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one hand, and the egotism and senti- Martineau turned her face. She had mental despair of Byronism on the not been long in the States before she other. There is a third school, too, began to feel that the Abolitionists, at and Harriet Martineau herself was no that moment a despised and persecuted insignificant member of it, to which handful of men and women, were the both the temper and the political mo- truly moral and regenerating party in rality of our time have owed a deep the country. Harriet Martineau no debt; the school of those utilitarian sooner felt this conviction driving out political thinkers who gave light rather her former prejudice against them as than heat, and yet by the intellectual fanatical and impracticable, than she force with which they insisted on the at once bore public testimony, at right direction of social reform, also serious risk of every kind to herself, stirred the very impulse which made in favour of the extreme Anti-Slavery men desire social reform. The most agitators. And for thirty years she illustrious of this body was undoubt- never slackened her sympathy nor edly John Mill, because to accurate her energetic action on English public political science he added a fervid and opinion, in this most vital matter of vibrating social sympathy, and a power her time. She was guided not merely of quickening it in the best minds of by humanitarian disgust at the cruel a scientific turn. It is odd, by the and brutal abominations of slavery,way, that Miss Martineau, while so though we know no reason why this lavish in deserved panegyric on Car- alone should not be a sufficient ground lyle, should be so grudging and dis- for turning Abolitionist, but also on paraging in the case of Mill, with the more purely political ground of whom her intellectual affinities must the cowardice, silence, corruption, and have been closer than with any other hypocrisy that were engendered in the of her contemporaries. The transla- Free States by purchased connivance tor of Comte's Positive Philosophy had at the peculiar institution of the Slave better reasons than most people for States. Nobody has yet traced out thinking well of the services of the the full effect upon the national chaauthor of the System of Logic: it was racter of the Americans of all those certainly the latter book which did years of conscious complicity in slavery, more than any other to prepare the after the moral iniquity of slavery minds of the English philosophic had become clear to the inner conpublic for the former.
science of the very men who ignobly It is creditable to Miss Martineau's sanctioned the mobbing of Abolitionbreadth of sympathy that she should ists. have left on record the tribute of her In the summer of 1836 Miss Maradmiration for Carlyle, for nobody has tineau returned to England, having written so harshly as Carlyle on the added this great question to the stock subject which interested Harriet Mar- of her foremost objects of interest tineau more passionately than any and concern. Such additions, whether other events of her time. In 1834 she literary or social, are the best kind of had finished her series of illustrations refreshment that travel supplies. She of political economy; her domestic life published two books on America : one was fretted by the unreasonable exi- of them abstract and quasi-scientific, gences of her mother; London society Society in America ; the other, A Retrohad perhaps begun to weary her, and spect of Western Travel, of a lighter she felt the need of a change of scene. and more purely descriptive quality. The United States, with the old Euro- Their success with the public was pean institutions placed amid new moderate, and in after years she conconditions, were then as now a natural demned them in very plain language, object of interest to everybody with a the first of them especially as “full keen feeling for social improvement. of affectations and preachments." So to the Western Republic Miss Their only service, and it was not
inconsiderable, was the information humour, the light-handed irony of her which they circulated as to the con- model, any more than she had the dition of slavery and of the country energetic and sustained imaginative under it. We do not suppose that power of Charlotte or Emily Brontë. they are worth reading at the present There is playfulness enough in Deerday, except from a historical point of brook, but it is too deliberate to remind view. But they are really good speci- us of the crooning involuntary playmens of a kind of literature which is fulness of Pride and Prejudice or Sense not abundant, and yet which is of the and Sensibility. Deerbrook is not in utmost value-we mean the record of the least a story with a moral; it is the sociological observation of truly and purely a piece of art; yet country by a competent traveller, who we are conscious of the serious spirit stays long enough in the country, has of the social reformer as haunting the access to the right persons of all kinds, background, and only surrendering and will take pains enough to mature the scene for reasons of its own. On his judgments. It was a happy idea of the other hand, there is in Deerbrook a O'Connell's to suggest that she should gravity of moral reflection that Jane go over to Ireland, and write such an Austen, whether wisely or unwisely, account of that country as she had seldom or never attempts.
In this written of the United States. And respect Deerbrook is the distant forewe wish at this very hour that some runner of some of George Eliot's most one as competent as Miss Martineau characteristic work. Distant, because would do what O'Connell wished her George Eliot's moralising is constantly to do. A similar request came to her suffused by the broad light of a highly from Milan : why should she not visit poetic imagination, and this was in no Lombardy, and then tell Europe the degree among Miss Martineau's gifts. true tale of Austrian rule ?
Still there is something above the flat But after her American journey touch of the common didactic in such Miss Martineau felt a very easily a page as that in which (chapter xix.) intelligible desire to change the liter- she describes the case of “the unamiary field. For many years she had able—the only order of evil ones been writing almost entirely about who suffer hell without seeing and fact : and the constraint of the effort knowing that it is hell: nay, they are to be always correct, and to bear with- under a heavier curse than even this, out solicitude the questioning of her they inflict torments second only to correctness, had become burdensome. their own, with an unconsciousness She felt the danger of losing nerve worthy of spirits of light.” However, and becoming morbidly fearful of when all is said, we may agree that this criticism on the one hand, and of is one of the books that give a rational growing narrow and mechanical about person pleasure once, but which we accuracy on the other. “I longed hardly look forward to reading again. inexpressibly,” she says, “ for the Shortly after the publication of her liberty of fiction, while occasionally first novel, Miss Martineau was seized doubting whether I had the power to by a serious internal malady, from use that freedom as I could have done which recovery seemed hopeless. Ao ten years before.” The product of cording to her usual practice of taking this new mental phase was Deerbrook, her life deliberately in her hands, and which was published in the spring of settling its conditions for herself 1839. Deerbrook is a story of an instead of letting things drift as they English country village, its petty might, she insisted on declining the feuds, its gentilities, its chances and hospitable shelter pressed upon her by changes of fortune. The influence of a near relative, on the excellent ground Jane Austen's stories is seen in every that it is wrong for an invalid to imchapter ; but Harriet Martineau had pose restraints upon a healthy housenone of the easy flow, the pleasant hold. She proceeded to establish herself in lodgings at Tynemouth, on the Development. The greater part of it coast of Northumberland. Here she was written by Mr. Atkinson in reply lay on a couch for nearly five years, to short letters, in which Miss Martiseeing as few persons as might be, and neau stated objections and propounded working at such literary matters as questions. The book points in the dicame into her head with steadfast rection of that explanation of the facts industry and fortitude. The ordeal of the universe which is now so familiar was hard, but the little book that came under the name of Evolution. But it of it, Life in a Sickroom, remains to points in this way only as the chce show the moods in which the ordeal famous Vestiges of Creation pointed was borne.
towards the scientific hypotheses of At length Miss Martineau was in- Darwin and Wallace; or as Buckle's duced to try mesmerism as a possible crude and superficial notions about the cure for her disease, and what is certain history of civilisation pointed towards is, that after trying mesmeric treat- a true and complete conception of sociment, the invalid whom the doctors had ology. That is to say, the Atkinson declared incurable shortly recovered Letters state some of the difficulties in as perfect health as she had ever the way of the explanations of life and known. A virulent controversy arose
motion hitherto received as satisfactory; upon the case, for by some curious law, they insist upon approaching the facts physicians are apt to import into pro- exclusively by the positive, Baconian, fessional disputes a heat and bitterness or inductive method ; and then they at least as marked as that of their old hurry to an explanation of their own, enemies, the theologians. It was said which may be as plausible as that which that Miss Martineau had begun to im- they intend it to replace, but which prove before she was mesmerised, and they leave equally without ordered what was still more to the point, that proof and strict verification. she had been taking heavy doses of The only point to which we are iodine. “It is beyond all question or called upon to refer is that this dispute,” as Voltaire said, “That magic way of thinking about man and the words and ceremonies are quite capable rest of nature led to repudiation by of most effectually destroying a whole Miss Martineau of the whole strucflock of sheep, if the words be accom- ture of dogmatic theology. For one panied by a sufficient quantity of thing, she ceased to hold the, conarsenic."
ception of a God with any human atMesmerism was indirectly the means tributes whatever ; also of any prinof bringing Miss Martineau into an ciple or practice of Design ; * of an intimate acquaintance with a gentle administration of life according to man who soon began to exert a decisive human wishes, or of the affairs of the influence upon the most important of world by the principles of human her opinions. Mr. Atkinson is still morals." All these became to her as alive, and we need not say much about mere visions; beliefs necessary in their him. He seems to have been a grave day, but not philosophically nor perand sincere person, using his mind manently true. Miss Martineau was with courageous independence upon the not an Atheist in the philosophic sense; great speculative problems which were she never denied a First Cause, but not in 1844, as they are in 1877, the only that this Cause is within the sphere common topics of everyday discourse of human attributes, or can be defined among educated people. This is not in their terms. the place for an examination of the Then, for another thing, she ceased philosophy in which Miss Martineau to believe in the probability of there was finally landed by Mr. Atkinson's being a continuance of conscious ininfluence. That philosophy was given dividual life after the dissolution of to the world in 1851 in a volume called the body. With this, of course, fell Letters on the Laws of Man's Nature and all expectation of a state of personal
rewards and punishments. “ The real to iron your own linen on a Nile boat, and justifiable and honourable subject followed by a lofty page on the mighty of interest,” she said, “ to human be- pair of solemn figures that gaze as ings, living and dying, is the welfare from eternity on time amid the sand of their fellows surrounding them or
at Thebes. The whole, one may say surviving them.” About that she again, is sterling and real, both the cared supremely, and about nothing elevation and the homeliness. The else did she bring herself to care student of the history of opinion at all.
may find some interest in comparing It is painful to many people even to Miss Martineau's work with the fahear of a person holding such beliefs mous book, Ruins; or, Meditations on the as these. Yet it would plainly be the Revolutions of Empires, in which Volney, worst kind of spiritual valetudinarian- between fifty and sixty years before, ism to insist on the omission from even had drawn equally dissolvent concluthe shortest account of this remarkable sions with her own, from the same woman, of what became the
basis panorama of the dead ages. Perhaps and foundation of her life for those Miss Martineau's history is not much thirty years of it, which she herself better than Volney's, but her brisk always counted the happiest part of the sense is preferable to Volney's high whole.
à priori declamation and artificial Although it was Mr. Atkinson who rhetoric. finally provided her with a positive Before starting for the East, Miss substitute for her older beliefs, yet a Martineau had settled a new plan of journey which Miss Martineau made life for herself, and built a little house in the East shortly after her restora- where she thought she could best carry tion to health (1846) had done much her plan out. To this little house she to build
in her mind a historic con- returned, and it became her cherished ception of the origin and order of the home the long remainder of her great faiths of mankind-the Christian, days. London, during the years of her th: Hebrew, the Mahometan, the old first success, had not been without its Egyptian. We need not say more on
usual attractions to the new-comer,
but this subject. The work in which she she had always been alive to the essenpublished the experiences of the journey tial incompleteness, the dispersion, the which was always so memorable to her want of steadfast self-collection, in a deserves a word. There are few more life much passed in London society. delightful books of travel than Eastern And we may believe that the five Life, Past and Present. The descriptions austere and lonely years at Tyneare admirably graphic, and they have mouth, with their evening outlook the attraction of making their effect by over the busy waters of the harboura few direct strokes, without any of
bar into the stern far off sea, may have the wordy elaboration of our modern slowly bred in her an unwillingness to picturesque. The writer shows a true plunge again into the bustling triviality, feeling for nature, and she shows a the gossip, the distracting lightness vigorous sense, which is not merely of the world of splendid fire-flies. To pretty sentiment, like Chateaubriand's, have discerned the Pale Horse so near for the vast historic associations of and for so long a space awakens new those old lands and dim cradles of the moods, and strangely alters the old perrace. All is sterling and real; we are spectives of our life. Yet it would aware that the elevated reflection and imply a misunderstanding of Harriet the meditative stroke are not due to Martineau's character to suppose that mere composition, but did actually pass she turned her back upon London, and through her mind as the suggestive built her pretty hermitage at Amblewonders passed before her eyes. And side, in anything like the temper of Jean hence there is no jar as we find a little Jacques Rousseau. She was far too homily on the advantage of being able positive a spirit for that, and far too Her po
full of vivid and concentrated interest she had bought a piece of land and built in men and their doings. It would be a pretty house upon it; and then he unjust to think of Harriet Martineau added the strangely unpoetic reasonas having no ear for the inner voices, “ because the value of the property yet her whole nature was objective; it will be doubled in ten years. turned to practice and not to reverie. etic neighbour gave her a characteristic She had her imaginative visions, as we piece of advice in the same prudential know, and as all truly superior minds vein. He warned her that she would have them, even though their main find visitors a great expense.
" When superiority happens to be in the practi- you have a visitor," he said,
"you cal order. But her visions were limited must do as we did ; you must say, 'If as a landscape set in a rigid frame; you like to have a cup of tea with us, they had not the wings that soar and you are very welcome ; but if you want poise in the vague unbounded empyrean. any meat, you must pay for your board.'" And she was much too sensible to think Miss Martineau declined to carry
thrift that these moods were strong, or con- to this ungracious extremity. She constant, or absorbing enough in her case stantly had guests in her house, and, to furnish material and companionship if they were all like Charlotte Brontë, for a life from day to day and year to they enjoyed their visits in spite of year. Nor again was it for the sake of the arbitrary ways of their energetic undisturbed acquisition of knowledge, hostess. nor cultivation of her finer faculties Her manner of life during these that she sought a hermitage. She was years is pleasant to contemplate; cheernot moved by thought of the famous ful, active, thoroughly wholesome. maxim which Goethe puts into the “ My habit,” she says, was to rise at mouth of Leonore
six and to take a walk, returning to my “Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille,
solitary breakfast at half-past seven. Sich ein Charakter in dem Strom der Welt.” My household orders were given for the
day, and all affairs settled out of doors Though an intense .egotist, in the good and in by a quarter or half-past eight, and respectable sense of insisting on her when I went to work, which I continued own way of doing things, of settling for without interruption, except from the herself what it was that she was living post, till three o'clock or later, when for, and of treading the path with a alone. While
friend was with me firm and self-reliant step, yet Harriet we dined at two, and that was of course Martineau was as little of an egotist as the limit of my day's work.” De Tocever lived, in the poor and stifling sense queville, if we remember, never saw of thinking of the
perfecting of her own his guests until after he had finished his culture as in the least degree worthy morning's work, of which he had done of ranking among Ends-in themselves. six hours by eleven o'clock. SchopenShe settled in the Lake district because hauer was still more sensitive to the she thought that there she would be jar of external interruption on that most favourably placed for satisfying finely-tuned instrument, the brain, after the various conditions which she had a night's repose, for it was as much as fixed as necessary to her scheme of life. his housekeeper's place was worth to • My own idea of an innocent and allow either herself or any one else to happy life,” she says, “ was a house of appear to the philosopher before midmy own among poor improvable neigh- day. After the early dinner at the bours, with young servants whom I Ambleside cottage came little bits of might train and attach to myself, with neighbourly business, exercise, and so pure air, a garden, leisure, solitude at forth. “It is with singular alacrity command, and freedom to work in peace that in winter evenings I light the and quietness."
lamp and unroll my wool-work, and “It is the wisest step in her life,” meditate or dream till the arrival of Wordsworth said, when he heard that the newspaper tells me that the tea has