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Literary Life of the Rev. William Harness
Harriet Martineau to William Harness, 3 June [1841]

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
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“Tynemouth, June 3rd, [ ]
“Dear Mr. Harness,

“My friend Mrs. Reid has just arrived; and she brings me the very agreeable news that your sermons are coming to me from yourself. I had seen the advertisement, with a sort of envious feeling of those in whose way that book would come; and I am not a little pleased at the prospect of having it, and from your hand.

“A parcel will soon be coming to me from Mrs. Reid’s (6, Grenville Street, Brunswick Square), and I shall be much obliged if you will either have the book left there, or tell her servants to which of my publishers to send for the parcel.

“Some months ago, when publishing ‘The Hour and the Man,’ I ordered a copy to be sent to you. I did this, not with any idea that you would not

* Miss Mitford’s letter of April 3rd, 1815, to Sir William Elford. See Vol I., at pages 305-6 of her Life.

discover and feel the artistical faults of the book, or with any hope that you, who have never known negroes in any but a degraded state, could believe them to be what I have represented; but because I remember your saying that it must be the most delightful thing in the world to spend a summer in the country, in the exclusive society of one’s own personages. It is true, you doubtless took for granted two very important things which I had not—health, and the power of going out of doors; but still I found your words so far true as to be moved to send you the book; and I hope you received it.

“You will have heard (so many common friends as we have) that I am not better, nor expecting to be so. Your experience among the sick will prevent your being surprised, perhaps, at what has surprised me—that I have never once felt the slightest and most transient desire to be well. The divine repose of life in two rooms (especially with a fine sea-view); the simplification of duty to one rather prone to be tender-conscienced; and the perpetual feast of the heart administered by the kindness of friends, are good things, in the midst of which bodily troubles are lost and forgotten on review, if not from moment to moment. Into another part of the matter, Pascal had insight: ‘Quand on se porte bien, on ne comprend pas comment on pourrait faire si l’on était malade; et quand on l’est, on prend médecine gaie-
ment: le mal y résout. On n’a plus les passions et les désirs des divertissements et des promenades, que la santé donnait, et qui sont incompatibles avec les nécessités de la maladie. La nature donne alors des passions et des désirs conformes à l’état pràsent. Ce ne sont que les craintes que nous nous donnons nous-mêmes, et non pas la nature, qui nous troublent; parce-qu’elles joignent à l’état ou nous sommes les passions de l’état où nous ne sommes pas.’

“I should not have thought he had known enough of health to write the above. On the whole, his deficiencies seem to be those which arise from want of knowledge of a healthy state, and of sympathy with those who are well.

“Pray remember me kindly to Miss Harness, and believe me, very truly yours.

Harriet Martineau.”