Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Martineau, James

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MARTINEAU, JAMES (1805–1900), Unitarian divine, youngest son and seventh child of Thomas Martineau (d. 21 June 1826), camlet and bombazine manufacturer, by his wife Elizabeth (d. 26 Aug. 1848, aged 78), eldest daughter of Robert Rankin, sugar refiner, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, was born in Magdalen Street, Norwich, on 21 April 1805. His father, of Huguenot lineage, had a maternal descent from John Meadows or Meadowe [q. v.], the ejected puritan, which connected him with the family of John Taylor (1694-1761) [q. v.], the hebraist (Taylor, Suffolk Bartholomeans, 1840). His mother was a woman of great force of character and 'quickness of feeling' (Martineau's letter in Daily News, 30 Dec. 1884). His eldest brother, Thomas Martineau, M.D. (d. 3 June 1824, aged 29), was at the time of his early death reckoned the ablest of the family; but the personal charm of James was marked in boyhood. In 1815 he entered the Norwich grammar school, of which Edward Valpy [q. v.] became high master in that year. Among his schoolfellows were (Sir) James Brooke [q. v.], raja of Sarawak, and George (Henry) Borrow [q. v.] In after life Borrow would not meet Martineau, having been hoisted on his back to receive a well-earned birching (Life of F. P. Cobbe, 1894, ii. 117). Martineau, whose taste was for mathematics, did not proceed to the highest form, but was well grounded in classics, and on his eightieth birthday wrote some very good Latin verses in reply to his old friend Thomas Hornblower Gill, the hymn-writer (Inquirer, 20 Jan. 1900, p. 12). He was not 'physically robust,' and 'the tyranny of a large public school' did not suit him (letter in Daily News, ut sup.) At the suggestion of his sister, Harriet Martineau [q. v.], he was sent (1819) to the boarding-school of Lant Carpenter [q. v.] at Bristol; to Carpenter's influence in the discipline of character he pays the highest tributes (Memoirs of Lant Carpenter, 1842, p. 342; Life of Mary Carpenter, 1879, p. 9 ; cf. Unitarian Magazine, 1834, p. 185). Leaving school in 1821, he was apprenticed to Samuel Fox at Derby, with a view to becoming a civil engineer; he boarded with Edward Higginson [see under Higginson, Edward ], Unitarian minister at Derby, whose eldest daughter he afterwards married. The purely mechanical work of the machine-room did not satisfy him. The premature death (31 Jan. 1822, aged 29) of Henry Turner, Unitarian minister at Nottingham [son of William Turner, 1761-1859; see under Turner, William, 1714–1794], who had married (1819) Martineau's cousin, Catharine Rankin (d. 1 May 1894, aged 97), produced his 'conversion' (Proceedings in connection with his retirement, 1885, p. 28), and decided him for the ministry.

In September 1822 he entered Manchester College, York, as a divinity student under Charles Wellbeloved [q. v.] Classics and history were taught by John Kenrick [q. v.], a scholar of distinction. Philosophy fell to William Turner (1788-1853) [see under Turner, William, 1714-1794], who taught the Hartleyan determinism, then in vogue with Unitarians, but. felt its difficulties (Christian Reformer, 1854, p. 136). The first York student to adopt the libertarian view was William Mountford (1816-1885), author of 'Euthanasy' (1850), who broke with the Hartleyan philosophy while at York (1833-8). Martineau gained at York the highest honours (Christian Life, 23 June 1900, p. 302); his successful oration in 1825 bore the characteristic title 'The Necessity of cultivating the Imagination as a Regulator of the Devotional Feelings.' His father's death (1826) left on the family a burden of undischarged liabilities, all of which were paid in full. His mother's anxiety for his health, injured by 'intemperate study' (Kenrick), led her to propose his removal to Gottingen ; Kenrick thought the Gottingen system of lecturing for a session on 'one evangelist, one prophet,' inferior to Wellbeloved's plan of going through the Old or New Testament in a year (unpublished letter of Kenrick, 16 April 1826). Leaving York in 1827 he preached (4 July) one of the annual sermons of the Eastern Unitarian Association at Halesworth, Suffolk, the other preacher being Michael Maurice, father of (John) Frederick Denison Maurice [q. v.]

In 1827 he became, for a year, assistant and virtually locum tenens in Lant Carpenter's school at Bristol. Next year he was called to Dublin as co-pastor (assistant and successor) to his aged kinsman, Philip Taylor [see under Taylor, John, 1694-1761], and colleague with Joseph Hutton (d. 1 Feb. 1856, aged 90), grandfather of Richard Holt Hutton [q. v. Suppl.], in the congregation of Eustace Street, founded by Samuel Winter, D.D. [q. v.], on independent principles, but latterly known as presbyterian. It was connected with the 'southern association,' known (from 1809) as the 'synod of Munster' (Facts in Reply to . . . George Mathews, 1842, p. 4). By ministers of this body Martineau was ordained on 26 Oct. 1828 ; the ordination service, first used at Waterford on 2 Aug. 1826 (Christian Moderator, September 1826, p. 184) at the ordination of William M'Cance (d. 26 June 1882), was published (1829) with a valuable historical appendix [see Armstrong, James, D.D.] Martineau's confession of faith reflects the theology of Carpenter rather than that of Wellbeloved, and on the person of Christ carefully selects what was common ground with Arianism, but is remarkable at that date for its silence on the inerrancy and inspiration of scripture and the whole question of miracles. He bought a house, married, and took pupils. He was a chief promoter and the first secretary of the 'Irish Unitarian Christian Society,' founded 17 March 1830, and still in being. For his congregation he compiled a hymn-book (Dublin, 1831, 12mo) ; it was only in local and temporary use.

His Dublin ministry was highly appreciated, though 'an expression implying the simple humanity of Christ 'lost him 'the most attached friend' among his hearers (memorial preface to Thom's A Spiritual Faith, 1895, p. viii). By the death of Philip Taylor (27 Sept. 1831) he succeeded to a share of regium donum, but resigned (October 1831) rather than benefit by a 'religious monopoly,' though willing to retain office without this increase of income. Among his reasons (letter in Monthly Repository, 1831, p. 832) he specifies the opinion that the donum, by endowing presbyterianism, 'stifles our predilection for what many of us believe to be the better system, that of the independents.' His congregation accepted the resignation (13 Nov.) by a majority of one, and made him a handsome presentation. He was invited to be colleague with John Grundy [q. v.] at Paradise Street chapel, Liverpool, and entered on his duties there on 1 July His salary was 2001., and he continued to take pupils. One of them, his colleague's son, describes him at that period as 'benevolently ugly, if ugly at all, with his rough-cast features, wild upstanding black hair, low broad forehead, and swarthy complexion' (F. H. Grundy, Pictures of the Past, 1879, p. 45). In addition to private pupils, he had public classes on scientific subjects, e.g. a course of ten lectures 16 April-18 June 1833) on chemistry at the Mechanics' Institution, Slater Street. By Grundy's resignation (1835) he became sole pastor. He never administered baptism, substituting a service of dedication. In 1836 he took a leading part in founding the Liverpool domestic mission. An indication of his local influence is afforded by the circumstance that in 1837 the Wesleyan conference was urged to make special appointments at Liverpool, a reason assigned being the presence there of 'the brilliant Martineau' (Gregory, Side Lights on the Conflicts of Methodism, 1899, p. 247).

His 'Rationale of Religious Enquiry' (1836, 12mo) had made him widely known as a writer of exceptional power; in this volume of lectures he denied the Christian name to unbelievers in the recorded miracles of Christ, a judgment defended in the second edition (same year), and recalled in the third (1845), under the influence of Joseph Blanco White [q. v.] The impression of his force and originality was deepened by the part he took (1839) in the Liverpool Unitarian controversy, and not least by the preliminary correspondence with thirteen local Anglican divines, headed by Fielding Ould (Unitarianism Defended, 1839, 8vo ; Theological Review, January 1877, p. 85). Channing wrote of his lectures as 'among the noblest efforts of our times' (letter of 22 June 1840 in Memoir,. 1848, ii. 399). Martineau's own reference (Memorial Preface, ut sup. p. xiii) to his attitude in this controversy as contrasted with that of John Hamilton Thorn [q. v.] seems due to defective memory. In 1840 he published a hymn-book ('Hymns for the Christian Church and Home') which rapidly took the place of that associated with the name of Andrew Kippis, D.D. [q. v.] It is still in use, being but partially superseded by Martineau's later collection, 'Hymns of Praise and Prayer' (1873).

Retaining his congregational charge, he became (October 1840) professor of mental and moral philosophy and political economy in his alma mater, removed back from York to Manchester, and known as Manchester New College (M.N. C. Introductory Lectures, 1841 ; Essays, Reviews, and Addresses, 1891, iv. 3). In the syllabus of his lectures John Stuart Mill [q. v.] 'noticed the change' which was beginning to affect his philosophical views (Types of Ethical Theory, 1889, p. xii). Channing had noted it earlier (letter of 29 Nov. 1839, in Memoir, ut sup. p. 433).

The fruit of his Paradise Street ministry was published in two volumes of sermons, 'Endeavours after the Christian Life' (1st ser. 1843, 12mo; 2nd ser. 1847, 12mo; often reprinted), unsurpassed for beauty and charin by his later writings, and realising his ideal that a sermon should be a ' lyric ' utterance. In a remarkable sermon, 'The Bible and the Child ' (July 1845, reprinted, Essays, ut sup. iv. 389), he first distinctly broke with the biblical conservatism of his denomination. Pending the removal of his congregation to a more modern structure, he was set free from 16 July 1848 till the opening (18 Oct. 1849) of the new church in Hope Street, his pastoral duties being undertaken by Joseph' Henry Hutton (1822-1899), elder brother of R. H. Hutton; one of the few occasions on which the latter occupied a pulpit was at Paradise Street during this interval.

Martineau spent the fifteen months with his family in Germany, taking a winter's study at Berlin. 11. H. Hutton, who had been his pupil in Manchester, read Plato and Hegel with him (Proceedings, ut snp. p. 38). His studies were mainly directed by Trendelenburg. He regarded this break as a ' second education,' and ' a new intellectual birth,' involving the complete ' surrender of determinism ' (Types, ut sup. p. xiii). His earlier standpoint had been determinist and utilitarian (cf. his five articles on Bentham's 'Deontology,' Christian Reformer, March-December, 1835, p. 185 sq.) He wrote for the 'London Review' (1835) and for the ' London and Westminster Review ' from the amalgamation (1836) till January 1851. From 1838 he wrote for the 'Christian Teacher,' then edited by J. H. Thorn, whom he joined, with John James Tayler [q.v.] and Charles Wicksteed (1810-1885), in editing the ' Prospective Review ' (1845-54), of which John Kentish [q. v.] said that its title must have been suggested by ' the Irish member of the firm,' while John Gooch Robberds [q. v.], alluding to its motto 'Respice, Aspice, Prospice,' described it as * a magazine of allspice.' To this quarterly, and to its successor the ' National Review ' (1855-1864), edited by Martineau, R, H. Hutton, and Walter Bagehot, he contributed some of his best critical work; later he wrote occasionally for the 'Theological Review,' edited by Charles Beard [q.v. Suppl.] His drastic treatment (' Mesmeric Atheism ' in Prospective, March 1851) of ' Letters on the Laws of Man's Nature and Development' (January 1851), by Henry George Atkinson and Harriet Martineau (who edited the volume), was never forgiven by the latter. This masterpiece of satire, coming after a coolness of some years' standing, due to a refusal to destroy his sister's letters to himself, produced an alienation which Martineau made fruitless efforts to remove (cf. his letters in Daily News, 30 Dec. 1884, 2 and' 6 Jan. 1886).

For five years after the removal (1853) of Manchester New College to University Hall, Gordon Square, London, Martineau travelled up to town every week in the session to deliver his lectures, till in 1857 he left Liverpool to share with Tayler the theological teaching of the college, as professor of mental, moral, and religious philosophy. This arrangement was not effected without strenuous protest (led by Robert Brook Aspland [q. v.], who resigned the secretaryship, and joined by Martineau's brothers-in-law, Samuel Bache [q. v.] and Edward Higginson [q. v.]) against confining the teaching to one school of thought. He returned to the pulpit in 1859, becoming colleague (20 Feb.) with Tayler in the charge of Little Portland Street chapel, left vacant by the death of Edward Tagart [q v.] ; from 1860 he was in sole charge. Of his London ministry there are sketches by Frances Power Cobbe (Life, 1894, ii. 145 ; Inquirer, 20 Jan. 1900, p. 11). From 1858 to 1868 he was a trustee of Dr. Williams's foundations. In his letter (6 Aug. 1859) to Simon Frederick Macdonald (1822-1862) on 'the Unitarian position,' followed by a second letter ' Church-Life ? or Sect-Life ? ' (14 Oct. 1859), ' in reply to the critics of the first ' (both reprinted in Essays, ut sup. ii. 371), he pleaded for restricting Unitarian profession to individuals and societies, leaving congregations unpledged to distinctive doctrine.

At midsummer 1866 John Hoppus [q. v.] vacated the chair of mental philosophy and logic in University College, London. Martineau's candidature was unsuccessful, mainly through the opposition of George Grote [q. v.], who raised the anti-clerical cry. In protest against this limitation, Augustus de Morgan [q. v.] resigned the mathematical chair, and William Ballantyne Hodgson [q. v.] resigned his seat on the college council. Meanwhile Martineau was busy with denominational controversies, issuing in the formation of a 'Free Christian union,' which celebrated its first anniversary (1 June 1869) with sermons by Athanase Coquerel fils and Charles Kegan Paul, and lasted a couple of years. He was a member of the ' Metaphysical Society ' (2 June 1869-12 May 1880), which owed its inception to Tennyson. In 1869 he became principal of Manchester New College, and in 1872, under medical advice, he gave up preaching ; his friends presented him with inscribed plate and 5,800/. In the same year he received the LL.D. diploma from Harvard. The most striking sermons of his London ministry were published in 'Hours of Thought on Sacred Things' (1st ser. 1876, 8vo ; 2nd er. 1879, 8vo).

His college address (6 Oct. 1874), criticising the address (19 Aug.) of John Tyndall [q. v.] to the British Association at Belfast, led to a controversy (1875-6) with Tyndall, who wrote in the 'Fortnightly Review,' Martineau replying in the 'Contemporary.' The brilliance of his papers (reprinted, Essays, ut sup. iv. 163) culminating in his 'Ideal Substitutes for God' (1879), won him wide repute as a champion of theism. He received the diplomas of S.Th.D. Leydeu (1875), D.D. Edinburgh (1884), D.C.L. Oxon. (20 June 1888), Litt.D. Dublin (1892). In 1882 appeared his 'Study of Spinoza' (2nd ed. 1883, 8vo), in which he maintained that Spinoza's philosophy does not reach the point of theism. His college work had been lightened by the appointment (1875) of Charles Barnes Upton as joint professor of philosophy ; at Michaelmas 1885 he resigned the principalship, having passed the age of eighty. In 1886-7 he was president of the college. On his eighty-third birthday an address was presented to him bearing names of the stamp of Tennyson, Browning, Kenan, Kuenen, Jowett, and Sanday (the text, with 649 signatures, is in Knight's 'Inter Amicos,' 1901, pp. 89 sq.)

Much of Martineau's college work was incorporated in his later publications, on which his reputation as a philosophic thinker will mainly rest. His ' Types of Ethical Theory ' (Oxford, 1885, 2 vols. 8vo; 3rd ed. 1889, 8vo) has been used as a text-book at Oxford and Calcutta ; portions of an analysis, based on lectures by Henry Stephens, were published at Calcutta in 1890 (see also The Law of Duty : a Suggested Moral Text-book, based on the Ethical and Religious Writings of Dr. J. Martineau, Madras, 1889, 8vo, by T. E. Slator). His 'Way out of the Trinitarian Controversy' (a sermon of earlier date, first printed, Christian Reformer, 1886 ; reprinted, Essays, ut sup. ii. 525) is based on the theory that the real object of worship, in both creeds, is the ' Second Person ' under different names. Of his ' Study of Religion ' (Oxford, 1888, 2 vols. 8vo; 1889, 8vo) there is an 'Analysis' (1900) by Richard Acland Armstrong. The brilliant elaboration of the 'design argument' marks the recurrence of his thought to a position which he had long disparaged, if not discarded ; it was resumed with modifications made necessary by the Darwinian doctrine of evolution. To save free-will, Martineau (after Socinus) excludes the divine foreknowledge of contingencies ; but as in his view all the lines of action, between which choice lies, lead to the same goal, free-will ' only varying the track ' (ii. 279), the result seems indistinguishable from fatalism. In 1888 he introduced at Leeds a comprehensive plan of organisation and sustentation for the Unitarian body, under the character of 'English presbyterians.' The scheme, somewhat resembling that of James Yates (1789-1871) [q.v.], was not adopted, though certain of its suggestions have borne fruit. On the formation (14 May 1889) of a ' provincial assembly ' by London unitarians, Martineau resisted the proposal of Robert Spears [q. v. Suppl.] to make the term ' Christian ' a part of its title. The latest phases of his theological teaching must be sought in ' The Seat of Authority in Religion ' (1890, 8vo ; 1892, 8vo), in which, more space is given to the polemic than to the reconstructive side of his subject ; hence it has been described as 'the unseating of authorities.' Of his New Testament criticism it has been remarked as 'strange, that whenever our Lord's language is at issue with Dr. Martineau's philosophy, the evangelists have been bad reporters.' He lectured at University Hall, Gordon Square (January-March 1891), on the ' Gospel of Luke; ' and (1893) on the newly discovered ' Gospel according to Peter.' He had opposed the removal (1889) of Manchester New College to Oxford, but took part in the opening of the new buildings, conducting the communion service (19 Oct. 1893) in the chapel of Manchester College.

Till a few months before the close of his long life he showed no symptom of failing faculty, unless a slight deafness be reckoned and some defects of memory. Within a year of his death an old friend calling to see him found that 'the venerable youth had gone to a popular concert.' Always abstemious and never using tobacco, he disused alcohol in the period 1842-9, and gave it up in the sixties (Reade, Study and Stimulants, 1883, p. 97) ; he had previously been troubled with hereditary gout, Till 1898 he spent the summer and autumn at his highland residence, The Polchar, Aviemore, Inverness-shire, where he proved himself an experienced mountaineer. His strenuous character and aesthetic sense marked every detail of his work ; he was an excellent man of business, and his most ordinary correspondence had distinction and a high finish. Old age gave grandeur to his countenance, and a refined gentleness to his demeanour. In his conversation as in his letters there was a rare combination of dignified modesty and courtly grace. His spoken addresses were simpler in style than most of his literary works, which, when richly wrought, reminded his critics of a kaleidoscope (R. B. Aspland's phrase; see also Life of F. P. Cobbe, ut sup. p. 146). The delivery of his sermons was vivid and even dramatic, though without action; his lectures were mechanically dictated. Both sermons and lectures were written in Doddridge's shorthand. His politics were of the old whig school; he was against disestablishment, desiring a comprehensive national church; he took the side of the southern states in the American war; in Irish politics he was strongly averse to home rule; he was opposed to free education and advocated a common religious teaching in board schools. An outside estimate of his services to speculative theology, by P.T. Forsyth, D.D., is in the 'London Quarterly,' April 1900, p. 214 (cf. R.H. Hutton in Proceedings, ut sup. pp. 36-40). To fix the ultimate value of his contributions to philosophy no attempt can be made here; as an intellectual and moral force, he impressed himself on his generation both by his writings and by his personality.

He died at 35 Gordon Square on 11 Jan. 1900 in his ninety-fifth year, and was buried at Highgate cemetery on 16 Jan. He married (18 Dec. 1828) Helen (d. 9 Nov. 1877, aged 73), eldest daughter of Edward Higginson, and had issue three sons and five daughters, of whom one son and three daughters survived him. His portrait was painted by C. Agar (1846, engraved 1847); by Mr. G. F. Watts (1874, engraved 1874), not a very successful likeness (cf. Life of F.P. Cobbe, 1894, ii. 94); by Mr. Alfred Emslie (1888, reproduced in photogravure). A seated statue by Mr. H. R. Hope Pinker (1898) is in the library of Manchester College, Oxford; and there are at least two earlier busts executed during his Liverpool ministry, and a terra-cotta bust (1877) by James Mullins.

His chief publications are enumerated above. To these may be added, besides many single sermons and addresses:

  1. 'Home Prayers, with Two Services for Public Worship,' 1891, 12mo (the services first published 1862).
  2. 'Faith … Self-Surrender,' 1897, 12mo (four sermons).

Three collections of his papers were published in America: 'Miscellanies,' Boston, U.S.A., 1852, 8vo (edited by Thomas Starr King); 'Studies of Christianity,' 1858, 12mo (edited by William Rounseville Alger; includes his first printed sermon, 1830); 'Essays, Philosophical and Theological,' Boston, Mass., 1866 (includes, in error, an article on 'Revelation' by R. H. Hutton, New York, 1879, 8vo.) His own selection was published as 'Essays, Reviews, and Addresses,' 1890-1, 4 vols. 8vo. He prefixed a valuable introduction to E. P. Hall's translation of Bonet-Maury's 'Early Sources of Unitarian Christianity,' 1884, and edited, with introduction, second editions of works by J. J. Tayler, and posthumous sermons by J. H. Thorn. Two original hymns are in his collection of 1840, another is in his collection of 1873. His 'Religion as affected by modern Materialism' (1874) was translated into German by Dr. Adolf Sydow in 1878; four of his sermons were translated into Dutch, 'Gedachten,' Leyden, 1893, 8vo.

Russell Martineau (1831-1898), orientalist, eldest son of the above, was born in Dublin on 18 Jan. 1831. Educated at Heidelberg, University College, London, and Berlin, he graduated B.A. London, 1850, M.A. (classics) London, 1854. Having acted as domestic tutor, he was appointed (1857) on the staff of the British Museum library, and rose by successive promotions to the post of assistant-keeper (1884), which he held till superannuated in 1896. His department (though oriental studies were his forte) was early printing; he improved the collection of Luther's works (first editions), catalogued that section, and also the article 'Bible.' In 1857 he also became, on Ewald's recommendation, lecturer on Hebrew language and literature in Manchester New College, London, was promoted to be professor in 1866, and resigned in 1874. His all-round scholarship was of exceptional thoroughness, and he excelled as a painstaking teacher. He was a Hibbert trustee, and a trustee of Dr. Williams's foundations. His health suffered from an epileptic tendency. He died at 5 Eldon Road, Hampstead, on 14 Dec. 1898. He married (1861) Frances Bailey, but had no issue. He published:

  1. 'A Short Dissertation on the True Pronunciation of the Divine Name,' 1869, 8vo.
  2. 'The Roots of Christianity in Mosaism,' 1869, 8vo (address at Manchester New College).
  3. Notes on the Pronunciation of English Vowels in the Seventeenth Century,' 1892, 8vo (Philological Society).
  4. 'The Song of Songs,' 1892, 8vo; 'The Song of Songs again,' 1896, 8vo (reprinted from 'American Journal of Philology').

He translated Gregorovius's 'Corsica,' 1855, 8vo, and Goldziher's 'Mythology among the Hebrews,' 1877, 8vo; and edited the translation of a section of Ewald's 'History of Israel,' 1867,2 vols. 8vo; last edition, 1883, 8vo. With his brother, Basil Martineau, and James Thornely Whitehead (1834-1898) he edited the musical edition (1876) of his father's ‘Hymns of Praise and Prayer;’ he published also some tunes and an anthem separately. He wrote for the ‘Theological Review’ and the ‘Spectator,’ and contributed to ‘Bibliographica’ (1895) and to Murray's ‘Oxford Dictionary’ (Inquirer, 24 Dec. 1898; Christian Life, 24 Dec. 1898).

[A biography of Martineau by Principal Drummond and Professor Upton is expected shortly. Dublin University Magazine, April 1877, p. 434 (with an excellent portrait); Cassell's National Portrait Gallery, No. 78 (7 Nov. 1877, with memoir by Rev. Charles Wicksteed, on the basis of Martineau's autobiographical memoranda); Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892, p. 715; Inquirer, 20 Jan. 1900 (special number; portrait); The Bookman, February 1900 (excellent portrait); Jackson's James Martineau, 1900 (two portraits); authorities cited above; personal recollection.]

A. G.