Letter XLI.

From: Love-Letters of Margaret Fuller, 1845-1846
Published: 1903 New York

New York, 22d July, 1845.

  Our friend would wish to be perfectly generous and affectionate towards me; generally she is, but at times she compares herself with me. She then seems to think me an unduly privileged person, forgets or does not see the dark side of my lot, of which once she thought with so much tenderness, as if it would be the privilege of her life to free me from pain and care. She wishes then to make me feel my faults, and told me the other day (to [quote] her own opinion) that you thought, I could not bear being told of them. Do you think so? I do not wish to hear about them constantly, especially from those whom I think younger in mind than myself, for I do not think they can apprehend me as a whole—enough to be of use to me, and I do not like a great deal of that sort of intercourse, for I think, as a general thing we improve most by being loved and trusted and by loving and trusting. But I think too, with one whose judgment I valued, I should receive fault-finding in the spirit in which it was meant, and if it gave me pain, should be more likely to mend than many who take it more easily. I knew you thought me too sensitive, and I have thought about it, and admit it to be so; now if you think I could not bear fault-finding, as a seeker for truth ought, perhaps that is true also. You need not, however, answer upon this point, if you have not leisure or inclination to do it to your mind; it will not rest upon mine, except to make me examine myself more strictly. I rather wished at the time it had not been told me, but you know I promised you to hear only yourself about yourself, which promise I shall not find it difficult to keep, for I feel that we are so much more deeply known to one another than to others, that anything you would say or do would always seem entirely different to me from yourself to what it would, coming through another. I also make it my request that you will never speak to her of this. Her main feeling is one of warm affection for both of us, she yielded to a sudden impulse in telling me this. She is sometimes satirical on the deficiencies in my care of Josey and indeed there is room, for I do not know enough about such things to take the best care of him. He grows, however, strong and handsome, swims nobly and is very fond of me, without regard to my faults or my unwillingness to hear about them, and I believe his master also will be indulgent. I confess I want indulgence from those I love, but it seems to me it is not that I want blind idolatry, but as a child never finding repose on the bosom of love, I seek it now, childishly perhaps. God knows all about it.

  One trifle let me add. I don’t know that any words from your mouth gave me more pleasure, a strange kind of pleasure, than these “You must be a fool, little girl.” It seemed so whimsical that they should be addressed to me, who was called on for wisdom and dignity long before my leading-strings were off, and so pleasant too. Indeed thou art my dear brother and must ever be good and loving as to a little sister.

  Dear mother left me more than a fortnight since. The only drawback on her visit was that she could not conceive of my being content here. She could not fully see how far the outward beauty of nature and my confidence in the real goodness and honour, which both my hosts have at bottom, outweigh with me the want of order, comfort, and, far more, mental harmony. At first she could not forbear trying to put things to rights. At last she found upon trial what I saw from the first, that they would never “stay put,” and contented herself with the enjoyment of the place and of being with me.

  The 4th of July we spent on the rocks, reading; it was a soft, cloudy, dreamy day, I felt very happy with this sweet mother. You would love her, for she, at least, is all gentleness, and she would understand your noble human heart. She is much taller than I and larger and prettier and kinder. While she was here I went about with her a good deal, but since have been absolutely still and secluded, for the heat has been too great for me or anyone to go about, steady intense heat for a fortnight, such as has not been known in New York for many years. The nights however have been enough to make up for the sufferings of the days, so warm that you could be out all night and with floods of that mellow moonlight that is seen only in such warm weather. If She came to you laden with my love before, what must she now, when the whole scene was but one thought of love! Earthly sweetness transfigured in celestial light.

  One night when I was out bathing at the foot of the tall rock, the water rippling up so gently, the shops gliding full-sailed and dreamy-white over a silver sea, the crags above me with their dewy garlands and the little path stealing away in shadow, oh it was almost too beautiful to bear and live. I have had my hammock slung on the piazza; I lie and swing there with the baby in the daytime, in the evening alone; while the breezes whisper and the moon glimmers through the stately trees, and am very sorry it was not so while you were here that I might have heard you sing there some happy evening; it is just like being in a cradle. The baby has been a great pleasure to me since I have been at home so much, and has grown very fond of me; when I propose taking him he says yes, and is very gay; he is an arch child and good to frolic with, but also he likes to be talked to and understands the tones, if not the words. I carry him about and talk to him in the most wonderful way; he clings to my neck and says little assenting sounds to the poetic remarks, and looks straight in my eyes. The look in a child’s eyes at this time is heavenly, so much dawning intelligence, yet so unsullied; while they are the object of unbroken love from those older they seem as if tended by gods and fragrant with their thoughts; when they begin to play much with other children they lose it gradually. My dear friend, I say so many little, little things, it will never be done.

  It gratifies me deeply you feel so to “Summer on the Lakes” for that is just a piece out of my common summer-life; it seems as if I might write just such a volume every summer, only one lives so fast there is no time to write it down. I wish I might write something good before you come back, but really the paper when I attend to it as much as Mr. Greeley wishes, takes all the time I feel disposed to read or write. He is now quite content again. I write often and at length. Some of the pieces have attracted a good deal of attention and reply, especially pieces on Swedenborgianism, which I should like you to have seen, and two upon the Irish character; but the merit of such things is for the day.

  Mr. Greeley still intends going to the West, so whatever you write for the Tribune, you had better inclose to me, or it will fall under the care of his clerks and be treated accordingly; indeed you had better always inclose it to me, if you wish to make sure of my seeing it before it comes out. Now, how many, many things besides I have to say but must stop for this time.


  I think with the utmost pathos of your poor maiden returning to her parents. Though the faults of a child are generally traceable to the mismanagement of parents, yet it must be so. Better to return under such circumstances. I hope Heaven will teach them to be wise and tender to her and that you may have every reason to look back with happiness on your work. But she must suffer greatly to part from you, you who have been a friend to her such as it has been given few mortals to find once in this world, and surely none could hope to find twice. May Heaven forever bless you for it! And she must bid you farewell! I shall always regret that I did not in some way see her so as to have in my mind her image, for now this want torments me when I think of her.


  It is the still, sweet Sunday, just two months since you went. How many things have I thought of since, that I might have said that night, but it is always impossible to do as you wish at such times. As to Mrs. Greeley, let me add, these clouds are slight, the effect often of undue heat from other causes and I doubt not will always yield soon to her great affection for both of us. Perhaps I will not write about such any more; I like to write just as I used to talk with you of whatever is uppermost in my mind at the moment, but when I do not have a chance to explain and qualify as when we were near, it may be right to practise reserve, where others are concerned.

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