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






With a portrait and an Appendix.

Only a learned and a manly soul
I purposed her, that should with even powers
The rock, the spindle, and the shears control
Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours.

                          BEN JONSON.

Però che ogni ditetto nostro e doglia
Sta in si e nò saper, voler, potere;
Adunque quel sol può, che col dovere
Ne trae la ragion fuor di sua soglia.

Adunque tu, lettor di queste note,
S’ a te vuoi esser buono, e agli altri caro,
Vogli sempre poler quel che tu debbi.

                          LEONARDO DA VINCI.




  THE present edition of my sister’s Memoirs appears without change, as it came from the hands of the accomplished editors whose names appear on the title-page. Theirs was a work of love, to diffuse wide a knowledge of my sister’s eventful life and noble character; and most lovingly and well has their work been done.

  I have, however, while refraining from changes, made some additions to this volume, on my own responsibility, which I trust will enhance its value to the reader. As a frontispiece appears the beautiful engraving of Hicks’s portrait of Margaret Fuller, which was painted by him from life during her residence in Rome, only a year or two before her death. It is the only painting in existence which serves to perpetuate her likeness. No daguerreotype, engraving, or portrait, seems, to many of her friends, to present her to the eye just as she remains in their memories; but this is doubtless the most authentic likeness which the public can ever now possess, and will “grow upon” the love and favor of those who attentively study it.

  The Appendix contains two articles, published, the one in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register for October, 1859, where a” Genealogy of the Fuller Family” also appears, and the other in the Quarterly Journal of the American Unitarian Association for October, 1859; and also some poetical tributes. The historical article first named is inserted as giving some information in reference to the various members of my sister’s family, to whom many of the letters in these volumes are addressed. Several of these loved ones—a brother, a sister, a mother—have entered the “spirit land” since these Memoirs first appeared; and in how few years will all have gone there to rejoin that “great and noble soul,” who, reaching first those eternal shores, has by none of us been, or ever can be, forgotten! I would fain twine their memories, as were their lives, in one wreath together.

  This sketch, however, finds its place here chiefly as serving to remove, in some degree, a most unintentional injustice to my father’s memory, which has been done by the autobiographical sketch in the first pages of these Memoirs. This conveys an impression that he was stern and exacting, and utterly overlooked the physical health of his daughter by tasking to the utmost her extraordinary powers. My sister never would have published this sketch—which she herself entitled an autobiographical romance—without such modifications as would have shown our father to have been a most judicious and tender one, erring, perhaps, in stimulating too much the rare intellect of his first child, but erring through no lack of love or general good judgment, but as all the educators of his time erred, and as would have harmed none but one possessing a mind so precocious and unusual. This error, too, he saw, and avoided in the education of his other children. He was a man whose memory deserves to be entirely honored, and to perpetuate which Margaret desired to write a memoir of one whom she, each year of life, saw more and more was a person to be deeply loved and respected. I feel that the insertion of this brief record in part accomplishes an object she herself once had in view, and would be entirely in harmony with her own wishes.

  The memorial of my sainted mother deserves also a place here. Bearing the same name, this mother and daughter shared also the same pure, noble spirit, and in their separate spheres were alike remarkable and excellent. This brief sketch of the mother’s history finds fitting place in her daughter’s Memoirs, since both “were lovely and pleasant in their lives,” and now are “not divided.”

  One word only remains to be said. The reader or these Memoirs who desires a thorough knowledge of Margaret Fuller’s intellectual life and spiritual character must read, not them alone, but also the volumes of her works which are now, for the first time, published in complete form, and whose ideas deserve, not only to be studied, but embodied in the lives of those who would themselves be true and noble.

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