Front Page Titles (by Subject) CONSEQUENCES OF FOREIGN LIFE, — WITHIN. - Harriet Martineau's Autobiography, vol. 2 and Memorials of Harriet Martineau
Return to Title Page for Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography, vol. 2 and Memorials of Harriet Martineau
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
CONSEQUENCES OF FOREIGN LIFE, — WITHIN. - Harriet Martineau, Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography, vol. 2 and Memorials of Harriet Martineau 
Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography and Memorials of Harriet Martineau, ed. Maria Weston Chapman (Boston: James R. Osgood & Co., 1877). 2 vols. Vol. 2.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
CONSEQUENCES OF FOREIGN LIFE, — WITHIN.
“Crescit sub pondere Virtus.”
During the time that Harriet Martineau was at work upon her books of American experience, with two nations waiting for what she should say, and while she in her turn was listening for their reply, one cannot help desiring to know with what feelings she worked and waited.
Those six volumes of “Society in America” and “Retrospect of Western Travel” give her previous outward life and her opinions of men and things at that period with a fulness that neither this Memoir nor her Autobiography can find space for; but great effort was made on both sides of the Atlantic to fit those volumes to the spirit of the time.
All the kingdoms of literature and fashion and religious distinction in American cities, and in English complementary ones too, where, as in Liverpool, cotton was a bond of union, were proffered to her on these simple conditions; and “Vade retro” was her persistent reply. It was a costly, though so willing a sacrifice; for the slaveholders were not to her what Dr. Channing used to say they were to him, while he was striving to quiet the abolitionists of his own congregation, — “very much of an abstraction.”
“I was unworthy of our cause at that time,” she used afterwards to say, “but they were no abstractions to me. They were my dear friends; and I thought, as then I said, that they were disciples of Christ burdened with an inheritance of grief and crime; and I believed what I was told, that they were hindered from emancipating by the intermeddling of abolitionists.”
Her valued friend Macready, whom she so highly esteemed because of his efforts to his own loss to make the British theatre what it ought to be, did not encourage her, as he himself tells us in his journal, to make her forthcoming books the transcript of her feelings and her knowledge: —
London,November 3, 1836. — Called on Miss Martineau, who told me of many friends she had seen in the United States, and of her intended book upon the country. She liked Clay the best of the American statesmen. She is a very zealous abolitionist, but, I think, has got some illusive notions on the actual state of opinion on that perplexing question.
There was a way to have avoided all perplexity, and to have made the American people as much her worshippers after their publication as before. It was the way urged upon her by the timid good and the timid who were not good, as well as by the ignorant and by the thoughtless. She need but have said, as they did, —
“I cannot but shrink from the denunciation of slaveholding as a private immorality. It is the misfortune of the individual, — the crime of the State.
“I am far from being satisfied that emancipation has any tendency to diminish the aggregate of guilt and evil of slavery.
“If I had tidings to-morrow of a bequest to me of an estate with fifty slaves on it, I am not sure that I should not regard it as a criminal evasion of responsibility to manumit them.”
“Channing himself says there are masters who see slavery as it is, who hold the slave chiefly if not wholly from disinterested considerations; and these deserve great praise.”
Happily not so thought John Gorham Palfrey, who gave his inheritance of sixty slaves their freedom, not considering his responsibility discharged till he had placed them all in suitable situations at the North for obtaining their own living; nor Angelina and Sarah Grimké, of South Carolina; nor James H. Thom of Kentucky; nor James G. Birney of Alabama; nor Mattie Griffith.
And, more happily still for after times, not so thought Harriet Martineau, who so steadily and meekly took her stand with Garrison and with them.
But full and unhampered as her American books are, a parallel record exists, to which one may have recourse, that tells of much besides, — not only what she saw and thought, but what she heard, resolved, and felt.
It is a series of small unlettered volumes, thick and closely written, — the diary of the years between 1836 and her retirement to Tynemouth and afterwards; in which the most interesting entries are of things she provides no place for elsewhere, and which was furnished with this motto by those who knew her so well, her intimate friends the Kers.
Her own prefatory sentence is as follows: —
“I have long been uneasy at the thought of how many valuable things I suffer to go out of my mind for want of energy to record them. I have dreaded beginning to keep a diary, for fear of increasing my great fault, — bondage to rules and habits. I will try whether I can reconcile journalizing with ease and freedom of mind.”
This journal bears on every page the fullest proof that it was kept for her own use and behoof exclusively; and she would then have been startled at the thought of its being seen by other eyes or after times; and, excepting only as given by the friend to whose judgment she intrusted it, this feeling was paramount as long as she lived.
Such a trust binds to the nicest reserve in selection, and indicates the thoughts and the little self-confidences as the portions rightfully at command, with such other occasional entries as betray the confidence of no one.
The date of the beginning is at a friend’s house in Hertfordshire, August 31, 1839. After many other foreign matters, is the following: —
“A friend [named] tells me that another friend [named] tells him, that I am now too great to notice her. I great! She might have taken the trouble to ascertain. Yet I believe she cares for me; but prejudice, — the prejudice of a coterie, comes in the way. Her coterie entertains the prejudice that people’s convictions alter with their circumstances. The radicals want faith, and will trust nobody from the moment of elevation to title, wealth, or fame. I do not feel myself altered in this way.
“We went to Haileybury, and dined with Mr. Empson. Two arguments: whether Lockhart is justifiable or not, in printing the letters which have lowered Scott’s fame. I say he is right in giving us all if any thing. Mr. — would keep back solitary discreditablenesses. The other argument, — whether or not things should be said before the deaf, or done before the blind, which it would be inconvenient for them to know. The point was afterwards yielded to me, that such things should not be done.
“Macaulay’s article on Bacon, good as to the life, but superficial and low as to the philosophy. But it seems to make a noise. Macaulay has no depth, but much glitter. He won’t come to any thing-Monday evening, to town. Mrs. — found her poor dog dead. A favourite dog is a loss. Brisk old Lady Cork, now ninety-three, complains to Rogers, ‘You never take me any where.’ Rogers replies, ‘O, I will take you every where, — and never bring you back again.’
“Letters from William Ware and the Follens about the reception of my book in America. They like it, but the whole newspaper press and public seem out against me. I do not care for this, — it is temporary, — nor for these friends’ objections to my having mentioned female intemperance, because I do not agree with them. But my having hurt C. Sedgwick is more pain to me than all the rest can compensate. I really thought I was right, and am not sure now but I was; but I will look into it. I must be brave about the consequences of my own mistakes as well as about undeserved blame. I have ordered the note to be cancelled (Vol. III. p. 261).* Dr. Follen says there is a split in the Democratic party between the self-seeking professors and the true lovers of freedom. This will seem to give an advantage to the Federalists; but it is very well. Took a sweet walk on Monday, and felt my spirit revived by the beauty and the exercise. I have been less joyous than usual this summer. It must be from some physical cause, for my lot is wholly bright. The last week, however, has been very cheery. Mr. Basil Montagu defends not only Bacon but Swift in morals, pleading that enlightened men must be judged by other rules in morals than common men. If by any other, surely it should be by higher.
Thursday, 31st. — Finished my first volume of “Retrospect of Western Travel.” Mr. Ker says it would not do to take duelling out of the murder class, in criminal law. A man asks his friend to go out with him, knowing that, if he is tried for murder, he will be acquitted. But no man could ask this if he expected his friend to be actually transported for life. What would be the consequence? Assassination, or a lonely duel (unfair fighting), or manly conduct of the true sort? Colonel Fox came to dinner. He brought me from Lord Holland, his father, a capital motto for my chapter on Mount Vernon.
When Mr. and Mrs. — travelled in Italy, they were attacked by banditti, who meant to carry Mr. — into the mountains for ransom. Mrs. — was bent on going with him; and rather than have her the banditti let him go. Rogers says he did not believe it till he saw her; when he no longer doubted. How like him!
Friday, September 1. Talk at breakfast about schools and governessing. One family has had seventeen governesses. — Lady imperious. Must put a governess into a novel, — a good one; and show how bad it is at best.
Wednesday, 6th. — Invitation to go out into the sun, but I must work first. Can’t enjoy at ease till work is done. I read Gibbon. It makes me dread a single literary life, so selfish, so vain and blind, as this great man grew to be! How like a bully and coward are his letters to Priestley, and how honourable the good man’s answers! . . . . In telling them how I am met and discouraged by ignorance and mistake at every turn, I went off into tears, which I could not stop for long. It is wonderful how much less unhappy one often is in tears than at some times when one is laughing and seeming gay! Since my memorable crying-fit in Chiswell Street, in December, 1831, I have cried only three times heartily, that I remember: at Cheshunt, at something Mr. Ker wrote (which I had quite forgotten till he put me in mind of it to-day); when I bade the Follens good by; and this morning. I wonder when the next will be. Finished “A Month at Sea.” Read Gibbon’s correspondence. Selfish, vain creature! — beyond almost all I ever read of. His intentions of adopting and subjugating Charlotte! Celibacy is very bad, especially for men. Walked out gathering blackberries in the field. I love a real field.
Friday, 8th. — Now going to write an account of the Shakers: had a pleasant walk in the lanes when my work was done. Rather nervous and tired over my work, — so resolved to rest for a day or two. Looked over frescos from the Niebelungen Lied, in penny magazine. Schnorr is painting them splendidly at Munich. Mr. Ker told me an idea which I mean to evolve: Eastlake opened it to him: what is fit for poetry is not for painting; painting must be form and colour, which does not do in poetry: poetry is motion and sound, which of course will not do in painting. Eastlake followed this out from all poetry, leaving only a thing or two in Ariosto which will serve for both, — Camilla’s running over the wavy corn, Eve’s every gesture dignity and love, and so on. This all came out of my mentioning St. Christopher in the Danube, which Mr. Ker says won’t paint. They call Hogarth delightful, but false; but this seems to me arbitrary. If, like the Exhibition artists, he had had to label his pictures, it would be false; but as his pictures tell themselves, surely the probability is that the division is arbitrary. Eastlake’s own pictures are full of action, and tell themselves; you see the very heaving of the chest in the Greek mother. We speculated on the past and future in art. The department of religion is closing, or being completely changed. The Virgin, Christ, and John have by their fixed general character become types, securing the beholder’s recognition and sympathy, and enabling the painter to bestow his care in conveying new and more complicated expressions under the advantage of the recognized form. This is over. There is no more worship of these beings, and the intellect is beginning to contradict and will by and by dissolve the old associations. A republication of Christianity will take place, — is taking place. A new school of poetry — the metaphysical — has begun; and mental acts are taken as illustrations of nature, instead of the reverse. Old poetry will remain, by virtue of its truth; but a new kind is rising up. Will it not be so in painting too? Because painting of the highest old kinds did not represent action, nor even, as Mr. Ker thinks, abstraction, is the art never to do so, though Hogarth has proved that it may? I remember telling Eastlake that he must be a metaphysician to have painted his Sciote picture, and he spurned the idea. Singular! — if he works out the disproof of his own theory. The K—s have always told me that I did not understand art. I see now what they mean. We have different pleasures in pictures. I love them as types of human feelings; they, as idealized outward (what they call real) beauty.
Saturday, 9th. — Talked of the bigotry of strong reasoners; of Johnson’s bigotry and charity, his cruelty and kindness mixed. Mr. — remarks how he elucidated prison discipline, imprisonment for debt, and other things which our reforming wise men and philanthropists have said poor things about since. How he would have stalked over Channing and every body about slavery, if he had been here now!
Two brothers, F. and E., have sat in the same office for three years, and never spoken to each other. What a waste of the fraternal relation! — Not F.’s fault. At a dinner about South American independence some years ago Wilberforce and Mackintosh spoke. Wilberforce carried all away by his impulse, — looking out at the setting sun, and alluding to the extinction of slavery in that part of the West, rejoicing that the freed thought first of freeing others. Mackintosh’s was elegant and complete, with a touch about the chairman, a touch about trade, &c., but a failure, and felt by him to be so. How precious are these glimpses! Mr. — says Brougham is the first great statesman who has brought philosophical questions relating to the general good into the House. Lord Chatham was much of a humbug, after all; Fox despised political economy and other philosophy; Pitt knew nothing of the sort. Brougham was the first who introduced the new, substantial kind of public speaking or action. If so, this will be his title to immortality. I see the Newcastle folks have raised £5,200 for baths in their town; — Bravo, Grainger! What a benefactor that man has been!
Sunday, 10th. — Read Gibbon. Selfish, vain, unhappy man! but then we know nothing of his happiest times, — his times of study. He must have enjoyed these, for no toil in getting facts was too hard for him, while his power of generalizing was at the same time great. He studied law a year, for the sake of writing one chapter. He was a good specimen of the human being as to its alternate power and weakness, — enjoyment from its involuntary excellences and suffering from its lowest tendencies. All Gibbon’s sufferings, almost, came from his selfishness and intense desire to be happy, — or rather fear of not being so. How he plagued Lord Sheffield about his money-matters when he had enough already! And as soon as all was settled to his mind, he died. He seems to have behaved well about his last illness; but then he liked life; and much might be owing to his being willing to persuade himself that little was the matter. — His neglect of writing to his old aunt was very bad. Happily he felt this. . . . . We three ladies talked over the situation of housemaids; and I am to be Mrs. —’s whenever I want bread. I stipulate that if she takes a second it shall be Lady Mary Fox. She talked as earnestly about it, obviating difficulties, &c., as if it were to take place to-morrow. Read to Mrs. — my last chapters of my first volume of “Retrospect.” She says the book will do.
Thursday, 14th. — We went to town. A very pleasant drive. I told them of Lady Ann Coke’s (Countess of Leicester’s) child, who kept saying in the queen’s (Adelaide’s) presence, “Mamma, what an ugly woman the queen is!” and of Lady Stafford’s, who asked after dinner about a laced officer, “Mamma, can that silver thing talk?” They told me of a child, who, being shown some curiosities at a gentleman’s house, asked, “But where is the long bow papa says you shoot with?” Found my mother well and cheerful.
Letter from Dr. Channing. Dispassionate, — somewhat cold, — partly wise and partly mistaken, — like his letters usually. Very true and wise man, but wanting knowledge of actual life and sympathy with other people’s views.
Evening. — Read my mother all the letters I have had lately. Very pleasant. Quiet days on Friday and Saturday. On these days, when there is nothing to set down, how full is the life of the mind! Mine revolves the character of work done, and anticipates the fate of future doings. The faults of my work rise up and depress me, and my mind dwells far too much on myself. An alternation of work and society is, I think, best for me. When I am with the —’s I feel the most how small a space my labours really fill. I don’t get flattered with them.
Thursday. — I bustled among my books, making room for the Quarterly Review which is coming. It has such exquisite literary articles, I hope to improve by the study of it. We had company in the evening. Carlyle was in fine spirits. He made a great laugh at the scientific people. He calls them quacks and what not. I wish he had more sympathy and less cynicism. He has a terrible deal of the spirit of contempt. — — told of M. saying to Mrs. Austin that the five most ill-natured men in London were made criminal commissioners: of whom she named four, and could not remember the fifth. It was Mr. Austin. We had a charming evening with these friends round our table.
On Friday, Mr. Child* called. He says the Americans in Paris are frantic against me and my book. He agrees in the whole of it, except Dr. Follen being the greatest man I saw in the United States, yet he loves him much. He expects the admission of Texas will be the question on which the South will rise. He fears about the integrity and courage of the North.
Sunday, September 24. — Revelled in Lamb’s letters. What an exquisite specimen is that man of our noble, wonderful, frail humanity! These letters are somewhat unreal, also egotistical, but a harmless egotism; and the genius, the exquisite fancy, the human love, the clinging to the familiar and the dear, are delicious. What a lesson is the series! His disgust at work and regularity; and then his ennui when released. Let us be thankful for necessary toil. With what horror he speaks of a dependence on literature, and of the booksellers! I feel nothing of this, but mine is not a common case, I suppose; and women find it difficult to earn a subsistence in other ways. But it should be a hint to secure an independence as soon as I can. I am vexed at his humility towards Southey about his controversy, and at Southey’s acceptance of it, and at Talfourd’s letting it pass. Lamb was clearly right, and the letter is a rare beauty, — full of truth and gentleness.
Evening. — Read it over again to my mother, and also my Sedgwick article,* which she likes.
Monday, 25th. — These bright autumns, with pleasant work, and not too much company within doors and sunshine without, are delightful seasons. My spirits have come back again; that is, I suppose I am quite well; the influx and variety of work stimulate and do not oppress me.
Received a rousing note about our Woman’s Friend scheme, the success of which is thought to depend wholly on me; and I am asked to give the chief of my time and attention to it. This troubled me: thoughts of sacrificing my novel; of entering into new bondage, &c. But, meditating, I found that my conviction about the object requires me to make this sacrifice of money, ease, and purposes. If Mr. — is to be relied upon for his judgment, and all looks well, I hope not to fail in my part. Went to sleep resolving to do right about it, whatever that right might be.
Tuesday, 26th. — Wrote private note of inquiry about Mr. —’s character for judgment and steadiness. Wrote to Dr. Channing. To the Carlyles. John Sterling there. A young man next door to death, they say, but if he lives a few years sure to be eminent; so wise, so cheerful, so benignant! I wish Carlyle would learn somewhat of him, for his views are deplorably dismal, and very unreasonable in my eyes. He doubts not all being for the best, but believes in a preponderance, — a saturation of misery for the best of the race, and that the stupid and sensual only are happy. He does not pretend to care or presume to inquire whether there is another life to compensate. I asked him what was his idea of good, if he is sure all is well, but the best men miserable. He says he can give no clearer reply than that it is found in the New Testament, “The Worship of Sorrow.”
Received a silly tract against usury, based on the Mosaic law. Author would have my opinion, so I referred him to Calvin (in Dugald Stewart’s dissertation on the origin of political philosophy) for the destruction of the Mosaic part of his argument, and to Bentham for the rest. A Frenchwoman has lately petitioned the Chambers for a participation by women in the rights of citizenship. Women are not excluded, and must therefore be supposed to be included. Mr. Child says her positions are unanswerable, her logic the closest. Accordingly there was much “hilarity on the côte gauche.” They could only laugh, for she left them without a plea. On this quarter-day I find myself at liberty to go on with my book, as, indeed, it is high time. How I love life in my study, — all alone with my books and thoughts! Books are not sufficient companions if one only reads. If one adds writing, one does not want the world, though it is wholesome to have some of it.
September 30. — Mr. Madge came to tea, and brought some expensive American letters from Liverpool, — strips of abuse and vindication from newspapers, in whole blank sheets of paper. R. Sedgwick sends a paper with a vindication of his sister, — straightforward and unencumbered. She did alter, however, leaving out the sailing part, so I was not far mistaken. Discouraging account came in reply to my inquiry into character in the Woman’s Friend business. I am sorry, but when the drawing back is once done, cannot help being glad of having time for my novel. I shall write for it, if the scheme goes on, but not make myself responsible.
October 1. — Find myself utterly unaffected by blame of my book where I feel myself right; deeply wounded when I am suspicious of having been hasty and careless. I made up my mind to suffer retribution cheerfully, as well as insult, and so I will. But I have still much pride and some fear. I felt myself turn pale when I found what those American letters were last night; but I immediately recovered. This morning I read the antislavery documents. The women are doing bravely, and thereby coming at a conviction of their rights. Bless them! I don’t mind the bad taste of their orthodox mode of expression. In Angelina Grimké’s there is an interesting account of the intellectual achievements of the blacks. But are the Egyptians and Moors fair specimens? Sent Mr. Fox the women’s report.
Evening. — Read some of Pascal’s pensées. They show great knowledge of men, — of their weaknesses and faults: they are very gloomy; but I do love these speculative writers. It is strange that Voltaire, in his notes, cheers him up, — actually seems to have more faith and more benevolence. I don’t believe we do half justice to Voltaire. I was struck with the pensée on our hiding our sins, and not being able to bear the benign ordinance of confession, so that the Catholic religion is rejected on account of it. Could he not see that it is unnatural if faithful, and, where natural, sure to be unfaithful? No human virtue can survive the degradation of being perfectly known to another; or rather, laid open; for if your confessor knows of a bad thought of yours, he does not know how it came there, which is the chief thing.
October 2. — Wrote to engage our places at Covent Garden. I walked in the park and found it warm as June, and altogether delicious. A letter from Lissey, with a sweet account of Harry’s first wound from the wickedness of the world. Some boys stole his and Willie’s kites, and told lies. The kites were recovered. But Harry thought he never could be so happy again, from grief for the boys and dislike of them. Could not sleep, but cried in the night; but has recovered. Fine little fellow!
Mrs. — objects to “Maltravers” as immoral: says she cannot give it to her young people. But novels are not to be judged by their fitness for children. I object to no real subjects into which pure moral feelings of any kind can enter. Whether they are, when finished, moral or immoral, depends on the way in which they are treated; whether in a spirit of purity and benignity, with foul gusto, or with a mere view to delineation. Wrote a good day’s portion of my second volume of “Retrospect,” Mississippi voyage, which it is delicious to go over again.
Was surprised to find the mixture of error and truth in the opinions in natural philosophy attributed to Anaxagoras. Penny Cyclopædia. — Now tired. A bit of grave reading, and to bed.
Thursday, 5th. — To-day, while I was writing “Madison,” in came a glorious letter from the Follens, full of heart, of wisdom, and of news. Dr. F.’s criticisms on my book are mostly just; how honest, pure, and wise! It made me more sure of them than ever. The Union is in a great stir. The separation of Bank and State is confirmed by this time, I suppose. Then comes the tug of war. The South is silent, — the North growing more clear-sighted every day. Dr. Channing has put out a capital letter to Mr. Clay, on Texas, — sound and bold. Bravo! The Americans may always be trusted to do right in time.
Mr. Fox has made a fine leading article of the report of the Women’s Convention: and I shall send it to America to be reprinted there.
Mr. Macready, who called on her about this time, mentions it thus in his journal: —
“Called on Miss Martineau: on the arrival of the carriage drove her home, talking the whole way. With the exception of one walk round the garden, talked away the whole evening. The only subject on which I did not cordially agree with this fine-minded woman, and on which I do not clearly understand her, is her advocacy of the restoration of the rights of women. I do not see what she would have in point of political power, nor for what.
“July 22, 1837. — Sent a note to Miss Martineau, informing her of her box for Monday, enclosing her a book of the ‘Bridal,’ and mentioning our purpose of naming our little babe after her.”
Friday, 6th. — Wrote to Robert Sedgwick to make my public atonement to Catherine. Evening to Covent Garden, and saw the “Bridal.” O, the beauty! Macready acted admirably. There was an air of hilarity about him which I like to see. Success to him! Home to supper and Spectator, where there is a shameful article against the abolitionists.
Sunday, 8th. — Woke with the idea of sending a letter to the Spectator. After breakfast did it. After dinner copied it. Showery day, and did not go ont.
Monday, 9th. — Letter from America which cost 3s. 2d.; only a blank sheet with a slip of newspaper, — an insulting copy of verses. Poor malice! A letter from a young man, consulting me whether to go to America. Simple, fervent, and interesting. He is obviously the darling child of parents from whom he will have money, kept at home without sufficient employment, and longs to be doing. A note from Macready, offering me my box at Covent Garden, whenever I like to go. Truly kind and gentlemanlike in the way in which it is done. Miss — made a long call, her place for Paris being taken for the afternoon. She has lived in Paris since she was five years old. She says we should not tolerate Napoleon if we had lived under him; if we had had to open our room door constantly to see that the servants were not listening, — half the servants in Paris being spies; if we had seen the youth of the noble families of Italy brought to France and placed in the military schools, — some too young, so that they pined and died. She says the great fault of the French is their disregard of truth; and that it is difficult to make other nations believe and feel that people have very good qualities with this one great vice. She likes the Germans. Says Guizot understands elevation of soul, though his own worldliness prevents his elevation. I read Felkin’s excellent report on the working-classes of Nottingham, showing clearly that there are resources enough for all necessary comfort if there were good management, but that fathers spend all their resources, almost, on themselves. Wrote fourteen pages with much ease and pleasure, — “Country life in the South.” What a blessing is this authorship! It is pleasanter than my gayest pleasures; and it helps me over indisposition and failure of spirits better than any holiday. The thing is, can I now live without it? This is always my doubt and dread; but I will dread nothing.
Tuesday, 10th. — A good day’s work done. Whately is the author of the “Utopia” edited by Lady Mary Fox. He wishes this to be known, though he could not, as archbishop, publish it himself. Who would be an archbishop? When I came in from my walk I found the first proof of my “Retrospect.” Pleasant, the beginning this sort of fruition again! Read some of Channing’s “Texas.” I wish I could write a review of my book, I see so many faults in it. There is no education like authorship, for ascertaining one’s knowledge and one’s ignorance. What light is thrown into my dark places by every thing I publish, — by the convictions of error that follow! What entirely new ideas are opened to me! It is the case with this last book. I dreaded it beforehand, but I enjoy it already. I do hope to grow wise by mistakes, — one way of being made perfect by sufferings.
Thursday, 12th. — A bustling day, and not a line of my book written. I am too anxious on this score. It is good for work, — this scrupulosity, — but bad for freedom of spirit. I wrote to Mrs. Macready, and to the young man who has made me his confidante. A note from the Review saying that my article is postponed. It is vexatious; but I try not to be troubled when my pride or my wishes are mortified. Yet I do prefer publishing myself to being at other people’s disposal. I wonder what ruling one’s spirit is. I never show mortification. Is this right or wrong? There is pride in these, my only concealments; yet they save my mother pain, and help me over things which would trouble me if dwelt upon in words. I really think I do acquiesce in both great and small troubles; and none sting, but where there is self-blame. Wrote at length to the Follens, which always does me good and makes me happy. Wrote to several friends with the prospectus on the rights of unmarried women. Channing’s “Texas” is very fine; bold, solemn, eloquent; and I fancy wiser in the-matter-of-fact parts than he usually is. It will do the nation great service, by raising them to see the truth. Now, as to Dr. Channing himself. I liked his letter to me about my book very well till I saw this. But he should not have spoken slightingly of my book as a mere book of travels, and urged me to get on to something higher, if he thinks as he does of the Texas question, and if my book roused him to write upon it. For his own sake (never mind mine) he should not. Is this a return to his old habit of being shy of what has moved him, and shrinking from acknowledgment where he has been most stimulated? I hope I am doing him no injustice, yet ought I not to hope that I am? Why is this the only occasion, since I knew him, when he has been wholly silent about what he was doing, and has not sent me his publication? Mr. Turnbull called with three letters of introduction. He was always hospitable to the English in Paris. He has seen but one American there who likes my book. The Spectator has my letter about the abolitionists, with a comment so weak that, though the facts are misstated, I think it best to leave it unanswered. The world may be trusted to judge between them. E. dined with us. Charming children. The change swept away all my trumpery little cares and anxieties, unworthy of one who really lives. Read some of Beaumont’s “Marie.” Sentimental and un-American. Little more like America than like China. Mrs. — praised a single life, so as to surprise me much. I have a very bad opinion of it for other people, though liking it for myself. Yet the chances for happiness are rare and feeble. The only way is not to care for one’s happiness. Mrs. — urged my answering the Spectator’s comments on my letter; or, rather, setting right their false facts. Did not like it, but found it my duty. I must uphold the right at the cost of trouble, time, and unpleasant feeling. May I never shrink!
Thursday, 19th. — Went to town with my mother, and answered the Spectator, avoiding all self-reference, and being as brief as I could. Corrected proof. At night, read some of “Archy Moore.” A terrible story, which stirred me deeply. I was ashamed of having any troubles when others are suffering so tremendously. I looked round upon my luxury, physical, intellectual, and spiritual, and wondered. I felt as if I could throw them all away for one solace to the negro. It is truer than any slave-story I ever read. Mr. H. C. Robinson came to dinner. I like his opinions of people; that is, his and my opinions agree. He never knew but one American gentleman to laugh! — the Americans cannot be known out of their own country, any more than any other people. Joanna Baillie is very unhappy about the revelation of the true Walter Scott in Lockhart’s Life. Scarcely any one seems to see what I think the true principle, — that it is better to have truth than any particular kind of opinion of great people. Truth, or silence. If great men fall below our expectation, let it be remembered that there is another point of view from which the matter should be looked at, — that we gain thus a new sense of the glory and beauty of virtue and incorruptibleness in the humble matter of every-day life. The Spectator has my letter, with comments which require no answer. This is over, for which I am very glad.
Monday, 23d. — Mr. Sheridan Knowles begs me, through Mr. Turnbull, to accept a stage-box to see his new comedy at the Haymarket, — with arrangements about dinner where we meet him at the Turnbull’s, next door to the theatre. Very kind in both, and very pleasant. I read Whately’s review of Miss Austen. Good, but not particularly striking. She was a glorious novelist. I think I could write a novel, though I see a thousand things in Scott and her which I could never do. My way of interesting must be a different one.
Saturday, 4th. — Resolved upon doing the Channing chapter in my book. The English ought not to be deprived of an account of the man they most care about, by any difficulties arising out of my friendship with Dr. Channing. Settled to work, and found it not at all difficult to do Channing.
Monday, 6th. — Finished Channing: hope I have done him and the subject justice; but it is difficult to write of one’s intimate friends.
Tuesday, 7th. — A note from William Ware, in which he says some pleasant and some very kind things, and one which convinces me by its effect how sensitive I am about my friends’ opinions of what I do. He observes that a thorough reading of my book convinces him of what he did not once think, — that I am greatest in the purely inventive; in other words, he does not like the book so well as he expected. It is astonishing how this stung me, and longer than for the moment. I was convinced, from the first, of the absurdity of the feeling, my motives and aims being what they were and are; but I think this kind of pain has no influence on my doings; and that the best way is to let it alone, as if it did not exist. Why should I object to pain? What harm will it do, if it does not affect action? Read Waldo Emerson’s oration. Though fanciful, it has much truth and beauty. It moved, roused, soothed, and consoled me. At all events, he is a free and courageous man, and I wish him God speed!
Friday, 10th. — Corrected proof and wrote notes. H. Crabb Robinson called. He gave me the good news of the American President having declared against the annexation of Texas. How much have Mr. Child and I and Dr. Channing, in succession, had to do with this? Never mind who did it, — it is done, thank God! H. Crabb Robinson wrote Goethe and Schiller in the Gallery of Portraits. Saw the aurora, in going to Carlyle’s. The others did not see it. Every one should look at the sky in the middle of November. It is a shame to miss these sky-sights.
Tuesday, 21st. — Mr. — called. A kind-hearted man, but dreadfully mean. He complains of poverty; which means that he is always increasing his real estate, so that he has not a guinea to spare. . . . . A busy life, and somewhat profitable, I trust, I am now living.
Saturday, 25th. — Was too busy, till to-day, to walk out. I must cure myself of being so busy as this. It is desirable to walk, I always feel in the middle of the night. I don’t want to be selfish about health, but I am selfish the other way, thinking my doings of too much importance. A most beautiful account of herself from —. I must secure time to answer such in the way they deserve. She says truly, that she thinks she never did study. I scarcely ever have. The gift of us all is more imparting than gaining from books. Saw Werner. It made me sick, and struck upon my very heart, and it got worse every moment. After all was over, Macready came to our box door, all glittering under his cloak. I could not sleep well. This morning, very heavy. . . . . The “Leave me,” and “I would not send you forth without protection,” haunted me so that I resolved to go out for a walk. Corrected proof first, and then went. Met Mr. C. Buller, who walked with me. The liberals are wholly taken by surprise by Lord John, who speaks warily, too; no sudden fit. C. Buller calls Macready a very great actor. Does not like his Othello, which certainly moved me least. Complains of literary people, that they give in to aristocratic doings, and are unworthy of their callings. This is too true when I come to think. May it never be so with me! What have I to gain thus? Letter from Mackintosh. Nice note from Talfourd. Letters from co-operatives, thanking me for my book, and account of the Shakers, and giving me books and papers. Very good, true, and hearty letter. Wrote thirteen pages in course of the morning; had an afternoon talk and half an hour’s reading. On Monday Crabb Robinson told me he did not care if he never saw Carlyle again, he talked so against antislavery and philanthropic exertions. Very withering to any young persons who might have heard him. That contempt of all open movement is a diseased part of Carlyle’s mind. Told by Robinson of the complaint in the North American of my insisting on the majority being in the right, which Robinson calls the great spot in my book. The answer fluttered me at first, but foolishly. Palfrey’s is the Federal version of the matter. The saying that the king can do no wrong is drawn from the monarchical function; but the saying that the majority are in the right is necessarily founded on the general truth, literally taken, or the function must be a wrong one.
Evening. — Robert and I went to Covent Garden to Macbeth.
Tuesday. — An immense letter from Margaret Fuller. Sad about herself, and very severe on my book; — righteously so, but with much mistake in it. The spirit is very noble. Do I improve in courage about learning the consequences of what I do? I commit myself boldly, but I suffer a good deal. But I do not think I go back. I suffered a good deal from her letter.
Evening. — A party at home; several Americans. I talked a great deal, — some with every body. I hope it went off well.
Thursday. — The books for the blind arrived, in fine order. I will do my utmost to get these introduced into the daily life of the blind here. It is surely a good work, worth trying for. Why was I so worried about getting my book done? The difficulty is in me, and would be about something else, if not that. I do struggle against it, but the true way is to put myself into the way of being convinced how small our doings are, and how we must have our affections and anxieties out of ourselves. This winter I will read, and see what a vast world it is that I have nothing to do with. Especially let me fill myself full of the gospel. How one thirsts for it, after a busy interval.
Friday. — Finished the composition of my book. Bustled and put away pamphlets, snatched a brief walk in the Park, and really felt my book was done; but did not feel much relief, because of the paper to be done for “The Christian Teacher” so very soon. Lord Durham still gives a high character to Nicholas, saying that he is coerced by his nobles. But what great or good man would not, instead of yielding to the circumstances, overcome them or die? If Nicholas were a good man, he would rather be strangled twenty times over than have signed that order about the six hundred Polish women. Mr. Brewster, one of the seven liberals of the kirk of Scotland, came. He is a delegate to the Exeter Hall meeting against the apprenticeship system. Revised the remainder of my book, and quite finished it. Read some of Brougham’s education speech, but not all; so have no judgment to give. Walked in the Park. Letter about a Paris review of me in contemplation, which makes me think I care less about praise than I did, — probably from satiety. Determined to say nothing about it to any one. Browning came to tea. I like Browning. I care little about this book of mine. I have not done it carelessly; I believe it is true: but it will fill no place in my mind and life; and I am glad it is done. Shall I despise myself hereafter, for my expectations from my novel?
Monday, 4th. — Mended linen with much gusto. It feels like leisure. Mrs. Opie called. A spice of dandyism yet in the demure peculiarity of her dress. She never interests me much, or makes me approve her highly. Richard Martineau called with bank-notes for £1,020 for me. Took the numbers of the notes and locked them up. Hope we shall have no burglars this week. Browning sent me “Robinson Crusoe,” an original copy, very venerable. Although I have read it, I am going to sit down to it and be a child again.
Tuesday, 5th. — Read the newspaper aloud. Mended black stockings. Now write to the Manchester co-operatives. Before I had well begun, came Mr. Saunders, with bad news;* but somehow I did not care about it. How much more fear of wrong-doing affects than any money loss or any provocation!
Wednesday, 6th. — Mr. Brewster brought his two sermons for me. He told me of his standing alone in the synod about church-rates. All were unwilling to give them up, fearing to lose tiends (tithes), next. He showed that church-rates were not property, while tiends were (national property). He declared that sooner than have dissenters burdened unjustly with church-rates, he had rather see the church come down. There was a cry, “Take down his words!” Also, “Give him time to explain.” He declared he had nothing to explain. He meant what he said, and would abide by it. A committee was appointed to confer with him (supposed previous to deposition), but he heard no more of it. Last October the minute was read at the General Assembly; but still no notice taken, though he was present. Sound man. Saunders sent a letter, showing means of getting the sheets of “The Retrospect” off to America by these packets, that I might get terms from a publisher there. But I know no American publisher whom I should like to ask, and I have declared that the book is written for England. So I think it better to forego my gains. It will not matter much if I keep my own counsel, so as not to make my own family vexed. I could not satisfy myself to do this with the present feelings of the Americans towards me, for any money. I think I cannot be deceiving myself. I think I must be right. Read some of Hall in afternoon, till time to dress for ball. — First to —’s, — a gay party, and very large. A New Zealand chief, tattooed, and gentlemanly looking, notwithstanding. Mr. — asserted that every thing in society is wrong. Mr. — showed him that there are degrees of superiority in all societies, from New Zealand to England. Is there any better than England? Are there not many worse? How then can all be wrong? Have we not co-operation in various ways already? Every insurance, turnpike, and social achievement is from so much co-operation: why then begin de novo, when we have so much ready to our hand? The rooms were beautifully dressed with evergreens and flowers. O, how tired I was! But I always think afterwards that I might keep it more to myself. . . . .
Monday, 11th. — How little do we foresee! I finished my last entry supposing the events of the day done with. Thought that nothing more was likely to happen, when a note from Mrs. W. came, telling me that her husband could no longer struggle against his conviction of the unlawfulness of oaths, and that he is going to resign his office. Such a testimony to the supremacy of conscience ought to make one rejoice; yet I cannot help grieving. Such a household broken up! My head was full of them all the evening and in the night.
Evening. — Read aloud Southey’s famous article in the Quarterly on British Monachism. Entertaining, but with a vain attempt to prop up Lady Isabella King’s institution. I should like to see the economy of association made use of by women; to see them living in a sort of club-house, enjoying comfort and luxury, rather than dispersed in poverty among boarding-houses and schools: but there must be no royal patronage, no distinction between rich and poor, no ostentation about schools attached. Simple, living without other restraints than as to hours and one or two other particulars. It strikes me to write on this.
Almost as soon as I had written this, Saunders came, and filled my head with what will continue to fill it for long. I had been darning stockings and brushing gown and cloak tails, not doubting in my easy mind that I was to have holiday for the whole winter, when he came. After some little talk about business, he said, “Did you not once say, ma’am, that you should like to edit a periodical?” Then he opened his scheme of an economical magazine, to strike into Knight’s circulation and that of my series. We talked over the details a good deal; I talked it over with my mother and aunt. It is an awful subject; such facilities for usefulness and activity of knowledge; such certain toil and bondage; such risk of failure and descent from my position! The realities of life press upon me now. If I do this, I must brace myself up to do and suffer like a man. No more waywardness, precipitation, and reliance upon allowance from others. Undertaking a man’s duty, I must brave a man’s fate. I must be prudent, indefatigable, serene, good-natured; earnest with cheerfulness. The possibility is open before me of showing what a periodical with a perfect temper may be: also of setting women forward at once into the rank of men of business. But the hazards are great. I wonder how this will end. Went to the —’s: they are serene, after their conscientious sacrifice about the oaths, as they deserve to be. I trust I diverted them from going to America. It would never suit them. The children are very merry, but Irma was concerned at the weeping of the servants, when warning was given them. She said the maids were crying very much, but she thought it was not naughtiness but sorryness. I found them so little engrossed with their own affairs, that, in the evening, when conversation paused, I told them mine. Two gave no opinion, — two said rather yes than no. Found notes and letters at home. One from Mr. —, with fine metaphors. If I can “get good collegians,” colleagues, I suppose, and “be their queenbee,” he will “enlist under my banners.”
Tuesday, 12th. — I thought I must give up this scheme in the night; but it was brighter in the morning. Went to consult Richard Martineau. He is rather in favour of it than not, but will consider of it and let me know. Wrote to James about it, and begged an answer in the course of the week. Mrs. — called. — This is a bad affair about the London University. Dr. Arnold proposed a sort of religious test: an examination in the Greek Testament. Otter* and Maltby,* as churchmen, thought they must support it. Dr. Roget did not like to be the only one to oppose it; and Empson thought he could not, because Arnold was his intimate friend! Lord John Russell is very angry, and Booth, Strutt,† and Romilly are trying to get it rescinded. — The distinctive principle of the University is violated. Shame! Joined the Macreadys at the theatre to hear the new opera. It is indeed exquisite. Some of the airs will soon be in every street in England. “Joan of Arc” followed. Scenery splendid above every thing. I never saw any thing like it before. I had the thought of this periodical heavy at my heart all the evening; but slept pretty well.
Wednesday, 13th. — Wrote a set of queries for Saunders. I find that in the morning I am pro and at night con the scheme. I see such an opening for things I want to say; I seem to be the person to undertake such a thing; I can toil very hard; I am persevering, and in the habit of keeping my troubles to myself. If suffering be the worst on the con side, let it come. It will be a fine discipline of taste, temper, thought, and spirits. But I don’t expect Saunders will accede to my stipulation for money for contributors. If so, there ’s an end. If he does, I think I shall plunge. Walked to Chelsea to dine with the Carlyles. Found her looking pretty, in a black velvet high dress and blond collar. She and I had a nice feminine gossip for two hours before dinner, about divers domestic doings of literary people, which really seem almost to justify the scandal with which literary life is assailed. The Carlyles are true sensible people, who know what domestic life ought to be. — I felt myself compelled to decline meeting the Sterlings.* They have just found out that I am not the sort of person the Times has been making me out to be, and wish to see me. But it would be mean in me to appear to like persons who have offered me a long course of public insults. I have no means of declining insult, but by declining to meet those who sanction it. Leigh Hunt and Horne came to tea.
Thursday, 14th. — Wrote notes, settled business, and am now going to darning and thinking. . . . . Darned, but did not do much sober thinking. I cannot really think without pen or pencil or book in hand. Delicious weather. Met Mrs. — in the Park. She and her husband like Mr. Harness’s tragedy exceedingly, and praise it for its finish. How very narrow these classical people seem to me to be! I do not find in them any sympathy with the high and true, but only regard to style and “finish.” After tea, sat down before my fire with pencil and papers, to make out a list of subjects, contributors, and books for my periodical. Presently came a letter from Saunders, which must much affect my fate in regard to the project. I distinctly felt that it could not hurt me either way, as the pros and cons seem so nearly balanced that I should be rather thankful to have the matter decided for me. Saunders and Otley grant all I have yet asked, and it looks much as if we were to proceed. So I went on with my pondering till past ten o’clock, by which time I had got a sheet full of subjects.
Saturday, 16th. — A busy day. Morning, read one of my own stories, — “Loom and Lugger.” Was quite disappointed in it. It has capital material, but is obscure, and not simple enough. Too much matter for the space, and not well wrought out. Could do better now, I hope. Mr. Finlaison came at one, and we went into the city about my annuity business. He told me by the way about the reports of the ecclesiastical commissioners. Said that the supposed average of souls to a parson is six hundred, and the income under £300, but that in Norfolk the average income is £800 and the souls to each cure seventy. In Norwich the average income is £800. This bears out the worst that has been said against the church. Took up my schedule at the national debt office, and walked to the bank. Never was there before. What a bewildering suite of large rooms, full of busy men! Glad to see a boy carrying pewter pots out. It looked some relief from business. Watched the carefulness of the transaction between Finlaison and the clerk. Finlaison thrust nearly a thousand pounds’ worth of notes into my hand, as if they had been waste-paper. I watched the process of weighing the gold and shovelling into bags, which were carried away by the porter. We then walked to Mr. Nobeare’s (or whatever his name is) to purchase the annuity for a term of twelve years; having already purchased the deferred annuity of £100, to commence at the end of that time. For £906 1s. 3d. I purchase a twelve years’ annuity of £95 7s. 6d., which being paid over yearly to the national debt office, purchases the annuity of £100 to begin in April, 1850. I have also made the first payment to the national debt office, so as to have spent £1001 8s. 9d. If I die before the twelve years are out, my heirs will receive the remains of the temporary annuity. I think this is good, and hope I have done right. Back to the bank, and signed the transfer of stock. Mended my satin gown and dressed to go to the Grotes’. Met a pleasant party, mostly M. P.’s. . . . . James is altogether against the periodical plan, and I think his reasons good. After getting off my things and settling, I wrote to Saunders to decline the enterprise. So this vision of an enterprise is over, and I am once more at liberty to spend my winter as I like. It feels very delicious at present. Rest, reading, thinking, and a new enterprise (a novel) when I like. Read Midsummer Night’s Dream in the evening. Surprised to find how completely I remembered it. How delightful to have time to read what one likes!
Wednesday, 20th. Afternoon. — Read in the Pictorial Bible, which is to me very interesting.
Evening. — South’s sermon, — Adam in paradise. Very beautiful as a picture of perfect man, but how Adam came to fall if he was such an one South does not explain. Read “Katherme and Petruchio,” with the same effect that that play ever has; with wonder at its fun and cleverness, and much enjoyment thereof, but intolerable pain at the treatment of Katherine. Such a monstrous infringement of all rights, leading to such an abominable submission, makes one’s blood boil as much as if it were not a light comedy, but a piece of history. I have always found myself more sad at that comedy than at any tragedy. Robert Owen called. His delusion about the adoption of his plans is as great as ever. Metternich listened to him, and said he was right as to the present evils, and got his secretary to copy Owen’s documents. Owen takes wonder and sympathy at the moment, and an admission of grievances, for an adoption of his plans. Wrote five long letters. Wrote too much, and had slight sick-headache at night.
Saturday, 23d. — Read the news from Canada. My heart is with the Canadians. Letters from Dr. Channing, Mr. E. G. Loring, and Mrs. Child. Affairs in the United States seem most critical. Love-joy just murdered for abolitionism. Heaven aid the right! Browning called. “Sordello” will soon be done now. Denies himself preface and notes. He must choose between being historian or poet. Cannot split the interest. I advised him to let the poem tell its own tale. Why do long and full letters always make my heart heavy? Is it the dislike to new and grand ideas, that Watts talks of? The amount is oppressive.
Monday, 25th. — The Polish children dined here. They spent the afternoon with me in my study, I showing them the American views, and telling them about Niagara, and my going behind the sheet; and they telling me about their school and the little they remembered of Poland. At Warsaw the back of their house looked into a park, to which they had to go some distance by the street. They remember that when they spent the morning playing in the park their mamma used to let down a bottle by a piece of tape, for them to drink when they were thirsty. I love these traits. After tea I found up some little presents for them, and gave them each a chain of my own making, and some odds and ends for them to make knick-knacks of. They were clever at the pictures, and examined American coins with much interest. They are fine children. Heaven protect them! A Polish gentleman came for them. Reading. . . . . A pleasant, quiet Christmas-day; blest enough, if the children were happy.
Tuesday, 26th. — Our breakfast gladdened by good accounts from my aunt. Talk of people going through life without being understood. I don’t believe they ever do, except by their own fault. There is always, I think, some fault of temper or some deficiency in frankness and simplicity in such cases, — if, indeed, they are more than imaginary. But the unselfish never seem to fancy themselves misunderstood. It is the jealous who make the complaint.
Wednesday, 27th. — Dined with the Kers; met there Colonel Fox, Captain Beautort, Eastlake, and Mr. Pettit. Colonel Fox told me of poor Mr. Barrington having been in great grief at seven years old, at the loss of a younger brother. His nurse comforted him with saying that his brother was happy in heaven. The boy said, “If he is happy in heaven, God Almighty must have made him forget me.” Mrs. Ker’s little niece asks if Adam is not the man who was in a pigeonhouse and let out a pigeon. Curious exhibition of the “pride of life” in Mr. —’s servants and his next-door neighbours’. They laugh at his odd pair of horses, and his men stand on the steps when there is a party next door, crying out the number of the cabs, — “No. 249, cab!” “Nice party! plenty of cabs.”
Thursday, 28th. — Mr. Ker begs me to write “How to Observe,” but I recoil from it. I don’t think I can or ought. I want rest, and to keep out of the public view till my novel is ready. Urges me to read Smollett for his force; but I cannot, it disgusts me so utterly. Read Defoe’s “Plague.” Was somewhat disappointed. Robinson Crusoe has all the matter-of-fact-ness, with a world of beauty beside. The best part is where he describes the reception of the news of the decrease in the bills of mortality. Settled the accounts of the year. Went to bed very tired.
Evening. — Company. A pleasant evening of talk. The Vicar of Leeds, brother of Theodore Hook, has come out against town missions on account of difference of religious opinion. O, this Church of England! What a stumbling-block it is now! What is there of the gospel in the religious world! The Archbishop of Canterbury’s answer to Dr. Hampden in to-day’s paper is cool, cowardly, and church-like altogether.
Sunday, 31st. — I have just shut out the last daylight of the year. What a last day! With a September breeze and a May sun. In the park, how gay the children looked, and the water-birds splashing in the blue and gleamy waters. How busy the ripple looks, when the wind sweeps over! What a busy year it has been! On many accounts a happy one: but not so much as the last. Every one is kind, and I love my lot. But there is nothing here like the character of some American friends, or the sympathy of others [Follens and Furnesses named]. Surely, if we meet hereafter, we shall not be subject to these impracticable separations. I have had a good deal of discipline this year about opinion, — from the publication of my book; but have not had to suffer nearly so much as I expected. Praise seems to have lost its power of giving me pleasure, which is well. I sadly fear growing selfish, — fond, not of money, nor even of fame, but of ease and my own favourite pursuits. May I keep before me the single desire to do what is right, without longing or repining! I may soon have need of this. People with aged parents have. May I balance my duties without thought of self!
Thus passed the first year after Harriet Martineau’s return from America. Except the omission of what was in its nature unsuited for publication, I have passed over nothing but repetitions of the same incidents of daily recurrence, and the record of domestic occupations which overloaded each day, and thus occasioned a constant difficulty and anxiety in getting through with the daily authorship. This journal, with that of the succeeding year, marks the time while the English public was finding out the real character of its favourite writer. The world had learned already that she was not born for its amusement. It was now learning that she was not born to serve and save it in its own inefficient ways. Take up any small scheme of doing individual good, — carefully following in footsteps that have previously broken the path, and you will receive applause and support, from the throne to the poorest dwelling; but follow the indications of the times, with the large principles of statesmanship which settle all questions and remove all abuses, and men’s ignorance, self-interest, and wounded pride take the alarm. If there has been so much prudence in the course, power in the intellect, and charm in the character of the person whose views run counter to the public ones, as to make fault-finding manifestly absurd, there will nevertheless have been a check given to applause. Harriet Martineau had long entertained the thought that persecution and opposition might be as much the fault of the reformer as of the times. “Why should not a perfect being go through the world to serve and save it honoured and beloved in the exercise of those functions?” “What hinders each one of us from being such an one?”* She was indeed that being, and it could not be hindered. But she formed no exception to the general rule, that the greater the knowledge and goodness that is brought into contact with wrongs and abuses, the greater the momentary misapprehension and misliking. Hence the book that made Americans foam at the mouth only made the corresponding classes of Englishmen shake their heads. Time sets all right, — time for a little change in individual hearts, and a great consequent change in public circumstances, and the person who feels the chill of a public terror is soon warmly visited again by the approbation of those who through the same selfish impulse seek their share in whatever good may result from whatever risk has been taken. This book suggested by America did not make its author less popular in England, but it changed the basis of her popularity, the general view of her character, and the course of her after life. The effort of writing it, with the experience that qualified her for the work, set her above and beyond the world, and necessitated the moulding and directing it, with a single eye to its benefit. Henceforth she instinctively sought its contact where it is most plastic, — at the point of confluence of private with public life, before the materials have hardened into act of parliament. “Society,” technically so called, was neither contemned nor renounced; but being outgrown, her relation to it was changed.
Let us know what men worship, and we may know also what they will become; and the world could foresee in Harriet Martineau the consequences of a worship exceedingly unlike the popular one. We have in the “Miscellanies” (Vol. I. p. 190, American edition) a vision of her ideal. Multitudes of minds felt that she was herself the realization of her own ideal and they sought her guidance, and were influenced by her life. The thinking mind of that time was perhaps more profoundly exercised by her chapters on property and on woman than on the rest of the book, which had so violently agitated the shallower currents: and while her personal popularity was for a time unthought of in the conflict of principles the book excited, and her personal admirers were less conscious of her personal impress, in the very change their minds were undergoing from the workings of her great thoughts, she was writing thus in her journal, on observing that with all the success of her book, the manner of it was very different: “If my book does not succeed, I am not so popular as we thought I was; that is all.”
I find at the end of this year’s journal the following page, which throws light on the domestic economy of the popular political economist: —
ACCOUNTS OF THE YEAR 1837.
Many portions of her journal of the next year, 1838, show the tone and temper to which the sharp changes of English praise and American blame, worldly success and unworldly aspirations, had brought her mind. The reader will not need to have them pointed out.
This diary, which is contained in one of Letts’s volumes of four hundred pages, is accompanied by lists of books read in each month, remarkable events of the year in relation to herself, and, like all her years, with a statement of receipts and expenditures.
Monday, January 1st, 1838. — A fine bright morning to begin the year with. I had read in bed last night, to watch the year in, and thought of my beloved Follens, to whom I think this hour of the year will be ever consecrated. I am making myself anxious already about my novel. I must learn to trust the laws of suggestion, having had good reason to know how well they serve me. My plot will grow as I proceed. Wrote the rest of my paper on the Catholics in America. Was sorry to leave it for a call, yet enjoyed the call. Heard it said “If Macready’s enterprise* is not a high Christian enterprise, it is something better.” Bravo! Heard of a lady’s marriage with a young Irishman of half her age, and with no practice. What follies women of forty-eight do!
Afternoon. — Finished my paper with great joy. Now going to read for the evening. O, what leisure I am going to have, I hope!
Tuesday, 2d. — Mr. Roebuck called early and gave me facts about Canada, which I wrote down as soon as he was gone. They are very strong in favor of Canada. Finished the tables of last year’s diary, and went out to walk. How summer-like did all look! Count Krazinski called, and dear Miss Mitchell, whom I had not seen for above six years. She is unchanged. Carlyle called; says he has peace of mind now he has no writing to do. Very kind. Looks finely, and it is worth while watching his entrance into a room full of company. So modest, so gentlemanly! The Polish children dined with us. I wrote notes, dressed, coffee, and off to the theatre. A fine row of children in the next box. Our children were well pleased, drumming with their fingers to the music. The pantomime was admirable, and I was surprised to find how I enjoyed it. We all got pretty well tired before it was over, and it was past twelve when we got home. Found a paper, sent me by Robert Sedgwick, with my letter to him about “Home.”
Wednesday, 3d. — I certainly have great sympathy with shy people. Such odd fits of shyness come over me now and then. People can’t see it, I think, except from my face. Mrs. Booth called, Rev. Mr. Hunter, and Browning.
Friday, 5th. — The meeting held yesterday in favor of Canada was very striking, and must awaken the people and the ministers surely. A letter from the Follens, very loving, but conveying news of ridiculous charges against me in America; among the rest, of my being insane. I don’t mind pure calumnies. A mixture of the truth is what infuses the sting. Wrote to Dr. Channing. Mr. Porter called, and we went to his house. Had a very pleasant day. Mr. and Mrs. Ricardo were there, and I liked them very much. Mr. Urquhart, late ambassador or something to Turkey. He is one of the great fearers of Russia. When all were gone we talked till eleven. I like such visits as this. They are the true pleasure of society.
Saturday, 8th. — Talked over low morals in novels. — fully agrees with me about Miss Edgeworth’s. Read, in Blackwood, article on Mademoiselle Gautier, a devotee, — much like other devotees, whose tales are, however, very instructive.
Sunday, 7th. — Carlyle sends me a full list of his writings for Mr. Loring. How much may happen to American minds, from this one sheet which lies beside me! Heaven’s blessing on it! Read Life of Scott, Vol. VI. It is far more interesting than the former ones; and here his pride takes the form of despising money, which is far better than grasping at it. But this pride was a great snare. While his diary tells of sleepless nights, so many that he fears becoming unfitted for work, he writes to Lady Davy that his troubles have not broken and will not break his rest. It amuses me to see how his diary reveals a state of mind and way of working like mine. The pride, too, is like me, and the insouciance about things which cannot be helped.
Monday, 8th. — Lazy, in bed; partly from Scott’s eulogium on thoughts before rising. They are very ingenious and clear then, certainly. Mended and quilted till noon, very much enjoying my quiet over my own fire. Then Mr. and Mrs. Macready called, very full of Drury Lane. The Examiner, I hear, has gone against the Canadians altogether, bidding them be patient, like the Irish. How can Fonblanque? Read Scott till I finished. Very interesting. It seems as if one might trust to a novel growing out as it proceeds, instead of having the whole cut and dry before the beginning. Scott speaks of writing out the plot, and carefully weaving the story, if it should prove necessary to try something new. How he reveres Miss Austen! He never knew what poverty really was. He always had carriage, house, grounds, pictures, butler, &c. Only restriction, never privation. I have all to-day and all to-morrow disengaged, which is exceedingly pleasant. It must be good for me to be idle, and I’m sure it is very pleasant. I do not find just now, as formerly, that all unpleasant thoughts come back to plague my leisure, — thoughts of angry, backbiting Americans, and of all the wrong and awkward things I have ever done.
Tuesday, 9th. — Read “Pride and Prejudice” again last night. I think it as clever as before. Cold night. Read the Follens’ letter and answered it, on account of the calumnies against me. These scarcely trouble me at all; I suppose because they are so wholly false. I think praise and blame at a distance scarcely matter at all. It is a good lesson, though, to see how the same people who so greatly flattered me when there are abusing me now. I bound and mended two pair of shoes, and darned a handkerchief. Finished Judges, in Pictorial Bible, which is a great treat to me. Finished “Pride and Prejudice.” It is wonderfully clever, and Miss Austen seems much afraid of pathos. I long to try. Brushed my hair by the fire, for it is very cold, and slept badly from cold. But how do the poor live through such weather? I cannot forget them in their brick-paved cellars, without fire. I know that the human lot is more equalized than we are apt to think; but yet I fear sometimes lest my faith should give way, — such an abode of various misery, much of which might be obviated, does the world seem.
Wednesday, 10th. — Cold! cold! Walked in the Park. Thick snow drove me home. Put lace in my satin gown. Nobody came, it snowed so. Read “Les précieuses Ridicules,” which did not amuse me very much; though acted I can fancy it capital. Dressed and went down to tea. Put pretty books in the drawing-room. Delightful party, — Milmans, Lyells, Beauforts, Montagues, Procters, and Babbage. Osgood asked Procter to tell him which was Barry Cornwall. Miss Beaufort agrees with me about Miss Sedgwick making opinion too strong a sanction. No hope of her coming here at present. She is active, but not very strong. Lent the Milmans Miss Sedgwick’s “Home.” Several of us had a great bout of praising Mrs. Barbauld.
Thursday, 11th. — While we were sleeping some folks were hot and busy enough. The Royal Exchange was burned down. There is no telling the extent of the damage. My first thoughts were for the Fishers. I shall soon know how it affects them. The fine bells chimed their last while the framework on which they were hung was catching fire. The clock showed twenty-five minutes past one when the dial-plate was red hot. The stock-brokers’ offices are burnt, with their contents, — all the books and papers at Lloyd’s. The kings and queens all tumbled into the court, — all lost. The Gresham committee must rebuild. Mr. Lyell* called. Told me of absent geological gentleman who never knows how the world is going; who stared about him when told of the throwing out of the Reform Bill: “What decision?” “What bill?” “What reform?” So he scarcely seemed to know this morning what the Royal Exchange was. Buckland’s Bridgewater Treatise sold off six thousand immediately, and the second edition of five thousand is far gone now. How much greater sale than novels! There is some great mistake about the public being so fond of fiction. But Buckland united the religious and scientific world, probably. Read “Northanger Abbey.” Capital: found two touches of pathos.
Saturday, 13th. — Bright morning. After mending several things walked in the park. It was a busy scene, with skating and sliding. Never saw cheeks so red as some of the bairns’. My mother’s manner on hearing of an invitation to her set me thinking on the question which occupies her a good deal, — the quality of our acquaintance. She is surely right about some; and why should not I make acquaintance, too, among those of middle rank? Surely I am right in thinking that if I enlarge my acquaintance at all, it shall be among those below rather than those above me. I want insight into the middle classes, and to communicate with the best of them can surely do one nothing but good. If, as my mother says, the high quit me on that account, let them. They will not be worth the keeping. But I don’t believe it. I must keep my mission in view, and not my worldly dignity. Miss Mitchell dined and slept here. She and I had a nice talk over our fire at night. She told me how people insist that I am helped with my books. A bad compliment enough to the sex. — How is it that I do not get into perfect peace about my communicativeness? I ought either not to communicate so much, or not to fear my mother’s opinions and remarks about it.
Sunday, 14th. — Kept up too much talk about the Pictorial Bible and prayer-book with my mother. I should have let her prejudice pass with a simple protest. I often think I ought to do this, yet it would be really paying less respect to do so. How different, in such a case, to reconcile truth, respect, and peace! Read Channing’s “Texas,” and found it nobler than ever before. Was animated and shamed to-day to think I should have spent a thought on what people are thinking of me, however unjustly, in Boston, when my book and my position bear the relation they do to the great subjects Dr. Channing grows warm on. What matters it what is done to me, if I can give the faintest impulse to what is right, true, and permanent? Let me place myself above these things. Read aloud Southey’s article in the Quarterly on cemeteries; much learning, but little interest. How little I guessed what might come of my selecting that particular volume of the Quarterly!
Monday, 15th. — We little know, indeed, what a day may bring forth! Probably this is the greatest day of my year. While I was reading one article in the twenty-first volume of the Quarterly, on Grecian philosophy, there being an article in the same number on Hayti, it flashed across me that my novel must be on the Haytian revolution, and Toussaint my hero. Was ever any subject more splendid, more fit than this for me and my purposes? One generally knows when the right idea, the true inspiration, comes, and I have a strong persuasion that this will prove my first great work of fiction. It admits of romance, it furnishes me with story, it will do a world of good to the slave question, it is heroic in its character, and it leaves me English domestic life for a change hereafter. I spent the morning busily looking out materials, which abound. Dined out, — evening party. At my mother’s earnest desire, told her my Haytian project. This extreme cold puts one out of all one’s habits; but it is not for us to complain, but rather to consider the poor.
Tuesday, 16th. — Lord Eldon dead, — obliged to leave his honours and his fears and his money! Poor soul! how will the next world look to one so narrow? And yet, when we come to think of narrowness, there is but little difference as regards the whole of truth between the wisest and the foolishest of us. Went to call on Miss Beaufort. Then dear Erasmus came, and was delightful. Wrote notes and letters, then sat down to read Smedley. What a tale of privation and suffering! total deafness first, — then gradual incapacity of every sort, all most meekly and strongly borne. Here lay his strength, — in his piety and constitutional cheerfulness, for his intellect was nothing remarkable. He was a hack writer and small poet. His powers of style were much impaired by his deafness, I think; a consequence which had never occurred to me. But between the open and the shut eye, great difference.
Wednesday, 17th. — Met at dinner Mr. H. C. Robinson. I was silly at dinner in offering some sort of answer to Mr. Robinson’s question about the Seigneurial rights of the French Canadians, when I knew next to nothing about them. I dare say I talked nonsense, but I declared I did not understand. Mr. Booth does not care much about the grievances, but thinks the question whether Canada is capable of self-government or not. If the majority think they are, let them try. Then came the question, what majority? I say the majority of the electors who have chosen so wise a set of legislators as the Assembly.
The Searles came to tea. Mr. Searle says he remembers Dr. Channing, a young man, morose, low-spirited, repulsive. Long may he live, growing more genial every day.
Thursday, 18th. — . . . . Letter from an unknown lady remonstrating against the preference I have given to Christianity over natural religion in my book. It is a clever, frank, moderate, and ladylike epistle, which I must answer. The unbelief must surely be of a reasonable character: read much of “Emma” this evening, and looked out for information about Hayti. I love this leisure, but still feel as if I did not sit down to think enough. Heard of another unwise engagement. Surely women ought to love and marry early; if they do not, how many make fools of themselves after forty! — I suppose as they grow older and friends drop off and they feel the want of protection and companionship, and, above all, of affection. With what an air did Crompton pronounce against the Pictorial Bible, not having seen it! Do we not all do likewise — I, especially? Called on the —s; found a most affectionate welcome, — such a one as makes me think of the importance of human beings to each other. How were these stimulated and moved by me, ignorant and almost utterly weak as I feel myself to be, and as dependent upon the wise whom I meet! But these are meek and affectionate, not ignorant and weak. Read “Emma,” — most admirable. The little complexities of the story are beyond my comprehension, and wonderfully beautiful. Corrected proof of my “Letter to the Deaf.” I would not alter it, even where the expression seems to me poor. It was written in the full flow of feeling, and so let it stand. May it bring some comfort to some who have suffered as I have! But where is all the suffering gone?
Saturday, 20th. — The sun shone. Dressed and set off for Chelsea. Walked it within three quarters of an hour. Mrs. Carlyle looked like a lady abbess; black velvet cap with lappets, white scarf, and rosary. Very elegant creature.
Sunday, 21st. — Dusted my study furniture, and brushed and rubbed for near an hour. Sarah is hard pressed in her work this severe weather, so I bestirred myself to make things nice. Then read Toussaint in the “Biographie Universelle,” making notes as I went. Leigh Hunt tells Carlyle that his troubles will cease at five-and-forty; that men reconcile themselves, and grow quiet at that age. Let me not wait for forty-five, but reconcile myself daily and hourly to all but my own curable faults.
Monday, 22d. — The “Morning Chronicle” says Roebuck will be heard at the bar of the House to-day, but cautions people against believing his statements. Shameful! — to prejudge. I think it likely the matter will end in all his suggestions being adopted, while he is allowed none of the credit. Mr. Ker called and took me to his house, and I had a delicious day there. We talked over every species of novel. Rogers observes that in Scott’s the story stands still during the dialogue, while in Miss Austen’s, as in a play, the story proceeds by means of the dialogue. Mr. Ker says Scott’s characters are not true to nature, — only the vestments of nature. Miss Austen’s, you know every one. Told me of Brougham’s promise to Lady Jersey to let her know just the contents of the Reform Bill. Had a messenger to bring word when Lord John Russell was on his legs, and then sent in a letter to Lady Jersey, next door, with an outline of the bill. She had a large dinner-party, and read it at the head of the table. Every one believed it a joke, except the Duke of Wellington, who pronounced, — “’T is damned true.” We sat over the fire, talking of my novel, till half past twelve — objects wholly to Toussaint. Victor Hugo has a story of St. Domingo. Mrs. — thinks such a story hazardous, to begin with. Talked over Joe Miller at breakfast with much admiration and affection.
Saturday, January 28. — I think the prison chapter will prove the most interesting of my book. I do not think it is waste of time to look over one’s own works thus. It is necessary, to see how they appear.
February 6. — Note from Carlyle, most hearty, about my book, and advising me to keep clear of theory, and cling to giving pictures of facts. What a true heart he has, with an insane horror of moral and political science! I want to find out how near he comes to wishing men to live without any mutual agreement whatever.
Mr. Wedgwood called. Is busy trying to get a law to exempt scrupulous persons from judicial oaths Showed how, after all, you depend on a man’s affirmation that he believes in a God, &c.; as Mr. W. says, like the Hindoo belief that the world rests on an elephant, the elephant on a tortoise, and the tortoise on nothing. Read and lunched, and read again and dressed till just seven, and then off for Captain Beaufort’s. Met a host of naval officers and travellers. Also C. Darwin, Mr. F. Edgeworth, and Mr. Hamilton, brother-in-law of the Duke of Wellington, who had been reading my book up to dinnertime, and took a good gaze at me. Mr. Edgeworth’s belief that diaries are always written to be read, and does not like Scott’s. Surely this is for my own future eye and not for others, for my own future instruction, and for suggestion.
Sunday, February 18. — Read beautiful speeches at the Lovejoy meeting in Boston, in the “Liberator.” Edmund Quincy’s is fine. His father must have been touched with his hope of speedy departure, if departure might aid cause, rather than living in loss of freedom. What a different aspiration from the ordinary run of young republican citizens, with the world before them? Mr. Loring told of Arnold von Winkelried, at the battle of Sempach, who clasped an armful of Austrian lances, which transfixed him. He cried, “I will make a lane for you! — faithful, dear companions! remember my family.” The Swiss rushed in over his body, and conquered; and his death is commemorated to this day, — nearly five hundred years.
Finished Toussaint with a great relish. How I have enjoyed doing this, and how infinitely do these emotions transcend all pleasures of sense and all gratifications of vanity!
Wednesday, April 11. — Erasmus Darwin and Browning called, who is just departing for Venice to get a view of the localities of Sordello. He is right.
Afternoon. — I dozed for an hour, and then went out into the Park, and saw the yellow sunset, and the troops of shouting children at play on the fresh grass. The policeman seemed sorry to give them notice that the gates were going to be shut. Home to tea. Gave orders for framing Follen and Garrison. Dressed for the Bullers’, and walked there through the Park. Roebuck was there, — long talk with him; the Gaskells, Carlyle, and Lady Harriet Baring, who came to see me again. Buller thinks her superior to —. He can sympathize with all in turn. I told him I could with Voltaire, Fénelon, &c., seeing that the truth is that all of us are right and all are wrong. Does it follow that there is no truth? Surely not.
Thursday, April 12. — Finished my “Maid of all Work.” Walked in the afternoon to library for the Edinburgh review of me. Poor and stupid, except a good passage or two, — such as a clever woman getting at the minds of foreigners better than men.
June 26. — The Duke of Wellington wrote repeatedly to Croker and Lockhart to get the article on Soult suppressed. They would not. He said, “That is the way with these literary people. They are so pig-headed they will have their own way.” A pretty large generalization. When introduced to Soult, he said he was happy to meet him, and had not seen him before except through a telescope.
June 30. — Wrote ten pages of “Lady’s Maid,” though — — and — — called and sat some time. I love them both. Then a long list of others. My cold nearly gone to-day. How much less I think of illness than I used to do! I used to make the most of it, from vanity and want of objects; now I make the least of it, for fear of being hindered in my business. I suffer much less for this. But I am not near so happy as I was. I want inner life. I must take to heart the “Ode to Duty,” and such things, and do without the sympathy I fancy I want. If I am not happy, what matters it? But I am happy, only less so than I have been.
June 30. — Wrote to the antislavery ladies, who have made me one of their sisterhood. Read the Gospel of John in Porteusian Bible. Happy day, on the whole.
The idea of still further serving the antislavery cause in America never left her. It went with her through her Scotch tour, and is filtered through the whole year amid fêtes by the way and mountain scenes and continual attentions from distinguished persons, in a way that shows how it came between her and rest.
“Very happy,” she journalizes on August 26, “in reading American newspapers. Lovejoy’s speech a few days before his murder was sublime; it sets me above every thing, to read of these people. It is the grandest affair now transacting on earth.”
Again, on the 30th of November: —
“Sat down in earnest to finish my article, which I did with a glowing heart an hour after midnight. I am glad I have told this noble story. O, may no mishap befall it!”
“Deerbrook,” a fruit of 1838, was republished in America immediately, and is to this day highly esteemed, and seems likely to live. Mrs. Gaskell in an especial manner was moved by it, and thanked her for it as a personal benefit. John Sterling wrote thus of it to Mrs. Fox: —
“By the way, do you ever read a novel? If you ever mean to do so hereafter, let it be Miss Martineau’s ‘Deerbrook.’ It is really very striking, and parts of it are very true and very beautiful. It is not so true or so thoroughly clear and harmonious among delineations of English middle-class gentility as Miss Austen’s books, especially as ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ which I think exquisite.”
This remark of Sterling is just. Harriet Martineau’s writings are true to no class. Though so true to humanity they overleap its subdivisions, and, like oaks planted in flower-pots, are sure to outgrow their limitations.
Long afterwards, on the appearance of Mr. Macmillan’s edition, Sir Arthur Helps writes to him thus: —
Yes, my dear Macmillan, I shall have much pleasure and much honour in being the medium of presenting to the queen anything written by Miss Martineau. She is a great writer. I have lately reread “Deerbrook” with exceeding delight. I certainly should care to have a copy of Miss Martineau’s book for myself.
In great haste, yours always,
In the journal of 1839 is this entry: —
Wednesday, June 12, 1839. — My birthday. This day twelve months I began “Deerbrook,” and I shall not forget what I have done to-day. Who would have thought then that I should spend my next in Venice? Am much better, and enjoy it. J. and I out between six and seven walking about St. Mark’s, and over the bridge below the Bridge of Sighs, examining the marbles and looking about us. People do not seem to be very early here, and the Piazza was quiet. The three red pillars are of wood, with cords for raising the ensigns, of Cyprus, Candia, and the Morea. Remember the Lion’s Mouth at the Ducal Palace; and the two red marble pillars amid the white in the little piazza, whence criminal sentences were read. Beautiful canal laving the walls under the Bridge of Sighs. Breakfast, and then off to the Campanile, which we found mighty easy to climb, an ascending path round the four sides. Spent above an hour on the top, most charmingly. Heard the quarters strike four times and the chimes play, so melodious as to make the noise tolerable. How the great green bells swung! Looked down with infinite pleasure into the shady, dim court-yards of many a noble house, — upon the Ducal Palace, upon the royal gardens; upon the myriads of pigeons; upon the bronze horses; upon the domes of St. Mark, with their melon-branches for weather-cocks; upon the folk in the piazza, — the water-carriers, the people walking in the shadow of the Campanile, or sketching in the niches of the church; upon the brilliant mosaics in the porches; and upon the many isles. Saw the Lido, where Byron rode; the Arsenal; traced the Grand Canal, and the Campo di Rialto. The mountains were delicious, afar off. The city from above looks vast, sun-dried, and old. The old man and another live at the top all the year round, and ring the quarters and hours. . . . . To the Ducal Palace again. Sat on the Golden Staircase while the keys and permission were sent for. Remember the well, round and of bronze, — the birds came to it, and the men and women to draw. . . . . Stood on the Bridge of Sighs. Did not go to the common prisons, but back to those of the Inquisition. One floor, contaming eight cells, belonged to the Council of Ten. Horrible dungeons! . . . . Saw the vestibule and council-chamber, — nothing remarkable. Council-chamber empty of furniture; marble floor, all cubes and painted ceiling. Went through many rooms in the palace, — very splendid. Saw the Titian, — liked St. Mark and a boy on guard, but not the woman angel. Stucco figures in ceiling very fine. Paul Veronese’s four pictures exquisite, especially Mercury with the Graces, which J. fell in love with. Ceiling of Collegio very fine, — an artist on a high stage copying one compartment well. Have not seen the senate-chamber yet. Home at twelve. What a morning!
She expressed as follows her gratification on receiving the certificate of membership in the Massachusetts Antislavery Society, in a letter to Abby Kelly,* through whose hands it came.
Fludyer Street,Westminster, June 20, 1838.
My dear Madam, —
On my return from the country I find the certificate of membership of the Massachusetts Antislavery Society, which the members of the Lynn Society have had the kindness to forward to me. I accept the valued gift with feelings of high gratification. The generous interpretation which my American sisters put upon the small efforts of those who have done less than themselves shows that the spirit of disinterestedness is strong among them; and my great pleasure in this mark of kindness arises, not from a consciousness of merit in myself, but from an appreciation of the generosity of my correspondents. I do not wish to enlarge on the subject of myself and my doings; but I must just remind you that, in bearing my testimony in print against slavery, I have incurred no risk and no discredit. Here public sentiment is wholly with me on this subject. The only sacrifice I had to make was of the good opinion of some of my friends in America; and I cannot but trust that the time is not far distant when they will forgive and agree with me.
You and your sisters, my dear madam, have a far harder battle to wage, in which I beg to assure you that you have all my sympathy, and, I believe, the sympathy of this whole nation. Not one of your efforts is lost upon us. You are strengthening us for the conflicts we have to enter upon. We have a population in our manufacturing towns almost as oppressed, and in our secluded rural districts almost as ignorant, as your negroes. These must be redeemed. We have also negroes in our dominions, who, though about to be entirely surrendered as property, will yet, we fear, be long oppressed as citizens, if the vigilance which has freed them be not as active as ever. I regard the work of vindicating the civil standing of negroes as more arduous and dangerous than freeing them from the chain and the whip. Both you and I have a long and hard task before us there, when the first great step is, as in our colonies, safely accomplished. But this is a kind of labour which renews strength instead of causing fatigue; the reason of which is, that a sure and steadfast hope is before us. May this hope sustain you! I think it surely will; for nothing was ever to my mind more sure than that there is no delusion connected with your objects; that they are sanctioned by the calmest reason and the loftiest religion, and that in the highest condition of wisdom in which you may find yourselves in the better world to which you are tending, you will never despise your present action in your great cause.
We have heard with mingled feelings of the outrages at Philadelphia. Upon the whole, we hope for great good from them; but, till I hear more particulars, I shall not cease to wonder at the extent and intensity of the bigotry still existing in that city. I should have supposed that your enemies had seen enough, by this time, of the fruits of persecution. While earnestly desiring that God will advance the cause in his own best way, we cannot but hope that no more struggles of this nature, involving so much guilt, may be in store for you. It is a severe pain to witness so cruel a worship of Mammon, however strong may be our faith in the persecuted. By whatever means, however, the cause is destined to advance, God’s will be done!
It gives me heartfelt pleasure to remember that I am now one of your sisterhood, in outward as well as inward relation. If I should ever be so blessed as to be able to assist you, you may count upon me. At least, you will always have my testimony, my sympathy, and my prayers. I fear there is no prospect of visiting your country again. I have both domestic and public duties here which I cannot decline; but my thoughts and hopes will be with your people, though I must continue to live among my own.
Believe me, dear madam, with high respect for the body in whose name you have addressed me,
Gratefully and affectionately theirs and yours,
[* ]English edition.
[* ]David Lee Child, Esq., of the United States.
[* ]Westminster Review.
[* ]Misconduct of the agent of the firm in America.
[* ]Bishops of Chichester and Durham.
[† ]Lord Belper.
[* ]Editor of the Times.
[* ]See Miscellanies.
[* ]For the reform of the theatre.
[* ]Afterwards Sir Charles Lyell.
[* ]Since Mrs. Foster.