Queen Victoria eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 129 pages of information about Queen Victoria.

The great Lord Shaftesbury was her chief supporter, but it was not until the year 1854 that Mary Carpenter succeeded in her desire, when a Bill was passed establishing reformatory schools.  From this time her influence rapidly increased, and it is mainly owing to her efforts that at the present day such precautions are taken to reform young criminals on the sound principle of “prevention is better than cure.”

Mary Carpenter also visited India no fewer than four times in order to arouse public opinion there to the need for the better education of women, and at a later date she went to America, where she had many warm friends and admirers.  She had, as was only natural, been keenly interested in the abolition of negro slavery.

One of the most distinguished women in literature during the Victorian Age was Harriet Martineau.  At an early age it was evident that she was gifted beyond the ordinary, and at seven years old she had read Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and learnt long portions of it by heart.

Her health was extremely poor; she suffered as a child from imaginary terrors which she describes in her Autobiography, and she gradually became deaf.  She bore this affliction with the greatest courage and cheerfulness, but misfortunes followed one another in rapid succession.  Her elder brother died of consumption, her father lost large sums of money in business, and the grief and anxiety so preyed upon his mind that he died, leaving his family very badly off.

This, and the loss later on of the little money they had left, only served to strengthen Miss Martineau’s purpose.  She studied and wrote until late in the night, and after her first success in literature, when she won all three prizes offered by the Unitarian body for an essay, she set to work on a series of stories which were to illustrate such subjects as the effect of machinery upon wages, free trade, etc.

After the manuscript had been refused by numerous publishers, she succeeded in getting it accepted, and the book proved an extraordinary success.

She moved to London, and her house soon became the centre where the best of literature and politics could always be discussed.  She was consulted even by Cabinet Ministers, but in spite of all the praise and adulation she remained quite unspoiled.

The idea of women taking part in public movements was still not altogether pleasing to the majority of people, who were apt to look upon ‘learned’ women as ‘Blue-stockings,’ a name first used in England in the previous century in rather a contemptuous way.

    Come, let us touch the string,
    And try a song to sing,
      Though this is somewhat difficult at starting, O! 
    And in our case more than ever,
    When a desperate endeavour,
      Is made to sing the praise of Harry Martineau!

    Of bacon, eggs, and butter,
    Rare philosophy she’ll utter;
      Not a thing about your house but she’ll take part in, O! 
    As to mine, with all my soul,
    She might take (and pay) the whole—­
      But that is all my eye and Harry Martineau!

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Queen Victoria from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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