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Sarah Margaret Fuller

The only known daguerreotype of Margaret Fuller (by John Plumbe, 1846)
Born May 23, 1810(1810-05-23)
Cambridgeport, Massachusetts
Died July 19, 1850 (aged 40)
Off Fire Island, New York
Occupation Teacher
Journalist
Critic
Nationality United States
Literary movement Transcendentalism
Signature

Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli, more commonly known as Margaret Fuller, (May 23, 1810 – July 19, 1850) was a journalist, critic and women's rights activist associated with the American transcendental movement. She was the first full-time female book reviewer in journalism. Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States.

Born Sarah Margaret Fuller in an area of Cambridge, Massachusetts, she was given a substantial early education by her father, Timothy Fuller. She later had more formal schooling and became a teacher before, in 1839, she began overseeing what she called "conversations": discussions among women meant to compensate for their lack of access to higher education. She became the first editor of the transcendental publication The Dial in 1840 before joining the staff of the New York Tribune under Horace Greeley in 1844. By the time she was in her 30s, Fuller had earned a reputation as the best-read person in New England, male or female, and became the first woman allowed to use the library at Harvard College. Her seminal work, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, was published in 1845. A year later, she was sent to Europe for the Tribune as its first female correspondent. She soon became involved with the revolution in Italy and allied herself with Giuseppe Mazzini. She also met Giovanni Ossoli, with whom she had a child. All three members of the family died in a shipwreck off Fire Island, New York, traveling back to the United States in 1850. Fuller's body was never recovered.

Fuller was an advocate of women's rights and, in particular, women's education and the right to employment. She also encouraged many other reforms in society, including prison reform and the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Many other advocates for women's rights and feminism, including Susan B. Anthony, cite Fuller as a source of inspiration. Many of her contemporaries, however, were not supportive, including her former friend Harriet Martineau, who said that Fuller was a talker rather than an activist. Shortly after Fuller's death her importance faded; the editors who prepared her letters to be published, believing her fame would be short-lived, were not concerned about accuracy and censored or altered much of her words before publication.

Contents

Biography

Early life and family

Birthplace and childhood home of Margaret Fuller

Sarah Margaret Fuller was born May 23, 1810,[1] in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, the first child of Timothy Fuller and Margaret Crane Fuller. She was named after her paternal grandmother and her mother; by the age of nine, however, she dropped "Sarah" and insisted on being called "Margaret".[2] The Margaret Fuller House, in which she was born, is still standing. Her father taught Fuller to read and write at the age of three and a half, shortly after the couple's second daughter, Julia Adelaide, had died at the age of fourteen months.[3] He offered her an education as rigorous as any boy's at the time and forbade her from reading the typical feminine fare such as etiquette books and sentimental novels.[4] He incorporated Latin into his teaching shortly after the birth of the couple's son, Eugene, in May 1815, and soon she was translating simple passages from Virgil.[5] During the day, young Margaret spent time with her mother, who taught her household chores and sewing.[6] In 1817, her brother William Henry Fuller was born and her father was elected as a representative in the United States Congress. For the next eight years, he would spend four to six months of the year in Washington, D.C.[7] At the age of 10, Fuller wrote a cryptic note which her father saved: "On the 23rd of May, 1810, was born one foredoomed to sorrow and pain, and like others to have misfortunes".[8]

In 1824, Fuller was sent to the School for Young Ladies in Groton at the advice of aunts and uncles, though she resisted the idea at first.[9] While she was in Groton, Timothy Fuller, in order to help John Quincy Adams with his presidential campaign in 1824, did not run for re-election; he had hoped Adams would return the favor with some kind of government appointment.[10] On June 17, 1825, Fuller was in attendance at the ceremony when the American Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette laid the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument 50 years after the battle.[11] Fuller left the Groton school and returned home at the age of 16 after having studied there for two years.[12] At home, she studied the classics and trained herself in several modern languages and various examples of world literature.[13] By this time, she realized she did not fit in with other young women her age. She wrote, "I have felt that I was not born to the common womanly lot".[14] Eliza Farrar, wife of Harvard professor John Farrar and author of The Young Lady's Friend (1836), attempted to train her in feminine etiquette until the age of 20,[15] though Farrar was never wholly successful.[16]

Early career

Fuller was an avid reader; by the time she was in her 30s, she had earned a reputation as the best-read person, male or female, in New England.[17] She used her knowledge to give private lessons based on the teaching style of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody.[18] Fuller hoped to earn her living through journalism and translation; her first published work, a response to historian George Bancroft, appeared in November 1834 in the North American Review.[19] When she was 23, her father's law practice failed and he moved the family to a farm in Groton.[20] On February 20, 1835, both Frederick Henry Hedge and James Freeman Clarke requested written contributions from her to publish in their respective periodicals. Clarke helped her publish her first literary review in the Western Messenger in June: criticisms of recent biographies on George Crabbe and Hannah More.[21] In the fall of that year, she suffered a terrible migraine with a fever that lasted nine days; Fuller would often be plagued with headaches throughout her life.[22] While she was still recovering, her father died of cholera on October 2, 1835.[23] She was deeply affected by his death: "My father's image follows me constantly", she wrote.[24] She vowed to step in as the head of the family and take care of her newly widowed mother and her younger siblings.[25] Her father had not left a will, and two of her uncles gained control of his property and finances, later assessed at $18,098.15, and forced the family to rely on them for support. Humiliated by the way her uncles were treating the family, Fuller wrote that she regretted being "of the softer sex, and never more than now".[26]

The Greene Street School where Fuller taught from 1837–1839

Around this time, Fuller had hoped to prepare a biography of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but felt that she could work on it only if she traveled to Europe. Her father's death and her sudden responsibility over her family caused her to abandon this idea.[19] In 1836, Fuller was given a job teaching at Bronson Alcott's Temple School in Boston,[27] where she remained for a year. She then accepted an invitation to teach at the Greene Street School in Providence, Rhode Island, in April 1837 with the unusually high salary of $1,000 per year.[28] Her family sold the Groton farm and Fuller moved with them to Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.[29] On November 6, 1839, Fuller held the first of her "conversations",[30] discussions among local women who met in the Boston home of the Peabodys.[31] Fuller intended these meetings to compensate for the lack of education for women[32] with discussions and debates which focused on subjects including the fine arts, history, mythology, literature, and nature.[33] Serving as the "nucleus of conversation", Fuller also intended to answer the "great questions" facing women: "What were we born to do? How shall we do it? which so few ever propose to themselves 'till their best years are gone by".[34] A number of significant figures in the women's rights movement attended these "conversations", including Sophia Dana Ripley, Caroline Sturgis,[35] and Maria White Lowell.[30]

The Dial

In October 1839, Ralph Waldo Emerson was seeking an editor for his transcendental journal The Dial and, after several had declined the role, he offered it to Fuller, referring to her as "my vivacious friend".[36] Emerson had first met Fuller in Cambridge in 1835; of that meeting, he admitted "she made me laugh more than I liked". The next summer, Fuller spent two weeks at Emerson's home in Concord where their friendship grew.[37] Fuller accepted Emerson's offer to edit The Dial on October 20, 1839, though she did not begin work until the first week of 1840.[38] She edited the journal for the first two years of its existence from 1840 to 1842, though her promised annual salary of $200 was never paid.[39] Because of her role, she was soon recognized as one of the most important figures of the transcendental movement and was invited to George Ripley's Brook Farm communal experiment.[40] She never officially joined the community but was a frequent visitor, often spending New Year's Eve there.[41] In the summer of 1843, she traveled to Chicago, Milwaukee, Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York;[42] while there, she interacted with several Native Americans, including members of the Ottawa tribe and the Chippewa tribe.[43] She reported her experiences in a book called Summer on the Lakes,[42] which she completed writing on her 34th birthday in 1844;[44] critic Evert Augustus Duyckinck called it "the only genuine book, I can think of, this season".[45] She had used the library at Harvard College for further background information on the Great Lakes region,[42] making her the first woman allowed to use Harvard's library.[46]

One of Fuller's most important works, "The Great Lawsuit", was written in serial form for The Dial. She originally intended to name the work "The Great Lawsuit: Man versus Men, Woman versus Women";[47] when it was expanded and published independently in 1845, it was instead named Woman in the Nineteenth Century. After completing it, she wrote to a friend: "I had put a good deal of my true self in it, as if, I suppose I went away now, the measure of my footprint would be left on earth."[48] The work discussed the role that women played in the American democracy and Fuller's opinion on possibilities for improvement. It has since become one of the major documents in American feminism[49] and is considered the first of its kind in the United States.[48][50]

New York Tribune

Margaret Fuller illustration

Fuller left The Dial in 1844 in part because of ill health but also because of her disappointment with the publication's dwindling subscription list.[51] She moved to New York that autumn and joined Horace Greeley's New York Tribune as literary critic, becoming the first full-time book reviewer in journalism[52] and, by 1846, was the publication's first female editor.[53] Her first article, a review of a collection of essays by Emerson, was printed in the December 1, 1844, issue.[54] At this time, the Tribune had some 50,000 subscribers and Fuller earned $500 a year for her work.[55] In addition to American books, she reviewed foreign literature, concerts, lectures, and art exhibits.[56] During her four years with the publication, she published more than 250 columns, most signed with a "*" as a byline.[55] In these columns, Fuller discussed topics ranging from art and literature to political and social issues such as the plight of slaves and women's rights.[57] She also published poetry; her poems, styled after the work of Emerson, do not have the same intellectual vigor as her criticism.[58]

Around this time, she was also involved in a scandal involving fellow literary critic Edgar Allan Poe, who had been carrying on a public flirtation with the married poet Frances Sargent Osgood.[59] At the same time, another poet, Elizabeth F. Ellet, became enamored of Poe and jealous of Osgood[60] and suggested the relationship between Poe and Osgood was more than just innocent flirtation.[61] Osgood then sent Fuller and Anne Lynch Botta to Poe's cottage on her behalf to request that he return the personal letters she had sent him. Angered by their interference, Poe called them "Busy-bodies".[62] A public scandal erupted and continued until Osgood's estranged husband Samuel Stillman Osgood stepped in and threatened to sue Ellet.[63]

Assignment in Europe

Fuller was sent to Europe in 1846 by the New York Tribune, specifically England and Italy, as its first female foreign correspondent.[64] She traveled from Boston to Liverpool in August on the Cambria, a vessel that used both sail and steam to make the journey in ten days and sixteen hours.[65] Over the next four years she provided thirty-seven reports from overseas.[66] She interviewed many prominent writers including George Sand and Thomas Carlyle—whom she found disappointing because of his reactionary politics, among other things. George Sand had previously been an idol of hers, but Fuller was disappointed when Sand chose not to run for the French National Assembly, saying that women were not ready to vote or to hold political office.[67] Fuller was also given a letter of introduction from Cornelius Mathews for Elizabeth Barrett; the two women did not meet, as Barrett had just eloped with Robert Browning.[68]

In the spring of 1846, she met Giuseppe Mazzini in England, who had been in exile from Italy since 1837.[69] Fuller also met the Italian revolutionary Giovanni Angelo Ossoli, a marquis who had been disinherited by his family because of his support for Mazzini.[70] Fuller and Ossoli moved in together in Florence, Italy, likely before they were married, if they ever were.[71] Fuller originally did not support marrying him, in part because of their different religions; she was Protestant and he was Roman Catholic.[72] Emerson speculated that the couple was "married perhaps in Oct. Nov. or Dec" of 1847, though he did not explain his reasoning.[73] Biographers have speculated that the couple married on April 4, 1848, to celebrate the anniversary of their first meeting.[74] By the time the couple moved to Florence, they were referred to as husband and wife, though it is unclear if any formal ceremony took place.[75] It seems certain that at the time their child was born, they were not married. By New Year's Day 1848, she suspected that she was pregnant but kept it from Ossoli for several weeks.[76] Their child, Angelo Eugene Philip Ossoli, was born in early September 1848;[77] they nicknamed him Angelino. The couple was very secretive about their relationship but, after Angelino suffered an unnamed illness, they became closer.[78] Fuller finally informed her mother about Ossoli and Angelino in August 1849. The letter explained that she had kept silent so as not to upset her "but it has become necessary, on account of the child, for us to live publicly and permanently together."[78] Her mother's response makes it clear that she was aware that a legal marriage had not taken place.[79] Even so, she was happy for her daughter, writing: "I send my first kiss with my fervent blessing to my grandson."[80] Modern biographers are still unclear if Fuller and Ossoli ever married.[13][81]

The couple supported Giuseppe Mazzini's revolution for the establishment of a Roman Republic in 1849—Ossoli fought in the struggle while Fuller volunteered at a supporting hospital.[82] After generations of rule by several parties, few of which were Italian, Italy had been left without an official central government with various pieces of the country overseen by different weak governments, including one under the control of the Papacy. When Pope Pius IX was appointed in 1846, he made small steps towards the establishment of a central Italian democratic government, though revolutionaries like Mazzini did not trust the Pope's efforts.[83] The political unrest was enough that the Pope disguised himself and escaped on November 24, 1848.[84] A Roman republic with a representative government was established in February 1849, only to be destroyed by an invasion from France a few months later.[85] Because Fuller and Ossoli were aligned with the revolution, when Pope Pius IX returned to Rome in 1850, they had to flee Italy and decided to move to the United States.[86] She intended to use her experience to write a book about the history of the Roman Republic, a work she may have begun as early as 1847,[87] hoping to find an American publisher after a British one rejected it.[88] She believed the work would be her most important, referring to it in a March 1849 letter to her brother Richard as, "something good which may survive my troubled existence."[89]

Death

Memorial marker for Margaret Fuller and family located at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

In the beginning of the year 1850, Fuller wrote to a friend: "It has long seemed that in the year 1850 I should stand on some important plateau in the ascent of life... I feel however no marked and important change as yet."[90] Also that year, Fuller wrote: "I am absurdly fearful and various omens have combined to give me a dark feeling... It seems to me that my future upon earth will soon close... I have a vague expectation of some crisis—I know not what".[91] A few days after writing this, Fuller, Ossoli, and their child began a five-week return voyage to the United States aboard the ship Elizabeth. The ship was an American merchant freighter carrying cargo that included mostly marble from Carrara as well as a statue of John C. Calhoun sculpted by Hiram Powers.[92] After a short delay due to rain, the Elizabeth set sail on May 17.[93] At sea, the ship's captain, Seth Hasty, died of smallpox.[94] The child, Angelino, contracted the disease as well, though he recovered.[95]

Possibly because of the inexperienced first mate, now serving as captain, the ship slammed into a sandbar less than 100 yards from Fire Island, New York, on July 19, 1850, around 3:30 a.m.[96] Many of the other passengers and crew members abandoned ship. The first mate, Mr. Bangs, urged Fuller and Ossoli to try to save themselves and their child as he himself jumped overboard,[97] later claiming he believed Fuller had wanted to be left behind to die.[98] On the beach, people arrived with carts hoping to take advantage if any cargo washed to shore; none made any effort to rescue the crew or passengers of the Elizabeth,[99] though they were only 50 yards from shore.[98] Ossoli and Fuller, along with their child, were some of the last on the ship; most others had attempted to swim to shore. Eventually, Ossoli was thrown overboard by a massive wave and, after the wave had passed, a crewman who witnessed the event said Fuller could not be seen.[100]

Henry David Thoreau traveled to New York, at the urging of Emerson, to search the shore but neither Fuller's body nor that of her husband were ever recovered; only Angelino had washed ashore.[101] Few of their possessions were found other than some of the child's clothes and a few letters.[102] Fuller's manuscript on the history of the Roman Republic was also lost.[103] A memorial to Fuller was erected on the beach at Fire Island in 1901 through the efforts of Julia Ward Howe.[104] A cenotaph to Fuller and Ossoli, under which Angelino is buried, is in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.[105] The inscription reads, in part:

By birth a child of New England
By adoption a citizen of Rome
By genius belonging to the world[106]

Within a week after her death, Horace Greeley suggested to Emerson that a biography of Fuller, to be called Margaret and Her Friends, be prepared quickly "before the interest excited by her sad decease has passed away".[107] Many of her writings were soon collected together by her brother Arthur as At Home and Abroad (1856) and Life Without and Life Within (1858). He also edited a new version of Woman in the Nineteenth Century in 1855.[108] In February 1852, The Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli was published,[109] edited by Emerson, James Freeman Clarke, and William Henry Channing, though much of the work was censored or reworded. It particularly left out details about her love affair with Ossoli and an earlier relationship with a man named James Nathan.[110] The three editors, believing the public interest in Fuller would be short-lived and that she would not survive as a historical figure, were not concerned about accuracy.[111] Even so, for a time, it was the best-selling biography of the decade and went through thirteen editions before the end of the century.[109] The book focused on her personality rather than her work and, as a result, detractors of the book ignored her status as a critic and instead criticized her personal life and her "unwomanly" arrogance.[112]

Beliefs

Fuller was an early proponent of feminism and especially believed in providing education to women.[113] Once equal educational rights were afforded women, she believed, women could push for equal political rights as well.[114] She advocated that women seek any employment they wish, rather than catering to the stereotypical "feminine" roles of the time, such as teaching. She once said, "If you ask me what office women should fill, I reply—any... let them be sea captains if you will. I do not doubt that there are women well fitted for such an office".[115] She had great confidence in all women but doubted that a woman would produce a lasting work of art or literature in her time[116] and disliked the popular female poets of her time.[117] Fuller also warned women to be careful about marriage and not to become dependent on their husbands. As she wrote, "I wish woman to live, first for God's sake. Then she will not make an imperfect man for her god, and thus sink to idolatry. Then she will not take what is not fit for her from a sense of weakness and poverty".[47] By 1832, she had made a personal commitment to stay single.[118] Fuller also questioned a definitive line between male and female: "There is no wholly masculine man... no purely feminine" but that both were present in any individual.[57] She suggested also that within a female were two parts: the intellectual side (which she called the Minerva) and the "lyrical" or "Femality" side (the Muse).[119] She admired the work of Emanuel Swedenborg, who believed men and women shared "an angelic ministry", as she wrote, as well as Charles Fourier, who placed "Woman on an entire equality with Man".[50] Unlike several contemporary women writers, including "Mrs. Sigourney" and "Mrs. Stowe", she was familiarly referred to in a less formal manner as "Margaret".[120]

Fuller also advocated reform at all levels of society, including prison. In October 1844, she visited Sing Sing and interviewed the women prisoners, even staying overnight in the facility.[121] Sing Sing was developing a more humane system for its women inmates, many of whom were prostitutes.[122] Fuller was also concerned about the homeless and those living in dire poverty, especially in New York.[123] She also admitted that, though she was raised to believe "that the Indian obstinately refused to be civilized", her travels in the American West made her realize that the white man unfairly treated the Native Americans; she considered Native Americans an important part of American heritage.[124] She also supported the rights of African-Americans, referring to "this cancer of slavery",[125] and suggested that those who were interested in the Abolition movement follow the same reasoning when considering the rights of women: "As the friend of the Negro assumes that one man cannot by right hold another in bondage, so should the Friend of Woman assume that Man cannot by right lay even well-meant restrictions on Woman."[126] She suggested that those who spoke against the emancipation of slaves were similar to those who did not support the emancipation of Italy.[127]

Fuller agreed with the transcendental concern for the psychological well-being of the individual, [128] though she was never comfortable being labeled a transcendentalist.[129] Even so, she wrote, if being labeled a transcendentalist means "that I have an active mind frequently busy with large topics I hope it is so".[130] She criticized people like Emerson, however, for focusing too much on individual improvement and not enough on social reform.[131] Like other members of the so-called Transcendental Club, she rebelled against the past and believed in the possibility of change. However, unlike others in the movement, her rebellion was not based on religion.[132]

Legacy and criticism

Title page for Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)

Margaret Fuller was especially known in her time for her personality and, in particular, for being overly self-confident and having a bad temper.[133] This personality was the inspiration for the character Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, specifically her radical thinking about "the whole race of womanhood".[134] She may also be the basis for the character Zenobia in another of Hawthorne's works, The Blithedale Romance.[41] Hawthorne and his then-fiancée Sophia had first met Fuller in October 1839.[135]

She was also an inspiration to poet Walt Whitman, who believed in her call for the forging of a new national identity and a truly American literature.[136] Elizabeth Barrett Browning was also a strong admirer, but believed that Fuller's unconventional views were unappreciated in the United States and, therefore, she was better off dead.[137] She also said that Fuller's history of the Roman Republic would have been her greatest work: "The work she was preparing upon Italy would probably have been more equal to her faculty than anything previously produced by her pen (her other writings being curiously inferior to the impressions her conversation gave you)".[138] An 1860 essay collection, Historical Pictures Retouched, by Caroline Healey Dall, called Fuller's Woman in the Nineteenth Century "doubtless the most brilliant, complete, and scholarly statement ever made on the subject".[139] Despite his personal issues with Fuller, the typically harsh literary critic Edgar Allan Poe wrote of the work as "a book which few women in the country could have written, and no woman in the country would have published, with the exception of Miss Fuller", noting its "independence" and "unmitigated radicalism".[62] Thoreau also thought highly of the book, suggesting that its strength came in part from Fuller's conversational ability. As he called it, it was "rich extempore writing, talking with pen in hand".[140]

Another admirer of Fuller was Susan B. Anthony, a pioneer of women's rights, who wrote that Fuller "possessed more influence on the thought of American women than any woman previous to her time".[141] Fuller's work may have partially inspired the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.[142] Anthony, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage wrote in their History of Woman Suffrage that Fuller "was the precursor of the Women's Rights agitation".[143] Modern scholars have suggested Woman in the Nineteenth Century was the first major women's rights work since Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792),[144] though an early comparison between the two women came from George Eliot in 1855.[145] It is unclear if Fuller was familiar with Wollstonecraft's works; in her childhood, her father prevented her from reading them.[146] In 1995, Fuller was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.[147]

Fuller, however, was not without her critics. A one-time friend, the English writer Harriet Martineau, was one of her harshest detractors after Fuller's death. Martineau said that Fuller was a talker rather than an activist, that she had "shallow conceits" and often "looked down upon persons who acted instead of talking finely... and despised those who, like myself, could not adopt her scale of valuation".[148] The influential editor Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who believed she went against his notion of feminine modesty, referred to Woman in the Nineteenth Century as "an eloquent expression of her discontent at having been created female".[149] New York writer Charles Frederick Briggs said that she was "wasting the time of her readers", especially because she was an unmarried woman and therefore could not "truly represent the female character".[150] English writer and critic Matthew Arnold scoffed at Fuller's conversations as well, saying, "My G–d, what rot did she and the other female dogs of Boston talk about Greek mythology!"[151] Sophia Hawthorne, who had previously been a supporter of Fuller, was critical of her after Woman of the Nineteenth Century was published:

The impression it left was disagreeable. I did not like the tone of it—& did not agree with her at all about the change in woman's outward circumstances... Neither do I believe in such a character of man as she gives. It is altogether too ignoble... I think Margaret speaks of many things that should not be spoken of.[152]

Fuller had angered fellow poet and critic James Russell Lowell when she reviewed his work, calling him "absolutely wanting in the true spirit and tone of poesy... his verse is stereotyped, his thought sounds no depth; and posterity will not remember him."[153] In response, Lowell took revenge in his satirical A Fable for Critics, first published in October 1848. At first, he considered excluding her entirely but ultimately gave her what was called the "most wholly negative characterization" in the work.[154] Referring to her as Miranda, Lowell wrote that she stole old ideas and presented them as her own, she was genuine only in her spite and "when acting as censor, she privately blows a censer of vanity 'neath her own nose".[155]

Shortly after Fuller's death, her importance faded. Her obituary in the newspaper she had once edited, the Daily Tribune, said that her works had a few great sentiments, "but as a whole they must commend themselves mainly by their vigor of thought and habitual fearlessness rather than freedom of utterance".[156] As biographer Abby Slater wrote, "Margaret had been demoted from a position of importance in her own right to one in which her only importance was in the company she kept".[157] Years later, Hawthorne's son Julian wrote, "The majority of readers will, I think, not be inconsolable that poor Margaret Fuller has at last taken her place with the numberless other dismal frauds who fill the limbo of human pretension and failure."[158] In the 20th century, American writer Elizabeth Hardwick, former wife of Robert Lowell, wrote an essay called "The Genius of Margaret Fuller" (1986). She compared her own move from Boston to New York to Fuller's, saying that Boston was not a good place for intellectuals, despite the assumption that it was the best place for intellectuals.[159]

Selected list of works

  • Summer on the Lakes (1844)[44]
  • Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)[160]
  • Papers on Literature and Art (1846)[161]

Posthumous editions

  • Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1852)[109]
  • At Home and Abroad (1856)[108]
  • Life Without and Life Within (1858)[108]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Nelson, Randy F. The Almanac of American Letters. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 42. ISBN 086576008X
  2. ^ Von Mehren, 10
  3. ^ Von Mehren, 11–12
  4. ^ Douglas, 264
  5. ^ Von Mehren, 12
  6. ^ Blanchard, 19
  7. ^ Von Mehren, 13
  8. ^ Deiss, 277
  9. ^ Blanchard, 41
  10. ^ Von Mehren, 29
  11. ^ Von Mehren, 28
  12. ^ Blanchard, 46
  13. ^ a b Kane, Paul. Poetry of the American Renaissance. New York: George Braziller, 1995: 156. ISBN 0-8076-1398-3
  14. ^ Slater, 19
  15. ^ Blanchard, 61–62
  16. ^ Slater, 20
  17. ^ Douglas, 263
  18. ^ Von Mehren, 82
  19. ^ a b Dickenson, 91
  20. ^ Slater, 22–23
  21. ^ Von Mehren, 64–66
  22. ^ Blanchard, 92
  23. ^ Von Mehren, 71
  24. ^ Blanchard, 93
  25. ^ Von Mehren, 72
  26. ^ Von Mehren, 75
  27. ^ Blanchard, 106–107
  28. ^ Slater, 30–31
  29. ^ Slater, 32
  30. ^ a b Slater, 43
  31. ^ Wineapple, Brenda. "Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804-1864: A Brief Biography", A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Larry J. Reynolds, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001: 25. ISBN 0195124146
  32. ^ Cheever, 32
  33. ^ Gura, 134
  34. ^ Marshall, Megan. The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005: 387. ISBN 978-0-618-71169-7
  35. ^ Marshall, Megan. The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism. Boston: Mariner Books, 2005: 386–387. ISBN 978-0-618-71169-7
  36. ^ Gura, 128
  37. ^ Slater, 47–48
  38. ^ Von Mehren, 120
  39. ^ Dickenson, 101–102
  40. ^ Gura, 156
  41. ^ a b Blanchard, 187
  42. ^ a b c Blanchard, 196
  43. ^ Slater, 80
  44. ^ a b Slater, 82
  45. ^ Von Mehren, 217
  46. ^ Slater, 83
  47. ^ a b Von Mehren, 192
  48. ^ a b Slater, 89
  49. ^ Von Mehren, 166
  50. ^ a b Gura, 172
  51. ^ Gura, 225
  52. ^ Callow, Philip. From Noon to Starry Night: A Life of Walt Whitman. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1992: 110. ISBN 0929587952
  53. ^ Cheever, 175
  54. ^ Slater, 97
  55. ^ a b Gura, 226
  56. ^ Von Mehren, 215
  57. ^ a b Gura, 227
  58. ^ Watts, Emily Stipes. The Poetry of American Women from 1632 to 1945. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1978: 182. ISBN 0-292-76540-2
  59. ^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991: 280. ISBN 0-06-092331-8
  60. ^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 190. ISBN 0-8154-1038-7
  61. ^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 191. ISBN 0-8154-1038-7
  62. ^ a b Von Mehren, 225
  63. ^ Moss, Sidney P. Poe's Literary Battles: The Critic in the Context of His Literary Milieu. Southern Illinois University Press, 1969: 215.
  64. ^ Cheever, 176
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  84. ^ Deiss, 186
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  97. ^ Slater, 198
  98. ^ a b Dickenson, 201
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  101. ^ Arvin, Newton. Longfellow: His Life and Work. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1963: 171
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  105. ^ Wilson, Susan. Literary Trail of Greater Boston. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000: 115. ISBN 0-618-05013-2
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  107. ^ Von Mehren, 340
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  117. ^ Dickenson, 172
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  119. ^ Von Mehren, 168
  120. ^ Douglas, 261
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  123. ^ Gura, 230
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  130. ^ Rose, Anne C. Transcendentalism as a Social Movement, 1830–1850. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press: 1981: 181. ISBN 0-300-02587-4
  131. ^ Slater, 97–98
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  133. ^ Blanchard, 137
  134. ^ Wineapple, Brenda. "Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804-1864: A Brief Biography", A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Larry J. Reynolds, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001: 25–26. ISBN 0195124146
  135. ^ Marshall, Megan. The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism. Boston: Mariner Books, 2005: 384. ISBN 978-0-618-71169-7
  136. ^ Callow, Philip. From Noon to Starry Night: A Life of Walt Whitman. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1992: 111. ISBN 0929587952
  137. ^ Douglas, 259
  138. ^ Dickenson, 44
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  141. ^ Von Mehren, 2
  142. ^ Dickenson, 113
  143. ^ Stanton, Elizabeth Cady; Anthony, Susan B. & Gage, Matilda Joslyn. History of Woman Suffrage, Volume 1. New York: Fowler and Wells, 1881: 177.
  144. ^ Slater, 89–90
  145. ^ Dickenson, 45–46
  146. ^ Dickenson, 133
  147. ^ Margaret Fuller, National Women's Hall of Fame. Accessed July 23, 2008
  148. ^ Dickenson, 47–48
  149. ^ Bayless, Joy. Rufus Wilmot Griswold: Poe's Literary Executor. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1943: 121
  150. ^ Von Mehren, 196
  151. ^ Dickenson, 47
  152. ^ Miller, Edwin Haviland. Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1991: 235. ISBN 0877453322
  153. ^ Duberman, Martin. James Russell Lowell. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1966: 99.
  154. ^ Von Mehren, 294
  155. ^ Duberman, Martin. James Russell Lowell. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1966: 100.
  156. ^ Dickenson, 40
  157. ^ Slater, 3
  158. ^ James, Laurie. Why Margaret Fuller Ossoli is Forgotten. New York: Golden Heritage Press, 1988: 25. ISBN 0-944382-01-0
  159. ^ Wilson, Susan. Literary Trail of Greater Boston. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000: 68–69. ISBN 0-618-05013-2
  160. ^ Slater, 96
  161. ^ Von Mehren, 226

Sources

  • Blanchard, Paula. Margaret Fuller: From Transcendentalism to Revolution. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1987. ISBN 0-201-10458-X
  • Brooks, Van Wyck. The Flowering of New England. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., 1952.
  • Cheever, Susan. American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau; Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work. Detroit: Thorndike Press, 2006. ISBN 0-7862-9521-X
  • Deiss, Joseph Jay. The Roman Years of Margaret Fuller. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1969. ISBN 9780690010176 ISBN 0690010176
  • Douglas, Ann. The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. ISBN 0-394-40532-3
  • Dickenson, Donna. Margaret Fuller: Writing a Woman's Life. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993. ISBN 0-312-09145-1
  • Gura, Philip F. American Transcendentalism: A History. New York: Hill and Wang, 2007. ISBN 0-8090-3477-8
  • Slater, Abby. In Search of Margaret Fuller. New York: Delacorte Press, 1978. ISBN 0-440-03944-4
  • Von Mehren, Joan. Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994. ISBN 1-55849-015-9

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

To one who has enjoyed the full life of any scene, of any hour, what thoughts can be recorded about it, seem like the commas and semicolons in the paragraph, mere stops.
It seems that it is madder never to abandon one's self than often to be infatuated; better to be wounded, a captive and a slave, than always to walk in armor.

Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli (23 May 181019 June 1850) was an American author, journalist, critic and women's rights activist. She, her husband, and their child all died at the end of a five week voyage from Europe in a shipwreck just off of Fire Island.

Contents

Sourced

It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods.
Might the simple maxim, that honesty is the best policy be laid to heart!
There is a beauty in natural form, if its law and purpose be understood.
I accept the universe.
I now know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own.
  • There are noble books but one wants the breath of life sometimes. And I see no divine person. I myself am more divine than any I see — I think that is enough to say about them...
    • Letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson (1 March 1838); published in The Letters of Margaret Fuller vol. I, p. 327, , edited by Robert N. Hudspeth (1983).
  • Beware of over-great pleasure in being popular or even beloved.
    • Letter to her brother, (20 December 1840) as quoted in The Feminist Papers (1973) by Alice Rossi.
  • Put up at the moment of greatest suffering a prayer, not for thy own escape, but for the enfranchisement of some being dear to thee, and the sovereign spirit will accept thy ransom.
    • "Recipe to prevent the cold of January from utterly destroying life" (30 January 1841), quoted in Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1898) by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, p. 97
  • Men disappoint me so, I disappoint myself so, yet courage, patience, shuffle the cards ...
    • Letter to Reverend William Henry Channing (21 February 1841) quoted in Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1898) by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, p. 112
  • It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods.
    • Notes from Cambridge, Massachusetts (July 1842) published in Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1852), Vol. II, p. 64
  • How many persons must there be who cannot worship alone since they are content with so little.
    • Letter to Rev. W. H. Channing (31 December 1843) quoted in Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1898) by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, p. 184
  • Might the simple maxim, that honesty is the best policy be laid to heart! Might a sense of the true aims of life elevate the tone of politics and trade, till public and private honor become identical!
  • Let no one dare to call another mad who is not himself willing to rank in the same class for every perversion and fault of judgment. Let no one dare aid in punishing another as criminal who is not willing to suffer the penalty due to his own offenses.
    • Article, The New York Daily Tribune (22 February 1845), p. 19; quoted in Brilliant Bylines (1986) by Barbara Belford
  • Were the destiny of woman thus exactly marked out, did she invariably retain the shelter of a parent’s or guardian’s roof till she married, did marriage give her a sure home and a protector, were she never liable to be made a widow, or, if so, sure of finding immediate protection from a brother or new husband, so that she might never be forced to stand alone one moment, and were her mind given for this world only, with no faculties capable of eternal growth and infinite improvement, we would still demand of her a far wider and more generous culture than is proposed by those who so anxiously define her sphere.
    • Article, The New York Daily Tribune (30 September 1845); quoted in Brilliant Bylines (1986) by Barbara Belford
  • The use of criticism, in periodical writing, is to sift, not to stamp a work.
    • "A Short Essay on Critics" in Papers on Literature and Art (1846), p. 5
  • Genius will live and thrive without training, but it does not the less reward the watering-pot and pruning-knife.
    • "Life of Sir James Mackintosh" in Papers on Literature and Art (1846), p. 50
  • Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.
    • Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1852), Vol. I, p. 132
  • It does not follow because many books are written by persons born in America that there exists an American literature. Books which imitate or represent the thoughts and life of Europe do not constitute an American literature. Before such can exist, an original idea must animate this nation and fresh currents of life must call into life fresh thoughts along its shores.
    • "American Literature" in Papers on Literature and Art (1846), p. 122
  • Essays, entitled critical, are epistles addressed to the public, through which the mind of the recluse relieves itself of its impressions.
    • "A Short Essay on Critics" in Art, Literature and the Drama (1858).
  • There are two modes of criticism. One which ... crushes to earth without mercy all the humble buds of Phantasy, all the plants that, though green and fruitful, are also a prey to insects or have suffered by drouth. It weeds well the garden, and cannot believe the weed in its native soil may be a pretty, graceful plant.
    There is another mode which enters into the natural history of every thing that breathes and lives, which believes no impulse to be entirely in vain, which scrutinizes circumstances, motive and object before it condemns, and believes there is a beauty in natural form, if its law and purpose be understood.
    • "Poets of the People" in Art, Literature and the Drama (1858).
  • It is not because the touch of genius has roused genius to production, but because the admiration of genius has made talent ambitious, that the harvest is still so abundant.
    • "The Modern Drama" in Art, Literature and the Drama (1858).
  • We doubt not the destiny of our country — that she is to accomplish great things for human nature, and be the mother of a nobler race than the world has yet known. But she has been so false to the scheme made out at her nativity, that it is now hard to say which way that destiny points.
    • "American Facts" in Life Without and Life Within (1860) edited by Arthur Buckminster Fuller, p. 108
  • For precocity some great price is always demanded sooner or later in life.
  • Man tells his aspiration in his God; but in his demon he shows his depth of experience; and casts light into the cavern through which he worked his cause up to the cheerful day.
    • As quoted in Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1898) by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, p. 289-91
  • Your prudence, my wise friend, allows too little room for the mysterious whisperings of life.
    • To Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted in "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" Joseph Jay Deiss in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972)
  • You are intellect, I am life!
    • To Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted in "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" Joseph Jay Deiss in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972)

Summer on the Lakes, in 1843 (1844)

To one who has enjoyed the full life of any scene, of any hour, what thoughts can be recorded about it, seem like the commas and semicolons in the paragraph, mere stops.
I never lived, that I remember, what you call a common natural day. All my days are touched by the supernatural, for I feel the pressure of hidden causes, and the presence, sometimes the communion, of unseen powers.
  • To one who has enjoyed the full life of any scene, of any hour, what thoughts can be recorded about it, seem like the commas and semicolons in the paragraph, mere stops.
    • p. 10
  • All around us lies what we neither understand nor use. Our capacities, our instincts for this our present sphere are but half developed. Let us confine ourselves to that till the lesson be learned; let us be completely natural; before we trouble ourselves with the supernatural. I never see any of these things but I long to get away and lie under a green tree and let the wind blow on me. There is marvel and charm enough in that for me.
    • "Good Sense" in a dialogue between Free Hope, Old Church, Good Sense, and Self -Poise. p. 127
  • Who sees the meaning of the flower uprooted in the ploughed field? The ploughman who does not look beyond its boundaries and does not raise his eyes from the ground ? No — but the poet who sees that field in its relations with the universe, and looks oftener to the sky than on the ground. Only the dreamer shall understand realities, though, in truth, his dreaming must not be out of proportion to his waking!
    • "Free Hope" p. 127
  • I never lived, that I remember, what you call a common natural day. All my days are touched by the supernatural, for I feel the pressure of hidden causes, and the presence, sometimes the communion, of unseen powers. It needs not that I should ask the clairvoyant whether "a spirit-world projects into ours." As to the specific evidence, I would not tarnish my mind by hasty reception. The mind is not, I know, a highway, but a temple, and its doors should not be carelessly left open. Yet it were sin, if indolence or coldness excluded what had a claim to enter; and I doubt whether, in the eyes of pure intelligence, an ill-grounded hasty rejection be not a greater sign of weakness than an ill-grounded and hasty faith.
    • "Free Hope" p. 128
  • The better part of wisdom is a sublime prudence, a pure and patient truth that will receive nothing it is not sure it can permanently lay to heart. Of our study there should be in proportion two-thirds of rejection to one of acceptance. And, amid the manifold infatuations and illusions of this world of emotion, a being capable of clear intelligence can do no better service than to hold himself upright, avoid nonsense, and do what chores lie in his way, acknowledging every moment that primal truth, which no fact exhibits, nor, if pressed by too warm a hope, will even indicate. I think, indeed, it is part of our lesson to give a formal consent to what is farcical, and to pick up our living and our virtue amid what is so ridiculous, hardly deigning a smile, and certainly not vexed. The work is done through all, if not by every one.
    • "Self-Poise" p. 130
  • Thou art greatly wise, my friend, and ever respected by me, yet I find not in your theory or your scope, room enough for the lyric inspirations, or the mysterious whispers of life. To me it seems that it is madder never to abandon oneself, than often to be infatuated; better to be wounded, a captive, and a slave, than always to walk in armor.
    • "Free Hope" p. 131

Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)

Full text online - This work was based on her earlier essay "The Great Lawsuit — Man versus Men: Woman versus Women" in The Dial IV, (July 1843)
Those who seem overladen with electricity frighten those around them.
When the intellect and affections are in harmony; when intellectual consciousness is calm and deep; inspiration will not be confounded with fancy.
Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another.
Let us be wise, and not impede the soul ... Let us have one creative energy, one incessant revelation. Let it take what form it will, and let us not bind it by the past to man or woman, black or white.
  • There exists in the minds of men a tone of feeling toward women as toward slaves.
  • We would have every arbitrary barrier thrown down. We would have every path laid open to Woman as freely as to Man. Were this done, and a slight temporary fermentation allowed to subside, we should see crystallizations more pure and of more various beauty. We believe the divine energy would pervade nature to a degree unknown in the history of former ages, and that no discordant collision, but a ravishing harmony of the spheres, would ensue.
    Yet, then and only then will mankind be ripe for this, when inward and outward freedom for Woman as much as for Man shall be acknowledged as a right, not yielded as a concession.
  • Let it not be said, wherever there is energy or creative genius, 'She has a masculine mind.'
    This by no means argues a willing want of generosity toward Woman. Man is as generous towards her as he knows how to be. Wherever she has herself arisen in national or private history, and nobly shone forth in any form of excellence, men have received her, not only willingly, but with triumph.
  • The electrical, the magnetic element in Woman has not been fairly brought out at any period. Everything might be expected from it; she has far more of it than Man. This is commonly expressed by saying that her intuitions are more rapid and more correct. You will often see men of high intellect absolutely stupid in regard to the atmospheric changes, the fine invisible links which connect the forms of life around them, while common women, if pure and modest, so that a vulgar self do not overshadow the mental eye, will seize and delineate these with unerring discrimination.
    Women who combine this organization with creative genius are very commonly unhappy at present. They see too much to act in conformity with those around them, and their quick impulses seem folly to those who do not discern the motives. This is an usual effect of the apparition of genius, whether in Man or Woman, but is more frequent with regard to the latter, because a harmony, an obvious order and self-restraining decorum, is most expected from her.
    Then women of genius, even more than men, are likely to be enslaved by an impassioned sensibility. The world repels them more rudely, and they are of weaker bodily frame.
    Those who seem overladen with electricity frighten those around them.
  • The especial genius of Woman I believe to be electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spiritual in tendency.
  • It is with just that hope that we welcome everything that tends to strengthen the fibre and develop the nature on more sides. When the intellect and affections are in harmony; when intellectual consciousness is calm and deep; inspiration will not be confounded with fancy.
  • Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.
    History jeers at the attempts of physiologists to bind great original laws by the forms which flow from them. They make a rule; they say from observation what can and cannot be. In vain! Nature provides exceptions to every rule. She sends women to battle, and sets Hercules spinning; she enables women to bear immense burdens, cold, and frost; she enables the man, who feels maternal love, to nourish his infant like a mother.
  • What I mean by the Muse is that unimpeded clearness of the intuitive powers, which a perfectly truthful adherence to every admonition of the higher instincts would bring to a finely organized human being. It may appear as prophecy or as poesy. ... and should these faculties have free play, I believe they will open new, deeper and purer sources of joyous inspiration than have as yet refreshed the earth.
    Let us be wise, and not impede the soul. Let her work as she will. Let us have one creative energy, one incessant revelation. Let it take what form it will, and let us not bind it by the past to man or woman, black or white.
  • Heroes have filled the zodiac of beneficent labors, and then given up their mortal part to the fire without a murmur. Sages and lawgivers have bent their whole nature to the search for truth, and thought themselves happy if they could buy, with the sacrifice of all temporal ease and pleasure, one seed for the future Eden. Poets and priests have strung the lyre with heart-strings, poured out their best blood upon the altar which, reare'd anew from age to age, shall at last sustain the flame which rises to highest heaven. What shall we say of those who, if not so directly, or so consciously, in connection with the central truth, yet, led and fashioned by a divine instinct, serve no less to develop and interpret the open secret of love passing into life, the divine energy creating for the purpose of happiness; — of the artist, whose hand, drawn by a preexistent harmony to a certain medium, moulds it to expressions of life more highly and completely organized than are seen elsewhere, and, by carrying out the intention of nature, reveals her meaning to those who are not yet sufficiently matured to divine it; of the philosopher, who listens steadily for causes, and, from those obvious, infers those yet unknown; of the historian, who, in faith that all events must have their reason and their aim, records them, and lays up archives from which the youth of prophets may be fed. The man of science dissects the statement, verifies the facts, and demonstrates connection even where he cannot its purpose·
Plants of great vigor will almost always struggle into blossom, despite impediments.
  • Plants of great vigor will almost always struggle into blossom, despite impediments. But there should be encouragement, and a free genial atmosphere for those of more timid sort, fair play for each in its own kind.
If nature is never bound down, nor the voice of inspiration stifled, that is enough.
  • Harmony exists no less in difference than in likeness, if only the same key-note govern both parts. Woman the poem, man the poet; woman the heart, man the head; such divisions are only important when they are never to be transcended. If nature is never bound down, nor the voice of inspiration stifled, that is enough.
  • What Woman needs is not as a woman to act or rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely and unimpeded.
  • Those who are not intimately and permanently linked with others, are thrown upon themselves; and, if they do not there find peace and incessant life, there is none to flatter them that they are not very poor, and very mean.
    A position which so constantly admonishes, may be of inestimable benefit. The person may gain, undistracted by other relationships, a closer communion with the one. Such a use is made of it by saints and sibyls.
  • The position I early was enabled to take was one of self-reliance. And were all women as sure of their wants as I was, the result would be the same. But they are so overloaded with precepts and guardians who think that nothing is so much to be dreaded for a woman as originality of thought or character, that their minds are impeded with doubts till they lose their chance of fair, free proportions. The difficulty is to get them to the point from which they shall naturally develop self-respect, and learn self-help.
  • Woman, self-centred, would never be absorbed by any relation it would be only an experience to her as to man. It is a vulgar error that love, a love, to Woman is her whole existence; she also is born for Truth and Love in their universal energy.
Always the soul says to us all, Cherish your best hopes as a faith, and abide by them in action. Such shall be the effectual fervent means to their fulfilment.
  • I stand in the sunny noon of life. Objects no longer glitter in the dews of morning, neither are yet softened by the shadows of evening. Every spot is seen, every chasm revealed. Climbing the dusty hill, some fair effigies that once stood for symbols of human destiny have been broken; those I still have with me show defects in this broad light. Yet enough is left, even by experience, to point distinctly to the glories of that destiny; faint, but not to be mistaken streaks of the future day. I can say with the bard,
    "Though many have suffered shipwreck, still beat noble hearts."
    Always the soul says to us all, Cherish your best hopes as a faith, and abide by them in action. Such shall be the effectual fervent means to their fulfilment.
  • Every relation, every gradation of nature is incalculably precious, but only to the soul which is poised upon itself, and to whom no loss, no change, can bring dull discord, for it is in harmony with the central soul.
    If any individual live too much in relations, so that he becomesa stranger to the resources of his own nature, he falls, after a while, into a distraction, or imbecility, from which he can only becured by a time of isolation, which gives the renovating fountains time to rise up. With a society it is the same.

Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1852)

  • There is a Polish countess here, who likes me much. She has been very handsome, still is, in the style of the full-blown rose. She is a widow, very rich, one of the emancipated women, naturally vivacious, and with talent. This woman envies me; she says, "How happy you are; so free, so serene, so attractive, so self-possessed!" I say not a word, but I do not look on myself as particularly enviable. A little money would have made me much more so; a little money would have enabled me to come here long ago, and find those that belong to me, or at least try my experiments; then my health would never have sunk, nor the best years of my life been wasted in useless friction. Had I money now, — could I only remain, take a faithful servant, and live alone, and still see those I love when it is best, that would suit me. It seems to me, very soon I shall be calmed, and begin to enjoy.
    • Letter (17 November 1847)
  • Safety is not to be secured, then, by the wisest foresight. I shall embark more composedly in our merchant-ship, praying fervently, indeed, that it may not be my lot to lose my boy at sea, either by unsolaced illness, or amid the howling waves; or, if so, that Ossoli, Angelo, and I may go together, and that the anguish may be brief.
    • Letter (21 April 1850)
  • I am absurdly fearful, and various omens have combined to give me a dark feeling. I am become indeed a miserable coward, for the sake of Angelino. I fear heat and cold, fear the voyage, fear biting poverty. I hope I shall not be forced to be as brave for him, as I have been for myself, and that, if I succeed to rear him, he will be neither a weak nor a bad man. But I love him too much! In case of mishap, however, I shall perish with my husband and my child, and we may be transferred to some happier state.
    • Letter (Spring 1850)
    • I am absurdly fearful about this voyage. Various little omens have combined to give me a dark feeling.... Perhaps we shall live to laugh at these. But in case of mishap I should perish with my husband and child, perhaps to be transferred to some happier state.
      • Letter to Marchioness Visconti Arconati (6 April 1850) as quoted in Margaret Fuller Ossoli by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, p. 274, the differences could be from differing translations or from omissions, as Emerson is said to have highly edited many of the letters as published in Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli.
  • I feel perfectly willing to stay my threescore years and ten, if it be thought I need so much tuition from this planet; but it seems to me that my future upon earth will soon close. It may be terribly trying, but it will not be so very long, now. God will transplant the root, if he wills to rear it into fruit-bearing.
    • Letter (Spring 1850)
  • I have a vague expectation of some crisis, — I know not what. But it has long seemed, that, in the year 1850, I should stand on a plateau in the ascent of life, where I should be allowed to pause for a while, and take more clear and commanding views than ever before. Yet my life proceeds as regularly as the fates of a Greek tragedy, and I can but accept the pages as they turn.
    • Letter (Spring 1850)
  • I long so much to see you! Should anything hinder our meeting upon earth, think of your daughter, as one who always wished, at least, to do her duty, and who always cherished you, according as her mind opened to discover excellence. ... I hope we shall be able to pass some time together yet, in this world. But, if God decrees otherwise, — here and HEREAFTER, — my dearest mother, "Your loving child, MARGARET."
    • Last letter to her mother, (14 May 1850)

At Home And Abroad (1856)

Full text online
  • Art can only be truly art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life.
    • Part II, Things and Thoughts of Europe, p. 198
  • My friends write to urge my return the talk of our country as the land of the future. It is so, but that spirit which made it all it is of value in my eyes, which gave me all hope with which I can sympathize for that future, is more alive here at present than in America. My country is at present spoiled by prosperity, stupid with the lust of gain, soiled by crime in its willing perpetuation of slavery, shamed by an unjust war, noble sentiment much forgotten even by individuals, the aims of politicians selfish or petty, the literature frivolous and venal. In Europe, amid the teachings of adversity, a nobler spirit is struggling — a spirit which cheers and animates mine. I hear earnest words of pure faith and love. I see deeds of brotherhood. This is what makes my America. I do not deeply distrust my country. She is not dead, but in my time she sleepeth, and the spirits of our fathers flame no more, but lies hid beneath the ashes. It will not be so long; bodies cannot live when the soul gets too overgrown with gluttony and falsehood.
    • Letter XXIV (19 April 1848), ** Part II, Things and Thoughts of Europe, p. 326

Life Without and Life Within (1859)

Life Without and Life Within: Or, Reviews, Narratives, Essays, and Poems by Arthur Buckminster Fuller (1895 edition) (Downloadable PDF at Google Books Search)

Freedom and Truth

The shrine is vowed to freedom, but, my friend,
Freedom is but a means to gain an end.
  • The shrine is vowed to freedom, but, my friend,
    Freedom is but a means to gain an end.
    Freedom should build the temple, but the shrine
    Be consecrate to thought still more divine.
    The human bliss which angel hopes foresaw
    Is liberty to comprehend the law.
    Give, then, thy book a larger scope and frame,
    Comprising means and end in Truth's great name.

Sub Rosa, Crux

The pass-word now is lost to that initiation full and free...
  • In times of old, as we are told,
    When men more child-like at the feet
    Of Jesus sat, than now,
    A chivalry was known more bold
    Than ours, and yet of stricter vow,
    Of worship more complete.
Be to the best thou knowest ever true, Is all the creed...
  • Knights of the Rosy Cross, they bore
    Its weight within the heart, but wore
    Without, devotion's sign in glistening ruby bright;
    The gall and vinegar they drank alone,
    But to the world at large would only own
    The wine of faith, sparkling with rosy light.
  • The pass-word now is lost
    To that initiation full and free;
    Daily we pay the cost
    Of our slow schooling for divine degree.

    We know no means to feed an undying lamp;
    Our lights go out in every wind or damp.
  • Though deepest dark our efforts should enfold,
    Unwearied mine to find the vein of gold;
    Forget not oft to lift the hope on high;
    The rosy dawn again shall fill the sky.

    And by that lovely light, all truth-revealed,
    The cherished forms which sad distrust concealed,
    Transfigured, yet the same, will round us stand,
    The kindred angels of a faithful band;
    Ruby and ebon cross both cast aside,
    No lamp is needed, for the night has died.

  • Be to the best thou knowest ever true,
    Is all the creed
    ;
    Then, by thy talisman of rosy hue,
    Or fenced with thorns that wearing thou must bleed,
    Or gentle pledge of Love's prophetic view,
    The faithful steps it will securely lead.

    Happy are all who reach that shore,
    And bathe in heavenly day,
    Happiest are those who high the banner bore,
    To marshal others on the way;
    Or waited for them, fainting and way-worn,
    By burdens overborne.

Flaxman

Absorbed in the creations of thy mind,
Forgetting daily self, my truest friend I find.
This is said to have been written in reference to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
  • We deemed the secret lost, the spirit gone,
    Which spake in Greek simplicity of thought,
    And in the forms of gods and heroes wrought
    Eternal beauty from the sculptured stone

    A higher charm than modern culture won,
    With all the wealth of metaphysic lore,
    Gifted to analyze, dissect explore.
  • A many-colored light flows from our sun;
    Art, 'neath its beams a motley thread has spun;
    The prison modifies the perfect day;
    But thou hast known such mediums to shun,
    And cast once more on life a pure white ray.
    Absorbed in the creations of thy mind,
    Forgetting daily self, my truest friend I find.

My Seal-Ring

Mercury has cast aside
The signs of intellectual pride,
Freely offers thee the soul:
Art thou noble to receive?
  • Mercury has cast aside
    The signs of intellectual pride,
    Freely offers thee the soul:
    Art thou noble to receive?

    Canst thou give or take the whole,
    Nobly promise and believe?
    Then thou wholly human art,
    A spotless, radiant, ruby heart,
    And the golden chain of love
    Has bound thee to the realm above.
  • Guard thee from the power of evil;
    Who cannot trust, vows to the devil.

The Captured Wild Horse

See the wild herd nobly ranging,
Nature varying, not changing,
Lawful in their lawless ranging.
  • On the boundless plain careering
    By an unseen compass steering, Wildly flying, reappearing, —
    With untamed fire their broad eyes glowing
    In every step a grand pride showing,
    Of no servile moment knowing
    , —

    Happy as the trees and flowers, In their instinct cradled hours,
    Happier in fuller powers, —

    See the wild herd nobly ranging,
    Nature varying, not changing,
    Lawful in their lawless ranging.

  • Wouldst have the princely spirit bowed?
    Whisper only, speak not loud,
    Mark and leave him in the crowd.

    Thou need'st not spies nor jailers have;
    The free will serve thee like the slave,
    Coward shrinking from the brave.

The Thankful and the Thankless

  • With equal sweetness the commissioned hours
    Shed light and dew upon both weeds and flowers.

    The weeds unthankful raise their vile heads high,
    Flaunting back insult to the gracious sky;
    While the dear flowers, wht fond humility,
    Uplift the eyelids of a starry eye
    In speechless homage, and, from grateful hearts,
    Perfume that homage all around imparts.

Prophecy and Fulfilment

  • The pencil moved prophetic: together now men read
    In the fair book of nature, and find the hope they need.
    The wreath woven by the river is by the seaside worn,
    And one of fate's best arrows to its due mark is borne.

The One In All

Existence is as deep a verity:
Without the dual, where is unity?
Only upon the old can build the new;
The symbol which you seek is found in you.
One presence fill and floods the whole serene;
Nothing can be, nothing has ever been,
Except the one truth that creates the scene.
This is my tendency; but can I say
That this my thought leads the true, only way?
I only know it constant leads, and I obey.
Live earnestly by turns without despair,
Nor seek a home till home be every where!
  • There are who separate the eternal light
    In forms of man and woman, day and night;
    They cannot bear that God be essence quite.
  • Existence is as deep a verity:
    Without the dual, where is unity?

    And the "I am"" cannot forbear to be;

    But from its primal nature forced to frame
    Mysteries, destinies of various name,
    Is forced to give that it has taught to claim.

  • And dost thou seek to find the one in two?
    Only upon the old can build the new;
    The symbol which you seek is found in you.
  • There are to whom each symbol is a mask;
    The life of love is a mysterious task;
    They want no answer, for they would not ask.
  • A single thought transfuses every form;
    The sunny day is changed into the storm,
    For light is dark, hard soft, and cold is warm.

    One presence fill and floods the whole serene;
    Nothing can be, nothing has ever been,
    Except the one truth that creates the scene.

  • You ask a faith, — they are content with faith;
    You ask to have, — but they reply "IT hath."
    There is no end, there need be no path.
  • The day wears heavily, — why, then, ignore it;
    Peace is the soul's desire, — such thoughts restore it;
    The truth thou art, — it needs not implore it.
  • The Presence all thy fancies supersedes,
    All that is done which thou wouldst seek in deeds,
    The wealth obliterates all seeming needs.
  • To me, our destinies seem flower and fruit
    Born of an ever-generating root...
  • I do not think we are deceived to grow,
    But that the crudest fancy, slightest show,
    Covers some separate truth that we may know.

    In the one Truth, each separate fact is true;
    Eternally in one I many view,
    And destinies through destiny pursue.

  • This is my tendency; but can I say
    That this my thought leads the true, only way?
    I only know it constant leads, and I obey.
  • I only know one prayer — "Give me the truth,
    Give me that colored whiteness, ancient youth,
    Complex and simple, seen in joy and ruth.

    Let me not by vain wishes bar my claim,
    Nor soothe my hunger by an empty name,
    Nor crucify the Son of man by hasty blame.

    But in the earth and fire, water and air,
    Live earnestly by turns without despair,
    Nor seek a home till home be every where!
    "

A Greeting

Life-flow of my natal hour, I will not weary of thy power,
Till in the changes of thy sound
A chord's three parts distinct are found.
  • Thoughts which come at a call
    Are no better than if they came not at all

    Neither flower nor fruit,
    Yielding no root
    For plant, shrub, or tree.
  • I prize thy gentle heart,
    Free from ambition, falsehood, or art,
    And thy good mind,
    Daily refined,
    By pure desire
    To fan the heaven-seeking fire.

Sistrum

A musical instrument of the ancients, employed by the Egyptians in the worship of Isis. It was to be kept in constant motion, and, according to Plutarch, was intended to indicate the necessity of constant motion on the part of men — the need of being often shaken by fierce trials and agitations when they become morbid or indolent. — Editor's note on the sistrum by Arthur Buckminster Fuller
  • Triune, shaping, restless power,
    Life-flow from life's natal hour,
    No music chords are in thy sound;
    By some thou'rt but a rattle found;
    Yet, without thy ceaseless motion,
    To ice would turn their dead devotion.
  • Life-flow of my natal hour, I will not weary of thy power,
    Till in the changes of thy sound
    A chord's three parts distinct are found.
    I will faithful move with thee,
    God-ordered, self-fed energy,
    Nature in eternity.

Dryad Song (1900)

Gathering strength, gaining breath, — naught can sever
Me from the Spirit of Life!
Published in An American Anthology 1787-1900: Selections, Illustrating the Editor's Critical Review of American Poetry in the Nineteenth Century (1900) by Edmund Clarence Stedman, p. 772
It was thy kiss, Love, that made me immortal...
  • I am immortal! I know it! I feel it!
    Hope floods my heart with delight!

    Running on air mad with life dizzy, reeling,
    Upward I mount, — faith is sight, life is feeling,
    Hope is the day-star of might!
  • It was thy kiss, Love, that made me immortal.
  • Come, let us mount on the wings of the morning,
    Flying for joy of the flight
    ,
    Wild with all longing, now soaring, now staying,
    Mingling like day and dawn, swinging and swaying,
    Hung like a cloud in the light:
    I am immortal! I feel it! I feel it!
    Love bears me up, love is might!
  • Chance cannot touch me! Time cannot hush me!
    Fear, Hope, and Longing, at strife,
    Sink as I rise, on, on, upward forever,
    Gathering strength, gaining breath, — naught can sever
    Me from the Spirit of Life!

The Love Letters Of Margaret Fuller (1903)

PDF online at Google Book Search
  • We will worship by impromptu symbols, till the religion is framed for all Humanity. The beauty grows around us daily, the trees are now all in blossom and some of the vines; there is a Crown Imperial just in perfection, to which I paid my evening worship by the light of the fire, which reached to us, and there are flashes of lightening too. But I do not like the lightening so well as once, having been in too great danger. Yet just now a noble flash falls upon my paper, it ought to have noble thoughts to illumine, instead of these little nothings, but indeed to-night I write only to say: thou dear, dear friend, and we must must meet soon.
    • Letter IV to James Nathan (March 1845)
  • To feel that there is so quick a bound to intercourse, makes us prize the moment, but then also makes it so difficult to use. Yet this one thing I wish to say, where so many must be left unsaid. You tell me, that I may, probably never know you wholly. Indeed the obstacles of time and space may prevent my understanding the workings of character; many pages of my new book may be shut against me, better than to yourself. Perhaps? I believe in Ahnungen beyond anything.
    • Ahnungen means "Premonitions"; letter XIII to James Nathan (31 March 1845)

Misattributed

  • Be what you would seem to be.
    • English proverb, used by many authors, including some prior to Margaret Fuller's time; Thomas Fuller expresses related thoughts in his "Panegyric" on Charles II, Section 21" in The History of the Worthies of England (1662):
Be you above your ancestors renown'd,
Whose goodness wisely doth your greatness bound;
And, knowing that you may be what you would,
Are pleased to be only what you should.
  • When your dreams tire, they go underground and out of kindness that's where they stay.
    • Libby Houston, in the poem "Gold" in Necessity (1988)
  • When people keep telling you that you can't do a thing, you kind of like to try it.
    • Margaret Chase Smith, quoted in More Than Petticoats : Remarkable Maine Women (2005) by Kate Kennedy

Quotes about Fuller

  • In American literature she will remain a remarkable biographic phenomenon, while the tragic death of this Lycidas of women, a most painful personal story of shipwreck, was intensified by so many melancholy incidents that whoever, long years hence, may read them, will wonder how the gods could have been so pitiless, and why the life of new happiness and larger intellectual achievement which was before her should so suddenly have ended upon that savage and inhospitable shore.
    • Charles T. Congdon, in Reminiscences of a Journalist (1880), p. 121
  • Without doubt Margaret Fuller stood first among women of the nineteenth century. ... Though today almost forgotten, Margaret Fuller still probably holds more firsts than any other American woman who ever lived. As editor of the transcendentalist Dial, she was the first woman editor of an important intellectual magazine. She was the first woman to write a book about the West and such experiences as sleeping in a barroom, shooting rapids in an Indian canoe, and witnessing maltreatment of the red man by the white man. She was the first woman to break the taboo against the female sex in the Harvard College Library. As columnist for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, she was the first U.S. woman journalist and and the first professional literary critic of cither sex in the United States.
  • I remember that she made me laugh more than I liked; for I was, at that time, an eager scholar of ethics, and had tasted the sweets of solitude and stoicism, and I found something profane in the hours of amusing gossip into which she drew me...
  • She wore this circle of friends, when I first knew her, as a necklace of diamonds about her neck. They were so much to each other that Margaret seemed to represent them all, and to know her was to acquire a place with them. The confidences given her were their best, and she held them to them. She was an active, inspiring companion and correspondent, and all the art, the thought, the nobleness in New England seemed at that moment related to her and she to it. She was everywhere a welcome guest.
She chose the Sistrum for her emblem, and had it carefully drawn with a view to its being engraved on a gem.
  • Coincidences, good and bad, contretemps, seals, ciphers, mottoes, omens, anniversaries, names, dreams, are all of a certain importance to her. Her letters are often dated on some marked anniversary of her own, or of her correspondent's calendar. She signalized saints' days, "All-Souls," and "All-Saints," by poems, which had for her a mystical value.
  • She chose the Sistrum for her emblem, and had it carefully drawn with a view to its being engraved on a gem. And I know not how many verses and legends came recommended to her by this symbolism. Her dreams, of course, partook of this symmetry. The same dream returns to her periodically, annually, and punctual to its night. One dream she marks in her journal as repeated for the fourth time: "In C., I at last distinctly recognized the figure of the early vision, whom I found after I had left A., who led me, on the bridge, towards the city, glittering in sunset, but, midway, the bridge went under water. I have often seen in her face that it was she, but refused to believe it."
  • Just before the forecastle sunk, the remaining sailors determined to leave.
    The steward, with whom the child had always been a great favorite, took it, almost by main force, and plunged with it into the sea; neither reached the shore alive. The Marquis Ossoli was soon afterwards washed away, but his wife remained in ignorance of his fate. The cook, who was the last person that reached the shore alive, said that the last words he heard her speak were: "I see nothing but death before me, — I shall never reach the shore." It was between two and three o'clock in the afternoon, and after lingering for about ten hours, exposed to the mountainous surf that swept over the vessel, with the contemplation of death constantly forced upon her mind, she was finally overwhelmed as the foremast fell.
  • Only her presence can give you the meaning of the name Margaret Fuller.
    • Elizabeth Sherman Hoar, as quoted in "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" by Joseph Jay Deiss in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972)
  • "I accept the universe" is reported to have been a favorite utterance of our New England transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller; and when some one repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, his sardonic comment is said to have been: "Gad! she'd better!" At bottom the whole concern of both morality and religion is with the manner of our acceptance of the universe. Do we accept it only in part and grudgingly, or heartily and altogether? Shall our protests against certain things in it be radical and unforgiving, or shall we think that, even with evil, there are ways of living that must lead to good? If we accept the whole, shall we do so as if stunned into submission — as Carlyle would have us — "Gad! we'd better!" — or shall we do so with enthusiastic assent? Morality pure and simple accepts the law of the whole which it finds reigning, so far as to acknowledge and obey it, but it may obey it with the heaviest and coldest heart, and never cease to feel it as a yoke. But for religion, in its strong and fully developed manifestations, the service of the highest never is felt as a yoke. Dull submission is left far behind, and a mood of welcome, which may fill any place on the scale between cheerful serenity and enthusiastic gladness, has taken its place.
  • After having admired the women of Rome, say to yourself, ‘I too am beautiful!’ … In you I met a real person. I need not give you any other praise.
    • Adam Mickiewicz, as quoted in "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" by Joseph Jay Deiss in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972)
  • The only woman to whom it has been given to touch what is decisive in the present world and to have a presentiment of the world of the future.
    • Adam Mickiewicz, as quoted in "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" by Joseph Jay Deiss in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972)
  • Margaret had done her strenuous work under fire while her husband stood in daily peril of death and while she herself was cut off from all communication with her baby. Only after it was all over might Emerson even begin to measure the depth of the distress out of which she wrote him from Rome, “Let me feel, that, amid the fearful agitations of the world, there are pure hands, with healthful, even pulse, stretched out toward me, if I claim their grasp.” In fact, we do not know whether the heart that beat with this healthful, even pulse ever did comprehend.
  • If our imagination is challenged to picture what Margaret Fuller would have been like had she remained in Boston, it is positively staggered at trying to conceive what would have been the career of the Marchioness Ossoli in America. The wreck of the Elizabeth deprived the cultural history of this country of what would surely have been an exciting chapter.
    • Perry Miller in "I find no intellect comparable to my own" in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 8, Issue 2 (February 1957)
  • Her specter haunted all who knew her, and many who did not. Henry James, born in New York in 1843, stood beside his father on a Hudson River excursion boat and heard Washington Irving tell that Margaret Fuller had been drowned the day before. Even at the age of seven this small boy was resolved to be one on whom nothing is lost, and he knew, if nobody else did, that a heroine had gone to a heroic death.
    • Perry Miller in "I find no intellect comparable to my own" in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 8, Issue 2 (February 1957)
  • The ship struck at ten minutes after four A.M., and all hands, being mostly in their nightclothes, made haste to the forecastle, the water coming in at once. There they remained; the passengers in the forecastle, the crew above it, doing what they could. Every wave lifed the forecastle roof and washed over those within. The first man got ashore at nine; many from nine to noon. At flood-tide, about half past three o'clock, when the ship broke up entirely, they came out of the forecastle, and Margaret sat with her back to the foremast, with her hands on her knees, her husband and child already drowned. A great wave came and washed her aft. The steward had just before taken her child and started for shore. Both were drowned.

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