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

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growth, she regarded rather their aspirations than their
accomplishments. And this was the source of her marvellous
influence. Those who had never thought of their own destiny,
nor put faith in their own faculties, found in her society not
so much a display of her gifts, as surprising discoveries of
their own. She revealed to them the truth, that all can be
noble by fidelity to the highest self. She appreciated, with
delicate tenderness, each one's peculiar trials, and, while
never attempting to make the unhappy feel that their miseries
were unreal, she pointed out the compensations of their
lot, and taught them how to live above misfortune. She had
consolation and advice for every one in trouble, and wrote
long letters to many friends, at the expense not only of
precious time, but of physical pain.

"When now, with the experience of a man, I look back upon her
wise guardianship over our childhood, her indefatigable labors
for our education, her constant supervision in our family
affairs, her minute instructions as to the management of
multifarious details, her painful conscientiousness in every
duty; and then reflect on her native inaptitude and even
disgust for practical affairs, on her sacrifice,--in the
very flower of her genius,--of her favorite pursuits, on her
incessant drudgery and waste of health, on her patient
bearing of burdens, and courageous conflict with difficult
circumstances, her character stands before me as heroic."

It was to this brother that Margaret wrote as follows:--

'It is a great pleasure to me to give you this book; both that
I have a brother whom I think worthy to value it, and that
I can give him something worthy to be valued more and more
through all his life. Whatever height we may attain in
knowledge, whatever facility in the expression of thoughts,
will only enable us to do more justice to what is drawn
from so deep a source of faith and intellect, and arrayed,
oftentimes, in the fairest hues of nature. Yet it may not be
well for a young mind to dwell too near one tuned to so high
a pitch as this writer, lest, by trying to come into concord
with him, the natural tones be overstrained, and the strings
weakened by untimely pressure. Do not attempt, therefore, to
read this book through, but keep it with you, and when the
spirit is fresh and earnest turn to it. It is full of the
tide-marks of great thoughts, but these can be understood
by one only who has gained, by experience, some knowledge of
these tides. The ancient sages knew how to greet a brother who
had consecrated his life to thought, and was never disturbed
from his purpose by a lower aim. But it is only to those
perfected in purity that Pythagoras can show a golden thigh.

'One word as to your late readings. They came in a timely way
to admonish you, amidst mere disciplines, as to the future
uses of such disciplines. But systems of philosophy are mere
pictures to him, who has not yet learned how to systematize.
From an inward opening of your nature these knowledges must
begin to be evolved, ere you can apprehend aught beyond
their beauty, as revealed in the mind of another. Study in a
reverent and patient spirit, blessing the day that leads you
the least step onward. Do not ride hobbies. Do not hasten
to conclusions. Be not coldly sceptical towards any thinker,
neither credulous of his views. A man, whose mind is full of
error, may give us the genial sense of truth, as a tropical
sun, while it rears crocodiles, yet ripens the wine of the

'To turn again to my Ancients: while they believed in
self-reliance with a force little known in our day, they
dreaded no pains of initiation, but fitted themselves for
intelligent recognition of the truths on which our being is
based, by slow gradations of travel, study, speech, silence,
bravery, and patience. That so it may be with you, dear ----,
hopes your sister and friend.'

A few extracts from family letters written at different times, and
under various conditions, may be added.

'I read with great interest the papers you left with me. The
picture and the emotions suggested are genuine. The youthful
figure, no doubt, stands portress at the gate of Infinite
Beauty; yet I would say to one I loved as I do you, do not
waste these emotions, nor the occasions which excite them.
There is danger of prodigality,--of lavishing the best
treasures of the breast on objects that cannot be the
permanent ones. It is true, that whatever thought is awakened
in the mind becomes truly ours; but it is a great happiness
to owe these influences to a cause so proportioned to our
strength as to grow with it. I say this merely because I
fear that the virginity of heart which I believe essential
to feeling a real love, in all its force and purity, may
be endangered by too careless excursions into the realms of

* * * * *

'It is told us, we should pray, "lead us not into temptation;"
and I agree. Yet I think it cannot be, that, with a good
disposition, and the means you have had to form your mind and
discern a higher standard, your conduct or happiness can be
so dependent on circumstances, as you seem to think. I never
advised your taking a course which would blunt your finer
powers and I do not believe that winning the means of
pecuniary independence need do so. I have not found that it
does, in my own case, placed at much greater disadvantage than
you are. I have never considered, either, that there was
any misfortune in your lot. Health, good abilities, and a
well-placed youth, form a union of advantages possessed by
few, and which leaves you little excuse for fault or failure.
And so to your better genius and the instruction of the One
Wise, I commend you.'

* * * * *

'It gave me great pleasure to get your last letter, for these
little impromptu effusions are the genuine letters. I rejoice
that man and nature seem harmonious to you, and that the heart
beats in unison with the voices of Spring. May all that is
manly, sincere, and pure, in your wishes, be realized! Obliged
to live myself without the sanctuary of the central relations,
yet feeling I must still not despair, nor fail to profit by
the precious gifts of life, while "leaning upon our Father's
hand," I still rejoice, if any one can, in the true temper,
and with well-founded hopes, secure a greater completeness of
earthly existence. This fortune is as likely to be yours, as
any one's I know. It seems to me dangerous, however, to meddle
with the future. I never lay my hand on it to grasp it with

* * * * *

'Of late I have often thought of you with strong yearnings of
affection and desire to see you. It would seem to me, also,
that I had not devoted myself to you enough, if I were not
conscious that by any more attention to the absent than I have
paid, I should have missed the needed instructions from the
present. And I feel that any bond of true value will endure
necessary neglect.'

* * * * *

'There is almost too much of bitter mixed in the cup of life.
You say religion is a mere sentiment with you, and that if
you are disappointed in your first, your very first hopes and
plans, you do not know whether you shall be able to act well.
I do not myself see how a reflecting soul can endure the
passage through life, except by confidence in a Power that
must at last order all things right, and the resolution that
it shall not be our own fault if we are not happy,--that we
will resolutely deserve to be happy. There are many bright
glimpses in life, many still hours; much worthy toil, some
deep and noble joys; but, then, there are so many, and such
long, intervals, when we are kept from all we want, and must
perish but for such thoughts.'

* * * * *

'You need not fear, dear ----, my doing anything to chill
you. I am only too glad of the pure happiness you so sweetly
describe. I well understand what you say of its invigorating
you for every enterprise. I was always sure it would be so
with me,--that resigned, I could do well, but happy I could
do excellently. Happiness must, with the well-born, expand
the generous affections towards all men, and invigorate one to
deserve what the gods have given.'

Margaret's charities and courtesies were not limited to her kindred.
She fell, at once, into agreeable relations with her domestics,
became their confidant, teacher, and helper, studied their characters,
consulted their convenience, warned them of their dangers or
weaknesses, and rejoiced to gratify their worthy tastes; and, in
return, no lady could receive, from servants, more punctual or hearty
attendance. She knew how to command and how to persuade, and her
sympathy was perfect. They felt the power of her mind, her hardy
directness, prompt judgment, decision and fertility of resource, and
liked to aid one who knew so well her own wants. 'Around my path,' she

'how much humble love continually flows. These every-day and
lowly friends never forget my wishes, never censure my
whims, make no demands on me, and load me with gifts and
uncomplaining service. Though sometimes forgetful of their
claims, I try to make it up when we do meet, and I trust give
little pain as I pass along this world.'

Even in extreme cases of debasement she found more to admire than to
contemn, and won the confidence of the fallen by manifesting her real
respect. "There was in my family," writes a friend, "a very handsome
young girl, who had been vicious in her habits, and so enamored of
one of her lovers, that when he deserted her, she attempted to drown
herself. She was rescued, and some good people were eager to reform
her life. While she was engaged in housework for us, Margaret saw her,
and one day asked ---- if she could not help her. ---- replied: 'No!
for should I begin to talk with her, I should show my consciousness of
her history so much as to be painful.' Margaret was very indignant at
this weakness. Said she,

'This girl is taken away, you know, from all her objects of
interest, and must feel her life vacant and dreary. Her mind
should be employed; she should be made to feel her powers.'

It was plain that if Margaret had been near her, she would have
devoted herself at once to her education and reestablishment."

About the time of breaking up their home, Margaret thus expressed, to
one of her brothers, her hopes and plans.

'You wish, dear ----, that I was not obliged to toil and spin,
but could live, for a while, like the lilies. I wish so,
too, for life has fatigued me, my strength is little, and the
present state of my mind demands repose and refreshment,
that it may ripen some fruit worthy of the long and deep
experiences through which I have passed. I do not regret that
I have shared the labors and cares of the suffering million,
and have acquired a feeling sense of the conditions under
which the Divine has appointed the development of the human.
Yet, if our family affairs could now be so arranged, that I
might be tolerably tranquil for the next six or eight years,
I should go out of life better satisfied with the page I have
turned in it, than I shall if I must still toil on. A noble
career is yet before me, if I can be unimpeded by cares. I
have given almost all my young energies to personal relations;
but, at present, I feel inclined to impel the general stream
of thought. Let my nearest friends also wish that I should now
take share in more public life.'

[Footnote A: Summer on the Lakes.]

[Footnote B: The editor must offer as excuse for printing, without
permission asked, this note, found carefully preserved among
Margaret's papers, that he knew no other way of so truly indicating
the relation between mother and daughter. This lily is eloquent of the
valley where it grew. W.H.C.]


Seeking thus, at once, expansion and rest in new employments, Margaret
determined, in the autumn of 1844, to accept a liberal offer of
Messrs. Greeley and McElrath, to become a constant contributor to the
New York Tribune. But before entering upon her new duties, she found
relaxation, for a few weeks, amid the grand scenery of the Hudson. In
October, she writes from Fishkill Landing:--

'Can I find words to tell you how I enjoy being here,
encircled by the majestic beauty of these mountains? I felt
regret, indeed, in bidding farewell to Boston, so many
marks of affection were shown me at the last, and so many
friendships, true if imperfect, were left behind. But now I am
glad to feel enfranchized in the society of Nature. I have a
well-ordered, quiet house to dwell in, with nobody's humors
to consult but my own. From my windows I see over the tops of
variegated trees the river, with its purple heights beyond,
and a few moments' walk brings me to the lovely shore, where
sails are gliding continually by, and the huge steamers sweep
past with echoing tread, and a train of waves, whose rush
relieves the monotone of the ripples. In the country behind us
are mountain-paths, and lonely glens, with gurgling streams,
and many-voiced water-falls. And over all are spread the
gorgeous hues of autumn.'

And again:--

'"From the brain of the purple mountain" flows forth cheer
to my somewhat weary mind. I feel refreshed amid these bolder
shapes of nature. Mere gentle and winning landscapes are not
enough. How I wish my birth had been cast among the sources
of the streams, where the voice of hidden torrents is heard
by night, and the eagle soars, and the thunder resounds in
prolonged peals, and wide blue shadows fall like brooding
wings across the valleys! Amid such scenes, I expand and feel
at home. All the fine days I spend among the mountain passes,
along the mountain brooks, or beside the stately river. I
enjoy just the tranquil happiness I need in communion with
this fair grandeur.'

And, again:--

'The boldness, sweetness, and variety here, are just what
I like. I could pass the autumn in watching the exquisite
changes of light and shade on the heights across the river.
How idle to pretend that one could live and write as well amid
fallow flat fields! This majesty, this calm splendor, could
not but exhilarate the mind, and make it nobly free and

These few weeks among the Highlands,--spent mostly in the open air,
under October's golden sunshine, the slumberous softness of the Indian
summer, or the brilliant, breezy skies of November,--were an important
era for Margaret. She had--

"lost the dream of Doing
And the other dream of Done;
The first spring in the pursuing,
The first pride in the Begun,
First recoil from incompleteness in the face of what is won."

But she was striving, also, to use her own words, 'to be patient to
the very depths of the heart, to expect no hasty realizations, not to
make her own plan her law of life, but to learn the law and plan of
God.' She adds, however:--

'What heaven it must be to have the happy sense of
accomplishing something, and to feel the glow of action
without exhausted weariness! Surely the race would have worn
itself out by corrosion, if men in all ages had suffered, as
we now do, from the consciousness of an unattained Ideal.'

Extracts from journals will best reveal her state of mind.

'I have a dim consciousness of what the terrible experiences
must be by which the free poetic element is harmonized with
the spirit of religion. In their essence and their end these
are one, but rarely in actual existence. I would keep what
was pure and noble in my old native freedom, with that
consciousness of falling below the best convictions which now
binds me to the basest of mankind, and find some new truth
that shall reconcile and unite them. Once it seemed to
me, that my heart was so capable of goodness, my mind of
clearness, that all should acknowledge and claim me as a
friend. But now I see that these impulses were prophetic of a
yet distant period. The "intensity" of passion, which so often
unfits me for life, or, rather, for _life here_, is to
be moderated, not into dulness or languor, but a gentler,
steadier energy.'

'The stateliest, strongest vessel must sometimes be brought
into port to rent. If she will not submit to be fastened to
the dock, stripped of her rigging, and scrutinized by unwashed
artificers, she may spring a leak when riding most proudly
on the subject wave. Norway fir nor English oak can resist
forever the insidious assaults of the seemingly conquered
ocean. The man who clears the barnacles from the keel is more
essential than he who hoists the pennant on the lofty mast.'

* * * * *

'A week of more suffering than I have had for a long
time,--from Sunday to Sunday,--headache night and day! And not
only there has been no respite, but it has been fixed in one
spot--between the eyebrows!--what does that promise?--till it
grew real torture. Then it has been depressing to be able to
do so little, when there was so much I had at heart to do.
It seems that the black and white guardians, depicted on the
Etrurian monuments, and in many a legend, are always fighting
for my life. Whenever I have any cherished purpose, either
outward obstacles swarm around, which the hand that would be
drawing beautiful lines must be always busy in brushing away,
or comes this great vulture, and fastens his iron talons on
the brain.

'But at such times the soul rises up, like some fair child in
whom sleep has been mistaken for death, a living flower in
the dark tomb. He casts aside his shrouds and bands, rosy and
fresh from the long trance, undismayed, not seeing how to get
out, yet sure there is a way.

'I think the black jailer laughs now, hoping that while I
want to show that Woman can have the free, full action of
intellect, he will prove in my own self that she has not
physical force to bear it. Indeed, I am too poor an example,
and do wish I was bodily strong and fair. Yet, I will not be
turned from the deeper convictions.'

'Driven from home to home, as a Renouncer, I gain the poetry
of each. Keys of gold, silver, iron, lead, are in my casket.
Though no one loves me as I would be loved, I yet love many
well enough to see into their eventual beauty. Meanwhile, I
have no fetters, and when one perceives how others are bound
in false relations, this surely should be regarded as a
privilege. And so varied have been my sympathies, that this
isolation will not, I trust, make me cold, ignorant, nor
partial. My history presents much superficial, temporary
tragedy. The Woman in me kneels and weeps in tender rapture;
the Man in me rushes forth, but only to be baffled. Yet the
time will come, when, from the union of this tragic king and
queen, shall be born a radiant sovereign self.'

* * * * *

'I have quite a desire to try my powers in a narrative poem;
but my head teems with plans, of which there will be time
for very few only to take form. Milton, it is said, made
for himself a list of a hundred subjects for dramas, and the
recorder of the fact seems to think this many. I think it very
few, so filled is life with innumerable themes.'

* * * * *

'_Sunday Evening._--I have employed some hours of the day,
with great satisfaction, in copying the Poet's Dreams from the
Pentameron of Landor. I do not often have time for such slow,
pleasing labor. I have thus imprinted the words in my mind, so
that they will often recur in their original beauty.

'I have added three sonnets of Petrarca, all written after the
death of Laura. They are among his noblest, all pertinent to
the subject, and giving three aspects of that one mood. The
last lines of the last sonnet are a fit motto for Boccaccio's

'In copying both together, I find the prose of the Englishman
worthy of the verse of the Italian. It is a happiness to see
such marble beauty in the halls of a contemporary.

'How fine it is to see the terms "onesto," "gentile," used in
their original sense and force.

'Soft, solemn day!
Where earth and heaven together seem to meet,
I have been blest to greet
From human thought a kindred sway;
In thought these stood
So near the simple Good,
That what we nobleness and honor call,
They viewed as honesty, the common dower of all.'

Margaret was reading, in these weeks, the Four Books of Confucius,
the Desatir, some of Taylor's translations from the Greek, a work on
Scandinavian Mythology, Moehler's Symbolism, Fourier's Noveau Monde
Industriel, and Landor's Pentameron,--but she says, in her journal,

'No book is good enough to read in the open air, among these
mountains; even the best seem partial, civic, limiting,
instead of being, as man's voice should be, a tone higher than

And again:--

'This morning came ----'s letter, announcing Sterling's

'"Weep for Dedalus all that is fairest."

'The news was very sad: Sterling did so earnestly wish to do
a man's work, and had done so small a portion of his own. This
made me feel how fast my years are flitting by, and nothing
done. Yet these few beautiful days of leisure I cannot resolve
to give at all to work. I want absolute rest, to let the mind
lie fallow, to keep my whole nature open to the influx of

At this very time, however, she was longing to write with full freedom
and power. 'Formerly,' she says,

'the pen did not seem to me an instrument capable of
expressing the spirit of a life like mine. An enchanter's
mirror, on which, with a word, could be made to rise all
apparitions of the universe, grouped in new relations; a magic
ring, that could transport the wearer, himself invisible, into
each region of grandeur or beauty; a divining-rod, to tell
where lie the secret fountains of refreshment; a wand, to
invoke elemental spirits;--only such as these seemed fit to
embody one's thought with sufficient swiftness and force. In
earlier years I aspired to wield the sceptre or the lyre; for
I loved with wise design and irresistible command to mould
many to one purpose, and it seemed all that man could desire
to breathe in music and speak in words, the harmonies of the
universe. But the golden lyre was not given to my hand, and I
am but the prophecy of a poet. Let me use, then, the slow pen.
I will make no formal vow to the long-scorned Muse; I assume
no garland; I dare not even dedicate myself as a novice; I
can promise neither patience nor energy:--but I will court
excellence, so far as an humble heart and open eye can merit
it, and, if I may gradually grow to some degree of worthiness
in this mode of expression, I shall be grateful.'


It was on "Woman in the Nineteenth Century" that Margaret was now
testing her power as a writer. 'I have finished the pamphlet,' she
writes, 'though the last day it kept spinning out beneath my hand.
After taking a long walk, early one most exhilarating morning, I sat
down to work, and did not give it the last stroke till near nine in
the evening. Then I felt a delightful glow, as if I had put a good
deal of my true life in it, and as if, should I go away now, the
measure of my foot-print would be left on the earth.'

A few extracts from her manuscripts upon this subject may be of
interest, as indicating the spirit and aim with which she wrote:--

'To those of us who hate emphasis and exaggeration, who
believe that whatever is good of its kind is good, who shrink
from love of excitement and love of sway, who, while ready for
duties of many kinds, dislike pledges and bonds to any,--this
talk about "Woman's Sphere," "Woman's Mission," and all such
phrases as mark the present consciousness of an impending
transition from old conventions to greater freedom, are most
repulsive. And it demands some valor to lift one's head amidst
the shower of public squibs, private sneers, anger, scorn,
derision, called out by the demand that women should be put on
a par with their brethren, legally and politically; that they
should hold property not by permission but by right, and that
they should take an active part in all great movements. But
though, with Mignon, we are prompted to characterize heaven as
the place where

"Sie fragen nicht nach Mann nie Weib,"

yet it is plain that we must face this agitation; and beyond
the dull clouds overhead hangs in the horizon Venus, as
morning-star, no less fair, though of more melting beauty,
than the glorious Jupiter, who shares with her the watch.

* * * * *

'The full, free expression of feeling must be rare, for this
book of Bettina Brentano's to produce such an effect. Men who
have lived in the society of women all their days, seem never
before to have dreamed of their nature; they are filled with
wonderment and delight at these revelations, and because
they see the woman, fancy her a genius. But in truth her
inspiration is nowise extraordinary; and I have letters from
various friends, lying unnoticed in my portfolio, which are
quite as beautiful. For one, I think that these veins of gold
should pass in secret through the earth, inaccessible to all
who will not take the trouble to mine for them. I do not like
Bettina for publishing her heart, and am ready to repeat to
her Serlo's reproof to Aurelia.'

* * * * *

'How terrible must be the tragedy of a woman who awakes to
find that she has given herself wholly to a person for whom
she is not eternally fitted! I cannot look on marriage as on
the other experiments of life: it is the one grand type that
should be kept forever sacred. There are two kinds of love
experienced by high and rich souls. The first seeks, according
to Plato's myth, another half, as being not entire in itself,
but needing a kindred nature to unlock its secret chambers
of emotion, and to act with quickening influence on all its
powers, by full harmony of senses, affections, intellect,
will; the second is purely ideal, beholding in its object
divine perfection, and delighting in it only in degree as
it symbolizes the essential good. But why is not this love
steadily directed to the Central Spirit, since in no form,
however suggestive in beauty, can God be fully revealed?
Love's delusion is owing to one of man's most godlike
qualities,--the earnestness with which he would concentrate
his whole being, and thus experience the Now of the I Am.
Yet the noblest are not long deluded; they love really the
Infinite Beauty, though they may still keep before them a
human form, as the Isis, who promises hereafter a seat at the
golden tables. How high is Michel Angelo's love, for instance,
compared with Petrarch's! Petrarch longs, languishes; and
it is only after the death of Laura that his muse puts on
celestial plumage. But Michel always soars; his love is a
stairway to the heavens.

* * * * *

'Might not we women do something in regard to this Texas
Annexation project? I have never felt that I had any call to
take part in public affairs before; but this is a great
moral question, and we have an obvious right to express our
convictions. I should like to convene meetings of the women
everywhere, and take our stand.

* * * * *

'Had Christendom but been true to its standard, while
accommodating its modes of operation to the calls of
successive times, woman would now have not only equal _power_
with man,--for of that omnipotent nature will never permit
her to be defrauded,--but a _chartered_ power, too fully
recognized to be abused. Indeed, all that is wanting is, that
man should prove his own freedom by making her free. Let
him abandon conventional restriction, as a vestige of that
Oriental barbarity which confined woman to a seraglio. Let
him trust her entirely, and give her every privilege already
acquired for himself,--elective franchise, tenure of property,
liberty to speak in public assemblies, &c.

'Nature has pointed out her ordinary sphere by the
circumstances of her physical existence. She cannot wander
far. If here and there the gods send their missives through
women, as through men, let them speak without remonstrance.
In no age have men been able wholly to hinder them. A Deborah
must always be a spiritual mother in Israel; a Corinna may
be excluded from the Olympic games, yet all men will hear her
song, and a Pindar sit at her feet. It is man's fault that
there ever were Aspasias and Ninons. These exquisite forms
were intended for the shrines of virtue.

'Neither need men fear to lose their domestic deities. Woman
is born for love, and it is impossible to turn her from
seeking it. Men should deserve her love as an inheritance,
rather than seize and guard it like a prey. Were they noble,
they would strive rather not to be loved too much, and to turn
her from idolatry to the true, the only Love. Then, children
of one Father, they could not err, nor misconceive one

'Society is now so complex, that it is no longer possible to
educate woman merely as woman; the tasks which come to her
hand are so various, and so large a proportion of women are
thrown entirely upon their own resources. I admit that this
is not their state of perfect development; but it seems as
if heaven, having so long issued its edict in poetry and
religion, without securing intelligent obedience, now
commanded the world in prose, to take a high and rational
view. The lesson reads to me thus:--

'Sex, like rank, wealth, beauty, or talent, is but an accident
of birth. As you would not educate a soul to be an aristocrat,
so do not to be a woman. A general regard to her usual sphere
is dictated in the economy of nature. You need never enforce
these provisions rigorously. Achilles had long plied the
distaff as a princess, yet, at first sight of a sword, he
seized it. So with woman, one hour of love would teach her
more of her proper relations, than all your formulas and
conventions. Express your views, men, of what you _seek_ in
woman: thus best do you give them laws. Learn, women, what you
should _demand_ of men: thus only can they become themselves.
Turn both from the contemplation of what is merely phenomenal
in your existence, to your permanent life as souls. Man, do
not prescribe how the Divine shall display itself in woman.
Woman, do not expect to see all of God in man. Fellow-pilgrims
and helpmeets are ye, Apollo and Diana, twins of one heavenly
birth, both beneficent, and both armed. Man, fear not to yield
to woman's hand both the quiver and the lyre; for if her urn
be filled with light, she will use both to the glory of
God. There is but one doctrine for ye both, and that is the
doctrine of the SOUL.

Thus, in communion with the serene loveliness of mother-earth, and
inspired with memories of Isis and Ceres, of Minerva and Freia, and
all the commanding forms beneath which earlier ages symbolized their
sense of the Divine Spirit in woman, Margaret cherished visions of the
future, and responded with full heart to the poet's prophecy:--

"Then comes the statelier Eden back to men;
Then reign the world's great bridals, chaste and calm;
Then springs the crowning race of human-kind."

It was but after the usual order of our discordant life,--where
Purgatory lies so nigh to Paradise,--that she should thence be
summoned to pass a Sunday with the prisoners at Sing-Sing. This was
the period when, in fulfilment of the sagacious and humane counsels of
Judge Edmonds, a system of kind discipline, combined with education,
was in practice at that penitentiary, and when the female department
was under the matronly charge of Mrs. E.W. Farnum, aided by Mrs.
Johnson, Miss Bruce, and other ladies, who all united sisterly
sympathy with energetic firmness. Margaret thus describes her

'We arrived on Saturday evening, in such resplendent
moonlight, that we might have mistaken the prison for a
palace, had we not known but too well what those massive walls

'Sunday morning we attended service in the chapel of the male
convicts. They listened with earnest attention, and many were
moved to tears. I never felt such sympathy with an audience
as when, at the words "Men and brethren," that sea of faces,
marked with the scars of every ill, were upturned, and the
shell of brutality burst apart at the touch of love. I
knew that at least heavenly truth would not be kept out by
self-complacence and dependence on good appearances.

'After twelve at noon, all are confined in their cells, that
the keepers may have rest from their weekly fatigue. But I was
allowed to have some of the women out to talk with, and the
interview was very pleasant. They showed the natural aptitude
of the sex for refinement. These women were among the
so-called worst, and all from the lowest haunts of vice. Yet
nothing could have been more decorous than their conduct,
while it was also frank; and they showed a sensibility
and sense of propriety, which would not have disgraced any
society. All passed, indeed, much as in one of my Boston
classes. I told them I was writing about Woman; and, as my
path had been a favored one, I wanted to gain information from
those who had been tempted and afflicted. They seemed to
reply in the same spirit in which I asked. Several, however,
expressed a wish to see me alone, as they could then say
_all_, which they could not bear to before one another. I
shall go there again, and take time for this. It is very
gratifying to see the influence these few months of gentle and
intelligent treatment have had upon these women; indeed, it is

So much were her sympathies awakened by this visit, that she rejoiced
in the opportunity, soon after offered, of passing Christmas with
these outcasts, and gladly consented to address the women in their
chapel. "There was," says one present, "a most touching tenderness,
blended with dignity, in her air and tone, as, seated in the desk, she
looked round upon her fallen sisters, and begun: 'To me the pleasant
office has been given, of 'wishing you a happy Christmas.' A
simultaneous movement of obeisance rippled over the audience, with
a murmured 'Thank you;' and a smile was spread upon those sad
countenances, like sunrise sparkling on a pool." A few words from this
discourse,--which was extemporaneous, but of which she afterward made
an imperfect record,--will show the temper in which she spoke:--

'I have passed other Christmas days happily, but never felt
as now, how fitting it is that this festival should come among
the snows and chills of winter; for, to many of you, I
trust, it is the birth-day of a higher life, when the sun of
good-will is beginning to return, and the evergreen of hope
gives promise of the eternal year. * * *

'Some months ago, we were told of the riot, the license, and
defying spirit which made this place so wretched, and the
conduct of some now here was such that the world said:--"Women
once lost are far worse than abandoned men, and cannot be
restored." But, no! It is not so! I know my sex better. It is
because women have so much feeling, and such a rooted respect
for purity, that they seem so shameless and insolent, when
they feel that they have erred and that others think ill of
them. They know that even the worst of men would like to see
women pure as angels, and when they meet man's look of scorn,
the desperate passion that rises is a perverted pride, which
might have been their guardian angel. Might have been! Rather
let me say, which may be; for the great improvement so rapidly
wrought here gives us all warm hopes. * * *

'Be not in haste to leave these walls. Yesterday, one of you,
who was praised, replied, that "if she did well she hoped that
efforts would be made to have her pardoned." I can feel the
monotony and dreariness of your confinement, but I entreat
you to believe that for many of you it would be the greatest
misfortune to be taken from here too soon. You know, better
than I can, the temptations that await you in the world; and
you must now perceive how dark is the gulf of sin and sorrow,
towards which they would hurry you. Here, you have friends
indeed; friends to your better selves; able and ready to
help you. Born of unfortunate marriages, inheriting dangerous
inclinations, neglected in childhood, with bad habits and bad
associates, as certainly must be the case with some of you,
how terrible will be the struggle when you leave this shelter!
O, be sure that you are fitted to triumph over evil, before
you again expose yourselves to it! And, instead of wasting
your time and strength in vain wishes, use this opportunity to
prepare yourselves for a better course of life, when you are
set free. * * *

'When I was here before, I was grieved by hearing several of
you say, "I will tell you what you wish to know, if I can be
alone with you; but not before the other prisoners; for, if
they know my past faults, they will taunt me with them." O,
never do that! To taunt the fallen is the part of a fiend. And
you! you were meant by Heaven to become angels of sympathy and
love. It says in the Scripture: "Their angels do always behold
in heaven the face of my Father." So was it with you in your
childhood; so is it now. Your angels stand forever there to
intercede for you; and to you they call to be gentle and good.
Nothing can so grieve and discourage those heavenly friends as
when you mock the suffering. It was one of the highest praises
of Jesus, "The bruised reed he will not break." Remember that,
and never insult, where you cannot aid, a companion. * * *

'Let me warn you earnestly against acting insincerely, and
appearing to wish to do right for the sake of approbation
I know you must prize the good opinion of your friendly
protectors; but do not buy it at the cost of truth. Try to be,
not to seem. Only so far as you earnestly wish to do right for
the sake of right, can you gain a principle that will sustain
you hereafter; and that is what we wish, not fair appearances
now. A career can never be happy that begins with falsehood.
Be inwardly, outwardly true; then you will never be weakened
or hardened by the consciousness of playing a part; and if,
hereafter, the unfeeling or thoughtless give you pain, or
take the dreadful risk of pushing back a soul emerging
from darkness, you will feel the strong support of a good
conscience. * * *

'And never be discouraged; never despond; never say, "It is
too late." Fear not, even if you relapse again and again. Many
of you have much to contend with. Some may be so faulty, by
temperament or habit, that they can never on this earth lead a
wholly fair and harmonious life, however much they strive.
Yet do what you can. If in one act,--for one day,--you can do
right, let that live like a point of light in your memory; for
if you have done well once you can again. If you fall, do
not lie grovelling; but rise upon your feet once more, and
struggle bravely on. And if aroused conscience makes you
suffer keenly, have patience to bear it. God will not let you
suffer more than you need to fit you for his grace. At the
very moment of your utmost pain, persist to seek his aid, and
it will be given abundantly. Cultivate this spirit of prayer.
I do not mean agitation and excitement, but a deep desire for
truth, purity, and goodness, and you will daily learn how near
He is to every one of 'us.''

These fragments, from a hasty report transcribed when the impressions
of the hour had grown faint, give but a shadow of the broad good
sense, hearty fellow-feeling, and pathetic hopefulness, which made so
effective her truly womanly appeal.

This intercourse with the most unfortunate of her sex, and a desire
to learn more of the causes of their degradation, and of the means
of restoring them, led Margaret, immediately on reaching New York, to
visit the various benevolent institutions, and especially the prisons
on Blackwell's Island. And it was while walking among the beds of the
lazar-house,--mis-called "hospital,"--which then, to the disgrace
of the city, was the cess-pool of its social filth, that an incident
occurred, as touching as it was surprising to herself. A woman was
pointed out who bore a very bad character, as hardened, sulky, and
impenetrable. She was in bad health and rapidly failing. Margaret
requested to be left alone with her; and to her question, 'Are you
'willing to die?' the woman answered, "Yes;" adding, with her usual
bitterness, "not on religious grounds, though." 'That is well,--to
understand yourself,' was Margaret's rejoinder. She then began to
talk with her about her health, and her few comforts, until the
conversation deepened in interest. At length, as Margaret rose to
go, she said: 'Is there not anything I can do 'for you?' The woman
replied: "I should be glad if you will pray with me."

The condition of these wretched beings was brought the more home to
her heart, as the buildings were directly in sight from Mr. Greeley's
house, at Turtle Bay, where Margaret, on her arrival, went to reside.
'Seven hundred females,' she writes,

'are now confined in the Penitentiary opposite this point.
We can pass over in a boat in a few minutes. I mean to visit,
talk, and read with them. I have always felt great interest in
those women who are trampled in the mud to gratify the brute
appetites of men, and wished that I might be brought naturally
into contact with them. Now I am.'


It was early in December of 1844 that Margaret took up her abode
with Mr. and Mrs. Greeley, in a spacious old wooden mansion, somewhat
ruinous, but delightfully situated on the East River, which she thus

'This place is, to me, entirely charming; it is so completely
in the country, and all around is so bold and free. It is two
miles or more from the thickly settled parts of New York, but
omnibuses and cars give me constant access to the city, and,
while I can readily see what and whom I will, I can command
time and retirement. Stopping on the Haarlem road, you enter
a lane nearly a quarter of a mile long, and going by a small
brook and pond that locks in the place, and ascending a
slightly rising ground, get sight of the house, which,
old-fashioned and of mellow tint, fronts on a flower-garden
filled with shrubs, large vines, and trim box borders. On
both sides of the house are beautiful trees, standing fair,
full-grown, and clear. Passing through a wide hall, you come
out upon a piazza, stretching the whole length of the house,
where one can walk in all weathers; and thence by a step or
two, on a lawn, with picturesque masses of rocks, shrubs
and trees, overlooking the East River. Gravel paths lead, by
several turns, down the steep bank to the water's edge, where
round the rocky point a small bay curves, in which boats are
lying. And, owing to the currents, and the set of the tide,
the sails glide sidelong, seeming to greet the house as
they sweep by. The beauty here, seen by moonlight, is truly
transporting. I enjoy it greatly, and the _genius loci_
receives me as to a home.'

Here Margaret remained for a year and more, writing regularly for the
Tribune. And how high an estimate this prolonged and near acquaintance
led her to form for its Editor, will appear from a few passages in her

'Mr. Greeley is a man of genuine excellence, honorable,
benevolent, and of an uncorrupted disposition. He is
sagacious, and, in his way, of even great abilities. In modes
of life and manner he is a man of the people, and of the
American people.' And again:--Mr. Greeley is in many ways
very interesting for me to know. He teaches me things, which
my own influence on those, who have hitherto approached me,
has prevented me from learning. In our business and friendly
relations, we are on terms of solid good-will and mutual
respect. With the exception of my own mother, I think him the
most disinterestedly generous person I have ever known.'

And later she writes:--

'You have heard that the Tribune Office was burned to the
ground. For a day I thought it must make a difference, but it
has served only to increase my admiration for Mr. Greeley's
smiling courage. He has really a strong character.'

On the other side, Mr. Greeley thus records his recollections of his

"My first acquaintance with Margaret Fuller was made through
the pages of 'The Dial.' The lofty range and rare ability
of that work, and its un-American richness of culture and
ripeness of thought, naturally filled the 'fit audience,
though few,' with a high estimate of those who were known
as its conductors and principal writers. Yet I do not now
remember that any article, which strongly impressed me, was
recognized as from the pen of its female editor, prior to the
appearance of 'The Great Lawsuit,' afterwards matured into the
volume more distinctively, yet not quite accurately, entitled
'Woman in the Nineteenth Century.' I think this can hardly
have failed to make a deep impression on the mind of every
thoughtful reader, as the production of an original, vigorous,
and earnest mind. 'Summer on the Lakes,' which appeared some
time after that essay, though before its expansion into
a book, struck me as less ambitious in its aim, but more
graceful and delicate in its execution; and as one of the
clearest and most graphic delineations, ever given, of the
Great Lakes, of the Prairies, and of the receding
barbarism, and the rapidly advancing, but rude, repulsive
semi-civilization, which were contending with most unequal
forces for the possession of those rich lands. I still
consider 'Summer on the Lakes' unequalled, especially in its
pictures of the Prairies and of the sunnier aspects of Pioneer

"Yet, it was the suggestion of Mrs. Greeley,--who had spent
some weeks of successive seasons in or near Boston, and who
had there made the personal acquaintance of Miss Fuller, and
formed a very high estimate and warm attachment for her,--that
induced me, in the autumn of 1844, to offer her terms, which
were accepted, for her assistance in the literary department
of the Tribune. A home in my family was included in the
stipulation. I was myself barely acquainted with her, when she
thus came to reside with us, and I did not fully appreciate
her nobler qualities for some months afterward. Though we
were members of the same household, we scarcely met save at
breakfast; and my time and thoughts were absorbed in duties
and cares, which left me little leisure or inclination for the
amenities of social intercourse. Fortune seemed to delight
in placing us two in relations of friendly antagonism,--or
rather, to develop all possible contrasts in our ideas and
social habits. She was naturally inclined to luxury and a good
appearance before the world. My pride, if I had any, delighted
in bare walls and rugged fare. She was addicted to strong tea
and coffee, both which I rejected and contemned, even in the
most homoeopathic dilutions: while, my general health being
sound, and hers sadly impaired, I could not fail to find in
her dietetic habits the causes of her almost habitual illness;
and once, while we were still barely acquainted, when she
came to the breakfast-table with a very severe headache, I was
tempted to attribute it to her strong potations of the Chinese
leaf the night before. She told me quite frankly that she
'declined being lectured on the food or beverage she saw fit
to take;' which was but reasonable in one who had arrived
at her maturity of intellect and fixedness of habits. So
the subject was thenceforth tacitly avoided between us; but,
though words were suppressed, looks and involuntary gestures
could not so well be; and an utter divergency of views on this
and kindred themes created a perceptible distance between us.

"Her earlier contributions to the Tribune were not her best,
and I did not at first prize her aid so highly as I afterwards
learned to do. She wrote always freshly, vigorously, but not
always clearly; for her full and intimate acquaintance with
continental literature, especially German, seemed to have
marred her felicity and readiness of expression in her mother
tongue. While I never met another woman who conversed more
freely or lucidly, the attempt to commit her thoughts to paper
seemed to induce a singular embarrassment and hesitation. She
could write only when in the vein; and this needed often to be
waited for through several days, while the occasion sometimes
required an immediate utterance. The new book must be reviewed
before other journals had thoroughly dissected and discussed
it, else the ablest critique would command no general
attention, and perhaps be, by the greater number, unread. That
the writer should wait the flow of inspiration, or at least
the recurrence of elasticity of spirits and relative health of
body, will not seem unreasonable to the general reader; but
to the inveterate hack-horse of the daily press, accustomed to
write at any time, on any subject, and with a rapidity
limited only by the physical ability to form the requisite
pen-strokes, the notion of waiting for a brighter day, or a
happier frame of mind, appears fantastic and absurd. He would
as soon think of waiting for a change in the moon. Hence,
while I realized that her contributions evinced rare
intellectual wealth and force, I did not value them as I
should have done had they been written more fluently and
promptly. They often seemed to make their appearance 'a day
after the fair.'

"One other point of tacit antagonism between us may as well be
noted. Margaret was always a most earnest, devoted champion
of the Emancipation of Women, from their past and present
condition of inferiority, to an independence on Men. She
demanded for them the fullest recognition of Social and
Political Equality with the rougher sex; the freest access to
all stations, professions, employments, which are open to any.
To this demand I heartily acceded. It seemed to me, however,
that her clear perceptions of abstract right were often
overborne, in practice, by the influence of education and
habit; that while she demanded absolute equality for Woman,
she exacted a deference and courtesy from men to women, _as_
women, which was entirely inconsistent with that requirement.
In my view, the equalizing theory can be enforced only by
ignoring the habitual discrimination of men and women, as
forming separate _classes_, and regarding all alike as simply
_persons_,--as human beings. So long as a lady shall deem
herself in need of some gentleman's arm to conduct her
properly out of a dining or ball-room,--so long as she shall
consider it dangerous or unbecoming to walk half a mile alone
by night,--I cannot see how the 'Woman's Rights' theory
is ever to be anything more than a logically defensible
abstraction. In this view Margaret did not at all concur,
and the diversity was the incitement to much perfectly
good-natured, but nevertheless sharpish sparring between us.
Whenever she said or did anything implying the usual demand
of Woman on the courtesy and protection of Manhood, I was apt,
before complying, to look her in the face and exclaim with
marked emphasis,--quoting from her 'Woman in the Nineteenth
this was given and received as raillery, but it did not tend
to ripen our intimacy or quicken my esteem into admiration.
Though no unkind word ever passed between us, nor any approach
to one, yet we two dwelt for months under the same roof, as
scarcely more than acquaintances, meeting once a day at a
common board, and having certain business relations with
each other. Personally, I regarded her rather as my wife's
cherished friend than as my own, possessing many lofty
qualities and some prominent weaknesses, and a good deal
spoiled by the unmeasured flattery of her little circle of
inordinate admirers. For myself, burning no incense on any
human shrine, I half-consciously resolved to 'keep my eye beam
clear,' and escape the fascination which she seemed to exert
over the eminent and cultivated persons, mainly women, who
came to our out-of-the-way dwelling to visit her, and who
seemed generally to regard her with a strangely Oriental

"But as time wore on, and I became inevitably better and
better acquainted with her, I found myself drawn, almost
irresistibly, into the general current. I found that her
faults and weaknesses were all superficial and obvious to the
most casual, if undazzled, observer. They rather dwindled than
expanded upon a fuller knowledge; or rather, took on new and
brighter aspects in the light of her radiant and lofty soul. I
learned to know her as a most fearless and unselfish champion
of Truth and Human Good at all hazards, ready to be their
standard-bearer through danger and obloquy, and, if need be,
their martyr. I think few have more keenly appreciated
the material goods of life,--Rank, Riches, Power, Luxury,
Enjoyment; but I know none who would have more cheerfully
surrendered them all, if the well-being of our Race could
thereby have been promoted. I have never met another in whom
the inspiring hope of Immortality was so strengthened into
profoundest conviction. She did not _believe_ in our future
and unending existence,--she _knew_ it, and lived ever in the
broad glare of its morning twilight. With a limited income
and liberal wants, she was yet generous beyond the bounds of
reason. Had the gold of California been all her own, she would
have disbursed nine tenths of it in eager and well-directed
efforts to stay, or at least diminish, the flood of human
misery. And it is but fair to state, that the liberality she
evinced was fully paralleled by the liberality she experienced
at the hands of others. Had she needed thousands, and made
her wants known, she had friends who would have cheerfully
supplied her. I think few persons, in their pecuniary
dealings, have experienced and evinced more of the better
qualities of human nature than Margaret Fuller. She seemed to
inspire those who approached her with that generosity which
was a part of her nature.

"Of her writings I do not purpose to speak critically. I think
most of her contributions to the Tribune, while she remained
with us, were characterized by a directness, terseness,
and practicality, which are wanting in some of her earlier
productions. Good judges have confirmed my own opinion, that,
while her essays in the Dial are more elaborate and ambitious,
her reviews in the Tribune are far better adapted to win the
favor and sway the judgment of the great majority of readers.
But, one characteristic of her writings I feel bound to
commend,--their absolute truthfulness. She never asked how
this would sound, nor whether that would do, nor what would be
the effect of saying anything; but simply, 'Is it the truth?
Is it such as the public should know?' And if her judgment
answered, 'Yes,' she uttered it; no matter what turmoil it
might excite, nor what odium it might draw down on her
own head. Perfect conscientiousness was an unfailing
characteristic of her literary efforts. Even the severest
of her critiques,--that on Longfellow's Poems,--for which
an impulse in personal pique has been alleged, I happen with
certainty to know had no such origin. When I first handed her
the book to review, she excused herself, assigning the wide
divergence of her views of Poetry from those of the author and
his school, as her reason. She thus induced me to attempt the
task of reviewing it myself. But day after day sped by, and
I could find no hour that was not absolutely required for
the performance of some duty that _would not_ be put off, nor
turned over to another. At length I carried the book back to
her in utter despair of ever finding an hour in which even to
look through it; and, at my renewed and earnest request, she
reluctantly undertook its discussion. The statement of these
facts is but an act of justice to her memory.

"Profoundly religious,--though her creed was, at once, very
broad and very short, with a genuine love for inferiors in
social position, whom she was habitually studying, by her
counsel and teachings, to elevate and improve,--she won
the confidence and affection of those who attracted her, by
unbounded sympathy and trust. She probably knew the cherished
secrets of more hearts than any one else, because she freely
imparted her own. With a full share both of intellectual and
of family pride, she preeminently recognized and responded to
the essential brotherhood of all human kind, and needed but to
know that a fellow-being required her counsel or assistance,
to render her, riot merely willing, but eager to impart it.
Loving ease, luxury, and the world's good opinion, she stood
ready to renounce them all, at the call of pity or of duty.
I think no one, not radically averse to the whole system of
domestic servitude, would have treated servants, of whatever
class, with such uniform and thoughtful consideration,--a
regard which wholly merged their factitious condition in their
antecedent and permanent humanity. I think few servants ever
lived weeks with her, who were not dignified and lastingly
benefited by her influence and her counsels. They might be
at first repelled, by what seemed her too stately manner and
exacting disposition, but they soon learned to esteem and love

"I have known few women, and scarcely another maiden, who had
the heart and the courage to speak with such frank compassion,
in mixed circles, of the most degraded and outcast portion of
the sex. The contemplation of their treatment, especially
by the guilty authors of their ruin, moved her to a calm and
mournful indignation, which she did not attempt to suppress
nor control. Others were willing to pity and deplore; Margaret
was more inclined to vindicate and to redeem. She did not
hesitate to avow that on meeting some of these abused, unhappy
sisters, she had been surprised to find them scarcely fallen
morally below the ordinary standard of Womanhood,--realizing
and loathing their debasement; anxious to escape it; and only
repelled by the sad consciousness that for them sympathy and
society remained only so long as they should persist in
the ways of pollution. Those who have read her 'Woman,' may
remember some daring comparisons therein suggested between
these Pariahs of society and large classes of their
respectable sisters; and that was no fitful expression,--no
sudden outbreak,--but impelled by her most deliberate
convictions. I think, if she had been born to large fortune, a
house of refuge for all female outcasts desiring to return to
the ways of Virtue, would have been one of her most cherished
and first realized conceptions.

"Her love of children was one of her most prominent
characteristics. The pleasure she enjoyed in their society
was fully counterpoised by that she imparted. To them she was
never lofty, nor reserved, nor mystical; for no one had ever
a more perfect faculty for entering into their sports, their
feelings, their enjoyments. She could narrate almost any
story in language level to their capacities, and in a manner
calculated to bring out their hearty and often boisterously
expressed delight. She possessed marvellous powers of
observation and imitation or mimicry; and, had she been
attracted to the stage, would have been the first actress
America has produced, whether in tragedy or comedy. Her
faculty of mimicking was not needed to commend her to the
hearts of children, but it had its effect in increasing the
fascinations of her genial nature and heartfelt joy in their
society. To amuse and instruct them was an achievement for
which she would readily forego any personal object; and her
intuitive perception of the toys, games, stories, rhymes,
&c., best adapted to arrest and enchain their attention, was
unsurpassed. Between her and my only child, then living, who
was eight months old when she came to us, and something over
two years when she sailed for Europe, tendrils of affection
gradually intertwined themselves, which I trust Death has not
severed, but rather multiplied and strengthened. She became
his teacher, playmate, and monitor; and he requited her with a
prodigality of love and admiration.

"I shall not soon forget their meeting in my office, after
some weeks' separation, just before she left us forever. His
mother had brought him in from the country and left him asleep
on my sofa, while she was absent making purchases, and he had
rolled off and hurt himself in the fall, waking with the shock
in a phrensy of anger, just before Margaret, hearing of his
arrival, rushed into the office to find him. I was vainly
attempting to soothe him as she entered; but he was running
from one end to the other of the office, crying passionately,
and refusing to be pacified. She hastened to him, in perfect
confidence that her endearments would calm the current of his
feelings,--that the sound of her well-remembered voice would
banish all thought of his pain,--and that another moment would
see him restored to gentleness; but, half-wakened, he did not
heed her, and probably did not even realize who it was that
caught him repeatedly in her arms and tenderly insisted that
he should restrain himself. At last she desisted in
despair; and, with the bitter tears streaming down her face,
observed:--'Pickie, many friends have treated me unkindly,
but no one had ever the power to cut me to the heart, as you
have!' Being thus let alone, he soon came to himself, and
their mutual delight in the meeting was rather heightened by
the momentary estrangement.

"They had one more meeting; their last on earth! 'Aunty
Margaret' was to embark for Europe on a certain day, and
'Pickie' was brought into the city to bid her farewell.
They met this time also at my office, and together we thence
repaired to the ferry-boat, on which she was returning to her
residence in Brooklyn to complete her preparations for the
voyage. There they took a tender and affecting leave of each
other. But soon his mother called at the office, on her way to
the departing ship, and we were easily persuaded to accompany
her thither, and say farewell once more, to the manifest
satisfaction of both Margaret and the youngest of her devoted
friends. Thus they parted, never to meet again in time. She
sent him messages and presents repeatedly from Europe; and he,
when somewhat older, dictated a letter in return, which was
joyfully received and acknowledged. When the mother of our
great-souled friend spent some days with us nearly two years
afterward, 'Pickie' talked to her often and lovingly of 'Aunty
Margaret,' proposing that they two should 'take a boat and go
over and see her,'--for, to his infantile conception, the low
coast of Long Island, visible just across the East River,
was that Europe to which she had sailed, and where she was
unaccountably detained so long. Alas! a far longer and more
adventurous journey was required to reunite those loving
souls! The 12th of July, 1849, saw him stricken down, from
health to death, by the relentless cholera; and my letter,
announcing that calamity, drew from her a burst of passionate
sorrow, such as hardly any bereavement but the loss of a
very near relative could have impelled. Another year had just
ended, when a calamity, equally sudden, bereft a wide circle
of her likewise, with her husband and infant son. Little did I
fear, when I bade her a confident Good-by, on the deck of her
outward-bound ship, that the sea would close over her earthly
remains, ere we should meet again; far less that the light
of my eyes and the cynosure of my hopes, who then bade her
a tenderer and sadder farewell, would precede her on the dim
pathway to that 'Father's house,' whence is no returning! Ah,
well! God is above all, and gracious alike in what he conceals
and what he discloses;--benignant and bounteous, as well when
he reclaims as when he bestows. In a few years, at farthest,
our loved and lost ones will welcome us to their home."

Favorably as Mr. Greeley speaks of Margaret's articles in the Tribune,
it is yet true that she never brought her full power to bear upon
them; partly because she was too much exhausted by previous over-work,
partly because it hindered her free action to aim at popular effect.
Her own estimate of them is thus expressed:--

'I go on very moderately, for my strength is not great, and
I am connected with one who is anxious that I should not
overtask it. Body and mind, I have long required rest and
mere amusement, and now obey Nature as much as I can. If
she pleases to restore me to an energetic state, she will
by-and-by; if not, I can only hope this world will not turn
me out of doors too abruptly. I value my present position very
much, as enabling me to speak effectually some right words to
a large circle; and, while I can do so, am content.'

Again she says,--

'I am pleased with your sympathy about the Tribune, for I
do not find much among my old friends. They think I ought to
produce something excellent, while I am satisfied to aid
in the great work of popular education. I never regarded
literature merely as a collection of exquisite products, but
rather as a means of mutual interpretation. Feeling that many
are reached and in some degree helped, the thoughts of every
day seem worth noting, though in a form that does not inspire

The most valuable of her contributions, according to her own judgment,
were the Criticisms on Contemporary Authors in Europe and America. A
few of these were revised in the spring of 1846, and, in connection
with some of her best articles selected from the Dial, Western
Messenger, American Monthly, &c., appeared in two volumes of Wiley and
Putnam's Library of American Books, under the title of PAPERS ON ART


Heralded by her reputation, as a scholar, writer, and talker, and
brought continually before the public by her articles in the Tribune,
Margaret found a circle of acquaintance opening before her, as wide,
various, and rich, as time and inclination permitted her to know.
Persons sought her in her country retreat, attracted alike by idle
curiosity, desire for aid, and respectful sympathy. She visited freely
in several interesting families in New York and Brooklyn: occasionally
accepted invitations to evening parties, and often met, at the
somewhat celebrated _soirees_ of Miss Lynch, the assembled authors,
artists, critics, wits, and _dilettanti_ of New York. As was
inevitable, also, for one of such powerful magnetic influence, liberal
soul and broad judgment, she once again became, as elsewhere she had
been, a confidant and counsellor of the tempted and troubled; and her
geniality, lively conversation, and ever fresh love, gave her a home
in many hearts. But the subdued tone of her spirits at this period led
her to prefer seclusion.

Of her own social habits she writes:--

'It is not well to keep entirely apart from the stream of
common life; so, though I never go out when busy, nor keep
late hours, I find it pleasanter and better to enter somewhat
into society. I thus meet with many entertaining acquaintance,
and some friends. I can never, indeed, expect, in America, or
in this world, to form relations with nobler persons than I
have already known; nor can I put my heart into these new ties
as into the old ones, though probably it would still respond
to commanding excellence. But my present circle satisfies
my wants. As to what is called "good society," I am wholly
indifferent. I know several women, whom I like very much,
and yet more men. I hear good music, which answers my social
desires better than any other intercourse can; and I love
four or five interesting children, in whom I always find more
genuine sympathy than in their elders.'

Of the impression produced by Margaret on those who were but slightly
acquainted with her, some notion may be formed from the following

"In general society, she commanded respect rather than
admiration All persons were curious to see her, and in full
rooms her fine head and spiritual expression at once marked
her out from the crowd; but the most were repelled by what
seemed conceit, pedantry, and a harsh spirit of criticism,
while, on her part, she appeared to regard those around her
as frivolous, superficial, and conventional. Indeed, I must
frankly confess, that we did not meet in pleasant relations,
except now and then, when the lifting of a veil, as it were,
revealed for a moment the true life of each. Yet I was fond of
looking at her from a distance, and defending her when silly
people were inclined to cavil at her want of feminine graces.
Then I would say, 'I would like to be an artist now, that I
might paint, not the care-worn countenance and the uneasy air
of one seemingly out of harmony with the scene about her, but
the soul that sometimes looks out from under those large lids.
Michel Angelo would have made her a Sibyl.' I remember I was
surprised to find her height no greater; for her writings had
always given me an impression of magnitude. Thus I studied
though I avoided her, admitting, the while, proudly and
joyously, that she was a woman to reverence. A trifling
incident, however, gave me the key to much in her character,
of which, before, I had not dreamed. It was one evening, after
a Valentine party, where Frances Osgood, Margaret Fuller, and
other literary ladies, had attracted some attention, that,
as we were in the dressing-room preparing to go home, I
heard Margaret sigh deeply. Surprised and moved, I said,
'Why?'--'Alone, as usual,' was her pathetic answer, followed
by a few sweet, womanly remarks, touching as they were
beautiful. Often, after, I found myself recalling her look and
tone, with tears in my eyes; for before I had regarded her as
a being cold, and abstracted, if not scornful."

Cold, abstracted, and scornful! About this very time it was that
Margaret wrote in her journal:--

'Father, let me not injure my fellows during this period of
repression. I feel that when we meet my tones are not so sweet
as I would have them. O, let me not wound! I, who know so well
how wounds can burn and ache, should not inflict them. Let my
touch be light and gentle. Let me keep myself uninvaded, but
let me not fail to be kind and tender, when need is. Yet I
would not assume an overstrained poetic magnanimity. Help
me to do just right, and no more. O, make truth profound and
simple in me!'


'The heart bleeds,--faith almost gives way, to see man's
seventy years of chrysalis. Is it not too long? Enthusiasm
must struggle fiercely to burn clear amid these fogs. In what
little, low, dark cells of care and prejudice, without
one soaring thought or melodious fancy, do poor
mortals--well-intentioned enough, and with religious
aspiration too--forever creep. And yet the sun sets to-day as
gloriously bright as ever it did on the temples of Athens, and
the evening star rises as heavenly pure as it rose on the
eye of Dante. O, Father! help me to free my fellows from the
conventional bonds whereby their sight is holden. By purity
and freedom let me teach them justice.'

And yet again:--

'There comes a consciousness that I have no real hold on
life,--no real, permanent connection with any soul. I seem a
wandering Intelligence, driven from spot to spot, that I may
learn all secrets, and fulfil a circle of knowledge. This
thought envelopes me as a cold atmosphere. I 'do not see how I
shall go through this destiny. I can, if it is mine; but I do
not feel that I can.'

Casual observers mistook Margaret's lofty idealism for personal pride;
but thus speaks one who really knew her:--"You come like one of the
great powers of nature, harmonizing with all beauty of the soul or
of the earth. You cannot be discordant with anything that is true and
deep. I thank God for the noble privilege of being recognized by so
large, tender, and radiant a soul as thine."



"I go to prove my soul.
I see my way, as birds their trackless way.
In some time, God's good time, I shall arrive
He guides me and the bird. In his good time!"


"One, who, if He be called upon to face
Some awful moment, to which Heaven has joined
Great issues, good or bad for human kind,
Is happy as a lover, and attired
With sudden brightness, like a man inspired;
And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw."


"Italia! Italia! O tu cui feo la sorte
Dono infelice di bellezza, ond' hai
Funesta dote d' infiniti guai,
Che in fronte scritti per gran doglia porte.
Deh, fossi tu men bella, o almen piu forte!"


"Oh, not to guess it at the first.
But I did guess it,--that is, I divined,
Felt by an instinct how it was;--why else
Should I pronounce you free from all that heap
Of sins, which had been irredeemable?
I felt they were not yours."


"Nests there are many of this very year,
Many the nests are, which the winds shall shake,
The rains run through and other birds beat down
Yours, O Aspasia! rests against the temple
Of heavenly love, and, thence inviolate,
It shall not fall this winter, nor the next."


"Lift up your heart upon the knees of God,
Losing yourself, your smallness and your darkness
In His great light, who fills and moves the world,
Who hath alone the quiet of perfect motion."




* * * * *

[It has been judged best to let Margaret herself tell the story of her
travels. In the spring of 1846, her valued friends, Marcus Spring and
lady, of New York, had decided to make a tour in Europe, with their
son, and they invited Miss Fuller to accompany them. An arrangement
was soon made on such terms as she could accept, and the party sailed
from Boston in the "Cambria," on the first of August. The following
narrative is made up of letters addressed by her to various
correspondents. Some extracts, describing distinguished persons whom
she saw, have been borrowed from her letters to the New York Tribune.]


_Liverpool, Aug_. 16, 1846.

My dear Mother:--

The last two days at sea passed well enough, as a number of agreeable
persons were introduced to me, and there were several whom I knew
before. I enjoyed nothing on the sea; the excessively bracing air so
affected me that I could not bear to look at it. The sight of land
delighted me. The tall crags, with their breakers and circling
sea-birds; then the green fields, how glad! We had a very fine day to
come ashore, and made the shortest passage ever known. The stewardess
said, "Any one who complained this time tempted the Almighty." I did
not complain, but I could hardly have borne another day. I had no
appetite; but am now making up for all deficiencies, and feel already
a renovation beginning from the voyage; and, still more, from freedom
and entire change of scene.

We came here Wednesday, at noon; next day we went to Manchester; the
following day to Chester; returning here Saturday evening.

On Sunday we went to hear James Martineau; were introduced to him,
and other leading persons. The next day and evening I passed in the
society of very pleasant people, who have made every exertion to give
me the means of seeing and learning; but they have used up all my



As soon as I reached England, I found how right we were in supposing
there was elsewhere a greater range of interesting character among the
men, than with us. I do not find, indeed, any so valuable as three or
four among the most marked we have known; but many that are strongly
individual, and have a fund of hidden life.

In Westmoreland, I knew, and have since been seeing in London, a man,
such as would interest you a good deal; Mr. Atkinson. He is sometimes
called the "prince of the English mesmerisers;" and he has the fine
instinctive nature you may suppose from that. He is a man of about
thirty; in the fulness of his powers; tall, and finely formed, with
a head for Leonardo to paint; mild and composed, but powerful and
sagacious; he does not think, but perceives and acts. He is intimate
with artists, having studied architecture himself as a profession; but
has some fortune on which he lives. Sometimes stationary and acting
in the affairs of other men; sometimes wandering about the world and
learning; he seems bound by no tie, yet looks as if he had relatives
in every place.

I saw, also, a man,--an artist,--severe and antique in his spirit; he
seemed burdened by the sorrows of aspiration; yet very calm, as secure
in the justice of fate. What he does is bad, but full of a great
desire. His name is David Scott. I saw another,--a pupil of De la
Roche,--very handsome, and full of a voluptuous enjoyment of nature:
him I liked a little in a different way.

By far the most beauteous person I have seen is Joseph Mazzini. If you
ever see Saunders' "People's Journal," you can read articles by him
that will give you some notion of his mind, especially one on his
friends, headed "Italian Martyrs." He is one in whom holiness has
purified, but somewhat dwarfed the man.

* * * * *

Our visit to Mr. Wordsworth was fortunate. He is seventy-six; but his
is a florid, fair old age. He walked with us to all his haunts about
the house. Its situation is beautiful, and the "Rydalian Laurels" are
magnificent. Still, I saw abodes among the hills that I should have
preferred for Wordsworth; more wild and still more romantic. The fresh
and lovely Rydal Mount seems merely the retirement of a gentleman,
rather than the haunt of a poet. He showed his benignity of
disposition in several little things, especially in his attentions to
a young boy we had with us. This boy had left the circus, exhibiting
its feats of horsemanship, in Ambleside, "for that day only," at his
own desire to see Wordsworth; and I feared he would be dissatisfied,
as I know I should have been at his age, if, when called to see
a poet, I had found no Apollo flaming with youthful glory,
laurel-crowned, and lyre in hand; but, instead, a reverend old man
clothed in black, and walking with cautious step along the level
garden-path. However, he was not disappointed; and Wordsworth, in his
turn, seemed to feel and prize a congenial nature in this child.

Taking us into the house, he showed us the picture of his sister,
repeating with much expression some lines of hers, and those so famous
of his about her, beginning "Five years," &c.; also, his own picture,
by Inman, of whom he spoke with esteem. I had asked to see a picture
in that room, which has been described in one of the finest of his
later poems. A hundred times had I wished to see this picture, yet
when seen was not disappointed by it. The light was unfavorable, but
it had a light of its own,--

"whose mild gleam
Of beauty never ceases to enrich
The common light."

Mr. Wordsworth is fond of the hollyhock; a partiality scarcely
deserved by the flower, but which marks the simplicity of his tastes.
He had made a long avenue of them, of all colors, from the crimson
brown to rose, straw-color, and white, and pleased himself with having
made proselytes to a liking for them, among his neighbors.

I never have seen such magnificent fuchsias as at Ambleside, and there
was one to be seen in every cottage-yard. They are no longer here
under the shelter of the green-house, as with us, and as they used to
be in England. The plant, from its grace and finished elegance, being
a great favorite of mine, I should like to see it as frequently and of
as luxuriant growth at home, and asked their mode of culture, which
I here mark down for the benefit of all who may be interested. Make
a bed of bog-earth and sand; put down slips of the fuchsia, and give
them a great deal of water; this is all they need. People leave them
out here in winter, but perhaps they would not bear the cold of our

Mr. Wordsworth spoke with more liberality than we expected of the
recent measures about the Corn-laws, saying that "the principle
was certainly right, though whether existing interests had been as
carefully attended to as was right, he was not prepared to say," &c.
His neighbors were pleased to hear of his speaking thus mildly, and
hailed it as a sign that he was opening his mind to more light on
these subjects. They lament that his habits of seclusion keep him
ignorant of the real wants of England and the world. Living in this
region, which is cultivated by small proprietors, where there is
little poverty, vice, or misery, he hears not the voice which cries so
loudly from other parts of England, and will not be stilled by sweet,
poetic suasion, or philosophy, for it is the cry of men in the jaws of

It was pleasant to find the reverence inspired by this great and pure
mind warmest near home. Our landlady, in heaping praises upon him,
added, constantly, "and Mrs. Wordsworth, too." "Do the people here,"
said I, "value Mr. Wordsworth most because he is a celebrated writer?"
"Truly, madam," said she, "I think it is because he is so kind a

"True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home."


At Edinburgh we were in the wrong season, and many persons we most
wished to see were absent. We had, however, the good fortune to find
Dr. Andrew Combe, who received us with great kindness. I was impressed
with great and affectionate respect, by the benign and even temper of
his mind, his extensive and accurate knowledge, accompanied by a large
and intelligent liberality. Of our country he spoke very wisely and

* * * * *

I had the satisfaction, not easily attainable now, of seeing De
Quincey for some hours, and in the mood of conversation. As one
belonging to the Wordsworth and Coleridge constellation (he, too,
is now seventy years of age), the thoughts and knowledge of Mr. De
Quincey lie in the past, and oftentimes he spoke of matters now become
trite to one of a later culture. But to all that fell from his lips,
his eloquence, subtle and forcible as the wind, full and gently
falling as the evening dew, lent a peculiar charm. He is an admirable
narrator; not rapid, but gliding along like a rivulet through a green
meadow, giving and taking a thousand little beauties not absolutely
required to give his story due relief, but each, in itself, a separate

I admired, too, his urbanity; so opposite to the rapid, slang,
Vivian-Greyish style, current in the literary conversation of the
day. "Sixty years since," men had time to do things better and more


With Dr. Chalmers we passed a couple of hours. He is old now, but
still full of vigor and fire. We had an opportunity of hearing a
fine burst of indignant eloquence from him. "I shall blush to my very
bones," said he, "if the _Chaarrch_" (sound these two _rrs_ with
as much burr as possible, and you will get an idea of his mode of
pronouncing that unweariable word,) "if the Chaarrch yield to the
storm." He alluded to the outcry now raised by the Abolitionists
against the Free Church, whose motto is, "Send back the money;" i.e.,
the money taken from the American slaveholders. Dr. C. felt, that
if they did not yield from conviction, they must not to assault.
His manner in speaking of this gave me a hint of the nature of his
eloquence. He seldom preaches now.

* * * * *

A Scottish gentleman told me the following story:--Burns, still only
in the dawn of his celebrity, was invited to dine with one of the
neighboring so-called gentry, unhappily quite void of true gentle
blood. On arriving, he found his plate set in the servants' room.
After dinner, he was invited into a room where guests were assembled,
and, a chair being placed for him at the lower end of the board, a
glass of wine was offered, and he was requested to sing one of his
songs for the entertainment, of the company. He drank off the wine,
and thundered forth in reply his grand song "For a' that and a' that,"
and having finished his prophecy and prayer, nature's nobleman left
his churlish entertainers to hide their heads in the home they had


At Inversnaid, we took a boat to go down Loch Lomond, to the little
inn of Rowardennan, from which the ascent is made of Ben Lomond. We
found a day of ten thousand, for our purpose; but, unhappily, a large
party had come with the sun, and engaged all the horses, so that if we
went, it must be on foot. This was something of an enterprise for me,
as the ascent is four miles, and toward the summit quite fatiguing.
However, in the pride of newly-gained health and strength, I was
ready, and set forth with Mr. S. alone. We took no guide, and the
people of the house did not advise us to take one, as they ought.

On reaching the peak, the sight was one of beauty and grandeur such as
imagination never painted. You see around you no plain ground, but on
every side constellations, or groups of hills, exquisitely dressed in
the soft purple of the heather, amid which gleam the lakes, like eyes
that tell the secrets of the earth, and drink in those of the heavens.
Peak beyond peak caught from the shifting light all the colors of
the prism, and, on the furthest, angel companies seemed hovering in
glorious white robes.

About four o'clock we began our descent. Near the summit, the traces
of the path are not distinct, and I said to Mr. S., after a while,
that we had lost it. He said he thought that was of no consequence;
we could find our way down. I said I thought it was, as the ground was
full of springs that were bridged over in the pathway. He accordingly
went to look for it, and I stood still, because I was so tired I did
not like to waste any labor.

Soon he called to me that he had found it, and I followed in the
direction where he seemed to be. But I mistook, overshot it, and saw
him no more. In about ten minutes I became alarmed, and called him
many times. It seems, he on his side shouted also, but the brow of
some hill was between us, and we neither saw nor heard one another. I
then thought I would make the best of my way down, and I should
find him when I arrived. But, in doing so, I found the justice of my
apprehension about the springs, so soon as I got to the foot of the
hills; for I would sink up to my knees in bog, and must go up the
hills again, seeking better crossing places. Thus I lost much time.
Nevertheless, in the twilight, I saw, at last, the lake, and the inn
of Rowardennan on its shore.

Between me and it, lay, direct, a high heathery hill, which I
afterwards found is called "The Tongue," because hemmed in on three
sides by a water-course. It looked as if, could I only get to the
bottom of that, I should be on comparatively level ground. I
then attempted to descend in the water-course, but, finding that
impracticable, climbed on the hill again, and let myself down by the
heather, for it was very steep, and full of deep holes. With great
fatigue, I got to the bottom, but when I was about to cross the
water-course there, I felt afraid, it looked so deep in the dim
twilight. I got down as far as I could by the root of a tree, and
threw down a stone. It sounded very hollow, and I was afraid to jump.
The shepherds told me afterwards, if I had, I should probably have
killed myself, it was so deep, and the bed of the torrent full of
sharp stones.

I then tried to ascend the hill again, for there was no other way to
get off it; but soon sank down utterly exhausted. When able to get up
again, and look about me, it was completely dark. I saw, far below me,
a light, that looked about as big as a pin's head, that I knew to be
from the inn at Rowardennan, but heard no sound except the rush of the
waterfall, and the sighing of the night wind.

For the first few minutes after I perceived I had come to my night's
lodging, such as it was, the circumstance looked appalling. I was very
lightly clad, my feet and dress were very wet, I had only a little
shawl to throw round me, and the cold autumn wind had already come,
and the night mist was to fall on me, all fevered and exhausted as I
was. I thought I should not live through the night, or, if I did, I
must be an invalid henceforward. I could not even keep myself warm by
walking, for, now it was dark, it would be too dangerous to stir. My
only chance, however, lay in motion, and my only help in myself; and
so convinced was I of this, that I did keep in motion the whole of
that long night, imprisoned as I was on such a little perch of that
great mountain.

For about two hours, I saw the stars, and very cheery and
companionable they looked; but then the mist fell, and I saw nothing
more, except such apparitions as visited Ossian, on the hill-side,
when he went out by night, and struck the bosky shield, and called to
him the spirits of the heroes, and the white-armed maids, with their
blue eyes of grief. To me, too, came those visionary shapes. Floating
slowly and gracefully, their white robes would unfurl from the great
body of mist in which they had been engaged, and come upon me with a
kiss pervasively cold as that of death. Then the moon rose. I could
not see her, but her silver light filled the mist. Now I knew it was
two o'clock, and that, having weathered out so much of the night, I
might the rest; and the hours hardly seemed long to me more.

It may give an idea of the extent of the mountain, that, though I
called, every now and then, with all my force, in case by chance some
aid might be near, and though no less than twenty men, with their
dogs, were looking for me, I never heard a sound, except the rush of
the waterfall and the sighing of the night wind, and once or twice
the startling of the grouse in the heather. It was sublime indeed,--a
never-to-be-forgotten presentation of stern, serene realities. At last
came the signs of day,--the gradual clearing and breaking up; some
faint sounds from I know not what; the little flies, too, arose from
their bed amid the purple heather, and bit me. Truly they were very
welcome to do so. But what was my disappointment to find the mist so
thick, that I could see neither lake nor inn, nor anything to guide
me. I had to go by guess, and, as it happened, my Yankee method served
me well. I ascended the hill, crossed the torrent, in the waterfall,
first drinking some of the water, which was as good at that time as
ambrosia. I crossed in that place, because the waterfall made steps,
as it were, to the next hill. To be sure, they were covered with
water, but I was already entirely wet with the mist, so that it
did not matter. I kept on scrambling, as it happened, in the right
direction, till, about seven, some of the shepherds found me. The
moment they came, all my feverish strength departed, and they carried
me home, where my arrival relieved my friends of distress far greater
than I had undergone; for I had my grand solitude, my Ossianic
visions, and the pleasure of sustaining myself; while they had only
doubt, amounting to anguish, and a fruitless search through the night.

Entirely contrary to my forebodings, I only suffered for this a few
days, and was able to take a parting look at my prison, as I went
down the lake, with feelings of complacency. It was a majestic-looking
hill, that Tongue, with the deep ravines on either side, and the
richest robe of heather I have anywhere seen.

Mr. S. gave all the men who were looking for me a dinner in the
barn, and he and Mrs. S. ministered to them; and they talked of
Burns,--really the national writer, and known by them, apparently,
as none other is,--and of hair-breadth 'scapes by flood and fell.
Afterwards they were all brought up to see me, and it was gratifying
to note the good breeding and good feeling with which they deported
themselves. Indeed, this adventure created quite an intimate feeling
between us and the people there. I had been much pleased before,
in attending one of their dances, at the genuine independence and
politeness of their conduct. They were willing to dance their Highland
flings and strathspeys, for our amusement, and did it as naturally and
as freely as they would have offered the stranger the best chair.


I have mentioned with satisfaction seeing some persons who illustrated
the past dynasty in the progress of thought here: Wordsworth, Dr.
Chalmers, De Quincey, Andrew Combe. With a still higher pleasure,
because to one of my own sex, whom I have honored almost above any,
I went to pay my court to Joanna Baillie. I found on her brow, not,
indeed, a coronal of gold; but a serenity and strength undimmed and
unbroken by the weight of more than fourscore years, or by the scanty
appreciation which her thoughts have received. We found her in her
little calm retreat, at Hampstead, surrounded by marks of love and
reverence from distinguished and excellent friends. Near her was the
sister, older than herself, yet still sprightly and full of active
kindness, whose character and their mutual relations she has, in one
of her last poems, indicated with such a happy mixture of sagacity,
humor, and tender pathos, and with so absolute a truth of outline.

* * * * *

Mary and William Howitt are the main support of the People's Journal.
I saw them several times at their cheerful and elegant home. In Mary
Howitt, I found the same engaging traits of character we are led
to expect from her books for children. At their house, I became
acquainted with Dr. Southwood Smith, the well-known philanthropist.
He is at present engaged in the construction of good tenements,
calculated to improve the condition of the working people.


_Paris, Nov. 16, 1846._--I meant to write on my arrival in London, six
weeks ago; but as it was not what is technically called "the season,"
I thought I had best send all my letters of introduction at once, that
I might glean what few good people I could. But more than I expected
were in town. These introduced others, and in three days I was engaged
in such a crowd of acquaintance, that I had hardly time to dress, and
none to sleep, during all the weeks I was in London.

I enjoyed the time extremely. I find myself much in my element in
European society. It does not, indeed, come up to my ideal, but so
many of the encumbrances are cleared away that used to weary me in
America, that I can enjoy a freer play of faculty, and feel, if not
like a bird in the air, at least as easy as a fish in water.

In Edinburgh, I met Dr. Brown. He is still quite a young man, but with
a high ambition, and, I should think, commensurate powers. But all is
yet in the bud with him. He has a friend, David Scott, a painter,
full of imagination, and very earnest in his views of art. I had some
pleasant hours with them, and the last night which they and I passed
with De Quincey, a real grand _conversazione_, quite in the Landor
style, which lasted, in full harmony, some hours.


Of the people I saw in London, you will wish me to speak first of the
Carlyles. Mr. C. came to see me at once, and appointed an evening to
be passed at their house. That first time, I was delighted with him.
He was in a very sweet humor,--full of wit and pathos, without being
overbearing or oppressive. I was quite carried away with the rich flow
of his discourse; and the hearty, noble earnestness of his personal
being brought back the charm which once was upon his writing, before I
wearied of it. I admired his Scotch, his way of singing his great full
sentences, so that each one was like the stanza of a narrative ballad.
He let me talk, now and then, enough to free my lungs and change my
position, so that I did not get tired. That evening, he talked of the
present state of things in England, giving light, witty sketches
of the men of the day, fanatics and others, and some sweet, homely
stories he told of things he had known of the Scotch peasantry. Of you
he spoke with hearty kindness; and he told, with beautiful feeling, a
story of some poor farmer, or artisan, in the country, who on Sunday
lays aside the cark and care of that dirty English world, and sits
reading the Essays, and looking upon the sea.

I left him that night, intending to go out very often to their
house. I assure you there never was anything so witty as Carlyle's
description of ---- ----. It was enough to kill one with laughing.
I, on my side, contributed a story to his fund of anecdote on this
subject, and it was fully appreciated. Carlyle is worth a thousand of
you for that;--he is not ashamed to laugh, when he is amused, but goes
on in a cordial human fashion.

The second time, Mr. C. had a dinner-party, at which was a witty,
French, flippant sort of man, author of a History of Philosophy, and
now writing a Life of Goethe, a task for which he must be as unfit as
irreligion and sparkling shallowness can make him. But he told stories
admirably, and was allowed sometimes to interrupt Carlyle a little,
of which one was glad, for, that night, he was in his more acrid
mood; and, though much more brilliant than on the former evening,
grew wearisome to me, who disclaimed and rejected almost everything he

For a couple of hours, he was talking about poetry, and the whole
harangue was one eloquent proclamation of the defects in his own mind.
Tennyson wrote in verse because the schoolmasters had taught him that
it was great to do so, and had thus, unfortunately, been turned from
the true path for a man. Burns had, in like manner, been turned from
his vocation. Shakspeare had not had the good sense to see that
it would have been better to write straight on in prose;--and such
nonsense, which, though amusing enough at first, he ran to death after
a while. The most amusing part is always when he comes back to some
refrain, as in the French Revolution of the _sea-green_. In this
instance, it was Petrarch and _Laura_, the last word pronounced with
his ineffable sarcasm of drawl. Although he said this over
fifty times, I could not ever help laughing when _Laura_ would
come,--Carlyle running his chin out, when he spoke it, and his eyes
glancing till they looked like the eyes and beak of a bird of prey.
Poor Laura! Lucky for her that her poet had already got her safely
canonized beyond the reach of this Teufelsdrockh vulture.

The worst of hearing Carlyle is that you cannot interrupt him. I
understand the habit and power of haranguing have increased very much
upon him, so that you are a perfect prisoner when he has once got hold
of you. To interrupt him is a physical impossibility. If you get a
chance to remonstrate for a moment, he raises his voice and bears
you down. True, he does you no injustice, and, with his admirable
penetration, sees the disclaimer in your mind, so that you are not
morally delinquent; but it is not pleasant to be unable to utter it.
The latter part of the evening, however, he paid us for this, by a
series of sketches, in his finest style of railing and raillery, of
modern French literature, not one of them, perhaps, perfectly just,
but all drawn with the finest, boldest strokes, and, from his point of
view, masterly. All were depreciating, except that of Beranger. Of him
he spoke with perfect justice, because with hearty sympathy.

I had, afterward, some talk with Mrs. C., whom hitherto I had only
_seen_, for who can speak while her husband is there? I like her very
much;--she is full of grace, sweetness, and talent. Her eyes are sad
and charming. * * *

After this, they went to stay at Lord Ashburton's, and I only saw
them once more, when they came to pass an evening with us. Unluckily,
Mazzini was with us, whose society, when he was there alone, I enjoyed
more than any. He is a beauteous and pure music; also, he is a dear
friend of Mrs. C.; but his being there gave the conversation a turn to
"progress" and ideal subjects, and C. was fluent in invectives on
all our "rose-water imbecilities." We all felt distant from him, and
Mazzini, after some vain efforts to remonstrate, became very sad. Mrs.
C. said to me, "These are but opinions to Carlyle; but to Mazzini, who
has given his all, and helped bring his friends to the scaffold, in
pursuit of such subjects, it is a matter of life and death."

All Carlyle's talk, that evening, was a defence of mere
force,--success the test of right;--if people would not behave well,
put collars round their necks;--find a hero, and let them be his
slaves, &c. It was very Titanic, and anti-celestial. I wish the last
evening had been more melodious. However, I bid Carlyle farewell with
feelings of the warmest friendship and admiration. We cannot feel
otherwise to a great and noble nature, whether it harmonize with our
own or not. I never appreciated the work he has done for his age
till I saw England. I could not. You must stand in the shadow of that
mountain of shams, to know how hard it is to cast light across it.

Honor to Carlyle! _Hoch!_ Although in the wine with which we drink
this health, I, for one, must mingle the despised "rose-water."

And now, having to your eye shown the defects of my own mind, in the
sketch of another, I will pass on more lowly,--more willing to be
imperfect,--since Fate permits such noble creatures, after all, to
be only this or that. It is much if one is not only a crow or
magpie;--Carlyle is only a lion. Some time we may, all in full, be

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