Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli, Vol. I by Margaret Fuller Ossoli

Part 1 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Produced by Leah Moser and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.





* * * * *

Only a learned and a manly soul
I purposed her, that should with even powers
The rock, the spindle, and the shears control
Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours.


Pero che ogni diletto nostro e doglia
Sta in si e no saper, voler, potere;
Adunque quel sol puo, che col dovere
Ne trae la ragion fuor di sua soglia.

Adunque tu, lettor di queste note,
S' a te vuoi esser buono, e agli altri caro,
Vogli sempre poter quel che tu debbi.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District
of Massachusetts.

Stereotyped by HOBART & ROBBINS;



II. CAMBRIDGE, _By J.F. Clarke_


IV. CONCORD, _By R.W. Emerson_

V. BOSTON, _By R.W. Emerson_



* * * * *

"Aus Morgenduft gewebt und Sonnenklarheit
Der Dichtung Schleir aus der Hand der Wahrheit."


"The million stars which tremble
O'er the deep mind of dauntless infancy."


"Wie leicht ward er dahin gefragen,
Was war dem Gluecklichen zu schwer!
Wie tanzte vor des Lebens Wagen
Die luftige Begleitung her!
Die Liebe mit dem suessen Lohne,
Das Glueck mit seinem gold'nen Kranz,
Der Ruhm mit seiner Sternenkrone,
Die Wahrheit in der Sonne Glanz."


What wert thou then? A child most infantine,
Yet wandering far beyond that innocent age,
In all but its sweet looks and mien divine;
Even then, methought, with the world's tyrant rage
A patient warfare thy young heart did wage,
When those soft eyes of scarcely conscious thought
Some tale, or thine own fancies, would engage
To overflow with tears, or converse fraught
With passion o'er their depths its fleeting light had wrought.'


"And I smiled, as one never smiles but once;
Then first discovering my own aim's extent,
Which sought to comprehend the works of God.
And God himself, and all God's intercourse
With the human mind."




* * * * *

'Tieck, who has embodied so many Runic secrets, explained to
me what I have often felt toward myself, when he tells of
the poor changeling, who, turned from the door of her adopted
home, sat down on a stone and so pitied herself that she wept.
Yet me also, the wonderful bird, singing in the wild forest,
has tempted on, and not in vain.'

Thus wrote Margaret in the noon of life, when looking back through
youth to the "dewy dawn of memory." She was the eldest child of
Timothy Fuller and Margaret Crane, and was born in Cambridge-Port,
Massachusetts, on the 23d of May, 1810.

Among her papers fortunately remains this unfinished sketch of youth,
prepared by her own hand, in 1840, as the introductory chapter to an
autobiographical romance.


'My father was a lawyer and a politician. He was a man largely
endowed with that sagacious energy, which the state of New
England society, for the last half century, has been so well
fitted to develop. His father was a clergyman, settled as
pastor in Princeton, Massachusetts, within the bounds of whose
parish-farm was Wachuset. His means were small, and the great
object of his ambition was to send his sons to college. As a
boy, my father was taught to think only of preparing himself
for Harvard University, and when there of preparing himself
for the profession of Law. As a Lawyer, again, the ends
constantly presented were to work for distinction in the
community, and for the means of supporting a family. To be an
honored citizen, and to have a home on earth, were made the
great aims of existence. To open the deeper fountains of
the soul, to regard life here as the prophetic entrance to
immortality, to develop his spirit to perfection,--motives
like these had never been suggested to him, either by
fellow-beings or by outward circumstances. The result was a
character, in its social aspect, of quite the common sort.
A good son and brother, a kind neighbor, an active man of
business--in all these outward relations he was but one of
a class, which surrounding conditions have made the majority
among us. In the more delicate and individual relations, he
never approached but two mortals, my mother and myself.

'His love for my mother was the green spot on which he
stood apart from the common-places of a mere bread-winning,
bread-bestowing existence. She was one of those fair and
flower-like natures, which sometimes spring up even beside the
most dusty highways of life--a creature not to be shaped into
a merely useful instrument, but bound by one law with the blue
sky, the dew, and the frolic birds. Of all persons whom I
have known, she had in her most of the angelic,--of that
spontaneous love for every living thing, for man, and beast,
and tree, which restores the golden age.'


'My earliest recollection is of a death,--the death of a
sister, two years younger than myself. Probably there is a
sense of childish endearments, such as belong to this tie,
mingled with that of loss, of wonder, and mystery; but these
last are prominent in memory. I remember coming home and
meeting our nursery-maid, her face streaming with tears. That
strange sight of tears made an indelible impression. I realize
how little I was of stature, in that I looked up to this
weeping face;--and it has often seemed since, that--full-grown
for the life of this earth, I have looked up just so, at times
of threatening, of doubt, and distress, and that just so has
some being of the next higher order of existences looked down,
aware of a law unknown to me, and tenderly commiserating the
pain I muse endure in emerging from my ignorance.

'She took me by the hand and led me into a still and dark
chamber,--then drew aside the curtain and showed me my sister.
I see yet that beauty of death! The highest achievements of
sculpture are only the reminder of its severe sweetness. Then
I remember the house all still and dark,--the people in their
black clothes and dreary faces,--the scent of the newly-made
coffin,--my being set up in a chair and detained by a gentle
hand to hear the clergyman,--the carriages slowly going, the
procession slowly doling out their steps to the grave. But
I have no remembrance of what I have since been told I
did,--insisting, with loud cries, that they should not put the
body in the ground. I suppose that my emotion was spent at
the time, and so there was nothing to fix that moment in my

'I did not then, nor do I now, find any beauty in these
ceremonies. What had they to do with the sweet playful child?
Her life and death were alike beautiful, but all this sad
parade was not. Thus my first experience of life was one of
death. She who would have been the companion of my life was
severed from me, and I was left alone. This has made a
vast difference in my lot. Her character, if that fair face
promised right, would have been soft, graceful and lively: it
would have tempered mine to a gentler and more gradual course.


'My father,--all whose feelings were now concentred on
me,--instructed me himself. The effect of this was so far good
that, not passing through the hands of many ignorant and weak
persons as so many do at preparatory schools, I was put at
once under discipline of considerable severity, and, at the
same time, had a more than ordinarily high standard presented
to me. My father was a man of business, even in literature; he
had been a high scholar at college, and was warmly attached
to all he had learned there, both from the pleasure he had
derived in the exercise of his faculties and the associated
memories of success and good repute. He was, beside, well read
in French literature, and in English, a Queen Anne's man. He
hoped to make me the heir of all he knew, and of as much more
as the income of his profession enabled him to give me
means of acquiring. At the very beginning, he made one
great mistake, more common, it is to be hoped, in the last
generation, than the warnings of physiologists will permit
it to be with the next. He thought to gain time, by bringing
forward the intellect as early as possible. Thus I had tasks
given me, as many and various as the hours would allow, and
on subjects beyond my age; with the additional disadvantage
of reciting to him in the evening, after he returned from his
office. As he was subject to many interruptions, I was often
kept up till very late; and as he was a severe teacher, both
from his habits of mind and his ambition for me, my feelings
were kept on the stretch till the recitations were over. Thus
frequently, I was sent to bed several hours too late, with
nerves unnaturally stimulated. The consequence was a premature
development of the brain, that made me a "youthful prodigy" by
day, and by night a victim of spectral illusions, nightmare,
and somnambulism, which at the time prevented the harmonious
development of my bodily powers and checked my growth, while,
later, they induced continual headache, weakness and nervous
affections, of all kinds. As these again re-acted on the
brain, giving undue force to every thought and every feeling,
there was finally produced a state of being both too active
and too intense, which wasted my constitution, and will bring
me,--even although I have learned to understand and regulate
my now morbid temperament,--to a premature grave.

'No one understood this subject of health then. No one knew
why this child, already kept up so late, was still unwilling
to retire. My aunts cried out upon the "spoiled child, the
most unreasonable child that ever was,--if brother could but
open his eyes to see it,--who was never willing to go to bed."
They did not know that, so soon as the light was taken away,
she seemed to see colossal faces advancing slowly towards her,
the eyes dilating, and each feature swelling loathsomely as
they came, till at last, when they were about to close upon
her, she started up with a shriek which drove them away, but
only to return when she lay down again. They did not know
that, when at last she went to sleep, it was to dream of
horses trampling over her, and to awake once more in fright;
or, as she had just read in her Virgil, of being among trees
that dripped with blood, where she walked and walked and could
not get out, while the blood became a pool and plashed over
her feet, and rose higher and higher, till soon she dreamed it
would reach her lips. No wonder the child arose and walked in
her sleep, moaning all over the house, till once, when they
heard her, and came and waked her, and she told what she had
dreamed, her father sharply bid her "leave off thinking of
such nonsense, or she would be crazy,"--never knowing that he
was himself the cause of all these horrors of the night. Often
she dreamed of following to the grave the body of her mother,
as she had done that of her sister, and woke to find the
pillow drenched in tears. These dreams softened her heart too
much, and cast a deep shadow over her young days; for then,
and later, the life of dreams,--probably because there was in
it less to distract the mind from its own earnestness,--has
often seemed to her more real, and been remembered with more
interest, than that of waking hours.

'Poor child! Far remote in time, in thought, from that
period, I look back on these glooms and terrors, wherein I was
enveloped, and perceive that I had no natural childhood.'


'Thus passed my first years. My mother was in delicate health,
and much absorbed in the care of her younger children. In the
house was neither dog nor bird, nor any graceful animated form
of existence. I saw no persons who took my fancy, and real
life offered no attraction. Thus my already over-excited mind
found no relief from without, and was driven for refuge from
itself to the world of books. I was taught Latin and English
grammar at the same time, and began to read Latin at six years
old, after which, for some years, I read it daily. In this
branch of study, first by my father, and afterwards by a
tutor, I was trained to quite a high degree of precision.
I was expected to understand the mechanism of the language
thoroughly, and in translating to give the thoughts in as
few well-arranged words as possible, and without breaks
or hesitation,--for with these my father had absolutely no

'Indeed, he demanded accuracy and clearness in everything:
you must not speak, unless you can make your meaning perfectly
intelligible to the person addressed; must not express a
thought, unless you can give a reason for it, if
required; must not make a statement, unless sure of all
particulars--such were his rules. "But," "if," "unless," "I am
mistaken," and "it may be so," were words and phrases excluded
from the province where he held sway. Trained to great
dexterity in artificial methods, accurate, ready, with entire
command of his resources, he had no belief in minds that
listen, wait, and receive. He had no conception of the subtle
and indirect motions of imagination and feeling. His influence
on me was great, and opposed to the natural unfolding of my
character, which was fervent, of strong grasp, and disposed to
infatuation, and self-forgetfulness. He made the common prose
world so present to me, that my natural bias was controlled. I
did not go mad, as many would do, at being continually roused
from my dreams. I had too much strength to be crushed,--and
since I must put on the fetters, could not submit to let them
impede my motions. My own world sank deep within, away from
the surface of my life; in what I did and said I learned to
have reference to other minds. But my true life was only the
dearer that it was secluded and veiled over by a thick curtain
of available intellect, and that coarse, but wearable stuff
woven by the ages,--Common Sense.

'In accordance with this discipline in heroic common sense,
was the influence of those great Romans, whose thoughts and
lives were my daily food during those plastic years. The
genius of Rome displayed itself in Character, and scarcely
needed an occasional wave of the torch of thought to show its
lineaments, so marble strong they gleamed in every light. Who,
that has lived with those men, but admires the plain force of
fact, of thought passed into action? They take up things with
their naked hands. There is just the man, and the block he
casts before you,--no divinity, no demon, no unfulfilled
aim, but just the man and Rome, and what he did for Rome.
Everything turns your attention to what a man can become,
not by yielding himself freely to impressions, not by letting
nature play freely through him, but by a single thought,
an earnest purpose, an indomitable will, by hardihood,
self-command, and force of expression. Architecture was the
art in which Rome excelled, and this corresponds with the
feeling these men of Rome excite. They did not grow,--they
built themselves up, or were built up by the fate of Rome, as
a temple for Jupiter Stator. The ruined Roman sits among
the ruins; he flies to no green garden; he does not look to
heaven; if his intent is defeated, if he is less than he meant
to be, he lives no more. The names which end in "_us_," seem
to speak with lyric cadence. That measured cadence,--that
tramp and march,--which are not stilted, because they indicate
real force, yet which seem so when compared with any other
language,--make Latin a study in itself of mighty influence.
The language alone, without the literature, would give one the
_thought_ of Rome. Man present in nature, commanding nature
too sternly to be inspired by it, standing like the rock
amid the sea, or moving like the fire over the land, either
impassive, or irresistible; knowing not the soft mediums or
fine flights of life, but by the force which he expresses,
piercing to the centre.

'We are never better understood than when we speak of a "Roman
virtue," a "Roman outline." There is somewhat indefinite,
somewhat yet unfulfilled in the thought of Greece, of Spain,
of modern Italy; but ROME! it stands by itself, a clear Word.
The power of will, the dignity of a fixed purpose is what
it utters. Every Roman was an emperor. It is well that the
infallible church should have been founded on this rock, that
the presumptuous Peter should hold the keys, as the conquering
Jove did before his thunderbolts, to be seen of all the world.
The Apollo tends flocks with Admetus; Christ teaches by the
lonely lake, or plucks wheat as he wanders through the fields
some Sabbath morning. They never come to this stronghold; they
could not have breathed freely where all became stone as
soon as spoken, where divine youth found no horizon for its
all-promising glance, but every thought put on, before it
dared issue to the day in action, its _toga virilis_.

'Suckled by this wolf, man gains a different complexion from
that which is fed by the Greek honey. He takes a noble bronze
in camps and battle-fields; the wrinkles of council well
beseem his brow, and the eye cuts its way like the sword. The
Eagle should never have been used as a symbol by any other
nation: it belonged to Rome.

'The history of Rome abides in mind, of course, more than the
literature. It was degeneracy for a Roman to use the pen; his
life was in the day. The "vaunting" of Rome, like that of the
North American Indians, is her proper literature. A man rises;
he tells who he is, and what he has done; he speaks of his
country and her brave men; he knows that a conquering god is
there, whose agent is his own right hand; and he should end
like the Indian, "I have no more to say."

'It never shocks us that the Roman is self-conscious.
One wants no universal truths from him, no philosophy, no
creation, but only his life, his Roman life felt in every
pulse, realized in every gesture. The universal heaven takes
in the Roman only to make us feel his individuality the more.
The Will, the Resolve of Man!--it has been expressed,--fully

'I steadily loved this ideal in my childhood, and this is the
cause, probably, why I have always felt that man must know how
to stand firm on the ground, before he can fly. In vain for
me are men more, if they are less, than Romans. Dante was far
greater than any Roman, yet I feel he was right to take the
Mantuan as his guide through hell, and to heaven.

'Horace was a great deal to me then, and is so still. Though
his words do not abide in memory, his presence does: serene,
courtly, of darting hazel eye, a self-sufficient grace, and
an appreciation of the world of stern realities, sometimes
pathetic, never tragic. He is the natural man of the world; he
is what he ought to be, and his darts never fail of their
aim. There is a perfume and raciness, too, which makes life a
banquet, where the wit sparkles no less that the viands were
bought with blood.

'Ovid gave me not Rome, nor himself, but a view into the
enchanted gardens of the Greek mythology. This path I
followed, have been following ever since; and now, life half
over, it seems to me, as in my childhood, that every thought
of which man is susceptible, is intimated there. In those
young years, indeed, I did not see what I now see, but loved
to creep from amid the Roman pikes to lie beneath this great
vine, and see the smiling and serene shapes go by, woven from
the finest fibres of all the elements. I knew not why, at that
time,--but I loved to get away from the hum of the forum, and
the mailed clang of Roman speech, to these shifting shows of
nature, these Gods and Nymphs born of the sunbeam, the wave,
the shadows on the hill.

'As with Rome I antedated the world of deeds, so I lived in
those Greek forms the true faith of a refined and intense
childhood. So great was the force of reality with which these
forms impressed me, that I prayed earnestly for a sign,--that
it would lighten in some particular region of the heavens, or
that I might find a bunch of grapes in the path, when I went
forth in the morning. But no sign was given, and I was left a
waif stranded upon the shores of modern life!

'Of the Greek language, I knew only enough to feel that the
sounds told the same story as the mythology;--that the law
of life in that land was beauty, as in Rome it was a stern
composure. I wish I had learned as much of Greece as of
Rome,--so freely does the mind play in her sunny waters, where
there is no chill, and the restraint is from within out; for
these Greeks, in an atmosphere of ample grace, could not be
impetuous, or stern, but loved moderation as equable life
always must, for it is the law of beauty.

'With these books I passed my days. The great amount of study
exacted of me soon ceased to be a burden, and reading became a
habit and a passion. The force of feeling, which, under other
circumstances, might have ripened thought, was turned to learn
the thoughts of others. This was not a tame state, for the
energies brought out by rapid acquisition gave glow enough. I
thought with rapture of the all-accomplished man, him of the
many talents, wide resources, clear sight, and omnipotent
will. A Caesar seemed great enough. I did not then know that
such men impoverish the treasury to build the palace. I kept
their statues as belonging to the hall of my ancestors, and
loved to conquer obstacles, and fed my youth and strength for
their sake.

* * * * *

'Still, though this bias was so great that in earliest years I
learned, in these ways, how the world takes hold of a powerful
nature, I had yet other experiences. None of these were
deeper than what I found in the happiest haunt of my childish
years,--our little garden. Our house, though comfortable,
was very ugly, and in a neighborhood which I detested,--every
dwelling and its appurtenances having a _mesquin_ and huddled
look. I liked nothing about us except the tall graceful elms
before the house, and the dear little garden behind. Our back
door opened on a high flight of steps, by which I went down
to a green plot, much injured in my ambitious eyes by the
presence of the pump and tool-house. This opened into a little
garden, full of choice flowers and fruit-trees, which was my
mother's delight, and was carefully kept. Here I felt at home.
A gate opened thence into the fields,--a wooden gate made of
boards, in a high, unpainted board wall, and embowered in the
clematis creeper. This gate I used to open to see the sunset
heaven; beyond this black frame I did not step, for I liked to
look at the deep gold behind it. How exquisitely happy I
was in its beauty, and how I loved the silvery wreaths of my
protecting vine! I never would pluck one of its flowers at
that time, I was so jealous of its beauty, but often since I
carry off wreaths of it from the wild-wood, and it stands in
nature to my mind as the emblem of domestic love.

'Of late I have thankfully felt what I owe to that garden,
where the best hours of my lonely childhood were spent. Within
the house everything was socially utilitarian; my books told
of a proud world, but in another temper were the teachings of
the little garden. There my thoughts could lie callow in the
nest, and only be fed and kept warm, not called to fly or sing
before the time. I loved to gaze on the roses, the violets,
the lilies, the pinks; my mother's hand had planted them, and
they bloomed for me. I culled the most beautiful. I looked at
them on every side. I kissed them, I pressed them to my bosom
with passionate emotions, such as I have never dared express
to any human being. An ambition swelled my heart to be as
beautiful, as perfect as they. I have not kept my vow. Yet,
forgive, ye wild asters, which gleam so sadly amid the fading
grass; forgive me, ye golden autumn flowers, which so strive
to reflect the glories of the departing distant sun; and ye
silvery flowers, whose moonlight eyes I knew so well, forgive!
Living and blooming in your unchecked law, ye know nothing of
the blights, the distortions, which beset the human being;
and which at such hours it would seem that no glories of free
agency could ever repay!

* * * * *

'There was, in the house, no apartment appropriated to the
purpose of a library, but there was in my father's room a
large closet filled with books, and to these I had free access
when the task-work of the day was done. Its window overlooked
wide fields, gentle slopes, a rich and smiling country, whose
aspect pleased without much occupying the eye, while a range
of blue hills, rising at about twelve miles distance, allured
to reverie. "Distant mountains," says Tieck, "excite the
fancy, for beyond them we place the scene of our Paradise."
Thus, in the poems of fairy adventure, we climb the rocky
barrier, pass fearless its dragon caves, and dark pine
forests, and find the scene of enchantment in the vale behind.
My hopes were never so definite, but my eye was constantly
allured to that distant blue range, and I would sit, lost in
fancies, till tears fell on my cheek. I loved this sadness;
but only in later years, when the realities of life had taught
me moderation, did the passionate emotions excited by seeing
them again teach how glorious were the hopes that swelled my
heart while gazing on them in those early days.

'Melancholy attends on the best joys of a merely ideal life,
else I should call most happy the hours in the garden, the
hours in the book closet. Here were the best French writers
of the last century; for my father had been more than half a
Jacobin, in the time when the French Republic cast its glare
of promise over the world. Here, too, were the Queen Anne
authors, his models, and the English novelists; but among
them I found none that charmed me. Smollett, Fielding, and the
like, deal too broadly with the coarse actualities of life.
The best of their men and women--so merely natural, with the
nature found every day--do not meet our hopes. Sometimes the
simple picture, warm with life and the light of the common
sun, cannot fail to charm,--as in the wedded love of
Fielding's Amelia,--but it is at a later day, when the mind is
trained to comparison, that we learn to prize excellence like
this as it deserves. Early youth is prince-like: it-will bend
only to "the king, my father." Various kinds of excellence
please, and leave their impression, but the most commanding,
alone, is duly acknowledged at that all-exacting age.

'Three great authors it was my fortune to meet at this
important period,--all, though of unequal, yet congenial
powers,--all of rich and wide, rather than aspiring
genius,--all free to the extent of the horizon their eye took
in,--all fresh with impulse, racy with experience; never to
be lost sight of, or superseded, but always to be apprehended
more and more.

'Ever memorable is the day on which I first took a volume of
SHAKSPEARE in my hand to read. It was on a Sunday.

'--This day was punctiliously set apart in our house. We had
family prayers, for which there was no time on other days. Our
dinners were different, and our clothes. We went to church. My
father put some limitations on my reading, but--bless him for
the gentleness which has left me a pleasant feeling for the
day!--he did not prescribe what was, but only what was _not_,
to be done. And the liberty this left was a large one. "You
must not read a novel, or a play;" but all other books, the
worst, or the best, were open to me. The distinction was
merely technical. The day was pleasing to me, as relieving me
from the routine of tasks and recitations; it gave me freer
play than usual, and there were fewer things occurred in its
course, which reminded me of the divisions of time; still the
church-going, where I heard nothing that had any connection
with my inward life, and these rules, gave me associations
with the day of empty formalities, and arbitrary restrictions;
but though the forbidden book or walk always seemed more
charming then, I was seldom tempted to disobey.--

'This Sunday--I was only eight years old--I took from the
book-shelf a volume lettered SHAKSPEARE. It was not the first
time I had looked at it, but before I had been deterred from
attempting to read, by the broken appearance along the page,
and preferred smooth narrative. But this time I held in my
hand "Romeo and Juliet" long enough to get my eye fastened to
the page. It was a cold winter afternoon. I took the book to
the parlor fire, and had there been 'seated an hour or two,
when my father looked up and asked what I was reading so
intently. "Shakspeare," replied the child, merely raising her
eye from the page. "Shakspeare,--that won't do; that's no book
for Sunday; go put it away and take another." I went as I was
bid, but took no other. Returning to my seat, the unfinished
story, the personages to whom I was but just introduced,
thronged and burnt my brain. I could not bear it long; such a
lure it was impossible to resist. I went and brought the book
again. There were several guests present, and I had got half
through the play before I again attracted attention. "What
is that child about that she don't hear a word that's said to
her?" quoth my aunt. "What are you reading?" said my father.
"Shakspeare" was again the reply, in a clear, though somewhat
impatient, tone. "How?" said my father angrily,--then
restraining himself before his guests,--"Give me the book and
go directly to bed."

'Into my little room no care of his anger followed me. Alone,
in the dark, I thought only of the scene placed by the
poet before my eye, where the free flow of life, sudden and
graceful dialogue, and forms, whether grotesque or fair,
seen in the broad lustre of his imagination, gave just what
I wanted, and brought home the life I seemed born to live.
My fancies swarmed like bees, as I contrived the rest of the
story;--what all would do, what say, where go. My confinement
tortured me. I could not go forth from this prison to ask
after these friends; I could not make my pillow of the dreams
about them which yet I could not forbear to frame. Thus was
I absorbed when my father entered. He felt it right, before
going to rest, to reason with me about my disobedience, shown
in a way, as he considered, so insolent. I listened, but could
not feel interested in what he said, nor turn my mind
from what engaged it. He went away really grieved at my
impenitence, and quite at a loss to understand conduct in me
so unusual.

'--Often since I have seen the same misunderstanding between
parent and child,--the parent thrusting the morale, the
discipline, of life upon the child, when just engrossed by
some game of real importance and great leadings to it. That is
only a wooden horse to the father,--the child was careering to
distant scenes of conquest and crusade, through a country of
elsewhere unimagined beauty. None but poets remember
their youth; but the father who does not retain poetical
apprehension of the world, free and splendid as it stretches
out before the child, who cannot read his natural history, and
follow out its intimations with reverence, must be a tyrant in
his home, and the purest intentions will not prevent his doing
much to cramp him. Each new child is a new Thought, and has
bearings and discernings, which the Thoughts older in date
know not yet, but must learn.--

'My attention thus fixed on Shakspeare, I returned to him
at every hour I could command. Here was a counterpoise to my
Romans, still more forcible than the little garden. My author
could read the Roman nature too,--read it in the sternness of
Coriolanus, and in the varied wealth of Caesar. But he viewed
these men of will as only one kind of men; he kept them in
their place, and I found that he, who could understand the
Roman, yet expressed in Hamlet a deeper thought.

'In CERVANTES, I found far less productive talent,--'indeed,
a far less powerful genius,--but the same wide wisdom, a
discernment piercing the shows and symbols of existence, yet
rejoicing in them all, both for their own life, and as signs
of the unseen reality. Not that Cervantes philosophized,--his
genius was too deeply philosophical for that; he took things
as they came before him, and saw their actual relations and
bearings. Thus the work he produced was of deep meaning,
though he might never have expressed that meaning to himself.
It was left implied in the whole. A Coleridge comes and calls
Don Quixote the pure Reason, and Sancho the Understanding.
Cervantes made no such distinctions in his own mind; but he
had seen and suffered enough to bring out all his faculties,
and to make him comprehend the higher as well as the lower
part of our nature. Sancho is too amusing and sagacious to
be contemptible; the Don too noble and clear-sighted towards
absolute truth, to be ridiculous. And we are pleased to see
manifested in this way, how the lower must follow and serve
the higher, despite its jeering mistrust and the stubborn
realities which break up the plans of this pure-minded

'The effect produced on the mind is nowise that described by

"Cervantes smiled Spain's chivalry away," &c.

'On the contrary, who is not conscious of a sincere reverence
for the Don, prancing forth on his gaunt steed? Who would not
rather be he than any of the persons who laugh at him?--Yet
the one we would wish to be is thyself, Cervantes,
unconquerable spirit! gaining flavor and color like wine from
every change, while being carried round the world; in whose
eye the serene sagacious laughter could not be dimmed by
poverty, slavery, or unsuccessful authorship. Thou art to us
still more the Man, though less the Genius, than Shakspeare;
thou dost not evade our sight, but, holding the lamp to thine
own magic shows, dost enjoy them with us.

'My third friend was MOLIERE, one very much lower, both in
range and depth, than the-others, but, as far as he goes, of
the same character. Nothing secluded or partial is there about
his genius,--a man of the world, and a man by himself, as he
is. It was, indeed, only the poor social world of Paris that
he saw, but he viewed it from the firm foundations of
his manhood, and every lightest laugh rings from a clear
perception, and teaches life anew.

'These men were all alike in this,--they loved the _natural
history_ of man. Not what he should be, but what he is,
was the favorite subject of their thought. Whenever a noble
leading opened to the eye new paths of light, they rejoiced;
but it was never fancy, but always fact, that inspired them.
They loved a thorough penetration of the murkiest dens, and
most tangled paths of nature; they did not spin from the
desires of their own special natures, but reconstructed the
world from materials which they collected on every side. Thus
their influence upon me was not to prompt me to follow out
thought in myself so much as to detect it everywhere, for each
of these men is not only a nature, but a happy interpreter of
many natures. They taught me to distrust all invention which
is not based on a wide experience. Perhaps, too, they taught
me to overvalue an outward experience at the expense of inward
growth; but all this I did not appreciate till later.

'It will be seen that my youth was not unfriended, since those
great minds came to me in kindness. A moment of action in
one's self, however, is worth an age of apprehension through
others; not that our deeds are better, but that they produce
a renewal of our being. I have had more productive moments and
of deeper joy, but never hours of more tranquil pleasure than
those in which these demi-gods visited me,--and with a smile
so familiar, that I imagined the world to be full of such.
They did me good, for by them a standard was early given
of sight and thought, from which I could never go back, and
beneath which I cannot suffer patiently my own life or that of
any friend to fall. They did me harm, too, for the child
fed with meat instead of milk becomes too soon mature.
Expectations and desires were thus early raised, after which I
must long toil before they can be realized. How poor the scene
around, how tame one's own existence, how meagre and faint
every power, with these beings in my mind! Often I must cast
them quite aside in order to grow in my small way, and not
sink into despair. Certainly I do not wish that instead of
these masters I had read baby books, written down to children,
and with such ignorant dulness that they blunt the senses and
corrupt the tastes of the still plastic human being. But I do
wish that I had read no books at all till later,--that I had
lived with toys, and played in the open air. Children should
not cull the fruits of reflection and observation early, but
expand in the sun, and let thoughts come to them. They should
not through books antedate their actual experiences, but
should take them gradually, as sympathy and interpretation are
needed. With me, much of life was devoured in the bud.


'For a few months, this bookish and solitary life was invaded
by interest in a living, breathing figure. At church, I used
to look around with a feeling of coldness and disdain, which,
though I now well understand its causes, seems to my wiser
mind as odious as it was unnatural. The puny child sought
everywhere for the Roman or Shakspeare figures, and she was
met by the shrewd, honest eye, the homely decency, or the
smartness of a New England village on Sunday. There was
beauty, but I could not see it then; it was not of the kind I
longed for. In the next pew sat a family who were my especial
aversion. There were five daughters, the eldest not above
four-and-twenty,--yet they had the old fairy, knowing
look, hard, dry, dwarfed, strangers to the All-Fair,--were
working-day residents in this beautiful planet. They looked
as if their thoughts had never strayed beyond the jobs of the
day, and they were glad of it. Their mother was one of those
shrunken, faded patterns of woman who have never done anything
to keep smooth the cheek and dignify the brow. The father
had a Scotch look of shrewd narrowness, and entire
self-complacency. I could not endure this family, whose
existence contradicted all my visions; yet I could not forbear
looking at them.

'As my eye one day was ranging about with its accustomed
coldness, and the proudly foolish sense of being in a shroud
of thoughts that were not their thoughts, it was arrested by
a face most fair, and well-known as it seemed at first
glance,--for surely I had met her before and waited for her
long. But soon I saw that she was a new apparition foreign to
that scene, if not to me. Her dress,--the arrangement of
her hair, which had the graceful pliancy of races highly
cultivated for long,--the intelligent and full picture of
her eye, whose reserve was in its self-possession, not in
timidity,--all combined to make up a whole impression, which,
though too young to understand, I was well prepared to feel.

'How wearisome now appears that thorough-bred _millefleur_
beauty, the distilled result of ages of European culture! Give
me rather the wild heath on the lonely hill-side, than such a
rose-tree from the daintily clipped garden. But, then, I had
but tasted the cup, and knew not how little it could satisfy;
more, more, was all my cry; continued through years, till I
had been at the very fountain. Indeed, it was a ruby-red,
a perfumed draught, and I need not abuse the wine because I
prefer water, but merely say I have had enough of it. Then,
the first sight, the first knowledge of such a person was

'She was an English lady, who, by a singular chance, was cast
upon this region for a few months. Elegant and captivating,
her every look and gesture was tuned to a different pitch
from anything I had ever known. She was in various ways
"accomplished," as it is called, though to what degree I
cannot now judge. She painted in oils;--I had never before
seen any one use the brush, and days would not have been too
long for me to watch the pictures growing beneath her hand.
She played the harp; and its tones are still to me the heralds
of the promised land I saw before me then. She rose, she
looked, she spoke; and the gentle swaying motion she made
all through life has gladdened memory, as the stream does the
woods and meadows.

'As she was often at the house of one of our neighbors, and
afterwards at our own, my thoughts were fixed on her with all
the force of my nature. It was my first real interest in my
kind, and it engrossed me wholly. I had seen her,--I should
see her,--and my mind lay steeped in the visions that flowed
from this source. My task-work I went through with, as I have
done on similar occasions all my life, aided by pride that
could not bear to fail, or be questioned. Could I cease from
doing the work of the day, and hear the reason sneeringly
given,--"Her head is so completely taken up with ---- that
she can do nothing"? Impossible.

'Should the first love be blighted, they say, the mind loses
its sense of eternity. All forms of existence seem fragile,
the prison of time real, for a god is dead. Equally true is
this of friendship. I thank Heaven that this first feeling was
permitted its free flow. The years that lay between the woman
and the girl only brought her beauty into perspective, and
enabled me to see her as I did the mountains from my window,
and made her presence to me a gate of Paradise. That which
she was, that which she brought, that which she might have
brought, were mine, and over a whole region of new life I
ruled proprietor of the soil in my own right.

'Her mind was sufficiently unoccupied to delight in my warm
devotion. She could not know what it was to me, but the light
cast by the flame through so delicate a vase cheered and
charmed her. All who saw admired her in their way; but she
would lightly turn her head from their hard or oppressive
looks, and fix a glance of full-eyed sweetness on the child,
who, from a distance, watched all her looks and motions. She
did not say much to me--not much to any one; she spoke in her
whole being rather than by chosen words. Indeed, her proper
speech was dance or song, and what was less expressive did
not greatly interest her. But she saw much, having in its
perfection the woman's delicate sense for sympathies and
attractions. We walked in the fields, alone. Though others
were present, her eyes were gliding over all the field and
plain for the objects of beauty to which she was of kin.
She was not cold to her seeming companions; a sweet courtesy
satisfied them, but it hung about her like her mantle that she
wore without thinking of it; her thoughts were free, for these
civilized beings can really live two lives at the same moment.
With them she seemed to be, but her hand was given to the
child at her side; others did not observe me, but to her I
was the only human presence. Like a guardian spirit she led
me through the fields and groves, and every tree, every bird
greeted me, and said, what I felt, "She is the first angel of
your life."

'One time I had been passing the afternoon with her. She
had been playing to me on the harp, and I sat listening in
happiness almost unbearable. Some guests were announced. She
went into another room to receive them, and I took up her
book. It was Guy Mannering, then lately published, and the
first of Scott's novels I had ever seen. I opened where her
mark lay, and read merely with the feeling of continuing our
mutual existence by passing my eyes over the same page where
hers had been. It was the description of the rocks on the
sea-coast where the little Harry Bertram was lost. I had never
seen such places, and my mind was vividly stirred to
imagine them. The scene rose before me, very unlike reality,
doubtless, but majestic and wild. I was the little Harry
Bertram, and had lost her,--all I had to lose,--and sought her
vainly in long dark caves that had no end, plashing through
the water; while the crags beetled above, threatening to fall
and crush the poor child. Absorbed in the painful vision,
tears rolled down my cheeks. Just then she entered with light
step, and full-beaming eye. When she saw me thus, a soft cloud
stole over her face, and clothed every feature with a lovelier
tenderness than I had seen there before. She did not question,
but fixed on me inquiring looks of beautiful love. I laid my
head against her shoulder and wept,--dimly feeling that I
must lose her and all,--all who spoke to me of the same
things,--that the cold wave must rush over me. She waited till
my tears were spent, then rising, took from a little box a
bunch of golden amaranths or everlasting flowers, and gave
them to me. They were very fragrant. "They came," she said,
"from Madeira." These flowers stayed with me seventeen years.
"Madeira" seemed to me the fortunate isle, apart in the blue
ocean from all of ill or dread. Whenever I saw a sail passing
in the distance,--if it bore itself with fulness of beautiful
certainty,--I felt that it was going to Madeira. Those
thoughts are all gone now. No Madeira exists for me now,--no
fortunate purple isle,--and all these hopes and fancies are
lifted from the sea into the sky. Yet I thank the charms that
fixed them here so long,--fixed them till perfumes like those
of the golden flowers were drawn from the earth, teaching me
to know my birth-place.

'I can tell little else of this time,--indeed, I remember
little, except the state of feeling in which I lived. For I
_lived_, and when this is the case, there is little to tell in
the form of thought. We meet--at least those who are true
to their instincts meet--a succession of persons through our
lives, all of whom have some peculiar errand to us. There is
an outer circle, whose existence we perceive, but with whom we
stand in no real relation. They tell us the news, they act
on us in the offices of society, they show us kindness and
aversion; but their influence does not penetrate; we are
nothing to them, nor they to us, except as a part of the
world's furniture. Another circle, within this, are dear and
near to us. We know them and of what kind they are. They are
to us not mere facts, but intelligible thoughts of the divine
mind. We like to see how they are unfolded; we like to meet
them and part from them: we like their action upon us and the
pause that succeeds and enables us to appreciate its quality.
Often we leave them on our path, and return no more, but we
bear them in our memory, tales which have been told, and whose
meaning has been felt.

'But yet a nearer group there are, beings born under the same
star, and bound with us in a common destiny. These are not
mere acquaintances, mere friends, but, when we meet, are
sharers of our very existence. There is no separation; the
same thought is given at the same moment to both,--indeed,
it is born of the meeting, and would not otherwise have been
called into existence at all. These not only know themselves
more, but _are_ more for having met, and regions of their
being, which would else have laid sealed in cold obstruction,
burst into leaf and bloom and song.

'The times of these meetings are fated, nor will either party
be able ever to meet any other person in the same way. Both
seem to rise at a glance into that part of the heavens where
the word can be spoken, by which they are revealed to one
another and to themselves. The step in being thus gained, can
never be lost, nor can it be re-trod; for neither party will
be again what the other wants. They are no longer fit to
interchange mutual influence, for they do not really need
it, and if they think they do, it is because they weakly pine
after a past pleasure.

'To this inmost circle of relations but few are admitted,
because some prejudice or lack of courage has prevented the
many from listening to their instincts the first time they
manifested themselves. If the voice is once disregarded
it becomes fainter each time, till, at last, it is wholly
silenced, and the man lives in this world, a stranger to its
real life, deluded like the maniac who fancies he has attained
his throne, while in reality he is on a bed of musty straw.
Yet, if the voice finds a listener and servant the first time
of speaking, it is encouraged to more and more clearness. Thus
it was with me,--from no merit of mine, but because I had the
good fortune to be free enough to yield to my impressions.
Common ties had not bound me; there were no traditionary
notions in my mind; I believed in nothing merely because
others believed in it; I had taken no feelings on trust. Thus
my mind was open to their sway.

'This woman came to me, a star from the east, a morning star,
and I worshipped her. She too was elevated by that worship,
and her fairest self called out. To the mind she brought
assurance that there was a region congenial with its
tendencies and tastes, a region of elegant culture and
intercourse, whose object, fulfilled or not, was to gratify
the sense of beauty, not the mere utilities of life. In our
relation she was lifted to the top of her being. She had known
many celebrities, had roused to passionate desire many hearts,
and became afterwards a wife; but I do not believe she ever
more truly realized her best self than towards the lonely
child whose heaven she was, whose eye she met, and whose
possibilities she predicted. "He raised me," said a woman
inspired by love, "upon the pedestal of his own high thoughts,
and wings came at once, but I did not fly away. I stood there
with downcast eyes worthy of his love, for he had made me so."

'Thus we do always for those who inspire us to expect from
them the best. That which they are able to be, they become,
because we demand it of them. "We expect the impossible--and
find it."

'My English friend went across the sea. She passed into her
former life, and into ties that engrossed her days. But she
has never ceased to think of me. Her thoughts turn forcibly
back to the child who was to her all she saw of the really
New World. On the promised coasts she had found only cities,
careful men and women, the aims and habits of ordinary life
in her own land, without that elegant culture which she,
probably, over-estimated, because it was her home. But in the
mind of the child she found the fresh prairie, the untrodden
forests for which she had longed. I saw in her the storied
castles, the fair stately parks and the wind laden with
tones from the past, which I desired to know. We wrote to one
another for many years;--her shallow and delicate epistles did
not disenchant me, nor did she fail to see something of the
old poetry in my rude characters and stammering speech. But we
must never meet again.

'When this friend was withdrawn I fell into a profound
depression. I knew not how to exert myself, but lay bound hand
and foot. Melancholy enfolded me in an atmosphere, as joy had
done. This suffering, too, was out of the gradual and natural
course. Those who are really children could not know such
love, or feel such sorrow. "I am to blame," said my father,
"in keeping her at home so long merely to please myself. She
needs to be with other girls, needs play and variety. She does
not seem to me really sick, but dull rather. She eats nothing,
you say. I see she grows thin. She ought to change the scene."

'I was indeed _dull_. The books, the garden, had lost all
charm. I had the excuse of headache, constantly, for not
attending to my lessons. The light of life was set, and every
leaf was withered. At such an early age there are no back or
side scenes where the mind, weary and sorrowful, may retreat.
Older, we realize the width of the world more, and it is not
easy to despair on any point. The effort at thought to which
we are compelled relieves and affords a dreary retreat, like
hiding in a brick-kiln till the shower be over. But then all
joy seemed to have departed with my friend, and the emptiness
of our house stood revealed. This I had not felt while I every
day expected to see or had seen her, or annoyance and dulness
were unnoticed or swallowed up in the one thought that clothed
my days with beauty. But now she was gone, and I was roused
from habits of reading or reverie to feel the fiery temper of
the soul, and to learn that it must have vent, that it would
not be pacified by shadows, neither meet without consuming
what lay around it. I avoided the table as much as possible,
took long walks and lay in bed, or on the floor of my room.
I complained of my head, and it was not wrong to do so, for
a sense of dulness and suffocation, if not pain, was there

'But when it was proposed that I should go to school, that was
a remedy I could not listen to with patience for a moment. The
peculiarity of my education had separated me entirely from
the girls around, except that when they were playing at active
games, I would sometimes go out and join them. I liked violent
bodily exercise, which always relieved my nerves. But I had
no success in associating with them beyond the mere play. Not
only I was not their school-mate, but my book-life and lonely
habits had given a cold aloofness to my whole expression, and
veiled my manner with a hauteur which turned all hearts away.
Yet, as this reserve was superficial, and rather ignorance
than arrogance, it produced no deep dislike. Besides, the
girls supposed me really superior to themselves, and did not
hate me for feeling it, but neither did they like me, nor wish
to have me with them. Indeed, I had gradually given up all
such wishes myself; for they seemed to me rude, tiresome, and
childish, as I did to them dull and strange. This experience
had been earlier, before I was admitted to any real
friendship; but now that I had been lifted into the life of
mature years, and into just that atmosphere of European life
to which I had before been tending, the thought of sending me
to school filled me with disgust.

'Yet what could I tell my father of such feelings? I resisted
all I could, but in vain. He had no faith in medical aid
generally, and justly saw that this was no occasion for its
use. He thought I needed change of scene, and to be roused
to activity by other children. "I have kept you at home," he
said, "because I took such pleasure in teaching you myself,
and besides I knew that you would learn faster with one who
is so desirous to aid you. But you will learn fast enough
wherever you are, and you ought to be more with others of your
own age. I shall soon hear that you are better, I trust."'


The school to which Margaret was sent was that of the Misses Prescott,
in Groton, Massachusetts. And her experience there has been described
with touching truthfulness by herself, in the story of "Mariana."[A]

'At first her school-mates were captivated with her ways; her
love of wild dances and sudden song, her freaks of passion
and of wit. She was always new, always surprising, and, for a
time, charming.

'But after a while, they tired of her. She could never be
depended on to join in their plans, yet she expected them,
to follow out hers with their whole strength. She was very
loving, even infatuated in her own affections, and exacted
from those who had professed any love for her the devotion she
was willing to bestow.

'Yet there was a vein of haughty caprice in her character,
and a love of solitude, which made her at times wish to retire
apart, and at these times she would expect to be entirely
understood, and let alone, yet to be welcomed back when she
returned. She did not thwart others in their humors, but she
never doubted of great indulgence from them.

'Some singular habits she had, which, when new, charmed, but,
after acquaintance, displeased her companions. She had
by nature the same habit and power of excitement that is
described in the spinning dervishes of the East. Like them
she would spin until all around her were giddy, while her
own brain, instead of being disturbed, was excited to great
action. Pausing, she would declaim, verses of others, or her
own, or act many parts, with strange catchwords and burdens,
that seemed to act with mystical power on her own fancy,
sometimes stimulating her to convulse the hearers with
laughter, sometimes to melt them to tears. When her power
began to languish, she would spin again till fired to
re-commence her singular drama, into which she wove figures
from the scenes of her earlier childhood, her companions, and
the dignitaries she sometimes saw, with fantasies unknown to
life, unknown to heaven or earth.

'This excitement, as may be supposed, was not good for her. It
usually came on in the evening, and often spoiled her sleep.
She would wake in the night, and cheat her restlessness by
inventions that teased, while they sometimes diverted her

'She was also a sleep-walker; and this one trait of her case
did somewhat alarm her guardians, who, otherwise, showed the
profound ignorance as to this peculiar being, usual in the
overseeing of the young. They consulted a physician, who said
she would outgrow it, and prescribed a milk diet.

'Meantime, the fever of this ardent and too early stimulated
nature was constantly increased by the restraints and narrow
routine of the boarding school. She was always devising means
to break in upon it. She had a taste--which would have seemed
ludicrous to her mates, if they had not felt some awe of her,
from the touch of genius and power that never left her--for
costume and fancy dresses. There was always some sash twisted
about her, some drapery, something odd in the arrangement of
her hair and dress; so that the methodical preceptress dared
not let her go out without a careful scrutiny and remodelling,
whose soberizing effects generally disappeared the moment she
was in the free air.

'At last a vent was assured for her in private theatricals.
Play followed play, and in these and the rehearsals, she found
entertainment congenial with her. The principal parts, as
a matter of course, fell to her lot; most of the good
suggestions and arrangements came from her: and, for a time,
she ruled mostly, and shone triumphant.

'During these performances, the girls had heightened their
bloom with artificial red; this was delightful to them, it was
something so out of the way. But Mariana, after the plays were
over, kept her carmine saucer on the dressing-table, and put
on her blushes, regularly as the morning. When stared and
jeered at, she at first said she did it because she thought it
made her look pretty; but, after a while, she became petulant
about it,--would make no reply to any joke, but merely kept up
the habit.

'This irritated the girls, as all eccentricity does the world
in general, more than vice or malignity. They talked it over
among themselves till they were wrought up to a desire of
punishing, once for all, this sometimes amusing, but so often
provoking non-conformist. And having obtained leave of the
mistress, they laid, with great glee, a plan, one evening,
which was to be carried into execution next day at dinner.

'Among Mariana's irregularities was a great aversion to the
meal-time ceremonial,--so long, so tiresome, she found it, to
be seated at a certain moment, and to wait while each one
was served, at so large a table, where there was scarcely any
conversation; and from day to day it became more heavy to
sit there, or go there at all; often as possible she excused
herself on the ever-convenient plea of headache, and was
hardly ever ready when the dinner-bell rang.

'To-day the summons found her on the balcony, but gazing on
the beautiful prospect. I have heard her say afterwards, that
she had scarcely in her life been so happy,--and she was one
with whom happiness was a still rapture. It was one of the
most blessed summer days; the shadows of great white clouds
empurpled the distant hills for a few moments, only to leave
them more golden; the tall grass of the wide fields waved in
the softest breeze. Pure blue were the heavens, and the same
hue of pure contentment was in the heart of Mariana.

'Suddenly on her bright mood jarred the dinner-bell. At first
rose her usual thought, I will not, cannot go; and then the
_must_, which daily life can always enforce, even upon the
butterflies and birds, came, and she walked reluctantly to
her room. She merely changed her dress, and never thought of
adding the artificial rose to her cheek.

'When she took her seat in the dining-hall, and was asked if
she would be helped, raising her eyes, she saw the person
who asked her was deeply rouged, with a bright glaring
spot, perfectly round, on either cheek. She looked at the
next,--same apparition! She then slowly passed her eyes down
the whole line, and saw the same, with a suppressed smile
distorting every countenance. Catching the design at once, she
deliberately looked along her own side of the table, at every
schoolmate in turn; every one had joined in the trick. The
teachers strove to be grave, but she saw they enjoyed the
joke. The servants could not suppress a titter.

'When Warren Hastings stood at the bar of Westminster
Hall,--when the Methodist preacher walked through a line
of men, each of whom greeted him with a brickbat or rotten
egg,--they had some preparation for the crisis, though it
might be very difficult to meet it with an impassible brow.
Our little girl was quite unprepared to find herself in the
midst of a world which despised her, and triumphed in her

'She had ruled like a queen, in the midst of her companions;
she had shed her animation through their lives, and loaded
them with prodigal favors, nor once suspected that a popular
favorite might not be loved. Now she felt that she had been
but a dangerous plaything in the hands of those whose hearts
she never had doubted.

'Yet the occasion found her equal to it, for Mariana had the
kind of spirit which, in a better cause, had made the Roman
matron truly say of her death-wound, "It is not painful,
Poetus." She did not blench,--she did not change countenance.
She swallowed her dinner with apparent composure. She made
remarks to those near her, as if she had no eyes.

'The wrath of the foe, of course, rose higher, and the moment
they were freed from the restraints of the dining room, they
all ran off, gayly calling, and sarcastically laughing, with
backward glances, at Mariana, left alone.

'Alone she went to her room, locked the door, and threw
herself on the floor in strong convulsions. These had
sometimes threatened her life, in earlier childhood, but of
later years she had outgrown them. School-hours came, and she
was not there. A little girl, sent to her door, could get no
answer. The teachers became alarmed, and broke it open. Bitter
was their penitence, and that of her companions, at the state
in which they found her. For some hours terrible anxiety was
felt, but at last nature, exhausted, relieved herself by a
deep slumber.

'From this Mariana arose an altered being. She made no reply
to the expressions of sorrow from her companions, none to the
grave and kind, but undiscerning, comments of her teacher. She
did not name the source of her anguish, and its poisoned
dart sank deeply in. This was the thought which stung her
so:--"What, not one, not a single one, in the hour of trial,
to take my part? not one who refused to take part against me?"
Past words of love, and caresses, little heeded at the time,
rose to her memory, and gave fuel to her distempered heart.
Beyond the sense of burning resentment at universal perfidy,
she could not get. And Mariana, born for love, now hated all
the world.

'The change, however, which these feelings made in her conduct
and appearance, bore no such construction to the careless
observer. Her gay freaks were quite gone, her wildness, her
invention. Her dress was uniform, her manner much subdued. Her
chief interest seemed to be now in her studies, and in music.
Her companions she never sought; but they, partly from uneasy,
remorseful feelings, partly that they really liked her much
better now that she did not puzzle and oppress them, sought
her continually. And here the black shadow comes upon her
life, the only stain upon the history of Mariana.

'They talked to her, as girls having few topics naturally
do, of one another. Then the demon rose within her, and
spontaneously, without design, generally without words of
positive falsehood, she became a genius of discord amongst
them. She fanned those flames of envy and jealousy which a
wise, true word from a third person will often quench forever;
and by a glance, or seemingly light reply, she planted the
seeds of dissension, till there was scarcely a peaceful
affection, or sincere intimacy, in the circle where she lived,
and could not but rule, for she was one whose nature was to
that of the others as fire to clay.

'It was at this time that I came to the school, and first
saw Mariana. Me she charmed at once, for I was a sentimental
child, who, in my early ill health, had been indulged in
reading novels, till I had no eyes for the common. It was not,
however, easy to approach her. Did I offer to run and fetch
her handkerchief, she was obliged to go to her room, and would
rather do it herself. She did not like to have people turn
over for her the leaves of the music-book as she played. Did I
approach my stool to her feet, she moved away as if to give me
room. The bunch of wild flowers, which I timidly laid beside
her plate, was left untouched. After some weeks, my desire to
attract her notice really preyed upon me; and one day, meeting
her alone in the entry, I fell upon my knees, and, kissing her
hand, cried "O, Mariana, do let me love you, and try to love
me a little!" But my idol snatched away her hand, and laughing
wildly, ran into her room. After that day, her manner to me
was not only cold, but repulsive, and I felt myself scorned.

'Perhaps four months had passed thus, when, one afternoon, it
became obvious that something more than common was brewing.
Dismay and mystery were written in many faces of the older
girls; much whispering was going on in corners.

'In the evening, after prayers, the principal bade us stay;
and, in a grave, sad voice, summoned forth Mariana to answer
charges to be made against her.

'Mariana stood up and leaned against the chimney-piece. Then
eight of the older girls came forward, and preferred
against her charges,--alas! too well founded, of calumny and

'At first, she defended herself with self-possession and
eloquence. But when she found she could no more resist the
truth, she suddenly threw herself down, dashing her head with
all her force against the iron hearth, on which a fire was
burning, and was taken up senseless.

'The affright of those present was great. Now that they had
perhaps killed her, they reflected it would have been as
well if they had taken warning from the former occasion, and
approached very carefully a nature so capable of any extreme.
After a while she revived, with a faint groan, amid the sobs
of her companions. I was on my knees by the bed, and held her
cold hand. One of those most aggrieved took it from me, to beg
her pardon, and say, it was impossible not to love her. She
made no reply.

'Neither that night, nor for several days, could a word be
obtained from her, nor would she touch food; but, when it was
presented to her, or any one drew near from any cause, she
merely turned away her head, and gave no sign. The teacher saw
that some terrible nervous affection had fallen upon her--that
she grew more and more feverish. She knew not what to do.

'Meanwhile, a new revolution had taken place in the mind of
the passionate but nobly-tempered child. All these months
nothing but the sense of injury had rankled in her heart.
She had gone on in one mood, doing what the demon prompted,
without scruple, and without fear.

'But at the moment of detection, the tide ebbed, and the
bottom of her soul lay revealed to her eye. How black, how
stained, and sad! Strange, strange, that she had not seen
before the baseness and cruelty of falsehood, the loveliness
of truth! Now, amid the wreck, uprose the moral nature, which
never before had attained the ascendant. "But," she thought,
"too late sin is revealed to me in all its deformity, and
sin-defiled, I will not, cannot live. The main-spring of life
is broken."

'The lady who took charge of this sad child had never well
understood her before, but had always looked on her with great
tenderness. And now love seemed,--when all around were in the
greatest distress, fearing to call in medical aid, fearing
to do without it,--to teach her where the only balm was to be
found that could heal the wounded spirit.

'One night she came in, bringing a calming draught. Mariana
was sitting as usual, her hair loose, her dress the same robe
they had put on her at first, her eyes fixed vacantly upon the
whited wall. To the proffers and entreaties of her nurse, she
made no reply.

'The lady burst into tears, but Mariana did not seem even to
observe it.

'The lady then said, "O, my child, do not despair; do not
think that one great fault can mar a whole life! Let me trust
you; let me tell you the griefs of my sad life. I will tell
you, Mariana, what I never expected to impart to any one."

'And so she told her tale. It was one of pain, of shame, borne
not for herself, but for one near and dear as herself. Mariana
knew the dignity and reserve of this lady's nature. She had
often admired to see how the cheek, lovely, but no longer
young, mantled with the deepest blush of youth, and the blue
eyes were cast down at any little emotion. She had understood
the proud sensibility of her character. She fixed her eyes on
those now raised to hers, bright with fast-falling tears. She
heard the story to the end, and then, without saying a word,
stretched out her hand for the cup.

'She returned to life, but it was as one who had passed
through the valley of death. The heart of stone was quite
broken in her,--the fiery will fallen from flame to coal. When
her strength was a little restored, she had all her companions
summoned, and said to them,--"I deserved to die, but a
generous trust has called me back to life. I will be worthy of
it, nor ever betray the trust, or resent injury more. Can you
forgive the past?"

'And they not only forgave, but, with love and earnest tears,
clasped in their arms the returning sister. They vied with one
another in offices of humble love to the humbled one; and
let it be recorded, as an instance of the pure honor of which
young hearts are capable, that these facts, known to some
forty persons, never, so far as I know, transpired beyond
those walls.

'It was not long after this that Mariana was summoned home.
She went thither a wonderfully instructed being, though in
ways those who had sent her forth to learn little dreamed of.

'Never was forgotten the vow of the returning prodigal.
Mariana could not _resent_, could not _play false._ The
terrible crisis, which she so early passed through, probably
prevented the world from hearing much of her. A wild fire was
tamed in that hour of penitence at the boarding-school, such
as has oftentimes wrapped court and camp in a destructive

[Footnote A: Summer on the Lakes, p. 81.]


Letters written to the beloved teacher, who so wisely befriended
Margaret in her trial-hour, will best show how this high-spirited girl
sought to enlarge and harmonize her powers.

'_Cambridge, July 11, 1825._--Having excused myself from
accompanying my honored father to church, which I always do in
the afternoon, when possible, I devote to you the hours
which Ariosto and Helvetius ask of my eyes,--as, lying on my
writing-desk, they put me in mind that they must return this
week to their owner.

'You keep me to my promise of giving you some sketch of my
pursuits. I rise a little before five, walk an hour, and then
practise on the piano, till seven, when we breakfast. Next
I read French,--Sismondi's Literature of the South of
Europe,--till eight, then two or three lectures in Brown's
Philosophy. About half-past nine I go to Mr. Perkins's school
and study Greek till twelve, when, the school being dismissed,
I recite, go home, and practise again till dinner, at two.
Sometimes, if the conversation is very agreeable, I lounge
for half an hour over the dessert, though rarely so lavish of
time. Then, when I can, I read two hours in Italian, but I
am often interrupted. At six, I walk, or take a drive. Before
going to bed, I play or sing, for half an hour or so, to make
all sleepy, and, about eleven, retire to write a little while
in my journal, exercises on what I have read, or a series of
characteristics which I am filling up according to advice.
Thus, you see, I am learning Greek, and making acquaintance
with metaphysics, and French and Italian literature.

'"How," you will say, "can I believe that my indolent,
fanciful, pleasure-loving pupil, perseveres in such a course?"
I feel the power of industry growing every day, and, besides
the all-powerful motive of ambition, and a new stimulus
lately given through a friend, I have learned to believe that
nothing, no! not perfection, is unattainable. I am determined
on distinction, which formerly I thought to win at an easy
rate; but now I see that long years of labor must be given to
secure even the "_succes de societe_,"--which, however, shall
never content me. I see multitudes of examples of persons
of genius, utterly deficient in grace and the power of
pleasurable excitement. I wish to combine both. I know the
obstacles in my way. I am wanting in that intuitive tact and
polish, which nature has bestowed upon some, but which I
must acquire. And, on the other hand, my powers of intellect,
though sufficient, I suppose, are not well disciplined. Yet
all such hindrances may be overcome by an ardent spirit. If I
fail, my consolation shall be found in active employment.'

* * * * *

'_Cambridge, March 5, 1826._--Duke Nicholas is to succeed
the Emperor Alexander, thus relieving Europe from the
sad apprehension of evil to be inflicted by the brutal
Constantine, and yet depriving the Holy Alliance of its very
soul. We may now hope more strongly for the liberties of
unchained Europe; we look in anxious suspense for the issue of
the struggle of Greece, the result of which seems to depend on
the new autocrat. I have lately been reading Anastasius, the
Greek Gil Bias, which has excited and delighted me; but I do
not think you like works of this cast. You did not like my
sombre and powerful Ormond,--though this is superior to Ormond
in every respect; it translates you to another scene, hurls
you into the midst of the burning passions of the East, whose
vicissitudes are, however, interspersed by deep pauses of
shadowy reflective scenes, which open upon you like the
green watered little vales occasionally to be met with in the
burning desert. There is enough of history to fix profoundly
the attention, and prevent you from revolting from scenes
profligate and terrific, and such characters as are never to
be met with in our paler climes. How delighted am I to read
a book which can absorb me to tears and shuddering,--not
by individual traits of beauty, but by the spirit of
adventure,--happiness which one seldom enjoys after childhood
in this blest age, so philosophic, free, and enlightened to
a miracle, but far removed from the ardent dreams and soft
credulity of the world's youth. Sometimes I think I would give
all our gains for those times when young and old gathered in
the feudal hall, listening with soul-absorbing transport to
the romance of the minstrel, unrestrained and regardless
of criticism, and when they worshipped nature, not as
high-dressed and pampered, but as just risen from the bath.'

'_Cambridge, May 14, 1826._--I am studying Madame de Stael,
Epictetus, Milton, Racine, and Castiliain ballads, with great
delight. There's an assemblage for you. Now tell me, had
you rather be the brilliant De Stael or the useful
Edgeworth?--though De Stael is useful too, but it is on the
grand scale, on liberalizing, regenerating principles, and has
not the immediate practical success that Edgeworth has. I met
with a parallel the other day between Byron and Rousseau, and
had a mind to send it to you, it was so excellent.'

* * * * *

'_Cambridge, Jan. 10, 1827._--As to my studies, I am engrossed
in reading the elder Italian poets, beginning with Berni,
from whom I shall proceed to Pulci and Politian. I read very
critically. Miss Francis[A] and I think of reading Locke, as
introductory to a course of English metaphysics, and then De
Stael on Locke's system. Allow me to introduce this lady
to you as a most interesting woman, in my opinion. She is a
natural person,--a most rare thing in this age of cant and
pretension. Her conversation is charming,--she brings all her
powers to bear upon it; her style is varied, and she has a
very pleasant and spirited way of thinking. I should judge,
too, that she possesses peculiar purity of mind. I am going to
spend this evening with her, and wish you were to be with us.'

* * * * *

'_Cambridge, Jan. 3, 1828._--I am reading Sir William Temple's
works, with great pleasure. Such enlarged views are rarely to
be found combined with such acuteness and discrimination. His
style, though diffuse, is never verbose or overloaded, but
beautifully expressive; 'tis English, too, though he was an
accomplished linguist, and wrote much and well in. French,
Spanish, and Latin. The latter he used, as he says of the
Bishop of Munster, (with whom he corresponded in that tongue,)
"more like a man of the court and of business than a scholar."
He affected not Augustan niceties, but his expressions are
free and appropriate. I have also read a most entertaining
book, which I advise you to read, (if you have not done so
already,) Russell's Tour in Germany. There you will find more
intelligent and detailed accounts than I have seen anywhere of
the state of the German universities, Viennese court, secret
associations, Plica Polonica, and other very interesting
matters. There is a minute account of the representative
government given to his subjects by the Duke of Weimar. I have
passed a luxurious afternoon, having been in bed from dinner
till tea, reading Rammohun Roy's book, and framing dialogues
aloud on every argument beneath the sun. Really, I have
not had my mind so exercised for months; and I have felt a
gladiatorial disposition lately, and don't enjoy mere light
conversation. The love of knowledge is prodigiously kindled
within my soul of late; I study much and reflect more, and
feel an aching wish for some person with whom I might talk
fully and openly.

'Did you ever read the letters and reflections of Prince de
Ligne, the most agreeable man of his day? I have just had it,
and if it is new to you, I recommend it as an agreeable book
to read at night just before you go to bed. There is much
curious matter concerning Catharine II.'s famous expedition
into Taurida, which puts down some of the romantic stories
prevalent on that score, but relates more surprising
realities. Also it gives much interesting information about
that noble philosopher, Joseph II., and about the Turkish
tactics and national character.'

* * * * *

'_Cambridge, Jan. 1830_.--You need not fear to revive painful
recollections. I often think of those sad experiences. True,
they agitate me deeply. But it was best so. They have had a
most powerful effect on my character. I tremble at whatever
looks like dissimulation. The remembrance of that evening
subdues every proud, passionate impulse. My beloved supporter
in those sorrowful hours, your image shines as fair to my
mind's eye as it did in 1825, when I left you with my heart
overflowing with gratitude for your singular and judicious
tenderness. Can I ever forget that to your treatment in that
crisis of youth I owe the true life,--the love of Truth and

[Footnote A: Lydia Maria Child.]



* * * * *

"Extraordinary, generous seeking."


"Through, brothers, through,--this be
Our watchword in danger or sorrow,
Common clay to its mother dust,
All nobleness heavenward!"


"Thou friend whose presence on my youthful heart
Fell, like bright Spring upon some herbless plain;
How beautiful and calm and free thou wert
In thy young wisdom, when the mortal chain
Of custom thou didst burst and rend in twain,
And walk as free as light the clouds among!"


"There are not a few instances of that conflict, known also to
the fathers, of the spirit with the flesh, the inner with the
outer man, of the freedom of the will with the necessity of
nature, the pleasure of the individual with the conventions
of society, of the emergency of the case with the despotism
of the rule. It is this, which, while it makes the interest
of life, makes the difficulty of living. It is a struggle,
indeed, between unequal powers,--between the man, who is a
conscious moral person, and nature, or events, or bodies of
men, which either want personality or unity; and hence the
man, after fearful and desolating war, sometimes rises on
the ruins of all the necessities of nature and all the
prescriptions of society. But what these want in personality
they possess in number, in recurrency, in invulnerability. The
spirit of man, an agent indeed of curious power and boundless
resource, but trembling with sensibilities, tender and
irritable, goes out against the inexorable conditions of
destiny, the lifeless forces of nature, or the ferocious
cruelty of the multitude, and long before the hands are weary
or the invention exhausted, the heart may be broken in the

N.A. REVIEW, Jan., 1817, article "_Dichtung und Wahrheit_."



* * * * *

The difficulty which we all feel in describing our past intercourse
and friendship with Margaret Fuller, is, that the intercourse was so
intimate, and the friendship so personal, that it is like making a
confession to the public of our most interior selves. For this noble
person, by her keen insight and her generous interest, entered into
the depth of every soul with which she stood in any real relation.
To print one of her letters, is like giving an extract from our own
private journal. To relate what she was to us, is to tell how she
discerned elements of worth and beauty where others could only have
seen what was common-place and poor; it is to say what high hopes,
what generous assurance, what a pure ambition, she entertained on our
behalf,--a hope and confidence which may well be felt as a rebuke to
our low attainments and poor accomplishments.

Nevertheless, it seems due to this great soul that those of us who
have been blessed and benefited by her friendship should be willing
to say what she has done for us,--undeterred by the thought that to
reveal her is to expose ourselves.

My acquaintance with Sarah Margaret Fuller began in 1829. We both
lived in Cambridge, and from that time until she went to Groton to
reside, in 1833, I saw her, or heard from her, almost every day. There
was a family connection, and we called each other cousin.[A] During
this period, her intellect was intensely active. With what eagerness
did she seek for knowledge! What fire, what exuberance, what reach,
grasp, overflow of thought, shone in her conversation! She needed a
friend to whom to speak of her studies, to whom to express the ideas
which were dawning and taking shape in her mind. She accepted me for
this friend, and to me it was a gift of the gods, an influence like no

For the first few months of our acquaintance, our intercourse was
simply that of two young persons seeking entertainment in each other's
society. Perhaps a note written at this time will illustrate the
easy and graceful movement of her mind in this superficial kind of

'_March 16th, 1830. Half-past six, morning_.--I have
encountered that most common-place of glories, sunrise, (to
say naught of being praised and wondered at by every member of
the family in succession,) that I might have leisure to answer
your note even as you requested. I thank you a thousand times
for "The Rivals."[B] Alas!! I must leave my heart in the book,
and spend the livelong morning in reading to a sick lady from
some amusing story-book. I tell you of this act of (in my
professedly unamiable self) most unwonted charity, for three
several reasons. Firstly, and foremostly, because I think
that you, being a socialist by vocation, a sentimentalist
by nature, and a Channingite from force of circumstances and
fashion, will peculiarly admire this little self-sacrifice
exploit. Secondly, because 'tis neither conformable to the
spirit of the nineteenth century, nor the march of mind, that
those churlish reserves should be kept up between _the right
and left hands_, which belonged to ages of barbarism and
prejudice, and could only have been inculcated for their use.
Thirdly, and lastly, the true ladylike reason,--because I
would fain have my correspondent enter into and sympathize
with my feelings of the moment.

'As to the relationship; 'tis, I find, on inquiry, by no means
to be compared with that between myself and ----; of course,
the intimacy cannot be so great. But no matter; it will enable
me to answer your notes, and you will interest my imagination
much more than if I knew you better. But I am exceeding
legitimate note-writing limits. With a hope that this epistle
may be legible to your undiscerning eyes, I conclude,

'Your cousin only thirty-seven degrees removed,


The next note which I shall give was written not many days after,
and is in quite a different vein. It is memorable to me as laying
the foundation of a friendship which brought light to my mind, which
enlarged my heart, and gave elevation and energy to my aims and
purposes. For nearly twenty years, Margaret remained true to the
pledges of this note. In a few years we were separated, but our
friendship remained firm. Living in different parts of the
country, occupied with different thoughts and duties, making other
friends,--sometimes not seeing nor hearing from each other for
months,--we never met without my feeling that she was ready to be
interested in all my thoughts, to love those whom I loved, to watch
my progress, to rebuke my faults and follies, to encourage within me
every generous and pure aspiration, to demand of me, always, the best
that I could be or do, and to be satisfied with no mediocrity, no
conformity to any low standard.

And what she thus was to me, she was to many others. Inexhaustible
in power of insight, and with a good-will "broad as ether," she could
enter into the needs, and sympathize with the various excellences, of
the greatest variety of characters. One thing only she demanded of
all her friends,--that they should have some "extraordinary generous
seeking,"[C] that they should not be satisfied with the common routine
of life,--that they should aspire to something higher, better, holier,
than they had now attained. Where this element of aspiration existed,
she demanded no originality of intellect, no greatness of soul. If
these were found, well; but she could love, tenderly and truly, where
they were not. But for a worldly character, however gifted, she felt
and expressed something very like contempt. At this period, she had
no patience with self-satisfied mediocrity. She afterwards learned
patience and unlearned contempt; but at the time of which I write,
she seemed, and was to the multitude, a haughty and supercilious
person,--while to those whom she loved, she was all the more gentle,
tender and true.

Margaret possessed, in a greater degree than any person I ever knew,
the power of so magnetizing others, when she wished, by the power of
her mind, that they would lay open to her all the secrets of their
nature. She had an infinite curiosity to know individuals,--not the
vulgar curiosity which seeks to find out the circumstances of their
outward lives, but that which longs to understand the inward springs
of thought and action in their souls. This desire and power both
rested on a profound conviction of her mind in the individuality of
every human being. A human being, according to her faith, was not
the result of the presence and stamp of outward circumstances, but an
original _monad_, with a certain special faculty, capable of a certain
fixed development, and having a profound personal unity, which the
ages of eternity might develop, but could not exhaust. I know not
if she would have stated her faith in these terms, but some such
conviction appeared in her constant endeavor to see and understand the
germinal principle, the special characteristic, of every person whom
she deemed worthy of knowing at all. Therefore, while some
persons study human nature in its universal laws, and become great
philosophers, moralists and teachers of the race,--while others study
mankind in action, and, seeing the motives and feelings by which
masses are swayed, become eminent politicians, sagacious leaders,
and eminent in all political affairs,--a few, like Margaret, study
character, and acquire the power of exerting profoundest influence on
individual souls.

I had expressed to her my desire to know something of the history of
her mind,--to understand her aims, her hopes, her views of life. In a
note written in reply, she answered me thus:--

'I cannot bring myself to write you what you wished. You would
be disappointed, at any rate, after all the solemn note of
preparation; the consciousness of this would chill me now.
Besides, I cannot be willing to leave with you such absolute
_vagaries_ in a tangible, examinable shape. I think of your
after-smiles, of your colder moods. But I will tell you, when
a fitting opportunity presents, all that can interest you, and
perhaps more. And excuse my caution. I do not profess, I may
not dare, to be generous in these matters.'

To this I replied to the effect that, "in my coldest mood I could
not criticize words written in a confiding spirit;" and that, at all
events, she must not expect of me a confidence which she dared not
return. This was the substance of a note to which Margaret thus

'I thank you for your note. Ten minutes before I received it,
I scarcely thought that anything again would make my stifled
heart throb so warm a pulse of pleasure. Excuse my cold
doubts, my selfish arrogance,--you will, when I tell you that
this experiment has before had such uniform results; those
who professed to seek my friendship, and whom, indeed, I have
often truly loved, have always learned to content themselves
with that inequality in the connection which I have never
striven to veil. Indeed, I have thought myself more valued and
better beloved, because the sympathy, the interest, were all
on my side. True! such regard could never flatter my pride,
nor gratify my affections, since it was paid not to myself,
but to the need they had of me; still, it was dear and
pleasing, as it has given me an opportunity of knowing and
serving many lovely characters; and I cannot see that there is
anything else for me to do on earth. And I should rejoice
to cultivate generosity, since (see that _since_) affections
gentler and more sympathetic are denied me.

'I would have been a true friend to you; ever ready to solace
your pains and partake your joy as far as possible. Yet
I cannot but rejoice that I have met a person who could
discriminate and reject a proffer of this sort. Two years ago
I should have ventured to proffer you friendship, indeed,
on seeing such an instance of pride in you; but I have gone
through a sad process of feeling since, and those emotions,
so necessarily repressed, have lost their simplicity, their
ardent beauty. _Then_, there was nothing I might not have
disclosed to a person capable of comprehending, had I ever
seen such an one! Now there are many voices of the soul which
I imperiously silence. This results not from any particular
circumstance or event, but from a gradual ascertaining of

'I cannot promise you any limitless confidence, but I _can_
promise that no timid caution, no haughty dread shall prevent
my telling you the truth of my thoughts on any subject we may
have in common. Will this satisfy you? Oh let it! suffer me to
know you.'

In a postscript she adds, 'No other cousin or friend of any style is
to see this note.' So for twenty years it has lain unseen, but for
twenty years did we remain true to the pledges of that period. And now
that noble heart sleeps beneath the tossing Atlantic, and I feel no
reluctance in showing to the world this expression of pure youthful
ardor. It may, perhaps, lead some wise worldlings, who doubt the
possibility of such a relation, to reconsider the grounds of their
scepticism; or, if not that, it may encourage some youthful souls,
as earnest and eager as ours, to trust themselves to their hearts'
impulse, and enjoy some such blessing as came to us.

Let me give extracts from other notes and letters, written by
Margaret, about the same period.

'_Saturday evening, May 1st_, 1830.--The holy moon and
merry-toned wind of this night woo to a vigil at the open
window; a half-satisfied interest urges me to live, love and
perish! in the noble, wronged heart of Basil;[D] my Journal,
which lies before me, tempts to follow out and interpret
the as yet only half-understood musings of the past week.
Letter-writing, compared with any of these things, takes the
ungracious semblance of a duty. I have, nathless, after a two
hours' reverie, to which this resolve and its preliminaries
have formed excellent warp, determined to sacrifice this
hallowed time to you.

'It did not in the least surprise me that you found it
impossible at the time to avail yourself of the confidential
privileges I had invested you with. On the contrary, I
only wonder that we should ever, after such gage given and
received, (not by a look or tone, but by letter,) hold any
frank communication. Preparations are good in life, prologues
ruinous. I felt this even before I sent my note, but could
not persuade myself to consign an impulse so embodied, to
oblivion, from any consideration of expediency.' * *

* * * * *

'_May 4th_, 1830.--* * I have greatly wished to see among
us such a person of genius as the nineteenth century can
afford--_i.e._, one who has tasted in the morning of existence
the extremes of good and ill, both imaginative and real. I had
imagined a person endowed by nature with that acute sense of
Beauty, (_i.e._, Harmony or Truth,) and that vast capacity
of desire, which give soul to love and ambition. I had wished
this person might grow up to manhood alone (but not alone in
crowds); I would have placed him in a situation so retired,
so obscure, that he would quietly, but without bitter sense of
isolation, stand apart from all surrounding him. I would have
had him go on steadily, feeding his mind with congenial love,
hopefully confident that if he only nourished his existence

Book of the day: