Margaret Fuller.

At home and abroad, or, Things and thoughts in America and Europe online

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by

in the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.





THERE are at least three classes of persons who travel
in our own land and abroad. The first and largest in
number consists of those who, " having eyes, see not, and
ears, hear not," anything which is profitable to be remem
bered. Crossing lake and ocean, passing over the broad
prairies of the New World or the classic fields of the Old,
though they look on the virgin soil sown thickly with flow
ers by the hand of God, or on scenes memorable in man s
history, they gaze heedlessly, and when they return home
can but tell us what they ate and drank, and where slept,
no more ; for this and matters of like import are all for
which they have cared in their wanderings.

Those composing the second class travel more intel
ligently. They visit scrupulously all places which are
noted either as the homes of literature, the abodes of Art,
or made classic by the pens of ancient genius. Accurate
ly do they mark the distance of one famed city from an
other, the size and general appearance of each ; they see
as many as possible of celebrated pictures and works of
art, and mark carefully dimensions, age, and all details
concerning them. Men, too, whom the world regards as
great men, whether because of wisdom, poesy, warlike


achievements, or of wealth and station, they seek to
take by the hand and in some degree to know ; at least
to note their appearance, demeanor, and mode of life.
Writers belonging to this class of travellers are not to be
undervalued; returning home, they can give much useful
information, and tell much which all wish to hear and
know, though, as their narratives are chiefly circumstan
tial, and every year circumstances change, such recitals
lessen constantly in value.

But there is a third class of those who journey, who see
indeed the outward, and observe it well. They, too, seek
localities where Art and Genius dwell, or have painted
on canvas or sculptured in marble their memorials ; they
become acquainted with the people, both famed and ob
scure, of the lands which they visit and in which for a
time they abide ; their hearts throb as they stand on
places where great deeds have been done, with whose
dust perhaps is mingled the sacred ashes of men who
fell in the warfare for truth and freedom, a warfare
begun early in the world s history, and not yet ended.
But they do much more than this. There is, though in
a different sense from what ancient Pagans fancied, a
genius or guardian spirit of each scene, each stream and
lake and country, and this spirit is ever speaking, but in
a tone which only the attent ear of the noble and gifted
can hear, and in a language which such minds and hearts
only can understand. With vision which needs no mir
acle to make it prophetic, they see the destinies which
nations are ail-unconsciously shaping for themselves,
and note the deep meaning of passing events which
only make others wonder. Beneath the mask of mere
externals, their eyes discern the character of those whom
they meet, and, refusing to accept popular judgment in


place of truth, they see often the real relation which
men bear to their race and age, and observe the facts by
which to determine whether such men are great only be
cause of circumstances, or by the irresistible power of
their own minds. When such narrate their journeyings,
we have what is valuable not for a few years only, but,
because of its philosophic and suggestive spirit, what
must always be useful.

The reader of the following pages, it is believed, will
decide that Margaret Fuller deserves to rank with the
latter class of travellers, while not neglectful of those de
tails which it is well to learn and remember.

Twelve years ago she journeyed, in company with
several friends, on the Lakes, and through some of the
Western States. Returning, she published a volume
describing this journey, which seems worthy of repub-
lication. It seems so because it rather gives an idea of
Western scenery and character, than enters into guide
book statements which would be all erroneous now.

Beside this, it is much a record of thoughts as well as
things, and those thoughts have lost none of their sig
nificance now. It gives us also knowledge of Indian
character, and impressions respecting that much injured
and fast vanishing race, which justice to them makes it
desirable should be remembered. The friends of Mad
ame Ossoli will be glad to make permanent this addi
tional proof of her sympathy with all the oppressed, no
matter whether that oppression find embodiment in the
Indian or the African, the American or the European.

The second part of the present volume gives my sis
ter s impressions and observations during her European
journey and residence in Italy. This is done through let
ters, which originally appeared in the New York Tribune,


but have never before been gathered into book form.
There may be a degree of incompleteness, sometimes
perhaps inaccuracy, in these letters, which are inseparable
attendants upon letter-writing during a journey or amid
exciting and warlike scenes. None can lament more


than I that their writer lives not to revise them. Some
errors, too, were doubtless made in the original printing
of these letters, owing to her handwriting not being
easily read by those who were not familiar with it, and
very probably some such errors may have escaped my
notice in the revision, especially as many emendations
must be conjectural, the original manuscript not now

There is one fact, however, which gives this part of the
volume a high value. Madame Ossoli was in Rome dur
ing the most eventful period of its modern history. She
was almost the only American who remained there dur
ing the Italian Revolution, and the siege of the city. Her
marriage with the Marquis Ossoli, who was Captain ot
the Civic Guard and active in the republican councils
and army, and her own ardent love of freedom, and sac
rifices for it, brought her into immediate acquaintance
with the leaders in the revolutionary army, and made her
cognizant of their plans, their motives, and their charac
ters. Unsuccessful for a time as has been that struggle
for freedom, it was yet a noble one, and its true history
should be known in this country and in all lands, that
justice may be done to those who sacrificed much, some
even life, in behalf of liberty. Her peculiar fitness to write
the history of this struggle is well expressed by Mr. Gree-
ley, in his Introduction to one of her volumes recently
published.* " Of Italy s last struggle for liberty and light,"

* Introduction to Papers on Literature and Art, p. 3.


he says, " she might not merely say, with the Grattan of
Ireland s kindred effort, half a century earlier, I stood by
its cradle ; I followed its hearse. She might fairly claim
to have been a portion of its incitement, its animation, its
informing soul. She bore more than a woman s part in
its conflicts and its perils ; and the bombs of that ruthless
army which a false and traitorous government impelled
against the ramparts of Republican Rome, could have
stilled no voice more eloquent in its exposures, no heart
more lofty in its defiance, of the villany which so wan
tonly drowned in blood the hopes, while crushing the dear
est rights, of a people, than those of Margaret Fuller."

Inadequate, indeed, are these letters as a memorial and
vindication of that struggle, in comparison with the his
tory which Madame Ossoli had written, and which per
ished with her ; but well do they deserve to be preserved,
as the record of a clear-minded and true-hearted eyewit
ness of, and participator in, this effort to establish a new
and better Roman Republic. In one respect they have an
interest higher than would the history. They were writ
ten during the struggle, and show the fluctuations of hope
and despondency which animated those most deeply in
terested. I have thought it right to leave unchanged all
expressions of her opinion and feeling, even when it is
evident from the letters themselves that these were grad
ually somewhat modified by ensuing events. Especially
did this change occur in regard to the Pope, whom she
at first regarded, in common with all lovers of freedom
in this and other lands, with a hopefulness which was
doomed to a cruel disappointment. She was, however,
never for a moment deceived as to his character. His
heart she believed kindly and good; his intellect, of a
low order ; his views as to reform, narrow, intending


only what is partial, temporary, and alleviating, never a
permanent, vital reform, which should remove the cause
of the ills on account of which his people groaned.
Really to elevate and free Italy, it was necessary to re
move the yoke of ecclesiastical and political thraldom ;
to do this formed no part of his plans, from his very
nature he was incapable of so great a purpose. The
expression in her letters of this opinion, when most peo
ple hoped better things, was at first censured, as doing
injustice to Pius IX. ; but alas ! events proved the im
pulses of his heart to be in subjection to the prejudices
of his mind, and that mind to be weaker than even she
had deemed it, with views as narrow as she had feared.

The third part of this volume contains some letters to
friends, which were never written for the public eye, but
are necessary to complete, as far as can now be done, the
narrative of her residence abroad. Some few of these
have already appeared in her " Memoirs," a work I can
not too warmly recommend to those who would know
my sister s character. Many more of her letters may be
there found, equally worthy of perusal, but not so neces
sary to complete the history of events in Italy.

The fourth part contains the details of that shipwreck
which caused mourning not only in the hearts of her kin
dred, but of the many who knew and loved her. These,
with some poems commemorative of her character and
eventful death, form a sad but fitting close to a book
which records her European journeyings, and her voyage
to a home which proved to be not in this land, where
were waiting warm hearts to bid her welcome, but one
in a land yet freer, better than this, where she can be no
less loved by the angels, by our Saviour, and the Infinite


After the copy for this volume had been sent to the
press, it was found necessary to omit some portions of
the work in the republication, as too much matter had
been furnished for a volume of reasonable size. The
Editor made these omissions with much reluctance, but
the desire to bring a record of Madame Ossoli s journey-
ings within the compass of one volume outweighed that
reluctance. He believes the omissions have been made
in such a way as not materially to diminish its value,
especially as most which has been omitted will find
place in another volume he hopes soon to issue, contain
ing a portion of the miscellaneous writings of Madame

All of these omissions that are important occur in the
Summer on the Lakes, it being thought better to omit
from a portion of the work which had previously been
before the public in book form. The episodical nature
of that work, too, enabled the Editor to make omissions
without in any way marring its unity. These omissions,
when other than mere verbal ones, consist of extracts
from books which she read in relation to the Indians; an
account of and translation from the Seeress of Prevorst,
a German work which had not then, but has since, been
translated into English, and republished in this country ;
a few extracts from letters and poems sent to her by friends
while she was in the West, one of which poems has been
since published elsewhere by its author; and the story
of Marianna, (a great portion of which may be found in
my sister s " Memoirs,") and also Lines to Edith, a short
poem. Marianna and Lines to Edith will probably be re-
published in another volume. From the letters of Mad
ame Ossoli in Parts II. and III. no omissions have been
made other than verbal, or when pertaining to trifling in-


cidents, having only a temporary interest. Nothing in
any portion of the book recording my sister s own obser
vations or opinions has been omitted or changed. The
reader, too, will notice that nothing affecting the unity
of the narrative is here wanting, the volume even gain
ing in that respect by the omission of extracts from other
writers, and of a story and short poem not connected in
any regard with Western life.

In conclusion, the Editor would express the sincere
hope that this volume may not only be of general inter
est, but inspire its readers with an increased love of re
publican institutions, and an earnest purpose to seek the
removal of every national wrong which hinders our be
loved country from being a perfect example and hearty
helper of other nations in their struggles for liberty. May
it do something, also, to remove misapprehension of the
motives, character, and action of those noble patriots
of Italy, who strove, though for a time vainly, to make
their country free, and to deepen the sympathy which
every true American should feel with faithful men every
where, who by art are seeking to refine, by philanthropic
exertion to elevate, by the diffusion of truth to enlighten,
or by self-sacrifice and earnest effort to free, their fellow-

A. B. F.
BOSTON, March 1, 1856.












SUMMER days of busy leisure,

Long summer days of dear-bought pleasure,

You have done your teaching well ;

Had the scholar means to tell

How grew the vine of bitter-sweet,

What made the path for truant feet,

Winter nights would quickly pass,

Gazing on the magic glass

O er which the new-world shadows pass.

But, in fault of wizard spell,

Moderns their tale can only tell

In dull words, with a poor reed

Breaking at each time of need.

Yet those to M horn a hint suffices

Mottoes find for all devices,

See the knights behind their shields,

Through dried grasses, blooming fields.

SOME dried grass-tufts from the wide flowery field,

A muscle-shell from the lone fairy shore,

Some antlers from tall woods which never more

To the wild deer a safe retreat can yield,

An eagle s feather which adorned a Brave,

Well-nigh the last of his despairing band,

For such slight gifts wilt thou extend thy hand

When wear} hours a brief refreshment crave ?

I give you what I can, not what I would

If my small drinking-cup would hold a flood,

As Scandinavia sung those must contain

With which the giants gods may entertain ;

In our dwarf day we drain few drops, and soon must thirst again.


Niagara, June 10, 1843.

SINCE you are to share with me such foot-notes as may be
made on the pages of my life during this summer s wanderings, I
should not be quite silent as to this magnificent prologue to the,
as yet, unknown drama. Yet I, like others, have little to say,
where the spectacle is, for once, great enough to fill the whole
life, and supersede thought, giving us only its own presence. " It
is good to be here," is the best, as the simplest, expression that
occurs to the mind.

We have been here eight days, and I am quite willing to go
away. So great a sight soon satisfies, making us content with
itself, and with what is less than itself. Our desires, once realized,
haunt us again less readily. Having " lived one day," we would
depart, and become worthy to live another.

We have not been fortunate in weather, for there cannot be too
much, or too warm sunlight for this scene, and the skies have been
lowering, with cold, unkind winds. My nerves, too much braced
up by such an atmosphere, do not well bear the continual stress
of sight and sound. For here there is no escape from the weight
of a perpetual creation ; all other forms and motions come and
go, the tide rises and recedes, the wind, at its mightiest, moves in
gales and gusts, but here is really an incessant, an indefatigable
motion. Awake or asleep, there is no escape, still this rushing
round you and through you. It is in this way I have most felt
the grandeur, somewhat eternal, if not infinite.

At times a secondary music rises ; the cataract seems to seize


its own rhythm and sing it over again, so that the ear and soul
are roused by a double vibration. This is some effect of the wind,
causing echoes to the thundering anthem. It is very sublime,
giving the effect of a spiritual repetition through all the spheres.

When I first came, I felt nothing but a quiet satisfaction. I
found that drawings, the panorama, &c. had given me a clear
notion of the position and proportions of all objects here ; I knew
where to look for everything, and everything looked as I thought
it would.

Long ago, I was looking from a hill-side with a friend at one
of the finest sunsets that ever enriched this world. A little cow
boy, trudging along, wondered what we could be gazing at. After
spying about some time, he found it could only be the sunset, and
looking, too, a moment, he said approvingly, " That sun looks well
enough " ; a speech worthy of Shakespeare s Cloten, or the infant
Mercury, up to everything from the cradle, as you please to
take it.

Even such a familiarity, worthy of Jonathan, our national hero,
in a prince s palace, or " stumping," as he boasts to have done,
" up the Vatican stairs, into the Pope s presence, in my old boots,"
I felt here ; it looks really well enough, I felt, and was inclined,
as you suggested, to give my approbation as to the one object in
the world that would not disappoint.

But all great expression, which, on a superficial survey, seems
so easy as well as so simple, furnishes, after a while, to the faith
ful observer, its own standard by which to appreciate it. Daily
these proportions widened and towered more and more upon my
sight, and I got, at last, a proper foreground for these sublime
distances. Before coming away, I think I really saw the full
wonder of the scene. After a while it so drew me into itself as to
inspire an undefined dread, such as I never knew before, such as
may be felt when death is about to usher us into a new existence.
The perpetual trampling of the waters seized my senses. I felt
that no other sound, however near, could be heard, and would
start and look behind me for a foe. I realized the identity of that
mood of nature in which these waters were poured down with


such absorbing force, with that in which the Indian was shaped
on the same soil. For continually upon my mind came, unsought
and unwelcome, images, such as never haunted it before, of naked
savages stealing behind me with uplifted tomahawks ; again and
again this illusion recurred, and even after I had thought it over,
and tried to shake it off, I could not help starting and looking be
hind me.

As picture, the falls can only be seen from the British side.
There they are seen in their veils, and at sufficient distance to
appreciate the magical effects of these, and the light and shade.
From the boat, as you cross, the effects and contrasts are more
melodramatic. On the road back from the whirlpool, we saw
them as a reduced picture with delight. But what I liked best
was to sit on Table Rock, close to the great fall. There all
power of observing details, all separate consciousness, was quite

Once, just as I had seated myself there, a man came to take
his first look. He walked close up to the fall, and, after looking
at it a moment, with an air as if thinking how he could best ap
propriate it to his own use, he spat into it.

This trait seemed wholly worthy of an age whose love of utility
is such that the Prince Puckler Muskau suggests the probability
of men coming to put the bodies of their dead parents in the fields
to fertilize them, and of a country such as Dickens has described ;
but these will not, I hope, be seen on the historic page to be truly
the age or truly the America. A little leaven is leavening the
whole mass for other bread.

The whirlpool I like very much. It is seen to advantage after
the great falls ; it is so sternly solemn. The river cannot look
more imperturbable, almost sullen in its marble green, than it
does just below the great fall ; but the slight circles that mark the
hidden vortex seem to whisper mysteries the thundering voice
above could not proclaim, a meaning as untold as ever.

It is fearful, too, to know, as you look, that whatever has been
swallowed by the cataract is like to rise suddenly to light here,
whether uprooted tree, or body of man or bird.


The rapids enchanted me far beyond what I expected; they
are so swift that they cease to seem so ; you can think only of
their beauty. The fountain beyond the Moss Islands I discov
ered for myself, and thought it for some time an accidental beauty
which it would not do to leave, lest I might never see it again.
After I found it permanent, I returned many times to watch the
play of its crest. In the little waterfall beyond, Nature seems, as
she often does, to have made a study for some larger design.
She delights in this, a sketch within a sketch, a dream within
a dream. Wherever we see it, the lines of the great buttress in
the fragment of stone, the hues of the waterfall copied in the
flowers that star its bordering mosses, we are delighted ; for all
the lineaments become fluent, and we mould the scene in conge
nial thought with its genius.

People complain of the buildings at Niagara, and fear to see it
further deformed. I cannot sympathize with such an apprehen
sion : the spectacle is capable of swallowing up all such objects ;
they are not seen in the great whole, more than an earthworm in
a wide field.

The beautiful wood on Goat Island is full of flowers ; many of
the fairest love to do homage here. The Wake-robin and May-
apple are in bloom now ; the former, white, pink, green, purple,
copying the rainbow of the fall, and fit to make a garland for its
presiding deity when he walks the land, for they are of imperial
size, and shaped like stones for a diadem. Of the May-apple, I
did not raise one green tent without finding a flower beneath.

And now farewell. Niagara. I have seen thee, and I think all
who come here must in some sort see thee ; thou art not to be got
rid of as easily as the stars. I will be here again beneath some
flooding July moon and sun. Owing to the absence of light, I
have seen the rainbow only two or three times by day ; the lunar
bow not at all. However, the imperial presence needs not its
crown, though illustrated by it.

General Porter and Jack Downing were not unsuitable figures
here. The former heroically planted the bridges by which we
cross to Goat Island and the Wake-robin-crowned genius has


punished his temerity with deafness, which must, I think, have
come upon him when he sunk the first stone in the rapids. Jack
seemed an acute and entertaining representative of Jonathan, come
to look at his great water-privilege. He told us all about the
Americanisms of the spectacle ; that is to say, the battles that
have been fought here. It seems strange that men could fight in
such a place ; but no temple can still the personal griefs and
strifes in the breasts of its visitors.

No less strange is the fact that, in this neighborhood, an eagle
should be chained for a plaything. When a child, I used often
to stand at a window from which I could see an eagle chained in
the balcony of a museum. The people used to poke at it with
sticks, and my childish heart would swell with indignation as I
saw their insults, and the mien with which they were borne by
the monarch-bird. Its eye was dull, and its plumage soiled and

Online LibraryMargaret FullerAt home and abroad, or, Things and thoughts in America and Europe → online text (page 1 of 39)