress, tired of the dirt, had set to work to wash and polish her
window for herself.

An article on "Domestic Service," for the _Westminster Review_, was
written easily, while her mind was so full of the subject, in the
beginning of June, 1838. But a great enterprise was before her--a
novel; and at length she settled down to this, beginning it on her
thirty-sixth birthday, June 12th, 1838. The writing of this new book
was interrupted by a tour in Scotland during August and September, and
by writing a remarkable and eloquent article on slavery, "The Martyr
Age of the United States," which occupies' fifty-five pages of the
_Westminster Review_ in the January, 1839, number of that publication.
The novel got finished, however, in February of this latter year; and
it was published by Easter under the title of _Deerbrook_.

Great expectations had been entertained by the literary public of
Harriet Martineau's first novel. The excellences of her _Illustrations_
as works of fiction had been so marked and so many, that it was
anticipated that she might write a novel of the highest order when
released from the trammels under which she wrote those tales. To most
of those who had expected so much _Deerbrook_ was a complete
disappointment. I believe I may justly say that it is the weakest of
all Harriet Martineau's writings. It is, indeed, far superior in all
respects to nine hundred out of every thousand novels published. But
she is not judged by averages. A far higher standard of literary art
is that to which we expect Harriet Martineau's writings to conform.

The book is deficient in story. Deerbrook is a country village, where
two sisters from Birmingham, Hester and Margaret Ibbotson, take up
their temporary abode. Mr. Hope, the village surgeon, falls in love
with Margaret; but being told that Hester loves him, while Margaret is
attached to Philip Enderby, Hope decides to propose to Hester; is
accepted, married to the sister he does not love, and sets up
housekeeping with the sister with whom he is in love as an inmate of
his home. The wife, moreover, is of a jealous, exacting disposition,
ever on the watch for some token of neglect of her feelings by her
friends, anxious, irritable, and hyper-sensitive.

Here is a situation which, the characters being what they are
described to be, could in real life eventuate only in either violent
tragedy or long, slow heart-break. A woman of ultra-sensitive and
refined feelings could not live with a husband and a sister under such
circumstances without discovering the truth. A man of active
temperament and warm emotions, who declares to himself on the night of
his return from his wedding tour that his marriage "has been a
mistake, that he has desecrated his own home, and doomed to withering
the best affections of his nature,"--such a man, with the woman he
really loves living in his home, beside the unloved wife, could not
completely conceal his state of mind from everybody, and presently
find that after all he likes the one he has married best. Yet in the
impossible manner just indicated do all things end in _Deerbrook_. The
interest of the book is then suddenly shifted to Margaret and Enderby.
Hope and Hester become mere accessories. But the plot does not
improve. The Deerbrook people, hitherto adorers of their doctor,
suddenly take to throwing stones at him, and to mobbing his house,
because he votes for the Parliamentary candidate opposed by the great
man of the village, and because they take it into their heads (not a
particle of reason why they do so being shown,) that he anatomizes
bodies from the graveyard. We are invited to believe that though his
practice had been singularly successful, all his patients deserted
him; and notwithstanding that Hester and Margaret had each seventy
pounds a year of private income, the household was thus reduced to
such distress that they could not afford gloves, and had to part with
all their servants, and dined as a rule off potatoes and bread and
butter! Then Margaret's lover, Enderby, hears that she and Hope loved
each other before Hope married; and though he does not for a moment
suspect anything wrong in the present, and though he passionately
loves Margaret, this supposed discovery that he is not her first love
causes him to peremptorily and without explanation break off the
engagement. Presently, however, an epidemic comes and restores
confidence in Mr. Hope; and Enderby's sister, who had given him the
information on which he acted, confesses that she had exaggerated the
facts and invented part of her story; and so it all ends, and they
live happily ever after!

Feeble and untrue as are plot and characters in this "poor novel" (as
Carlyle without injustice called it), yet many scenes are well
written, the details are truly colored, and every page is illuminated
with thought of so high an order and language so brilliant, so
flowing, so felicitous, that one forgives, for the sake of merits such
as these, the failure of the fiction to be either true or interesting.
This seemed to show, nevertheless, that Harriet could write essays,
and travels, and didactic and philosophical works, but could not write
a novel except "with a purpose," when the accomplishment of the
purpose might excuse any other shortcomings. But when one considers
the great excellence of many of the _Illustrations_, the decided
drawing of the characters, the truthful analysis of the springs of
human action, the manner in which the incidents are combined and
arranged to develop and display dispositions and histories, it becomes
clear that she _had_ great powers as an imaginative depicter of human
nature and social life, and that there must have been other causes
than sheer incapacity for the faults and the feebleness of

The first cause was what seems to me a mistaken theory about plots in
fiction, which she had adopted since writing the _Illustrations_. She
now fancied that a perfect plot must be taken from life, forgetting
that we none of us know the whole plot of the existence of any other
creature than ourselves, and that the psychological insight of the
gifted novelist is displayed in arguing from what is known to what is
unknown, and in combining the primary elements of human character into
their necessary consequences in act and feeling. This error she would
have been cured from by experience had she gone on writing fiction.
She might have been aided in this by what she naïvely enough avows
about _Deerbrook_: that she supposed that she took the story of Hope's
marriage from the history of a friend of her family, and that she
afterwards found out that nothing of the sort had really happened to
him! She might then have asked herself whether the story as she had
told it was more possible than it was possible that gunpowder should
be put to flame without an explosion. A girl in her teens might have
been forgiven for playing with the history of the wildest passions of
the human heart; but Harriet Martineau erred because she tried to
enslave herself to fact in a matter in which she should have inferred,
judged from psychological principles, and trusted to the intuitions of
her own mind for the final working out of her problem. As it was, if
her "fact" had been a reality we should have been compelled to account
for the placid progress of events by the supposition that she had
utterly misrepresented the characters of the persons involved.

This bondage to (supposed) fact was one cause of her failure. A
lesser, but still important reason for it, was that she tried to
imitate Jane Austen's style. Her admiration of the works of this
mistress of the art of depicting human nature was very great.
Harriet's diary of the period when she was preparing to write
_Deerbrook_, shows that she re-read Miss Austen's novels, and found
them "wonderfully beautiful." This judgment she annexed to _Emma_;
and again, after recording her new reading of _Pride and Prejudice_,
she added, "I think it as clever as before; but Miss Austen seems
wonderfully afraid of pathos. I long to try." When she did "try," she,
either intentionally or unconsciously, but very decidedly, modelled
her style on Miss Austen's. But the two women were essentially
different. Harriet Martineau had an original mind; she did wrong, and
prepared the retribution of failure for herself, in imitating at all;
and Jane Austen was one of the last persons she should have imitated.

The principal reasons for the inferiority of _Deerbrook_, however, are
found in her personal history. Three months after its publication, she
was utterly prostrated by an illness which had undoubtedly been slowly
growing upon her for long before. Thus, she wrote her novel under the
depression and failure of strength caused by this malady. The illness
itself was partly the result of what further tended to make her work
poor in quality--the domestic anxieties, miseries and heart-burnings
of that period.

The three anxious members of her family were at this time upon her
hands. That brother who had succeeded to the father's business, and in
whose charge it had failed, was at this time in London. Before the
weaving business stopped, Henry Martineau was engaged; but the girl
broke off the affair in consequence of the downfall of his pecuniary
prospects. Henry then undertook a wine-merchant's business, and
wretched with the mortification of his double failure in purse and in
heart, he yielded to the temptations of his new employment, and became
intemperate. During the time that _Deerbrook_ was being written, he
was living with his mother and sister in London. At the same time
Mrs. Martineau, now nearing seventy years old, was becoming blind.
The natural irritability of her temper was thus increased. The
heart-wearing trials of a home with two such inmates were made greater
to Harriet by the fact that an aged aunt also lived with them, who,
besides the many cares exacted for the well-being of age, added to
Harriet's troubles by the necessity of shielding her from the tempers
and depressions of the other two.

It was in this home that Harriet Martineau did all the work that has
now been recorded after her return from America. No one who has the
least conception of how imperatively necessary domestic peace and
comfort are for the relief of the brain taxed with literary labor,
will be surprised to hear that Harriet's strength and spirits failed
during all that summer and winter in which she was writing
_Deerbrook_, and that presently her health completely broke down.



Almost immediately after the publication of _Deerbrook_ Harriet
started for a Continental tour. She was to escort an invalid cousin to
Switzerland, and afterwards to travel through Italy with two other
friends. But her illness became so severe by the time that she reached
Venice that the remainder of the journey had to be abandoned. Under
medical advice, a couch was fitted up in the travelling carriage, and
upon it, lifted in and out at every stage, she returned to England and
was conveyed to her sister's at Newcastle-on-Tyne. In the autumn of
that same year (1839) she took up her abode in Front street,
Tynemouth, in order to remain under the medical care of her
brother-in-law, Mr. Greenhow of Newcastle.

Her physical sufferings during the next five years were very severe,
and almost incessant. She could not go out of the house, and
alternated only between her bed in one room and her couch in another.
From her sick-room window she overlooked a narrow space of down, the
ruins of the priory, the harbor with its traffic, and the sea. On the
farther side of the harbor she could discern through the telescope a
railroad, a spreading heath, and, on the hills which bounded the view,
two or three farms. To this outlook she, whose life had been hitherto
spent so actively, and in the midst of such a throng of society, found
herself confined for a term of five years. At the same time her pain
was so great that she was compelled to take opiates daily. "I have
observed, with inexpressible shame, that with the newspaper in my
hand, no details of the peril of empires, or of the starving miseries
of thousands, could keep my eye from the watch before me, or detain my
attention one second beyond the time when I might have my opiate. For
two years, too, I wished and intended to dispense with my opiate for
once, to try how much there was to bear, and how I should bear it; but
I never did it, strong as was the shame of always yielding. I am
convinced that there is no more possibility of becoming inured to
acute agony of body, than to paroxysms of remorse--the severest of
moral pains. A familiar pain becomes more and more dreaded, instead of
becoming more lightly esteemed in proportion to its familiarity. The
pain itself becomes more odious, more oppressive, more feared in
proportion to the accumulation of experience of weary hours, in
proportion to the aggregate of painful associations which every
visitation revives."[9]

          [9] _Life in the Sick-Room._

Some indication of what she endured in those weary years is given in
this quotation. If we had to rely upon the inferences to be drawn from
the amount of work which she did in her sick-room, we should naturally
suppose the suffering not to have been very great; for she produced,
in the midst of her illness, as much and as noble work as we look for
from the most active persons in ordinary health.

The first business of the sick-room life was to write both an article
for publication, and a number of letters of personal appeal to
friends, on behalf of Oberlin College, an institution which was being
founded in America for the education of persons of color of both
sexes, and of the students who had been turned out of Lane College for
their advocacy of anti-slavery principles.

The next undertaking was another novel; or, rather, a history,
imaginatively treated, of the negro revolution in San Domingo.
Toussaint L'Ouverture, the leader of the revolution and the president
of the black Republic of Hayti, was the hero of this story. _The Hour
and the Man_, as a mere novel, is vastly superior to _Deerbrook_.
Harriet wrote it, however, rather as a contribution to the same
anti-slavery cause for which she had written her preceding article,
believing that it would be useful to that cause to show forth the
capacity and the high moral character which had been displayed by a
negro of the blackest shade when in possession of power. The work was
begun in May, 1840, and published in November of the same year.

Lord Jeffrey, in a familiar private letter to Empson, his successor in
the editorship of the _Edinburgh Review_, wrote thus of _The Hour and
the Man_:--

    I have read Harriet's first volume, and give in my adhesion to her
    Black Prince with all my heart and soul. The book is really not
    only beautiful and touching, but _noble_; and I do not recollect
    when I have been more charmed, whether by very sweet and eloquent
    writing and glowing description, or by elevated as well as tender
    sentiments.... The book is calculated to make its readers better,
    and does great honor to the heart as well as the talent and fancy
    of the author. I would go a long way to kiss the hem of her
    garment, or the hand that delineated this glowing and lofty
    representation of purity and noble virtue. And she must not only
    be rescued from all debasing anxieties about her subsistence, but
    placed in a station of affluence and honor; though I believe she
    truly cares for none of these things. It is sad to think that she
    suffers so much, and may even be verging to dissolution.

Even the morose and ungracious Carlyle, writing to Emerson of this
book, is obliged to say "It is beautiful as a child's heart; and in so
shrewd a brain!" While Florence Nightingale declares that she "can
scarcely refrain from thinking of it as the greatest of historical

The allusion in the latter part of Lord Jeffrey's letter was to a
proposal just then made to give Harriet Martineau one of the Civil
List literary pensions. This idea had been mooted first during the
progress of her _Illustrations_, and again after her return from
America; but upon each occasion she had stated privately that she
would not be willing to accept it. She replied from Tynemouth to the
same effect to Mr. Hutton, who wrote to inquire if she would now be
thus assisted. Her objection was, in the first place, one of
principle; she disapproved of the money of the people being dispensed
in any pensions at the sole will of the Ministry, instead of being
conferred directly by the representatives of the people. Her second
reason was, that after accepting she would feel herself bound to the
Ministers, and would be understood by the public to be so bound, and
would thus suffer a loss of both freedom and usefulness during
whatever life might remain to her. Lord Melbourne, a few months later,
in July, 1841, made her an explicit offer of a pension of £150 per
annum, and her answer to the Minister was substantially the same as to
her friend. She said that while taxation was levied so unequally, and
while Parliament had no voice in the distribution of pensions, she
would rather receive public aid from the parish, if necessary, than as
a pensioner. She added an earnest plea that all influential persons
who held themselves indebted on public grounds to any writer, would
show that gratitude by endeavoring to make better copyright
arrangements and foreign treaties, so as to secure to authors the
full, due and independent reward of their efforts.

The rare (perhaps mistaken) generosity of this refusal can only be
appreciated by bearing in mind that she had invested a large part of
her earnings a few years before in a form from which she was now
receiving no return. During her illness she was really in want of
money, so far as to have to accept assistance from relatives. For
her charities she partly provided by doing fancy-work, sending
subscriptions both in this form and in the shape of articles for
publication to the anti-slavery cause in America.

In the early part of 1841 she began a series of four children's
stories, which were published under the general title of _The
Playfellow_. These admirable tales are still amongst the best-known
and most popular of her writings; simple, vivid and interesting, they
are really model children's stories, and it would have been quite
impossible for any reader to imagine that they were written by an
invalid, in constant suffering. _Settlers at Home_ was the first one
written, _The Prince and the Peasant_ came next; then _Feats on the
Fjord_; and, finally, that one from which I quoted largely in an early
chapter, _The Crofton Boys_. By the time the last-named was finished
she was very ill, and believed that she should never write another

Her interest in all public affairs continued, nevertheless, to be as
keen as ever. In 1841 she wrote for publication a long letter to
support the American Anti-Slavery Society under a secession from its
ranks of a number of persons, chiefly clerical, who objected, of all
things, to women being allowed to be members of the society! Another
piece of work which she did for the public benefit was by a course of
correspondence, full of delicate tact, to personally reconcile Sir
Robert Peel and Mr. Cobden, and so to pave the way for the amicable
work of the two statesmen in the repeal of the Corn Laws.

In 1843, some of her friends who knew her circumstances, and that she
had refused a pension, collected money to present her with a
testimonial. £1,400, thus obtained, was invested for her benefit in
the Terminable Long Annuities, and a considerable sum besides was
expended in a present of plate. The Ladies Lambton (the eldest of
whom, as Countess of Elgin, was afterwards one of her warmest friends)
went over to Tynemouth to use the plate with her for the first time,
and "it was a testimonial fête."

It was about this time, too, that the personal acquaintance, destined
to become an intimate association in work, between Harriet Martineau
and Florence Nightingale was commenced. Miss Martineau's younger
sister Ellen had been governess in Miss Nightingale's family.
Sick-nursing occupied Florence Nightingale's hands and heart long
before the Crimean War made her famous, and Harriet Martineau was one
of the sick to whom she ministered in those earlier days.

Towards the end of 1843, Harriet's mind had accumulated a store of
thoughts and feelings which imperatively pressed to be poured forth.
She wrote then, in about six weeks, her volume of essays, _Life in
the Sick-Room_. The book was published under the pseudonym of "An
Invalid," but was immediately attributed to her on all hands. It is a
most interesting record of the high thoughts and feelings by which so
melancholy an experience as years of suffering, of an apparently
hopeless character, can be elevated, and made productive of benefit to
the sufferer's own nature. Incidentally there is much wise counsel in
the volume for those who have the care of invalids of this class.

Amidst the many expressions of admiration and interest which this work
drew forth, the following is perhaps most worthy of preservation
because of the source whence it came. Mr. Quillinan, Wordsworth's
son-in-law, wrote as follows to his friend, Henry Crabbe Robinson, on
December 9, 1843:--

    Mr. Wordsworth, Mrs. Wordsworth and Miss Fenwick have been quite
    charmed, affected, and instructed by the invalid's volume....
    Mrs. Wordsworth, after a few pages were read, at once pronounced
    it to be Miss Martineau's production, and concluded that you
    knew all about it and caused it to be sent hither. In some of
    the most eloquent parts it stops short of their wishes and
    expectations: but they all agree that it is _a rare book_, doing
    honor to the head and heart of your able and interesting friend.
    Mr. Wordsworth praised it with more unreserve--I may say, with
    more _earnestness_--than is usual with him. The serene and
    heavenly-minded Miss Fenwick was prodigal of her admiration. But
    Mrs. Wordsworth's was the crowning praise. She said--and you
    know how she would say it--"I wish I had read exactly such a
    book as that years ago!"... It is a _genuine_ and touching
    series of meditations by an invalid not sick in mind or

          [10] _Diary and Letters of H. C. Robinson_, vol. iii.,
          p. 235.

From one of the letters with which Mr. Henry G. Atkinson has favored
me and my readers, I find that she wrote a chapter for that book,
which undoubtedly must have been of the deepest interest, but which
was not published.


    November 19, 1872.


    ... You will feel at once how earnestly
    I must be longing for death--I who never loved life, and who would
    any day of my life have rather departed than stayed. Well! it can
    hardly go on very much longer now. But I do wish it was permitted
    to us to judge for ourselves a little how long we ought to carry
    on the task which we never desired and could not refuse, and how
    soon we may fairly relieve our comrades from the burden of taking
    care of us. I wonder whether the chapter I wrote about this for
    the "Sick-Room" book will ever see the light. I rather wish it
    may, because I believe it utters what many people think and feel.
    I let it be omitted from that book because it might perhaps injure
    the impression of the rest of the volume; but, so far as I
    remember it, it is worth considering, and therefore publishing.

I have made such inquiries as I could (of one of Miss Martineau's
executors and others), but can get no tidings of this missing chapter
on Euthanasia. It was just such a subject--needing for its discussion,
courage, calmness, common sense, and logic, combined with sympathy,
and a high standard of moral beauty and goodness--as she would have
been sure to treat rarely well. There is one passage in _Life in the
Sick-Room_, bearing upon the question; she observes that the great
reason why hopeless invalids so commonly endure on when they are
longing for the rest of insensibility, is the uncertainty as to
whether they may not find themselves still conscious in another state.
Her own history was to supply a stronger reason still against the
irrevocable action being taken upon our rash assumptions that our work
and our usefulness in life are ended. As she truly observed: "No one
knows when the spirits of men begin to work, or when they leave off,
or whether they work best when their bodies are weak, or when they are
strong. Every human creature that has a spirit in him must therefore
be taken care of, and kept alive as long as possible, that his spirit
may do all it can in the world." So she wrote at that very
time--showing how her mind was pondering every view of the subject.

The sentence just quoted is from _Dawn Island_, a little one-hundred
paged story which she wrote in the midst of her suffering, as her
contribution to the funds of the Anti-Corn Law League. It was printed
and sold for the benefit of that league, at the great bazaar of 1845.

After the publication of the "Sick-Room" book, she commenced the
writing of her autobiography--not as it was published afterwards, be
it understood--for she was too ill to make much progress with it, and
soon stopped writing. But she _never_ became too ill to feel and
to show a vivid interest in every cause that had the happiness and
progress of mankind for its object. She kept up an extensive
correspondence with those engaged in the world's work, and such
personal efforts for public objects as those above mentioned she
frequently exerted--sometimes over-exerted--herself to make. Her body
was chained to two small rooms; but her mind, with all its powers and
affections, yet swept freely through the universe. No one would have
been more impatient than she herself of any pretence that she lived
incessantly on a high plane of lofty emotions, where pain ceased to be
felt, or that her care for others was so extraordinary that
self-regard was swallowed up in the depths of altruism. I have quoted
her candid revelations about her sufferings and her opiates, to avoid
the possibility of conveying an impression that she was thus guilty of
hypocrisy or affectation. But the wide interests and the sympathies
with mankind that were the solace of her sick life, and the
inspiration of the work which she did so heavily, and yet so
continuously, amidst her pain, assuredly shall be marked with the
reverence that they merit.

In 1844 the long illness came to an end. Harriet Martineau was
restored to perfect health by means of mesmerism. Such a cure of such
a person could not fail to make a great sensation. Not only had she a
wide circle of personal acquaintances, but she had deeply impressed
the public at large with a sense of her perfect sanity, her calm
common-sense, and her practical wisdom, as well as with a conviction
of her truthfulness and accuracy. Accordingly, as the _Zoist_
(Dr. Elliotson's mesmeric periodical) declared at the time:--

    The subject which the critic, a few months since, would not
    condescend to notice, has been elevated to a commanding position.
    It is the topic with which the daily papers and the weekly
    periodicals are filled; in fact, all classes are moved by one
    common consent, and mesmerism, from the palace to the smallest
    town in the United Kingdom, is the scientific question absorbing
    public attention.... The immediate cause of all this activity, is
    the publication of the case of Miss Martineau, who, after five
    years' incessant suffering and confinement to her couch, is now

I have thought that what needs to be said here of the medical aspect
and course of this period of suffering, and of the final cure, will
best be said consecutively; and, therefore, we will look back briefly
over the five busy but suffering years, the work of which has now been
recorded, and see what were the physical conditions under which that
work was executed.

Her health had been declining gradually from 1834 to 1839; there was a
slow but a marked deterioration in strength, and her spirits became
depressed. In April of the latter year, when she undertook a
continental journey the fatigue of travelling suddenly aggravated her
condition; and in Venice, early in June, she was compelled to consult
a physician, Dr. Nardo. She was found to be suffering from a tumor,
with enlargement and displacement of an important organ, all this
causing great internal pain, accompanied by frequent weakening
hemorrhages. She was carried back to England by easy stages, and lying
on a couch, and reached Newcastle-on-Tyne at the end of July, 1839.
She stayed for some time at the house in that town of her eldest
sister, and then was removed only nine miles off, in order that her
brother-in-law, Mr. T. M. Greenhow, F.R.C.S., might undertake the
medical care of her case. Until October, she persevered in taking
walking exercise; but the pain, sickness and breathlessness which
accompanied this were so distressing, that soon after her removal to
Tynemouth she ceased to go out of doors, or even to descend the

Mr. Greenhow's prescriptions were confined at first to opiates, and
other medicines to alleviate symptoms. The opiates were not taken in
excess--as, indeed, the books written in the period would conclusively
prove. The patient's suffering was so great, however, that extreme
recourse to such palliatives might have been forgiven. She could not
raise the right leg; and could neither sit up for the faintness which
then ensued, nor lie down with ease because of the pain in her back.
"She could not sleep at night till she devised a plan of sleeping
under a basket, for the purpose of keeping the weight of the
bed-clothes from her; and even then she was scared by horrors all
night, and reduced by sickness during the day. This sickness increased
to such a degree that for two years she was extremely low from want of

At the end of two years, that is to say, in September, 1841, Sir
Charles Clarke, M.D., was called in consultation; and he prescribed
iodine, remarking at the same time that, in his view, such a case as
hers was practically incurable, and admitting that he "had tried
iodine in an infinite number of such cases, and never knew it avail."
For the next _three years_ Miss Martineau took three grains per
diem of iodide of iron. It relieved the sickness; but up to April,
1844 (two and a half years from the commencement of its
administration), Mr. Greenhow did not pretend that any improvement in
the physical condition had taken place. In that month, as he
afterwards said, he believed he found a slight change, "but he was not
sure"; and, if any, it was very trifling. The patient, on her part,
was quite convinced that her state then was in no way altered.

More than once different friends--amongst them Lord Lytton, Mr.
Hallam, and the Basil Montagus--had urged her to try mesmerism; but
she had thought it due to her relative to give his orthodox medicines
the fullest trial, before taking herself out of his hands in such a
way. In June, 1844, however, Mr. Greenhow himself suggested that she
should be mesmerized. Of course, so advised, she consented to make the
trial. A Mr. Hall, brought by Mr. Greenhow, accordingly mesmerized her
for the first time on June 22d, 1844, and again on the following day.

The patient thought she experienced some relief, but did not feel
quite sure. "On occasion of a perfectly new experience, scepticism and
self-distrust are strong."[11] The next day, however, set her doubts at
rest. Mr. Hall was unable to come to her, and she asked her maid to
make the passes in his stead.

          [11] This and the succeeding quotations are from her "Letters
          on Mesmerism," published in the _Athenæum_, 1845.

    Within one minute, the twilight and phosphoric lights appeared;
    and in two or three more a delicious sensation of ease spread
    through me--a cool comfort, before which all pain and distress
    gave way, oozing out, as it were, at the soles of my feet. During
    that hour, and almost the whole evening, I could no more help
    exclaiming with pleasure than a person in torture crying out with
    pain. I became hungry, and ate with relish for the first time for
    five years. There was no heat, oppression, or sickness during the
    _séance_, nor any disorder afterwards. During the whole evening,
    instead of the lazy, hot ease of opiates, under which pain is felt
    to lie in wait, I experienced something of the indescribable
    sensations of health, which I had quite lost and forgotten.

Her dear friend during all the years that remained to her--Mr. Henry
G. Atkinson[12]--had just come into her life. His interest in her case
was enlisted by their mutual friend, Basil Montagu; and Mr. Atkinson
undertook to direct the mesmeric treatment by correspondence.
Margaret, the maid, continued the mesmerism till September, and then
Mr. Atkinson induced his friend Mrs. Montague Wynyard, the young widow
of a clergyman, to undertake the case. "In pure zeal and benevolence
this lady came to me, and has been with me ever since. When I found
myself able to repose on the knowledge and power (mental and moral) of
my mesmerist the last impediments to my progress were cleared away and
I improved accordingly."

          [12] As this friendship had a profound influence upon
          Harriet's after thought and work, some description of Mr.
          Atkinson seems in place; and I need offer that gentleman no
          apology for merely quoting what has appeared in print before
          about him. Margaret Fuller wrote thus of him in a private
          letter, in 1846:--

              "Mr. Atkinson is a man about thirty, in the fullness of
              his powers, tall and finely formed, with a head for
              Leonardo to paint; mild and composed, but powerful and
              sagacious; he does not think, but perceives and acts. He
              is intimate with artists, having studied architecture
              himself as a profession; but has some fortune on which he
              lives. Sometimes stationary and acting in the affairs of
              other men; sometimes wandering about the world and
              learning; he seems bound by no tie, yet looks as if he
              had relatives in every place."--_Memoirs of Margaret
              Fuller_, by Emerson.

On December the 6th Mr. Greenhow found his patient quite well, and
about to leave the place of her imprisonment, and start on a series of
friendly visits. He declared, notwithstanding, that firstly, her
_physical condition_ was not essentially different from what it had
been all through; secondly, that the change in her _sensations_ arose
from the iodine suddenly and miraculously becoming more effective, and
not from mesmerism.

Such is the medical history, so interesting to all physiological
students and to all sufferers of the same class, of Harriet
Martineau's five years' illness and recovery. My business is simply to
state facts, and I need not here undertake any dissertation upon
mesmerism. It is sufficient to add that only those who are unaware of
the profundity of our ignorance (up to the present day) about the
action of the nervous system, and still more about what _life_
really is, can be excused for rash jeering and hasty incredulity in
such a case as this.

Harriet Martineau knew that she was well again, and it seemed to her a
clear duty to make as public as possible the history of how her
recovery had been brought about. She did so by six letters to the
_Athenæum_; and these were reprinted in pamphlet form. Mr. Greenhow
was thereupon guilty of one of the most serious professional faults
possible. He also published an account of _The Case of Miss H. M._, in
a shilling pamphlet, giving the most minute and painful details of her
illness, and respecting no confidence that had been reposed in his
medical integrity. The result of this conduct on his part was that his
patient felt herself compelled to break off all future intercourse
with a man capable of such objectionable action.

It may be added here that the cure was a permanent one.[13] She enjoyed
ten years of health so good that she declared it taught her that in no
previous period of her life had she ever been well. It may be as well
to say that she never wavered in her assurance that her cure was
worked by mesmerism, and that the cure was complete. All dispute about
her firm conviction on this point may be set at rest by the following
extracts from


    July 6, 1874.

    Notices of my mesmeric experience in illness have revived an
    anxiety of mine about what may happen when I am gone, if certain
    parties should bring up the old falsehoods again, when I am not
    here to assert and prove the truth. I don't in the least suppose
    you can help me, any more than Mrs. Chapman, whom I have got to
    look over a box of papers of mine deposited with her. But I had
    rather tell you what is on my mind about it.

    I wrote, at Tynemouth, a diary of my case and experience under
    the mesmeric experiment (experiment desired and proposed by Mr.
    Greenhow himself). _He_ read it when finished, and so did several
    of my friends. There are two copies somewhere, for, not wishing to
    show certain passages, rather saucy, about the Greenhow prejudices
    and behavior, I accepted Mrs. Wynyard's kind offer to copy the
    MS., omitting those remarks. Now where are those MSS? I cannot
    find them, nor say what I did with them, beyond having a dim
    notion that they (or at least Mrs. Wynyard's copy) were put away
    into some safe place, to await future chances. I perfectly
    remember the look of the packet, and the label on it, etc. When I
    remember what was said after reading it, by one of the wisest
    people I have known, I am _shocked_ at our inability to find
    it. "One must dispute anything being the cause of anything, if one
    disputes after reading this statement, that your recovery is due
    to mesmerism." And now, while I see false statements of the
    "facts," and false references circulating, as at present, I cannot
    find my own narrative, written from day to day, and do not know
    where to turn next! If I had strength I would turn out all the
    papers in my possession, and make sure for myself. Now, dear
    friend, do you think you ever saw that statement?

    September 18, 1874.

    My malady was absolutely unlike cancer, and it never had any sort
    of relation to "malignant" disease. The doctors called it
    "indolent tumor--most probably polypus." Don't you remember how,
    at that very time, the great dispute on Elliotson's hands was
    whether any instance could be adduced of cure of organic disease
    by mesmerism? Elliotson was nearly certain, but not quite, of the
    cure of a cancer case in his own practice. The doctors were full
    of the controversy, and some of them wrote both to me and to Mr.
    Greenhow to inquire the nature of my case, whether malignant or
    not. Of course we both replied "No." It would be a dreadful
    misfortune if now anybody concerned should tell a different story.
    Greenhow is still living (aged 82) and all alive; and he would
    like nothing better than to get hold of it, and bring out another
    indecent pamphlet. If I could but lay hands on the diary of the
    case, written at the time, what a security it would be? But I can
    nowhere find it. The next best security is turning back to the
    statement, "Letters" in the _Athenæum_ of the autumn of 1844.
    Those "Letters" went through two editions when reprinted, after
    having carried those numbers of the _Athenæum_ through three
    editions. One would think the narrative must be accessible enough.
    Above all things, let there be no mistake in our statements.

    It ought to be enough for observers that I had ten years of robust
    health after that recovery, walking from sixteen to twenty miles
    in a day, on occasion, and riding a camel in the heart of Nubia,
    and hundreds of miles on horseback, through Palestine to Damascus,
    and back to the Levant.

    I have written so much because I could not help it. I shall hardly
    do it again. I will add only that the mesmerizing began in June,
    1844, and the cure was effected before the following Christmas.

    Dear friend,

    I am yours ever,

    H. M.

          [13] I find there is a widespread impression that she
          eventually died of the same tumor that she supposed to have
          been cured at this time. It should be distinctly stated,
          however, that if this were the case, Mr. Greenhow and Sir C.
          Clarke were both _utterly_ wrong in their diagnosis in
          1840. I have read Mr. Greenhow's _Report of the Case of
          Miss H. M._, and the notes of the post-mortem lie before
          me--kindly lent me by the surgeon, Mr. King, now of Bedford
          Park, who made the autopsy. I find that the organ which Mr.
          Greenhow and his consultant both stated to be the seat of the
          disease, enlargement and tumor, in 1840, is described as
          being found "particularly small and unaffected" after death.



At forty-two years old, Harriet Martineau found herself free for the
first time to form and take possession of a _home of her own_. Now,
for the first time, she could have the luxury which many girls obtain
by marriage so young that they spoil it to themselves and others, and
which it is as natural for each grown woman to desire, irrespective of
marriage, as it is for a fledged bird to leave the old nest--a house
and a domestic circle in which she could be the organizing spirit,
where the home arrangements should be of her own ordering, and where
she could have the privacy and self-management which can no otherwise
be enjoyed, in combination with the exercise of that housewifely skill
to which all women more or less incline.

The beauty of the scenery led her to fix upon the English lakes for
the locality in which to make her home, and, finding no suitable house
vacant, she resolved to build one for herself. She purchased two acres
of land, within half-a-mile of the village of Ambleside; borrowed some
money on mortgage from a well-to-do cousin; had the plans drawn out
under her own instructions, and watched the house being built so that
it should suit her own tastes.

It is a pretty little gabled house, built of gray stone, and stands
upon a small rocky eminence--whence its name "the Knoll." There is
enough rock to hold the house, and to allow the formation of a terrace
about twenty feet wide in front of the windows; then there comes the
descent of the face of the rock. At the foot of the rock is the
garden. Narrow flights of steps at either end of the terrace lead down
to the greensward and the flower-beds; in the centre of these is a
gray granite sun-dial, with the characteristic motto around it--"Come
Light! Visit me!" To the left is the gardener's cottage, with the
cow-house, pig-stye and root-shed. The front of the house looks across
the garden, and over the valley to Loughrigg. Its back is turned to
the road, and concealed from passers-by, partly by the growth of
greenery, and partly by the Methodist Chapel. A winding path leads up
from the road to the house, and a small path forking off from this
goes round past the cottage to the field where the cows used to graze,
and to the piece of land that was appropriated to growing the roots
for the cows and the household fruit and vegetables.

Within, "The Knoll" is just a nice little residence for a maiden lady,
with her small household, and room for an occasional guest. You enter
by a covered porch, and find the drawing-room on the right hand of the
hall. It is a fairly large room, and remarkably well-lighted; there
was a window-tax when she built, but she showed her faith in the
growth of political common-sense abrogating so mischievous an impost,
by building in anticipation of freedom of light and air from taxation.
The drawing-room has two large windows, one of which descends quite to
the floor, and is provided with two or three stone steps outside, so
that the inmates may readily step forth on to the terrace. This
window, by the way, exposed her to another tax than the Government
one. Hunters of celebrities were wont, in the tourist season, not
merely to walk round her garden and terrace without leave, but even to
mount these steps and flatten the tips of their noses against her
window. Objectionable as the liability to this friendly attention
would be felt by most of us, it was doubly so to Miss Martineau
because of her deafness, which precluded her from receiving warning of
her admirers' approaches from the crunching of their footsteps on the
gravel--so that the first intimation that she would receive of their
presence would be to turn her head by chance and find the flattened
nose and the peering eyes against the window-pane. There is a special
record of one occasion, when her bell rang in an agitated fashion, and
the maid, on going, found her mistress much disturbed. "There is a
_big_ woman, with a _big_ pattern on her dress, beckoning to me to
come to the window--go, and tell her to go away." But similar
incidents were manifold, and her servants had to be trained to guard
their mistress as if she were the golden apples of the Hesperides.
Indeed, for several years (till she became too ill to travel) she used
to leave her lake-side home altogether during the tourist season.

In her latest years she commonly wrote in the drawing-room, as the
sunniest and most cheerful apartment, and where, too, she could sit by
the fire, and yet get plenty of daylight. Her proper study, however,
was the room on the opposite side of the hall. This is a long room
with a bay window at the other end of the fire-place, and the door in
the centre. Book-cases lined the whole of these walls; but her library
was an extensive one, and there were books all over the house. This
room served as dining-room and study, both; the writing table was near
the window, the dining-table further towards the fire.

The only other room on the ground floor is the kitchen, which runs
parallel with the drawing-room. Her principles and her practice went
hand-in-hand in her domestic arrangements as in her life generally;
and her kitchen was as airy, light and comfortable for her maids as
her drawing-room was for herself. The kitchen, too, was provided with
a book-case for a servants' library. A scullery, dairy, etc., are
annexed to the kitchen, and the entrance to the cellars below is also
found through the green baize door which shuts off the cooking region
from the front of the house.

Up-stairs, that which was her own room is large and cheerful, and
provided with two windows, a big hanging cupboard, and a good sized
dressing-room--the latter indeed, fully large enough for a maid to
sleep in. The next was the spare-room; and there lingers no small
interest about the guest-chamber, where Harriet Martineau received
such guests as Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Emerson, and Douglas
Jerrold. A small servants' room is next to this, and a larger one is
over the kitchen, so that it comes just at the head of the stairs.
Such is the size and arrangement of Harriet Martineau's home.

Climbing plants soon covered "The Knoll" on every side. The ivy kept
it green through all the year; the porch was embowered in honeysuckle,
clematis, passion-flower, and Virginia creeper. Wordsworth, Macready,
and other friends of note, planted trees for Harriet below the
terrace. The making of all these arrangements was a source of
satisfaction and delight to her such as can only be imagined by those
who have felt what it is to come abroad after a long and painful
confinement from illness, and to find life and usefulness freely open
again under agreeable conditions and prospects.

While her house was being built, she lodged in Ambleside; and in that
time, during the autumn and winter of 1845-6, she wrote her _Forest
and Game Law Tales_, with the object of showing how mischievous the
game laws were in their operation upon society at large, and more
particularly upon the fortunes of individual farmers, and upon the
laborers who were led into poaching. These tales occupy three volumes
of the ordinary novel size. They had a sale which would have been very
good for a novel; two thousand copies were disposed of, and doubtless
did some service for the cause for which she had worked. So far as her
own pecuniary interests were concerned, however, these tales made her
first failure. It was the only work which never returned her any
remuneration. The publisher had reckoned on a very large circulation,
and so had put out too much capital in stock, stereotypes, and the
like, to leave any profit on the sale that actually took place; and
the publication unfortunately coincided with the agitation of the
political world about the repeal of the corn laws. But one pleasing
incident arose out of them for her personally. She had been in
difficulties as to how to obtain turf to lay down upon the land under
her terrace. One fine morning, soon after her entrance on her home,
her maid found a great heap of sods under the window, when she opened
the shutters in the morning. A dirty note, closed with a wafer, was
stuck upon the pile, and this was found to state that the sods were "a
token of gratitude for the _Game Law Tales_, from a Poacher." Harriet
never discovered from whom this tribute came.

She took possession of her home on April 7th, 1846. During the summer
she wrote another story for young people--one of her most interesting
tales, and instructive in its moral bearing--_The Billow and the
Rock_. It must here be noted, in passing, that this is the last of
her works in which the theism that she had, up to this time, held for
religious truth, makes itself visible. A new experience was about to
lead her to think afresh upon the theological subjects, and to revise
her opinions about the genesis of faiths, and their influence upon

In the autumn of 1846, she accepted an invitation from her friends,
Mr. and Mrs. R. V. Yates, of Liverpool, to join them in a journey to
the East, they bearing the expense. The party left England in October,
and were met at Malta by Mr. J. C. Ewart, afterwards M.P. for
Liverpool. Together, these four travellers sailed up the Nile to the
second cataract, studied Thebes and Philæ, went up and into the Great
Pyramid, visited bazaars, mosques and (the ladies) harems, in Cairo.
Then they travelled in the track of Moses in the desert, passing Sinai
and reaching Petra. Next, they completely traversed Palestine; and
finally, passed through Syria to Beyrout, where they took ship again
for home. This journey occupied eight months.

In October, 1847, Harriet reached "The Knoll" again, and settled
herself in her permanent course of home life. As the same habits were
continued, with only the interruptions of occasional visits to other
parts of the country, day by day, for many years, I may as well
mention what was the course of that daily home life.

She rose very early: not infrequently, in the winter, before daylight;
and immediately set out for a good, long walk. Sometimes, I am told,
she would appear at a farm-house, four miles off, before the cows were
milked. The old post-mistress recollects how, when she was making up
her early letter-bags, in the gray of the morning mists, Miss
Martineau would come down with her large bundle of correspondence, and
never failed to have a pleasant nod and smile, or a few kindly
inquiries, for her humble friend. "I always go out before it is quite
light," writes Miss Martineau to Mr. Atkinson, in November, 1847; "and
in the fine mornings I go up the hill behind the church--the Kirkstone
road--where I reach a great height, and see from half way along
Windermere to Rydal. When the little shred of moon that is left and
the morning star hang over Wansfell, among the amber clouds of the
approaching sunrise, it is delicious. On the positively rainy
mornings, my walk is to Pelter Bridge and back. Sometimes it is round
the south end of the valley. These early walks (I sit down to my
breakfast at half-past seven) are good, among other things, in
preparing me in mind for my work."

Returning home, she breakfasted at half-past seven; filled her lamp
ready for the evening, and arranged all household matters; and by
half-past eight was at her desk, where she worked undisturbed till
two, the early dinner-time. These business hours were sacred, whether
there were visitors in the house or not. After dinner, however, she
devoted herself to guests, if there were any; if not, she took another
walk, or in bad weather, did wool-work--"many a square yard of which,"
she says, she "all invisibly embossed with thoughts and feelings
worked in." Tea and the newspaper came together, after which she
either read, wrote letters, or conversed for the rest of the evening,
ending her day always, whatever the weather, by a few moments of
silent meditation in the porch or on the terrace without.

She was not one of those mistresses who cannot talk to their servants,
any more than she was one to indulge them in idle and familiar gossip.
If there were any special news of the day, she would invite the maids
into her sitting-room for half an hour in the evening, to tell them
about it. During the Crimean War, and again during the American
struggle, in particular, the servants had the frequent privilege of
tracing with her on the map the position of the battles, and learning
with her aid to understand the great questions that were at stake.

The servants thus trained and considered[14] were not, certainly,
common domestics. She kept two girls in the house, besides the
laboring man and his wife at the cottage; and, as the place was small,
and her way of living simple, the work did not require that she should
choose rough women for servants merely because of their strength. On
the contrary, she made special efforts to secure young girls of a
somewhat superior order, whom she might train and attach to herself.
She got servants whom she had to dismiss now and again, of course; but
the time that most of her maids stopped with her and the warm feelings
that they showed towards her, are a high testimony to the domestic
character of their "strong minded" mistress. At the time of which we
are now speaking, her maids were "Jane," who had been cured from
chronic illness by Miss Martineau's mesmerizing, and who was in her
service for seven years, when the girl emigrated; and "Martha," who
had been trained for teaching, and had to resign it from ill-health,
but who later on married the master of Miss Carpenter's Bristol Ragged
Schools, and returned to teaching, after serving Miss Martineau for
some eight years.

          [14] Henry Crabbe Robinson writes to Miss Fenwick on January
          15, 1849:--

              "Miss Martineau makes herself an object of envy by the
              success of her domestic arrangements.... Mrs. Wordsworth
              declares she is a model in her household economy, making
              her servants happy, and setting an example of activity to
              her neighbors."

Of the servants who came after this, "Caroline" was there twenty
years, till she was removed by death; and "Mary Anne" served Miss
Martineau eleven years, till the mistress's death closed the long term
of attendance and almost filial love.

Indications of how different the relationship was in this home from
what it only too often is, are found in many of Miss Martineau's
letters. When "Martha" married, she had the rare honor of having
Harriet Martineau and Mary Carpenter for her bridesmaids. The mistress
gave the wedding breakfast, and partook of it, too, in company with
the bride and bridegroom and their friends; and when she had seen them
all off, she sat down to write to her family about her loss "with a
bursting heart." References to her feelings for her "dear friend,
Caroline," will be seen presently in her letters to Mr. Atkinson; and
her care and affection for this valued servant are expressed yet more
frequently in letters which I may not quote, to more domestic friends.
As to "Mary Anne," she has travelled a long way while in delicate
health, to see me, to tell me all she could of her mistress, and to
express how glad she was "to know of anything being done to make Miss
Martineau's goodness better understood." "Mary Anne" is now a married
woman. She was engaged for three or four years before Miss Martineau's
death, but would not leave her mistress in her old age and her
ill-health. That mistress, on her part, when told of the engagement,
not only admitted the lover to an interview with herself, but even
generously urged that the wedding should not be delayed for her sake,
although at this time she had an almost morbid shrinking from
strangers, and the loss of the personal attendant who knew her ways,
would have been one of the greatest calamities of the commoner order
that could have befallen her. But "Mary Anne" did not leave her; and
when, at last, it became quite certain that death was at hand, the
generous lady said to a relative that it made her "so glad to think
that, when it was over, there could be nothing to stand in the way of
Mary Anne's marriage." I have thus anticipated in order to show that
the domestic peace which existed under her household rule was no
special thing dependent upon the character of a single servant, but
was maintained through all the years of her home life, and therefore
unquestionably was the result of the mistress's qualities of heart and

What may be called her external home-life--that is to say, what she
was to her poorer neighbors--during that ten years of activity, may
also be best noticed before the mental progress and literary work of
the period come under further review.

Every winter, for several years, she gave a course of lectures to the
working-people and tradesfolk of the place, in the Methodist
school-room at the back of her house. Many of the gentry desired to
attend, but she would have none of them, on the double ground that
there was no room for them, and that the lectures were designed for
people who had little access to books or other educational resources.
The subjects that she treated were as various as those of her books,
but all chosen with what I have previously observed seems to me to
have been the object of all her works--to influence conduct through
knowledge and reasoning. There was a course on sanitary matters,
others on her travels (and we know from her books on the same topics
from what point of view these were treated), some on the history of
England, another on the history and constitution of the United States;
and, finally, the last course for which she had health and strength
was given in November and December, 1854, and was on the Crimean War
and the character of the government of Russia.

I have seen some of the older inhabitants of Ambleside who attended
these lectures, and who now speak of them in the warmest terms of
admiration. "They were so clear; and she never stopped for a word; and
so interesting!--one could have listened to them over and over again."
But there is no one who could tell, with the aid of a cultivated
taste, what she was as a public speaker. So eloquent is some of her
writing that one holds one's breath as one reads it; and the evident
rapidity of the penmanship of her MS.[15] shows that such passages were
produced with all the improvisatory impulse and flow of the orator.
If, besides this, her delivery was fervent and impressive, one cannot
but think how great a statesman and parliamentary leader she might
have been, with these essential qualifications for modern public life
added to all that knowledge, judgment, strength of principle, and
political capacity which made men willing (as we shall see soon) to
accept her as their political teacher in the daily and quarterly
press. That she had the orator's stirring gifts, the personal
magnetism which compels the minds of a mass to move with the words of
a speaker, and the reciprocal power of receiving stimulus from an
audience, when

    The hearts of many fires the lips of one,

there is one shadowy incident left to show, besides the testimony of
her local hearers who survive. It is this: in 1849 Charlotte Brontë,
then in the first flush of her fame, sought Harriet Martineau's
acquaintance, saying that she desired "to see one whose works have so
often made her the subject of my thoughts." In the following year
Charlotte visited Harriet at "The Knoll," and heard one of the English
History lectures. Her bright eyes were fixed on the lecturer all
through; and as Harriet stood on her low platform, while the audience
dispersed, she heard Charlotte say, in the very voice of the lecturer,
what Edward said in the wind-mill at Cressy: "Is my son dead?" They
walked silently to the house together--about three hundred paces--and
when Harriet turned up her lamp in the drawing-room, the first thing
she saw was Charlotte looking at her with wide, shining eyes, and
repeating, in the same tone, "Is my son dead?" To those who know the
dramatic quality of Charlotte Brontë's imagination, there is a beam of
light reflected from this trifling anecdote upon the force and the
manner of the speaker who had so impressed her.

          [15] In speaking of her eloquent writings I refer specially
          to the _History of the Peace_; and I have seen the
          manuscript of this, bearing evidence that the hand could not
          keep pace with the flow of words and thoughts.

The opinion which this keenly observant and candid woman formed of
Harriet Martineau is of peculiar interest, and, as it specially refers
to the period and the relations of which we are now treating, I quote
it from Mrs. Gaskell's _Life of Charlotte Brontë_. It is given in
some private letters, written from "The Knoll" (not, as Mrs. Chapman
absurdly says, to Emily Brontë, who was dead, but) to Charlotte's
life-long and most confidential friend, Miss Ellen Nussey:--

    "I am at Miss Martineau's for a week. Her house is very pleasant
    both within and without; arranged at all points with admirable
    neatness and comfort. Her visitors enjoy the most perfect liberty;
    what she claims for herself she allows them.... She is a great and
    good woman.... The manner in which she combines the highest mental
    culture with the nicest discharge of feminine duties filled me
    with admiration; while her affectionate kindness earned my
    gratitude. I think her good and noble qualities far outweigh her
    defects. It is my habit to consider the individual apart from his
    (or her) reputation, practice independent of theory, natural
    disposition isolated from acquired opinion. Harriet Martineau's
    person, practice, and character inspire me with the truest
    affection and respect.

    "I find a worth and greatness in herself, and a consistency and
    benevolence and perseverance in her practice, such as win the
    sincerest esteem and affection. She is not a person to be judged
    by her writings alone, but rather by her own deeds and life, than
    which nothing can be more exemplary or nobler. She seems to me the
    benefactress of Ambleside, yet takes no sort of credit to herself
    for her active and indefatigable philanthropy. The government of
    her household is admirably administered; all she does is well
    done, from the writing of a history down to the quietest feminine
    occupation. No sort of carelessness or neglect is allowed under
    her rule, and yet she is not over-strict, or too rigidly exacting;
    her servants and her poor neighbors love as well as respect her.

    "I must not, however, fall into the error of talking too much
    about her, merely because my mind is just now deeply impressed
    with what I have seen of her intellectual power and moral worth."

Some of her lectures were given with the express object of inducing
the people to form a building society. Rents were excessively high for
the working classes from the scarcity of cottages; and therefore they
lived and slept crowded together, while the open country extended all
around them. The moral screw was turned upon them, too, about politics
and religion, by the threat of the landlord that, if they offended
him, he would turn them out of the only cottages they could get. With
that true philanthropy which her studies in political economy had
taught, Miss Martineau went to work to aid the people to improve their
own condition. She obtained a loan of £500 from her old friend, Mrs.
Reid, of London (to whom the foundation of Bedford college is mainly
due), with which she purchased a field just above the village at
Ellercross, and parcelled it out, drained it, and made the road. Then,
by her lectures, she showed the people how they could "buy a house
with its rent"; and she undertook all the infinite trouble that
devolved upon her when the society was formed, as the only member of
it with legal and general knowledge, and, therefore, the only one able
to guide its affairs. Before me there lies a package of the notes that
she sent at different times on this business to Mr. Bell, the
Ambleside chemist, who was the nominal chairman--though she was the
real one--of the society. "Jealousy and ridicule went to work against
the scheme"; but her philanthropic energy and wisdom were fully
successful. The cottages are healthily planned and well built, and
remain there as a monument to the efforts which she made for the good
of her poor neighbors.

Besides these more general undertakings for their benefit, there yet
live many amongst them who are grateful to her for personal kindness
and assistance. While her strength lasted, she was ever ready to try
to relieve others from illness by the means which she believed to have
cured herself; and seven mesmerized patients were sometimes asleep at
one time in her drawing-room. She was a powerful mesmerist. Most of
her patients were at least relieved--some cured. A present resident of
Ambleside, who owes his success in business life to her kindness, told
me how she mesmerized him for nearly an hour every day for a year; and
to show that she did not do this without very decided results to
herself, he remembers that her fingers used to swell during the
process, so as to almost hide her rings, if she forgot to take them
off before beginning.

Again, her library was placed freely at the service of deserving young
men in the village, and only book-lovers will be able to appreciate
the generosity of this neighborly kindness. Old Miss Nicholson tells
me of Miss Martineau's kindness to her invalid sister; sharing with
her the luxuries which were not to be bought in Ambleside, but which
the famous writer frequently received from some of her many friends.
Nor was the mere personal human sympathy wanting in her; those who
needed no gifts or material aid from her knew her as a kind friend,
ready to think for them and advise with them in their troubles or

In mentioning her activities other than literary, during those ten
busy and healthy years of home life, I must not omit her
"farming"--her farm of two acres. She had no intention, at first, of
embarking in such an enterprise. She let on hire that portion of her
land which she did not wish to have in her garden, and her maids and
herself, with the occasional help of a man, kept the garden in order.
But this plan did not answer well. The tenant allowed the grass to get
untidy, and his sheep broke into the garden to eat the cabbages.
Neither the vegetable nor the flower garden could be kept so nicely as
might be wished. Milk, butter, eggs, and hams, all had to be bought at
high prices; and so small was the supply at times that these articles
of country produce were actually unattainable by purchase.

The energetic lady of the small domain was profoundly dissatisfied
with this state of affairs. So to work she went to study the science
of agriculture and practical farming; and soon a Norfolk laborer was
established on her land, and this small farm was under her own
management. She set up a cross-pole fence around her estate, the first
one ever seen in the Lake District; and, like a true woman, she
planted roses all along the fence, to wreathe and decorate it in
summer. Then she initiated her fellow-farmers into the mysteries of
high farming, and stall feeding. "A cow to three acres" was the Lake
rule; but she hired another half-acre of land, to add to her own, and
showed that upon this total of two acres she could _almost_ keep two
cows. Fowls and pigs were, of course, kept also; and all the household
comforts which cows, hens, and pigs supply were obtained from her land
at, practically, no cost at all. The subsistence of the laborer and
his wife was created out of the soil; and the house had a constant
supply of vegetables, milk, eggs, and hams, at a less expense than
buying had previously been, and with a much nicer and always certain

The experiment became famous in a small way. "People came to see how
we arranged our ground, so as to get such crops out of it,"[16] and one
of the Poor-Law Commissioners, having asked her for a private account
of how she had managed her little farm, printed her letter in the
_Times_, without asking her consent. This brought such a flood of
correspondence on her that she was compelled to write on the subject
for publication, and so the farm superintendence resulted in a piece
of literary work for the mistress.

          [16] _Health, Husbandry and Handicraft_, p. 269, "Our
          Farm of Two Acres."

Now we will see what her pen was doing while all these activities were
helping to fill her days.



The book, published early in 1848, in which Harriet described her
Egyptian, Desert and Palestine travels, was entitled _Eastern Life,
Past and Present_. If I were required to give from some one only of
her works a series of extracts which should illustrate the special
powers of her mind and the finest features of her style, it would be
this book that I should choose. I do not mean to say that the most
eloquent and vivid passage that I might find in all her writings is
here; nor that her deepest and noblest qualities as a thinker are more
forcibly displayed here than elsewhere. But I mean that in _Eastern
Life, Past and Present_, all her best moral and intellectual
faculties were exerted, and their action becomes visible, at one page
or another, in reading the book from the first to the last chapters.
The keen observation, the active thought, the vigorous memory, the
power of deep and sustained study, the mastery of language, giving the
ability to depict in words and to arouse the reader's imagination to
mental vision--all these requisites for the writing of a good book of
travel she showed that she possessed. But there is even more than all
this in _Eastern Life_. There is the feeling for humanity in all
its circumstances, which can sympathize no less with the slave of the
harem at this moment alive in degradation, than with the highest
intelligences that ceased from existence unnumbered thousands of years
ago. The most interesting and characteristic feature distinguishing
this work is, however, the openness and freedom of its thought
combined with the profound reverence that it shows for all that is

It was _Eastern Life_ which first declared to the world that Harriet
Martineau had ceased to have a theology. She had learned in travelling
through Egypt, how much of what Moses taught was derived from the
ancient mythology of Egypt. Passing afterwards through the lands where
the Hebrew, the Christian, and the Mohammedan faiths in turn arose,
observing, thinking, and studying, the conclusion at which she arrived
at last was, in brief, this: That men have ever constructed the image
of a Ruler of the Universe out of their own minds; that all successive
ideas about the Supreme Power have been originated from within, and
modified by the surrounding circumstances; and that all theologies,
therefore, are baseless productions of the human imagination, and have
no essential connection with those great religious ideas and emotions
by which men are constrained to live nobly, to do justly, and to love
what they see to be the true and the right.

Her conviction that the highest moral conduct, and the most unselfish
goodness, and the noblest aspirations, are in no degree connected with
any kind of creed, was aided and supported, no doubt, by her warm
personal affection for Mr. Atkinson, and some other of her friends of
his way of thinking, in whom she found aspirations as lofty and
feelings as admirable as ever she had enjoyed communion with, together
with a complete rejection, on scientific grounds, of all theology. Her
belief now was that--

    The best state of mind was to be found, however it might be
    accounted for, in those who were called philosophical atheists....
    I knew several of that class--some avowed, and some not; and I had
    for several years felt that they were among my most honored
    acquaintances and friends; and now I knew them more deeply and
    thoroughly, I must say that, for conscientiousness, sincerity,
    integrity, seriousness, effective intellect, _and the true
    religious spirit_, I knew nothing like them.

Her own "true religious" earnestness was unabated. _Eastern Life_
contains abundance of evidence that the spirit in which she now wrote
against all theological systems was exactly at one with that in which
she had twenty years before written _Addresses, Prayers and Hymns_.
Her intellectual range had become far wider; her knowledge of human
nature and of the history and conditions of mankind had vastly
increased; but her religious earnestness--that is to say, her devotion
to truth, and her emotional reverence for her highest conceptions of
goodness and duty--was as fervent as ever.

Notwithstanding the boldness and heterodoxy of _Eastern Life_, it did
not cause much outcry; and her two next books were amongst the most
successful of all her works. The first of these was _Household
Education_; the second, _A History of the Thirty Years' Peace_.

The former was partly written for periodical publication during 1847
in the _People's Journal_, for which magazine she wrote also a few
desultory articles.

The _History of the Peace_ was a voluminous work of the first order of
importance. Its execution is in most respects entirely admirable. Her
task of writing the history of the time in which she had herself lived
was one of extreme delicacy. Honest contemporary judgments about
still-living or lately-dead persons, and about actions which have been
observed with all the freshness of feeling of the passing moment, must
often seem unduly stern to those who look back through the softening
veil of the past, and to whom the actors have always been purely
historic personages. Moreover, I have before mentioned her tendency,
which seems to me to have arisen from her deafness, to give
insufficient _shading off_ in depicting character. But wonderfully
little allowance is, after all, required on such grounds from the
reader at the present day of Harriet Martineau's history of the years
between 1815 and 1845. The view taken by her of O'Connell, Brougham,
and some others is perhaps too stern; the picture has too many dark
shades, and not a due proportion of light tints; but it can scarcely
be questioned that the outline is accurate, and the whole drawing
substantially correct. The earnest endeavor after impartiality, and
the success with which the judicial attitude of the historian is on
the whole maintained, are very remarkable.

This appears so to one who looks upon the book with the eyes of the
present generation; but the recognition of the fact at the moment when
she wrote is perhaps more conclusive, and the following quotation may
serve to show the opinion of those who (with her) had lived through
the time of which she treats.

    Miss Martineau has been able to discuss events which may almost be
    called contemporary as calmly as if she were examining a remote
    period of antiquity. She has written the history of a rather
    undignified reign with a dignity that raises even the strifes of
    forgotten and exploded parties into philosophic importance. She
    exhibits warm sympathies for all that is noble, honorable, or
    exalted--and a thorough disdain of every paltry contrivance
    devised to serve a temporary purpose, or gain an unworthy end. The
    principles which she enunciates are based on eternal truths, and
    evolved with a logical precision that admits rhetorical ornament
    without becoming obscure or confused. There are few living authors
    who may be so implicitly trusted with the task of writing
    contemporary history as Miss Martineau. She has spared no pains in
    investigating the truth, and allowed no fears to prevent her from
    stating it.[17]

          [17] _Athenæum_, March, 31st, 1849.

Though all her other books should die, and be buried utterly under the
dust of time, this one will never be entirely lost. It is as accurate
and as careful in its facts as the driest compendium, while yet its
pages glow with eloquence, and are instinct with political wisdom. She
really did here what she had designed to do in _Society in America_;
but here she did it in the right method, there in a wrong one. The
great growth of her mind in twelve years of maturity could not be
better gauged than by a comparison of these two works. Her political
principles did not change in the time; she was a true believer in
popular government all her life--her love of justice caused her to be
a hater of class rule, and of every kind of privilege; her sympathies
were boundless, and made her in earnest for the freedom and progress
of the democracy; her conscience was active so that she loved truth
for its own sake; and her sense of duty never failed to keep alive in
her large mind a feeling of personal concern in the progress of public
affairs. All this was true of her when she wrote her American book; it
was equally true when she treated the history of her own land and her
own times. But in the latter case, she writes on political philosophy
like a statesman--in the former there is much of the doctrinaire. In
the latter work, principles underlie the whole fabric; but the actions
of politicians are made the means of judging their own professed
creeds, the value of those creeds being easily appraised by the
results seen to follow on actions in conformity with them. In the
earlier work, as we saw, the theories were postulated first, and the
actions were measured against those self-derived standards of right
and wrong. For political sagacity, for nobility of public spirit, for
effective thought, for knowledge of facts, for clear presentation of
them, for accuracy in judging of their permanent importance, for
candor, and impartiality, for insight into character, and for vivid
and glowing eloquence, _The History of the Thirty Years' Peace_ stands
forth unmatched amongst books of its class. This, I take it, will be
the most enduring and valuable of all her works, and the one by which
chiefly posterity will learn what were her powers and how estimable
was her character.

In the two works last mentioned, _Eastern Life_ and _The Thirty
Years' Peace_, it seems to me that she touched the high-water mark
of her permanent achievements. We have nearly reached the end of the
long catalogue of her books, though by no means the end of her
writings. Very much more work she did in her life, as will presently
be told, but it was that kind of work which is (with the single
exception of oratory) the most powerful at the moment, but the most
evanescent--journalism. She was soon to begin to apply her ripe wisdom
and her life-long study of the theory of government to the concrete
problems of practical politics. The influence of an active and
powerful journalist cannot be measured; the work itself cannot be
adequately surveyed and criticized; and thus what is, perhaps, the
most useful, capable and important work which Harriet Martineau did,
eludes our detailed survey. We can best judge what was her power as a
leader-writer and review and magazine essayist by noting how
progressively her mind improved, and to what a high moral and
intellectual standpoint she had attained in her latest volumes, just
before she exchanged such sustained labors for the briefer though not
less arduous efforts of leading and teaching through the periodical

_The History of the Peace_ was completed in 1850, and was so
immediately successful that the publisher asked Miss Martineau to
write an introductory volume on the history of the first fifteen years
of this century. While at work upon this "Introduction" she did also
some short articles on various subjects for Charles Dickens'
periodical, _Household Words_, and was likewise proceeding with the
preparation of another volume of a very different kind. This last was
published in January, 1851 (before the introductory volume of the
_History_), under the title of _Letters on the Laws of Man's Nature
and Development_, by Henry George Atkinson, F.G.S., and Harriet

The contents of the book were actual letters which had passed between
the friends. It will be remembered that Harriet did not meet Mr.
Atkinson during the progress of her mesmeric treatment and recovery
from illness under his written advice. But soon after she got better,
they were visiting together at the house of a cousin of hers, and
during the six years or so which had since then passed, they had often
met, and their correspondence had grown to be very frequent. Mr.
Atkinson had gradually become the friend dearest to Harriet Martineau
in all the world. He gained her affection (I use the word advisedly)
by entirely honorable roads--by the delight which she took in
observing his scientific knowledge, his originality of thought and his
elevated tone of mind. But I cannot doubt that long before this volume
of _Letters_ was published, he had become dear to her by virtue
of that personal attraction which is not altogether dependent upon
merit, but which enhances such merits as may be possessed by the
object of the attachment, and somewhat confuses the relationship on
the intellectual side. This condition of things is in no way
especially feminine; John Stuart Mill bowed down to Mrs. Taylor, and
Comte erected his admiration of Clotilde into a _culte_. Mr.
Atkinson was many years younger than his friend, and very likely she
never fully realized the depth of her own feelings towards him. But
still the attraction had its influence, though unacknowledged in
words, and unreciprocated in kind.

Miss Martineau was really taught by Mr. Atkinson much of science that
she had not previously studied; but yet it was an error, from every
point of view, for her to present to the world a book in which she
avowed herself his pupil. Her letters are mainly composed of
questions, upon which she seeks enlightenment. The answers cannot, in
the nature of the case, give forth a connected system of thought upon
"Man's Nature and Development." No one was more ready than she herself
to recognize that, as she says, "in literature, no mind can work well
upon the lines laid down by another"; yet this was what she required
Mr. Atkinson to do in replying to her questions and taking up her
points. The errors that one would expect are found in the results of
this mistaken form; the facts and the inferences are neither
sufficiently separated, nor properly connected; and the real value
which the book had as a contribution to science and philosophy is lost
sight of in the disorder. In fact, no form could be less suitable than
the epistolary for such work--either for the writers to arrange and
analyze what they were doing, or for the reader to see and understand
what they have done. Besides this, the public had long consented to
learn from Harriet Martineau; but Mr. Atkinson, though highly
respected by his own circle, was not known to the general public, and
it was therefore an error in policy for Miss Martineau to show herself
sitting as a pupil at his feet, and to call on those who believed in
her to believe in him as her teacher and guide. Her fine tact and long
experience must have led her to perceive all this in an ordinary case;
and only the personal reason of a desire to win for her friend the
recognition from the public which she herself had already given him so
fully in her own head and heart, could have led an experienced and
able woman of letters to so blunder in her selection of the literary
form of the book.

As to the substance of the _Letters_, but little need be said, because
the bulk of the volume is not her writing, but Mr. Atkinson's. The
ideas which she had then accepted, however, were those by which she
lived the rest of her life, and must have their due share of notice
for that reason.

The fundamental point in the book is its insistance on the Baconian,
or experiential, or scientific, method of inquiry being adopted in
studying man and his mental constitution, just as much as in studying
inanimate nature. A great First Cause of all things is not denied, but
declared unknown and unknowable, as necessarily beyond the
comprehension of the senses of man. Supernatural revelation is, of
course, entirely rejected; indeed, the very word supernatural is held
to involve a fallacy, for only natural things can be known. Mr.
Atkinson pointed out that the whole of the facts which are around us
can be observed, analyzed, and found to occur in an invariable
sequence of causes and effects, which form natural laws; and that the
mind of man is no exception to this general truth, that all events
spring from causes, and are themselves in turn causes of other
effects. It follows from these conclusions that the "First Cause"
(which, as Miss Martineau said, the constitution of the human mind
requires it to suppose) never intervenes in the world as an errant
influence, disturbing natural law; and all speculations about its
nature, character, and purposes are put aside as out of the field of

Passing on from method to results, Mr. Atkinson gave the first hints
of many doctrines now fully accepted: as that of unconscious
cerebration, or that of more senses than five, for instance; and many
others (based mainly on phrenology and mesmerism) not held, up to the
present time, even by the scientists of his own school. For the rest
the book has much that is interesting; it has much that is true; but
it has, also, much that might well have been put forward as
speculation, but should not have been stated so dogmatically as it was
on the evidence available.[18]

          [18] It is right that I should say that I alone am
          responsible for the above (necessarily imperfect) digest of
          the contents of the book. I at first thought of asking Mr.
          Atkinson to do me the favor of reading my account of his work
          in proof; but I ultimately concluded that it would be better
          that in this instance, as in the case of all Harriet
          Martineau's other books, I myself should be wholly
          responsible to the public for my own substantial accuracy
          and fairness.

It was received in 1851 with a howl from the orthodox press which
would seem strange indeed in these days. But of competent criticism it
had very little. Miss Martineau's name, of course, secured attention
for it; and small though her share in the book was, it was quite
enough to make the fact perfectly clear that she was henceforth to be
looked upon as a "materialist" and a "philosophical atheist," and the
rest of the names by which it was customary to stigmatize any person
who rejected supernaturalism and revelation.

The motives with which this book was written and published could
hardly be misunderstood. There could be no idea of making money out of
a work on philosophy--even if either of the authors had been in the
habit of writing merely to make money; while as to fame and applause,
everyone is more or less acquainted with the history of the reception
given in all ages to those who have questioned the popular beliefs of
their time! The sole motive with which Harriet Martineau wrote and
issued this book was the same that impelled her to do all her
work--the desire to teach that which she believed to be true, and to
be valuable in its influence upon conduct. With regard to the latter
point, it seemed to her that one great cause for the slow advance of
civilization is the degree to which good men and women have occupied
themselves with supernatural concerns, neglecting for these the actual
world, its conditions, and its wants, and giving themselves over to
the guidance of a spiritual hierarchy instead of exercising all their
own powers in freedom. She struck at this error in publishing the
_Letters_. At the same time she felt doubtful if her future writings
would ever be read after her bold utterances, and even, as the
following letter shows, whether she might not find herself the
occupant of a felon's dock for the crime of which Socrates, and Jesus,
and Galileo were each in turn accused--blasphemy:


    August 10, 1874.

    One thing more is worth saying. Do you remember how, when we were
    bringing out our "Letters," I directed your attention to our
    Blasphemy Law, and the trial of Moxon, under that law, for
    publishing Shelley's "Queen Mab" among his _Poems_? You ridiculed
    my statement, and said Mr. Procter[19] denied there being such a
    law, or Moxon having been tried, in the face of the fact that I
    had corresponded with Moxon on the occasion, on the part of
    certain personal friends. The fact appeared afterwards in the
    _Annual Register_, but it seemed to produce no effect. Well, now
    you can know the truth by looking at the _Life of Denman_, by Sir
    Joseph Arnould. If you can lay your hands on the book, please look
    at vol. ii. p. 129, where there is an account of the trial, Judge
    Denman being the judge who tried the case. The narrative ends
    thus:--"The verdict was for the Crown" (conviction for blasphemy),
    "but Mr. Moxon was never called up for sentence." It is too late
    for Mr. Procter to learn the truth, but it is surely always well
    for us, while still engaged in the work of life, to be accurately
    informed on such matters as the laws we live under, and our
    consequent responsibilities. Is it not so?

          [19] "Barry Cornwall."

It was, then, with the full anticipation, not only of social obloquy,
but also of legal penalty, that the brave thinker fulfilled (to quote
her own words in the preface to the _Letters_) "that great social
duty, to impart what we believe, and what we think we have learned.
Among the few things of which we can pronounce ourselves certain is
the obligation of inquirers after truth to communicate what they
obtain." The heroic soul fulfilled now, as before and afterwards, what
she held to be her duty, as simply and unwaveringly as ever a soldier
on the battlefield charged the cannon's mouth.

Five times in her life did Harriet Martineau write and publish that
which she believed would ruin her prospects, silence her voice for
ever, and close her career. Far from her was that common paltering
with the conscience by which so many men confuse their minds--the poor
pretence that truth must not be spoken for fear that the speaker's
influence for future worthy work may be injured by his boldness. This
is how the devil tempts, saying, "Fall down, and worship me, and I
will give thee all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them."
Harriet Martineau never worshipped evil even by silence, when silence
was sin, playing fast and loose with her conscience by a promise to
use the power so obtained for higher objects hereafter. The truth that
appeared to her mind she spoke frankly; the work that was placed for
her to do she did simply; and so the quagmire of the expedient never
engulfed her reputation, her self-respect and her usefulness, as it
has done that of so many who have been lured into it from the straight
path of right action and truthful speech in public life, by
will-o'-the-wisp hopes of greater power and glory for themselves in
the future--which they hope they may use for good when they shall be
smothered in cowardice and lies. She had much to suffer, and did
suffer. Martyrs are not honored because they are insensate, but
because they defy their natural human weaknesses in maintaining that
which they believe to be true. Probably the keenest grief which she
experienced on the occasion now before us came from the complete
separation which took place between her and the dearest friend of her
youth, her brother James. Dr. Martineau was, at that time, one of the
editors of the _Prospective Review_. Philosophy was his department,
and in the natural order the _Letters_ came to him for review. He
reviewed the book accordingly and in such terms that all intercourse
between him and his sister was thenceforward at an end. They had long
before drifted apart in thought; but this final separation was none
the less felt as a wrench. Dr. Martineau's attack was almost
exclusively aimed against Mr. Atkinson. But with Harriet's loyalty of
nature she was more impelled to resent what was said about her friend
and colleague than if it had been directed against herself. The
brother and sister never met or communicated with each other again.

The introductory volume of the _History of the Peace_ was published
soon after the Atkinson _Letters_. The next work which she undertook
was a great labor--the rendering into English of Comte's _Positive

What she accomplished with this book was not a mere translation, nor
could it be precisely described as a condensation; it was both these
and more. Comte had propounded his groundwork of philosophy and his
outline of all the sciences in six bulky volumes, full of repetitions,
and written in an imperfect French style. Harriet Martineau rendered
the whole substance of these six volumes into two of clear English,
orderly, consecutive, and scientific in method as in substance. So
well was her work accomplished that Comte himself adopted it for his
students' use, removing from his list of books for Positivists his own
edition of his course, and recommending instead the English version by
Miss Martineau. It thus by-and-bye came to pass that Comte's own work
fell entirely out of use, and his complete teachings became
inaccessible to the French people in their own tongue; so that twenty
years afterwards, when one of his disciples wished to call public
attention to the master's work as teaching the method of social
science by which the French nation must find its way back to
prosperity after the great war, he was constrained to ask Harriet
Martineau's permission to re-translate her version.

Comte wrote her the warmest expressions of his gratitude; but this he
owed her on another ground besides the one of the value of her labors
in popularizing his work so ably. While she was laboring at her task,
Mr. Lombe, then High Sheriff of Norfolk, sent her a cheque for £500,
which he begged her to accept, since she was doing a work which he had
long desired to see accomplished, but which he knew could not possibly
be remunerative to her. She accepted the money, but with her customary
generosity in pecuniary affairs, she employed more than half of it in
paying the whole expenses of publication, and arranged that the
proceeds of the sale, whatever they might be, should be shared with M.

There was a considerable demand for the work on its first appearance;
and up to this present date a fair number of copies is annually
disposed of. It came out in November, 1853, having partly occupied her
time during the preceding two years. Only partly, however; for,
besides all the efforts for her neighborhood previously referred to
(the building society was in progress during those years, and gave her
much thought, as her business notes are in evidence), and besides her
farming, she was now writing largely for periodicals and newspapers.
These are the pulpits from which our modern preachers are most widely
and effectively heard, and the right tone of which is, therefore, of
the first consequence to society. For every hundred persons who listen
to the priest, the journalist (including in this term writers for all
periodicals) speaks to a thousand; and while the words of the one are
often heard merely as a formality, those of the other, dealing with
the matters at the moment most near and interesting to his audience,
may effectively influence the thoughts and consciences and actions of
thousands in the near future. Shallow, indeed, would be the mind which
undervalued the power of the journalist, or underrated the seriousness
of his vocation.

Harriet Martineau saw the scope which journalism afforded for the kind
of work which she had all her life been doing--the influencing of
conduct by considering practical affairs in the light of principle.
Her periodical writing being, according to our mistaken English
custom, anonymous, neither brought her any increase of fame nor
carried with it the influence which her personality as a teacher would
have contributed to the weight of what she wrote. Nevertheless, she
repeatedly in her letters, speaks of her journalism as the most
delightful work of her life, and that which she believed had been
perhaps the most useful of all her efforts.

Some stories with sanitary morals, which she now contributed to
_Household Words_, were admirably written. "The People of Bleaburn" is
the true story of what was done by a grand American woman, Mary Ware,
when she happened to go into an isolated village at the very time
that half its inhabitants were lying stricken down by an epidemic.
"Woodruffe, the Gardener," was a presentation of the evils of living
in low-lying damp countries. "The Marsh Fog and the Sea Breeze" is
perhaps the most interesting of all her stories since the Political
Economy tales, which it much resembles in lightness of touch and in
practical utility.

A series of slight stories under the general title of "Sketches from
Life," was also contributed at this time to the _Leader_; they
were all of them true tales and, like most real life stories,
extremely pathetic. The most touching is one called "The Old
Governess," describing the feelings with which an educated elderly
woman, past her work, and with an injured hand, sought refuge in the
workhouse; and how she conducted herself there. These stories were
republished in a volume in 1856.

A series of descriptive accounts of manufactures, some of which
contain most graphic writing, were also done in this time. These
papers, with others written between 1845-55, were re-published in a
volume in 1861.[20] There are some passages which I am greatly tempted
to quote, merely as specimens of the perfection to which her literary
style had at this time arrived. It is now a style of that clear
simplicity which seems so easy to the reader, but which is in reality
the highest triumph of the literary artist. The inexperienced reader
is apt to suppose that anybody could write thus, until perhaps he
gains some glimpse of the truth by finding the powerful effect which
it is producing upon his thoughts and imagination. The practiced
writer knows meanwhile that, simple though the vocabulary appears, he
could not change a word for the better; and easily though the
sentences swing, the rounding of their rhythm is an achievement to
admire. I may not pause to quote, but I may especially refer to the
paper on "The Life of a Salmon," in illustration of this eloquence of

          [20] _Health, Husbandry and Handicraft._

Early in 1852, Harriet Martineau received an invitation from the
_Daily News_ to send a "leader" occasionally. Busily engaged as she
was with Comte, and with work for other periodicals, she yet gladly
accepted this proposition; and thus began her connection with that
paper (then newly started) which was so valuable both to her and the
proprietors of the _Daily News_. During the early summer of 1852, she
wrote two "leaders" each week, and, before she had finished Comte, the
regular contributions to the newspaper had grown to three a week.

In the autumn of 1852 she made a two months' tour through Ireland; and
at the request of the editor she wrote thence a descriptive letter for
publication in the _Daily News_, almost every other day. The letters
described the state of Ireland at the moment, with observations such
as few were so well qualified as she to make upon the facts. She did
now what Daniel O'Connell had entreated her to do years before. In
1839 the Liberator begged her to travel through his country, and
without bias or favor represent calmly what really was the political
and social condition of Ireland.[21] The "Letters from Ireland"
attracted immediate attention as they appeared in the _Daily News_;
and before the end of the year they were re-published in a volume. At
the same time some of her "leaders" secured much attention, and the
editor pressed her to write even more frequently. During 1853 she
wrote on an average four articles a week, and shortly afterwards the
number rose to six--one in each day's paper.

          [21] It may be mentioned that a similar plea was made to her
          by the Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden, who desired her aid in
          preparing his people for constitutional reform; and again, at
          a later date, by Count Porro, of Milan, who begged that she
          would let the world know what was the condition of Italy
          under Austrian rule.

The tale of the journalistic work of these busy two years is not yet
complete. There is a long article of hers in the _Westminster Review_
for January, 1853; the subject is, "The Condition and Prospects of

All this journalism was done at the same time that the heavy sustained
task of the condensation of Comte's abstruse and bulky work was
proceeding. When to all this we add in our recollection her home
duties, and when the fact is borne in mind that it was her common
practice to take immense walks, not infrequently covering from twelve
to fifteen miles in the day, it will be seen that the mere industry
and energy that she showed were most extraordinary. But, besides this,
her work was of a high order of literary excellence, and full of
intellectual power.

Such incessant labor is not to be held up as altogether an example to
be imitated. There are some few whose duty it is to consciously
moderate the amount of labor to which their mental activity impels
them; and no one ought to allow the imperative brain to overtax the
rest of the system. During the Irish journey, Harriet began to be
aware of experiencing unusual fatigue. She gave herself no sufficient
pause, however, either then or afterwards, until she could not help
doing so.

After the publication of Comte she wrote a remarkable article for the
_Westminster Review_ (anonymous of course) on "England's Foreign
policy." This appeared in the number for January, 1854. It dealt
largely with the impending struggle between England and Russia. True
Liberal as Harriet Martineau was, she hated with all her soul, not the
Russian people, but the hideous despotism, the Asiatic and barbarian
and brutal government of that empire. She foresaw a probable great
struggle in the future between tyranny and freedom, in which Russia,
by virtue of all her circumstances, will be the power against which
the free peoples of the earth will have to fight. Not only, then, did
she fully recognize the necessity for the immediate resistance, which
the Crimean war was, to the encroachments on Europe of the Czar, but
her article also included a powerful plea for the abolition of that
system of secrecy of English diplomacy, by which it is rendered quite
possible for our ministry to covertly injure our liberties, and to
take action behind our backs in our names in opposition to our warmest
wishes. The article, as a whole, is one of her most powerful pieces of
writing, and had it been delivered as a speech in parliament, it would
undoubtedly have produced a great effect, and have placed her high
amongst the statesmen of that critical time.

In the April (1854) number of the same _Review_, there appeared an
article from her pen upon "The Census of 1851." This paper was not a
mere comment upon the census return, but an historical review of the
progress of the English people from barbarism to the civilization of
our century.

In the spring of this year she made a careful survey of the beautiful
district around her home, in order to write a _Complete Guide to the
Lakes_ for a local publisher. She was already thoroughly acquainted
with the neighborhood by means of her long and frequent pedestrian
excursions, and reminiscences of these abound in this "Guide." The
vivid description of a storm on Blake Fell, for instance, is a
faithful account of an occurrence during a visit which a niece and
nephew from Birmingham paid to her soon after her settlement at the
lakes. The word-paintings of the scenery, too, were drawn, not from
what she saw on one set visit only, but were the results of her many
and frequent pilgrimages to those beauties of nature which she so
highly appreciated. But still she would not write her "Guide" without
revisiting the whole of the district.

The most interesting point about this book is that it reveals one
feature of her character that all who knew her mention, but that very
rarely appears in her writings. This is, her keen sense of humor. She
dearly loved a good story, and could tell one herself with pith and
point. Her laugh is said to have been very hearty and ready. Even when
she was old and ill, she was always amusable, and her laughter at any
little bit of fun would even then ring through her house as gaily as
though the outburst had been that of a child's frank merriment. It is
surprising that this sense of and enjoyment in the ludicrous so rarely
appears in her writings. But I think it was because her authorship was
to her too serious a vocation for fun to come into it often. She felt
it almost as the exercise of a priestly function. It was earnest and
almost solemn work for her to write what might be multiplied through
the printing-press many thousand times over, and so uttered to all who
had ears to hear. She showed that this was so by the greater
deliberateness with which she expressed judgments of persons and
pronounced opinions of any kind in her writings than in conversation.
Similarly she showed it by the abeyance of her humor in writing; it
was no more possible for her to crack jokes when seated at her desk
than it would have been for a priestess when standing by her tripod.
But this particular book, this "Guide, written for neighborly
reasons," did not admit of the seriousness of her intellect being
called into action, and the result is that it is full of good stories
and lighted up with fun. Her enjoyment in such stories reveals that
sense of humor which, however strongly visible in daily intercourse,
rarely appears in her books in any other form than in her perfect
appreciation of the line between the sublime and the ludicrous.

This summer brought her much annoyance of a pecuniary kind. Her
generosity about money matters were repeatedly shown, from the time
when she left her "_Illustrations_" in the hands of Mr. C. Fox,
onwards; and she had now given what was for her means an extravagant
contribution to the maintenance of the _Westminster Review_, taking a
mortgage on the proprietorship for her only security. In the summer of
1854, Dr. Chapman, its publisher and editor, failed; and an attempt
was made to upset the mortgage. Harriet Martineau gave Chapman the
most kindly assistance and sympathy in his affairs at this juncture;
not only overlooking the probable loss to herself, but exerting
herself to write two long articles for the next number of the _Review_
(October, 1854).

One of these essays is on "Rajah Brooke;" a name that has half faded
out of the knowledge of the present generation, but which well
deserves memory from the heroic devotedness, and courage, and
governing faculty of the man. His qualities were those most congenial
to Harriet Martineau; and, finding his enemies active and potent, she
made a complete study of his case and represented it in full in an
article which (like her previous one on "Foreign Policy") was so
statesman-like and so wise, so calm and yet so eloquent, that it would
have made her famous amongst the politicians of the day had it been
delivered as a speech in the House, instead of being printed
anonymously in a review with too small a circulation to pay its way.

Nor did generous aid to Dr. Chapman end here. He was disappointed of
some expected contributions, and Miss Martineau wrote him a second
long article for the same number--the one on "The Crystal Palace,"
which concludes the _Westminster_ for October, 1854. Her two
contributions amounted to fifty-four pages of print--truly a generous
gift to an impecunious magazine editor.

It was now precisely ten years since her recovery from her long
illness. The work done in that time shows how complete the recovery
had been. Those ten happy years of vigor and of labor were, she was
wont to say, Mr. Atkinson's gift to her. Well had she used these last
years of her strength.



Miss Martineau's health failed towards the end of 1854; and early in
1855, symptoms of a disorganized circulation became so serious that
she went up to London to consult physicians. Dr. Latham and Sir Thomas
Watson both came to the conclusion that she was suffering from
enlargement and enfeeblement of the heart; and, in accordance with her
wish to hear a candid statement of her case, they told her that her
life would probably not be much prolonged. In short they gave her to
understand that she was dying; and her own sensations confirmed the
impression. She had frequent sinking fits; and every night when she
lay down, a struggle for breath began, which lasted sometimes for
hours. She received her death sentence then, and began a course of
life as trying to the nerves and as searching a test of character as
could well be imagined. That trial she bore nobly for twenty-one long
suffering years. She was carefully carried home, and at once occupied
herself with making every preparation for the departure from earth
which she supposed to be impending. The first business was to make a
new will; and this was a characteristic document. After ordering that
her funeral should be conducted in the plainest manner, and at the
least possible cost, she continued thus:--"It is my desire, from an
interest in the progress of scientific investigation, that my skull
should be given to Henry George Atkinson, of Upper Gloucester Place,
and also my brain, if my death take place within such distance of the
said Henry George Atkinson's then present abode as to enable him to
have it for purposes of scientific investigation." Her property was
then ordered to bear various small charges, including one of £200 to
Mrs. Chapman for writing a conclusion to the testator's autobiography,
over and above a fourth share of the profits on the sale of the whole
work after the first edition. "The Knoll" was bequeathed to her
favorite "little sister," Ellen. The remainder of her possessions were
divided amongst all her brothers and sisters, or their heirs, with as
much impartiality as though she held, with Maggie Tulliver's aunt
Glegg, that "in the matter of wills, personal qualities were
subordinate to the great fundamental fact of blood." Although
mesmerism had estranged her from a sister, and theology from a
brother, she made no display of bitter feelings towards them and
theirs in her last will.

All her personal affairs being made as orderly as possible, she
proceeded to write her _Autobiography_. Readers of that interesting
but misleading work must bear in mind that it was a very hasty
production. The two large volumes were written in a few months; the
MS. was sent to the printer as it was produced, the sheets for the
first edition were printed off, then the matter was stereotyped, and
the sheets and plates were packed up in the office of the printer,
duly insured, and held ready for immediate publication after her
death. She wrote in this hot haste with "the shadow cloaked from head
to foot" at her right hand. So much reason had she to believe that her
very days were numbered, that she wrote the latter part of her
_Autobiography_ before the first portion. She had already given forth,
in _Household Education_ and _The Crofton Boys_, the results of her
childish experiences of life; and she was now specially anxious not to
die without leaving behind her a definite account of the later course
of her intellectual history.

No one who knew her considers that she did herself justice in the
_Autobiography_. It is hard and censorious; it displays vanity,
both in its depreciation of her own work, and in its recital of the
petty slights and insults which had been offered to her from time to
time; it is aggressive, as though replying to enemies rather than
appealing to friends; and no one of either the finer or the softer
qualities of her nature is at all adequately indicated. It is, in
short, the least worthy of her true self of all the writings of her

The reasons of this unfortunate fact was not far to seek. Her
rationalism, and the abuse and moral ill-usage which she had incurred
by her avowal of her anti-theological opinions, were still new to her.
Her very thoughts, replacing as they did the ideas which she held
without examination for some twenty years (the time which intervened
between her devotional writings and her _Eastern Life_) were still so
far new that they had not the unconsciousness and the quiet placidity
which habit alone gives; for new ideas, like new clothes, sit
uneasily, and are noticeable to their wearer, however carefully they
may have been fitted before adoption. Again, the announcement in the
press that her illness was fatal revived the discussion of her
infidelity, and brought down upon her a whole avalanche of signed and
anonymous letters, of little tracts, awe-inspiring hymns, and manuals
of divinity. The letters were controversial, admonishing, minatory, or
entreating; but whatever their character they were all agreed upon one
point, viz., that her unbelief in Christianity was a frightful sin, of
which she had been willfully guilty. They all agreed in supposing that
it was within her own volition to resume her previous faith, and that
she would not only go to eternal perdition if she did not put on again
her old beliefs, but that she would richly deserve to do so for her
willful wickedness.

Thus, as Miss Arnold remarked to me, the moment at which she wrote
the _Autobiography_ was the most aggressive and unpleasant of her
whole life. Conscious as she was of the purity of her motives in
uttering her philosophical opinions, she found herself suddenly spoken
to by a multitude, whom she could not but know were mentally and
morally incapable of judging her, as a sinner, worthy of their pity
and reprobation. Knowing that she had long been recognized as a
teacher, in advance of the mass of society in knowledge and power of
thought, here was a crowd of people talking to her in the tones which
they might have adopted towards some ignorant inmate of a prison. What
wonder that her wounded self-esteem seemed for a little while to pass
into vanity, when she had to remind the world, from which such insults
were pouring in, of all that she had done for its instruction in the
past? What wonder that the strength which was summed up to bear with
fortitude this species of modern martyrdom, seemed to give a tone of
coldness and hardness to writing of so personal a kind? Then the
extreme haste with which the writing and printing were done gave no
time for the subsidence of such painful impressions; and great
physical suffering and weakness, together with the powerful depressing
medicines which were being employed, added to the difficulty of
writing with calmness, and with a full possession of the sufferer's
whole nature. In short, an autobiography could not have been written
under less favorable conditions. All things taken into account, it is
no wonder that those who knew and loved her whole personality were
shocked and amazed at the inadequate presentation given of it in those
volumes. The sensitive, unselfish, loving, domestic woman, and the
just, careful, disinterested, conscientious and logical author, were
alike obscured rather than revealed; and the biographer whom she chose
to complete the work had neither the intimate personal knowledge, the
mental faculty which might have supplied its place, nor the literary
skill requisite to present a truer picture.

Her _Autobiography_ completed, the plates engraved, and all publishing
arrangements made, she might, had she been an ordinary invalid, have
settled down into quiet after so hard-working a life. Harriet
Martineau could not do this. Her labors continued uninterruptedly, and
were pursued to the utmost limit which her illness would allow. She
did not cease (except during the few months that the _Autobiography_
was in hand) writing her "leaders" for the _Daily News_. Every week it
contained articles by her, instructing thousands of readers. Yet she
was _very_ ill. She never left her home again, after that journey to
London early in 1855. Sometimes she was well enough to go out upon her
terrace; and she frequently sat in her porch, which was a bower, in
the summer time, of clematis, honeysuckle, and passion-flowers,
intermingled with ivy; but she could do no more. She was given, as
soon as she became ill, the daughterly care of her niece, Maria, the
daughter of her elder brother, Robert Martineau, of Birmingham; and no
mother ever received tenderer care or more valuable assistance from
her own child than Harriet Martineau did from the sensible and
affectionate girl whose life was thenceforth devoted to her service.
Maria once tried if her aunt could be taken out of her own grounds in
a bath-chair; but before they reached the gates a fainting fit came
on, with such appalling symptoms of stoppage of the heart that the
experiment was never repeated. Sometimes Miss Martineau would be well
enough to see visitors; more frequently, however, those whom she would
most have liked to talk with had to be sent away by the doctor's
orders. But, through it all, her work continued.

Soon after the _Autobiography_ was finished, she wrote a long paper
upon a most important subject, and one which she felt to be a source
of the gravest anxiety for the future of English politics--the true
sphere of State interference with daily life. The common ignorance and
carelessness upon this point she believed to be the most painful and
perilous feature of our present situation.

    It has been brought to light by beneficent action which is, in
    another view, altogether encouraging. Our benevolence towards the
    helpless, and our interest in personal morality, have grown into a
    sort of public pursuit; and they have taken such a hold on us that
    we may fairly hope that the wretched and the wronged will never
    more be thrust out of sight. But, in the pursuit of our new
    objects, we have fallen back--far further than 1688--in the
    principle of our legislative proposals--undertaking to provide by
    law against personal vices, and certain special social contracts.

Her devotion to freedom, and her belief in personal liberty, led her
to write an article on "Meddlesome Legislation" for the _Westminster

Her pecuniary sacrifices for the _Review_ had been made because she
looked upon it as an organ for free speech. Her feelings may be
imagined when the editor refused to insert this article, not on any
ground of principle, but merely because it spoke too freely of some of
the advocates of meddlesome factory laws. The essay was published
however, as a pamphlet, and had such influence upon a bill then before
Parliament that the Association of Factory Occupiers requested to be
allowed to signalize their appreciation of it by giving one hundred
guineas in her name to a charity. A somewhat similar piece of work
followed in the next year, a rather lengthy pamphlet _On Corporate
Traditions and National Rights_. She offered nothing more to the
_Westminster Review_, however, for some time; not, indeed, until that
subject in which she took so profound an interest, the welfare of the
United States, and the progress of the anti-slavery cause, seemed to
require of her that she should avail herself of every possible means
of addressing the public upon it. Then, in 1857, she wrote an article
on _The Manifest Destiny of the American Union_, which appeared in the
_Westminster_ for July of that year.

Having thus signalized her forgiveness of that _Review_, she went on
writing again for it for a little while. In the October number of
the same year there was a paper by her on _Female Dress_ in 1857.
Crinoline had then lately been introduced by the Empress of the
French. If one good, rousing argument could have stood in the path of
fashion, this amusing and vigorous paper from Harriet Martineau's
sick-room might have answered the purpose. But, alas! crinoline
flourished; and five whole years later on was still so enormous that
she took up her parable against it once more, in _Once a Week_, as
the cause of "willful murder."

About this time she determined to assume the prefix of "Mrs." "There
were so many Misses Martineau," she said; and, besides, she felt the
absurdity of a woman of mature years bearing only the same complimentary
title as is accorded to a little girl in short frocks at school. Her
cards and the envelopes of her friends bore thenceforward the
inscription, "Mrs. Harriet Martineau."

Although she continued to write, contributing almost every day to the
_Daily News_, as well as to these larger periodicals, she was, it
must be remembered, an invalid. Her health fluctuated from day to day;
but it may as well be explicitly stated that she was more or less ill
during the whole of the rest of her life. She suffered a considerable
amount daily of actual pain, which was partly the consequence of the
medicines prescribed for her, and partly the result of the
displacement of the internal organs arising, as her doctors led her to
suppose, from the enlargement of the heart; but in reality, as was
afterwards discovered, from the growth of a tumor. Her most constant
afflictions were the difficulty of breathing, dizziness, and dimness
of sight, resulting from disturbed circulation. At irregular, but not
infrequent, intervals she was seized with fainting-fits, in which her
heart appeared to entirely cease beating for a minute or two; and it
was not certain from day to day but that she might die in one of these

Not only did she continue her work under these conditions, but her
interest in her poor neighbors remained unabated. There is more than
one man now living in Ambleside who traces a part of his prosperity to
the interest which she from her sick-room displayed in his progress. A
photograph of her, still sold in Ambleside, was taken in her own
drawing-room by a young beginner whom she allowed thus to benefit
himself. He and several others were given free access to her library.
A sickly young woman in the village was made a regular sharer in the
good things--the wine, the turtle soup, the game and the
flowers--which devoted friends sent frequently to cheer Harriet
Martineau's retirement. Every Christmas, there was a party of the
oldest inhabitants of Ambleside invited to spend a long day in the
kitchen of the "Knoll." The residents in her own cottages looked upon
her less as a landlady than as a friend to whom to send in every

Nor did she cease to do whatever was possible to her in the local
public life. The question of Church Rates was approaching a crisis
when she was taken ill; and when the Ambleside Quakers resolved to
organize resistance to payment of these rates, they found Harriet
Martineau ready to help. The householders who refused to pay were
summoned before the local bench; and it was Harriet Martineau whom the
justices selected to be distrained upon; but events marched rapidly,
and the distraint was not made.

The next article that she contributed to the _Westminster Review_
appeared in the July (1858) number, and, under the title of _The
Last Days of Church Rates_, gave an account of the efforts by which
Non-conformists in all parts of the country were rendering this impost

In October, 1858, there was another long article in the _Westminster_,
entitled _Travel during the Last Half-Century_. She was now, however,
growing tired of wasting her work in that quarter, and, as we shall
presently see, she sought a more influential and appreciative medium
for her longer communications with the public.

Subjects which could be treated briefly were always taken up as
"leaders" for the _Daily News_. Lengthier topics, too, were
occasionally dealt with in those columns in the form of serial
articles. One set of papers on _The Endowed Schools of Ireland_, were
contributed in this manner, in 1857, to the _Daily News_, and
afterwards reprinted in a small volume. In that same year occurred
the terrible Indian crisis which compelled the people of this country
to give, for a time, the attention which they so begrudge to their
great dependency. Miss Martineau then wrote a series of articles,
under the title of _The History of British Rule in India_, for the
_Daily News_, and this most useful work was immediately re-published
in a volume. Alas! even she could not make so involved and distant a
story interesting; but her book was clear and vivid, and whenever it
dealt with the practical problem of the moment, it was full of wisdom
and conscientiousness. This volume was immediately followed by
_Suggestions towards the Future Government of India_. The preface of
the first is dated October, 1857; and that of the second, January,
1858. The key-note of these books is a plea for the government of
India according to Indian ideas; and, as a natural consequence, its
government with the assistance of its natives. Courage as well as
insight were required at that particular moment of popular passion to
put forward these calm, statesman-like ideas. The wisdom and the
practical value of the books cannot be shown by extracts; but one
paragraph may be given as a faint indication of the tone: "If instead
of attempting to hold India as a preserve of English destinies, a
nursery of British fortunes, we throw it open with the aim of
developing India for the Indians, by means of British knowledge and
equity, we shall find our own highest advantage, political and
material, and may possibly recognize brethren and comrades at length,
where we have hitherto perceived only savages, innocents, or
foes."[22] Such was the spirit to which the _Daily News_, under
Harriet Martineau's hand, led the people at a moment of great
political excitement. The amplest testimony to the practical wisdom
of the suggestions that she made was borne by those Anglo-Indians who
were qualified to judge.

          [22] _Future Government of India_, p. 94.

In June, 1858, she wrote the first letter, which lies before me, to
her relative, Mr. Henry Reeve, the editor of the _Edinburgh Review_.
In this, after telling him that she never before has offered or wished
to write for that _Review_, because in politics she had generally
disagreed with it (to her, it may be remarked in passing, Toryism was
less odious than official Whigism), she says that she has now a
subject in view which she thinks would be suitable for the pages of
the good old Whig organ. Before entering into details, she begs him to
tell her frankly if any article will be refused merely because it
comes from her. She adds that her health is so sunk and her life so
precarious, that all her engagements have to be made with an
explanation of the chances against their fulfillment; still she _does_
write a good deal, and with higher success than in her younger days.

Mr. Reeve replied cordially inviting her contributions, and the result
was the establishment both of an intimate correspondence with him, and
of a relationship with the _Review_ under his charge, which lasted
until she could write no more.

The particular subject which she offered Mr. Reeve at first did not
seem to him a suitable one. The title of it was to have been _French
Invasion Panics_; but as Mr. Reeve did not like the idea, the paper
was not written. But for the _Edinburgh_ of April, 1859, she wrote a
long article on _Female Industry_, which attracted much attention. Its
purpose was to show how greatly the conditions of women's lives are
altered in this century from what they were of old. "A very large
proportion of the women of England earn their own bread; and there is
no saying how much good may be done by a timely recognition of this
simple truth. A social organization framed for a community of which
half stayed at home while the other half went out to work, cannot
answer the purposes of a society of which a quarter remains at home
while three-quarters go out to work." After considering in detail,
with equal benevolence and wisdom, the condition of the various
classes of women workers--those employed in agriculture, mines,
fishing, domestic service, needlework, and shop-keeping, and
suggesting, in passing, the schools of cookery which have since become
established facts, the article concludes: "The tale is plain enough.
So far from our countrywomen being all maintained as a matter of fact
by us, the 'bread-winners,' three millions out of six of adult English
women work for subsistence, and two out of the three in independence.
With this new condition of affairs new duties and new views must be
adopted. Old obstructions must be removed; and the aim must be set
before us, as a nation as well as in private life, to provide for the
free development and full use of the powers of every member of the
community." It scarcely needs to be pointed out that here she went
quietly but surely to the foundation of that whole class of new claims
and demands on behalf of the women of our modern world, of which she
was so valuable an advocate, and for the granting of which her life
was so excellent a plea. In these few sentences she at one time
displayed the character of the changes required, and the reasons why
it is now necessary, as it did not use to be, that women should be
completely enfranchised, industrially and otherwise.

The year 1859 was a very busy one. Besides the long article just
mentioned, she published in April of that year quite a large volume on
_England and her Soldiers_. The book was written to aid the work
which her beloved friend Florence Nightingale, had in hand for the
benefit of the army. It was, in effect, a popularization of all that
had come out before the Royal Commission on the sanitary condition of
the army; with the additional advantage of the views and opinions of
Florence Nightingale, studied at first hand. One of the most beautiful
features of the book is the hearty and generous delight with which the
one illustrious lady recounts the efforts, the sacrifices, and the
triumphs of the other.

In 1859, also, Mrs. Martineau began to write frequent letters for
publication to the American _Anti-Slavery Standard_. The affairs
of the Republic were plainly approaching a crisis; and those in
America who knew how well-informed she was on the politics of both
countries, and on political principles, were anxious to have the
guidance that only she could give in the difficult time that was
approaching. During the three years, 1859 to 1861, she sent over
ninety long articles for publication in America.

An article on _Trades Unions_, denouncing the tyranny of men in
fustian coats sitting round a beer-shop table, as to the full as
mischievous as that of crowned and titled despots, appeared in the
_Edinburgh Review_ for October, 1859. In the July (1860) issue of the
same _Review_ she wrote on _Russia_, and in October of that year on
_The American Union_.

Besides these large undertakings, she was writing during these years
almost weekly articles, on one topic or another, for the illustrated
periodical _Once a Week_; whilst the _Daily News_ "leaders" continued
without intermission during the whole time. As regards these latter, I
shall presently mention when she entirely ceased to write; but in the
meanwhile I do not attempt to follow them in detail. Nothing that I
could say would give any adequate impression of their quality. _That_
may be sufficiently judged by the fact that the newspaper in which
they were issued was one of the best of the great London dailies; and
that, during her time, it touched the highest point of influence and
circulation, as the organ of no clique, but the consistent advocate of
high principles, and just, consistent, sound (not mere "Liberal
Party") political action. As to the subjects of the _Daily News_
articles, they range over the whole field of public interests,
excepting only those "hot and hot" topics which had to be treated
immediately that fresh news about them reached London. Those who were
with Mrs. Martineau tell me that the only difficulty with her was to
choose what subject she would treat each day, out of the many that
offered. She kept up an extensive correspondence, and read
continually; and her fertile mind, highly cultivated as it was by her
life-long studies, had some original and valuable contribution to make
upon the vast variety of the topics of which each day brought

The marvel that a sick lady, shut up in her house in a remote village,
could thus keep touch with and take an active part in all the
interests and movements of the great world, increases the more it is
considered. The very correspondence by which she was aided in knowing
and feeling what the public mind was stirred about, was in itself a
heavy labor, and a great tax upon such feeble strength as she
possessed. The letters with which Mr. Reeve has favored me give
glimpses of how ideas and calls came to her sometimes. Here is a
graphic account, for instance, of a man riding up with a telegram from
Miss Nightingale--"Agitate! agitate! for Lord de Grey in place of Sir
G. Cornewall Lewis"--which gives the first intimation in Ambleside
that the post of War Minister is vacant. The newspaper arrives later,
and Lewis' death is learned; so a "leader" is written early next
morning, to catch the coach, and appears in the following morning's
_Daily News_. Presently Lord de Grey is appointed, and then the
two women friends rejoice together in the chance of getting army
reforms made by a minister who, they hope, will not be a slave to
royal influences. Another time she tells Mr. Reeve how she is treating
the _Reversion of Mysore_ in the _Daily News_, on the suggestion of a
man learned in Indian affairs; and again, that she is reviewing a book
of Eastern travel at the request of a friend. In fine, there were
constant letters seeking to engage her interest and aid in every
description of reforms, and for all kinds of movements in public

But with all the wide circle of suggesting correspondents, the wonder
of the prolific mind working so actively from the Ambleside hermitage
remains untouched. Perhaps I cannot better show how much she did, and
how wide a range she covered, in _Daily News_ "leaders," than by
giving a list of the articles of a single year. I take 1861, really at
random. It was simply the page at which the office ledger happened to
be open before me.

Here are the subjects of her _Daily News_ "leaders" in 1861:

    The American Union; The King of Prussia; Arterial Drainage; Sidney
    Herbert; The Secession of South Carolina; Cotton Supply; Laborers'
    Dwellings; The American Difficulty (two days); Destitution and its
    Remedy; The American Revolution; Cotton Culture; The American
    Union; Indian Affairs; America; North and South; American Politics;
    Agricultural Labor; The London Bakers; President Buchanan; The
    Southern Confederacy; United States Population; The Duchess of
    Kent; Indian Famines; Agricultural Statistics; President Lincoln's
    Address; Indian Currency; American Census; The Southern
    Confederacy; The Action of the South; The Census; America and
    Cotton; The American Envoy; Lord Canning's Address; The American
    Crisis; Spain and San Domingo; East Indian Irrigation; Water-mills;
    Hayti and San Domingo; The Conflict in America; American Movements;
    The Secession Party; The American Contest; The Literary Fund;
    Working-men's Visit to Paris; Mr. Clay's Letter; The American
    Contest; Money's "Java" (four articles); Mr. Douglas; Our American
    Relations; Lord Campbell; Results of American Strife; Our Cotton
    Supply; American Union; Soldiers' Homes; Indian Irrigation; San
    Domingo; American Movements; Slavery in America; The Morrill
    Tariff; Drainage in Agriculture; Neutrality with America; The
    Builders' Strike; Lord Herbert; Lord Elgin's Government; The
    Builders' Dispute; The Strike; The American Contest; Indian
    Famines; Syrian Improvement; Affairs of Hayti; Cotton Supply; The
    American War and Slavery; Mr. Cameron and General Butler;
    Post-office Robberies; The American Press; Mrs. Stowe; The Morrill
    Tariff; American Affairs; Domestic Servants; The Education Minutes;
    The Georgian Circular; French Free Trade; The Fremont Resolution;
    Laborers' Improvidence; American Humiliation; The Education Code; A
    Real Social Evil; Captain Jervis in America; The American Contest;
    Indian Cotton; Slaves in America; The Prince of Wales; American
    Movements; Lancashire Cotton Trade; India and Cotton; Cotton
    Growing; The Herbert Testimonial; Captain Wilkes' Antecedents;
    Arterial Drainage; The American Controversy; Land in India; Slaves
    in America; Death of Prince Albert; Slavery; Loyalty in Canada;
    Review of the Year, five columns long.

This gives a total of one hundred and nine leading articles, in that
one year, on political and social affairs. In the same year she wrote
to the Boston _Anti-Slavery Standard_ as much matter as would have
made about forty-five "leaders;" and during the same period she
regularly contributed to _Once a Week_[23] a fortnightly article on
some current topic, and also a series of biographical sketches
entitled "Representative Men." These _Once a Week_ articles were all
much longer than "leaders;" the year's aggregate of space filled, in
1861, is two hundred and eighty-one of the closely printed columns of
_Once a Week_; and this would be equivalent to at least one hundred
and forty leading articles in the usual "leaded" type. I need not give
a complete list of titles of the year's _Once a Week_ articles; but a
few may be cited to show what class of subjects she selected: "Our
Peasantry in Progress," "Ireland and her Queen," "The Harvest," "The
Domestic Service Question," "What Women are Educated for," "American
Soldiering," "Deaths by Fire," "The Sheffield Outrages," "Education
and the Racing Season."

          [23] Most of these papers are signed "From the Mountain."

Such was Harriet Martineau's work for the year 1861; and thus could
she, confined to her house, comprehend and care for the condition of

It will be noticed that she had written on Domestic Servants both in
the _Daily News_ and _Once a Week_; but still she had not said all
that she wished to say about the subject, and early in the next year
she wrote a long article on it, which appeared in the _Edinburgh_
for April, 1862. It is a capital article, distinguished alike by
common-sense, and by wide-reaching sympathy; _womanly_ in the best
sense--in its domestic knowledge, and its feeling for women in their
perplexities and troubles, whether as servants or mistresses,--and yet
philosophical in its calmness, its power of tracing from causes to
effects, and its practical wisdom in forestalling future difficulties.

In this year she began to write historical stories, "Historiettes," as
she called them, for _Once a Week_. As fictions, they are not equal to
her best productions of that class; but their special value was less
in this direction, or even in the detailed historical knowledge that
they displayed, than in the insight into the philosophy of political
history which the reader gained. They were illustrated by Millais, and
proved so attractive that they were continued during the next two
years. One, dealing with the constitutional struggle in the reign of
Charles I., and called "The Hampdens," has been re-published so
recently as 1880.

A large portion of her time and thought was absorbed, in these years,
by the American struggle and its consequences. Loving the United States
and their people as she did, the interest and anxiety with which she
watched their progress were extreme. She was no coward--as it is, no
doubt, hardly necessary to remark on this page--and though she grieved
deeply for the sufferings both of personal friends and of the whole
country, yet her soul rose up in noble exultation over the courage, the
resolution, and the high-mindedness of the bulk of the American nation.
Over here, she threw herself with warm eagerness into the effort to
support those Lancashire workers upon whom fell so heavy a tax of
deprivation in the cotton famine. The patience, the quietness, the
heroism with which our North-Country workers bore all that they had to
suffer, supported as they were by the sympathy of the mass of their
fellow-countrymen, and by their own intelligent convictions that they
were aiding a good cause by remaining peaceful and quiet--this was just
the sort of thing to arouse all Harriet Martineau's loving sympathies.
"Her face would all light up and the tears would rush to her eyes
whenever she was told of a noble deed," says Miss Arnold; "no matter
how humble the doer, or how small the matter might seem, you could see
the delight it gave her to know that a fine, brave, or unselfish act
had been done." Animated by such respectful joy in the attitude of the
Lancashire workers, she threw herself into their service; and her
correspondence on this topic during 1861, when she used all her public
and private influence on their behalf, and employed her best energies
in aiding and advising the relief committees, would fill a large

In the midst of her labors for America, she could not but be gratified
by the testimonies which constantly reached her from that country to
the appreciation of the work which she had done and was doing.

_The History of the Peace_ was reprinted in Boston in the very midst
of the civil war, "at the instance of men of business throughout the
country, who believe it will do great good from its political and yet
more economical lessons, which are so much wanted." The publishers of
the _Atlantic Monthly_ appealed to her to write them a series of
articles on "Military Hygiene;" and, over-pressed as she was, she
could not refuse a request which enabled her to do much good service
for the soldiers of the North, for whom she felt so deeply. Nor were
more private tributes to the value of her efforts lacking. A set of
the _Rebellion Record_, published by Putnam, was sent to her with the
cover stamped under the title with these words: "Presented by citizens
of New York to Harriet Martineau;" and innumerable books came with
testimonies inscribed by the writers, such as that in Henry Wilson's
_Slave Power in America_, which was as follows: "Mrs. Harriet
Martineau; with the gratitude of the author for her friendship for his
country, and her devotion to freedom."[24]

          [24] The highest honor yet done to her memory is the work of
          our sisters and brothers across the Atlantic. A public
          subscription has raised funds for a statue of Harriet
          Martineau, which has been executed by Anne Whitney, in white
          marble. The statue represents Mrs. Martineau seated, with her
          hands folded over a manuscript on her knees. The head is
          raised, and has a light veil thrown over the back of it and
          falling down upon the shoulders, while a shawl is draped
          partially over the figure. The eyes are looking forth, as
          though in that thoughtful questioning of the future to which
          she often gave herself. The statue was unveiled in the Old
          South Hall, Boston, December 26th, 1883, in the presence of
          many notable personages. Mrs. Mary Livermore presided, and
          speeches were made by William Lloyd Garrison, Jun., and
          Wendell Phillips, in the case of the last-named it was his
          final speech, for he, too, six weeks after, was numbered
          amongst those who are at rest. "The audience sat in silence
          for a moment as the white vision was unveiled; then went up
          such applause as stirred the echoes of the historic interior
          in which the ceremony took place."

In the latter part of the year 1862, Harriet Martineau wrote a paper
on "Our Convict System," which appeared in the following January
number of the _Edinburgh_. It will be noted that she never wrote on
the politics of the day--the action of the Government and Opposition
of the moment--in this _Review_; her political principles were too
democratic for the great Whig organ.

In _Once a Week_, however, her articles became more decisively
political year by year. Some of her best political papers are in that
magazine for 1863. The most noteworthy feature in them are their
basis of principles and not of party, and their practical wisdom.
When I speak of her devotion to principles, in politics, I half fear
that I may be misunderstood--for so shockingly does Cant spawn its
loathsomeness over every holy phrase, that such expressions come to
us "defamed by every charlatan," and doubtful in their use. But she
was neither doctrinaire, nor blind, nor pig-headed, nor pharisaic,
nor jealous, nor scheming; but wise, brave, truthful, upright, and
independent. Love of justice and truthfulness of speech were as much
to her in public affairs as they are to any high-minded person in
private. Her desire in her thoughts and utterances on politics was
simply to secure "the greatest happiness for the greatest number"
of the people; and the spirit in which she worked was correctly
appraised by the then editor of the _Daily News_, William Weir, when
he wrote to her in these terms, in 1856:--

    I have never before met--I do not hope again to meet--one so
    earnest (as you) to promote progress, so practical in the means by
    which to arrive at it. My aim in life is to be able to say, when
    it is closing, "I, too, have done somewhat, though little, to
    benefit my kind;" and there are so few who do not regard this as
    Quixotism or hypocrisy, that I shrink even from confessing it.

He so well recognized that as truly _her_ aim also that he did not
fear to utter to her his high aspiration. It is in this spirit that
her political articles are written, and the result of the constant
reference to principles is that her essays are almost as instructive
reading now as they were when first published; _then_, their interest
and their importance were both incalculable.

Of such articles Harriet Martineau wrote in the _Daily News_, from
first to last, _sixteen hundred and forty-two_: besides the great
number that I have referred to, which appeared in other journals. I
wonder how many of the men who have presumed to say that the women are
"incapable of understanding politics," or of "sympathizing in great
causes," received a large part of their political education, and of
rousing stimulus to public-spirited action, from those journalistic
writings by Harriet Martineau?

An instructive article on "The Progress of the Negro Race" was
prepared for the _Edinburgh_ of January, 1864. Only a few weeks after
the appearance of this, there fell upon her the greatest blow of her
old age. Her beloved niece Maria, who had for so long filled the place
of a daughter to her, was taken ill with typhoid fever, and died after
a three weeks' illness. Maria Martineau's active disposition, and her
intellectual power (which was far above the average) had made her an
ideal companion for her aunt, and the blow to _her_ was a terrible
one. Ill and suffering as she was before, this shock completed the
wreck of Harriet Martineau's health. She had a dreary time of illness
immediately after her niece's death; and although she went on writing
for some time longer, it was always with the feeling that the end of
her long life's industry was near at hand.

She was not left alone; for Maria's youngest sister, Jane, presently
offered voluntarily to fill, as far as she could, the vacant place at
"The Knoll." The family from which these sisters came was one in which
kindliness and generosity were (and are to this day, with its younger
members who remain) distinguishing features. It was no light matter for
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Martineau to part with a second daughter to their
sister; but, as it was Jane's own wish to try to be to that beloved and
honored relative what Maria had been, the parents would not refuse
their permission. Harriet wrote of this to Mr. Reeve with her heart
full; telling him how "humbly grateful" she felt for what was so
generously offered to her, and with what thankfulness she accepted the
blessing. Even in such circumstances, she could note what a delight it
was to find that Maria's own spirit of devotedness prevailed amongst
them all--for nothing could be nobler and sweeter than the conduct of

By June of that same year, 1864, Mrs. Martineau was ready to undertake
another article on a topic which pressed upon her mind, "Co-operative
Societies," which was published in the _Edinburgh_ for October

She went on writing for the _Daily News_, through that year and the
next, though the effort came to be constantly more and more laborious.
Her interest in public affairs did not flag; nor is there the least
sign of failure of power in her letters; but she became increasingly
conscious that it was a strain upon her to write under the
responsibility of addressing the public.

Early in 1865 she wrote some articles on "The Scarcity of Nurses,"
"poked up to do it," as she said, by Florence Nightingale. In the
April of the same year was prepared an article on "Female Convicts,"
which was published in the _Edinburgh_ for October. In sending this
she intimated to the editor that it would be her last contribution,
as she felt the strain of such writing too great for her strength.
After all she did prepare one more article for the _Edinburgh_,
though it was as long afterwards as 1868. This was the paper on
"Salem Witchcraft," which will be found in the number of that
_Review_ for July. It formed Harriet Martineau's last contribution of
any length to literature; and she wrote it with some reluctance,
after having suggested the subject to Mr. Reeve, and he having
replied that he could find no one suitable to undertake it but

She was very loath to cease her writing for the _Daily News_, and
continued it until the spring of 1866. It was a great trial when at
last the moment came that she felt she absolutely _must_ be freed from
the obligation and the temptation to frequent work. But the spring was
always her worst time as to health; and during this customary vernal
exacerbation of illness, in April, 1866, she found herself obliged at
last, after fourteen years' service, to send in her resignation to the
_Daily News_.

When she thus terminated her connection with the paper through whose
columns she had spoken so long, she practically concluded her literary
life. Neither her intellectual powers, nor her interest in public
affairs, were perceptibly diminished; as will presently be seen, these
continued to the end of her life all but unabated. Her regular
literary exertions were now, however, at an end; and she was ill
enough by this time, her niece tells me, to feel only relief at being
freed from the constant pressure of the duty of thought and speech.



Harriet Martineau had never gone the right way to work to become rich
by literature. She had not chosen her subjects with a view to the mere
monetary success she might attain, and, not infrequently, she had
displayed a rare generosity in her pecuniary affairs. In April, 1867,
she was plunged into perplexity about the means of living, by the
temporary failure of the Brighton Railway to pay its dividends. After
all her work, she had but little to lose. She had from investments in
the preference stock of that railway £230 per annum, and she had only
£150 yearly from all other sources. Such was the fortune saved, after
labors such as hers, through a long life of industry and thrift. There
was a beautiful contest between the inmates of that home, when the
trouble came, as to which of them should begin to make the necessary
sacrifices involved in economizing. Miss Jane Martineau and the maid
Caroline were each ready with their offers, and the invalid mistress
of the house was with difficulty induced to continue her wine and
dinner ale, while she declared, with a brave assumption of
carelessness, that she should be rather glad than otherwise to be rid
of seeing the _Times_ daily and getting the periodic box of books from
"Mudie's." It is touching to note how she tried to lightly pass off
this sacrifice of current literature, when one knows that reading was
the chief solace of her lonely and suffering days. Her family
intervened, however, to prevent any such deprivations, and by-and-by
the company resumed payment of its dividends.

In 1868, she received a generous offer, which touched her very deeply.
Mr. J. R. Robinson, of the _Daily News_, proposed to her that there
should be a reprint of the several biographical sketches which she had
contributed to the paper during her connection with it; and he offered
to take all the trouble and responsibility of putting the volume
through the press, while leaving to her the whole of the profits. She
had not even supposed that the copyright in the biographies which she
had written for the paper from time to time, upon the occasions of the
deaths of eminent persons, remained her property. Mr. Robinson had the
satisfaction of assuring her that the proprietors held her at liberty
to reproduce these writings, and, with that comrade's generosity which
is not altogether rare among journalists, her kind friend devoted
himself to securing her a good publisher, and editing the volume,
_Biographical Sketches_, for her benefit. These vignettes well
deserved re-production. She had had more or less personal acquaintance
with nearly every one of the forty-six eminent persons of whom she
treated; and the portraits which she sketched were equally vivid and
impartial. The work was received by the public with an enthusiasm
which repaid Mr. Robinson for his generous efforts. It was reprinted
in America; and it is now in its fourth English edition.

The last occasion upon which she was to give her powers and her
influence to a difficult but great public work must now be mentioned.
It was the final effort of her career. Marked as that life had been
all through by devotedness to public duty, she never before was
engaged in a task so painful and difficult, or one which, upon mere
personal grounds, she might more strongly have desired to evade. But
at near seventy years old, and so enfeebled that she had thought her
work quite finished, she no more hesitated to come to the front under
fire when it became necessary, than she had done in those active
younger days when combat may have had its own delights.

The subject was an Act of Parliament passed in 1869, having reference
to certain police powers over women in various large towns. "In our
time, or in any other," wrote Mrs. Martineau, "there never was a
graver question." It was clear to her that if women "did not insist
upon the restoration of the most sacred liberties of half the people
of England, men alone would never do it;" and she wrote four letters
on the subject to the _Daily News_, as powerful, as sensible, as free
from cant of any kind, as clear in the appreciation of facts, and as
definite and able in the presentation of them, as anything she had
ever written. She wrote, also, and signed an "Appeal to the Women of
England" upon the subject, where her name headed the list of signers,
whilst that of Florence Nightingale came next. Two such women,
venerated not less for the intellectual capacity and practical wisdom
than for the devoted benevolence that they had shown in their long
lives, were well able to arouse and lead the moral sense of the
womanhood of England in this crisis. Other respected names were soon
added to theirs, but it would not be easy to over-estimate the value
of the self-sacrificing, brave action, at the most critical moment, of
these two great and honorable women.

Besides writing articles, and appeals, and signing documents which
were placarded as election posters in some great towns, Mrs. Martineau
helped that cause in the way told in the following letter to Mr.

    May 21st, 1871.

    One pleasant thing has happened lately. I _longed_ for money for a
    public object [repeal of the acts in question], and, unable to do
    better, worked a chair, and had it beautifully made up. It was
    produced at a great evening party in, London, and seized upon and
    vehemently competed for, and it has actually brought fifty
    guineas! In the middle of the night it occurs to me what a thing
    it is to give fifty guineas--so much as I had longed for money to
    give that fund. I was asked for a letter of explanation and
    statement to go with the chair, and, of course, did it by that

Work for this cause formed the most keen and active interest of her
latest years. In this she thought and labored constantly. She gave her
name and support to other objects, but only quietly. Amongst other
things she was a member of the Women's Suffrage Society; and she was a
subscriber to the movement for the medical education of women.

In all public affairs, indeed, her interest remained keen and unabated
to the very last, as the letters for which I am indebted to Mr.
Atkinson, and which I am to quote, will abundantly show. These letters
will indicate, too, something of the quiet course of her now uneventful
daily life. Sick and weary as she was, it will be seen that literature
and politics, the public welfare, and the concerns of her household's
inmates, still occupied her thoughts and her pen.


    August 24, 1870.

    ... I am as careful as possible to prevent anyone losing sleep on
    my account, and being disturbed at meals, or failing in air,
    exercise and pleasure. If these regular healthy habits of my
    household become difficult, we are to have a trained nurse at once.
    This is settled. I am disposed to think, myself, that the last
    stage will be short, probably the end sudden.

The tone of this last sentence is no affectation. "She used to talk
about her death as if it meant no more than going into the next room,"
said one who knew her in these years.

    September 10, 1870.

    ... I am not sure whether you have read Dr. Bence Jones's _Life
    and Letters of Faraday_. I have been thankful, this last week,
    for the strong interest of that book, which puts Continental
    affairs out of my head for hours together. The first half volume
    is rather tiresome--giving us four times as much as necessary of
    the uncultivated youth's early prosing on crude moralities, etc.
    It is quite right to give us _some_ of this, to show from how low
    a point of thought and style he rose up to his perfection of
    expression as a lecturer and writer; but a quarter of the early
    stuff would have been enough for that. The succeeding part, for
    hundreds of pages, is the richest treat I have had for many a
    day. I can only distantly and dimly follow the scientific
    lectures and writings; but I understand enough of sympathy; and
    the disclosures of the moral nature of the man is perfectly
    exquisite. I have never known, and have scarcely dreamed of, a
    spirit and temper so thoroughly uniting the best attributes of
    the sage and the child.

    October 18, 1870.

    I had my envelope directed yesterday, but was prevented writing,
    and in the evening came your welcome letter. I am glad to know
    _when_ you mean to leave your quarters; and every line from
    France is interesting.

    I wonder whether you remember a night in London when dear Mrs.
    Reid and you and I were returning in her carriage from Exeter
    Hall and the _Messiah_. I was saying that that sacred drama
    reminded me of Holy Philæ, and the apotheosis of Osiris, and how
    the one was as true as the other, with its "Peace on earth, and
    good-will to men," so false a prophesy, etc., etc. Whereupon Mrs.
    Reid said, plaintively (of the _Messiah_), "I believe it all at
    the time," but she did not set up any pretense of the promises
    having been fulfilled. It does not seem as if Christendom had got
    on very much since the world said, "See how these Christians love
    one another!" I seem to have got to a new state of mind about
    war, or I may perhaps forget the emotions of youth; but I seem
    never before to have felt the horror, disgust, shame--in short,
    misery--that the spectacle of this war creates now. I am reading
    less and less in the newspapers; for the truth is, I cannot
    endure it. There is no good in any _hopeless_ spectacle; and for
    France, I am, like, most people, utterly hopeless.... By selling
    themselves for twenty years to the worst and meanest man in
    Europe, the people of France have incurred destruction; and
    though most of us knew this all the time, we do not suffer the
    less from the spectacle now.... I suppose the French will have no
    alternative but peace in a little while; but, when all that is
    settled, internal strife and domestic ruin will remain ahead. The
    truth is, the _morale_ of the French is corrupted to the core.
    All habit of integrity and sincerity is apparently lost; and when
    a people prefers deception to truth, vain-glory to honor, passion
    to reason--all is over. I will leave it, for it is a terrible
    subject. I must just say that I believe and know that there _are_
    French citizens--a very few--who understand the case, but they
    are as wretched as they necessarily must be. But "the gay,
    licentious, proud," the pleasure-loving, self-seeking
    aristocracy, and the brutally ignorant rural population, must
    entirely paralyze the intelligent, an honest few scattered in
    their midst. But I must leave all this.

    The only news we have is of the royal marriage (Princess Louise)
    which pleases everybody. It is a really great event--as a sign
    politically, and as a fact socially and morally. After the
    Queen's marriage, I wrote repeatedly on behalf of repealing the
    Royal Marriage Act _then_, while there could be no invidious
    appearance in it. The present chaotic condition of Protestant
    princedoms in Germany may answer the purpose almost as well as a
    period of abeyance. Any way, the relaxation seems a wise and
    happy one.

    My items of news are small in comparison, but not small to me;
    especially that a happy idea struck me lately, of trying a spring
    mattress as a means of obtaining sleep of some continuance. I
    have ventured upon getting one; and, after four nights, there is
    no doubt of my being able to sleep longer, and with more loss of
    consciousness than for a very long time. Last night I once slept
    three hours with only one break. Otherwise, I go on much the
    same. There is one objection to these beds which healthy people
    are unaware of--that so much more strength is required to move in
    bed, from want of _purchase_. This is a trouble, but the
    advantages far outweigh it.

    Dear Jenny comes home to-morrow evening, all the better, I am
    assured, for three weeks at the sea, in breeze and sun, and all
    manner of beauty of land and sea (at Barmouth, and with a merry
    party of young people). And here is a game basket, arrived from
    parts unknown, with a fine hare, two brace of partridges, and a
    pheasant. A savory welcome for Jenny! Cousin Mary has been more
    good and kind than I can say. She stays for Jenny, and leaves us
    on Friday. I must not begin upon Huxley, Tyndall, and Evans, whom
    I have been reading. Much pleasure to you, dear friend, in your
    closing weeks.

    Yours ever,


The sleepless nights repeatedly mentioned in these letters were a
source of great suffering to her in these latest years; under medical
advice she tried smoking as a means of procuring better rest, with
some success. She smoked usually through the chiboque which she had
brought home with her from the East, and which she had there learned
to use, as she relates with her customary simplicity and directness
in the appendix to _Eastern Life_: "I found it good for my health,"
she says there, "and I saw no more reason why I should not take it
than why English ladies should not take their glass of sherry at
home--an indulgence which I do not need. I continued the use of my
chiboque for some weeks after my return, and then only left it off
because of the inconvenience." When health and comfort were to be
promoted by it, she resumed it. Her nights were, nevertheless, very
broken, and frequent allusions occur in her letters to the suffering
of sleeplessness, with its concomitant of drowsiness in the day-time.

The next letter is on trivial topics, truly; but is none the less
valuable for the unconscious record which it affords of her domestic
character. The anxiety for her household companion's enjoyment, the
delight in the kindness that the young folk had shown to each other
and to the poor Christmas guests, the pleasure in the happiness of
other people, are all characteristic features which are of _no
trivial_ consequence.

    AMBLESIDE, Jan. 2, '71.

    I am so sorry for the way you are passing from the old year to
    the new that I cannot help saying so. I ought to be anything but
    sorry, considering what good you are doing--essential,
    indispensable good; but you must be so longing for your own
    quiet, warm home, and the friends around it, that I heartily wish
    you were there.... As for me, my business is to promote, as far
    as possible, the cheerfulness of my household. There really has
    been much fun,--and yet more sober enjoyment, throughout this
    particular Christmas. In my secret mind I am nervously anxious
    about Jenny to whom cold is a sort of poison; but, when she had
    once observed that there was much less cold here than at home, or
    anywhere else that she could be, I determined to say no more, and
    to make the best of it. She said it for my sake, I know (the only
    reason for her ever speaking of herself), and I frankly received
    it as a comfortable saying. She is getting on better than any of
    us expected, and she has been thoroughly happy in exercising our
    hospitalities.... Jenny's brother Frank came for three days at
    Christmas; and Harriet made herself housekeeper and secretary,
    and made Jenny the guest, to set her wholly at liberty for her
    brother. It was quite a pretty sight--they were all so happy!
    There was a kitchen party on Christmas Day; by far the best we
    ever had; for Frank did the thing thoroughly--read a comic tale,
    taught the folk games, played off the snapdragons, and finally
    produced boxes of new and strange crackers, which spat forth the
    most extraordinary presents! All the guests and the servants were
    in raptures with him. The oldest widow but one vowed that "she
    did not know _when_ she had seen such a gentleman"--which I think
    very probable. They came to dinner at noon, and stayed till past
    10 P.M. Think of spending those ten hours entirely in the two
    kitchens, and having four meals, in the time! My nieces, _and
    nephews were_ tired! So was I, though I had only the
    consciousness of the occasion.... All this is so good for Jenny!
    and she will like the quiet and leisure that will follow....

    I am more alive and far less suffering than in the great heats of
    autumn. Your slips and cuttings are very interesting, and I am
    very thankful for them. More of them when (or if) my head is
    worth more. Of course we shall hear when you get home. May it be

    Yours ever, dear friend,


    AMBLESIDE, March 6, '71.

    _We_ are in a queer state just now. Gladstone turns out _exactly_
    as I expected. I once told some, who are his colleagues now, that
    he would do some very fine deeds--give us some separate measures
    of very great value, and would do it in an admirable manner; but
    that he would show himself incapable of governing the country.
    For two years he did the first thing; and now, this third year,
    he is showing the expected incapacity. Were there ever such means
    thrown away as we see this session? Probably you are out of the
    way of hearing the whole truth of the situation, and I cannot go
    into it here. Suffice it, that Gladstone totters (and three or
    four more), and that several departments are in such a mess and
    muddle that one hardly sees how they are to be brought straight
    again; and all this without the least occasion! One matter, in
    which I feel deep interest, and on which I have acted, is
    prospering, and we have the Government at our disposal; so that
    we hope they will remain in office till we have secured what we
    want; but the more we have to do with Ministers, the weaker we
    find them. And Gladstone is not only weak as a reasoner (with all
    his hair-splitting), but ignorant in matters of political

The next letter is very characteristic and perfectly true to her
state of mind with regard to flatterers:

    May 21, '71.

    And now you will want to know how Miss ---- and we fared this day
    week. We (she and I) were together only three-quarters of an
    hour; and for part of that time I was too much exhausted to
    benefit much. My impression is that she is not exactly the person
    for the invalid room. But I may be utterly wrong in this. I might
    be misled by the fatiguing sort of annoyance of overpraise--of
    worship in fact. I don't want to be ungracious about what my
    books were to her in her childhood and youth; I am quite ready to
    believe her sincere in what she said. But not the less is it bad
    taste. It must be bad taste to expatiate on that one topic which
    it is most certain that the hearer cannot sympathize in. Also, I
    have much doubt of her being accurate in her talk. There is a
    random air about her statements, and she said two or three things
    that certainly were mistakes, more or less. These things, and a
    general smoothness in her talk, while she was harsh about some of
    the ---- were what I did not quite like. As for the rest, she was
    as kind as possible; and not only kind to me, but evidently with
    a turn that way, and a habit of it in regard to children and

    June 11, '71.

    ... Of all odd things, Dean Stanley and Lady Augusta have been,
    by way of a trip, to Paris, from last Monday to Saturday. How
    _can_ they! One would think nothing could take one there but some
    strong call of duty. The least that one must read and hear is
    enough to make one's heart ache, and to spoil one's sleep, and to
    disfigure life till one does not wish to look at it any more. I
    do long to have done with it. I believe it is the first occasion
    in my life of my having felt hopeless of any destiny, individual
    or national.... How badly our public affairs are going! Gladstone
    & Co, are turning out exactly as many of us foresaw. The thing
    nearest my heart (repeal of the acts above alluded to), and more
    important than all other public questions, will do well. It is, I
    believe, secure, in virtue of an amount of effort and devotedness
    never surpassed. You know what I mean. I rest upon that
    achievement--a vital aim with me and others for many years--with
    satisfaction and entire hopefulness, but in all other directions
    the prospect is simply dreary. In that one case, we, who shall
    have achieved the object, have saved Ministers from themselves,
    and from evil councillors. Wherever they have, this year, trusted
    their own wisdom and resources, they have failed, or see that
    they must fail. They would have been _out_ since early in April,
    but for want of a leader on the Conservative side; and they still
    make their party dwindle till there will be no heart or energy
    left in the Liberal ranks--lately so strong and ardent! They may
    be individually clever; but they cannot govern the country. This
    is eminently the case with Gladstone; and it may serve as the
    description of the group. I shall not dare to ask the Arnolds
    about such matters--so thoroughly did they assume, when they went
    away, that all must be right with "William" and Co. in the

    Nov. 5, '71.

    ... Mrs. Grote seems to like to open her feelings to me, as a
    very old friend of hers and her husband's. Did I tell you that
    she sent me--to put me in possession of her state--her private
    diary, from the first day of her alarm about her husband's health
    to the day she sent it? It was more interesting than I can say;
    but it brought after it something more striking still. Some
    half-century ago, Jeremy Bentham threw upon paper some thoughts
    on the operation of natural religion on human welfare, or
    _ill-fare_. His MSS. were left to Mrs. Grote (or portions of
    them), and those papers were issued by the Grotes under the
    title, "_Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion_, etc.
    etc., by Philip Beauchamp." It is a tract of 142 pp. It is the
    boldest conceivable effort at fair play; and in this particular
    effect, it is most striking. At the outset, all attempts to
    divide the "abuses" of religion from other modes of operation are
    repudiated at once; and the claim is so evidently sound that the
    effect of the exposure is singular. Well! of course the tendency
    of the exposition is to show that the absolute darkness of the
    Unseen Life supposed must produce a demoralizing effect, and
    destroy ease of mind. There is something almost appalling in the
    unflinching representation of the mischief of the spirit of fear,
    of its torment, and of its damaging effects in creating a habit
    of adulation, in perverting the direction of our desires, in
    corrupting our estimate of good and evil, in leaving us, in
    short, no chance of living a healthy and natural life, but
    rather, making cowards, liars, and selfish rascals of us all. I
    can't go on, being tired; and you will be thinking, as you read,
    that this is only the old story--of the mischiefs and miseries of
    superstition. But there is something impressive in the cheerful
    simplicity with which Bentham tells us his opinion of the sort of
    person recommended to us for a master under the name of God, and
    with which he warns us all of the impossibility of our being good
    or happy under such a Supreme Being. In looking at the table of
    contents, and seeing the catalogue he gives of evil effects of
    belief in the barest scheme of Natural Religion, one becomes
    aware, as if for the first time, of the atmosphere of falsehood
    against which we ought to have recoiled all our lives since
    becoming capable of thought.

    Dec. 30, '71.

    ... I go off rapidly as a correspondent; there is no use blinking
    the fact. I am so slow and write so badly! and leave off _too_
    tired. Oddly enough, this very week one of the _Daily News_
    authorities has been uttering a groaning longing for my pen in
    the service of that paper, as of old. The occasion is a short
    letter of mine in last Thursday's paper, which you may have
    seen.[25] If so, you will see that I had no choice. W. E. Forster
    was at Fox How; and I got Jenny to carry the volume of Brougham
    (vol. iii. p. 302) to consult Forster and Arnolds about what I
    should do, W. E. Forster being in the same line of business with
    my father, and a public man--man of the world. He was clear: it
    was impossible to leave my father under a false imputation of
    having failed. And when my letter appeared, he was delighted with
    it; so are those of my family that I have heard from; and, above
    all, _Daily News_ editors. They hope and believe it will excite
    due distrust of Brougham's representations, and encourage others
    to expose his falsehoods. His suppressions are as wonderful as
    his disclosures; _e.g._ the very important crisis in his career,
    known by the name of the "Grey Banquet" at Edinburgh, he cuts
    completely out of the history of the time--perverting Lord
    Durham's story as well as his own. I can see how the false story
    of me and mine got made; but enough of that--especially if you
    have _not_ seen the letter in the _Daily News_. Forster is kindly
    and quiet, but he is altered. He is now--the Courtier!--and odd
    sort of one, with much Quaker innocence and prudence in it; but
    of a sort which leaves me no hope of _his_ handling of his
    Education measure. There will be such a fight! and the
    Nonconformists are right, and know that they are. You will
    probably see _that_ achieved--a real National Education
    established, secular and compulsory.

          [25] Refuting a statement made in Lord Brougham's
          _Autobiography_ that her father had failed in business.

The Ambleside surgeon, who had undertaken, in acccordance with Harriet
Martineau's will, to prepare and transmit her skull and brain to Mr.
Atkinson, died in the year 1872. The following letter shows that the
progress of time had in no way diminished her willingness to leave her
head for scientific investigation:

    AMBLESIDE, April 23, '72.

    (Shakespere's birthday and Wordsworth's death-day.)


    I am not writing about poets to-day, nor about any "play" topic,
    nor anything gay, or pretty, or amusing. I write on business only.

    When you heard of Mr. Shepherd's death, you must, I should think,
    have considered what was to be done in regard to fulfilling the
    provision of my will about skull and brain. It is to inform you
    of this that I write.

    Mr. Shepherd's assistant and successor is _Mr. William Moore
    King_, a young man who is considered very clever, and is
    certainly very kind, gentlemanly, simple in mind and manners,
    and married to a charming girl (grand-daughter of Martin, the
    artist). Jenny has known them for two years, having called on
    their arrival. I had seen him twice before this last week. I
    wrote to him the other day, to ask him to give me half an hour
    for confidential conversation; and he came when I was quite alone
    for the morning.

    I told him the whole matter of the provision in my will, and of
    Mr. Shepherd's engagement, in case of his surviving me in
    sufficient vigor to keep his word. Mr. King listened anxiously,
    made himself master of the arrangement, and distinctly engaged to
    do what we ask, saying that it was so completely clear between us
    that we need never speak of it again.

I may add that Mr. King has shown me the letters in which Mrs.
Martineau made the necessary arrangements with him for his task. Mr.
Atkinson was, however, now residing out of England, and not in a
position to usefully accept the bequest, so he intimated his desire
to be freed from his promise to undertake the examination of his
friend's brain. A codicil was added to Harriet Martineau's will,
therefore, revoking the provision about this matter.

The next quotation shows how little the long prospect of death had
changed her expectations and desires about things supernatural:--

    November 19, '72.

    I mean to try to do justice to what I think and believe, by
    avowing the satisfaction I truly feel with my release from
    selfish superstition and trumpery self-regards, and with the calm
    conclusions of my reason about what to desire and expect in the
    position in which each one of us mysterious human beings finds
    him or herself. It is all we have to do now (such as you and I),
    to be satisfied with the conditions of the life we have left
    behind us, and fearless of the death which lies before us. Nobody
    will ever find me craving the "glory and bliss" which the
    preachers set before us, and pray that we may obtain. Some of
    them are very good and kind, I know; but they will never create
    any longing of the sort in me. But why should I scribble on in
    this way to you? Perhaps because our new Evangelical curate has
    written me almost the worst and silliest letter of this sort that
    I ever saw. Enough of him then! But I have left myself no room or
    strength for other matters this time. I wanted to tell you about
    the effect--according to my experience--of a second reading of
    _Adam Bede_, Miss Evans' first great novel. A singular mind is
    hers, I should think, and truly wonderful in power and scope. Her
    intellectual power and grace attract and win people of very high
    intellectual quality.

Miss Jane Martineau was at this time in very delicate health, and,
after long fluctuations of hope and fear, was compelled to leave her
aunt for the winter and go to a warmer climate. Mrs. Martineau's
letters show how cruel was her anxiety for "my precious Jenny," and
are filled with expressions of her feelings about the state of her
beloved young companion. All this is, of course, too personal for
quotation, but a perusal of it amply confirms the accounts of her
domestic affection, and the warmth and sensitiveness of her heart.

The loss of her niece from her side ultimately compelled the
engagement of a companion, Miss Goodwin, a young lady who became as
much attached to Harriet Martineau as did all others who came in
close relationship with her in those years.

    May 10th, '73.

    ... The great event to me and my household is, that Caroline--my
    dear maid and nurse--has seen Jenny.... It was such a pouring out
    on both sides. It would have almost broken Jenny's heart not to
    have seen this very dear friend of ours, when only half an hour
    off. All her longing is to be by my side again. I never
    discourage this; but I don't believe it can come to pass....
    Everybody is kind and helpful; and our admiration of Miss Goodwin
    ever increases.

    AMBLESIDE, Sept. 7th, '73.


    I am not ungrateful nor insensible about your treating me with
    letters, whether I reply or not. You may be sure I _would_ write
    if I could. But you know I cannot, and why. At times I really
    indulge in the hope and belief that the end is drawing near, and
    then again, if I compare the present day with a year ago, it
    seems as if there was no very great change. I still do not make
    mistakes--or only in trifling slips of memory common enough at
    seventy. Still I have no haunting ideas, no delusions, no
    fears,--except that vague sort of misgiving that occurs when it
    becomes a fatigue to talk, and to move about, and to plan the
    duties of the day. Yet aware as I am of the character of the
    change in me, and confident as I still am of not making a fool of
    myself till I alter further, I now seldom or never (almost never)
    feel _quite_ myself. I have told you this often lately; but I
    feel as if it would not be quite honest to omit saying it while
    feeling it to be the most prominent experience of my life at this
    time. It is not always easy to draw the line as to what one
    should tell in such a case. On the one hand, I desire to avoid
    all appearance of weak and tiresome complaining of what cannot be
    helped; and on the other, I do wish not to appear unaware of my
    failures. I am sure you understand this, and can sympathize in
    the anxiety about keeping the balance honest. There have been
    heart-attacks now and then lately, which have caused digitalis
    and belladonna to be prescribed for me; and this creates a hope
    that the general bodily condition is declining in good proportion
    to the brain weakening.... Miss ---- and her naval partner remind
    me of the pair in the novel that I have read eleven times--Miss
    Austen's _Persuasion_--unequalled in interest, charm and truth
    (to my mind). There is a hint there of the drawback of
    separation; but yet,--who would have desired anything for Anne
    Elliot and her Captain Wentworth but that they should marry? I am
    now in the middle of Miss Thackeray's _Old Kensington_--reading
    it with much keen pleasure, and some satisfaction and surprise.
    There are exquisite touches in it; and there is a further
    disclosure of power, of genuine, substantial, vital power; but
    her mannerism grows on her deplorably, it seems to me. The amount
    and the mode of analysis of minds and characters are too far
    disproportioned to the other elements to be accepted without
    regret, and, perhaps, some fear for the future. But I have not
    read half the book yet; and I hope I may have to recall all
    fault-finding, and to dwell only on the singular value and beauty
    of the picture-gallery she has given us.

An incident of this year's (1873) story, which must not be
overlooked, was an offer of a pension made to Harriet Martineau by
Mr. Gladstone. She had written sadly of her own sufferings in a
letter to Mrs. Grote, which referred also to Mr. Grote's life, and
that lady had published the letter. Mr. Gladstone, in delicate and
friendly terms, intimated to Mrs. Martineau that if pecuniary anxiety
in any way added to her troubles, he would recommend the Queen to
give her one of the literary pensions of the Civil List. She declined
it with real gratitude, partly upon the same grounds which had before
led her to refuse a similar offer, but with the additional reason now
that she would not expose the Queen and the Premier to insult for
showing friendliness to "an infidel."

The next letter is mainly domestic, but I am sure that those spoken
of by name in it will not object to publication of references in
order to show Harriet Martineau in her amiable, considerate household

    December 6, 1873.


    I will not trouble and pain you by a long story about the cares
    and anxieties which make the last stage of my long life hard to
    manage and to bear. If I could be quite sure of the end being as
    near as one would suppose, I could bear my own share quietly
    enough; but it is a different thing watching a younger life going
    out prematurely. My beloved Jenny will die, after all, we think,
    bravely as she has borne up for two years. The terrible East
    winds again got hold of her before she went (so early as
    October!) to her winter quarters; and there are sudden and grave
    symptoms of dropsy. The old dread of the post has returned upon
    me; and I am amazed to find how I can still suffer from fear. I
    am quite unfit to live alone--even for a week; yet I mean to
    venture it, if necessary. Miss Goodwin _shall_ go (to Leeds) for
    Christmas Day, on which the family have always hitherto
    assembled. I will not prevent their doing so now. My niece
    Harriet (Higginson) was to come, as usual, for a month's holiday
    at Christmas; but her mother has lamed herself by a fall, and it
    must be doubtful whether she can be left. Parents protest the
    dear girl shall come, but she and I wait to see. There is nobody
    else; for there is illness in all families, or anxiety about
    illness elsewhere. "Well! we shall be on the other side of it
    somehow," as people say, and it won't matter much then. My young
    cook is wanted on Christmas Day to be a bridesmaid, at
    Nottingham. So I have a real reason for giving up the great
    Christmas party I have given (in the kitchen) every year till
    now. It will be costly giving the people handsome dinners in
    their own homes; but the house will be quiet, and to me the day
    will be like any other day. It is not now a time for much mirth;
    the Arnolds meeting at their mother's grave, my Jenny absent,
    from perilous illness, my brain failing, so that I can do nothing
    for anybody but by money (and not very much in that way). We are
    all disposed to keep quiet--wishing the outside world a "Merry

    April 15th, 1874.

    I am reading again that marvellous _Middlemarch_, finding I did
    not half value it before. It is not a book to issue as a serial.
    Yet, read _en suite_, I find it almost more (greater) than I can
    bear. The Casaubons set me dreaming all night. Do you ever hear
    _any_-thing of Lewes and Miss Evans?

During the whole of the time over which these letters extend Mrs.
Martineau was subject to fainting fits, in any one of which her life
might have ended. It was thus necessary for her to have her maid
sleeping in her bed-room. Caroline, the "dear friend and servant" for
twenty-one years, died early in 1875. Her place was filled by the
younger maid, Mary Anne, whom Caroline had trained. The maid has told
me of her mistress's kindness and readiness to be amused; of the
gentleness of her manner, and the gratitude which she seemed to feel
for all loving tendance. The next letter gives a glimpse of the daily
life from the mistress' pen:--

    Dec. 8, '75.

    East winds have been abundantly bitter; but this house is
    sheltered from the east and north. We do pity the babes and their
    mothers in the cottages below; and there is no denying that I am
    painfully stupefied by such cold as we have; but my _aides_ and
    my maids are all as well and as happy as if we had the making of
    the season. It is a daily surprise to me to see how Jenny holds
    _out_ and on, without any sort of relapse; yet I _cannot_ rise
    above the anxiety which haunts me in the midst of every night and
    early morning--dread of hearing that she and Miss Goodwin are ill
    with the cold which makes _me_ so ill. By six o'clock I can stay
    in bed no longer. My maid and I (in the same room) turn out of
    our beds as the clock strikes; she puts a match to the fire, and
    goes for my special cup of tea (needed after my bad nights),
    while I brush my hair. I take the tea to the window, and look out
    for the lights (Fox How usually the first) as they kindle and
    twinkle throughout the valley--Orion going down behind Loughrigg
    as day is breaking. Then I get on the bed for half an hour's
    reading, till the hot water comes up. By that time I am in a
    panic about my _aides_; but as soon as I am seated at my little
    table ready for breakfast, in come the dear creatures, as gay as
    larks, with news how the glass stands, out-door and in. Out-door
    (not on the ground) it is somewhere between 32° and 40° at
    present; and in my room (before the fire has got up), from 50° to
    57°. So now you know what our present life and climate are like.

    After dinner--I must end almost before I have begun! But, have
    you seen, in any newspaper, the address presented to Carlyle on
    his 80th birthday? I had no doubt about subscribing, and my name
    is there. I feel great deference for Masson, who asked me; and
    though I do not agree with all the ascriptions of the address,
    there is enough in which I do heartily agree to enable me to
    sign; so I send my sovereign with satisfaction. I shall not see
    the medal, not even a bronze one (you know Carlyle's is gold). My
    expenses are considerable _at present_ (not always), and I must
    not spend on such an object. The way in which the thing was done
    is delicate. Instead of overwhelming the old man with a
    deputation, the promoters had the packet quietly left at his
    door. It would set him weeping for his loneliness,--that his
    long-suffering, faithful wife did not witness this crowning
    glory. He does love fame (or _did_), and no man would despise
    such a tribute as this; but I think he will find it oppressive.
    What a change since the day when the _Edinburgh Review_ was
    obliged, as Jeffrey said, to decline articles from Carlyle--much
    as he wished to aid him--because the readers could not tolerate
    C.'s writings! And that was after his now famous "Burns" article
    had appeared, and founded his fame in America!

    Did you see that the _Times_ death-list showed, in two days last
    week, thirty-three deaths of persons over 70, eleven of whom were
    over 80? The effect of the cold!

    ... The sick and aged will die off fast this winter. May I be

    January 25, '76.


    It is time that you were hearing from us of the marked increase
    in my illness within the few days since I last reported of
    matters of mutual interest. I will not trouble you with
    disagreeable descriptions of ailments which admit of no
    advantageous treatment. Last week there was, as twice before (and
    now again twice), a copious hemorrhage from some interior part,
    by which I am much weakened. The cause is not understood; and
    what does it matter? I neither know nor much care how it happens
    that I find myself sinking more rapidly than hitherto. All I know
    is that I am fully satisfied with my share of the interest and
    amusement of life, and of the value of the knowledge which has
    come to me by means of the brain, which is worth all the rest of

    I have not much pain, none very severe, but much discomfort. At
    times I _see_ very badly, and _hear_ almost nothing; and then I
    recover more or less of both powers. There is so much cramp in
    the hands, and elsewhere, that it seems very doubtful whether you
    and other friends will hear much from me during the (supposed)
    short time that I shall be living. But I do hope you will let me
    hear, to the last, of your interests and pursuits, your
    friendships and companionships, and prospects of increasing
    wisdom. I cannot write more to-day. Perhaps I may become able
    another day. My beloved niece Jenny is well; better here than she
    would be anywhere else, and more happy in her restoration to her
    home with me than I can describe. I could easily show you how and
    why my death within a short time may be for the happiness of some
    whom I love, and who love me; and if it should be the severest
    trial to this most dear helper of my latter days, I am sure she
    will bear it wisely and well. It cannot but be the happiest
    thought in her mind and heart--what a blessing she has been to my
    old age! What have not _you_ been, dear friend! I must not enter
    on that now. Jenny observed this morning that old or delicate
    people live wonderfully long. True! but I hope my term will be
    short, if I am to continue as ill as at present.

The end was, indeed, approaching; and now, when at the worst of her
illness, it so came about that she was asked and consented to do one
last piece of writing for publication. Her young companion, Miss
Goodwin, had translated Pauli's _Simon de Montfort_, and Mr. Trübner,
unaware of course, how ill Mrs. Martineau was, offered to publish the
translation on the condition that she would write an introduction.
She would not refuse this favor to Miss Goodwin, and did the work
with great difficulty. It was characteristic that she should think it
necessary to take the trouble to _read_ the whole MS. before writing
her few pages of introduction.

She was now nearing her seventy-fourth birthday; and the strong
constitution which had worn through so much pain and labor had almost
exhausted its vitality.

Even in these last weeks she could not be idle. Her hands were
cramped, her eyes weak, her sensations of fatigue very hard to bear;
still, she not only continued her correspondence with one or two of
her dearest friends, but also went on with her fancy work. The latter
was now of that easiest kind, requiring least effort of eye and
thought--knitting. She occupied herself with making cot blankets, in
double knitting, for the babies of her young friends; some of them
among her poorer neighbors, whom she had known when they were little
children themselves and she came first to Ambleside, others among
more distant and wealthier couples. She finished one blanket early in
the year 1876, for a baby born in Ambleside in the January, and she
left a second one unfinished when she died.

Babies were an unfailing delight to her, to the end. Her maids knew
that even if she were too ill to see grown-up visitors, a little
child was always a welcome guest, for at least a few moments. Her
letters to children were altogether charming, and so were her ways
with them, and children always loved her with all their wise little
hearts. She was a pleasant old lady, even for them to look at. The
expression of the countenance became very gentle and motherly, when
the strife of working life was laid aside; the eyes were ever kind;
and the mouth loved to laugh, sternly and firmly though it could at
times be compressed. She wore a large cap of delicate lace, and was
dainty about her person, as regarded the fairest cleanliness. Plain
in her youth and middle life, she had now grown into a beautiful old
age--beauty of the kind which such years can gain from the impress on
the features of the high thoughts and elevated emotions of the past,
with patience, lovingness, and serenity in the present.

Patient, loving, and serene the last years of Harriet Martineau were.
Those who lived with her knew less than her correspondents of what
she suffered; for she felt it a duty to tell the absent what they
could not see for themselves of her state; but to her household she
spoke but seldom, comparatively, of her painful sensations, leaving
the matter to their own observation. She could be absorbed to the
last in all that concerned the world and mankind; and she was equally
accessible to the smaller and more homely interests of the quiet
daily life of her inmates. The incidents which go to show what she
was in her domestic circle are but trifling; but what is it that
makes the difference between an intolerable and a venerable old age
(or youth, for the matter of that, in domestic life) except its
conduct about trifles? One who was with her tells of her delight when
a basket of newly-fledged ducklings was brought to her bedside,
before she was up, on St. Valentine's Day in the year of her death,
offering her a doggerel tribute as follows:--

    St. Valentine hopes you will not scorn
    This little gift on St. Valentine's morn.
    We'd have come with the chime of last evening's bells,
    But, alas! we could not break our shells!

Then another remembers her amusement when one of her nephews had just
started to go to the coach for London, and the doctor, coming in
unannounced, left his hat on the hall table, which the active servant
seeing, and jumping to the conclusion that Mr. Martineau (travelling
in a felt) had left his high hat behind him, rushed off with it to
the coach-office, half a mile away; so that when the doctor wanted to
go, his hat was off to the coach; and "the old lady did laugh so."
Only a week or two before her death, she was merry enough to ask her
doctor that dreadful punning conundrum about the resemblance between
an ice-cream vender, and an hydrophobic patient--the answer turning
on the legend "Water ices and ice creams" (water I sees, and I
screams)--telling him that it was a _professional_ conundrum. At the
same time she was kind enough to repeat to him the compliments which
a visitor of hers had been paying his baby. This was the lighter side
of the aged woman's life, the more serious aspect of which is shown
in some of her letters to Mr. Atkinson. The last of these letters
must now be given:--

    AMBLESIDE, May 19, 1876.


    Jenny, and also my sister, have been observing that you ought to
    be hearing from us, and have offered to write to you. You will
    see at once what this means; and it is quite true that I have
    become so much worse lately that we ought to guard against your
    being surprised, some day soon, by news of my life being closed.
    I feel uncertain about how long I _may_ live in my present state.
    I can only follow the judgment of unprejudiced observers; and I
    see that my household believe the end to be not far off. I will
    not trouble you with disagreeable details. It is enough to say
    that I am in no respect better, while all the ailments are on the
    increase. The imperfect heart-action immediately affects the
    brain, causing the suffering which is worse than all other evils
    together,--the horrid sensation of not being quite myself. This
    strange, dreamy _non-recognition of myself_ comes on every
    evening, and all else is a trifle in comparison. But there is a
    good deal more. Cramps in the hands prevent writing, and most
    other employment, except at intervals. Indications of dropsy have
    lately appeared: and after this, I need not again tell you that I
    see how fully my household believe that the end is not far off.
    Meantime I have no cares or troubles beyond the bodily uneasiness
    (which, however, I don't deny to be an evil). I cannot think of
    any future as at all probable, except the "annihilation" from
    which some people recoil with so much horror. I find myself here
    in the universe,--I know not how, whence, or why. I see
    everything in the universe go out and disappear, and I see no
    reason for supposing that it is not an actual and entire death.
    And for _my_ part, I have no objection to such an extinction. I
    well remember the passion with which W. E. Forster said to me, "I
    had rather be damned than annihilated." If he once felt five
    minutes' damnation, he would be thankful for extinction in
    preference. The truth is, I care little about it any way. Now
    that the event draws near, and that I see how fully my household
    expects my death, pretty soon, the universe opens so widely
    before my view, and I see the old notions of death and scenes to
    follow to be so merely human--so impossible to be true, when one
    glances through the range of science--that I see nothing to be
    done but to wait without fear or hope, or ignorant prejudice, for
    the expiration of life. I have no wish for further experience,
    nor have I any fear of it. Under the weariness of illness I long
    to be asleep; but I have not set my mind in any state. I wonder
    if all this represents your notions at all. I should think it
    does, while yet we are fully aware how mere a glimpse we have of
    the universe and the life it contains.

    Above all, I wish to escape from the narrowness of taking a mere
    human view of things, from the absurdity of making God after
    man's own image, etc.

    But I will leave this, begging your pardon for what may be so
    unworthy to be dwelt on. However, you _may_ like to know how the
    case looks to a friend under the clear knowledge of death being
    so near at hand. My hands are cramped and I must stop. My sister
    is here for the whole of May, and she and Jenny are most happy
    together. Many affectionate relations and friends are willing to
    come if needed (the Browns among others), if I live beyond July.
    You were not among the Boulogne theological petitioners, I
    suppose. I don't know whether you can _use_----there? I was very
    thankful for your last, though I have said nothing about its
    contents. If I began _that_, I should not know how to stop.

    So good-bye for to-day, dear friend!

    Yours ever,

    H. M.

The internal tumor which was the prime cause of her malady (an
entirely different kind of thing, however, from that which she
suffered from at Tynemouth), had long been the source of great
inconvenience, compelling her to descend the stairs backwards, and to
spend much time in a recumbent position. The post mortem examination
made by her medical attendant, at the request of her executors, two
days after she died, revealed the fact that this tumor was the true
cause of her sufferings. She never knew it herself. Relying on the
statement of the eminent men whom she consulted in 1855, that it was
the heart that was affected, she accepted that as her fate. It was,
however, the slow growth of a "dermoid cyst" which made her linger
till such an age, through the constant suffering of twenty-one
preceding years.

In the early part of June, 1876, she had an attack of bronchitis, and
though medical treatment subdued this speedily, it exhausted her
strength greatly. From about the 14th of that month--two days after
her seventy-fourth birthday--she was confined to her room, but still
rose from bed. On the 24th she was too ill to get up. Then drowsiness
gradually increased and in a little while she sank quietly into a
dreamy state, in which she seemed to retain consciousness when
aroused, but was too weak to either take food or to speak. At last,
on the 27th of June, 1876, just as the summer sunset was gilding the
hills that she knew and loved so well, she quietly and peacefully
drew her last breath, and entered into eternal rest.

Truly her death--not only the last moments, but the long
ordeal--might stand for an illustration of the saying of the wise men
of old--"Keep innocency, and take heed unto the thing that is right,
for _that_ shall bring a man peace at the last."

She was buried amidst her kindred, in the old cemetery of Birmingham;
and upon the tombstone, where it stands amidst the smoke, there is no
inscription beyond her name and age, and the places of birth and death.

More was, perhaps, needless. Her works, and a yet more precious
possession, her character remain. Faults she had, of course--the
necessary defects of her virtues. Let it be said that she held her own
opinions too confidently--the uncertain cannot be teachers. Let it be
said that her personal dislikes were many and strong--it is the
necessary antithesis of powerful attachments. Let it be said that her
powers of antagonism at times were not sufficiently restrained--how,
without such oppugnancy, could she have stood forth for unpopular
truths? Let all that detractors can say be said, and how much remains

In the paths where Harriet Martineau trod at first almost alone, many
women are now following. Serious studies, political activity, a share
in social reforms, an independent, self-supporting career, and freedom
of thought and expression, are by the conditions of our age, becoming
open to the thousands of women who would never have dared to claim them
in the circumstances in which she first did so. In a yet earlier age
such a life, even to such powers as hers, would have been impossible.
As it was, she was only a pioneer of the new order of things inevitable
under the advance of civilization and knowledge. The printing-press,
which multiplies the words of the thinker; the steam-engine, which both
feeds the press and rushes off with its product, and the electric
telegraph, which carries thought around the globe, make this an age in
which mental force assumes an importance which it never had before in
the history of mankind. Mind will be more and more valued and
cultivated, and will grow more and more influential; and the condition
and status of women must alter accordingly. Some people do not like
this fact; and no one can safely attempt to foresee all its
consequences; but we can no more prevent it than we can return to
hornbooks, or to trial by ordeal, or to the feudal tenure of land, or
to any other bygone state of social affairs. More and more it will grow
customary for women to study such subjects as Harriet Martineau
studied; more commonplace will it constantly become for women to use
all their mental faculties, and to exert every one of their powers to
the fullest extent in the highest freedom. What, then, have we to wish
about that which is inevitable, except that the old high womanly
standard of moral excellence may be no whit lowered, but may simply be
carried into the wider sphere of thought and action?

It may do much, indeed, for us that we have had such a pioneer as
Harriet Martineau. It is not only that she lived so that all worthy
people, however differing from her in opinion, respected and honored
her--though that is much. It is not only that she has settled, once for
all, that a woman can be a political thinker and a teacher from whom
men may gladly receive guidance--though that is much. But the great
value of her life to us is as a splendid example of the moral qualities
which we should carry into our widest sphere, and which we should
display in our public exertions.

She cared for nothing before the truth; her efforts to discover it were
earnest and sincere, for she spared no pains in study and no labor in
thought in the attempt to form her opinions correctly. Having found
what she must believe to be a right cause to uphold, or a true word to
speak, no selfish consideration intruded between her and her duty. She
could risk fame, and position, and means of livelihood, when necessary,
to unselfishly support and promulgate what she believed it to be
important for mankind to do and believe. She longed for the well-being
of her kind; and so unaffectedly and honestly that men who came under
her influence were stimulated and encouraged by her to share and avow
similar high aims. Withal, those who lived with her loved her; she was
a kind mistress, a good friend, and tender to little children; she was
truly helpful to the poor at her gates, and her life was spotlessly

Is not this what we should all strive to be? Shall we not love
knowledge, and use it to find out truth; and place outspoken fidelity
to conscience foremost amongst our duties; and care for the progress of
our race rather than for our own fame; shall we not be truthful, and
honest, and upright--and, to this end, brave--in public as in private
life; and shall we not seek so to bear ourselves that men shall shrink
from owning their ignobler thoughts and baser shifts to us, but shall
never fear to avow high aims and pure deeds, while yet we retain our
womanly kindness and all our domestic virtues unchanged? All this we
may know that we can be and do, if we will; for we have seen it
exemplified in the life of Harriet Martineau.

_Messrs. Roberts Brothers' Publications._

_Famous Women Series._




One volume. 16mo. Cloth. Price $1.00.

"So far as it has been published, and it has now reached its ninth
volume, the Famous Women Series is rather better on the whole than the
English Men of Letters Series. One had but to recall the names and
characteristics of some of the women with whom it deals,--literary
women, like Maria Edgeworth, Margaret Fuller, Mary Lamb, Emily Brontë,
George Eliot, and George Sand; women of the world (not to mention the
other parties in that well-known Scriptural firm), like the naughty
but fascinating Countess of Albany; and women of philanthropy, of
which the only example given here so far is Mrs. Elizabeth Fry,--one
has but to compare the intellectual qualities of the majority of
English men of letters to perceive that the former are the most
difficult to handle, and that a series of which they are the heroines
is, if successful, a remarkable collection of biographies. We thought
so as we read Miss Blind's study of George Sand, and Vernon Lee's
study of the Countess of Albany, and we think so now that we have read
Mrs. Elizabeth Robins Pennell's study of Mary Wollstonecraft, who,
with all her faults, was an honor to her sex. She was not so
considered while she lived, except by those who knew her well, nor for
years after her death; but she is so considered now, even by the
granddaughters of the good ladies who so bitterly condemned her when
the century was new. She was notable for the sacrifices that she made
for her worthless father and her weak, inefficient sisters, for her
dogged persistence and untiring industry, and for her independence and
her courage. The soul of goodness was in her, though she would be
herself and go on her own way; and if she loved not wisely, according
to the world's creed, she loved too well for her own happiness, and
paid the penalty of suffering. What she might have been if she had not
met Capt. Gilbert Imlay, who was a scoundrel, and William Godwin, who
was a philosopher, can only be conjectured. She was a force in
literature and in the enfranchisement of her sisterhood, and as such
was worthy of the remembrance which she will long retain through Mrs.
Pennell's able memoir."--_R. H. Stoddard, in the Mail and Express._

_Sold by all booksellers. Mailed, post-paid, on receipt of price by
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16mo. Cloth. Price $1.00.

"The almost uniform excellence of the 'Famous Women' series is well
sustained in Mrs. Fenwick Miller's life of Harriet Martineau, the
latest addition to this little library of biography. Indeed, we are
disposed to rank it as the best of the lot. The subject is an
entertaining one, and Mrs. Miller has done her work admirably. Miss
Martineau was a remarkable woman, in a century that has not been
deficient in notable characters. Her native genius, and her
perseverance in developing it; her trials and afflictions, and the
determination with which she rose superior to them; her conscientious
adherence to principle, and the important place which her writings
hold in the political and educational literature of her day,--all
combine to make the story of her life one of exceptional interest....
With the exception, possibly, of George Eliot, Harriet Martineau was
the greatest of English women. She was a poet and a novelist, but not
as such did she make good her title to distinction. Much more
noteworthy were her achievements in other lines of thought, not
usually essayed by women. She was eminent as a political economist, a
theologian, a journalist, and a historian.... But to attempt a mere
outline of her life and works is out of the question in our limited
space. Her biography should be read by all in search of
entertainment."--_Professor Woods in Saturday Mirror._

"The present volume has already shared the fate of several of the
recent biographies of the distinguished dead, and has been well
advertised by the public contradiction of more or less important
points in the relation by the living friends of the dead genius. One
of Mrs. Miller's chief concerns in writing this life seems to have
been to redeem the character of Harriet Martineau from the appearance
of hardness and unamiability with which her own autobiography
impresses the reader.... Mrs. Miller, however, succeeds in this volume
in showing us an altogether different side to her character,--a
home-loving, neighborly, bright-natured, tender-hearted, witty,
lovable, and altogether womanly woman, as well as the clear thinker,
the philosophical reasoner, and comprehensive writer whom we already
knew."--_The Index._

"Already ten volumes in this library are published; namely, George
Eliot, Emily Brontë, George Sand, Mary Lamb, Margaret Fuller, Maria
Edgeworth, Elizabeth Fry, The Countess of Albany, Mary Wollstonecraft,
and the present volume. Surely a galaxy of wit and wealth of no mean
order! Miss M. will rank with any of them in womanliness or gifts or
grace. At home or abroad, in public or private. She was noble and
true, and her life stands confessed a success. True, she was literary,
but she was a home lover and home builder. She never lost the higher
aims and ends of life, no matter how flattering her success. This
whole series ought to be read by the young ladies of to-day. More of
such biography would prove highly beneficial."--_Troy Telegram._

_Our publications are for sale by all booksellers, or will be mailed,
post-paid, on receipt of price._




One Volume. 16mo. Cloth. Price, $1.00.

"_Rachel_, by Nina H. Kennard, is an interesting sketch of the famous
woman whose passion and genius won for her an almost unrivalled fame
as an actress. The story of Rachel's career is of the most brilliant
success in art and of the most pathetic failure in character. Her
faults, many and grievous, are overlooked in this volume, and the
better aspects of her nature and history are recorded."--_Hartford

"The book is well planned, has been carefully constructed, and is
pleasantly written."--_The Critic._

"The life of Mlle. Élisa Rachel Félix has never been adequately told,
and the appearance of her biography in the 'Famous Women Series' of
Messrs. Roberts Brothers will be welcomed.... Yet we must be glad the
book is written, and welcome it to a place among the minor
biographies; and because there is nothing else so good, the volume is
indispensable to library and study."--_Boston Evening Traveller._

"Another life of the great actress Rachel has been written. It forms
part of the 'Famous Women Series,' which that firm is now bringing
out, and which already includes eleven volumes. Mrs. Kennard deals
with her subject much more amiably than one or two of the other
biographers have done. She has none of those vindictive feelings which
are so obvious in Madame B.'s narrative of the great tragedienne. On
the contrary, she wants to be fair, and she probably is as fair as the
materials which came into her possession enabled her to be. The
endeavor has been made to show us Rachel as she really was, by relying
to a great extent upon her letters.... A good many stories that we are
familiar with are repeated, and some are contradicted. From first to
last, however, the sympathy of the author is ardent, whether she
recounts the misery of Rachel's childhood, or the splendid altitude to
which she climbed when her name echoed through the world and the great
ones of the earth vied in doing her homage. On this account Mrs.
Kennard's book is a welcome addition to the pre-existing biographies
of one of the greatest actresses the world ever saw."--_N.Y. Evening

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One volume. 16mo. Cloth. Price, $1.00.

"Of all the interesting biographies published in the Famous Women
Series, Mathilde Blind's life of Mme. Roland is by far the most
fascinating.... But no one can read Mme. Roland's thrilling story, and
no one can study the character of this noble, heroic woman without
feeling certain that it is good for the world to have every incident
of her life brought again before the public eye. Among the famous
women who have been enjoying a new birth through this set of short
biographies, no single one has been worthy of the adjective _great_
until we come to Mme. Roland....

"We see a brilliant intellectual woman in Mme. Roland; we see a
dutiful daughter and devoted wife; we see a woman going forth bravely
to place her neck under the guillotine,--a woman who had been known as
the 'Soul of the Girondins;' and we see a woman struggling with and
not being overcome by an intense and passionate love. Has history a
more heroic picture to present us with? Is there any woman more
deserving of the adjective 'great'?

"Mathilde Blind has had rich materials from which to draw for Mme.
Roland's biography. She writes graphically, and describes some of the
terrible scenes in the French Revolution with great picturesqueness.
The writer's sympathy with Mme. Roland and her enthusiasm is very
contagious; and we follow her record almost breathlessly, and with
intense feeling turn over the last few pages of this little volume. No
one can doubt that this life was worth the writing, and even earnest
students of the French Revolution will be glad to refresh their
memories of Lamartine's 'History of the Girondins,' and again have
brought vividly before them the terrible tragedy of Mme. Roland's life
and death."--_Boston Evening Transcript._

"The thrilling story of Madame Roland's genius, nobility,
self-sacrifice, and death loses nothing in its retelling here. The
material has been collected and arranged in an unbroken and skilfully
narrated sketch, each picturesque or exciting incident being brought
out into a strong light The book is one of the best in an excellent
series."--_Christian Union._

_For sale by all booksellers. Mailed, post-paid, on receipt of price
by the publishers_,


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