From: Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1874).
Author: R.W. Emerson, W.H. Channing, J.F. Clarke
Published: Roberts Brothers 1874 Boston


  It was soon evident that there was somewhat a little pagan about her; that she had some faith more or less distinct in a fate, and in a guardian genius; that her fancy, or her pride, had played with her religion. She had a taste for gems, ciphers, talismans, omens, coincidences, and birth-days. She had a special love for the planet Jupiter, and a belief that the month of September was inauspicious to her. She never forgot that her name, Margarita, signified a pearl. ‘When I first met with the name Leila,’ she said, ‘I knew, from the very look and sound, it was mine; I knew that it meant night,—night, which brings out stars, as sorrow brings out truths.’ Sortilege she valued. She tried sortes biblicæ, and her hits were memorable. I think each new book which interested her, she was disposed to put to this test, and know if it had somewhat personal to say to her. As happens to such persons, these guesses were justified by the event. She chose carbuncle for her own stone, and when a dear friend was to give her a gem, this was the one selected. She valued what she had somewhere read, that carbuncles are male and female. The female casts out light, the male has his within himself. ‘Mine,’ she said, ‘is the male.’ And she was wont to put on her carbuncle, a bracelet, or some selected gem, to write letters to certain friends. One of her friends she coupled with the onyx, another in a decided way with the amethyst. She learned that the ancients esteemed this gem a talisman to dispel intoxication, to give good thoughts and understanding. ‘The Greek meaning is antidote against drunkenness.’ she characterized her friends by these stones, and wrote to the last mentioned, the following lines:—

TO ——
Slow wandering on a tangled way,
To their lost child pure spirits say:—
The diamond marshal thee by day,
By night, the carbuncle defend,
Heart’s blood of a bosom friend.
On thy brow, the amethyst,
Violet of purest earth,
When by fullest sunlight kissed,
Best reveals its regal birth;
And when that haloed moment flies,
Shall keep thee steadfast, chaste, and wise.

  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 remarked a preëstablished harmony of the names of her personal friends, as well as of her historical favorites; that of Emanuel, for Swedenborg; and Rosencrantz, for the head of the Rosicrucians. ‘If Christian Rosencrantz,’ she said , ‘is not a made name, the genius of the age interfered in the baptismal rite, as in the cases of the archangels of art, Michael and Raphael, and in giving the name of Emanuel to the captain of the New Jerusalem. Sub rosa crux, I think, is the true derivation, and not the chemical one, generation, corruption, &c.’ In this spirit, she soon surrounded herself with a little mythology of her own. She had a series of anniversaries, which she kept. Her seal-ring of the flying Mercury had its legend. 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.’

    Content, in purple lustre clad,
    Kingly serene, and golden glad,
    No demi-hues of sad contrition,
    No pallors of enforced submission;—
    Give me such content as this,
    And keep awhile the rosy bliss.

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