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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Margaret Fuller Ossoli

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William Hunt, the renowned artist, was looking in a book that lay on the table of a friend. It was Mrs. Jameson's Italian Painters. In describing Correggio, she said he was "one of those superior beings of whom there are so few." Margaret had written on the margin, "And yet all might be such." Mr. Hunt said, "These words struck out a new strength in me. They revived resolutions long fallen away, and made me set my face like a flint."

Margaret was now thirty-four. The sister was married, the brothers had finished their college course, and she was about to accept an offer from the New York Tribune to become one of its constant contributors, an honor that few women would have received. Early in December, 1844, Margaret moved to New York and became a member of Mr. Greeley's family. Her literary work here was that of, says Mr. Higginson, "the best literary critic whom America has yet seen."

Sometimes her reviews, like those on the poetry of Longfellow and Lowell, were censured, but she was impartial and able. Society opened wide its doors to her, as it had in Boston. Mrs. Greeley became her devoted friend, and their little son "Pickie," five years old, the idol of Mr. Greeley, her restful playmate.

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A year and a half later an opportunity came for Margaret to go to Europe. Now, at last, she would see the art-galleries of the old world, and places rich in history, like Rome. Still there was the trouble of scanty means, and poor health from overwork. She said, "A noble career is yet before me, if I can be unimpeded by cares. If our family affairs could now be so arranged that I might be tolerably tranquil for the next six or eight years, I should go out of life better satisfied with the page I have turned in it than I shall if I must still toil on."

After two weeks on the ocean, the party of friends arrived in London, and Miss Fuller received a cordial welcome. Wordsworth, now seventy-six, showed her the lovely scenery of Rydal Mount, pointing out as his especial pride, his avenue of hollyhocks--crimson, straw-color, and white. De Quincey showed her many courtesies. Dr. Chalmers talked eloquently, while William and Mary Howitt seemed like old friends. Carlyle invited her to his home. "To interrupt him," she said, "is a physical impossibility. If you get a chance to remonstrate for a moment, he raises his voice and bears you down."

In Paris, Margaret attended the Academy lectures, saw much of George Sand, waded through melting snow at Avignon to see Laura's tomb, and at last was in Italy, the country she had longed to see. Here Mrs. Jameson, Powers, and Greenough, and the Brownings and Storys, were her warm friends. Here she settled down to systematic work, trying to keep her expenses for six months within four hundred dollars. Still, when most cramped for means herself, she was always generous. Once, when living on a mere pittance, she loaned fifty dollars to a needy artist. In New York she gave an impecunious author five hundred dollars to publish his book, and, of course, never received a dollar in return. Yet the race for life was wearing her out. So tired was she that she said, "I should like to go to sleep, and be born again into a state where my young life should not be prematurely taxed."

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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