Harriet Martineau (1802-76)

CriticismReferences


Life
b. Magdalen Street, Norwich, the 6th of 8 children, being the 3rd dg.; contrib. ‘Female Writers on Practical Divinity’ and ‘Female Education’ [pseud. of “Discipulus”], to Unitarian Monthly Repository (Oct. & Dec. 1822); contrib. ‘The Rioters’, to the Repository (1827); contrib. Illustrations of Political Economy (Feb. 1832-Feb. 1834), being in twenty-five didactic stories, among them Ireland: A Tale (1832); issued How to Observe Morals and Manners (1838), regarded as the first book on methodology of social research; wrote much for Tait’s Magazine; she condemned the ‘blatantly selfish’ involvement of Caroline Nortons [q.v.] in the women’s movement for reform of marriage laws;
 
travelled throughout Ireland in and issued issued Letters from Ireland (1852), a series of letters written for the Daily News from Aug. 1852 (prefaced from Ambleside, Lake District, Dec. 20th 1852), relating a recent journey calling for political reform and social change from within and dealing with such topics as agricultural societies, railways, linen workhouses, emigration, and the legacy of O'Connell in the aftermath of famine; supported Florence Nightingale’s campaign for medical hygiene in the Crimea with England and Her Soldiers (1859); issued Peasant and Prince (1885), a novel about the overthrow and death of Louis XIV who is represented as being misled by his counsellors;
 
as “An Englishwoman”, contrib. three letters to the Daily News decrying the Contagious Diseases Acts (1869); d. 27 June 1876, of ovarian tumour, at her home The Knoll, in Ambleside in the Lake District; considered a founding figure in sociology and a feminist, her liberal views engaged with issued of race, empire and history from the Atlantic slavery trade to the Indian Mutiny; James Martineau was a brother.

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Works
Works on Ireland
  • Ireland: A Tale [Illustrations of Political Economy, No. 9] (London: Charles Fox 1832), 135pp. [see details]; Do. [facs. rep.], intro. by Robert Lee Wolff (NY: Garland Publ. 1979), xv, 136pp. [19cm];
  • Letters From Ireland (London; J. Chapman 1852), viii, 221pp., Do. (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey) [3 micro-fiches]; and Do. [rep. of 1852 edn.], ed. Glenn Hooper (Dublin: Irish Academic Press 2001), vii, 200pp. [see contents];
  • Glenn Hooper, ed., Harriet Martineau, Letters From Ireland (Dublin: Irish Academic Press 2001), 200pp.;
  • Endowed Schools of Ireland (London: Smith, Elder 1859), 8° [rep. from Daily News], and Do. (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey 2003) [microfiche];
  • Peasant and Prince (London: Routlege 1885), 252pp., 40 ills.
Miscellaneous
  • England and Her Soldiers (London: Smith, Elder 1859), xi, 282pp., and Do. [rep.] (Cambridge UP 2010), 317pp. [see reprint]
Autobiography
  • Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography, (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Company 1877), 594pp.; Do., ed. Maria Weston Chapman [electronic copy] at Victorian Women Writers Project at Indiana University [online].
Collected writings
  • The Collected Writings of Harriet Martineau (1802-1876), Pt. 1: approx. 20 reels of 35mm. silver-halide positive microfilm (dam Matthew Publ., Oxford St., Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, SN8 1AP) [£1,400];
  • Deborah Logan & Kathryn Sklar, eds., Harriet Martineau’s Writing on British History and Military Reform [Pickering Masters ser.], 6 vols. (London: Pickering & Chatto 2005), ill.
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Reprint edns.

England and Her Soldiers [rep. edn.] (Cambridge UP 2010), 317pp. CONTENTS. Preface; 1. Lost armies; 2. Preservation henceforth, destruction hitherto; 3. Going out to war; 4. Meeting the enemy; 5. A winter in camp; 6. Physicians, in health and disease; 7. The wounded and sick; 8. Restoration; 9. What remains. (see publisher’s notice [online or copy])

 

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Bibliographical details
Ireland - A Tale (1832) - viz., Illustrations of Political Economy [ser.], No. IX / Ireland / A Tale / by / Harriet Martineau / London: / Charles Fox, 67, Paternoster Row 1832 [t.p. details as given in Rolf Loeber & Magda Loeber, A Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650-1900, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006].

Letters From Ireland [1852; rep. edn.], ed Glenn Hooper (Dublin: Irish Academic Press 2001), vii, 200pp. CONTENTS. Letter One: Lough Foyle and its environs; Letter Two: West of Ulster - Weeds - London Companies - Templemoyle Agricultural School; Letter Three: The Derry and Coleraine Railway-Produce and Traffic of the District-Beautiful Scenery - What can public works do for Ireland?; Letter Four: The Linen Manufacture-Flax Growing and Dressing; Letter Five: Agricultural Improvement in Ulster; Letter Six: Ireland dying of too much doctoring - The “Tenant Right” Question; Letter Seven: How Ireland is to get back its woods[?]. Letter Eight: Leinster-Irish Industry-Religious Feuds; Letter Nine: The Women; Letter Ten: Railway from Dublin to Galway-Bog of Allen; Letter Eleven: Galway; Letter Twelve: Connemara; Letter Thirteen: The People and the Clergy; Letter Fourteen: English settlers in the “Wilds of the West”; Letter Fifteen: Achill; Letter Sixteen: The Wilds of Erris; Letter Seventeen: Castlebar-Pawpers-Emigrant Family; Letter Eighteen: Irish Landlords and Irish Potatoes; Letter Nineteen: Landlords, Priests, and voters; Letter Twenty: The Workhouses; Letter Twenty-One: Killarney; Letter Twenty-Two: The Rival Churches; Letter Twenty-Three: From Killarney to Valentia - Dingle Bay - Cahirciveen; Letter Twenty-Four: Valentia; Letter Twenty-Five: Priesrs and Landlords-New Features of Irish Life; Letter Twenty-Six: Emigration and Education; Letter Twenty-Seven: The People and the Two Churches. [There is an electronic copy at Google Books [online; see quotations, infra.]

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Criticism
Ella Dzelzainis & Cora Kaplan, eds., Harriet Martineau: Authorship, Society and Empire (Manchester UP 2010), 263pp.

Note: Ella Dzelzainis is author of Manufacturing Gender: Women, the Family and Political Economy in English Industrial Fiction, 1832-1855 [PhD. diss.] (London Univ. 2004).

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Commentary
Ralph Waldo Emerson
, English Traits (1856; new & rev. edition, Cambridge [Mass.]: Osgood 1876; issued as English Traits and Representative Men (London: Macmillan 1883; [5 reps.1884-1902]), Chap. XVII - “Personal” - in which he records Harriet Martineau's impression of William Wordsworth, arising from his - Emerson's - meeting with her:

‘My journeys were cheered by so much kindness from hew friends, that my imprssion of the island [England] is bright with agreeable memories both of public societies and households (...; p.236.)
 Every day in London gave me new opportunities of meeting men and women who give splendour to society. I saw Rogers, Hallam, Macaulay, Milnes, Milman, Barry Cornwall, Dickens, Thackeray, Tennyson, Leigh Hunt, D'Israeli, Helps, Wilkinson, Bailey, Kenyon, and Forster: the younger poets Clught, Arnold, and Patmore; and among the men of science, Robert Brown, Owen, Sedgwick, Faraday, Buckland, Lyell, De la Beche, Hooker, Carpenter, Babbage, and Edward Forbes. It was my privilege to converse with Miss Baillie, with Lady Morgan, with Mrs. Jameson, and Mrs Somerville. (...; p.236)
 At Edinburgh, through the kindness of Dr. Samuel Brown, I made the acquaintance of De Quincey, of Lord Jeffrey, of Wilson, of Mrs. Crowe, of the Messrs. Chambers, and of a man of high character and genius, the short-lived painter, David Scott.

 At Ambleside in March 1848, I was for a couple of days the guest of Miss Martineau, then newly returned from her Egyptian tour. On sunday afternoon I accompanied her to Rydal Mount. And, as I have recorded a visit to Wordsworth many years before, I must not foget this second interview. We found Mr. Wordsworth asleep on the sofa. He was at first silent and indisposed, as an old man, suddenly waked, before he had ended his nap; but soon became [237] full of talk on the French news. He was nationally bitter on the French: bitter on Scotchmen, too. No Scotchman, he said, can write English. He detailed the two models, on one or the other of which all the sentences of the historian Robertson are framed. Nor could Jeffrey, nor the Edinburgh Reviewers write English, nor can *** who is a pest to the English tongue. Incidentally he added, Gibbon cannot write English. The Edinburgh Review wrote what would tell and what would sell. It had however changed the tone of its literary criticism from the time when a certain letter was written to the editor by Coleridge. Mrs. W. had the Editor's answer in her possession. Tennyson he thinks a right poetic genius, though with some affectation. He had thought an elder brother of Tennyson at first the better poet, but must now reckon Alfred the true one. ... In speaking of I know not what style, he said, “To be sure it was the manner, but then you know the matter always comes out of the manner.” ... He thought Rio Janeiro the best place in the world for a great capital city. ... We talked of English national character. I told him it was not creditable that no one in all the country knew anything of Thomas Taylor, the Platonist, whilst in every American library his translations are found. I said, if Plato's Republic were published in England as a new book to-day, do you think it would find any readers? - he confessed, it would not: “And yet,” he added after a pause, with that complacency which never deserts a true-born Englishman, - “and yet we have embodied it all.” [238]

 His opinions of French, English, Irish, and Scotch seemed rashly formulized from little anecdotes of what had befallen himself and members of his family, in a diligence or stage-coach. His face sometimes lighted up, but his conversation was not marked by special force or elevation. Yet perhaps it is a high compliment to the cultivation of the English generally, when we find such a man not distinguished. He had a healthy look, with a weather-beaten face, his face corrugated, especially the large nose.
 Miss Martineau, who lived near him, praised him to me, not for his poetry, but for thrift and economy; for having afforded to his country neighbors an example of a modest household, where comfort and culture were secured without any display. She said, that, in his early housekeeping at the cottage where he first lived, he was accustomed to offer his friends bread and plainest fare: if they wanted anything more, they must pay him for their board. It was the rule of the house. I replied, that it evinced English pluck more than any anecdote I knew. A gentleman in the neighborhood told the story of Walter Scott's once staying a week with Wordsworth, and slipping out every day under pretence of a walk, to the Swan Inn, for a cold cut and porter; and one day passing with Wordsworth the inn, he was betrayed by the landlord's asking him if he had come for his porter. Of course, this trait would have another look in London, and there you will hear from different literary men, that Wordsworth had no personal friend, that he was not amiable, that he was parsimonious, etc. Landor, [239] always generous, says that he never praised anybody. A gentleman in London showed me a watch that once belonged to Milton, whose initials are engraved on its face. He said, he once showed this to Wordsworth, who took it in one hand, then drew out his own watch, and held it up with the other, before the company, but no one making the expected remark, he put back his own in silence. I do not attach much importance to the disparagement of Wordsworth among London scholars. Who reads him well will know, that in following the strong bent of his genius, he was careless of the many, careless also of the few, self-assured that he should “create the taste by which he is to be enjoyed.” He lived long enough to witness the revolution he had wrought, and “to see what he foresaw.” There are torpid places in his mind, there is something hard and sterile in his poetry, want of grace and variety, want of due catholicity and cosmopolitan scope: he had conformities to English politics and traditions; he had egotistic puerilities in the choice and treatment of his subjects; but let us say of him, that, alone in his time, he treated the human mind well, and with an absolute trust. His adherence to his poetic creed rested on real inspirations. The Ode on Immortality is the high-water mark which the intellect has reached in this age. New means were employed, and new realms added to the empire of the muse, by his courage. (pp.235-40.)

 

For longer extracts from Emerson’s English Traits and Representative Men (1850 & 1856; publ. jointly 1876 &c.) see RICORSO Library, “International Critics” - as attached.

 

Rolf Loeber & Magda Stouthamer-Loeber, ‘Fiction available to and written for cottages and their children’, Bernadette Cunningham & Máire Kennedy, eds., The Experience of Reading: Irish Historical Perspectives (Dublin: Rare Books Group of Library Assoc. of Ireland & Econ. and Social Hist. Soc. of Ireland 1999), pp.124-72, quoting Martineau: ‘[S]ome years ago, the great authority on Irish peasant life was Mrs. Leadbeater, whose Cottage Dialogues was the most popular of Irish books until O’Connell’s power rose to its height. In the suspicion and hatred which he excited towards the landlords, and the aristocracy in general, works like Mrs Leadbeater’s, which proceed on the supposition of a sort of feudal relation between the aristocracy and the peasantry, went out of favour, and have been little heard since.’ (Letters from Ireland, 1852, p.67; here p.150.)

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Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles - introductory notice on Harriet Martineau: ‘Harriet Martineau began her career as a professional writer, which spanned more than four decades in the mid nineteenth century, with writing from a Unitarian perspective on religious matters. She made her name with her multi-volume series (initially twenty-five volumes, followed by further series) of narrative expositions of political economy. One of the founders of sociology, who believed “that social affairs proceed according to great general laws, no less than natural phenomena,” she produced several major contributions to this emerging field. She wrote broadly in periodicals and regularly for a newspaper on social and political issues, and produced three books of observations emerging from her foreign travels. Although her two three-volume novels were not particularly successful, her work had a great impact on later Victorian fiction. She also wrote history, biography, and household manuals. Her advocacy of mesmerism and her atheism made some of her later writings controversial. In her eminently readable autobiography and other writings she presents a cogent analysis of conditions shaping the lives of Victorian women. Although she became hugely influential - one of the most prominent women writers of her day - Harriet Martineau eschewed notions of genius. Her crucial contribution to Victorian feminist thought has frequently been overlooked.’ [Orlando - online; accessed 26.06.2010 - subscription required for further access.]

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Quotations

Letters from Ireland, reprinted from the “Daily News” (London: John Chapman, 142, Strand 1853), available in Google Books [online; accessed 25.06.2010.]

Letters from Ireland (1852), Preface: ‘[… S]ince it is no longer a secret, however, that Ireland has been and is misgoverned, and since the readiest method of winning back the discontented to their allegiance, is to allow those things to be grievances which are felt to be so, and to show a disposition to afford redress, I cannot but hold the part of true loyalty to be to expose abuses fearlessly and temperately and to stimulate the government to the reparation of its past errors and the improvement of its principles of policy.’ (p.iii). Calls herself ‘a wellwisher and an indignant witness to her wrongs’ (p.iii). Text: ‘Whatever the features of the land may be, whether he passes through meadows and oatfields, with villages and towns in the distance, or over the black moun[tain p]eaks and across shaking bogs where a mud cabin here and there is the only vestige of human habitation [1] - the Atlantic is still swelling and lashing the cliffs as if bringing its mighty force to a perpetual war against the everlasting hills - such a traveller would have pronounced that the Glen of Echoes was designed for no other purpose than to give perpetual tidings of this warfare; for no place could be more wild in aspect and less apparently improved by habitation.’ (p.2.) Also, ‘good management’ (p.3.) [Query source - noting that Google Books copy online differs from the above, incorporating acknowledgements to Professor Hancock whom she met in Dublin for use of ‘his ideas in my interpretation of Irish affairs’ (See Preface, Preface (pp.iii-iv); p.iv.]

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Maria Edgeworth: ‘Neither her feelings, mind, nor imagination, are Irish. She is a shrewd Englishman of enlarged understanding and rare talent, who cleverly, but sometimes not very correctly, sketched Irish characters and manners as any other well-informed person, long resident in Ireland, might do … There is little about her that partakes of the raciness of the sod. Though her heart and good wishes, and excellent understanding, may have been in Ireland, her imagination and fancy are, so far as is seen in her works, clearly absentee - they are essentially English.’ (In Tait’s Magazine [q.d.]; quoted in Dublin Review, No. 4, April 1838; quoted in Jacqueline Belanger’s paper on Emily Lawless and the “Personal Element” in Literary Criticism of the Revival’, at ESSE 2000.)

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The Hanwell Lunatic Asylum’, in Tait's Edinburgh Magazine (June 1834): ‘It is commonly agreed that the most deplorable spectacle which society presents, is that of a receptacle for the insane. In pauper asylums we see chains and strait-waistcoats, - three or four half-naked creatures thrust into a chamber filled with straw, to exasperate each other with their clamour and attempts at violence; or else gibbering in idleness, or moping in solitude. In private asylums, where the rich patients are supposed to be well taken care of in proportion to the quantity of money expended on their account, there is as much idleness, moping, raving, exasperating infliction, and destitution of sympathy, though the horror is attempted to be veiled by a more decent arrangement of externals. Must these things be?’ (For longer extract, see attached.)

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References
Cambridge Univ. Press, book notice: England and Her Soldiers [rep. edn.] (Cambridge UP 2010) - In the preface to this 1859 book Harriet Martineau (1802–1876) tells the reader that this “is not a work of invention” or a “fancy-piece” and thereby sets the tone for a study that is partly historical and partly sociological. In the writing of the book, Martineau collaborated with another prominent nineteenth-century figure, Florence Nightingale. They wished to gain political support for improvements in military hygiene and health care. Martineau draws on Nightingale’s experiences when nursing wounded soldiers during the Crimean War and builds it into a strong narrative that describes the conditions that soldiers experienced in the barracks, in hospitals and on the field, making practical recommendations as to how to improve these areas, by legislation if necessary, so as to ensure the future good health of Britain’s armed forces.’ [Publisher directs attention to her page in the Orlando Project [online; see also copy of same under Commentary, supra.]

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Booksellers

Richard Beaton (Lewes, S. Sussex), lists:-

The Playfellow: The Peasant and the Prince (1841) *
details
The Billow and the Rock; A Tale [1846], and [The Playfellow:] Feats on the Fiord, A Tale of Norway [1841] (London: Charles Knight & Co. 1846) [first edn.]
details
The Playfellow; A Series of Tales to be Published Quarterly [3] Feats on the Fiord (1841)*
details
The Peasant and the Prince (George Routledge & Sons 1875)
details
The Crofton Boys (Routledge, Warne & Routledge)
details
[ No longer available at 23.10.2012 ]

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Notes
De-anon: Reviewing Jim Cooke, Charles Dickens’s Ireland: An Anthology including an Account of His Visits to Ireland (Inchicore: Woodfield Press), John Bowen, notes that articles said to be anonymous here have been identified in Anne Lohrli’s edn. of the Household Words as work of Martineau, Adelaide Proctor, and G. A. Sala. [Q. source.]

Governess?: Note that a Miss Martineau is a central in The Palace Beautiful: A Story for Girls (q.d.), the novelette by L. T. Meade [1854-1910]. Chap. III is entitled ‘Miss Martineau’ - a character of whom it is said at the end of Chap. II: ‘She was sincerely fond of the girls, whom she had taught to play incorrectly, and to read French with an accent unrecognized in Paris, but Miss Martineau was a worry, was a great deal too officious, and so the girls shut themselves away from her and from all other neighbors for the first month after their mother’s death.’ (See Many Books website; accessed 18.02.2010.)

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