From: At Home and Abroad, or Things and Thoughts in Europe (1856)
Author: Margaret Fuller Ossoli
Published: and Company 1856 Boston
DEAREST MOTHER, —After receiving your letter of October, I answered immediately; but as Richard mentions, in one dated December 4th, that you have not heard, I am afraid, by some post-office mistake, it went into the mail-bag of some sail-ship, instead of steamer, so you were very long without bearing. I regret it the more, as I wanted so much to respond fully to your letter, — so lovely, so generous, and which, of all your acts of love, was perhaps the one most needed by me, and which has touched me the most deeply.
I gave you in that a flattering picture of our life. And those pleasant days lasted till the middle of December; but then came on a cold unknown to Italy, and which has lasted ever since. As the apartments were not prepared for such weather, we suffered a good deal. Besides, both Ossoli and myself were taken ill at New-Years time, and were not quite well again, all January: now we are quite well. The weather begins to soften, though still cloudy, damp, and chilly, so that poor baby can go out very little; on that account he does not grow so fast, and gets troublesome by evening, as he tires of being shut up in two or three little rooms, where he has examined every object hundreds of times. He is always pointing to the door. He suffers much with chilblains, as do other children here; however, he is, with that exception, in the best health, and is a great part of the time very gay, laughing and dancing in the nurse-maid’s arms, and trying to sing and drum, in imitation of the bands, which play a great deal in Piazza.
Nothing special has happened to me. The uninhabitableness of the rooms where I had expected to write, and the need of using our little dining-room, the only one in which is stove, for dressing baby, taking care of him, eating, and receiving visits and messages, have prevented my writing for six or seven weeks past. In the evening, when baby went to bed, about eight, I began to have time, but was generally too tired to do anything but read. The four hours, however, from nine till one, beside the bright little fire, have been very pleasant. I have thought of you a great deal, remembering how you suffer from cold in the winter, and hope you are in a warm, comfortable house, have pleasant books to read, and some pleasant friends to see. One does not want many; only a few bright faces to look in now and then, and help thaw the ice with little rills of genial conversation. I have fewer of these than at Rome,—but still several.
Horace Sumner, youngest son of father’s friend, Mr. Charles P. Sumner, lives near us, and comes every evening to read a little while with Ossoli. He has solid good in his heart and mind. We have a true regard for him, and he has shown true and steadfast sympathy for us; when I am ill or in a hurry, he helps me like a brother. Ossoli and Sumner exchange some instruction in English and Italian.
My sister’s last letter from Europe is full of solemnity, and evidences her clear conviction of the peril of the voyage across the treacherous ocean. It is a leave-taking, dearly cherished now by the mother to whom it was addressed, the kindred of whom she speaks, and by those other kindred,—those who in spirit felt near to and loved her. It is as follows:—
“DEAR MOTHER,— I will believe I shall be welcome with my treasures,—my husband and child. For me, 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.
“Give dear love, too, to my brothers; and first to, my eldest, faithful friend, Eugene; a sister’s love to Ellen; love to my kind good aunts, and to my dear cousin E. God bless them!
“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,
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