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[342] England after the long esthetic starvation of the Puritan ascendency being comparable in kind if not in degree to the immense artistic expansion of Western Europe after a thousand years of medieval Christianity.

No one of the leading transcendentalists illustrates this aspect of the movement more completely than does the first editor of The Dial, Sarah Margaret Fuller (1810-1850).

The character of Margaret Fuller's childhood and early training is the key to much in her later career. She was brought up by a father whose stern temperament and uncompromising notions on education made him peculiarly unfitted to understand and mould the delicately sensitive nature of his daughter. Under the mental tasks he imposed upon her, her health became impaired and she was overstimulated intellectually and emotionally. All the early part of her life was a struggle against the sentimentalism and self-consciousness which her early education had engendered. As a young woman she was proud and imperious, at times overbearing, in her nature. She could use her tongue sharply and sarcastically, a quality which, combined with a high temper and a tendency to tell the truth, made her many enemies; and gradually, as she became more widely known, out of these hints that she herself supplied, there emerged in the public mind a distorted conception of her personality — a view that still lingers-which made her out a woman of insufferable vanity and masculinity, a veritable intellectual virago. Along with Alcott she became a chief butt of coarse and unsympathetic critics.

As a matter of fact, however, the unloveliest features of Margaret Fuller's personality were but the reverse sides of sterling virtues, and it is to her lasting credit that she lived to master and in the main to outgrow her early defects. The family duties devolving upon her at the death of her father, the sacrifice of long-cherished plans for foreign travel, a brief period of teaching, her work as editor of The Dial-these experiences gave her needed self-control and contact with practical problems, and the figure that emerges from them some years later as literary critic of The New York Tribune and social and philanthropic worker is an exceedingly able, sensible, and admirable woman.

From her early years, Margaret Fuller read omnivorously

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