Fifty Quotations by Margaret Fuller


Margaret Fuller (National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Francis A. DiMauro)
  1. From a very early age I have felt that I was not born to the common womanly lot. — Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli
  2. I accept the universe. — Quoted in William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience
  3. I cannot plunge into myself enough. — Margaret Fuller to Caroline Sturgis, 22 October 1840
  4. Nature provides exceptions to every rule. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  5. I have learned to believe that nothing, no! not perfection, is unattainable. — Margaret Fuller to Susan Prescott, 11 July 1825
  6. O these tedious, tedious attempts to learn the universe by thought alone. — Margaret Fuller to Caroline Sturgis, 25 October 1840
  7. Very early I knew that the only object in life was to grow. — Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli
  8. It is astonishing what force, purity and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods. — Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli
  9. What Woman needs is not as a woman to act or rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely, and unimpeded to unfold such powers as were given her when we left our common home. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  10. Might the simple maxim, that honesty is the best policy be laid to heart! Might a sense of the true aims of life elevate the tone of politics and trade, till public and private honor become identical! — Summer on the Lakes
  11. It is my nature, and has been the tendency of my life to wish that all my thoughts and deeds might lie, as the “open secrets” of nature free to all who are able to understand them. — Margaret Fuller to James F. Clarke, 31 July 1842
  12. I am dejected and uneasy when I see no results from my daily existence, but I am suffocated and lost when I have not the bright feeling of progression. — Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli
  13. The aim is perfect; patience the road. — Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli
  14. Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  15. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  16. Let it not be said, whenever there is energy or creative genius, “She has a masculine mind.” — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  17. We would have every arbitrary barrier thrown down. We would have every path laid open to woman as freely as to man. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  18. When not one man, in the million, shall I say? no, not in the hundred million, can rise above the belief that Woman was made for Man,—when such traits as these are daily forced upon the attention, can we feel that Man will always do justice to the interests of Woman? — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  19. If the negro be a soul, if the woman be a soul, apparelled in flesh, to one Master only are they accountable. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  20. There exists in the minds of men a tone of feeling toward women as toward slaves. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  21. We have waited here long in the dust; we are tired and hungry; but the triumphal procession must appear at last. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  22. Genuine enthusiasm, however crude the state of mind from which it springs, always elevates, always educates . . . “Things and Thoughts in Europe . . . XXIX,” New-York Daily Tribune, 16 May 1849.
  23. It is a vulgar error that love, a love to woman is her whole existence; she is also born for Truth and Love in their universal energy. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  24. Two persons love in one another the future good which they aid one another to unfold. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  25. Genius will live and thrive without training, but it does not the less reward the watering-pot and pruning-knife. — Papers on Literature and Art
  26. The mass has never yet been humanized. — Summer on the Lakes
  27. There are noble books but one wants the breath of life sometimes. — Margaret Fuller to Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1 March 1838
  28. Plants of great vigor will almost always struggle into blossom, despite impediments. But there should be encouragement, and a free genial atmosphere for those of more timid sort, fair play for each in its own kind. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  29. All youthful hopes, of every kind, I have pushed from my thoughts. — Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli
  30. Man is not made for society, but society is made for man. No institution can be good which does not tend to improve the individual. — Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli
  31. For human beings are not so constituted that they can live without expansion. If they do not get it one way, they must in another, or perish. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  32. The better part of wisdom is a sublime prudence, a pure and patient truth, that will receive nothing it is not sure it can permanently lay to heart. — Summer on the Lakes
  33. Yet let me say to you that I think it is a great sin even to dream of wishing for less thought, less feeling than one has. — Margaret Fuller to James Nathan, 22 February 1845
  34. Men, for the sake of getting a living, forget to live. — Summer on the Lakes
  35. Do not poison your benign spirit with anxiety. — Margaret Fuller to Margaret C. Fuller, 22 August 1841
  36. Beware of over great pleasure in being popular or even beloved. — Margaret Fuller to Arthur B. Fuller, 20 December 1840
  37. Drudgery is as necessary to call out the treasures of the mind, as harrowing and planting those of the earth. — Margaret Fuller to Richard F. Fuller, 12 May 1942
  38. For precocity some great price is always demanded sooner or later in life. — Papers on Literature and Art
  39. Art can only be truly Art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life. — At Home and Abroad
  40. No temple can still the personal griefs and strifes in the breasts of its visitors. — Summer on the Lakes
  41. Accursed be he who willingly saddens an immortal spirit … — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  42. What a difference it makes to come home to a child; how it fills up all the gaps of life, just in the way that is the most consoling, most refreshing. — Margaret Fuller to Emelyn Story, ca. November 1849
  43. A house is no home unless it contain food and fire for the mind as well as for the body. — Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  44. Where I make an impression it must be by being most myself. — Margaret Fuller to Evert A. Duyckinck, 28 June 1846.
  45. The mortifying repulse of his [Goethe’s] early love checked the few pale buds of faith and tenderness that his heart put forth. — “Goethe,” New York Tribune, 16 July 1841, pp. 1.
  46. I now know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own. — Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli
  47. Men disappoint me so, I disappoint myself so, yet courage, patience, shuffle the cards …  — Margaret Fuller to William H. Channing, 21 February 1841
  48. We value means of marking time by appointed days, because man, on one side of his nature so ardent and inspiring, is on the other so slippery and indolent a being, that he needs incessant admonitions to redeem the time. Time flows on steadily, whether he regards it or not, yet unless he keep time there is no music in that flow.—The sands drop with inevitable speed, yet each waits long enough to receive, if it be ready, the intellectual touch that should turn it to a sand of gold. — “Christmas,” The New-York Tribune, 25 December 1844.
  49. I sit in my obscure corner, and watch the progress of events. It is the position that pleases me best, and, I believe, the most favorable one. — Margaret Fuller to Constanza Arconati Visconti, 27 May 1848
  50. My friend, I am deeply homesick, yet where is that home? — Margaret Fuller to William H. Channing, 16 August 1843