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II. life in Cambridge.

by James Freeman Clarke.

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 warfare.

N. A. Review, Jan., 1817, article Dichtung und Wahrheit

[1061] 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. [1062]

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.1 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 other.

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 intercourse.

March 16th, 1830. Half-past 6, 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 [1063] Rivals.’2 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 't is 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 lady-like reason,—because I would fain have my correspondent enter into and sympathize with my feelings of the moment.

As to the relationship; 't is, 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 [1064] 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,’3 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, [1065] 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 [1066] 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 replied:—

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 [1067] 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 realities.

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 [1068] 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;4 my Journal, which lies before me, tempts to follow out and interpret the as yet only half-understood musings of the past week. Letterwriting, 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 [1069] 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, [1070] 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 mansionhouse formerly belonging to Judge Dana,— a large, oldfashioned 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 [1071] 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.


I. Friendship.

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,) quae non in amici mutata benevolentia 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 [1073] 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 Byron!

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 wane.

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, [1074] 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 heavenborn beauty, ‘let silence stand sentinel.’

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 [1075] 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 first.

See how, in the following passage, she describes to [1076] 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 maniere daetre, 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,) [1077] ‘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. [1078] 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 [1079] 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 selfpos-session. 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.5

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, downlook-ing 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 you.

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

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. [1081]

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 [1082] 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 threescore 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 [1084] 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 [1085] 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.

Power of circumstances.

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 [1086] 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 steamengine;—shall be a mill, with extensive waterprivi-leges,—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!

[1087] 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 [1088] 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 [1089] 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 [1090] 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 [1091] 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 [1092] 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 nearsightedness, 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. [1093] 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 ears 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. [1094]

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 luring the greater part of her life.

In our evening reunions 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 [1095] 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. [1096]

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 commonplaces 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 [1097] 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 flow 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 [1098] 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 [1099] 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 eyes.

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 of 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 [1100] 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 intercourse, circumstances must have accomplished that long ago; my only grief was that you should do it [1101] 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 remain.


II. Conversation.—social intercourse.

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

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

Goethe, translated by J. S. Dwight

Zu erfinden, zu beschliessen,
Bleibe, Kunstler, oft allein;
Deines Wirkes zu geniessen
Bile 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 [1103] 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 [1104] 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 halfvoluptuous 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 selfposses-sion, 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 [1105]

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 lavacurrent 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 [1106] 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 't was 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 [1107] 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 n 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 [1108] 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 routine!

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 tilled 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 [1109] 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 praise.

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 reading.


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 [1111] 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 line 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 thin,
     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 Schonen
Drangst du in der Erkenntniss Land;
An hohen Glanz sich zu gewohnen
Uebt sich am Reize der Verstand.
Was bei dem Saitenklang der Musen
Mit sussem 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;’ [1113] 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 Stael, of Rousseau, of Alfieri, of Petrarch.

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, [1114] 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; Korner, 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 [1115] 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 both:—

I have had,—while staying a day or two in Boston,—some of Shirley's, Ford's, and Heywood's plays from the Athenaeum. There are some noble strains of proud rage, and intellectual, but most poetical, allabsorbing, 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 hook, illustrates her downright way of asking worldrevered [1116] 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 beings.

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 inebranlables à l'habilite de Dedale avec les tresors de Tantale.’ I delight to hear such things from those whose lives have given the right to say them. For 't is not always true what Lessing says, and I, myself, once thought,—
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 [1117] 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 enchantments.

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 [1118]

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 Korner, 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. [1119] 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.

Need of communion.

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 [1120] 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 Korner, 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. 1 think I shall tell you all I know about it, some quiet time after your return, but, [1121] if not, will certainly keep a Novalis-journal for you some favorable season, when I live regularly for a fortnight.

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 sea?

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 [1122] 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 ‘allcompre-hending’ 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 overmastering 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?” [1124] 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 antiproductive tendency. But 't is not always so; may not be so with you. Wait till you are two years older, before you decide that 't is your vocation. Time enough at sixand-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, [1125] 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 [1126] 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 naivete, 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 failings.

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. Howover, 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 [1127] 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 books.

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, [1128] 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 masterspirits 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 [1129] 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 samehue.’ 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 I.

Channing on slavery.

This is a noble work. So refreshing its calm, benign atmosphere, after the pestilence-bringing gales of the [1130] 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.


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.


IV. Character.—aims and ideas of life

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.

Zzznatubrice Tochter, Translated by Margaret

And so he went onward, ever onward, for twenty-seven yearsthen, 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 [1132] is, after all, the test question, which detects the lowborn 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 life.

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 [1133] 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 charm.

‘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 [1134] 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. [1135]

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 nineteen:—

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 [1136] 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. 'T is 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:— [1137]

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 illfur-nished, 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 I 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 others.

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 [1138] 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 [1139] 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 journal:—

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 [1140] only lonely one, that I was not the selected (Edipus, 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. Today 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 [1141] 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 [1142] 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 harmony.

1 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 tree, planted by him in the year of Margaret's birth.

2 ‘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.

3 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 Korner are also translated by herself, and were given to me about the same time

4 The hero of a novel she was reading.

5 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.

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