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that severity, that chilly rigour, with religious life and observance, had which Unitarians are sometimes taxed hitherto taken in the whole sphere of by religionists of a more ecstatic her continual experience. Traditions doctrine. Her childhood was very un- of Palestine and Devotional Exercises happy; the household seems to have are titles that tell their own tale, and been unamiable, and she was we may be sure that their authoress treated with none of that tenderness was still at the antipodean point of and sympathy, for which firm and the positive philosophy in which she defiant natures are apt to yearn as ended her speculative journey. She strongly as others that get the credit still clung undoubtingly to what she of greater sensibility. With that had been brought up to believe, when singular impulse to suicide which is she won three prizes for essays intended frequent among children, though rarer to present Unitarianism to the notice with girls than boys, she went one day of Jews, of Catholics, and of Mahointo the kitchen for the carving knife, metans. Her success in these and that she might cut her throat; luckily similar efforts, turned her mind more the servants were at dinner, and the decidedly towards literature as a prochild retreated. Deafness, which fession. proved incurable, began to afflict her Miss Martineau is at some pains to before she was sixteen. A severe, assure us on several occasions that harsh, and mournful kind of religiosity it was the need of utterance now and seized her, and this “abominable always that drove her to write, and spiritual rigidity," as she calls it, that money, although welcome when confirmed all the gloomy predisposi- it came, was never her motive. This tions of her mind. She learned a good perhaps a little savours of affectation, deal, mastering Latin, French, and Nobody would dream of suspecting Italian in good time; and reading Miss Martineau of writing anything much in her own tongue, including that she did not believe to be true or constant attention to the Bible, with useful, merely for the sake of money. all sorts of commentaries and expla- But there is plenty of evidence that nations, such as those of us who were the prospect of payment stirred her to brought up in a certain spiritual true and useful work, as it does many atmosphere, have only too good reasons other authors by profession, and as it never to forget. This expansion of does the followers of all professions intellectual interest, however, did not whatever. She puts the case fairly make her less silent, less low in her enough in another place (i. 422): spirits, less full of vague and anxious “Every author is in a manner an presentiment. The reader is glad adventurer; and no one was ever when these ungracious years of youth more decidedly so than myself; but are at an end, and the demands of the difference between one kind of active life stirred Harriet Martineau's adventurer and another is, I believe, energies into vigorous work.
simply this that the one has someIn 1822 her father died, and seven thing to say which presses for utterance, years later his widow and his daughters and is uttered at length without a view lost at a single blow nearly all that to future fortunes; while the other they had in the world. Before this has a sort of general inclination event, which really proved to be a towards literature, without any speblessing in the disguise of a cata- cific need of utterance, and a very strophe, Harriet Martineau had written definite desire for the honours and a number of slight pieces. They had rewards of the literary career.” Even been printed, and received a certain in the latter case, however, honest amount of recognition. They were of journeyman's work enough is done in a religious cast, as was natural in one literature by men and women who seek with whom religious literature, and nothing higher than a reputable source
of income. Miss Martineau did, no success. The sale ran up to more than doubt, seek objects far higher and more ten thousand of each monthly volume. generous than income, but she lived In that singular autobiographical on the income which literature brought sketch of herself which Miss Martito her; and there seems a certain neau prepared for the Daily News, failure of her usually admirable com- to be printed as her obituary notice, mon sense in making any ado about so she pronounced a judgment upon this simple a matter. When doctors and work which more disinterested, though counsel refuse their guineas, and the not more impartial, critics will confirm. parson declines a stipend, it will be Her own unalterable view, she says, quite soon enough for the author to be of what the work could and could not especially anxious to show that he effect, "prevented her from expecting has a right to regard money much too much from it, either in regard to as the rest of the human race regard its social operations or its influence on it.
her own fame. The original idea of Miss Martineau underwent the harsh exhibiting the great natural laws of ordeal which awaits most literary society by a series of pictures of aspirants. She had a scheme in her selected social action was a fortunate head for a long series of short tales to one ; and her tales initiated a multiillustrate some of the propositions of tude of minds into the conception of political economy. She trudged about what political economy is, and how it London day after day, through mud concerns everybody living in society. and fog, with weary limbs and anxious Beyond this there is no merit of a high heart, as many an author has done order in the work. It popularised in before and since. The times were bad; a fresh form some doctrines and many cholera was abroad; people were full truths long before made public by of apprehension and concern about the others.” James Mill, one of the acutest Reform Bill; and the publishers looked economists of the day, and one of the coldly on a doubtful venture. Miss most vigorous and original characters Martineau talks none of the conven- of that or any other day, had foretold tional nonsense about the cruelty and failure; but when the time came he stupidity of publishers. What she very handsomely admitted that his says is this :-“I have always been prophecy had been rash. In after years, anxious to extend to young or strug- when Miss Martineau had acquired gling authors the sort of aid which from Comte a conception of the growth would have been so precious to me in and movement of societies as a whole, that winter of 1829-30, and I know with their economic conditions conthat, in above twenty years, I have trolled and constantly modified by a never succeeded but once." One of the multitude of other conditions of various most distinguished editors in London, kinds, she rated the science of her who had charge of a periodical for many earlier days very low. Even in those years, told us what comes to the same days, however, she says, “I believe I thing, namely, that in no single case should not have been greatly surprised during all these years did a volunteer or displeased to have perceived, even contributor of real quality, or with any then that the pretended science is no promise of eminence, present himself science at all, strictly speaking; and or herself. So many hundreds think that so many of its parts must underthemselves called, so few are chosen. go essential change, that it may be a In Miss Martineau's case, however, question whether future generations the trade made a mistake. When at will owe much more to it than the length she found some one to go halves benefit (inestimable, to be sure) of with her in the enterprise, on terms establishing the grand truth that social extremely disadvantageous to herself, affairs proceed according to general the first of her tales was published laws, no less than natural phenomena (1832), and instantly had a prodigious of every kind” (Autob. ii. 245).
No. 211.- POL XXXVI,
Harriet Martineau was not of the the turn of book-talk instead of dancing class of writers, most of them terribly or masquerading." She went out to unprofitable, who merely say literary dinner every night except Sundays, things about social organisation, its and saw all the most interesting people institutions, and their improvement of the London of five-and-forty years Her feeling about society was less ago. While she was free from preliterary than scientific: it was not sumptuousness in her judgments, she sentimental, but the business-like was just as free from a foolish willingquality of a good administrator. She ness to take the reputations of the hour was moved less by pity or by any on trust. Her attitude was friendly sense of the pathos and the hardness and sensible, but it was at the same of the world, than by a sensible and time critical and independent; and energetic interest in good government that is what every frank, upright, and and in the rational and convenient sterling character naturally becomes in ordering of things. Her tales to illus- face of an unfamiliar society. Harriet trate the truths of political economy Martineau was too keen-sighted, too are what might be expected from a aware of the folly and incompetent writer of this character. They are pretension of half the world, too confar from being wanting-many of sciously self-respecting and proud, to them-in the genuine interest of good take society and its ways with any story-telling. They are rapid, definite, diffidence or ingenuous simplicity. On and without a trace of either slovenli- the importance of the small littérateur ness or fatigue. We are amazed as we who unreasonably thinks himself a think of the speed and prompt regu- great one, on the airs and graces of larity with which they were produced; the gushing blue-stockings who were and the fertile ingenuity with which in vogue in that day, on the detestable the pill of political economy is wrapped vulgarity of literary lionising, she had up in the confectionery of a tale, may no mercy. She recounts with caustic stand as a marvel of true cleverness relish the story about a certain pedanand inventive dexterity. Of course, tical lady, of whom Tierney had said of imagination or invention in a high that there was not another head in sense there is not a trace. Such a England that could encounter hers on quality was not in the gifts of the the subject of Cause and Effect. The writer, nor could it in any case have story was that when in a country house worked within such limitations as those one fine day she took her seat in a set by the matter and the object of the window, saying, in a business-like series.
manner (to David Ricardo), “Come, Literary success was followed in the now, let us have a little discussion usual order by social temptation. Miss about Space." We remember a story Martineau removed from Norwich to about a certain Mademoiselle de London, and she had good reasons for Launay, afterwards well known to the making the change. Her work dealt Paris of the eighteenth century, being with matters of a political kind, and introduced at Versailles by a silly she could only secure a real knowledge great lady who had an infatuation for of what was best worth saying by in- her. “This,” the great lady kept tercourse with those who had a better saying, “is the young person whom I point of view for a survey of the social have told you about, who is so wonderstate of England than could be found fully intelligent, who knows so much. in a provincial town like Norwich. Come, Mademoiselle, pray talk. Now, So far as evening parties went, Miss Madame, you will see how she talks. Martineau soon perceived how little Well, first of all, now, talk a little “ essential difference there is between about religion; then you can tell us the extreme case of a cathedral city about something else." and that of literary London, or any We cannot wonder that Miss Martiother place, where dissipation takes neau did not go a second time to the house where Space might be the un- possibilities of character. And we may provoked theme of a casual chat. note in passing how even here, in the Pretension in every shape she hated mere story of the men and women most heartily. Her judgments in most whom she met in London drawingcases were thoroughly just-at this rooms, Harriet Martineau does not lose period of her life at any rate and some herself in gossip about individuals times even unexpectedly kindly, and looked at merely in their individual the reason is that she looked at society relations. It is not merely the through the medium of a strong and “blighting of promise nor the forpenetrating kind of common sense, feiture of a career” that she deplores which is more often the gift of clever in the case of a Bulwer or a Brougham; women than of clever men. If she is it is “the intercepting of national masculine, she is, like Mrs. Colonel blessings." If this view of natural Poyntz, in one of Bulwer's novels, gifts as a source of blessing to society, “ masculine in a womanly way." and not merely of power or fame to There is a real spirit of ethical divi- their privileged possessor, were more nation in some of her criticism of common than it is, the impression character. Take the distinguished which such a thought is calculated to man whose name we have just written. make would be the highest available " There was Bulwer on a sofa,” she protection against those blighted prosays, “ sparkling and languishing mises and forfeited careers of which among a set of female votaries—he Brougham and Bulwer were only two and they dizened out, perfumed, and out of a too vast host of examples. presenting the nearest picture to a It is the very fulness with which she seraglio to be seen on British ground is possessed by this large way of con-only the indifference or hauteur of ceiving a life in its manifold relations the lord of the harem being absent.” to the service of the world, that is Yet this disagreeable sight does not the secret of Harriet Martineau's firm, prevent her from feeling a cordial clear, calm, and almost neutral way interest in him, amidst any amount of judging both her own work and of vexation and pity for his weakness. character and those of others. By “He seems to be a woman of genius calm we do not mean that she was ininclosed by misadventure in a man's capable of strong and direct censure. form. He has insight, experience, Many of her judgments, both here and sympathy, letters, power and grace of in her Biographic Sketches, are stern; expression, and an irrepressible im- and some-like that on Macaulay, for pulse to utterance, and industry which instance—may even pass for harsh. should have produced works of the But they are never the product of noblest quality, and these have been mere anger or heatedness, and it is a intercepted by mischiefs which may be great blunder to suppose that reasoned called misfortune rather than fault. severity is incompatible with perfect His friendly temper, his generous composure, or that calm is another heart, his excellent conversation (at name for amiable vapidity. his best), and his simple manners (when he forgot himself), have many
In allen Stücken billig sein ; es heisst a time left me mourning' that such
Sein eigen Selbst zerstören." a being should allow himself to sport with perdition.” Those who knew Her condemnation of the Whigs, most about Bulwer, and who were most for example, is as stringent and outrepelled by his terrible faults, will spoken as condemnation can be ; yet feel in this page of Miss Martineau's it is a deliberate and reasoned judgthe breath of social equity in which ment, not a mere bitterness or precharity is not allowed to blur judg- judice. The Whigs were at that ment, nor moral disapproval to narrow, moment, between 1832 and 1834, at starve, and discolour vision into lost the height of their authority, political, literary, and social. After a genera acquired direct political power; they tion of misgovernment they had been have organised themselves into effective borne to power on the tide of national groups for industrial purposes ; they enthusiasm for parliamentary reform, have produced leaders of ability and and for all those improvements in our sound judgment; and the Whig who national life to which parliamentary seeks their support must stoop or rise reform was no more than the first step. to talk a Radicalism that would have The harshness and darkness of the amply satisfied even Harriet Martineau past generation were the measure of herself. the hopes of the new time. These The source of this improvement in hopes, which were at least as strong in the society to which she bade farewell, Harriet Martineau as in anybody then over that into which she had been living, the Whigs were soon felt to born, is set down by Miss Martineau have cheated. She cannot forgive to the most remarkable literary genius them. Speaking of John and Ed- with whom, during her residence in ward Romilly, “they had virtuous London, she was brought into contact. projects," she says, " and had every “What Wordsworth did for poetry," hope of achieving service worthy of she says, “in bringing us out of a their father's fame; but their aspira- conventional idea and method to a tions were speedily tamed down—as true and simple one, Carlyle has done all high aspirations are lowered by for morality. He may be himself the Whig influences.” A certain peer is most curious opposition to himself,described as “agreeable enough in he may be the greatest mannerist of society to those who are not very par- his age while denouncing conventionticular in regard to sincerity; and was, alism,- the greatest talker while as Chancellor of the Exchequer or eulogising silence,—the most woeful anything else, as good a representative complainer while glorifying fortitude, as could be found of the flippancy, the most uncertain and stormy in conceit, and official helplessness and mood, while holding forth serenity as ignorance of the Whig administra- the greatest good within the reach of tion." Charles Knight started a new man; but he has nevertheless infused periodical for the people under the into the mind of the English nation a patronage of the official Whigs. “But sincerity, earnestness, healthfulness, the poverty and perverseness of their and courage which can be appreciated ideas, and the insolence of their feel- only by those who are old enough to ings, were precisely what might be ex- tell what was our morbid state when pected by all who really knew that Byron was the representative of our remarkably vulgar class of men. They temper, the Clapham church of our purposed to lecture the working religion, and the rotten-borough sysclasses, who were by far the wiser tem of our political morality." We party of the two, in a jejune, coaxing, have no quarrel with this account of dull, religious-tract sort of tone, and the greatest man of letters of our genecriticised and deprecated everything ration. But Carlyle has only been one like vigour, and a manly and genial influence among others. It is a far tone of address in the new publica- cry indeed from Sartor Resartus to the tion, while trying to push in as con- Iracts for the Times, yet they were tributors effete and exhausted writers both of them protests against the and friends of their own, who knew same thing, both of them attempted about as much of the working classes answers to the same problem, and the of England as of those of Turkey.” Tracts perhaps did more than Sartor This energetic description, which be- to quicken spiritual life, to shatter longs to the year 1848, gives us an "the Clapham church," and to substiinteresting measure of the distance tute a mystic faith and not unlovely that has been traversed during the hope for the frigid, hard, and mechanilast thirty years. The workmen have cal lines of official orthodoxy on the