Harriet Martineau.

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"Etiam cap ill us unus habet urabram suara." — Proverb.

** And this dear freedom hath begotten me this peace, that I mourn not that end
which must be, nor spend one wish to have on^ minute added to the uncertain date
of my years. " -— Bacon.







h (^ o .^\(^o

Copyright, 1877.

University Press : Welch, Bigelow, & Co.,


In making arrangements for the issue of this Autobiography
presently after my decease, one important point is its publication
in the United States.

It is my wish, and that of my Executors, that it should be pub-
lished by our friends, Messrs. Fields, Osgood, & Co., of Boston ;
and every requisite has been provided for their edition being of a
similar character and quality with the English. Theirs is there-
fore the edition authorized by me and my Executors.

Ambleside, July 22d, 1869.





Section I. — 111 health and terrors. Fragments of recollection.
Early piety. Early politics. Early social morals. Love of money
and management of it. Sewing ....... 7

Section II. — Journey to Newcastle. A sun-dial. A falling star.

Religious progress ......... 22



Section I. — Tabulating Bible morals. Unitarianism and Christianity.
Milton. Opening speculation. Vain-glorious visions. Training
in self-denial. Absence from home. Birth and infancy of a sister.
Schooling at home. Fear. Laziness. Notions of death. Seeing
the sea. Not seeing objects 27

Section II. — School life. Home life. Reading. Deafness. Poli-
tics and foreigners 47

Section III. Faults and misery. Going to Bristol . . .64




Section L — Family relations. Studies. Fundamental conviction.

Effect on religious belief ........ 75

Section IL First appearance in print. Method of composition . 90

Section III. — Calamities. Deafness. Death of brother and his
child. Of father. Of betrothed. Bad health. More author-
ship. The Houlstons. Mr. Fox. Diffusion Society. Loss of
property. Efforts. Disappointment. Prize essays. Close of
my Unitarian period ......... 95

Section IV. — Scheme of the Political Economy Series. Unsuccess-
ful negotiations. Arrangements. Success. Removal to London 122



Section L — London lodgings. Life there. Amount of work.
Times of work. Methods of work. Materials. Anecdote of Mr.
Cropper. The Population question and the Quarterly Review.
Mr. Malthus. The Edinburgh Review. Mr. Empson. Poor-law
Series. Lord Brougham. Poor-law reform and the Times. Col-
lins and Wilkie. Miss Berry. Mrs. Fry. Robert Owen. Mrs.
Marcet. My political disgraces abroad. Plot in fiction. Dutch
detail. Beachy Head. Protection doctrine. Sir Alexander John-
stone. Mother and Aunt come to me. Publisher s encroachment.
''Briery Creek." ''The Three Ages." "The Farrers of Budge
Row." Illness. Co-operation with government. Conclusion of
the work. Money matters. Why I went to America . . . 139

Section II. — " Literary Lionism." Norwich at the beginning of the
century. William Taylor. Mrs. Barbauld. Miss Aikin. Mr.
Hallam. Moore. Lord Brougham. Lord Durham. Lord Jeffrey.
Dean Milman. Lord Murray. Sydney Smith. Malthus. Mr.
Whishaw and the Romillys. The Hallams. Mr. Rogers's break-
fasts. Mr. Harness. Whig literary parties. Lord Campbell.
Archbishop Whately. Bishops Stanley, Lonsdale, and Otter.
Charles Buller. Milnes. Mr. Grote. Mr. Roebuck. Mr. Macau-
lay. Vanity in men. Campbell. Babbage. Sir E. Landseer.
Dr. Whewell. Bulwer. Campbell. Babbage. Admiral Beau-
fort. Sir C. and Lady Lyell. Charles Darwin. Dr. Dalton.


Mrs. Somerville. Joanna Baillie. Political and scientific men.
Sir C. Bell and others. The Artists. Sir A. Callcott. Chantrey.
Allan Cunningham. Westmacott. Phillips. Macready. The
Kembles. Sir C. Eastlake. Other artists. Blue-stocking par-
ties. Miss Berry's. Lady Mary Shepherd's. Lady Stepney.
My own soirees. Intimate friends. Mrs. Marsh's first novel. The
Carlyles. Mazzini. John Sterling. Leigh Hunt. Thomas Car-
lyle. Occasional mornings. Sitting for portraits and casts.
Mr. Warburton's Dissection Bill. Mr. Toynbee's request. Pro-
fessional phrenologists' judgments on me. Coleridge. Godwin.
Condition of Woman. Basil Montaeoi. Morninor visitors. Dr.
Chalmers. Mr. Chadwick. Eowland Hill. Lord Monteagle.
Mr. G. K. Porter. Mr. Urquhart. Other morning visitors. Capel
Lofft, junior. The Brownings. Miss Mitford. Talfourd. Mr.
H. F. Chorley. MissLandon. Correspondents. Miss Edgeworth.
Fraser's hoax. Miss Kelty. Miss Bremer. Modes of authorship
among my acquaintance . . ; 205

Section IIL — Mr. Mill on national character. My objects in trav-
elling. My companion. Anti- slavery experience. Dr. Julius.,
Our i^ilot. New York riots. Three parties. Alarms at Phila-
delphia and elsewhere. Establishing an understanding. Hearing
all sides. Crisis at Boston. Invitation to an Anti-slavery meet-
ing. Consequences to myself. Other results. Last trial for
Blasphemy. Censure from friends. Virtual treachery from friends.
Personal danger. The journey. The Texas question. Scepticism
and apathy of the citizen majority. Change in the times. The
English in America. Americans of note. The Emersons. Mr.
Everett. The Sedgwiqks. Statesmen. Calhoun. Clay. Web-
ster. Deterioration in public men. Margaret Fuller. Mad
people. N. P. Willis. Curious incident. Parable. Depth of
American impression. Safety of travel. Judge Marshall's letter.
Mysterious valediction. Voyage home 329

Section IV. — Booksellers' proffers and methods. ''Society in Amer-
ica." ''Retrospect of Western Travel." Proposed Scheme of a
new periodical. First novel. * ' Deerbrook. " Remarkable sugges-
tion. " How to Observe," and smaller pieces. The Princess Vic-
toria. The Queen. Her Coronation. Lord Durham and his
family. Topographical notes to Shakspere's Scotch and Italian
plays. British Association meeting at Newcastle. The Lakes
and Scotland. Mrs. Crowe and Dr. Samuel Brown. Ailsie. Con-
tinental journey. Illness ........ 398




Section L — Morbid conditions as a matter of study. Causes of ill-
ness. Retreat to Tynemouth. *'The Hour and the Man."
** The Playfellow." Taking advice in authorship. " Life in the
Sick-room." Eefusal of a pension. Charity fund. Testimonial 439

Section II. — Anti-theological progression 4:66

Section III. — Recovery. *^ Letters on Mesmerism." Persecution of

convalescents restored by Mesmerism. Leaving Tynemouth . 472



Section I. — Relish of life at last. No dislike of death. Medical
criticism. First seeing Mr. Atkinson. Lodging at Waterhead.
Country visiting declined. Reasons for settling at Ambleside.
Buying field and planning house . . . . . .483

Section II. — Long credit system. Building house. Mysterious
present. "Wordsworth's tree. First acquaintance with Words-
worth. The poet and the man. Hartley Coleridge. Exploration
of the District. Mesmerising the sick. Liabilities. Margaret
Fuller. Jane's arrival. '* Forest and Game-law Tales." Cor-
respondence with Sir Robert Peel. Garden and sun-dial. Tourists.
Leaving home 502

Section III. — **The Billow and the Rock." Going to the East.
Detention in the Mediterranean. Politics in Egypt. Profit of
traveL Conception of book. Preparation of book. Correspond-
ence with Mr. Atkinson. Emerson. *' Household Education."
** Eastern Life" 531

Appendix A. — Miss Berry 553

** B. — Memorial against Prosecution for Opinion . . 557

** C. — A Month at Sea 559

D. — Correspondence about a Pension .... 587



Portrait of Harriet Martineau. 1833 . . . Fronti8piece

House in which Harriet Martineau was born ... 7

Tynemouth from the Sick-Room Window .... 445

The Knoll, Ambleside. 1846 503

Sketched by Hammersley, drawn on wood by Harvey, and engi'aved by
Harriet L. Clarke.




Ambleside, March, 1855.

From my youth upwards I have felt that it was one of the
duties of my life to write my autobiography. I have always
enjoyed, and derived profit from, reading that of other persons,
from the most meagre to the fullest : and certain qualities of
my own mind, — a strong consciousness and a clear memory in
regard to my early feelings, — have seemed to indicate to me the
duty of recording my own experience. When my life became
evidently a somewhat remarkable one, the obligation presented
itself more strongly to my conscience : and when I made up my
mind to interdict the publication of my private letters, the duty
became unquestionable. For thirteen or fourteen years it has
been more or less a weight on my .mind that the thing was not
done. Twice in my life I made a beginning; once in 1831,
and again about ten years later, during my long illness at Tyne-
mouth : but both attempts stopped short at an early period,
answering no other purpose than preserving some facts of my
childhood which I might otherwise have forgotten. Of late
years, I have often said to my most intimate friends that I felt
as if I could not die in peace till this work was done ; and there
has been no lack of encouragement and instigation on their part :
but, while I was in health, there was always so much to do that
was immediately wanted, that, as usually happens in such cases,
that which was not immediately necessary was deferred. At



the beginning of this last winter, however, I had hopes of being
able to unite my political work with this ; and on New Year's
Day I said to myself that the year must not close without my
having recorded the story of my life. I was probably strength-
ened in this purpose by having for some time past felt that my
energies were declining, and that I had no longer a right to
depend on being able to do whatever I chose. Two or three
weeks more settled the business. Feeling very unwell, I wxnt
to London to obtain a medical opinion in regard to my health.
Two able physicians informed me that I had a mortal disease,
which might spare me some considerable space of life, but which
might, as likely as not, destroy me at any moment. No doubt
could remain after this as to what my next employment shoujd
be : and as soon after my return home as I had settled my
business with my Executor, T began this autobiography. I
thought it best to rewrite the early portion, that the whole
might be offered from one point of view, and in a consistent
spirit. Without any personal desire about living a few months
or weeks more or less, I rather hope that I may be able to finish
my story with my own hands. If not, it will be done by an-
other, from materials of more or less value. But one part which
ought to be done by myself is the statement of my reasons for
so serious a step as forbidding the publication of my private
correspondence; and I therefore stop at the Third Period of
my Memoir, to write this Introduction, to the following passages
of which I request the reader's earnest attention.

I admit, at the outset, that it is rather a piece of self-denial in
me to interdict the publication of my letters. I have no solici-
tude about fame, and no fear of my reputation of any sort being
injured by the publication of any thing I have ever put upon
paper. My opinions and feelings have been remarkably open
to the world ; and my position has been such as to impose no
reserves on a disposition naturally open and communicative ; so
that if any body might acquiesce in the publication of corre-
spondence, it should be myself. Moreover, I am disposed to
think that what my friends tell me is true ; tliat it would be
rather an advantage to me than the contrary to be known by my


private letters. All these considerations point out to me that I
am therefore precisely the person to bear emphatic practical tes-
timony on behalf of the principle of the privacy of epistolary
intercourse ; and therefore it is that I do hereby bear that testi-

Epistolary correspondence is written speech ; and the omis
rests with those who publish it to show why the laws of honor
w^hich are uncontested in regard to conversation may be violated
when the conversation is written instead of spoken. The plea is
of the utility of such material for biographical purposes ; but
who would admit that plea in regard to fireside conversation ?
The most valuable conversation, and that which best illustrates
character, is that which passes between two friends, with their
feet on the fender, on winter nights, or in a summer ramble : but
what would be thought of the traitor who should supply such
material for biographical or other purposes ? How could human
beings ever open their hearts and minds to each other, if there
were no privacy guaranteed by princi]3les and feelings of honor 1
Yet has this security lapsed from that half of human conversa-
tion which is written instead of spoken. Whether there is still
time to restore it, I know not : but I have done my part towards
an attempted restoration by a stringent provision in my Will
against any public use whatever being made of my letters, unless
I should myself authorize the publication of some, which will, in
that case, be of some public interest, and not confidential letters.
Most of my friends have burnt my letters, — partly because they
knew my desire thus to enforce my assertion of the principle,
and partly because it was less painful to destroy them while I
was still among them than to escape the importunities of hunt-
ers of material after my death. Several eminent persons of
this century have taken stringent precautions against the same
mischief; and very many more, I fear, have taken the more
painful precaution of writing no letters which any body would
care to have. Seventy years ago. Dr. Johnson said in conver-
sation " It is now become so much the fashion to publish letters,
that, in order to avoid it, I put as little into mine as I can."
Nobody will question the hardship and mischief of a practice


which acts upon epistolary correspondence as the spy system
under a despotism acts upon speech : and when we find that a
half a dozen of the greatest minds of our time have deprived
themselves and their friends of their freedom of epistolary speech
for the same reason, it does seem to be time that those qualified
to bear testimony against such an infringement on personal lib-
erty should speak out.

^'But/^ say unscrupulous book-makers and readers, "there are
many eminent persons who are so far from feeling as you do
that they have themselves prepared for the publication of their
letters. There was Doddridge : — he left a copy of every letter
and note that he ever wrote, for this very purpose. There was
Madame D^Arblay : — on her death-bed, and in extreme old age,
she revised and had copies made of all the letters she received
and wrote when in the height of her fame as Fanny Burney, —
preparing for publication the smooth compliments and monstrous
flatteries written by hands that had long become dust.^ There
was Southey : — he too kept copies, or left directions, by which
he arranged the method of making his private letters to his
friends property to his heirs. These, and many more, were of
a diff'erent way of thinking from you." — They were indeed : and
my answer is, — what were the letters worth, as letters, when
these arrangements became known ? What would fireside con-
versation be worth, as confidential talk, if it was known that
the speaker meant to make it a newspaper article the next day ]
And when Doddridge's friends, and Southey's, heard that what
they had taken for conversational out-pouring on paper was so
much literary production, to appear hereafter in a book, — what
was the worth of those much-prized letters then? Would the
correspondents not as soon have received a page of a dissertation,
or the proof of a review article 1 Surely the only word necessary
as to this part of the question is a word of protest against every
body, or every eminent person, being deprived of epistolary lib-
erty because there have been some among their predecessors or
contemporaries who did not know how to use it, or happen to
value it.

We are recommended, again, to " leave the matter to the dis-


cretion of survivors." I, for my part, have too much regard for
my Executors to bequeath to them any such troublesome office
as v^ithstanding the remonstrances of any number of persons
who may have a mind to see my letters, or of asserting a princi-
ple which it is my business to assert for myself. If they were
to publish my letters, they would do what I believe to be wrong:
and if they iiefused to publish them, they might be subject to
importunity or censure which I have no right to devolve upon
them. And why are we to leave this particular piece of testamen-
tary duty to the discretion of survivors, when we are abundantly
exhorted, in the case of every other, to do our own testamentary
duty ourselves, — betimes, carefully and conscientiously]

Then comes the profit argument, — the plea of how much the
world would have lost without the publication of the letters of
A. B. and C. This is true, in a way. The question is whether
the world has not lost more by the injury to epistolary freedom
than it has gained by reading the letters of nonconsenting letter-
writers. There will always be plenty of consenting and willing
letter- writers : let society have their letters. But there should be
no others, — at least till privacy is altogether abolished as an un-
social privilege. This grossly utilitarian view does not yet pre-
vail ; and I do not think it ever will. Meantime, I claim the
sanction of every principle of integrity, and every feeling of
honor and delicacy, on behalf of my practice. I claim, over and
above these, the sanction of the law. — Law reflects the princi-
ples of morals ; and in this case the mirror presents a clear image
of the right and the duty. The law vests the right of publica-
tion of private letters solely in the writer, no one else having
any such right during the author's life, or after his death, except
by his express permission. On the knowledge of this provision
I have acted, in my arrangements about my own correspondence;
and I trust that others, hitherto unaccustomed to the grave con-
sideration of the subject, will feel, in justice to myself and others
who act with me, that there can be no wrong, no moral inexpe-
diency, in the exercise of a right thus expressly protected by the
Law. If, by what I have done, I have fixed attention upon the
morality of the case, this will be a greater social benefit than


the publication of any letters written by me, or by persons far
wiser and more accomplished than myself.

I have only to say further, in the way of introduction, a word
or two as to my descent and parentage. On occasion of the
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1688, a surgeon of the
name of Martineau, and a family of the name of Pierre, crossed
the Channel, and settled with other Huguenot refugees, in Eng-
land. My ancestor married a young lady of the Pierre family,
and settled in Norwich, where his descendants afforded a succes-
sion of surgeons up to my own day. My eminent uncle, Mr.
Philip Meadows Martineau, and my eldest brother, who died
before the age of thirty, were the last Norwich surgeons of the
name. — My grandfather, who was one of the honorable series,
died at the age of forty-two, of a fever caught among his poor
patients. He left a large family, of whom my father was the
youngest. When established as a Norwich manufacturer, my
father married Elizabeth Rankin, the eldest daughter of a sugar-
refiner at Newcastle upon Tyne. My father and mother had
eight children, of whom I was the sixth : and I was born on the
12th of June, 1802.






My first* recollections are of some infantine impressions which
were in abeyance for a long course of years, and then revived in
an inexplicable way, — as by a flash of lightning over a far hori-
zon in the night. There is no doubt of the genuineness of the
remembrance, as the facts could not have been told me by any
one else. I remember standing on the threshold of a cottage,
holding fast by the doorpost, and putting my foot down, in re-
peated attempts to reach the ground. Having accomplished the
step, I toddled (I remember the uncertain feeling) to a tree before
the door, and tried to clasp and get round it ; but the rough bark
hurt my hands. At night of the same day, in bed, I was dis-
concerted by the coarse feel of the sheets, — so much less smooth
and cold than those at home ; and I was alarmed by the creak-
ino- of the bedstead when I moved. It was a turn-up bedstead
in a cottage, or small farm-house at Carleton, where I was sent
for my health, being a delicate child. My mother's account of
thino's was that I was all but starved to death in the first weeks
of my life, — the wetnurse being very poor, and holding on to
her <^ood place after her milk was going or gone. The discovery
was made when I was three months old, and when I was fast

8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY. [1802-1810.

sinking under diarrhoea. My bad health during my whole child-
hood and youth, and even my deafness, was always ascribed by
my mother to this. However it might be about that, my health
certainly was very bad till I was nearer thirty than twenty years
of age ; and never was poor mortal cursed with a more beggarly
nervous system. The long years of indigestion by day and
niii'ht-mare terrors are mournful to think of now. — Milk has
radically disagreed with me, all my life : but when I was a
child, it was a thing unheard of for children not to be fed on
milk : so, till I was old enough to have tea at breakfast, I went
on having a horrid lump at my throat for hours of every morn-
ing, and the most terrific oppressions in the night. Sometimes
the dim light of the windows in the night seemed to advance till
it pressed upon my eyeballs, and then the windows would seem
to recede to an infinite distance. If I laid my hand under my
head on the pillow, the hand seemed to vanish almost to a point,
while the head grew as big as a mountain. Sometimes I was
panic struck at the head of the stairs, and was sure I could never
get down ; and I could never cross the yard to the garden with-
out flying and panting, and fearing to look behind, because a
wild beast was after me. The starlight sky was the worst ; it
was always coming down, to stifle and crush me, and rest upon
my head. I do not remember any dread of thieves or ghosts in
particular ; but things as I actually saw them were dreadful to
me ; and it now appears to me that I had scarcely any respite
from the terror. My fear of persons was as great as any other.
To the best of my belief, the first person I was ever not afraid
of was Aunt Kentish, who won my heart and my confidence
when I was sixteen. My heart was ready enough to flow out ;
and it often did : but I always repented of such expansion, the
next time I dreaded to meet a human face. — It now occurs to
me, and it may be worth while to note it, — what tlie extremest
terror of all was about. We were often sent to walk on the Cas-
tle Hill at Norwich. In the wide area below, the residents were

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