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Title: Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli, Volume I
Author: Fuller, Margaret, 1810-1850
Language: English
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       *       *       *       *       *

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


  Però che ogni diletto nostro e doglia
  Sta in si e nò saper, voler, potere;
  Adunque quel sol può, che col dovere
  Ne trae la ragion fuor di sua soglia.

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



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


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

    Stereotyped by HOBART & ROBBINS;



II. CAMBRIDGE, _By J.F. Clarke_


IV. CONCORD, _By R.W. Emerson_

V. BOSTON, _By R.W. Emerson_



       *       *       *       *       *

  "Aus Morgenduft gewebt und Sonnenklarheit
  Der Dichtung Schleir aus der Hand der Wahrheit."


            "The million stars which tremble
  O'er the deep mind of dauntless infancy."


  "Wie leicht ward er dahin gefragen,
     Was war dem Glücklichen zu schwer!
  Wie tanzte vor des Lebens Wagen
     Die luftige Begleitung her!
  Die Liebe mit dem süssen Lohne,
     Das Glück mit seinem gold'nen Kranz,
  Der Ruhm mit seiner Sternenkrone,
     Die Wahrheit in der Sonne Glanz."


  What wert thou then? A child most infantine,
  Yet wandering far beyond that innocent age,
  In all but its sweet looks and mien divine;
  Even then, methought, with the world's tyrant rage
  A patient warfare thy young heart did wage,
  When those soft eyes of scarcely conscious thought
  Some tale, or thine own fancies, would engage
  To overflow with tears, or converse fraught
  With passion o'er their depths its fleeting light had wrought.'


  "And I smiled, as one never smiles but once;
  Then first discovering my own aim's extent,
  Which sought to comprehend the works of God.
  And God himself, and all God's intercourse
  With the human mind."




       *       *       *       *       *

    'Tieck, who has embodied so many Runic secrets, explained to
    me what I have often felt toward myself, when he tells of
    the poor changeling, who, turned from the door of her adopted
    home, sat down on a stone and so pitied herself that she wept.
    Yet me also, the wonderful bird, singing in the wild forest,
    has tempted on, and not in vain.'

Thus wrote Margaret in the noon of life, when looking back through
youth to the "dewy dawn of memory." She was the eldest child of
Timothy Fuller and Margaret Crane, and was born in Cambridge-Port,
Massachusetts, on the 23d of May, 1810.

Among her papers fortunately remains this unfinished sketch of youth,
prepared by her own hand, in 1840, as the introductory chapter to an
autobiographical romance.


    'My father was a lawyer and a politician. He was a man largely
    endowed with that sagacious energy, which the state of New
    England society, for the last half century, has been so well
    fitted to develop. His father was a clergyman, settled as
    pastor in Princeton, Massachusetts, within the bounds of whose
    parish-farm was Wachuset. His means were small, and the great
    object of his ambition was to send his sons to college. As a
    boy, my father was taught to think only of preparing himself
    for Harvard University, and when there of preparing himself
    for the profession of Law. As a Lawyer, again, the ends
    constantly presented were to work for distinction in the
    community, and for the means of supporting a family. To be an
    honored citizen, and to have a home on earth, were made the
    great aims of existence. To open the deeper fountains of
    the soul, to regard life here as the prophetic entrance to
    immortality, to develop his spirit to perfection,--motives
    like these had never been suggested to him, either by
    fellow-beings or by outward circumstances. The result was a
    character, in its social aspect, of quite the common sort.
    A good son and brother, a kind neighbor, an active man of
    business--in all these outward relations he was but one of
    a class, which surrounding conditions have made the majority
    among us. In the more delicate and individual relations, he
    never approached but two mortals, my mother and myself.

    'His love for my mother was the green spot on which he
    stood apart from the common-places of a mere bread-winning,
    bread-bestowing existence. She was one of those fair and
    flower-like natures, which sometimes spring up even beside the
    most dusty highways of life--a creature not to be shaped into
    a merely useful instrument, but bound by one law with the blue
    sky, the dew, and the frolic birds. Of all persons whom I
    have known, she had in her most of the angelic,--of that
    spontaneous love for every living thing, for man, and beast,
    and tree, which restores the golden age.'


    'My earliest recollection is of a death,--the death of a
    sister, two years younger than myself. Probably there is a
    sense of childish endearments, such as belong to this tie,
    mingled with that of loss, of wonder, and mystery; but these
    last are prominent in memory. I remember coming home and
    meeting our nursery-maid, her face streaming with tears. That
    strange sight of tears made an indelible impression. I realize
    how little I was of stature, in that I looked up to this
    weeping face;--and it has often seemed since, that--full-grown
    for the life of this earth, I have looked up just so, at times
    of threatening, of doubt, and distress, and that just so has
    some being of the next higher order of existences looked down,
    aware of a law unknown to me, and tenderly commiserating the
    pain I muse endure in emerging from my ignorance.

    'She took me by the hand and led me into a still and dark
    chamber,--then drew aside the curtain and showed me my sister.
    I see yet that beauty of death! The highest achievements of
    sculpture are only the reminder of its severe sweetness. Then
    I remember the house all still and dark,--the people in their
    black clothes and dreary faces,--the scent of the newly-made
    coffin,--my being set up in a chair and detained by a gentle
    hand to hear the clergyman,--the carriages slowly going, the
    procession slowly doling out their steps to the grave. But
    I have no remembrance of what I have since been told I
    did,--insisting, with loud cries, that they should not put the
    body in the ground. I suppose that my emotion was spent at
    the time, and so there was nothing to fix that moment in my

    'I did not then, nor do I now, find any beauty in these
    ceremonies. What had they to do with the sweet playful child?
    Her life and death were alike beautiful, but all this sad
    parade was not. Thus my first experience of life was one of
    death. She who would have been the companion of my life was
    severed from me, and I was left alone. This has made a
    vast difference in my lot. Her character, if that fair face
    promised right, would have been soft, graceful and lively: it
    would have tempered mine to a gentler and more gradual course.


    'My father,--all whose feelings were now concentred on
    me,--instructed me himself. The effect of this was so far good
    that, not passing through the hands of many ignorant and weak
    persons as so many do at preparatory schools, I was put at
    once under discipline of considerable severity, and, at the
    same time, had a more than ordinarily high standard presented
    to me. My father was a man of business, even in literature; he
    had been a high scholar at college, and was warmly attached
    to all he had learned there, both from the pleasure he had
    derived in the exercise of his faculties and the associated
    memories of success and good repute. He was, beside, well read
    in French literature, and in English, a Queen Anne's man. He
    hoped to make me the heir of all he knew, and of as much more
    as the income of his profession enabled him to give me
    means of acquiring. At the very beginning, he made one
    great mistake, more common, it is to be hoped, in the last
    generation, than the warnings of physiologists will permit
    it to be with the next. He thought to gain time, by bringing
    forward the intellect as early as possible. Thus I had tasks
    given me, as many and various as the hours would allow, and
    on subjects beyond my age; with the additional disadvantage
    of reciting to him in the evening, after he returned from his
    office. As he was subject to many interruptions, I was often
    kept up till very late; and as he was a severe teacher, both
    from his habits of mind and his ambition for me, my feelings
    were kept on the stretch till the recitations were over. Thus
    frequently, I was sent to bed several hours too late, with
    nerves unnaturally stimulated. The consequence was a premature
    development of the brain, that made me a "youthful prodigy" by
    day, and by night a victim of spectral illusions, nightmare,
    and somnambulism, which at the time prevented the harmonious
    development of my bodily powers and checked my growth, while,
    later, they induced continual headache, weakness and nervous
    affections, of all kinds. As these again re-acted on the
    brain, giving undue force to every thought and every feeling,
    there was finally produced a state of being both too active
    and too intense, which wasted my constitution, and will bring
    me,--even although I have learned to understand and regulate
    my now morbid temperament,--to a premature grave.

    'No one understood this subject of health then. No one knew
    why this child, already kept up so late, was still unwilling
    to retire. My aunts cried out upon the "spoiled child, the
    most unreasonable child that ever was,--if brother could but
    open his eyes to see it,--who was never willing to go to bed."
    They did not know that, so soon as the light was taken away,
    she seemed to see colossal faces advancing slowly towards her,
    the eyes dilating, and each feature swelling loathsomely as
    they came, till at last, when they were about to close upon
    her, she started up with a shriek which drove them away, but
    only to return when she lay down again. They did not know
    that, when at last she went to sleep, it was to dream of
    horses trampling over her, and to awake once more in fright;
    or, as she had just read in her Virgil, of being among trees
    that dripped with blood, where she walked and walked and could
    not get out, while the blood became a pool and plashed over
    her feet, and rose higher and higher, till soon she dreamed it
    would reach her lips. No wonder the child arose and walked in
    her sleep, moaning all over the house, till once, when they
    heard her, and came and waked her, and she told what she had
    dreamed, her father sharply bid her "leave off thinking of
    such nonsense, or she would be crazy,"--never knowing that he
    was himself the cause of all these horrors of the night. Often
    she dreamed of following to the grave the body of her mother,
    as she had done that of her sister, and woke to find the
    pillow drenched in tears. These dreams softened her heart too
    much, and cast a deep shadow over her young days; for then,
    and later, the life of dreams,--probably because there was in
    it less to distract the mind from its own earnestness,--has
    often seemed to her more real, and been remembered with more
    interest, than that of waking hours.

    'Poor child! Far remote in time, in thought, from that
    period, I look back on these glooms and terrors, wherein I was
    enveloped, and perceive that I had no natural childhood.'


    'Thus passed my first years. My mother was in delicate health,
    and much absorbed in the care of her younger children. In the
    house was neither dog nor bird, nor any graceful animated form
    of existence. I saw no persons who took my fancy, and real
    life offered no attraction. Thus my already over-excited mind
    found no relief from without, and was driven for refuge from
    itself to the world of books. I was taught Latin and English
    grammar at the same time, and began to read Latin at six years
    old, after which, for some years, I read it daily. In this
    branch of study, first by my father, and afterwards by a
    tutor, I was trained to quite a high degree of precision.
    I was expected to understand the mechanism of the language
    thoroughly, and in translating to give the thoughts in as
    few well-arranged words as possible, and without breaks
    or hesitation,--for with these my father had absolutely no

    'Indeed, he demanded accuracy and clearness in everything:
    you must not speak, unless you can make your meaning perfectly
    intelligible to the person addressed; must not express a
    thought, unless you can give a reason for it, if
    required; must not make a statement, unless sure of all
    particulars--such were his rules. "But," "if," "unless," "I am
    mistaken," and "it may be so," were words and phrases excluded
    from the province where he held sway. Trained to great
    dexterity in artificial methods, accurate, ready, with entire
    command of his resources, he had no belief in minds that
    listen, wait, and receive. He had no conception of the subtle
    and indirect motions of imagination and feeling. His influence
    on me was great, and opposed to the natural unfolding of my
    character, which was fervent, of strong grasp, and disposed to
    infatuation, and self-forgetfulness. He made the common prose
    world so present to me, that my natural bias was controlled. I
    did not go mad, as many would do, at being continually roused
    from my dreams. I had too much strength to be crushed,--and
    since I must put on the fetters, could not submit to let them
    impede my motions. My own world sank deep within, away from
    the surface of my life; in what I did and said I learned to
    have reference to other minds. But my true life was only the
    dearer that it was secluded and veiled over by a thick curtain
    of available intellect, and that coarse, but wearable stuff
    woven by the ages,--Common Sense.

    'In accordance with this discipline in heroic common sense,
    was the influence of those great Romans, whose thoughts and
    lives were my daily food during those plastic years. The
    genius of Rome displayed itself in Character, and scarcely
    needed an occasional wave of the torch of thought to show its
    lineaments, so marble strong they gleamed in every light. Who,
    that has lived with those men, but admires the plain force of
    fact, of thought passed into action? They take up things with
    their naked hands. There is just the man, and the block he
    casts before you,--no divinity, no demon, no unfulfilled
    aim, but just the man and Rome, and what he did for Rome.
    Everything turns your attention to what a man can become,
    not by yielding himself freely to impressions, not by letting
    nature play freely through him, but by a single thought,
    an earnest purpose, an indomitable will, by hardihood,
    self-command, and force of expression. Architecture was the
    art in which Rome excelled, and this corresponds with the
    feeling these men of Rome excite. They did not grow,--they
    built themselves up, or were built up by the fate of Rome, as
    a temple for Jupiter Stator. The ruined Roman sits among
    the ruins; he flies to no green garden; he does not look to
    heaven; if his intent is defeated, if he is less than he meant
    to be, he lives no more. The names which end in "_us_," seem
    to speak with lyric cadence. That measured cadence,--that
    tramp and march,--which are not stilted, because they indicate
    real force, yet which seem so when compared with any other
    language,--make Latin a study in itself of mighty influence.
    The language alone, without the literature, would give one the
    _thought_ of Rome. Man present in nature, commanding nature
    too sternly to be inspired by it, standing like the rock
    amid the sea, or moving like the fire over the land, either
    impassive, or irresistible; knowing not the soft mediums or
    fine flights of life, but by the force which he expresses,
    piercing to the centre.

    'We are never better understood than when we speak of a "Roman
    virtue," a "Roman outline." There is somewhat indefinite,
    somewhat yet unfulfilled in the thought of Greece, of Spain,
    of modern Italy; but ROME! it stands by itself, a clear Word.
    The power of will, the dignity of a fixed purpose is what
    it utters. Every Roman was an emperor. It is well that the
    infallible church should have been founded on this rock, that
    the presumptuous Peter should hold the keys, as the conquering
    Jove did before his thunderbolts, to be seen of all the world.
    The Apollo tends flocks with Admetus; Christ teaches by the
    lonely lake, or plucks wheat as he wanders through the fields
    some Sabbath morning. They never come to this stronghold; they
    could not have breathed freely where all became stone as
    soon as spoken, where divine youth found no horizon for its
    all-promising glance, but every thought put on, before it
    dared issue to the day in action, its _toga virilis_.

    'Suckled by this wolf, man gains a different complexion from
    that which is fed by the Greek honey. He takes a noble bronze
    in camps and battle-fields; the wrinkles of council well
    beseem his brow, and the eye cuts its way like the sword. The
    Eagle should never have been used as a symbol by any other
    nation: it belonged to Rome.

    'The history of Rome abides in mind, of course, more than the
    literature. It was degeneracy for a Roman to use the pen; his
    life was in the day. The "vaunting" of Rome, like that of the
    North American Indians, is her proper literature. A man rises;
    he tells who he is, and what he has done; he speaks of his
    country and her brave men; he knows that a conquering god is
    there, whose agent is his own right hand; and he should end
    like the Indian, "I have no more to say."

    'It never shocks us that the Roman is self-conscious.
    One wants no universal truths from him, no philosophy, no
    creation, but only his life, his Roman life felt in every
    pulse, realized in every gesture. The universal heaven takes
    in the Roman only to make us feel his individuality the more.
    The Will, the Resolve of Man!--it has been expressed,--fully

    'I steadily loved this ideal in my childhood, and this is the
    cause, probably, why I have always felt that man must know how
    to stand firm on the ground, before he can fly. In vain for
    me are men more, if they are less, than Romans. Dante was far
    greater than any Roman, yet I feel he was right to take the
    Mantuan as his guide through hell, and to heaven.

    'Horace was a great deal to me then, and is so still. Though
    his words do not abide in memory, his presence does: serene,
    courtly, of darting hazel eye, a self-sufficient grace, and
    an appreciation of the world of stern realities, sometimes
    pathetic, never tragic. He is the natural man of the world; he
    is what he ought to be, and his darts never fail of their
    aim. There is a perfume and raciness, too, which makes life a
    banquet, where the wit sparkles no less that the viands were
    bought with blood.

    'Ovid gave me not Rome, nor himself, but a view into the
    enchanted gardens of the Greek mythology. This path I
    followed, have been following ever since; and now, life half
    over, it seems to me, as in my childhood, that every thought
    of which man is susceptible, is intimated there. In those
    young years, indeed, I did not see what I now see, but loved
    to creep from amid the Roman pikes to lie beneath this great
    vine, and see the smiling and serene shapes go by, woven from
    the finest fibres of all the elements. I knew not why, at that
    time,--but I loved to get away from the hum of the forum, and
    the mailed clang of Roman speech, to these shifting shows of
    nature, these Gods and Nymphs born of the sunbeam, the wave,
    the shadows on the hill.

    'As with Rome I antedated the world of deeds, so I lived in
    those Greek forms the true faith of a refined and intense
    childhood. So great was the force of reality with which these
    forms impressed me, that I prayed earnestly for a sign,--that
    it would lighten in some particular region of the heavens, or
    that I might find a bunch of grapes in the path, when I went
    forth in the morning. But no sign was given, and I was left a
    waif stranded upon the shores of modern life!

    'Of the Greek language, I knew only enough to feel that the
    sounds told the same story as the mythology;--that the law
    of life in that land was beauty, as in Rome it was a stern
    composure. I wish I had learned as much of Greece as of
    Rome,--so freely does the mind play in her sunny waters, where
    there is no chill, and the restraint is from within out; for
    these Greeks, in an atmosphere of ample grace, could not be
    impetuous, or stern, but loved moderation as equable life
    always must, for it is the law of beauty.

    'With these books I passed my days. The great amount of study
    exacted of me soon ceased to be a burden, and reading became a
    habit and a passion. The force of feeling, which, under other
    circumstances, might have ripened thought, was turned to learn
    the thoughts of others. This was not a tame state, for the
    energies brought out by rapid acquisition gave glow enough. I
    thought with rapture of the all-accomplished man, him of the
    many talents, wide resources, clear sight, and omnipotent
    will. A Cæsar seemed great enough. I did not then know that
    such men impoverish the treasury to build the palace. I kept
    their statues as belonging to the hall of my ancestors, and
    loved to conquer obstacles, and fed my youth and strength for
    their sake.

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Still, though this bias was so great that in earliest years I
    learned, in these ways, how the world takes hold of a powerful
    nature, I had yet other experiences. None of these were
    deeper than what I found in the happiest haunt of my childish
    years,--our little garden. Our house, though comfortable,
    was very ugly, and in a neighborhood which I detested,--every
    dwelling and its appurtenances having a _mesquin_ and huddled
    look. I liked nothing about us except the tall graceful elms
    before the house, and the dear little garden behind. Our back
    door opened on a high flight of steps, by which I went down
    to a green plot, much injured in my ambitious eyes by the
    presence of the pump and tool-house. This opened into a little
    garden, full of choice flowers and fruit-trees, which was my
    mother's delight, and was carefully kept. Here I felt at home.
    A gate opened thence into the fields,--a wooden gate made of
    boards, in a high, unpainted board wall, and embowered in the
    clematis creeper. This gate I used to open to see the sunset
    heaven; beyond this black frame I did not step, for I liked to
    look at the deep gold behind it. How exquisitely happy I
    was in its beauty, and how I loved the silvery wreaths of my
    protecting vine! I never would pluck one of its flowers at
    that time, I was so jealous of its beauty, but often since I
    carry off wreaths of it from the wild-wood, and it stands in
    nature to my mind as the emblem of domestic love.

    'Of late I have thankfully felt what I owe to that garden,
    where the best hours of my lonely childhood were spent. Within
    the house everything was socially utilitarian; my books told
    of a proud world, but in another temper were the teachings of
    the little garden. There my thoughts could lie callow in the
    nest, and only be fed and kept warm, not called to fly or sing
    before the time. I loved to gaze on the roses, the violets,
    the lilies, the pinks; my mother's hand had planted them, and
    they bloomed for me. I culled the most beautiful. I looked at
    them on every side. I kissed them, I pressed them to my bosom
    with passionate emotions, such as I have never dared express
    to any human being. An ambition swelled my heart to be as
    beautiful, as perfect as they. I have not kept my vow. Yet,
    forgive, ye wild asters, which gleam so sadly amid the fading
    grass; forgive me, ye golden autumn flowers, which so strive
    to reflect the glories of the departing distant sun; and ye
    silvery flowers, whose moonlight eyes I knew so well, forgive!
    Living and blooming in your unchecked law, ye know nothing of
    the blights, the distortions, which beset the human being;
    and which at such hours it would seem that no glories of free
    agency could ever repay!

       *       *       *       *       *

    'There was, in the house, no apartment appropriated to the
    purpose of a library, but there was in my father's room a
    large closet filled with books, and to these I had free access
    when the task-work of the day was done. Its window overlooked
    wide fields, gentle slopes, a rich and smiling country, whose
    aspect pleased without much occupying the eye, while a range
    of blue hills, rising at about twelve miles distance, allured
    to reverie. "Distant mountains," says Tieck, "excite the
    fancy, for beyond them we place the scene of our Paradise."
    Thus, in the poems of fairy adventure, we climb the rocky
    barrier, pass fearless its dragon caves, and dark pine
    forests, and find the scene of enchantment in the vale behind.
    My hopes were never so definite, but my eye was constantly
    allured to that distant blue range, and I would sit, lost in
    fancies, till tears fell on my cheek. I loved this sadness;
    but only in later years, when the realities of life had taught
    me moderation, did the passionate emotions excited by seeing
    them again teach how glorious were the hopes that swelled my
    heart while gazing on them in those early days.

    'Melancholy attends on the best joys of a merely ideal life,
    else I should call most happy the hours in the garden, the
    hours in the book closet. Here were the best French writers
    of the last century; for my father had been more than half a
    Jacobin, in the time when the French Republic cast its glare
    of promise over the world. Here, too, were the Queen Anne
    authors, his models, and the English novelists; but among
    them I found none that charmed me. Smollett, Fielding, and the
    like, deal too broadly with the coarse actualities of life.
    The best of their men and women--so merely natural, with the
    nature found every day--do not meet our hopes. Sometimes the
    simple picture, warm with life and the light of the common
    sun, cannot fail to charm,--as in the wedded love of
    Fielding's Amelia,--but it is at a later day, when the mind is
    trained to comparison, that we learn to prize excellence like
    this as it deserves. Early youth is prince-like: it-will bend
    only to "the king, my father." Various kinds of excellence
    please, and leave their impression, but the most commanding,
    alone, is duly acknowledged at that all-exacting age.

    'Three great authors it was my fortune to meet at this
    important period,--all, though of unequal, yet congenial
    powers,--all of rich and wide, rather than aspiring
    genius,--all free to the extent of the horizon their eye took
    in,--all fresh with impulse, racy with experience; never to
    be lost sight of, or superseded, but always to be apprehended
    more and more.

    'Ever memorable is the day on which I first took a volume of
    SHAKSPEARE in my hand to read. It was on a Sunday.

    '--This day was punctiliously set apart in our house. We had
    family prayers, for which there was no time on other days. Our
    dinners were different, and our clothes. We went to church. My
    father put some limitations on my reading, but--bless him for
    the gentleness which has left me a pleasant feeling for the
    day!--he did not prescribe what was, but only what was _not_,
    to be done. And the liberty this left was a large one. "You
    must not read a novel, or a play;" but all other books, the
    worst, or the best, were open to me. The distinction was
    merely technical. The day was pleasing to me, as relieving me
    from the routine of tasks and recitations; it gave me freer
    play than usual, and there were fewer things occurred in its
    course, which reminded me of the divisions of time; still the
    church-going, where I heard nothing that had any connection
    with my inward life, and these rules, gave me associations
    with the day of empty formalities, and arbitrary restrictions;
    but though the forbidden book or walk always seemed more
    charming then, I was seldom tempted to disobey.--

    'This Sunday--I was only eight years old--I took from the
    book-shelf a volume lettered SHAKSPEARE. It was not the first
    time I had looked at it, but before I had been deterred from
    attempting to read, by the broken appearance along the page,
    and preferred smooth narrative. But this time I held in my
    hand "Romeo and Juliet" long enough to get my eye fastened to
    the page. It was a cold winter afternoon. I took the book to
    the parlor fire, and had there been 'seated an hour or two,
    when my father looked up and asked what I was reading so
    intently. "Shakspeare," replied the child, merely raising her
    eye from the page. "Shakspeare,--that won't do; that's no book
    for Sunday; go put it away and take another." I went as I was
    bid, but took no other. Returning to my seat, the unfinished
    story, the personages to whom I was but just introduced,
    thronged and burnt my brain. I could not bear it long; such a
    lure it was impossible to resist. I went and brought the book
    again. There were several guests present, and I had got half
    through the play before I again attracted attention. "What
    is that child about that she don't hear a word that's said to
    her?" quoth my aunt. "What are you reading?" said my father.
    "Shakspeare" was again the reply, in a clear, though somewhat
    impatient, tone. "How?" said my father angrily,--then
    restraining himself before his guests,--"Give me the book and
    go directly to bed."

    'Into my little room no care of his anger followed me. Alone,
    in the dark, I thought only of the scene placed by the
    poet before my eye, where the free flow of life, sudden and
    graceful dialogue, and forms, whether grotesque or fair,
    seen in the broad lustre of his imagination, gave just what
    I wanted, and brought home the life I seemed born to live.
    My fancies swarmed like bees, as I contrived the rest of the
    story;--what all would do, what say, where go. My confinement
    tortured me. I could not go forth from this prison to ask
    after these friends; I could not make my pillow of the dreams
    about them which yet I could not forbear to frame. Thus was
    I absorbed when my father entered. He felt it right, before
    going to rest, to reason with me about my disobedience, shown
    in a way, as he considered, so insolent. I listened, but could
    not feel interested in what he said, nor turn my mind
    from what engaged it. He went away really grieved at my
    impenitence, and quite at a loss to understand conduct in me
    so unusual.

    '--Often since I have seen the same misunderstanding between
    parent and child,--the parent thrusting the morale, the
    discipline, of life upon the child, when just engrossed by
    some game of real importance and great leadings to it. That is
    only a wooden horse to the father,--the child was careering to
    distant scenes of conquest and crusade, through a country of
    elsewhere unimagined beauty. None but poets remember
    their youth; but the father who does not retain poetical
    apprehension of the world, free and splendid as it stretches
    out before the child, who cannot read his natural history, and
    follow out its intimations with reverence, must be a tyrant in
    his home, and the purest intentions will not prevent his doing
    much to cramp him. Each new child is a new Thought, and has
    bearings and discernings, which the Thoughts older in date
    know not yet, but must learn.--

    'My attention thus fixed on Shakspeare, I returned to him
    at every hour I could command. Here was a counterpoise to my
    Romans, still more forcible than the little garden. My author
    could read the Roman nature too,--read it in the sternness of
    Coriolanus, and in the varied wealth of Cæsar. But he viewed
    these men of will as only one kind of men; he kept them in
    their place, and I found that he, who could understand the
    Roman, yet expressed in Hamlet a deeper thought.

    'In CERVANTES, I found far less productive talent,--'indeed,
    a far less powerful genius,--but the same wide wisdom, a
    discernment piercing the shows and symbols of existence, yet
    rejoicing in them all, both for their own life, and as signs
    of the unseen reality. Not that Cervantes philosophized,--his
    genius was too deeply philosophical for that; he took things
    as they came before him, and saw their actual relations and
    bearings. Thus the work he produced was of deep meaning,
    though he might never have expressed that meaning to himself.
    It was left implied in the whole. A Coleridge comes and calls
    Don Quixote the pure Reason, and Sancho the Understanding.
    Cervantes made no such distinctions in his own mind; but he
    had seen and suffered enough to bring out all his faculties,
    and to make him comprehend the higher as well as the lower
    part of our nature. Sancho is too amusing and sagacious to
    be contemptible; the Don too noble and clear-sighted towards
    absolute truth, to be ridiculous. And we are pleased to see
    manifested in this way, how the lower must follow and serve
    the higher, despite its jeering mistrust and the stubborn
    realities which break up the plans of this pure-minded

    'The effect produced on the mind is nowise that described by

      "Cervantes smiled Spain's chivalry away," &c.

    'On the contrary, who is not conscious of a sincere reverence
    for the Don, prancing forth on his gaunt steed? Who would not
    rather be he than any of the persons who laugh at him?--Yet
    the one we would wish to be is thyself, Cervantes,
    unconquerable spirit! gaining flavor and color like wine from
    every change, while being carried round the world; in whose
    eye the serene sagacious laughter could not be dimmed by
    poverty, slavery, or unsuccessful authorship. Thou art to us
    still more the Man, though less the Genius, than Shakspeare;
    thou dost not evade our sight, but, holding the lamp to thine
    own magic shows, dost enjoy them with us.

    'My third friend was MOLIÉRE, one very much lower, both in
    range and depth, than the-others, but, as far as he goes, of
    the same character. Nothing secluded or partial is there about
    his genius,--a man of the world, and a man by himself, as he
    is. It was, indeed, only the poor social world of Paris that
    he saw, but he viewed it from the firm foundations of
    his manhood, and every lightest laugh rings from a clear
    perception, and teaches life anew.

    'These men were all alike in this,--they loved the _natural
    history_ of man. Not what he should be, but what he is,
    was the favorite subject of their thought. Whenever a noble
    leading opened to the eye new paths of light, they rejoiced;
    but it was never fancy, but always fact, that inspired them.
    They loved a thorough penetration of the murkiest dens, and
    most tangled paths of nature; they did not spin from the
    desires of their own special natures, but reconstructed the
    world from materials which they collected on every side. Thus
    their influence upon me was not to prompt me to follow out
    thought in myself so much as to detect it everywhere, for each
    of these men is not only a nature, but a happy interpreter of
    many natures. They taught me to distrust all invention which
    is not based on a wide experience. Perhaps, too, they taught
    me to overvalue an outward experience at the expense of inward
    growth; but all this I did not appreciate till later.

    'It will be seen that my youth was not unfriended, since those
    great minds came to me in kindness. A moment of action in
    one's self, however, is worth an age of apprehension through
    others; not that our deeds are better, but that they produce
    a renewal of our being. I have had more productive moments and
    of deeper joy, but never hours of more tranquil pleasure than
    those in which these demi-gods visited me,--and with a smile
    so familiar, that I imagined the world to be full of such.
    They did me good, for by them a standard was early given
    of sight and thought, from which I could never go back, and
    beneath which I cannot suffer patiently my own life or that of
    any friend to fall. They did me harm, too, for the child
    fed with meat instead of milk becomes too soon mature.
    Expectations and desires were thus early raised, after which I
    must long toil before they can be realized. How poor the scene
    around, how tame one's own existence, how meagre and faint
    every power, with these beings in my mind! Often I must cast
    them quite aside in order to grow in my small way, and not
    sink into despair. Certainly I do not wish that instead of
    these masters I had read baby books, written down to children,
    and with such ignorant dulness that they blunt the senses and
    corrupt the tastes of the still plastic human being. But I do
    wish that I had read no books at all till later,--that I had
    lived with toys, and played in the open air. Children should
    not cull the fruits of reflection and observation early, but
    expand in the sun, and let thoughts come to them. They should
    not through books antedate their actual experiences, but
    should take them gradually, as sympathy and interpretation are
    needed. With me, much of life was devoured in the bud.


    'For a few months, this bookish and solitary life was invaded
    by interest in a living, breathing figure. At church, I used
    to look around with a feeling of coldness and disdain, which,
    though I now well understand its causes, seems to my wiser
    mind as odious as it was unnatural. The puny child sought
    everywhere for the Roman or Shakspeare figures, and she was
    met by the shrewd, honest eye, the homely decency, or the
    smartness of a New England village on Sunday. There was
    beauty, but I could not see it then; it was not of the kind I
    longed for. In the next pew sat a family who were my especial
    aversion. There were five daughters, the eldest not above
    four-and-twenty,--yet they had the old fairy, knowing
    look, hard, dry, dwarfed, strangers to the All-Fair,--were
    working-day residents in this beautiful planet. They looked
    as if their thoughts had never strayed beyond the jobs of the
    day, and they were glad of it. Their mother was one of those
    shrunken, faded patterns of woman who have never done anything
    to keep smooth the cheek and dignify the brow. The father
    had a Scotch look of shrewd narrowness, and entire
    self-complacency. I could not endure this family, whose
    existence contradicted all my visions; yet I could not forbear
    looking at them.

    'As my eye one day was ranging about with its accustomed
    coldness, and the proudly foolish sense of being in a shroud
    of thoughts that were not their thoughts, it was arrested by
    a face most fair, and well-known as it seemed at first
    glance,--for surely I had met her before and waited for her
    long. But soon I saw that she was a new apparition foreign to
    that scene, if not to me. Her dress,--the arrangement of
    her hair, which had the graceful pliancy of races highly
    cultivated for long,--the intelligent and full picture of
    her eye, whose reserve was in its self-possession, not in
    timidity,--all combined to make up a whole impression, which,
    though too young to understand, I was well prepared to feel.

    'How wearisome now appears that thorough-bred _millefleur_
    beauty, the distilled result of ages of European culture! Give
    me rather the wild heath on the lonely hill-side, than such a
    rose-tree from the daintily clipped garden. But, then, I had
    but tasted the cup, and knew not how little it could satisfy;
    more, more, was all my cry; continued through years, till I
    had been at the very fountain. Indeed, it was a ruby-red,
    a perfumed draught, and I need not abuse the wine because I
    prefer water, but merely say I have had enough of it. Then,
    the first sight, the first knowledge of such a person was

    'She was an English lady, who, by a singular chance, was cast
    upon this region for a few months. Elegant and captivating,
    her every look and gesture was tuned to a different pitch
    from anything I had ever known. She was in various ways
    "accomplished," as it is called, though to what degree I
    cannot now judge. She painted in oils;--I had never before
    seen any one use the brush, and days would not have been too
    long for me to watch the pictures growing beneath her hand.
    She played the harp; and its tones are still to me the heralds
    of the promised land I saw before me then. She rose, she
    looked, she spoke; and the gentle swaying motion she made
    all through life has gladdened memory, as the stream does the
    woods and meadows.

    'As she was often at the house of one of our neighbors, and
    afterwards at our own, my thoughts were fixed on her with all
    the force of my nature. It was my first real interest in my
    kind, and it engrossed me wholly. I had seen her,--I should
    see her,--and my mind lay steeped in the visions that flowed
    from this source. My task-work I went through with, as I have
    done on similar occasions all my life, aided by pride that
    could not bear to fail, or be questioned. Could I cease from
    doing the work of the day, and hear the reason sneeringly
    given,--"Her head is so completely taken up with ---- that
    she can do nothing"? Impossible.

    'Should the first love be blighted, they say, the mind loses
    its sense of eternity. All forms of existence seem fragile,
    the prison of time real, for a god is dead. Equally true is
    this of friendship. I thank Heaven that this first feeling was
    permitted its free flow. The years that lay between the woman
    and the girl only brought her beauty into perspective, and
    enabled me to see her as I did the mountains from my window,
    and made her presence to me a gate of Paradise. That which
    she was, that which she brought, that which she might have
    brought, were mine, and over a whole region of new life I
    ruled proprietor of the soil in my own right.

    'Her mind was sufficiently unoccupied to delight in my warm
    devotion. She could not know what it was to me, but the light
    cast by the flame through so delicate a vase cheered and
    charmed her. All who saw admired her in their way; but she
    would lightly turn her head from their hard or oppressive
    looks, and fix a glance of full-eyed sweetness on the child,
    who, from a distance, watched all her looks and motions. She
    did not say much to me--not much to any one; she spoke in her
    whole being rather than by chosen words. Indeed, her proper
    speech was dance or song, and what was less expressive did
    not greatly interest her. But she saw much, having in its
    perfection the woman's delicate sense for sympathies and
    attractions. We walked in the fields, alone. Though others
    were present, her eyes were gliding over all the field and
    plain for the objects of beauty to which she was of kin.
    She was not cold to her seeming companions; a sweet courtesy
    satisfied them, but it hung about her like her mantle that she
    wore without thinking of it; her thoughts were free, for these
    civilized beings can really live two lives at the same moment.
    With them she seemed to be, but her hand was given to the
    child at her side; others did not observe me, but to her I
    was the only human presence. Like a guardian spirit she led
    me through the fields and groves, and every tree, every bird
    greeted me, and said, what I felt, "She is the first angel of
    your life."

    'One time I had been passing the afternoon with her. She
    had been playing to me on the harp, and I sat listening in
    happiness almost unbearable. Some guests were announced. She
    went into another room to receive them, and I took up her
    book. It was Guy Mannering, then lately published, and the
    first of Scott's novels I had ever seen. I opened where her
    mark lay, and read merely with the feeling of continuing our
    mutual existence by passing my eyes over the same page where
    hers had been. It was the description of the rocks on the
    sea-coast where the little Harry Bertram was lost. I had never
    seen such places, and my mind was vividly stirred to
    imagine them. The scene rose before me, very unlike reality,
    doubtless, but majestic and wild. I was the little Harry
    Bertram, and had lost her,--all I had to lose,--and sought her
    vainly in long dark caves that had no end, plashing through
    the water; while the crags beetled above, threatening to fall
    and crush the poor child. Absorbed in the painful vision,
    tears rolled down my cheeks. Just then she entered with light
    step, and full-beaming eye. When she saw me thus, a soft cloud
    stole over her face, and clothed every feature with a lovelier
    tenderness than I had seen there before. She did not question,
    but fixed on me inquiring looks of beautiful love. I laid my
    head against her shoulder and wept,--dimly feeling that I
    must lose her and all,--all who spoke to me of the same
    things,--that the cold wave must rush over me. She waited till
    my tears were spent, then rising, took from a little box a
    bunch of golden amaranths or everlasting flowers, and gave
    them to me. They were very fragrant. "They came," she said,
    "from Madeira." These flowers stayed with me seventeen years.
    "Madeira" seemed to me the fortunate isle, apart in the blue
    ocean from all of ill or dread. Whenever I saw a sail passing
    in the distance,--if it bore itself with fulness of beautiful
    certainty,--I felt that it was going to Madeira. Those
    thoughts are all gone now. No Madeira exists for me now,--no
    fortunate purple isle,--and all these hopes and fancies are
    lifted from the sea into the sky. Yet I thank the charms that
    fixed them here so long,--fixed them till perfumes like those
    of the golden flowers were drawn from the earth, teaching me
    to know my birth-place.

    'I can tell little else of this time,--indeed, I remember
    little, except the state of feeling in which I lived. For I
    _lived_, and when this is the case, there is little to tell in
    the form of thought. We meet--at least those who are true
    to their instincts meet--a succession of persons through our
    lives, all of whom have some peculiar errand to us. There is
    an outer circle, whose existence we perceive, but with whom we
    stand in no real relation. They tell us the news, they act
    on us in the offices of society, they show us kindness and
    aversion; but their influence does not penetrate; we are
    nothing to them, nor they to us, except as a part of the
    world's furniture. Another circle, within this, are dear and
    near to us. We know them and of what kind they are. They are
    to us not mere facts, but intelligible thoughts of the divine
    mind. We like to see how they are unfolded; we like to meet
    them and part from them: we like their action upon us and the
    pause that succeeds and enables us to appreciate its quality.
    Often we leave them on our path, and return no more, but we
    bear them in our memory, tales which have been told, and whose
    meaning has been felt.

    'But yet a nearer group there are, beings born under the same
    star, and bound with us in a common destiny. These are not
    mere acquaintances, mere friends, but, when we meet, are
    sharers of our very existence. There is no separation; the
    same thought is given at the same moment to both,--indeed,
    it is born of the meeting, and would not otherwise have been
    called into existence at all. These not only know themselves
    more, but _are_ more for having met, and regions of their
    being, which would else have laid sealed in cold obstruction,
    burst into leaf and bloom and song.

    'The times of these meetings are fated, nor will either party
    be able ever to meet any other person in the same way. Both
    seem to rise at a glance into that part of the heavens where
    the word can be spoken, by which they are revealed to one
    another and to themselves. The step in being thus gained, can
    never be lost, nor can it be re-trod; for neither party will
    be again what the other wants. They are no longer fit to
    interchange mutual influence, for they do not really need
    it, and if they think they do, it is because they weakly pine
    after a past pleasure.

    'To this inmost circle of relations but few are admitted,
    because some prejudice or lack of courage has prevented the
    many from listening to their instincts the first time they
    manifested themselves. If the voice is once disregarded
    it becomes fainter each time, till, at last, it is wholly
    silenced, and the man lives in this world, a stranger to its
    real life, deluded like the maniac who fancies he has attained
    his throne, while in reality he is on a bed of musty straw.
    Yet, if the voice finds a listener and servant the first time
    of speaking, it is encouraged to more and more clearness. Thus
    it was with me,--from no merit of mine, but because I had the
    good fortune to be free enough to yield to my impressions.
    Common ties had not bound me; there were no traditionary
    notions in my mind; I believed in nothing merely because
    others believed in it; I had taken no feelings on trust. Thus
    my mind was open to their sway.

    'This woman came to me, a star from the east, a morning star,
    and I worshipped her. She too was elevated by that worship,
    and her fairest self called out. To the mind she brought
    assurance that there was a region congenial with its
    tendencies and tastes, a region of elegant culture and
    intercourse, whose object, fulfilled or not, was to gratify
    the sense of beauty, not the mere utilities of life. In our
    relation she was lifted to the top of her being. She had known
    many celebrities, had roused to passionate desire many hearts,
    and became afterwards a wife; but I do not believe she ever
    more truly realized her best self than towards the lonely
    child whose heaven she was, whose eye she met, and whose
    possibilities she predicted. "He raised me," said a woman
    inspired by love, "upon the pedestal of his own high thoughts,
    and wings came at once, but I did not fly away. I stood there
    with downcast eyes worthy of his love, for he had made me so."

    'Thus we do always for those who inspire us to expect from
    them the best. That which they are able to be, they become,
    because we demand it of them. "We expect the impossible--and
    find it."

    'My English friend went across the sea. She passed into her
    former life, and into ties that engrossed her days. But she
    has never ceased to think of me. Her thoughts turn forcibly
    back to the child who was to her all she saw of the really
    New World. On the promised coasts she had found only cities,
    careful men and women, the aims and habits of ordinary life
    in her own land, without that elegant culture which she,
    probably, over-estimated, because it was her home. But in the
    mind of the child she found the fresh prairie, the untrodden
    forests for which she had longed. I saw in her the storied
    castles, the fair stately parks and the wind laden with
    tones from the past, which I desired to know. We wrote to one
    another for many years;--her shallow and delicate epistles did
    not disenchant me, nor did she fail to see something of the
    old poetry in my rude characters and stammering speech. But we
    must never meet again.

    'When this friend was withdrawn I fell into a profound
    depression. I knew not how to exert myself, but lay bound hand
    and foot. Melancholy enfolded me in an atmosphere, as joy had
    done. This suffering, too, was out of the gradual and natural
    course. Those who are really children could not know such
    love, or feel such sorrow. "I am to blame," said my father,
    "in keeping her at home so long merely to please myself. She
    needs to be with other girls, needs play and variety. She does
    not seem to me really sick, but dull rather. She eats nothing,
    you say. I see she grows thin. She ought to change the scene."

    'I was indeed _dull_. The books, the garden, had lost all
    charm. I had the excuse of headache, constantly, for not
    attending to my lessons. The light of life was set, and every
    leaf was withered. At such an early age there are no back or
    side scenes where the mind, weary and sorrowful, may retreat.
    Older, we realize the width of the world more, and it is not
    easy to despair on any point. The effort at thought to which
    we are compelled relieves and affords a dreary retreat, like
    hiding in a brick-kiln till the shower be over. But then all
    joy seemed to have departed with my friend, and the emptiness
    of our house stood revealed. This I had not felt while I every
    day expected to see or had seen her, or annoyance and dulness
    were unnoticed or swallowed up in the one thought that clothed
    my days with beauty. But now she was gone, and I was roused
    from habits of reading or reverie to feel the fiery temper of
    the soul, and to learn that it must have vent, that it would
    not be pacified by shadows, neither meet without consuming
    what lay around it. I avoided the table as much as possible,
    took long walks and lay in bed, or on the floor of my room.
    I complained of my head, and it was not wrong to do so, for
    a sense of dulness and suffocation, if not pain, was there

    'But when it was proposed that I should go to school, that was
    a remedy I could not listen to with patience for a moment. The
    peculiarity of my education had separated me entirely from
    the girls around, except that when they were playing at active
    games, I would sometimes go out and join them. I liked violent
    bodily exercise, which always relieved my nerves. But I had
    no success in associating with them beyond the mere play. Not
    only I was not their school-mate, but my book-life and lonely
    habits had given a cold aloofness to my whole expression, and
    veiled my manner with a hauteur which turned all hearts away.
    Yet, as this reserve was superficial, and rather ignorance
    than arrogance, it produced no deep dislike. Besides, the
    girls supposed me really superior to themselves, and did not
    hate me for feeling it, but neither did they like me, nor wish
    to have me with them. Indeed, I had gradually given up all
    such wishes myself; for they seemed to me rude, tiresome, and
    childish, as I did to them dull and strange. This experience
    had been earlier, before I was admitted to any real
    friendship; but now that I had been lifted into the life of
    mature years, and into just that atmosphere of European life
    to which I had before been tending, the thought of sending me
    to school filled me with disgust.

    'Yet what could I tell my father of such feelings? I resisted
    all I could, but in vain. He had no faith in medical aid
    generally, and justly saw that this was no occasion for its
    use. He thought I needed change of scene, and to be roused
    to activity by other children. "I have kept you at home," he
    said, "because I took such pleasure in teaching you myself,
    and besides I knew that you would learn faster with one who
    is so desirous to aid you. But you will learn fast enough
    wherever you are, and you ought to be more with others of your
    own age. I shall soon hear that you are better, I trust."'


The school to which Margaret was sent was that of the Misses Prescott,
in Groton, Massachusetts. And her experience there has been described
with touching truthfulness by herself, in the story of "Mariana."[A]

    'At first her school-mates were captivated with her ways; her
    love of wild dances and sudden song, her freaks of passion
    and of wit. She was always new, always surprising, and, for a
    time, charming.

    'But after a while, they tired of her. She could never be
    depended on to join in their plans, yet she expected them,
    to follow out hers with their whole strength. She was very
    loving, even infatuated in her own affections, and exacted
    from those who had professed any love for her the devotion she
    was willing to bestow.

    'Yet there was a vein of haughty caprice in her character,
    and a love of solitude, which made her at times wish to retire
    apart, and at these times she would expect to be entirely
    understood, and let alone, yet to be welcomed back when she
    returned. She did not thwart others in their humors, but she
    never doubted of great indulgence from them.

    'Some singular habits she had, which, when new, charmed, but,
    after acquaintance, displeased her companions. She had
    by nature the same habit and power of excitement that is
    described in the spinning dervishes of the East. Like them
    she would spin until all around her were giddy, while her
    own brain, instead of being disturbed, was excited to great
    action. Pausing, she would declaim, verses of others, or her
    own, or act many parts, with strange catchwords and burdens,
    that seemed to act with mystical power on her own fancy,
    sometimes stimulating her to convulse the hearers with
    laughter, sometimes to melt them to tears. When her power
    began to languish, she would spin again till fired to
    re-commence her singular drama, into which she wove figures
    from the scenes of her earlier childhood, her companions, and
    the dignitaries she sometimes saw, with fantasies unknown to
    life, unknown to heaven or earth.

    'This excitement, as may be supposed, was not good for her. It
    usually came on in the evening, and often spoiled her sleep.
    She would wake in the night, and cheat her restlessness by
    inventions that teased, while they sometimes diverted her

    'She was also a sleep-walker; and this one trait of her case
    did somewhat alarm her guardians, who, otherwise, showed the
    profound ignorance as to this peculiar being, usual in the
    overseeing of the young. They consulted a physician, who said
    she would outgrow it, and prescribed a milk diet.

    'Meantime, the fever of this ardent and too early stimulated
    nature was constantly increased by the restraints and narrow
    routine of the boarding school. She was always devising means
    to break in upon it. She had a taste--which would have seemed
    ludicrous to her mates, if they had not felt some awe of her,
    from the touch of genius and power that never left her--for
    costume and fancy dresses. There was always some sash twisted
    about her, some drapery, something odd in the arrangement of
    her hair and dress; so that the methodical preceptress dared
    not let her go out without a careful scrutiny and remodelling,
    whose soberizing effects generally disappeared the moment she
    was in the free air.

    'At last a vent was assured for her in private theatricals.
    Play followed play, and in these and the rehearsals, she found
    entertainment congenial with her. The principal parts, as
    a matter of course, fell to her lot; most of the good
    suggestions and arrangements came from her: and, for a time,
    she ruled mostly, and shone triumphant.

    'During these performances, the girls had heightened their
    bloom with artificial red; this was delightful to them, it was
    something so out of the way. But Mariana, after the plays were
    over, kept her carmine saucer on the dressing-table, and put
    on her blushes, regularly as the morning. When stared and
    jeered at, she at first said she did it because she thought it
    made her look pretty; but, after a while, she became petulant
    about it,--would make no reply to any joke, but merely kept up
    the habit.

    'This irritated the girls, as all eccentricity does the world
    in general, more than vice or malignity. They talked it over
    among themselves till they were wrought up to a desire of
    punishing, once for all, this sometimes amusing, but so often
    provoking non-conformist. And having obtained leave of the
    mistress, they laid, with great glee, a plan, one evening,
    which was to be carried into execution next day at dinner.

    'Among Mariana's irregularities was a great aversion to the
    meal-time ceremonial,--so long, so tiresome, she found it, to
    be seated at a certain moment, and to wait while each one
    was served, at so large a table, where there was scarcely any
    conversation; and from day to day it became more heavy to
    sit there, or go there at all; often as possible she excused
    herself on the ever-convenient plea of headache, and was
    hardly ever ready when the dinner-bell rang.

    'To-day the summons found her on the balcony, but gazing on
    the beautiful prospect. I have heard her say afterwards, that
    she had scarcely in her life been so happy,--and she was one
    with whom happiness was a still rapture. It was one of the
    most blessed summer days; the shadows of great white clouds
    empurpled the distant hills for a few moments, only to leave
    them more golden; the tall grass of the wide fields waved in
    the softest breeze. Pure blue were the heavens, and the same
    hue of pure contentment was in the heart of Mariana.

    'Suddenly on her bright mood jarred the dinner-bell. At first
    rose her usual thought, I will not, cannot go; and then the
    _must_, which daily life can always enforce, even upon the
    butterflies and birds, came, and she walked reluctantly to
    her room. She merely changed her dress, and never thought of
    adding the artificial rose to her cheek.

    'When she took her seat in the dining-hall, and was asked if
    she would be helped, raising her eyes, she saw the person
    who asked her was deeply rouged, with a bright glaring
    spot, perfectly round, on either cheek. She looked at the
    next,--same apparition! She then slowly passed her eyes down
    the whole line, and saw the same, with a suppressed smile
    distorting every countenance. Catching the design at once, she
    deliberately looked along her own side of the table, at every
    schoolmate in turn; every one had joined in the trick. The
    teachers strove to be grave, but she saw they enjoyed the
    joke. The servants could not suppress a titter.

    'When Warren Hastings stood at the bar of Westminster
    Hall,--when the Methodist preacher walked through a line
    of men, each of whom greeted him with a brickbat or rotten
    egg,--they had some preparation for the crisis, though it
    might be very difficult to meet it with an impassible brow.
    Our little girl was quite unprepared to find herself in the
    midst of a world which despised her, and triumphed in her

    'She had ruled like a queen, in the midst of her companions;
    she had shed her animation through their lives, and loaded
    them with prodigal favors, nor once suspected that a popular
    favorite might not be loved. Now she felt that she had been
    but a dangerous plaything in the hands of those whose hearts
    she never had doubted.

    'Yet the occasion found her equal to it, for Mariana had the
    kind of spirit which, in a better cause, had made the Roman
    matron truly say of her death-wound, "It is not painful,
    Poetus." She did not blench,--she did not change countenance.
    She swallowed her dinner with apparent composure. She made
    remarks to those near her, as if she had no eyes.

    'The wrath of the foe, of course, rose higher, and the moment
    they were freed from the restraints of the dining room, they
    all ran off, gayly calling, and sarcastically laughing, with
    backward glances, at Mariana, left alone.

    'Alone she went to her room, locked the door, and threw
    herself on the floor in strong convulsions. These had
    sometimes threatened her life, in earlier childhood, but of
    later years she had outgrown them. School-hours came, and she
    was not there. A little girl, sent to her door, could get no
    answer. The teachers became alarmed, and broke it open. Bitter
    was their penitence, and that of her companions, at the state
    in which they found her. For some hours terrible anxiety was
    felt, but at last nature, exhausted, relieved herself by a
    deep slumber.

    'From this Mariana arose an altered being. She made no reply
    to the expressions of sorrow from her companions, none to the
    grave and kind, but undiscerning, comments of her teacher. She
    did not name the source of her anguish, and its poisoned
    dart sank deeply in. This was the thought which stung her
    so:--"What, not one, not a single one, in the hour of trial,
    to take my part? not one who refused to take part against me?"
    Past words of love, and caresses, little heeded at the time,
    rose to her memory, and gave fuel to her distempered heart.
    Beyond the sense of burning resentment at universal perfidy,
    she could not get. And Mariana, born for love, now hated all
    the world.

    'The change, however, which these feelings made in her conduct
    and appearance, bore no such construction to the careless
    observer. Her gay freaks were quite gone, her wildness, her
    invention. Her dress was uniform, her manner much subdued. Her
    chief interest seemed to be now in her studies, and in music.
    Her companions she never sought; but they, partly from uneasy,
    remorseful feelings, partly that they really liked her much
    better now that she did not puzzle and oppress them, sought
    her continually. And here the black shadow comes upon her
    life, the only stain upon the history of Mariana.

    'They talked to her, as girls having few topics naturally
    do, of one another. Then the demon rose within her, and
    spontaneously, without design, generally without words of
    positive falsehood, she became a genius of discord amongst
    them. She fanned those flames of envy and jealousy which a
    wise, true word from a third person will often quench forever;
    and by a glance, or seemingly light reply, she planted the
    seeds of dissension, till there was scarcely a peaceful
    affection, or sincere intimacy, in the circle where she lived,
    and could not but rule, for she was one whose nature was to
    that of the others as fire to clay.

    'It was at this time that I came to the school, and first
    saw Mariana. Me she charmed at once, for I was a sentimental
    child, who, in my early ill health, had been indulged in
    reading novels, till I had no eyes for the common. It was not,
    however, easy to approach her. Did I offer to run and fetch
    her handkerchief, she was obliged to go to her room, and would
    rather do it herself. She did not like to have people turn
    over for her the leaves of the music-book as she played. Did I
    approach my stool to her feet, she moved away as if to give me
    room. The bunch of wild flowers, which I timidly laid beside
    her plate, was left untouched. After some weeks, my desire to
    attract her notice really preyed upon me; and one day, meeting
    her alone in the entry, I fell upon my knees, and, kissing her
    hand, cried "O, Mariana, do let me love you, and try to love
    me a little!" But my idol snatched away her hand, and laughing
    wildly, ran into her room. After that day, her manner to me
    was not only cold, but repulsive, and I felt myself scorned.

    'Perhaps four months had passed thus, when, one afternoon, it
    became obvious that something more than common was brewing.
    Dismay and mystery were written in many faces of the older
    girls; much whispering was going on in corners.

    'In the evening, after prayers, the principal bade us stay;
    and, in a grave, sad voice, summoned forth Mariana to answer
    charges to be made against her.

    'Mariana stood up and leaned against the chimney-piece. Then
    eight of the older girls came forward, and preferred
    against her charges,--alas! too well founded, of calumny and

    'At first, she defended herself with self-possession and
    eloquence. But when she found she could no more resist the
    truth, she suddenly threw herself down, dashing her head with
    all her force against the iron hearth, on which a fire was
    burning, and was taken up senseless.

    'The affright of those present was great. Now that they had
    perhaps killed her, they reflected it would have been as
    well if they had taken warning from the former occasion, and
    approached very carefully a nature so capable of any extreme.
    After a while she revived, with a faint groan, amid the sobs
    of her companions. I was on my knees by the bed, and held her
    cold hand. One of those most aggrieved took it from me, to beg
    her pardon, and say, it was impossible not to love her. She
    made no reply.

    'Neither that night, nor for several days, could a word be
    obtained from her, nor would she touch food; but, when it was
    presented to her, or any one drew near from any cause, she
    merely turned away her head, and gave no sign. The teacher saw
    that some terrible nervous affection had fallen upon her--that
    she grew more and more feverish. She knew not what to do.

    'Meanwhile, a new revolution had taken place in the mind of
    the passionate but nobly-tempered child. All these months
    nothing but the sense of injury had rankled in her heart.
    She had gone on in one mood, doing what the demon prompted,
    without scruple, and without fear.

    'But at the moment of detection, the tide ebbed, and the
    bottom of her soul lay revealed to her eye. How black, how
    stained, and sad! Strange, strange, that she had not seen
    before the baseness and cruelty of falsehood, the loveliness
    of truth! Now, amid the wreck, uprose the moral nature, which
    never before had attained the ascendant. "But," she thought,
    "too late sin is revealed to me in all its deformity, and
    sin-defiled, I will not, cannot live. The main-spring of life
    is broken."

    'The lady who took charge of this sad child had never well
    understood her before, but had always looked on her with great
    tenderness. And now love seemed,--when all around were in the
    greatest distress, fearing to call in medical aid, fearing
    to do without it,--to teach her where the only balm was to be
    found that could heal the wounded spirit.

    'One night she came in, bringing a calming draught. Mariana
    was sitting as usual, her hair loose, her dress the same robe
    they had put on her at first, her eyes fixed vacantly upon the
    whited wall. To the proffers and entreaties of her nurse, she
    made no reply.

    'The lady burst into tears, but Mariana did not seem even to
    observe it.

    'The lady then said, "O, my child, do not despair; do not
    think that one great fault can mar a whole life! Let me trust
    you; let me tell you the griefs of my sad life. I will tell
    you, Mariana, what I never expected to impart to any one."

    'And so she told her tale. It was one of pain, of shame, borne
    not for herself, but for one near and dear as herself. Mariana
    knew the dignity and reserve of this lady's nature. She had
    often admired to see how the cheek, lovely, but no longer
    young, mantled with the deepest blush of youth, and the blue
    eyes were cast down at any little emotion. She had understood
    the proud sensibility of her character. She fixed her eyes on
    those now raised to hers, bright with fast-falling tears. She
    heard the story to the end, and then, without saying a word,
    stretched out her hand for the cup.

    'She returned to life, but it was as one who had passed
    through the valley of death. The heart of stone was quite
    broken in her,--the fiery will fallen from flame to coal. When
    her strength was a little restored, she had all her companions
    summoned, and said to them,--"I deserved to die, but a
    generous trust has called me back to life. I will be worthy of
    it, nor ever betray the trust, or resent injury more. Can you
    forgive the past?"

    'And they not only forgave, but, with love and earnest tears,
    clasped in their arms the returning sister. They vied with one
    another in offices of humble love to the humbled one; and
    let it be recorded, as an instance of the pure honor of which
    young hearts are capable, that these facts, known to some
    forty persons, never, so far as I know, transpired beyond
    those walls.

    'It was not long after this that Mariana was summoned home.
    She went thither a wonderfully instructed being, though in
    ways those who had sent her forth to learn little dreamed of.

    'Never was forgotten the vow of the returning prodigal.
    Mariana could not _resent_, could not _play false._ The
    terrible crisis, which she so early passed through, probably
    prevented the world from hearing much of her. A wild fire was
    tamed in that hour of penitence at the boarding-school, such
    as has oftentimes wrapped court and camp in a destructive

[Footnote A: Summer on the Lakes, p. 81.]


Letters written to the beloved teacher, who so wisely befriended
Margaret in her trial-hour, will best show how this high-spirited girl
sought to enlarge and harmonize her powers.

    '_Cambridge, July 11, 1825._--Having excused myself from
    accompanying my honored father to church, which I always do in
    the afternoon, when possible, I devote to you the hours
    which Ariosto and Helvetius ask of my eyes,--as, lying on my
    writing-desk, they put me in mind that they must return this
    week to their owner.

    'You keep me to my promise of giving you some sketch of my
    pursuits. I rise a little before five, walk an hour, and then
    practise on the piano, till seven, when we breakfast. Next
    I read French,--Sismondi's Literature of the South of
    Europe,--till eight, then two or three lectures in Brown's
    Philosophy. About half-past nine I go to Mr. Perkins's school
    and study Greek till twelve, when, the school being dismissed,
    I recite, go home, and practise again till dinner, at two.
    Sometimes, if the conversation is very agreeable, I lounge
    for half an hour over the dessert, though rarely so lavish of
    time. Then, when I can, I read two hours in Italian, but I
    am often interrupted. At six, I walk, or take a drive. Before
    going to bed, I play or sing, for half an hour or so, to make
    all sleepy, and, about eleven, retire to write a little while
    in my journal, exercises on what I have read, or a series of
    characteristics which I am filling up according to advice.
    Thus, you see, I am learning Greek, and making acquaintance
    with metaphysics, and French and Italian literature.

    '"How," you will say, "can I believe that my indolent,
    fanciful, pleasure-loving pupil, perseveres in such a course?"
    I feel the power of industry growing every day, and, besides
    the all-powerful motive of ambition, and a new stimulus
    lately given through a friend, I have learned to believe that
    nothing, no! not perfection, is unattainable. I am determined
    on distinction, which formerly I thought to win at an easy
    rate; but now I see that long years of labor must be given to
    secure even the "_succès de societé_,"--which, however, shall
    never content me. I see multitudes of examples of persons
    of genius, utterly deficient in grace and the power of
    pleasurable excitement. I wish to combine both. I know the
    obstacles in my way. I am wanting in that intuitive tact and
    polish, which nature has bestowed upon some, but which I
    must acquire. And, on the other hand, my powers of intellect,
    though sufficient, I suppose, are not well disciplined. Yet
    all such hindrances may be overcome by an ardent spirit. If I
    fail, my consolation shall be found in active employment.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_Cambridge, March 5, 1826._--Duke Nicholas is to succeed
    the Emperor Alexander, thus relieving Europe from the
    sad apprehension of evil to be inflicted by the brutal
    Constantine, and yet depriving the Holy Alliance of its very
    soul. We may now hope more strongly for the liberties of
    unchained Europe; we look in anxious suspense for the issue of
    the struggle of Greece, the result of which seems to depend on
    the new autocrat. I have lately been reading Anastasius, the
    Greek Gil Bias, which has excited and delighted me; but I do
    not think you like works of this cast. You did not like my
    sombre and powerful Ormond,--though this is superior to Ormond
    in every respect; it translates you to another scene, hurls
    you into the midst of the burning passions of the East, whose
    vicissitudes are, however, interspersed by deep pauses of
    shadowy reflective scenes, which open upon you like the
    green watered little vales occasionally to be met with in the
    burning desert. There is enough of history to fix profoundly
    the attention, and prevent you from revolting from scenes
    profligate and terrific, and such characters as are never to
    be met with in our paler climes. How delighted am I to read
    a book which can absorb me to tears and shuddering,--not
    by individual traits of beauty, but by the spirit of
    adventure,--happiness which one seldom enjoys after childhood
    in this blest age, so philosophic, free, and enlightened to
    a miracle, but far removed from the ardent dreams and soft
    credulity of the world's youth. Sometimes I think I would give
    all our gains for those times when young and old gathered in
    the feudal hall, listening with soul-absorbing transport to
    the romance of the minstrel, unrestrained and regardless
    of criticism, and when they worshipped nature, not as
    high-dressed and pampered, but as just risen from the bath.'

    '_Cambridge, May 14, 1826._--I am studying Madame de Stael,
    Epictetus, Milton, Racine, and Castiliain ballads, with great
    delight. There's an assemblage for you. Now tell me, had
    you rather be the brilliant De Stael or the useful
    Edgeworth?--though De Stael is useful too, but it is on the
    grand scale, on liberalizing, regenerating principles, and has
    not the immediate practical success that Edgeworth has. I met
    with a parallel the other day between Byron and Rousseau, and
    had a mind to send it to you, it was so excellent.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_Cambridge, Jan. 10, 1827._--As to my studies, I am engrossed
    in reading the elder Italian poets, beginning with Berni,
    from whom I shall proceed to Pulci and Politian. I read very
    critically. Miss Francis[A] and I think of reading Locke, as
    introductory to a course of English metaphysics, and then De
    Stael on Locke's system. Allow me to introduce this lady
    to you as a most interesting woman, in my opinion. She is a
    natural person,--a most rare thing in this age of cant and
    pretension. Her conversation is charming,--she brings all her
    powers to bear upon it; her style is varied, and she has a
    very pleasant and spirited way of thinking. I should judge,
    too, that she possesses peculiar purity of mind. I am going to
    spend this evening with her, and wish you were to be with us.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_Cambridge, Jan. 3, 1828._--I am reading Sir William Temple's
    works, with great pleasure. Such enlarged views are rarely to
    be found combined with such acuteness and discrimination. His
    style, though diffuse, is never verbose or overloaded, but
    beautifully expressive; 'tis English, too, though he was an
    accomplished linguist, and wrote much and well in. French,
    Spanish, and Latin. The latter he used, as he says of the
    Bishop of Munster, (with whom he corresponded in that tongue,)
    "more like a man of the court and of business than a scholar."
    He affected not Augustan niceties, but his expressions are
    free and appropriate. I have also read a most entertaining
    book, which I advise you to read, (if you have not done so
    already,) Russell's Tour in Germany. There you will find more
    intelligent and detailed accounts than I have seen anywhere of
    the state of the German universities, Viennese court, secret
    associations, Plica Polonica, and other very interesting
    matters. There is a minute account of the representative
    government given to his subjects by the Duke of Weimar. I have
    passed a luxurious afternoon, having been in bed from dinner
    till tea, reading Rammohun Roy's book, and framing dialogues
    aloud on every argument beneath the sun. Really, I have
    not had my mind so exercised for months; and I have felt a
    gladiatorial disposition lately, and don't enjoy mere light
    conversation. The love of knowledge is prodigiously kindled
    within my soul of late; I study much and reflect more, and
    feel an aching wish for some person with whom I might talk
    fully and openly.

    'Did you ever read the letters and reflections of Prince de
    Ligne, the most agreeable man of his day? I have just had it,
    and if it is new to you, I recommend it as an agreeable book
    to read at night just before you go to bed. There is much
    curious matter concerning Catharine II.'s famous expedition
    into Taurida, which puts down some of the romantic stories
    prevalent on that score, but relates more surprising
    realities. Also it gives much interesting information about
    that noble philosopher, Joseph II., and about the Turkish
    tactics and national character.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_Cambridge, Jan. 1830_.--You need not fear to revive painful
    recollections. I often think of those sad experiences. True,
    they agitate me deeply. But it was best so. They have had a
    most powerful effect on my character. I tremble at whatever
    looks like dissimulation. The remembrance of that evening
    subdues every proud, passionate impulse. My beloved supporter
    in those sorrowful hours, your image shines as fair to my
    mind's eye as it did in 1825, when I left you with my heart
    overflowing with gratitude for your singular and judicious
    tenderness. Can I ever forget that to your treatment in that
    crisis of youth I owe the true life,--the love of Truth and

[Footnote A: Lydia Maria Child.]



       *       *       *       *       *

  "Extraordinary, generous seeking."


  "Through, brothers, through,--this be
  Our watchword in danger or sorrow,
  Common clay to its mother dust,
  All nobleness heavenward!"


  "Thou friend whose presence on my youthful heart
  Fell, like bright Spring upon some herbless plain;
  How beautiful and calm and free thou wert
  In thy young wisdom, when the mortal chain
  Of custom thou didst burst and rend in twain,
  And walk as free as light the clouds among!"


  "There are not a few instances of that conflict, known also to
  the fathers, of the spirit with the flesh, the inner with the
  outer man, of the freedom of the will with the necessity of
  nature, the pleasure of the individual with the conventions
  of society, of the emergency of the case with the despotism
  of the rule. It is this, which, while it makes the interest
  of life, makes the difficulty of living. It is a struggle,
  indeed, between unequal powers,--between the man, who is a
  conscious moral person, and nature, or events, or bodies of
  men, which either want personality or unity; and hence the
  man, after fearful and desolating war, sometimes rises on
  the ruins of all the necessities of nature and all the
  prescriptions of society. But what these want in personality
  they possess in number, in recurrency, in invulnerability. The
  spirit of man, an agent indeed of curious power and boundless
  resource, but trembling with sensibilities, tender and
  irritable, goes out against the inexorable conditions of
  destiny, the lifeless forces of nature, or the ferocious
  cruelty of the multitude, and long before the hands are weary
  or the invention exhausted, the heart may be broken in the

  N.A. REVIEW, Jan., 1817, article "_Dichtung und Wahrheit_."



       *       *       *       *       *

The difficulty which we all feel in describing our past intercourse
and friendship with Margaret Fuller, is, that the intercourse was so
intimate, and the friendship so personal, that it is like making a
confession to the public of our most interior selves. For this noble
person, by her keen insight and her generous interest, entered into
the depth of every soul with which she stood in any real relation.
To print one of her letters, is like giving an extract from our own
private journal. To relate what she was to us, is to tell how she
discerned elements of worth and beauty where others could only have
seen what was common-place and poor; it is to say what high hopes,
what generous assurance, what a pure ambition, she entertained on our
behalf,--a hope and confidence which may well be felt as a rebuke to
our low attainments and poor accomplishments.

Nevertheless, it seems due to this great soul that those of us who
have been blessed and benefited by her friendship should be willing
to say what she has done for us,--undeterred by the thought that to
reveal her is to expose ourselves.

My acquaintance with Sarah Margaret Fuller began in 1829. We both
lived in Cambridge, and from that time until she went to Groton to
reside, in 1833, I saw her, or heard from her, almost every day. There
was a family connection, and we called each other cousin.[A] During
this period, her intellect was intensely active. With what eagerness
did she seek for knowledge! What fire, what exuberance, what reach,
grasp, overflow of thought, shone in her conversation! She needed a
friend to whom to speak of her studies, to whom to express the ideas
which were dawning and taking shape in her mind. She accepted me for
this friend, and to me it was a gift of the gods, an influence like no

For the first few months of our acquaintance, our intercourse was
simply that of two young persons seeking entertainment in each other's
society. Perhaps a note written at this time will illustrate the
easy and graceful movement of her mind in this superficial kind of

    '_March 16th, 1830. Half-past six, morning_.--I have
    encountered that most common-place of glories, sunrise, (to
    say naught of being praised and wondered at by every member of
    the family in succession,) that I might have leisure to answer
    your note even as you requested. I thank you a thousand times
    for "The Rivals."[B] Alas!! I must leave my heart in the book,
    and spend the livelong morning in reading to a sick lady from
    some amusing story-book. I tell you of this act of (in my
    professedly unamiable self) most unwonted charity, for three
    several reasons. Firstly, and foremostly, because I think
    that you, being a socialist by vocation, a sentimentalist
    by nature, and a Channingite from force of circumstances and
    fashion, will peculiarly admire this little self-sacrifice
    exploit. Secondly, because 'tis neither conformable to the
    spirit of the nineteenth century, nor the march of mind, that
    those churlish reserves should be kept up between _the right
    and left hands_, which belonged to ages of barbarism and
    prejudice, and could only have been inculcated for their use.
    Thirdly, and lastly, the true ladylike reason,--because I
    would fain have my correspondent enter into and sympathize
    with my feelings of the moment.

    'As to the relationship; 'tis, I find, on inquiry, by no means
    to be compared with that between myself and ----; of course,
    the intimacy cannot be so great. But no matter; it will enable
    me to answer your notes, and you will interest my imagination
    much more than if I knew you better. But I am exceeding
    legitimate note-writing limits. With a hope that this epistle
    may be legible to your undiscerning eyes, I conclude,

    'Your cousin only thirty-seven degrees removed,


The next note which I shall give was written not many days after,
and is in quite a different vein. It is memorable to me as laying
the foundation of a friendship which brought light to my mind, which
enlarged my heart, and gave elevation and energy to my aims and
purposes. For nearly twenty years, Margaret remained true to the
pledges of this note. In a few years we were separated, but our
friendship remained firm. Living in different parts of the
country, occupied with different thoughts and duties, making other
friends,--sometimes not seeing nor hearing from each other for
months,--we never met without my feeling that she was ready to be
interested in all my thoughts, to love those whom I loved, to watch
my progress, to rebuke my faults and follies, to encourage within me
every generous and pure aspiration, to demand of me, always, the best
that I could be or do, and to be satisfied with no mediocrity, no
conformity to any low standard.

And what she thus was to me, she was to many others. Inexhaustible
in power of insight, and with a good-will "broad as ether," she could
enter into the needs, and sympathize with the various excellences, of
the greatest variety of characters. One thing only she demanded of
all her friends,--that they should have some "extraordinary generous
seeking,"[C] that they should not be satisfied with the common routine
of life,--that they should aspire to something higher, better, holier,
than they had now attained. Where this element of aspiration existed,
she demanded no originality of intellect, no greatness of soul. If
these were found, well; but she could love, tenderly and truly, where
they were not. But for a worldly character, however gifted, she felt
and expressed something very like contempt. At this period, she had
no patience with self-satisfied mediocrity. She afterwards learned
patience and unlearned contempt; but at the time of which I write,
she seemed, and was to the multitude, a haughty and supercilious
person,--while to those whom she loved, she was all the more gentle,
tender and true.

Margaret possessed, in a greater degree than any person I ever knew,
the power of so magnetizing others, when she wished, by the power of
her mind, that they would lay open to her all the secrets of their
nature. She had an infinite curiosity to know individuals,--not the
vulgar curiosity which seeks to find out the circumstances of their
outward lives, but that which longs to understand the inward springs
of thought and action in their souls. This desire and power both
rested on a profound conviction of her mind in the individuality of
every human being. A human being, according to her faith, was not
the result of the presence and stamp of outward circumstances, but an
original _monad_, with a certain special faculty, capable of a certain
fixed development, and having a profound personal unity, which the
ages of eternity might develop, but could not exhaust. I know not
if she would have stated her faith in these terms, but some such
conviction appeared in her constant endeavor to see and understand the
germinal principle, the special characteristic, of every person whom
she deemed worthy of knowing at all. Therefore, while some
persons study human nature in its universal laws, and become great
philosophers, moralists and teachers of the race,--while others study
mankind in action, and, seeing the motives and feelings by which
masses are swayed, become eminent politicians, sagacious leaders,
and eminent in all political affairs,--a few, like Margaret, study
character, and acquire the power of exerting profoundest influence on
individual souls.

I had expressed to her my desire to know something of the history of
her mind,--to understand her aims, her hopes, her views of life. In a
note written in reply, she answered me thus:--

    'I cannot bring myself to write you what you wished. You would
    be disappointed, at any rate, after all the solemn note of
    preparation; the consciousness of this would chill me now.
    Besides, I cannot be willing to leave with you such absolute
    _vagaries_ in a tangible, examinable shape. I think of your
    after-smiles, of your colder moods. But I will tell you, when
    a fitting opportunity presents, all that can interest you, and
    perhaps more. And excuse my caution. I do not profess, I may
    not dare, to be generous in these matters.'

To this I replied to the effect that, "in my coldest mood I could
not criticize words written in a confiding spirit;" and that, at all
events, she must not expect of me a confidence which she dared not
return. This was the substance of a note to which Margaret thus

    'I thank you for your note. Ten minutes before I received it,
    I scarcely thought that anything again would make my stifled
    heart throb so warm a pulse of pleasure. Excuse my cold
    doubts, my selfish arrogance,--you will, when I tell you that
    this experiment has before had such uniform results; those
    who professed to seek my friendship, and whom, indeed, I have
    often truly loved, have always learned to content themselves
    with that inequality in the connection which I have never
    striven to veil. Indeed, I have thought myself more valued and
    better beloved, because the sympathy, the interest, were all
    on my side. True! such regard could never flatter my pride,
    nor gratify my affections, since it was paid not to myself,
    but to the need they had of me; still, it was dear and
    pleasing, as it has given me an opportunity of knowing and
    serving many lovely characters; and I cannot see that there is
    anything else for me to do on earth. And I should rejoice
    to cultivate generosity, since (see that _since_) affections
    gentler and more sympathetic are denied me.

    'I would have been a true friend to you; ever ready to solace
    your pains and partake your joy as far as possible. Yet
    I cannot but rejoice that I have met a person who could
    discriminate and reject a proffer of this sort. Two years ago
    I should have ventured to proffer you friendship, indeed,
    on seeing such an instance of pride in you; but I have gone
    through a sad process of feeling since, and those emotions,
    so necessarily repressed, have lost their simplicity, their
    ardent beauty. _Then_, there was nothing I might not have
    disclosed to a person capable of comprehending, had I ever
    seen such an one! Now there are many voices of the soul which
    I imperiously silence. This results not from any particular
    circumstance or event, but from a gradual ascertaining of

    'I cannot promise you any limitless confidence, but I _can_
    promise that no timid caution, no haughty dread shall prevent
    my telling you the truth of my thoughts on any subject we may
    have in common. Will this satisfy you? Oh let it! suffer me to
    know you.'

In a postscript she adds, 'No other cousin or friend of any style is
to see this note.' So for twenty years it has lain unseen, but for
twenty years did we remain true to the pledges of that period. And now
that noble heart sleeps beneath the tossing Atlantic, and I feel no
reluctance in showing to the world this expression of pure youthful
ardor. It may, perhaps, lead some wise worldlings, who doubt the
possibility of such a relation, to reconsider the grounds of their
scepticism; or, if not that, it may encourage some youthful souls,
as earnest and eager as ours, to trust themselves to their hearts'
impulse, and enjoy some such blessing as came to us.

Let me give extracts from other notes and letters, written by
Margaret, about the same period.

    '_Saturday evening, May 1st_, 1830.--The holy moon and
    merry-toned wind of this night woo to a vigil at the open
    window; a half-satisfied interest urges me to live, love and
    perish! in the noble, wronged heart of Basil;[D] my Journal,
    which lies before me, tempts to follow out and interpret
    the as yet only half-understood musings of the past week.
    Letter-writing, compared with any of these things, takes the
    ungracious semblance of a duty. I have, nathless, after a two
    hours' reverie, to which this resolve and its preliminaries
    have formed excellent warp, determined to sacrifice this
    hallowed time to you.

    'It did not in the least surprise me that you found it
    impossible at the time to avail yourself of the confidential
    privileges I had invested you with. On the contrary, I
    only wonder that we should ever, after such gage given and
    received, (not by a look or tone, but by letter,) hold any
    frank communication. Preparations are good in life, prologues
    ruinous. I felt this even before I sent my note, but could
    not persuade myself to consign an impulse so embodied, to
    oblivion, from any consideration of expediency.' * *

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_May 4th_, 1830.--* * I have greatly wished to see among
    us such a person of genius as the nineteenth century can
    afford--_i.e._, one who has tasted in the morning of existence
    the extremes of good and ill, both imaginative and real. I had
    imagined a person endowed by nature with that acute sense of
    Beauty, (_i.e._, Harmony or Truth,) and that vast capacity
    of desire, which give soul to love and ambition. I had wished
    this person might grow up to manhood alone (but not alone in
    crowds); I would have placed him in a situation so retired,
    so obscure, that he would quietly, but without bitter sense of
    isolation, stand apart from all surrounding him. I would have
    had him go on steadily, feeding his mind with congenial love,
    hopefully confident that if he only nourished his existence
    into perfect life, Fate would, at fitting season, furnish an
    atmosphere and orbit meet for his breathing and exercise. I
    wished he might adore, not fever for, the bright phantoms
    of his mind's creation, and believe them but the shadows of
    external things to be met with hereafter. After this steady
    intellectual growth had brought his powers to manhood, so far
    as the ideal can do it, I wished this being might be launched
    into the world of realities, his heart glowing with the
    ardor of an immortal toward perfection, his eyes searching
    everywhere to behold it; I wished he might collect into one
    burning point those withering, palsying convictions, which, in
    the ordinary routine of things, so gradually pervade the
    soul; that he might suffer, in brief space, agonies of
    disappointment commensurate with his unpreparedness
    and confidence. And I thought, thus thrown back on the
    representing pictorial resources I supposed him originally
    to possess, with such material, and the need he must feel
    of using it, such a man would suddenly dilate into a form
    of Pride, Power, and Glory,--a centre, round which asking,
    aimless hearts might rally,--a man fitted to act as
    interpreter to the one tale of many-languaged eyes!

    'What words are these! Perhaps you will feel as if I sought
    but for the longest and strongest. Yet to my ear they do but
    faintly describe the imagined powers of such a being.'

Margaret's home at this time was in the mansion-house formerly
belonging to Judge Dana,--a large, old-fashioned building, since taken
down, standing about a quarter of a mile from the Cambridge Colleges,
on the main road to Boston. The house stood back from the road, on
rising ground, which overlooked an extensive landscape. It was always
a pleasure to Margaret to look at the outlines of the distant hills
beyond the river, and to have before her this extent of horizon and
sky. In the last year of her residence in Cambridge, her father moved
to the old Brattle place,--a still more ancient edifice, with large,
old-fashioned garden, and stately rows of Linden trees. Here Margaret
enjoyed the garden walks, which took the place of the extensive view.

During these five years her life was not diversified by events,
but was marked by an inward history. Study, conversation, society,
friendship, and reflection on the aim and law of life, made up her
biography. Accordingly, these topics will constitute the substance
of this chapter, though sometimes, in order to give completeness to
a subject, we may anticipate a little, and insert passages from the
letters and journals of her Groton life.

[Footnote A: I had once before seen Margaret, when we were both
children about five years of age. She made an impression on my mind
which was never effaced, and I distinctly recollect the joyful child,
with light flowing locks and bright face, who led me by the hand down
the back-steps of her house into the garden. This was when her father
lived in Cambridgeport, in a house on Cherry street, in front of
which still stand some handsome trees, planted by him in the year of
Margaret's birth.]

[Footnote B: "The Rivals" was a novel I had lent her,--if I remember
right, by the author of "The Collegians;" a writer who in those days
interested us not a little.]

[Footnote C: These words of Goethe, which I have placed among the
mottoes at the beginning of this chapter, were written by Margaret on
the first page of a richly gilt and bound blank book, which she gave
to me, in 1832, for a private journal. The words of Körner are also
translated by herself, and were given to me about the same time.]

[Footnote D: The hero of a novel she was reading.]



  "Friendly love perfecteth mankind."


  "To have found favor in thy sight
    Will still remain
  A river of thought, that full of light
    Divides the plain."


    "Cui potest vita esse vitalis, (ut ait Ennius,) quæ non in
    amici mutatâ benevolentiâ requiescat?"--CICERO.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was while living at Cambridge that Margaret commenced several of
those friendships which lasted through her life, and which were the
channels for so large a part of her spiritual activity. In giving some
account of her in these relations, there is only the alternative of a
prudent reserve which omits whatever is liable to be misunderstood, or
a frank utterance which confides in the good sense and right feeling
of the reader. By the last course, we run the risk of allowing our
friend to be misunderstood; but by the first we make it certain that
the most important part of her character shall not be understood at
all. I have, therefore, thought it best to follow, as far as I can,
her own ideas on this subject, which I find in two of her letters to
myself. The first is dated, Groton, Jan. 8th, 1839. I was at that time
editing a theological and literary magazine, in the West, and this
letter was occasioned by my asking her to allow me to publish therein
certain poems, and articles of hers, which she had given me to read.

    'And I wish now, as far as I can, to give my reasons for what
    you consider absurd squeamishness in me. You may not acquiesce
    in my view, but I think you will respect it _as_ mine and be
    willing to act upon it so far as I am concerned.

    'Genius seems to me excusable in taking the public for a
    confidant. Genius is universal, and can appeal to the common
    heart of man. But even here I would not have it too direct.
    I prefer to see the thought or feeling made universal. How
    different the confidence of Goethe, for instance, from that of

    'But for us lesser people, who write verses merely as vents
    for the overflowings of a personal experience, which in every
    life of any value craves occasionally the accompaniment of the
    lyre, it seems to me that all the value of this utterance is
    destroyed by a hasty or indiscriminate publicity. The moment
    I lay open my heart, and tell the fresh feeling to any one who
    chooses to hear, I feel profaned.

    'When it has passed into experience, when the flower has gone
    to seed, I don't care who knows it, or whither they wander. I
    am no longer it,--I stand on it. I do not know whether this
    is peculiar to me, or not, but I am sure the moment I cease
    to have any reserve or delicacy about a feeling, it is on the

    'About putting beautiful verses in your Magazine, I have no
    feeling except what I should have about furnishing a room. I
    should not put a dressing-case into a parlor, or a book-case
    into a dressing-room, because, however good things in
    their place, they were not in place there. And this, not in
    consideration of the public, but of my own sense of fitness
    and harmony.'

The next extract is from a letter written to me in 1842, after a
journey which we had taken to the White Mountains, in the company of
my sister, and Mr. and Mrs. Farrar. During this journey Margaret had
conversed with me concerning some passages of her private history and
experience, and in this letter she asks me to be prudent in speaking
of it, giving her reasons as follows:--

    '_Cambridge, July 31, 1842._--... I said I was happy in having
    no secret. It is my nature, and has been the tendency of my
    life, to wish that all my thoughts and deeds might lie, as
    the "open secrets" of Nature, free to all who are able to
    understand them. I have no reserves, except intellectual
    reserves; for to speak of things to those who cannot receive
    them is stupidity, rather than frankness. But in this case,
    I alone am not concerned. Therefore, dear James, give heed
    to the subject. You have received a key to what was before
    unknown of your friend; you have made use of it, now let it
    be buried with the past, over whose passages profound and
    sad, yet touched with heaven-born beauty, "let silence stand

I shall endeavor to keep true to the spirit of these sentences in
speaking of Margaret's friendships. Yet not to speak of them in
her biography would be omitting the most striking feature of her
character. It would be worse than the play of Hamlet with Hamlet
omitted. Henry the Fourth without Sully, Gustavus Adolphus without
Oxenstiern, Napoleon without his marshals, Socrates without his
scholars, would be more complete than Margaret without her friends.
So that, in touching on these private relations, we must be
everywhere "bold," yet not "too bold." The extracts will be taken
indiscriminately from letters written to many friends.

The insight which Margaret displayed in finding her friends, the
magnetism by which she drew them toward herself, the catholic range
of her intimacies, the influence which she exercised to develop the
latent germ of every character, the constancy with which she clung
to each when she had once given and received confidence, the delicate
justice which kept every intimacy separate, and the process of
transfiguration which took place when she met any one on this mountain
of Friendship, giving a dazzling lustre to the details of common
life,--all these should be at least touched upon and illustrated, to
give any adequate view of her in these relations.

Such a prejudice against her had been created by her faults of manner,
that the persons she might most wish to know often retired from her
and avoided her. But she was "sagacious of her quarry," and never
suffered herself to be repelled by this. She saw when any one
belonged to her, and never rested till she came into possession of her
property. I recollect a lady who thus fled from her for several years,
yet, at last, became most nearly attached to her. This "wise sweet"
friend, as Margaret characterized her in two words, a flower hidden
in the solitude of deep woods, Margaret saw and appreciated from the

See how, in the following passage, she describes to one of her friends
her perception of character, and her power of attracting it, when only
fifteen years old.

    '_Jamaica Plains, July, 1840_.--Do you remember my telling
    you, at Cohasset, of a Mr. ---- staying with us, when I was
    fifteen, and all that passed? Well, I have not seen him since,
    till, yesterday, he came here. I was pleased to find, that,
    even at so early an age, I did not overrate those I valued.
    He was the same as in memory; the powerful eye dignifying an
    otherwise ugly face; the calm wisdom, and refined observation,
    the imposing _manière d'être_, which anywhere would give him
    an influence among men, without his taking any trouble, or
    making any sacrifice, and the great waves of feeling that
    seemed to rise as an attractive influence, and overspread his
    being. He said, nothing since his childhood had been so marked
    as his visit to our house; that it had dwelt in his thoughts
    unchanged amid all changes. I could have wished he had never
    returned to change the picture. He looked at me continually,
    and said, again and again, he should have known me anywhere;
    but O how changed I must be since that epoch of pride and
    fulness! He had with him his son, a wild boy of five years
    old, all brilliant with health and energy, and with the same
    powerful eye. He said,--You know I am not one to confound
    acuteness and rapidity of intellect with real genius; but he
    is for those an extraordinary child. He would astonish you,
    but I look deep enough into the prodigy to see the work of an
    extremely nervous temperament, and I shall make him as dull
    as I can. "_Margaret_," (pronouncing the name in the same
    deliberate searching way he used to do,) "I love him so well,
    I will try to teach him moderation. If I can help it, he shall
    not feed on bitter ashes, nor try these paths of avarice and
    ambition." It made me feel very strangely to hear him talk so
    to my old self. What a gulf between! There is scarce a fibre
    left of the haughty, passionate, ambitious child he remembered
    and loved. I felt affection for him still; for his character
    was formed then, and had not altered, except by ripening and
    expanding! But thus, in other worlds, we shall remember our
    present selves.'

Margaret's constancy to any genuine relation, once established, was
surprising. If her friends' _aim_ changed, so as to take them out of
her sphere, she was saddened by it, and did not let them go without a
struggle. But wherever they continued "true to the original standard,"
(as she loved to phrase it) her affectionate interest would follow
them unimpaired through all the changes of life. The principle of this
constancy she thus expresses in a letter to one of her brothers:--

    'Great and even _fatal_ errors (so far as this life is
    concerned) could not destroy my friendship for one in whom I
    am sure of the kernel of nobleness.'

She never formed a friendship until she had seen and known this germ
of good; and afterwards judged conduct by this. To this germ of good,
to this highest law of each individual, she held them true. But never
did she act like those who so often judge of their friend from some
report of his conduct, as if they had never known him, and allow
the inference from a single act to alter the opinion formed by an
induction from years of intercourse. From all such weakness Margaret
stood wholly free.

I have referred to the wide range of Margaret's friendships. Even at
this period this variety was very apparent. She was the centre of
a group very different from each other, and whose only affinity
consisted in their all being polarized by the strong attraction of her
mind,--all drawn toward herself. Some of her friends were young, gay
and beautiful; some old, sick or studious. Some were children of the
world, others pale scholars. Some were witty, others slightly dull.
But all, in order to be Margaret's friends, must be capable of seeking
something,--capable of some aspiration for the better. And how did she
glorify life to all! all that was tame and common vanishing away in
the picturesque light thrown over the most familiar things by her
rapid fancy, her brilliant wit, her sharp insight, her creative
imagination, by the inexhaustible resources of her knowledge, and the
copious rhetoric which found words and images always apt and always
ready. Even then she displayed almost the same marvellous gift of
conversation which afterwards dazzled all who knew her,--with more
perhaps of freedom, since she floated on the flood of our warm
sympathies. Those who know Margaret only by her published writings
know her least; her notes and letters contain more of her mind; but it
was only in conversation that she was perfectly free and at home.

Margaret's constancy in friendship caused her to demand it in others,
and thus she was sometimes exacting. But the pure Truth of her
character caused her to express all such feelings with that freedom
and simplicity that they became only as slight clouds on a serene sky,
giving it a tenderer beauty, and casting picturesque shades over the
landscape below. From her letters to different friends I select a few
examples of these feelings.

    'The world turns round and round, and you too must needs be
    negligent and capricious. You have not answered my note; you
    have not given me what I asked. You do not come here. Do not
    you act so,--it is the drop too much. The world seems not only
    turning but tottering, when my kind friend plays such a part.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'You need not have delayed your answer so long; why not at
    once answer the question I asked? Faith is not natural to
    me; for the love I feel to others is not in the idleness of
    poverty, nor can I persist in believing the best; merely to
    save myself pain, or keep a leaning place for the weary
    heart. But I should believe you, because I have seen that your
    feelings are strong and constant; they have never disappointed
    me, when closely scanned.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_July 6, 1832._--I believe I behaved very badly the other
    evening. I did not think so yesterday. I had been too
    surprised and vexed to recover very easily, but to-day my
    sophistries have all taken wing, and I feel that nothing
    good could have made me act with such childish petulance and
    bluntness towards one who spoke from friendly emotions. Be
    at peace; I will astonish you by my repose, mildness, and
    self-possession. No, that is silly; but I believe it cannot
    be right to be on such terms with any one, that, on the least
    vexation, I indulge my feelings at his or her expense. We will
    talk less, but we shall be very good friends still, I hope.
    Shall not we?'

In the last extract, we have an example of that genuine humility,
which, being a love of truth, underlaid her whole character,
notwithstanding its seeming pride. She could not have been great as
she was, without it.[A]

    '_December 19th, 1829._--I shall always be glad to have you
    come to me when saddened. The melancholic does not misbecome
    you. The lights of your character are _wintry_. They are
    generally inspiriting, life-giving, but, if perpetual, would
    glare too much on the tired sense; one likes sometimes a
    cloudy day, with its damp and warmer breath,--its gentle,
    down-looking shades. Sadness in some is intolerably ungraceful
    and oppressive; it affects one like a cold rainy day in
    June or September, when all pleasure departs with the sun;
    everything seems out of place and irrelative to the time; the
    clouds are fog, the atmosphere leaden,--but 'tis not so with

Of her own truthfulness to her friends, which led her frankly to speak
to them of their faults or dangers, her correspondence gives constant

The first is from a letter of later date than properly belongs to this
chapter, but is so wholly in her spirit of candor that I insert it
here. It is from a letter written in 1843.

    'I have been happy in the sight of your pure design, of the
    sweetness and serenity of your mind. In the inner sanctuary we
    met. But I shall say a few blunt words, such as were frequent
    in the days of intimacy, and, if they are needless, you
    will let them fall to the ground. Youth is past, with its
    passionate joys and griefs, its restlessness, its vague
    desires. You have chosen your path, you have rounded out your
    lot, your duties are before you. _Now_ beware the mediocrity
    that threatens middle age, its limitation of thought and
    interest, its dulness of fancy, its too external life, and
    mental thinness. Remember the limitations that threaten
    every professional man, only to be guarded against by great
    earnestness and watchfulness. So take care of yourself, and
    let not the intellect more than the spirit be quenched.

       *       *       *       *       *

    'It is such a relief to me to be able to speak to you upon a
    subject which I thought would never lie open between us. Now
    there will be no place which does not lie open to the light. I
    can always say what I feel. And the way in which you took it,
    so like yourself, so manly and noble, gives me the assurance
    that I shall have the happiness of seeing in you that
    symmetry, that conformity in the details of life with the
    highest aims, of which I have sometimes despaired. How much
    higher, dear friend, is "the mind, the music breathing from
    the" _life_, than anything we can say! Character is higher
    than intellect; this I have long felt to be true; may we both
    live as if we knew it.

    * * 'I hope and believe we may be yet very much to each other.
    Imperfect as I am, I feel myself not unworthy to be a true
    friend. Neither of us is unworthy. In few natures does such
    love for the good and beautiful survive the ruin of all
    youthful hopes, the wreck of all illusions.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I supposed our intimacy would terminate when I left
    Cambridge. Its continuing to subsist is a matter of surprise
    to me. And I expected, ere this, you would have found some
    Hersilia, or such-like, to console you for losing your
    Natalia. See, my friend, I am three and twenty. I believe
    in love and friendship, but I cannot but notice that
    circumstances have appalling power, and that those links which
    are not riveted by situation, by _interest_, (I mean, not mere
    worldly interest, but the instinct of self-preservation,)
    may be lightly broken by a chance touch. I speak not in
    misanthropy, I believe

      "Die Zeit ist schlecht, doch giebts noch grosse Herzen."

    'Surely I maybe pardoned for aiming at the same results with
    the chivalrous "gift of the Gods." I cannot endure to be one
    of those shallow beings who can never get beyond the primer of
    experience,--who are ever saying,--

        "Ich habe geglaubt, _nun glaube ich erst recht_,
      Und geht es auch wunderlich, geht es auch schlecht,
        Ich bleibe in glaubigen Orden."

    Yet, when you write, write freely, and if I don't like what
    you say, let me say so. I have ever been frank, as if I
    expected to be intimate with you good three-score years and
    ten. I am sure we shall always esteem each other. I have that
    much faith.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_Jan_. 1832.--All that relates to--must be interesting to
    me, though I never voluntarily think of him now. The apparent
    caprice of his conduct has shaken my faith, but not destroyed
    my hope. That hope, if I, who have so mistaken others, may
    dare to think I know myself, was never selfish. It is painful
    to lose a friend whose knowledge and converse mingled so
    intimately with the growth of my mind,--an early friend to
    whom I was all truth and frankness, seeking nothing but equal
    truth and frankness in return. But this evil may be borne; the
    hard, the lasting evil was to learn to distrust my own heart,
    and lose all faith in my power of knowing others. In this
    letter I see again that peculiar pride, that contempt of the
    forms and shows of goodness, that fixed resolve to be anything
    but "like unto the Pharisees," which were to my eye such happy
    omens. Yet how strangely distorted are all his views! The
    daily influence of his intercourse with me was like the breath
    he drew; it has become a part of him. Can he escape from
    himself? Would he be unlike all other mortals? His feelings
    are as false as those of Alcibiades. He influenced me, and
    helped form me to what I am. Others shall succeed him. Shall
    I be ashamed to owe anything to friendship? But why do I
    talk?--a child might confute him by defining the term _human
    being_. He will gradually work his way into light; if too late
    for our friendship, not, I trust, too late for his own peace
    and honorable well-being. I never insisted on being the
    instrument of good to him. I practised no little arts, no!
    not to effect the good of the friend I loved. I have prayed to
    Heaven, (surely we are sincere when doing that,) to guide him
    in the best path for him, however far from me that path might
    lead. The lesson I have learned may make me a more useful
    friend, a more efficient aid to others than I could be to him;
    yet I hope I shall not be denied the consolation of knowing
    surely, one day, that all which appeared evil in the companion
    of happy years was but error.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I think, since you have seen so much of my character, that
    you must be sensible that any reserves with those whom I call
    my friends, do not arise from duplicity, but an instinctive
    feeling that I could not be understood. I can truly say that I
    wish no one to overrate me; undeserved regard could give me no
    pleasure; nor will I consent to practise charlatanism, either
    in friendship or anything else.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'You ought not to think I show a want of generous confidence,
    if I sometimes try the ground on which I tread, to see if
    perchance it may return the echoes of hollowness.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Do not cease to respect me as formerly. It seems to me that I
    have reached the "parting of the ways" in my life, and all the
    knowledge which I have toiled to gain only serves to show me
    the disadvantages of each. None of those who think themselves
    my friends can aid me; each, careless, takes the path to which
    present convenience impels; and all would smile or stare,
    could they know the aching and measureless wishes, the sad
    apprehensiveness, which make me pause and strain my almost
    hopeless gaze to the distance. What wonder if my present
    conduct should be mottled by selfishness and incertitude?
    Perhaps you, who _can_ make your views certain, cannot
    comprehend me; though you showed me last night a penetration
    which did not flow from sympathy. But this I may say--though
    the glad light of hope and ambitious confidence, which has
    vitalized my mind, should be extinguished forever, I will not
    in life act a mean, ungenerous, or useless part. Therefore,
    let not a slight thing lessen your respect for me. If you feel
    as much pain as I do, when obliged to diminish my respect for
    any person, you will be glad of this assurance. I hope you
    will not think this note in the style of a French novel.'

[Footnote A: According to Dryden's beautiful statement--

  'For as high turrets, in their airy sweep
  Require foundations, in proportion deep
  And lofty cedars as far upward shoot
  As to the nether heavens they drive the root;
  So low did her secure foundation lie,
  She was not humble, but humility.']


    'Do you remember a conversation we had in the garden, one
    starlight evening, last summer, about the incalculable power
    which outward circumstances have over the character? You would
    not sympathize with the regrets I expressed, that mine had not
    been formed amid scenes and persons of nobleness and beauty,
    eager passions and dignified events, instead of those secret
    trials and petty conflicts which make my transition state so
    hateful to my memory and my tastes. You then professed the
    faith which I resigned with such anguish,--the faith which
    a Schiller could never attain,--a faith in the power of the
    human will. Yet now, in every letter, you talk to me of the
    power of circumstances. You tell me how changed you are. Every
    one of your letters is different from the one preceding, and
    all so altered from your former self. For are you not leaving
    all our old ground, and do you not apologize to me for all
    your letters? Why do you apologize? I think I know you very,
    very well; considering that we are both human, and have the
    gift of concealing our thoughts with words. Nay, further--I do
    not believe you will be able to become anything which I cannot
    understand. I know I can sympathize with all who feel and
    think, from a Dryfesdale up to a Max Piccolomini. You say,
    you have become a machine. If so, I shall expect to find you a
    grand, high-pressure, wave-compelling one--requiring plenty
    of fuel. You must be a steam-engine, and move some majestic
    fabric at the rate of thirty miles an hour along the broad
    waters of the nineteenth century. None of your pendulum
    machines for me! I should, to be sure, turn away my head if I
    should hear you tick, and mark the quarters of hours; but the
    buzz and whiz of a good large life-endangerer would be
    music to mine ears. Oh, no! sure there is no danger of your
    requiring to be set down quite on a level, kept in a still
    place, and wound up every eight days. Oh no, no! you are not
    one of that numerous company, who

                    --"live and die,
      Eat, drink, wake, sleep between,
      Walk, talk like clock-work too,
      So pass in order due,
                  Over the scene,
      To where the past--_is_ past,
      The future--nothing yet," &c. &c.

    But we must all be machines: you shall be a
    steam-engine;--shall be a mill, with extensive
    water-privileges,--and I will be a spinning jenny. No!
    upon second thoughts, I will not be a machine. I will be an
    instrument, not to be confided to vulgar hands,--for instance,
    a chisel to polish marble, or a whetstone to sharpen steel!'

In an unfinished tale, Margaret has given the following studies of
character. She is describing two of the friends of the hero of her
story. Unquestionably the traits here given were taken from life,
though it might not be easy to recognize the portrait of any
individual in either sketch. Yet we insert it here to show her own
idea of this relation, and her fine feeling of the action and reaction
of these subtle intimacies.

    'Now, however, I found companions, in thought, at least One,
    who had great effect on my mind, I may call Lytton. He was
    as premature as myself; at thirteen a man in the range of his
    thoughts, analyzing motives, and explaining principles, when
    he ought to have been playing cricket, or hunting in the
    woods. The young Arab, or Indian, may dispense with mere play,
    and enter betimes into the histories and practices of manhood,
    for all these are, in their modes of life, closely connected
    with simple nature, and educate the body no less than the
    mind; but the same good cannot be said of lounging lazily
    under a tree, while mentally accompanying Gil Blas through his
    course of intrigue and adventure, and visiting with him the
    impure atmosphere of courtiers, picaroons, and actresses.
    This was Lytton's favorite reading; his mind, by nature subtle
    rather than daring, would in any case have found its food in
    the now hidden workings of character and passion, the by-play
    of life, the unexpected and seemingly incongruous relations
    to be found there. He loved the natural history of man, not
    religiously, but for entertainment. What he sought, he found,
    but paid the heaviest price. All his later days were poisoned
    by his subtlety, which made it impossible for him to look at
    any action with a single and satisfied eye. He tore the buds
    open to see if there were no worm sheathed in the blushful
    heart, and was so afraid of overlooking some mean possibility,
    that he lost sight of virtue. Grubbing like a mole beneath
    the surface of earth, rather than reading its living language
    above, he had not faith enough to believe in the flower,
    neither faith enough to mine for the gem, and remains at
    penance in the limbo of halfnesses, I trust not forever.
    Then all his characteristics wore brilliant hues. He was very
    witty, and I owe to him the great obligation of being the
    first and only person who has excited me to frequent and
    boundless gayety. The sparks of his wit were frequent, slight
    surprises; his was a slender dart, and rebounded easily to
    the hand. I like the scintillating, arrowy wit far better than
    broad, genial humor. The light metallic touch pleases me.
    When wit appears as fun and jollity, she wears a little of the
    Silenus air;--the Mercurial is what I like.

    'In later days,--for my intimacy with him lasted many
    years,--he became the feeder of my intellect. He delighted to
    ransack the history of a nation, of an art or a science, and
    bring to me all the particulars. Telling them fixed them in
    his own memory, which was the most tenacious and ready I
    have ever known; he enjoyed my clear perception as to their
    relative value, and I classified them in my own way. As he was
    omnivorous, and of great mental activity, while my mind was
    intense, though rapid in its movements, and could only give
    itself to a few things of its own accord, I traversed on the
    wings of his effort large demesnes that would otherwise have
    remained quite unknown to me. They were not, indeed, seen to
    the same profit as my own province, whose tillage I knew, and
    whose fruits were the answer to my desire; but the fact of
    seeing them at all gave a largeness to my view, and a candor
    to my judgment. I could not be ignorant how much there was I
    did not know, nor leave out of sight the many sides to every
    question, while, by the law of affinity, I chose my own.

    'Lytton was not loved by any one. He was not positively hated,
    or disliked; for there was nothing which the general mind
    could take firm hold of enough for such feelings. Cold,
    intangible, he was to play across the life of others. A
    momentary resentment was sometimes felt at a presence which
    would not mingle with theirs; his scrutiny, though not
    hostile, was recognized as unfeeling and impertinent, and his
    mirth unsettled all objects from their foundations. But he
    was soon forgiven and forgotten. Hearts went not forth to
    war against or to seek one who was a mere experimentalist and
    observer in existence. For myself, I did not love, perhaps,
    but was attached to him, and the attachment grew steadily, for
    it was founded, not on what I wanted of him, but on his truth
    to himself. His existence was a real one; he was not without a
    pathetic feeling of his wants, but was never tempted to supply
    them by imitating the properties of any other character. He
    accepted the law of his being, and never violated it. This
    is next best to the nobleness which transcends it. I did not
    disapprove, even when I disliked, his acts.

    'Amadin, my other companion, was as slow and deep of feeling,
    as Lytton was brilliant, versatile, and cold. His temperament
    was generally grave, even to apparent dulness; his eye gave
    little light, but a slow fire burned in its depths. His was a
    character not to be revealed to himself, or others, except by
    the important occasions of life. Though every day, no doubt,
    deepened and enriched him, it brought little that he could
    show or recall. But when his soul, capable of religion,
    capable of love, was moved, all his senses were united in the
    word or action that followed, and the impression made on you
    was entire. I have scarcely known any capable of such true
    manliness as he. His poetry, written, or unwritten, was the
    experience of life. It lies in few lines, as yet, but not one
    of them will ever need to be effaced.

    'Early that serious eye inspired in me a trust that has never
    been deceived. There was no magnetism in him, no lights
    and shades that could stir the imagination; no bright ideal
    suggested by him stood between the friend and his self. As the
    years matured that self, I loved him more, and knew him as
    he knew himself, always in the present moment; he could never
    occupy my mind in absence.'

Another of her early friends, Rev. F.H. Hedge, has sketched his
acquaintance with her in the following paper, communicated by him for
these memoirs. Somewhat older than Margaret, and having enjoyed
an education at a German university, his conversation was full of
interest and excitement to her. He opened to her a whole world
of thoughts and speculations which gave movement to her mind in a
congenial direction.

       *       *       *       *       *

"My acquaintance with Margaret commenced in the year 1823, at
Cambridge, my native place and hers. I was then a member of Harvard
College, in which my father held one of the offices of instruction,
and I used frequently to meet her in the social circles of which the
families connected with the college formed the nucleus. Her father, at
this time, represented the county of Middlesex in the Congress of the
United States.

"Margaret was then about thirteen,--a child in years, but so
precocious in her mental and physical developments, that she passed
for eighteen or twenty. Agreeably to this estimate, she had her place
in society, as a lady full-grown.

"When I recall her personal appearance, as it was then and for ten or
twelve years subsequent to this, I have the idea of a blooming girl
of a florid complexion and vigorous health, with a tendency to
robustness, of which she was painfully conscious, and which, with
little regard to hygienic principles, she endeavored to suppress or
conceal, thereby preparing for herself much future suffering. With
no pretensions to beauty then, or at any time, her face was one that
attracted, that awakened a lively interest, that made one desirous
of a nearer acquaintance. It was a face that fascinated, without
satisfying. Never seen in repose, never allowing a steady perusal
of its features, it baffled every attempt to judge the character by
physiognomical induction. You saw the evidence of a mighty force, but
what direction that force would assume,--whether it would determine
itself to social triumphs, or to triumphs of art,--it was impossible
to divine. Her moral tendencies, her sentiments, her true and
prevailing character, did not appear in the lines of her face. She
seemed equal to anything, but might not choose to put forth her
strength. You felt that a great possibility lay behind that brow, but
you felt, also, that the talent that was in her might miscarry through
indifference or caprice.

"I said she had no pretensions to beauty. Yet she was not plain. She
escaped the reproach of positive plainness, by her blond and abundant
hair, by her excellent teeth, by her sparkling, dancing, busy eyes,
which, though usually half closed from near-sightedness, shot piercing
glances at those with whom she conversed, and, most of all, by the
very peculiar and graceful carriage of her head and neck, which all
who knew her will remember as the most characteristic trait in her
personal appearance.

"In conversation she had already, at that early age, begun to
distinguish herself, and made much the same impression in society that
she did in after years, with the exception, that, as she advanced
in life, she learned to control that tendency to sarcasm,--that
disposition to 'quiz,'--which was then somewhat excessive. It
frightened shy young people from her presence, and made her, for a
while, notoriously unpopular with the ladies of her circle.

"This propensity seems to have been aggravated by unpleasant
encounters in her school-girl experience. She was a pupil of Dr. Park,
of Boston, whose seminary for young ladies was then at the height of a
well-earned reputation, and whose faithful and successful endeavors
in this department have done much to raise the standard of female
education among us. Here the inexperienced country girl was exposed
to petty persecutions from the dashing misses of the city, who pleased
themselves with giggling criticisms not inaudible, nor meant to be
inaudible to their subject, on whatsoever in dress and manner fell
short of the city mark. Then it was first revealed to her young heart,
and laid up for future reflection, how large a place in woman's world
is given to fashion and frivolity. Her mind reacted on these attacks
with indiscriminate sarcasms. She made herself formidable by her wit,
and, of course, unpopular. A root of bitterness sprung up in her which
years of moral culture were needed to eradicate.

"Partly to evade the temporary unpopularity into which she had fallen,
and partly to pursue her studies secure from those social avocations
which were found unavoidable in the vicinity of Cambridge and Boston,
in 1824 or 5 she was sent to Groton, where she remained two years in
quiet seclusion.

"On her return to Cambridge, in 1826, I renewed my acquaintance, and
an intimacy was then formed, which continued until her death. The
next seven years, which were spent in Cambridge, were years of
steady growth, with little variety of incident, and little that was
noteworthy of outward experience, but with great intensity of the
inner life. It was with her, as with most young women, and with most
young men, too, between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five, a period
of preponderating sentimentality, a period of romance and of dreams,
of yearning and of passion. She pursued at this time, I think, no
systematic study, but she read with the heart, and was learning more
from social experience than from books.

"I remember noting at this time a trait which continued to be a
prominent one through life,--I mean, a passionate love for the
beautiful, which comprehended all the kingdoms of nature and art. I
have never known one who seemed to derive such satisfaction from the
contemplation of lovely forms.

"Her intercourse with girls of her own age and standing was frank and
excellent. Personal attractions, and the homage which they received,
awakened in her no jealousy. She envied not their success, though
vividly aware of the worth of beauty, and inclined to exaggerate her
own deficiencies in that kind. On the contrary, she loved to draw
these fair girls to herself, and to make them her guests, and was
never so happy as when surrounded, in company, with such a bevy. This
attraction was mutual, as, according to Goethe, every attraction is.
Where she felt an interest, she awakened an interest. Without
flattery or art, by the truth and nobleness of her nature, she won
the confidence, and made herself the friend and intimate, of a large
number of young ladies,--the belles of their day,--with most of whom
she remained in correspondence during the greater part of her life.

"In our evening re-unions she was always conspicuous by the brilliancy
of her wit, which needed but little provocation to break forth in
exuberant sallies, that drew around her a knot of listeners, and made
her the central attraction of the hour. Rarely did she enter a company
in which she was not a prominent object.

"I have spoken of her conversational talent. It continued to develop
itself in these years, and was certainly her most decided gift.
One could form no adequate idea of her ability without hearing her
converse. She did many things well, but nothing so well as she talked.
It is the opinion of all her friends, that her writings do her very
imperfect justice. For some reason or other, she could never deliver
herself in print as she did with her lips. She required the stimulus
of attentive ears, and answering eyes, to bring out all her power. She
must have her auditory about her.

"Her conversation, as it was then, I have seldom heard equalled. It
was not so much attractive as commanding. Though remarkably fluent
and select, it was neither fluency, nor choice diction, nor wit, nor
sentiment, that gave it its peculiar power, but accuracy of statement,
keen discrimination, and a certain weight of judgment, which
contrasted strongly and charmingly with the youth and sex of the
speaker. I do not remember that the vulgar charge of talking 'like
a book' was ever fastened upon her, although, by her precision, she
might seem to have incurred it. The fact was, her speech, though
finished and true as the most deliberate rhetoric of the pen, had
always an air of spontaneity which made it seem the grace of the
moment,--the result of some organic provision that made finished
sentences as natural to her as blundering and hesitation are to
most of us. With a little more imagination, she would have made an
excellent improvisatrice.

"Here let me say a word respecting the character of Margaret's mind.
It was what in woman is generally called a masculine mind; that is,
its action was determined by ideas rather than by sentiments. And yet,
with this masculine trait, she combined a woman's appreciation of the
beautiful in sentiment and the beautiful in action. Her intellect was
rather solid than graceful, yet no one was more alive to grace. She
was no artist,--she would never have written an epic, or romance, or
drama,--yet no one knew better the qualities which go to the making
of these; and though catholic as to kind, no one was more rigorously
exacting as to quality. Nothing short of the best in each kind would
content her.

"She wanted imagination, and she wanted productiveness. She wrote with
difficulty. Without external pressure, perhaps, she would never have
written at all. She was dogmatic, and not creative. Her strength was
in characterization and in criticism. Her _critique_ on Goethe, in
the second volume of the Dial, is, in my estimation, one of the best
things she has written. And, as far as it goes, it is one of the best
criticisms extant of Goethe.

"What I especially admired in her was her intellectual sincerity. Her
judgments took no bribe from her sex or her sphere, nor from custom
nor tradition, nor caprice. She valued truth supremely, both for
herself and others. The question with her was not what should be
believed, or what ought to be true, but what _is_ true. Her yes and
no were never conventional; and she often amazed people by a cool and
unexpected dissent from the common-places of popular acceptation."

       *       *       *       *       *

Margaret, we have said, saw in each of her friends the secret interior
capability, which might become hereafter developed into some special
beauty or power. By means of this penetrating, this prophetic insight,
she gave each to himself, acted on each to draw out his best nature,
gave him an ideal out of which he could draw strength and liberty hour
by hour. Thus her influence was ever ennobling, and each felt that in
her society he was truer, wiser, better, and yet more free and happy,
than elsewhere. The "dry light" which Lord Bacon loved, she never
knew; her light was life, was love, was warm with sympathy and a
boundless energy of affection and hope. Though her love flattered and
charmed her friends, it did not spoil them, for they knew her perfect
truth. They knew that she loved them, not for what she imagined,
but for what she saw, though she saw it only in the germ. But as the
Greeks beheld a Persephone and Athene in the passing stranger, and
ennobled humanity into ideal beauty, Margaret saw all her friends thus
idealized. She was a balloon of sufficient power to take us all up
with her into the serene depth of heaven, where she loved to float,
far above the low details of earthly life. Earth lay beneath us as a
lovely picture,--its sounds came up mellowed into music.

Margaret was, to persons younger than herself, a Makaria and Natalia.
She was wisdom and intellectual beauty, filling life with a charm and
glory "known to neither sea nor land." To those of her own age she
was sibyl and seer,--a prophetess, revealing the future, pointing the
path, opening their eyes to the great aims only worthy of pursuit
in life. To those older than herself she was like the Euphorion
in Goethe's drama, child of Faust and Helen,--a wonderful union
of exuberance and judgment, born of romantic fulness and classic
limitation. They saw with surprise her clear good-sense balancing her
now of sentiment and ardent courage. They saw her comprehension of
both sides of every question, and gave her their confidence, as to one
of equal age, because of so ripe a judgment.

But it was curious to see with what care and conscience she kept her
friendships distinct. Her fine practical understanding, teaching
her always the value of limits, enabled her to hold apart all her
intimacies, nor did one ever encroach on the province of the other.
Like a moral Paganini, she played always on a single string, drawing
from each its peculiar music,--bringing wild beauty from the slender
wire, no less than from the deep-sounding harp string. Some of her
friends had little to give her when compared with others; but I never
noticed that she sacrificed in any respect the smaller faculty to the
greater. She fully realized that the Divine Being makes each part
of this creation divine, and that He dwells in the blade of grass as
really if not as fully as in the majestic oak which has braved the
storm for a hundred years. She felt in full the thought of a poem
which she once copied for me from Barry Cornwall, which begins thus:--

  "She was not fair, nor full of grace,
  Nor crowned with thought, nor aught beside
  No wealth had she of mind or face,
  To win our love, or gain our pride,--
  No lover's thought her heart could touch,--
  No poet's dream was round her thrown;
  And yet we miss her--ah, so much!
  Now--she has flown."

I will close this section of Cambridge Friendship with the two
following passages, the second of which was written to some one
unknown to me:

    'Your letter was of cordial sweetness to me, as is ever the
    thought of our friendship,--that sober-suited friendship, of
    which the web was so deliberately and well woven, and which
    wears so well.

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I want words to express the singularity of all my past
    relations; yet let me try.

    'From a very early age I have felt that I was not born to the
    common womanly lot. I knew I should never find a being who
    could keep the key of my character; that there would be none
    on whom I could always lean, from whom I could always learn;
    that I should be a pilgrim and sojourner on earth, and that
    the birds and foxes would be surer of a place to lay the head
    than I. You understand me, of course; such beings can only
    find their homes in hearts. All material luxuries, all the
    arrangements of society, are mere conveniences to them.

    'This thought, all whose bearings I did not, indeed,
    understand, affected me sometimes with sadness, sometimes
    with pride. I mourned that I never should have a thorough
    experience of life, never know the full riches of my being; I
    was proud that I was to test myself in the sternest way, that
    I was always to return to myself, to be my own priest,
    pupil, parent, child, husband, and wife. All this I did not
    understand as I do now; but this destiny of the thinker, and
    (shall I dare to say it?) of the poetic priestess, sibylline,
    dwelling in the cave, or amid the Lybian sands, lay yet
    enfolded in my mind. Accordingly, I did not look on any of the
    persons, brought into relation with me, with common womanly

    'Yet, as my character is, after all, still more feminine than
    masculine, it would sometimes happen that I put more emotion
    into a state than I myself knew. I really was capable or
    attachment, though it never seemed so till the hour of
    separation. And if a connexion was torn up by the roots, the
    soil of my existence showed an unsightly wound, which long
    refused to clothe itself in verdure.

    'With regard to yourself, I was to you all that I wished to
    be. I knew that I reigned in your thoughts in my own way.
    And I also lived with you more truly and freely than with any
    other person. We were truly friends, but it was not friends
    as men are friends to one another, or as brother and sister.
    There was, also, that pleasure, which may, perhaps, be termed
    conjugal, of finding oneself in an alien nature. Is there any
    tinge of love in this? Possibly! At least, in comparing it
    with my relation to--, I find _that_ was strictly fraternal.
    I valued him for himself. I did not care for an influence over
    him, and was perfectly willing to have one or fifty rivals in
    his heart. * *

    * * 'I think I may say, I never loved. I but see my possible
    life reflected on the clouds. As in a glass darkly, I have
    seen what I might feel as child, wife, mother, but I have
    never really approached the close relations of life. A sister
    I have truly been to many,--a brother to more,--a fostering
    nurse to, oh how many! The bridal hour of many a spirit, when
    first it was wed, I have shared, but said adieu before the
    wine was poured out at the banquet. And there is one I always
    love in my poetic hour, as the lily looks up to the star from
    amid the waters; and another whom I visit as the bee visits
    the flower, when I crave sympathy. Yet those who live would
    scarcely consider that I am among the living,--and I am
    isolated, as you say.

    'My dear--, all is well; all has helped me to decipher the
    great poem of the universe. I can hardly describe to you the
    happiness which floods my solitary hours. My actual life is
    yet much clogged and impeded, but I have at last got me
    an oratory; where I can retire and pray. With your letter,
    vanished a last regret. You did not act or think unworthily.
    It is enough. As to the cessation of our confidential inter
    course, circumstances must have accomplished that long ago; my
    only grief was that you should do it with your own free will,
    and for reasons that I thought unworthy. I long to honor you,
    to be honored by you. Now we will have free and noble thoughts
    of one another, and all that is best of our friendship shall



  "Be thou what thou singly art, and personate only thyself.
  Swim smoothly in the stream of thy nature, and live but one


  "Ah, how mournful look in letters
  Black on white, the words to me,
  Which from lips of thine cast fetters
  Bound the heart, or set It free."

  GOETHE, _translated by J.S. Dwight_.

  "Zu erfinden, zu beschliessen,
  Bleibe, Kunstler, oft allein;
  Deines Wirkes zu geniessen
  Eile freudig zum Verein,
  Hier im Ganzen schau erfahre
  Deines eignes Lebenslauf,
  Und die Thaten mancher Jahre
  Gehn dir in dem Nachbar auf."

  GOETHE, _Artist's Song_.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I first knew Margaret, she was much in society, but in a circle
of her own,--of friends whom she had drawn around her, and whom she
entertained and delighted by her exuberant talent. Of those belonging
to this circle, let me recall a few characters.

The young girls whom Margaret had attracted were very different from
herself, and from each other. From Boston, Charlestown, Roxbury,
Brookline, they came to her, and the little circle of companions would
meet now in one house, and now in another, of these pleasant towns.
There was A----, a dark-haired, black-eyed beauty, with clear olive
complexion, through which the rich blood flowed. She was bright,
beauteous, and cold as a gem,--with clear perceptions of character
within a narrow limit,--enjoying society, and always surrounded with
admirers, of whose feelings she seemed quite unconscious. While they
were just ready to die of unrequited love, she stood untouched as
Artemis, scarcely aware of the deadly arrows which had flown from her
silver bow. I remember that Margaret said, that Tennyson's little poem
of the skipping-rope must have been written for her,--where the lover
expressing his admiration of the fairy-like motion and the light grace
of the lady, is told--

  "Get off, or else my skipping-rope
  Will hit you in the eye."

Then there was B----, the reverse of all this,--tender, susceptible,
with soft blue eyes, and mouth of trembling sensibility. How sweet
were her songs, in which a single strain of pure feeling ever reminded
me of those angel symphonies,--

  "In all whose music, the pathetic minor
  Our ears will cross--"

and when she sang or spoke, her eyes had often the expression of one
looking _in_ at her thought, not _out_ at her companion.

Then there was C----, all animated and radiant with joyful interest
in life,--seeing with ready eye the beauty of Nature and of
Thought,--entering with quick sympathy into all human interest, taking
readily everything which belonged to her, and dropping with sure
instinct whatever suited her not. Unknown to her was struggle,
conflict, crisis; she grew up harmonious as the flower, drawing
nutriment from earth and air,--from "common things which round us
lie," and equally from the highest thoughts and inspirations.

Shall I also speak of D----, whose beauty had a half-voluptuous
character, from those ripe red lips, those ringlets overflowing the
well-rounded shoulders, and the hazy softness of those large eyes?
Or of E----, her companion, beautiful too, but in a calmer, purer
style,--with eye from which looked forth self-possession, truth and
fortitude? Others, well worth notice, I must not notice now.

But among the young men who surrounded Margaret, a like variety
prevailed. One was to her interesting, on account of his quick,
active intellect, and his contempt for shows and pretences; for his
inexhaustible wit, his exquisite taste, his infinitely varied stores
of information, and the poetic view which he took of life, painting
it with Rembrandt depths of shadow and bursts of light. Another she
gladly went to for his compact, thoroughly considered views of God and
the world,--for his culture, so much more deep and rich than any other
we could find here,--for his conversation, opening in systematic
form new fields of thought. Yet men of strong native talent, and rich
character, she also liked well to know, however deficient in culture,
knowledge, or power of utterance. Each was to her a study, and she
never rested till she had found the bottom of every mind,--till she
had satisfied herself of its capacity and currents,--measuring it with
her sure line, as

  --"All human wits
  Are measured, but a few."

It was by her singular gift of speech that she cast her spells and
worked her wonders in this little circle. Full of thoughts and full
of words; capable of poetic improvisation, had there not been a slight
overweight of a tendency to the tangible and real; capable of clear,
complete, philosophic statement, but for the strong tendency to life
which melted down evermore in its lava-current the solid blocks of
thought; she was yet, by these excesses, better fitted for the arena
of conversation. Here she found none adequate for the equal encounter;
when she laid her lance in rest, every champion must go down before
it. How fluent her wit, which, for hour after hour, would furnish best
entertainment, as she described scenes where she had lately been,
or persons she had lately seen! Yet she readily changed from gay to
grave, and loved better the serious talk which opened the depths of
life. Describing a conversation in relation to Christianity, with a
friend of strong mind, who told her he had found, in this religion,
a home for his best and deepest thoughts, she says--' Ah! what a
pleasure 'to meet with such a daring, yet realizing, mind as his!'
But her catholic taste found satisfaction in intercourse with persons
quite different from herself in opinions and tendencies, as the
following letter, written in her twentieth year, will indicate:

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I was very happy, although greatly restrained by the
    apprehension of going a little too far with these persons of
    singular refinement and settled opinions.

    'However, I believe I did pretty well, though I did make one
    or two little mistakes, when most interested; but I was not
    so foolish as to try to retrieve them. One occasion more
    particularly, when Mr. G----, after going more fully into
    his poetical opinions than I could have expected, stated his
    sentiments: first, that Wordsworth had, in truth, guided, or,
    rather, completely vivified the poetry of this age; secondly,
    that 't was his influence which had, in reality, given all his
    better individuality to Byron. He recurred again and again
    to this opinion, _con amore_, and seemed to wish much for an
    answer; but I would not venture, though 'twas hard for me
    to forbear, I knew so well what I thought. Mr. G----'s
    Wordsworthianism, however, is excellent; his beautiful
    simplicity of taste, and love of truth, have preserved him
    from any touch of that vague and imbecile enthusiasm, which
    has enervated almost all the exclusive and determined admirers
    of the great poet whom I have known in these parts. His
    reverence, his feeling, are thoroughly intelligent. Everything
    in his mind is well defined; and his horror of the vague, and
    false, nay, even (suppose another horror here, for grammar's
    sake) of the startling and paradoxical, have their beauty.
    I think I could know Mr. G---- long, and see him perpetually,
    without any touch of satiety; such variety is made by the very
    absence of pretension, and the love of truth. I found much
    amusement in leading him to sketch the scenes and persons
    which Lockhart portrays in such glowing colors, and which he,
    too, has seen with the _eye of taste_, but how different!'

       *       *       *       *       *

Our friend was well aware that her _forte_ was in conversation. Here
she felt at home. Here she felt her power, and the excitement which
the presence of living persons brought, gave all her faculties full
activity 'After all,' she says, in a letter,

    'this writing is mighty dead. Oh, for my dear old Greeks, who
    talked everything--not to shine as in the Parisian saloons,
    but to learn, to teach, to vent the heart, to clear the mind!'

Again, in 1832:--

    'Conversation is my natural element. I need to be called
    out, and never think alone, without imagining some companion.
    Whether this be nature or the force of circumstances, I know
    not; it is my habit, and bespeaks a second-rate mind.'

I am disposed to think, much as she excelled in general conversation,
that her greatest mental efforts were made in intercourse with
individuals. All her friends will unite in the testimony, that
whatever they may have known of wit and eloquence in others, they have
never seen one who, like her, by the conversation of an hour or two,
could not merely entertain and inform, but make an epoch in one's
life. We all dated back to this or that conversation with Margaret, in
which we took a complete survey of great subjects, came to some clear
view of a difficult question, saw our way open before us to a higher
plane of life, and were led to some definite resolution or purpose
which has had a bearing on all our subsequent career. For Margaret's
conversation turned, at such times, to life,--its destiny, its duty,
its prospect. With comprehensive glance she would survey the past, and
sum up, in a few brief words, its results; she would then turn to
the future, and, by a natural order, sweep through its chances and
alternatives,--passing ever into a more earnest tone, into a more
serious view,--and then bring all to bear on the present, till its
duties grew plain, and its opportunities attractive. Happy he who can
lift conversation, without loss of its cheer, to the highest uses!
Happy he who has such a gift as this, an original faculty thus
accomplished by culture, by which he can make our common life rich,
significant and fair,--can give to the hour a beauty and brilliancy
which shall make it eminent long after, amid dreary years of level

I recall many such conversations. I remember one summer's day, in
which we rode together, on horseback, from Cambridge to Newton,--a day
all of a piece, in which my eloquent companion helped me to understand
my past life, and her own,--a day which left me in that calm repose
which comes to us, when we clearly apprehend what we ought to do, and
are ready to attempt it. I recall other mornings when, not having seen
her for a week or two, I would walk with her for hours, beneath the
lindens or in the garden, while we related to each other what we had
read in our German studies. And I always left her astonished at the
progress of her mind, at the amount of new thoughts she had garnered,
and filled with a new sense of the worth of knowledge, and the value
of life.

There were other conversations, in which, impelled by the strong
instinct of utterance, she would state, in words of tragical pathos,
her own needs and longings,--her demands on life,--the struggles of
mind, and of heart,--her conflicts with self, with nature, with
the limitations of circumstances, with insoluble problems, with an
unattainable desire. She seemed to feel relief from the expression of
these thoughts, though she gained no light from her companion. Many
such conversations I remember, while she lived in Cambridge, and one
such in Groton; but afterwards, when I met her, I found her mind risen
above these struggles, and in a self-possessed state which needed no
such outlet for its ferment.

It is impossible to give any account of _these_ conversations; but
I add a few scraps, to indicate, however slightly, something of her
ordinary manner.

    'Rev. Mr. ---- preached a sermon on TIME. But what business
    had he to talk about time? We should like well to hear the
    opinions of a great man, who had made good use of time; but
    not of a little man, who had not used it to any purpose. I
    wished to get up and tell him to speak of something which he
    knew and felt.'

       *       *       *       *       *
    'The best criticism on those sermons which proclaim so loudly
    the dignity of human nature was from our friend E.S. She said,
    coming out from Dr. Channing's church, that she felt fatigued
    by the demands the sermon made on her, and would go home
    and read what Jesus said,--"_Ye are of more value than many
    sparrows." That_ she could bear; it did not seem exaggerated

       *       *       *       *       *

    'The Swedenborgians say, "that is _Correspondence_," and the
    phrenologists, "that it is _Approbativeness,_" and so think
    they know all about it. It would not be so, if we could be
    like the birds,--make one method, and then desert it, and make
    a new one,--as they build their nests.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'As regards crime, we cannot understand what we have not
    _already_ felt;--thus, all crimes have formed part of our
    minds. We do but recognize one part of ourselves in the worst
    actions of others. When you take the subject in this light,
    do you not incline to consider the capacity for action as
    something widely differing from the experience of a feeling?'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'How beautiful the life of Benvenuto Cellini! How his
    occupations perpetually impelled to thought,--to gushings of
    thought naturally excited!'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Father lectured me for looking satirical when the man of
    Words spake, and so attentive to the man of Truth,--that is,
    of God.'

Margaret used often to talk about the books which she and I were

    GODWIN. 'I think you will be more and more satisfied with
    Godwin. He has fully lived the double existence of man, and he
    casts the reflexes on his magic mirror from a height where
    no object in life's panorama can cause one throb of delirious
    hope or grasping ambition. At any rate, if you study him, you
    may know all he has to tell. He is quite free from vanity, and
    conceals not miserly any of his treasures from the knowledge
    of posterity.

    M'LLE. D'ESPINASSE. 'I am swallowing by gasps that _cauldrony_
    beverage of selfish passion and morbid taste, the letters
    of M'lle D'Espinasse. It is good for me. How odious is the
    abandonment of passion, such as this, unshaded by pride or
    delicacy, unhallowed by religion,--a selfish craving only;
    every source of enjoyment stifled to cherish this burning
    thirst. Yet the picture, so minute in its touches, is true as
    death. I should not like Delphine now.'

Events in life, apparently trivial, often seemed to her full of mystic
significance, and it was her pleasure to turn such to poetry. On one
occasion, the sight of a passion-flower, given by one lady to another,
and then lost, appeared to her so significant of the character,
relation, and destiny of the two, that it drew from her lines of
which two or three seem worth preserving, as indicating her feeling of
social relations.

  'Dear friend, my heart grew pensive when I saw
    The flower, for thee so sweetly set apart,
  By one whose passionless though tender heart
    Is worthy to bestow, as angels are,
  By an unheeding hand conveyed away,
    To close, in unsoothed night, the promise of its day.

       *       *       *       *       *

  'The mystic flower read in thy soul-filled eye
    To its life's question the desired reply,
  But came no nearer. On thy gentle breast
    It hoped to find the haven of its rest;
  But in cold night, hurried afar from thee,
    It closed its once half-smiling destiny.

  'Yet thus, methinks, it utters as it dies,--
    "By the pure truth of those calm, gentle eyes
  Which saw my life should find its aim in thine,
    I see a clime where no strait laws confine.
  In that blest land where _twos_ ne'er know a _three_,
    Save as the accord of their fine sympathy,
  O, best-loved, I will wait for thee!"'



  "Nur durch das Morgenthor des Schönen
  Drangst du in der Erkenntniss Land;
  An höhen Glanz sich zu gewöhnen
  Uebt sich, am Reize der Verstand.
  Was bei dem Saitenklang der Musen
  Mit süssem Beben dich, durchdrang,
  Erzog die Kraft in deinem Busen,
  Die sich dereinst zum Weltgeist schwang."


  "To work, with heart resigned and spirit strong;
  Subdue, with patient toil, life's bitter wrong,
  Through Nature's dullest, as her brightest ways,
  We will march onward, singing to thy praise."

  E.S., _in the Dial_.

  "The peculiar nature of the scholar's occupation consists in
  this,--that science, and especially that side of it from
  which he conceives of the whole, shall continually burst forth
  before him in new and fairer forms. Let this fresh spiritual
  youth never grow old within him; let no form become fixed
  and rigid; let each sunrise bring him new joy and love in his
  vocation, and larger views of its significance."


       *       *       *       *       *

Of Margaret's studies while at Cambridge, I knew personally only of
the German. She already, when I first became acquainted with her, had
become familiar with the masterpieces of French, Italian and
Spanish literature. But all this amount of reading had not made her
"deep-learned in books and shallow in herself;" for she brought to
the study of most writers "a spirit and genius equal or superior."--so
far, at least, as the analytic understanding was concerned. Every
writer whom she studied, as every person whom she knew, she placed in
his own class, knew his relation to other writers, to the world, to
life, to nature, to herself. Much as they might delight her, they
never swept her away. She breasted the current of their genius, as a
stately swan moves up a stream, enjoying the rushing water the more
because she resists it. In a passionate love-struggle she wrestled
thus with the genius of De Staël, of Rousseau, of Alfieri, of

The first and most striking element in the genius of Margaret was the
clear, sharp understanding, which keenly distinguished between things
different, and kept every thought, opinion, person, character, in
its own place, not to be confounded with any other. The god Terminus
presided over her intellect. She knew her thoughts as we know each
other's faces; and opinions, with most of us so vague, shadowy, and
shifting, were in her mind substantial and distinct realities. Some
persons see distinctions, others resemblances; but she saw both. No
sophist could pass on her a counterfeit piece of intellectual money;
but also she recognized the one pure metallic basis in coins of
different epochs, and when mixed with a very ruinous alloy. This gave
a comprehensive quality to her mind most imposing and convincing,
as it enabled her to show the one Truth, or the one Law, manifesting
itself in such various phenomena. Add to this her profound faith in
truth, which made her a Realist of that order that thoughts to her
were things. The world of her thoughts rose around her mind as a
panorama,--the sun-in the sky, the flowers distinct in the foreground,
the pale mountain sharply, though faintly, cutting the sky with its
outline in the distance,--and all in pure light and shade, all in
perfect perspective.

Margaret began to study German early in 1832. Both she and I were
attracted towards this literature, at the same time, by the wild
bugle-call of Thomas Carlyle, in his romantic articles on Richter,
Schiller, and Goethe, which appeared in the old Foreign Review, the
Edinburgh Review, and afterwards in the Foreign Quarterly.

I believe that in about three months from the time that Margaret
commenced German, she was reading with ease the masterpieces of its
literature. Within the year, she had read Goethe's Faust, Tasso,
Iphigenia, Hermann and Dorothea, Elective Affinities, and Memoirs;
Tieck's William Lovel, Prince Zerbino, and other works; Körner,
Novalis, and something of Richter; all of Schiller's principal dramas,
and his lyric poetry. Almost every evening I saw her, and heard an
account of her studies. Her mind opened under this influence, as the
apple-blossom at the end of a warm week in May. The thought and the
beauty of this rich literature equally filled her mind and fascinated
her imagination.

       *       *       *       *       *

But if she studied books thus earnestly, still more frequently did she
turn to the study of men. Authors and their personages were not ideal
beings merely, but full of human blood and life. So living men
and women were idealized again, and transfigured by her rapid
fancy,--every trait intensified, developed, ennobled. Lessing says
that "The true portrait painter will paint his subject, flattering him
as art ought to flatter,--painting the face not as it actually is,
but as creation designed, omitting the imperfections arising from the
resistance of the material worked in." Margaret's portrait-painting
intellect treated persons in this way. She saw them as God designed
them,--omitting the loss from wear and tear, from false position, from
friction of untoward circumstances. If we may be permitted to take
a somewhat transcendental distinction, she saw them not as they
_actually_ were, but as they _really_ were. This accounts for her
high estimate of her friends,--too high, too flattering, indeed, but
justified to her mind by her knowledge of their interior capabilities.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following extract illustrates her power, even at the age of
nineteen, of comprehending the relations of two things lying far apart
from each other, and of rising to a point of view which could overlook

    'I have had,--while staying a day or two in Boston,--some of
    Shirley's, Ford's, and Hey wood's plays from the Athenæum.
    There are some noble strains of proud rage, and intellectual,
    but most poetical, all-absorbing, passion. One of the finest
    fictions I recollect in those specimens of the Italian
    novelists,--which you, I think, read when I did,--noble, where
    it illustrated the Italian national spirit, is ruined by the
    English novelist, who has transplanted it to an uncongenial
    soil; yet he has given it beauties which an Italian eye could
    not see, by investing the actors with deep, continuing, truly
    English affections.'

       *       *       *       *       *

The following criticism on some of the dialogues of Plato, (dated June
3d, 1833,) in a letter returning the book, illustrates her downright
way of asking world-revered authors to accept the test of plain common
sense. As a finished or deliberate opinion, it ought not to be read;
for it was not intended as such, but as a first impression hastily
sketched. But read it as an illustration of the method in which her
mind worked, and you will see that she meets the great Plato modestly,
but boldly, on human ground, asking him for satisfactory proof of all
that he says, and treating him as a human being, speaking to human

    '_June_ 3, 1833.--I part with Plato with regret. I could have
    wished to "enchant myself," as Socrates would say, with
    him some days longer. Eutyphron is excellent. Tis the best
    specimen I have ever seen of that mode of convincing. There is
    one passage in which Socrates, as if it were _aside_,--since
    the remark is quite away from the consciousness of
    Eutyphron,--declares, "qu'il aimerait incomparablement mieux
    des principes fixes et inébranlables à l'habilité de Dédale
    avec les tresors de Tantale." I delight to hear such things
    from those whose lives have given the right to say them. For
    'tis not always true what Lessing says, and I, myself, once

      "F.--Von was fur Tugenden spricht er denn?
      MINNA.----Er spricht von keiner; denn ihn fehlt keine."

    For the mouth sometimes talketh virtue from the overflowing of
    the heart, as well as love, anger, &c.

    '"Crito" I have read only once, but like it. I have not got it
    in my heart though, so clearly as the others. The "Apology"
    I deem only remarkable for the noble tone of sentiment, and
    beautiful calmness. I was much affected by Phaedo, but think
    the argument weak in many respects. The nature of abstract
    ideas is clearly set forth; but there is no justice in
    reasoning, from their existence, that our souls have lived
    previous to our present state, since it was as easy for the
    Deity to create at once the idea of beauty within us, as the
    sense which brings to the soul intelligence that it exists in
    some outward shape. He does not clearly show his opinion of
    what the soul is; whether eternal _as_ the Deity, created
    _by_ the Deity, or how. In his answer to Simmias, he takes
    advantage of the general meaning of the words harmony,
    discord, &c. The soul might be a result, without being a
    harmony. But I think too many things to write, and some I have
    not had time to examine. Meanwhile I can think over parts, and
    say to myself, "beautiful," "noble," and use this as one of my

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I send two of your German books. It pains me to part with
    Ottilia. I wish we could learn books, as we do pieces of
    music, and repeat them, in the author's order, when taking a
    solitary walk. But, now, if I set out with an Ottilia, this
    wicked fairy association conjures up such crowds of less
    lovely companions, that I often cease to feel the influence of
    the elect one. I don't like Goethe so well as Schiller now.
    I mean, I am not so happy in reading him. That perfect wisdom
    and _merciless_ nature seems cold, after those seducing
    pictures of forms more beautiful than truth. Nathless, I
    should like to read the second part of Goethe's Memoirs, if
    you do not use it now.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    1832.--I am thinking how I omitted to talk a volume to you
    about the "Elective Affinities." Now I shall never say half of
    it, for which I, on my own account, am sorry. But two or three
    things I would ask:--

    'What do you think of Charlotte's proposition, that the
    accomplished pedagogue must be tiresome in society?

    'Of Ottilia's, that the afflicted, and ill-educated, are
    oftentimes singled out by fate to instruct others, and her
    beautiful reasons why?

    'And what have you thought of the discussion touching graves
    and monuments?

    'I am now going to dream of your sermon, and of Ottilia's
    china-asters. Both shall be driven from my head to-morrow,
    for I go to town, allured by despatches from thence, promising
    much entertainment. Woe unto them if they disappoint me!

    'Consider it, I pray you, as the "nearest duty" to answer my
    questions, and not act as you did about the sphinx-song.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I have not anybody to speak to, that does not talk
    common-place, and I wish to talk about such an uncommon
    person,--about Novalis! a wondrous youth, and who has only
    written one volume. That is pleasant! I feel as though I could
    pursue my natural mode with him, get acquainted, then make my
    mind easy in the belief that I know all that is to be known.
    And he died at twenty-nine, and, as with Körner, your feelings
    may be single; you will never be called upon to share his
    experience, and compare his future feelings with his present.
    And his life was so full and so still.

    Then it is a relief, after feeling the immense superiority of
    Goethe. It seems to me as if the mind of Goethe had embraced
    the universe. I have felt this lately, in reading his lyric
    poems. I am enchanted while I read. He comprehends every
    feeling I have ever had so perfectly, expresses it so
    beautifully: but when I shut the book, it seems as if I had
    lost my personal identity; all my feelings linked with such
    an immense variety that belong to beings I had thought so
    different. What can I bring? There is no answer in my mind,
    except "It is so," or "It will be so," or "No doubt such and
    such feel so." Yet, while my judgment becomes daily more
    tolerant towards others, the same attracting and repelling
    work is going on in my feelings. But I persevere in reading
    the great sage, some part of every day, hoping the time will
    come, when I shall not feel so overwhelmed, and leave off this
    habit of wishing to grasp the whole, and be contented to learn
    a little every day, as becomes a pupil.

    'But now the one-sidedness, imperfection, and glow, of a mind
    like that of Novalis, seem refreshingly human to me. I have
    wished fifty times to write some letters giving an account,
    first, of his very pretty life, and then of his one volume,
    as I re-read it, chapter by chapter. If you will pretend to
    be very much interested, perhaps I will get a better pen, and
    write them to you.' * *


    '_Aug_. 7, 1832.--I feel quite lost; it is so long since I
    have talked myself. To see so many acquaintances, to talk
    so many words, and never tell my mind completely on any
    subject--to say so many things which do not seem called out,
    makes me feel strangely vague and movable.

    ''Tis true, the time is probably near when I must live alone,
    to all intents and purposes,--separate entirely my acting from
    my thinking world, take care of my ideas without aid,--except
    from the illustrious dead,--answer my own questions, correct
    my own feelings, and do all that hard work for myself. How
    tiresome 'tis to find out all one's self-delusion! I thought
    myself so very independent, because I could conceal some
    feelings at will, and did not need the same excitement as
    other young characters did. And I am not independent, nor
    never shall be, while I can get anybody to minister to me. But
    I shall go where there is never a spirit to come, if I call
    ever so loudly.

    'Perhaps I shall talk to you about Körner, but need not write.
    He charms me, and has become a fixed star in the heaven of
    my thought; but I understand all that he excites perfectly.
    I felt very '_new_ about Novalis,--"the good Novalis," as
    you call him after Mr. Carlyle. He is, indeed, _good_, most
    enlightened, yet most pure; every link of his experience
    framed--no, _beaten_--from the tried gold.

    'I have read, thoroughly, only two of his pieces, "Die
    Lehrlinge zu Sais," and "Heinrich von Ofterdingen." From the
    former I have only brought away piecemeal impressions, but the
    plan and treatment of the latter, I believe, I understand. It
    describes the development of poetry in a mind; and with this
    several other developments are connected. I think I shall tell
    you all I know about it, some quiet time after your return,
    but if not, will certainly keep a Novalis-journal for you some
    favorable season, when I live regularly for a fort night.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_June_, 1833.--I return Lessing. I could hardly get through
    Miss Sampson. E. Galeotti is good in the same way as
    Minna. Well-conceived and sustained characters, interesting
    situations, but never that profound knowledge of human nature,
    those minute beauties, and delicate vivifying traits, which
    lead on so in the writings of some authors, who may be
    nameless. I think him easily followed; strong, but not deep.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_May_, 1833.--_Groton_.--I think you are wrong in applying
    your artistical ideas to occasional poetry. An epic, a drama,
    must have a fixed form in the mind of the poet from the first;
    and copious draughts of ambrosia quaffed in the heaven of
    thought, soft fanning gales and bright light from the outward
    world, give muscle and bloom,--that is, give life,--to this
    skeleton. But all occasional poems must be moods, and can a
    mood have a form fixed and perfect, more than a wave of the

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Three or four afternoons I have passed very happily at my
    beloved haunt in the wood, reading Goethe's "Second Residence
    in Rome." Your pencil-marks show that you have been before me.
    I shut the book each time with an earnest desire to live as
    he did,--always to have some engrossing object of pursuit.
    I sympathize deeply with a mind in that state. While mine is
    being used up by ounces, I wish pailfuls might be poured into
    it. I am dejected and uneasy when I see no results from my
    daily existence, but I am suffocated and lost when I have not
    the bright feeling of progression.' * *

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I think I am less happy, in many respects, than you, but
    particularly in this. You can speak freely to me of all your
    circumstances and feelings, can you not? It is not possible
    for me to be so profoundly frank with any earthly friend. Thus
    my heart has no proper home; it only can prefer some of its
    visiting-places to others; and with deep regret I realize that
    I have, at length, entered on the concentrating stage of
    life. It was not time. I had been too sadly cramped. I had not
    learned enough, and must always remain imperfect. Enough! I am
    glad I have been able to say so much.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I have read nothing,--to signify,--except Goethe's "Campagne
    in Frankreich." Have you looked through it, and do you
    remember his intercourse with the Wertherian Plessing? That
    tale pained me exceedingly. We cry, "help, help," and there is
    no help--in man at least. How often I have thought, if I could
    see Goethe, and tell him my state of mind, he would support
    and guide me! He would be able to understand; he would show
    me how to rule circumstances, instead of being ruled by them;
    and, above all, he would not have been so sure that all would
    be for the best, without our making an effort to act out the
    oracles; he would have wished to see me what Nature intended.
    But his conduct to Plessing and Ohlenschlager shows that to
    him, also, an appeal would have been vain.'

    'Do you really believe there is anything "all-comprehending"
    but religion? Are not these distinctions imaginary? Must not
    the philosophy of every mind, or set of minds, be a system
    suited to guide them, and give a home where they can bring
    materials among which to accept, reject, and shape at
    pleasure? Novalis calls those, who harbor these ideas,
    "unbelievers;" but hard names make no difference. He says with
    disdain, "To _such_, philosophy is only a system which will
    spare them the trouble of reflecting." Now this is just
    my case. I _do_ want a system which shall suffice to my
    character, and in whose applications I shall have faith. I
    do not wish to _reflect_ always, if reflecting must be always
    about one's identity, whether "_ich_" am the true "_ich_" &c.
    I wish to arrive at that point where I can trust myself, and
    leave off saying, "It seems to me," and boldly feel, It _is_
    so TO ME. My character has got its natural regulator, my heart
    beats, my lips speak truth, I can walk alone, or offer my arm
    to a friend, or if I lean on another, it is not the debility
    of sickness, but only wayside weariness. This is the
    philosophy _I_ want; this much would satisfy _me_.

    'Then Novalis says, "Philosophy is the art of discovering the
    place of truth in every encountered event and circumstance, to
    attune all relations to truth."

    'Philosophy is peculiarly home-sickness; an over-mastering
    desire to be at home.

    'I think so; but what is there _all-comprehending_;
    eternally-conscious, about that?'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_Sept.,_ 1832.--"Not see the use of metaphysics?" A moderate
    portion, taken at stated intervals, I hold to be of much
    use as discipline of the faculties. I only object to them as
    having an absorbing and anti-productive tendency. But 'tis not
    always so; may not be so with you. Wait till you are two years
    older, before you decide that 'tis your vocation. Time
    enough at six-and-twenty to form yourself into a metaphysical
    philosopher. The brain does not easily get too dry for
    _that_. Happy you, in these ideas which give you a tendency to
    optimism. May you become a proselyte to that consoling faith.
    I shall never be able to follow you, but shall look after you
    with longing eyes.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_Groton._--Spring has come, and I shall see you soon. If
    I could pour into your mind all the ideas which have passed
    through mine, you would be well entertained, I think, for
    three or four days. But no hour will receive aught beyond its
    own appropriate wealth.

    'I am at present engaged in surveying the level on which the
    public mind is poised. I no longer lie in wait for the
    tragedy and comedy of life; the rules of its _prose_ engage my
    attention. I talk incessantly with common-place people, full
    of curiosity to ascertain the process by which materials,
    apparently so jarring and incapable of classification, get
    united into that strange whole, the American public. I have
    read all Jefferson's letters, the North American, the daily
    papers, &c., without end. H. seems to be weaving his Kantisms
    into the American system in a tolerably happy manner.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    * * 'George Thompson has a voice of uncommon compass and
    beauty; never sharp in its highest, or rough and husky in its
    lowest, tones. A perfect enunciation, every syllable round
    and energetic; though his manner was the one I love best,
    very rapid, and full of eager climaxes. Earnestness in every
    part,--sometimes impassioned earnestness,--a sort of "Dear
    friends, believe, _pray_ believe, I love you, and you MUST
    believe as I do" expression, even in the argumentative parts.
    I felt, as I have so often done before, if I were a man, the
    gift I would choose should be that of eloquence. That power of
    forcing the vital currents of thousands of human hearts into
    ONE current, by the constraining power of that most delicate
    instrument, the voice, is so intense,--yes, I would prefer it
    to a more extensive fame, a more permanent influence.'

    'Did I describe to you my feelings on hearing Mr. Everett's
    eulogy on Lafayette? No; I did not. That was exquisite.
    The old, hackneyed story; not a new anecdote, not a single
    reflection of any value; but the manner, the _manner_^ the
    delicate inflections of voice, the elegant and appropriate
    gesture, the sense of beauty produced by the whole, which
    thrilled us all to tears, flowing from a deeper and purer
    source than that which answers to pathos. This was fine; but
    I prefer the Thompson manner. Then there is Mr. Webster's,
    unlike either; simple grandeur, nobler, more impressive, less
    captivating. I have heard few fine speakers; I wish I could
    hear a thousand.

    Are you vexed by my keeping the six volumes of your Goethe?
    I read him very little either; I have so little time,--many
    things to do at home,--my three children, and three pupils
    besides, whom I instruct.

    'By the way, I have always thought all that was said about
    the anti-religious tendency of a classical education to be
    old wives' tales. But their puzzles about Virgil's notions
    of heaven and virtue, and his gracefully-described gods and
    goddesses, have led me to alter my opinions; and I suspect,
    from reminiscences of my own mental history, that if all
    governors do not think the same 't is from want of that
    intimate knowledge of their pupils' minds which I naturally
    possess. I really find it difficult to keep their _morale_
    steady, and am inclined to think many of my own sceptical
    sufferings are traceable to this source. I well remember what
    reflections arose in my childish mind from a comparison of the
    Hebrew history, where every moral obliquity is shown out with
    such naïveté, and the Greek history, full of sparkling deeds
    and brilliant sayings, and their gods and goddesses, the
    types of beauty and power, with the dazzling veil of flowery
    language and poetical imagery cast over their vices and

       *       *       *       *       *

    'My own favorite project, since I began seriously to entertain
    any of that sort, is six historical tragedies; of which I have
    the plans of three quite perfect. However, the attempts I
    have made on them have served to show me the vast difference
    between conception and execution. Yet I am, though abashed,
    not altogether discouraged. My next favorite plan is a series
    of tales illustrative of Hebrew history. The proper junctures
    have occurred to me during my late studies on the historical
    books of the Old Testament. This task, however, requires
    a thorough and imbuing knowledge of the Hebrew manners and
    spirit, with a chastened energy of imagination, which I am as
    yet far from possessing. But if I should be permitted peace
    and time to follow out my ideas, I have hopes. Perhaps it is
    a weakness to confide to you embryo designs, which never may
    glow into life, or mock me by their failure.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I have long had a suspicion that no mind can systematize its
    knowledge, and carry on the concentrating processes, without
    some fixed opinion on the subject of metaphysics. But that
    indisposition, or even dread of the study, which you may
    remember, has kept me from meddling with it, till lately, in
    meditating on the life of Goethe, I thought I must get some
    idea of the history of philosophical opinion in Germany, that
    I might be able to judge of the influence it exercised upon
    his mind. I think I can comprehend him every other way, and
    probably interpret him satisfactorily to others,--if I can get
    the proper materials. When I was in Cambridge, I got Fichte
    and Jacobi; I was much interrupted, but some time and earnest
    thought I devoted. Fichte I could not understand at all;
    though the treatise which I read was one intended to be
    popular, and which he says must compel (_bezwingen_) to
    conviction. Jacobi I could understand in details, but not in
    system. It seemed to me that his mind must have been moulded
    by some other mind, with which I ought to be acquainted, in
    order to know him well,--perhaps Spinoza's. Since I came home,
    I have been consulting Buhle's and Tennemann's histories of
    philosophy, and dipping into Brown, Stewart, and that class of

       *       *       *       *       *

    'After I had cast the burden of my cares upon you, I rested,
    and read Petrarch for a day or two. But that could not last.
    I had begun to "take an account of stock," as Coleridge calls
    it, and was forced to proceed. He says few persons ever did
    this faithfully, without being dissatisfied with the result,
    and lowering their estimate of their supposed riches. With
    me it has ended in the most humiliating sense of poverty; and
    only just enough pride is left to keep your poor friend off
    the parish. As it is, I have already asked items of several
    besides yourself; but, though they have all given what they
    had, it has by no means answered my purpose; and I have laid
    their gifts aside, with my other hoards, which gleamed so
    fairy bright, and are now, in the hour of trial, turned into
    mere slate-stones. I am not sure that even if I do find the
    philosopher's stone, I shall be able to transmute them into
    the gold they looked so like formerly. It will be long before
    I can give a distinct, and at the same time concise, account
    of my present state. I believe it is a great era. I am
    thinking now,--really thinking, I believe; certainly it seems
    as if I had never done so before. If it does not kill me,
    something will come of it. Never was my mind so active; and
    the subjects are God, the universe, immortality. But shall I
    be fit for anything till I have absolutely re-educated myself?
    Am I, can I make myself, fit to write an account of half a
    century of the existence of one of the master-spirits of this
    world? It seems as if I had been very arrogant to dare
    to think it; yet will I not shrink back from what I have
    undertaken,--even by failure I shall learn much.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I am shocked to perceive you think I am _writing_ the life of
    Goethe. No, indeed! I shall need a great deal of preparation
    before I shall have it clear in my head, I have taken a great
    many notes; but I shall not begin to write it, till it all
    lies mapped out before me. I have no materials for ten years
    of his life, from the time he went to Weimar, up to the
    Italian journey. Besides, I wish to see the books that have
    been written about him in Germany, by friend or foe. I wish to
    look at the matter from all sides. New lights are constantly
    dawning on me; and I think it possible I shall come out from
    the Carlyle view, and perhaps from yours, and distaste you,
    which will trouble me.

    * * 'How am I to get the information I want, unless I go to
    Europe? To whom shall I write to choose my materials? I have
    thought of Mr. Carlyle, but still more of Goethe's friend, Von
    Muller. I dare say he would be pleased at the idea of a life
    of G. written in this hemisphere, and be very willing to help
    me. If you have anything to tell me, you will, and not mince
    matters. Of course, my impressions of Goethe's works cannot be
    influenced by information I get about his _life_; but, as
    to this latter, I suspect I must have been hasty in my
    inferences. I apply to you without scruple. There are subjects
    on which men and women usually talk a great deal, but apart
    from one another. You, however, are well aware that I am very
    destitute of what is commonly _called_ modesty. With regard to
    this, how fine the remark of our present subject: "Courage
    and modesty are virtues which every sort of society reveres,
    because they are virtues which cannot be counterfeited; also,
    they are known by the _same hue_." When that blush does not
    come naturally to my face, I do not drop a veil to make people
    think it is there. All this may be very unlovely, but it is


    'This is a noble work. So refreshing its calm, benign
    atmosphere, after the pestilence-bringing gales of the day. It
    comes like a breath borne over some solemn sea which separates
    us from an island of righteousness. How valuable is it to have
    among us a man who, standing apart from the conflicts of the
    herd, watches the principles that are at work, with a truly
    paternal love for what is human, and may be permanent; ready
    at the proper point to give his casting-vote to the cause of
    Right! The author has amplified on the grounds of his faith,
    to a degree that might seem superfluous, if the question had
    not become so utterly bemazed and bedarkened of late. After
    all, it is probable that, in addressing the public at large,
    it is _not_ best to express a thought in as few words as
    possible; there is much classic authority for diffuseness.'


    _Groton_.--'Ritcher says, the childish heart vies in the
    height of its surges with the manly, only is not furnished
    with _lead_ for sounding them.

    'How thoroughly am I converted to the love of Jean Paul, and
    wonder at the indolence or shallowness which could resist
    so long, and call his profuse riches want of system! What a
    mistake! System, plan, there is, but on so broad a basis that
    I did not at first comprehend it. In every page I am forced to
    pencil. I will make me a book, or, as he would say, bind me a
    bouquet from his pages, and wear it on my heart of hearts, and
    be ever refreshing my wearied inward sense with its exquisite
    fragrance. I must have improved, to love him as I do.'



  "O friend, how flat and tasteless such a life!
  Impulse gives birth to impulse, deed to deed,
  Still toilsomely ascending step by step,
  Into an unknown realm of dark blue clouds.
  What crowns the ascent? Speak, or I go no further.
  I need a goal, an aim. I cannot toil,
  _Because the steps are here_ in their ascent
  Tell me THE END, or I sit still and weep."


  _Translated by Margaret._

  "And so he went onward, ever onward, for twenty-seven
  years--then, indeed, he had gone far enough."

  GOETHE'S _words concerning Schiller_

       *       *       *       *       *

I would say something of Margaret's inward condition, of her aims and
views in life, while in Cambridge, before closing this chapter of
her story. Her powers, whether of mind, heart, or will, have been
sufficiently indicated in what has preceded. In the sketch of her
friendships and of her studies, we have seen the affluence of her
intellect, and the deep tenderness of her woman's nature. We have seen
the energy which she displayed in study and labor.

But to what _aim_ were these powers directed? Had she any clear view
of the demands and opportunities of life, any definite plan, any high,
pure purpose? This is, after all, the test question, which detects the
low-born and low-minded wearer of the robe of gold,--

  "Touch them inwardly, they smell of copper."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



       *       *       *       *       *

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


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


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


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




       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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


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

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

Again, later:--

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

And again:--

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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


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

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

[Footnote A: Her eldest brother.]


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She found higher satisfaction still in his preaching:--

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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


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

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

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

    'The other comprises those who were previously aware of these
    high qualities,--and who, seeing in a book to which they
    had looked for a lasting monument to your fame, a degree
    of presumptuousness, irreverence, inaccuracy, hasty
    generalization, and ultraism on many points, which they did
    not expect, lament the haste in which you have written, and
    the injustice which you have consequently done to so important
    a task, and to your own powers of being and doing. To this
    class I belong.

    'I got the book as soon as it came out,--long before I
    received the copy endeared by your handwriting,--and
    devoted myself to reading it. I gave myself up to my natural
    impressions, without seeking to ascertain those of others.
    Frequently I felt pleasure and admiration, but more frequently
    disappointment, sometimes positive distaste.

    'There are many topics treated of in this book of which I am
    not a judge; but I do pretend, even where I cannot criticize
    in detail, to have an opinion as to the general tone of
    thought. When Herschel writes his Introduction to Natural
    Philosophy, I cannot test all he says, but I cannot err about
    his fairness, his manliness, and wide range of knowledge. When
    Jouffroy writes his lectures, I am not conversant with all his
    topics of thought, but I can appreciate his lucid style and
    admirable method. When Webster speaks on the currency, I do
    not understand the subject, but I do understand his mode of
    treating it, and can see what a blaze of light streams from
    his torch. When Harriet Martineau writes about America, I
    often cannot test that rashness and inaccuracy of which I hear
    so much, but I can feel that they exist. A want of soundness,
    of habits of patient investigation, of completeness, of
    arrangement, are felt throughout the book; and, for all
    its fine descriptions of scenery, breadth of reasoning, and
    generous daring, I cannot be happy in it, because it is not
    worthy of my friend, and I think a few months given to ripen
    it, to balance, compare, and mellow, would have made it so. * *

    'Certainly you show no spirit of harshness towards this
    country in general. I think your tone most kindly. But many
    passages are deformed by intemperance of epithet. * * Would
    your heart, could you but investigate the matter, approve such
    overstatement, such a crude, intemperate tirade as you have
    been guilty of about Mr. Alcott,--a true and noble man,
    a philanthropist, whom a true and noble woman, also a
    philanthropist, should have delighted to honor; whose
    disinterested and resolute efforts, for the redemption of poor
    humanity, all independent and faithful minds should sustain,
    since the "broadcloth" vulgar will be sure to assail them; a
    philosopher, worthy of the palmy times of ancient Greece;
    a man whom Carlyle and Berkely, whom you so uphold, would
    delight to honor; a man whom the worldlings of Boston hold
    in as much horror as the worldlings of ancient Athens did
    Socrates. They smile to hear their verdict confirmed from
    the other side of the Atlantic, by their censor, Harriet

    'I do not like that your book should be an abolition book. You
    might have borne your testimony as decidedly as you pleased;
    but why leaven the whole book with it? This subject haunts us
    on almost every page. It _is_ a great subject, but your book
    had other purposes to fulfil.

    'I have thought it right to say all this to you, since I felt
    it. I have shrunk from the effort, for I fear that I must
    lose you. Not that I think all authors are like Gil Bias'
    archbishop. No; if your heart turns from me, I shall still
    love you, still think you noble. I know it must be so trying
    to fail of sympathy, at such a time, where we expect it. And,
    besides, I felt from the book that the sympathy between us is
    less general than I had supposed, it was so strong on several
    points. It is strong enough for me to love you ever, and I
    could no more have been happy in your friendship, if I had not
    spoken out now.'


    'You question me as to the nature of the benefits conferred
    upon me by Mr. E.'s preaching. I answer, that his influence
    has been more beneficial to me than that of any American, and
    that from him I first learned what is meant by an inward life.
    Many other springs have since fed the stream of living waters,
    but he first opened the fountain. That the "mind is its own
    place," was a dead phrase to me, till he cast light upon
    my mind. Several of his sermons stand apart in memory, like
    landmarks of my spiritual history. It would take a volume to
    tell what this one influence did for me. But perhaps I shall
    some time see that it was best for me to be forced to help

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Some remarks which I made last night trouble me, and I cannot
    fix my attention upon other things till I have qualified them.
    I suffered myself to speak in too unmeasured terms, and my
    expressions were fitted to bring into discredit the religious
    instruction which has been given me, or which I have sought.

    'I do not think "all men are born for the purpose of unfolding
    beautiful ideas;" for the vocation of many is evidently the
    culture of affections by deeds of kindness. But I do think
    that the vocations of men and women differ, and that those who
    are forced to act out of their sphere are shorn of inward and
    outward brightness.

    'For myself, I wish to say, that, if I am in a mood of
    darkness and despondency, I nevertheless consider such a mood
    unworthy of a Christian, or indeed of any one who believes in
    the immortality of the soul. No one, who had steady faith
    in this and in the goodness of God, could be otherwise than
    cheerful. I reverence the serenity of a truly religious mind
    so much, that I think, if I live, I may some time attain to

    'Although I do not believe in a Special Providence regulating
    outward events, and could not reconcile such a belief with
    what I have seen of life, I do not the less believe in the
    paternal government of a Deity. That He should visit the souls
    of those who seek Him seems to me the nobler way to conceive
    of his influence. And if there were not some error in my way
    of seeking, I do not believe I should suffer from languor or
    deadness on spiritual subjects, at the time when I have most
    need to feel myself at home there. To find this error is my
    earnest wish; and perhaps I am now travelling to that end,
    though by a thorny road. It is a mortification to find so
    much yet to do; for at one time the scheme of things seemed
    so clear, that, with Cromwell, I might say, "I was once in
    grace." With my mind I prize high objects as much as then:
    it is my heart which is cold. And sometimes I fear that the
    necessity of urging them on those under my care dulls my sense
    of their beauty. It is so hard to prevent one's feelings from
    evaporating in words.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '"The faint sickness of a wounded heart." How frequently
    do these words of Beckford recur to my mind! His prayer,
    imperfect as it is, says more to me than many a purer
    aspiration. It breathes such an experience of impassioned
    anguish. He had everything,--health, personal advantages,
    almost boundless wealth, genius, exquisite taste, culture; he
    could, in some way, express his whole being. Yet well-nigh he
    sank beneath the sickness of the wounded heart; and solitude,
    "country of the unhappy," was all he craved at last.

    'Goethe, too, says he has known, in all his active, wise, and
    honored life, no four weeks of happiness. This teaches me on
    the other side; for, like Goethe, I have never given way to
    my feelings, but have lived active, thoughtful, seeking to
    be wise. Yet I have long days and weeks of heartache; and
    at those times, though I am busy every moment, and cultivate
    every pleasant feeling, and look always upwards to the pure
    ideal region, yet this ache is like a bodily wound, whose
    pain haunts even when it is not attended to, and disturbs the
    dreams of the patient who has fallen asleep from exhaustion.

    'There is a German in Boston, who has a wound in his breast,
    received in battle long ago. It never troubles him, except
    when he sings, and then, if he gives out his voice with much
    expression, it opens, and cannot, for a long time, be stanched
    again. So with me: when I rise into one of those rapturous
    moods of thought, such as I had a day or two since, my wound
    opens again, and all I can do is to be patient, and let it
    take its own time to skin over. I see it will never do more.
    Some time ago I thought the barb was fairly out; but no, the
    fragments rankle there still, and will, while there is any
    earth attached to my spirit. Is it not because, in my pride, I
    held the mantle close, and let the weapon, which some friendly
    physician might have extracted, splinter in the wound?'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_Sunday, July_, 1838.--I partook, for the first time, of the
    Lord's Supper. I had often wished to do so, but had not been
    able to find a clergyman,--from whom I could be willing to
    receive it,--willing to admit me on my own terms. Mr. H----
    did so; and I shall ever respect and value him, if only for
    the liberality he displayed on this occasion. It was the
    Sunday after the death of his wife, a lady whom I truly
    honored, and should, probably, had we known one another
    longer, have also loved. She was the soul of truth and honor;
    her mind was strong, her reverence for the noble and beautiful
    fervent, her energy in promoting the best interests of those
    who came under her influence unusual. She was as full of wit
    and playfulness as of goodness. Her union with her husband
    was really one of mind and heart, of mutual respect and
    tenderness; likeness in unlikeness made it strong. I wished
    particularly to share in this rite on an occasion so suited to
    bring out its due significance.'


  'The Sun, the Moon, the Waters, and the Air,
  The hopeful, holy, terrible, and fair,
    All that is ever speaking, never spoken,
    Spells that are ever breaking, never broken,
  Have played upon my soul; and every string
  Confessed the touch, which once could make it ring
    Celestial notes. And still, though changed the tone,
    Though damp and jarring fall the lyre hath known
  It would, if fitly played, its deep notes wove
  Into one tissue of belief and love,
    Yield melodies for angel audience meet,
    And pæans fit Creative Power to greet.
  O injured lyre! thy golden frame is marred,
  No garlands deck thee, no libations poured
    Tell to the earth the triumphs of thy song;
    No princely halls echo thy strains along.
  But still the strings are there; and, if they break,
  Even in death rare melody will make,
    Might'st thou once more be tuned, and power be given
    To tell in numbers all thou canst of heaven!'




Je n'ai point rencontré, dans ma vie, de femme plus noble; ayant
autant de sympathie pour ses semblables, et dont l'esprit fut plus
vivifiant. Je me suis tout de suite sentie attirée par elle. Quand je
fis sa connoissance, j'ignorais que ce fut une femme remarquable.



       *       *       *       *       *

I became acquainted with Margaret in 1835. Perhaps it was a year
earlier that Henry Hedge, who had long been her friend, told me of
her genius and studies, and loaned me her manuscript translation of
Goethe's Tasso. I was afterwards still more interested in her, by the
warm praises of Harriet Martineau, who had become acquainted with her
at Cambridge, and who, finding Margaret's fancy for seeing me, took a
generous interest in bringing us together. I remember, during a week
in the winter of 1835-6, in which Miss Martineau was my guest, she
returned again and again to the topic of Margaret's excelling genius
and conversation, and enjoined it on me to seek her acquaintance:
which I willingly promised. I am not sure that it was not in Miss
Martineau's company, a little earlier, that I first saw her. And I
find a memorandum, in her own journal, of a visit, made by my brother
Charles and myself, to Miss Martineau, at Mrs. Farrar's. It was not,
however, till the next July, after a little diplomatizing in billets
by the ladies, that her first visit to our house was arranged, and
she came to spend a fortnight with my wife. I still remember the first
half-hour of Margaret's conversation. She was then twenty-six years
old. She had a face and frame that would indicate fulness and tenacity
of life. She was rather under the middle height; her complexion was
fair, with strong fair hair. She was then, as always, carefully and
becomingly dressed, and of ladylike self-possession. For the rest, her
appearance had nothing prepossessing. Her extreme plainness,--a trick
of incessantly opening and shutting her eyelids,--the nasal tone of
her voice,--all repelled; and I said to myself, we shall never
get far. It is to be said, that Margaret made a disagreeable first
impression on most persons, including those who became afterwards her
best friends, to such an extreme that they did not wish to be in the
same room with her. This was partly the effect of her manners, which
expressed an overweening sense of power, and slight esteem of others,
and partly the prejudice of her fame. She had a dangerous reputation
for satire, in addition to her great scholarship. The men thought she
carried too many guns, and the women did not like one who despised
them. I believe I fancied her too much interested in personal history;
and her talk was a comedy in which dramatic justice was done to
everybody's foibles. I remember that she made me laugh more than I
liked; for I was, at that time, an eager scholar of ethics, and had
tasted the sweets of solitude and stoicism, and I found something
profane in the hours of amusing gossip into which she drew me, and,
when I returned to my library, had much to think of the crackling of
thorns under a pot. Margaret, who had stuffed me out as a philosopher,
in her own fancy, was too intent on establishing a good footing
between us, to omit any art of winning. She studied my tastes, piqued
and amused me, challenged frankness by frankness, and did not conceal
the good opinion of me she brought with her, nor her wish to please.
She was curious to know my opinions and experiences. Of course, it was
impossible long to hold out against such urgent assault. She had
an incredible variety of anecdotes, and the readiest wit to give an
absurd turn to whatever passed; and the eyes, which were so plain at
first, soon swam with fun and drolleries, and the very tides of joy
and superabundant life.

This rumor was much spread abroad, that she was sneering,
scoffing, critical, disdainful of humble people, and of all but
the intellectual. I had heard it whenever she was named. It was a
superficial judgment. Her satire was only the pastime and necessity of
her talent, the play of superabundant animal spirits. And it will be
seen, in the sequel, that her mind presently disclosed many moods and
powers, in successive platforms or terraces, each above each, that
quite effaced this first impression, in the opulence of the following

Let us hear what she has herself to say on the subject of
tea-table-talk, in a letter to a young lady, to whom she was already
much attached:--

    I am repelled by your account of your party. It is beneath you
    to amuse yourself with active satire, with what is vulgarly
    called quizzing. When such a person as ---- chooses to throw
    himself in your way, I sympathize with your keen perception of
    his ridiculous points. But to laugh a whole evening at vulgar
    nondescripts,--is that an employment for one who was born
    passionately to love, to admire, to sustain truth? This would
    be much more excusable in a chameleon like me. Yet, whatever
    may be the vulgar view of my character, I can truly say, I
    know not the hour in which I ever looked for the ridiculous.
    It has always been forced upon me, and is the accident of my
    existence. I would not want the sense of it when it comes, for
    that would show an obtuseness of mental organization; but, on
    peril of my soul, I would not move an eyelash to look for it.'

When she came to Concord, she was already rich in friends, rich in
experiences, rich in culture. She was well read in French, Italian,
and German literature. She had learned Latin and a little Greek. But
her English reading was incomplete; and, while she knew Molière, and
Rousseau, and any quantity of French letters, memoirs, and novels, and
was a dear student of Dante and Petrarca, and knew German books more
cordially than any other person, she was little read in Shakspeare;
and I believe I had the pleasure of making her acquainted with
Chaucer, with Ben Jonson, with Herbert, Chapman, Ford, Beaumont and
Fletcher, with Bacon, and Sir Thomas Browne. I was seven years her
senior, and had the habit of idle reading in old English books, and,
though riot much versed, yet quite enough to give me the right to
lead her. She fancied that her sympathy and taste had led her to an
exclusive culture of southern European books.

She had large experiences. She had been a precocious scholar at Dr.
Park's school; good in mathematics and in languages. Her father, whom
she had recently lost had been proud of her, and petted her. She had
drawn at Cambridge, numbers of lively young men about her. She had had
a circle of young women who were devoted to her, and who described her
as "a wonder of intellect, who had yet no religion." She had drawn
to her every superior young man or young woman she had met, and whole
romances of life and love had been confided, counselled, thought, and
lived through, in her cognizance and sympathy.

These histories are rapid, so that she had already beheld many
times the youth, meridian, and old age of passion. She had, besides,
selected, from so many, a few eminent companions, and already felt
that she was not likely to see anything more beautiful than her
beauties, anything more powerful and generous than her youths. She had
found out her own secret by early comparison, and knew what power to
draw confidence, what necessity to lead in every circle, belonged of
right to her. Her powers were maturing, and nobler sentiments were
subliming the first heats and rude experiments. She had outward
calmness and dignity. She had come to the ambition to be filled with
all nobleness.

Of the friends who surrounded her, at that period, it is neither easy
to speak, nor not to speak. A life of Margaret is impossible without
them, she mixed herself so inextricably with her company; and when
this little book was first projected, it was proposed to entitle it
"Margaret and her Friends," the subject persisting to offer itself in
the plural number. But, on trial, that form proved impossible, and it
only remained that the narrative, like a Greek tragedy, should suppose
the chorus always on the stage, sympathizing and sympathized with by
the queen of the scene.

Yet I remember these persons as a fair, commanding troop, every one
of them adorned by some splendor of beauty, of grace, of talent, or
of character, and comprising in their band persons who have since
disclosed sterling worth and elevated aims in the conduct of life.

Three beautiful women,--either of whom would have been the fairest
ornament of Papanti's Assemblies, but for the presence of the
other,--were her friends. One of these early became, and long
remained, nearly the central figure in Margaret's brilliant circle,
attracting to herself, by her grace and her singular natural
eloquence, every feeling of affection, hope, and pride.

Two others I recall, whose rich and cultivated voices in song
were,--one a little earlier, the other a little later,--the joy of
every house into which they came; and, indeed, Margaret's taste for
music was amply gratified in the taste and science which several
persons among her intimate friends possessed. She was successively
intimate with two sisters, whose taste for music had been opened, by a
fine and severe culture, to the knowledge and to the expression of all
the wealth of the German masters.

I remember another, whom every muse inspired, skilful alike with the
pencil and the pen, and by whom both were almost contemned for their
inadequateness, in the height and scope of her aims.

    'With her,' said Margaret, 'I can talk of anything. She is
    like me. She is able to look facts in the face. We enjoy the
    clearest, widest, most direct communication. She may be no
    happier than ----, but she will know her own mind too clearly
    to make any great mistake in conduct, and will learn a deep
    meaning from her days.'

    'It is not in the way of tenderness that I love ----. I prize
    her always; and this is all the love some natures ever know.
    And I also feel that I may always expect she will be with me.
    I delight to picture to myself certain persons translated,
    illuminated. There are a few in whom I see occasionally the
    future being piercing, promising,--whom I can strip of all
    that masks their temporary relations, and elevate to their
    natural position. Sometimes I have not known these persons
    intimately,--oftener I have; for it is only in the deepest
    hours that this light is likely to break out. But some of
    those I have best befriended I cannot thus portray, and very
    few men I can. It does not depend at all on the beauty of
    their forms, at present; it is in the eye and the smile, that
    the hope shines through. I can see exactly how ---- will look:
    not like this angel in the paper; she will not bring flowers,
    but a living coal, to the lips of the singer; her eyes will
    not burn as now with smothered fires, they will be ever
    deeper, and glow more intensely; her cheek will be smooth, but
    marble pale; her gestures nobly free, but few.'

Another was a lady who was devoted to landscape-painting, and who
enjoyed the distinction of being the only pupil of Allston, and who,
in her alliance with Margaret, gave as much honor as she received, by
the security of her spirit, and by the heroism of her devotion to her
friend. Her friends called her "the perpetual peace-offering," and
Margaret says of her,--'She is here, and her neighborhood casts the
mildness and purity too of the moonbeam on the else parti-colored

There was another lady, more late and reluctantly entering Margaret's
circle, with a mind as high, and more mathematically exact, drawn by
taste to Greek, as Margaret to Italian genius, tempted to do homage
to Margaret's flowing expressive energy, but still more inclined and
secured to her side by the good sense and the heroism which Margaret
disclosed, perhaps not a little by the sufferings which she addressed
herself to alleviate, as long as Margaret lived. Margaret had a
courage in her address which it was not easy to resist. She called
all her friends by their Christian names. In their early intercourse
I suppose this lady's billets were more punctiliously worded
than Margaret liked; so she subscribed herself, in reply, 'Your
affectionate "Miss Fuller."' When the difficulties were at length
surmounted, and the conditions ascertained on which two admirable
persons could live together, the best understanding grew up, and
subsisted during her life. In her journal is a note:--

    'Passed the morning in Sleepy Hollow, with ----. What fine,
    just distinctions she made! Worlds grew clearer as we
    talked. I grieve to see her fine frame subject to such rude
    discipline. But she truly said, "I am not a failed experiment;
    for, in the bad hours, I do not forget what I thought in the

None interested her more at that time, and for many years after, than
a youth with whom she had been acquainted in Cambridge before he left
the University, and the unfolding of whose powers she had watched with
the warmest sympathy. He was an amateur, and, but for the exactions
not to be resisted of an _American_, that is to say, of a commercial,
career,--his acceptance of which she never ceased to regard as an
apostasy,--himself a high artist. He was her companion, and, though
much younger, her guide in the study of art. With him she examined,
leaf by leaf, the designs of Raphael, of Michel Angelo, of Da Vinci,
of Guercino, the architecture of the Greeks, the books of Palladio,
the Ruins, and Prisons of Piranesi; and long kept up a profuse
correspondence on books and studies in which they had a mutual
interest. And yet, as happened so often, these literary sympathies,
though sincere, were only veils and occasions to beguile the time, so
profound was her interest in the character and fortunes of her friend.

There was another youth, whom she found later, of invalid habit, which
had infected in some degree the tone of his mind, but of a delicate
and pervasive insight, and the highest appreciation for genius in
letters, arts, and life. Margaret describes 'his complexion as clear
in its pallor, and his eye steady.' His turn of mind, and his habits
of life, had almost a monastic turn,--a jealousy of the common
tendencies of literary men either to display or to philosophy.
Margaret was struck with the singular fineness of his perceptions,
and the pious tendency of his thoughts, and enjoyed with him his proud
reception, not as from above, but almost on equal ground, of Homer and
Æschylus, of Dante and Petrarch, of Montaigne, of Calderon, of Goethe.
Margaret wished, also, to defend his privacy from the dangerous
solicitations to premature authorship:--

    'His mind should be approached close by one who needs its
    fragrance. All with him leads rather to glimpses and insights,
    than to broad, comprehensive views. Till he needs the public,
    the public does not need him. The lonely lamp, the niche, the
    dark cathedral grove, befit him best. Let him shroud himself
    in the symbols of his native ritual, till he can issue forth
    on the wings of song.'

She was at this time, too, much drawn also to a man of poetic
sensibility, and of much reading,--which he took the greatest pains to
conceal,--studious of the art of poetry, but still more a poet in his
conversation than in his poems,--who attracted Margaret by the flowing
humor with which he filled the present hour, and the prodigality with
which he forgot all the past.

    'Unequal and uncertain,' she says, 'but in his good moods,
    of the best for a companion, absolutely abandoned to the
    revelations of the moment, without distrust or check of any
    kind, unlimited and delicate, abundant in thought, and free of
    motion, he enriches life, and fills the hour.'

    'I wish I could retain ----'s talk last night. It was
    wonderful; it was about all the past experiences frozen down
    in the soul, and the impossibility of being penetrated by
    anything. "Had I met you," said he, "when I was young!--but
    now nothing can penetrate." Absurd as was what he said, on
    one side, it was the finest poetic-inspiration on the other,
    painting the cruel process of life, except where genius
    continually burns over the stubble fields.

    "Life," he said, "is continually eating us up." He said, "Mr.
    E. is quite wrong about books. He wants them all good; now I
    want many bad. Literature is not merely a collection of gems,
    but a great system of interpretation." He railed at me as
    artificial. "It don't strike me when you are alone with me,"
    he says; "but it does when others are present. You don't
    follow out the fancy of the moment; you converse; you have
    treasured thoughts to tell; you are disciplined,--artificial."
    I pleaded guilty, and observed that I supposed that it must
    be so with one of any continuity of thought, or earnestness
    of character. "As to that," says he, "I shall not like you the
    better for your excellence. I don't know what is the matter.
    I feel strongly attracted towards you; but there is a drawback
    in my mind,--I don't know exactly what. You will always be
    wanting to grow forward; now I like to grow backward, too. You
    are too ideal. Ideal people anticipate their lives; and they
    make themselves and everybody around them restless, by always
    being beforehand with themselves."

    'I listened attentively; for what he said was excellent.
    Following up the humor of the moment, he arrests admirable
    thoughts on the wing. But I cannot but see, that what they say
    of my or other obscure lives is true of every prophetic, of
    every tragic character. And then I like to have them make me
    look on that side, and reverence the lovely forms of nature,
    and the shifting moods, and the clinging instincts. But I must
    not let them disturb me. There is an only guide, the voice in
    the heart, that asks, "Was thy wish sincere? If so, thou canst
    not stray from nature, nor be so perverted but she will make
    thee true again." I must take my own path, and learn from
    them all, without being paralyzed for the day. We need great
    energy, faith, and self-reliance to endure to-day. My age
    may not be the best, my position may be bad, my character
    ill-formed; but Thou, oh Spirit! hast no regard to aught but
    the seeking heart; and, if I try to walk upright, wilt guide
    me. What despair must he feel, who, after a whole life passed
    in trying to build up himself, resolves that it would have
    been far better if he had kept still as the clod of the
    valley, or yielded easily as the leaf to every breeze! A path
    has been appointed me. I have walked in it as steadily as I
    could. I am what I am; that which I am not, teach me in the
    others. I will bear the pain of imperfection, but not of
    doubt. E. must not shake me in my worldliness, nor ---- in the
    fine motion that has given me what I have of life, nor this
    child of genius make me lay aside the armor, without which I
    had lain bleeding on the field long since; but, if they can
    keep closer to nature, and learn to interpret her as souls,
    also, let me learn from them what I have not.'

And, in connection with this conversation, she has copied the
following lines which this gentleman addressed to her:--


  I mark beneath thy life the virtue shine
  That deep within the star's eye opes its day;
  I clutch the gorgeous thoughts thou throw'st away
  From the profound unfathomable mine,
  And with them this mean common hour do twine,
  As glassy waters on the dry beach play.
  And I were rich as night, them to combine
  With, my poor store, and warm me with thy ray.
  From the fixed answer of those dateless eyes
  I meet bold hints of spirit's mystery
  As to what's past, and hungry prophecies
  Of deeds to-day, and things which are to be;
  Of lofty life that with the eagle flies,
  And humble love that clasps humanity."

I have thus vaguely designated, among the numerous group of her
friends, only those who were much in her company, in the early years
of my acquaintance with her.

She wore this circle of friends, when I first knew her, as a necklace
of diamonds about her neck. They were so much to each other, that
Margaret seemed to represent them all, and, to know her, was to
acquire a place with them. The confidences given her were their best,
and she held them to them. She was an active, inspiring companion and
correspondent, and all the art, the thought, and the nobleness in New
England, seemed, at that moment, related to her, and she to it. She
was everywhere a welcome guest. The houses of her friends in town
and country were open to her, and every hospitable attention eagerly
offered. Her arrival was a holiday, and so was her abode. She stayed a
few days, often a week, more seldom a month, and all tasks that could
be suspended were put aside to catch the favorable hour, in walking,
riding, or boating, to talk with this joyful guest, who brought wit,
anecdotes, love-stories, tragedies, oracles with her, and, with her
broad web of relations to so many fine friends, seemed like the queen
of some parliament of love, who carried the key to all confidences,
and to whom every question had been finally referred.

Persons were her game, specially, if marked by fortune, or character,
or success;--to such was she sent. She addressed them with a
hardihood,--almost a haughty assurance,--queen-like. Indeed, they fell
in her way, where the access might have seemed difficult, by
wonderful casualties; and the inveterate recluse, the coyest maid, the
waywardest poet, made no resistance, but yielded at discretion, as if
they had been waiting for her, all doors to this imperious dame.
She disarmed the suspicion of recluse scholars by the absence of
bookishness. The ease with which she entered into conversation made
them forget all they had heard of her; and she was infinitely less
interested in literature than in life. They saw she valued earnest
persons, and Dante, Petrarch, and Goethe, because they thought as she
did, and gratified her with high portraits, which she was everywhere
seeking. She drew her companions to surprising confessions. She was
the wedding-guest, to whom the long-pent story must be told; and
they were not less struck, on reflection, at the suddenness of the
friendship which had established, in one day, new and permanent
covenants. She extorted the secret of life, which cannot be told
without setting heart and mind in a glow; and thus had the best of
those she saw. Whatever romance, whatever virtue, whatever impressive
experience,--this came to her; and she lived in a superior circle; for
they suppressed all their common-place in her presence.

She was perfectly true to this confidence. She never confounded
relations, but kept a hundred fine threads in her hand, without
crossing or entangling any. An entire intimacy, which seemed to make
both sharers of the whole horizon of each others' and of all truth,
did not yet make her false to any other friend; gave no title to the
history that an equal trust of another friend had put in her keeping.
In this reticence was no prudery and no effort. For, so rich her
mind, that she never was tempted to treachery, by the desire of
entertaining. The day was never long enough to exhaust her opulent
memory; and I, who knew her intimately for ten years,--from July,
1836, till August, 1846, when she sailed for Europe,--never saw her
without surprise at her new powers.

Of the conversations above alluded to, the substance was whatever was
suggested by her passionate wish for equal companions, to the end
of making life altogether noble. With the firmest tact she led
the discourse into the midst of their daily living and working,
recognizing the good-will and sincerity which each man has in his
aims, and treating so playfully and intellectually all the points,
that one seemed to see his life _en beau_, and was flattered by
beholding what he had found so tedious in its workday weeds, shining
in glorious costume. Each of his friends passed before him in the
new light; hope seemed to spring under his feet, and life was worth
living. The auditor jumped for joy, and thirsted for unlimited
draughts. What! is this the dame, who, I heard, was sneering and
critical? this the blue-stocking, of whom I stood in terror and
dislike? this wondrous woman, full of counsel, full of tenderness,
before whom every mean thing is ashamed, and hides itself; this new
Corinne, more variously gifted, wise, sportive, eloquent, who seems to
have learned all languages, Heaven knows when or how,--I should think
she was born to them,--magnificent, prophetic, reading my life at her
will, and puzzling me with riddles like this, 'Yours is an example of
a destiny springing from character:' and, again, 'I see your destiny
hovering before you, but it always escapes from you.'

The test of this eloquence was its range. It told on children, and on
old people; on men of the world, and on sainted maids. She could hold
them all by her honeyed tongue. A lady of the best eminence, whom
Margaret occasionally visited, in one of our cities of spindles,
speaking one day of her neighbors, said, "I stand in a certain awe of
the moneyed men, the manufacturers, and so on, knowing that they will
have small interest in Plato, or in Biot; but I saw them approach
Margaret, with perfect security, for she could give them bread that
they could eat." Some persons are thrown off their balance when in
society; others are thrown on to balance; the excitement of company,
and the observation of other characters, correct their biases.
Margaret always appeared to unexpected advantage in conversation
with a large circle. She had more sanity than any other; whilst, in
private, her vision was often through colored lenses.

Her talents were so various, and her conversation so rich and
entertaining, that one might talk with her many times, by the parlor
fire, before he discovered the strength which served as foundation to
so much accomplishment and eloquence. But, concealed under flowers and
music, was the broadest good sense, very well able to dispose of all
this pile of native and foreign ornaments, and quite able to work
without them. She could always rally on this, in every circumstance,
and in every company, and find herself on a firm footing of equality
with any party whatever, and make herself useful, and, if need be,

The old Anaximenes, seeking, I suppose, for a source sufficiently
diffusive, said, that Mind must be _in the air_, which, when all men
breathed, they were filled with one intelligence. And when men have
larger measures of reason, as Æsop, Cervantes, Franklin, Scott, they
gain in universality, or are no longer confined to a few associates,
but are good company for all persons,--philosophers, women, men of
fashion, tradesmen, and servants. Indeed, an older philosopher
than Anaximenes, namely, language itself, had taught to distinguish
superior or purer sense as _common_ sense.

Margaret had, with certain limitations, or, must we say, _strictures_,
these larger lungs, inhaling this universal element, and could speak
to Jew and Greek, free and bond, to each in his own tongue. The
Concord stage-coachman distinguished her by his respect, and the
chambermaid was pretty sure to confide to her, on the second day, her
homely romance.

I regret that it is not in my power to give any true report of
Margaret's conversation. She soon became an established friend and
frequent inmate of our house, and continued, thenceforward, for years,
to come, once in three or four months, to spend a week or a fortnight
with us. She adopted all the people and all the interests she found
here. Your people shall be my people, and yonder darling boy I shall
cherish as my own. Her ready sympathies endeared her to my wife and my
mother, each of whom highly esteemed her good sense and sincerity.
She suited each, and all. Yet, she was not a person to be suspected of
complaisance, and her attachments, one might say, were chemical.

She had so many tasks of her own, that she was a very easy guest to
entertain, as she could be left to herself, day after day, without
apology. According to our usual habit, we seldom met in the forenoon.
After dinner, we read something together, or walked, or rode. In the
evening, she came to the library, and many and many a conversation was
there held, whose details, if they could be preserved, would justify
all encomiums. They interested me in every manner;--talent, memory,
wit, stern introspection, poetic play, religion, the finest personal
feeling, the aspects of the future, each followed each in full
activity, and left me, I remember, enriched and sometimes astonished
by the gifts of my guest. Her topics were numerous, but the cardinal
points of poetry, love, and religion, were never far off. She was a
student of art, and, though untravelled, knew, much better than most
persons who had been abroad, the conventional reputation of each of
the masters. She was familiar with all the field of elegant criticism
in literature. Among the problems of the day, these two attracted
her chiefly, Mythology and Demonology; then, also, French Socialism,
especially as it concerned woman; the whole prolific family of
reforms, and, of course, the genius and career of each remarkable

She had other friends, in this town, beside those in my house. A lady,
already alluded to, lived in the village, who had known her longer
than I, and whose prejudices Margaret had resolutely fought down,
until she converted her into the firmest and most efficient of
friends. In 1842, Nathaniel Hawthorne, already then known to the world
by his Twice-Told Tales, came to live in Concord, in the "Old Manse,"
with his wife, who was herself an artist. With these welcomed persons
Margaret formed a strict and happy acquaintance. She liked their
old house, and the taste which had filled it with new articles of
beautiful form, yet harmonized with the antique furniture left by the
former proprietors. She liked, too, the pleasing walks, and rides, and
boatings, which that neighborhood commanded.

In 1842, William Ellery Channing, whose wife was her sister, built
a house in Concord, and this circumstance made a new tie and another
home for Margaret.


It was soon evident that there was somewhat a little pagan about her;
that she had some faith more or less distinct in a fate, and in a
guardian genius; that her fancy, or her pride, had played with
her religion. She had a taste for gems, ciphers, talismans, omens,
coincidences, and birth-days. She had a special love for the planet
Jupiter, and a belief that the month of September was inauspicious
to her. She never forgot that her name, Margarita, signified a pearl.
'When I first met with the name Leila,' she said, 'I knew, from the
very look and sound, it was mine; I knew that it meant night,--night,
which brings out stars, as sorrow brings out truths.' Sortilege she
valued. She tried _sortes biblicæ_, and her hits were memorable. I
think each new book which interested her, she was disposed to put
to this test, and know if it had somewhat personal to say to her. As
happens to such persons, these guesses were justified by the event.
She chose carbuncle for her own stone, and when a dear friend was to
give her a gem, this was the one selected. She valued what she had
somewhere read, that carbuncles are male and female. The female casts
out light, the male has his within himself. 'Mine,' she said, 'is the
male.' And she was wont to put on her carbuncle, a bracelet, or some
selected gem, to write letters to certain friends. One of her friends
she coupled with the onyx, another in a decided way with the amethyst.
She learned that the ancients esteemed this gem a talisman to dispel
intoxication, to give good thoughts and understanding 'The Greek
meaning is _antidote against drunkenness_.' She characterized
her friends by these stones, and wrote to the last mentioned, the
following lines:--

  'TO ----.

  'Slow wandering on a tangled way,
  To their lost child pure spirits say:--
  The diamond marshal thee by day,
  By night, the carbuncle defend,
  Heart's blood of a bosom friend.
    On thy brow, the amethyst,
      Violet of purest earth,
    When by fullest sunlight kissed,
      Best reveals its regal birth;
  And when that haloed moment flies,
  Shall keep thee steadfast, chaste, and wise.'

Coincidences, good and bad,  _contretemps_, seals, ciphers, mottoes,
omens, anniversaries, names, dreams, are all of a certain importance
to her. Her letters are often dated on some marked anniversary of her
own, or of her correspondent's calendar. She signalized saints' days,
"All-Souls," and "All-Saints," by poems, which had for her a mystical
value. She remarked a preëstablished harmony of the names of her
personal friends, as well as of her historical favorites; that
of Emanuel, for Swedenborg; and Rosencrantz, for the head of the
Rosicrucians. 'If Christian Rosencrantz,' she said, 'is not a made
name, the genius of the age interfered in the baptismal rite, as in
the cases of the archangels of art, Michael and Raphael, and in giving
the name of Emanuel to the captain of the New Jerusalem. _Sub rosa
crux_, I think, is the true derivation, and not the chemical one,
generation, corruption, &c.' In this spirit, she soon surrounded
herself with a little mythology of her own. She had a series of
anniversaries, which she kept. Her seal-ring of the flying Mercury
had its legend. She chose the _Sistrum_ for her emblem, and had it
carefully drawn with a view to its being engraved on a gem. And I
know not how many verses and legends came recommended to her by this
symbolism. Her dreams, of course, partook of this symmetry. The same
dream returns to her periodically, annually, and punctual to its
night. One dream she marks in her journal as repeated for the fourth

    'In C., I at last distinctly recognized the figure of the
    early vision, whom I found after I had left A., who led me,
    on the bridge, towards the city, glittering in sunset, but,
    midway, the bridge went under water. I have often seen in her
    face that it was she, but refused to believe it.'

She valued, of course, the significance of flowers, and chose emblems
for her friends from her garden.


  'Content, in purple lustre clad,
  Kingly serene, and golden glad,
  No demi-hues of sad contrition,
  No pallors of enforced submission;--
  Give me such content as this,
  And keep awhile the rosy bliss.'


This catching at straws of coincidence, where all is geometrical,
seems the necessity of certain natures. It, is true, that, in every
good work, the particulars are right, and, that every spot of light on
the ground, under the trees, is a perfect image of the sun. Yet, for
astronomical purposes, an observatory is better than an orchard; and
in a universe which is nothing but generations, or an unbroken suite
of cause and effect, to infer Providence, because a man happens to
find a shilling on the pavement just when he wants one to spend, is
puerile, and much as if each of us should date his letters and notes
of hand from his own birthday, instead of from Christ's or the king's
reign, or the current Congress. These, to be sure, are also, at first,
petty and private beginnings, but, by the world of men, clothed with a
social and cosmical character.

It will be seen, however, that this propensity Margaret held with
certain tenets of fate, which always swayed her, and which Goethe,
who had found room and fine names for all this in his system, had
encouraged; and, I may add, which her own experiences, early and late,
seemed strangely to justify.

Some extracts, from her letters to different persons, will show how
this matter lay in her mind.

    '_December 17, 1829_.--The following instance of beautiful
    credulity, in Rousseau, has taken my mind greatly. This remote
    seeking for the decrees of fate, this feeling of a destiny,
    casting its shadows from the very morning of thought, is the
    most beautiful species of idealism in our day. 'Tis finely
    manifested in Wallenstein, where the two common men sum up
    their superficial observations on the life and doings of
    Wallenstein, and show that, not until this agitating crisis,
    have they caught any idea of the deep thoughts which shaped
    that hero, who has, without their feeling it, moulded _their_

    '"Tasso," says Rousseau, "has predicted my misfortunes. Have
    you remarked that Tasso has this peculiarity, that you cannot
    take from his work a single strophe, nor from any strophe
    a single line, nor from any line a single word, without
    disarranging the whole poem? Very well! take away the strophe
    I speak of, the stanza has no connection with those that
    precede or follow it; it is absolutely useless. _Tasso
    probably wrote it involuntarily, and without comprehending it

    'As to the impossibility of taking from Tasso without
    disarranging the poem, &c., I dare say 'tis not one whit more
    justly said of his, than, of any other narrative poem. _Mais,
    n'importe_, 'tis sufficient if Rousseau believed this. I found
    the stanza in question; admire its meaning beauty.

    'I hope you have Italian enough to appreciate the singular
    perfection in expression. If not, look to Fairfax's Jerusalem
    Delivered, Canto 12, Stanza 77; but Rousseau says these lines
    have no connection with what goes before, or after; _they are
    preceded_, stanza 76, by these three lines, which he does not
    think fit to mention.'

       *       *       *       *       *

      "Misero mostro d'infelice amore;
  Misero mostro a cui sol pena è degna
  Dell' immensa impietà, la vita indegna."

  "Vivrò fra i miei tormenti e fra le cure,
  Mie giuste furie, forsennato errante.
  Paventerò l'ombre solinghe e scure,
  Che l'primo error mi recheranno avante
  E del sol che scoprì le mie sventure,
  A schivo ed in orrore avrò il sembiante.
  Temerò me medesmo; e da me stesso
  Sempre fuggendo, avrò me sempre appresso."



    '_Dec._12, 1843.--When Goethe received a letter from Zelter,
    with a handsome superscription, he said. "Lay that aside; it
    is Zelter's true hand-writing. Every man has a dæmon, who is
    busy to confuse and limit his life. No way is the action of
    this power more clearly shown, than in the hand-writing. On
    this occasion, the evil influences have been evaded; the mood,
    the hand, the pen and paper have conspired to let our friend
    write truly himself."

    'You may perceive, I quote from memory, as the sentences
    are anything but Goethean; but I think often of this little
    passage. With me, for weeks and months, the dæmon works his
    will. Nothing succeeds with me. I fall ill, or am otherwise
    interrupted. At these times, whether of frost, or sultry
    weather, I would gladly neither plant nor reap,--wait for
    the better times, which sometimes come, when I forget that
    sickness is ever possible; when all interruptions are upborne
    like straws on the full stream of my life, and the words that
    accompany it are as much in harmony as sedges murmuring near
    the bank. Not all, yet not unlike. But it often happens, that
    something presents itself, and must be done, in the bad time;
    nothing presents itself in the good: so I, like the others,
    seem worse and poorer than I am.'

In another letter to an earlier friend, she expatiates a little.

    'As to the Dæmoniacal, I know not that I can say to you
    anything more precise than you find from Goethe. There are
    no precise terms for such thoughts. The word _instinctive_
    indicates their existence. I intimated it in the little piece
    on the Drachenfels. It may be best understood, perhaps, by a
    symbol. As the sun shines from the serene heavens, dispelling
    noxious exhalations, and calling forth exquisite thoughts
    on the surface of earth in the shape of shrub or flower, so
    gnome-like works the fire within the hidden caverns and secret
    veins of earth, fashioning existences which have a longer
    share in time, perhaps, because they are not immortal in
    thought. Love, beauty, wisdom, goodness are intelligent, but
    this power moves only to seize its prey. It is not necessarily
    either malignant or the reverse, but it has no scope beyond
    demonstrating its existence. When conscious, self-asserting,
    it becomes (as power working for its own sake, unwilling to
    acknowledge love for its superior, must) the devil. That is
    the legend of Lucifer, the star that would not own its
    centre. Yet, while it is unconscious, it is not devilish, only
    dæmoniac. In nature, we trace it in all volcanic workings, in
    a boding position of lights, in whispers of the wind, which
    has no pedigree; in deceitful invitations of the water, in the
    sullen rock, which never shall find a voice, and in the shapes
    of all those beings who go about seeking what they may devour.
    We speak of a mystery, a dread; we shudder, but we approach
    still nearer, and a part of our nature listens, sometimes
    answers to this influence, which, if not indestructible, is at
    least indissolubly linked with the existence of matter.

    'In genius, and in character, it works, as you say,
    instinctively; it refuses to be analyzed by the understanding,
    and is most of all inaccessible to the person who possesses
    it. We can only say, I have it, he has it. You have seen it
    often in the eyes of those Italian faces you like. It is most
    obvious in the eye. As we look on such eyes, we think on
    the tiger, the serpent, beings who lurk, glide, fascinate,
    mysteriously control. For it is occult by its nature, and if
    it could meet you on the highway, and be familiarly known as
    an acquaintance, could not exist. The angels of light do not
    love, yet they do not insist on exterminating it.

    'It has given rise to the fables of wizard, enchantress, and
    the like; these beings are scarcely good, yet not necessarily
    bad. Power tempts them. They draw their skills from the dead,
    because their being is coeval with that of matter, and matter
    is the mother of death.'

In later days, she allowed herself sometimes to dwell sadly on the
resistances which she called her fate, and remarked, that 'all life
that has been or could be natural to me, is invariably denied.'

She wrote long afterwards:--

    'My days at Milan were not unmarked. I have known some happy
    hours, but they all lead to sorrow, and not only the cups of
    wine, but of milk, seem drugged with poison, for me. It does
    not seem to be my fault, this destiny. I do not court these
    things,--they come. I am a poor magnet, with power to be
    wounded by the bodies I attract.'


I said that Margaret had a broad good sense, which brought her near to
all people. I am to say that she had also a strong temperament, which
is that counter force which makes individuality, by driving all the
powers in the direction of the ruling thought or feeling, and, when it
is allowed full sway, isolating them. These two tendencies were always
invading each other, and now one and now the other carried the day.
This alternation perplexes the biographer, as it did the observer.
We contradict on the second page what we affirm on the first: and I
remember how often I was compelled to correct my impressions of her
character when living; for after I had settled it once for all that
she wanted this or that perception, at our next interview she would
say with emphasis the very word.

I think, in her case, there was something abnormal in those obscure
habits and necessities which we denote by the word Temperament. In the
first days of our acquaintance, I felt her to be a foreigner,--that,
with her, one would always be sensible of some barrier, as if in
making up a friendship with a cultivated Spaniard or Turk. She had a
strong constitution, and of course its reactions were strong; and
this is the reason why in all her life she has so much to say of her
_fate_. She was in jubilant spirits in the morning, and ended the day
with nervous headache, whose spasms, my wife told me, produced total
prostration. She had great energy of speech and action, and seemed
formed for high emergencies.

Her life concentrated itself on certain happy days, happy hours, happy
moments. The rest was a void. She had read that a man of letters must
lose many days, to work well in one. Much more must a Sappho or a
sibyl. The capacity of pleasure was balanced by the capacity of pain.
'If I had wist!--' she writes, 'I am a worse self-tormentor than
Rousseau, and all my riches are fuel to the fire. My beautiful lore,
like the tropic clime, hatches scorpions to sting me. There is a
verse, which Annie of Lochroyan sings about her ring, that torments my
memory, 'tis so true of myself.'

When I found she lived at a rate so much faster than mine, and which
was violent compared with mine, I foreboded rash and painful crises,
and had a feeling as if a voice cried, _Stand from under!_--as if, a
little further on, this destiny was threatened with jars and reverses,
which no friendship could avert or console. This feeling partly wore
off, on better acquaintance, but remained latent; and I had always
an impression that her energy was too much a force of blood, and
therefore never felt the security for her peace which belongs to more
purely intellectual natures. She seemed more vulnerable. For the
same reason, she remained inscrutable to me; her strength was not my
strength,--her powers were a surprise. She passed into new states of
great advance, but I understood these no better. It were long to tell
her peculiarities. Her childhood was full of presentiments. She was
then a somnambulist. She was subject to attacks of delirium, and,
later, perceived that she had spectral illusions. When she was twelve,
she had a determination of blood to the head. 'My parents,' she said,

    'were much mortified to see the fineness of my complexion
    destroyed. My own vanity was for a time severely wounded; but
    I recovered, and made up my mind to be bright and ugly.'

She was all her lifetime the victim of disease and pain. She read and
wrote in bed, and believed that she could understand anything better
when she was ill. Pain acted like a girdle, to give tension to her
powers. A lady, who was with her one day during a terrible attack of
nervous headache, which made Margaret totally helpless, assured me
that Margaret was yet in the finest vein of humor, and kept those who
were assisting her in a strange, painful excitement, between
laughing and crying, by perpetual brilliant sallies. There were other
peculiarities of habit and power. When she turned her head on one
side, she alleged she had second sight, like St. Francis. These traits
or predispositions made her a willing listener to all the uncertain
science of mesmerism and its goblin brood, which have been rife in
recent years.

She had a feeling that she ought to have been a man, and said of
herself, 'A man's ambition with a woman's heart, is an evil lot.' In
some verses which she wrote 'To the Moon,' occur these lines:--

  'But if I steadfast gaze upon thy face,
  A human secret, like my own, I trace;
  For, through the woman's smile looks the male eye.'

And she found something of true portraiture in a disagreeable novel of
Balzac's, "_Le Livre Mystique_," in which an equivocal figure exerts
alternately a masculine and a feminine influence on the characters of
the plot.

Of all this nocturnal element in her nature she was very conscious,
and was disposed, of course, to give it as fine names as it would
carry, and to draw advantage from it. 'Attica,' she said to a friend,
'is your province, Thessaly is mine: Attica produced the marble
wonders, of the great geniuses; but Thessaly is the land of magic.'

    'I have a great share of Typhon to the Osiris, wild rush and
    leap, blind force for the sake of force.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Dante, thou didst not describe, in all thy apartments of
    Inferno, this tremendous repression of an existence half
    unfolded; this swoon as the soul was ready to be born.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Every year I live, I dislike routine more and more, though I
    see that society rests on that, and other falsehoods. The
    more I screw myself down to hours, the more I become expert at
    giving out thought and life in regulated rations,--the more I
    weary of this world, and long to move upon the wing, without
    props and sedan chairs.'


    '_Dec._ 26, 1839.--If you could look into my mind just now,
    you would send far from you those who love and hate. I am
    on the Drachenfels, and cannot get off; it is one of my
    naughtiest moods. Last Sunday, I wrote a long letter,
    describing it in prose and verse, and I had twenty minds to
    send it you as a literary curiosity; then I thought, this
    might destroy relations, and I might not be able to be calm
    and chip marble with you any more, if I talked to you in
    magnetism and music; so I sealed and sent it in the due

    'I remember you say, that forlorn seasons often turn out
    the most profitable. Perhaps I shall find it so. I have been
    reading Plato all the week, because I could not write. I hoped
    to be tuned up thereby. I perceive, with gladness, a keener
    insight in myself, day by day; yet, after all, could not make
    a good statement this morning on the subject of beauty.'

She had, indeed, a rude strength, which, if it could have been
supported by an equal health, would have given her the efficiency of
the strongest men. As it was, she had great power of work. The account
of her reading in Groton is at a rate like Gibbon's, and, later, that
of her writing, considered with the fact that writing was not grateful
to her, is incredible. She often proposed to her friends, in the
progress of intimacy, to write every day. 'I think less than a daily
offering of thought and feeling would not content me, so much seems
to pass unspoken.' In Italy, she tells Madame Arconati, that she has
'more than a hundred correspondents;' and it was her habit there to
devote one day of every week to those distant friends. The facility
with which she assumed stints of literary labor, which veteran feeders
of the press would shrink from,--assumed and performed,--when her
friends were to be served, I have often observed with wonder, and
with fear, when I considered the near extremes of ill-health, and
the manner in which her life heaped itself in high and happy moments,
which were avenged by lassitude and pain.

    'As each task comes,' she said, 'I borrow a readiness from its
    aspect, as I always do brightness from the face of a friend.
    Yet, as soon as the hour is past, I sink.'

I think most of her friends will remember to have felt, at one time
or another, some uneasiness, as if this athletic soul craved a larger
atmosphere than it found; as if she were ill-timed and mis-mated,
and felt in herself a tide of life, which compared with the slow
circulation of others as a torrent with a rill. She found no full
expression of it but in music. Beethoven's Symphony was the only right
thing the city of the Puritans had for her. Those to whom music has a
representative value, affording them a stricter copy of their inward
life than any other of the expressive arts, will, perhaps, enter into
the spirit which dictated the following letter to her patron saint, on
her return, one evening, from the Boston Academy of Music.


    '_Saturday Evening. 25th Nov._, 1843.

    'My only friend,

    'How shall I thank thee for once more breaking the chains of
    my sorrowful slumber? My heart beats. I live again, for I feel
    that I am worthy audience for thee, and that my being would be
    reason enough for thine.

    'Master, my eyes are always clear. I see that the universe is
    rich, if I am poor. I see the insignificance of my sorrows. In
    my will, I am not a captive; in my intellect, not a slave. Is
    it then my fault that the palsy of my affections benumbs my
    whole life?

    'I know that the curse is but for the time. I know what the
    eternal justice promises. But on this one sphere, it is sad.
    Thou didst say, thou hadst no friend but thy art. But that one
    is enough. I have no art, in which to vent the swell of a soul
    as deep as thine, Beethoven, and of a kindred frame. Thou wilt
    not think me presumptuous in this saying, as another might.
    I have always known that thou wouldst welcome and know me, as
    would no other who ever lived upon the earth since its first

    'Thou wouldst forgive me, master, that I have not been true to
    my eventual destiny, and therefore have suffered on every side
    "the pangs of despised love." Thou didst the same; but thou
    didst borrow from those errors the inspiration of thy genius.
    Why is it not thus with me? Is it because, as a woman, I
    am bound by a physical-law, which prevents the soul from
    manifesting itself? Sometimes the moon seems mockingly to say
    so,--to say that I, too, shall not shine, unless I can find a
    sun. O, cold and barren moon, tell a different tale!

    'But thou, oh blessed master! dost answer all my questions,
    and make it my privilege to be. Like a humble wife to the
    sage, or poet, it is my triumph that I can understand and
    cherish thee: like a mistress, I arm thee for the fight: like
    a young daughter, I tenderly bind thy wounds. Thou art to me
    beyond compare, for thou art all I want. No heavenly sweetness
    of saint or martyr, no many-leaved Raphael, no golden
    Plato, is anything to me, compared with thee. The infinite
    Shakspeare, the stern Angelo, Dante,--bittersweet like
    thee,--are no longer seen in thy presence. And, beside these
    names, there are none that could vibrate in thy crystal
    sphere. Thou hast all of them, and that ample surge of life
    besides, that great winged being which they only dreamed of.
    There is none greater than Shakspeare; he, too, is a god; but
    his creations are successive; thy _fiat_ comprehends them all.

    'Last summer, I met thy mood in nature, on those wide
    impassioned plains flower and crag-bestrown. There, the tide
    of emotion had rolled over, and left the vision of its smiles
    and sobs, as I saw to-night from thee.

    'If thou wouldst take me wholly to thyself--! I am lost in
    this world, where I sometimes meet angels, but of a different
    star from mine. Even so does thy spirit plead with all
    spirits. But thou dost triumph and bring them all in.

    'Master, I have this summer envied the oriole which had even
    a swinging nest in the high bough. I have envied the least
    flower that came to seed, though that seed were strown to the
    wind. But I envy none when I am with thee.'


Margaret at first astonished and repelled us by a complacency that
seemed the most assured since the days of Scaliger. She spoke, in the
quietest manner, of the girls she had formed, the young men who owed
everything to her, the fine companions she had long ago exhausted. In
the coolest way, she said to her friends, 'I now know all the people
worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my
own.' In vain, on one occasion, I professed my reverence for a youth
of genius, and my curiosity in his future,--'O no, she was intimate
with his mind,' and I 'spoiled him, by overrating him.' Meantime,
we knew that she neither had seen, nor would see, his subtle

I have heard, that from the beginning of her life, she idealized
herself as a sovereign. She told--she early saw herself to be
intellectually superior to those around her, and that for years she
dwelt upon the idea, until she believed that she was not her
parents' child, but an European princess confided to their care. She
remembered, that, when a little girl, she was walking one day under
the apple trees with such an air and step, that her father pointed her
out to her sister, saying, _Incedit regina._ And her letters sometimes
convey these exultations, as the following, which was written to
a lady, and which contained Margaret's translation of Goethe's

    To ----.

    1838.--Which of us has not felt the questionings expressed in
    this bold fragment? Does it not seem, were we gods, or could
    steal their fire, we would make men not only happier, but
    free,--glorious? Yes, my life is strange; thine is strange. We
    are, we shall be, in this life, mutilated beings, but there
    is in my bosom a faith, that I shall see the reason; a glory,
    that I can endure to be so imperfect; and a feeling, ever
    elastic, that fate and time shall have the shame and the
    blame, if I am mutilated. I will do all I can,--and, if one
    cannot succeed, there is a beauty in martyrdom.

    Your letters are excellent. I did not mean to check your
    writing, only I thought that you might wish a confidence
    that I must anticipate with a protest. But I take my natural
    position always: and the more I see, the more I feel that it
    is regal. Without throne, sceptre, or guards, still a queen.

It is certain that Margaret occasionally let slip, with all the
innocence imaginable, some phrase betraying the presence of a rather
mountainous ME, in a way to surprise those who knew her good
sense. She could say, as if she were stating a scientific fact, in
enumerating the merits of somebody, 'He appreciates _me_.' There
was something of hereditary organization in this, and something of
unfavorable circumstance in the fact, that she had in early life no
companion, and few afterwards, in her finer studies; but there was
also an ebullient sense of power, which she felt to be in her, which
as yet had found no right channels. I remember she once said to me,
what I heard as a mere statement of fact, and nowise as unbecoming,
that 'no man gave such invitation to her mind as to tempt her to a
full expression; that she felt a power to enrich her thought with such
wealth and variety of embellishment as would, no doubt, be tedious to
such as she conversed with.'

Her impatience she expressed as she could. 'I feel within myself,' she

    'an immense force, but I cannot bring it out. It may sound
    like a joke, but I do feel something corresponding to that
    tale of the Destinies falling in love with Hermes.'

In her journal, in the summer of 1844, she writes:--

    'Mrs. Ware talked with me about education,--wilful
    education,--in which she is trying to get interested. I talk
    with a Goethean moderation on this subject, which rather
    surprises her and ----, who are nearer the entrance of the
    studio. I am really old on this subject. In near eight years'
    experience, I have learned as much as others would in eighty,
    from my great talent at explanation, tact in the use of
    means, and immediate and invariable power over the minds of
    my pupils. My wish has been, to purify my own conscience, when
    near them; give clear views of the aims of this life; show
    them where the magazines of knowledge lie; and leave the rest
    to themselves and the Spirit, who must teach and help them to
    self-impulse. I told Mrs. W. it was much if we did not injure
    them; if they were passing the time in a way that was _not
    bad_, so that good influences have a chance. Perhaps people
    in general must expect greater outward results, or they would
    feel no interest.'


    'With the intellect I always have, always shall, overcome; but
    that is not the half of the work. The life, the life! O, my
    God! shall the life never be sweet?'

I have inquired diligently of those who saw her often, and in
different companies, concerning her habitual tone, and something like
this is the report:--In conversation, Margaret seldom, except as a
special grace, admitted others upon an equal ground with herself. She
was exceedingly tender, when she pleased to be, and most cherishing
in her influence; but to elicit this tenderness, it was necessary to
submit first to her personally. When a person was overwhelmed by
her, and answered not a word, except, "Margaret, be merciful to me, a
sinner," then her love and tenderness would come like a seraph's,
and often an acknowledgment that she had been too harsh, and even a
craving for pardon, with a humility,--which, perhaps, she had caught
from the other. But her instinct was not humility,--that was always an

This arrogant tone of her conversation, if it came to be the subject
of comment, of course, she defended, and with such broad good nature,
and on grounds of simple truth, as were not easy to set aside. She
quoted from Manzoni's _Carmagnola_, the lines:--

  "Tolga il ciel che alcuno
  Piu altamente di me pensi ch'io stesso."

"God forbid that any one should conceive more highly of me than
I myself." Meantime, the tone of her journals is humble, tearful,
religious, and rises easily into prayer.

I am obliged to an ingenious correspondent for the substance of the
following account of this idiosyncrasy:--

    Margaret was one of the few persons who looked upon life as an
    art, and every person not merely as an artist, but as a work
    of art. She looked upon herself as a living statue, which
    should always stand on a polished pedestal, with right
    accessories, and under the most fitting lights. She would have
    been glad to have everybody so live and act. She was annoyed
    when they did not, and when they did not regard her from the
    point of view which alone did justice to her. No one could
    be more lenient in her judgments of those whom she saw to be
    living in this light. Their faults were to be held as "the
    disproportions of the ungrown giant." But the faults of
    persons who were unjustified by this ideal, were odious.
    Unhappily, her constitutional self-esteem sometimes blinded
    the eyes that should have seen that an idea lay at the bottom
    of some lives which she did not quite so readily comprehend as
    beauty; that truth had other manifestations than those which
    engaged her natural sympathies; that sometimes the soul
    illuminated only the smallest arc--of a circle so large that
    it was lost in the clouds of another world.

This apology reminds me of a little speech once made to her, at his
own house, by Dr. Channing, who held her in the highest regard: "Miss
Fuller, when I consider that you are and have all that Miss ---- has
so long wished for, and that you scorn her, and that she still admires
you,--I think her place in heaven will be very high."

But qualities of this kind can only be truly described by the
impression they make on the bystander; and it is certain that her
friends excused in her, because she had a right to it, a tone which
they would have reckoned intolerable in any other. Many years since,
one of her earliest and fastest friends quoted Spenser's sonnet as
accurately descriptive of Margaret:--

  "Rudely thou wrongest my dear heart's desire,
       In finding fault with her too portly pride;
  The thing which I do most in her admire
       Is of the world unworthy most envied.
  For, in those lofty looks is close implied
       Scorn of base things, disdain of foul dishonor,
  Threatening rash eyes which gaze on her so wide
       That loosely they ne dare to look upon her:
  Such pride is praise, such portliness is honor,
       That boldened innocence bears in her eyes;
  And her fair countenance, like a goodly banner,
       Spreads in defiance of all enemies.
  Was never in this world aught worthy tried,
       Without a spark of some self-pleasing pride."


She had been early remarked for her sense and sprightliness, and for
her skill in school exercises. Now she had added wide reading, and
of the books most grateful to her. She had read the Italian poets
by herself, and from sympathy. I said, that, by the leading part
she naturally took, she had identified herself with all the elegant
culture in this country. Almost every person who had any distinction
for wit, or art, or scholarship, was known to her; and she was
familiar with the leading books and topics. There is a kind of
undulation in the popularity of the great writers, even of the first
rank. We have seen a recent importance given to Behmen and Swedenborg;
and Shakspeare has unquestionably gained with the present generation.
It is distinctive, too, of the taste of the period,--the new vogue
given to the genius of Dante. An edition of Cary's translation,
reprinted in Boston, many years ago, was rapidly sold; and, for the
last twenty years, all studious youths and maidens have been reading
the Inferno. Margaret had very early found her way to Dante, and from
a certain native preference which she felt or fancied for the Italian
genius. The following letter, though of a later date, relates to these

    TO R.W.E.

    '_December_, 1842.--When you were here, you seemed to think I
    might perhaps have done something on the _Vita Nuova_; and the
    next day I opened the book, and considered how I could do
    it. But you shall not expect that, either, for your present
    occasion. When I first mentioned it to you, it was only as a
    piece of Sunday work, which I thought of doing for you alone;
    and because it has never seemed to me you entered enough into
    the genius of the Italian to apprehend the mind, which has
    seemed so great to me, and a star unlike, if not higher than
    all the others in our sky. Else, I should have given you
    the original, rather than any version of mine. I intended to
    translate the poems, with which it is interspersed, into plain
    prose. Milnes and Longfellow have tried each their power at
    doing it in verse, and have done better, probably, than I
    could, yet not well. But this would not satisfy me for the
    public. Besides, the translating Dante is a piece of literary
    presumption, and challenges a criticism to which I am not sure
    that I am, as the Germans say, _gewachsen_. Italian, as well
    as German, I learned by myself, unassisted, except as to the
    pronunciation. I have never been brought into connection
    with minds trained to any severity in these kinds of elegant
    culture. I have used all the means within my reach, but my not
    going abroad is an insuperable defect in the technical part
    of my education. I was easily capable of attaining excellence,
    perhaps mastery, in the use of some implements. Now I know,
    at least, _what I do not know_, and I get along by never
    voluntarily going beyond my depth, and, when called on to do
    it, stating my incompetency. At moments when I feel tempted to
    regret that I could not follow out the plan I had marked
    for myself, and develop powers which are not usual here, I
    reflect, that if I had attained high finish and an easy range
    in these respects, I should not have been thrown back on my
    own resources, or known them as I do. But Lord Brougham should
    not translate Greek orations, nor a maid-of-all-work attempt
    such a piece of delicate handling as to translate the _Vita

Here is a letter, without date, to another correspondent:

    'To-day, on reading over some of the sonnets of Michel Angelo,
    I felt them more than usual. I know not why I have not read
    them thus before, except that the beauty was pointed out to me
    at first by another, instead of my coming unexpectedly upon
    it of myself. All the great writers, all the persons who have
    been dear to me, I have found and chosen; they have not been
    proposed to me. My intimacy with them came upon me as natural
    eras, unexpected and thrice dear. Thus I have appreciated, but
    not been able to feel, Michel Angelo as a poet.

    'It is a singular fact in my mental history, that, while I
    understand the principles and construction of language much
    better than formerly, I cannot read so well _les langues
    méridionales_. I suppose it is that I am less _méridionale_
    myself. I understand the genius of the north better than I

Dante, Petrarca, Tasso, were her friends among the old poets,--for to
Ariosto she assigned a far lower place,--Alfieri and Manzoni, among
the new. But what was of still more import to her education, she had
read German books, and, for the three years before I knew her, almost
exclusively,--Lessing, Schiller, Richter, Tieck, Novalis, and, above
all, GOETHE. It was very obvious, at the first intercourse with her,
though her rich and busy mind never reproduced undigested reading,
that the last writer,--food or poison,--the most powerful of all
mental reagents,--the pivotal mind in modern literature,--for all
before him are ancients, and all who have read him are moderns,--that
this mind had been her teacher, and, of course, the place was filled,
nor was there room for any other. She had that symptom which appears
in all the students of Goethe,--an ill-dissembled contempt of all
criticism on him which they hear from others, as if it were totally
irrelevant; and they are themselves always preparing to say the right
word,--a _prestige_ which is allowed, of course, until they do
speak: when they have delivered their volley, they pass, like their
foregoers, to the rear.

The effect on Margaret was complete. She was perfectly timed to it.
She found her moods met, her topics treated, the liberty of thought
she loved, the same climate of mind. Of course, this book superseded
all others, for the time, and tinged deeply all her thoughts. The
religion, the science, the Catholicism, the worship of art, the
mysticism and dæmonology, and withal the clear recognition of moral
distinctions as final and eternal, all charmed her; and Faust, and
Tasso, and Mignon, and Makaria, and Iphigenia, became irresistible
names. It was one of those agreeable historical coincidences, perhaps
invariable, though not yet registered, the simultaneous appearance
of a teacher and of pupils, between whom exists a strict affinity.
Nowhere did Goethe find a braver, more intelligent, or more
sympathetic reader. About the time I knew her, she was meditating
a biography of Goethe, and did set herself to the task in 1837. She
spent much time on it, and has left heaps of manuscripts, which are
notes, transcripts, and studies in that direction. But she wanted
leisure and health to finish it, amid the multitude of projected works
with which her brain teemed. She used great discretion on this point,
and made no promises. In 1839, she published her translation of
Eckermann, a book which makes the basis of the translation of
Eckermann since published in London, by Mr. Oxenford. In the Dial,
in July, 1841, she wrote an article on Goethe, which is, on many
accounts, her best paper.


Margaret was in the habit of sending to her correspondents, in lieu of
letters, sheets of criticism on her recent readings. From such quite
private folios, never intended for the press, and, indeed, containing
here and there names and allusions, which it is now necessary to veil
or suppress, I select the following notices, chiefly of French books.
Most of these were addressed to me, but the three first to an earlier

    'Reading Schiller's introduction to the Wars of the League,
    I have been led back to my old friend, the Duke of Sully,
    and his charming king. He was a man, that Henri! How gay and
    graceful seems his unflinching frankness! He wore life
    as lightly as the feather in his cap. I have become much
    interested, too, in the two Guises, who had seemed to me mere
    intriguers, and not of so splendid abilities, when I was less
    able to appreciate the difficulties they daily and hourly
    combated. I want to read some more books about them. Do you
    know whether I could get Matthieu, or de Thou, or the Memoirs
    of the House of Nevers?

    'I do not think this is a respectable way of passing my
    summer, but I cannot help it.

    'I never read any life of Molière. Are the facts very
    interesting? You see clearly in his writing what he was: a
    man not high, not poetic; but firm, wide, genuine, whose
    clearsightedness only made him more noble. I love him well
    that he could see without showing these myriad mean faults of
    the social man, and yet make no nearer approach to misanthropy
    than his Alceste. These witty Frenchmen. Rabelais, Montaigne,
    Molière, are great as were their marshals and _preux
    chevaliers_; when the Frenchman tries to be poetical,
    he becomes theatrical, but he can be romantic, and also
    dignified, maugre shrugs and snuff-boxes.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_Thursday Evening_.--Although I have been much engaged these
    two days. I have read Spiridion twice. I could have wished
    to go through it the second time more at leisure, but as I am
    going away, I thought I would send it back, lest it should be
    wanted before my return.

    'The development of the religious sentiment being the same as
    in Hélene, I at first missed the lyric effusion of that work,
    which seems to me more and more beautiful, as I think of it
    more. This, however, was a mere prejudice, of course, as the
    thought here is poured into a quite different mould, and I was
    not troubled by it on a second reading.

    'Again, when I came to look at the work by itself, I thought
    the attempt too bold. A piece of character-painting does not
    seem to be the place for a statement of these wide and high
    subjects. For here the philosophy is not merely implied in the
    poetry and religion, but assumes to show a face of its own.
    And, as none should meddle with these matters who are not in
    earnest, so, such will prefer to find the thought of a teacher
    or fellow-disciple expressed as directly and as bare of
    ornament as possible.

    'I was interested in De Wette's Theodor, and that learned and
    (_on dit_) profound man seemed to me so to fail, that I did
    not finish the book, nor try whether I could believe the
    novice should ever arrive at manly stature.

    'I am not so clear as to the scope and bearing of this
    book, as of that. I suppose if I were to read Lamennais, or
    L'Erminier, I should know what they all want or intend. And
    if you meet with _Les paroles d'un Croyant_, I will beg you to
    get it for me, for I am more curious than ever. I had supposed
    the view taken by these persons in France, to be the same with
    that of Novalis and the German Catholics, in which I have
    been deeply interested. But from this book, it would seem to
    approach the faith of some of my friends here, which has been
    styled Psychotheism. And the gap in the theoretical fabric is
    the same as with them. I read with unutterable interest the
    despair of Alexis in his Eclectic course, his return to the
    teachings of external nature, his new birth, and consequent
    appreciation of poetry and music. But the question of Free
    Will,--how to reconcile its workings with necessity and
    compensation,--how to reconcile the life of the heart with
    that of the intellect,--how to listen to the whispering breeze
    of Spirit, while breasting, as a man should, the surges of the
    world,--these enigmas Sand and her friends seem to have solved
    no better than M.F. and her friends.

    'The practical optimism is much the same as ours, except that
    there is more hope for the masses--soon.

    'This work is written with great vigor, scarce any faltering
    on the wing. The horrors are disgusting, as are those of every
    writer except Dante. Even genius should content itself in
    dipping the pencil in cloud and mist. The apparitions of
    Spiridion are managed with great beauty. As in Hélene, as in
    Novalis, I recognized, with delight, the eye that gazed, the
    ear that listened, till the spectres came, as they do to the
    Highlander on his rocky couch, to the German peasant on his
    mountain. How different from the vulgar eye which looks, but
    never sees! Here the beautiful apparition advances from the
    solar ray, or returns to the fountain of light and truth, as
    it should, when eagle eyes are gazing.

    'I am astonished at her insight into the life of thought. She
    must know it through some man. Women, under any circumstances,
    can scarce do more than dip the foot in this broad and deep
    river; they have not strength to contend with the current.
    Brave, if they do not delicately shrink from the cold water.
    No Sibyls have existed like those of Michel Angelo; those
    of Raphael are the true brides of a God, but not themselves
    divine. It is easy for women to be heroic in action, but when
    it comes to interrogating God, the universe, the soul, and,
    above all, trying to live above their own hearts, they dart
    down to their nests like so many larks, and, if they cannot
    find them, fret like the French Corinne. Goethe's Makaria
    was born of the stars. Mr. Flint's Platonic old lady a _lusus
    naturæ_, and the Dudevant has loved a philosopher.

    'I suppose the view of the present state of Catholicism no way
    exaggerated. Alexis is no more persecuted than Abelard was,
    and is so, for the same reasons. From the examinations of the
    Italian convents in Leopold's time, it seems that the grossest
    materialism not only reigns, but is taught and professed in
    them. And Catholicism loads and infects as all dead forms do,
    however beautiful and noble during their lives.' * *


    '1839.--When I first knew George Sand, I thought I found tried
    the experiment I wanted. I did not value Bettine so much;
    she had not pride enough for me; only now when I am sure of
    myself, would I pour out my soul at the feet of another. In
    the assured soul it is kingly prodigality; in one which cannot
    forbear, it is mere babyhood. I love _abandon_ only when
    natures are capable of the extreme reverse. I knew Bettine
    would end in nothing, when I read her book. I knew she could
    not outlive her love.

    'But in _Les Sept Cordes de la Lyre_, which I read first, I
    saw the knowledge of the passions, and of social institutions,
    with the celestial choice which rose above them. I loved
    Hélene, who could so well hear the terrene voices, yet keep
    her eye fixed on the stars. That would be my wish, also, to
    know all, then choose; I ever revered her, for I was not sure
    that I could have resisted the call of the Now, could have
    left the spirit, and gone to God. And, at a more ambitious
    age, I could not have refused the philosopher. But I hoped
    from her steadfastness, and I thought I heard the last tones
    of a purified life:--Gretchen, in the golden cloud, raised
    above all past delusions, worthy to redeem and upbear the wise
    man, who stumbled into the pit of error while searching for

    'Still, in _André_, and in _Jacques_, I traced the same high
    morality of one who had tried the liberty of circumstance
    only to learn to appreciate the liberty of law, to know that
    license is the foe of freedom. And, though the sophistry of
    passion in these books disgusted me, flowers of purest hue
    seemed to grow upon the dank and dirty ground. I thought she
    had cast aside the slough of her past life, and began a new
    existence beneath the sun of a true Ideal.

    'But here (in the _Lettres d'un Voyageur_) what do I see? An
    unfortunate bewailing her loneliness, bewailing her mistakes,
    writing for money! She has genius, and a manly grasp of mind,
    but not a manly heart! Will there never be a being to combine
    a mail's mind and woman's heart, and who yet finds life too
    rich to weep over? Never?

    'When I read in _Leone Lioni_ the account of the jeweller's
    daughter's life with her mother, passed in dress and in
    learning to be looked at when dressed, _avec un front
    impassible_, it reminded me exceedingly of ----, and her
    mother. What a heroine she would be for Sand! She has the same
    fearless softness with Juliet, and a sportive _naïveté_, a
    mixture of bird and kitten, unknown to the dupe of Lioni.

    'If I were a man, and wished a wife, as many do, merely as an
    ornament, or silken toy, I would take ---- as soon as any I
    know. Her fantastic, impassioned, and mutable nature would
    yield an inexhaustible amusement. She is capable of the most
    romantic actions;--wild as the falcon, and voluptuous as the
    tuberose,--yet she has not in her the elements of romance,
    like a deeper and less susceptible nature. My cold and
    reasoning E., with her one love lying, perhaps, never to be
    unfolded, beneath such sheaths of pride and reserve, would
    make a far better heroine.

    'Both these characters are natural, while S. and T. are
    _naturally factitious_, because so imitative, and her mother
    differs from Juliet and her mother, by the impulse a single
    strong character gave them. Even at this distance of time,
    there is a slight but perceptible taste of iron in the water.

    'George Sand disappoints me, as almost all beings have,
    especially since I have been brought close to her person
    by the _Lettres d'un Voyageur_. Her remarks on Lavater seem
    really shallow, and hasty, _à la mode du genre feménin_. No
    self-ruling Aspasia she, but a frail woman mourning over a
    lot. Any peculiarity in her destiny seems accidental. She is
    forced to this and that, to earn her bread forsooth!

    'Yet her style,--with what a deeply smouldering fire it
    burns!--not vehement, but intense, like Jean Jacques.'


    '_Sept._, 1839.

      '"La harpe tremble encore, et la flûte soupire."

    'Sometimes we doubt this, and think the music has finally
    ceased, so sultry still lies the air around us, or only
    disturbed by the fife and drum of talent, calling to the
    parade-ground of social life. The ear grows dull.

      '"Faith asks her daily bread,
      And Fancy is no longer fed."

    'So materialistic is the course of common life, that we _ask
    daily_ new Messiahs from literature and art, to turn us from
    the Pharisaic observance of law, to the baptism of spirit. But
    stars arise upon our murky sky, and the flute _soupire_ from
    the quarter where we least expect it.

    '_La jeune France_! I had not believed in this youthful
    pretender. I thought she had no pure blood in her veins, no
    aristocratic features in her face, no natural grace in her
    gait. I thought her an illegitimate child of the generous, but
    extravagant youth of Germany. I thought she had been left at
    the foundling hospital, as not worth a parent's care, and that
    now, grown up, she was trying to prove at once her parentage
    and her charms by certificates which might be headed, Innocent
    Adultery, Celestial Crime, &c.

    'The slight acquaintance I had with Hugo, and company, did not
    dispel these impressions. And I thought Chateaubriand (far too
    French for my taste also,) belonged to _l'ancien régime_, and
    that Béranger and Courier stood apart. Nodier, Paul de Kock,
    Sue, Jules Janin, I did not know, except through the absurd
    reports of English reviewers; Le Maistre and Lamennais, as

    'But I have now got a peep at this galaxy. I begin to divine
    the meaning of St. Simonianism, Cousinism, and the movement
    which the same causes have produced in belles-lettres. I
    perceive that _la jeune France_ is the legitimate, though far
    younger sister of Germany; taught by her, but not born of her,
    but of a common mother. I see, at least begin to see, what
    she has learned from England, and what the bloody rain of
    the revolution has done to fertilize her soil, naturally too

    'Blessed be the early days when I sat at the feet of Rousseau,
    prophet sad and stately as any of Jewry! Every onward movement
    of the age, every downward step into the solemn depths of my
    own soul, recalls thy oracles, O Jean Jacques! But as these
    things only glimmer upon me at present, clouds of rose and
    amber, in the perspective of a long, dim woodland glade, which
    I must traverse if I would get a fair look at them from the
    hill-top,--as I cannot, to say sooth, get the works of these
    always working geniuses, but by slow degrees, in a country
    that has no heed of them till her railroads and canals are
    finished,--I need not jot down my petty impressions of the
    movement writers. I wish to speak of one among them, aided,
    honored by them, but not of them. He is to _la jeune France_
    rather the herald of a tourney, or the master of ceremonies
    at a patriotic festival, than a warrior for her battles, or an
    advocate to win her cause.

    'The works of M. de Vigny having come in my way, I have read
    quite through this thick volume.

    'I read, a year since, in the London and Westminster,
    an admirable sketch of Armand Carrel. The writer speaks
    particularly of the use of which Carrel's experience of
    practical life had been to him as an author; how it had
    tempered and sharpened the blade of his intellect to the
    Damascene perfection. It has been of like use to de Vigny,
    though not in equal degree.

    'De Vigny _passed_,--but for manly steadfastness, he would
    probably say _wasted_,--his best years in the army. He is now
    about forty; and we have in this book the flower of these best
    years. It is a night-blooming Cereus, for his days were passed
    in the duties of his profession. These duties, so tiresome and
    unprofitable in time of peace, were the ground in which the
    seed sprang up, which produced these many-leaved and calm

    'The first portion of this volume, _Servitude et Grandeurs
    Militaires_, contains an account of the way in which he
    received his false tendency. Cherished on the "wounded
    knees" of his aged father, he listened to tales of the great
    Frederic, whom the veteran had known personally. After an
    excellent sketch of the king, he says: "I expatiate here,
    almost in spite of myself, because this was the first great
    man whose portrait was thus drawn for me at home,--a portrait
    after nature,--and because my admiration of him was the first
    symptom of my useless love of arms,--the first cause of one of
    the most complete delusions of my life." This admiration
    for the great king remained so lively in his mind, that even
    Bonaparte in his gestures seemed to him, in later days, a

    'At the military school, "the drum stifled the voices of our
    masters, and the mysterious voices of books seemed to us cold
    and pedantic. Tropes and logarithms seemed to us only steps to
    mount to the star of the Legion of Honor,--the fairest star of
    heaven to us children."

    '"No meditation could keep long in chains heads made
    constantly giddy by the noise of cannon and bells for the _Te
    Deum_. When one of our former comrades returned to pay us a
    visit in uniform, and his arm in a scarf, we blushed at
    our books, and threw them at the heads of our teachers. Our
    teachers were always reading us bulletins from the _grande
    armée_, and our cries of _Vive l'Empereur_ interrupted Tacitus
    and Plato. Our preceptors resembled heralds of arms, our study
    halls barracks, and our examinations reviews."

    'Thus was he led into the army; and, he says, "It was only
    very late, that I perceived that my services were one long
    mistake, and that I had imported into a life altogether
    active, a nature altogether contemplative."

    'He entered the army at the time of Napoleon's fall, and,
    like others, wasted life in waiting for war. For these young
    persons could not believe that peace and calm were possible to
    France; could not believe that she could lead any life but one
    of conquest.

    'As De Vigny was gradually undeceived, he says: "Loaded with
    an ennui which I did not dream of in a life I had so ardently
    desired, it became a necessity to me to detach myself by night
    from the vain and tiresome tumult of military days. From these
    nights, in which I enlarged in silence the knowledge I had
    acquired from our public and tumultuous studies, proceeded
    my poems and books. From these days, there remain to me these
    recollections, whose chief traits I here assemble around one
    idea. For, not reckoning for the glory of arms, either on
    the present or future, I sought it in the souvenirs of my
    comrades. My own little adventures will not serve, except
    as frame to those pictures of the military life, and of
    the manners of our armies, all whose traits are by no means

    'And thus springs up, in the most natural manner, this little
    book on the army.

    'It has the truth, the delicacy, and the healthiness of a
    production native to the soil; the merit of love-letters,
    journals, lyric poems, &c., written without any formal
    intention of turning life into a book, but because the writer
    could not help it. What, more than anything else, engaged the
    attention of De Vigny, was the false position of two beings
    towards a factitious society: the soldier, now that standing
    armies are the mode, and the poet, now that Olympic games
    or pastimes are not the mode. He has treated the first best,
    because with profounder _connoissance du fait_. For De Vigny
    is not a poet; he has only an eye to perceive the existence
    of these birds of heaven. But in few ways, except their own
    broken harp-tone's thrill, have their peculiar sorrows and
    difficulties been so well illustrated. The character of the
    soldier, with its virtues and faults, is portrayed with such
    delicacy, that to condense would ruin. The peculiar reserve,
    the habit of duty, the beauty of a character which cannot look
    forward, and need not look back, are given with distinguished

    'Of the three stories which adorn this part of the book,
    _Le Cachet Rouge_ is the loveliest, _La Canne au Jonc_ the
    noblest. Never was anything more sweetly naïve than parts of
    _Le Cachet Rouge_. _La pauvre petite femme_, she was just such
    a person as my ----. And then the farewell injunctions,--_du
    pauvre petite maré_,--the nobleness and the coarseness of
    the poor captain. It is as original as beautiful, _c'est dire
    beaucoup_. In _La Canne au Jonc_, Collingwood, who embodies
    the high feeling of duty, is taken too raw out of a book,--his
    letters to his daughters. But the effect on the character of
    _le Capitaine Renaud_, and the unfolding of his interior life,
    are done with the spiritual beauty of Manzoni.

    '_Cinq-Mars_ is a romance in the style of Walter Scott. It
    is well brought out, figures in good relief, lights well
    distributed, sentiment high, but nowhere exaggerated,
    knowledge exact, and the good and bad of human nature painted
    with that impartiality which becomes a man, and a man of the
    world. All right, no failure anywhere; also, no wonderful
    success, no genius, no magic. It is one of those works which
    I should consider only excusable as the amusement of leisure
    hours; and, though few could write it, chiefly valuable to the

    'Here he has arranged, as in a bouquet, what he knew,--and a
    great deal it is,--of the time of Louis XIII., as he has of
    the Regency in "La Marechale d'Ancre,"--a much finer work,
    indeed one of the best-arranged and finished modern dramas.
    The Leonora Galigai is better than anything I have seen in
    Victor Hugo, and as good as Schiller. Stello is a bolder
    attempt. It is the history of three poets,--Gilbert, André
    Chenier, Chatterton. He has also written a drama called
    Chatterton, inferior to the story here. The "marvellous boy"
    seems to have captivated his imagination marvellously. In
    thought, these productions are worthless; for taste, beauty of
    sentiment, and power of description, remarkable. His advocacy
    of the poets' cause is about as effective and well-planned
    as Don Quixote's tourney with the wind-mill. How would you
    provide for the poet _bon homme_ De Vigny?--from a joint-stock
    company Poet's Fund, or how?

    'His translation of Othello, which I glanced at, is good for a

    'Among his poems, La Frégate, La Sérieuse, Madame de Soubise,
    and Dolorida, please me especially. The last has an elegiac
    sweetness and finish, which are rare. It also makes a perfect
    gem of a cabinet picture. Some have a fine strain of natural
    melody, and give you at once the key-note of the situation, as

      '"J'aime le son du cor le soir, au fond des bois,
      Soit qu'il chante," &c.


      '"Qu'il est doux, qu'il est doux d'ecouter les histoires
      Des histoires du temps passe
      Quand les branches des arbres sont noires,
      Quand la neige est essaisse, et charge un sol glacé,
      Quand seul dans un ciel pâle un peuplier s'élance,
      Quand sous le manteau blanc qui vient de le cacher
      L'immobile corbeau sur l'arbre se balance
      Comme la girouette au bout du long clocher."

    'These poems generally are only interesting as the leisure
    hours of an interesting man.

    'De Vigny writes in an excellent style; soft, fresh,
    deliberately graceful. Such a style is like fine manners;
    you think of the words select, appropriate, rather than
    distinguished, or beautiful. De Vigny is a perfect gentleman;
    and his refinement is rather that of the gentleman than that
    of the poets whom he is so full of. In character, he looks
    naturally at those things which interest the man of honor
    and the man of taste. But for literature, he would have
    known nothing about the poets. He should be the elegant
    and instructive companion of social, not the priest or the
    minstrel of solitary hours.

    'Neither has he logic or grasp with his reasoning powers,
    though of this, also, he is ambitious. Observation is his
    forte. To see, and to tell with grace, often with dignity and
    pathos, what he sees, is his proper vocation. Yet, where he
    fails, he has too much tact and modesty to be despised; and
    we cannot enough admire the absence of faults in a man whose
    ambition soared so much beyond his powers, and in an age and
    a country so full of false taste. He is never seduced into
    sentimentality, paradox, violent contrast, and, above all,
    never makes the mistake of confounding the horrible with the
    sublime. Above all, he never falls into the error, common
    to merely elegant minds, of painting leading minds "_en
    gigantesque_." His Richelieu and his Bonaparte are treated
    with great calmness, and with dignified ease, almost as
    beautiful as majestic superiority.

    'In this volume is contained all that is on record of the
    inner life of a man of forty years. How many suns, how many
    rains and dews, to produce a few buds and flowers, some sweet,
    but not rich fruit! We cannot help demanding of the man of
    talent that he should be like "the orange tree, that busy
    plant." But, as Landor says, "He who has any thoughts of any
    worth can, and probably will, afford to let the greater part
    lie fallow."

    'I have not made a note upon De Vigny's notions of abnegation,
    which he repeats as often as Dr. Channing the same watch-word
    of self-sacrifice. It is that my views are not yet matured,
    and I can have no judgment on the point.'


    '_Sept._, 1839.--I have lately been reading some of Béranger's
    _chansons_. The hour was not propitious. I was in a mood the
    very reverse of Roger Bontemps, and beset with circumstances
    the most unsuited to make me sympathize with the prayer--

      '"Pardonnez la gaieté
          De ma philosophie;"

    yet I am not quite insensible to their wit, high sentiment,
    and spontaneous grace. A wit that sparkles all over the ocean
    of life, a sentiment that never puts the best foot forward,
    but prefers the tone of delicate humor, to the mouthings of
    tragedy; a grace so aerial, that it nowhere requires the aid
    of a thought, for in the light refrains of these productions,
    the meaning is felt as much as in the most pointed lines.
    Thus, in "Les Mirmidons," the refrain--

      '"Mirmidons, race féconde,
      Enfin nous commandons,
      Jupiter livre le monde,
      Aux mirmidons, aux mirmidons, (bis.)"

    'The swarming of the insects about the dead lion is expressed
    as forcibly as in the most sarcastic passage of the chanson.
    In "La Faridondaine" every sound is a witticism, and levels
    to the ground a bevy of what Byron calls "garrison people."
    "Halte là! ou la système des interpretations" is equally
    witty, though there the form seems to be as much in the
    saying, as in the comic melody of sound.

    'In "Adieux à la Campagne," "Souvenirs du Peuple," "La Déesse
    de la Liberté," "La Convoi de David," a melancholy pathos
    breathes, which touches the heart the more that it is
    so unpretending. "Ce n'est plus Lisette," "Mon Habit,"
    "L'Indépendant," "Vous vieillirez, O ma belle Maitresse," a
    gentle graceful sadness wins us. In "Le Dieu des Bonnes Gens,"
    "Les Etoiles qui filent," "Les Conseils de Lise," "Treize à
    Table," a noble dignity is admired, while such as "La Fortune"
    and "La Métempsycose" are inimitable in their childlike
    playfulness. "Ma Vocation" I have had and admired for many
    years. He is of the pure ore, a darling fairy changling of
    great mother Nature; the poet of the people, and, therefore,
    of all in the upper classes sufficiently intelligent and
    refined to appreciate the wit and sentiment of the people.
    But his wit is so truly French in its lightness and sparkling,
    feathering vivacity, that one like me, accustomed to the
    bitterness of English tonics, suicidal November melancholy,
    and Byronic wrath of satire, cannot appreciate him at once.
    But when used to the gentler stimuli, we like them best,
    and we also would live awhile in the atmosphere of music and
    mirth, content if we have "bread for to-day, and hope for

    'There are fine lines in his "Cinq Mai;" the sentiment is as
    grand as Manzoni's, though not sustained by the same majestic
    sweep of diction, as,--

      '"Ce rocher repousse l'espérance,
      L'Aigle n'est plus dans le secret des dieux,
      Il fatiguait la victoire à le suivre,
      Elle était lasse: il ne l'attendit pas."

    'And from "La Gérontocratie, ou les infiniment petits:"

      '"Combien d'imperceptibles êtres,
      De petits jésuites bilieux!
      De milliers d'autres petits prêtres,
      Lui portent de petits bons dieux."

    'But wit, poet, man of honor, tailor's grandson and fairy's
    favorite, he must speak for himself, and the best that can be
    felt or thought of him cannot be said in the way of criticism.
    I will copy and keep a few of his songs. I should like to keep
    the whole collection by me, and take it up when my faith in
    human nature required the gentlest of fortifying draughts.

    'How fine his answer to those who asked about the "de" before
    his name!--

      '"Je suis vilain,
      Vilain, vilain," &c.
      J'honore une race commune,
      Car, sensible, quoique malin,
      Je n'ai flatté que l'infortune."

    'In a note to "Couplets on M. Laisney, _imprimeur à Peronne_,"
    he says: "It was in his printing-house that I was put to
    prentice; not having been able to learn orthography, he
    imparted to me the taste for poetry, gave me lessons in
    versification, and corrected my first essays."

    'Of Bonaparte,--

      '"Un conquérant, dans sa fortune altière,
      Se fit un jeu des sceptres et des lois,
      Et de ses pieds on peut voir la poussière
      Empreinte encore sur le bandeau des rois."

    'I admire, also, "Le Violon brisé," for its grace and
    sweetness. How fine Béranger on Waterloo!--

      '"Its name shall never sadden verse of mine."'


    '_Niagara, 1st June, 1843_.--I send you a token, made by
    the hands of some Seneca Indian lady. If you use it for a
    watch-pocket, hang it, when you travel, at the head of your
    bed, and you may dream of Niagara. If you use it for a
    purse, you can put in it alms for poets and artists, and the
    subscription-money you receive for Mr. Carlyle's book. His
    book, as it happened, you gave me as a birthday gift, and you
    may take this as one to you; for, on yours, was W.'s birthday,
    J.'s wedding-day, and the day of ----'s death, and we set out
    on this journey. Perhaps there is something about it on the
    purse. The "number five which nature loves," is repeated on

    'Carlyle's book I have, in some sense, read. It is witty, full
    of pictures, as usual. I would have gone through with it, if
    only for the sketch of Samson, and two or three bits of fun
    which happen to please me. No doubt it may be of use to rouse
    the unthinking to a sense of those great dangers and sorrows.
    But how open is he to his own assault. He rails himself out of
    breath at the short-sighted, and yet sees scarce a step before
    him. There is no valuable doctrine in his book, except the
    Goethean, _Do to-day the nearest duty_. Many are ready for
    that, could they but find the way. This he does not show. His
    proposed measures say nothing. Educate the people. That cannot
    be done by books, or voluntary effort, under these paralyzing
    circumstances. Emigration! According to his own estimate of
    the increase of population, relief that way can have very
    slight effect. He ends as he began; as he did in Chartism.
    Everything is very bad. You are fools and hypocrites, or you
    would make it better. I cannot but sympathize with him about
    hero-worship; for I, too, have had my fits of rage at the
    stupid irreverence of little minds, which also is made a
    parade of by the pedantic and the worldly. Yet it is a
    good sign. Democracy is the way to the new aristocracy, as
    irreligion to religion. By and by, if there are great
    men, they will not be brilliant exceptions, redeemers, but
    favorable samples of their kind.

    'Mr. C.'s tone is no better than before. He is not loving, nor
    large; but he seems more healthy and gay.

    'We have had bad weather here, bitterly cold. The place is
    what I expected: it is too great and beautiful to agitate or
    surprise: it satisfies: it does not excite thought, but fully
    occupies. All is calm; even the rapids do not hurry, as we see
    them in smaller streams. The sound, the sight, fill the senses
    and the mind.

    'At Buffalo, some ladies called on us, who extremely regretted
    they could not witness our emotions, on first seeing Niagara.
    "Many," they said, "burst into tears; but with those of most
    sensibility, the hands become cold as ice, and they would not
    mind if buckets of cold water were thrown over them!"'


Margaret's love of beauty made her, of course, a votary of nature, but
rather for pleasurable excitement than with a deep poetic feeling.
Her imperfect vision and her bad health were serious impediments
to intimacy with woods and rivers. She had never paid,--and it is a
little remarkable,--any attention to natural sciences. She neither
botanized, nor geologized, nor dissected. Still she delighted in short
country rambles, in the varieties of landscape, in pastoral country,
in mountain outlines, and, above all, in the sea-shore. At Nantasket
Beach, and at Newport, she spent a month or two of many successive
summers. She paid homage to rocks, woods, flowers, rivers, and the
moon. She spent a good deal of time out of doors, sitting, perhaps,
with a book in some sheltered recess commanding a landscape. She
watched, by day and by night, the skies and the earth, and believed
she knew all their expressions. She wrote in her journal, or in her
correspondence, a series of "moonlights," in which she seriously
attempts to describe the light and scenery of successive nights of
the summer moon. Of course, her raptures must appear sickly and
superficial to an observer, who, with equal feeling, had better powers
of observation.

Nothing is more rare than a talent to describe landscape, and,
especially, skyscape, or cloudscape, although a vast number of
letters, from correspondents between the ages of twenty and thirty,
are filled with experiments in this kind. Margaret, in her turn, made
many vain attempts, and, to a lover of nature, who knows that
every day has new and inimitable lights and shades, one of these
descriptions is as vapid as the raptures of a citizen arrived at his
first meadow. Of course, he is charmed, but, of course, he cannot tell
what he sees, or what pleases him. Yet Margaret often speaks with a
certain tenderness and beauty of the impressions made upon her.

    TO ----.

    '_Fishkill, 25 Nov., 1844_.--You would have been happy as I
    have been in the company of the mountains. They are companions
    both bold and calm. They exhilarate and they satisfy. To live,
    too, on the bank of the great river so long, has been the
    realization of a dream. Though I have been reading and
    thinking, yet this has been my life.'

'After they were all in bed,' she writes from the "Manse," in Concord,

    'I went out, and walked till near twelve. The moonlight filled
    my heart. These embowering elms stood in solemn black, the
    praying monastics of this holy night; full of grace, in every
    sense; their life so full, so hushed; not a leaf stirred.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'You say that nature does not keep her promise; but, surely,
    she satisfies us now and then for the time. The drama is
    always in progress, but here and there she speaks out a
    sentence, full in its cadence, complete in its structure; it
    occupies, for the time, the sense and the thought. We have no
    care for promises. Will you say it is the superficialness of
    my life, that I have known hours with men and nature, that
    bore their proper fruit,--all present ate and were filled, and
    there were taken up of the fragments twelve baskets full? Is
    it because of the superficial mind, or the believing heart,
    that I can say this?'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Only through emotion do we know thee, Nature! We lean upon
    thy breast, and feel its pulses vibrate to our own. That is
    knowledge, for that is love. Thought will never reach it.'


There are persons to whom a gallery is everywhere a home. In this
country, the antique is known only by plaster casts, and by drawings.
The BOSTON ATHENÆUM,--on whose sunny roof and beautiful chambers may
the benediction of centuries of students rest with mine!--added to
its library, in 1823, a small, but excellent museum of the antique
sculpture, in plaster;--the selection being dictated, it is said, by
no less an adviser than Canova. The Apollo, the Laocoon, the Venuses,
Diana, the head of the Phidian Jove, Bacchus, Antinous, the Torso
Hercules, the Discobolus, the Gladiator Borghese, the Apollino,--all
these, and more, the sumptuous gift of Augustus Thorndike. It is much
that one man should have power to confer on so many, who never saw
him, a benefit so pure and enduring.

To these were soon added a heroic line of antique busts, and, at last,
by Horatio Greenough, the Night and Day of Michel Angelo. Here was old
Greece and old Italy brought bodily to New England, and a verification
given to all our dreams and readings. It was easy to collect, from the
drawing-rooms of the city, a respectable picture-gallery for a summer
exhibition. This was also done, and a new pleasure was invented for
the studious, and a new home for the solitary. The Brimmer donation,
in 1838, added a costly series of engravings, chiefly of the French
and Italian museums, and the drawings of Guercino, Salvator Rosa, and
other masters. The separate chamber in which these collections were at
first contained, made a favorite place of meeting for Margaret and a
few of her friends, who were lovers of these works.

First led perhaps by Goethe, afterwards by the love she herself
conceived for them, she read everything that related to Michel Angelo
and Raphael. She read, pen in hand, Quatremère de Quincy's lives of
those two painters, and I have her transcripts and commentary before
me. She read Condivi, Vasari, Benvenuto Cellini, Duppa, Fuseli, and
Von Waagen,--great and small. Every design of Michel, the four volumes
of Raphael's designs, were in the rich portfolios of her most intimate
friend. 'I have been very happy,' she writes, 'with four hundred and
seventy designs of Raphael in my possession for a week.'

       *       *       *       *       *

These fine entertainments were shared with many admirers, and, as I
now remember them, certain months about the years 1839, 1840, seem
colored with the genius of these Italians. Our walls were hung with
prints of the Sistine frescoes; we were all petty collectors; and
prints of Correggio and Guercino took the place, for the time, of
epics and philosophy.

In the summer of 1839, Boston was still more rightfully adorned with
the Allston Gallery; and the sculptures of our compatriots Greenough,
and Crawford, and Powers, were brought hither. The following lines
were addressed by Margaret to the Orpheus:--


  'Each Orpheus must to the abyss descend,
    For only thus the poet can be wise,--
  Must make the sad Persephone his friend,
    And buried love to second life arise;
  Again his love must lose, through too much love,
    Must lose his life by living life too true;
  For what he sought below has passed above,
    Already done is all that he would do;
  Must tune all being with his single lyre;
    Must melt all rocks free from their primal pain,
  Must search all nature with his one soul's fire;
    Must bind anew all forms in heavenly chain:
  If he already sees what he must do,
  Well may he shade his eyes from the far-shining view.'

Margaret's love of art, like that of most cultivated persons in this
country, was not at all technical, but truly a sympathy with the
artist, in the protest which his work pronounced on the deformity
of our daily manners; her co-perception with him of the eloquence
of form; her aspiration with him to a fairer life. As soon as her
conversation ran into the mysteries of manipulation and artistic
effect, it was less trustworthy. I remember that in the first times
when I chanced to see pictures with her, I listened reverently to
her opinions, and endeavored to see what she saw. But, on several
occasions, finding myself unable to reach it, I came to suspect my
guide, and to believe, at last, that her taste in works of art, though
honest, was not on universal, but on idiosyncratic, grounds. As it has
proved one of the most difficult problems of the practical astronomer
to obtain an achromatic telescope, so an achromatic eye, one of the
most needed, is also one of the rarest instruments of criticism.

She was very susceptible to pleasurable stimulus, took delight in
details of form, color, and sound. Her fancy and imagination were
easily stimulated to genial activity, and she erroneously thanked the
artist for the pleasing emotions and thoughts that rose in her mind.
So that, though capable of it, she did not always bring that highest
tribunal to a work of art, namely, the calm presence of greatness,
which only greatness in the object can satisfy. Yet the opinion was
often well worth hearing on its own account, though it might be wide
of the mark as criticism. Sometimes, too, she certainly brought to
beautiful objects a fresh and appreciating love; and her written
notes, especially on sculpture, I found always original and
interesting. Here are some notes on the Athenæum Gallery of Sculpture,
in August, 1840, which she sent me in manuscript:--

    'Here are many objects worth study. There is Thorwaldsen's
    Byron. This is the truly beautiful, the ideal Byron. This head
    is quite free from the got-up, caricatured air of disdain,
    which disfigures most likenesses of him, as it did himself
    in real life; yet sultry, stern, all-craving, all-commanding.
    Even the heavy style of the hair, too closely curled for
    grace, is favorable to the expression of concentrated life.
    While looking at this head, you learn to account for the grand
    failure in the scheme of his existence. The line of the cheek
    and chin are here, as usual, of unrivalled beauty.

    'The bust of Napoleon is here also, and will naturally be
    named, in connection with that of Byron, since the one in
    letters, the other in arms, represented more fully than any
    other the tendency of their time; more than any other gave it
    a chance for reaction. There was another point of resemblance
    in the external being of the two, perfectly corresponding with
    that of the internal, a sense of which peculiarity drew on
    Byron some ridicule. I mean that it was the intention of
    nature, that neither should ever grow fat, but remain a
    Cassius in the commonwealth. And both these heads are taken
    while they were at an early age, and so thin as to be still
    beautiful. This head of Napoleon is of a stern beauty. A head
    must be of a style either very stern or very chaste, to make
    a deep impression on the beholder; there must be a great force
    of will and withholding of resources, giving a sense of depth
    below depth, which we call sternness; or else there must be
    that purity, flowing as from an inexhaustible fountain through
    every lineament, which drives far off or converts all baser
    natures. Napoleon's head is of the first description; it is
    stern, and not only so, but ruthless. Yet this ruthlessness
    excites no aversion; the artist has caught its true character,
    and given us here the Attila, the instrument of fate to serve
    a purpose not his own. While looking on it, came full to mind
    the well-known lines,--

                  '"Speak gently of his crimes:
      Who knows, Scourge of God, but in His eyes, those crimes
      Were virtues?"

    His brows are tense and damp with the dews of thought. In that
    head you see the great future, careless of the black and white
    stones; and even when you turn to the voluptuous beauty of the
    mouth, the impression remains so strong, that Russia's
    snows, and mountains of the slain, seem the tragedy that must
    naturally follow the appearance of such an actor. You turn
    from him, feeling that he is a product not of the day, but of
    the ages, and that the ages must judge him.

    'Near him is a head of Ennius, very intellectual; self-centred
    and self-fed; but wrung and gnawed by unceasing thoughts.

    'Yet, even near the Ennius and Napoleon, our American men look
    worthy to be perpetuated in marble or bronze, if it were only
    for their air of calm, unpretending sagacity. If the young
    American were to walk up an avenue lined with such effigies,
    he might not feel called to such greatness as the strong Roman
    wrinkles tell of, but he must feel that he could not live an
    idle life, and should nerve himself to lift an Atlas weight
    without repining or shrinking.

    'The busts of Everett and Allston, though admirable as
    every-day likenesses, deserved a genius of a different order
    from Clevenger. Clevenger gives the man as he is at the
    moment, but does not show the possibilities of his existence.
    Even thus seen, the head of Mr. Everett brings back all the
    age of Pericles, so refined and classic is its beauty. The
    two busts of Mr. Webster, by Clevenger and Powers, are the
    difference between prose,--healthy and energetic prose,
    indeed, but still prose,--and poetry. Clevenger's is such as
    we see Mr. Webster on any public occasion, when his genius
    is not called forth. No child could fail to recognize it in
    a moment. Powers' is not so good as a likeness, but has the
    higher merit of being an ideal of the orator and statesman at
    a great moment. It is quite an American Jupiter in its eagle
    calmness of conscious power.

    'A marble copy of the beautiful Diana, not so spirited as
    the Athenæum cast. S. C---- thought the difference was one of
    size. This work may be seen at a glance; yet does not tire
    one after survey. It has the freshness of the woods, and of
    morning dew. I admire those long lithe limbs, and that column
    of a throat. The Diana is a woman's ideal of beauty; its
    elegance, its spirit, its graceful, peremptory air, are what
    we like in our own sex: the Venus is for men. The sleeping
    Cleopatra cannot be looked at enough; always her sleep seems
    sweeter and more graceful, always more wonderful the drapery.
    A little Psyche, by a pupil of Bartolini, pleases us much thus
    far. The forlorn sweetness with which she sits there, crouched
    down like a bruised butterfly, and the languid tenacity of
    her mood, are very touching. The Mercury and Ganymede with
    the Eagle, by Thorwaldsen, are still as fine as on first
    acquaintance. Thorwaldsen seems the grandest and simplest of
    modern sculptors. There is a breadth in his thought, a freedom
    in his design, we do not see elsewhere.

    'A spaniel, by Gott, shows great talent, and knowledge of the
    animal. The head is admirable; it is so full of playfulness
    and of doggish knowingness.'

I am tempted, by my recollection of the pleasure it gave her, to
insert here a little poem, addressed to Margaret by one of her
friends, on the beautiful imaginative picture in the gallery of 1840,
called "The Dream."

  "A youth, with gentle brow and tender cheek,
    Dreams in a place so silent, that no bird,
  No rustle of the leaves his slumbers break;
    Only soft tinkling from the stream is heard,
  As in bright little waves it comes to greet
  The beauteous One, and play upon his feet.

  "On a low bank, beneath the thick shade thrown,
    Soft gleams over his brown hair are flitting,
  His golden plumes, bending, all lovely shone;
    It seemed an angel's home where he was sitting,
  Erect, beside, a silver lily grew,
  And over all the shadow its sweet beauty threw.

  "Dreams he of life? O, then a noble maid
    Toward him floats, with eyes of starry light,
  In richest robes all radiantly arrayed,
    To be his ladye and his dear delight.
  Ah no! the distance shows a winding stream;
  No lovely ladye moves, no starry eyes do gleam.

  "Cold is the air, and cold the mountains blue;
    The banks are brown, and men are lying there,
  Meagre and old; O, what have they to do
    With joyous visions of a youth so fair?
  He must not ever sleep as they are sleeping,
  Onward through life he must be ever sweeping.

  "Let the pale glimmering distance pass away;
    Why in the twilight art thou slumbering there?
  Wake, and come forth into triumphant day;
    Thy life and deeds must all be great and fair.
  Canst thou not from the lily learn true glory,
  Pure, lofty, lowly?--such should be thy story.

  "But no! thou lovest the deep-eyéd Past,
    And thy heart clings to sweet remembrances;
  In dim cathedral aisles thou'lt linger last,
    And fill thy mind with flitting fantasies.
  But know, dear One, the world is rich to-day,
  And the unceasing God gives glory forth alway."

I have said she was never weary of studying Michel Angelo and Raphael;
and here are some manuscript "notes," which she sent me one day,
containing a clear expression of her feeling toward each of these
masters, after she had become tolerably familiar with their designs,
as far as prints could carry her:--

    'On seeing such works as these of Michel Angelo, we feel the
    need of a genius scarcely inferior to his own, which should
    invent some word, or some music, adequate to express our
    feelings, and relieve us from the Titanic oppression.

    '"Greatness," "majesty," "strength,"--to these words we had
    before thought we attached their proper meaning. But now we
    repent that they ever passed our lips. Created anew by the
    genius of this man, we would create language anew, and give
    him a word of response worthy his sublime profession of faith.
    Could we not at least have reserved "godlike" for him?
    For never till now did we appreciate the primeval vigor of
    creation, the instant swiftness with which thought can pass
    to deed; never till now appreciate the passage, "Let there be
    light, and there was light," which, be grateful, Michel! was
    clothed in human word before thee.

    'One feels so repelled and humbled, on turning from Raphael
    to his contemporary, that I could have hated him as a Gentile
    Choragus might hate the prophet Samuel. Raphael took us to his
    very bosom, as if we had been fit for disciples,--

      '"Parting with smiles the hair upon the brow,
      And telling me none ever was preferred"

    'This man waves his serpent wand over me, and beauty's self
    seems no better than a golden calf!

    'I could not bear M. De Quincy for intimating that the
    archangel Michel could be jealous; yet I can easily see
    that he might have given cause, by undervaluing his divine
    contemporary. Raphael was so sensuous, so lovely and loving.
    All undulates to meet the eye, glides or floats upon the
    soul's horizon, as soft as is consistent with perfectly
    distinct and filled-out forms. The graceful Lionardo might see
    his pictures in moss; the beautiful Raphael on the cloud,
    or wave, or foliage; but thou, Michel, didst look straight
    upwards to the heaven, and grasp and bring thine down from the
    very sun of invention.

    'How Raphael revels in the image! His life is all reproduced;
    nothing was abstract or conscious. Pantheism, Polytheism,
    Greek god of Beauty, Apollo Musagetes,--what need of life
    beyond the divine work? "I paint," said he, "from an idea that
    comes into my mind."

    'But thou, Michel, didst not only feel but see the divine
    Ideal. Thine is the conscious monotheism of Jewry. Like thy
    own Moses, even on the mount of celestial converse, thou didst
    ask thy God to show now his face, and didst write his words,
    not in the alphabet of flowers, but on stone tables.

    'It is, indeed, the two geniuses of Greece and Jewry, which
    are reproduced in these two men. Thaumaturgus nature saw fit
    to wait but a very few years before using these moulds again,
    in smaller space. Would you read the Bible aright? look at
    Michel; the Greek Mythology? look at Raphael. Would you know
    how the sublime coëxists with the beautiful, or the beautiful
    with the sublime? would you see power and truth regnant on the
    one side, with beauty and love harmonious and ministrant,
    but subordinate; or would you look at the other aspect of
    Deity?--study here. Would you open all the founts of marvel,
    admiration, and tenderness?--study both.

    'One is not higher than the other; yet I am conscious of a
    slight rebuke from Michel, for having so poured out my soul at
    the feet of his brother angel. He seems to remind of Mr. E.'s
    view, and ask, "Why did you not question whether there was not
    aught else? why not reserve some inaccessible stronghold for
    me? why did you unlock the floodgates of the mind to such
    tides of emotion?" But there is no reality or permanence in
    this; it is only a reminder that the feminine part of human
    nature must not be dominant.

    'The prophets of Michel Angelo excite all my admiration at the
    man capable of giving to such a physique an expression which
    commands it. The soul is worthily lodged in these powerful
    frames; and she has the ease and dignity of one accustomed to
    command, and to command servants able to obey her hests.
    Who else could have so animated such forms, that they are
    imposing, but never heavy? The strong man is made so majestic
    by his office, that you scarcely feel how strong he is. The
    wide folds of the drapery, the breadth of light and shade, are
    great as anything in

      "the large utterance of the early gods."

    'How they read,--these prophets and sibyls! Never did the
    always-baffled, always reäspiring hope of the finite to
    compass the infinite find such expression, except in the
    _sehnsucht_ of music. They are buried in the volume. They
    cannot believe that it has not somewhere been revealed, the
    word of enigma, the link between the human and divine, matter
    and spirit. Evidently, they hope to find it on the very next
    page. I have always thought, that clearly enough did nature
    and the soul's own consciousness respond to the craving for
    immortality. I have thought it great weakness to need the
    voucher of a miracle, or of any of those direct interpositions
    of a divine power, which, in common parlance, are alone styled
    revelation. When the revelations of nature seemed to me so
    clear, I had thought it was the weakness of the heart, or
    the dogmatism of the understanding, which had such need of
    _a book_. But in these figures of Michel, the highest power
    seizes upon a scroll, hoping that some other mind may have
    dived to the depths of eternity for the desired pearl,
    and enable him, without delay, consciously to embrace the
    Everlasting Now.

    'How fine the attendant intelligences! So youthful and fresh,
    yet so strong. Some merely docile and reverent, others eager
    for utterance before the thought be known,--so firm is the
    trust in its value, so great the desire for sympathy. Others
    so brilliant in the attention of the inquiring eye, so
    intelligent in every feature, that they seem to divine the
    whole, before they hear it.

    'Zachariah is much the finer of the two prophets.

    'Of the sibyls, the _Cumæa_ would be disgusting, from her
    overpowering strength in the feminine form, if genius had not
    made her tremendous. Especially the bosom gives me a feeling
    of faintness and aversion I cannot express. The female breast
    looks made for the temple of sweet and chaste thoughts, while
    this is so formed as to remind you of the lioness in her lair,
    and suggest a word which I will not write.

    'The _Delphica_ is even beautiful, in Michel's fair,
    calm, noble style, like the mother and child asleep in the
    _Persica_, and _Night_ in the casts I have just seen.

    'The _Libica_ is also more beautiful than grand. Her adjuncts
    are admirable. The elder figure, in the lowest pannel,--with
    what eyes of deep experience, and still unquenched enthusiasm,
    he sits meditating on the past! The figures at top are fiery
    with genius, especially the melancholy one, worthy to lift any
    weight, if he did but know how to set about it. As it is, all
    his strength may be wasted, yet he no whit the less noble.

    'But the _Persica_ is my favorite above all. She is the
    true sibyl. All the grandeur of that wasted frame comes from
    within. The life of thought has wasted the fresh juices of the
    body, and hardened the sere leaf of her cheek to parchment;
    every lineament is sharp, every tint tarnished; her face is
    seamed with wrinkles,--usually as repulsive on a woman's
    face as attractive on a man. We usually feel, on looking at
    a woman, as if Nature had given them their best dower, and
    Experience could prove little better than a step-dame. But
    here, her high ambition and devotion to the life of thought
    gives her the masculine privilege of beauty in advancing
    years. Read on, hermitess of the world! what thou seekest is
    not there, yet thou dost not seek in vain.

    'The adjuncts to this figure are worthy of it. On the right,
    below, those two divine sleepers, redeeming human nature, and
    infolding expectation in a robe of pearly sheen. Here is the
    sweetness of strength,--honey to the valiant; on the other
    side, its awfulness,--meat to the strong man. His sleep is
    more powerful than the waking of myriads of other men. What
    will he do when he has recruited his strength in this night's
    slumber? What wilt thou sing of it, wild-haired child of the

    'I admire the heavy fall of the sleeper's luxuriant hair,
    which reminds one of the final shutting down of night upon a
    sullen twilight.

    'The other figures, too, are full of augury, sad but
    life-like, in its poetry. On the shield, how perfectly is the
    expression of being struck home to the heart given! I wish I
    could have that shield, in some shape. Only a single blow
    was needed; the hand was sure, the breast shrinking, but
    unresisting. Die, child of my affection, child of my old age!
    Let the blood follow to the hilt, for it is the sword of the

    'In looking again, this shield is on the _Libica_, and that of
    the _Persica_ represents conquest, not sacrifice.

    'Over all these figures broods the spirit of prophecy. You
    see their sternest deed is under the theocratic form. There is
    pride in action, but no selfism in these figures.

    'When I first came to Michel, I clung to the beautiful
    Raphael, and feared his Druidical axe. But now, after the
    sibyls of Michel, it is unsafe to look at those of Raphael;
    for they seem weak, which is not so, only seems so, beside the
    sterner ideal.

    'The beauty of composition here is great, and you feel that
    Michel's works are looked at fragment-wise in comparison. Here
    the eye glides along so naturally, does so easily justice to
    each part.'


I fear the remark already made on that susceptibility to details
in art and nature which precluded the exercise of Margaret's sound
catholic judgment, must be extended to more than her connoisseurship.
She _had_ a sound judgment, on which, in conversation, she could fall
back, and anticipate and speak the best sense of the largest company.
But, left to herself, and in her correspondence, she was much the
victim of Lord Bacon's _idols of the cave_, or self-deceived by her
own phantasms. I have looked over volumes of her letters to me and
others. They are full of probity, talent, wit, friendship, charity,
and high aspiration. They are tainted with a mysticism, which to me
appears so much an affair of constitution, that it claims no more
respect than the charity or patriotism of a man who has dined well,
and feels better for it. One sometimes talks with a genial _bon
vivant_, who looks as if the omelet and turtle have got into his eyes.
In our noble Margaret, her personal feeling colors all her judgment
of persons, of books, of pictures, and even of the laws of the world.
This is easily felt in ordinary women, and a large deduction is
civilly made on the spot by whosoever replies to their remark. But
when the speaker has such brilliant talent and literature as Margaret,
she gives so many fine names to these merely sensuous and subjective
phantasms, that the hearer is long imposed upon, and thinks so precise
and glittering nomenclature cannot be of mere _muscae volitantes_,
phoenixes of the fancy, but must be of some real ornithology, hitherto
unknown to him. This mere feeling exaggerates a host of trifles into a
dazzling mythology. But when one goes to sift it, and find if there be
a real meaning, it eludes search. Whole sheets of warm, florid writing
are here, in which the eye is caught by "sapphire," "heliotrope,"
"dragon," "aloes," "Magna Dea," "limboes," "stars," and "purgatory,"
but can connect all this, or any part of it, with no universal

In short, Margaret often loses herself in sentimentalism. That
dangerous vertigo nature in her case adopted, and was to make
respectable. As it sometimes happens that a grandiose style, like that
of the Alexandrian Platonists, or like Macpherson's Ossian, is more
stimulating to the imagination of nations, than the true Plato, or
than the simple poet, so here was a head so creative of new colors,
of wonderful gleams,--so iridescent, that it piqued curiosity, and
stimulated thought, and communicated mental activity to all who
approached her; though her perceptions were not to be compared to her
fancy, and she made numerous mistakes. Her integrity was perfect, and
she was led and followed by love, and was really bent on truth, but
too indulgent to the meteors of her fancy.


  "Friends she must have, but in no one could find
  A tally fitted to so large a mind."

It is certain that Margaret, though unattractive in person, and
assuming in manners, so that the girls complained that "she put upon
them," or, with her burly masculine existence, quite reduced them to
satellites, yet inspired an enthusiastic attachment. I hear from one
witness, as early as 1829, that "all the girls raved about Margaret
Fuller," and the same powerful magnetism wrought, as she went on, from
year to year, on all ingenuous natures. The loveliest and the highest
endowed women were eager to lay their beauty, their grace, the
hospitalities of sumptuous homes, and their costly gifts, at her feet.
When I expressed, one day, many years afterwards, to a lady who
knew her well, some surprise at the homage paid her by men in
Italy,--offers of marriage having there been made her by distinguished
parties,--she replied: "There is nothing extraordinary in it. Had she
been a man, any one of those fine girls of sixteen, who surrounded
her here, would have married her: they were all in love with her, she
understood them so well." She had seen many persons, and had entire
confidence in her own discrimination of characters. She saw and
foresaw all in the first interview. She had certainly made her own
selections with great precision, and had not been disappointed. When
pressed for a reason, she replied, in one instance,

    'I have no good reason to give for what I think of ----. It
    is a dæmoniacal intimation. Everybody at ---- praised her, but
    their account of what she said gave me the same unfavorable
    feeling. This is the first instance in which I have not had
    faith, if you liked a person. Perhaps I am wrong now; perhaps,
    if I saw her, a look would give me a needed clue to her
    character, and I should change my feeling. Yet I have never
    been mistaken in these intimations, as far as I recollect. I
    hope I am now.'

I am to add, that she gave herself to her friendships with an
entireness not possible to any but a woman, with a depth possible
to few women. Her friendships, as a girl with girls, as a woman with
women, were not unmingled with passion, and had passages of romantic
sacrifice and of ecstatic fusion, which I have heard with the ear, but
could not trust my profane pen to report. There were, also, the ebbs
and recoils from the other party,--the mortal unequal to converse
with an immortal,--ingratitude, which was more truly incapacity, the
collapse of overstrained affections and powers. At all events, it is
clear that Margaret, later, grew more strict, and values herself with
her friends on having the tie now "redeemed from all search after
Eros." So much, however, of intellectual aim and activity mixed with
her alliances, as to breathe a certain dignity and myrrh through them
all. She and her friends are fellow-students with noblest moral aims.
She is there for help and for counsel. 'Be to the best thou knowest
ever true!' is her language to one. And that was the effect of her
presence. Whoever conversed with her felt challenged by the strongest
personal influence to a bold and generous life. To one she wrote,--

    'Could a word from me avail you, I would say, that I have firm
    faith that nature cannot be false to her child, who has shown
    such an unalterable faith in her piety towards her.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'These tones of my dear ----'s lyre are of the noblest. Will
    they sound purely through her experiences? Will the variations
    be faithful to the theme? Not always do those who most
    devoutly long for the Infinite, know best how to modulate
    their finite into a fair passage of the eternal Harmony.

    'How many years was it the cry of my spirit,--

  "Give, give, ye mighty Gods!
  Why do ye thus hold back?"--

    and, I suppose, all noble young persons think for the time
    that they would have been more generous than the Olympians.
    But when we have learned the high lesson _to deserve_,--that
    boon of manhood,--we see they esteemed us too much, to give
    what we had not earned.'

The following passages from her journal and her letters are
sufficiently descriptive, each in its way, of her strong affections.

    'At Mr. G.'s we looked over prints, the whole evening, in
    peace. Nothing fixed my attention so much as a large engraving
    of Madame Recamier in her boudoir. I have so often thought
    over the intimacy between her and Madame De Stael.

    'It is so true that a woman may be in love with a woman, and
    a man with a man. I like to be sure of it, for it is the same
    love which angels feel, where--

      '"Sie fragen nicht nach Mann und Weib."

    'It is regulated by the same law as that of love between
    persons of different sexes; only it is purely intellectual and
    spiritual. Its law is the desire of the spirit to realize a
    whole, which makes it seek in another being what it finds not
    in itself. Thus the beautiful seek the strong, and the strong
    the beautiful; the mute seeks the eloquent, &c.; the butterfly
    settles always on the dark flower. Why did Socrates love
    Alcibiades? Why did Körner love Schneider? How natural is the
    love of Wallenstein for Max; that of De Stael for De Recamier;
    mine for ----. I loved ----, for a time, with as much passion
    as I was then strong enough to feel. Her face was always
    gleaming before me; her voice was always echoing in my ear;
    all poetic thoughts clustered round the dear image. This love
    was a key which unlocked for me many a treasure which I still
    possess; it was the carbuncle which cast light into many of
    the darkest caverns of human nature. She loved me, too, though
    not so much, because her nature was "less high, less grave,
    less large, less deep." But she loved more tenderly, less
    passionately. She loved me, for I well remember her suffering
    when she first could feel my faults, and knew one part of the
    exquisite veil rent away; how she wished to stay apart, and
    weep the whole day.

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I do not love her now with passion, but I still feel towards
    her as I can to no other woman. I thought of all this as I
    looked at Madame Recamier.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    TO R.W.E.

    '_7th Feb., 1843._--I saw the letter of your new friend, and
    liked it much; only, at this distance, one could not be sure
    whether it was the nucleus or the train of a comet, that
    lightened afar. The daemons are not busy enough at the births
    of most men. They do not give them individuality deep enough
    for truth to take root in. Such shallow natures cannot resist
    a strong head; its influence goes right through them. It is
    not stopped and fermented long enough. But I do not understand
    this hint of hesitation, because you have many friends
    already. We need not economize, we need not hoard these
    immortal treasures. Love and thought are not diminished by
    diffusion. In the widow's cruse is oil enough to furnish light
    for all the world.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    TO R.W.E.

    '_15th March, 1842._--It is to be hoped, my best one, that the
    experiences of life will yet correct your vocabulary, and that
    you will not always answer the burst of frank affection by the
    use of such a word as "flattery."

    'Thou knowest, O all-seeing Truth! whether that hour is base
    or unworthy thee, in which the heart turns tenderly towards
    some beloved object, whether stirred by an apprehension of its
    needs, or of its present beauty, or of its great promise; when
    it would lay before it all the flowers of hope and love, would
    soothe its weariness as gently as might the sweet south, and
    _flatter_ it by as fond an outbreak of pride and devotion
    as is seen on the sunset clouds. Thou knowest whether
    these promptings, whether these longings, be not truer than
    intellectual scrutiny of the details of character; than cold
    distrust of the exaggerations even of heart. What we hope,
    what we think of those we love, is true, true as the fondest
    dream of love and friendship that ever shone upon the childish

    'The faithful shall yet meet a full-eyed love, ready as
    profound, that never needs turn the key on its retirement, or
    arrest the stammering of an overweening trust.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    TO ----

    'I wish I could write you often, to bring before you the
    varied world-scene you cannot so well go out to unfold for
    yourself. But it was never permitted me, even where I wished
    it most. But the forest leaves fall unseen, and make a soil on
    which shall be reared the growths and fabrics of a nobler era.
    This thought rounds off each day. Your letter was a little
    golden key to a whole volume of thoughts and feelings. I
    cannot make the one bright drop, like champagne in ice,
    but must pour a full gush, if I speak at all, and not think
    whether the water is clear either.'

With this great heart, and these attractions, it was easy to add daily
to the number of her friends. With her practical talent, her counsel
and energy, she was pretty sure to find clients and sufferers enough,
who wished to be guided and supported. 'Others,' she said, 'lean on
this arm, which I have found so frail. Perhaps it is strong enough to
have drawn a sword, but no better suited to be used as a _bolt_, than
that of Lady Catharine Douglas, of loyal memory.' She could not make a
journey, or go to an evening party, without meeting a new person, who
wished presently to impart his history to her. Very early, she had
written to ----, 'My museum is so well furnished, that I grow lazy
about collecting new specimens of human nature.' She had soon enough
examples of the historic development of rude intellect under the first
rays of culture. But, in a thousand individuals, the process is much
the same; and, like a professor too long pent in his college, she
rejoiced in encountering persons of untutored grace and strength, and
felt no wish to prolong the intercourse when culture began to have
its effect I find in her journal a characteristic note, on receiving a
letter on books and speculations, from one whom she had valued for his
heroic qualities in a life of adventure:--

    'These letters of ---- are beautiful, and moved me deeply. It
    looks like the birth of a soul. But I loved _thee_, fair, rich
    _earth_,--and all that is gone forever. This that comes now,
    we know in much farther stages. Yet there is silver sweet in
    the tone, generous nobility in the impulses.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Poor Tasso in the play offered his love and service too
    officiously to all. They all rejected it, and declared him
    mad, because he made statements too emphatic of his feelings.
    If I wanted only ideal figures to think about, there are those
    in literature I like better than any of your living ones.
    But I want far more. I want habitual intercourse, cheer,
    inspiration, tenderness. I want these for myself; I want to
    impart them. I have done as Timon did, for these last eight
    years. My early intercourses were more equal, because more
    natural. Since I took on me the vows of renunciation, I have
    acted like a prodigal. Like Timon, I have loved to give,
    perhaps not from beneficence, but from restless love. Now,
    like Fortunatus, I find my mistresses will not thank me for
    fires made of cinnamon; rather they run from too rich an odor.
    What shall I do? not curse, like him, (oh base!) nor dig my
    grave in the marge of the salt tide. Give an answer to my
    questions, dæmon! Give a rock for my feet, a bird of peaceful
    and sufficient song within my breast! I return to thee, my
    Father, from the husks that have been offered me. But I return
    as one who meant not to leave Thee.'

Of course, she made large demands on her companions, and would soon
come to sound their knowledge, and guess pretty nearly the range of
their thoughts. There yet remained to command her constancy, what she
valued more, the quality and affection proper to each. But she could
rarely find natures sufficiently deep and magnetic. With her sleepless
curiosity, her magnanimity, and her diamond-ring, like Annie of
Lochroyan's, to exchange for gold or for pewter, she might be pardoned
for her impatient questionings. To me, she was uniformly generous; but
neither did I escape. Our moods were very different; and I remember,
that, at the very time when I, slow and cold, had come fully to
admire her genius, and was congratulating myself on the solid good
understanding that subsisted between us, I was surprised with hearing
it taxed by her with superficiality and halfness. She stigmatized our
friendship as commercial. It seemed, her magnanimity was not met, but
I prized her only for the thoughts and pictures she brought me;--so
many thoughts, so many facts yesterday,--so many to-day;--when there
was an end of things to tell, the game was up: that, I did not
know, as a friend should know, to prize a silence as much as a
discourse,--and hence a forlorn feeling was inevitable; a poor
counting of thoughts, and a taking the census of virtues, was the
unjust reception so much love found. On one occasion, her grief broke
into words like these: 'The religious nature remained unknown to you,
because it could not proclaim itself, but claimed to be divined. The
deepest soul that approached you was, in your eyes, nothing but a
magic lantern, always bringing out pretty shows of life.'

But as I did not understand the discontent then,--of course, I cannot
now. It was a war of temperaments, and could not be reconciled by
words; but, after each party had explained to the uttermost, it was
necessary to fall back on those grounds of agreement which remained
and leave the differences henceforward in respectful silence. The
recital may still serve to show to sympathetic persons the true lines
and enlargements of her genius. It is certain that this incongruity
never interrupted for a moment the intercourse, such as it was, that
existed between us.

I ought to add here, that certain mental changes brought new questions
into conversation. In the summer of 1840, she passed into certain
religious states, which did not impress me as quite healthy, or likely
to be permanent; and I said, "I do not understand your tone; it seems
exaggerated. You are one who can afford to speak and to hear the
truth. Let us hold hard to the common-sense, and let us speak in the
positive degree."

And I find, in later letters from her, sometimes playful, sometimes
grave allusions to this explanation.

    'Is ---- there? Does water meet water?--no need of wine,
    sugar, spice, or even a _soupçon_ of lemon to remind of a
    tropical climate? I fear me not. Yet, dear positives, believe
    me superlatively yours, MARGARET.'

The following letter seems to refer, under an Eastern guise, and with
something of Eastern exaggeration of compliment too, to some such
native sterilities in her correspondent:---

       *       *       *       *       *

    TO R.W.E.

    '_23d Feb., 1840._--I am like some poor traveller of the
    desert, who saw, at early morning, a distant palm, and toiled
    all day to reach it. All day he toiled. The unfeeling sun shot
    pains into his temples; the burning air, filled with sand,
    checked his breath; he had no water, and no fountain sprung
    along his path. But his eye was bright with courage, for he
    said, "When I reach the lonely palm, I will lie beneath its
    shade. I will refresh myself with its fruit. Allah has reared
    it to such a height, that it may encourage the wandering, and
    bless and sustain the faint and weary." But when he reached
    it, alas! it had grown too high to shade the weary man at its
    foot. On it he saw no clustering dates, and its one draught of
    wine was far beyond his reach. He saw at once that it was so.
    A child, a bird, a monkey, might have climbed to reach it. A
    rude hand might have felled the whole tree; but the full-grown
    man, the weary man, the gentle-hearted, religious man, was no
    nearer to its nourishment for being close to the root; yet he
    had not force to drag himself further, and leave at once the
    aim of so many fond hopes, so many beautiful thoughts. So he
    lay down amid the inhospitable sands. The night dews pierced
    his exhausted frame; the hyena laughed, the lion roared, in
    the distance; the stars smiled upon him satirically from their
    passionless peace; and he knew they were like the sun, as
    unfeeling, only more distant. He could not sleep for
    famine. With the dawn he arose. The palm stood as tall, as
    inaccessible, as ever; its leaves did not so much as rustle an
    answer to his farewell sigh. On and on he went, and came, at
    last, to a living spring. The spring was encircled by tender
    verdure, wild fruits ripened near, and the clear waters
    sparkled up to tempt his lip. The pilgrim rested, and
    refreshed himself, and looked back with less pain to the
    unsympathizing palm, which yet towered in the distance.

    'But the wanderer had a mission to perform, which must have
    forced him to leave at last both palm and fountain. So on and
    on he went, saying to the palm, "Thou art for another;" and to
    the gentle waters, "I will return."

    'Not far distant was he when the sirocco came, and choked with
    sand the fountain, and uprooted the fruit-trees. When years
    have passed, the waters will have forced themselves up again
    to light, and a new oasis will await a new wanderer. Thou,
    Sohrab, wilt, ere that time, have left thy bones at Mecca.
    Yet the remembrance of the fountain cheers thee as a blessing;
    that of the palm haunts thee as a pang.

    'So talks the soft spring gale of the Shah Nameh. Genuine
    Sanscrit I cannot write. My Persian and Arabic you love not.
    Why do I write thus to one who must ever regard the deepest
    tones of my nature as those of childish fancy or worldly


Already, too, at this time, each of the main problems of human life
had been closely scanned and interrogated by her, and some of them had
been much earlier settled. A worshipper of beauty, why could not she
also have been beautiful?--of the most radiant sociality, why should
not she have been so placed, and so decorated, as to have led the
fairest and highest? In her journal is a bitter sentence, whose
meaning I cannot mistake: 'Of a disposition that requires the most
refined, the most exalted tenderness, without charms to inspire
it:--poor Mignon! fear not the transition through death; no penal
fires can have in store worse torments than thou art familiar with

In the month of May, she writes:--

    'When all things are blossoming, it seems so strange not to
    blossom too; that the quick thought within cannot remould its
    tenement. Man is the slowest aloes, and I am such a shabby
    plant, of such coarse tissue. I hate not to be beautiful, when
    all around is so.'

Again, after recording a visit to a family, whose taste and culture,
united to the most liberal use of wealth, made the most agreeable of
homes, she writes:

    'Looking out on the wide view, I felt the blessings of my
    comparative freedom. I stand in no false relations. Who else
    is so happy? Here are these fair, unknowing children envying
    the depth of my mental life. They feel withdrawn by sweet
    duties from reality. Spirit! I accept; teach me to prize and
    use whatsoever is given me.'

    'At present,' she writes elsewhere, 'it skills not. I am able
    to take the superior view of life, and my place in it. But I
    know the deep yearnings of the heart and the bafflings of time
    will be felt again, and then I shall long for some dear hand
    to hold. But I shall never forget that my curse is nothing,
    compared with that of those who have entered into those
    relations, but not made them real; who only _seem_ husbands,
    wives, and friends.'

    'I remain fixed to be, without churlishness or coldness, as
    much alone as possible. It is best for me. I am not fitted to
    be loved, and it pains me to have close dealings with those
    who do not love, to whom my feelings are "strange." Kindness
    and esteem are very well. I am willing to receive and bestow
    them; but these alone are not worth feelings such as mine. And
    I wish I may make no more mistakes, but keep chaste for mine
    own people.'

There is perhaps here, as in a passage of the same journal quoted
already, an allusion to a verse in the ballad of the Lass of

  "O yours was gude, and gude enough,
    But aye the best was mine;
  For yours was o' the gude red gold,
    But mine o' the diamond fine."

    'There is no hour of absolute beauty in all my past, though
    some have been made musical by heavenly hope, many dignified
    by intelligence. Long urged by the Furies, I rest again in
    the temple of Apollo. Celestial verities dawn constellated as
    thoughts in the Heaven of my mind.

    'But, driven from home to home, as a renouncer, I get the
    picture and the poetry of each. Keys of gold, silver, iron,
    and lead, are in my casket. No one loves me; but I love many a
    good deal, and see, more or less, into their eventual beauty.
    Meanwhile, I have no fetter on me, no engagement, and, as I
    look on others,--almost every other,--can I fail to feel this
    a great privilege? I have nowise tied my hands or feet; yet
    the varied calls on my sympathy have been such, that I hope
    not to be made partial, cold, or ignorant, by this isolation.
    I have no child; but now, as I look on these lovely children
    of a human birth, what low and neutralizing cares they
    bring with them to the mother! The children of the muse
    come quicker, and have not on them the taint of earthly

Practical questions in plenty the days and months brought her to
settle,--questions requiring all her wisdom, and sometimes more than
all. None recurs with more frequency, at one period, in her journals,
than the debate with herself, whether she shall make literature a
profession. Shall it be woman, or shall it be artist?


Margaret resolved, again and again, to devote herself no more to these
disappointing forms of men and women, but to the children of the muse.
'The _dramatis personæ_' she said, 'of my poems shall henceforth be
chosen from the children of immortal Muse. I fix my affections no
more on these frail forms.' But it was vain; she rushed back again to
persons, with a woman's devotion.

Her pen was a non-conductor. She always took it up with some disdain,
thinking it a kind of impiety to attempt to report a life so warm and
cordial, and wrote on the fly-leaf of her journal,--

    '"_Scrivo sol per sfogar' l'interno_."'

    'Since you went away,' she said, 'I have thought of many
    things I might have told you, but I could not bear to be
    eloquent and poetical. It is a mockery thus to play the artist
    with life, and dip the brush in one's own heart's blood. One
    would fain be no more artist, or philosopher, or lover, or
    critic, but a soul ever rushing forth in tides of genial

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_26 Dec., 1842._--I have been reading the lives of Lord
    Herbert of Cherbury, and of Sir Kenelm Digby. These splendid,
    chivalrous, and thoughtful Englishmen are meat which my
    soul loveth, even as much as my Italians. What I demand of
    men,--that they could act out all their thoughts,--these have.
    They are lives;--and of such I do not care if they had as many
    faults as there are days in the year,--there is the energy
    to redeem them. Do you not admire Lord Herbert's two poems on
    life, and the conjectures concerning celestial life? I keep
    reading them.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'When I look at my papers, I feel as if I had never had a
    thought that was worthy the attention of any but myself; and
    'tis only when, on talking with people, I find I tell them
    what they did not know, that my confidence at all returns.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'My verses,--I am ashamed when I think there is scarce a line
    of poetry in them,--all rhetorical and impassioned, as Goethe
    said of De Stael. However, such as they are, they have
    been overflowing drops from the somewhat bitter cup of my

       *       *       *       *       *

    'How can I ever write with this impatience of detail? I shall
    never be an artist; I have no patient love of execution; I
    am delighted with my sketch, but if I try to finish it, I am
    chilled. Never was there a great sculptor who did not love to
    chip the marble.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'I have talent and knowledge enough to furnish a dwelling for
    friendship, but not enough to deck with golden gifts a Delphi
    for the world.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Then a woman of tact and brilliancy, like me, has an undue
    advantage in conversation with men. They are astonished at our
    instincts. They do not see where we got our knowledge; and,
    while they tramp on in their clumsy way, we wheel, and fly,
    and dart hither and thither, and seize with ready eye all the
    weak points, like Saladin in the desert. It is quite another
    thing when we come to write, and, without suggestion from
    another mind, to declare the positive amount of thought that
    is in us. Because we seemed to know all, they think we can
    tell all; and, finding we can tell so little, lose faith in
    their first opinion of us, _which, nathless, was true_.'

And again:

    'These gentlemen are surprised that I write no better, because
    I talk so well. But I have served a long apprenticeship to
    the one, none to the other. I shall write better, but never, I
    think, so well as I talk; for then I feel inspired. The means
    are pleasant; my voice excites me, my pen never. I shall not
    be discouraged, nor take for final what they say, but sift
    from it the truth, and use it. I feel the strength to dispense
    with all illusions. I will stand steady, and rejoice in the
    severest probations.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'What a vulgarity there seems in this writing for the
    multitude! We know not yet, have not made ourselves known to
    a single soul, and shall we address those still more unknown?
    Shall we multiply our connections, and thus make them still
    more superficial?

    'I would go into the crowd, and meet men for the day, to help
    them for the day, but for that intercourse which most becomes
    us. Pericles, Anaxagoras, Aspasia, Cleone, is circle wide
    enough for me. I should think all the resources of my nature,
    and all the tribute it could enforce from external nature,
    none too much to furnish the banquet for this circle.

    'But where to find fit, though few, representatives for all
    we value in humanity? Where obtain those golden keys to the
    secret treasure-chambers of the soul? No samples are perfect.
    We must look abroad into the wide circle, to seek a little
    here, and a little there, to make up our company. And is not
    the "prent book" a good beacon-light to tell where we wait the
    bark?--a reputation, the means of entering the Olympic game,
    where Pindar may perchance be encountered?

    'So it seems the mind must reveal its secret; must reproduce.
    And I have no castle, and no natural circle, in which I might
    live, like the wise Makaria, observing my kindred the stars,
    and gradually enriching my archives. Makaria here must go
    abroad, or the stars would hide their light, and the archive
    remain a blank.

    'For all the tides of life that flow within me, I am dumb and
    ineffectual, when it comes to casting my thought into a form.
    No old one suits me. If I could invent one, it seems to me the
    pleasure of creation would make it possible for me to write.
    What shall I do, dear friend? I want force to be either a
    genius or a character. One should be either private or public.
    I love best to be a woman; but womanhood is at present too
    straitly-bounded to give me scope. At hours, I live truly as
    a woman; at others, I should stifle; as, on the other hand, I
    should palsy, when I would play the artist.'


These practical problems Margaret had to entertain and to solve the
best way she could. She says truly, 'there was none to take up her
burden whilst she slept.' But she was formed for action, and addressed
herself quite simply to her part. She was a woman, an orphan,
without beauty, without money; and these negatives will suggest what
difficulties were to be surmounted where the tasks dictated by her
talents required the good-will of "good society," in the town where
she was to teach and write. But she was even-tempered and erect, and,
if her journals are sometimes mournful, her mind was made up, her
countenance beamed courage and cheerfulness around her. Of personal
influence, speaking strictly,--an efflux, that is, purely of mind and
character, excluding all effects of power, wealth, fashion, beauty, or
literary fame,--she had an extraordinary degree; I think more than any
person I have known. An interview with her was a joyful event. Worthy
men and women, who had conversed with her, could not forget her, but
worked bravely on in the remembrance that this heroic approver had
recognized their aims. She spoke so earnestly, that the depth of the
sentiment prevailed, and not the accidental expression, which might
chance to be common. Thus I learned, the other day, that, in a copy
of Mrs. Jameson's Italian Painters, against a passage describing
Correggio as a true servant of God in his art, above sordid ambition,
devoted to truth, "one of those superior beings of whom there are so
few;" Margaret wrote on the margin, 'And yet all might be such.' The
book lay long on the table of the owner, in Florence, and chanced to
be read there by a young artist of much talent. "These words," said
he, months afterwards, "struck out a new strength in me. They revived
resolutions long fallen away, and made me set my face like a flint."

But Margaret's courage was thoroughly sweet in its temper. She accused
herself in her youth of unamiable traits, but, in all the later years
of her life, it is difficult to recall a moment of malevolence. The
friends whom her strength of mind drew to her, her good heart held
fast; and few persons were ever the objects of more persevering
kindness. Many hundreds of her letters remain, and they are alive with
proofs of generous friendship given and received.

Among her early friends, Mrs. Farrar, of Cambridge, appears to have
discovered, at a critical moment in her career, the extraordinary
promise of the young girl, and some false social position into which
her pride and petulance, and the mistakes of others, had combined to
bring her, and she set herself, with equal kindness and address, to
make a second home for Margaret in her own house, and to put her on
the best footing in the agreeable society of Cambridge. She busied
herself, also, as she could, in removing all superficial blemishes
from the gem. In a well-chosen travelling party, made up by Mrs.
Farrar, and which turned out to be the beginning of much happiness by
the friendships then formed, Margaret visited, in the summer of 1835,
Newport, New York, and Trenton Falls; and, in the autumn, made the
acquaintance, at Mrs. F.'s house, of Miss Martineau, whose friendship,
at that moment, was an important stimulus to her mind.

Mrs. Farrar performed for her, thenceforward, all the offices of an
almost maternal friendship. She admired her genius, and wished that
all should admire it. She counselled and encouraged her, brought to
her side the else unsuppliable aid of a matron and a lady, sheltered
her in sickness, forwarded her plans with tenderness and constancy,
to the last. I read all this in the tone of uniform gratitude and love
with which this lady is mentioned in Margaret's letters. Friendships
like this praise both parties; and the security with which people of
a noble disposition approached Margaret, indicated the quality of her
own infinite tenderness. A very intelligent woman applied to her what
Stilling said of Goethe: "Her heart, which few knew, was as great as
her mind, which all knew;" and added, that, "in character, Margaret
was, of all she had beheld, the largest woman, and not a woman who
wished, to be a man." Another lady added, "She never disappointed you.
To any one whose confidence she had once drawn out, she was thereafter
faithful. She could talk of persons, and never gossip; for she had a
fine instinct that kept her from any reality, and from any effect of
treachery." I was still more struck with the remark that followed.
"Her life, since she went abroad, is wholly unknown to me; but I have
an unshaken trust that what Margaret did she can defend."

She was a right brave and heroic woman. She shrunk from no duty,
because of feeble nerves. Although, after her father died, the
disappointment of not going to Europe with Miss Martineau and Mrs.
Farrar was extreme, and her mother and sister wished her to take
her portion of the estate and go; and, on her refusal, entreated the
interference of friends to overcome her objections; Margaret would not
hear of it, and devoted herself to the education of her brothers and
sisters, and then to the making a home for the family. She was exact
and punctual in money matters, and maintained herself, and made her
full contribution to the support of her family, by the reward of her
labors as a teacher, and in her conversation classes. I have a letter
from her at Jamaica Plain, dated November, 1840, which begins,

    'This day I write you from my own hired house, and am full of
    the dignity of citizenship. Really, it is almost happiness.
    I retain, indeed, some cares and responsibilities; but these
    will sit light as feathers, for I can take my own time for
    them. Can it be that this peace will be mine for five whole
    months? At any rate, five days have already been enjoyed.'

Here is another, written in the same year:--

    'I do not wish to talk to you of my ill-health, except that I
    like you should know when it makes me do anything badly, since
    I wish you to excuse and esteem me. But let me say, once for
    all, in reply to your letter, that you are mistaken if you
    think I ever wantonly sacrifice my health. I have learned
    that we cannot injure ourselves without injuring others; and
    besides, that we have no right; for ourselves are all we know
    of heaven. I do not try to domineer over myself. But, unless
    I were sure of dying, I cannot dispense with making some
    exertion, both for the present and the future. There is no
    mortal, who, if I laid down my burden, would take care of
    it while I slept. Do not think me weakly disinterested, or,
    indeed, disinterested at all.'

Every one of her friends knew assuredly that her sympathy and aid
would not fail them when required. She went, from the most joyful of
all bridals, to attend a near relative during a formidable surgical
operation. She was here to help others. As one of her friends writes,
'She helped whoever knew her.' She adopted the interests of humble
persons, within her circle, with heart-cheering warmth, and her ardor
in the cause of suffering and degraded women, at Sing-Sing, was as
irresistible as her love of books. She had, many years afterwards,
scope for the exercise of all her love and devotion, in Italy, but
she came to it as if it had been her habit and her natural sphere. The
friends who knew her in that country, relate, with much surprise,
that she, who had all her lifetime drawn people by her wit, should
recommend herself so highly, in Italy, by her tenderness and large
affection. Yet the tenderness was only a face of the wit; as before,
the wit was raised above all other wit by the affection behind it.
And, truly, there was an ocean of tears always, in her atmosphere,
ready to fall.

There was, at New York, a poor adventurer, half patriot, half
author, a miserable man, always in such depths of distress, with
such squadrons of enemies, that no charity could relieve, and no
intervention save him. He believed Europe banded for his destruction,
and America corrupted to connive at it. Margaret listened to these
woes with such patience and mercy, that she drew five hundred dollars,
which had been invested for her in a safe place, and put them in those
hapless hands, where, of course, the money was only the prey of new
rapacity, to be bewailed by new reproaches. When one of her friends
had occasion to allude to this, long afterwards, she replied:--

    'In answer to what you say of ----, I wish, indeed, the little
    effort I made for him had been wiselier applied. Yet these are
    not the things one regrets. It will not do to calculate too
    closely with the affectionate human impulse. We must consent
    to make many mistakes, or we should move too slow to help our
    brothers much. I am sure you do not regret what you spent on
    Miani, and other worthless people. As things looked then, it
    would have been wrong not to have risked the loss.'


But Margaret crowned all her talents and virtues with a love of truth,
and the power to speak it. In great and in small matters, she was
a woman of her word, and gave those who conversed with her the
unspeakable comfort that flows from plain dealing. Her nature was
frank and transparent, and she had a right to say, as she says in her

    'I have the satisfaction of knowing, that, in my counsels, I
    have given myself no air of being better than I am.'

And again:--

    'In the chamber of death, I prayed in very early years, "Give
    me truth; cheat me by no illusion." O, the granting of this
    prayer is sometimes terrible to me! I walk over the burning
    ploughshares, and they sear my feet. Yet nothing but truth
    will do; no love will serve that is not eternal, and as large
    as the universe; no philanthropy in executing whose behests
    I myself become unhealthy; no creative genius which bursts
    asunder my life, to leave it a poor black chrysalid behind.
    And yet this last is too true of me.'

She describes a visit made in May, 1844, at the house of some
valued friends in West Roxbury, and adds: 'We had a long and deep
conversation, happy in its candor. Truth, truth, thou art the great
preservative! Let free air into the mind, and the pestilence cannot
lurk in any corner.'

And she uses the following language in an earnest letter to another

    'My own entire sincerity, in every passage of life, gives me a
    right to expect that I shall be met by no unmeaning phrases or

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Reading to-day a few lines of ----, I thought with
    refreshment of such lives as T.'s, and V.'s, and W.'s, so
    private and so true, where each line written is really the
    record of a thought or a feeling. I hate poems which are
    a melancholy monument of culture for the sake of being
    cultivated, not of growing.'

Even in trifles, one might find with her the advantage and the
electricity of a little honesty. I have had from an eye-witness a note
of a little scene that passed in Boston, at the Academy of Music.
A party had gone early, and taken an excellent place to hear one of
Beethoven's symphonies. Just behind them were soon seated a young lady
and two gentlemen, who made an incessant buzzing, in spite of bitter
looks cast on them by the whole neighborhood, and destroyed all the
musical comfort. After all was over, Margaret leaned across one seat,
and catching the eye of this girl, who was pretty and well-dressed,
said, in her blandest, gentlest voice, "May I speak with you one
moment?" "Certainly," said the young lady, with a fluttered, pleased
look, bending forward. "I only wish to say," said Margaret, "that I
trust, that, in the whole course of your life, you will not suffer so
great a degree of annoyance as you have inflicted on a large party of
lovers of music this evening." This was said with the sweetest air, as
if to a little child, and it was as good as a play to see the change
of countenance which the young lady exhibited, who had no replication
to make to so Christian a blessing.

On graver occasions, the same habit was only more stimulated; and I
cannot remember certain passages which called it into play, without
new regrets at the costly loss which our community sustains in the
loss of this brave and eloquent soul.

People do not speak the truth, not for the want of not knowing
and preferring it, but because they have not the organ to speak it
adequately. It requires a clear sight, and, still more, a high spirit,
to deal with falsehood in the decisive way. I have known several
honest persons who valued truth as much as Peter and John, but, when
they tried to speak it, _they_ grew red and black in the face instead
of Ananias, until, after a few attempts, they decided that aggressive
truth was not their vocation, and confined themselves thenceforward
to silent honesty, except on rare occasions, when either an extreme
outrage, or a happier inspiration, loosened their tongue. But a soul
is now and then incarnated, whom indulgent nature has not afflicted
with any cramp or frost, but who can speak the right word at the right
moment, qualify the selfish and hypocritical act with its real name,
and, without any loss of serenity, hold up the offence to the purest
daylight. Such a truth-speaker is worth more than the best police, and
more than the laws or governors; for these do not always know their
own side, but will back the crime for want of this very truth-speaker
to expose them. That is the theory of the newspaper,--to supersede
official by intellectual influence. But, though the apostles establish
the journal, it usually happens that, by some strange oversight,
Ananias slips into the editor's chair. If, then, we could be provided
with a fair proportion of truth-speakers, we could very materially and
usefully contract the legislative and the executive functions. Still,
the main sphere for this nobleness is private society, where so
many mischiefs go unwhipped, being out of the cognizance of law,
and supposed to be nobody's business. And society is, at all times,
suffering for want of judges and headsmen, who will mark and lop these

Margaret suffered no vice to insult her presence, but called the
offender to instant account, when the law of right or of beauty was
violated. She needed not, of course, to go out of her way to find the
offender, and she never did, but she had the courage and the skill to
cut heads off which were not worn with honor in her presence. Others
might abet a crime by silence, if they pleased; she chose to clear
herself of all complicity, by calling the act by its name.

It was curious to see the mysterious provocation which the mere
presence of insight exerts in its neighborhood. Like moths about a
lamp, her victims voluntarily came to judgment: conscious persons,
encumbered with egotism; vain persons, bent on concealing some
mean vice; arrogant reformers, with some halting of their own; the
compromisers, who wished to reconcile right and wrong;--all came and
held out their palms to the wise woman, to read their fortunes, and
they were truly told. Many anecdotes have come to my ear, which show
how useful the glare of her lamp proved in private circles, and what
dramatic situations it created. But these cannot be told. The valor
for dragging the accused spirits among his acquaintance to the stake
is not in the heart of the present writer. The reader must be content
to learn that she knew how, without loss of temper, to speak with
unmistakable plainness to any party, when she felt that the truth or
the right was injured. For the same reason, I omit one or two
letters, most honorable both to her mind and heart, in which she felt
constrained to give the frankest utterance to her displeasure. Yet I
incline to quote the testimony of one witness, which is so full and so
pointed, that I must give it as I find it.

"I have known her, by the severity of her truth, mow down a crop of
evil, like the angel of retribution itself, and could not sufficiently
admire her courage. A conversation she had with Mr. ----, just before
he went to Europe, was one of these things; and there was not a
particle of ill-will in it, but it was truth which she could not help
seeing and uttering, nor he refuse to accept.

"My friends told me of a similar verdict, pronounced upon Mr. ----, at
Paris, which they said was perfectly tremendous. They themselves
sat breathless; Mr. ---- was struck dumb; his eyes fixed on her with
wonder and amazement, yet gazing too with an attention which seemed
like fascination. When she had done, he still looked to see if she was
to say more, and when he found she had really finished, he arose, took
his hat, said faintly, 'I thank you.' and left the room. He afterwards
said to Mr. ----, 'I never shall speak ill of her. She has done me
good.' And this was the greater triumph, for this man had no theories
of impersonality, and was the most egotistical and irritable of
self-lovers, and was so unveracious, that one had to hope in charity
that his organ for apprehending truth was deficient."


I have alluded to the fact, that, in the summer of 1840, Margaret
underwent some change in the tone and the direction of her thoughts,
to which she attributed a high importance. I remember, at an earlier
period, when in earnest conversation with her, she seemed to have
that height and daring, that I saw she was ready to do whatever she
thought; and I observed that, with her literary riches, her invention
and wit, her boundless fun and drollery, her light satire, and the
most entertaining conversation in America, consisted a certain
pathos of sentiment, and a march of character, threatening to arrive
presently at the shores and plunge into the sea of Buddhism and
mystical trances. The literature of asceticism and rapturous piety was
familiar to her. The conversation of certain mystics, who had appeared
in Boston about this time, had interested her, but in no commanding
degree. But in this year, 1840, in which events occurred which
combined great happiness and pain for her affections, she remained for
some time in a sort of ecstatic solitude. She made many attempts
to describe her frame of mind to me, but did not inspire me with
confidence that she had now come to any experiences that were profound
or permanent. She was vexed at the want of sympathy on my part, and
I again felt that this craving for sympathy did not prove the
inspiration. There was a certain restlessness and fever, which I did
not like should deceive a soul which was capable of greatness. But
jets of magnanimity were always natural to her; and her aspiring
mind, eager for a higher and still a higher ground, made her gradually
familiar with the range of the mystics, and, though never herself laid
in the chamber called Peace, never quite authentically and originally
speaking from the absolute or prophetic mount, yet she borrowed from
her frequent visits to its precincts an occasional enthusiasm, which
gave a religious dignity to her thought.

    'I have plagues about me, but they don't touch me now. I thank
    nightly the benignant Spirit, for the unaccustomed serenity in
    which it enfolds me.

    '---- is very wretched; and once I could not have helped
    taking on me all his griefs, and through him the griefs of his
    class; but now I drink only the wormwood of the minute, and
    that has always equal parts,--a drop of sweet to a drop
    of bitter. But I shall never be callous, never unable to
    understand _home-sickness_. Am not I, too, one of the band who
    know not where to lay their heads? Am I wise enough to hear
    such things? Perhaps not; but happy enough, surely. For that
    Power which daily makes me understand the value of the little
    wheat amid the field of tares, and shows me how the kingdom of
    heaven is sown in the earth like a grain of mustard-seed, is
    good to me, and bids me call unhappiness happy.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    TO ----

    '_March_, 1842.--My inward life has been more rich and deep,
    and of more calm and musical flow than ever before. It seems
    to me that Heaven, whose course has ever been to cross-bias
    me, as Herbert said, is no niggard in its compensations. I
    have indeed been forced to take up old burdens, from which I
    thought I had learned what they could teach; the pen has been
    snatched from my hand just as I most longed to use it; I have
    been forced to dissipate, when I most wished to concentrate;
    to feel the hourly presence of others' mental wants, when, it
    seemed, I was just on the point of satisfying my own. But a
    new page is turned, and an era begun, from which I am not yet
    sufficiently remote to describe it as I would. I have lived a
    life, if only in the music I have heard, and one development
    seemed to follow another therein, as if bound together by
    destiny, and all things were done for me. All minds, all
    scenes, have ministered to me. Nature has seemed an
    ever-open secret; the Divine, a sheltering love; truth, an
    always-springing fountain; and my soul more alone, and less
    lonely, more hopeful, patient, and, above all, more gentle and
    humble in its living. New minds have come to reveal themselves
    to me, though I do not wish it, for I feel myself inadequate
    to the ties already formed. I have not strength or time to
    meet the thoughts of those I love already. But these new have
    come with gifts too fair to be refused, and which have cheered
    my passive mind.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '_June_, 1844.--Last night, in the boat, I could not help
    thinking, each has something, none has enough. I fear to want
    them all; and, through ages, if not forever, promises and
    beckons the life of reception, of renunciation. Passing every
    seven days from one region to the other, the maiden grows
    weary of _packing the trunk_, yet blesses Thee, O rich God!'

Her letters at this period betray a pathetic alternation of feeling,
between her aspiring for a rest in the absolute Centre, and her
necessity of a perfect sympathy with her friends. She writes to one of

    'What I want, the word I crave, I do not expect to hear from
    the lips of man. I do not wish to be, I do not wish to have,
    a _mediator_; yet I cannot help wishing, when I am with you,
    that some tones of the longed-for music could be vibrating
    in the air around us. But I will not be impatient again; for,
    though I am but as I am, I like not to feel the eyes I have
    loved averted.'


I have separated and distributed as I could some of the parts which
blended in the rich composite energy which Margaret exerted during the
ten years over which my occasional interviews with her were scattered.
It remains to say, that all these powers and accomplishments
found their best and only adequate channel in her conversation;--a
conversation which those who have heard it, unanimously, as far as
I know, pronounced to be, in elegance, in range, in flexibility,
and adroit transition, in depth, in cordiality, and in moral
aim, altogether admirable; surprising and cheerful as a poem, and
communicating its own civility and elevation like a charm to all
hearers. She was here, among our anxious citizens, and frivolous
fashionists, as if sent to refine and polish her countrymen, and
announce a better day. She poured a stream of amber over the endless
store of private anecdotes, of bosom histories, which her wonderful
persuasion drew forth, and transfigured them into fine fables. Whilst
she embellished the moment, her conversation had the merit of being
solid and true. She put her whole character into it, and had the power
to inspire. The companion was made a thinker, and went away quite
other than he came. The circle of friends who sat with her were not
allowed to remain spectators or players, but she converted them into
heroes, if she could. The muse woke the muses, and the day grew bright
and eventful. Of course, there must be, in a person of such sincerity,
much variety of aspect, according to the character of her company.
Only, in Margaret's case, there is almost an agreement in the
testimony to an invariable power over the minds of all. I conversed
lately with a gentleman who has vivid remembrances of his interviews
with her in Boston, many years ago, who described her in these
terms:--"No one ever came so near. Her mood applied itself to the mood
of her companion, point to point, in the most limber, sinuous, vital
way, and drew out the most extraordinary narratives; yet she had a
light sort of laugh, when all was said, as if she thought she could
live over that revelation. And this sufficient sympathy she had for
all persons indifferently,--for lovers, for artists, and beautiful
maids, and ambitious young statesmen, and for old aunts, and
coach-travellers. Ah! she applied herself to the mood of her
companion, as the sponge applies itself to water." The description
tallies well enough with my observation. I remember she found, one
day, at my house, her old friend Mr. ----, sitting with me. She looked
at him attentively, and hardly seemed to know him. In the afternoon,
he invited her to go with him to Cambridge. The next, day she said to
me, 'You fancy that you know--. It is too absurd; you have never seen
him. When I found him here, sitting like a statue, I was alarmed,
and thought him ill. You sit with courteous, _un_confiding smile, and
suppose him to be a mere man of talent. He is so with you. But the
moment I was alone with him, he was another creature; his manner, so
glassy and elaborate before, was full of soul, and the tones of
his voice entirely different.' And I have no doubt that she saw
expressions, heard tones, and received thoughts from her companions,
which no one else ever saw or heard from the same parties, and that
her praise of her friends, which seemed exaggerated, was her exact
impression. We were all obliged to recall Margaret's testimony, when
we found we were sad blockheads to other people.

I find among her letters many proofs of this power of disposing
equally the hardest and the most sensitive people to open their
hearts, on very short acquaintance. Any casual rencontré, in a
walk, in a steamboat, at a concert, became the prelude to unwonted

       *       *       *       *       *

    1843.--'I believe I told you about one new man, a Philistine,
    at Brook Farm. He reproved me, as such people are wont, for my
    little faith. At the end of the first meeting in the hall, he
    seemed to me perfectly hampered in his old ways and technics,
    and I thought he would not open his mind to the views of
    others for years, if ever. After I wrote, we had a second
    meeting, by request, on personal relations; at the end of
    which, he came to me, and expressed delight, and a feeling
    of new light and life, in terms whose modesty might have done
    honor to the wisest.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    'This afternoon we met Mr. ---- in his wood; and he sat down
    and told us the story of his life, his courtship, and painted
    the portraits of his father and mother with most amusing
    naïveté. He says:--"How do you think I offered myself? I never
    had told Miss ---- that I loved her; never told her she was
    handsome; and I went to her, and said, 'Miss ----, I've come
    to offer myself; but first I'll give you my character. I'm
    very poor; you'll have to work: I'm very cross and irascible;
    you'll have everything to bear: and I've liked many other
    pretty girls. Now what do you say?' and she said, 'I'll have
    you:' and she's been everything to me."

    '"My mother was a Calvinist, very strict, but she was always
    reading 'Abelard and Eloisa,' and crying over it. At sixteen
    I said to her: 'Mother, you've brought me up well; you've kept
    me strict. Why don't I feel that regeneration they talk of?
    why an't I one of the elect?' And she talked to me about the
    potter using his clay as he pleased; and I said: 'Mother, God
    is not a potter: He's a perfect being; and he can't treat the
    vessels he makes, anyhow, but with perfect justice, or he's no
    God. So I'm no Calvinist.'"'

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is a very different picture:--

    '---- has infinite grace and shading in her character: a
    springing and tender fancy, a Madonna depth of meditative
    softness, and a purity which has been unstained, and keeps her
    dignified even in the most unfavorable circumstances. She was
    born for the love and ornament of life. I can scarcely
    forbear weeping sometimes, when I look on her, and think what
    happiness and beauty she might have conferred. She is as yet
    all unconscious of herself, and she rather dreads being with
    me, because I make her too conscious. She was on the point,
    at ----, of telling me all she knew of herself; but I saw
    she dreaded, while she wished, that I should give a local
    habitation and a name to what lay undefined, floating before
    her, the phantom of her destiny; or rather lead her to give
    it, for she always approaches a tragical clearness when
    talking with me.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    '---- has been to see us. But it serves not to know such
    a person, who perpetually defaces the high by such strange
    mingling with the low. It certainly is not pleasant to hear of
    God and Miss Biddeford in a breath. To me, this hasty attempt
    at skimming from the deeps of theosophy is as unpleasant as
    the rude vanity of reformers. Dear Beauty! where, where, amid
    these morasses and pine barrens, shall we make thee a temple?
    where find a Greek to guard it,--clear-eyed, deep-thoughted,
    and delicate enough to appreciate the relations and gradations
    which nature always observes?'

An acute and illuminated woman, who, in this age of indifferentism,
holds on with both hands to the creed of the Pilgrims, writes of
Margaret, whom she saw but once:--"She looked very sensible, but as
if contending with ill health and duties. She lay, all the day
and evening, on the sofa, and catechized me, who told my literal
traditions, like any old bobbin-woman."

I add the testimony of a man of letters, and most competent observer,
who had, for a long time, opportunities of daily intercourse with

"When I knew Margaret, I was so young, and perhaps too much disposed
to meet people on my own ground, that I may not be able to do justice
to her. Her nature was so large and receptive, so sympathetic
with youth and genius, so aspiring, and withal so womanly in her
understanding, that she made her companion think more of himself, and
of a common life, than of herself. She was a companion as few
others, if indeed any one, have been. Her heart was underneath her
intellectualness, her mind was reverent, her spirit devout; a thinker
without dryness; a scholar without pedantry. She could appreciate the
finest thoughts, and knew the rich soil and large fields of beauty
that made the little vase of otto. With her unusual wisdom and
religious spirit, she seemed like the priestess of the youth, opening
to him the fields of nature; but she was more than a priestess, a
companion also. As I recall her image, I think she may have been too
intellectual, and too conscious of intellectual relation, so that she
was not sufficiently self-centred on her own personality; and hence
something of a duality: but I may not be correct in this impression."



"Do not scold me; they are guests of my eyes. Do not frown,--they want
no bread; they are guests of my words."




       *       *       *       *       *

In the year 1839, Margaret removed from Groton, and, with her mother
and family, took a house at Jamaica Plain, five miles from Boston. In
November of the next year the family removed to Cambridge, and rented
a house there, near their old home. In 1841, Margaret took rooms for
the winter in town, retaining still the house in Cambridge. And from
the day of leaving Groton, until the autumn of 1844, when she removed
to New York, she resided in Boston, or its immediate vicinity. Boston
was her social centre. There were the libraries, galleries, and
concerts which she loved; there were her pupils and her friends; and
there were her tasks, and the openings of a new career.

I have vaguely designated some of the friends with whom she was on
terms of intimacy at the time when I was first acquainted with her.
But the range of her talents required an equal compass in her society;
and she gradually added a multitude of names to the list. She knew
already all the active minds at Cambridge; and has left a record of
one good interview she had with Allston. She now became intimate
with Doctor Channing, and interested him to that point in some of her
studies, that, at his request, she undertook to render some selections
of German philosophy into English for him. But I believe this attempt
was soon abandoned. She found a valuable friend in the late Miss Mary
Rotch, of New Bedford, a woman of great strength of mind, connected
with the Quakers not less by temperament than by birth, and possessing
the best lights of that once spiritual sect. At Newport, Margaret
had made the acquaintance of an elegant scholar, in Mr. Calvert, of
Maryland. In Providence, she had won, as by conquest, such a homage
of attachment, from young and old, that her arrival there, one day, on
her return from a visit to Bristol, was a kind of ovation. In Boston,
she knew people of every class,--merchants, politicians, scholars,
artists, women, the migratory genius, and the rooted capitalist,--and,
amongst all, many excellent people, who were every day passing, by new
opportunities, conversations, and kind offices, into the sacred circle
of friends. The late Miss Susan Burley had many points of attraction
for her, not only in her elegant studies, but also in the deep
interest which that lady took in securing the highest culture for
women. She was very well read, and, avoiding abstractions, knew how
to help herself with examples and facts. A friendship that proved
of great importance to the next years was that established with Mr.
George Ripley; an accurate scholar, a man of character, and of eminent
powers of conversation, and already then deeply engaged in plans of an
expansive practical bearing, of which the first fruit was the little
community which nourished for a few years at Brook Farm. Margaret
presently became connected with him in literary labors, and, as long
as she remained in this vicinity, kept up her habits of intimacy with
the colonists of Brook Farm. At West-Roxbury, too, she knew and prized
the heroic heart, the learning and wit of Theodore Parker, whose
literary aid was, subsequently, of the first importance to her.
She had an acquaintance, for many years,--subject, no doubt, to
alternations of sun and shade,--with Mr. Alcott. There was much
antagonism in their habitual views, but each learned to respect the
genius of the other. She had more sympathy with Mr. Alcott's English
friend, Charles Lane, an ingenious mystic, and bold experimenter in
practical reforms, whose dexterity and temper in debate she frankly
admired, whilst his asceticism engaged her reverence. Neither could
some marked difference of temperament remove her from the beneficent
influences of Miss Elizabeth Peabody, who, by her constitutional
hospitality to excellence, whether mental or moral, has made her
modest abode for so many years the inevitable resort of studious feet,
and a private theatre for the exposition of every question of letters,
of philosophy, of ethics, and of art.

The events in Margaret's life, up to the year 1840, were few, and not
of that dramatic interest which readers love. Of the few events of her
bright and blameless years, how many are private, and must remain so.
In reciting the story of an affectionate and passionate woman, the
voice lowers itself to a whisper, and becomes inaudible. A woman
in our society finds her safety and happiness in exclusions and
privacies. She congratulates herself when she is not called to
the market, to the courts, to the polls, to the stage, or to the
orchestra. Only the most extraordinary genius can make the career of
an artist secure and agreeable to her. Prescriptions almost invincible
the female lecturer or professor of any science must encounter; and,
except on points where the charities which are left to women as their
legitimate province interpose against the ferocity of laws, with us a
female politician is unknown. Perhaps this fact, which so dangerously
narrows the career of a woman, accuses the tardiness of our civility,
and many signs show that a revolution is already on foot.

Margaret had no love of notoriety, or taste for eccentricity, to goad
her, and no weak fear of either. Willingly she was confined to the
usual circles and methods of female talent. She had no false shame.
Any task that called out her powers was good and desirable. She wished
to live by her strength. She could converse, and teach, and write. She
took private classes of pupils at her own house. She organized, with
great success, a school for young ladies at Providence, and gave
four hours a day to it, during two years. She translated Eckermann's
Conversations with Goethe, and published in 1839. In 1841, she
translated the Letters of Gunderode and Bettine, and published them as
far as the sale warranted the work. In 1843, she made a tour to Lake
Superior and to Michigan, and published an agreeable narrative of it,
called "Summer on the Lakes."

Apparently a more pretending, but really also a private and friendly
service, she edited the "Dial," a quarterly journal, for two years
from its first publication in 1840. She was eagerly solicited to
undertake the charge of this work, which, when it began, concentrated
a good deal of hope and affection. It had its origin in a club of
speculative students, who found the air in America getting a little
close and stagnant; and the agitation had perhaps the fault of being
too secondary or bookish in its origin, or caught not from primary
instincts, but from English, and still more from German books. The
journal was commenced with much hope, and liberal promises of many
coöperators. But the workmen of sufficient culture for a poetical and
philosophical magazine were too few; and, as the pages were filled
by unpaid contributors, each of whom had, according to the usage and
necessity of this country, some paying employment, the journal did not
get his best work, but his second best. Its scattered writers had
not digested their theories into a distinct dogma, still less into a
practical measure which the public could grasp; and the magazine was
so eclectic and miscellaneous, that each of its readers and writers
valued only a small portion of it. For these reasons it never had a
large circulation, and it was discontinued after four years. But the
Dial betrayed, through all its juvenility, timidity, and conventional
rubbish, some sparks of the true love and hope, and of the piety to
spiritual law, which had moved its friends and founders, and it was
received by its early subscribers with almost a religious welcome.
Many years after it was brought to a close, Margaret was surprised in
England by very warm testimony to its merits; and, in 1848, the writer
of these pages found it holding the same affectionate place in many
a private bookshelf in England and Scotland, which it had secured at
home. Good or bad, it cost a good deal of precious labor from those
who served it, and from Margaret most of all. As editor, she received
a compensation for the first years, which was intended to be two
hundred dollars _per annum_, but which, I fear, never reached even
that amount.

But it made no difference to her exertion. She put so much heart into
it that she bravely undertook to open, in the Dial, the subjects which
most attracted her; and she treated, in turn, Goethe, and Beethoven,
the Rhine and the Romaic Ballads, the Poems of John Sterling, and
several pieces of sentiment, with a spirit which spared no labor; and,
when the hard conditions of journalism held her to an inevitable day,
she submitted to jeopardizing a long-cherished subject, by treating it
in the crude and forced article for the month. I remember, after she
had been compelled by ill health to relinquish the journal into my
hands, my grateful wonder at the facility with which she assumed the
preparation of laborious articles, that might have daunted the most
practised scribe.

But in book or journal she found a very imperfect expression of
herself, and it was the more vexatious, because she was accustomed
to the clearest and fullest. When, therefore, she had to choose an
employment that should pay money, she consulted her own genius, as
well as the wishes of a multitude of friends, in opening a class
for conversation. In the autumn of 1839, she addressed the following
letter, intended for circulation, to Mrs. George Ripley, in which her
general design was stated:--

    'My dear friend:--The advantages of a weekly meeting, for
    conversation, might be great enough to repay the trouble of
    attendance, if they consisted only in supplying a point of
    union to well-educated and thinking women, in a city which,
    with great pretensions to mental refinement, boasts, at
    present, nothing of the kind, and where I have heard many, of
    mature age, wish for some such means of stimulus and cheer,
    and those younger, for a place where they could state their
    doubts and difficulties, with a hope of gaining aid from the
    experience or aspirations of others. And, if my office were
    only to suggest topics, which would lead to conversation of
    a better order than is usual at social meetings, and to
    turn back the current when digressing into personalities or
    common-places, so that what is valuable in the experience of
    each might be brought to bear upon all, I should think the
    object not unworthy of the effort.

    'But my ambition goes much further. It is to pass in review
    the departments of thought and knowledge, and endeavor to
    place them in due relation to one another in our minds. To
    systematize thought, and give a precision and clearness in
    which our sex are so deficient, chiefly, I think, because
    they have so few inducements to test and classify what they
    receive. To ascertain what pursuits are best suited to us, in
    our time and state of society, and how we may make best use of
    our means for building up the life of thought upon the life of

    'Could a circle be assembled in earnest, desirous to answer
    the questions,--What were we born to do? and how shall we do
    it?--which so few ever propose to themselves till their best
    years are gone by, I should think the undertaking a noble one,
    and, if my resources should prove sufficient to make me its
    moving spring, I should be willing to give to it a large
    portion of those coming years, which will, as I hope, be my
    best. I look upon it with no blind enthusiasm, nor unlimited
    faith, but with a confidence that I have attained a distinct
    perception of means, which, if there are persons competent to
    direct them, can supply a great want, and promote really high
    objects. So far as I have tried them yet, they have met with
    success so much beyond my hopes, that my faith will not easily
    be shaken, nor my earnestness chilled. Should I, however, be
    disappointed in Boston, I could hardly hope that such a plan
    could be brought to bear on general society, in any other city
    of the United States. But I do not fear, if a good beginning
    can be made. I am confident that twenty persons cannot be
    brought together from better motives than vanity or pedantry,
    to talk upon such subjects as we propose, without finding
    in themselves great deficiencies, which they will be very
    desirous to supply.

    'Should the enterprise fail, it will be either from
    incompetence in me, or that sort of vanity in them which wears
    the garb of modesty. On the first of these points, I need not
    speak. I cannot be supposed to have felt so much the wants of
    others, without feeling my own still more deeply. And, from
    the depth of this feeling, and the earnestness it gave, such
    power as I have yet exerted has come. Of course, those who are
    inclined to meet me, feel a confidence in me, and should they
    be disappointed, I shall regret it not solely or most on my
    own account. I have not given my gauge without measuring my
    capacity to sustain defeat. For the other, I know it is very
    hard to lay aside the shelter of vague generalities, the art
    of coterie criticism, and the "delicate disdains" of _good
    society_, and fearlessly meet the light, even though it flow
    from the sun of truth. Yet, as, without such generous courage,
    nothing of value can be learned or done, I hope to see many
    capable of it; willing that others should think their sayings
    crude, shallow, or tasteless, if, by such unpleasant means,
    they may attain real health and vigor, which need no aid from
    rouge or candle-light, to brave the light of the world.

    'Since I saw you, I have been told of persons who are desirous
    to join the class, "if only they need not talk." I am so sure
    that the success of the whole depends on conversation being
    general, that I do not wish any one to come, who does not
    intend, if possible, to take an active part. No one will be
    forced, but those who do not talk will not derive the same
    advantages with those who openly state their impressions, and
    can consent to have it known that they learn by blundering, as
    is the destiny of man here below. And general silence, or side
    talks, would paralyze me. I should feel coarse and misplaced,
    were I to harangue over-much. In former instances, I have been
    able to make it easy and even pleasant, to twenty-five out of
    thirty, to bear their part, to question, to define, to state,
    and examine opinions. If I could not do as much now, I should
    consider myself as unsuccessful, and should withdraw. But I
    shall expect communication to be effected by degrees, and to
    do a great deal myself at the first meetings. My method has
    been to open a subject,--for instance, Poetry, as expressed

        External Nature;
        The life of man;
        The fine arts;
      or, The history of a nation to be studied in--
        Its religious and civil institutions;
        Its literature and arts;
        The characters of its great men;

    and, after as good a general statement as I know how to make,
    select a branch of the subject, and lead others to give their
    thoughts upon it. When they have not been successful in verbal
    utterance of their thoughts, I have asked them to attempt it
    in writing. At the next meeting, I would read these "skarts
    of pen and ink" aloud, and canvass their adequacy, without
    mentioning the names of the writers. I found this less
    necessary, as I proceeded, and my companions attained greater
    command both of thought and language; but for a time it was
    useful, and may be now. Great advantage in point of discipline
    may be derived from even this limited use of the pen.

    'I do not wish, at present, to pledge myself to any course
    of subjects. Generally, I may say, they will be such as
    literature and the arts present in endless profusion. Should a
    class be brought together, I should wish, first, to ascertain
    our common ground, and, in the course of a few meetings,
    should see whether it be practicable to follow out the design
    in my mind, which, as yet, would look too grand on paper.

    'Let us see whether there will be any organ, before noting
    down the music to which it may give breath.'

Accordingly, a class of ladies assembled at Miss Peabody's rooms, in
West Street, on the 6th November, 1839. Twenty-five were present, and
the circle comprised some of the most agreeable and intelligent women
to be found in Boston and its neighborhood. The following brief report
of this first day's meeting remains:--

    'Miss Fuller enlarged, in her introductory conversation, on
    the topics which she touched in her letter to Mrs. Ripley.

    'Women are now taught, at school, all that men are; they run
    over, superficially, even _more_ studies, without being really
    taught anything. When they come to the business of life, they
    find themselves inferior, and all their studies have not given
    them that practical good sense, and mother wisdom, and wit,
    which grew up with our grandmothers at the spinning-wheel.
    But, with this difference; men are called on, from a very
    early period, to reproduce all that they learn. Their college
    exercises, their political duties, their professional studies,
    the first actions of life in any direction, call on them to
    put to use what they have learned. But women learn without any
    attempt to reproduce. Their only reproduction is for purposes
    of display.

    'It is to supply this defect,' Miss Fuller said, 'that these
    conversations have been planned. She was not here to teach;
    but she had had some experience in the management of such a
    conversation as was now proposed; she meant to give her view
    on each subject, and provoke the thoughts of others.

    'It would be best to take subjects on which we know words, and
    have vague impressions, and compel ourselves to define those
    words. We should have, probably, mortifications to suffer;
    but we should be encouraged by the rapid gain that comes from
    making a simple and earnest effort for expression.'

Miss Fuller had proposed the Grecian Mythology as the subject of the
first conversations, and now gave her reasons for the choice.

    'It is quite separated from all exciting local subjects. It is
    serious, without being solemn, and without excluding any mode
    of intellectual action; it is playful, as well as deep. It
    is sufficiently wide, for it is a complete expression of the
    cultivation of a nation. It is objective and tangible. It is,
    also, generally known, and associated with all our ideas of
    the arts.

    'It originated in the eye of the Greek. He lived out of doors:
    his climate was genial, his senses were adapted to it. He was
    vivacious and intellectual, and personified all he beheld. He
    _saw_ the oreads, naiads, nereids. Their forms, as poets and
    painters give them, are the very lines of nature humanized, as
    the child's eye sees faces in the embers or in the clouds.

    'Other forms of the mythology, as Jupiter, Juno, Apollo,
    are great instincts, or ideas, or facts of the internal
    constitution, separated and personified.'

After exhibiting their enviable mental health, and rebutting the
cavils of some of the speakers,--who could not bear, in Christian
times, by Christian ladies, that heathen Greeks should be
envied,--Miss Fuller declared,

    'that she had no desire to go back, and believed we have the
    elements of a deeper civilization; yet, the Christian was in
    its infancy; the Greek in its maturity; nor could she look
    on the expression of a great nation's intellect, as
    insignificant. These fables of the Gods were the result of
    the universal sentiments of religion, aspiration, intellectual
    action, of a people, whose political and æsthetic life had
    become immortal; and we must leave off despising, if we would
    begin to learn.'

The reporter closes her account by saying:--"Miss Fuller's thoughts
were much illustrated, and all was said with the most captivating
address and grace, and with beautiful modesty. The position in which
she placed herself with respect to the rest, was entirely ladylike,
and companionable. She told what she intended, the earnest purpose
with which she came, and, with great tact, indicated the indiscretions
that might spoil the meeting."

Here is Margaret's own account of the first days.

    TO R.W.E.

    '_25th Nov._, 1839.--My class is prosperous. I was
    so fortunate as to rouse, at once, the tone of simple
    earnestness, which can scarcely, when once awakened, cease to
    vibrate. All seem in a glow, and quite as receptive as I wish.
    They question and examine, yet follow leadings; and thoughts,
    not opinions, have ruled the hour every time. There are
    about twenty-five members, and every one, I believe, full of
    interest. The first time, ten took part in the conversation;
    the last, still more. Mrs. ---- came out in a way that
    surprised me. She seems to have shaken off a wonderful number
    of films. She showed pure vision, sweet sincerity, and much
    talent. Mrs. ---- ---- keeps us in good order, and takes care
    that Christianity and morality are not forgotten. The first
    day's topic was, the genealogy of heaven and earth; then the
    Will, (Jupiter); the Understanding, (Mercury): the second
    day's, the celestial inspiration of genius, perception, and
    transmission of divine law, (Apollo); the terrene inspiration,
    the impassioned abandonment of genius, (Bacchus). Of the
    thunderbolt, the caduceus, the ray, and the grape, having
    disposed as well as might be, we came to the wave, and the
    sea-shell it moulds to Beauty, and Love her parent and her

    'I assure you, there is more Greek than Bostonian spoken at
    the meetings; and we may have pure honey of Hymettus to give
    you yet.'

To another friend she wrote:--

    'The circle I meet interests me. So even devoutly thoughtful
    seems their spirit, that, from the very first, I took my
    proper place, and never had the feeling I dreaded, of display,
    of a paid Corinne. I feel as I would, truly a teacher and a
    guide. All are intelligent; five or six have talent. But I am
    never driven home for ammunition; never put to any expense;
    never truly called out. What I have is always enough; though I
    feel how superficially I am treating my subject.'

Here is an extract from the letter of a lady, who joined the class,
for the first time, at the eighth meeting, to her friend in New

    "Christmas made a holiday for Miss Fuller's class, but it met
    on Saturday, at noon. As I sat there, my heart overflowed with
    joy at the sight of the bright circle, and I longed to have
    you by my side, for I know not where to look for so much
    character, culture, and so much love of truth and beauty, in
    any other circle of women and girls. The names and faces would
    not mean so much to you as to me, who have seen more of the
    lives, of which they are the sign. Margaret, beautifully
    dressed, (don't despise that, for it made a fine picture,)
    presided with more dignity and grace than I had thought
    possible. The subject was Beauty. Each had written her
    definition, and Margaret began with reading her own. This
    called forth questions, comments, and illustrations, on all
    sides. The style and manner, of course, in this age, are
    different, but the question, the high point from which it
    was considered, and the earnestness and simplicity of the
    discussion, as well as the gifts and graces of the speakers,
    gave it the charm of a Platonic dialogue. There was no
    pretension or pedantry in a word that was said. The tone of
    remark and question was simple as that of children in a school
    class; and, I believe, every one was gratified."

The conversations thus opened proceeded with spirit and success.
Under the mythological forms, room was found for opening all the
great questions, on which Margaret and her friends wished to converse.
Prometheus was made the type of Pure Reason; Jupiter, of Will; Juno,
the passive side of the same, or Obstinacy; Minerva, Intellectual
Power, Practical Reason; Mercury, Executive Power, Understanding;
Apollo was Genius, the Sun; Bacchus was Geniality, the Earth's answer.
"Apollo and Bacchus were contrasted," says the reporter. "Margaret
unfolded her idea of Bacchus. His whole life was triumph. Born from
fire; a divine frenzy; the answer of the earth to the sun,--of the
warmth of joy to the light of genius. He is beautiful, also; not
severe in youthful beauty, like Apollo; but exuberant,--liable to
excess. She spoke of the fables of his destroying Pentheus, &c., and
suggested the interpretations. This Bacchus was found in Scripture.
The Indian Bacchus is glowing; he is the genial apprehensive power;
the glow of existence; mere joy."

Venus was Grecian womanhood, instinctive; Diana, chastity; Mars,
Grecian manhood, instinctive. Venus made the name for a conversation
on Beauty, which was extended through four meetings, as it brought in
irresistibly the related topics of poetry, genius, and taste. Neptune
was Circumstance; Pluto, the Abyss, the Undeveloped; Pan, the glow
and sportiveness and music of Nature; Ceres, the productive power of
Nature; Proserpine, the Phenomenon.

Under the head of Venus, in the fifth conversation, the story of Cupid
and Psyche was told with fitting beauty, by Margaret; and many fine
conjectural interpretations suggested from all parts of the room.
The ninth conversation turned on the distinctive qualities of poetry,
discriminating it from the other fine arts. Rhythm and Imagery, it
was agreed, were distinctive. An episode to dancing, which the
conversation took, led Miss Fuller to give the thought that lies
at the bottom of different dances. Of her lively description the
following record is preserved:--

    'Gavottes, shawl dances, and all of that kind, are intended
    merely to exhibit the figure in as many attitudes as possible.
    They have no character, and say nothing, except, Look! how
    graceful I am!

    'The minuet is conjugal; but the wedlock is chivalric. Even
    so would Amadis wind slow, stately, calm, through the mazes of
    life, with Oriana, when he had made obeisances enough to win
    her for a partner.

    'English, German, Swiss, French, and Spanish dances all
    express the same things, though in very different ways. Love
    and its life are still the theme.

    'In the English country dance, the pair who have chosen one
    another, submit decorously to the restraints of courtship
    and frequent separations, cross hands, four go round, down
    outside, in the most earnest, lively, complacent fashion. If
    they join hands to go down the middle, and exhibit their
    union to all spectators, they part almost as soon as meet,
    and disdain not to give hands right and left to the most
    indifferent persons, like marriage in its daily routine.

    'In the Swiss, the man pursues, stamping with energy, marking
    the time by exulting flings, or snapping of the fingers, in
    delighted confidence of succeeding at last; but the maiden
    coyly, demurely, foots it round, yet never gets out of the
    way, intending to be won.

    'The German asks his _madchen_ if she will, with him, for an
    hour forget the cares and common-places of life in a tumult
    of rapturous sympathy, and she smiles with Saxon modesty her
    _Ja_. He sustains her in his arms; the music begins. At first,
    in willing mazes they calmly imitate the planetary orbs, but
    the melodies flow quicker, their accordant hearts beat
    higher, and they whirl at last into giddy raptures, and
    dizzy evolutions, which steal from life its free-will and
    self-collection, till nothing is left but mere sensation.

    'The French couple are somewhat engaged with one another, but
    almost equally so with the world around them. They think it
    well to vary existence with plenty of coquetry and display.
    First, the graceful reverence to one another, then to
    their neighbors. Exhibit your grace in the _chassé_,--made
    apparently solely for the purpose of _déchasséing_;--then
    civil intimacy between the ladies, in _la chaine_, then a
    decorous promenade of partners, then right and left with
    all the world, and balance, &c. The quadrille also offers
    opportunity for talk. Looks and sympathetic motions are not
    enough for our Parisian friends, unless eked out by words.

    'The impassioned bolero and fandango are the dances for me.
    They are not merely loving, but living; they express the sweet
    Southern ecstasy at the mere gift of existence. These persons
    are together, they live, they are beautiful; how can they
    say this in sufficiently plain terms?--I love, I live, I
    am beautiful!--I put on my festal dress to do honor to my
    happiness; I shake my castanets, that my hands, too, may be
    busy; I _felice,--felicissima_!'

This first series of conversations extended to thirteen, the class
meeting once a week at noon, and remaining together for two hours. The
class were happy, and the interest increased. A new series of thirteen
more weeks followed, and the general subject of the new course was
"the Fine Arts." A few fragmentary notes only of these hours have been
shown me, but all those who bore any part in them testify to their
entire success. A very competent witness has given me some interesting

"Margaret used to come to the conversations very well dressed, and,
altogether, looked sumptuously. She began them with an exordium, in
which she gave her leading views; and those exordiums were excellent,
from the elevation of the tone, the ease and flow of discourse, and
from the tact with which they were kept aloof from any excess, and
from the gracefulness with which they were brought down, at last, to a
possible level for others to follow. She made a pause, and invited the
others to come in. Of course, it was not easy for every one to venture
her remark, after an eloquent discourse, and in the presence of twenty
superior women, who were all inspired. But whatever was said, Margaret
knew how to seize the good meaning of it with hospitality, and to make
the speaker feel glad, and not sorry, that she had spoken. She showed
herself thereby fit to preside at such meetings, and imparted to the
susceptible a wonderful reliance on her genius."

In her writing she was prone to spin her sentences without a sure
guidance, and beyond the sympathy of her reader. But in discourse, she
was quick, conscious of power, in perfect tune with her company, and
would pause and turn the stream with grace and adroitness, and with
so much spirit, that her face beamed, and the young people came away
delighted, among other things, with "her beautiful looks." When
she was intellectually excited, or in high animal spirits, as often
happened, all deformity of features was dissolved in the power of the
expression. So I interpret this repeated story of sumptuousness of
dress, that this appearance, like her reported beauty, was simply an
effect of a general impression of magnificence made by her genius, and
mistakenly attributed to some external elegance; for I have been told
by her most intimate friend, who knew every particular of her conduct
at that time, that there was nothing of special expense or splendor in
her toilette.

The effect of the winter's work was happiest. Margaret was made
intimately known to many excellent persons.[A] In this company of
matrons and maids, many tender spirits had been set in ferment. A new
day had dawned for them; new thoughts had opened; the secret of life
was shown, or, at least, that life had a secret. They could not forget
what they had heard, and what they had been surprised into saying.
A true refinement had begun to work in many who had been slaves
to trifles. They went home thoughtful and happy, since the steady
elevation of Margaret's aim had infused a certain unexpected greatness
of tone into the conversation. It was, I believe, only an expression
of the feeling of the class, the remark made, perhaps at the next
year's course, by a lady of eminent powers, previously by no means
partial to Margaret, and who expressed her frank admiration on leaving
the house:--"I never heard, read of, or imagined a conversation at all
equal to this we have now heard."

The strongest wishes were expressed, on all sides, that the
conversations should be renewed at the beginning of the following
winter. Margaret willingly consented; but, as I have already
intimated, in the summer and autumn of 1840, she had retreated to some
interior shrine, and believed that she came into life and society with
some advantage from this devotion.

Of this feeling the new discussion bore evident traces. Most of the
last year's class returned, and new members gave in their names. The
first meeting was holden on the twenty-second of November, 1840. By
all accounts it was the best of all her days. I have again the notes,
taken at the time, of the excellent lady at whose house it was
held, to furnish the following sketch of the first and the following
meetings. I preface these notes by an extract from a letter of

    TO W.H.C.

    '_Sunday, Nov. 8th, 1840_.--On Wednesday I opened with my
    class. It was a noble meeting. I told them the great changes
    in my mind, and that I could not be sure they would be
    satisfied with me now, as they were when I was in deliberate
    possession of myself. I tried to convey the truth, and though
    I did not arrive at any full expression of it, they all, with
    glistening eyes, seemed melted into one love. Our relation
    is now perfectly true, and I do not think they will ever
    interrupt me. ---- sat beside me, all glowing; and the moment
    I had finished, she began to speak. She told me afterwards,
    she was all kindled, and none there could be strangers to her
    more. I was really delighted by the enthusiasm of Mrs. ----. I
    did not expect it. All her best self seemed called up, and she
    feels that these meetings will be her highest pleasure. ----,
    too, was most beautiful. I went home with Mrs. F., and had a
    long attack of nervous headache. She attended anxiously on me,
    and asked if it would be so all winter. I said, if it were I
    did not care; and truly I feel just now such a separation from
    pain and illness,--such a consciousness of true life, while
    suffering most,--that pain has no effect but to steal some of
    my time.'

[Footnote A: A friend has furnished me with the names of so many of
the ladies as she recollects to have met, at one or another time, at
these classes. Some of them were perhaps only occasional members.
The list recalls how much talent, beauty, and worth were at that time
constellated here:--

Mrs. George Bancroft, Mrs. Barlow, Miss Burley, Mrs. L.M. Child, Miss
Mary Channing, Miss Sarah Clarke, Mrs. E.P. Clark, Miss Dorr, Mrs.
Edwards, Mrs. R.W. Emerson, Mrs. Farrar, Miss S.J. Gardiner, Mrs. R.W.
Hooper, Mrs. S. Hooper, Miss Haliburton, Miss Howes, Miss E. Hoar,
Miss Marianne Jackson, Mrs. T. Lee, Miss Littlehale, Mrs. E.G. Loring,
Mrs. Mack, Mrs. Horace Mann, Mrs. Newcomb, Mrs. Theodore Parker, Miss
E.P. Peabody, Miss S. Peabody, Mrs. S. Putnam, Mrs. Phillips, Mrs.
Josiah Quincy, Miss B. Randall, Mrs. Samuel Ripley, Mrs. George
Ripley, Mrs. George Russell, Miss Ida Russell, Mrs. Frank Shaw, Miss
Anna B. Shaw, Miss Caroline Sturgis, Miss Tuckerman, Miss Maria White,
Mrs. S.G. Ward, Miss Mary Ward, Mrs. W. Whiting.]


    "Miss Fuller's fifth conversation was pretty much a monologue
    of her own. The company collected proved much larger than any
    of us had anticipated: a chosen company,--several persons from
    homes out of town, at considerable inconvenience; and, in one
    or two instances, fresh from extreme experiences of joy and
    grief,--which Margaret felt a very grateful tribute to her.
    She knew no one came for experiment, but all in earnest love
    and trust, and was moved by it quite to the heart, which threw
    an indescribable charm of softness over her brilliancy. It is
    sometimes said, that women never are so lovely and enchanting
    in the company of their own sex, merely, but it requires the
    other to draw them out. Certain it is that Margaret never
    appears, when I see her, either so brilliant and deep in
    thought, or so desirous to please, or so modest, or so
    heart-touching, as in this very party. Well, she began to say
    how gratifying it was to her to see so many come, because all
    knew why they came,--that it was to learn from each other and
    ourselves the highest ends of life, where there could be no
    excitements and gratifications of personal ambition, &c. She
    spoke of herself, and said she felt she had undergone changes
    in her own mind since the last winter, as doubtless we all
    felt we had done; that she was conscious of looking at all
    things less objectively,--more from the law with which she
    identified herself. This, she stated, was the natural
    progress of our individual being, when we did not hinder
    its development, to advance from objects to law, from the
    circumference of being, where we found ourselves at our birth,
    to the centre.

    "This advance was enacted poesy. We could not, in our
    individual lives, amid the disturbing influences of other
    wills, which had as much right to their own action as we to
    ours, enact poetry entirely; the discordant, the inferior, the
    prose, would intrude, but we should always keep in mind that
    poetry of life was not something aside,--a path that might or
    might not be trod,--it was the only path of the true soul;
    and prose you may call the deviation. We might not always
    be poetic in life, but we might and should be poetic in our
    thought and intention. The fine arts were one compensation for
    the necessary prose of life. The man who could not write his
    thought of beauty in his life,--the materials of whose life
    would not work up into poetry,--wrote it in stone, drew it on
    canvas, breathed it in music, or built it in lofty rhyme. In
    this statement, however, she guarded her meaning, and said
    that to seek beauty was to miss it often. We should only seek
    to live as harmoniously with the great laws as our social and
    other duties permitted, and solace ourselves with poetry and
    the fine arts."

I find a further record by the same friendly scribe, which seems a
second and enlarged account of the introductory conversation, or else
a sketch of the course of thought which ran through several meetings,
and which very naturally repeated occasionally the same thoughts. I
give it as I find it:--

    "She then recurred to the last year's conversations; and,
    first, the Grecian mythologies, which she looked at as
    symbolical of a deeper intellectual and æsthetic life than
    we were wont to esteem it, when looking at it from a narrow
    religious point of view. We had merely skimmed along the
    deeper study. She spoke of the conversations on the different
    part played by Inspiration and Will in the works of man, and
    stated the different views of inspiration,--how some had felt
    it was merely perception; others apprehended it as influx upon
    the soul from the soul-side of its being. Then she spoke of
    the conversation upon poesy as the ground of all the fine
    arts, and also of the true art of life; it being not merely
    truth, not merely good, but the beauty which integrates
    both. On this poesy, she dwelt long, aiming to show how
    life,--perfect life,--could be the only perfect manifestation
    of it. Then she spoke of the individual as surrounded,
    however, by _prose_,--so we may here call the manifestation of
    the temporary, in opposition to the eternal, always trenching
    on it, and circumscribing and darkening. She spoke of the
    acceptance of this limitation, but it should be called by the
    right name, and always measured; and we should inwardly cling
    to the truth that poesy was the natural life of the soul; and
    never yield inwardly to the common notion that poesy was a
    luxury, out of the common track; but maintain in word and
    life that prose carried the soul out of its track; and then,
    perhaps, it would not injure us to walk in these by-paths,
    when forced thither. She admitted that prose was the necessary
    human condition, and quickened our life indirectly by
    necessitating a conscious demand on the source of life.
    In reply to a remark I made, she very strongly stated the
    difference between a poetic and a _dilettante_ life, and
    sympathized with the sensible people who were tired of hearing
    all the young ladies of Boston sighing like furnace after
    being beautiful. Beauty was something very different from
    prettiness, and a microscopic vision missed the grand whole.
    The fine arts were our compensation for not being able to live
    out our poesy, amid the conflicting and disturbing forces of
    this moral world in which we are. In sculpture, the heights to
    which our being comes are represented; and its nature is such
    as to allow us to leave out all that vulgarizes,--all that
    bridges over to the actual from the ideal. She dwelt long upon
    sculpture, which seems her favorite art. That was grand, when
    a man first thought to engrave his idea of man upon a stone,
    the most unyielding and material of materials,--the backbone
    of this phenomenal earth,--and, when he did not succeed,
    that he persevered; and so, at last, by repeated efforts, the
    Apollo came to be.

    "But, no; music she thought the greatest of arts,--expressing
    what was most interior,--what was too fine to be put into any
    material grosser than air; conveying from soul to soul the
    most secret motions of feeling and thought. This was the only
    fine art which might be thought to be nourishing now. The
    others had had their day. This was advancing upon a higher
    intellectual ground.

    "Of painting she spoke, but not so well. She seemed to think
    painting worked more by illusion than sculpture. It involved
    more prose, from its representing more objects. She said
    nothing adequate about _color_.

    "She dwelt upon the histrionic art as the most complete, its
    organ being the most flexible and powerful.

    "She then spoke of life, as the art, of which these all were
    beautiful symbols; and said, in recurring to her opinions
    expressed last winter, of Dante and Wordsworth, that she had
    taken another view, deeper, and more in accordance with
    some others which were then expressed. She acknowledged
    that Wordsworth had done more to make all men poetical, than
    perhaps any other; that he was the poet of reflection; that
    where he failed to poetize his subject, his simple faith
    intimated to the reader a poetry that he did not find in the
    book. She admitted that Dante's Narrative was instinct with
    the poetry concentrated often in single words. She uttered her
    old heresies about Milton, however, unmodified.

    "I do not remember the transition to modern poetry and Milnes;
    but she read (very badly indeed) the Legendary Tale.

    "We then had three conversations upon Sculpture, one of which
    was taken up very much in historical accounts of the sculpture
    of the ancients, in which color was added to form, and which
    seemed to prove that they were not, after all, sufficiently
    intellectual to be operated on by form exclusively. The
    question, of course, arose whether there was a modern
    sculpture, and why not. This led us to speak of the Greek
    sculpture as growing naturally out of their life and religion,
    and how alien it was to our life and to our religion. The
    Swiss lion, carved by Thorwaldsen out of the side of a
    mountain rock, was described as a natural growth. Those who
    had seen it described it; and Mrs. ---- spoke of it. She was
    also led to the story of her acquaintance with Thorwaldsen,
    and drew tears from many eyes with her natural eloquence.

    "Mrs. C. asked, if sculpture could express as well as painting
    the idea of immortality.

    "Margaret thought the Greek art expressed immortality as much
    as Christian art, but did not throw it into the future, by
    preëminence. They expressed it in the present, by casting out
    of the mortal body every expression of infirmity and decay.
    The idealization of the human form makes a God. The fact that
    man can conceive and express this perfection of being, is as
    good a witness to immortality, as the look of aspiration in
    the countenance of a Magdalen.

    "It is quite beyond the power of my memory to recall all
    the bright utterances of Margaret, in these conversations on
    Sculpture. It was a favorite subject with her. Then came two
    or three conversations on Painting, in which it seemed to be
    conceded that color expressed passion, whilst sculpture more
    severely expressed thought: yet painting did not exclude the
    expression of thought, or sculpture that of feeling,--witness
    Niobe,--but it must be an universal feeling, like the maternal

       *       *       *       *       *

    "_March 22, 1841_.--The question of the day was, What is life?

    "Let us define, each in turn, our idea of living. Margaret did
    not believe we had, any of us, a distinct idea of life.

    "A.S. thought so great a question ought to be given for a
    written definition. 'No,' said Margaret, 'that is of no use.
    When we go away to think of anything, we never do think. We
    all talk of life. We all have some thought now. Let us tell
    it. C----, what is life?'

    "C---- replied,--'It is to laugh, or cry, according to our

    "'Good,' said Margaret, 'but not grave enough. Come, what is
    life? I know what I think; I want you to find out what you

    "Miss P. replied,--'Life is division from one's principle of
    life in order to a conscious reörganization. We are cut up by
    time and circumstance, in order to feel our reproduction of
    the eternal law.'

    "Mrs. E.,--'We live by the will of God, and the object of life
    is to submit,' and went on into Calvinism.

    "Then came up all the antagonisms of Fate and Freedom.

    "Mrs. H. said,--'God created us in order to have a perfect
    sympathy from us as free beings.'

    "Mrs. A.B. said she thought the object of life was to attain
    absolute freedom. At this Margaret immediately and visibly

    "C.S. said,--'God creates from the fulness of life, and
    cannot but create; he created us to overflow, without being
    exhausted, because what he created, necessitated new creation.
    It is not to make us happy, but creation is his happiness and

    "Margaret was then pressed to say what she considered life to

    "Her answer was so full, clear, and concise, at once, that
    it cannot but be marred by being drawn through the scattering
    medium of my memory. But here are some fragments of her
    satisfying statement.

    "She began with God as Spirit, Life, so full as to create and
    love eternally, yet capable of pause. Love and creativeness
    are dynamic forces, out of which we, individually, as
    creatures, go forth bearing his image, that is, having within
    our being the same dynamic forces, by which we also add
    constantly to the total sum of existence, and shaking off
    ignorance, and its effects, and by becoming more ourselves,
    i.e., more divine;--destroying sin in its principle, we attain
    to absolute freedom, we return to God, conscious like himself,
    and, as his friends, giving, as well as receiving, felicity
    forevermore. In short, we become gods, and able to give the
    life which we now feel ourselves able only to receive.

    "On Saturday morning, Mrs. L.E. and Mrs. E.H. were present,
    and begged Margaret to repeat the statement concerning life,
    with which she closed the last conversation. Margaret said she
    had forgotten every word she said. She must have been inspired
    by a good genius, to have so satisfied everybody.--but the
    good genius had left her. She would try, however, to say what
    she thought, and trusted it would resemble what she had said
    already. She then went into the matter, and, true enough, she
    did not use a single word she used before."

The fame of these conversations spread wide through all families and
social circles of the ladies attending, and the golden report they
gave, led to a proposal, that Margaret should undertake an evening
class, of four or five lessons, to which gentlemen should also be
admitted. This was put in effect, in the course of the winter, and
I had myself the pleasure of assisting at one--the second--of these
soirées. The subject was Mythology, and several gentlemen took part
in it. Margaret spoke well,--she could not otherwise,--but I remember
that she seemed encumbered, or interrupted, by the headiness or
incapacity of the men, whom she had not had the advantage of training,
and who fancied, no doubt, that, on such a question, they, too, must
assert and dogmatize.

But, how well or ill they fared, may still be known; since the same
true hand which reported for the Ladies' Class, drew up, at the time,
the following note of the Evenings of Mythology. My distance from
town, and engagements, prevented me from attending again. I was told
that on the preceding and following evenings the success was more

    "Margaret's plan, in these conversations, was a very noble
    one, and, had it been seconded, as she expected, they would
    have been splendid. She thought, that, by admitting gentlemen,
    who had access, by their classical education, to the whole
    historical part of the mythology, her own comparative
    deficiency, as she felt it, in this part of learning, would be
    made up; and that taking her stand on the works of art, which
    were the final development in Greece of these multifarious
    fables, the whole subject might be swept from zenith to
    nadir. But all that depended on others entirely failed. Mr. W.
    contributed some isolated facts,--told the etymology of names,
    and cited a few fables not so commonly known as most; but,
    even in the point of erudition, which Margaret did not
    profess, on the subject, she proved the best informed of the
    party, while no one brought an idea, except herself.

    "Her general idea was, that, upon the Earth-worship and
    Sabæanism of earlier ages, the Grecian genius acted to
    humanize and idealize, but, still, with some regard to the
    original principle. What was a seed, or a root, merely, in the
    Egyptian mind, became a flower in Greece,--Isis, and Osiris,
    for instance, are reproduced in Ceres and Proserpine, with
    some loss of generality, but with great gain of beauty;
    Hermes, in Mercury, with only more grace of form, though with
    great loss of grandeur; but the loss of grandeur was also an
    advance in philosophy, in this instance, the brain in the hand
    being the natural consequence of the application of Idea to
    practice,--the Hermes of the Egyptians.

    "I do not feel that the class, by their apprehension of
    Margaret, do any justice to the scope and depth of her views.
    They come,--myself among the number,--I confess,--to be
    entertained; but she has a higher purpose. She, amid all her
    infirmities, studies and thinks with the seriousness of one
    upon oath, and there has not been a single conversation this
    winter, in either class, that had not in it the spirit which
    giveth life. Just in proportion to the importance of
    the subject, does she tax her mind, and say what is most
    important; while, of necessity, nothing is reported from
    the conversations but her brilliant sallies, her occasional
    paradoxes of form, and, sometimes, her impatient reacting
    upon dulness and frivolity. In particular points, I know, some
    excel her; in particular departments I sympathize more with
    some other persons; but, take her as a whole, she has the most
    to bestow on others by conversation of any person I have ever
    known. I cannot conceive of any species of vanity living in
    her presence. She distances all who talk with her.

    "Mr. E. only served to display her powers. With his sturdy
    reiteration of his uncompromising idealism, his absolute
    denial of the fact of human nature, he gave her opportunity
    and excitement to unfold and illustrate her realism and
    acceptance of conditions. What is so noble is, that her
    realism is transparent with idea,--her human nature is the
    germ of a divine life. She proceeds in her search after the
    unity of things, the divine harmony, not by exclusion, as Mr.
    E. does, but by comprehension,--and so, no poorest, saddest
    spirit, but she will lead to hope and faith. I have thought,
    sometimes, that her acceptance of evil was _too great_,--that
    her theory of the good to be educed proved too much. But in a
    conversation I had with her yesterday, I understood her better
    than I had done. 'It might never be sin to us, at the moment,'
    she said, 'it must be an excess, on which conscience puts the

The classes thus formed were renewed in November of each year, until
Margaret's removal to New York, in 1844. But the notes of my principal
reporter fail me at this point. Afterwards, I have only a few sketches
from a younger hand. In November, 1841, the class numbered from
twenty-five to thirty members: the general subject is stated as
"Ethics." And the influences on Woman seem to have been discussed
under the topics of the Family, the School, the Church, Society, and
Literature. In November, 1842, Margaret writes that the meetings have
been unusually spirited, and congratulates herself on the part taken
in them by Miss Burley, as 'a presence so positive as to be of great
value to me.' The general subject I do not find. But particular
topics were such as these:--"Is the ideal first or last; divination
or experience?" "Persons who never awake to life in this world."
"Mistakes;" "Faith;" "Creeds;" "Woman;" "Dæmonology;" "Influence;"
"Catholicism" (Roman); "The Ideal."

In the winter of 1843-4, the general subject was "Education." Culture,
Ignorance, Vanity, Prudence, Patience, and Health, appear to have
been the titles of conversations, in which wide digressions, and much
autobiographic illustration, with episodes on War, Bonaparte, Goethe,
and Spinoza, were mingled. But the brief narrative may wind up with a
note from Margaret on the last day.

    '_28th April, 1844_.--It was the last day with my class. How
    noble has been my experience of such relations now for six
    years, and with so many and so various minds! Life is worth
    living, is it not?

    'We had a most animated meeting. On bidding me good-bye, they
    all, and always, show so much good-will and love, that I feel
    I must really have become a friend to them. I was then loaded
    with beautiful gifts, accompanied with those little delicate
    poetic traits, of which I should delight to tell you, if we
    were near. Last came a beautiful bouquet, passion-flower,
    heliotrope, and soberer blooms. Then I went to take my repose
    on C----'s sofa, and we had a most serene afternoon together.'

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