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To Rev. Convers Francis.

New York, February 17, 1842.
My domestic attachments are so strong, and David is always so full of cheerful tenderness, that this separation is dreary indeed; yet I am supplied, and that too in the most unexpected manner, with just enough of outward aids to keep me strong and hopeful. It has ever been thus, through all the changing scenes of my trying pilgrimage. Ever there is a harp in the sky, and an echo on earth. One of my aids is Friend Hopper's son, who with unwearied love brings me flowers and music, and engravings and pictures and transparencies, and the ever-ready sympathy of a generous heart. Another is a young German, full of that deep philosophy that is born of poetry. Then, ever and anon, there comes some winged word from Maria White, some outpourings of love from young spirits in Boston or in Salem. Quite unexpectedly there came from Dr. Channing, the other day, words of the truest sympathy and the kindliest cheer. The world calls me unfortunate, but in good truth I often wonder why it is the angels take such good care of me. Bettine is a perpetual refreshment to my soul. Nothing disturbs me so much as to have any Philistine make remarks about her. Not that I think her connection with Goethe beautiful or altogether natural. (I need not have said that; for if it were truly natural, it would be altogether beautiful, let conventionalisms try their worst upon it.) Did I ever tell you how expressively John Dwight said all that is to be said on this subject? [51] “It is evident that Goethe was to Bettine merely the algebraic X that stands for the unknown quantity.”

Mr. Brisbane, the Fourier Association man, told me that he was well acquainted with Bettine in Germany, and that no one who knew her would doubt for a moment that she did all the strange things recorded in her letters. He said she would talk with him by the two hours together, lying all quirled up in a heap on the carpet, and as often as any way with her feet bare; but that this, and other tricks more odd still, were played with such innocent and infantile grace that, withered as she was, he could not help regarding her like a child three years old. Yet, in the midst of her wildest frolics, she would start off suddenly and wing the highest flights of poetic romance, or dive into the deepest vein of spiritual philosophy. The artists were plagued to death with her, for she would go into all their studios just when she chose, seize their clay, tools, or brushes, and model or paint to her heart's content; often leaving her work unfinished and seizing upon fresh clay or canvas to embody some new freak of her brain. Some of these productions, he said, were of exquisite grace and beauty. Altogether, she was the strangest yet, the most captivating mortal he ever met. She had a son twenty years old, a man observable for practical wisdom and business tact. She was then a little withered, odd-looking old woman; but with a fire in her dark eye easily kindled into brilliant beauty.

As for conventional forms, the giant soul should indeed rend them like cobwebs when they cross the pathway of Truth and Freedom. But there is an eternal distinction between right and wrong, Goethe end Bettine to the contrary notwithstanding.

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