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

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_Rome, Nov._ 23, 1848.--Mazzini has stood alone in Italy, on a sunny
height, far above the stature of other men. He has fought a great
fight against folly, compromise, and treason; steadfast in his
convictions, and of almost miraculous energy to sustain them, is he.
He has foes; and at this moment, while he heads the insurrection in
the Valtellina, the Roman people murmur his name, and long to call him

How often rings in my ear the consolatory word of Koerner, after many
struggles, many undeceptions, "Though the million suffer shipwreck,
yet noble hearts survive!"

I grieve to say, the good-natured Pio has shown himself utterly
derelict, alike without resolution to abide by the good or the ill. He
is now abandoned and despised by both parties. The people do not trust
his word, for they know he shrinks from the danger, and shuts the
door to pray quietly in his closet, whilst he knows the cardinals are
misusing his name to violate his pledges. The cardinals, chased from
Rome, talk of electing an anti-Pope; because, when there was danger,
he has always yielded to the people, and they say he has overstepped
his prerogative, and broken his papal oath. No one abuses him, for it
is felt that in a more private station he would have acted a kindly
part; but he has failed of so high a vocation, and balked so noble a
hope, that no one respects him either. Who would have believed, a year
ago, that the people would assail his palace? I was on Monte Cavallo
yesterday, and saw the broken windows, the burnt doors, the walls
marked by shot, just beneath the loggia, on which we have seen him
giving the benediction. But this would never have happened, if his
guard had not fired first on the people. It is true it was without his
order, but, under a different man, the Swiss would never have dared to
incur such a responsibility.

Our old acquaintance, Sterbini, has risen to the ministry. He has
a certain influence, from his consistency and independence, but has
little talent.

Of me you wish to know; but there is little I can tell you at this
distance. I have had happy hours, learned much, suffered much, and
outward things have not gone fortunately with me. I have had glorious
hopes, but they are overclouded now, and the future looks darker than
ever, indeed, quite impossible to my steps. I have no hope, unless
that God will show me some way I do not know of now; but I do not wish
to trouble you with more of this.


_Rome, Dec_. 9, 1848.--As to Florence itself, I do not like it, with
the exception of the galleries and churches, and Michel Angelo's
marbles. I do not like it, for the reason you _do_, because it seems
like home. It seems a kind of Boston to me,--the same good and the
same ill; I have had enough of both. But I have so many dear friends
in Boston, that I must always wish to go there sometimes; and there
are so many precious objects of study in Florence, that a stay of
several months could not fail to be full of interest. Still, the
spring must be the time to be in Florence; there are so many charming
spots to visit in the environs, much nearer than those you go to
in Rome, within scope of an afternoon's drive. I saw them only when
parched with sun and covered with dust. In the spring they must be
very beautiful.

* * * * *

_December_, 1848.--I felt much what you wrote, "_if it were well with
my heart_." How seldom it is that a mortal is permitted to enjoy a
paradisaical scene, unhaunted by some painful vision from the past
or the future! With me, too, dark clouds of care and sorrow have
sometimes blotted out the sunshine. I have not lost from my side an
only sister, but have been severed from some visions still so dear,
they looked almost like hopes. The future seems too difficult for me.
I have been as happy as I could, and I feel that this summer, as last,
had I been with my country folks, the picture of Italy would not have
been so lively to me. Now I have been quite off the beaten track of
travel, have seen, thought, spoken, dreamed only what is Italian. I
have learned much, received many strong and clear impressions. While
among the mountains, I was for a good while quite alone, except for
occasional chat with the contadine, who wanted to know if Pius IX. was
not _un gran carbonaro!_--a reputation which he surely ought to have
forfeited by this time. About me they were disturbed: "_E sempre sola
soletta_," they said, "_eh perche?_"

Later, I made one of those accidental acquaintances, such as I have
spoken of to you in my life of Lombardy, which may be called romantic:
two brothers, elderly men, the last of a very noble family, formerly
lords of many castles, still of more than one; both unmarried, men of
great polish and culture. None of the consequences ensued that would
in romances: they did not any way adopt me, nor give me a casket of
diamonds, nor any of their pictures, among which were originals
by several of the greatest masters, nor their rich cabinets, nor
miniatures on agate, nor carving in wood and ivory. They only showed
me their things, and their family archives of more than a hundred
volumes, (containing most interesting documents about Poland, where
four of their ancestors were nuncios,) manuscript letters from Tasso,
and the like. With comments on these, and legendary lore enough to
furnish Cooper or Walter Scott with a thousand romances, they enriched
me; unhappily, I shall never have the strength or talent to make due
use of it. I was sorry to leave them, for now I have recrossed the
frontier into the Roman States. I will not tell you where,--I know
not that I shall ever tell where,--these months have been passed. The
great Goethe hid thus in Italy; "Then," said he, "I did indeed feel
alone,--when no former friend could form an _idea_ where I was." Why
should not ---- and I enjoy this fantastic luxury of _incognito_ also,
when we can so much more easily?

I will not name the place, but I will describe it. The rooms are
spacious and airy; the loggia of the sleeping room is rude, but it
overhangs a lovely little river, with its hedge of willows. Opposite
is a large and rich vineyard; on one side a ruined tower, on the other
an old casino, with its avenues of cypress, give human interest to the
scene. A cleft amid the mountains full of light leads on the eye to a
soft blue peak, very distant. At night the young moon trembles in the
river, and its soft murmur soothes me to sleep; it needs, for I have
had lately a bad attack upon the nerves, and been obliged to stop
writing for the present. I think I shall stay here some time, though I
suppose there are such sweet places all over Italy, if one only looks
for one's self. Poor, beautiful Italy! how she has been injured of
late! It is dreadful to see the incapacity and meanness of those to
whom she had confided the care of her redemption.

I have thus far passed this past month of fine weather most
delightfully in revisiting my haunts of the autumn before. Then, too,
I was uncommonly well and strong; it was the golden period of my Roman
life. The experience what long confinement may be expected after, from
the winter rains, has decided me _never_ to make my hay when the sun
shines: _i.e._, to give no fine day to books and pens.

The places of interest I am nearest now are villas Albani and
Ludovisi, and Santa Agnese, St. Lorenzo, and the vineyards near Porta
Maggiore. I have passed one day in a visit to Torre dei Schiavi
and the neighborhood, and another on Monte Mario, both Rome and the
Campagna-day golden in the mellowest lustre of the Italian sun. * * *
But to you I may tell, that I always go with Ossoli, the most
congenial companion I ever had for jaunts of this kind. We go out in
the morning, carrying the roast chestnuts from Rome; the bread and
wine are found in some lonely little osteria; and so we dine; and
reach Rome again, just in time to see it, from a little distance,
gilded by the sunset.

This moon having been so clear, and the air so warm, we have visited,
on successive evenings, all the places we fancied: Monte Cavallo, now
so lonely and abandoned,--no lights there but moon and stars,--Trinita
de' Monti, Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Forum. So now, if the rain
must come, or I be driven from Rome, I have all the images fair and
fresh in my mind.

About public events, why remain ignorant? Take a daily paper in the
house. The Italian press has recovered from the effervescence of
childish spirits;--you can now approximate to the truth from its
reports. There are many good papers now in Italy. Whatever represents
the Montanelli ministry is best for you. That gives the lead now. I
see good articles copied from the "Alba."


_Rome, Feb. 5_, 1849.--I am so delighted to get your letter, that I
must answer on the instant. I try with all my force to march straight
onwards,--to answer the claims of the day; to act out my feeling as
seems right at the time, and not heed the consequences;--but in my
affections I am tender and weak; where I have really loved, a barrier,
a break, causes me great suffering. I read in your letter that I am
still dear to you as you to me. I always felt, that if we had passed
more time together,--if the intimacy, for which there was ground in
the inner nature, had become consolidated,--no after differences of
opinion or conduct could have destroyed, though they might interrupt
its pleasure. But it was of few days' standing,--our interviews much
interrupted. I felt as if I knew you much better than you could me,
because I had occasion to see you amid your various and habitual
relations. I was afraid you might change, or become indifferent; now I
hope not.

True, I have written, shall write, about the affairs of Italy, what
you will much dislike, if ever you see it. I have done, may do,
many things that would be very unpleasing to you; yet there _is_ a
congeniality, I dare to say, pure, and strong, and good, at the bottom
of the heart, far, far deeper than these differences, that would
always, on a real meeting, keep us friends. For me, I could never have
but one feeling towards you.

Now, for the first time, I enjoy a full communion with the spirit of
Rome. Last winter, I had here many friends; now all are dispersed,
and sometimes I long to exchange thoughts with a friendly circle; but
generally I am better content to live thus:--the impression made by
all the records of genius around is more unbroken; I begin to be very
familiar with them. The sun shines always, when last winter it never
shone. I feel strong; I can go everywhere on foot. I pass whole days
abroad; sometimes I take a book, but seldom read it:--why should I,
when every stone talks?

In spring, I shall go often out of town. I have read "La Rome
Souterraine" of Didier, and it makes me wish to see Ardea and Nettuno.
Ostia is the only one of those desolate sites that I know yet. I study
sometimes Niebuhr, and other books about Rome, but not to any great

In the circle of my friends, two have fallen. One a person of great
wisdom, strength, and calmness. She was ever to me a most tender
friend, and one whose sympathy I highly valued. Like you by nature
and education conservative, she was through thought liberal. With no
exuberance or passionate impulsiveness herself, she knew how to allow
for these in others. The other was a woman of my years, of the most
precious gifts in heart and genius. She had also beauty and fortune.
She died at last of weariness and intellectual inanition. She never,
to any of us, her friends, hinted her sufferings. But they were
obvious in her poems, which, with great dignity, expressed a resolute
but most mournful resignation.


_Rome, Feb_. 23, 1849.--It is something if one can get free foot-hold
on the earth, so as not to be jostled out of hearing the music, if
there should be any spirits in the air to make such.

For my part, I have led rather too lonely a life of late. Before, it
seemed as if too many voices of men startled away the inspirations;
but having now lived eight months much alone, I doubt that good has
come of it, and think to return, and go with others for a little. I
have realized in these last days the thought of Goethe,--"He who would
in loneliness live, ah! he is soon alone. Each one loves, each one
lives, and leaves him to his pain." I went away and hid, all summer.
Not content with that, I said, on returning to Rome, I must be busy
and receive people little. They have taken me at my word, and hardly
one comes to see me. Now, if I want play and prattle, I shall have to
run after them. It is fair enough that we all, in turn, should be made
to feel our need of one another.

Never was such a winter as this. Ten weeks now of unbroken sunshine
and the mildest breezes. Of course, its price is to be paid. The
spring, usually divine here, with luxuriant foliage and multitudinous
roses, will be all scorched and dusty. There is fear, too, of want of
food for the poor Roman state.

I pass my days in writing, walking, occasional visits to the
galleries. I read little, except the newspapers; these take up an hour
or two of the day. I own, my thoughts are quite fixed on the daily
bulletin of men and things. I expect to write the history, but because
it is so much in my heart. If you were here, I rather think you would
be impassive, like the two most esteemed Americans I see. They do not
believe in the sentimental nations. Hungarians, Poles, Italians, are
too demonstrative for them, too fiery, too impressible. They like
better the loyal, slow-moving Germans: even the Russian, with his
dog's nose and gentlemanly servility, pleases them better than _my_
people. There is an antagonism of race.


_Rome, June_ 6, 1849.--The help I needed was external, practical. I
knew myself all the difficulties and pains of my position; they were
beyond present relief; from sympathy I could struggle with them, but
had not life enough left, afterwards, to be a companion of any worth.
To be with persons generous and refined, who would not pain; who
would sometimes lend a helping hand across the ditches of this strange
insidious marsh, was all I could have now, and this you gave.

On Sunday, from our loggia, I witnessed a terrible, a real battle. It
began at four in the morning: it lasted to the last gleam of light.
The musket-fire was almost unintermitted; the roll of the cannon,
especially from St. Angelo, most majestic. As all passed at Porta San
Pancrazio and Villa Pamfili, I saw the smoke of every discharge, the
flash of the bayonets; with a glass could see the men. Both French and
Italians fought with the most obstinate valor. The French could
not use their heavy cannon, being always driven away by the legions
Garibaldi and ----, when trying to find positions for them. The loss
on our side is about three hundred killed and wounded; theirs must
be much greater. In one casino have been found seventy dead bodies
of theirs. I find the wounded men at the hospital in a transport of
indignation. The French soldiers fought so furiously, that they think
them false as their general, and cannot endure the remembrance of
their visits, during the armistice, and talk of brotherhood. You will
have heard how all went:--how Lesseps, after appearing here fifteen
days as _plenipotentiary_, signed a treaty not dishonorable to Rome;
then Oudinot refused to ratify it, saying, _the plenipotentiary
had surpassed his powers_: Lesseps runs back to Paris, and Oudinot
attacks:--an affair alike infamous for the French from beginning to
end. The cannonade on one side has continued day and night, (being
full moon,) till this morning; they seeking to advance or take other
positions, the Romans firing on them. The French throw rockets into
the town: one burst in the court-yard of the hospital, just as I
arrived there yesterday, agitating the poor sufferers very much; they
said they did not want to die like mice in a trap.


_Rome, March_ 9, 1849.--Last night, Mazzini came to see me. You will
have heard how he was called to Italy, and received at Leghorn like
a prince, as he is; unhappily, in fact, the only one, the only great
Italian. It is expected, that, if the republic lasts, he will be
President. He has been made a Roman citizen, and elected to the
Assembly; the labels bearing, in giant letters, "_Giuseppe Mazzini,
cittadino Romano_," are yet up all over Rome. He entered by night, on
foot, to avoid demonstrations, no doubt, and enjoy the quiet of his
own thoughts, at so great a moment. The people went under his windows
the next night, and called him out to speak; but I did not know about
it. Last night, I heard a ring; then somebody speak my name; the voice
struck upon me at once. He looks more divine than ever, after all
his new, strange sufferings. He asked after all of you. He stayed two
hours, and we talked, though rapidly, of everything. He hopes to come
often, but the crisis is tremendous, and all will come on him; since,
if any one can save Italy from her foes, inward and outward, it will
be he. But he is very doubtful whether this be possible; the foes are
too many, too strong, too subtle. Yet Heaven helps sometimes. I only
grieve I cannot aid him; freely would I give my life to aid him, only
bargaining for a quick death. I don't like slow torture. I fear that
it is in reserve for him, to survive defeat. True, he can never be
utterly defeated; but to see Italy bleeding, prostrate once more, will
be very dreadful for him.

He has sent me tickets, twice, to hear him speak in the Assembly. It
was a fine, commanding voice. But, when he finished, he looked very
exhausted and melancholy. He looks as if the great battle he had
fought had been too much for his strength, and that he was only
sustained by the fire of the soul.

All this I write to you, because you said, when I was suffering at
leaving Mazzini,--"You will meet him in heaven." This I believe will
be, despite all my faults.

[In April, 1849, Margaret was appointed, by the "Roman Commission
for the succor of the wounded," to the charge of the hospital of the
_Fate-Bene Fratetti_; the Princess Belgioioso having charge of the one
already opened. The following is a copy of the original letter
from the Princess, which is written in English, announcing the

_Comitato di Soccorso Pei Feriti_, }
April 30, 1849. }

Dear Miss Fuller:--

You are named Regolatrice of the Hospital of the _Fate-Rene Fratelli_.
Go there at twelve, if the alarm bell has not rung before. When you
arrive there, you will receive all the women coming for the wounded,
and give them your directions, so that you are sure to have a certain
number of them night and day.

May God help us.
of Belgioioso.
Miss Fuller, Piazza Barberini, No. 60.


_Rome, June_ 10, 1849.--I received your letter amid the round of
cannonade and musketry. It was a terrible battle fought here from the
first till the last light of day. I could see all its progress from my
balcony. The Italians fought like lions. It is a truly heroic spirit
that animates them. They make a stand here for honor and their
rights, with little ground for hope that they can resist, now they are
betrayed by France.

Since the 30th April, I go almost daily to the hospitals, and,
though I have suffered,--for I had no idea before, how terrible
gunshot-wounds and wound-fever are,--yet I have taken pleasure, and
great pleasure, in being with the men; there is scarcely one who is
not moved by a noble spirit. Many, especially among the Lombards,
are the flower of the Italian youth. When they begin to get better, I
carry them books and flowers; they read, and we talk.

The palace of the Pope, on the Quirinal, is now used for
convalescents. In those beautiful gardens, I walk with them,--one with
his sling, another with his crutch. The gardener plays off all his
water-works for the defenders of the country, and gathers flowers for
me, their friend.

A day or two since, we sat in the Pope's little pavilion, where he
used to give private audience. The sun was going gloriously down over
Monte Mario, where gleamed the white tents of the French light-horse
among the trees. The cannonade was heard at intervals. Two bright-eyed
boys sat at our feet, and gathered up eagerly every word said by the
heroes of the day. It was a beautiful hour, stolen from the midst of
ruin and sorrow; and tales were told as full of grace and pathos as in
the gardens of Boccaccio, only in a very different spirit,--with noble
hope for man, with reverence for woman.

The young ladies of the family, very young girls, were filled with
enthusiasm for the suffering, wounded patriots, and they wished to
go to the hospital to give their services. Excepting the three
superintendents, none but married ladies were permitted to serve
there, but their services were accepted. Their governess then wished
to go too, and, as she could speak several languages, she was admitted
to the rooms of the wounded soldiers, to interpret for them, as the
nurses knew nothing but Italian, and many of these poor men were
suffering, because they could not make their wishes known. Some are
French, some German, and many Poles. Indeed, I am afraid it is too
true that there were comparatively but few Romans among them. This
young lady passed several nights there.

Should I never return,--and sometimes I despair of doing so, it seems
so far off, so difficult, I am caught in such a net of ties here,--if
ever you know of my life here, I think you will only wonder at the
constancy with which I have sustained myself; the degree of profit to
which, amid great difficulties, I have put the time, at least in the
way of observation. Meanwhile, love me all you can; let me feel, that,
amid the fearful agitations of the world, there are pure hands, with
healthful, even pulse, stretched out toward me, if I claim their

I feel profoundly for Mazzini; at moments I am tempted to say, "Cursed
with every granted prayer,"--so cunning is the daemon. He is become
the inspiring soul of his people. He saw Rome, to which all his hopes
through life tended, for the first time as a Roman citizen, and to
become in a few days its ruler. He has animated, he sustains her to a
glorious effort, which, if it fails, this time, will not in the age.
His country will be free. Yet to me it would be so dreadful to cause
all this bloodshed, to dig the graves of such martyrs.

Then Rome is being destroyed; her glorious oaks; her villas, haunts of
sacred beauty, that seemed the possession of the world forever,--the
villa of Raphael, the villa of Albani, home of Winkelmann, and
the best expression of the ideal of modern Rome, and so many other
sanctuaries of beauty,--all must perish, lest a foe should level his
musket from their shelter. _I_ could not, could not!

I know not, dear friend, whether I ever shall get home across that
great ocean, but here in Rome I shall no longer wish to live. O, Rome,
_my_ country! could I imagine that the triumph of what I held dear was
to heap such desolation on thy head!

Speaking of the republic, you say, do not I wish Italy had a great
man? Mazzini is a great man. In mind, a great poetic statesman; in
heart, a lover; in action, decisive and full of resource as Caesar.
Dearly I love Mazzini. He came in, just as I had finished the first
letter to you. His soft, radiant look makes melancholy music in my
soul; it consecrates my present life, that, like the Magdalen, I may,
at the important hour, shed all the consecrated ointment on his head.
There is one, Mazzini, who understands thee well; who knew thee no
less when an object of popular fear, than now of idolatry; and who, if
the pen be not held too feebly, will help posterity to know thee too.


_Rome, July_ 8, 1849.--I do not yet find myself tranquil and recruited
from the painful excitements of these last days. But, amid the ruined
hopes of Rome, the shameful oppressions she is beginning to suffer,
amid these noble, bleeding martyrs, my brothers, I cannot fix my
thoughts on anything else.

I write that you may assure mother of my safety, which in the last
days began to be seriously imperilled. Say, that as soon as I can find
means of conveyance, without an expense too enormous, I shall go again
into the mountains. There I shall find pure, bracing air, and I hope
stillness, for a time. Say, she need feel no anxiety, if she do not
hear from me for some time. I may feel indisposed to write, as I do
now; my heart is too full.

Private hopes of mine are fallen with the hopes of Italy. I have
played for a new stake, and lost it. Life looks too difficult. But
for the present I shall try to wave all thought of self and renew my

After the attempt at revolution in France failed, could I have
influenced Mazzini, I should have prayed him to capitulate, and yet I
feel that no honorable terms can be made with such a foe, and that the
only way is _never_ to yield; but the sound of the musketry, the sense
that men were perishing in a hopeless contest, had become too terrible
for my nerves. I did not see Mazzini, the last two weeks of the
republic. When the French entered, he walked about the streets, to
see how the people bore themselves, and then went to the house of
a friend. In the upper chamber of a poor house, with his life-long
friends,--the Modenas,--I found him. Modena, who abandoned not only
what other men hold dear,--home, fortune, peace,--but also endured,
without the power of using the prime of his great artist-talent, a
ten years' exile in a foreign land; his wife every way worthy of
him,--such a woman as I am not.

Mazzini had suffered millions more than I could; he had borne his
fearful responsibility; he had let his dearest friends perish; he had
passed all these nights without sleep; in two short months, he had
grown old; all the vital juices seemed exhausted; his eyes were all
blood-shot; his skin orange; flesh he had none; his hair was mixed
with white: his hand was painful to the touch; but he had never
flinched, never quailed; had protested in the last hour against
surrender; sweet and calm, but full of a more fiery purpose than ever;
in him I revered the hero, and owned myself not of that mould.

You say truly, I shall come home humbler. God grant it may be entirely
humble! In future, while more than ever deeply penetrated with
principles, and the need of the martyr spirit to sustain them, I will
ever own that there are few worthy, and that I am one of the least.

A silken glove might be as good a gauntlet as one of steel, but I,
infirm of mood, turn sick even now as I think of the past.

* * * * *

_July_, 1849.--I cannot tell you what I endured in leaving Rome;
abandoning the wounded soldiers; knowing that there is no provision
made for them, when they rise from the beds where they have been
thrown by a noble courage, where they have suffered with a noble
patience. Some of the poorer men, who rise bereft even of the right
arm,--one having lost both the right arm and the right leg,--I could
have provided for with a small sum. Could I have sold my hair, or
blood from my arm, I would have done it. Had any of the rich Americans
remained in Rome, they would have given it to me; they helped nobly at
first, in the service of the hospitals, when there was far less need;
but they had all gone. What would I have given that I could have
spoken to one of the Lawrences, or the Phillipses; they could and
would have saved the misery. These poor men are left helpless in
the power of a mean and vindictive foe. You felt so oppressed in the
slave-states; imagine what I felt at seeing all the noblest youth, all
the genius of this dear land, again enslaved.


_Rieti, Aug_. 28, 1849.--You say, you are glad I have had this great
opportunity for carrying out my principles. Would it were so! I found
myself inferior in courage and fortitude to the occasion. I knew not
how to bear the havoc and anguish incident to the struggle for these
principles. I rejoiced that it lay not with me to cut down the trees,
to destroy the Elysian gardens, for the defence of Rome; I do not know
that I could have done it. And the sight of these far nobler growths,
the beautiful young men, mown down in their stately prime, became too
much for me. I forget the great ideas, to sympathize with the poor
mothers, who had nursed their precious forms, only to see them
all lopped and gashed. You say, I sustained them; often have they
sustained my courage: one, kissing the pieces of bone that were so
painfully extracted from his arm, hanging them round his neck to be
worn as the true relics of to-day; mementoes that he also had done and
borne something for his country and the hopes of humanity. One fair
young man, who is made a cripple for life, clasped my hand as he saw
me crying over the spasms I could not relieve, and faintly cried,
"Viva l'Italia." "Think only, _cara bona donna_" said a poor wounded
soldier, "that I can always wear my uniform on _festas_, just as it is
now, with the holes where the balls went through, for a memory." "God
is good; God knows," they often said to me, when I had not a word to
cheer them.


Beneath the ruins of the Roman Republic, how many private fortunes
were buried! and among these victims was Margaret. In that
catastrophe, were swallowed up hopes sacredly cherished by her through
weary months, at the risk of all she most prized.

Soon after the entrance of the French, she wrote thus, to the resident
Envoy of the United States:

My dear Mr. Cass,--I beg you to come and see me, and give me your
counsel, and, if need be, your aid, to get away from Rome. From what
I hear this morning, I fear we may be once more shut up here; and I
shall die, to be again separated from what I hold most dear. There
are, as yet, no horses on the way we want to go, or we should post

You may feel, like me, sad, in these last moments, to leave this
injured Rome. So many noble hearts I abandon here, whose woes I have
known! I feel, if I could not aid, I might soothe. But for my child, I
would not go, till some men, now sick, know whether they shall live or

* * * * *

Her child! Where was he? In RIETI,--at the foot of the Umbrian
Apennines,--a day's journey to the north-east of Rome. Thither
Margaret escaped with her husband, and thence she wrote the following

Dearest Mother,--I received your letter a few hours before leaving
Rome. Like all of yours, it refreshed me, and gave me as much
satisfaction as anything could, at that sad time. Its spirit is
of eternity, and befits an epoch when wickedness and perfidy so
impudently triumph, and the best blood of the generous and honorable
is poured out like water, seemingly in vain.

I cannot tell you what I suffered to abandon the wounded to the care
of their mean foes; to see the young men, that were faithful to their
vows, hunted from their homes,--hunted like wild beasts; denied a
refuge in every civilized land. Many of those I loved are sunk to the
bottom of the sea, by Austrian cannon, or will be shot. Others are in
penury, grief, and exile. May God give due recompense for all that has
been endured!

My mind still agitated, and my spirits worn out, I have not felt like
writing to any one. Yet the magnificent summer does not smile quite
in vain for me. Much exercise in the open air, living much on milk
and fruit, have recruited my health, and I am regaining the habit of
sleep, which a month of nightly cannonade in Rome had destroyed.

* * * * *

Receiving, a few days since, a packet of letters from America, I
opened them with more feeling of hope and good cheer, than for a long
time past. The first words that met my eye were these, in the hand of
Mr. Greeley:--"Ah, Margaret, the world grows dark with us! You grieve,
for Rome is fallen;--I mourn, for Pickie is dead."

I have shed rivers of tears over the inexpressibly affecting letter
thus begun. One would think I might have become familiar enough with
images of death and destruction; yet somehow the image of Pickie's
little dancing figure, lying, stiff and stark, between his parents,
has made me weep more than all else. There was little hope he could do
justice to himself, or lead a happy life in so perplexed a world;
but never was a character of richer capacity,--never a more charming
child. To me he was most dear, and would always have been so. Had he
become stained with earthly faults, I could never have forgotten what
he was when fresh from the soul's home, and what he was to me when my
soul pined for sympathy, pure and unalloyed.

The three children I have seen who were fairest in my eyes, and gave
most promise of the future, were Waldo, Pickie, Hermann Clarke;--all
nipped in the bud. Endless thoughts has this given me, and a resolve
to seek the realization of all hopes and plans elsewhere, which
resolve will weigh with me as much as it can weigh before the silver
cord is finally loosed. Till then, Earth, our mother, always finds
strange, unexpected ways to draw us back to her bosom,--to make us
seek anew a nutriment which has never failed to cause us frequent

* * * * *

This brings me to the main object of my present letter,--a piece
of intelligence about myself, which I had hoped I might be able
to communicate in such a way as to give you _pleasure_. That I
cannot,--after suffering much in silence with that hope,--is like the
rest of my earthly destiny.

The first moment, it may cause you a pang to know that your eldest
child might long ago have been addressed by another name than yours,
and has a little son a year old.

But, beloved mother, do not feel this long. I do assure you, that it
was only great love for you that kept me silent. I have abstained a
hundred times, when your sympathy, your counsel, would have been most
precious, from a wish not to harass you with anxiety. Even now I would
abstain, but it has become necessary, on account of the child, for us
to live publicly and permanently together; and we have no hope, in
the present state of Italian affairs, that we can do it at any better
advantage, for several years, than now.

My husband is a Roman, of a noble but now impoverished house. His
mother died when he was an infant, his father is dead since we met,
leaving some property, but encumbered with debts, and in the present
state of Rome hardly available, except by living there. He has
three older brothers, all provided for in the Papal service,--one as
Secretary of the Privy Chamber, the other two as members of the Guard
Noble. A similar career would have been opened to him, but he embraced
liberal principles, and, with the fall of the Republic, has lost
all, as well as the favor of his family, who all sided with the Pope.
Meanwhile, having been an officer in the Republican service, it was
best for him to leave Rome. He has taken what little money he had,
and we plan to live in Florence for the winter. If he or I can get
the means, we shall come together to the United States, in the
summer;--earlier we could not, on account of the child.

He is not in any respect such a person as people in general would
expect to find with me. He had no instructor except an old priest,
who entirely neglected his education; and of all that is contained
in books he is absolutely ignorant, and he has no enthusiasm of
character. On the other hand, he has excellent practical sense; has
been a judicious observer of all that passed before his eyes; has a
nice sense of duty, which, in its unfailing, minute activity, may
put most enthusiasts to shame; a very sweet temper, and great native
refinement. His love for me has been unswerving and most tender. I
have never suffered a pain that he could relieve. His devotion, when
I am ill, is to be compared only with yours. His delicacy in trifles,
his sweet domestic graces, remind me of E----. In him I have found a
home, and one that interferes with no tie. Amid many ills and
cares, we have had much joy together, in the sympathy with natural
beauty,--with our child,--with all that is innocent and sweet.

I do not know whether he will always love me so well, for I am
the elder, and the difference will become, in a few years, more
perceptible than now. But life is so uncertain, and it is so necessary
to take good things with their limitations, that I have not thought it
worth while to calculate too curiously.

However my other friends may feel, I am sure that _you_ will love
him very much, and that he will love you no less. Could we all live
together, on a moderate income, you would find peace with us. Heaven
grant, that, on returning, I may gain means to effect this object.
He, of course, can do nothing, while we are in the United States, but
perhaps I can; and now that my health is better, I shall be able to
exert myself, if sure that my child is watched by those who love him,
and who are good and pure.

* * * * *

What shall I say of my child? All might seem hyperbole, even to my
dearest mother. In him I find satisfaction, for the first time, to the
deep wants of my heart. Yet, thinking of those other sweet ones fled,
I must look upon him as a treasure only lent. He is a fair child, with
blue eyes and light hair; very affectionate, graceful, and sportive.
He was baptized, in the Roman Catholic Church, by the name of Angelo
Eugene Philip, for his father, grandfather, and my brother. He
inherits the title of marquis.

Write the name of my child in your Bible, ANGELO OSSOLI, _born
September_ 5, 1848. God grant he may live to see you, and may prove
worthy of your love!

More I do not feel strength to say. You can hardly guess how all
attempt to express something about the great struggles and experiences
of my European life enfeebles me. When I get home,--if ever I do,--it
will be told without this fatigue and excitement. I trust there will
be a little repose, before entering anew on this wearisome conflict.

I had addressed you twice,--once under the impression that I should
not survive the birth of my child; again during the siege of Rome, the
father and I being both in danger. I took Mrs. Story, and, when she
left Rome, Mr. Cass, into my confidence. Both were kind as sister
and brother. Amid much pain and struggle, sweet, is the memory of
the generous love I received from William and Emelyn Story, and their
uncle. They helped me gently through a most difficult period. Mr.
Cass, also, who did not know me at all, has done everything possible
for me.

* * * * *

A letter to her sister fills out these portraits of her husband and

* * * * *

About Ossoli[B] I do not like to say much, as he is an exceedingly
delicate person. He is not precisely reserved, but it is not natural
to him to talk about the objects of strong affection. I am sure he
would not try to describe me to his sister, but would rather she would
take her own impression of me; and, as much as possible, I wish to
do the same by him. I presume that, to many of my friends, he will
be nothing, and they will not understand that I should have life in
common with him. But I do not think he will care;--he has not the
slightest tinge of self-love. He has, throughout our intercourse, been
used to my having many such ties. He has no wish to be anything to
persons with whom he does not feel spontaneously bound, and when I am
occupied, is happy in himself. But some of my friends and my family,
who will see him in the details of practical life, cannot fail to
prize the purity and simple strength of his character; and, should
he continue to love me as he has done, his companionship will be an
inestimable blessing to me. I say _if_, because all human affections
are frail, and I have experienced too great revulsions in my own, not
to know it. Yet I feel great confidence in the permanence of his love.
It has been unblemished so far, under many trials; especially as I
have been more desponding and unreasonable, in many ways, than I ever
was before, and more so, I hope, than I ever shall be again. But at
all such times, he never had a thought except to sustain and cheer me.
He is capable of the sacred love,--the love passing that of woman. He
showed it to his father, to Rome, to me. Now he loves his child in the
same way. I think he will be an excellent father, though he could not
speculate about it, nor, indeed, about anything.

Our meeting was singular,--fateful, I may say. Very soon he offered me
his hand through life, but I never dreamed I should take it. I loved
him, and felt very unhappy to leave him; but the connection seemed so
every way unfit, I did not hesitate a moment. He, however, thought
I should return to him, as I did. I acted upon a strong impulse, and
could not analyze at all what passed in my mind. I neither rejoice
nor grieve;--for bad or for good, I acted out my character Had I never
connected myself with any one, my path was clear; now it is all
hid; but, in that case, my development must have been partial. As
to marriage, I think the intercourse of heart and mind may be fully
enjoyed without entering into this partnership of daily life. Still,
I do not find it burdensome. The friction that I have seen mar so much
the domestic happiness of others does not occur with us, or, at least,
has not occurred. Then, there is the pleasure of always being at hand
to help one another.

Still, the great novelty, the immense gain, to me, is my relation with
my child. I thought the mother's heart lived in me before, but it did
not;--I knew nothing about it. Yet, before his birth, I dreaded it.
I thought I should not survive: but if I did, and my child did, was I
not cruel to bring another into this terrible world? I could not, at
that time, get any other view. When he was born, that deep melancholy
changed at once into rapture: but it did not last long. Then came the
prudential motherhood. I grew a coward, a care-taker, not only for the
morrow, but, impiously faithless, for twenty or thirty years ahead.
It seemed very wicked to have brought the little tender thing into
the midst of cares and perplexities we had not feared in the least
for ourselves. I imagined everything;--he was to be in danger of
every enormity the Croats were then committing upon the infants
of Lombardy;--the house would be burned over his head; but, if he
escaped, how were we to get money to buy his bibs and primers? Then
his father was to be killed in the fighting, and I to die of my cough,
&c. &c.

During the siege of Rome, I could not see my little boy. What I
endured at that time, in various ways, not many would survive. In the
burning sun, I went, every day, to wait, in the crowd, for letters
about him. Often they did not come. I saw blood that had streamed on
the wall where Ossoli was. I have a piece of a bomb that burst close
to him. I sought solace in tending the suffering men; but when I
beheld the beautiful fair young men bleeding to death, or mutilated
for life, I felt the woe of all the mothers who had nursed each to
that full flower, to see them thus cut down. I felt the _consolation_,
too,--for those youths died worthily. I was a Mater Dolorosa, and I
remembered that she who helped Angelino into the world came from the
sign of the Mater Dolorosa. I thought, even if he lives, if he comes
into the world at this great troubled time, terrible with perplexed
duties, it may be to die thus at twenty years, one of a glorious
hecatomb, indeed, but still a sacrifice! It seemed then I was willing
he should die.

* * * * *

Angelino's birth-place is thus sketched:

My baby saw mountains when he first looked forward into the world.
RIETI,--not only an old classic town of Italy, but one founded by what
are now called the Aborigines,--is a hive of very ancient dwellings
with red brown roofs, a citadel and several towers. It is in a
plain, twelve miles in diameter one way, not much less the other, and
entirely encircled with mountains of the noblest form. Casinos and
hermitages gleam here and there on their lower slopes. This plain is
almost the richest in Italy, and full of vineyards. Rieti is near the
foot of the hills on one side, and the rapid Velino makes almost the
circuit of its walls, on its way to Terni. I had my apartment shut out
from the family, on the bank of this river, and saw the mountains, as
I lay on my restless couch. There was a piazza, too, or, as they call
it here, a loggia, which hung over the river, where I walked most of
the night, for I could not sleep at all in those months. In the wild
autumn storms, the stream became a roaring torrent, constantly lit up
by lightning flashes, and the sound of its rush was very sublime. I
see it yet, as it swept away on its dark green current the heaps of
burning straw which the children let down from the bridge. Opposite
my window was a vineyard, whose white and purple clusters were my food
for three months. It was pretty to watch the vintage,--the asses and
wagons loaded with this wealth of amber and rubies,--the naked boys,
singing in the trees on which the vines are trained, as they cut the
grapes,--the nut-brown maids and matrons, in their red corsets and
white head-clothes, receiving them below, while the babies and little
children were frolicking in the grass.

In Rieti, the ancient Umbrians were married thus. In presence of
friends, the man and maid received together the gifts of fire and
water; the bridegroom then conducted to his house the bride. At the
door, he gave her the keys, and, entering, threw behind him nuts, as a
sign that he renounced all the frivolities of boyhood.

I intend to write all that relates to the birth of Angelino, in a
little book, which I shall, I hope, show you sometime. I have begun
it, and then stopped;--it seemed to me he would die. If he lives, I
shall finish it, before the details are at all faded in my mind. Rieti
is a place where I should have liked to have him born, and where I
should like to have him now,--but that the people are so wicked. They
are the most ferocious and mercenary population of Italy. I did not
know this, when I went there, and merely expected to be solitary and
quiet among poor people. But they looked on the "Marchioness" as an
ignorant _Inglese_, and they fancy all _Inglesi_ have wealth untold.
Me they were bent on plundering in every way. They made me suffer
terribly in the first days.

[Footnote A: The first part of this chapter is edited by R.W.E.; the
remainder by W.H.C.]

[Footnote B: Giovanni Angelo Ossoli.]


The high-minded friend, spoken of with such grateful affection by
Margaret, in her letter to her mother, thus gracefully narrates the
romance of her marriage; and the narrative is a noble proof of the
heroic disinterestedness with which, amidst her own engrossing trials,
Margaret devoted herself to others. Mrs. Story writes as follows:--

"During the month of November, 1847, we arrived in Rome,
purposing to spend the winter there. At that time, Margaret
was living in the house of the Marchesa ----, in the Corso,
_Ultimo Piano_. Her rooms were pleasant and cheerful, with
a certain air of elegance and refinement, but they had not
a sunny exposure, that all-essential requisite for health,
during the damp Roman winter. Margaret suffered from ill
health this winter, and she afterwards attributed it mainly
to the fact, that she had not the sun. As soon as she heard of
our arrival, she stretched forth a friendly, cordial hand, and
greeted us most warmly. She gave us great assistance in our
search for convenient lodgings, and we were soon happily
established near her. Our intercourse was henceforth most
frequent and intimate, and knew no cloud nor coldness. Daily
we were much with her, and daily we felt more sensible of the
worth and value of our friend. To me she seemed so unlike what
I had thought her to be in America, that I continually said,
'How have I misjudged you,--you are not at all such a person
as I took you to be.' To this she replied, 'I am not the
same person, but in many respects another;--my life has new
channels now, and how thankful I am that I have been able to
come out into larger interests,--but, partly, you did not know
me at home in the true light.' It was true, that I had not
known her much personally, when in Boston; but through her
friends, who were mine also, I had learned to think of her
as a person on intellectual stilts, with a large share of
arrogance, and little sweetness of temper. How unlike to
this was she now!--so delicate, so simple, confiding, and
affectionate; with a true womanly heart and soul, sensitive
and generous, and, what was to me a still greater surprise,
possessed of so broad a charity, that she could cover with its
mantle the faults and defects of all about her.

"We soon became acquainted with the young Marquis Ossoli, and
met him frequently at Margaret's rooms. He appeared to be of
a reserved and gentle nature, with quiet, gentleman-like
manners, and there was something melancholy in the expression
of his face, which made one desire to know more of him. In
figure, he was tall, and of slender frame, with dark hair
and eyes; we judged that he was about thirty years of age,
possibly younger. Margaret spoke of him most frankly, and soon
told us the history of her first acquaintance with him, which,
as nearly as I can recall, was as follows:--

"She went to hear vespers, the evening of 'Holy Thursday,'
soon after her first coming to Rome, in the spring of 1847, at
St. Peter's. She proposed to her companions that some place
in the church should be designated, where, after the services,
they should meet,--she being inclined, as was her custom
always in St. Peter's, to wander alone among the different
chapels. When, at length, she saw that the crowd was
dispersing, she returned to the place assigned, but could not
find her party. In some perplexity, she walked about, with her
glass carefully examining each group. Presently, a young man
of gentlemanly address came up to her, and begged, if she were
seeking any one, that he might be permitted to assist her; and
together they continued the search through all parts of the
church. At last, it became evident, beyond a doubt, that her
party could no longer be there, and, as it was then quite
late, the crowd all gone, they went out into the piazza to
find a carriage, in which she might go home. In the piazza, in
front of St. Peter's, generally may be found many carriages;
but, owing to the delay they had made, there were then none,
and Margaret was compelled to walk, with her stranger friend,
the long distance between the Vatican and the Corso. At
this time, she had little command of the language for
conversational purposes, and their words were few, though
enough to create in each a desire for further knowledge and
acquaintance. At her door, they parted, and Margaret, finding
her friends already at home, related the adventure."

This chance meeting at vesper service in St. Peter's prepared the
way for many interviews; and it was before Margaret's departure for
Venice, Milan, and Como, that Ossoli first offered her his hand, and
was refused. Mrs. Story continues:--

"After her return to Rome, they met again, and he became her
constant visitor; and as, in those days, Margaret watched with
intense interest the tide of political events, his mind was
also turned in the direction of liberty and better government.
Whether Ossoli, unassisted, would have been able to emancipate
himself from the influence of his family and early education,
both eminently conservative and narrow, may be a question; but
that he did throw off the shackles, and espouse the cause of
Roman liberty with warm zeal, is most certain. Margaret had
known Mazzini in London, had partaken of his schemes for the
future of his country, and was taking every pains to inform
herself in regard to the action of all parties, with a view
to write a history of the period. Ossoli brought her every
intelligence that might be of interest to her, and busied
himself in learning the views of both parties, that she might
be able to judge the matter impartially.

"Here I may say, that, in the estimation of most of those who
were in Italy at this time, the loss of Margaret's history
and notes is a great and irreparable one. No one could have
possessed so many avenues of direct information from both
sides. While she was the friend and correspondent of Mazzini,
and knew the springs of action of his party; through her
husband's family and connections, she knew the other view; so
that, whatever might be the value of her deductions, her facts
could not have been other than of highest worth. Together,
Margaret and Ossoli went to the meetings of either side; and
to her he carried all the flying reports of the day, such as
he had heard in the cafe, or through his friends.

"In a short time, we went to Naples, and Margaret, in the
course of a few months, to Aquila and Rieti. Meanwhile, we
heard from her often by letter, and wrote to urge her to join
us in our villa at Sorrento. During this summer, she wrote
constantly upon her history of the Italian movement, for which
she had collected materials through the past winter. We did
not again meet, until the following spring, March, 1849, when
we went from Florence back to Rome. Once more we were with
her, then, in most familiar every-day intercourse, and as at
this time a change of government had taken place,--the Pope
having gone to Molo di Gaeta.--we watched with her the great
movements of the day. Ossoli was now actively interested on
the liberal side; he was holding the office of captain in the
_Guardia Civica_, and enthusiastically looking forward to the
success of the new measures.

"During the spring of 1849, Mazzini came to Rome. He went at
once to see Margaret, and at her rooms met Ossoli. After this
interview with Mazzini, it was quite evident that they had
lost something of the faith and hopeful certainty with which
they had regarded the issue, for Mazzini had discovered
the want of singleness of purpose in the leaders of the
Provisional Government. Still zealously Margaret and Ossoli
aided in everything the progress of events; and when it was
certain that the French had landed forces at Civita Vecchia,
and would attack Rome, Ossoli took station with his men on the
walls of the Vatican gardens, where he remained faithfully
to the end of the attack. Margaret had, at the same time, the
entire charge of one of the hospitals, and was the assistant
of the Princess Belgioioso, in charge of '_dei Pellegrini_,'
where, during the first day, they received seventy wounded
men, French and Romans.

"Night and day, Margaret was occupied, and, with the princess,
so ordered and disposed the hospitals, that their conduct was
truly admirable. All the work was skilfully divided, so
that there was no confusion or hurry and, from the chaotic
condition in which these places had been left by the
priests,--who previously had charge of them,--they brought
them to a state of perfect regularity and discipline. Of money
they had very little, and they were obliged to give their time
and thoughts, in its place. From the Americans in Rome, they
raised a subscription for the aid of the wounded of either
party; but, besides this, they had scarcely any means to use.
I have walked through the wards with Margaret, and seen how
comforting was her presence to the poor suffering men. 'How
long will the Signora stay?' 'When will the Signora come
again?' they eagerly asked. For each one's peculiar tastes she
had a care: to one she carried books; to another she told the
news of the day; and listened to another's oft-repeated tale
of wrongs, as the best sympathy she could give. They raised
themselves up on their elbows, to get the last glimpse of her
as she was going away. There were some of the sturdy fellows
of Garibaldi's Legion there, and to them she listened, as they
spoke with delight of their chief, of his courage and
skill; for he seemed to have won the hearts of his men in a
remarkable manner.

"One incident I may as well narrate in this connection. It
happened, that, some time before the coming of the French,
while Margaret was travelling quite by herself, on her
return from a visit to her child, who was out at nurse in the
country, she rested for an hour or two at a little wayside
_osteria_. While there, she was startled by the _padrone_,
who, with great alarm, rushed into the room, and said, 'We
are quite lost! here is the Legion Garibaldi! These men always
pillage, and, if we do not give all up to them without pay,
they will kill us.' Margaret looked out upon the road, and
saw that it was quite true, that the legion was coming
thither with all speed. For a moment, she said, she felt
uncomfortably; for such was the exaggerated account of the
conduct of the men, that she thought it quite possible that
they would take her horses, and so leave her without the means
of proceeding on her journey. On they came, and she determined
to offer them a lunch at her own expense; having faith that
gentleness and courtesy was the best protection from injury.
Accordingly, as soon as they arrived, and rushed boisterously
into the _osteria_, she rose, and said to the _padrone_, 'Give
these good men wine and bread on my account; for, after their
ride, they must need refreshment.' Immediately, the noise and
confusion subsided; with respectful bows to her, they seated
themselves and partook of the lunch, giving her an account of
their journey. When she was ready to go, and her _vettura_ was
at the door, they waited upon her, took down the steps,
and assisted her with much gentleness and respectfulness of
manner, and she drove off, wondering how men with such natures
could have the reputation they had. And, so far as we could
gather, except in this instance, their conduct was of a most
disorderly kind.

"Again, on another occasion, she showed how great was her
power over rude men. This was when two _contadini_ at Rieti,
being in a violent quarrel, had rushed upon each other with
knives. Margaret was called by the women bystanders, as the
Signora who could most influence them to peace. She went
directly up to the men, whose rage was truly awful to behold,
and, stepping between them, commanded them to separate. They
parted, but with such a look of deadly revenge, that Margaret
felt her work was but half accomplished. She therefore sought
them out separately, and talked with each, urging forgiveness;
it was long, however, before she could see any change of
purpose, and only by repeated conversations was it, that she
brought about her desire, and saw them meet as friends. After
this, her reputation as peace-maker was great, and the women
in the neighborhood came to her with long tales of trouble,
urging her intervention. I have never known anything more
extraordinary than this influence of hers over the passion and
violence of the Italian character. Repeated instances come
to my mind, when a look from her has had more power to quiet
excitement, than any arguments and reasonings that could be
brought to bear upon the subject. Something quite superior and
apart from them, the people thought her, and yet knew her as
the gentle and considerate judge of their vices.

"I may also mention here, that Margaret's charities, according
to her means, were larger than those of any other whom I ever
knew. At one time, in Rome, while she lived upon the simplest,
slenderest fare, spending only some ten or twelve cents a day
for her dinner, she lent, unsolicited, her last fifty dollars
to an artist, who was then in need. That it would ever be
returned to her, she did not know; but the doubt did not
restrain the hand from giving. In this instance, it was soon
repaid her; but her charities were not always towards the most
deserving. Repeated instances of the false pretences, under
which demands for charity are made, were known to her after
she had given to unworthy objects; but no experience of this
sort ever checked her kindly impulse to give, and being once
deceived taught her no lesson of distrust. She ever listened
with ready ear to all who came to her in any form of distress.
Indeed, to use the language of another friend, 'the prevalent
impression at Rome, among all who knew her, was, that she was
a mild saint and a ministering angel.'

"I have, in order to bring in these instances of her influence
on those about her, deviated from my track. We return to the
life she led in Rome during the attack of the French, and her
charge of the hospitals, where she spent daily some seven or
eight hours, and, often, the entire night. Her feeble frame
was a good deal shaken by so uncommon a demand upon her
strength, while, at the same time, the anxiety of her mind was
intense. I well remember how exhausted and weary she was;
how pale and agitated she returned to us after her day's and
night's watching; how eagerly she asked for news of Ossoli,
and how seldom we had any to give her, for he was unable to
send her a word for two or three days at a time. Letters
from the country there were few or none, as the communication
between Rieti and Rome was cut off.

"After one such day, she called me to her bedside, and said
that I must consent, for her sake, to keep the SECRET she was
about to confide. Then she told me of her marriage; where her
child was, and where he was born; and gave me certain papers
and parchment documents which I was to keep; and, in the event
of her and her husband's death, I was to take the boy to her
mother in America, and confide him to her care, and that of
her friend, Mrs. ----.

"The papers thus given me, I had perfect liberty to read; but
after she had told me her story, I desired no confirmation of
this fact, beyond what her words had given. One or two of the
papers she opened, and we together read them. One was written
on parchment, in Latin, and was a certificate, given by the
priest who married them, saying that Angelo Eugene Ossoli was
the legal heir of whatever title and fortune should come to
his father. To this was affixed his seal, with those of the
other witnesses, and the Ossoli crest was drawn in full
upon the paper. There was also a book, in which Margaret had
written the history of her acquaintance and marriage with
Ossoli, and of the birth of her child. In giving that to
me, she said, 'If I do not survive to tell this myself to my
family, this book will be to them invaluable. Therefore keep
it for them. If I live, it will be of no use, for my word will
be all that they will ask.' I took the papers, and locked them
up. Never feeling any desire to look into them, I never did;
and as she gave them to me, I returned them to her, when I
left Rome for Switzerland.

"After this, she often spoke to me of the necessity there
had been, and still existed, for her keeping her marriage
a secret. At the time, I argued in favor of her making it
public, but subsequent events have shown me the wisdom of her
decision. The _explanation_ she gave me of the secret marriage
was this:

"They were married in December, soon after,--as I think,
though I am not positive,--the death of the old Marquis
Ossoli. The estate he had left was undivided, and the two
brothers, attached to the Papal household, were to be the
executors. This patrimony was not large, but, when fairly
divided, would bring to each a little property,--an income
sufficient, with economy, for life in Rome. Everyone knows,
that law is subject to ecclesiastical influence in Rome, and
that marriage with a Protestant would be destructive to all
prospects of favorable administration. And beside being
of another religious faith, there was, in this case, the
additional crime of having married a liberal,--one who had
publicly interested herself in radical views. Taking the two
facts together, there was good reason to suppose, that, if the
marriage were known, Ossoli must be a beggar, and a banished
man, under the then existing government; while, by waiting a
little, there was a chance,--a fair one, too,--of an honorable
post under the new government, whose formation every one was
anticipating. Leaving Rome, too, at that time, was deserting
the field wherein they might hope to work much good, and where
they felt that they were needed. Ossoli's brothers had
long before begun to look jealously upon him. Knowing his
acquaintance with Margaret, they feared the influence she
might exert over his mind in favor of liberal sentiments, and
had not hesitated to threaten him with the Papal displeasure.
Ossoli's education had been such, that it certainly argues an
uncommon elevation of character, that he remained so firm and
single in his political views, and was so indifferent to the
pecuniary advantages which his former position offered, since,
during many years, the Ossoli family had been high in favor
and in office, in Rome, and the same vista opened for his own
future, had he chosen to follow their lead. The Pope left
for Molo di Gaeta, and then came a suspension of all legal
procedure, so that the estate was never divided, before we
left Italy, and I do not know that it has ever been.

"Ossoli had the feeling, that, while his own sister and family
could not be informed of his marriage, no others should know
of it; and from day to day they hoped on for the favorable
change which should enable them to declare it. Their child was
born; and, for his sake, in order to defend him, as Margaret
said, from the stings of poverty, they were patient waiters
for the restored law of the land. Margaret felt that she
would, at any cost to herself, gladly secure for her child a
condition above want; and, although it was a severe trial,--as
her letters to us attest,--she resolved to wait, and hope,
and keep her secret. At the time when she took me into her
confidence, she was so full of anxiety and dread of some
shock, from which she might not recover, that it was
absolutely necessary to make it known to some friend. She
was living with us at the time, and she gave it to me. Most
sacredly, but timidly, did I keep her secret; for, all the
while, I was tormented with a desire to be of active service
to her, and I was incapacitated from any action by the
position in which I was placed.

"Ossoli's post was one of considerable danger, he being in one
of the most exposed places; and, as Margaret saw his wounded
and dying comrades, she felt that another shot might take him
from her, or bring him to her care in the hospital. Eagerly
she watched the carts, as they came up with their suffering
loads, dreading that her worst fears might be confirmed. No
argument of ours could persuade Ossoli to leave his post to
take food or rest. Sometimes we went to him, and carried a
concealed basket of provisions, but he shared it with so many
of his fellows, that his own portion must have been almost
nothing. Haggard, worn, and pale, he walked over the Vatican
grounds with us, pointing out, now here, now there, where some
poor fellow's blood sprinkled the wall; Margaret was with us,
and for a few moments they could have an anxious talk about
their child.

"To get to the child, or to send to him, was quite impossible,
and for days they were in complete ignorance about him. At
length, a letter came; and in it the nurse declared that
unless they should immediately send her, in advance-payment, a
certain sum of money, she would altogether abandon Angelo. It
seemed, at first, impossible to forward the money, the road
was so insecure, and the bearer of any parcel was so likely
to be seized by one party or the other, and to be treated as
a spy. But finally, after much consideration, the sum was sent
to the address of a physician, who had been charged with the
care of the child. I think it did reach its destination, and
for a while answered the purpose of keeping the wretched woman
faithful to her charge."


Extracts from Margaret's and Ossoli's letters will guide us more into
the heart of this home-tragedy, so sanctified with holy hope, sweet
love, and patient heroism. They shall be introduced by a passage from
a journal written many years before.

"My Child! O, Father, give me a bud on my tree of life, so scathed
by the lightning and bound by the frost! Surely a being born
wholly of my being, would not let me lie so still and cold in
lonely sadness. This is a new sorrow; for always, before, I have
wanted a superior or equal, but now it seems that only the feeling
of a parent for a child could exhaust the richness of one's soul.
All powerful Nature, how dost thou lead me into thy heart and
rebuke every factitious feeling, every thought of pride, which has
severed me from the Universe! How did I aspire to be a pure flame,
ever pointing upward on the altar! But these thoughts of
consecration, though true to the time, are false to the whole.
There needs no consecration to the wise heart for all is pervaded
by One Spirit, and the Soul of all existence is the Holy of
Holies. I thought ages would pass, before I had this parent
feeling, and then, that the desire would rise from my fulness of
being. But now it springs up in my poverty and sadness. I am well
aware that I ought not to be so happy. I do not deserve to be well
beloved in any way, far less as the mother by her child. I am too
rough and blurred an image of the Creator, to become a bestower of
life. Yet, if I refuse to be anything else than my highest self,
the true beauty will finally glow out in fulness."

At what cost, were bought the blessings so long pined for! Early in
the summer of 1848, Margaret left Rome for Aquila, a small, old town,
once a baronial residence, perched among the mountains of Abruzzi. She
thus sketches her retreat:--

"I am in the midst of a theatre of glorious, snow-crowned
mountains, whose pedestals are garlanded with the olive and
mulberry, and along whose sides run bridle-paths, fringed with
almond groves and vineyards. The valleys are yellow with saffron
flowers; the grain fields enamelled with the brilliant blue
corn-flower and red poppy. They are of intoxicating beauty, and
like nothing in America. The old genius of Europe has so mellowed
even the marbles here, that one cannot have the feeling of holy
virgin loneliness, as in the New World. The spirits of the dead
crowd me in most solitary places. Here and there, gleam churches
or shrines. The little town, much ruined, lies on the slope of a
hill, with the houses of the barons gone to decay, and unused
churches, over whose arched portals are faded frescoes, with the
open belfry, and stone wheel-windows, always so beautiful. Sweet
little paths lead away through the fields to convents,--one of
Passionists, another of Capuchins; and the draped figures of the
monks, pacing up and down the hills, look very peaceful. In the
churches still open, are pictures, not by great masters, but of
quiet, domestic style, which please me much, especially one of the
Virgin offering her breast to the child Jesus. There is often
sweet music in these churches; they are dressed with fresh
flowers, and the incense is not oppressive, so freely sweeps
through them the mountain breeze."

Here Margaret remained but a month, while Ossoli was kept fast by
his guard duties in Rome. "_Addio, tutto caro_," she writes; "I shall
receive you with the greatest joy, when you can come. If it were
only possible to be nearer to you! for, except the good air and the
security, this place does not please me." And again:--"How much I
long to be near you! You write nothing of yourself, and this makes me
anxious and sad. Dear and good! I pray for thee often, now that it
is all I can do for thee. We must hope that Destiny will at last
grow weary of persecuting. Ever thy affectionate." Meantime Ossoli
writes:--"Why do you not send me tidings of yourself, every post-day?
since the post leaves Aquila three times a week. I send you journals
or letters every time the post leaves Rome. You should do the same.
Take courage, and thus you will make me happier also; and you can
think how sad I must feel in not being near you, dearest, to care for
all your wants."

By the middle of July, Margaret could bear her loneliness no longer,
and, passing the mountains, advanced to Rieti, within the frontier of
the Papal States. Here Ossoli could sometimes visit her on a Sunday,
by travelling in the night from Rome. "Do not fail to come," writes
Margaret. "I shall have your coffee warm. You will arrive early, and
I can see the diligence pass the bridge from my window." But now
threatened a new trial, terrible under the circumstances, yet met with
the loving heroism that characterized all her conduct. The civic guard
was ordered to prepare for marching to Bologna. Under date of August
17th, Ossoli writes:--"_Mia Cara!_ How deplorable is my state! I have
suffered a most severe struggle. If your condition were other than it
is, I could resolve more easily; but, in the present moment, I cannot
leave you! Ah, how cruel is Destiny! I understand well how much you
would sacrifice yourself for me, and am deeply grateful; but I cannot
yet decide." Margaret is alone, without a single friend, and not only
among strangers, but surrounded by people so avaricious, cunning,
and unscrupulous, that she has to be constantly on the watch to avoid
being fleeced; she is very poor, and has no confidant, even in Rome,
to consult with; she is ill, and fears death in the near crisis; yet
thus, with true Roman greatness, she counsels her husband:--"It seems,
indeed, a marvel how all things go contrary to us! That, just at this
moment, you should be called upon to go away. But do what is for your
honor. If honor requires it, go. I will try to sustain myself. I
leave it to your judgment when to come,--if, indeed, you can ever come
again! At least, we have had some hours of peace together, if now
it is all over. Adieu, love; I embrace thee always, and pray for thy
welfare. Most affectionately, adieu."

* * * * *

From this trial, however, she was spared. Pio Nono hesitated to send
the civic guard to the north of Italy. Then Margaret writes:--"On our
own account, love, I shall be most grateful, if you are not obliged to
go. But how unworthy, in the Pope! He seems now a man without a heart.
And that traitor, Charles Albert! He will bear the curse of all future
ages. Can you learn particulars from Milan? I feel sad for our poor
friends there; how much they must suffer! * * * I shall be much more
tranquil to have you at my side, for it would be sad to die alone,
without the touch of one dear hand. Still, I repeat what I said in my
last; if duty prevents you from coming, I will endeavor to take
care of myself." Again, two days later, she says:--"I feel, love, a
profound sympathy with you, but am not able to give perfectly wise
counsel. It seems to me, indeed, the worst possible moment to take
up arms, except in the cause of duty, of honor; for, with the Pope
so cold, and his ministers so undecided, nothing can be well or
successfully done. If it is possible for you to wait for two or three
weeks, the public state will be determined,--as will also mine,--and
you can judge more calmly. Otherwise, it seems to me that I ought to
say nothing. Only, if you go, come here first. I must see you once
more. Adieu, dear. Our misfortunes are many and unlooked for. Not
often does destiny demand a greater price for some happy moments. Yet
never do I repent of our affection; and for thee, if not for me, I
hope that life has still some good in store. Once again, adieu! May
God give thee counsel and help, since they are not in the power of thy
affectionate Margherita."

On the 5th of September, Ossoli was "at her side," and together, with
glad and grateful hearts, they welcomed their boy; though the father
was compelled to return the next day to Rome. Even then, however, a
new chapter of sorrows was opening. By indiscreet treatment, Margaret
was thrown into violent fever, and became unable to nurse her child.
Her waiting maid, also, proved so treacherous, that she was forced to
dismiss her, and wished "never to set eyes on her more;" and the
family, with whom she was living, displayed most detestable meanness.
Thus helpless, ill, and solitary, she could not even now enjoy the
mother's privilege. Yet she writes cheerfully:--"My present nurse is a
very good one, and I feel relieved. We must have courage but it is a
great care, alone and ignorant, to guard an infant in its first days
of life. He is very pretty for his age; and, without knowing what name
I intended giving him, the people in the house call him _Angiolino_,
because he is so lovely." Again:--"He is so dear! It seems to me,
among all disasters and difficulties, that if he lives and is well, he
will become a treasure for us two, that will compensate us for
everything." And yet again:--"This ---- is faithless, like the rest.
Spite of all his promises, he will not bring the matter to inoculate
Nino, though, all about us, persons are dying with small-pox. I cannot
sleep by night, and I weep by day, I am so disgusted; but you are too
far off to help me. The baby is more beautiful every hour. He is worth
all the trouble he causes me,--poor child that I am,--alone here, and
abused by everybody."

Yet new struggles; new sorrows! Ossoli writes:--

"Our affairs must be managed with the utmost caution imaginable, since
my thought would be to keep the baby out of Rome for the sake of
greater secrecy, if only we can find a good nurse who will take care
of him like a mother." To which Margaret replies:--"He is always so
charming, how can I ever, ever leave him! I wake in the night,--I look
at him. I think: Ah, it is impossible! He is so beautiful and good, I
could die for him!" Once more:--"In seeking rooms, do not pledge me to
remain in Rome, for it seems to me, often, I cannot stay long without
seeing the boy. He is so dear, and life seems so uncertain. It is
necessary that I should be in Rome a month, at least, to write, and
also to be near you. But I must be free to return here, if I feel too
anxious and suffering for him. O, love! how difficult is life! But
thou art good! If it were only possible to make thee happy!" And,
finally, "Signora speaks very highly of ----, the nurse of Angelo,
and says that her aunt is an excellent woman, and that the brothers
are all good. Her conduct pleases me well. This consoles me a little,
in the prospect of leaving my child, if that is necessary."

So, early in November, Ossoli came for her, and they returned
together. In December, however, Margaret passed a week more with her
darling, making two fatiguing and perilous journeys, as snows had
fallen on the mountains, and the streams were much swollen by the
rains. And then, from the combined motives of being near her husband,
watching and taking part in the impending struggle of liberalism,
earning support by her pen, preparing her book, and avoiding
suspicion, she remained for three months in Rome. "How many nights I
have passed," she writes, "entirely in contriving possible means, by
which, through resolution and effort on my part, that one sacrifice
could be avoided. But it was impossible. I could not take the nurse
from her family; I could not remove Angelo, without immense difficulty
and risk. It is singular, how everything has worked to give me more
and more sorrow. Could I but have remained in peace, cherishing the
messenger dove, I should have asked no more, but should have felt
overpaid for all the pains and bafflings of my sad and broken life."
In March, she flies back to Rieti, and finds "our treasure in the best
of health, and plump, though small. When first I took him in my arms,
he made no sound, but leaned his head against my bosom, and kept it
there, as if he would say, How could you leave me? They told me, that
all the day of my departure he would not be comforted, always looking
toward the door. He has been a strangely precocious infant, I think,
through sympathy with me, for I worked very hard before his birth,
with the hope that all my spirit might be incarnated in him. In
that regard, it may have been good for him to be with these more
instinctively joyous natures. I see that he is more serene, is less
sensitive, than when with me, and sleeps better. The most solid
happiness I have known has been when he has gone to sleep in my arms.
What cruel sacrifices have I made to guard my secret for the present,
and to have the mode of disclosure at my own option! It will, indeed,
be just like all the rest, if these sacrifices are made in vain."

* * * * *

At Rieti, Margaret rested till the middle of April, when, returning
once more to Rome, she was, as we have seen, shut up within the
beleagured city.

The siege ended, the anxious mother was free to seek her child once
more, in his nest among the mountains. Her fears had been but too
prophetic. "Though the physician sent me reassuring letters," she
writes, "I yet often seemed to hear Angelino calling to me amid the
roar of the cannon, and always his tone was of crying. And when I
came, I found mine own fast waning to the tomb! His nurse, lovely and
innocent as she appeared, had betrayed him, for lack of a few _scudi_!
He was worn to a skeleton; his sweet, childish grace all gone!
Everything I had endured seemed light to what I felt when I saw him
too weak to smile, or lift his wasted little hand. Now, by incessant
care, we have brought him back,--who knows if that be a deed of
love?--into this hard world once more. But I could not let him go,
unless I went with him; and I do hope that the cruel law of my life
will, at least, not oblige us to be separated. When I saw his first
returning smile,--that poor, wan, feeble smile!--and more than four
weeks we watched him night and day, before we saw it,--new resolution
dawned in my heart. I resolved to live, day by day, hour by hour, for
his dear sake. So, if he is only treasure lent,--if he too must go, as
sweet Waldo, Pickie, Hermann, did,--as all _my_ children do!--I shall
at least have these days and hours with him."

How intolerable was this last blow to one stretched so long on the
rack, is plain from Margaret's letters. "I shall never again," she
writes, "be perfectly, be religiously generous, so terribly do I need
for myself the love I have given to other sufferers. When you read
this, I hope your heart will be happy; for I still like to know that
others are happy,--it consoles me." Again her agony wrung from
her these bitter words,--the bitterest she ever uttered,--words of
transient madness, yet most characteristic:--"Oh God! help me, is
all my cry. Yet I have little faith in the Paternal love I need, so
ruthless or so negligent seems the government of this earth. I feel
calm, yet sternly, towards Fate. This last plot against me has been
so cruelly, cunningly wrought, that I shall never acquiesce. I submit,
because useless resistance is degrading, but I demand an explanation.
I see that it is probable I shall never receive one, while I live
here, and suppose I can bear the rest of the suspense, since I have
comprehended all its difficulties in the first moments. Meanwhile,
I live day by day, though not on manna." But now comes a sweeter,
gentler strain:--"I have been the object of great love from the
noble and the humble; I have felt it towards both. Yet I am _tired
out_,--tired of thinking and hoping,--tired of seeing men err and
bleed. I take interest in some plans,--Socialism for instance,--but
the interest is shallow as the plans. These are needed, are even
good; but man will still blunder and weep, as he has done for so many
thousand years. Coward and footsore, gladly would I creep into some
green recess, where I might see a few not unfriendly faces, and where
not more wretches should come than I could relieve. Yes! I am weary,
and faith soars and sings no more. Nothing good of me is left except
at the bottom of the heart, a melting tenderness:--'She loves much.'"


Morning rainbows usher in tempests, and certainly youth's romantic
visions had prefigured a stormy day of life for Margaret. But there
was yet to be a serene and glowing hour before the sun went down.
Angelo grew strong and lively once more; rest and peace restored her
elasticity of spirit, and extracts from various letters will show in
what tranquil blessedness, the autumn and winter glided by. After a
few weeks' residence at Rieti, the happy three journeyed on, by way
of Perugia, to Florence, where they arrived at the end of September.
Thence, Margaret writes:--

It was so pleasant at Perugia! The pure mountain air is such perfect
elixir, the walks are so beautiful on every side, and there is so much
to excite generous and consoling feelings! I think the works of the
Umbrian school are never well seen except in their home;--they suffer
by comparison with works more rich in coloring, more genial, more full
of common life. The depth and tenderness of their expression is lost
on an observer stimulated to a point out of their range. Now, I can
prize them. We went every morning to some church rich in pictures,
returning at noon for breakfast. After breakfast, we went into the
country, or to sit and read under the trees near San Pietro. Thus I
read Nicolo di' Lapi, a book unenlivened by a spark of genius, but
interesting, to me, as illustrative of Florence.

Our little boy gained strength rapidly there;--every day he was able
to go out with us more. He is now full of life and gayety. We hope he
will live, and grow into a stout man yet.

Our journey here was delightful;--it is the first time I have seen
Tuscany when the purple grape hangs garlanded from tree to tree. We
were in the early days of the vintage: the fields were animated by men
and women, some of the latter with such pretty little bare feet, and
shy, soft eyes, under the round straw hat. They were beginning to cut
the vines, but had not done enough to spoil any of the beauty.

Here, too, I feel better pleased than ever before. Florence seems so
cheerful and busy, after ruined Rome, I feel as if I could forget the
disasters of the day, for a while, in looking on the treasures she

* * * * *

To-day we have been out in the country, and found a little chapel,
full of _contadine,_ their lovers waiting outside the door. They
looked charming in their black veils,--the straw hat hanging on the
arm,--with shy, glancing eyes, and cheeks pinched rosy by the cold;
for it is cold here as in New England. On foot, we have explored a
great part of the environs; and till now I had no conception of
their beauty. When here before, I took only the regular drives, as
prescribed for all lady and gentlemen travellers. This evening we
returned by a path that led to the banks of the Arno. The Duomo, with
the snowy mountains, were glorious in the rosy tint and haze,
just before sunset. What a difference it makes to come home to a
child!--how it fills up all the gaps of life, just in the way that is
most consoling, most refreshing! Formerly, I used to feel sad at that
hour; the day had not been nobly spent, I had not done my duty to
myself and others, and I felt so lonely! Now I never feel lonely; for,
even if my little boy dies, our souls will remain eternally united.
And I feel _infinite_ hope for him,--hope that he will serve God
and man more loyally than I have done; and, seeing how full he is
of life,--how much he can afford to throw away,--I feel the
inexhaustibleness of nature, and console myself for my own

* * * * *

_Florence, Oct. 14, 1849._--Weary in spirit, with the deep
disappointments of the last year, I wish to dwell little on these
things for the moment, but seek some consolation in the affections.
My little boy is quite well now, and I often am happy in seeing how
joyous and full of activity he seems. Ossoli, too, feels happier here.
The future is full of difficulties for us, but, having settled our
plans for the present, we shall set it aside while we may. "Sufficient
for the day is the evil thereof;" and if the good be not always
sufficient, in our case it is; so let us say grace to our dinner of

* * * * *

_Florence, Nov. 7._--Dearest Mother,--Of all your endless acts and
words of love, never was any so dear to me as your last letter;--so
generous, so sweet, so holy! What on earth is so precious as a
mother's love; and who has a mother like mine!

I was thinking of you and my father, all that first day of October,
wishing to write, only there was much to disturb me that day, as the
police were threatening to send us away. It is only since I have had
my own child that I have known how much I always failed to do what I
might have done for the happiness of you both; only since I have
seen so much of men and their trials, that I have learned to prize my
father as he deserved; only since I have had a heart daily and hourly
testifying to me its love, that I have understood, too late, what it
was for you to be deprived of it. It seems to me as if I had never
sympathized with you as I ought, or tried to embellish and sustain
your life, as far as is possible, after such an irreparable wound.

It will be sad for me to leave Italy, uncertain of return. Yet when
I think of you, beloved mother; of brothers and sisters, and many
friends, I wish to come. Ossoli is perfectly willing. He leaves in
Rome a sister, whom he dearly loves. His aunt is dying now. He will
go among strangers; but to him, as to all the young Italians, America
seems the land of liberty. He hopes, too, that a new revolution will
favor return, after a number of years, and that then he may find
really a home in Italy. All this is dark;--we can judge only for the
present moment. The decision will rest with me, and I shall wait
till the last moment, as I always do, that I may have all the reasons
before me.

I thought, to-day, ah, if she could only be with us now! But who knows
how long this interval of peace will last? I have learned to
prize such, as the halcyon prelude to the storm. It is now about a
fortnight, since the police gave us leave to stay, and we feel safe
in our little apartment. We have no servant except the nurse, with
occasional aid from the porter's wife, and now live comfortably so,
tormented by no one, helping ourselves. In the evenings, we have a
little fire now;--the baby sits on his stool between us. He makes me
think how I sat on mine, in the chaise, between you and father. He is
exceedingly fond of flowers;--he has been enchanted, this evening, by
this splendid Gardenia, and these many crimson flowers that were given
me at Villa Correggi, where a friend took us in his carriage. It was a
luxury, this ride, as we have entirely renounced the use of a carriage
for ourselves. How enchanted you would have been with that villa! It
seems now as if, with the certainty of a very limited income, we could
be so happy! But I suppose, if we had it, one of us would die, or the
baby. Do not you die, my beloved mother;--let us together have some
halcyon moments, again, with God, with nature, with sweet childhood,
with the remembrance of pure trust and good intent; away from perfidy
and care, and the blight of noble designs.

Ossoli wishes you were here, almost as much as I. When there is
anything really lovely and tranquil, he often says, "Would not '_La
Madre_' like that?" He wept when he heard your letter. I never saw
him weep at any other time, except when his father died, and when the
French entered Rome. He has, I think, even a more holy feeling about
a mother, from having lost his own, when very small. It has been a
life-long want with him. He often shows me a little scar on his face,
made by a jealous dog, when his mother was caressing him as an infant.
He prizes that blemish much.

* * * * *

_Florence, December_ 1, 1849.--I do not know what to write about the
baby, he changes so much,--has so many characters. He is like me in
that, for his father's character is simple and uniform, though not
monotonous, any more than are the flowers of spring flowers of the
valley. Angelino is now in the most perfect rosy health,--a very gay,
impetuous, ardent, but sweet-tempered child. He seems to me to have
nothing in common with his first babyhood, with its ecstatic smiles,
its exquisite sensitiveness, and a distinction in the gesture and
attitudes that struck everybody. His temperament is apparently changed
by taking the milk of these robust women. He is now come to quite a
knowing age,--fifteen months.

In the morning, as soon as dressed, he signs to come into our room;
then draws our curtain with his little dimpled hand, kisses me rather
violently, pats my face, laughs, crows, shows his teeth, blows like
the bellows, stretches himself, and says "_bravo_." Then, having shown
off all his accomplishments, he expects, as a reward, to be tied in
his chair, and have his playthings. These engage him busily, but still
he calls to us to sing and drum, to enliven the scene. Sometimes he
summons me to kiss his hand, and laughs very much at this. Enchanting
is that baby-laugh, all dimples and glitter,--so strangely arch and
innocent! Then I wash and dress him. That is his great time. He makes
it last as long as he can, insisting to dress and wash me the while,
kicking, throwing the water about, and full of all manner of tricks,
such as, I think, girls never dream of. Then comes his walk;--we have
beautiful walks here for him, protected by fine trees, always warm in
mid-winter. The bands are playing in the distance, and children of
all ages are moving about, and sitting with their nurses. His walk and
sleep give me about three hours in the middle of the day.

I feel so refreshed by his young life, and Ossoli diffuses such a
power and sweetness over every day, that I cannot endure to think yet
of our future. Too much have we suffered already, trying to command
it. I do not feel force to make any effort yet. I suppose that very
soon now I must do something, and hope I shall feel able when the time
comes. My constitution seems making an effort to rally, by dint of
much sleep. I had slept so little, for a year and a half, and, after
the birth of the child, I had such anxiety and anguish when separated
from him, that I was consumed as by nightly fever. The last two
months at Rome would have destroyed almost any woman. Then, when I
went to him, he was so ill, and I was constantly up with him at night,
carrying him about. Now, for two months, we have been tranquil. We
have resolved to enjoy being together as much as we can, in this brief
interval,--perhaps all we shall ever know of peace. It is very sad we
have no money, we could be so quietly happy a while. I rejoice in
all Ossoli did; but the results, in this our earthly state, are
disastrous, especially as my strength is now so impaired. This much I
hope, in life or death, to be no more separated from Angelino.

Last winter, I made the most vehement efforts at least to redeem the
time, hoping thus good for the future. But, of at least two volumes
written at that time, no line seems of any worth. I had suffered much
constraint,--much that was uncongenial, harassing, even torturing,
before; but this kind of pain found me unprepared;--the position of a
mother separated from her only child is too frightfully unnatural.

* * * * *

The Christmas holidays interest me now, through my child, as they
never did for myself. I like to go out to watch the young generation
who will be his contemporaries. On Monday, we went to the _Caseine_.
After we had taken the drive, we sat down on a stone seat in the sunny
walk, to see the people pass;--the Grand Duke and his children;
the elegant Austrian officers, who will be driven out of Italy when
Angelino is a man; Princess Demidoff; Harry Lorrequer; an absurd brood
of fops; many lovely children; many little frisking dogs, with their
bells, &c. The sun shone brightly on the Arno; a barque moved gently
by; all seemed good to the baby. He laid himself back in my arms,
smiling, singing to himself, and dancing his feet. I hope he will
retain some trace in his mind of the perpetual exhilarating picture of
Italy. It cannot but be important in its influence while yet a child,
to walk in these stately gardens, full of sculpture, and hear the
untiring music of the fountains.

Christmas-eve we went to the Annunziata, for midnight mass. Though the
service is not splendid here as in Rome, we yet enjoyed it;--sitting
in one of the side chapels, at the foot of a monument, watching
the rich crowds steal gently by, every eye gleaming, every gesture
softened by the influence of the pealing choir, and the hundred silver
lamps swinging their full light, in honor of the abused Emanuel.

But far finest was it to pass through the Duomo. No one was there.
Only the altars were lit up, and the priests, who were singing, could
not be seen by the faint light. The vast solemnity of the interior
is thus really felt. The hour was worthy of Brunelleschi. I hope he
walked there so. The Duomo is more divine than St. Peter's, and worthy
of genius pure and unbroken. St. Peter's is, like Rome, a mixture of
sublimest heaven with corruptest earth. I adore the Duomo, though no
place can now be to me like St. Peter's, where has been passed the
splendidest part of my life. My feeling was always perfectly regal, on
entering the piazza of St. Peter's. No spot on earth is worthier the
sunlight;--on none does it fall so fondly.

* * * * *

You ask me, how I employ myself here. I have been much engaged in
writing out my impressions, which will be of worth so far as correct.
I am anxious only to do historical justice to facts and persons; but
there will not, so far as I am aware, be much thought, for I believe
I have scarce expressed what lies deepest in my mind. I take no pains,
but let the good genius guide my pen. I did long to lead a simple,
natural life, _at home_, learning of my child, and writing only when
imperatively urged by the need of utterance; but when we were forced
to give up the hope of subsisting on a narrow independence, without
tie to the public, we gave up the peculiar beauty of our lives, and I
strive no more. I only hope to make good terms with the publishers.

Then, I have been occupied somewhat in reading Louis Blanc's Ten
Years, Lamartine's Girondists, and other books of that class, which
throw light on recent transactions.

I go into society, too, somewhat, and see several delightful persons,
in an intimate way. The Americans meet twice a week, at the house of
Messrs. Mozier and Chapman, and I am often present, on account of
the friendly interest of those resident here. With our friends, the
Greenoughs, I have twice gone to the opera. Then I see the Brownings
often, and love and admire them both, more and more, as I know them
better. Mr. Browning enriches every hour I pass with him, and is
a most cordial, true, and noble man. One of my most highly prized
Italian friends, also, Marchioness Arconati Visconti, of Milan, is
passing the winter here, and I see her almost every day.

* * * * *

My love for Ossoli is most pure and tender, nor has any one, except my
mother or little children, loved me so genuinely as he does. To some,
I have been obliged to make myself known; others have loved me with a
mixture of fancy and enthusiasm, excited by my talent at embellishing
life. But Ossoli loves me from simple affinity;--he loves to be
with me, and to serve and soothe me. Life will probably be a severe
struggle, but I hope I shall be able to live through all that is
before us, and not neglect my child or his father. He has suffered
enough since we met;--it has ploughed furrows in his life. He has
done all he could, and cannot blame himself. Our outward destiny looks
dark, but we must brave it as we can. I trust we shall always feel
mutual tenderness, and Ossoli has a simple, childlike piety, that will
make it easier for him.


Pure and peaceful as was the joy of Margaret's Florence winter, it was
ensured and perfected by the fidelity of friends, who hedged around
with honor the garden of her home. She had been called to pass through
a most trying ordeal, and the verdict of her peers was heightened
esteem and love. With what dignified gratitude she accepted this
well-earned proof of confidence, will appear from the following


Thus far, my friends have received news that must have been an
unpleasant surprise to them, in a way that, _a moi_, does them great
honor. None have shown littleness or displeasure, at being denied my
confidence while they were giving their own. Many have expressed the
warmest sympathy, and only one has shown a disposition to transgress
the limit I myself had marked, and to ask questions. With her, I
think, this was because she was annoyed by what people said, and
wished to be able to answer them. I replied to her, that I had
communicated already all I intended, and should not go into
detail;--that when unkind things were said about me, she should let
them pass. Will you, dear E----, do the same? I am sure your affection
for me will prompt you to add, that you feel confident whatever I
have done has been in a good spirit, and not contrary to _my_ ideas
of right. For the rest, you will not admit for me,--as I do not for
myself,--the rights of the social inquisition of the United States to
know all the details of my affairs. If my mother is content; if Ossoli
and I are content; if our child, when grown up, shall be content; that
is enough. You and I know enough of the United States to be sure that
many persons there will blame whatever is peculiar. The lower-minded
persons, everywhere, are sure to think that whatever is mysterious
must be bad. But I think there will remain for me a sufficient number
of friends to keep my heart warm, and to help me earn my bread;--that
is all that is of any consequence. Ossoli seems to me more lovely and
good every day; our darling child is well now, and every day more gay
and playful. For his sake I shall have courage; and hope some good
angel will show us the way out of our external difficulties.


It was like you to receive with such kindness the news of my marriage.
A less generous person would have been displeased, that, when we had
been drawn so together,--when we had talked so freely, and you had
shown towards me such sweet friendship,--I had not told you. Often did
I long to do so, but I had, for reasons that seemed important, made
a law to myself to keep this secret as rigidly as possible, up to a
certain moment. That moment came. Its decisions were not such as I had
hoped; but it left me, at least, without that painful burden, which
I trust never to bear again. Nature keeps so many secrets, that I
had supposed the moral writers exaggerated the dangers and plagues of
keeping them; but they cannot exaggerate. All that can be said about
mine is, that I at least acted out, with, to me, tragic thoroughness,
"The wonder, a woman keeps a secret." As to my not telling _you_, I
can merely say, that I was keeping the information from my family and
dearest friends at home; and, had you remained near me a very little
later, you would have been the very first person to whom I should have
spoken, as you would have been the first, on this side of the water,
to whom I should have written, had I known where to address you. Yet
I hardly hoped for your sympathy, dear W----. I am very glad if I
have it. May brotherly love ever be returned unto you in like measure.
Ossoli desires his love and respect to be testified to you both.


Reading a book called "The Last Days of the Republic in Rome," I see
that my letter, giving my impressions of that period, may well have
seemed to you strangely partial. If we can meet as once we did,
and compare notes in the same spirit of candor, while making mutual
allowance for our different points of view, your testimony and
opinions would be invaluable to me. But will you have patience with my
democracy,--my revolutionary spirit? Believe that in thought I am more
radical than ever. The heart of Margaret you know,--it is always the
same. Mazzini is immortally dear to me--a thousand times deafer for
all the trial I saw made of him in Rome;--dearer for all he suffered.
Many of his brave friends perished there. We who, less worthy,
survive, would fain make up for the loss, by our increased devotion
to him, the purest, the most disinterested of patriots, the most
affectionate of brothers. You will not love me less that I am true to

Then, again, how will it affect you to know that I have united my
destiny with that of an obscure young man,--younger than myself; a
person of no intellectual culture, and in whom, in short, you will
see no reason for my choosing; yet more, that this union is of long
standing; that we have with us our child, of a year old, and that it
is only lately I acquainted my family with the fact?

If you decide to meet with me as before, and wish to say something
about the matter to your friends, it will be true to declare that
there have been pecuniary reasons for this concealment. But _to
you_, in confidence, I add, this is only half the truth; and I cannot
explain, or satisfy my dear friend further. I should wish to meet
her independent of all relations, but, as we live in the midst of
"society," she would have to inquire for me now as Margaret Ossoli.
That being done, I should like to say nothing more on the subject.

However you may feel about all this, dear Madame Arconati, you will
always be the same in my eyes. I earnestly wish you may not feel
estranged; but, if you do, I would prefer that you should act upon it.
Let us meet as friends, or not at all. In all events, I remain ever



My loved friend,--I read your letter with greatest content. I did not
know but that there might seem something offensively strange in the
circumstances I mentioned to you. Goethe says, "There is nothing men
pardon so little as singular conduct, for which no reason is given;"
and, remembering this, I have been a little surprised at the even
increased warmth of interest with which the little American society of
Florence has received me, with the unexpected accessories of husband
and child,--asking no questions, and seemingly satisfied to find me
thus accompanied. With you, indeed, I thought it would be so, because
you are above the world; only, as you have always walked in the beaten
path, though with noble port, and feet undefiled, I thought you might
not like your friends to be running about in these blind alleys. It
glads my heart, indeed, that you do not care for this, and that we may
meet in love.

You speak of our children. Ah! dear friend, I do, indeed, feel we
shall have deep sympathy there. I do not believe mine will be a
brilliant child, and, indeed, I see nothing peculiar about him. Yet he
is to me a source of ineffable joys,--far purer, deeper, than anything
I ever felt before,--like what Nature had sometimes given, but more
intimate, more sweet. He loves me very much; his little heart clings
to mine. I trust, if he lives, to sow there no seeds which are not
good, to be always growing better for his sake. Ossoli, too, will be
a good father. He has very little of what is called intellectual
development, but unspoiled instincts, affections pure and constant,
and a quiet sense of duty, which, to me,--who have seen much of the
great faults in characters of enthusiasm and genius,--seems of highest

When you write by post, please direct "Marchesa Ossoli," as all the
letters come to that address. I did not explain myself on that point.
The fact is, it looks to me silly for a radical like me to be carrying
a title; and yet, while Ossoli is in his native land, it seems
disjoining myself from him, not to bear it. It is a sort of thing that
does not naturally belong to me, and, unsustained by fortune, is but a
_souvenir_ even for Ossoli. Yet it has appeared to me, that for him
to drop an inherited title would be, in some sort, to acquiesce in
his brothers' disclaiming him, and to abandon a right he may passively
wish to maintain for his child. How does it seem to you? I am not
very clear about it. If Ossoli should drop the title, it would be
a suitable moment to do so on becoming an inhabitant of Republican


What you say of the meddling curiosity of people repels me, it is so
different here. When I made my appearance with a husband and a child
of a year old, nobody did the least act to annoy me. All were most
cordial; none asked or implied questions. Yet there were not a few who

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