From: Love-Letters of Margaret Fuller, 1845-1846
Published: 1903 New York
What passed yesterday, seemed not less sad to-day. The last three days have effected as violent a change as the famous three days of Paris, and the sweet little garden, with which my mind had surrounded your image, lies all desecrated and trampled by the hoofs of the demon who conducted this revolution, pelting with his cruel hailstones me, poor child, just as I had laid aside the protections of reserve, and laid open my soul in a heavenly trust. I must weep to think of it, and why, O God, must eyes, that never looked falsehood, be doomed to shed such tears! It seems unjust, as other things in my life have seemed, though none so much as this.
Yet in that garden must be amaranth Bowers “not born to die.” One of these should be a perfect understanding between us, and as “spirit identity” on which you relied, did not produce this, we will try words. For I perceived yesterday in you a way of looking at these things, different from mine—more common sense and prudent, but perhaps less refined, and you may not, even yet, see my past as truly as I do myself, now.
I have felt a strong attraction to you, almost ever since we first met, the attraction of a wandering spirit towards a breast, broad enough and strong enough for a rest, when it wants to furl the wings. You have also been to me as sunshine and green woods. I have wanted you more and more, and became uneasy when too long away. My thoughts were interested in all you told me, so different from what I knew myself. The native poetry of your soul, its boldness, simplicity and fervor charmed mine, of kindred frame.
But this is all that can be said of my feelings up to receiving your confidential letter a week ago. I enjoyed like a child the charm with which a growing personal interest clothes common life, and the little tokens of outward nature. You enjoyed this with me, and the vibrations were sweet. I received, indeed, with surprise, the intelligence, that you would go away. It startled me for the moment with a sense, that you did not prize me enough. I had felt that I could be so much to you to refine, expand and exalt. Could it be, I thought, you did not feel this? But then your words assured me that you did feel it, and I easily forgot pride and self-love. I was thinking more of you than of myself, and I hoped the travel was, indeed, just what you wanted.
But when I received from you the mark of truth so noble, and that placed your character in so striking a light, also seeming to attach so religious an importance to my view of it, my heart flew open, as if with a spring, and any hidden treasure might have been taken from it, if you would. I can never resist this kind of greatness. I may say, it is too congenial. At such times I must kneel and implore our God to bless with abundant love the true heart that consoles me for the littleness I must see in my race elsewhere.
Afterward I thought of you with that foolish tenderness women must have towards men that really confide in them. It makes us feel like mothers, and we wish to guard you from harm and to bless you with an intensity, which, no doubt, would be very tiresome to you, if we had force to express it. It seemed to me that when we should meet, I should express to you all these beautiful feelings, and that you would give me a treasure more from your rich heart. You know how we did meet. You seemed dissatisfied. I had an undefined anxiety to do something, and I spoke of being as a bark that fears to leave the shore. This was partly in reply to what you had said so beautifully in your letter, of never recalling my thoughts, when they naturally rested on you, and of trusting to nature and providence. I wanted to do so, but felt afraid, lest pain should ensue, such as has already ensued and which my heart, born for the most genial confidence, knows not well how to bear from a cherished hand.
Truly the worldly and manlike way in which you spoke of circumstances so delicate and which had moved me so much, was sad for me to hear, yet was I glad to know what could pass in the mind even of the dear one who had claimed, and merited so large a trust. My guardian angel must take better care of me another time and make me still more timid, for truly nothing but perfect love will give a man patience to understand a woman, even such a man as you, who have so much of feminine sweetness and sensibility.
After receiving your little note of Saturday, I again looked to you to make my feelings perfectly tuneful, when I saw you. I do not think any human being ever felt a lovelier confidence in the pure tenderness of another than I did, when we left the church. When you said what you thought necessary to say, it struck upon my heart like a blow. Something in your manner seemed to mark it for me and yet I could not believe it, yet the weight pressed, and I could not rest till our final conversation made all clear.
Oh! was that like angels, like twin spirits bound in heavenly unison, to think that anything could enslave my heart, short of perfect love, such as I myself am born to feel, and shall yet, in some age and some world feel for one that can feel it for me?
My friend! believe what I say, for I am self conscious now . You have touched my heart and it thrilled at the centre, but that is all. My heart is a large kingdom.
But your heart, your precious heart (I am determined to be absolutely frank), that I did long for. I saw how precious it is, how much more precious may be. And you have cruelly hung it up quite out of my reach, and declare: I never shall have it. Oh das ist hart! For no price! There is something I am not to have at any price. Das ist hart. You must not give it away in my sight at any rate, but you may give away all your prudence and calculations, and arrangements, which seem so unlike your fairer self, to whomsoever you like.
It seemed the work of an evil angel, making I you misread a word in my letter, but since it could lead you to think it needful so to act, I am glad you did, since I thus became apprized of these things in your mind;—else my little birds might have flown to you in too thick flocks. You said “What shall our relation be now?”—I say: Most friendly; for we are really dear to one another; only it is like other earthly relations. Poison plants will sometimes grow up in the night. But we will weed them out, so soon as possible, and bear with them, since only perfect, love casteth out fear. Think of me with love and honor. I deserve them. So do you, and shall ever have them from me. To the inspirer of all just thoughts and holy hopes commending you, farewell, my friend.
For the sake of everything dear, don’t misread any words in this letter. I must tell you why I was so slow to understand you yesterday. It was because you made use of the word “hope.” Has any circumstance led to a “hope &c.” Ah, Gretchen! has thy really proud and sacred life only led to such an episode, where thou art supposed, and by a most trusted friend, to be “hoping” about such things? Where is the fault in thee that can lead to conclusions so humiliating? My own mind does not appreciate it. Yet again I am glad, my friend, to read the very word that could come into your mind.
Truth is the first of jewels, yet let him feel, that if Margaret dared express herself more frankly than another, it is because she has been in her way a queen and received her guests as also of royal blood. What her vanity was you may see, if you read how ingenuously it was said: “Tell me and I will love you” as if promising a boon.—Alas ! alas! she must go to heaven and the journey is long.
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