At Cambridge, it is still possible to pick up interesting reminiscences of Longfellow and Lowell from old neighbors or townsmen, proud even to have seen these celebrities as familiar objects upon the street. “And Margaret Fuller,” you suggest, further to tap the memory of your venerable friend. He smiles gently and says, Margaret Fuller was before his time; he remembers the table-talk of his youth. He remembers, when she was a girl at dancing-school, Papanti stopped his class and said, “Mees Fuller, Mees Fuller, you sal not be so magnee-fee-cent”; he remembers that, being asked if she thought herself better than any one else, she calmly said, “Yes, I do”; and he remembers that Miss Fuller having announced that she accepted the universe, a wit remarked that the universe ought to be greatly obliged to her.

Margaret Fuller was born in 1810, a year later than Longfellow, but while Longfellow lived until 1882, Margaret was lost at sea thirty years before, in 1850. The last four years of her life were spent in Italy, so that American memories of Margaret must needs go back to 1846. Practically it is traditions of her that remain, and not memories. As she survives in tradition, she seems to have been a person of inordinate vanity, who gave lectures in drawing-rooms and called them “conversations,” uttered a commonplace with the authority of an oracle, and sentimentalized over art, poetry, or religion, while she seemed to herself, and apparently to others, to be talking philosophy. She took herself in all seriousness as a genius, ran a dazzling career of a dozen years or so in Cambridge and Boston, and then her light seems to have gone out. She came to the surface, with other newness, in the Transcendental era; she was the priestess of its mysteries; when that movement ebbed away, her day was over. This is the impression one would gather, if he had only current oral traditions of Margaret Fuller.

If with this impression, wishing to get a first-hand knowledge of his subject, a student were to read the “Works of Margaret Fuller”:–“Life Within and Without,” “At Home and Abroad,” “Woman in the Nineteenth Century,” “Art, Literature, and Drama,”–he would be prepared to find eccentricities of style, straining for effect, mystical utterances, attempts at profundity, and stilted commonplace. He would, however, find nothing of this sort, or of any sort of make believe, but simply a writer always in earnest, always convinced, with a fair English style, perfectly intelligible, intent upon conveying an idea in the simplest manner and generally an idea which approves itself to the common-sense of the reader. There is no brilliancy, no ornament, little imagination, and not a least glimmer of wit. The absence of wit is remarkable, since in conversation, wit was a quality for which Margaret was both admired and feared. But as a writer, Margaret was a little prosaic,–even her poetry inclined to be prosaic,–but she is earnest, noble, temperate, and reasonable. The reader will be convinced that there was more in the woman than popular tradition recognizes.

One is confirmed in the conviction that the legend does her less than justice when he knows the names and the quality of her friends. No woman ever had better or more loyal friends than Margaret Fuller. Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Freeman Clarke and William Henry Channing were among them and compiled her “Memoirs,” evidently as a labor of love. George William Curtis knew her personally, and called her “a scholar, a critic, a thinker, a queen of conversation, above all, a person of delicate insight and sympathy, of the most feminine refinement of feeling and of dauntless courage.” Col. Higginson, a fellow-townsman, who from youth to manhood, knew Margaret personally, whose sisters were her intimates, whose family, as he tells us, was “afterwards closely connected” with hers by marriage, and who has studied all the documents and written her biography, says she was a “person whose career is more interesting, as it seems to me, than that of any other American of her sex; a woman whose aims were high and whose services great; one whose intellect was uncommon, whose activity was incessant, whose life, varied, and whose death, dramatic.”

There still remains the current legend, and a legend, presumably, has some foundation. If we attempt to unite the Margaret Fuller of common tradition with Margaret Fuller as estimated by her friends, we shall assume that she was not a wholly balanced character,–that she must have been a great and noble woman to have had such friends, but that there may have been in her some element of foolishness which her friends excused and at which the public smiled.

Margaret was the fifth in descent from Lieut. Thomas Fuller, who came from England in 1638, and who celebrated the event in a poem of which the first stanza is as follows:

“In thirty-eight I set my foot
On this New England shore;
My thoughts were then to stay one year,
And then remain no more.”

The poetry is on a level with other colonial poetry of the period.

Timothy Fuller, the grandfather of Margaret, graduated at Harvard College in 1760, became a clergyman, and was a delegate to the Massachusetts State Convention which adopted the Federal Constitution. He had five sons, all of whom became lawyers. “They were in general,” says Col. Higginson, “men of great energy, pushing, successful, of immense and varied information, of great self-esteem, and without a particle of tact.” The evidence is that Margaret reproduced, in a somewhat exaggerated form, all these Fuller characteristics, good and bad. The saying is quoted from Horace Mann that if Margaret was unpopular, “it was because she probably inherited the disagreeableness of forty Fullers.”

Timothy Fuller, Margaret’s father, was the oldest of these brothers and, Col. Higginson says, “the most successful and the most assured.” He graduated at Harvard, second in his class, in 1801, lived in Cambridge, and represented the Middlesex district in Congress from 1817 to 1825. He was a “Jeffersonian Democrat” and a personal friend and political supporter of John Quincy Adams. He married Margaret, the daughter of Major Peter Crane. Mrs. Fuller was as gentle and unobtrusive as her stalwart husband was forceful and uncompliant. She effaced herself even in her own home, was seen and not heard, though apparently not very conspicuously seen. She had eight children, of whom Margaret was the first, and when this busy mother escaped from the care of the household, it was to take refuge in her flower garden. A “fair blossom of the white amaranth,” Margaret calls this mother. The child’s nature took something from both of her parents, and was both strong and tender.

Her father assumed the entire charge of Margaret’s education, setting her studying Latin at the age of six, not an unusual feat in that day for a boy, but hitherto unheard of for a girl. Her lessons were recited at night, after Mr. Fuller returned from his office in Boston, often at a late hour. “High-pressure,” says Col. Higginson, “is bad enough for an imaginative and excitable child, but high-pressure by candle-light is ruinous; yet that was the life she lived.” The effect of these night lessons was to leave the child’s brain both tired and excited and in no condition to sleep. It was considered singular that she was never ready for bed. She was hustled off to toss on her pillow, to see horrid visions, to have nightmare, and sometimes to walk in her sleep. Terrible morning headaches followed, and Margaret was considered a delicate child. One would like to know what Latin at six would have done for her, without those recitations by candle-light.

Mr. Fuller did not consider it important that a child should have juvenile books and Margaret’s light reading consisted of Shakspere, Cervantes, and Moliere. She gives an interesting account of her discovery of Shakspere at the age of eight. Foraging for entertainment on a dismal winter Sunday afternoon, she took down a volume of Shakspere and was soon lost in the adventures and misadventures of Romeo and Juliet. Two hours passed, when the child’s exceeding quiet attracted attention. “That is no book for Sunday,” said her father, “put it away.” Margaret obeyed, but soon took the book again to follow the fortunes of her lovers further. This was a fatal indiscretion; the forbidden volume was again taken from her and she was sent to bed as a punishment for disobedience.

Meanwhile, the daily lessons to her father or to a private tutor went on; Virgil, Horace and Ovid were read in due course, and the study of Greek was begun. Margaret never forgave her father for robbing her of a proper childhood and substituting a premature scholastic education. “I certainly do not wish,” she says, “that instead of these masters, I had read baby books, written down to children, but I do wish that I had read no books at all till later,–that I had lived with toys and played in the open air.”

Her early and solitary development entailed disadvantages which only a very thoughtful parent could have foreseen. When, later, Margaret was sent to school, she had no companions in study, being in advance of the girls of her age, with whom she played, and too young for the older set with whom she was called to recite. “Not only,” she says, “I was not their schoolmate, but my book-life and lonely habits had given a cold aloofness to my whole expression, and veiled my manner with a hauteur which turned all hearts away.”

The effects of her training upon her health, Margaret appears to have exaggerated. She thought it had “checked her growth, wasted her constitution,” and would bring her to a “premature grave.” While her lessons to her father by candle-light continued, there were sleeplessness, bad dreams, and morning headaches, but after this had gone on one year, Mr. Fuller was elected to Congress, spent most of his time in Washington, and a private tutor gave the lessons, presumably at seasonable hours. No one with a “broken constitution” could have performed her later literary labors, and she was not threatened with a “premature grave” when Dr. Frederick Henry Hedge made her acquaintance in Cambridge society. “Margaret,” he says, “was then about thirteen,–a child in years, but so precocious in her mental and physical development, that she passed for eighteen or twenty. Agreeably to this estimate, she had her place in society as a full-grown lady. When I recall her personal appearance as she was then, and for ten or twelve years subsequent, I have the idea of a blooming girl of florid complexion and vigorous health, with a tendency to robustness of which she was painfully conscious, and which, with little regard to hygienic principles, she endeavored to suppress and conceal, thereby preparing for herself much future suffering.” She had, he says, “no pretensions to beauty then, or at any time,” yet she “was not plain,” a reproach from which she was saved “by her blond and abundant hair, by her excellent teeth, by her sparkling, dancing, busy eyes,” and by a “graceful and peculiar carriage of her head and neck.” He adds that “in conversation she had already, at that early age, begun to distinguish herself, and made much the same impression in society that she did in after years,” but that she had an excessive “tendency to sarcasm” which frightened shy young people and made her notoriously unpopular with the ladies.

At this period Margaret attended a seminary for young ladies in Boston. Cambridge was then, according to Col. Higginson, a vast, sparsely settled village, containing between two and three thousand inhabitants. In the Boston school, Dr. Hedge says, “the inexperienced country girl was exposed to petty persecutions from the dashing misses of the city,” and Margaret paid them off by “indiscriminate sarcasms.”

Margaret’s next two years were spent at a boarding school in Groton. Her adventures in this school are supposed to be narrated in her dramatic story entitled “Mariana,” in the volume called “Summer on the Lakes.” Mariana at first carried all before her “by her love of wild dances and sudden song, her freaks of passion and wit,” but abusing her privileges, she is overthrown by her rebellious subjects, brought to great humiliation, and receives some needed moral instructions.

At fifteen, Margaret returned to Cambridge and resumed her private studies, except that, for a Greek recitation, she attended an academy in which Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes was then fitting for college. Her day at this period, as she gives it, was occupied thus: she rose before five, walked an hour, and practiced at the piano till seven: breakfasted and read French till eight; read Brown’s philosophy, two or three lectures, till half past nine; went to school and studied Greek till twelve; recited, went home, and practiced till two; dined; lounged half an hour, read two hours in Italian, walked or rode, and spent her evenings leisurely with music or friends. Plainly she ought to have been one of the learned women of her generation.

A school composition of Margaret impressed her fellow pupil, Dr. Holmes, as he relates, with a kind of awe. It began loftily with the words, “It is a trite remark,” a phrase which seemed to the boy very masterful. The girls envied her a certain queenliness of manner. “We thought,” says one of them, “that if we could only come into school in that way, we could know as much Greek as she did.” She was accustomed to fill the hood of her cloak with books, swing them over her shoulder, and march away. “We wished,” says this lady, “that our mothers would let us have hooded cloaks, that we might carry our books in the same way.”

It is known that Margaret had several love affairs and, in a later letter, she refers to one which belongs to this period, and which appears to have been the first of the series. She meets her old adorer again at the age of thirty and writes to a friend who knew of the youthful episode. He had the same powerful eye, calm wisdom, refined observation and “the imposing _maniere d’etre_ which anywhere would give him influence among men”; but in herself, she says, “There is scarcely a fibre left of the haughty, passionate, ambitious child he remembered and loved.”

Though a precocious girl and in a way fascinating, there is evidence that Margaret was crude and unformed socially, due perhaps to the habit of considering her mother as a negligible quantity. Cambridge ladies preserved an unpleasant portrait of the child as she appeared at a grand reception given by Mr. Fuller to President Adams in 1826, “one of the most elaborate affairs of the kind,” says Col. Higginson, “that had occurred in Cambridge since the ante-revolutionary days of the Lechmeres and Vassals.” Margaret ought to have been dressed by an artist, but apparently, a girl of sixteen, she was left to her own devices. She appeared, we are told, with a low-necked dress badly cut, tightly laced, her arms held back as if pinioned, her hair curled all over her head, and she danced quadrilles very badly. This escapade was not allowed to repeat itself. Certain kind and motherly Cambridge ladies took the neglected child in hand, tamed her rude strength, and subdued her manners. Col. Higginson mentions half a dozen of these excellent ladies, among them his mother, at whose feet “this studious, self-conscious, overgrown girl” would sit, “covering her hands with kisses and treasuring every word.”

Chief among Margaret’s motherly friends was Mrs. Eliza Farrar, wife of a Harvard professor, an authoress of merit, “of uncommon character and cultivation, who had lived much in Europe, and who, with no children of her own,” became a kind of foster-mother to Margaret. She had Margaret “constantly at her own house, reformed her hairdresser, instructed her dressmaker, and took her to make calls and on journeys.” Margaret was an apt pupil, and the good training of these many Cambridge mothers was apparent when, ten years later, Mr. Emerson made her acquaintance. “She was then, as always,” he says, “carefully and becomingly dressed, and of lady-like self-possession.”

The seven years in Cambridge, from Margaret’s fifteenth to her twenty-third year, though uneventful, were, considering merely the pleasure of existence, the most delightful of her life. She was a school-girl as much or as little as she cared to be; her health, when not overtaxed, was perfect; her family though not rich, were in easy circumstances; her father was distinguished, having just retired from Congress after eight years of creditable service; and, partly perhaps from her father’s distinction, she had access to the best social circles of Cambridge. “In our evening reunions,” says Dr. Hedge, “she was always conspicuous by the brilliancy of her wit, which needed but little provocation to break forth in exuberant sallies, that drew around her a knot of listeners, and made her the central attraction of the hour. Rarely did she enter a company in which she was not a prominent object.” Her conversational talent “continued to develop itself in these years, and was certainly” he thinks, “her most decided gift. One could form no adequate idea of her ability without hearing her converse…. For some reason or other, she could never deliver herself in print as she did with her lips.” Emerson, in perfect agreement with this estimate says, “Her pen was a non-conductor.” The reader will not think this true in her letters, where often the words seem to palpitate. Doubtless the world had no business to see her love letters, but one will find there a woman who, if she could speak as she writes, must have poured herself out in tidal waves.

Dr. Hedge was struck by two traits of Margaret’s character, repeatedly mentioned by others, but to which it is worth while to have his testimony. The first was a passionate love for the beautiful: “I have never known one who seemed to derive such satisfaction from beautiful forms”; the second was “her intellectual sincerity. Her judgment took no bribes from her sex or her sphere, nor from custom, nor tradition, nor caprice.”

Margaret was nineteen years old when Dr. James Freeman Clarke, then a young man in college, made her acquaintance. “We both lived in Cambridge,” he says, “and from that time until she went to reside in Groton in 1833, I saw her or heard from her almost every day. There was a family connection between us, and we called each other cousins.” Possessing in a greater degree than any person he ever knew, the power of magnetizing others, she had drawn about her a circle of girl friends whom she entertained and delighted by her exuberant talent. They came from Boston, Charlestown, Roxbury, Brookline, and met now at one house and now at another of these pleasant towns. Dr. Hedge also knows of this charming circle, and says, “she loved to draw these fair girls to herself, and make them her guests, and was never so happy as when surrounded in company, by such a bevy.”

With all her social activity, Margaret kept up her studies at a rate that would be the despair of a young man in college. “She already, when I first became acquainted with her,” says Dr. Clarke, “had become familiar with the masterpieces of French, Italian, and Spanish literature,” and was beginning German, and in about three months, she was reading with ease the masterpieces of German literature. Meanwhile, she was keeping up her Greek as a pastime, reading over and over the dialogues of Plato. Still there is time for Mr. Clarke to walk with her for hours beneath the lindens or in the garden, or, on a summer’s day to ride with her on horseback from Cambridge to Newton,–a day he says, “all of a piece, in which my eloquent companion helped me to understand my past life and her own.”

We cannot wonder that, at the age of twenty-three, Margaret reluctantly left Cambridge where there was so much that she loved, and went with her family to a farm in Groton where, with certain unpleasant school-girl memories, there was nothing that she loved at all. In 1833, at the age of sixty-five Mr. Fuller retired from his law practice and bought an estate in Groton, with the double purpose of farming his lands for income, and, in his leisure, writing a history of the United States, for which his public life had been a preparation, and towards which he had collected much material. Margaret’s most exacting duties were the education of the younger children, which left her much time for her favorite studies. She had correspondents by the score; her friends visited her; Cambridge homes were open to her; and Mrs. Farrar took her on a delightful journey to Newport, Hudson River and Trenton Falls. Still we cannot add the two years in Groton to her happy period, because she allowed herself to be intensely miserable. Six years later, in a moment of penitence, she said of this period, “Had I been wise in such matters then as now, how easy and fair I might have made the whole.”

She fought her homesickness by overwork, so that Emerson says, “her reading in Groton was at a rate like Gibbon’s,” and she paid the penalty of her excesses by a serious illness which threatened to be fatal, and from which perhaps she never fully recovered. It was some consolation that her father was melted to an unwonted exhibition of tenderness, and that he said to her in this mood, “My dear, I have been thinking of you in the night, and I cannot remember that you have any faults. You have defects, of course, as all mortals have, but I do not know that you have a single fault.”

Events were soon to make this remark one of her dearest memories. In a short time, death separated the father and child, who had been so much to each other. In 1835, Mr. Fuller fell a victim to cholera, and died in three days. For a year or more, Margaret’s heart had been set upon a visit to Europe for study; the trip had been promised by her father; it had been arranged that she should accompany her friends, the Farrars; but the death of Mr. Fuller dissolved this dream, and, in her journal, solemnly praying that “duty may now be the first object and self set aside,” she dedicates her strength to her “mother, brothers, and sister.” No one can read the “Memoirs” without feeling that she kept her vows.

The estate of Mr. Fuller finally yielded $2,000 to each of the seven children, much less, Margaret says, than was anticipated. With reason, she wrote, “Life, as I look forward, presents a scene of struggle and privation only.” In the winter, at Mrs. Farrar’s, Margaret met Mr. Emerson; the summer following she visited at his house in Concord. There she met Mr. Alcott and engaged to teach in his school in Boston.

Margaret Fuller’s visit at Mr. Emerson’s in 1836 had for her very important consequences. It was the first of many visits and was the beginning of an intimacy which takes its place among the most interesting literary friendships in the history of letters. To this friendship Col. Higginson devotes a separate chapter in his biography of Margaret, and in the “Memoirs,” under the title of “Visits to Concord,” Mr. Emerson gives a charming account of it in more than a hundred pages.

Mr. Emerson was by no means the stranger to Margaret that she was to him. She had sat under his preaching during his pastorate at the Second Church in Boston, and “several of his sermons,” so she wrote to a friend, “stood apart in her memory like landmarks in her spiritual history.” It appears that she had failed to come to close quarters with this timid apostle. A year after he left his pulpit, she wrote of him as the “only clergyman of all possible clergymen who eludes my acquaintance.”

When, at length, she was invited to Concord, it was as Mrs. Emerson’s guest, not as his: “she came to spend a fortnight with my wife.” However, at last she was under his roof. “I still remember,” he says, “the first half hour of her conversation…. Her extreme plainness,–a trick of incessantly opening and shutting her eyelids,–the nasal tone of her voice–all repelled; and I said to myself, we shall never get far…. I remember that she made me laugh more than I liked…. She had an incredible variety of anecdotes, and the readiest wit to give an absurd turn to whatever passed; and the eyes, which were so plain at first, soon swam with fun and drolleries, and the very tides of joy and superabundant life.”

The practical outcome of the visit was an engagement to teach in Mr. Alcott’s school. Under date of August 2, 1836, Mr. Alcott writes, “Emerson called this morning and took me to Concord to spend the day. At his house, I met Margaret Fuller … and had some conversation with her about taking Miss Peabody’s place in my school.” That is to say, Mr. Emerson had in his house a brilliant young lady who, by stress of circumstances, wanted a situation; he had a friend in Boston in whose school there was a vacancy; Mr. Emerson, at some pains to himself, brought the parties together. Nor was this the last time that Mr. Emerson befriended Margaret.

It appears from Mr. Alcott’s diary that Miss Fuller began her engagement with January, that she taught Latin and French at the school, and French, German, and Italian to private classes. For a class of beginners, she “thought it good success,” she says, “when at the end of three months, they could read twenty pages of German at a lesson, and very well.” An advanced class in German read Goethe’s Hermann and Dorothea, Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia, and the first part of Faust, “three weeks of thorough study,” she calls it, “as valuable to me as to them.”

The class in Italian went at an equal pace. At the same time she had three private pupils, to one of whom, every day for ten weeks, she taught Latin “orally,”–in other words, Latin conversation. In her leisure, she “translated, one evening every week, German authors into English for the gratification of Dr. Channing.” It is to be hoped that she was paid for this service, because she found it far from interesting. “It is not very pleasant,” she writes, “for Dr. Channing takes in subjects more deliberately than is conceivable to us feminine people.”

In the spring of 1837, Margaret accepted an invitation to teach in a private academy in Providence, R. I.–four hours a day, at a salary of $1,000. We are not told how this invitation came to her, but it is not difficult to detect the hand of Mr. Emerson. The proprietor of the school was an admirer of Emerson, so much so that he brought Emerson from Concord in June following, to dedicate a new school building. His relation to both parties makes it probable that Margaret owed her second engagement, as she did her first, to the good offices of Mr. Emerson.

She taught in this school with success, two years, “worshipped by the girls,” it is said, “but sometimes too sarcastic for the boys.” The task of teaching, however, was irksome to her, her mind was in literature; she had from Mr. Ripley a definite proposition to write a “Life of Goethe,” a task of which she had dreamed many years; and she resigned her position, and withdrew from the profession of school-teacher, at the end of 1838. Her life of Goethe was never written, but it was always dancing before her eyes and, more than once, determined her course.

In the following spring, Margaret took a pleasant house in Jamaica Plain, “then and perhaps now,” Col. Higginson says, “the most rural and attractive suburb of Boston.” Here she brought her mother and the younger children. Three years later, she removed with them to Cambridge, and for the next five years, she kept the family together, and made a home for them. In addition to the income of the estate, she expected to meet her expenses by giving lessons. Two pupils came with her from Providence, and other pupils came for recitations, by whom she was paid at the rate of two dollars an hour.

With these resources the life in Jamaica Plain began very quietly and pleasantly. To be quiet however was not natural to Margaret. Besides, she had fallen upon what, intellectually, were stirring times. It was at the high tide of the Transcendental movement. William Henry Channing who, like Margaret, was a part of it, says, “the summer of 1839 saw the full dawn of this strange enthusiasm.” As he briefly defines it “Transcendentalism, as viewed by its disciples, was a pilgrimage from the idolatrous world of creeds and rituals to the temple of the living God in the soul.” Its disciples, says Mr. Channing, “were pleasantly nick-named the ‘Like-minded,’ on the ground that no two were of the same opinion.” Of this company, he says, “Margaret was a member by the grace of nature…. Men, her superiors in years, in fame and social position, treated her more with the frankness due from equal to equal, than the half condescending deference with which scholars are wont to adapt themselves to women…. It was evident that they prized her verdict, respected her criticism, feared her rebuke, and looked to her as an umpire.” In speaking, “her opening was deliberate, like the progress of a massive force gaining its momentum; but as she felt her way, and moving in a congenial element, the sweep of her speech became grand. The style of her eloquence was sententious, free from prettiness, direct, vigorous, charged with vitality.”

It was a saying of hers that if she had been a man, she would have aspired to become an orator, and it seems probable she would not have aspired in vain. The natural sequel to the occasional discussions of the summer was the formation of a class of ladies for Conversation, with Margaret as the leader. This class contained twenty-five or thirty ladies, among whom were Mrs. George Bancroft, Mrs. Lydia Maria Child, Mrs. Horace Mann, Mrs. Theodore Parker, Mrs. Waldo Emerson, Mrs. George Ripley, and Mrs. Josiah Quincy. The first series of thirteen meetings was immediately followed by a second series; they were resumed the next winter and were continued with unabated interest for five years.

The subjects considered in these celebrated Conversations ranged over a very wide field, from mythology and religion, poetry and art, to war, ethics, and sociology. If Margaret had not been brilliant in these assemblies, she would have fallen short of herself as she has been represented in the Cambridge drawing-rooms. As reported by one of the members of the class, “Margaret used to come to the conversations very well dressed and, altogether, looked sumptuously. She began them with an exordium in which she gave her leading views,”–a part which she is further said to have managed with great skill and charm, after which she invited others to join in the discussion. Mr. Emerson tells us that the apparent sumptuousness in her attire was imaginary, the “effect of a general impression made by her genius and mistakenly attributed to some external elegance; for,” he says, “I have been told by her most intimate friend, who knew every particular of her conduct at the time, that there was nothing of especial expense or splendor in her toilette.”

Mr. Emerson knew a lady “of eminent powers, previously by no means partial to Margaret,” who said, on leaving one of these assemblies, “I never heard, read of, or imagined a conversation at all equal to this we have now heard.” Many testimonies have been brought together, in the “Memoirs,” of the enthusiasm and admiration created by Margaret in these Conversations. They were probably her most brilliant achievements, though, in the nature of the case, nothing survives of them but the echo in these recorded memories of participants.

Mr. Emerson says that “the fame of these conversations” led to a proposal that Margaret should undertake an evening class to which gentlemen should be admitted and that he himself had the pleasure of “assisting at one–the second–of these soirees.” Margaret “spoke well–she could not otherwise,–but I remember that she seemed encumbered, or interrupted, by the headiness or incapacity of the men.” A lady who attended the entire series, a “true hand,” he says, reports that “all that depended on others entirely failed” and that “even in the point of erudition, which Margaret did not profess on the subject, she proved the best informed of the party.” This testimony is worth something in answer to the charge that Margaret’s scholarship was fictitious, that she had a smattering of many things, but knew nothing thoroughly. She seems to have compared well with others, some of whom were considered scholars. “Take her as a whole,” said Mr. Emerson’s informant, “she has the most to bestow on others by conversation of any person I have ever known.”

For these services, Margaret seems to have received liberal compensation, though all was so cordial that she says she never had the feeling of being “a paid Corinne.” For the conversations with ladies and gentlemen, according to Mrs. Dall who has published her notes of them, the tickets were $20 each, for the series of ten evenings.

It appears from his account that Mr. Emerson saw much of Margaret during these years and that she was frequently his guest. “The day,” he says, “was never long enough to exhaust her opulent memory; and I, who knew her intimately for ten years,–from July, 1836, till August, 1846, when she sailed for Europe,–never saw her without a surprise at her new powers.” She was as busy as he, and they seldom met in the forenoon, but “In the evening, she came to the library, and many and many a conversation was there held,” he tells us, “whose details, if they could be preserved, would justify all encomiums. They interested me in every manner;–talent, memory, wit, stern introspection, poetic play, religion, the finest personal feeling, the aspects of the future, each followed each in full activity, and left me, I remember, enriched, and sometimes astonished by the gifts of my guest.”

She was “rich in friends,” and wore them “as a necklace of diamonds about her neck.” “She was an active and inspiring companion and correspondent, and all the art, the thought and nobleness of New England seemed, at that moment, related to her and she to it. She was everywhere a welcome guest…. Her arrival was a holiday, and so was her abode … all tasks that could be suspended were put aside to catch the favorable hour, in walking, riding, or boating to talk with this joyful guest, who brought wit, anecdotes, love-stories, tragedies, oracles with her, and, with her broad relations to so many fine friends, seemed like the queen of some parliament of love, who carried the key to all confidences, and to whom every question had been finally referred.”

At a later day, when Margaret was in Italy, reports came back that she was making conquests, and having advantageous offers of marriage. Even Mr. Emerson expressed surprise at these social successes in a strange land, but a lady said to him, “There is nothing extraordinary in it. Had she been a man, any one of those fine girls of sixteen, who surrounded her here, would have married her: they were all in love with her.”

“Of personal influence, speaking strictly,–an efflux, that is, purely of mind and character,” Mr. Emerson thinks she had more than any other person he ever knew. Even a recluse like Hawthorne yielded to this influence. Hawthorne was married to Miss Sophia Peabody in 1842, and began housekeeping in the Old Manse in Concord. The day following their engagement Miss Peabody wrote Miss Fuller addressing her “Dear, most noble Margaret,” and saying, “I feel that you are entitled, through our love and regard to be told directly…. Mr. Hawthorne, last evening, in the midst of his emotions, so deep and absorbing, after deciding, said that Margaret can now, when she visits Mr. Emerson spend part of the time with us.” A month after the marriage, Hawthorne himself wrote to Margaret, “There is nobody to whom I would more willingly speak my mind, because I can be certain of being understood.” Evidently he is not beginning an acquaintance; he already knows Margaret intimately and respects her thoroughly. There is no evidence, I believe, that during her life, he held any different opinion of her.

These facts have become of special interest because, in Italy, eight years after her death, he wrote in his Note-Book, that Margaret “had a strong and coarse nature” and that “she was a great humbug.” The most reasonable explanation of this change of view is that Margaret was dead, poor woman, and could not speak for herself; that she had fought with all her might in an Italian Revolution that had failed; that having failed, she and her party were discredited; that her enemies survived, and Hawthorne listened to them. However his later opinions may be explained, the quality of her friends in America, among whom had been Hawthorne himself, is evidence that Margaret was not of a “coarse nature,” and it is incredible that a “humbug” could have imposed herself for five years upon those ladies who attended her conversations, not to speak of James Freeman Clarke who was a fair scholar and Dr. Hedge who was a very rare scholar.

Margaret had her weaknesses, which her friends do not conceal. It was a weakness, not perhaps that she overestimated herself; that might be pardoned; but that she took no pains to conceal her high opinion of her abilities and worth. One likes to see an appearance of modesty, and that little deceit Margaret did not practice. On the contrary, Mr. Emerson says, “Margaret at first astonished and then repelled us by a complacency that seemed the most assured since the days of Scaligar…. In the coolest way, she said to her friends, ‘I now know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own.’… It is certain that Margaret occasionally let slip, with all the innocence imaginable, some phrase betraying the presence of a rather mountainous ME, in a way to surprise those who knew her good sense.” Col. Higginson quotes a saying about the Fullers, that “Their only peculiarity was that they said openly about themselves the good and bad things which we commonly suppress about ourselves and express only about other people.” The common way is not more sincere, but it is pleasanter.

In 1840, the second year of Margaret’s Conversations, appeared the first number of _The Dial_, a literary magazine of limited circulation, but destined to a kind of post-mortem immortality. In 1841, the Community of Brook Farm was established. An interesting account of both enterprises, and of Margaret’s part in them, is given by Mr. Emerson in a paper found in the tenth volume of his collected Works. In the preliminary discussions leading to both enterprises, Margaret participated. Like Mr. Emerson, she did not have unqualified faith in the Brook Farm experiment and did not join the community, though she had many friends in it, was a frequent visitor, and had the honor to sit for the portrait of “Zenobia” in Mr. Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance.

Her part in _The Dial_ was more prominent. She edited the first two volumes of the magazine, being then succeeded by Mr. Emerson, and she wrote for it a paper entitled “Man vs. Men: Woman vs. Women,” afterward expanded and published in a volume under the title, “Woman in the Nineteenth Century,” her second and most famous book. Her first book, “Summer on the Lakes,” is an account of a charming journey, with the family of James Freeman Clarke and others, by steamboat and farm wagon, as far as the Mississippi. It was a voyage of discovery, and her account has permanent historic interest.

In 1844, Margaret accepted an advantageous offer to become literary editor of the _New York Tribune_, a position which she was admirably qualified to fill. A collection of papers from _The Tribune_, under the title of “Literature and Art,” made up her third book, published in 1846, on the eve of her departure for Europe.

During her residence in New York, she became greatly interested in philanthropies, especially in the care of prisoners of her own sex. She visited the jails and prisons, interviewed the inmates, gave them “conversations,” and wrought upon them the same miracle which she had so often performed in refined drawing-rooms. “If she had been born to large fortune,” said Mr. Greeley, “a house of refuge for all female outcasts desiring to return to the ways of virtue would have been one of her most cherished and first realized conceptions.”

Early in her New York residence must also have occurred that rather mysterious love affair with the young Hebrew, Mr. Nathan, who seems first to have charmed her with his music and then with his heart. After nearly sixty years, the letters which she wrote him, full of consuming fire, have at last seen the light. From a passage in one of them, it would seem that marriage was not contemplated by either party, that in theory at least they took no thought of the morrow, the bliss of the moment being held sufficient. Evidently there was no engagement, but no one can doubt that on her part there was love. Of course in this changing world, no such relations can be maintained for ever, and in the end there will be an awakening, and then pain.

In 1846, Margaret realized her life-dream and went to Europe. Destined to a life of adventure, she was accidently separated from her party, and spent a perilous night on Ben Lomond, without a particle of shelter, in a drenching rain, a thrilling account of which she has written. She visited Carlyle and, for a wonder, he let her take a share in the conversation. To Mr. Emerson he wrote, Margaret “is very narrow sometimes, but she is truly high.”

On her way to Italy, the goal of her ambition, she visited George Sand and they had such a meeting as two women of genius might. She sailed from Genoa for Naples in February, 1847, and arrived in Rome in May following. There is much to interest a reader in her Italian life, but the one thing which cannot be omitted is the story of her marriage to the Marquis Ossoli. Soon after her arrival in Rome, on a visit to St. Peter’s, Margaret became separated from her friends, whom she did not again discover at the place appointed for meeting. A gentleman seeing her distress, offered to get her a carriage and, not finding one, walked home with her. This was the young Marquis Ossoli, and thus fortuitously the acquaintance began, which was continued by occasional meetings. The summer Margaret spent in the north of Italy, and when she returned to Rome, she took modest apartments in which she received her friends every Monday evening, and the Marquis came very regularly.

It was not long however before he confessed his love for her and asked her hand in marriage. He was gently rejected, being told that he ought to marry a younger woman, and that she would be his friend but not his wife. He however persisted, at length won her consent, and they were privately married in December. I follow the account of Mrs. William Story, wife of the artist, then residing in Rome. The old Marquis Ossoli had recently died, leaving an unsettled estate, of which his two older sons, both in the Papal service, were the executors. “Every one knows,” says Mrs. Story, “that law is subject to ecclesiastical influence in Rome, and that marriage with a Protestant would be destructive of all prospect of favorable administration.”

The birth of a child a year later, at Rieti in the Appenines, whither Margaret had retired, made secrecy seem more imperative; or, as Margaret said, in order to defend the child “from the stings of poverty, they were patient waiters for the restored law of the land.” The Italian Revolution of 1848 was then in progress. Ossoli her husband, was a captain in the Civic Guard, on duty in Rome, and the letters which she wrote him at this period of trial, were the only fragments of her treasures recovered from the wreck in which she perished.

Leaving her babe with his nurse, in April following, she visited Rome and was shut up in the siege by the French army which had been sent to overthrow the provisional government and restore the authority of the pope. “Ossoli took station with his men on the walls of the Vatican garden where he remained faithfully to the end of the attack. Margaret had entire charge of one of the hospitals…. I have walked through the wards with her,” says Mrs. Story, “and seen how comforting was her presence to the poor suffering men. ‘How long will the Signora stay?’ ‘When will the Signora come again?’ they eagerly asked…. They raised themselves up on their elbows to get the last glimpse of her as she was going away.”

In the midst of these dangers, Margaret confided to Mrs. Story the secret of her marriage and placed in her hands the marriage certificate and other documents relating to the affair. These papers were afterward returned to Margaret and were lost in the wreck.

The failure of the Revolution was the financial ruin of all those who had staked their fortunes in it. They had much reason to be thankful if they escaped with their lives. By the intervention of friends, the Ossolis were dealt with very leniently. Mr. Greenough, the artist, interested himself in their behalf and procured for them permission to retire, outside the papal territory, to Florence. Ossoli even obtained a small part of his patrimony.

Except the disappointment and sorrow over the faded dream of Italian Independence, the winter at Florence was one of the bright spots in Margaret’s life. She was proud of her husband’s part in the Revolution: “I rejoice,” she says, “in all Ossoli did.” She had her babe with her and her happiness in husband and child was perfect: “My love for Ossoli is most pure and tender, nor has any one, except my mother or little children, loved me so genuinely as he does…. Ossoli seems to me more lovely and good every day; our darling child is well now, and every day more gay and playful.”

She found pleasant and congenial society: “I see the Brownings often,” she says, “and love them both more and more as I know them better. Mr. Browning enriches every hour I spend with him, and is a most cordial, true, and noble man. One of my most prized Italian friends, Marchioness Arconati Visconti, of Milan, is passing the winter here, and I see her almost every day.” Moreover she was busy with a congenial task. At the very opening of the struggle for liberty, she planned to write a history of the eventful period, and with this purpose, collected material for the undertaking, and already had a large part of the work in manuscript. She finished the writing in Florence, and much value was set upon it both by herself and by her friends in Italy. Mrs. Story says, “in the estimation of most of those who were in Italy at the time, the loss of Margaret’s history and notes is a great and irreparable one. No one could have possessed so many avenues of direct information from both sides.”

When the spring opened, it was decided to return to America, partly to negotiate directly with the publisher, but chiefly because, having exhausted her resources, Margaret’s pen must henceforth be the main reliance of the little family. It is pathetic to know that, after their passage had been engaged, “letters came which, had they reached her a week earlier, would probably have induced them to remain in Italy.”

They sailed, May 17, 1850, in a merchant vessel, the only other passengers being the baby’s nurse and Mr. Horace Sumner, a younger brother of Senator Sumner. After a protracted and troubled voyage of two months, the vessel arrived off the coast of New Jersey, on July 18. The “weather was thick…. By nine p. m. there was a gale, by midnight a hurricane,” and at four o’clock on the morning of July 19, the vessel grounded on the shallow sands of Fire Island. The captain had died of smallpox on the voyage; his widow, the mate in command of the vessel, and four seamen reached the shore; Mr. Sumner and the Ossolis perished. The cruel part of the tragedy is that it seems probable every soul on board might have been saved. Life-boats, only three miles away, did not arrive until noon; that is, after eight precious hours had passed. Moreover, in a moment of penitence, one of the life-boat crew said, “Oh, if we had known that any such persons of importance were on board, we should have done our best.”

Margaret, the name by which she will always be known, had passed her fortieth birthday at sea on this voyage. It seems a short life in which to have crowded so much and such varied experience. She had some trials even in her youth, but for two-thirds of her existence, she might have been considered a favorite of fortune. In later life, she had some battles to fight, but her triumphs were great enough to dazzle a person with more modesty than was her endowment. She suffered in Italy, both for her child left to strangers in the mountains, and for her adopted country, but they were both causes, in which for her, suffering was a joy. She did not desire to survive her husband and child, nor to leave them behind, and, we may say, happily they all went together. “Her life seems to me,” says Col. Higginson, “on the whole, a triumphant rather than a sad one,” and that is a reasonable verdict, however difficult to render in the presence of such a tragedy as her untimely death.





The career of Dorothy Dix is a romance of philanthropy which the world can ill afford to forget. It has been said of her, and it is still said, that she was “the most useful and distinguished woman America has yet produced.” It is the opinion of Mr. Tiffany, her biographer, that as the founder of institutions of mercy, she “has simply no peer in the annals of Protestantism.” To find her parallel one must go to the calendar of the Catholic saints,–St. Theresa, of Spain, or Santa Chiara, of Assisi. “Why then,” he asks, do the “majority of the present generation know little or nothing of so remarkable a story!” Till his biography appeared, it might have been answered that the story had never been told; now, we should have to say that, with a thousand demands upon our time, it has not been read.

Dorothea Lynde Dix–born February 11, 1802–was the daughter of Joseph Dix and granddaughter of the more eminent Dr. Elijah Dix, of Worcester, later of Boston, Mass. Dr. Dix was born in Watertown, Mass., in 1747. At the age of seventeen, he became the office boy of Dr. John Green, an eminent physician in Worcester, Mass., and later, a student of medicine. After five years, in 1770, he began to practice as physician and surgeon in Worcester where he formed a partnership with Dr. Sylvester Gardner. It must have been a favorable time for young doctors since in 1771, a year after he began to practice, he married Dorothy Lynde, of Charlestown, Mass., for whom her little granddaughter was named. Mrs. Dix seems to have been a woman of great decision of character, and no less precision of thought and action, two traits which reappeared conspicuously in our great philanthropist.

Certain qualities of Dr. Dix are also said to have reappeared in his granddaughter. He was self-reliant, aggressive, uncompromising, public-spirited, and sturdily honest. To his enterprise, Worcester owed its first shade trees, planted by him, when shade trees were considered great folly, and also the Boston and Worcester turnpike, when mud roads were thought to be divinely appointed thoroughfares. His integrity is shown by an incident which also throws light upon the conditions of a troubled period. His partner, Dr. Gardner, made the grave mistake of taking the royal side in the controversies that preceded the Revolution, and Worcester became as hot for him as Richmond or Charleston was for a Union man in 1861. Dr. Gardner disappeared, leaving his effects behind him. After the war, Dr. Dix made a voyage to England and honorably settled accounts with his former partner.

It was like the enterprising Dr. Dix that he turned this creditable act to his financial advantage. On his return to America he brought with him a stock of medical books, surgical instruments, and chemical apparatus, and became a dealer in physician’s supplies, while continuing the practice of his profession. His business prospering, in 1795 he removed to Boston for a larger field, where he opened a drug store near Faneuil Hall and established chemical works in South Boston. Successful as physician, druggist and manufacturer, he soon had money to invest. Maine, with its timber lands, was the Eldorado of that era, and Dr. Dix bought thousands of acres in its wilderness, where Dixfield in the west, and Dixmont in the east, townships once owned by him, preserve his name and memory.

The house of Dr. Dix in Boston, called the “Dix Mansion,” was on Washington St., corner of Dix Place, then Orange Court. It had a large garden behind it, where originated the Dix pear, once a favorite. Dr. Dix died in 1809, when Dorothea was seven years old. Young as she was, he was among the most vivid of her childhood memories and by far the pleasantest. She seems to have been a favorite with him and it was his delight to take her in his chaise on his rounds, talking playfully with her and listening to her childish prattle.

Joseph Dix, the father of Dorothea, is a vague and shadowy memory. He seems to have had little of his father’s energy or good sense. Unstable in many of his ways, he lived a migratory life, “at various spots in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as well as in Worcester and Boston, Mass.” When Dorothea was born, he was living at Hampden, Maine, adjoining his father’s Dixmont properties, presumably as his father’s land agent. He probably tired of this occupation because it interfered with his business. His business seems to have been religion. He was a prolific author of religious literature. He was a philanthropist after his kind, giving his time without stint to the writing of religious tracts, and spending his money in publishing them, with little benefit to the world and much detriment to his family. In the stitching and pasting of these tracts, the whole household were required to assist and it was against this irksome taskwork that Dorothea, at the age of twelve, rebelled, running away from Worcester, where the family then lived, and finding a refuge with her grandmother in Boston. Dorothea afterwards educated her two brothers, one of whom became a sea captain and the other a Boston merchant.

Dorothea Dix was created by her Maker, but she was given in a plastic state, first into the hands of inexorable Madam Dix, and next into those of the all-pitying Dr. Channing. Madam Dix is described as a fine specimen of the dignified, precise, conscientious New England gentlewoman of her generation. Industry, economy, and above all thoroughness were the chief articles of her religion, and she instilled these virtues into the mind of her granddaughter by the most vigorous discipline. A week of solitary confinement was among the penalties inflicted upon the hapless child who had failed to reach the standard of duty prescribed for her. The standard, with Madam Dix, did not differ from perfection discernibly. Mr. Tiffany quotes a lady who in her girlhood, as a special reward of merit, was allowed to make an entire shirt under the supervision of Madam Dix. It was an experience never forgotten. No stitch in the entire garment could be allowed to differ perceptibly from every other, but the lady spoke of the ordeal with enthusiastic gratitude, declaring that it had been a life-long benefit to her to have been compelled to do one piece of work thoroughly well.

“I never knew childhood,” Miss Dix said pitifully in after life. Certainly with this exacting grandmother, there can be no childhood as it is understood to-day; but if Dorothea submits to the rigorous discipline enforced upon her, she will make a woman of iron fibre who will flinch from no hardship and will leave no task undone. Happily she did submit to it. The alternative would have been to return to her half-vagabond father. Too much discipline or too little was her destiny. She preferred to take the medicine in excess, and in the end was grateful for it.

Dorothea was so apt a pupil and so ambitious that, at the age of fourteen, she returned to Worcester and opened a school for small children, prudently lengthening the skirts and sleeves of her dress to give dignity and impressiveness to her appearance. Half a century later one of these pupils vividly recalled the child-teacher, tall of her age, easily blushing, at once beautiful and imposing in manner, but inexorably strict in discipline.

Dorothea spent the next four years in Boston in preparation for a more ambitious undertaking and, in 1821 at the age of nineteen, she opened a day school in Boston in a small house belonging to Madam Dix. The school prospered and gradually expanded into a day and boarding school, for which the Dix mansion, whither the school was removed, furnished convenient space. Madam Dix, enfeebled by age and infirmities, laid down the scepter she had wielded, and the premises passed virtually into the hands of Dorothea. Thither came pupils from “the most prominent families in Boston” and other Massachusetts towns, and even from beyond the limits of the State. There also she brought her brothers to be educated under her care and started upon a business career.

Hardly had she started her school for the rich and fortunate before, anticipating her vocation as a philanthropist, she opened another for the poor and destitute. A letter is preserved in which she pleadingly asks the conscientious but perhaps stony Madam Dix for the loft over the stable for this purpose. “My dear grandmother,” she begins, “Had I the saint-like eloquence of our minister, I would employ it in explaining all the motives, and dwelling on the good, the good to the poor, the miserable, the idle, the ignorant, which would follow your giving me permission to use the barn chamber for a school-room for charitable and religious purposes.”

The minister with saint-like eloquence was Dr. Channing. The letter is valuable as showing the source of the flame that had fired her philanthropic soul. For the finer culture of the heart she had passed from the hands of Madam Dix to those of Dr. Channing. The request for the room was granted and Mr. Tiffany tells us that “The little barn-school proved the nucleus out of which years later was developed the beneficent work of the Warren Street Chapel, from which as a centre spread far and wide a new ideal of dealing with childhood. There first was interest excited in the mind of Rev. Charles Barnard, a man of positive spiritual genius in charming and uplifting the children of the poor and debased.”

Letters from Miss Dix at this period show that she had a sensitive nature, easily wrought upon, now inflamed to action and now melted to tears. “You say that I weep easily. I was early taught to sorrow, to shed tears, and now, when sudden joy lights up or unexpected sorrow strikes my heart, I find it difficult to repress the full and swelling tide of feeling.” She is reading a book of poems and weeping over it,–“paying my watery tribute to the genius” of the poet. She longs for similar talents that she “might revel in the luxury of those mental visions that must hourly entrance a spirit that partakes less of earth than heaven.” It will be remembered that her father was religious even to folly. Here was his child, only by judicious training, the stream was turned into channels of wise beneficence.

With the management of two schools, the supervision of the household, the care of two younger brothers, and ministries to her grandmother already advanced in years, Miss Dix was sufficiently occupied, but she found time to prepare a text-book upon “Common Things,” gathering the material as she wrote. This, her first attempt at book-making, issued in 1824, was kept in print forty-five years, and went to its sixtieth edition in 1869. It was followed the next year by “Hymns for Children” selected and altered, and by a book of devotions entitled, “Evening Hours.” Lengthening the day at both ends, “rising before the sun and going to bed after midnight,” working while others slept, gave time for these extra tasks. Nature exacted her usual penalties. In the third year of this arduous labor, threatenings of lung troubles appeared which, however, she defied even when “in conducting her classes she had to stand with one hand on a desk for support, and the other pressed hard to her side as though to repress a hard pain.” Meanwhile she wrote a bosom friend: “There is in our nature a disposition to indulgence, a secret desire to escape from labor, which unless hourly combated will overcome the best faculties of our minds and paralyse our most useful powers…. I have often entertained a dread lest I should fall a victim to my besieger, and that fear has saved me thus far.”

Besides the terror of lapsing into self-indulgence, she was stimulated to activity by the care of her brothers, for one of whom she seems to have felt special anxiety: “Oh, Annie,” she writes, “if that child is good, I care not how humble his pathway in life. It is for him my soul is filled with bitterness when sickness wastes me; it is because of him I dread to die.” Was there no one to advise her that the best care of her brother would be to care for herself, and that if she would do more, she must first do less! Where was Dr. Channing who, more than any other, was responsible for her intemperate zeal! It appears that Dr. Channing, “not without solicitude,” as he writes her, was watching over his eager disciple. “Your infirm health,” he says, “seems to darken your prospect of usefulness. But I believe your constitution will yet be built up, if you will give it a fair chance. You must learn to give up your plans of usefulness as much as those of gratification, to the will of God.”

Miss Dix abandoned her school apparently in 1827, after six years of service and at the age of twenty-five. The following spring and summer she spent as a governess in the family of Dr. Channing at his summer home in Rhode Island. Her duties were light and she lived much in the open air, devoting her leisure to botany in which she was already “no mean proficient,” and to “the marine life of the beautiful region.” Very pretty letters were exchanged between her and Dr. Channing at the termination of the engagement. “We will hear no more of thanks,” he wrote her, “but your affection for us and our little ones we will treasure among our most precious blessings.” He invites her to renew the relations another year, and so she did.

To avoid the rigors of a New England climate, Miss Dix, for some years, spent her winters, now in Philadelphia, now in Alexandria, Va., keeping herself busy with reading “of a very multifarious kind,–poetry, science, biography, and travels,–besides eking out the scanty means she had laid by from her teaching by writing stories and compiling floral albums and books of devotion.” In 1827, she published a volume of “Ten Short Stories for Children” which went to a second edition in 1832; in 1828, “Meditations for Private Hours,” which went through several editions; in 1829, two little books, “The Garland of Flora,” and “The Pearl, a Christmas Gift.” Occasional brief engagements in teaching are also recorded in this period.

The winter of 1830, she spent with the Channings on the Island of St. Croix, in the West Indies, in her old capacity as governess. A daughter of Dr. Channing gives an interesting account of the preceptress of whom, first and last, she had seen so much. She describes Miss Dix as tall and dignified, very shy in manner, strict and inflexible in discipline. “From her iron will, it was hopeless to appeal. I think she was a very accomplished teacher, active and diligent herself, very fond of natural history and botany. She enjoyed long rambles, always calling our attention to what was interesting in the world around us. I hear that some of her pupils speak of her as irascible. I have no such remembrance. Fixed as fate we considered her.”

Miss Dix returned from the West Indies in the spring, very much improved in health, and in the autumn, she reopened her school in the Dix Mansion, with the same high ideals as before and with such improved methods as experience had suggested. Pupils came to her again as of old and she soon had as many attendants as her space permitted. A feature of the school was a letter-box through which passed a daily mail between teacher and pupils and “large bundles of child-letters of this period” are still extant, preserved by Miss Dix with scrupulous care to the end of life. It was a bright child who wrote as follows: “I thought I was doing well until I read your letter, but when you said that you were rousing to greater energy, all my satisfaction vanished. For if you are not satisfied in some measure with yourself and are going to do more than you have done, I don’t know what I shall do. You do not go to rest until midnight and then you rise very early.” The physician had administered too strong a tonic for the little patient’s health.

A lady who, at the age of sixteen, attended this school in 1833, writes of her eminent teacher as follows: “She fascinated me from the first, as she had done many of my class before me. Next to my mother, I thought her the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was in the prime of her years, tall and of dignified carriage, head finely shaped and set, with an abundance of soft, wavy, brown hair.” The school continued in the full tide of success for five years, during which time, by hard labor and close economies, Miss Dix had saved enough to secure her “the independence of a modest competence.” This seems a great achievement, but if one spends nothing for superfluities and does most of his labor himself, he can lay by his income, much or little. The appointments of the school are said to have been very simple, a long table serving as a desk for study, when it was not in use for dinner. Only one assistant is mentioned, who gave instruction in French and, perhaps, elementary Latin. Surely Miss Dix could handle the rest herself. The merit of the school was not in its elaborate appointments, but in the personal supervision of its accomplished mistress. So the miracle was wrought and at the age of thirty-three, Miss Dix had achieved a modest competence.

The undertaking had cost her her health once before, and now it cost her her health again. The old symptoms, a troublesome cough, pain in the side, and slight hemorrhages, returned and, having dragged her frail body through the winter of 1836, Miss Dix reluctantly closed her school in the spring and, in obedience to her physician, went to Europe for rest, with the intention of spending the summer in England, the autumn in France, and the winter in Italy. Prostrated by the voyage, she was carried to a hotel in Liverpool where she was put to bed with the forlorn prospect of being confined to her solitary room for an indefinite period of convalescence. But again Dr. Channing befriended her. From him she had received letters of introduction, one of which brought to her side Mr. William Rathbone, a wealthy merchant of Liverpool and a prominent English Unitarian. Mr. and Mrs. Rathbone insisted upon taking her to their home, a charming residence a few miles out of the city. Thither she consented to go for a visit of a few weeks, and there she remained, as an honored guest tenderly cared for, for eighteen months. “To the end of her days,” says her biographer, “this period of eighteen months stood out in her memory as the jubilee of her life, the sunniest, the most restful, and the tenderest to her affections of her whole earthly experience.” She wrote a Boston friend, “You must imagine me surrounded by every comfort, sustained by every tenderness that can cheer, blest in the continual kindness of the family in which Providence has placed me,–I with no claim but those of a common nature.” And again, “So completely am I adopted into the circle of loving spirits that I sometimes forget I really am not to consider the bonds transient in their binding.”

She very much needed these friends and their tender care. Nine months after her arrival, we hear of occasional hemorrhages from which she has been exempt for ten days, the pain in her side less acute, and her physician has given her permission to walk about her room. One would think that her career was practically ended, but, strange to say, the career which was to make her famous had not yet begun. From this date, her convalescence proceeded steadily, and she was able to enjoy much in the delightful home and refined social circle in which she found herself. “Your remark,” she writes a friend, “that I probably enjoy more now in social intercourse than I have ever before done is quite true. Certainly if I do not improve, it will be through wilful self-neglect.” Apparently, she was having a glimpse of a less prosaic existence than the grinding routine of a boarding school. Madam Dix died at the age of ninety-one, leaving her granddaughter, still in Europe, a substantial legacy, which sensibly increased her limited resources and, when the time came for action, left her free to carry out her great schemes of benevolence without hampering personal anxieties. It ought to preserve the memory of Madam Dix that she endowed a great philanthropist.

In the autumn of 1837, Miss Dix returned to America, and avoiding the New England climate, spent the winter in Washington, D. C., and its neighborhood. Apparently, it was not a wholly happy winter, chiefly because of her vain and tender longings for the paradise she had left across the sea. The Washington of 1837 seemed raw to her after the cultivated English home she had discovered. “I was not conscious,” she writes a friend, “that so great a trial was to meet my return from England till the whole force of the contrast was laid before me…. I may be too craving of that rich gift, the power of sharing with other minds. I have drunk deeply, long, and Oh, how blissfully, at this fountain in a foreign clime. Hearts met hearts, minds joined with minds, and what were the secondary trials of pain to the enfeebled body when daily was administered the soul’s medicine and food.” Surely, that English experience was one upon which not every invalid from these shores could count, but when, a few years later, Miss Dix returned to England as a kind of angel of mercy, giving back much more than she had ever received, the Rathbone family must have been glad that they had befriended her in her obscurity and her need.

It was in 1841 at the age of thirty-nine that the second chapter in the life of Miss Dix began. Note that she had as little thought that she was beginning a great career as any one of us that he will date all his future from something he has done or experienced to-day. It happened that Dr. J. T. G. Nichols, so long the beloved pastor of the Unitarian parish in Saco, Maine, was then a student of Divinity at Cambridge. He had engaged to assist in a Sunday School in the East Cambridge jail, and all the women, twenty in number, had been assigned to him. The experience of one session with his class was enough to convince him that a young man was very much out of place in that position and that a woman, sensible if possible, but a woman certainly, was necessary. His mother advised him to consult Miss Dix. Not that her health would permit her to take the class, but she could advise. On hearing Mr. Nichols’ statement, Miss Dix deliberated a moment and then said, “I will take the class myself.” Mr. Nichols protested that this was not to be thought of, in the condition of her health, but we have heard of her iron will: “Fixed as fate we considered her,” said one of her pupils; and she answered Mr. Nichols, “I shall be there next Sunday.”

This was the beginning. “After the school was over,” says Dr. Nichols, “Miss Dix went into the jail and found among the prisoners a few insane persons with whom she talked. She noticed that there was no stove in their rooms and no means of proper warmth.” The date was the twenty-eighth of March and the climate was New England, from which Miss Dix had so often had to flee. “The jailer said that a fire for them was not needed, and would be unsafe. Her repeated solicitations were without success.” The jailer must have thought he was dealing with a woman, not with destiny. “At that time the court was in session at East Cambridge, and she caused the case to be brought before it. Her request was granted. The cold rooms were warmed. Thus was her great work commenced.”

Such is Dr. Nichols’ brief statement, but the course of events did not run so smoothly as we are led to suppose. The case had to be fought through the newspapers as well as the court, and here Miss Dix showed the generalship which she exhibited on many another hard fought field. She never went into battle single-handed. She always managed to have at her side the best gunners when the real battle began. In the East Cambridge skirmish, she had Rev. Robert C. Waterston, Dr. Samuel G. Howe, and Charles Sumner. Dr. Howe visited the jail and wrote an account for the Boston _Advertiser_. When this statement was disputed, as it was, Mr. Sumner, who had accompanied Dr. Howe, confirmed his account and added details of his own. He said that the inmates “were cramped together in rooms poorly ventilated and noisome with filth;” that “in two cages or pens constructed of plank, within the four stone walls of the same room” were confined, and had been for months, a raving maniac and an interesting young woman whose mind was so slightly obscured that it seemed any moment as if the cloud would pass away; that “the whole prison echoed with the blasphemies of the poor old woman, while her young and gentle fellow in suffering seemed to shrink from her words as from blows;” that the situation was hardly less horrid than that of “tying the living to the dead.”

Where was Miss Dix during this controversy? Why, she was preparing to investigate every jail and almshouse in the State of Massachusetts. If this was the way the insane were treated in the city of Cambridge, in a community distinguished for enlightenment and humanity, what might not be going on in more backward and less favored localities? Note-book in hand, going from city to city and from town to town, Miss Dix devoted the two following years to answering this question exhaustively.

Having gathered her facts, she presented them to the Legislature in a Memorial of thirty-two octavo pages, the first of a series of seventeen statements and appeals presented to the legislatures of different states, as far west as Illinois and as far south as Louisiana. “I shall be obliged,” she said, “to speak with great plainness and to reveal many things revolting to the taste, and from which my woman’s nature shrinks with peculiar sensitiveness…. I proceed, gentlemen, briefly to call your attention to the present state of insane persons within this Commonwealth, in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, pens, chained, naked, beaten with rods and lashed into obedience…. I give a few illustrations but description fades before reality.” If we could dismiss the subject by saying she reports instance after instance where men and women were confined in the almshouses in Massachusetts in such conditions of inhumanity and neglect as no intelligent farmer would tolerate for his swine, we could avoid some unpleasant details; but the statement would be ineffective because it would seem incredible. At the almshouse in Danvers, confined in a remote, low, outbuilding, she found a young woman, once respectable, industrious and worthy, whose mind had been deranged by disappointments and trials. “There she stood,” says Miss Dix, “clinging to or beating upon the bars of her caged apartment, the contracted size of which afforded space only for increasing accumulations of filth,–a foul spectacle; there she stood, with naked arms, dishevelled hair, the unwashed frame invested with fragments of unclean garments, the air so extremely offensive, though ventilation was afforded on all sides but one, that it was not possible to remain beyond a few moments without retreating for recovery to the outward air. Irritation of body, produced by utter filth and exposure, incited her to the horrid process of tearing off her skin by inches; her neck and person were thus disfigured to hideousness…. And who protects her,” Miss Dix suggestively asks, “who protects her,–that worse than Pariah outcast,–from other wrongs and blacker outrages!” This question had more meaning for Miss Dix than we might suppose, for at the almshouse in Worcester she had found an insane Madonna and her babe: father unknown.

Fair and beautiful Newton finds a place in this chapter of dishonor, with a woman chained, nearly nude, and filthy beyond measure: “Sick, horror-struck, and almost incapable of retreating, I gained the outward air.” A case in Groton attained infamous celebrity, not because the shame was without parallel but because the overseers of the poor tried to discredit the statements of Miss Dix. The fact was that she had understated the case. Dr. Bell of the McLean Asylum, confirmed her report and added details. In an outbuilding at the almshouse, a young man, slightly deranged but entirely inoffensive, was confined by a heavy iron collar to which was attached a chain six feet in length, the limit of his possible movements. His hands were fastened together by heavy clavises secured by iron bolts. There was no window in his dungeon, but for ventilation there was an opening, half the size of a sash, closed in cold weather by a board shutter. From this cell, he had been taken to the McLean Asylum, where his irons had been knocked off, his swollen limbs chafed gently, and finding himself comfortable, he exclaimed, “My good man, I must kiss you.” He showed no violence, ate at the common table, slept in the common bedroom, and seemed in a fair way to recovery when, to save the expense of three dollars a week for his board and care, the thrifty Groton officials took him away. He could be boarded at the almshouse for nothing, and, chained in an outbuilding, he would not require any care.

We can follow Miss Dix in her career through a dozen states of this Union, into the British Provinces, to Scotland and England, thence across to the Continent, without repeating these details, if we bear in mind that such as we have seen was the condition of the pauper insane at that period. Her memorial was presented by Dr. S. G. Howe, then happily a member of the Legislature, and a bill was passed, not without opposition, but finally passed, enlarging the asylum at Worcester to accommodate two hundred additional patients. The provision was inadequate, but a reform of old abuses had begun. It was her first victory.

Grateful for what had been accomplished in Massachusetts, Miss Dix turned to Rhode Island, whose borders she had often approached and sometimes crossed in her investigations in the adjoining state. Rhode Island was perhaps not less civilized than her neighbor, but Rhode Island furnished the prize case of horrors in the mistreatment of insanity, a case which in a letter introducing the discoverer, Mr. Thomas G. Hazard said went beyond anything he supposed to exist in the civilized world. The case was this: Abraham Simmons, a man whose name ought to go on the roll of martyrdom, was confined in the town of Little Compton, in a cell seven feet square, stone-built, stone-roofed, and stone-floored, the entrance double-walled, double-doored and double-locked, “excluding both light and fresh air, and without accommodation of any description for warming and ventilation.” When this dungeon was discovered, the walls were covered by frost a half inch in thickness; the bed was provided with two comfortables, both wet and the outer one stiffly frozen, or, as Miss Dix puts it, “only wet straw to lie upon and a sheet of ice for his covering.” Lest two locks should not be enough to hold this dangerous man, his leg was tethered to the stone floor by an ox-chain. “My husband,” said the mistress, “in winter, sometimes of a morning rakes out half a bushel of frost, _and yet he never freezes_; sometimes he screams dreadfully and that is the reason we had the double wall and two doors in place of one; his cries disturb us in the house.” “How long has he been here?” “Oh, above three years.” Nothing in the traditions of the Bastile could exceed these horrors, and yet they were not the product of intentional cruelty, but of unfathomable stupidity.

Disregarding the well-meant warnings of her attendant that he would kill her, Miss Dix took his hands, tried to warm them in her own, spoke to him of liberty, care and kindness, and for answer “a tear stole over his hollow cheeks, but no words answered my importunities.” Her next step was to publish the terrible story in the Providence Journal, not with a shriek, as might have been expected and justified, but with the affected coolness of a naturalist. With grim humor, she headed her article, “Astonishing Tenacity of Life,” as if it had only a scientific interest for anybody. If you doubted the statements, you might go and see for yourself: “Should any persons in this philanthropic age be disposed from motives of curiosity to visit the place, they may rest assured that travelling is considered quite safe in that part of the country, however improbable it may seem. The people of that region profess the Christian religion, and it is even said that they have adopted some forms and ceremonies which they call worship. It is not probable, however, that they address themselves to poor Simmons’ God.” Their prayers and his shrieks would make a strange discord, she thinks, if they entered the ear of the same deity.

Having reported her discoveries to the men of science, she next appealed to the men of wealth. Providence had at that date a multi-millionaire, by the name of Butler; he left four millions to his heirs. He had never been known as a philanthropist; he did not himself suppose that his heart was susceptible. It is said that knowing persons smiled when they heard that Miss Dix intended to appeal to him. Further, it is said that Mr. Butler, at the interview, ingeniously diverted the conversation from topics that threatened to be serious. He apparently had no thought of giving Miss Dix a penny. At length she rose with the impressive dignity so often noted by her pupils and said: “Mr. Butler, I wish you to hear what I have to say. I want to bring before you certain facts involving terrible suffering to your fellow creatures all around you,–suffering you can relieve. My duty will end when I have done this, and with you will rest all further responsibility.” Mr. Butler heard her respectfully to the end, and then asked, “What do you want me to do?” “Sir,” she said, “I want you to give $50,000 toward the enlargement of the insane hospital in this city.” “Madam, I’ll do it,” he said, and much more of his estate afterward went the same way.

Three years of devoted study of the problems of insanity, with limitless opportunities for personal observation, had given Miss Dix an expert knowledge of the subject. She had conceived what an insane asylum should be. Hitherto, she had been content to enlarge upon foundations already laid; now she would build an asylum herself. She saw, we are told, that such an institution as she conceived could not be built by private benevolence, but must have behind it a legislative appropriation. She chose New Jersey as the field of her experiment. Quietly, she entered the state and canvassed its jails and almshouses, as she had those of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Next she digested her facts in a Memorial to the Legislature. Then, with a political shrewdness for which she became celebrated, she selected the member, uniting a good heart with a clear head and persistent will, into whose hands it should be placed. Much of her success is said to have been due to her political sagacity. The superintendent of one of her asylums said, “She had an insight into character that was truly marvellous; and I have never known anyone, man or woman, who bore more distinctly the mark of intellectuality.” Having placed her Memorial in the hands of a skilful tactician, she retired to a room appropriated to her use by the courtesy of the House, where she spent her time writing editorials for newspapers, answering the questions of members, and holding receptions. “You cannot imagine,” she writes a friend, “the labor of conversing and convincing. Some evenings I had at once twenty gentlemen for three hours’ steady conversation.” After a campaign of two months the bill establishing the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum was passed, and the necessary money appropriated for its erection. She was always partial to this first creation of her energy and genius. She called it ‘her first child,’ and there, forty-five years later, she returned to pass the last seven years of her life, as in a home, a room having been gratefully appropriated to her use by the trustees of the asylum.

At this date, Dr. S. G. Howe wrote her: “God grant me to look back upon some three years of my life with a part of the self-approval you must feel. I ask no higher fortune. No one need say to you, Go on! for you have heard a higher than any human voice, and you will follow whithersoever it calleth.” Indeed, she already had much of her future work prepared. While waiting for the Legislature in New Jersey to take up her bill, she had canvassed Pennsylvania and had the happiness to see a bill pass the Legislature of that State founding the Dixmont Hospital, her second child, soon after the birth of her first. The Dixmont Hospital is the only one of her many children that she would allow to be even indirectly named for her. Meanwhile, she had canvassed Kentucky, had been before the Legislature in Tennessee, and, seven days after the passage of her bill in New Jersey, she writes from a steamer near Charleston, S. C., as follows: “I designed using the spring and summer chiefly in examining the jails and poorhouses of Indiana and Illinois. Having successfully completed my mission in Kentucky, I learned that traveling in those States would be difficult, if not impossible, for some weeks to come, on account of mud and rains. This decided me to examine the prisons and hospitals of New Orleans, and, returning, to see the state prisons of Louisiana at Baton Rouge, of Mississippi at Jackson, of Arkansas at Little Rock, of Missouri at Jefferson City, and of Illinois at Alton…. I have seen incomparably more to approve than to censure in New Orleans. I took the resolution, being so far away, of seeing the state institutions of Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. Though this has proved excessively fatiguing, I rejoice that I have carried out my purpose.”

Between June 1843 and August 1847, she states in a letter that she traveled 32,470 miles, her conveyance being by steamboat when possible; otherwise by stage-coach. It is suggestive of the wrecks and delays she had experienced with the shattered coaches and mud roads of the south and west that, as we are told, she “made a practice of carrying with her an outfit of hammer, wrench, nails, screws, a coil of rope, and straps of stout leather, which under many a mishap sufficed to put things to rights and enable her to pursue her journey.” “I have encountered nothing so dangerous as river fords,” she writes. “I crossed the Yadkin when it was three-quarters of a mile wide, rough bottom, often in places rapid currents; the water always up to the carriage bed, and sometimes flowing in. The horses rested twice on sand-bars. A few miles beyond the river having just crossed a deep branch two hundred yards wide, the axletree broke, and away rolled one of the back wheels.”

When she said that river fords were her greatest danger, she must have forgotten an encounter with a highwayman. She was making a stage journey in Michigan, and noticed with some consternation that the driver carried a brace of pistols. To her inquiries he explained that there had been robberies on the road. “Give me the pistols,” she said; “I will take care of them.” More in awe of her than of robbers, the driver reluctantly obeyed. Passing through a dismal forest the expected happened. A man seized the horses and demanded her purse. She made him a little speech, asked if he was not ashamed, told him her business, and concluded, “If you have been unfortunate, are in distress and in want of money, I will give you some.” Meanwhile the robber had turned “deathly pale,” and when she had finished, exclaimed, “My God, that voice.” He had once heard her address the prisoners in the Philadelphia penitentiary. He begged her to pass, and declined to take the money she offered. She insisted, lest he might be again tempted before he found employment. People obeyed when she insisted, and he took her gift and disappeared.

Think of the hotel accommodations,–the tables and beds,–she must have encountered in these wild journeys. This is the woman who, a few years ago, seemed to be dying with hemorrhages of the lungs. Did she have no more of them? Oh, yes; we are assured that “again and again she was attacked with hemorrhages and again and again prostrated by malarial fever.” A physician said, “Her system became actually saturated with malaria.” Invalid as she almost always was, she had left her foot-prints in most of the states of the Union and had carried the war into the British Provinces, where she had been the means of establishing three insane hospitals: one in Toronto, one in Halifax, one at St. John, Newfoundland, besides providing a fleet of life-boats at Sable Island, known as “The Graveyard of Ships,” off the coast of Nova Scotia.

In the United States, during these twelve years, she “promoted and secured,” to use her own phrase, the enlargement of three asylums: at Worcester, Mass., at Providence, R. I., and at Utica, N. Y., and the establishment of thirteen, one in each of the following states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, North Carolina, and Maryland, with the Hospital for Insane Soldiers and Sailors, at Washington, D. C.

In 1850, Miss Dix proposed a larger scheme of philanthropy than was ever before projected by any mortal. What is more, but for one man, she would have carried it out. She petitioned Congress to appropriate 12,000,000 acres of public lands for the benefit of the indigent insane, deaf and dumb, and blind. A bill to that effect was introduced, watched by her through two sessions, and finally passed by both Houses. She was inundated with congratulations from far and near; but the bill was vetoed on constitutional grounds by President Pierce. The day for giving away the public lands in sheets had not come.

The blow seems to have been more than Miss Dix could endure. She went abroad for change and rest. What rest meant to her, she expresses in a letter to a friend at home:

“Rest is not quitting the active career: Rest is the fitting of self to its sphere.”

These lines, borrowed from John S. Dwight have been, not unnaturally, attributed to her. She wrote many things perhaps quite as poetical.

Not much of the verse, which came from her prolific pen, was considered even by herself to deserve publication, but verse-writing is said to had been the never-failing diversion of her leisure hours. Mrs. Caroline A. Kennard credits her with the following lines which, though very simple, are quite as good as much that has been immortalized in our hymn books:

“In the tender, peaceful moonlight, I am from the world apart, While a flood of golden glory Fills alike my room and heart.

As I gaze upon the radiance Shining on me from afar, I can almost see beyond it,–Almost see ‘the gates ajar.’

Tender thoughts arise within me Of the friends who’ve gone before, Absent long but not forgotten, Resting on the other shore.

And my soul is filled with longing That when done with earth and sin, I may find the gates wide open There for me to enter in.”

Apparently, she wrote her poetry for herself, as an unskilled musician might play for his own amusement.

The rest which Miss Dix allowed herself between September 1854 and September 1856, was to visit the chief hospitals and prisons in Europe. Edinburgh, the Channel Islands, Paris, Rome, Naples, Constantinople, Vienna, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Brussels, and again Paris and London: these places mark the course of her two years’ pilgrimage among the prisons and hospitals of Europe. She found much to admire in this journey, but sometimes abuses to correct. We must content ourselves with an incident from Edinburgh, perfectly in character. She found in that city private insane hospitals, if they could be dignified by the name, under such conditions of mismanagement as shocked even her experienced nerves. Having reported the facts to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh to no purpose, she was advised to lay the matter before the Home Secretary in London. The Provost knew of this intention and resolved to forestall her by taking the train for London the next morning; so little did he know Miss Dix. She boarded the night train, and was on the spot before him, had her interview, secured the appointment of a royal commission and, ultimately the correction of the abuses of which she had complained.

During the four years that intervened between her return and the outbreak of the Civil War, she seems to have travelled over most of her old ground in this country, and to have extended her journeys into the new states and territories. At the approach of hostilities, it fell to Miss Dix to give the President of the Philadelphia and Baltimore Railroad the first information of a plot to capture the city of Washington and to assassinate Mr. Lincoln. Acting upon this information, Gen. Butler’s Massachusetts troops were sent by boat instead of rail, and Mr. Lincoln was “secretly smuggled through to Washington.”

By natural selection, Miss Dix was appointed Superintendent of Women Nurses in the federal service, by order of the Secretary of War. In this capacity she served through the four years’ struggle. In a letter dated December 7, 1864, she writes: “I take no hour’s leisure. I think that since the war, I have taken no day’s furlough.” Her great services were officially recognized by Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

Having served the country as faithfully as any soldier, during its hour of need, she returned to her former work of promoting and securing the erection of hospitals and of visiting those before established. In 1877, when Miss Dix was seventy-five, Dr. Charles F. Folsom, of Boston, in a book entitled “Diseases of the Mind,” said of her: “Her frequent visits to our institutions of the insane now, and her searching criticisms, constitute of themselves a better lunacy commission than would be likely to be appointed in many of our states.”

She was at that date, however, near the end of her active labors. In 1881, at the age of seventy-nine, she retired to the hospital she had been the means of building in Trenton, N. J., and there she remained, tenderly, even reverently cared for, until her death in 1887. So passed to her rest and her reward one of the most remarkable women of her generation.


Mary Lovell Ware, 1798-1849


Mary Lovell Ware

Of all the saints in the calendar of the Church there is no name more worthy of the honor than that of Mary Lovell Ware. The college of cardinals, which confers the degree of sainthood for the veneration of faithful Catholics, will never recognize her merits and encircle her head with a halo, but when the list of Protestant saints is made up, the name of Mary L. Ware will be in it, and among the first half dozen on the scroll.

The writer was a student in the Divinity School at Cambridge when a classmate commended to him the Memoirs of Mrs. Ware as one of the few model biographies. It was a book not laid down in the course of study; its reading was postponed for that convenient season for which one waits so long; but he made a mental note of the “Memoirs of Mary L. Ware,” which many years did not efface. There is a book one must read, he said to himself, if he would die happy.

Mrs. Ware’s maiden name was Pickard. To the end of her days, when she put herself in a pillory as she often did, she called herself by her maiden name. “That,” she would say, “was Mary Pickard.” I infer that she thought Mary Pickard had been a very bad girl.

Her mother’s name was Lovell,–Mary Lovell,–granddaughter of “Master Lovell,” long known as a classical teacher in colonial Boston, and daughter of James Lovell, an active Revolutionist, a prominent member of the Continental Congress and, from the end of the war to his death, Naval officer in the Boston Custom House. Mr. Lovell had eight sons, one of whom was a successful London merchant, and one daughter, who remained with her parents until at twenty-five she married Mr. Pickard and who, when her little girl was five years old returned, as perhaps an only daughter should, to take care of her parents in their old age. So it happened that the childhood of Mrs. Ware was passed at her grandfather Lovell’s, in Pearl St., Boston, then an eligible place of residence.

Mr. Pickard was an Englishman by birth, and a merchant with business connections in London and Boston, between which cities, for a time, his residence alternated. Not much is said of him in the Memoirs, beyond the fact that he was an Episcopalian with strong attachment to the forms of his church, as an Englishman might be expected to be.

Of Mrs. Pickard we learn more. She is said to have possessed a vigorous mind, to have been well educated and a fine conversationalist, with a commanding figure, benignant countenance, and dignified demeanor, so that one said of her, “She seems to have been born for an empress.” Like her husband she was an Episcopalian though, according to the Memoirs, less strenuously Episcopalian than Mr. Pickard. She had been reared in a different school. Her father,–Mr. James Lovell–we are told, was a free-thinker, or as the Memoirs put it, “had adopted some infidel principles,” and “treated religion with little respect in his family.” The “infidels” of that day were generally good men, only they were not orthodox. Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and Washington were such infidels. After Channing’s day, this kind of man here in New England was absorbed by the Unitarian movement, and, as a separate class, disappeared. Mrs. Pickard was bred in this school and she appears never to have forgotten her home training. “She was unostentatious and charitable,” says an early friend, “and her whole life was an exhibition of the ascendency of _principle_ over mere taste and feeling.”

Her religious attitude becomes interesting, because in an exceptional degree, she formed her remarkable daughter,–who was an only child and until the age of thirteen had no teacher except this forceful and level-headed mother.

With these antecedents, Mary Lovell Pickard was born in Boston, October 2, 1798, John Adams being then President. In 1802, Mary having passed her third summer, Mr. Pickard’s business called him to London, where he resided with his family two years, so that the child’s fifth birthday was duly celebrated in mid-ocean on the homeward voyage. In a letter of Mrs. Pickard, written during this London residence, she says, “Mr. Pickard is even more anxious than I to go home. Mary is the only contented one. She is happy all the time.” There is so much that is sad in this record that, before we have done, the reader will be glad the little girl had at least a bright and sunny childhood to remember. It appears she did remember it. It may not be remarkable, but it is interesting, that the experiences of this early London life,–between her third and fifth year,–made an indelible impression upon her, so that twenty years later when she was again in England, much to her own delight, she “recognized her old London home and other objects with which she was then familiar.”

A lady who was a fellow passenger of the Pickards on their homeward voyage was struck by the gentle management of the mother and the easy docility of the child. To say, “It will make me unhappy if you do that,” was an extreme exercise of maternal authority, to which the child yielded unresisting obedience. This, of course, is told to the credit of the child, but the merit, probably belongs to the mother. Doubtless we could all have such children if we were that kind of a parent. A little tact, unfailing gentleness, and an infinite self control: with these, it would seem one may smile and kiss a child into an angel.

On arriving in Boston, Mrs. Pickard took her family to her father’s, where she remained until her death, and where, we read, “with parents and grandparents, Mary found a home whose blessings filled her heart.” Being an only child, with four elderly persons, Mary was likely to be too much petted or too much fretted. We are glad to know that she was not fretted or over-trained. In a letter of retrospect, she writes, “For many years a word of blame never reached my ears.” An early friend of the family writes, “It has been said that Mary was much indulged; and I believe it may be said so with truth. But she was not indulged in idleness, selfishness, and rudeness; she was indulged in healthful sports, in pleasant excursions, and in companionship with other children.”

Everything went smoothly with her until the age of ten when, rather earlier than most children, she discovered her conscience: “At ten years of age I waked up to a sense of the danger of the state of indulgence in which I was living”; but let us hope the crisis was not acute. It does not seem to have been. According to the testimony of her first teacher, she was simply precocious morally, but not at all morbid. Her school was at Hingham, whither she was sent at the age of thirteen. The teacher says that with her “devotedness to the highest objects and purposes of our existence, she was one of the most lively and playful girls among her companions, and a great favorite with them all.”

There seems to have been really no cloud upon her existence up to this point,–the age of thirteen. I have had a reason for dwelling upon this charming period of her childhood, untroubled by a cloud, because from this date until her death, the hand of God seems to have been very heavy upon her, afflictions fell upon her like rain, and it required a brave spirit to carry the burdens appointed for her to bear. Happily, she had a brave spirit, did not know that her life was hard, “gloried in tribulation,” like St. Paul, and was never more cheerful or thankful than when she was herself an invalid, with an invalid husband to be cared for like a baby, seven children to be clothed and fed, and not enough money at the year’s end to square accounts. Ruskin tells of a servant who had served his mother faithfully fifty-seven years. “She had,” he says, “a natural gift and specialty for doing disagreeable things; above all, the service of the sick-room; so that she was never quite in her glory unless some of us were ill.” It will be seen further on that these were only a part of the accomplishments of Mrs. Ware. It is fortunate if a woman is so made that her spirits rise as her troubles thicken, but the reader of the story will be thankful that her life was not all a battle, that her childhood was more than ordinarily serene and sunny, and that not for a dozen years at least, did she have to be a heroine in order to be happy.

Mary had been in Hingham about half a year, enjoying her school-girl life, when her mother was taken ill, fatally ill as it proved, and the child, then at the age of thirteen, was called home and installed in the sick-room as nurse. This was the beginning of sorrow. The mother lingered through the winter and died in the following May. There remained of the family, the grandparents, one son of fine talents, but of unfortunate habits, and her father, “broken in spirits and in fortune, clinging to his only child with doting and dependent affection.” We can see that it could not have been a cheerful home for a young girl of thirteen. Some thirty years later, she wrote to one of her children, “I think I have felt the want all my life of a more cheerful home in my early childhood, a fuller participation in the pleasures and ‘follies’ of youth.” I put this reflection here, because it does not apply to the years preceding the loss of her mother while it exactly fits the period that now follows.

The year following her mother’s death, Mary attended a girls’ school in Boston. A passage from a letter written at this period will show something of her quality. It is dated February 27, 1813, when she was fourteen and a few months. Besides, she had been at school, six months at a time, a total of about one year. She had been mentioning two or three novels, and then discourses as follows: “Novels are generally supposed to be improper books for young people, as they take up the time which ought to be employed in more useful pursuits; which is certainly very true; but as a recreation to the mind, such books as these cannot possibly do any hurt, as they are good moral lessons. Indeed, I think there is scarcely any book from which some good may not be derived; though it cannot be expected that any young person has judgment enough to leave all the bad and take only the good, when there is a great proportion of the former.” Perhaps I am wrong in thinking this an exhibition of remarkable reflection and expression in a girl well under fifteen, whether she had been at school or otherwise. Mrs. Ware was always a wonderful letter-writer, though, if we take her word for it, she had little of her mother’s gift as a conversationalist. It seems to have been a life-long habit to see the old year out and the new year in, spending the quiet hours in writing letters to her friends. In one of these anniversary letters, written when she was fifteen, she says, “I defy anyone to tell from my appearance that I have not everything to make me happy. I have much and am happy. My little trials are essential to my happiness.” In that last sentence we have the entire woman. Her trials were always, as she thought, essential to her happiness.

On this principle, her next twelve years ought to have been very happy, since they were sufficiently full of tribulation. The two years following her mother’s death, passed in the lonely home in Boston, were naturally depressing. Besides, she was born for religion, and the experience through which she had passed had created a great hunger in her soul. Trinity Church, into which she had been baptized, had not yet passed through the hands of Phillips Brooks, and its ministrations, admirable as they are for the ordinary child, were inadequate for the wants of a thoughtful girl like Mary Pickard. The final effect was, she says, to throw her more upon herself and to compel her to seek, “by reading, meditation and prayer, to find that knowledge and stimulus to virtue which I failed to find in the ministrations of the Sabbath.”

At this critical period, she returned to the school at Hingham, which she had left two years before, and there, in the Third Church, then presided over by Rev. Henry Colman, one of the fathers of the Unitarian heresy, she found peace and satisfaction to her spirit. Ten years later, she spent a week in Hingham, visiting friends and reviving, as she says, the memory of the “first awakening of my mind to high and holy thoughts and resolves.” The crisis which, elsewhere, we read of at the age of ten, was a subordinate affair. This Hingham experience, at the age of sixteen, was really the moral event in her history.

As hers was a type of religion,–she would have said “piety”,–a blend of reason and sentiment, peculiar to the Unitarianism of that generation, hardly to be found in any household of faith to-day, we must let her disclose her inner consciousness. One Saturday morning, she writes a long letter to one of her teachers saying that she feels it a duty and a privilege “to be a member of the Church of Christ,” but she fears she does not understand what the relation implies, and says, “Tell me if you should consider it a violation of the sacredness of the institution, to think I might with impunity be a member of it. I am well aware of the condemnation denounced on those who _partake_ unworthily.” She refers to the Lord’s Supper. It is to be hoped that her teacher knew enough to give the simple explanation of that dark saying of the apostle about eating unworthily. At all events, she connected herself with the church, received the communion, and was very happy. “From the moment I had decided what to do, not a feeling arose which I could wish to suppress; conscious of pure motives, all within was calm, and I wondered how I could for a moment hesitate. They were feelings I never before experienced, and for once I realized that it is only when we are at peace with ourselves that we can enjoy true happiness…. I could not sleep, and actually laid awake all night out of pure happiness.”

After a few months, sooner than she expected, she returns to Boston and sits under the ministrations of Dr. Channing, to her an object of veneration. She writes that her heart is too full for utterance: “It will not surprise you that Mr. Channing’s sermons are the cause; but no account that I could give could convey any idea of them. You have heard some of the same class; they so entirely absorb the feelings as to render the mind incapable of action, and consequently leave on the memory at times no distinct impression.” I should like to quote all she says of Channing, both as a revelation of him, and of herself. She heard him read the psalm, “What shall I render unto God for all his mercies?” and says, “The ascription of praise which followed was more truly sublime than anything I ever heard or read.” It must have been an event,–it certainly was for her,–to listen to one of Dr. Channing’s prayers: “It seems often to me, while in the hour of prayer I give myself up to the thought of heaven, as though I had in reality left the world, and was enjoying what is promised to the Christian. I fear, however, these feelings are too often delusive; we substitute the love of holiness for the actual possession.”

There her sanity comes in to check her emotionalism. She is reflecting upon another experience with Dr. Channing when she comes very near making a criticism upon him. She tells us that she does not mean him; he is excepted from these remarks, but she says, “There are few occasions which will authorize a minister to excite the feelings of an audience in a very great degree, and none which can make it allowable for him to rest in mere excitement.” To complete the portraiture of her soul, I will take a passage from a letter written at the age of twenty-five, when death has at last stripped her of all her family, “I believe that all events that befall us are exactly such as are best adapted to improve us; and I find in a perfect confidence in the wisdom and love which I know directs them, a source of peace which no other thing can give; and in the difficulty which I find in acting upon this belief I see a weakness of nature, which those very trials are designed to assist us in overcoming, and which trial alone can conquer.”

Mary Pickards were not common even in that generation, but this creed was then common, and this blend of reason and religious feeling, fearlessly called “piety,” was characteristic of Channing, her teacher, and of Henry Ware, afterward her husband. It was the real “Channing Unitarianism.” Pity there is no more of it.

Mary was sixteen years old,–to be exact, sixteen and a half; the serene and beautiful faith of Channing had done its perfect work upon her; and she was now ready for whatever fate, or as she would have said, Providence, might choose to send. It sent the business failure of Mr. Pickard, in which not only his own fortune was swept away but also the estate of Mr. Lovell was involved. Upon the knowledge of this disaster, Mary wrote a cheerful letter, in which she said: “I should be sorry to think you consider me so weak as to bend under a change of fortune to which all are liable.” Certainly she will not bend, but she is obliged to quit school and return to the shattered home.

Before the summer was over, her grandfather, Mr. Lovell, died; whether the end was hastened by the financial embarrassments in which Mr. Pickard had involved him, is not said. Mrs. Lovell, the grandmother, followed her husband in two years,–for Mary, two years of assiduous nursing and tender care. Perhaps one sentence from a letter at this time will assist us in picturing her in this exacting service. She says that she is leading a monotonous existence, that her animal spirits are not sufficient for both duty and solitude, “And when evening closes, and my beloved charge is laid peacefully to rest, excitement ceases, and I am thrown on myself for pleasure.”

With the death of the grandmother, the home was broken up, and Mary, trying to help her father do a little business without capital, went to New York city as his commercial agent. Her letters to her father are “almost exclusively business letters,” and he on his part gives her “directions for the sale and purchase, not only of muslins and moreens, but also of skins, saltpetre, and the like.”

Details of this period of her career are not abundant in the Memoirs, and the death of her father, in 1823, put an end to her business apprenticeship.

Apparently, she was not entirely destitute. At the time of his disaster, her father wrote, “As we calculated you would, after some time, have enough to support yourself, without mental or bodily exertion.” That is, presumably, after the settlement of her grandfather’s estate. As her biographer says, “Every member of her own family had gone, and she had smoothed the passage of everyone.” But she had many friends, and one is tempted to say, Pity she could not have settled down in cozy quarters and made herself comfortable.

Indeed she did make a fair start. She joined a couple of friends, going abroad in search of health, for a visit to England. She had relatives on the Lovell side, in comfortable circumstances near London, and an aunt on her father’s side, in the north of England, in straightened circumstances. She resolved to make the acquaintance of all these relatives.

The party arrived in Liverpool in April, 1824, and for a year and a half, during which their headquarters were in London, Paris was visited, Southern England and Wales were explored, and finally the Lovell relatives were visited and found to have good hearts and open arms. For these eighteen months, Mary Pickard’s friends could have wished her no more delightful existence. She had tea with Mrs. Barbauld, heard Irving, then the famous London preacher, and saw other interesting persons and charming things in England. There is material for a very interesting chapter upon this delightful experience. It was followed by a drama of misery and horror, in which she was both spectator and actor, when young and old died around her as if smitten by pestilence, and her own vigorous constitution was irreparably broken.

This episode was vastly more interesting to her than the pleasant commonplace of travel, and much more in keeping with what seems to have been her destiny. In the autumn of her second year abroad, she went to discover her aunt, sister of Mr. Pickard, in Yorkshire. The writer of the Memoirs says that this visit “forms the most remarkable and in some respects the most interesting and important chapter of her life.” She found her aunt much better than she expected, nearly overpowered with joy to see her, living in a little two story cottage of four rooms, which far exceeded anything she ever saw for neatness. The village bore the peculiarly English name of Osmotherly, and was the most primitive place she had ever been in. The inhabitants were all of one class and that the poorer class of laborers, ignorant as possible, but simple and sociable. Terrible to relate, smallpox, typhus fever, and whooping cough were at that moment epidemic in that village.

It will be impossible to put the situation before us more briefly than by quoting a passage from one of her letters: “My aunt’s two daughters are married and live in this village; one of them, with three children, has a husband at the point of death with a fever; his brother died yesterday of smallpox, and two of her children have the whooping-cough; added to this, their whole dependence is upon their own exertions, which are of course entirely stopped now…. You may suppose, under such a state of things, I shall find enough to do.”

The death of the husband, whom of course Miss Pickard nursed through his illness, is reported in the next letter, which contains also this characteristic statement, “It seems to me that posts of difficulty are my appointed lot and my element, for I do feel lighter and happier when I have difficulties to overcome. Could you look in upon me you would think it impossible that I could be even tolerably comfortable, and yet I am cheerful, and get along as easily as possible, and am in truth happy.”

Evidently, all we can do with such a person is to congratulate her over the most terrible experiences. In a letter five days later, the baby dies of whooping-cough, and in her arms; a fortnight later, the mother dies of typhus fever; within another month, two boys, now orphans, are down with the same fever at once, and one of them dies. In the space of eight weeks, she saw five persons of one family buried, and four of them she had nursed. By this time, the aunt was ill, and Miss Pickard nursed her to convalescence.

This campaign had lasted three months, and she left the scene of combat with a clear conscience. She was allowed a breathing spell of a month in which to visit some pleasant friends and recuperate her strength, when we find her back in Osmotherly again nursing her aunt. It was the end of December and she was the only servant in the house. Before this ordeal was over, she was taken ill herself, and had to be put to bed and nursed. In crossing a room, a cramp took her; she fell on the floor, lay all night in the cold, calling in vain for assistance. She did not finally escape from these terrible scenes until the end of January, five months from the time she entered them.

Miss Pickard returned to Boston after an absence of about two years and a half, during which time, as one of her friends wrote her, “You have passed such trying scenes, have so narrowly escaped, and done more, much more, than almost any body ever did before.” She went away a dear school-girl friend and a valued acquaintance; she was welcomed home as a martyr fit to be canonized, and was received as a conquering heroine.

In a letter dated from Gretna Green, where so many run-away lovers have been made happy, she playfully reflects upon the possibilities of her visit, if only she had a lover, and concludes that she “must submit to single blessedness a little longer.” Our sympathies would have been less taxed if she had submitted to single blessedness to the end. Why could she not now be quiet, let well enough alone, and make herself comfortable? Destiny had apparently ordered things for her quite differently. One cannot avoid his destiny, and it was her destiny to marry, and marriage was to bring her great happiness, tempered by great sorrows.

The man who was to share her happiness and her sorrows was Rev. Henry Ware, Jr., then the almost idolized minister of the Second Church, in Boston. Mr. Ware was the son of another Henry Ware, professor of theology at Harvard, whose election to the chair of theology in 1806 opened the great Unitarian controversy. Two sons of Professor Ware entered the ministry, Henry and William, the latter the first Unitarian minister settled in New York city. Rev. John F. Ware, well remembered as pastor of Arlington St. Church in Boston, was the son of Henry, so that for more than half a century, the name of Ware was a great factor in Unitarian history.

After Dr. Channing, Henry Ware was perhaps the most popular preacher in any Boston pulpit. One sermon preached by him on a New Year’s eve, upon the Duty of Improvement, became memorable. In spite of a violent snow storm, the church was filled to overflowing, a delegation coming from Cambridge. Of this sermon, a hearer said: “No words from mortal lips ever affected me like those.” There was a difference between Unitarian preaching then and now. That famous sermon closed like this: “I charge you, as in the presence of God, who sees and will judge you,–in the name of Jesus Christ, who beseeches you to come to him and live,–by all your hopes of happiness and life,–I charge you let not this year die, and leave you impenitent. Do not dare to utter defiance in its decaying hours. But, in the stillness of its awful midnight, prostrate yourselves penitently before your Maker; and let the morning sun rise upon you, thoughtful and serious men.” One does not see how the so-called ‘Evangelicals’ could have quarreled with that preaching.

Mr. Ware had been in his parish nine years, his age was thirty-two, he was in the prime of life, and at the climax of his power and his popularity. Three years before, he had been left a widower with three young children, one of whom became Rev. John F. Ware. That these two intensely religious natures, that of Mary Pickard and that of Henry Ware, should have been drawn together is not singular. In writing to his sister, Mr. Ware speaks tenderly of his late wife and says, “I have sought for the best mother to her children, and the best I have found.” Late in life, one of these children said, “Surely God never gave a boy such a mother or a man such a friend.”

Miss Pickard engaged to be a very docile wife. “Instead of the self-dependent self-governed being you have known me,” she writes to a friend, “I have learned to look to another for guidance and happiness.” She is “as happy as mortal can be.” Indeed it was almost too much for earth. “It has made me,” she says, “more willing to leave the world and enjoy the happiness of heaven than I ever thought I should be. Strange that a thing from which of all others, I should have expected the very opposite effect, should have done this.”

The year following the marriage of these saintly lovers,–one can call them nothing less,–was one of exceeding happiness and of immense activity to both. It is not said, but we can see that each must have been a tonic to the other. Considerate persons felt a scruple about taking any of the time of their pastor’s wife. “Mrs. Ware,” said one, “at home and abroad, is the busiest woman of my acquaintance,” and others felt that way. Before the year ended, Mrs. Ware had a boy baby of her own to increase her occupations and her happiness. It lived a few bright years, long enough to become a very attractive child and to give a severe wrench to her heart when it left her. This experience seems to have a certain fitness in a life in which every joy was to bring sorrow and every sorrow, by sheer will, was to be turned to joy.

Of Mr. Ware, it is said that this first year “was one of the most active and also, to all human appearance, one of the most successful of his ministry.” He put more work into his sermons, gave increased attention to the details of his parish, delivered a course of lectures, and undertook other enterprises, some of which are specified; and, during a temporary absence of Mrs. Ware, wrote her that he had hoped he had turned over a new leaf, “but by foolish degrees, I have got back to all my accustomed carelessness and waste of powers, and am doing nothing in proportion to what I ought to do.”

But man is mortal, and there is a limit to human endurance. Mr. Ware could not lash himself into greater activity; but he was in good condition to be ill. In a journey from Northampton, he was prostrated by inflammation of the lungs, with hemorrhages, and after several weeks, Mrs. Ware, herself far from well, went to him and finally brought him home. This was the beginning of what became a very regular annual experience. I met a lady who was brought up on the Memoirs of Mary L. Ware, and who briefly put what had impressed her most, in this way: She said, “It seemed as though Mr. Ware was always going off on a journey for his health, and that Mrs. Ware was always going after him to bring him home”; if we remember this statement, and add the fact that these calls came more than once when Mrs. Ware was on the sick list herself, we shall be able greatly to shorten our history.

This was the end of Mr. Ware’s parish work. He was nursed through the winter and, in early spring, Mrs. Ware left her baby and took her invalid husband abroad, in pursuit of health, spending a year and a half in England, Holland, Switzerland, and Italy. It was, she afterward said, the most trying period of her life. Mr. Ware alternated between being fairly comfortable and very miserable, so that these Memoirs say “He enjoyed much, but suffered more.” Still the travels would be interesting if we had time to follow them.

Near the close of the first year abroad, Mrs. Ware’s second child was born in Rome, and, although this was as she would have said, “providential,” never was a child less needed in a family. Mrs. Ware had then two babies on her hands, and of these, her invalid husband was the greater care. In the following August, Mrs. Ware arrived in Boston with her double charge, and had the happiness to know that Mr. Ware was somewhat better in health than when he left home, a year and a half before.

His parish, during his absence, had been in the care of a colleague, no other than the Rev. Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you remember the New Year’s Eve sermon of Mr. Ware, it will be evident that he must have left behind him a very conservative parish, and you will not be surprised that in about four years, Mr. Emerson found his chains intolerable.

Mr. Ware had been invited to a professorship in the Harvard Divinity School, and it was to this and not to his parish that he returned. For the steady, one might say monotonous, duties of his professorship, Mr. Ware’s health was generally sufficient. The lecture room did not exact the several hundred parish calls then demanded by a large city church, nor the exhausting effort which Mr. Ware and Dr. Channing put into the delivery of a sermon; and the lectures, once prepared, could be delivered and re-delivered from year to year. Real leisure was impossible to one of Mr. Ware’s temperament, but here was a life of comparative leisure; and for Mrs. Ware, who shared all the joys and sorrows of her husband, the twelve years that follow brought a settled existence and very much happiness. Neither her own health nor that of her husband was ever very firm, and there was always a great emptiness in the family purse, but with Mrs. Ware, these were, as with Paul, “light afflictions” which were but for a moment, and she did not let them disturb her happiness.

Impossible as it may seem, they contributed to her happiness. She made them contribute to it. She says in a letter of 1831, “Of my winter’s sickness I cannot write; it contained a long life of enjoyment, and what I hoped would be profitable thought and reflection.” She repeats this statement to another correspondent, and says, with apparent regret, that the illness did not bring her “to that cheerful willingness to resign my life, after which I strove.” You cannot send this woman any trial which she will not welcome, because she wants to be made to want to go to heaven, and she is as yet not quite ready for it.

Mr. Ware has been dangerously ill, and of course she could not spare herself for heaven until he recovered, but this trial did something quite as good for her: “My husband’s danger renewed the so oft repeated testimony that strength is ever at hand for those who need it, gave me another exercise of trust in that mighty arm which can save to the uttermost, and in its result is a new cause for gratitude to Him who has so abundantly blessed me all the days of my life.” It is good to see what the old-fashioned doctrine that God really is, and is good, did for one who actually believed.

That first baby, whom she left behind when she went abroad with her invalid husband, died in 1831; the mother fainted when the last breath left the little body; but this is the way she writes of it: “I have always looked upon the death of children rather as a subject of joy than sorrow, and have been perplexed at seeing so many, who would bear what seemed to me much harder trials with firmness, so completely overwhelmed by this, as is frequently the case.”

After that, one is almost ashamed to mention the trifle that the income of this family was very small. Mr. Ware, after 1834 _Dr._ Ware, held a new professorship, the endowment of which was yet mostly imaginary. The social demands took no account of the family income; the unexpected guest always dropping in; at certain times, it is said, “shoals of visitors;” and the larder always a little scantily furnished. If one wants to know how one ought to live under such circumstances, here is your shining example. “There were no apologies at that table,” we are told. “If unexpected guests were not always filled, they were never annoyed, nor suffered to think much about it.” “I remember,” says a guest, “the wonder I felt at her humility and dignity in welcoming to her table on some occasion a troop of accidental guests, when she had almost nothing to offer but her hospitality. The absence of all apologies and of all mortification, the ease and cheerfulness of the conversation, which became the only feast, gave me a lesson never forgotten, although never learned.”

The problem of dress was as simple to Mrs. Ware as was the entertainment of her guests. “As to her attire,” says an intimate friend, “we should say no one thought of it at all, because of its simplicity, and because of her ease of manners and dignity of character. Yet the impression is qualified, though in one view confirmed, by hearing that, in a new place of residence, so plain was her appearance on all occasions, the villagers suspected her of reserving her fine clothes for some better class.” There are those who might consider these circumstances, very sore privations. What Mrs. Ware says of them is, “I have not a word of complaint to make. We are far better provided for than is necessary to our happiness.” I am persuaded that this is an immensely wholesome example and that more of this kind of woman is needed to mother the children of our generation. In a letter to one of her daughters, she says she has great sympathy with the struggles of young people, that she had struggles too and learned her lessons young, that she found very early in life that her own position was not in the least affected by these externals, “I soon began to look upon my oft-turned dress with something like pride, certainly with great complacency; and to see in that and all other marks of my mother’s prudence and consistency, only so many proofs of her dignity and self-respect,–the dignity and self-respect which grew out of her just estimate of the true and the right in herself and in the world.”

We have seen enough of this woman to discover that she could not be made unhappy, and also to discover why. It was because her nature was so large and strong and fine. Sometimes she thinks Dr. Ware would be better and happier in a parish, “But I have no care about the future other than that which one must have,–a desire to fulfil the duties which it may bring.” Surely that is being,

“Self-poised and independent still On this world’s varying good or ill.”

In 1842, Dr. Ware’s health became so much impaired that Mrs. Ware entertains an unfulfilled desire. It is to get away from Cambridge, which had become so dear to them all. “I scruple not to say that a ten-foot house, and bread and water diet, with a sense of rest to _him_, would be a luxury.” The family removed to Framingham, where Dr. Ware died, a year later. Whatever tribulations might be in store for Mrs. Ware, anxiety on his account was not to be one of them.

Death came on Friday; on Sunday, Mrs. Ware attended church with all her family, and the occasion must have been more trying for the minister who preached to her than for herself. A short service was held that Sunday evening at six, and “Then,” she says, “John and I brought dear father’s body to Cambridge in our own carriage; we could not feel willing to let strangers do anything in connection with him which we could do ourselves.” Think of that dark, silent lonely ride from Framingham to Cambridge! But here was a woman who did not spare herself, and did not ask what somebody would think of her doings.

After this event, the Memoirs tell us that a gentleman in Milton gave her a very earnest invitation to go there and take the instruction of three little children in connection with her own. In this occupation she spent six years of great outward comfort and usefulness. There is much in these years, or in the letters of these years, of great interest and moral beauty. Even with young children to leave, she speaks of death as serenely as she would of going to Boston. “I do not feel that I am essential to my children. I do not feel that I am competent to train them.”

Of her last illness, one of her children wrote, “Never did a sick room have less of the odor of sickness than that. It was the brightest spot on earth.” “Come with a _smile_,” she said to a friend whom she had summoned for a last farewell, and so went this remarkable and exceptionally noble woman.