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MISS MARTINEAU's name is very widely known-more widely, we think, than her works. Almost all those who have formed a judgment for themselves allow that she is a woman of genius, and we believe that her most bitter enemies have never raised a whisper against her personal character; yet among the better classes of society, and especially among women, her writings are looked upon with peculiar suspicion and dislike. Some part of her unpopularity she has no reason to regret; for she has incurred it knowingly, and must have been prepared for the malice and slander of the idolaters of almsgiving, or the pious promoters of pauper marriages : much of it has arisen from the systematic attacks which some of our contemporaries have long been in the habit of making upon her weak points, or even upon the pretended incon. gruity of her views with the assumed proprieties of her sex: but besides all this, there is a large residue of honest disapprobation to be accounted for, and we think that she has in most of her former works naturally provoked it, and in some justly incurred it.
In her first publication, Tales illustrative of Political Economy, Miss Martineau displayed a rare power of delineating character, and of presenting a succession of vivid and interesting pictures of the everyday occupations of life. Her skill in reducing to the concrete, the scientific propositions of Smith, Malthus, and Macculloch, showed that her ingenuity was as remarkable as her imagination; but there is a fundamental error in the attempt to combine creative art with instruction. We hope that most of her readers entered too heartily into the interest of her tales to tolerate the list of practical inferences, dos daho's which she thought proper to append to each. Didactic poetry is no poetry except where it forgets to teach. The Georgics, of which the true subject is the praise of a country life, would form a perfect poem if it were possible to remove from them the agricultural precepts with which they are encumbered. The laws of supply and demand are peculiarly capable of being expressed in general formulæ, and proportionally liable to confusion when they are entangled with indivi
NO. CCXCII. VOL. XLVII,
dual cases. What should we say of Tales illustrative of the Rule of Three? They are not, indeed, mere fictions of the moment. Who does not remember the long and interesting statements of conditions which enlivened the arithmetic books of our childhood? the imaginary walls that were built by so many men in so many days, that other problematical walls, by help of more men, might be built in fewer days? above all, the ever-recurring horsedealer, who, at the rate of a farthing for the first nail in his horse's shoe, and a halfpenny for the second, realized we know not how many thousands, the established hero of geometrical progression? It is not, how. ever, for the sake of science that we deprecate the attempt to popularize it by representing it in practical operation. A tale of Miss Martineau's is worth more than many argumentative essays, and we regret that they should involve an error in their original conception. The scientific instruction which is conveyed by them is, after all, contained principally in the conversations, which the characters are more or less awkwardly made to hold with each other, on poor-laws, corn-duties, and currency restrictions-matters utterly inappropriate to fiction, as they are independent of individual feeling and character. In a good fiction every part ought to be objective to the writer, and subjective to the dramatis persona; the introduction of the absolutely objective places the hero in the same category with the author-that is, it makes him external to the plot. This rule is incontrovertible; but the converse of it is very often adopted in the practice of novelists. Sir Lytton Bulwer, for instance, constantly dwells upon reflections or feelings which are subjective to himself, and therefore external to his fictitious characters. Sir Walter Scott and Miss Austin seldom or never violate the rule. The most glaring examples of the absurdity of doctrinal fiction may be found in the theological volume of Tremaine, and in Sterne's publication of his sermons under the character of his own Yorick.
If, however, Miss Martineau had confined herself to the illustration of admitted or demonstrable propositions, none could have been offended, though some might have been tired; but, un
luckily, the questions on which she writes are in many cases still undecided; and it cannot be agreeable to a disputant who has enough to do in maintaining his ground against argument, to find his opinions dramatically personified in characters who are represented as combining every kind of meanness and folly with the primary crime of heretical illiberality. We think Miss Martineau in most of her politico-economical views clearly right, in a few utterly wrong; but we can conceive ourselves to have differed from her far more frequently, and are by no means flattered by the moral and intellectual character of the fictitious representatives whom she would in that case have assigned to us.
After all, the faults of the Tales are trifling in comparison with their great and varied excellencies; and we believe that the authoress would in a short time have outlived the partial dislike which they occasioned against her literary character. Her next work of importance had far graver faults and peculiarities, which made it more obnoxious to the higher classes of English society. She went to America with an evident determination to find good results, and to attribute them to the institutions, which, by an a priori process, she had already determined to be good. Now this was in itself no more than the spirit of partisanship in which Mrs Trollope idolized the paternal government of Austria, or the honest enthusiasm with which Lord Londonderry admired the parades and jewels of the Czar, We might regret that Miss Martineau should so far diminish the weight of her authority; but we could not deny that her opinions, however hastily adopted, were in themselves natural and plausible. But, unfortunately, there runs through all her eulogies of America, a meaning bitterness which shows that she delights in preferring it to England. We will not enter on the vast question of the relative superiority of the two countries: let her retain her opinion; it is not ours; and we might perhaps claim some toleration for doubts as to the prospects of America, which were felt by Niebuhr, which are admitted by De Tocqueville, which are almost universal among educated Englishmen, and which seem on her own showing to spread in America itself, wherever knowledge and refinement extend. We are sorry that
Miss Martineau should be intolerant, but we blame her for being anti-national: on this point we can listen to no argument. If England were the meanest of nations, it would be our duty to abide by her, to borrow institutions, if necessary, from America or from Japan, but not to speak of her with contempt or with alienation. Σπαρτην έλαχες, ταυτην κοσμεί. Nationality is too sacred a thing for sophistry or speculation. England is more to us than any theory of despotism or pantisocracy, and we have no right to make our patriotism dependent on the improbable casualty that our government should embody ideal perfection, When Miss Martineau gives a zest to her six volumes by sneers directed against her country, and even hunts out stray instances of steam-boat rudeness, for the purpose of showing that the perpetrators were Englishmen, we think that her opponents are excusable for some warmth of criticism, and her admirers for disapproval and regret.
But of all her work on America, the most objectionable part was the inconsiderate chapter on religion. She advocates no particular sect or class of opinions, but an unbounded indifferentism to all-a many-coloured heresy for the sake of heresy. former times heresy was like treason,— "when it prospered, no one called it" heresy; but Miss Martineau has discovered that its spread in all directions is a proof of the advance of truth. We are satisfied that she is historically wrong: schism has often proceeded from religious earnestness, but multifarious refinements of belief never-the sophists of Socrates' time were essentially heretics, but they cared too little about the truths they undermined to become separatists-the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Socinians of the 16th century were indeed heretics to each other, and to the church which they left; but their primary object was never to establish speculative propositions, but to form for themselves a saving rule of faith. The meaning of this loose phraseology must be collected from the general views of religion which accompany it. The clergy of all denominations are attacked-hopes of a new reformation are expressed, and every kind of fixed institution is considered as pernicious, (which impedes the separation of the pure spiritual essence of Christianity from its outward forms and symbols.
Now, Miss Martineau is clearly an earnest and sincere religious believer, -nay, she is a believer in the plain and ordinary sense of the term, and if she were not, we should have neither right nor inclination to criticise her opinions. There is certainly a danger in adhering too exclusively to the facts connected with religion, and neglecting the idea which they embody; and if her endeavours had been simply directed to the object of exalting and bringing out the purely spiritual element of Christianity, we should admit that her labours were directed to a worthy end: but when she adopts as her means of attaining it a popular and declamatory tone-when she quotes with applause still shallower appeals to the people when she even rejoices in the prospect of free discus. sion, which is to take place in a hall to be built for the purpose at Boston, among persons of all denominations or of none, we cannot but deeply regret that her own earnest convictions should be allowed to serve as a support to the frivolity, vanity, and vice of vulgar unbelief. Grapes shall grow on thorns, and figs on thistles, before spiritual religion or wisdom arises from the passionate emptiness of a popular debate. Let us first try the experiment of referring a chancery suit, or a disputed surgical question, to the wisdom of a public meeting.
The real object at which we be lieve she is aiming, is not new, or peculiar to America. From the decline of the French school of infidelity to the present day, the great philosophers and critics of Germany have been employed in bringing out the true relations between historical fact and essential truth; one class by analysis of the abstract notions, the other by laborious investigation of authorities and rules of evidence. But they all agree in the opinion, that the unlearned cannot rightly apprehend the results at which they arrive; and, like chemists dealing with poisons, they have covered their dogmas, either with the obscurity of a learned language, or the stronger safeguard of a ratiocinative and abstruse style. However much we may regret or differ from some of their doctrines, we hold that Schleiermacher, Paulus, and Strauss, have pursued a fitting object of enquiry in a worthy manner, appealing only to the learned, and withholding from the world the opportunity of prejudi
cating the question. But we can give no such praise to Miss Martineau's American luminaries.
We fear that the genius of Mr Carlyle must be responsible for having familiarized the minds of the American public with a phraseology, belonging to systems which the more flippant and shallow amongst them were certain to misunderstand and misuse. The Coryphæus of this set must, we should suppose, be one Mr Orlando E. Brownson, a preacher of the tenets which Miss Martineau approves, in language which she has thought it worth her while to report and eulogize. A more empty specimen of inflated rhetoric, more servile docility to the authors of the few thoughts he expresses, with more elaborate ostentation of originality in discovering them, we should seek in vain elsewhere. Truth itself would come injured from such a tongue. It is not by clouds of words that earnest belief is expressed and propagated. Simplicity, directness, and point may be attached to falsehood, but they must accompany truth.
We hope that Miss Martineau's better taste has only been tempted into the admiration of this and similar declaimers, by their casual agreement in an error which we think pervades her views of politics, as well as of religion. She takes the world for a tabula rasa, or perhaps for a tabula radenda till the blots which disfigure it are removed. History is the standing protest against her views, and history she never regards. It would be easy to form smooth and regular prospects for the future, if the past were not so rugged and complicated. We do not, indeed, look on the course of the world as a series of recurring parallels, and we deny that it contains fewer warn. ings than examples. Still we are bound either to regard experience, or to explain it away; and if we find that democracy has not produced liberty without the accompaniment of a strong government, or that the spirit of religion has declined when facts and symbols have been disregarded, we must reconcile the phenomena with our visions of improvement before we can fitly proceed to realize them. If Miss Martineau would impose on herself the golden rule of Coleridge, to understand her adversary's ignorance or to presume herself ignorant of his understanding, she might sometimes have the positiveness of her own con
victions shaken, by finding men opposed to revolution, who neither love nor admire aristocracy, whose ambition might be gratified by change, and whose sympathies are all in favour of the people whose restlessness they counteract: she might then think them wrong, but she would respect their opinions-at present she has no respect for opposite views. We might forgive her intolerance, for it is a lady-like failing, and it involves no uncharitable feeling to the individual-for her spirit is always that of a kind and generous woman; but she will accept of no allowance on account of sex. She claims equality in all things-not contented that to the complete human being the left side should be as vital and essential as the right, she would have it ambidexter; and she must take the consequent responsibility. It is not enough to admit that an adversary is right at heart; he may claim, till he is answered, to be considered as possibly right also in his opinions. While we make this demand, we retain a right in our own minds to make excuses for this fault of intolerance, though we may disclaim them in public, as we find that they would be unacceptable to their object.
But if we suppress our opinion that the defects of one-sidedness and dogmatism may peculiarly characterise the polemics of a lady, no restraint of politeness shall prevent us from remarking on the far more numerous beauties which we think equally characteristic. Miss Martineau's genius is essentially feminine, though its vigour and reach are those of a man; feminine in its earnestness, in its purity, and in the hearty homely interest which it spreads around the small events of daily life. No man ever observed and understood children so accurately, and few women can contemplate them with the same intelligent and playful equanimity; for while to us they are generally playthings, in the minds of women they have too real and living an interest to make their mistakes and evil doings matters of calm speculation. Hence we see that, in the lower classes, mothers seldom speak to their children but in a tone of scolding; and, among the more refined, it is very common to remonstrate and argue with them as with responsible equals; from which proceeds the very undeserved preference which children display for the
society of men over that of their best friends, who care too much for them to laugh at them. Where, as in the present case, the masculine attribute of humour is added to the sympathy of woman, we must give up all hopes of rivalry; and that not merely with reference to children, but in the power of observing and describing the delicate shades of manners, the little pleasures of domestic life, and all the traits which individualize and mark the ordinary characters of society. In this peculiar power no one has, we think, yet equalled Miss Austin; but Miss Martineau in her late novel, Deerbrook, has nearly approached her, and has added to her graphic and happy sketches of society, an analysis of the affections worthy of Madame De Staël, with a picture of female purity and goodness far nobler and simpler than Corinne.
The everyday life of the village of Deerbrook, with the loves, likings, and dislikings of its inhabitants, supply the plot, which is well contrived, simple, and, with one or two exceptions which we shall notice, probable. In the first chapter remarkable skill is displayed in making us acquainted with the circumstances and general character of the dramatis persona. In the drawing-room of the prettiest house in the village, ornamented by a garden and shrubbery which conceal the timber and coal yards stretching down to the river side, we find Mrs Grey and her eldest daughter Sophia, sitting in expectation of their cousins the Misses Ibbotson, who had been invited from Birmingham to stay at Deerbrook, till the affairs of their father, who had lately died, should be in some degree settled. When they arrive, Sophia points out to them the view from their window. "That is Mr Rowland's house, papa's partner you know. Isn't it an ugly house, with that ridiculous porch to it? That house opposite is Mrs Enderby's, Mrs Rowland's mother's. So near as she lives to the Rowlands, it is shocking how they neglect her," &c. Mean time Mrs Grey is exulting in the beauty of Hester Ibbotson the eldest, and as to Margaret," Mrs Rowland will say she is plain; but in my opinion Margaret is better-looking than any of the Rowlands are ever.likely to be...." "We have a pretty good neighbourhood," she tells them. "I think, Sophia, the Levitts will certainly call,”—“ ()
yes, mama! to-morrow I have no doubt"- "Dr Levitt is our rector; we are, as you know, Dissenters, and Mrs Rowland is very much scandalized at it .. ; but the Levitts' conduct might teach her better." Next it appears that Mr Philip Enderby, Mrs Rowland's brother, is staying with the Rowlands, and Sophia and Mrs Grey complain that he is very high. "I don't think he can help being so tall," says Sydney-a fine manly boy of thirteen, who is throughout the book a good specimen of the way in which Miss Martineau understands and appreciates his "order." Sophia an. swers that "he buttons up and makes the most of it, and stalks in like a Polish count. Soon afterwards Mr Grey appears, and in a few words shows himself a sensible good-natured man. Then Mr Hope is announced, and the twin little girls, Fanny and Mary, beg to be allowed to sit up a little longer to see Mr Hope. Grey explains that he is a great favourite with every body, and that they have the greatest confidence in him as a medical man. "He was not handsome, but there was a gaiety of countenance and manner in him, under which the very lamp seemed to burn brighter." When he departs, Mrs Grey asks her husband, "looking at him over her spectacles," if he does not think Hester very handsome; and if he does not think that Mr Hope thinks so too. "He did not speak on the subject, my dear, as he mounted his horse." "It would have been strange if he had then, before Sydney and the servants."—" Very strange indeed!" But Mrs Grey cannot help speculating on what Mrs Rowland would think of Mr Hope's marrying into their connexion so decidedly, and wonders why Mr Grey cautions her to be silent on the subject, and makes such a serious matter of a word or two. "Because a good many ideas belong to that word or two, my dear."
Nevertheless, Mrs Grey was only wrong inasmuch as she left two elements of the problem out of consideration, Margaret and Mr Enderby. The acuter reader will have rightly conjectured, that the loves of these four form the main current of the story; and even from our meagre abridgement he may have derived a sufficiently accurate notion of the rest of the society of Deerbrook. The gossiping jealousy of Mrs Grey is repaid by per
severing malignity on the part of Mrs Rowland; and Mr Rowland, a wellmeaning easy man, is unable to counteract her energy. One very interesting character is added in Maria Young, the governess of the Grey and Rowland children. Poor and crippled, she suppresses an attachment for En derby, which she had cherished in more prosperous days, and consoles herself by observing and wishing well to all, and by deep and religious resignation. In her person, standing apart as she does from the direct action of the story, Miss Martineau appropriately expresses the reflections which appear to us more peculiarly her own; precepts of duty and rules of happiness which are always wise and sound, and subtle delineations of feeling, which well deserve the attention of the experimental philoso. pher; for the true service of art to science, consists in its presenting facts in bolder relief for inspection. The systematic psychologist is more fitly employed in classifying and explaining the varieties of character and conduct, than in collecting them by observation-a task for which the novelist ought to be far better qualified. All good fiction is an interpretation of nature, and it is likely that the artist will see many isolated truths besides those which he embodies in the agents of his drama; therefore he introduces a passive representative of himself, a chorus, or a Miss Young, that the fragments of his wisdom may not be lost a supplement of art which is allowable as long as the truths thus preserved are really separate intuitions; as soon as they are combined into a system, they belong to the province of the objective, and violate dramatic propriety.
The characters ofthe sisters are well drawn and strongly contrasted. They have both cultivated minds and generous dispositions, and they both shrink from the gossip and petty quarrels of Deerbrook; but Hester is of a jealous and unhappy temper, always craving for displays of affection, and persuading herself that she doubts it from a morbid anxiety to have her certainty made doubly sure. She knows herself to be the chief object of her sister's thoughts; but, partly from a sense of her own unworthiness, and still more from the impossibility of a practical faith in the harmonious uniformity of feeling, which she has never realized