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

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pure purpose? This is, after all, the test question, which detects the
low-born and low-minded wearer of the robe of gold,--

"Touch them inwardly, they smell of copper."

Margaret's life _had an aim_, and she was, therefore, essentially a
moral person, and not merely an overflowing genius, in whom "impulse
gives birth to impulse, deed to deed." This aim was distinctly
apprehended and steadily pursued by her from first to last. It was a
high, noble one, wholly religious, almost Christian. It gave dignity
to her whole career, and made it heroic.

This aim, from first to last, was SELF-CULTURE. If she ever was
ambitious of knowledge and talent, as a means of excelling others, and
gaining fame, position, admiration,--this vanity had passed before
I knew her, and was replaced by the profound desire for a full
development of her whole nature, by means of a full experience of

In her description of her own youth, she says, 'VERY EARLY I KNEW THAT
THE ONLY OBJECT IN LIFE WAS TO GROW.' This is the passage:--

'I was now in the hands of teachers, who had not, since they
came on the earth, put to themselves one intelligent question
as to their business here. Good dispositions and employment
for the heart gave a tone to all they said, which was
pleasing, and not perverting. They, no doubt, injured those
who accepted the husks they proffered for bread, and believed
that exercise of memory was study, and to know what others
knew, was the object of study. But to me this was all
penetrable. I had known great living minds.--I had seen how
they took their food and did their exercise, and what their
objects were. _Very early I knew that the only object in
life was to grow_. I was often false to this knowledge, in
idolatries of particular objects, or impatient longings for
happiness, but I have never lost sight of it, have always been
controlled by it, and this first gift of thought has never
been superseded by a later love.'

In this she spoke truth. The good and the evil which flow from this
great idea of self-development she fully realized. This aim of life,
originally self-chosen, was made much more clear to her mind by the
study of Goethe, the great master of this school, in whose unequalled
eloquence this doctrine acquires an almost irresistible beauty and

"Wholly religious, and almost Christian," I said, was this aim. It
was religious, because it recognized something divine, infinite,
imperishable in the human soul,--something divine in outward nature
and providence, by which the soul is led along its appointed way. It
was almost Christian in its superiority to all low, worldly, vulgar
thoughts and cares; in its recognition of a high standard of duty, and
a great destiny for man. In its strength, Margaret was enabled to do
and bear, with patient fortitude, what would have crushed a soul not
thus supported. Yet it is not the highest aim, for in all its forms,
whether as personal improvement, the salvation of the soul, or ascetic
religion, it has at its core a profound selfishness. Margaret's soul
was too generous for any low form of selfishness. Too noble to
become an Epicurean, too large-minded to become a modern ascetic, the
defective nature of her rule of life, showed itself in her case,
only in a certain supercilious tone toward "the vulgar herd," in the
absence (at this period) of a tender humanity, and in an idolatrous
hero-worship of genius and power. Afterward, too, she may have
suffered from her desire for a universal human experience, and an
unwillingness to see that we must often be content to enter the
Kingdom, of Heaven halt and maimed,--that a perfect development here
must often be wholly renounced.

But how much better to pursue with devotion, like that of Margaret, an
imperfect aim, than to worship with lip-service, as most persons do,
even though it be in a loftier temple, and before a holier shrine!
With Margaret, the doctrine of self-culture was a devotion to which
she sacrificed all earthly hopes and joys,--everything but manifest
duty. And so her course was "onward, ever onward," like that of
Schiller, to her last hour of life.

Burned in her cheek with ever deepening fire
The spirit's YOUTH, which never passes by;--
The COURAGE which, though worlds in hate conspire,
Conquers, at last, their dull hostility;--
The lofty FAITH, which, ever mounting higher,
Now presses on, now waiteth patiently,--
With which the good tends ever to his goal,
With which day finds, at last, the earnest soul.

But this high idea which governed our friend's life, brought her
into sharp conflicts, which constituted the pathos and tragedy of her
existence,--first with her circumstances, which seemed so inadequate
to the needs of her nature,--afterwards with duties to relatives and
friends,--and, finally, with the law of the Great Spirit, whose will
she found it so hard to acquiesce in.

The circumstances in which Margaret lived appeared to her life a
prison. She had no room for utterance, no sphere adequate; her powers
were unemployed. With what eloquence she described this want of a
field! Often have I listened with wonder and admiration, satisfied
that she exaggerated the evil, and yet unable to combat her rapid
statements. Could she have seen in how few years a way would open
before her, by which she could emerge into an ample field,--how soon
she would find troops of friends, fit society, literary occupation,
and the opportunity of studying the great works of art in their own
home,--she would have been spared many a sharp pang.

Margaret, like every really earnest and deep nature, felt the
necessity of a religious faith as the foundation of character. The
first notice which I find of her views on this point is contained
in the following letter to one of her youthful friends, when only

* * * * *

'I have hesitated much whether to tell you what you ask about
my religion. You are mistaken! I have not formed an opinion.
I have determined not to form settled opinions at present.
Loving or feeble natures need a positive religion, a visible
refuge, a protection, as much in the passionate season of
youth as in those stages nearer to the grave. But mine is
not such. My pride is superior to any feelings I have yet
experienced: my affection is strong admiration, not the
necessity of giving or receiving assistance or sympathy. When
disappointed, I do not ask or wish consolation,--I wish to
know and feel my pain, to investigate its nature and its
source; I will not have my thoughts diverted, or my feelings
soothed; 'tis therefore that my young life is so singularly
barren of illusions. I know, I feel the time must come when
this proud and impatient heart shall be stilled, and turn from
the ardors of Search and Action, to lean on something above.
But--shall I say it?--the thought of that calmer era is to me
a thought of deepest sadness; so remote from my present being
is that future existence, which still the mind may conceive.
I believe in Eternal Progression. I believe in a God, a
Beauty and Perfection to which I am to strive all my life for
assimilation. From these two articles of belief, I draw the
rules by which I strive to regulate my life. But, though I
reverence all religions as necessary to the happiness of man,
I am yet ignorant of the religion of Revelation. Tangible
promises! well defined hopes! are things of which I do not
_now_ feel the need. At present, my soul is intent on this
life, and I think of religion as its rule; and, in my opinion,
this is the natural and proper course from youth to age. What
I have written is not hastily concocted, it has a meaning. I
have given you, in this little space, the substance of many
thoughts, the clues to many cherished opinions. 'Tis a subject
on which I rarely speak. I never said so much but once before.
I have here given you all I know, or think, on the most
important of subjects--could you but read understandingly!'

* * * * *

I find, in her journals for 1833, the following passages, expressing
the religious purity of her aspirations at that time:--

'Blessed Father, nip every foolish wish in blossom. Lead me
_any way_ to truth and goodness; but if it might be, I would
not pass from idol to idol. Let no mean sculpture deform
a mind disorderly, perhaps ill-furnished, but spacious and
life-warm. Remember thy child, such as thou madest her, and
let her understand her little troubles, when possible, oh,
beautiful Deity!'

* * * * *

'_Sunday morning_.--Mr.--preached on the nature of our duties,
social and personal. The sweet dew of truth penetrated
my heart like balm. He pointed out the various means of
improvement, whereby the humblest of us may be beneficent
at last. How just, how nobly true,--how modestly, yet firmly
uttered,--his opinions of man,--of time,--of God!

'My heart swelled with prayer. I began to feel hope that time
and toil might strengthen me to despise the "vulgar parts
of felicity," and live as becomes an immortal creature. I am
sure, quite sure, that I am getting into the right road. Oh,
lead me, my Father! root out false pride and selfishness from
my heart; inspire me with virtuous energy, and enable me
to improve every talent for the eternal good of myself and

A friend of Margaret, some years older than herself, gives me the
following narrative:--

"I was," says she, in substance, "suffering keenly from a severe
trial, and had secluded myself from all my friends, when Margaret, a
girl of twenty, forced her way to me. She sat with me, and gave me her
sympathy, and, with most affectionate interest, sought to draw me away
from my gloom. As far as she was able, she gave me comfort. But as my
thoughts were then much led to religious subjects, she sought to learn
my religious experience, and listened to it with great interest. I
told her how I had sat in darkness for two long years, waiting for the
light, and in full faith that it would come; how I had kept my soul
patient and quiet,--had surrendered self-will to God's will,--had
watched and waited till at last His great mercy came in an infinite
peace to my soul. Margaret was never weary of asking me concerning
this state, and said, 'I would gladly give all my talents and
knowledge for such an experience as this.'

"Several years after," continues this friend, "I was travelling with
her, and we sat, one lovely night, looking at the river, as it rolled
beneath the yellow moonlight. We spoke again of God's light in the
soul, and I said--'Margaret! has that light dawned on _your_ soul?'
She answered, 'I think it has. But, oh! it is so glorious that I fear
it will not be permanent, and so precious that I dare not speak of it,
lest it should be gone.'

"That was the whole of our conversation, and I did not speak to her
again concerning it."

* * * * *

Before this time, however, during her residence at Cambridge, she
seemed to reach the period of her existence in which she descended
lowest into the depths of gloom. She felt keenly, at this time, the
want of a home for her heart. Full of a profound tendency toward life,
capable of an ardent love, her affections were thrown back on her
heart, to become stagnant, and for a while to grow bitter there; Then
it was that she felt how empty and worthless were all the attainments
and triumphs of the mere intellect; then it was that "she went about
to cause her heart to despair of all the labor she had taken under the
sun." Had she not emerged from this valley of the shadow of death, and
come on to a higher plane of conviction and hope, her life would have
been a most painful tragedy. But, when we know how she passed on and
up, ever higher and higher, to the mountain-top, leaving one by one
these dark ravines and mist-shrouded valleys, and ascending to where
a perpetual sunshine lay, above the region of clouds, and was able
to overlook with eagle glance the widest panorama,--we can read,
with sympathy indeed, but without pain, the following extracts from a

'It was Thanksgiving day, (Nov., 1831,) and I was obliged to
go to church, or exceedingly displease my father. I almost
always suffered much in church from a feeling of disunion with
the hearers and dissent from the preacher; but to-day, more
than ever before, the services jarred upon me from their
grateful and joyful tone. I was wearied out with mental
conflicts, and in a mood of most childish, child-like
sadness. I felt within myself great power, and generosity,
and tenderness; but it seemed to me as if they were all
unrecognized, and as if it was impossible that they should
be used in life. I was only one-and-twenty; the past was
worthless, the future hopeless; yet I could not remember ever
voluntarily to have done a wrong thing, and my aspiration
seemed very high. I looked round the church, and envied all
the little children; for I supposed they had parents who
protected them, so that they could never know this strange
anguish, this dread uncertainty. I knew not, then, that none
could have any father but God. I knew not, that I was not
the only lonely one, that I was not the selected Oedipus, the
special victim of an iron law. I was in haste for all to be
over, that I might get into the free air. * *

'I walked away over the fields as fast as I could walk. This
was my custom at that time, when I could no longer bear the
weight of my feelings, and fix my attention on any pursuit;
for I do believe I never voluntarily gave way to these
thoughts one moment. The force I exerted I think, even now,
greater than I ever knew in any other character. But when I
could bear myself no longer, I walked many hours, till the
anguish was wearied out, and I returned in a state of prayer.
To-day all seemed to have reached its height. It seemed as if
I could never return to a world in which I had no place,--to
the mockery of humanities. I could not act a part, nor seem
to live any longer. It was a sad and sallow day of the late
autumn. Slow processions of sad clouds were passing over a
cold blue sky; the hues of earth were dull, and gray, and
brown, with sickly struggles of late green here and there;
sometimes a moaning gust of wind drove late, reluctant leaves
across the path;--there was no life else. In the sweetness of
my present peace, such days seem to me made to tell man the
worst of his lot; but still that November wind can bring a
chill of memory.

'I paused beside a little stream, which I had envied in the
merry fulness of its spring life. It was shrunken, voiceless,
choked with withered leaves. I marvelled that it did not quite
lose itself in the earth. There was no stay for me, and I went
on and on, till I came to where the trees were thick about
a little pool, dark and silent. I sat down there. I did not
think; all was dark, and cold, and still. Suddenly the sun
shone out with that transparent sweetness, like the last smile
of a dying lover, which it will use when it has been unkind
all a cold autumn day. And, even then, passed into my thought
a beam from its true sun, from its native sphere, which has
never since departed from me. I remembered how, a little
child. I had stopped myself one day on the stairs, and asked,
how came I here? How is it that I seem to be this Margaret
Fuller? What does it mean? What shall I do about it? I
remembered all the times and ways in which the same thought
had returned. I saw how long it must be before the soul can
learn to act under these limitations of time and space, and
human nature; but I saw, also, that it MUST do it,--that
it must make all this false true,--and sow new and immortal
plants in the garden of God, before it could return again. I
saw there was no self; that selfishness was all folly, and
the result of circumstance; that it was only because I thought
self real that I suffered; that I had only to live in the idea
of the ALL, and all was mine. This truth came to me, and I
received it unhesitatingly; so that I was for that hour taken
up into God. In that true ray most of the relations of earth
seemed mere films, phenomena. * *

'My earthly pain at not being recognized never went deep after
this hour. I had passed the extreme of passionate sorrow; and
all check, all failure, all ignorance, have seemed temporary
ever since. When I consider that this will be nine years ago
next November, I am astonished that I have not gone on faster
since; that I am not yet sufficiently purified to be taken
back to God. Still, I did but touch then on the only haven
of Insight. You know what I would say. I was dwelling in the
ineffable, the unutterable. But the sun of earth set, and it
grew dark around; the moment came for me to go. I had never
been accustomed to walk alone at night, for my father was very
strict on that subject, but now I had not one fear. When I
came back, the moon was riding clear above the houses. I went
into the churchyard, and there offered a prayer as holy, if
not as deeply true, as any I know now; a prayer, which perhaps
took form as the guardian angel of my life. If that word in
the Bible, Selah, means what gray-headed old men think it
does, when they read aloud, it should be written here,--Selah!

'Since that day, I have never more been completely engaged in
self; but the statue has been emerging, though slowly, from
the block. Others may not see the promise even of its pure
symmetry, but I do, and am learning to be patient. I shall be
all human yet; and then the hour will come to leave humanity,
and live always in the pure ray.

'This first day I was taken up; but the second time the Holy
Ghost descended like a dove. I went out again for a day, but
this time it was spring. I walked in the fields of Groton.
But I will not describe that day; its music still sounds
too sweetly near. Suffice it to say, I gave it all into our
Father's hands, and was no stern-weaving Fate more, but one
elected to obey, and love, and at last know. Since then I have
suffered, as I must suffer again, till all the complex be
made simple, but I have never been in discord with the grand



* * * * *

"What hath not man sought out and found,
But his dear God? Who yet his glorious love
Embosoms in us, mellowing the ground
With showers, and frosts, with love and awe."


"No one need pride himself upon Genius, for it is the free-gift
of God; but of honest Industry and true devotion to his
destiny any man may well be proud; indeed, this thorough,
integrity of purpose is itself the Divine Idea in its most
common form, and no really honest mind is without communion
with God"


"God did anoint thee with his odorous oil,
To wrestle, not to reign; and he assigns
All thy tears over, like pure crystallines,
For younger fellow-workers of the soil
To wear for amulets. So others shall
Take patience, labor, to their hearts and hands,
From thy hands, and thy heart, and thy brave cheer,
And God's grace fructify through thee to all."


"While I was restless, nothing satisfied,
Distrustful, most perplexed--yet felt somehow
A mighty power was brooding, taking shape
Within me; and this lasted till one night
When, as I sat revolving it and more,
A still voice from without said,--'Seest thou not,
Desponding child, whence came defeat and loss?
Even from thy strength.'"




* * * * *

'Heaven's discipline has been invariable to me. The seemingly
most pure and noble hopes have been blighted; the seemingly
most promising connections broken. The lesson has been
endlessly repeated: "Be humble, patient, self-sustaining; hope
only for occasional aids; love others, but not engrossingly,
for by being much alone your appointed task can best be done!"
What a weary work is before me, ere that lesson shall be fully
learned! Who shall wonder at the stiff-necked, and rebellious
folly of young Israel, bowing down to a brute image, though
the prophet was bringing messages from the holy mountain,
while one's own youth is so obstinately idolatrous! Yet will
I try to keep the heart with diligence, nor ever fear that the
sun is gone out because I shiver in the cold and dark!'

Such was the tone of resignation in which Margaret wrote from Groton,
Massachusetts, whither, much to her regret, her father removed in the
spring of 1833. Extracts from letters and journals will show how stern
was her schooling there, and yet how constant was her faith, that

"God keeps a niche
In heaven to hold our idols! And albeit
He breaks them to our faces, and denies
That our close kisses should impair their white,
I know we shall behold them raised, complete,
The dust shook from their beauty,--glorified,
New Memnons singing in the great God-light."


'_Groton, April_ 25, 1833.--I came hither, summoned by the
intelligence, that our poor--had met with a terrible accident.
I found the dear child,--who had left me so full of joy and
eagerness, that I thought with a sigh, not of envy, how happy
he, at least, would be here,--burning with fever. He had
expected me impatiently, and was very faint lest it should not
be "Margaret" who had driven up. I confess I greeted our
new home with a flood of bitter tears. He behaves with great
patience, sweetness, and care for the comfort of others. This
has been a severe trial for mother, fatigued, too, as she was,
and full of care; but her conduct is angelic. I try to find
consolation in all kinds of arguments, and to distract my
thoughts till the precise amount of injury is surely known.
I am not idle a moment. When not-with--, in whose room I sit,
sewing, and waiting upon him, or reading aloud a great part of
the day, I solace my soul with Goethe, and follow his guidance
into realms of the "Wahren, Guten, and Schoenen."'


'_May_, 1833.--As to German, I have done less than I hoped, so
much had the time been necessarily broken up. I have with
me the works of Goethe which I have not yet read, and am
now engaged upon "Kunst and Alterthum," and "Campagne in
Frankreich." I still prefer Goethe to any one, and, as I
proceed, find more and more to learn, and am made to feel that
my general notion of his mind is most imperfect, and needs
testing and sifting.

'I brought your beloved Jean Paul with me, too. I cannot yet
judge well, but think we shall not be intimate. His infinitely
variegated, and certainly most exquisitely colored, web
fatigues attention. I prefer, too, wit to humor, and daring
imagination to the richest fancy. Besides, his philosophy
and religion seem to be of the sighing sort, and, having some
tendency that way myself, I want opposing force in a favorite
author. Perhaps I have spoken unadvisedly; if so, I shall
recant on further knowledge.'

And thus recant she did, when familiar acquaintance with the genial
and sagacious humorist had won for him her reverent love.


'Poet of Nature! Gentlest of the wise,
Most airy of the fanciful, most keen
Of satirists!--thy thoughts, like butterflies,
Still near the sweetest scented flowers have been
With Titian's colors thou canst sunset paint,
With Raphael's dignity, celestial love;
With Hogarth's pencil, each deceit and feint
Of meanness and hypocrisy reprove;

Canst to devotion's highest flight sublime
Exalt the mind, by tenderest pathos' art,
Dissolve, in purifying tears, the heart,
Or bid it, shuddering, recoil at crime;
The fond illusions of the youth and maid,
At which so many world-formed sages sneer,
When by thy altar-lighted torch displayed,
Our natural religion must appear.
All things in thee tend to one polar star,
Magnetic all thy influences are!'

'Some murmur at the "want of system" in Richter's writings.

'A labyrinth! a flowery wilderness!
Some in thy "slip-boxes" and "honey-moons"
Complain of--_want of order_, I confess,
But not of _system_ in its highest sense.
Who asks a guiding clue through this wide mind,
In love of Nature such will surely find.
In tropic climes, live like the tropic bird,
Whene'er a spice-fraught grove may tempt thy stay;
Nor be by cares of colder climes disturbed--
No frost the summer's bloom shall drive away;
Nature's wide temple and the azure dome
Have plan enough, for the free spirit's home!'

'Your Schiller has already given me great pleasure. I have
been reading the "Revolt in the Netherlands" with intense
interest, and have reflected much upon it. The volumes are
numbered in my little book-case, and as the eye runs over
them, I thank the friendly heart that put all this genius and
passion within my power.

'I am glad, too, that you thought of lending me "Bigelow's
Elements." I have studied the Architecture attentively, till
I feel quite mistress of it all. But I want more engravings,
Vitruvius, Magna Graecia, the Ionian Antiquities, &c.
Meanwhile, I have got out all our tours in Italy. Forsyth,
a book I always loved much, I have re-read with increased
pleasure, by this new light. Goethe, too, studied architecture
while in Italy; so his books are full of interesting
information; and Madame De Stael, though not deep, is

* * * * *

'American History! Seriously, my mind is regenerating as to
my country, for I am beginning to appreciate the United States
and its great men. The violent antipathies,--the result of an
exaggerated love for, shall I call it by so big a name as
the "poetry of being?"--and the natural distrust arising from
being forced to hear the conversation of half-bred men, all
whose petty feelings were roused to awkward life by the paltry
game of local politics,--are yielding to reason and calmer
knowledge. Had I but been educated in the knowledge of such
men as Jefferson, Franklin, Rush! I have learned now to know
them partially. And I rejoice, if only because my father and
I can have so much in common on this topic. All my other
pursuits have led me away from him; here he has much
information and ripe judgment. But, better still, I hope to
feel no more that sometimes despairing, sometimes insolently
contemptuous, feeling of incongeniality with my time and
place. Who knows but some proper and attainable object of
pursuit may present itself to the cleared eye? At any rate,
wisdom is good, if it brings neither bliss nor glory.'

* * * * *

_March_, 1834.--Four pupils are a serious and fatiguing charge
for one of my somewhat ardent and impatient disposition.
Five days in the week I have given daily lessons in three
languages, in Geography and History, besides many other
exercises on alternate days. This has consumed often eight,
always five hours of my day. There has been, also, a great
deal of needle-work to do, which is now nearly finished, so
that I shall not be obliged to pass my time about it when
everything looks beautiful, as I did last summer. We have
had very poor servants, and, for some time past, only one.
My mother has been often ill. My grandmother, who passed the
winter with us, has been ill. Thus, you may imagine, as I am
the only grown-up daughter, that my time has been considerably

'But as, sad or merry, I must always be learning, I laid
down a course of study at the beginning of winter, comprising
certain subjects, about which I had always felt deficient.
These were the History and Geography of modern Europe,
beginning the former in the fourteenth century; the Elements
of Architecture; the works of Alfieri, with his opinions
on them; the historical and critical works of Goethe and
Schiller, and the outlines of history of our own country.

'I chose this time as one when I should have nothing to
distract or dissipate my mind. I have nearly completed this
course, in the style I proposed,--not minute or thorough. I
confess,--though I have had only three evenings in the week,
and chance hours in the day, for it. I am very glad I
have undertaken it, and feel the good effects already.
Occasionally, I try my hand at composition, but have not
completed anything to my own satisfaction. I have sketched
a number of plans, but if ever accomplished, it must be in a
season of more joyful energy, when my mind has been renovated,
and refreshed by change of scene or circumstance. My
translation of Tasso cannot be published at present, if 'it
ever is.'

* * * * *

'My object is to examine thoroughly, as far as my time
and abilities will permit, the evidences of the Christian
Religion. I have endeavored to get rid of this task as much
and as long as possible; to be content with superficial
notions, and, if I may so express it, to adopt religion as a
matter of taste. But I meet with infidels very often; two
or three of my particular friends are deists; and their
arguments, with distressing sceptical notions of my own, are
haunting me forever. I must satisfy myself; and having once
begun, I shall go on as far as I can.

'My mind often swells with thoughts on these subjects, which
I long to pour out on some person of superior calmness and
strength, and fortunate in more accurate knowledge. I should
feel such a quieting reaction. But, generally, it seems best
that I should go through these conflicts alone. The process
will be slower, more irksome, more distressing, but the
results will be my own, and I shall feel greater confidence in


In the summer of 1835, Margaret found a fresh stimulus to
self-culture in the society of Miss Martineau, whom she met
while on a visit at Cambridge, in the house of her friend,
Mrs. Farrar. How animating this intercourse then was to her,
appears from her journals.

Miss Martineau received me so kindly as to banish all
embarrassment at once. We had some talk about "Carlyleism,"
and I was not quite satisfied with the ground she took, but
there was no opportunity for full discussion. I wished to
give myself wholly up to receive an impression of her. What
shrewdness in detecting various shades of character! Yet, what
she said of Hannah More and Miss Edgeworth, grated upon my

Again, later:--

'I cannot conceive how we chanced upon the subject of our
conversation, but never shall I forget what she said. It has
bound me to her. In that hour, most unexpectedly to me,
we passed the barrier that separates acquaintance from
friendship, and I saw how greatly her heart is to be valued.'

And again:--

'We sat together close to the pulpit. I was deeply moved by
Mr.--'s manner of praying for "our friends," and I put up this
prayer for my companion, which I recorded, as it rose in my
heart: "Author of good, Source of all beauty and holiness,
thanks to Thee for the purifying, elevating communion that I
have enjoyed with this beloved and revered being. Grant, that
the thoughts she has awakened, and the bright image of her
existence, may live in my memory, inciting my earth-bound
spirit to higher words and deeds. May her path be guarded
and blessed. May her noble mind be kept firmly poised in its
native truth, unsullied by prejudice or error, and strong to
resist whatever outwardly or inwardly shall war against its
high vocation. May each day bring to this generous seeker new
riches of true philosophy and of Divine Love. And, amidst
all trials, give her to know and feel that Thou, the
All-sufficing, art with her, leading her on through eternity
to likeness of Thyself."

* * * * *

'I sigh for an intellectual guide. Nothing but the sense of
what God has done for me, in bringing me nearer to himself,
saves me from despair. With what envy I looked at Flaxman's
picture of Hesiod sitting at the feet of the Muse! How blest
would it be to be thus instructed in one's vocation! Anything
would I do and suffer, to be sure that, when leaving earth, I
should not be haunted with recollections of "aims unreached,
occasions lost." I have hoped some friend would do,--what
none has ever yet done,--comprehend me wholly, mentally, and
morally, and enable me better to comprehend myself. I have had
some hope that Miss Martineau might be this friend, but cannot
yet tell. She has what I want,--vigorous reasoning powers,
invention, clear views of her objects,--and she has been
trained to the best means of execution. Add to this, that
there are no strong intellectual sympathies between us, such
as would blind her to my defects.'

* * * * *

'A delightful letter from Miss Martineau. I mused long upon
the noble courage with which she stepped forward into life,
and the accurate judgment with which she has become acquainted
with its practical details, without letting her fine
imagination become tamed. I shall be cheered and sustained,
amidst all fretting and uncongenial circumstances, by
remembrance of her earnest love of truth and ardent faith.'


'A terrible feeling in my head, but kept about my usual
avocations. Read Ugo Foscolo's Sepolcri, and Pindemonti's
answer, but could not relish either, so distressing was the
weight on the top of the brain; sewed awhile, and then went
out to get warm, but could not, though I walked to the very
end of Hazel-grove, and the sun was hot upon me. Sat down,
and, though seemingly able to think with only the lower part
of my head, meditated literary plans, with full hope that, if
I could command leisure, I might do something good. It seemed
as if I should never reach home, as I was obliged to sit down

'For nine long days and nights, without intermission, all was
agony,--fever and dreadful pain in my head. Mother tended me
like an angel all that time, scarcely ever leaving me, night
or day. My father, too, habitually so sparing in tokens of
affection, was led by his anxiety to express what he felt
towards me in stronger terms than he had ever used in the
whole course of my life. He thought I might not recover,
and one morning, coming into my room, after a few moments'
conversation, he said: "My dear, I have been thinking of
you in the night, and I cannot remember that you have any
_faults_. You have defects, of course, as all mortals have,
but I do not know that you have a single fault." These
words,--so strange from him, who had scarce ever in my
presence praised me, and who, as I knew, abstained from praise
as hurtful to his children,--affected me to tears at the
time, although I could not foresee how dear and consolatory
this extravagant expression of regard would very soon become.
The family were deeply moved by the fervency of his prayer
of thanksgiving, on the Sunday morning when I was somewhat
recovered; and to mother he said, "I have no room for a
painful thought now that our daughter is restored."

'For myself, I thought I should die; but I was calm, and
looked to God without fear. When I remembered how much
struggle awaited me if I remained, and how improbable it
was that any of my cherished plans would bear fruit, I felt
willing to go. But Providence did not so will it. A much
darker dispensation for our family was in store.'


'On the evening of the 30th of September, 1835, my father was
seized with cholera, and on the 2d of October, was a corpse.
For the first two days, my grief, under this calamity, was
such as I dare not speak of. But since my father's head
is laid in the dust, I feel an awful calm, and am becoming
familiar with the thoughts of being an orphan. I have prayed
to God that duty may now be the first object, and self set
aside. May I have light and strength to do what is right, in
the highest sense, for my mother, brothers, and sister. * *

'It has been a gloomy week, indeed. The children have all been
ill, and dearest mother is overpowered with sorrow, fatigue,
and anxiety. I suppose she must be ill too, when the
children recover. I shall endeavor to keep my mind steady, by
remembering that there is a God, and that grief is but for a
season. Grant, oh Father, that neither the joys nor sorrows
of this past year shall have visited my heart in vain! Make me
wise and strong for the performance of immediate duties, and
ripen me, by what means Thou seest best, for those which lie

'My father's image follows me constantly. Whenever I am in
my room, he seems to open the door, and to look on me with a
complacent, tender smile. What would I not give to have it
in my power, to make that heart once more beat with joy! The
saddest feeling is the remembrance of little things, in which
I have fallen short of love and duty. I never sympathized in
his liking for this farm, and secretly wondered how a mind
which had, for thirty years, been so widely engaged in the
affairs of men, could care so much for trees and crops.
But now, amidst the beautiful autumn days, I walk over the
grounds, and look with painful emotions at every little
improvement. He had selected a spot to place a seat where
I might go to read alone, and had asked me to visit it. I
contented myself with "When you please, father;" but we never
went! What would I not now give, if I had fixed a time, and
shown more interest! A day or two since, I went there. The
tops of the distant blue hills were veiled in delicate autumn
haze; soft silence brooded over the landscape; on one side, a
brook gave to the gently sloping meadow spring-like verdure;
on the other, a grove,--which he had named for me,--lay softly
glowing in the gorgeous hues of October. It was very sad.
May this sorrow give me a higher sense of duty in the
relationships which remain.

'Dearest mother is worn to a shadow. Sometimes, when I look on
her pale face, and think of all her grief, and the cares and
anxieties which now beset her, I am appalled by the thought
that she may not continue with us long. Nothing sustains me
now but the thought that God, who saw fit to restore me to
life when I was so very willing to leave it,--more so, perhaps
than I shall ever be again,--must have some good work for me
to do.'

* * * * *

'_Nov. 3, 1835_.--I thought I should be able to write ere now,
how our affairs were settled, but that time has not come
yet. My father left no will, and, in consequence, our path
is hedged in by many petty difficulties. He has left less
property than we had anticipated, for he was not fortunate in
his investments in real estate. There will, however, be enough
to maintain my mother, and educate the children decently. I
have often had reason to regret being of the softer sex,
and never more than now. If I were an eldest son, I could be
guardian to my brothers and sister, administer the estate,
and really become the head of my family. As it is, I am very
ignorant of the management and value of property, and of
practical details. I always hated the din of such affairs, and
hoped to find a life-long refuge from them in the serene world
of literature and the arts. But I am now full of desire to
learn them, that I may be able to advise and act, where it
is necessary. The same mind which has made other attainments,
can, in time, compass these, however uncongenial to its nature
and habits.'

* * * * *

'I shall be obliged to give up selfishness in the end. May
God enable me to see the way clear, and not to let down
the intellectual, in raising the moral tone of my mind.
Difficulties and duties became distinct the very night after
my father's death, and a solemn prayer was offered then, that
I might combine what is due to others with what is due to
myself. The spirit of that prayer I shall constantly endeavor
to maintain. What ought to be done for a few months to come is
plain, and, as I proceed, the view will open.'


The death of her father brought in its train a disappointment as keen
as Margaret could well have been called on to bear. For two years
and more she had been buoyed up to intense effort by the promise of
a visit to Europe, for the end of completing her culture. And as the
means of equitably remunerating her parents for the cost of such
a tour, she had faithfully devoted herself to the teaching of the
younger members of the family. Her honored friends, Professor and Mrs.
Farrar, who were about visiting the Old World, had invited her to be
their companion; and, as Miss Martineau was to return to England in
the ship with them, the prospect before her was as brilliant with
generous hopes as her aspiring imagination could conceive. But now, in
her journal of January 1, 1836, she writes:--

'The New-year opens upon me under circumstances inexpressibly
sad. I must make the last great sacrifice, and, apparently,
for evil to me and mine. Life, as I look forward, presents a
scene of struggle and privation only. Yet "I bate not a jot of
heart," though much "of hope." My difficulties are not to
be compared with those over which many strong souls have
triumphed. Shall I then despair? If I do, I am not a strong

Margaret's family treated her, in this exigency, with the grateful
consideration due to her love, and urgently besought her to take the
necessary means, and fulfil her father's plan. But she could not
make up her mind to forsake them, preferring rather to abandon her
long-cherished literary designs. Her struggles and her triumph thus
appear in her letters:--

'_January 30, 1836_.--I was a great deal with Miss Martineau,
while in Cambridge, and love her more than ever. She is to
stay till August, and go to England with Mr. and Mrs. Farrar.
If I should accompany them I shall be with her while in
London, and see the best literary society. If I should go,
you will be with mother the while, will not you?[A] Oh,
dear E----, you know not how I fear and tremble to come to
a decision. My temporal all seems hanging upon it, and the
prospect is most alluring. A few thousand dollars would make
all so easy, so safe. As it is, I cannot tell what is coming
to us, for the estate will not be settled when I go. I pray to
God ceaselessly that I may decide wisely.'

* * * * *

'_April 17th, 1836_.--If I am not to go with you I shall
be obliged to tear my heart, by a violent effort, from its
present objects and natural desires. But I shall feel the
necessity, and will do it if the life-blood follows through
the rent. Probably, I shall not even think it best to
correspond with you at all while you are in Europe. Meanwhile,
let us be friends indeed. The generous and unfailing love
which you have shown me during these three years, when I
could be so little to you, your indulgence for my errors and
fluctuations, your steady faith in my intentions, have
done more to shield and sustain me than any other earthly
influence. If I must now learn to dispense with feeling them
constantly near me, at least their remembrance can never,
never be less dear. I suppose I ought, instead of grieving
that we are soon to be separated, now to feel grateful for
an intimacy of extraordinary permanence, and certainly of
unstained truth and perfect freedom on both sides.

'As to my feelings, I take no pleasure in speaking of them;
but I know not that I could give you a truer impression of
them, than by these lines which I translate from the German of
Uhland. They are entitled "JUSTIFICATION."

"Our youthful fancies, idly fired,
The fairest visions would embrace;
These, with impetuous tears desired,
Float upward into starry space;
Heaven, upon the suppliant wild,
Smiles down a gracious _No_!--In vain
The strife! Yet be consoled, poor child,
For the wish passes with the pain.

But when from such idolatry
The heart has turned, and wiser grown,
In earnestness and purity
Would make a nobler plan its own,--
Yet, after all its zeal and care,
Must of its chosen aim despair,--
Some bitter tears may be forgiven
By _Man_, at least,--_we trust, by Heaven_."'

[Footnote A: Her eldest brother.]


'_May 23d, 1836_.--I have just been reading Goethe's
Lebensregel. It is easy to say "Do not trouble yourself with
useless regrets for the past; enjoy the present, and leave the
future to God." But it is _not_ easy for characters, which
are by nature neither _calm_ nor _careless_, to act upon these
rules. I am rather of the opinion of Novalis, that "Wer sich
der hochsten Lieb ergeben Genest von ihnen Wunden nie."

'But I will endeavor to profit by the instructions of the
great philosopher who teaches, I think, what Christ did, to
use without overvaluing the world.

'Circumstances have decided that I must not go to Europe, and
shut upon me the door, as I think, forever, to the scenes I
could have loved. Let me now try to forget myself, and act
for others' sakes. What I can do with my pen, I know not. At
present, I feel no confidence or hope. The expectations so
many have been led to cherish by my conversational powers, I
am disposed to deem ill-founded. I do not think I can produce
a valuable work. I do not feel in my bosom that confidence
necessary to sustain me in such undertakings,--the confidence
of genius. But I am now but just recovered from bodily
illness, and still heart-broken by sorrow and disappointment.
I may be renewed again, and feel differently. If I do not
soon, I will make up my mind to teach. I can thus get money,
which I will use for the benefit of my dear, gentle, suffering
mother,--my brothers and sister. This will be the greatest
consolation to me, at all events.'


'The moon tempted me out, and I set forth for a house at
no great distance. The beloved south-west was blowing; the
heavens were flooded with light, which could not diminish the
tremulously pure radiance of the evening star; the air was
full of spring sounds, and sweet spring odors came up from
the earth. I felt that happy sort of feeling, as if the soul's
pinions were budding. My mind was full of poetic thoughts, and
nature's song of promise was chanting in my heart.

'But what a change when I entered that human dwelling! I will
try to give you an impression of what you, I fancy, have
never come in contact with. The little room--they have but
one--contains a bed, a table, and some old chairs. A single
stick of wood burns in the fire-place. It is not needed now,
but those who sit near it have long ceased to know what spring
is. They are all frost. Everything is old and faded, but at
the same time as clean and carefully mended as possible. For
all they know of pleasure is to get strength to sweep those
few boards, and mend those old spreads and curtains. That sort
of self-respect they have, and it is all of pride their many
years of poor-tith has left them.

'And there they sit,--mother and daughter! In the mother,
ninety years have quenched every thought and every feeling,
except an imbecile interest about her daughter, and the sort
of self-respect I just spoke of. Husband, sons, strength,
health, house and lands, all are gone. And yet these losses
have not had power to bow that palsied head to the grave.
Morning by morning she rises without a hope, night by night
she lies down vacant or apathetic; and the utmost use she can
make of the day is to totter three or four times across the
floor by the assistance of her staff. Yet, though we wonder
that she is still permitted to cumber the ground, joyless and
weary, "the tomb of her dead self," we look at this dry leaf,
and think how green it once was, and how the birds sung to it
in its summer day.

'But can we think of spring, or summer, or anything joyous
or really life-like, when we look at the daughter?--that
bloodless effigy of humanity, whose care is to eke out this
miserable existence by means of the occasional doles of those
who know how faithful and good a child she has been to that
decrepit creature; who thinks herself happy if she can be
well enough, by hours of patient toil, to perform those menial
services which they both require; whose talk is of the price
of pounds of sugar, and ounces of tea, and yards of flannel;
whose only intellectual resource is hearing five or six
verses of the Bible read every day,--"my poor head," she says,
"cannot bear any more;" and whose only hope is the death to
which she has been so slowly and wearily advancing, through
many years like this.

'The saddest part is, that she does _not wish_ for death. She
clings to this sordid existence. Her soul is now so habitually
enwrapt in the meanest cares, that if she were to be lifted
two or three steps upward, she would not know what to do with
life; how, then, shall she soar to the celestial heights?
Yet she ought; for she has ever been good, and her narrow and
crushing duties have been performed with a self-sacrificing
constancy, which I, for one, could never hope to equal.

'While I listened to her,--and I often think it good for me
to listen to her patiently,--the expressions you used in your
letter, about "drudgery," occurred to me. I remember the time
when I, too, deified the "soul's impulses." It is a noble
worship; but, if we do not aid it by a just though limited
interpretation of what "Ought" means, it will degenerate into
idolatry. For a time it was so with me, and I am not yet good
enough to love the _Ought_.

'Then I came again into the open air, and saw those
resplendent orbs moving so silently, and thought that they
were perhaps tenanted, not only by beings in whom I can see
the germ of a possible angel, but by myriads like this poor
creature, in whom that germ is, so far as we can see, blighted
entirely, I could not help saying, "O my Father! Thou, whom
we are told art all Power, and also all Love, how canst Thou
suffer such even transient specks on the transparence of
Thy creation? These grub-like lives, undignified even by
passion,--these life-long quenchings of the spark divine.--why
dost Thou suffer them? Is not Thy paternal benevolence
impatient till such films be dissipated?"

'Such questionings once had power to move my spirit deeply;
now, they but shade my mind for an instant. I have faith in a
glorious explanation, that shall make manifest perfect justice
and perfect wisdom.'


Cut off from access to the scholars, libraries, lectures, galleries of
art, museums of science, antiquities, and historic scenes of Europe,
Margaret bent her powers to use such opportunities of culture as she
could command in her solitary country-home. Journals and letters thus
bear witness to her zeal:--

'I am having one of my "intense" times, devouring book after
book. I never stop a minute, except to talk with mother,
having laid all little duties on the shelf for a few days.
Among other things, I have twice read through the life of Sir
J. Mackintosh; and it has suggested so much to me, that I
am very sorry I did not talk it over with you. It is quite
gratifying, after my late chagrin, to find Sir James, with
all his metaphysical turn, and ardent desire to penetrate it,
puzzling so over the German philosophy, and particularly what
I was myself troubled about, at Cambridge,--Jacobi's letters
to Fichte.

'Few things have ever been written more discriminating or more
beautiful than his strictures upon the Hindoo character, his
portrait of Fox, and his second letter to Robert Hall, after
his recovery from derangement. Do you remember what he says of
the want of brilliancy in Priestley's moral sentiments? Those
remarks, though slight, seem to me to show the quality of his
mind more decidedly than anything in the book. That so much
learning, benevolence, and almost unparalleled fairness of
mind, should be in a great measure lost to the world, for want
of earnestness of purpose, might impel us to attach to the
latter attribute as much importance as does the wise uncle in
Wilhelm Meister.'

* * * * *

'As to what you say of Shelley, it is true that the unhappy
influences of early education prevented his ever attaining
clear views of God, life, and the soul. At thirty, he was
still a seeker,--an experimentalist. But then his should not
be compared with such a mind as ----'s, which, having no such
exuberant fancy to tame, nor various faculties to develop,
naturally comes to maturity sooner. Had Shelley lived twenty
years longer, I have no doubt he would have become a fervent
Christian, and thus have attained that mental harmony which
was necessary to him. It is true, too, as you say, that we
always feel a melancholy imperfection in what he writes. But I
love to think of those other spheres in which so pure and rich
a being shall be perfected; and I cannot allow his faults
of opinion and sentiment to mar my enjoyment of the vast
capabilities, and exquisite perception of beauty, displayed
everywhere in his poems.'

* * * * *

'_March 17, 1836_.--I think Herschel will be very valuable to
me, from the slight glance I have taken of it, and I thank Mr.
F.; but do not let him expect anything of me because I have
ventured on a book so profound as the Novum Organum. I have
been examining myself with severity, intellectually as well as
morally, and am shocked to find how vague and superficial is
all my knowledge. I am no longer surprised that I should
have appeared harsh and arrogant in my strictures to one who,
having a better-disciplined mind, is more sensible of the
difficulties in the way of really knowing and doing anything,
and who, having more Wisdom, has more Reverence too. All that
passed at your house will prove very useful to me; and I trust
that I am approximating somewhat to that genuine humility
which is so indispensable to true regeneration. But do not
speak of this to--, for I am not yet sure of the state of my

* * * * *

'1836.--I have, for the time, laid aside _De Stael_ and
_Bacon_, for _Martineau_ and _Southey_. I find, with delight,
that the former has written on the very subjects I wished most
to talk out with her, and probably I shall receive more from
her in this way than by personal intercourse,--for I think
more of her character when with her, and am stimulated through
my affections. As to Southey, I am steeped to the lips in
enjoyment. I am glad I did not know this poet earlier; for I
am now just ready to receive his truly exalting influences in
some degree. I think, in reading, I shall place him next to
Wordsworth. I have finished Herschel, and really believe I
am a little wiser. I have read, too, Heyne's letters
twice, Sartor Resartus once, some of Goethe's late diaries,
Coleridge's Literary Remains, and drank a great deal from
Wordsworth. By the way, do you know his "Happy Warrior"? I
find my insight of this sublime poet perpetually deepening.'

* * * * *

'Mr. ---- says the Wanderjahre is "_wise._" It must be
presumed so; and yet one is not satisfied. I was perfectly so
with my manner of interpreting the Lehrjahre; but this sequel
keeps jerking my clue, and threatens to break it. I do not
know our Goethe yet. I have changed my opinion about his
religious views many times. Sometimes I am tempted to think
that it is only his wonderful knowledge of human nature which
has excited in me such reverence for his philosophy, and that
no worthy fabric has been elevated on this broad foundation.
Yet often, when suspecting that I have found a huge gap, the
next turning it appears that it was but an air-hole, and
there is a brick all ready to stop it. On the whole, though
my enthusiasm for the Goetherian philosophy is checked, my
admiration for the genius of Goethe is in nowise lessened, and
I stand in a sceptical attitude, ready to try his philosophy,
and, if needs must, play the Eclectic.'

'Did I write that a kind-hearted neighbor, fearing I might
be _dull_, sent to offer me the use of a _book-caseful_ of
Souvenirs, Gems, and such-like glittering ware? I took a two
or three year old "Token," and chanced on a story, called the
"Gentle Boy," which I remembered to have heard was written by
somebody in Salem. It is marked by so much grace and delicacy
of feeling, that I am very desirous to know the author, whom I
take to be a lady.' * *

'With regard to what you say about the American Monthly, my
answer is, I would gladly sell some part of my mind for lucre,
to get the command of time; but I will not sell my soul: that
is, I am perfectly willing to take the trouble of writing for
money to pay the seamstress; but I am _not_ willing to have
what I write mutilated, or what I ought to say dictated to
suit the public taste. You speak of my writing about Tieck. It
is my earnest wish to interpret the German authors of whom
I am most fond to such Americans as are ready to receive.
Perhaps some might sneer at the notion of my becoming a
teacher; but where I love so much, surely I might inspire
others to love a little; and I think this kind of culture
would be precisely the counterpoise required by the
utilitarian tendencies of our day and place. My very
imperfections may be of value. While enthusiasm is yet fresh,
while I am still a novice, it may be more easy to communicate
with those quite uninitiated, than when I shall have attained
to a higher and calmer state of knowledge. I hope a periodical
may arise, by and by, which may think me worthy to furnish a
series of articles on German literature, giving room enough
and perfect freedom to say what I please. In this case, I
should wish to devote at least eight numbers to Tieck, and
should use the Garden of Poesy, and my other translations.

'I have sometimes thought of translating his Little Red Riding
Hood, for children. If it could be adorned with illustrations,
like those in the "Story without an End," it would make a
beautiful little book; but I do not know that this could be
done in Boston. There is much meaning that children could not
take in; but, as they would never discover this till able
to receive the whole, the book corresponds exactly with my
notions of what a child's book should be.

'I should like to begin the proposed series with a review of
Heyne's letters on German Literature, which afford excellent
opportunity for some preparatory hints. My plans are so
undecided for several coming months, that I cannot yet tell
whether I shall have the time and tranquillity needed to write
out the whole course, though much tempted by the promise of
perfect liberty. I could engage, however, to furnish at
least two articles on Novalis and Koerner. I trust you will be
interested in my favorite Koerner. Great is my love for both of
them. But I wish to write something which shall not only _be_
free from exaggeration, but which shall _seem_ so, to those
unacquainted with their works.

'I have so much reading to go through with this month, that
I have but few hours for correspondents. I have already
discussed five volumes in German, two in French, three in
English, and not without thought and examination.

'Tell--that I read "Titan" by myself, in the afternoons and
evenings of about three weeks. She need not be afraid to
undertake it. Difficulties of detail may, perhaps, not be
entirely conquered without a master or a good commentary, but
she could enjoy all that is most valuable alone. I should be
very unwilling to read it with a person of narrow or unrefined
mind; for it is a noble work, and fit to raise a reader into
that high serene of thought where pedants cannot enter.'


'The place is beautiful, in its way, but its scenery is too
tamely smiling and sleeping. My associations with it are most
painful. There darkened round us the effects of my father's
ill-judged exchange,--ill-judged, so far at least as regarded
himself, mother, and me,--all violently rent from the habits
of our former life, and cast upon toils for which we were
unprepared: there my mother's health was impaired, and mine
destroyed; there my father died; there were undergone the
miserable perplexities of a family that has lost its head;
there I passed through the conflicts needed to give up all
which my heart had for years desired, and to tread a path
for which I had no skill, and no-call, except that it must be
trodden by some one, and I alone was ready. Wachuset and
the Peterboro' hills are blended in my memory with hours of
anguish as great as I am capable of suffering. I used to look
at them towering to the sky, and feel that I, too, from birth,
had longed to rise, and, though for the moment crushed, was
not subdued.

'But if those beautiful hills, and wide, rich fields, saw this
sad lore well learned, they also saw some precious lessons
given in faith, fortitude, self-command, and unselfish love.
There too, in solitude, the mind acquired more power of
concentration, and discerned the beauty of strict method;
there too, more than all, the heart was awakened to sympathize
with the ignorant, to pity the vulgar, to hope for the
seemingly worthless, and to commune with the Divine Spirit of
Creation, which cannot err, which never sleeps, which will
not permit evil to be permanent, nor its aim of beauty in the
smallest particular eventually to fail.'


In the autumn of 1836 Margaret went to Boston, with the two-fold
design of teaching Latin and French in Mr. Alcott's school, which
was then highly prosperous, and of forming classes of young ladies in
French, German, and Italian.

Her view of Mr. Alcott's plan of education was thus hinted in a
journal, one day, after she had been talking with him, and trying to
place herself in his mental position:--

_Mr. A._ 'O for the safe and natural way of Intuition! I
cannot grope like a mole in the gloomy passages of experience.
To the attentive spirit, the revelation contained in books
is only so far valuable as it comments upon, and corresponds
with, the universal revelation. Yet to me, a being social
and sympathetic by natural impulse, though recluse and
contemplative by training and philosophy, the character and
life of Jesus have spoken more forcibly than any fact recorded
in human history. This story of incarnate Love has given me
the key to all mysteries, and showed me what path should be
taken in returning to the Fountain of Spirit. Seeing that
other redeemers have imperfectly fulfilled their tasks, I
have sought a new way. They all, it seemed to me, had tried
to influence the human being at too late a day, and had laid
their plans too wide. They began with men; I will begin
with babes. They began with the world; I will begin with the
family. So I preach the Gospel of the Nineteenth Century.'

_M_. 'But, preacher, you make _three_ mistakes.

'You do not understand the nature of Genius or creative power.

'You do not understand the reaction of matter on spirit.

'You are too impatient of the complex; and, not enjoying
variety in unity, you become lost in abstractions, and cannot
illustrate your principles.'

On the other hand, Mr. Alcott's impressions of Margaret were thus
noted in his diaries:--

"She is clearly a person given to the boldest speculation, and
of liberal and varied acquirements. Not wanting in imaginative
power, she has the rarest good sense and discretion. She
adopts the Spiritual Philosophy, and has the subtlest
perception of its bearings. She takes large and generous views
of all subjects, and her disposition is singularly catholic.
The blending of sentiment and of wisdom in her is most
remarkable; and her taste is as fine as her prudence. I think
her the most brilliant talker of the day. She has a quick
and comprehensive wit, a firm command of her thoughts, and a
speech to win the ear of the most cultivated."

In her own classes Margaret was very successful, and thus in a letter
sums up the results:--

'I am still quite unwell, and all my pursuits and propensities
have a tendency to make my head worse. It is but a bad
head,--as bad as if I were a great man! I am not entitled to
so bad a head by anything I have done; but I flatter myself it
is very interesting to suffer so much, and a fair excuse for
not writing pretty letters, and saying to my friends the good
things I think about them.

'I was so desirous of doing all I could, that I took a great
deal more upon myself than I was able to bear. Yet now that
the twenty-five weeks of incessant toil are over, I rejoice in
it all, and would not have done an iota less. I have fulfilled
all my engagements faithfully; have acquired more power of
attention, self-command, and fortitude; have acted in life as
I thought I would in my lonely meditations; and have gained
some knowledge of means. Above all,--blessed be the Father
of our spirits!--my aims are the same as they were in the
happiest flight of youthful fancy. I have learned too, at
last, to rejoice in all past pain, and to see that my spirit
has been judiciously tempered for its work. In future I may
sorrow, but can I ever despair?

'The beginning of the winter was forlorn. I was always ill;
and often thought I might not live, though the work was but
just begun. The usual disappointments, too, were about me.
Those from whom aid was expected failed, and others who aided
did not understand my aims. Enthusiasm for the things loved
best fled when I seemed to be buying and selling them. I
could not get the proper point of view, and could not keep a
healthful state of mind. Mysteriously a gulf seemed to have
opened between me and most intimate friends, and for the
first time for many years I was entirely, absolutely, alone.
Finally, my own character and designs lost all romantic
interest, and I felt vulgarized, profaned, forsaken,--though
obliged to smile brightly and talk wisely all the while. But
these clouds at length passed away.

'And now let me try to tell you what has been done. To one
class I taught the German language, and thought it good
success, when, at the end of three months, they could read
twenty pages of German at a lesson, and very well. This
class, of course, was not interesting, except in the way of
observation and analysis of language.

'With more advanced pupils I read, in twenty-four weeks,
Schiller's Don Carlos, Artists, and Song of the Bell, besides
giving a sort of general lecture on Schiller; Goethe's Hermann
and Dorothea, Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia, first part of
Faust,--three weeks of thorough study this, as valuable to me
as to them,--and Clavigo,--thus comprehending samples of
all his efforts in poetry, and bringing forward some of his
prominent opinions; Lessing's Nathan, Minna, Emilia Galeotti;
parts of Tieck's Phantasus, and nearly the whole first volume
of Richter's Titan.

'With the Italian class, I read parts of Tasso, Petrarch--whom
they came to almost adore,--Ariosto, Alfieri, and the whole
hundred cantos of the Divina Commedia, with the aid of the
fine Athenaeum copy, Flaxman's designs, and all the best
commentaries. This last piece of work was and will be truly
valuable to myself.

'I had, besides, three private pupils, Mrs. ----, who became
very attractive to me, ----, and little ----, who had not
the use of his eyes. I taught him Latin orally, and read
the History of England and Shakspeare's historical plays in
connection. This lesson was given every day for ten weeks, and
was very interesting, though very fatiguing. The labor in Mr.
Alcott's school was also quite exhausting. I, however, loved
the children, and had many valuable thoughts suggested, and
Mr. A.'s society was much to me.

'As you may imagine, the Life of Goethe is not yet written;
but I have studied and thought about it much. It grows in
my mind with everything that does grow there. My friends in
Europe have sent me the needed books on the subject, and I
am now beginning to work in good earnest. It is very possible
that the task may be taken from me by somebody in England, or
that in doing it I may find myself incompetent; but I go on in
hope, secure, at all events, that it will be the means of the
highest culture.'

In addition to other labors, Margaret translated, one evening every
week, German authors into English, for the gratification of Dr.
Channing; their chief reading being in De Wette and Herder.

'It was not very pleasant,' she writes, 'for Dr. C. takes in
subjects more deliberately than is conceivable to us feminine
people, with our habits of ducking, diving, or flying for
truth. Doubtless, however, he makes better use of what he
gets, and if his sympathies were livelier he would not view
certain truths in so steady a light. But there is much more
talking than reading; and I like talking with him. I do not
feel that constraint which some persons complain of, but
am perfectly free, though less called out than by other
intellects of inferior power. I get too much food for thought
from him, and am not bound to any tiresome formality of
respect on account of his age and rank in the world of
intellect. He seems desirous to meet even one young and
obscure as myself on equal terms, and trusts to the elevation
of his thoughts to keep him in his place.'

She found higher satisfaction still in his preaching:--

'A discourse from Dr. C. on the spirituality of man's nature.
This was delightful! I came away in the most happy, hopeful,
and heroic mood. The tone of the discourse was so dignified,
his manner was so benignant and solemnly earnest, in his voice
there was such a concentration of all his force, physical and
moral, to give utterance to divine truth, that I felt purged
as by fire. If some speakers feed intellect more, Dr. C. feeds
the whole spirit. O for a more calm, more pervading faith
in the divinity of my own nature! I am so far from being
thoroughly tempered and seasoned, and am sometimes so
presumptuous, at others so depressed. Why cannot I lay more to
heart the text, "God is never in a hurry: let man be patient
and confident"?


In the spring of 1837, Margaret received a very favorable offer to
become a principal teacher in the Greene Street School, at Providence,

'The proposal is, that I shall teach the elder girls my
favorite branches, for four hours a day,--choosing my own
hours, and arranging the course,--for a thousand dollars a
year, if, upon trial, I am well enough pleased to stay. This
would be independence, and would enable me to do many slight
services for my family. But, on the other hand, I am not sure
that I shall like the situation, and am sanguine that, by
perseverance, the plan of classes in Boston might be carried
into full effect. Moreover, Mr. Ripley,--who is about
publishing a series of works on Foreign Literature,--has
invited me to prepare the "Life of Goethe," on very
advantageous terms. This I should much prefer. Yet when the
thousand petty difficulties which surround us are considered,
it seems unwise to relinquish immediate independence.'

She accepted, therefore, the offer which promised certain means of
aiding her family, and reluctantly gave up the precarious, though
congenial, literary project.


'The new institution of which I am to be "Lady Superior" was
dedicated last Saturday. People talk to me of the good I am to
do; but the last fortnight has been so occupied in the task of
arranging many scholars of various ages and unequal training,
that I cannot yet realize this new era. * *

'The gulf is vast, wider than I could have conceived possible,
between me and my pupils; but the sight of such deplorable
ignorance, such absolute burial of the best powers, as I find
in some instances, makes me comprehend, better than before,
how such a man as Mr. Alcott could devote his life to renovate
elementary education. I have pleasant feelings when I see that
a new world has already been opened to them. * *

'Nothing of the vulgar feeling towards teachers, too often to
be observed in schools, exists towards me. The pupils seem
to reverence my tastes and opinions in all things; they are
docile, decorous, and try hard to please; they are in awe of
my displeasure, but delighted whenever permitted to associate
with me on familiar terms. As I treat them like ladies, they
are anxious to prove that they deserve to be so treated. * *

'There is room here for a great move in the cause of
education, and if I could resolve on devoting five or six
years to this school, a good work might, doubtless, be
done. Plans are becoming complete in my mind, ways and means
continually offer, and, so far as I have tried them, they
succeed. I am left almost as much at liberty as if no other
person was concerned. Some sixty scholars are more or less
under my care, and many of them begin to walk in the new paths
pointed out. General activity of mind, accuracy in processes,
constant looking for principles, and search after the good and
the beautiful, are the habits I strive to develop. * *

'I will write a short record of the last day at school. For
a week past I have given the classes in philosophy, rhetoric,
history, poetry, and moral science, short lectures on the true
objects of study, with advice as to their future course; and
to-day, after recitation, I expressed my gratification that
the minds of so many had been opened to the love of good and

'Then came the time for last words. First, I called into the
recitation room the boys who had been under my care. They are
nearly all interesting, and have showed a chivalric feeling in
their treatment of me. People talk of women not being able to
govern boys; but I have always found it a very easy task.
He must be a coarse boy, indeed, who, when addressed in a
resolute, yet gentle manner, by a lady, will not try to merit
her esteem. These boys have always rivalled one another in
respectful behavior. I spoke a few appropriate words to each,
mentioning his peculiar errors and good deeds, mingling some
advice with more love, which will, I hope, make it remembered.
We took a sweet farewell. With the younger girls I had a
similar interview.'

'Then I summoned the elder girls, who have been my especial
charge. I reminded them of the ignorance in which some of them
were found, and showed them how all my efforts had necessarily
been directed to stimulating their minds,--leaving undone
much which, under other circumstances, would have been deemed
indispensable. I thanked them for the favorable opinion of
my government which they had so generally expressed, but
specified three instances in which I had been unjust. I
thanked them, also, for the moral beauty of their conduct,
bore witness that an appeal to conscience had never failed,
and told them of my happiness in having the faith thus
confirmed, that young persons can be best guided by addressing
their highest nature. I declared my consciousness of having
combined, not only in speech but in heart, tolerance and
delicate regard for the convictions of their parents, with
fidelity to my own, frankly uttered. I assured them of my true
friendship, proved by my never having cajoled or caressed
them into good. Every word of praise had been earned; all
my influence over them was rooted in reality; I had never
softened nor palliated their faults; I had appealed, not to
their weakness, but to their strength; I had offered to them,
always, the loftiest motives, and had made every other end
subordinate to that of spiritual growth. With a heartfelt
blessing, I dismissed them; but none stirred, and we all sat
for some moments, weeping. Then I went round the circle and
bade each, separately, farewell.'


Margaret's Providence journals are made extremely piquant and
entertaining, by her life-like portraiture of people and events; and
every page attests the scrupulous justice with which she sought
to penetrate through surfaces to reality, and, forgetting personal
prejudices, to apply universally the test of truth. A few sketches
of public characters may suffice to show with what sagacious,
all-observing eyes, she looked about her.

'At the whig caucus, I heard TRISTAM BURGESS,--"The old
bald Eagle!" His baldness increases the fine effect of his
appearance, for it seems as if the locks had retreated, that
the contour of his very strongly marked head might be revealed
to every eye. His _personnel_, as well as I could see, was
fitted to command respect rather than admiration. He is a
venerable, not a beautiful old man.

'He is a rhetorician,--if I could judge from this sample;
style in woven and somewhat ornate, matter frequently wrought
up to a climax, manner rather declamatory, though strictly
that of a gentleman and a scholar. One art in his oratory
was, no doubt, very effective, before he lost force and
distinctness of voice. I allude to his way,--after
having reasoned a while, till he has reached the desired
conclusion,--of leaning forward, with hands reposing but
figure very earnest, and communicating, confidentially as it
were, the result to the audience. The impression produced
in former days, when those low, emphatic passages could be
distinctly heard, must have been very strong. Yet there is too
much apparent trickery in this, to bear frequent repetition.
His manner is well adapted for argument, and for the
expression either of satire or of chivalric sentiment.'

* * * * *

'Mr. JOHN NEAL addressed my girls on the destiny and vocation
of Woman in this country. He gave, truly, a _manly_ view,
though not the view of common men, and it was pleasing to
watch his countenance, where energy is animated by genius. He
then spoke to the boys, in the most noble and liberal spirit,
on the exercise of political rights. If there is one among
them who has the germ of a truly independent man, too generous
to become a party tool, and with soul enough to think, as well
as feel, for himself, those words were not spoken in vain. He
was warmed up into giving a sketch of his boyhood. It was
an eloquent narrative, and is ineffaceably impressed on my
memory, with every look and gesture of the speaker. What gave
chief charm to this history was its fearless ingenuousness. It
was delightful to note the impression produced by his magnetic
genius and independent character.

'In the evening we had a long conversation upon Woman,
Whigism, modern English Poets, Shakspeare,--and, in
particular, Richard the Third,--about which we had actually
a fight. Mr. Neal does not argue quite fairly, for he uses
reason while it lasts, and then helps himself out with wit,
sentiment and assertion. I should quarrel with his definitions
upon almost every subject, but his fervid eloquence,
brilliancy, endless resource, and ready tact, give him great
advantage. There was a sort of exaggeration and coxcombry in
his talk; but his lion-heart, and keen sense of the ludicrous,
alike in himself as in others, redeem them. I should not like
to have my motives scrutinized as he would scrutinize them,
for I prefer rather to disclose them myself than to be found
out; but I was dissatisfied in parting from this remarkable
man before having seen him more thoroughly.

* * * * *

'Mr. WHIPPLE addressed the meeting at length. His presence is
not imposing, though his face is intellectual. It is difficult
to look at him, for you cannot be taken prisoner by his
eye, while, _en revanche_, he can look at you as long as he
pleases; and, as usual, with one who can get the better of his
auditors, he does not call out the best in them. His gestures
are remarkably fine, free, graceful, and expressive. He has
no natural advantages of voice,--for it is without compass,
depth, sweetness,--and has none of the winning tones which
reach the inmost soul, and none of the tones of passionate
energy, which raise you out of your own world into the
speaker's. But his modulation is smooth, measured, dignified,
though occasionally injured by too elaborate a swell, and his
enunciation is admirable.

'His theme was one which has been so thoroughly discussed
that novelty was not to be looked for; but his method and
arrangement were excellent, though parts were too much
expanded, and the whole might well have been condensed. There
were many felicitous popular hits. The humorous touches were
skilful, and the illustrations on a broad scale good, though
in single images he failed. Altogether, there was a pervading
air of ease and mastery, which showed him fit to be a leader
of the flock. Though not a man of the Webster class, he is
among the first of the second class of men who apply their
powers to practical purposes,--and that is saying much.'

* * * * *

'I went to hear JOSEPH JOHN GURNEY, one of the most
distinguished and influential, it is said, of the English
Quakers. He is a thick-set, beetle-browed man, with a
well-to-do-in-the-world air of pious stolidity. I was
grievously disappointed; for Quakerism has at times looked
lovely to me, and I had expected at least a spiritual
exposition of its doctrines from the brother of Mrs. Fry. But
his manner was as wooden as his matter, and had no merit but
that of distinct elocution. His sermon was a tissue of texts,
illy selected, and worse patched together, in proof of the
assertion that a belief in the Trinity is the one thing
needful, and that reason, unless manacled by a creed, is the
one thing dangerous. His figures were paltry, his thoughts
narrowed down, and his very sincerity made corrupt by
spiritual pride. One could not but pity his notions of the
Holy Ghost, and his bat-like fear of light. His Man-God seemed
to be the keeper of a mad-house, rather than the informing
Spirit of all spirits. After finishing his discourse, Mr. G.
sang a prayer, in a tone of mingled shout and whine, and then
requested his audience to sit a while in devout meditation.
For one, I passed the interval in praying for him, that the
thick film of self-complacency might be removed from the eyes
of his spirit, so that he might no more degrade religion.'

* * * * *

'Mr. HAGUE is of the Baptist persuasion, and is very popular
with his own sect. He is small, and carries his head erect;
he has a high and intellectual, though not majestic,
forehead; his brows are lowering and, when knit in indignant
denunciation, give a thunderous look to the countenance, and
beneath them flash, sparkle, and flame,--for all that may be
said of light in rapid motion is true of them,--his dark eyes.
Hazel and blue eyes with their purity, steadfastness, subtle
penetration and radiant hope, may persuade and win, but
black is the color to command. His mouth has an equivocal
expression, but as an orator perhaps he gains power by the air
of mystery this gives.

'He has a very active intellect, sagacity and elevated
sentiment; and, feeling strongly that God is love, can never
preach without earnestness. His power comes first from his
glowing vitality of temperament. While speaking, his every
muscle is in action, and all his action is towards one object.
There is perfect _abandon_. He is permeated, overborne, by
his thought. This lends a charm above grace, though incessant
nervousness and heat injure his manner. He is never violent,
though often vehement; pleading tones in his voice redeem him
from coarseness, even when most eager; and he throws himself
into the hearts of his hearers, not in weak need of sympathy,
but in the confidence of generous emotion. His second
attraction is his individuality. He speaks direct from the
conviction of his spirit, without temporizing, or artificial
method. His is the "unpremeditated art," and therefore
successful. He is full of intellectual life; his mind has not
been fettered by dogmas, and the worship of beauty finds
a place there. I am much interested in this truly animated

* * * * *

'Mr. R.H. DANA has been giving us readings in the English
dramatists, beginning with Shakspeare. The introductory was
beautiful. After assigning to literature its high place in
the education of the human soul, he announced his own view
in giving these readings: that he should never pander to a
popular love of excitement, but quietly, without regard to
brilliancy or effect, would tell what had struck him in
these poets; that he had no belief in artificial processes
of acquisition or communication, and having never learned
anything except through love, he had no hope of teaching any
but loving spirits, &c. All this was arrayed in a garb of
most delicate grace; but a man of such genuine refinement
undervalues the cannon-blasts and rockets which are needed
to rouse the attention of the vulgar. His naive gestures,
the rapt expression of his face, his introverted eye, and the
almost childlike simplicity of his pathos, carry one back into
a purer atmosphere, to live over again youth's fresh emotions.
I greatly enjoyed his readings in Hamlet, and have reviewed
in connection what Goethe and Coleridge have said. Both have
successfully seized on the main points in the character of
Hamlet, and Mr. D. took nearly the same range. His views of
Ophelia, however, are unspeakably more just than are those of
Serlo in Wilhelm Meister. I regret that the whole course is
not to be on Shakspeare, for I should like to read with him
all the plays.

'I never have met with a person of finer perceptions. He
leaves out nothing; though he over-refines on some passages.
He has the most exquisite taste, and freshens the souls of his
hearers with ever new beauty. He is greatly indebted to the
delicacy of his physical organization for the delicacy of his
mental appreciation. But when he has told you what _he_
likes, the pleasure of intercourse is over: for he is a man of
prejudice more than of reason, and though he can make a lively
_expose_ of his thoughts and feelings, he does not justify
them. In a word, Mr. Dana has the charms and the defects
of one whose object in life has been to preserve his
individuality unprofaned.'


While residing at Providence, and during her visits to Boston, in her
vacations, Margaret's mind was opening more and more to the charms of

'The Ton-Kunst, the Ton-Welt, give me now more stimulus than
the written Word; for music seems to contain everything in
nature, unfolded into perfect harmony. In it the _all_ and
_each_ are manifested in most rapid transition; the spiral and
undulatory movement of beautiful creation is felt throughout,
and, as we listen, thought is most clearly, because most
mystically, perceived. * *

'I have been to hear Neukomm's Oratorio of David. It is to
music what Barry Cornwall's verses and Talfourd's Ion are
to poetry. It is completely modern, and befits an age of
consciousness. Nothing can be better arranged as a drama; the
parts are in excellent gradation, the choruses are grand and
effective, the composition, as a whole, brilliantly imposing.
Yet it was dictated by taste and science only. Where are the
enrapturing visions from the celestial world which shone down
upon Haydn and Mozart; where the revelations from the depths
of man's nature, which impart such passion to the symphonies
of Beethoven; where, even, the fascinating fairy land, gay
with delight, of Rossini? O, Genius! none but thee shall
make our hearts and heads throb, our cheeks crimson, our
eyes overflow, or fill our whole being with the serene joy of
faith.' * *

'I went to see Vandenhoff twice, in Brutus and Virginius.
Another fine specimen of the conscious school; no inspiration,
yet much taste. Spite of the thread-paper Tituses, the
chambermaid Virginias, the washerwoman Tullias, and the
people, made up of half a dozen chimney-sweeps, in carters'
frocks and red nightcaps, this man had power to recall a
thought of the old stately Roman, with his unity of will and
deed. He was an admirable _father_, that fairest, noblest
part,--with a happy mixture of dignity and tenderness,
blending the delicate sympathy of the companion with the calm,
wisdom of the teacher, and showing beneath the zone of duty
a heart that has not forgot to throb with youthful love. This
character,--which did actual fathers know how to be, they
would fulfil the order of nature, and image Deity to their
children,--Vandenhoff represented sufficiently, at least, to
call up the beautiful ideal.'


'When in Boston, I saw the Kembles twice,--in "Much ado about
Nothing," and "The Stranger." The first night I felt much
disappointed in Miss K. In the gay parts a coquettish, courtly
manner marred the wild mirth and wanton wit of Beatrice. Yet,
in everything else, I liked her conception of the part; and
where she urges Benedict to fight with Claudio, and where she
reads Benedict's sonnet, she was admirable. But I received no
more pleasure from Miss K.'s acting out the part than I have
done in reading it, and this disappointed me. Neither did
I laugh, but thought all the while of Miss K.,--how very
graceful she was, and whether this and that way of rendering
the part was just. I do not believe she has comic power within
herself, though tasteful enough to comprehend any part. So
I went home, vexed because my "heart was not full," and my
"brain not on fire" with enthusiasm. I drank my milk, and went
to sleep, as on other dreary occasions, and dreamed not of
Miss Kemble.

'Next night, however, I went expectant, and all my soul was
satisfied. I saw her at a favorable distance, and she looked
beautiful. And as the scene rose in interest, her attitudes,
her gestures, had the expression which an Angelo could give
to sculpture. After she tells her story,--and I was almost
suffocated by the effort she made to divulge her sin and
fall,--she sunk to the earth, her head bowed upon her knee,
her white drapery falling in large, graceful folds about this
broken piece of beautiful humanity, _crushed_ in the very
manner so well described by Scott when speaking of a far
different person, "not as one who intentionally stoops,
kneels, or prostrates himself to excite compassion, but like a
man borne down on all sides by the pressure of some invisible
force, which crushes him to the earth without power of
resistance." A movement of abhorrence from me, as her
insipid confidante turned away, attested the triumph of the
poet-actress. Had not all been over in a moment, I believe
I could not have refrained from rushing forward to raise the
fair frail being, who seemed so prematurely humbled in her
parent dust. I burst into tears; and, with the stifled,
hopeless feeling of a real sorrow, continued to weep till the
very end; nor could I recover till I left the house.

'That is genius, which could give such life to this play; for,
if I may judge from other parts, it is defaced by inflated
sentiments, and verified by few natural touches. I wish I had
it to read, for I should like to recall her every tone and

* * * * *

'I have been studying Flaxman and Retzsch. How pure, how
immortal, the language of Form! Fools cannot fancy they
fathom its meaning; witless _dillettanti_ cannot degrade it by
hackneyed usage; none but genius can create or reproduce it.
Unlike the colorist, he who expresses his thought in form is
secure as man can be against the ravages of time.'

* * * * *

'I went to the Athenaeum in an agonizing conflict of mind, when
some high influence was needed to rouse me from the state
of sickly sensitiveness, which, much as I despise, I cannot
wholly conquer. How soothing it was to feel the blessed power
of the Ideal world, to be surrounded, once more with the
records of lives poured out in embodying thought in beauty!
I seemed to breathe my native atmosphere, and smoothed my
ruffled pinions.'

* * * * *

'No wonder God made a world to express his thought. Who, that
has a soul for beauty, does not feel the need of creating, and
that the power of creation alone can satisfy the spirit? When
I thus reflect, the Artist seems the only fortunate man. Had I
but as much creative genius as I have apprehensiveness!'

* * * * *

'How transcendently lovely was the face of one young angel by
Raphael! It was the perfection of physical, moral, and mental
life. Variegated wings, of pinkish-purple touched with green,
like the breasts of doves, and in perfect harmony with the
complexion, spring from the shoulders upwards, and against
them leans the divine head. The eye seems fixed on the centre
of being, and the lips are gently parted, as if uttering
strains of celestial melody.'

* * * * *

'The head of Aspasia was instinct with the voluptuousness of
intellect. From the eyes, the cheek, the divine lip, one might
hive honey. Both the Loves were exquisite: one, that zephyr
sentiment which visits all the roses of life; the other, the
Amore Greco, may be fitly described in these words of Landor:
"There is a gloom in deep love, as in deep water; there is a
silence in it which suspends the foot, and the folded arms and
the dejected head are the images it reflects. No voice shakes
its surface; the Muses themselves approach it with a tardy and
a timid step, with a low and tremulous and melancholy song."'

* * * * *

'The Sibyl I understood. What grace in that beautiful oval!
what apprehensiveness in the eye! Such is female Genius; it
alone understands the God. The Muses only sang the praises of
Apollo; the Sibyls interpreted his will. Nay, she to whom it
was offered, refused the divine union, and preferred remaining
a satellite to being absorbed into the sun. You read in the
eye of this one, and the observation is confirmed by the
low forehead, that the secret of her inspiration lay in the
passionate enthusiasm of her nature, rather than in the ideal
perfection of any faculty.

* * * * *

'A Christ, by Raphael, that I saw the other night, brought
Christianity more home to my heart, made me more long to
be like Jesus, than ever did sermon. It is from one of the
Vatican frescoes. The Deity,--a stern, strong, wise man, of
about forty-five, in a square velvet cap, truly the Jewish
God, inflexibly just, yet jealous and wrathful,--is at the
top of the picture, looking with a gaze of almost frowning
scrutiny down into his world. A step below is the Son.
Stately angelic shapes kneel near him in dignified
adoration,--brothers, but not peers. A cloud of more ecstatic
seraphs floats behind the Father. At the feet of the Son is
the Holy Ghost, the Heavenly Dove. In the description, by a
connoisseur, of this picture, read to me while I was looking
at it, it is spoken of as in Raphael's first manner, cold,
hard, trammeled. But to me how did that face proclaim the
Infinite Love! His head is bent back, as if seeking to
behold the Father. His attitude expresses the need of adoring
something higher, in order to keep him at his highest. What
sweetness, what purity, in the eyes! I can never express it;
but I felt, when looking at it, the beauty of reverence, of
self-sacrifice, to a degree that stripped the Apollo of his


Immediately after reading Miss Martineau's book on America, Margaret
felt bound in honor to write her a letter, the magnanimity of which is
brought out in full relief, by contrast with the expressions already
given of her affectionate regard. Extracts from this letter, recorded
in her journals, come here rightfully in place:--

'On its first appearance, the book was greeted by a volley
of coarse and outrageous abuse, and the nine days' wonder
was followed by a nine days' hue-and-cry. It was garbled,
misrepresented, scandalously ill-treated. This was all of
no consequence. The opinion of the majority you will find
expressed in a late number of the North American Review. I
should think the article, though ungenerous, not more so than
great part of the critiques upon your book.

'The minority may be divided into two classes: The one,
consisting of those who knew you but slightly, either
personally, or in your writings. These have now read your
book; and, seeing in it your high ideal standard, genuine
independence, noble tone of sentiment, vigor of mind and

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