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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Margaret Fuller Ossoli

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Margaret Fuller, in some respects the most remarkable of American women, lived a pathetic life and died a tragic death. Without money and without beauty, she became the idol of an immense circle of friends; men and women were alike her devotees. It is the old story: that the woman of brain makes lasting conquests of hearts, while the pretty face holds its sway only for a month or a year.

Margaret, born in Cambridgeport, Mass., May 23, 1810, was the oldest child of a scholarly lawyer, Mr. Timothy Fuller, and of a sweet-tempered, devoted mother. The father, with small means, had one absorbing purpose in life,--to see that each of his children was finely educated. To do this, and make ends meet, was a struggle. His daughter said, years after, in writing of him: "His love for my mother was the green spot on which he stood apart from the commonplaces of a mere bread-winning existence. She was one of those fair and flower-like natures, which sometimes spring up even beside the most dusty highways of life. Of all persons whom I have known, she had in her most of the angelic,--of that spontaneous love for every living thing, for man and beast and tree, which restores the Golden Age."

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Very fond of his oldest child, Margaret, the father determined that she should be as well educated as his boys. In those days there were no colleges for girls, and none where they might enter with their brothers, so that Mr. Fuller was obliged to teach his daughter after the wearing work of the day. The bright child began to read Latin at six, but was necessarily kept up late for the recitation. When a little later she was walking in her sleep, and dreaming strange dreams, he did not see that he was overtaxing both her body and brain. When the lessons had been learned, she would go into the library, and read eagerly. One Sunday afternoon, when she was eight years old, she took down Shakespeare from the shelves, opened at Romeo and Juliet, and soon became fascinated with the story.

"What are you reading?" asked her father.

"Shakespeare," was the answer, not lifting her eyes from the page.

"That won't do--that's no book for Sunday; go put it away, and take another."

Margaret did as she was bidden; but the temptation was too strong, and the book was soon in her hands again.

"What is that child about, that she don't hear a word we say?" said an aunt.

Seeing what she was reading, the father said, angrily, "Give me the book, and go directly to bed."

There could have been a wiser and gentler way of control, but he had not learned that it is better to lead children than to drive them.

When not reading, Margaret enjoyed her mother's little garden of flowers. "I loved," she says, "to gaze on the roses, the violets, the lilies, the pinks; my mother's hand had planted them, and they bloomed for me. I kissed them, and pressed them to my bosom with passionate emotions. An ambition swelled my heart to be as beautiful, as perfect as they."

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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