Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 36.djvu/318

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Martineau
Martineau
312

ing upon mesmerism at Newcastle in 1844, and was called in to attend her. She was afterwards regularly mesmerised. She rapidly recovered, and gave an account of her case in 'Letters on Mesmerism,' first published in the 'Athenæum.' Unbelievers were irritated, her eldest sister (who died soon afterwards) and her mother were alienated for the time, and charges of imposture and credulity freely made upon persons concerned. Miss Martineau naturally became a firm believer, and occasionally mesmerised patients herself.

Her experience in mesmerism had brought her the acquaintance of a gentleman interested in the question who was living on Windermere, and in January 1845 she visited him in order to confirm her recovery. Tynemouth had become disagreeable, owing to the quarrels over mesmerism ; her mother was settled with other children at Liverpool, and she took lodgings at Waterhead to look about her and form plans for her life. She finally bought a plot of ground at Clappersgate, Westmoreland, and built a house, called 'The Knoll,' during the winter of 1845-6. In the autumn of 1845 she wrote her 'Forest and Game-Law Tales,' upon evidence supplied by John Bright, which were for the time a failure, partly owing to the excitement about the repeal of the corn laws. After settling in her new house she made many excursions in the Lake district in 1846, and in August was invited by her friends, Mr. and Mrs. R. V. Yates, to accompany them and Mr. J. C. Ewart on a visit to Egypt and Palestine. She returned in July 1847 and began her book upon Eastern life. She had by this time repudiated all theology. In May 1845 she had first seen Henry G. Atkinson, a friend of the Basil Montagus, who had previously through them given her advice upon mesmerism (ib. ii. 214). She consulted him as to the fulness with which she should avow her opinions in the book upon the East, where she proposed to consider the origin of the chief religions. The book was published in 1848, with sufficient success to enable her to acquire full property in her house.

In 1848 she was induced by Charles Knight to undertake a 'History of the Peace,' which he had begun but thrown aside. Her mother died in August 1848, at the age of seventy-five, after an illness which caused her daughter much anxiety. She began her history, however, in August, after previous preparation, finished the first volume by 1 Feb. 1849, and wrote the second in another six months, after a holiday, finishing it in November 1849. It is a remarkable performance, especially considering the time occupied, and written with real power. It generally represents the views of the 'philosophical radicals.' During 1850 she wrote an introductory volume, besides miscellaneous work, including some articles for 'Household Words.' She received 1,000l. for the history and 200l. for the introductory chapter (ib. iii. 336).

In January 1851 she published the 'Letters on the Laws of Man's Social Nature and Development,' They were chiefly written by Atkinson, and were published at her request (ib. ii. 329). Their anti-theological views naturally gave much offence. They were severely reviewed in the 'Prospective Review' by her brother James, who expressed his pain at finding Miss Martineau as the disciple of an avowed atheist. An alienation which followed was, partly at least, due to other causes. Comtes philosophy was beginning to attract notice at this time, and Miss Martineau, after reading the notices of Lewes and Littre, planned a translation as soon as the history and the Atkinson letters were fairly off her hands. She was interrupted for a time by writing the fragment of a novel, which Miss Brontë, recently known to her, undertook to get published anonymously. It showed favour to the Roman catholics, which caused its rejection by a publisher, and she ultimately burnt it. She afterwards gave up writing for 'Household Words' on the ground that it was unfair to Catholicism. Comte probably influenced her in this direction. In 1851 a Norfolk country-gentleman named Lombe sent her 500l. upon hearing from Mr. Chapman that she contemplated a translation of the ' Philosophic Positive,' She decided to accept 200l. as a remuneration for the labour, and to devote the rest to the expenses of publication. The profits were divided between herself, Mr. Chapman, and Comte. She began her work, which is an able condensation of Comte's six volumes into two, in June 1852, and finished it in October 1853. The book was published in the beginning of November. Comte was highly gratified, and placed it, instead of his own, among the books to be read by his disciples. In 1871 one of them, M. Avezac-Lavigne, began a translation of it into French (ib. iii. 809-12).

Before beginning her translation she had been asked to contribute to the 'Daily News,' the editor, Frederick Knight Hunt [q. v.], having been attracted by her 'History of the Peace.' She wrote three articles a week during her occupation with Comte, and afterwards for a time as many as six. She continued to contribute, under two succeeding editors, until 1866, writing on the whole over sixteen hundred articles (ib. iii. 338-43, 424). A list of the articles in 1861 is given by Mrs.