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

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* * * * *

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


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

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



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

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

Stereotyped by




VI. JAMAICA PLAIN, _By W.H. Channing_



IX. HOMEWARD _By W.H. Channing_



* * * * *

Lo raggio della grazia, onde s'accende
Verace amore, e che poi cresce amando,
Multiplicato in te tanto risplende,
Che ti conduce su per quella scala,
U' senza risalir nessun discende,
Qual ti negasse 'l vin della sua fiala
Por la tua sete, in liberta non fora,
Se non com' acqua oh' al mar non si cala."


"Weite Welt und breites Leben,
Langer Jahre redlich Streben,
Stets geforscht und stets gegruendet,
Nie geschlossen, oft geruendet,
Aeltestes bewahrt mit Treue,
Freundlich aufgefasstes Neue,
Heitern Sinn und reine Zwecke:
Nun! man kommt wohl eine Strecke."


"My purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles."


"Remember how august the heart is. It contains the temple not only
of Love but of Conscience; and a whisper is heard from the
extremity of one to the extremity of the other."


"If all the gentlest-hearted friends I knew
Concentred in one heart their gentleness,
That still grew gentler till its pulse was less
For life than pity,--I should yet be slow
To bring my own heart nakedly below
The palm of such a friend, that he should press
My false, ideal joy and fickle woe
Out to full light and knowledge."




* * * * *



It was while Margaret was residing at Jamaica Plain, in the summer of
1839, that we first really met as friends, though for several years
previous we had been upon terms of kindest mutual regard. And, as the
best way of showing how her wonderful character opened upon me, the
growth of our acquaintance shall be briefly traced.

The earliest recollection of Margaret is as a schoolmate of my
sisters, in Boston. At that period she was considered a prodigy of
talent and accomplishment; but a sad feeling prevailed, that she had
been overtasked by her father, who wished to train her like a boy,
and that she was paying the penalty for undue application, in
nearsightedness, awkward manners, extravagant tendencies of thought,
and a pedantic style of talk, that made her a butt for the ridicule
of frivolous companions. Some seasons later, I call to mind seeing, at
the "Commencements" and "Exhibitions" of Harvard University, a girl,
plain in appearance, but of dashing air, who was invariably the centre
of a listening group, and kept their merry interest alive by sparkles
of wit and incessant small-talk. The bystanders called her familiarly,
"Margaret," "Margaret Fuller;" for, though young, she was already
noted for conversational gifts, and had the rare skill of attracting
to her society, not spirited collegians only, but men mature in
culture and of established reputation. It was impossible not to admire
her fluency and fun; yet, though curiosity was piqued as to this
entertaining personage, I never sought an introduction, but, on the
contrary, rather shunned encounter with one so armed from head to foot
in saucy sprightliness.

About 1830, however, we often met in the social circles of Cambridge,
and I began to observe her more nearly. At first, her vivacity,
decisive tone, downrightness, and contempt of conventional standards,
continued to repel. She appeared too _intense_ in expression, action,
emphasis, to be pleasing, and wanting in that _retenue_ which we
associate with delicate dignity. Occasionally, also, words flashed
from her of such scathing satire, that prudence counselled the keeping
at safe distance from a body so surcharged with electricity. Then,
again, there was an imperial--shall it be said imperious?--air,
exacting deference to her judgments and loyalty to her behests,
that prompted pride to retaliatory measures. She paid slight heed,
moreover, to the trim palings of etiquette, but swept through the
garden-beds and into the doorway of one's confidence so cavalierly,
that a reserved person felt inclined to lock himself up in his
sanctum. Finally, to the coolly-scanning eye, her friendships wore a
look of such romantic exaggeration, that she seemed to walk enveloped
in a shining fog of sentimentalism. In brief, it must candidly be
confessed, that I then suspected her of affecting the part of a Yankee

But soon I was charmed, unaware, with the sagacity of her sallies, the
profound thoughts carelessly dropped by her on transient topics,
the breadth and richness of culture manifested in her allusions
or quotations, her easy comprehension of new views, her just
discrimination, and, above all, her _truthfulness_. "Truth at all
cost," was plainly her ruling maxim. This it was that made her
criticism so trenchant, her contempt of pretence so quick and stern,
her speech so naked in frankness, her gaze so searching, her whole
attitude so alert. Her estimates of men, books, manners, events, art,
duty, destiny, were moulded after a grand ideal; and she was a severe
judge from the very loftiness of her standard. Her stately deportment,
border though it might on arrogance, but expressed high-heartedness.
Her independence, even if haughty and rash, was the natural action
of a self-centred will, that waited only fit occasion to prove itself
heroic. Her earnestness to read the hidden history of others was
the gauge of her own emotion. The enthusiasm that made her speech
so affluent, when measured by the average scale, was the unconscious
overflow of a poetic temperament. And the ardor of her friends'
affection proved the faithfulness of her love. Thus gradually the mist
melted away, till I caught a glimpse of her real self. We were one
evening talking of American literature,--she contrasting its boyish
crudity, half boastful, half timid, with the tempered, manly equipoise
of thorough-bred European writers, and I asserting that in its mingled
practicality and aspiration might be read bright auguries; when,
betrayed by sympathy, she laid bare her secret hope of what Woman
might be and do, as an author, in our Republic. The sketch was an
outline only, and dashed off with a few swift strokes, but therein
appeared her own portrait, and we were strangers no more.

It was through the medium of others, however, that at this time I best
learned to appreciate Margaret's nobleness of nature and principle. My
most intimate friend in the Theological School, James Freeman Clarke,
was her constant companion in exploring the rich gardens of German
literature; and from his descriptions I formed a vivid image of her
industry, comprehensiveness, buoyancy, patience, and came to honor
her intelligent interest in high problems of science, her
aspirations after spiritual greatness, her fine aesthetic taste, her
religiousness. By power to quicken other minds, she showed how living
was her own. Yet more near were we brought by common attraction toward
a youthful visitor in our circle, the untouched freshness of whose
beauty was but the transparent garb of a serene, confiding, and
harmonious soul, and whose polished grace, at once modest and naive,
sportive and sweet, fulfilled the charm of innate goodness of heart.
Susceptible in temperament, anticipating with ardent fancy the lot of
a lovely and refined woman, and morbidly exaggerating her own slight
personal defects, Margaret seemed to long, as it were, to transfuse
with her force this nymph-like form, and to fill her to glowing with
her own lyric fire. No drop of envy tainted the sisterly love,
with which she sought by genial sympathy thus to live in another's
experience, to be her guardian-angel, to shield her from contact with
the unworthy, to rouse each generous impulse, to invigorate thought
by truth incarnate in beauty, and with unfelt ministry to weave bright
threads in her web of fate. Thus more and more Margaret became
an object of respectful interest, in whose honor, magnanimity and
strength I learned implicitly to trust.

Separation, however, hindered our growing acquaintance, as we both
left Cambridge, and, with the exception of a few chance meetings in
Boston and a ramble or two in the glens and on the beaches of Rhode
Island, held no further intercourse till the summer of 1839, when, as
has been already said, the friendship, long before rooted, grew up and
leafed and bloomed.



* * * * *

I have no hope of conveying to readers my sense of the beauty of our
relation, as it lies in the past with brightness falling on it from
Margaret's risen spirit. It would be like printing a chapter of
autobiography, to describe what is so grateful in memory,
its influence upon one's self. And much of her inner life, as
confidentially disclosed, could not be represented without betraying
a sacred trust. All that can be done is to open the outer courts, and
give a clue for loving hearts to follow. To such these few sentences
may serve as a guide.

'When I feel, as I do this morning, the poem of existence, I
am repaid for all trial. The bitterness of wounded affection,
the disgust at unworthy care, the aching sense of how far
deeds are transcended by our lowest aspirations, pass away as
I lean on the bosom of Nature, and inhale new life from her
breath. Could but love, like knowledge, be its own reward!'

'Oftentimes I have found in those of my own sex more
gentleness, grace, and purity, than in myself; but seldom the
heroism which I feel within my own breast. I blame not those
who think the heart cannot bleed because it is so strong;
but little they dream of what lies concealed beneath the
determined courage. Yet mine has been the Spartan sternness,
smiling while it hides the wound. I long rather for the
Christian spirit, which even on the cross prays, "Father,
forgive them," and rises above fortitude to heavenly

* * * * *

'Remember that only through aspirations, which sometimes
make me what is called unreasonable, have I been enabled to
vanquish unpropitious circumstances, and save my soul alive.'

* * * * *

'All the good I have ever done has been by calling on every
nature for its highest. I will admit that sometimes I have
been wanting in gentleness, but never in tenderness, nor in
noble faith.'

* * * * *

'The heart which hopes and dares is also accessible to terror,
and this falls upon it like a thunderbolt. It can never defend
itself at the moment, it is so surprised. There is no defence
but to strive for an equable temper of courageous submission,
of obedient energy, that shall make assault less easy to the

'_This_ is the dart within the heart, as well as I can tell
it:--At moments, the music of the universe, which daily I am
upheld by hearing, seems to stop. I fall like a bird when the
sun is eclipsed, not looking for such darkness. The sense of
my individual law--that lamp of life--flickers. I am repelled
in what is most natural to me. I feel as, when a suffering
child, I would go and lie with my face to the ground, to sob
away my little life.'

* * * * *

'In early years, when, though so frank as to the thoughts of
the mind, I put no heart confidence in any human being, my
refuge was in my journal. I have burned those records of my
youth, with its bitter tears, and struggles, and aspirations.
Those aspirations were high, and have gained only broader
foundations and wider reach. But the leaves had done their
work. For years to write there, instead of speaking, had
enabled me to soothe myself; and the Spirit was often my
friend, when I sought no other. Once again I am willing to
take up the cross of loneliness. Resolves are idle, but the
anguish of my soul has been, deep. It will not be easy to
profane life by rhetoric.'

* * * * *

'I woke thinking of the monks of La Trappe;--how could they
bear their silence? When the game of life was lost for me, in
youthful anguish I knew well the desire for that vow; but if
I had taken it, my heart would have burned out my physical
existence long ago.'

* * * * *

'Save me from plunging into the depths to learn the worst, or
from being led astray by the winged joys of childish feeling.
I pray for truth in proportion as there is strength to

* * * * *

'My law is incapable of a charter. I pass all bounds, and
cannot do otherwise. Those whom it seems to me I am to meet
again in the Ages, I meet, soul to soul, now. I have no
knowledge of any circumstances except the degree of affinity.'

* * * * *

'I feel that my impatient nature needs the dark days. I would
learn the art of limitation, without compromise, and act out
my faith with a delicate fidelity. When loneliness becomes too
oppressive, I feel Him drawing me nearer, to be soothed by
the smile of an All-Intelligent Love. He will not permit
the freedom essential to growth to be checked. If I can give
myself up to Him, I shall not be too proud, too impetuous,
neither too timid, and fearful of a wound or cloud.'



* * * * *

The summer of 1839 saw the full dawn of the Transcendental movement in
New England. The rise of this enthusiasm was as mysterious as that
of any form of revival; and only they who were of the faith
could comprehend how bright was this morning-time of a new hope.
Transcendentalism was an assertion of the inalienable integrity of
man, of the immanence of Divinity in instinct. In part, it was a
reaction against Puritan Orthodoxy; in part, an effect of renewed
study of the ancients, of Oriental Pantheists, of Plato and the
Alexandrians, of Plutarch's Morals, Seneca and Epictetus; in part, the
natural product of the culture of the place and time. On the somewhat
stunted stock of Unitarianism,--whose characteristic dogma was trust
in individual reason as correlative to Supreme Wisdom,--had been
grafted German Idealism, as taught by masters of most various
schools,--by Kant and Jacobi, Fichte and Novalis, Schelling and Hegel,
Schleiermacher and De Wette, by Madame de Stael, Cousin, Coleridge,
and Carlyle; and the result was a vague yet exalting conception of the
godlike nature of the human spirit. Transcendentalism, as viewed by
its disciples, was a pilgrimage from the idolatrous world of creeds
and rituals to the temple of the Living God in the soul. It was a
putting to silence of tradition and formulas, that the Sacred Oracle
might be heard through intuitions of the single-eyed and pure-hearted.
Amidst materialists, zealots, and sceptics, the Transcendentalist
believed in perpetual inspiration, the miraculous power of will, and a
birthright to universal good. He sought to hold communion face to face
with the unnameable Spirit of his spirit, and gave himself up to the
embrace of nature's beautiful joy, as a babe seeks the breast of a
mother. To him the curse seemed past; and love was without fear. "All
mine is thine" sounded forth to him in ceaseless benediction, from
flowers and stars, through the poetry, art, heroism of all ages, in
the aspirations of his own genius, and the budding promise of the
time. His work was to be faithful, as all saints, sages, and lovers
of man had been, to Truth, as the very Word of God. His maxims
were,--"Trust, dare and be; infinite good is ready for your asking;
seek and find. All that your fellows can claim or need is that you
should become, in fact, your highest self; fulfil, then, your
ideal." Hence, among the strong, withdrawal to private study and
contemplation, that they might be "alone with the Alone;" solemn
yet glad devotedness to the Divine leadings in the inmost will; calm
concentration of thought to wait for and receive wisdom; dignified
independence, stern yet sweet, of fashion and public opinion; honest
originality of speech and conduct, exempt alike from apology or
dictation, from servility or scorn. Hence, too, among the weak,
whimsies, affectation, rude disregard of proprieties, slothful
neglect of common duties, surrender to the claims of natural appetite,
self-indulgence, self-absorption, and self-idolatry.

By their very posture of mind, as seekers of the new, the
Transcendentalists were critics and "come-outers" from the old.
Neither the church, the state, the college, society, nor even reform
associations, had a hold upon their hearts. The past might be well
enough for those who, without make-belief, could yet put faith in
common dogmas and usages; but for them the matin-bells of a new day
were chiming, and the herald-trump of freedom was heard upon the
mountains. Hence, leaving ecclesiastical organizations, political
parties, and familiar circles, which to them were brown with drought,
they sought in covert nooks of friendship for running waters, and
fruit from the tree of life. The journal, the letter, became of
greater worth than the printed page; for they felt that systematic
results were not yet to be looked for, and that in sallies of
conjecture, glimpses and flights of ecstasy, the "Newness" lifted
her veil to her votaries. Thus, by mere attraction of affinity, grew
together the brotherhood of the "Like-minded," as they were pleasantly
nicknamed by outsiders, and by themselves, on the ground that no two
were of the same opinion. The only password of membership to this
association, which had no compact, records, or officers, was a hopeful
and liberal spirit; and its chance conventions were determined merely
by the desire of the caller for a "talk," or by the arrival of some
guest from a distance with a budget of presumptive novelties. Its
"symposium" was a pic-nic, whereto each brought of his gains, as he
felt prompted, a bunch of wild grapes from the woods, or bread-corn
from his threshing-floor. The tone of the assemblies was cordial
welcome for every one's peculiarity; and scholars, farmers, mechanics,
merchants, married women, and maidens, met there on a level of
courteous respect. The only guest not tolerated was intolerance;
though strict justice might add, that these "Illuminati" were as
unconscious of their special cant as smokers are of the perfume of
their weed, and that a professed declaration of universal independence
turned out in practice to be rather oligarchic.

Of the class of persons most frequently found at these meetings
Margaret has left the following sketch:--

'"I am not mad, most noble Festus," was Paul's rejoinder, as
he turned upon his vulgar censor with the grace of a courtier,
the dignity of a prophet, and the mildness of a saint. But
many there are, who, adhering to the faith of the soul with
that unusual earnestness which the world calls "mad," can
answer their critics only by the eloquence of their characters
and lives. Now, the other day, while visiting a person whose
highest merit, so far as I know, is to save his pennies, I was
astounded by hearing him allude to some of most approved worth
among us, thus: "You know _we_ consider _those men_ insane."

'What this meant, I could not at first well guess, so
completely was my scale of character turned topsy-turvy. But
revolving the subject afterward, I perceived that WE was
the multiple of Festus, and THOSE MEN of Paul. All the
circumstances seemed the same as in that Syrian hall; for the
persons in question were they who cared more for doing good
than for fortune and success,--more for the one risen from
the dead than for fleshly life,--more for the Being in whom we
live and move than for King Agrippa.

'Among this band of candidates for the mad-house, I found
the young poet who valued insight of nature's beauty, and the
power of chanting to his fellow-men a heavenly music, above
the prospect of fortune, political power, or a standing in
fashionable society. At the division of the goods of this
earth, he was wandering like Schiller's poet. But the
difference between American and German regulations would seem
to be, that in Germany the poet, when not "with Jove," is left
at peace on earth; while here he is, by a self-constituted
police, declared "mad."

'Another of this band was the young girl who, early taking a
solemn view of the duties of life, found it difficult to
serve an apprenticeship to its follies. She could not turn her
sweetness into "manner," nor cultivate love of approbation at
the expense of virginity of heart. In so called society she
found no outlet for her truest, fairest self, and so preferred
to live with external nature, a few friends, her pencil,
instrument, and books. She, they say, is "mad."

'And he, the enthusiast for reform, who gives away fortune,
standing in the world, peace, and only not life, because
bigotry is now afraid to exact the pound of flesh as well as
the ducats,--he, whose heart beats high with hopes for the
welfare of his race, is "mad."

'And he, the philosopher, who does not tie down his
speculation to the banner of the day, but lets the wings
of his thought upbear him where they will, as if they were
stronger and surer than the balloon let off for the amusement
of the populace,--he must be "mad." Off with him to the moon!
that paradise of noble fools, who had visions of possibilities
too grand and lovely for this sober earth.

'And ye, friends, and lovers, who see, through all the films
of human nature, in those you love, a divine energy, worthy of
creatures who have their being in very God, ye, too, are "mad"
to think they can walk in the dust, and yet shake it from
their feet when they come upon the green. These are no winged
Mercuries, no silver-sandalled Madonnas. Listen to "the
world's" truth and soberness, and we will show you that your
heart would be as well placed in a hospital, as in these
air-born palaces.

'And thou, priest, seek thy God among the people, and not in
the shrine. The light need not penetrate thine own soul.
Thou canst catch the true inspiration from the eyes of thy
auditors. Not the Soul of the World, not the ever-flowing
voice of nature, but the articulate accents of practical
utility, should find thy ear ever ready. Keep always among
men, and consider what they like; for in the silence of thine
own breast will be heard the voices that make men "mad." Why
shouldst thou judge of the consciousness of others by thine
own? May not thine own soul have been made morbid, by retiring
too much within? If Jesus of Nazareth had not fasted and
prayed so much alone, the devil could never have tempted
him; if he had observed the public mind more patiently and
carefully, he would have waited till the time was ripe, and
the minds of men prepared for what he had to say. He would
thus have escaped the ignominious death, which so prematurely
cut short his "usefulness." Jewry would thus, gently, soberly,
and without disturbance, have been led to a better course.

'"Children of this generation!"--ye Festuses and Agrippas!--ye
are wiser, we grant, than "the children of light;" yet we
advise you to commend to a higher tribunal those whom much
learning, or much love, has made "mad." For if they stay here,
almost will they persuade even you!'

Amidst these meetings of the Transcendentalists it was, that, after
years of separation, I again found Margaret. Of this body she was
member by grace of nature. Her romantic freshness of heart, her
craving for the truth, her self-trust, had prepared her from childhood
to be a pioneer in prairie-land; and her discipline in German schools
had given definite form and tendency to her idealism. Her critical
yet aspiring intellect filled her with longing for germs of positive
affirmation in place of the chaff of thrice-sifted negation; while her
aesthetic instinct responded in accord to the praise of Beauty as the
beloved heir of Good and Truth, whose right it is to reign. On the
other hand, strong common-sense saved her from becoming visionary,
while she was too well-read as a scholar to be caught by conceits, and
had been too sternly tried by sorrow to fall into fanciful effeminacy.
It was a pleasing surprise to see how this friend of earlier days was
acknowledged as a peer of the realm, in this new world of thought.
Men,--her superiors in years, fame and social position,--treated
her more with the frankness due from equal to equal, than the
half-condescending deference with which scholars are wont to adapt
themselves to women. They did not talk down to her standard, nor
translate their dialect into popular phrase, but trusted to her
power of interpretation. It was evident that they prized her verdict,
respected her criticism, feared her rebuke, and looked to her as an
umpire. Very observable was it, also, how, in side-talks with her,
they became confidential, seemed to glow and brighten into their best
mood, and poured out in full measure what they but scantily hinted in
the circle at large.



* * * * *

It was quite a study to watch the phases through which Margaret
passed, in one of these assemblies. There was something in the air
and step with which she chose her place in the company, betokening
an instinctive sense, that, in intellect, she was of blood royal and
needed to ask no favors. And then she slowly gathered her attention
to take in the significance of the scene. Near-sighted and habitually
using an eye-glass, she rapidly scanned the forms and faces, pausing
intently where the expression of particular heads or groups suggested
thought, and ending her survey with some apt home-thrust to her next
neighbors, as if to establish full _rapport_, and so to become a
medium for the circulating life. Only when thus in magnetic relations
with all present, by a clear impress of their state and place, did
she seem prepared to rise to a higher stage of communion. Then she
listened, with ear finely vibrating to every tone, with all
capacities responsive in sympathy, with a swift and ductile power of
appreciation, that made her feel to the quick the varying moods of
different speakers, and yet the while with coolest self-possession.
Now and then a slight smile, flickering over her countenance, as
lightning plays on the surface of a cloud, marked the inward process
whereby she was harmonizing in equilibrium opposing thoughts. And,
as occasion offered, a felicitous quotation, pungent apothegm, or
symbolic epithet, dropped unawares in undertone, showed how swiftly
scattered rays were brought in her mind to a focus.

When her turn came, by a graceful transition she resumed the subject
where preceding speakers had left it, and, briefly summing up their
results, proceeded to unfold her own view. Her opening was deliberate,
like the progress of some massive force gaining its momentum; but as
she felt her way, and moving in a congenial element, the sweep of her
speech became grand. The style of her eloquence was sententious,
free from prettiness, direct, vigorous, charged with vitality.
Articulateness, just emphasis and varied accent, brought out most
delicate shades and brilliant points of meaning, while a rhythmical
collocation of words gave a finished form to every thought. She was
affluent in historic illustration and literary allusion, as well as
in novel hints. She knew how to concentrate into racy phrases the
essential truth gathered from wide research, and distilled with
patient toil; and by skilful treatment she could make green again the
wastes of common-place. Her statements, however rapid, showed breadth
of comprehension, ready memory, impartial judgment, nice analysis of
differences, power of penetrating through surfaces to realities, fixed
regard to central laws and habitual communion with the Life of
life. Critics, indeed, might have been tempted to sneer at a certain
oracular grandiloquence, that bore away her soberness in moments of
elation; though even the most captious must presently have smiled at
the humor of her descriptive touches, her dexterous exposure of
folly and pretension, the swift stroke of her bright wit, her shrewd
discernment, promptitude, and presence of mind. The reverential,
too, might have been pained at the sternness wherewith popular men,
measures, and established customs, were tried and found guilty, at
her tribunal; but even while blaming her aspirations as rash,
revolutionary and impractical, no honest conservative could fail
to recognize the sincerity of her aim. And every deep observer of
character would have found the explanation of what seemed vehement
or too high-strung, in the longing of a spirited woman to break every
trammel that checked her growth or fettered her movement.

In conversations like these, one saw that the richness of Margaret's
genius resulted from a rare combination of opposite qualities. To her
might have been well applied the words first used as describing George
Sand: "Thou large-brained Woman, and large-hearted Man." She blended
in closest union and swift interplay feminine receptiveness with
masculine energy. She was at once impressible and creative,
impulsive and deliberate, pliant in sympathy yet firmly self-centred,
confidingly responsive while commanding in originality. By the vivid
intensity of her conceptions, she brought out in those around their
own consciousness, and, by the glowing vigor of her intellect, roused
into action their torpid powers. On the other hand, she reproduced a
truth, whose germ had just been imbibed from others, moulded after her
own image and quickened by her own life, with marvellous rapidity. And
the presence of congenial minds so stimulated the prolific power of
her imagination, that she was herself astonished at the fresh beauty
of her new-born thoughts. 'There is a mortifying sense,' she writes,

'of having played the Mirabeau after a talk with a circle
of intelligent persons. They come with a store of acquired
knowledge and reflection, on the subject in debate, about
which I may know little, and have reflected less; yet, by
mere apprehensiveness and prompt intuition, I may appear their
superior. Spontaneously I appropriate all their material, and
turn it to my own ends, as if it was my inheritance from
a long train of ancestors. Rays of truth flash out at the
moment, and they are startled by the light thrown over their
familiar domain. Still they are gainers, for I give them new
impulse, and they go on their way rejoicing in the bright
glimpses they have caught. I should despise myself, if I
purposely appeared thus brilliant, but I am inspired as by a
power higher than my own.'

All friends will bear witness to the strict fidelity of this sketch.
There were seasons when she seemed borne irresistibly on to the verge
of prophecy, and fully embodied one's notion of a sibyl.

Admirable as Margaret appeared in public, I was yet more affected by
this peculiar mingling of impressibility and power to influence,
when brought within her private sphere. I know not how otherwise
to describe her subtle charm, than by saying that she was at once a
clairvoyante and a magnetizer. She read another's bosom-secret, and
she imparted of her own force. She interpreted the cipher in the
talisman of one's destiny, that he had tried in vain to spell alone;
by sympathy she brought out the invisible characters traced by
experience on his heart; and in the mirror of her conscience he might
see the image of his very self, as dwarfed in actual appearance, or
developed after the divine ideal. Her sincerity was terrible. In her
frank exposure no foible was spared, though by her very reproof she
roused dormant courage and self-confidence. And so unerring seemed
her insight, that her companion felt as if standing bare before a
disembodied spirit, and communicated without reserve thoughts and
emotions, which, even to himself, he had scarcely named.

This penetration it was that caused Margaret to be so dreaded, in
general society, by superficial observers. They, who came nigh
enough to test the quality of her spirit, could not but perceive how
impersonal was her justice; but, contrasted with the dead flat of
conventional tolerance, her candor certainly looked rugged and sharp.
The frivolous were annoyed at her contempt of their childishness, the
ostentatious piqued at her insensibility to their show, and the decent
scared lest they should be stripped of their shams; partisans were
vexed by her spurning their leaders; and professional sneerers,--civil
in public to those whom in private they slandered,--could not pardon
the severe truth whereby she drew the sting from their spite. Indeed,
how could so undisguised a censor but shock the prejudices of the
moderate, and wound the sensibilities of the diffident; how but enrage
the worshippers of new demi-gods in literature, art and fashion, whose
pet shrines she demolished; how but cut to the quick, alike by silence
or by speech, the self-love of the vain, whose claims she ignored?
So gratuitous, indeed, appeared her hypercriticism, that I could not
refrain from remonstrance, and to one of my appeals she thus replied:

'If a horror for the mania of little great men, so prevalent
in this country,--if aversion to the sentimental exaggerations
to which so many minds are prone,--if finding that most men
praise, as well as blame, too readily, and that overpraise
desecrates the lips and makes the breath unworthy to blow the
coal of devotion,--if rejection of the ----s and ----s, from
a sense that the priestess must reserve her paeans for
Apollo,--if untiring effort to form my mind to justice and
revere only the superlatively good, that my praise might be
praise; if this be to offend, then have I offended.'



* * * * *

Several talks among the Transcendentalists, during the autumn of 1839,
turned upon the propriety of establishing an organ for the expression
of freer views than the conservative journals were ready to welcome.
The result was the publication of the "Dial," the first number of
which appeared early in the summer of 1840, under the editorship of
Margaret, aided by R.W. Emerson and George Ripley. How moderate were
her own hopes, in regard to this enterprise, is clearly enough shown
by passages from her correspondence.

'_Jamaica Plain, 22d March, 1840._ * * * I have a great deal
written, but, as I read it over, scarce a word seems pertinent
to the place or time. When I meet people, it is easy to
adapt myself to them; but when I write, it is into another
world,--not a better one, perhaps, but one with very
dissimilar habits of thought to this wherein I am
domesticated. How much those of us, who have been formed by
the European mind, have to unlearn, and lay aside, if we would
act here! I would fain do something worthily that belonged to
the country where I was born, but most times I fear it may not

'What others can do,--whether all that has been said is the
mere restlessness of discontent, or there are thoughts really
struggling for utterance,--will be tested now. A perfectly
free organ is to be offered for the expression of individual
thought and character. There are no party measures to be
carried, no particular standard to be set up. A fair, calm
tone, a recognition of universal principles, will, I hope,
pervade the essays in every form. I trust there will be a
spirit neither of dogmatism nor of compromise, and that
this journal will aim, not at leading public opinion, but at
stimulating each man to judge for himself, and to think more
deeply and more nobly, by letting him see how some minds are
kept alive by a wise self-trust. We must not be sanguine as
to the amount of talent which will be brought to bear on this
publication. All concerned are rather indifferent, and there
is no great promise for the present. We cannot show high
culture, and I doubt about vigorous thought. But we shall
manifest free action as far as it goes, and a high aim.
It were much if a periodical could be kept open, not to
accomplish any outward object, but merely to afford an avenue
for what of liberal and calm thought might be originated among
us, by the wants of individual minds.' * *

* * * * *

'_April 19, 1840._--Things go on pretty well, but doubtless
people will be disappointed, for they seem to be looking for
the Gospel of Transcendentalism. It may prove as Jouffroy
says it was with the successive French ministries: "The public
wants something positive, and, seeing that such and such
persons are excellent at fault-finding, it raises them to be
rulers, when, lo! they have no noble and full Yea, to match
their shrill and bold Nay, and so are pulled down again." Mr.
Emerson knows best what he wants; but he has already said it
in various ways. Yet, this experiment is well worth trying;
hearts beat so high, they must be full of something, and here
is a way to breathe it out quite freely. It is for dear New
England that I want this review. For myself, if I had wished
to write a few pages now and then, there were ways and means
enough of disposing of them. But in truth I have not much to
say; for since I have had leisure to look at myself, I find
that, so far from being an original genius, I have not yet
learned to think to any depth, and that the utmost I have
done in life has been to form my character to a certain
consistency, cultivate my tastes, and learn to tell the truth
with a little better grace than I did at first. For this the
world will not care much, so I shall hazard a few critical
remarks only, or an unpretending chalk sketch now and then,
till I have learned to do something. There will be beautiful
poesies; about prose we know not yet so well. We shall be the
means of publishing the little Charles Emerson left as a mark
of his noble course, and, though it lies in fragments, all who
read will be gainers.'

* * * * *

'1840.--Since the Revolution, there has been little, in
the circumstances of this country, to call out the higher
sentiments. The effect of continued prosperity is the same
on nations as on individuals,--it leaves the nobler faculties
undeveloped. The need of bringing out the physical resources
of a vast extent of country, the commercial and political
fever incident to our institutions, tend to fix the eyes of
men on what is local and temporary, on the external advantages
of their condition. The superficial diffusion of knowledge,
unless attended by a correspondent deepening of its sources,
is likely to vulgarize rather than to raise the thought of a
nation, depriving them of another sort of education through
sentiments of reverence, and leading the multitude to believe
themselves capable of judging what they but dimly discern.
They see a wide surface, and forget the difference between
seeing and knowing. In this hasty way of thinking and living
they traverse so much ground that they forget that not the
sleeping railroad passenger, but the botanist, the geologist,
the poet, really see the country, and that, to the former,
"a miss is as good as a mile." In a word, the tendency
of circumstances has been to make our people superficial,
irreverent, and more anxious to get a living than to live
mentally and morally. This tendency is no way balanced by the
slight literary culture common here, which is mostly English,
and consists in a careless reading of publications of the day,
having the same utilitarian tendency with our own proceedings.
The infrequency of acquaintance with any of the great fathers
of English lore marks this state of things.

'New England is now old enough,--some there have leisure
enough,--to look at all this; and the consequence is a violent
reaction, in a small minority, against a mode of culture that
rears such fruits. They see that political freedom does not
necessarily produce liberality of mind, nor freedom in church
institutions--vital religion; and, seeing that these changes
cannot be wrought from without inwards, they are trying to
quicken the soul, that they may work from within outwards.
Disgusted with the vulgarity of a commercial aristocracy, they
become radicals; disgusted with the materialistic working of
"rational" religion, they become mystics. They quarrel with
all that is, because it is not spiritual enough. They would,
perhaps, be patient if they thought this the mere sensuality
of childhood in our nation, which it might outgrow; but they
think that they see the evil widening, deepening,--not only
debasing the life, but corrupting the thought, of our people,
and they feel that if they know not well what should be done,
yet that the duty of every good man is to utter a protest
against what is done amiss.

'Is this protest undiscriminating? are these opinions crude?
do these proceedings threaten to sap the bulwarks on which men
at present depend? I confess it all, yet I see in these men
promise of a better wisdom than in their opponents. Their hope
for man is grounded on his destiny as an immortal soul, and
not as a mere comfort-loving inhabitant of earth, or as a
subscriber to the social contract. It was not meant that the
soul should cultivate the earth, but that the earth should
educate and maintain the soul. Man is not made for society,
but society is made for man. No institution can be good which
does not tend to improve the individual. In these principles
I have confidence so profound, that I am not afraid to trust
those who hold them, despite their partial views, imperfectly
developed characters, and frequent want of practical sagacity.
I believe, if they have opportunity to state and discuss
their opinions, they will gradually sift them, ascertain their
grounds and aims with clearness, and do the work this country
needs. I hope for them as for "the leaven that is hidden in
the bushel of meal, till all be leavened." The leaven is not
good by itself, neither is the meal; let them combine, and we
shall yet have bread.

'Utopia it is impossible to build up. At least, my hopes for
our race on this one planet are more limited than those of
most of my friends. I accept the limitations of human nature,
and believe a wise acknowledgment of them one of the best
conditions of progress. Yet every noble scheme, every poetic
manifestation, prophesies to man his eventual destiny. And
were not man ever more sanguine than facts at the moment
justify, he would remain torpid, or be sunk in sensuality. It
is on this ground that I sympathize with what is called the
"Transcendental party," and that I feel their aim to be the
true one. They acknowledge in the nature of man an arbiter for
his deeds,--a standard transcending sense and time,--and
are, in my view, the true utilitarians. They are but at the
beginning of their course, and will, I hope, learn how to make
use of the past, as well as to aspire for the future, and to
be true in the present moment.

'My position as a woman, and the many private duties which
have filled my life, have prevented my thinking deeply on
several of the great subjects which these friends have at
heart. I suppose, if ever I become capable of judging, I shall
differ from most of them on important points. But I am not
afraid to trust any who 'are true, and in intent noble, with
their own course, nor to aid in enabling them to express their
thoughts, whether I coincide with them or not.

'On the subject of Christianity, my mind is clear. If Divine,
it will stand the test of any comparison. I believe the reason
it has so imperfectly answered to the aspirations of its
Founder is, that men have received it on external grounds. I
believe that a religion, thus received, may give the life
an external decorum, but will never open the fountains of
holiness in the soul.

'One often thinks of Hamlet as the true representative of
idealism in its excess. Yet if, in his short life, man be
liable to some excess, should we not rather prefer to have
the will palsied like Hamlet, by a deep-searching tendency and
desire for poetic perfection, than to have it enlightened
by worldly sagacity, as in the case of Julius Caesar, or made
intense by pride alone, as in that of Coriolanus?

'After all, I believe it is absurd to attempt to speak on
these subjects within the limits of a letter. I will try to
say what I mean in print some day. Yet one word as to "the
material," in man. Is it not the object of all philosophy,
as well as of religion and poetry, to prevent its prevalence?
Must not those who see most truly be ever making statements
of the truth to combat this sluggishness, or worldliness?
What else are sages, poets, preachers, born to do? Men go an
undulating course,--sometimes on the hill, sometimes in the
valley. But he only is in the right who in the valley forgets
not the hill-prospect, and knows in darkness that the sun will
rise again. That is the real life which is subordinated to,
not merged in, the ideal; he is only wise who can bring the
lowest act of his life into sympathy with its highest thought.
And this I take to be the one only aim of our pilgrimage here.
I agree with those who think that no true philosophy will try
to ignore or annihilate the material part of man, but will
rather seek to put it in its place, as servant and minister to
the soul.'



* * * * *

In 1839 I had met Margaret upon the plane of intellect. In the summer
of 1840, on my return from the West, she was to be revealed in a new

It was a radiant and refreshing morning, when I entered the parlor of
her pleasant house, standing upon a slope beyond Jamaica Plain to the
south. She was absent at the moment, and there was opportunity to look
from the windows on a cheerful prospect, over orchards and meadows,
to the wooded hills and the western sky. Presently Margaret appeared,
bearing in her hand a vase of flowers, which she had been gathering in
the garden. After exchange of greetings, her first words were of the
flowers, each of which was symbolic to her of emotion, and associated
with the memory of some friend. I remember her references only to the
Daphne Odora, the Provence Rose, the sweet-scented Verbena, and the
Heliotrope; the latter being her chosen emblem, true bride of the sun
that it is.

From flowers she passed to engravings hanging round the room. 'Here,'
said she, 'are Dante and Beatrice.

"Approach, and know that I am Beatrice.
The power of ancient love was strong within me."

'She is beautiful enough, is not she, for that higher moment?
But Dante! Yet who could paint a Dante,--and Dante in heaven?
They give but his shadow, as he walked in the forest-maze of
earth. Then here is the Madonna del Pesce; not divine, like
the Foligno, not deeply maternal, like the Seggiola, not
the beaetified "Mother of God" of the Dresden gallery, but
graceful, and "not too bright and good for human nature's
daily food." And here is Raphael himself, the young seer of
beauty, with eyes softly contemplative, yet lit with central
fires,' &c.

There were gems, too, and medallions and seals, to be examined, each
enigmatical, and each blended by remembrances with some fair hour of
her past life.

Talk on art led the way to Greece and the Greeks, whose mythology
Margaret was studying afresh. She had been culling the blooms of that
poetic land, and could not but offer me leaves from her garland. She
spoke of the statue of Minerva-Polias, cut roughly from an olive-tree,
yet cherished as the heaven-descended image of the most sacred shrine,
to which was due the Panathenaic festival.

'The less ideal perfection in the figure, the greater the
reverence of the adorer. Was not this because spiritual
imagination makes light of results, and needs only a germ whence
to unfold Olympic splendors?'

She spoke of the wooden column, left standing from the ruins of the
first temple to Juno, amidst the marble walls of the magnificent fane
erected in its place:--

'This is a most beautiful type, is not it, of the manner in
which life's earliest experiences become glorified by our
perfecting destiny?'

'In the temple of Love and the Graces, one Grace bore a rose,
a second a branch of myrtle, a third dice;--who can read that

'"Better is it," said Appollonius, "on entering a small shrine
to find there a statue of gold and ivory, than in a large
temple to behold only a coarse figure of terra cotta." How
often, after leaving with disgust the so-called great affairs
of men, do we find traces of angels' visits in quiet scenes of

'The Hours and the Graces appear as ornaments on all thrones
and shrines, except those of Vulcan and Pluto. Alas for us,
when we become so sunk in utilitarian toil as to be blind to
the beauty with which even common cares are daily wreathed!'

And so on and on, with myth and allusion.

Next, Margaret spoke of the friends whose generosity had provided
the decorations on her walls, and the illustrated books for her
table,--friends who were fellow-students in art, history, or
science,--friends whose very life she shared. Her heart seemed full
to overflow with sympathy for their joys and sorrows, their special
trials and struggles, their peculiar tendencies of character and
respective relations. The existence of each was to her a sacred
process, whose developments she watched with awe, and whose leadings
she reverently sought to aid. She had scores of pretty anecdotes
to tell, sweet bowers of sentiment to open, significant lessons of
experience to interpret, and scraps of journals or letters to read
aloud, as the speediest means of introducing me to her chosen circle.
There was a fascinating spell in her piquant descriptions, and a
genial glow of sympathy animated to characteristic movement the
figures, who in varying pantomime replaced one another on the theatre
of her fancy. Frost-bound New England melted into a dreamland of
romance beneath the spice-breeze of her Eastern narrative. Sticklers
for propriety might have found fault at the freedom with which she
confided her friends' histories to one who was a comparative stranger
to them; but I could not but note how conscientiousness reined in her
sensibilities and curbed their career, as they reached the due bounds
of privacy. She did but realize one's conception of the transparent
truthfulness that will pervade advanced societies of the future, where
the very atmosphere shall be honorable faith.

Nearer and nearer Margaret was approaching a secret throned in her
heart that day; and the preceding transitions were but a prelude of
her orchestra before the entrance of the festal group. Unconsciously
she made these preparations for paying worthy honors to a high
sentiment. She had lately heard of the betrothal of two of her
best-loved friends; and she wished to communicate the graceful story
in a way that should do justice to the facts and to her own feelings.
It was by a spontaneous impulse of her genius, and with no voluntary
foreshaping, that she had grouped the previous tales; but no drama
could have been more artistically constructed than the steps whereby
she led me onward to the denouement; and the look, tone, words,
with which she told it, were fluent with melody as the song of an

Scarcely had she finished, when, offering some light refreshment,--as
it was now past noon,--she proposed a walk in the open air. She led
the way to Bussey's wood, her favorite retreat during the past year,
where she had thought and read, or talked with intimate friends. We
climbed the rocky path, resting a moment or two at every pretty point,
till, reaching a moss-cushioned ledge near the summit, she seated
herself. For a time she was silent, entranced in delighted communion
with the exquisite hue of the sky, seen through interlacing boughs
and trembling leaves, and the play of shine and shadow over the wide
landscape. But soon, arousing from her reverie, she took up the thread
of the morning's talk. My part was to listen; for I was absorbed in
contemplating this, to me, quite novel form of character. It has
been seen how my early distaste for Margaret's society was gradually
changed to admiration. Like all her friends, I had passed through an
avenue of sphinxes before reaching the temple. But now it appeared
that thus far I had never been admitted to the adytum.

As, leaning on one arm, she poured out her stream of thought, turning
now and then her eyes full upon me, to see whether I caught her
meaning, there was leisure to study her thoroughly. Her temperament
was predominantly what the physiologists would call nervous-sanguine;
and the gray eye, rich brown hair and light complexion, with the
muscular and well-developed frame, bespoke delicacy balanced by vigor.
Here was a sensitive yet powerful being, fit at once for rapture or
sustained effort, intensely active, prompt for adventure, firm for
trial. She certainly had not beauty; yet the high arched dome of the
head, the changeful expressiveness of every feature, and her whole
air of mingled dignity and impulse, gave her a commanding charm.
Especially characteristic were two physical traits. The first was a
contraction of the eyelids almost to a point,--a trick caught from
near-sightedness,--and then a sudden dilation, till the iris seemed to
emit flashes;--an effect, no doubt, dependent on her highly-magnetized
condition. The second was a singular pliancy of the vertebrae and
muscles of the neck, enabling her by a mere movement to denote each
varying emotion; in moments of tenderness, or pensive feeling, its
curves were swan-like in grace, but when she was scornful or indignant
it contracted, and made swift turns like that of a bird of prey.
Finally, in the animation, yet _abandon_ of Margaret's attitude and
look, were rarely blended the fiery force of northern, and the soft
languor of southern races.

Meantime, as I was thus, through her physiognomy, tracing the outlines
of her spiritual form, she was narrating chapters from the book of
experience. How superficially, heretofore, had I known her! We had met
chiefly as scholars. But now I saw before me one whose whole life
had been a poem,--of boundless aspiration and hope almost wild in its
daring,--of indomitable effort amidst poignant disappointment,--of
widest range, yet persistent unity. Yes! here was a poet in deed, a
true worshipper of Apollo, who had steadfastly striven to brighten and
make glad existence, to harmonize all jarring and discordant strings,
to fuse most hard conditions and cast them in a symmetric mould, to
piece fragmentary fortunes into a mosaic symbol of heavenly order.
Here was one, fond as a child of joy, eager as a native of the tropics
for swift transition from luxurious rest to passionate excitement,
prodigal to pour her mingled force of will, thought, sentiment, into
the life of the moment, all radiant with imagination, longing for
communion with artists of every age in their inspired hours, fitted by
genius and culture to mingle as an equal in the most refined circles
of Europe, and yet her youth and early womanhood had passed away
amid the very decent, yet drudging, descendants of the prim Puritans.
Trained among those who could have discerned her peculiar power, and
early fed with the fruits of beauty for which her spirit pined, she
would have developed into one of the finest lyrists, romancers and
critics, that the modern literary world has seen. This she knew; and
this tantalization of her fate she keenly felt.

But the tragedy of Margaret's history was deeper yet. Behind the poet
was the woman,--the fond and relying, the heroic and disinterested
woman. The very glow of her poetic enthusiasm was but an outflush of
trustful affection; the very restlessness of her intellect was
the confession that her heart had found no home. A "book-worm," "a
dilettante," "a pedant," I had heard her sneeringly called; but now it
was evident that her seeming insensibility was virgin pride, and her
absorption in study the natural vent of emotions, which had met
no object worthy of life-long attachment. At once, many of her
peculiarities became intelligible. Fitfulness, unlooked-for changes of
mood, misconceptions of words and actions, substitution of fancy
for fact,--which had annoyed me during the previous season, as
inconsistent in a person of such capacious judgment and sustained
self-government,--were now referred to the morbid influence of
affections pent up to prey upon themselves. And, what was still more
interesting, the clue was given to a singular credulousness, by
which, in spite of her unusual penetration, Margaret might be led away
blindfold. As this revelation of her ardent nature burst upon me, and
as, rapidly recalling the past, I saw how faithful she had kept to her
high purposes,--how patient, gentle, and thoughtful for others, how
active in self-improvement and usefulness, how wisely dignified she
had been,--I could not but bow to her in reverence.

We walked back to the house amid a rosy sunset, and it was with no
surprise that I heard her complain of an agonizing nervous headache,
which compelled her at once to retire, and call for assistance. As
for myself, while going homeward, I reflected with astonishment on the
unflagging spiritual energy with which, for hour after hour, she
had swept over lands and seas of thought, and, as my own excitement
cooled, I became conscious of exhaustion, as if a week's life had been
concentrated in a day.

The interview, thus hastily sketched, may serve as a fair type of our
usual intercourse. Always I found her open-eyed to beauty, fresh for
wonder, with wings poised for flight, and fanning the coming breeze of
inspiration. Always she seemed to see before her,

"A shape all light, which with one hand did fling
Dew on the earth, as if she were the dawn,
And the invisible rain did ever sing
A silver music on the mossy lawn."

Yet more and more distinctly did I catch a plaintive tone of sorrow
in her thought and speech, like the wail of an AEolian harp heard at
intervals from some upper window. She had never met one who could love
her as she could love; and in the orange-grove of her affections
the white, perfumed blossoms and golden fruit wasted away unclaimed.
Through the mask of slight personal defects and ungraceful manners,
of superficial hauteur and egotism, and occasional extravagance of
sentiment, no equal had recognized the rare beauty of her spirit. She
was yet alone.

Among her papers remains this pathetic petition:--

'I am weary of thinking. I suffer great fatigue from living.
Oh God, take me! take me wholly! Thou knowest that I love none
but Thee. All this beautiful poesy of my being lies in Thee.
Deeply I feel it. I ask nothing. Each desire, each passionate
feeling, is on the surface only; inmostly Thou keepest me
strong and pure. Yet always to be thus going out into moments,
into nature, and love, and thought! Father, I am weary!
Reassume me for a while, I pray Thee. Oh let me rest awhile in
Thee, Thou only Love! In the depth of my prayer I suffer much.
Take me only awhile. No fellow-being will receive me. I cannot
pause; they will not detain me by their love. Take me awhile,
and again I will go forth on a renewed service. It is not that
I repine, my Father, but I sink from want of rest, and none
will shelter me. Thou knowest it all. Bathe me in the living
waters of Thy Love.'



* * * * *

Yet, conscious as she was of an unfulfilled destiny, and of an
undeveloped being, Margaret was no pining sentimentalist. The gums
oozing from wounded boughs she burned as incense in her oratory; but
in outward relations she was munificent with sympathy.

'Let me be, Theodora, a bearer of heavenly gifts to my

is written in her journals, and her life fulfilled the aspiration.
The more one observed her, the more surprising appeared the variety,
earnestness, and constancy of her friendships. Far and wide reached
her wires of communication, and incessant was the interchange of
messages of good-will. She was never so preoccupied and absorbed as
to deny a claimant for her affectionate interest; she never turned
her visitors back upon themselves, mortified and vexed at being
misunderstood. With delicate justice she appreciated the special
form, force, tendency of utterly dissimilar characters and her heart
responded to every appeal alike of humblest suffering or loftiest
endeavor. In the plain, yet eloquent phrase of the backwoodsman, "the
string of her door-latch was always out," and every wayfarer was free
to share the shelter of her roof, or a seat beside her hearth-stone.
Or, rather, it might be said, in symbol of her wealth of spirit, her
palace, with its galleries of art, its libraries and festal-halls,
welcomed all guests who could enjoy and use them.

She was, indeed, The Friend. This was her vocation. She bore at her
girdle a golden key to unlock all caskets of confidence. Into
whatever home she entered she brought a benediction of truth, justice,
tolerance, and honor; and to every one who sought her to confess, or
seek counsel, she spoke the needed word of stern yet benignant wisdom.
To how many was the forming of her acquaintance an era of renovation,
of awakening from sloth, indulgence or despair, to heroic mastery of
fate, of inward serenity and strength, of new-birth to real self-hood,
of catholic sympathies, of energy consecrated to the Supreme Good.
Thus writes to her one who stands among the foremost in his own
department: "What I am I owe, in large measure, to the stimulus you
imparted. You roused my heart with high hopes; you raised my aims from
paltry and vain pursuits to those which tasked and fed the soul;
you inspired me with a great ambition, and made me see the worth
and meaning of life; you awakened in me confidence in my own powers,
showed me my special and distinct ability, and quickened my individual
consciousness by intelligent sympathy with tendencies and feelings
which I but half understood; you gave me to myself. This is a most
benign influence to exercise, and for it, above all other benefits,
gratitude is due. Therefore have you an inexhaustible bank of
gratitude to draw from. Bless God that he has allotted to you such a

The following extracts from her letters will show how profusely
Margaret poured out her treasures upon her friends; but they reveal,
too, the painful processes of alchemy whereby she transmuted her lead
into gold.

'Your idea of friendship apparently does not include
intellectual intimacy, as mine does, but consists of mutual
esteem and spiritual encouragement. This is the thought
represented, on antique gems and bas-reliefs, of the meeting
between God and Goddess, I find; for they rather offer one
another the full flower of being, than grow together. As in
the figures before me, Jupiter, king of Gods and men, meets
Juno, the sister and queen, not as a chivalric suppliant, but
as a stately claimant; and she, crowned, pure, majestic, holds
the veil aside to reveal herself to her august spouse.'

* * * * *

'How variously friendship is represented in literature!
Sometimes the two friends kindle beacons from afar to apprize
one another that they are constant, vigilant, and each
content in his several home. Sometimes, two pilgrims, they go
different routes in service of the same saint, and remember
one another as they give alms, learn wisdom, or pray in
shrines along the road. Sometimes, two knights, they bid
farewell with mailed hand of truth and honor all unstained,
as they ride forth on their chosen path to test the spirit of
high emprise, and free the world from wrong,--to meet again
for unexpected succor in the hour of peril, or in joyful
surprise to share a frugal banquet on the plat of greensward
opening from forest glades. Sometimes, proprietors of two
neighboring estates, they have interviews in the evening to
communicate their experiments and plans, or to study together
the stars from an observatory; if either is engaged he simply
declares it; they share enjoyments cordially; they exchange
praise or blame frankly; in citizen-like good-fellowship they
impart their gains.

'All these views of friendship are noble and beautiful, yet
they are not enough for our manifold nature. Friends should
be our incentives to Right, yet not only our guiding, but our
prophetic stars. To love by sight is much, to love by faith
is more; together they make up the entire love, without which
heart, mind, and soul cannot be alike satisfied. Friends
should love not merely for the absolute worth of each to the
other, but on account of a mutual fitness of character. They
are not merely one another's priests or gods, but ministering
angels, exercising in their part the same function as the
Great Soul does in the whole,--of seeing the perfect through
the imperfect, nay, creating it there. Why am I to love my
friend the less for any obstruction in his life? Is not that
the very time for me to love most tenderly, when I must see
his life in despite of seeming? When he shows it to me I can
only admire; I do not give myself, I am taken captive.

'But how shall I express my meaning? Perhaps I can do so from
the tales of chivalry, where I find what corresponds far more
thoroughly with my nature, than in these stoical statements.
The friend of Amadis expects to hear prodigies of valor of
the absent Preux, but if he be mutilated in one of his first
battles, shall he be mistrusted by the brother of his soul,
more than if he had been tested in a hundred? If Britomart
finds Artegall bound in the enchanter's spell, can she
doubt therefore him whom she has seen in the magic glass? A
Britomart does battle in his cause, and frees him from the
evil power, while a dame of less nobleness might sit and watch
the enchanted sleep, weeping night and day, or spur on her
white palfrey to find some one more helpful than herself.
These friends in chivalry are always faithful through the dark
hours to the bright. The Douglas motto, "tender and true,"
seems to me most worthy of the strongest breast. To borrow
again from Spencer, I am entirely satisfied with the fate of
the three brothers. I could not die while there was yet life
in my brother's breast. I would return from the shades and
nerve him with twofold life for the fight. I could do it, for
our hearts beat with one blood. Do you not see the truth and
happiness of this waiting tenderness? The verse--

"Have I a lover
Who is noble and free,
I would he were nobler
Than to love me,"--

does not come home to my heart, though _this_ does:--

"I could not love thee, sweet, so much,
Loved I not honor more."

* * * '_October 10th, 1840._--I felt singular pleasure in
seeing you quote Hood's lines on "Melancholy." I thought
nobody knew and loved his serious poems except myself, and
two or three others, to whom I imparted them.[A] Do you like,
also, the ode to Autumn, and--

"Sigh on, sad heart, for love's eclipse"?

It was a beautiful time when I first read these poems. I was
staying in Hallowell, Maine, and could find no books that I
liked, except Hood's poems. You know how the town is built,
like a terraced garden on the river's bank; I used to go every
afternoon to the granite quarry which crowns these terraces,
and read till the sunset came casting its last glory on the
opposite bank. They were such afternoons as those in September
and October, clear, soft, and radiant. Nature held nothing
back. 'Tis many years since, and I have never again seen the
Kennebec, but remember it as a stream of noble character. It
was the first river I ever sailed up, realizing all which that
emblem discloses of life. Greater still would the charm have
been to sail downward along an unknown stream, seeking not a
home, but a ship upon the ocean.'

* * * * *

'_Newbury, Oct. 18, 1840._--It rained, and the day was pale
and sorrowful, the thick-fallen leaves even shrouded the
river. We went out in the boat, and sat under the bridge. The
pallid silence, the constant fall of the rain and leaves, were
most soothing, life had been for many weeks so crowded with
thought and feeling, pain and pleasure, rapture and care.
Nature seemed gently to fold us in her matron's mantle. On
such days the fall of the leaf does not bring sadness, only
meditation. Earth seemed to loose the record of past summer
hours from her permanent life, as lightly, and spontaneously,
as the great genius casts behind him a literature,--the
Odyssey he has outgrown. In the evening the rain ceased, the
west wind came, and we went out in the boat again for some
hours; indeed, we staid till the last clouds passed from the
moon. Then we climbed the hill to see the full light in solemn
sweetness over fields, and trees, and river.

'I never enjoyed anything more in its way than the three
days alone with ---- in her boat, upon the little river.
Not without reason was it that Goethe limits the days of
intercourse to _three_, in the Wanderjahre. If you have lived
so long in uninterrupted communion with any noble being, and
with nature, a remembrance of man's limitations seems to call
on Polycrates to cast forth his ring. She seemed the very
genius of the scene, so calm, so lofty, and so secluded. I
never saw any place that seemed to me so much like home. The
beauty, though so great, is so unobtrusive.

'As we glided along the river, I could frame my community far
more naturally and rationally than ----. A few friends should
settle upon the banks of a stream like this, planting their
homesteads. Some should be farmers, some woodmen, others
bakers, millers, &c. By land, they should carry to one another
the commodities; on the river they should meet for society. At
sunset many, of course, would be out in their boats, but they
would love the hour too much ever to disturb one another. I
saw the spot where we should discuss the high mysteries that
Milton speaks of. Also, I saw the spot where I would invite
select friends to live through the noon of night, in silent
communion. When we wished to have merely playful chat, or talk
on politics or social reform, we would gather in the mill, and
arrange those affairs while grinding the corn. What a happy
place for children to grow up in! Would it not suit little
---- to go to school to the cardinal flowers in her boat,
beneath the great oak-tree? I think she would learn more than
in a phalanx of juvenile florists. But, truly, why has such a
thing never been? One of these valleys so immediately suggests
an image of the fair company that might fill it, and live so
easily, so naturally, so wisely. Can we not people the banks
of some such affectionate little stream? I distrust ambitious
plans, such as Phalansterian organizations!

'---- is quite bent on trying his experiment. I hope he may
succeed; but as they were talking the other evening, I
thought of the river, and all the pretty symbols the tide-mill
presents, and felt if I could at all adjust the economics to
the more simple procedure, I would far rather be the miller,
hoping to attract by natural affinity some congenial baker,
"und so weiter." However, one thing seems sure, that many
persons will soon, somehow, somewhere, throw off a part, at
least, of these terrible weights of the social contract, and
see if they cannot lie more at ease in the lap of Nature. I
do not feel the same interest in these plans, as if I had a
firmer hold on life, but I listen with much pleasure to the
good suggestions.'

* * * * *

'_Oct. 19th, 1840._ ---- was here. Generally I go out of
the room when he comes, for his great excitability makes
me nervous, and his fondness for detail is wearisome. But
to-night I was too much fatigued to do anything else, and
did not like to leave mother; so I lay on the sofa while she
talked with him.

'My mind often wandered, yet ever and anon, as I listened
again to him, I was struck with admiration at the
compensations of Nature. Here is a man, isolated from his
kind beyond any I know, of an ambitious temper and without an
object of tender affections and without a love or a friend. I
don't suppose any mortal, unless it be his aged mother, cares
more for him than we do,--scarce any value him so much. The
disease, which has left him, in the eyes of men, a scathed and
blighted tree, has driven him back to Nature, and she has not
refused him sympathy. I was surprised by the refinement of
his observations on the animals, his pets. He has carried
his intercourse with them to a degree of perfection we rarely
attain with our human friends. There is no misunderstanding
between him and his dogs and birds; and how rich has been the
acquaintance in suggestion! Then the flowers! I liked to
hear him, for he recorded all their pretty ways,--not like a
botanist, but a lover. His interview with the Magnolia of Lake
Pontchartrain was most romantic. And what he said of the
Yuca seems to me so pretty, that I will write it down, though
somewhat more concisely than he told it:--

'"I had kept these plants of the Yuca Filamentosa six or seven
years, though they had never bloomed. I knew nothing of them,
and had no notion of what feelings they would excite. Last
June I found in bud the one which had the most favorable
exposure. A week or two after, another, which was more in the
shade, put out flower-buds, and I thought I should be able to
watch them, one after the other; but, no! the one which was
most favored waited for the other, and both flowered together
at the full of the moon. This struck me as very singular, but
as soon as I saw the flower by moonlight I understood it. This
flower is made for the moon, as the Heliotrope is for the sun,
and refuses other influences or to display her beauty in any
other light.

'"The first night I saw it in flower, I was conscious of a
peculiar delight, I may even say rapture. Many white flowers
are far more beautiful by day; the lily, for instance, with
its firm, thick leaf, needs the broadest light to manifest its
purity. But these transparent leaves of greenish white, which
look dull in the day, are melted by the moon to glistening
silver. And not only does the plant not appear in its destined
hue by day, but the flower, though, as bell-shaped, it cannot
quite close again after having once expanded, yet presses its
petals together as closely as it can, hangs down its little
blossoms, and its tall stalk seems at noon to have reared
itself only to betray a shabby insignificance. Thus, too,
with the leaves, which have burst asunder suddenly like the
fan-palm to make way for the stalk,--their edges in the day
time look ragged and unfinished, as if nature had left them
in a hurry for some more pleasing task. On the day after
the evening when I had thought it so beautiful, I could not
conceive how I had made such a mistake.

'"But the second evening I went out into the garden again. In
clearest moonlight stood my flower, more beautiful than ever.
The stalk pierced the air like a spear, all the little bells
had erected themselves around it in most graceful array, with
petals more transparent than silver, and of softer light
than the diamond. Their edges were clearly, but not sharply
defined. They seemed to have been made by the moon's rays. The
leaves, which had looked ragged by day, now seemed fringed by
most delicate gossamer, and the plant might claim with pride
its distinctive epithet of Filamentosa. I looked at it till
my feelings became so strong that I longed to share it. The
thought which filled my mind was that here we saw the type of
pure feminine beauty in the moon's own flower. I have since
had further opportunity of watching the Yuca, and verified
these observations, that she will not flower till the full
moon, and chooses to hide her beauty from the eye of day."

'Might not this be made into a true poem, if written out
merely as history of the plant, and no observer introduced?
How finely it harmonizes with all legends of Isis, Diana, &c.!
It is what I tried to say in the sonnet,--

Woman's heaven,
Where palest lights a silvery sheen diffuse.

'In tracing these correspondences, one really does take hold
of a Truth, of a Divine Thought.' * *

* * * * *

'_October 25th, 1840._--This week I have not read any book,
nor once walked in the woods and fields. I meant to give its
days to setting outward things in order, and its evenings to
writing. But, I know not how it is, I can never simplify my
life; always so many ties, so many claims! However, soon the
winter winds will chant matins and vespers, which may make my
house a cell, and in a snowy veil enfold me for my prayer.
If I cannot dedicate myself this time, I will not expect it
again. Surely it should be! These Carnival masks have crowded
on me long enough, and Lent must be at hand. * *

'---- and ---- have been writing me letters, to answer which
required all the time and thought I could give for a day or
two. ----'s were of joyful recognition, and so beautiful I
would give much to show them to you. ----'s have singularly
affected me. They are noble, wise, of most unfriendly
friendliness. I don't know why it is, I always seem to myself
to have gone so much further with a friend than I really have.
Just as at Newport I thought ---- met me, when he did not, and
sang a joyful song which found no echo, so here ---- asks me
questions which I thought had been answered in the first days
of our acquaintance, and coldly enumerates all the charming
qualities which make it impossible for him to part with me!
He scolds me, though in the sweetest and solemnest way. I will
not quote his words, though their beauty tempts me, for they
do not apply, they do not touch ME.

'Why is it that the religion of my nature is so much hidden
from my peers? why do they question me, who never question
them? why persist to regard as a meteor an orb of assured
hope? Can no soul know me wholly? shall I never know the deep
delight of gratitude to any but the All-Knowing? I shall
wait for ---- very peaceably, in reverent love as ever; but I
cannot see why he should not have the pleasure of knowing now
a friend, who has been "so tender and true."'

* * * * *

'---- was here, and spent twenty-four hours in telling me a
tale of deepest tragedy. Its sad changes should be written out
in Godwin's best manner: such are the themes he loved, as did
also Rousseau. Through all the dark shadows shone a pure
white ray, one high, spiritual character, a man, too, and of
advanced age. I begin to respect men more,--I mean actual men.
What men may be, I know; but the men of to-day have seemed to
me of such coarse fibre, or else such poor wan shadows!

'---- had scarcely gone, when ---- came and wished to spend
a few hours with me. I was totally exhausted, but I lay down,
and she sat beside me, and poured out all her noble feelings
and bright fancies. There was little light in the room, and
she gleamed like a cloud

--"of pearl and opal,"

and reminded me more than ever of

--"the light-haired Lombardess
Singing a song of her own native land,"

to the dying Correggio, beside the fountain.

'I am astonished to see how much Bettine's book is to all
these people. This shows how little courage they have had to
live out themselves. She really brings them a revelation. The
men wish they had been loved by Bettine; the girls wish to
write down the thoughts that come, and see if just such a book
does not grow up. ----, however, was one of the few who do not
over-estimate her; she truly thought Bettine only publishes
what many burn. Would not genius be common as light, if men
trusted their higher selves?'

* * * * *

'I heard in town that ---- is a father, and has gone to see
his child. This news made me more grave even than such news
usually does; I suppose because I have known the growth of
his character so intimately. I called to mind a letter he had
written me of what we had expected of our fathers. The ideal
father, the profoundly wise, provident, divinely tender and
benign, he is indeed the God of the human heart. How solemn
this moment of being called to prepare the way, to _make way_
for another generation! What fulfilment does it claim in
the character of a man, that he should be worthy to be a
father!--what purity of motive, what dignity, what knowledge!
When I recollect how deep the anguish, how deeper still the
want, with which I walked alone in hours of childish passion,
and called for a Father, often saying the word a hundred
times, till stifled by sobs, how great seems the duty that
name imposes! Were but the harmony preserved throughout! Could
the child keep learning his earthly, as he does his heavenly
Father, from all best experience of life, till at last it were
the climax: "I am the Father. Have ye seen me?--ye have seen
the Father." But how many sons have we to make one father?
Surely, to spirits, not only purified but perfected, this
must appear the climax of earthly being,--a wise and worthy
parentage. Here I always sympathize with Mr. Alcott. He views
the relation truly.'

* * * * *

'_Dec. 3, 1840._ ---- bids me regard her "as a sick child;"
and the words recall some of the sweetest hours of existence.
My brother Edward was born on my birth-day, and they said he
should be my child. But he sickened and died just as the bud
of his existence showed its first bright hues. He was some
weeks wasting away, and I took care of him always half the
night. He was a beautiful child, and became very dear to me
then. Still in lonely woods the upturned violets show me the
pleading softness of his large blue eyes, in those hours when
I would have given worlds to prevent his suffering, and
could not. I used to carry him about in my arms for hours; it
soothed him, and I loved to feel his gentle weight of helpless
purity upon my heart, while night listened around. At last,
when death came, and the soul took wing like an overtasked
bird from his sweet form, I felt what I feel now. Might I free
----, as that angel freed him!

'In daily life I could never hope to be an unfailing fountain
of energy and bounteous love. My health is frail; my earthly
life is shrunk to a scanty rill; I am little better than an
aspiration, which the ages will reward, by empowering me to
incessant acts of vigorous beauty. But now it is well with me
to be with those who do not suffer overmuch to have me suffer.
It is best for me to serve where I can better bear to fall
short. I could visit ---- more nobly than in daily life,
through the soul of our souls. When she named me her
Priestess, that name made me perfectly happy. Long has been my
consecration; may I not meet those I hold dear at the altar?
How would I pile up the votive offerings, and crowd the fires
with incense? Life might be full and fair; for, in my own way,
I could live for my friends.' * *

* * * * *

'_Dec. 8th, 1840._--My book of amusement has been the Evenings
of St. Petersburg. I do not find the praises bestowed on it at
all exaggerated. Yet De Maistre is too logical for me. I only
catch a thought here and there along the page. There is a
grandeur even in the subtlety of his mind. He walks with
a step so still, that, but for his dignity, it would be
stealthy, yet with brow erect and wide, eye grave and deep. He
is a man such as I have never known before.' * *

'I went to see Mrs. Wood in the Somnambula. Nothing could
spoil this opera, which expresses an ecstasy, a trance of
feeling, better than anything I ever heard. I have loved every
melody in it for years, and it was happiness to listen to
the exquisite modulations as they flowed out of one another,
endless ripples on a river deep, wide and strewed with
blossoms. I never have known any one more to be loved than
Bellini. No wonder the Italians make pilgrimages to his grave.
In him thought and feeling flow always in one tide; he never
divides himself. He is as melancholy as he is sweet; yet his
melancholy is not impassioned, but purely tender.'

* * * * *

'_Dec. 15, 1840._--I have not time to write out as I should
this sweet story of Melissa, but here is the outline:--

'More than four years ago she received an injury, which caused
her great pain in the spine, and went to the next country
town to get medical advice. She stopped at the house of a poor
blacksmith, an acquaintance only, and has never since been
able to be moved. Her mother and sister come by turns to take
care of her. She cannot help herself in any way, but is as
completely dependent as an infant. The blacksmith and his
wife gave her the best room in their house, have ever since
ministered to her as to a child of their own, and, when people
pity them for having to bear such a burthen, they say, "It is
none, but a blessing."

'Melissa suffers all the time, and great pain. She cannot
amuse or employ herself in any way, and all these years has
been as dependent on others for new thoughts, as for daily
cares. Yet her mind has deepened, and her character refined,
under those stern teachers, Pain and Gratitude, till she has
become the patron saint of the village, and the muse of
the village school-mistress. She has a peculiar aversion to
egotism, and could not bear to have her mother enlarge upon
her sufferings.

'"Perhaps it will pain the lady to hear that," said the mild,
religious sufferer, who had borne all without a complaint.

"Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." The poor are the
generous: the injured, the patient and loving.

All that ---- said of this girl was in perfect harmony with
what De Maistre says of the saint of St. Petersburg, who,
almost devoured by cancer, when, asked, "Quelle est la
premiere grace que vous demanderez a Dieu, ma chere enfant,
lorsque vous serez devant lui?" she replied, "Je lui
demanderai pour mes bienfaiteurs la grace de Paimer autant que
je l'aime."

'When they were lamenting for her, "Je ne suis pas, dit elle,
aussi malheureuse que vous le croyez; Dieu me fait la grace de
ne peuser, qu'a lui."' * *

'Next of Edith. Tall, gaunt, hard-favored was this candidate
for the American calendar; but Bonilacia might be her name.
From her earliest years she had valued all she knew, only as
she was to teach it again. Her highest ambition was to be the
school-mistress; her recreation to dress the little ragged
things, and take care of them out of school hours. She had
some taste for nursing the grown-up, but this was quite
subordinate to her care of the buds of the forest. Pure,
perfectly beneficent, lived Edith, and never thought of any
thing or person, but for its own sake. When she had attained
midway the hill of life, she happened to be boarding in the
house with a young farmer, who was lost in admiration of her
lore. How he wished he, too, could read! "What, can't you
read? O, let me teach you!"--"You never can; I was too
thick-skulled to learn even at school. I am sure I never
could now." But Edith was not to be daunted by any fancies
of incapacity, and set to work with utmost zeal to teach this
great grown man the primer. She succeeded, and won his heart
thereby. He wished to requite the raising him from the night
of ignorance, as Howard and Nicholas Poussin did the kind ones
who raised them from the night of the tomb, by the gift of his
hand. Edith consented, on condition that she might still keep
school. So he had his sister come to "keep things straight."
Edith and he go out in the morning,--he to his field, she to
her school, and meet again at eventide, to talk, and plan and,
I hope, to read also.

'The first use Edith made of her accession of property
through her wedded estate, was to give away all she thought
superfluous to a poor family she had long pitied, and
to invite a poor sick woman to her "spare chamber."
Notwithstanding a course like this, her husband has grown
rich, and proves that the pattern of the widow's cruse was not
lost in Jewry.

'Edith has become the Natalia of the village, as is Melissa
its "Schoene Seele."'

* * * * *

'_Dec., 22, 1840._--"Community" seems dwindling to a point,
and I fancy the best use of the plan, as projected thus far,
will prove the good talks it has caused here, upon principles.
I feel and find great want of wisdom in myself and the others.
We are not ripe to reconstruct society yet. O Christopher
Columbus! how art thou to be admired, when we see how other
men go to work with their lesser enterprises! ---- knows
deepest what he wants, but not well how to get it. ---- has a
better perception of means, and less insight as to principles;
but this movement has done him a world of good. All should
say, however, that they consider this plan as a mere
experiment, and are willing to fail. I tell them that they are
not ready till they can say that. ---- says he can bear to be
treated unjustly by all concerned,--which is much. He is too
sanguine, as it appears to me, but his aim is worthy, and,
with his courage and clear intellect, his experiment will not,
at least to him, be a failure.'

* * * * *

'_Feb. 19, 1841._--Have I never yet seen so much as _one_ of
my spiritual family? The other night they sat round me, so
many who have thought they loved, or who begin to love me.
I felt myself kindling the same fire in all their souls.
I looked on each, and no eye repelled me. Yet there was no
warmth for me on all those altars. Their natures seemed deep,
yet there was 'not one from which I could draw the living
fountain. I could only cheat the hour with them, prize,
admire, and pity. It was sad; yet who would have seen sadness
in me? * *

'Once I was almost all intellect; now I am almost all feeling.
Nature vindicates her rights, and I feel all Italy glowing
beneath the Saxon crust. This cannot last long; I shall burn
to ashes if all this smoulders here much longer. I must die if
I do not burst forth in genius or heroism.

'I meant to have translated the best passages of "Die
Gunderode,"--which I prefer to Bettine's correspondence with
Goethe. The two girls are equal natures, and both in earnest.
Goethe made a puppet-show, for his private entertainment,
of Bettine's life, and we wonder she did not feel he was not
worthy of her homage. Gunderode is to me dear and admirable,
Bettine only interesting. Gunderode is of religious grace,
Bettine the fulness of instinctive impulse; Gunderode is the
ideal, Bettine nature; Gunderode throws herself into the river
because the world is all too narrow, Bettine lives and
follows out every freakish fancy, till the enchanting child
degenerates into an eccentric and undignified old woman. There
is a medium somewhere. Philip Sidney found it; others had it
found for them by fate.'

* * * * *

'_March_ 29. 1841.--* * Others have looked at society with far
deeper consideration than I. I have felt so unrelated to this
sphere, that it has not been hard for me to be true. Also, I
do not believe in Society. I feel that every man must struggle
with these enormous ills, in some way, in every age; in that
of Moses, or Plato, or Angelo, as in our own. So it has not
moved me much to see my time so corrupt, but it would if I
were in a false position.

'---- went out to his farm yesterday, full of cheer, as
one who doeth a deed with sincere good will. He has shown
a steadfastness and earnestness of purpose most grateful to
behold. I do not know what their scheme will ripen to; at
present it does not deeply engage my hopes. It is thus far
only a little better way than others. I doubt if they will get
free from all they deprecate in society.'

* * * * *

'_Paradise Farm, Newport, July, 1841._--Here are no deep
forests, no stern mountains, nor narrow, sacred valleys; but
the little white farm-house looks down from its gentle
slope on the boundless sea, and beneath the moon, beyond the
glistening corn-fields, is heard the endless surge. All
around the house is most gentle and friendly, with many
common flowers, that seem to have planted themselves, and
the domestic honey-suckle carefully trained over the little
window. Around are all the common farm-house sounds,--the
poultry making a pleasant recitative between the carols of
singing birds; even geese and turkeys are not inharmonious
when modulated by the diapasons of the beach. The orchard of
very old apple-trees, whose twisted forms tell of the glorious
winds that have here held revelry, protects a little homely
garden, such as gives to me an indescribable refreshment,
where the undivided vegetable plots and flourishing young
fruit-trees, mingling carelessly, seem as if man had dropt the
seeds just where he wanted the plants, and they had sprung up
at once. The family, too, look, at first glance, well-suited
to the place,--homely, kindly, unoppressed, of honest pride
and mutual love, not unworthy to look out upon the far-shining

'Many, many sweet little things would I tell you, only they
are so very little. I feel just now as if I could live and die
here. I am out in the open air all the time, except about two
hours in the early morning. And now the moon is fairly gone
late in the evening. While she was here, we staid out, too.
Everything seems sweet here, so homely, so kindly; the old
people chatting so contentedly, the young men and girls
laughing together in the fields,--not vulgarly, but in the
true kinsfolk way,--little children singing in the house and
beneath the berry-bushes. The never-ceasing break of the
surf is a continual symphony, calming the spirits which this
delicious air might else exalt too much. Everything on the
beach becomes a picture; the casting the seine, the ploughing
the deep for seaweed. This, when they do it with horses, is
prettiest of all; but when you see the oxen in the surf, you
lose all faith in the story of Europa, as the gay waves tumble
in on their lazy sides. The bull would be a fine object on the
shore, but not, not in the water. Nothing short of a dolphin
will do! Late to-night, from the highest Paradise rocks,
seeing ---- wandering, and the horsemen careering on the
beach, so spectrally passing into nature, amid the pale,
brooding twilight, I almost thought myself in the land of

'But in the morning it is life, all cordial and common. This
half-fisherman, half-farmer life seems very favorable to
manliness. I like to talk with the fishermen; they are not
boorish, not limited, but keen-eyed, and of a certain rude
gentleness. Two or three days ago I saw the sweetest picture.
There is a very tall rock, one of the natural pulpits, at one
end of the beach. As I approached, I beheld a young fisherman
with his little girl; he had nestled her into a hollow of the
rock, and was standing before her, with his arms round her,
and looking up in her face. Never was anything so pretty. I
stood and stared, country fashion; and presently he scrambled
up to the very top with her in his arms. She screamed a little
as they went, but when they were fairly up on the crest of the
rock, she chuckled, and stretched her tiny hand over his neck,
to go still further. Yet, when she found he did not wish it,
she leaned against his shoulder, and he sat, feeling himself
in the child like that exquisite Madonna, and looking out over
the great sea. Surely, the "kindred points of heaven and home"
were known in his breast, whatever guise they might assume.

'The sea is not always lovely and bounteous, though generally,
since we have been here, she has beamed her bluest. The night
of the full moon we staid out on the far rocks. The afternoon
was fair: the sun set nobly, wrapped in a violet mantle,
which he left to the moon, in parting. She not only rose red,
lowering, and of impatient attitude, but kept hiding her head
all the evening with an angry, struggling movement. ----
said, "This is not Dian;" and I replied, "No; now we see the
Hecate." But the damp, cold wind came sobbing, and the waves
began wailing, too, till I was seized with a feeling of
terror, such as I never had before, even in the darkest, and
most treacherous, rustling wood. The moon seemed sternly to
give me up to the daemons of the rock, and the waves to mourn
a tragic chorus, till I felt their cold grasp. I suffered
so much, that I feared we should never get home without some
fatal catastrophe. Never was I more relieved than when, as we
came up the hill, the moon suddenly shone forth. It was ten
o'clock, and here every human sound is hushed, and lamp put
out at that hour. How tenderly the grapes and tall corn-ears
glistened and nodded! and the trees stretched out their
friendly arms, and the scent of every humblest herb was like a
word of love. The waves, also, at that moment put on a silvery
gleam, and looked most soft and regretful. That was a real
voice from nature.'

* * * * *

'_February_, 1842.--I am deeply sad at the loss of little
Waldo, from whom I hoped more than from almost any living
being. I cannot yet reconcile myself to the thought that the
sun shines upon the grave of the beautiful blue-eyed boy, and
I shall see him no more.

'Five years he was an angel to us, and I know not that any
person was ever more the theme of thought to me. As I walk the
streets they swarm with apparently worthless lives, and the
question will rise, why he, why just he, who "bore within
himself the golden future," must be torn away? His father
will meet him again; but to me he seems lost, and yet that is
weakness. I _must_ meet that which he represented, since I

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