1345.  Harriet Martineau to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 7, 269.


August 1st [1843][1]

My dear Madam

Such a liberty as I am taking would be quite inexcusable if I could feel that we were perfect strangers. My intention is to ask your kind acceptance of a little volume of mine, written several years ago,[2] but still in favour with the public. It is so probable that it may not suit your views or tastes that I hope & entreat that you will not think it necessary to say a word to me about it, or even to acknowledge its arrival. If it should fail to interest you entirely, I shall still not repent sending you some token of my respect & admiration,—& I may add,—sympathy. —I owe to you many many moments of pleasure, some ideas (rare gifts in this age!) & no small feeling of complacency from your permission to my dear Mrs Reid[3] to bring me your very noble poem, Pan Departed. The stanzas of that poem have run in my head, & raised my thought, ever since the first reading; & with every revival of the impression, my gratitude to you revives. May I add that I would sacrifice the whole poem,—throw it into the fire,—if the name & offices of Christ did not stand in it exactly as they do.

These few words may perhaps not come amiss from one who has for friends some who are yours,—who has, like you, lost health, & become inured to the want of it, & who, like you, almost forgets to wish for ease & vigour in the keen sense of enjoyments which bear no relation to the body & its welfare. I feel sure that you will more than pardon my expressing to you the gratitude & regard I truly feel.

I am, dear Madam, most truly yours

H. Martineau.

Address: Miss Barrett.

Publication: None traced.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Year based on EBB’s mentioning this letter to Miss Mitford in no. 1353.

2. Letter 1353 shows that this was Traditions of Palestine, originally published in 1830. A new edition was printed in 1843.

3. Elizabeth Jesser Reid (née Sturch, 1789–1866), a particular friend of Miss Martineau, was a former Unitarian who had followed W.J. Fox out of the faith and was one of the founders of Bedford College (see Harriet Martineau: A Radical Victorian, by Robert K. Webb, 1960, pp. 16–17).


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