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

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so truly loved it. He was the only child I ever saw, that I
sometimes wished I could have called mine.

'I loved him more than any child I ever knew, as he was of
nature more fair and noble. You would be surprised to know how
dear he was to my imagination. I saw him but little, and it
was well; for it is unwise to bind the heart where there is
no claim. But it is all gone, and is another of the lessons
brought by each year, that we are to expect suggestions only,
and not fulfilments, from each form of beauty, and to regard
them merely as Angels of The Beauty.'

* * * * *

'_June, 1842._--Why must children be with perfect people, any
more than people wait to be perfect to be friends? The secret
is,--is it not?--for parents to feel and be willing their
children should know that they are but little older than
themselves: only a class above, and able to give them some
help in learning their lesson. Then parent and child keep
growing together, in the same house. Let them blunder as we
blundered. God is patient for us; why should not we be for
them? Aspiration teaches always, and God leads, by inches. A
perfect being would hurt a child no less than an imperfect.'

* * * * *

'It always makes my annoyances seem light, to be riding about
to visit these fine houses. Not that I am intolerant towards
the rich, but I cannot help feeling at such times how much
characters require the discipline of difficult circumstances.
To say nothing of the need the soul has of a peace and courage
that cannot be disturbed, even as to the intellect, how can
one be sure of not sitting down in the midst of indulgence to
pamper tastes alone, and how easy to cheat one's self with the
fancy that a little easy reading or writing is quite work.
I am safer; I do not sleep on roses. I smile to myself, when
with these friends, at their care of me. I let them do as they
will, for I know it will not last long enough to spoil me.'

* * * * *

'I take great pleasure in talking with Aunt Mary.[B] Her
strong and simple nature checks not, falters not. Her
experience is entirely unlike mine, as, indeed, is that of
most others whom I know. No rapture, no subtle process, no
slow fermentation in the unknown depths, but a rill struck out
from the rock, clear and cool in all its course, the still,
small voice. She says the guide of her life has shown itself
rather as a restraining, than an impelling principle. I like
her life, too, as far as I see it; it is dignified and true.'

* * * * *

'_Cambridge, July_, 1842.--A letter at Providence would have
been like manna in the wilderness. I came into the very midst
of the fuss,[C] and, tedious as it was at the time, I am glad
to have seen it. I shall in future be able to believe real,
what I have read with a dim disbelief of such times and
tendencies. There is, indeed, little good, little cheer, in
what I have seen: a city full of grown-up people as wild, as
mischief-seeking, as full of prejudice, careless slander,
and exaggeration, as a herd of boys in the play-ground of the
worst boarding-school. Women whom I have seen, as the
domestic cat, gentle, graceful, cajoling, suddenly showing
the disposition, if not the force, of the tigress. I thought I
appreciated the monstrous growths of rumor before, but I
never did. The Latin poet, though used to a court, has faintly
described what I saw and heard often, in going the length of
a street. It is astonishing what force, purity and wisdom it
requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods. These
absurdities, of course, are linked with good qualities,
with energy of feeling, and with a love of morality, though
narrowed and vulgarized by the absence of the intelligence
which should enlighten. I had the good discipline of trying
to make allowance for those making none, to be charitable
to their want of charity, and cool without being cold. But
I don't know when I have felt such an aversion to my
environment, and prayed so earnestly day by day,--"O, Eternal!
purge from my inmost heart this hot haste about ephemeral
trifles," and "keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me."

'What a change from the almost vestal quiet of "Aunt Mary's"
life, to all this open-windowed, open-eyed screaming of
"poltroon," "nefarious plan," "entire depravity," &c. &c.'

* * * * *

_'July, 1842. Boston_.--I have been entertaining the girls
here with my old experiences at Groton. They have been very
fresh in my mind this week. Had I but been as wise in such
matters then as now, how easy and fair I might have made the
whole! Too late, too late to live, but not too late to think!
And as that maxim of the wise Oriental teaches, "the Acts of
this life shall be the Fate of the next."'

* * * 'I would have my friends tender of me, not because I am
frail, but because I am capable of strength;--patient, because
they see in me a principle that must, at last, harmonize all
the exuberance of my character. I did not well understand what
you felt, but I am willing to admit that what you said of my
"over-great impetuosity" is just. You will, perhaps, feel it
more and more. It may at times hide my better self. When it
does, speak, I entreat, as harshly as you feel. Let me be
always sure I know the worst I believe you will be thus just,
thus true, for we are both servants of Truth.'

* * * * *

'_August, 1842. Cambridge._--Few have eyes for the pretty
little features of a scene. In this, men are not so good
as boys. Artists are always thus young; poets are; but the
pilgrim does not lay aside his belt of steel, nor the merchant
his pack, to worship the flowers on the fountain's brink. I
feel, like Herbert, the weight of "business to be done," but
the bird-like particle would skim and sing at these sweet
places. It seems strange to leave them; and that we do so,
while so fitted to live deeply in them, shows that beauty is
the end but not the means.

'I have just been reading the new poems of Tennyson. Much has
he thought, much suffered, since the first ecstasy of so fine
an organization clothed all the world with rosy light. He has
not suffered himself to become a mere intellectual voluptuary,
nor the songster of fancy and passion, but has earnestly
revolved the problems of life, and his conclusions are calmly
noble. In these later verses is a still, deep sweetness;
how different from the intoxicating, sensuous melody of his
earlier cadence! I have loved him much this time, and taken
him to heart as a brother. One of his themes has long been
my favorite,--the last expedition of Ulysses,--and his, like
mine, is the Ulysses of the Odyssey, with his deep romance of
wisdom, and not the worldling of the Iliad. How finely marked
his slight description of himself and of Telemachus. In Dora,
Locksley Hall, the Two Voices, Morte D'Arthur, I find my own
life, much of it, written truly out.'

* * * * *

_Concord, August 25. 1842._--Beneath this roof of peace,
beneficence, and intellectual activity, I find just the
alternation of repose and satisfying pleasure that I need. * *

'Do not find fault with the hermits and scholars. The true text

"Mine own Telemachus
He does his work--I mine."

'All do the work, whether they will or no; but he is "mine
own Telemachus" who does it in the spirit of religion, never
believing that the last results can be arrested in any one
measure or set of measures, listening always to the voice of
the Spirit,--and who does this more than ----?

'After the first excitement of intimacy with him,--when I
was made so happy by his high tendency, absolute purity, the
freedom and infinite graces of an intellect cultivated much
beyond any I had known,--came with me the questioning season.
I was greatly disappointed in my relation to him. I was,
indeed, always called on to be worthy,--this benefit was sure
in our friendship. But I found no intelligence of my best
self; far less was it revealed to me in new modes; for not
only did he seem to want the living faith which enables one to
discharge this holiest office of a friend, but he absolutely
distrusted me in every region of my life with which he was
unacquainted. The same trait I detected in his relations
with others. He had faith in the Universal, but not in the
Individual Man: he met men, not as a brother, but as a critic.
Philosophy appeared to chill instead of exalting the poet.

'But now I am better acquainted with him. His "accept"
is true; the "I shall learn," with which he answers every
accusation, is no less true. No one can feel his limitations,
in fact, more than he, though he always speaks confidently
from his present knowledge as all he has yet, and never
qualifies or explains. He feels himself "shut up in a crystal
cell," from which only "a great love or a great task could
release me," and hardly expects either from what remains in
this life. But I already see so well how these limitations
have fitted him for his peculiar work, that I can no longer
quarrel with them; while from his eyes looks out the angel
that must sooner or later break every chain. Leave him in his
cell affirming absolute truth; protesting against humanity,
if so he appears to do; the calm observer of the courses of
things. Surely, "he keeps true to his thought, which is the
great matter." He has already paid his debt to his time; how
much more he will give we cannot know; but already I feel how
invaluable is a cool mind, like his, amid the warring elements
around us. As I look at him more by his own law, I understand
him better; and as I understand him better, differences melt
away. My inmost heart blesses the fate that gave me birth in
the same clime and time, and that has drawn me into such a
close bond with him as, it is my hopeful faith, will never be
broken, but from sphere to sphere ever more hallowed. * * *

'What did you mean by saying I had imbibed much of his way
of thought? I do indeed feel his life stealing gradually into
mine; and I sometimes think that my work would have been more
simple, and my unfolding to a temporal activity more rapid and
easy, if we had never met. But when I look forward to eternal
growth, I am always aware that I am far larger and deeper for
him. His influence has been to me that of lofty assurance and
sweet serenity. He says, I come to him as the European to the
Hindoo, or the gay Trouvere to the Puritan in his steeple hat.
Of course this implies that our meeting is partial. I present
to him the many forms of nature and solicit with music; he
melts them all into spirit and reproves performance with
prayer. When I am with God alone, I adore in silence. With
nature I am filled and grow only. With most men I bring words
of now past life, and do actions suggested by the wants of
their natures rather than my own. But he stops me from doing
anything, and makes me think.'

* * * * *

_October_, 1842 * * To me, individually, Dr. Channing's
kindness was great; his trust and esteem were steady, though
limited, and I owe him a large debt of gratitude.

'His private character was gentle, simple, and perfectly
harmonious, though somewhat rigid and restricted in its
operations. It was easy to love, and a happiness to know him,
though never, I think, a source of the highest social pleasure
to be with him. His department was ethics; and as a literary
companion, he did not throw himself heartily into the works of
creative genius, but looked, wherever he read, for a moral. In
criticism he was deficient in "individuality," if by that
the phrenologists mean the power of seizing on the peculiar
meanings of special forms. I have heard it said, that, under
changed conditions, he might have been a poet. He had, indeed,
the poetic sense of a creative spirit working everywhere. Man
and nature were living to him; and though he did not yield to
sentiment in particulars he did in universals. But his mind
was not recreative, or even representative.

'He was deeply interesting to me as having so true a respect
for woman. This feeling in him was not chivalrous; it was not
the sentiment of an artist; it was not the affectionateness of
the common son of Adam, who knows that only her presence can
mitigate his loneliness; but it was a religious reverence. To
him she was a soul with an immortal destiny. Nor was there at
the bottom of his heart one grain of masculine assumption. He
did not wish that Man should protect her, but that God should
protect her and teach her the meaning of her lot.

'In his public relations he is to be regarded not only as a
check upon the evil tendencies of his era, but yet more as a
prophet of a better age already dawning as he leaves us. In
his later days he filled yet another office of taking the
middle ground between parties. Here he was a fairer figure
than ever before. His morning prayer was, "Give me more light;
keep my soul open to the light;" and it was answered. He
steered his middle course with sails spotless and untorn. He
was preserved in a wonderful degree from the prejudices of his
own past, the passions of the present, and the exaggerations
of those who look forward to the future. In the writings
where, after long and patient survey, he sums up the evidence
on both sides, and stands umpire, with the judicial authority
of a pure intent, a steadfast patience, and a long experience,
the mild wisdom of age is beautifully tempered by the
ingenuous sweetness of youth. These pieces resemble charges
to a jury; they have always been heard with affectionate
deference, if not with assent, and have, exerted a purifying
influence.' * *

* * * * *

'_November, 1842._--When souls meet direct and all secret
thoughts are laid open, we shall need no forbearance, no
prevention, no care-taking of any kind. Love will be pure
light, and each action simple,--too simple to be noble. But
there will not be always so much to pardon in ourselves and
others. Yesterday we had at my class a conversation on Faith.
Deeply true things were said and felt. But to-day the virtue
has gone out of me; I have accepted all, and yet there will
come these hours of weariness,--weariness of human nature
in myself and others. "Could ye not watch one hour?" Not one
faithfully through! * * To speak with open heart and "tongue
affectionate and true,"--to enjoy real repose and the
consciousness of a thorough mutual understanding in the
presence of friends when we do meet, is what is needed. That
being granted, I do believe I should not wish any surrender of
time or thought from a human being. But I have always a sense
that I cannot meet or be met _in haste_; as ---- said he could
not look at the works of art in a chance half-hour, so cannot
I thus rudely and hastily turn over the leaves of any mind. In
peace, in stillness that permits the soul to flow, beneath the
open sky, I would see those I love.'

[Footnote A: This was some years before their reprint in this country,
it should be noticed.]

[Footnote B: Miss Rotch, of New Bedford.]

[Footnote C: The Dorr rebellion.]



* * * * *

In the preceding extracts will have been noticed frequent reference
to the Association Movement, which, during the winter of 1840-41, was
beginning to appear simultaneously at several points in New England.
In Boston and its vicinity several friends, for whose characters
Margaret felt the highest honor, and with many of whose views,
theoretic and practical, she accorded, were earnestly considering
the possibility of making such industrial, social, and educational
arrangements, as would simplify economies, combine leisure for study
with healthful and honest toil, avert unjust collisions of caste,
equalize refinements, awaken generous affections, diffuse courtesy,
and sweeten and sanctify life as a whole. Chief among these was the
Rev. George Ripley, who, convinced by his experience in a faithful
ministry, that the need was urgent for a thorough application of the
professed principles of Fraternity to actual relations, was about
staking his all of fortune, reputation, position, and influence, in
an attempt to organize a joint-stock community at Brook Farm. How
Margaret was inclined to regard this movement has been already
indicated. While at heart sympathizing with the heroism that prompted
it, in judgment she considered it premature. But true to her noble
self, though regretting the seemingly gratuitous sacrifice of her
friends, she gave them without stint the cheer of her encouragement
and the light of her counsel. She visited them often; entering
genially into their trials and pleasures, and missing no chance to
drop good seed in every furrow upturned by the ploughshare or softened
by the rain. In the secluded yet intensely animated circle of these
co-workers I frequently met her during several succeeding years,
and rejoice to bear testimony to the justice, magnanimity, wisdom,
patience, and many-sided good-will, that governed her every thought
and deed. The feelings with which she watched the progress of this
experiment are thus exhibited in her journals:--

'My hopes might lead to Association, too,--an association, if
not of efforts, yet of destinies. In such an one I live with
several already, feeling that each one, by acting out his own,
casts light upon a mutual destiny, and illustrates the thought
of a mastermind. It is a constellation, not a phalanx, to
which I would belong.'

* * * * *

'Why bind oneself to a central or any doctrine? How much
nobler stands a man entirely unpledged, unbound! Association
may be the great experiment of the age, still it is only an
experiment. It is not worth while to lay such stress on it;
let us try it, induce others to try it,--that is enough.'

* * * * *

'It is amusing to see how the solitary characters tend
to outwardness,--to association,--while the social and
sympathetic ones emphasize the value of solitude,--of
concentration,--so that we hear from each the word which, from
his structure, we least expect.'

* * * * *

'On Friday I came to Brook Farm. The first day or two here
is desolate. You seem to belong to nobody--to have a right
to speak to nobody; but very soon you learn to take care of
yourself, and then the freedom of the place is delightful.

'It is fine to see how thoroughly Mr. and Mrs. R. act out, in
their own persons, what they intend.

'All Saturday I was off in the woods. In the evening we had
a general conversation, opened by me, upon Education, in its
largest sense, and on what we can do for ourselves and others.
I took my usual ground: The aim is perfection; patience the
road. The present object is to give ourselves and others a
tolerable chance. Let us not be too ambitious in our hopes
as to immediate results. Our lives should be considered as a
tendency, an approximation only. Parents and teachers
expect to do too much. They are not legislators, but only
interpreters to the next generation. Soon, very soon, does the
parent become merely the elder brother of his child;--a little
wiser, it is to be hoped. ---- differed from me as to some
things I said about the gradations of experience,--that "to
be brought prematurely near perfect beings would chill and
discourage." He thought it would cheer and console. He spoke
well,--with a youthful nobleness. ---- said "that the most
perfect person would be the most impersonal"--philosophical
bull that, I trow--"and, consequently, would impede us least
from God." Mr. R. spoke admirably on the nature of loyalty.
The people showed a good deal of the _sans-culotte_ tendency
in their manners,--throwing themselves on the floor, yawning,
and going out when they had heard enough. Yet, as the majority
differ from me, to begin with,--that being the reason this
subject was chosen,--they showed, on the whole, more respect
and interest than I had expected. As I am accustomed to
deference, however, and need it for the boldness and animation
which my part requires, I did not speak with as much force as
usual. Still, I should like to have to face all this; it would
have the same good effects that the Athenian assemblies had on
the minds obliged to encounter them.

'Sunday. A glorious day;--the woods full of perfume. I was out
all the morning. In the afternoon, Mrs. R. and I had a talk.
I said my position would be too uncertain here, as I could not
work. ---- said:--"They would all like to work for a person of
genius. They would not like to have this service claimed from
them, but would like to render it of their own accord." "Yes,"
I told her; "but where would be my repose, when they were
always to be judging whether I was worth it or not. It would
be the same position the clergyman is in, or the wandering
beggar with his harp. Each day you must prove yourself anew.
You are not in immediate relations with material things."

'We talked of the principles of the community. I said I had
not a right to come, because all the confidence in it I had
was as an _experiment_ worth trying, and that it was a part of
the great wave of inspired thought. ---- declared they none of
them had confidence beyond this; but they seem to me to have.
Then I said, "that though I entirely agreed about the dignity
of labor, and had always wished for the present change, yet
I did not agree with the principle of paying for services by
time;[A] neither did I believe in the hope of excluding evil,
for that was a growth of nature, and one condition of the
development of good." We had valuable discussion on these

'All Monday morning in the woods again. Afternoon, out with
the drawing party; I felt the evils of want of conventional
refinement, in the impudence with which one of the girls
treated me. She has since thought of it with regret, I notice;
and, by every day's observation of me, will see that she ought
not to have done it.'

* * * * *

'In the evening, a husking in the barn. Men, women, and
children, all engaged. It was a most picturesque scene, only
not quite light enough to bring it out fully. I staid and
helped about half an hour, then took a long walk beneath the

* * * * *

'Wednesday. I have been too much absorbed to-day by others,
and it has made me almost sick. Mrs. ---- came to see me,
and we had an excellent talk, which occupied nearly all the
morning. Then Mrs. ---- wanted to see me, but after a few
minutes I found I could not bear it, and lay down to rest.
Then ---- came. Poor man;--his feelings and work are wearing
on him. He looks really ill now. Then ---- and I went to walk
in the woods. I was deeply interested in all she told me. If
I were to write down all she and four other married women have
confided to me, these three days past, it would make a cento,
on one subject, in five parts. Certainly there should be some
great design in my life; its attractions are so invariable.'

* * * * *

'In the evening, a conversation on Impulse. The reason for
choosing this subject is the great tendency here to advocate
spontaneousness, at the expense of reflection. It was a much
better conversation than the one before. None yawned, for
none came, this time, from mere curiosity. There were about
thirty-five present, which is a large enough circle. Many
engaged in the talk. I defended nature, as I always do;--the
spirit ascending through, not superseding, nature. But in the
scale of Sense, Intellect, Spirit, I advocated to-night
the claims of Intellect, because those present were rather
disposed to postpone them. On the nature of Beauty we had
good talk. ---- spoke well. She seemed in a much more reverent
humor than the other night, and enjoyed the large plans of the
universe which were unrolled. ----, seated on the floor, with
the light falling from behind on his long gold locks, made,
with sweet, serene aspect, and composed tones, a good expose
of his way of viewing things.'

* * * * *

'Saturday. Well, good-by, Brook Farm. I know more about this
place than I did when I came; but the only way to be qualified
for a judge of such an experiment would be to become an
active, though unimpassioned, associate in trying it. Some
good things are proven, and as for individuals, they are
gainers. Has not ---- vied, in her deeds of love, with "my
Cid," and the holy Ottilia? That girl who was so rude to me
stood waiting, with a timid air, to bid me good-by. Truly, the
soft answer turneth away wrath.

'I have found myself here in the amusing position of a
conservative. Even so is it with Mr. R. There are too many
young people in proportion to the others. I heard myself
saying, with a grave air, "Play out the play, gentles." Thus,
from generation to generation, rises and falls the wave.'

Again, a year afterward, she writes:--

'Here I have passed a very pleasant week. The tone of the
society is much sweeter than when I was here a year ago. There
is a pervading spirit of mutual tolerance and gentleness, with
great sincerity. There is no longer a passion for grotesque
freaks of liberty, but a disposition, rather, to study and
enjoy the liberty of law. The great development of mind and
character observable in several instances, persuades me
that this state of things affords a fine studio for the
soul-sculptor. To a casual observer it may seem as if there
was not enough of character here to interest, because there
are no figures sufficiently distinguished to be worth painting
for the crowd; but there is enough of individuality in free
play to yield instruction; and one might have, from a few
months' residence here, enough of the human drama to feed
thought for a long time.'

Thus much for Margaret's impressions of Brook Farm and its inmates.
What influence she in turn exerted on those she met there, may be seen
from the following affectionate tribute, offered by one of the young
girls alluded to in the journal:--

"Would that I might aid even slightly, in doing justice to the
noble-hearted woman whose departure we must all mourn. But I feel
myself wholly powerless to do so; and after I explain what my
relation to her was, you will understand how this can be, without
holding me indolent or unsympathetic.

"When I first met Miss Fuller, I had already cut from my moorings,
and was sailing on the broad sea of experience, conscious that I
possessed unusual powers of endurance, and that I should meet with
sufficient to test their strength. She made no offer of guidance,
and once or twice, in the succeeding year, alluded to the fact
that she 'had never helped me.' This was in a particular sense, of
course, for she helped all who knew her. She was interested in my
rough history, but could not be intimate, in any just sense, with
a soul so unbalanced, so inharmonious as mine then was. For my
part, I reverenced her. She was to me the embodiment of wisdom and
tenderness. I heard her converse, and, in the rich and varied
intonations of her voice, I recognized a being to whom every shade
of sentiment was familiar. She knew, if not by experience then by
no questionable intuition, how to interpret the inner life of
every man and woman; and, by interpreting, she could soothe and
strengthen. To her, psychology was an open book. When she came to
Brook Farm, it was my delight to wait on one so worthy of all
service,--to arrange her late breakfast in some remnants of
ancient China, and to save her, if it might be, some little
fatigue or annoyance, during each day. After a while she seemed to
lose sight of my more prominent and disagreeable peculiarities,
and treated me with affectionate regard."

Being a confirmed Socialist, I often had occasion to discuss with
Margaret the problems involved in the "Combined Order" of life; and
though unmoved by her scepticism, I could not but admire the sagacity,
foresight, comprehensiveness, and catholic sympathy with which she
surveyed this complicated subject. Her objections, to be sure, were of
the usual kind, and turned mainly upon two points,--the difficulty of
so allying labor and capital as to secure the hoped-for cooeperation,
and the danger of merging the individual in the mass to such degree
as to paralyze energy, heroism, and genius; but these objections were
urged in a way that brought out her originality and generous hopes.
There was nothing abject, timid, or conventional in her doubts. The
end sought she prized; but the means she questioned. Though pleased
in listening to sanguine visions of the future, she was slow to credit
that an organization by "Groups and Series" would yield due incentive
for personal development, while ensuring equilibrium through exact and
universal justice. She felt, too, that Society was not a machine to be
put together and set in motion, but a living body, whose breath must
be Divine inspiration, and whose healthful growth is only hindered
by forcing. Finally, while longing as earnestly as any Socialist for
"Liberty and Law made one in living union," and assured in faith that
an era was coming of "Attractive Industry" and "Harmony," she
was still for herself inclined to seek sovereign independence in
comparative isolation. Indeed, at this period, Margaret was in spirit
and in thought preeminently a Transcendentalist.

[Footnote A: This was a transitional arrangement only.]



* * * * *

In regard to Transcendentalism again, there was reason to rejoice
in having found a friend, so firm to keep her own ground, while so
liberal to comprehend another's stand-point, as was Margaret. She
knew, not only theoretically, but practically, how endless are the
diversities of human character and of Divine discipline, and she
reverenced fellow-spirits too sincerely ever to wish to warp them to
her will, or to repress their normal development. She was stern but
in one claim, that each should be faithful to apparent leadings of the
Truth; and could avow widest differences of conviction without feeling
that love was thereby chilled, or the hand withheld from cordial
aid. Especially did she render service by enabling one,--through her
blended insight, candor, and clearness of understanding,--to see in
bright reflection his own mental state.

It would be doing injustice to a person like Margaret, always more
enthusiastic than philosophical, to attribute to her anything like a
system of theology; for, hopeful, reverent, aspiring, and free from
scepticism, she felt too profoundly the vastness of the universe and
of destiny ever to presume that with her span rule she could measure
the Infinite. Yet the tendency of her thoughts can readily be traced
in the following passages from note-books and letters:--

'When others say to me, and not without apparent ground, that
"the Outward Church is a folly which keeps men from enjoying
the communion of the Church Invisible, and that in the desire
to be helped by, and to help others, men lose sight of the
only sufficient help, which they might find by faithful
solitary intentness of spirit," I answer it is true, and the
present deadness and emptiness summon us to turn our thoughts
in that direction. Being now without any positive form of
religion, any unattractive symbols, or mysterious rites, we
are in the less danger of stopping at surfaces, of accepting
a mediator instead of the Father, a sacrament instead of the
Holy Ghost. And when I see how little there is to impede
and bewilder us, I cannot but accept,--should it be for many
years,--the forlornness, the want of fit expression, the
darkness as to what is to be expressed, even that characterize
our time.

'But I do not, therefore, as some of our friends do, believe
that it will always be so, and that the church is tottering to
its grave, never to rise again. The church was the growth of
human nature, and it is so still. It is but one result of the
impulse which makes two friends clasp one another's hands,
look into one another's eyes at sight of beauty, or the
utterance of a feeling of piety. So soon as the Spirit has
mourned and sought, and waited long enough to open new depths,
and has found something to express, there will again be
a Cultus, a Church. The very people, who say that none is
needed, make one at once. They talk with, they write to one
another. They listen to music, they sustain themselves with
the poets; they like that one voice should tell the thoughts
of several minds, one gesture proclaim that the same life is
at the same moment in many breasts.

'I am myself most happy in my lonely Sundays, and do not feel
the need of any social worship, as I have not for several
years, which I have passed in the same way. Sunday is to me
priceless as a day of peace and solitary reflection. To all
who will, it may be true, that, as Herbert says:--

"Sundays the pillars are
On which Heaven's palace arched lies;
The other days fill up the space
And hollow room with vanities;"

and yet in no wise "vanities," when filtered by the Sunday
crucible. After much troubling of the waters of my life, a
radiant thought of the meaning and beauty of earthly existence
will descend like a healing angel. The stillness permits me
to hear a pure tone from the One in All. But often I am not
alone. The many now, whose hearts, panting for truth and
love, have been made known to me, whose lives flow in the same
direction as mine, and are enlightened by the same star, are
with me. I am in church, the church invisible, undefiled by
inadequate expression. Our communion is perfect; it is that
of a common aspiration; and where two or three are gathered
together in one region, whether in the flesh or the spirit,
He will grant their request. Other communion would be a
happiness,--to break together the bread of mutual thought, to
drink the wine of loving life,--but it is not necessary.

'Yet I cannot but feel that the crowd of men whose pursuits
are not intellectual, who are not brought by their daily walk
into converse with sages and poets, who win their bread from
an earth whose mysteries are not open to them, whose worldly
intercourse is more likely to stifle than to encourage the
sparks of love and faith in their breasts, need on that
day quickening more than repose. The church is now rather a
lecture-room than a place of worship; it should be a school
for mutual instruction. I must rejoice when any one, who lays
spiritual things to heart, feels the call rather to mingle
with men, than to retire and seek by himself.

'You speak of men going up to worship by "households," &c.
Were the actual family the intellectual family, this might be;
but as social life now is, how can it? Do we not constantly
see the child, born in the flesh to one father, choose in the
spirit another? No doubt this is wrong, since the sign does
not stand for the thing signified, but it is one feature of
the time. How will it end? Can families worship together till
it does end?

* * * * *

'I have let myself be cheated out of my Sunday, by going to
hear Mr. ----. As he began by reading the first chapter
of Isaiah, and the fourth of John's Epistle, I made mental
comments with pure delight. "Bring no more vain oblations."
"Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." "We
know that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because he hath
given us of the Spirit." Then pealed the organ, full of
solemn assurance. But straightway uprose the preacher to deny
mysteries, to deny the second birth, to deny influx, and to
renounce the sovereign gift of insight, for the sake of what
he deemed a "_rational_" exercise of will. As he spoke I could
not choose but deny him all through, and could scarce refrain
from rising to expound, in the light of my own faith, the
words of those wiser Jews which had been read. Was it not a
sin to exchange friendly greeting as we parted, and yet tell
him no word of what was in my mind?

'Still I saw why he looked at things as he did. The old
religionists did talk about "grace, conversion," and the like,
technically, without striving to enter into the idea, till
they quite lost sight of it. Undervaluing the intellect, they
became slaves of a sect, instead of organs of the Spirit. This
Unitarianism has had its place. There was a time for asserting
"the dignity of human nature," and for explaining total
depravity into temporary inadequacy,--a time to say that the
truths of _essence_, if simplified at all in statement from
their infinite variety of existence, should be spoken of as
One, rather than Three, though that number, if they would only
let it reproduce itself simply, is of highest significance.
Yet the time seems now to have come for reinterpreting the old
dogmas. For one I would now preach the Holy Ghost as zealously
as they have been preaching Man, and faith instead of the
understanding, and mysticism instead &c. But why go on? It
certainly is by no means useless to preach. In my experience
of the divine gifts of solitude, I had forgotten what might
be done in this other way. That crowd of upturned faces,
with their look of unintelligent complacency! Give tears and
groans, rather, if there be a mixture of physical excitement
and bigotry. Mr. ---- is heard because, though he has not
entered into the secret of piety, he wishes to be heard,
and with a good purpose,--can make a forcible statement, and
kindle himself with his own thoughts. How many persons must
there be who cannot worship alone, since they are content with
so little! Can none wake the spark that will melt them, till
they take beautiful forms? Were one to come now, who could
purge us with fire, how would these masses glow and be

'Mr. ---- made a good suggestion:--"Such things could not be
said in the open air." Let men preach for the open air, and
speak now thunder and lightning, now dew and rustling leaves.
Yet must the preacher have the thought of his day before he
can be its voice. None have it yet; but some of our friends,
perhaps, are nearer than the religious world at large, because
neither ready to dogmatize, as if they had got it, nor content
to stop short with mere impressions and presumptuous hopes. I
feel that a great truth is coming. Sometimes it seems as if
we should have it among us in a day. Many steps of the Temple
have been ascended, steps of purest alabaster, and of shining
jasper, also of rough-brick, and slippery moss-grown stone. We
shall reach what we long for, since we trust and do not fear,
for our God knows not fear, only reverence, and his plan is
All in All.'

* * * * *

'Who can expect to utter an absolutely pure and clear tone on
these high subjects? Our earthly atmosphere is too gross to
permit it. Yet, a severe statement has rather an undue charm
for me, as I have a nature of great emotion, which loves free
abandonment. I am ready to welcome a descending Moses, come
to turn all men from idolatries. For my priests have been very
generally of the Pagan greatness, revering nature and seeking
excellence, but in the path of progress, not of renunciation.
The lyric inspirations of the poet come very differently on
the ear from the "still, small voice." They are, in fact, all
one revelation; but one must be at the centre to interpret it.
To that centre I have again and again been drawn, but my large
natural life has been, as yet, but partially transfused with
spiritual consciousness. I shun a premature narrowness, and
bide my time. But I am drawn to look at natures who take a
different way, because they seem to complete my being for me.
They, too, tolerate me in my many phases for the same reason,
probably. It pleased me to see, in one of the figures by which
the Gnostics illustrated the progress of man, that Severity
corresponded to Magnificence.'

* * * * *

'In my quiet retreat, I read Xenophon, and became more
acquainted with his Socrates. I had before known only
the Socrates of Plato, one much more to my mind. Socrates
conformed to the Greek Church, and it is evident with a
sincere reverence, because it was the growth of the _national_
mind. He thought best to stand on its platform, and to
illustrate, though with keen truth, by received forms. This
was his right way, as his influence was naturally private, for
individuals who could in some degree respond to the teachings
of his daemon; he knew the multitude would not understand him.
But it was the other way that Jesus took, preaching in the
fields, and plucking ears of corn on the Sabbath.'

* * * * *

'Is it my defect of spiritual experience, that while that
weight of sagacity, which is the iron to the dart of genius,
is needful to satisfy me, the undertone of another and a
deeper knowledge does not please, does not command me? Even in
Handel's Messiah, I am half incredulous, half impatient,
when the sadness of the second part comes to check, before
it interprets, the promise of the first; and the strain, "Was
ever sorrow like to his sorrow," is not for me, as I have
been, as I am. Yet Handel was worthy to speak of Christ. The
great chorus, "Since by man came death, by man came also the
resurrection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, even so in
Christ shall all be made alive," if understood in the
large sense of every man his own Saviour, and Jesus only
representative of the way all must walk to accomplish our
destiny, is indeed a worthy gospel.'

* * * * *

'Ever since ---- told me how his feelings had changed towards
Jesus, I have wished much to write some sort of a Credo, out
of my present state, but have had no time till last night. I
have not satisfied myself in the least, and have written
very hastily, yet, though not full enough to be true, this
statement is nowhere false to me.

* * * 'Whatever has been permitted by the law of being, must
be for good, and only in time not good. We trust, and are led
forward by experience. Light gives experience of outward life,
faith of inward life, and then we discern, however faintly,
the necessary harmony of the two. The moment we have broken
through an obstruction, not accidentally, but by the aid of
faith, we begin to interpret the Universe, and to apprehend
why evil is permitted. Evil is obstruction; Good is

'It would seem that the Divine Being designs through man
to express distinctly what the other forms of nature only
intimate, and that wherever man remains imbedded in nature,
whether from sensuality, or because he is not yet awakened to
consciousness, the purpose of the whole remains unfulfilled.
Hence our displeasure when Man is not in a sense above
Nature. Yet, when he is not so closely bound with all other
manifestations, as duly to express their Spirit, we are also
displeased. He must be at once the highest form of Nature, and
conscious of the meaning she has been striving successively to
unfold through those below him. Centuries pass; whole races
of men are expended in the effort to produce one that shall
realize this Ideal, and publish Spirit in the human form. Here
and there is a degree of success. Life enough is lived through
a man, to justify the great difficulties attendant on the
existence of mankind. And then throughout all realms of
thought vibrates the affirmation, "This is my beloved Son, in
whom I am well pleased."

'I do not mean to lay an undue stress upon the position and
office of man merely because I am of his race, and understand
best the scope of his destiny. The history of the earth, the
motions of the heavenly bodies, suggest already modes of being
higher than ours, and which fulfil more deeply the office of
interpretation. But I do suppose man's life to be the rivet in
one series of the great chain, and that all higher existences
are analogous to his. Music suggests their mode of being, and,
when carried up on its strong wings, we foresee how the
next step in the soul's ascension shall interpret man to the
universe, as he now interprets those forms beneath himself. * *

'The law of Spirit is identical, whether displaying itself as
genius, or as piety, but its modes of expression are distinct
dialects. All souls desire to become the fathers of souls, as
citizens, legislators, poets, artists, sages, saints; and,
so far as they are true to the law of their incorruptible
essence, they are all Anointed, all Emanuel, all Messiah; but
they are all brutes and devils so far as subjected to the law
of corruptible existence.

'As wherever there is a tendency a form is gradually evolved,
as its Type,--so is it the law of each class and order of
human thoughts to produce a form which shall be the visible
representation of its aim and strivings, and stand before it
as its King. This effort to produce a kingly type it was, that
clothed itself with power as Brahma or Osiris, that gave laws
as Confucius or Moses, that embodied music and eloquence in
the Apollo. This it was that incarnated itself, at one time as
Plato, at another as Michel Angelo, at another as Luther, &c.
Ever seeking, it has produced Ideal after Ideal of the beauty,
into which mankind is capable of being developed; and one
of the highest, in some respects the very highest, of these
kingly types, was the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

'Few believe more in his history than myself, and it is very
dear to me. I believe, in my own way, in the long preparation
of ages for his coming, and the truth of prophecy that
announced him. I see a necessity, in the character of Jesus,
why Abraham should have been the founder of his nation, Moses
its lawgiver, and David its king and poet. I believe in the
genesis of the patriarchs, as given in the Old Testament. I
believe in the prophets,--that they foreknew not only what
their nation longed for, but what the development of universal
Man requires,--a Redeemer, an Atoner, a Lamb of God, taking
away the sins of the world. I believe that Jesus came when the
time was ripe, and that he was peculiarly a messenger and Son
of God. I have nothing to say in denial of the story of his
birth; whatever the actual circumstances were, he was born of
a Virgin, and the tale expresses a truth of the soul. I have
no objection to the miracles, except where they do not
happen to please one's feelings. Why should not a spirit,
so consecrate and intent, develop new laws, and make matter
plastic? I can imagine him walking the waves, without any
violation of my usual habits of thought. He could not remain
in the tomb, they say; certainly not,--death is impossible to
such a being. He remained upon earth; most true, and all who
have met him since on the way, have felt their hearts burn
within them. He ascended to heaven; surely, how could it be

'Would I could express with some depth what I feel as to
religion in my very soul; it would be a clear note of calm
assurance. But for the present this must suffice with regard
to Christ. I am grateful here, as everywhere, when Spirit
bears fruit in fulness; it attests the justice of aspiration,
it kindles faith, it rebukes sloth, it enlightens resolve.
But so does a beautiful infant. Christ's life is only one
modification of the universal harmony. I will not loathe
sects, persuasions, systems, though I cannot abide in them one
moment, for I see that by most men they are still needed. To
them their banners, their tents; let them be Fire-worshippers,
Platonists, Christians; let them live in the shadow of past
revelations. But, oh, Father of our souls, the One, let me
seek Thee! I would seek Thee in these forms, and in proportion
as they reveal Thee, they teach me to go beyond themselves.
I would learn from them all, looking only to Thee! But let me
set no limits from the past, to my own soul, or to any soul.

'Ages may not produce one worthy to loose the shoes of
the Prophet of Nazareth; yet there will surely be another
manifestation of that Word which was in the beginning. And all
future manifestations will come, like Christianity, "not to
destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil." The very
greatness of this manifestation demands a greater. As an
Abraham called for a Moses, and a Moses for a David, so does
Christ for another Ideal. We want a life more complete and
various than that of Christ. We have had a Messiah to teach
and reconcile; let us now have a Man to live out all the
symbolical forms of human life, with the calm beauty of a
Greek God, with the deep consciousness of a Moses, with the
holy love and purity of Jesus.'



* * * * *

To one studying the signs of the times, it was quite instructive to
watch the moods of a mind so sensitive as Margaret's; for her delicate
meter indicated in advance each coming change in the air-currents of
thought. But I was chiefly interested in the processes whereby she was
gaining harmony and unity. The more one studied her, the more plainly
he saw that her peculiar power was the result of fresh, fervent,
exhaustless, and indomitable affections. The emotive force in her,
indeed, was immense in volume, and most various in tendency; and it
was wonderful to observe the outward equability of one inwardly so

This was, in fact, the first problem to be solved in gaining
real knowledge of her commanding character: "How did a person,
by constitution so impetuous, become so habitually serene?"
In temperament Margaret seemed a Bacchante,[A] prompt for wild
excitement, and fearless to tread by night the mountain forest, with
song and dance of delirious mirth; yet constantly she wore the laurel
in token of purification, and, with water from fresh fountains,
cleansed the statue of Minerva. Stagnancy and torpor were intolerable
to her free and elastic impulses; a brilliant fancy threw over each
place and incident Arcadian splendor; and eager desire, with energetic
purposes, filled her with the consciousness of large latent life:
and yet the lower instincts were duly subordinated to the higher, and
dignified self-control ordered her deportment. Somehow, according to
the doctrine of the wise Jacob Boehme, the fierce, hungry fire had
met in embrace the meek, cool water, and was bringing to birth
the pleasant light-flame of love. The transformation, though not
perfected, was fairly begun.

Partly I could see how this change had been wrought. Ill health, pain,
disappointment, care, had tamed her spirits. A wide range through
the romantic literature of ancient and modern times had exalted
while expending her passions. In the world of imagination, she had
discharged the stormful energy which would have been destructive in
actual life. And in thought she had bound herself to the mast while
sailing past the Sirens. Through sympathy, also, from childhood, with
the tragi-comedy of many lives around her, she had gained experience
of the laws and limitations of providential order. Gradually, too, she
had risen to higher planes of hope, whence opened wider prospects of
destiny and duty. More than all, by that attraction of opposites
which a strong will is most apt to feel, she had sought, as chosen
companions, persons of scrupulous reserve, of modest coolness,
and severe elevation of view. Finally, she had been taught, by a
discipline specially fitted to her dispositions, to trust the leadings
of the Divine Spirit. The result was, that at this period Margaret had
become a Mystic. Her prisoned emotions found the freedom they pined
for in contemplation of nature's exquisite harmonies,--in poetic
regards of the glory that enspheres human existence, when seen as a
whole from beyond the clouds,--and above all in exultant consciousness
of life ever influent from the All-Living.

A few passages from, her papers will best illustrate this proneness to

'My tendency is, I presume, rather to a great natural than
to a deep religious life. But though others may be more
conscientious and delicate, few have so steady a faith in
Divine Love. I may be arrogant and impetuous, but I am never
harsh and morbid. May there not be a mediation, rather than a
conflict, between piety and genius? Greek and Jew, Italian and
Saxon, are surely but leaves on one stern, at last.'

* * * * *

'I am in danger of giving myself up to experiences till
they so steep me in ideal passion that the desired goal is
forgotten in the rich present. Yet I think I am learning how
to use life more wisely.'

* * * * *

'Forgive me, beautiful ones, who earlier learned the harmony
of your beings,--with whom eye, voice, and hand are already
true to the soul! Forgive me still some "lispings and
stammerings of the passionate age." Teach me,--me, also,--to
utter my paean in its full sweetness. These long lines are
radii from one centre; aid me to fill the circumference. Then
each moment, each act, shall be true. The pupil has found the
carbuncle,[B] but knows not yet how to use it day by day. But
"though his companions wondered at the pupil, the master loved
him." He loves me, my friends. Do ye trust me. Wash the tears
and black stains from the records of my life by the benignity
of a true glance; make each discord harmony, by striking
again the key-note; forget the imperfect interviews, burn the
imperfect letters, till at last the full song bursts forth,
the key-stone is given from heaven to the arch, the past is
all pardoned and atoned for, and we live forever in the Now.'
* *

* * * * *

'Henceforth I hope I shall not write letters thus full of
childish feeling; for in feeling I am indeed a child, and the
least of children. Soon I must return into the Intellect, for
_there_ in sight, at least, I am a man, and could write the
words very calmly and in steadfast flow. But, lately, the
intellect has been so subordinated to the soul, that I am
not free to enter the Basilikon, and plead and hear till I am
called. But let me not stay too long in this Sicilian valley,
gathering my flowers, for "night cometh."'

* * * * *

'The other evening, while hearing the Creation, in the music
of "There shoots the healing plant," I felt what I would ever
feel for suffering souls. Somewhere in nature is the Moly, the
Nepenthe, desired from the earliest ages of mankind. No wonder
the music dwelt so exultingly on the passage:--

"In native worth and honor clad."

Yes; even so would I ever see man. I will wait, and never
despair, through all the dull years.'

* * * * *

'I am "too fiery." Even so. Ceres put her foster child in the
fire because she loved him. If they thought so before, will
they not far more now? Yet I wish to be seen as I am, and
would lose all rather than soften away anything. Let my
friends be patient and gentle, and teach me to be so. I never
promised any one patience or gentleness, for those beautiful
traits are not natural to me; but I would learn them. Can I

* * * * *

'Of all the books, and men, and women, that have touched me
these weeks past, what has most entered my soul is the music
I have heard,--the masterly expression from that violin; the
triumph of the orchestra, after the exploits on the piano;
Braham, in his best efforts, when he kept true to the dignity
of art; the Messiah, which has been given on two successive
Sundays, and the last time in a way that deeply expressed its
divine life; but above all, Beethoven's seventh symphony. What
majesty! what depth! what tearful sweetness! what victory!
This was truly a fire upon an altar. There are a succession
of soaring passages, near the end of the third movement, which
touch me most deeply. Though soaring, they hold on with a
stress which almost breaks the chains of matter to the hearer.
O, how refreshing, after polemics and philosophy, to soar thus
on strong wings! Yes, Father, I will wander in dark ways with
the crowd, since thou seest best for me to be tied down.
But only in thy free ether do I know myself. When I read
Beethoven's life, I said, "I will never repine." When I heard
this symphony, I said, "I will triumph."

* * * * *

'To-day I have finished the life of Raphael, by Quatremere de
Quincy, which has so long engaged me. It scarce goes deeper
than a _catalogue raisonnee_, but is very complete in its way.
I could make all that splendid era alive to me, and inhale the
full flower of the Sanzio. Easily one soars to worship these
angels of Genius. To venerate the Saints you must well nigh be

'I went out upon the lonely rock which commands so delicious
a panoramic view. A very mild breeze had sprung up after the
extreme heat. A sunset of the melting kind was succeeded by a
perfectly clear moon-rise. Here I sat, and thought of Raphael.
I was drawn high up in the heaven of beauty, and the mists
were dried from the white plumes of contemplation.'#/

'Only by emotion do we know thee, Nature. To lean upon thy
heart, and feel its pulses vibrate to our own;--that is
knowledge, for that is love, the love of infinite beauty, of
infinite love. Thought will never make us be born again.

'My fault is that I think I feel _too much_. O that my friends
would teach me that "simple art of not too much!" How can I
expect them to bear the ceaseless eloquence of my nature?'

* * * * *

'Often it has seemed that I have come near enough to the
limits to see what they are. But suddenly arises afar the Fata
Morgana, and tells of new Sicilies, of their flowery valleys
and fields of golden grain. Then, as I would draw near, my
little bark is shattered on the rock, and I am left on the
cold wave. Yet with my island in sight I do not sink.'

* * * * *

'I look not fairly to myself, at the present moment. If noble
growths are always slow, others may ripen far worthier fruit
than is permitted to my tropical heats and tornadoes. Let me
clasp the cross on my breast, as I have done a thousand times

'Let me but gather from the earth one full-grown fragrant flower;
Within my bosom let it bloom through, its one blooming hour;
Within my bosom let it die, and to its latest breath
My own shall answer, "Having lived, I shrink not now from death."
It is this niggard halfness that turns my heart to stone;
'T is the cup seen, not tasted, that makes the infant moan.
For once let me press firm my lips upon the moment's brow,
For once let me distinctly feel I am all happy now,
And bliss shall seal a blessing upon that moment's brow.'

'I was in a state of celestial happiness, which lasted a great
while. For months I was all radiant with faith, and love,
and life. I began to be myself. Night and day were equally
beautiful, and the lowest and highest equally holy. Before, it
had seemed as if the Divine only gleamed upon me; but then it
poured into and through me a tide of light. I have passed down
from the rosy mountain, now; but I do not forget its pure air,
nor how the storms looked as they rolled beneath my feet. I
have received my assurance, and if the shadows should lie upon
me for a century, they could never make me forgetful of the
true hour. Patiently I bide my time.'

The last passage describes a peculiar illumination, to which Margaret
often referred as the period when her earthly being culminated, and
when, in the noon-tide of loving enthusiasm, she felt wholly at one
with God, with Man, and the Universe. It was ever after, to her,
an earnest that she was of the Elect. In a letter to one of her
confidential female friends, she thus fondly looks back to this
experience on the mount of transfiguration:--

'You know how, when the leadings of my life found their
interpretation, I longed to share my joy with those I prized
most; for I felt that if they could but understand the past we
should meet entirely. They received me, some more, some less,
according to the degree of intimacy between our natures. But
now I have done with the past, and again move forward. The
path looks more difficult, but I am better able to bear its
trials. We shall have much communion, even if not in the
deepest places. I feel no need of isolation, but only of
temperance in thought and speech, that the essence may not
evaporate in words, but grow plenteous within. The Life will
give me to my own. I am not yet so worthy to love as some
others are, because my manifold nature is not yet harmonized
enough to be faithful, and I begin, to see how much it was the
want of a pure music in me that has made the good doubt me.
Yet have I been true to the best light I had, and if I am so
now much will be given.

'During my last weeks of solitude I was very happy, and all
that had troubled me became clearer. The angel was not weary
of waiting for Gunhilde, till she had unravelled her mesh of
thought, and seeds of mercy, of purification, were planted
in the breast. Whatever the past has been, I feel that I have
always been reading on and on, and that the Soul of all souls
has been patient in love to mine. New assurances were given
me, that if I would be faithful and humble, there was no
experience that would not tell its heavenly errand. If
shadows have fallen, already they give way to a fairer if more
tempered light; and for the present I am so happy that the
spirit kneels.

'Life, is richly worth living, with its continual revelations
of mighty woe, yet infinite hope: and I take it to my breast.
Amid these scenes of beauty, all that is little, foreign,
unworthy, vanishes like a dream. So shall it be some time
amidst the Everlasting Beauty, when true joy shall begin and
never cease.'

Filled thus as Margaret was with ecstasy, she was yet more than
willing,--even glad,--to bear her share in the universal sorrow. Well
she knew that pain must be proportioned to the fineness and fervor of
her organization; that the very keenness of her sensibility exposed
her to constant disappointment or disgust; that no friend, however
faithful, could meet the demands of desires so eager, of sympathies
so absorbing. Contrasted with her radiant visions, how dreary looked
actual existence; how galling was the friction of petty hindrances;
how heavy the yoke of drudging care! Even success seemed failure,
when measured by her conscious aim; and experience had brought out to
consciousness excesses and defects, which humbled pride while shaming
self-confidence. But suffering as she did with all the intensity of so
passionate a nature, Margaret still welcomed the searching discipline.
'It is only when Persephone returns from lower earth that she weds
Dyonysos, and passes from central sadness into glowing joy,' she
writes. And again: 'I have no belief in beautiful lives; we are born
to be mutilated; and the blood must flow till in every vein its place
is supplied by the Divine ichor.' And she reiterates: 'The method of
Providence with me is evidently that of "cross-biassing," as Herbert
hath it. In a word, to her own conscience and to intimate friends she
avowed, without reserve, that there was in her 'much rude matter that
needed to be spiritualized.' Comment would but weaken the pathos of
the following passages, in which so plainly appears a once wilful
temper striving, with child-like faith, to obey:--

'I have been a chosen one; the lesson of renunciation was
early, fully taught, and the heart of stone quite broken
through. The Great Spirit wished to leave me no refuge but
itself. Convictions have been given, enough to guide me many
years if I am steadfast. How deeply, how gratefully I feel
this blessing, as the fabric of others' hopes are shivering
round me. Peace will not always flow thus softly in my life;
but, O, our Father! how many hours has He consecrated to
Himself. How often has the Spirit chosen the time, when no ray
came from without, to descend upon the orphan life!'

* * * * *

'A humbler, tenderer spirit! Yes, I long for it. But how to
gain it? I see no way but prayerfully to bend myself to meet
the hour. Let friends be patient with me, and pardon some
faint-heartedness. The buds will shiver in the cold air when
the sheaths drop. It will not be so long. The word "Patience"
has been spoken; it shall be my talisman. A nobler courage
will be given, with gentleness and humility. My conviction is
clear that all my troubles are needed, and that one who has
had so much light thrown upon the path, has no excuse for
faltering steps.'

* * * * *

'Could we command enthusiasm; had we an interest with the gods
which would light up those sacred fires at will, we should be
even seraphic in our influences. But life, if not a complete
waste of wearisome hours, must be checkered with them; and I
find that just those very times, when I feel all glowing and
radiant in the happiness of receiving and giving out again the
divine fluid, are preludes to hours of languor, weariness, and
paltry doubt, born of---

"The secret soul's mistrust
To find her fair ethereal wings
Weighed down by vile, degraded dust."

'To this, all who have chosen or been chosen to a life of
thought must submit. Yet I rejoice in my heritage. Should I
venture to complain? Perhaps, if I were to reckon up the hours
of bodily pain, those passed in society with which I could
not coalesce, those of ineffectual endeavor to penetrate the
secrets of nature and of art, or, worse still, to reproduce
the beautiful in some way for myself, I should find they
far outnumbered those of delightful sensation, of full and
soothing thought, of gratified tastes and affections, and of
proud hope. Yet these last, if few, how lovely, how rich in
presage! None, who have known them, can in their worst estate
fail to hope that they may be again upborne to higher, purer

* * * * *

'As I was steeped in the divine tenth book of the Republic,
came ----'s letter, in which he so insultingly retracts his
engagements. I finished the book obstinately, but could get
little good of it; then went to ask comfort of the descending
sun in the woods and fields. What a comment it was on the
disparity between my pursuits and my situation to receive
such a letter while reading that book! However, I will not let
life's mean perplexities blur from my eye the page of Plato;
nor, if natural tears must be dropt, murmur at a lot, which,
with all its bitterness, has given time and opportunity to
cherish an even passionate love for Truth and Beauty.'

* * * * *

'Black Friday it has been, and my heart is well nigh wearied
out. Shall I never be able to act and live with persons of
views high as my own? or, at least, with some steadiness of
feeling for me to calculate upon? Ah, me! what woes within and
without; what assaults of folly; what mean distresses; and,
oh, what wounds from cherished hands! Were ye the persons who
should stab thus? Had I, too, the Roman right to fold my
robe about me decently, and breathe the last sigh! The last!
Horrible, indeed, should sobs, deep as these, be drawn to all
eternity. But no; life could not hold out for more than one
lease of sorrow. This anguish, however, will be wearied out,
as I know by experience, alas! of how many such hours.'

* * * * *

'I am reminded to-day of the autumn hours at Jamaica Plain,
where, after arranging everything for others that they wanted
of me, I found myself, at last, alone in my still home, where
everything, for once, reflected my feelings. It was so still,
the air seemed full of spirits. How happy I was! with what
sweet and solemn happiness! All things had tended to a crisis
in me, and I was in a higher state, mentally and spiritually,
than I ever was before or shall be again, till death shall
introduce me to a new sphere. I purposed to spend the winter
in study and self-collection, and to write constantly. I
thought I should thus be induced to embody in beautiful
forms all that lay in my mind, and that life would ripen into
genius. But a very little while these fair hopes bloomed; and,
since I was checked then, I do never expect to blossom forth
on earth, and all postponements come naturally. At that time
it seemed as if angels left me. Yet, now, I think they still
are near. Renunciation appears to be entire, and I quite
content; yet, probably, 't is no such thing, and that work is
to be done over and over again.'

* * * * *

'Do you believe our prayers avail for one another? and that
happiness is good for the soul? Pray, then, for me, that I may
have a little peace,--some green and flowery spot, 'mid which
my thoughts may rest; yet not upon fallacy, but only upon
something genuine. I am deeply homesick, yet where is that
home? If not on earth, why should we look to heaven? I would
fain truly live wherever I must abide, and bear with full
energy on my lot, whatever it is. He, who alone knoweth,
will affirm that. I have tried to work whole-hearted from an
earnest faith. Yet my hand is often languid, and my heart is
slow. I would be gone; but whither? I know not; if I cannot
make this spot of ground yield the corn and roses, famine must
be my lot forever and ever, surely.'

* * * * *

'I remember how at a similar time of perplexity, when there
were none to counsel, hardly one to sympathize, and when the
conflicting wishes of so many whom I loved pressed the aching
heart on every side, after months of groping and fruitless
thought, the merest trifle precipitated the whole mass; all
became clear as crystal, and I saw of what use the tedious
preparation had been, by the deep content I felt in the

* * * * *

'Beethoven! Tasso! It is well to think of you! What sufferings
from baseness, from coldness! How rare and momentary were the
flashes of joy, of confidence and tenderness, in these noblest
lives! Yet could not their genius be repressed. The Eternal
Justice lives. O, Father, teach the spirit the meaning of
sorrow, and light up the generous fires of love and hope and
faith, without which I cannot live!'

* * * * *

'What signifies it that Thou dost always give me to drink more
deeply of the inner fountains? And why do I seek a reason for
these repulsions and strange arrangements of my mortal lot,
when I always gain from them a deeper love for all men, and a
deeper trust in Thee? Wonderful are thy ways! But lead me the
darkest and the coldest as Thou wilt.'

* * * * *

'Please, good Genius of my life, to make me very patient,
resolute, gentle, while no less ardent; and after having tried
me well, please present, at the end of some thousand years
or so, a sphere of congenial and consecutive labors; of
heart-felt, heart-filling wishes carried out into life on
the instant; of aims obviously, inevitably proportioned to my
highest nature. Sometime, in God's good time, let me live as
swift and earnest as a flash of the eye. Meanwhile, let me
gather force slowly, and drift along lazily, like yonder
cloud, and be content to end in a few tears at last.'

* * * * *

'To-night I lay on the sofa, and saw how the flame shot up
from beneath, through the mass of coal that had been
piled above. It shot up in wild beautiful jets, and then
unexpectedly sank again, and all was black, unsightly and
forlorn. And thus, I thought, is it with my life at present.
Yet if the fire beneath persists and conquers, that black dead
mass will become all radiant, life-giving, fit for the altar
or the domestic hearth. Yes, and it shall be so.'

* * * * *

'My tendency at present is to the deepest privacy. Where can I
hide till I am given to myself? Yet I love the others more and
more. When they are with me I must give them the best from
my scrip. I see their infirmities, and would fain heal them,
forgetful of my own! But am I left one moment alone, then, a
poor wandering pilgrim, but no saint, I would seek the shrine,
and would therein die to the world. Then if from the poor
relics some miracles might be wrought, that should be for my
fellows. Yet some of the saints were able to work in their
generation, for they had renounced all!'

* * * * *

'Forget, if you can, all of petulant or overstrained that may
have displeased you in me, and commend me in your prayers to
my best self. When, in the solitude of the spirit, comes upon
you some air from the distance, a breath of aspiration, of
faith, of pure tenderness, then believe that the Power which
has guided me so faithfully, emboldens my thoughts to frame a
prayer for you.'

* * * * *

'Beneath all pain inflicted by Nature, be not only serene, but
more; let it avail thee in prayer. Put up, at the moment of
greatest suffering, a prayer; not for thy own escape, but
for the enfranchisement of some being dear to thee, and the
Sovereign Spirit will accept thy ransom.'

* * * * *

'Strive, strive, my soul, to be innocent; yes! beneficent.
Does any man wound thee? not only forgive, but Work into thy
thought intelligence of the kind of pain, that thou mayest
never inflict it on another spirit. Then its work is done; it
will never search thy whole nature again. O, love much, and be

* * * * *

'No! we cannot leave society while one clod remains unpervaded
by divine life. We cannot live and grow in consecrated earth,
alone. Let us rather learn to stand up like the Holy Father,
and with extended arms bless the whole world.'

* * * * *

'It will be happiness indeed, if, on passing this first stage,
we are permitted, in some degree, to alleviate the ills of
those we love,--to lead them on a little way; to aid them when
they call. Often it seems to me, it would be sweet to feel
that I had certainly conferred one benefit. All my poor little
schemes for others are apparently blighted, and now, as ever,
I am referred to the Secular year for the interpretation of my

In one of Margaret's manuscripts is found this beautiful
symbol:--'There is a species of Cactus, from whose outer bark, if
torn by an ignorant person, there exudes a poisonous liquid; but the
natives, who know the plant, strike to the core, and there find a
sweet, refreshing juice, that renews their strength.' Surely the
preceding extracts prove that she was learning how to draw life-giving
virtue from the very heart of evil. No superficial experience of
sorrow embittered her with angry despair; but through profound
acceptance, she sought to imbibe, from every ill, peace, purity and

* * * * *

The two fiery trials through which she had been made to pass, and
through which she was yet to pass again and again,--obstruction to
the development of her genius, and loneliness of heart,--were the very
furnace needed to burn the dross from her gold, till it could fitly
image the Heavenly Refiner. By inherited traits, and indiscreet
treatment, self-love had early become so excessive that only severest
discipline could transmute it to disinterestedness. Pity for her own
misfortunes had, indeed, taught her to curb her youthful scorn
for mediocrity, and filled her with considerateness and delicate
sensibility. Constant experience, too, of the wonderful modes whereby
her fate was shaped by overruling mercy, had chastened her love of
personal sway, and her passion for a commanding career; and
Margaret could humble herself,--did often humble herself,--with an
all-resigning contrition, that was most touching to witness in one
naturally so haughty. Of this the following letter to a valued friend
gives illustration:--

'I ought, I know, to have laid aside my own cares and griefs,
been on the alert for intelligence that would gratify you,
and written letters such as would have been of use and given
pleasure to my wise, tender, ever faithful friend. But no; I
first intruded on your happiness with my sorrowful epistles,
and then, because you did not seem to understand my position,
with sullen petulance I resolved to write no more. Nay, worse;
I tried to harden my heart against you, and felt, "If you
cannot be all, you shall be nothing."

'It was a bad omen that I lost the locket you gave me, which
I had constantly worn. Had that been daily before my eyes,
to remind me of all your worth,--of the generosity with which
you, a ripe and wise character, received me to the privileges
of equal friendship; of the sincerity with which you reproved
and the love with which you pardoned my faults; of how much
you taught me, and bore with from me,--it would have softened
the flint of my heart, and I should have relaxed from my

'How shall I apologize for feelings which I now recognize as
having been so cold, so bitter and unjust? I can only say
I have suffered greatly, till the tone of my spirits seems
destroyed. Since I have been at leisure to realize how very
ill I have been, under what constant pain and many annoyances
I have kept myself upright, and how, if I have not done
my work, I have learned my lesson to the end, I should be
inclined to excuse myself for every fault, except this neglect
and ingratitude against friends. Yet, if you can forgive, I
will try to forgive myself, and I do think I shall never so
deeply sin again.'

Yet, though thus frank to own to herself and to her peers her errors,
Margaret cherished a trust in her powers, a confidence in her destiny,
and an ideal of her being, place and influence, so lofty as to be
extravagant. In the morning-hour and mountain-air of aspiration, her
shadow moved before her, of gigantic size, upon the snow-white vapor.

In accordance with her earnest charge, 'Be true as Truth to me,' I
could not but expose this propensity to self-delusion; and her answer
is her best explanation and defence:--

'I protest against your applying to me, even in your
most transient thought, such an epithet as "determined
exaggeration." Exaggeration, if you will; but not determined.
No; I would have all open to the light, and would let my
boughs be pruned, when they grow rank and unfruitful, even if
I felt the knife to the quick of my being. Very fain would I
have a rational modesty, without self-distrust; and may
the knowledge of my failures leaven my soul, and check its
intemperance. If you saw me wholly, you would not, I think,
feel as you do; for you would recognize the force, that
regulates my life and tempers the ardor with an eventual
calmness. You would see, too, that the more I take my flight
in poetical enthusiasm, the stronger materials I bring back
for my nest. Certainly I am nowise yet an angel; but neither
am I an utterly weak woman, and far less a cold intellect.
God is rarely afar off. Exquisite nature is all around. Life
affords vicissitudes enough to try the energies of the human
will. I can pray, I can act, I can learn, I can constantly
immerse myself in the Divine Beauty. But I also need to
love my fellow-men, and to meet the responsive glance of my
spiritual kindred.'

Again, she says:--

'I like to hear you express your sense of my defects. The
word "arrogance" does not, indeed, appear to me to be just;
probably because I do not understand what you mean. But in due
time I doubtless shall; for so repeatedly have you used it,
that it must stand for something real in my large and rich,
yet irregular and unclarified nature. But though I like to
hear you, as I say, and think somehow your reproof does me
good, by myself, I return to my native bias, and feel as if
there was plenty of room in the universe for my faults, and
as if I could not spend time in thinking of them, when so
many things interest me more. I have no defiance or coldness,
however, as to these spiritual facts which I do not know;
but I must follow my own law, and bide my time, even if, like
Oedipus, I should return a criminal, blind and outcast, to
ask aid from the gods. Such possibilities, I confess, give
me great awe; for I have more sense than most, of the tragic
depths that may open suddenly in the life. Yet, believing in
God, anguish cannot be despair, nor guilt perdition. I feel
sure that I have never wilfully chosen, and that my life has
been docile to such truth as was shown it. In an environment
like mine, what may have seemed too lofty or ambitious in
my character was absolutely needed to keep the heart from
breaking and enthusiasm from extinction.'

Such Egoism as this, though lacking the angel grace of
unconsciousness, has a stoical grandeur that commands respect. Indeed,
in all that Margaret spoke, wrote, or did, no cynic could detect the
taint of meanness. Her elation came not from opium fumes of vanity,
inhaled in close chambers of conceit, but from the stimulus of
sunshine, fresh breezes, and swift movement upon the winged steed of
poesy. Her existence was bright with romantic interest to herself.
There was an amplitude and elevation in her aim, which were worthy, as
she felt, of human honor and of heavenly aid; and she was buoyed up
by a courageous good-will, amidst all evils, that she knew would have
been recognized as heroic in the chivalric times, when "every morning
brought a noble chance." Neither was her self-regard of an engrossing
temper. On the contrary, the sense of personal dignity taught her
the worth of the lowliest human being, and her intense desire for
harmonious conditions quickened a boundless compassion for the
squalid, downcast, and drudging multitude. She aspired to live in
majestic fulness of benignant and joyful activity, leaving a track of
light with every footstep; and, like the radiant Iduna, bearing to
man the golden apples of immortality, she would have made each meeting
with her fellows rich with some boon that should never fade, but
brighten in bloom forever.

This characteristic self-esteem determined the quality of Margaret's
influence, which was singularly penetrating, and most beneficent where
most deeply and continuously felt. Chance acquaintance with her, like
a breath from the tropics, might have prematurely burst the buds of
feeling in sensitive hearts, leaving after blight and barrenness.
Natures, small in compass and of fragile substance, might have been
distorted and shattered by attempts to mould themselves on her grand
model. And in her seeming unchartered impulses,--whose latent law was
honorable integrity,--eccentric spirits might have found encouragement
for capricious license. Her morbid subjectivity, too, might, by
contagion, have affected others with undue self-consciousness.
And, finally, even intimate friends might have been tempted, by
her flattering love, to exaggerate their own importance, until they
recognized that her regard for them was but one niche in a Pantheon
at whose every shrine she offered incense. But these ill effects were
superficial accidents. The peculiarity of her power was to make all
who were in concert with her feel the miracle of existence. She lived
herself with such concentrated force in the moments, that she was
always effulgent with thought and affection,--with conscience,
courage, resource, decision, a penetrating and forecasting wisdom.
Hence, to associates, her presence seemed to touch even common scenes
and drudging cares with splendor, as when, through the scud of
a rain-storm, sunbeams break from serene blue openings, crowning
familiar things with sudden glory. By manifold sympathies, yet central
unity, she seemed in herself to be a goodly company, and her words
and deeds imparted the virtue of a collective life. So tender was her
affection, that, like a guardian genius, she made her friends' souls
her own, and identified herself with their fortunes; and yet, so pure
and high withal was her justice, that, in her recognition of their
past success and present claims, there came a summons for fresh
endeavor after the perfect. The very thought of her roused manliness
to emulate the vigorous freedom, with which one was assured, that
wherever placed she was that instant acting; and the mere mention
of her name was an inspiration of magnanimity, and faithfulness, and

'"Sincere has been their striving; great their love,"

'is a sufficient apology for any life,' wrote Margaret; and how
preeminently were these words descriptive of herself. Hers was indeed

"The equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will,
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

This indomitable aspiration found utterance in the following verses,


'In times of old, as we are told,
When men more childlike at the feet
Of Jesus sat than now,
A chivalry was known, more bold
Than ours, and yet of stricter vow,
And worship more complete.

'Knights of the Rosy Cross! they bore
Its weight within the breast, but wore
Without the sign, in glistening ruby bright.
The gall and vinegar they drank alone,
But to the world at large would only own
The wine of faith, sparkling with rosy light.

'They knew the secret of the sacred oil,
Which, poured upon the prophet's head,
Could keep him wise and pure for aye,
Apart from all that might distract or soil;
With this their lamps they fed,
Which burn in their sepulchral shrines,
Unfading night and day.

'The pass-word now is lost
To that initiation full and free;
Daily we pay the cost
Of our slow schooling for divine degree.
We know no means to feed an undying lamp,
Our lights go out in every wind and damp.

'We wear the cross of Ebony and Gold,
Upon a dark back-ground a form of light,
A heavenly hope within a bosom cold,
A starry promise in a frequent night;
And oft the dying lamp must trim again,
For we are conscious, thoughtful, striving men.

'Yet be we faithful to this present trust,
Clasp to a heart resigned this faithful Must;
Though deepest dark our efforts should enfold,
Unwearied mine to find the vein of gold;
Forget not oft to waft the prayer on high;--
The rosy dawn again shall fill the sky.

'And by that lovely light all truth revealed,--
The cherished forms, which sad distrust concealed,
Transfigured, yet the same, will round us stand,
The kindred angels of a faithful band;
Ruby and ebon cross then cast aside,
No lamp more needed, for the night has died.

'"Be to the best thou knowest ever true,"
Is all the creed.
Then be thy talisman of rosy hue,
Or fenced with thorns, that wearing, thou must bleed,
Or, gentle pledge of love's prophetic view,
The faithful steps it will securely lead.

'Happy are all who reach that distant shore,
And bathe in heavenly day;
Happiest are those who high the banner bore,
To marshal others on the way,
Or waited for them, fainting and way-worn,
By burthens overborne.'

[Footnote A: This sentence was written before I was aware that
Margaret, as will be seen hereafter, had used the same symbol to
describe Madame Sand. The first impulse, of course, when I discovered
this coincidence, was to strike out the above passage; yet, on second
thought, I have retained it, as indicating an actual resemblance
between these two grand women. In Margaret, however, the benediction
of their noble-hearted sister, Elizabeth Barrett, had already been
fulfilled; for she to "woman's claim" had ever joined

"the angel-grace
Of a pure genius sanctified from blame."]

[Footnote B: Novalis.]



* * * * *

"How much, preventing God, how much. I owe
To the defences thou hast round me set!
Example, Custom, Fear, Occasion slow,--
These scorned bondsmen were my parapet.
I dare not peep over this parapet,
To gauge with glance the roaring gulf below,
The depths of sin to which I had descended,
Had not these me against myself defended."

"Di te, finor, chiesto non hai severa
Ragione a te; di sua virtu non cade
Sospetto in cor conscio a se stesso."


"He that lacks time to mourn, lacks time to mend;
Eternity mourns that. 'Tis an ill cure
For life's worst ills, to have no time to feel them.
Where sorrow's held intrusive, and turned out,
There wisdom, will not enter, nor true power,
Nor aught that dignifies humanity."


"That time of year thou may'st in me behold,
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,--
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie;
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by."

SHAKSPEARE. [Sonnet lxxiii.]

"Aber zufrieden mit stillerem Ruhme,
Brechen die Frauen des Augenblick's Blume,
Naehren sie sorgsam mit liebendem Fleiss,
Freier in ihrem gebundenen Wirken,
Reicher als er in des Wissens Bezirken
Und in der Dichtung unendlichem Kreiz."


"Not like to like, but like in difference;
Yet in the long years liker must they grow,--
The man be more of woman, she of man;
He gain in sweetness and in moral height,
Nor lose the wrestling thews that throw the world;
She mental breadth, nor fail in childward care;
More as the double-natured poet each;
Till at the last she set herself to man,
Like perfect music unto noble words."




* * * * *


Incessant exertion in teaching and writing, added to pecuniary
anxieties and domestic cares, had so exhausted Margaret's energy, in
1844, that she felt a craving for fresh interests, and resolved to
seek an entire change of scene amid freer fields of action.

'The tax on my mind is such,' she writes,

'and I am so unwell, that I can scarcely keep up the spring of
my spirits, and sometimes fear that I cannot go through with
the engagements of the winter. But I have never stopped yet
in fulfilling what I have undertaken, and hope I shall not be
compelled to now. How farcical seems the preparation needed to
gain a few moments' life; yet just so the plant works all the
year round for a few days' flower.'

But in brighter mood she says, again:--

'I congratulate myself that I persisted, against every
persuasion, in doing all I could last winter; for now I am and
shall be free from debt, and I look on the position of debtor
with a dread worthy of some respectable Dutch burgomaster.
My little plans for others, too, have succeeded; our small
household is well arranged, and all goes smoothly as a
wheel turns round. Mother, moreover, has learned not to
be over-anxious when I suffer, so that I am not obliged to
suppress my feelings when it is best to yield to them. Thus,
having more calmness, I feel often that a sweet serenity is
breathed through every trifling duty. I am truly grateful for
being enabled to fulfil obligations which to some might seem
humble, but which to me are sacred.'

And in mid-summer comes this pleasant picture:--

'Every day, I rose and attended to the many little calls which
are always on me, and which have been more of late. Then,
about eleven, I would sit down to write, at my window, close
to which is the apple-tree, lately full of blossoms, and now
of yellow birds. Opposite me was Del Sarto's Madonna; behind
me Silenus, holding in his arms the infant Pan. I felt very
content with my pen, my daily bouquet, and my yellow birds.
About five I would go out and walk till dark; then would
arrive my proofs, like crabbed old guardians, coming to tea
every night. So passed each day. The 23d of May, my birth-day,
about one o'clock, I wrote the last line of my little book;[A]
then I went to Mount Auburn, and walked gently among the

As the brothers had now left college, and had entered or were entering
upon professional and commercial life, while the sister was married,
and the mother felt calls to visit in turn her scattered children, it
was determined to break up the "Home." 'As a family,' Margaret writes,

'we are henceforth to be parted. But though for months I had
been preparing for this separation, the last moments were very
sad. Such tears are childish tears, I know, and belie a deeper
wisdom. It is foolish in me to be so anxious about my family.
As I went along, it seemed as if all I did was for God's sake;
but if it had been, could I now thus fear? My relations to
them are altogether fair, so far as they go. As to their being
no more to me than others of my kind, there is surely a mystic
thrill betwixt children of one mother, which can never cease
to be felt till the soul is quite born anew. The earthly
family is the scaffold whereby we build the spiritual one. The
glimpses we here obtain of what such relations should be are
to me an earnest that the family is of Divine Order, and not a
mere school of preparation. And in the state of perfect being
which we call Heaven, I am assured that family ties will
attain to that glorified beauty of harmonious adaptation,
which stellar groups in the pure blue typify.'

Margaret's admirable fidelity, as daughter and sister,--amidst her
incessant literary pursuits, and her far-reaching friendships,--can be
justly appreciated by those only who were in her confidence; but from
the following slight sketches generous hearts can readily infer what
was the quality of her home-affections.

'Mother writes from Canton that my dear old grandmother is
dead. I regret that you never saw her. She was a picture of
primitive piety, as she sat holding the "Saint's Rest" in her
hand, with her bowed, trembling figure, and her emphatic nods,
and her sweet blue eyes. They were bright to the last, though
she was ninety. It is a great loss to mother, who felt a large
place warmed in her heart by the fond and grateful love of
this aged parent.'

'We cannot be sufficiently grateful for our mother,--so so
fair a blossom of the white amaranth; truly to us a mother
in this, that we can venerate her piety. Our relations to her
have known no jar. Nothing vulgar has sullied them; and in
this respect life has been truly domesticated. Indeed, when I
compare my lot with others, it seems to have had a more than
usual likeness to home; for relations have been as noble
as sincerity could make them, and there has been a frequent
breath of refined affection, with its sweet courtesies. Mother
thanks God in her prayers for "all the acts of mutual love
which have been permitted;" and looking back, I see that these
have really been many. I do not recognize this, as the days
pass, for to my desires life would be such a flower-chain of
symbols, that what is done seems very scanty, and the thread
shows too much.

'She has just brought me a little bouquet. Her flowers have
suffered greatly by my neglect, when I would be engrossed
by other things in her absences. But, not to be disgusted or
deterred, whenever she can glean one pretty enough, she brings
it to me. Here is the bouquet,--a very delicate rose, with its
half-blown bud, heliotrope, geranium, lady-pea, heart's-ease;
all sweet-scented flowers! Moved by their beauty, I wrote a
short note, to which this is the reply. Just like herself![B]

'"I should not love my flowers if they did not put forth all
the strength they have, in gratitude for your preserving care,
last winter, and your wasted feelings over the unavoidable
effects of the frost, that came so unexpectedly to nip their
budding beauties. I appreciate all you have done, knowing
at what cost any plant must be nourished by one who sows in
fields more precious than those opened, in early life, to my
culture. One must have grown up with flowers, and found joy
and sweetness in them, amidst disagreeable occupations, to
take delight in their whole existence as I do. They have long
had power to bring me into harmony with the Creator, and to
soothe almost any irritation. Therefore I understand your love
for these beautiful things, and it gives me real pleasure to
procure them for you.

'"You have done everything that the most affectionate and
loving daughter could, under all circumstances. My faith in
your generous desire to increase my happiness is founded on
the knowledge I have gained of your disposition, through your
whole life. I should ask your sympathy and aid, whenever it
could be available, knowing that you would give it first to
me. Waste no thought on neglected duties. I know of none.
Let us pursue our appointed paths, aiding each other in rough
places; and if I live to need the being led by the hand,
I always feel that you will perform this office wisely and
tenderly. We shall ever have perfect peace between us. Yours,
in all love."'

Margaret adds:--

'It has been, and still is, hard for me to give up the thought
of serenity, and freedom from toil and care, for mother,
in the evening of a day which has been all one work of
disinterested love. But I am now confident that she will learn
from every trial its lesson; and if I cannot be her protector,
I can be at least her counsellor and soother.'

From the less private parts of Margaret's correspondence with the
younger members of the family, some passages may be selected, as
attesting her quick and penetrating sympathy, her strict truth,
and influential wisdom. They may be fitly prefaced by these few but
emphatic words from a letter of one of her brothers:--

"I was much impressed, during my childhood, at Groton, with
an incident that first disclosed to me the tenderness of
Margaret's character. I had always viewed her as a being
of different nature from myself, to whose altitudes of
intellectual life I had no thought of ascending. She had been
absent during the winter, and on her return asked me for some
account of my experiences. Supposing that she could not enter
into such insignificant details, I was not frank or warm in
my confidence, though I gave no reason for my reserve; and the
matter had passed from my mind, when our mother told me that
Margaret had shed tears, because I seemed to heed so little
her sisterly sympathy. 'Tears from one so learned,' thought I,
'for the sake of one so inferior!' Afterwards, my heart opened
to her, as to no earthly friend.

"The characteristic trait of Margaret, to which all
her talents and acquirements were subordinate, was
sympathy,--universal sympathy. She had that large intelligence
and magnanimity which enabled her to comprehend the struggles
and triumphs of every form of character. Loving all about her,
whether rich or poor, rude or cultivated, as equally formed
after a Divine Original, with an equal birth-right of immortal

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