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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Margaret Fuller Ossoli

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Meantime the struggle for Italian unity was coming to its climax. Mazzini and his followers were eager for a republic. Pius IX. had given promises to the Liberal party, but afterwards abandoned it, and fled to Gaeta. Then Mazzini turned for help to the President of the French Republic, Louis Napoleon, who, in his heart, had no love for republics, but sent an army to reinstate the Pope. Rome, when she found herself betrayed, fought like a tiger. Men issued from the workshops with their tools for weapons, while women from the housetops urged them on. One night over one hundred and fifty bombs were thrown into the heart of the city.

Margaret was the friend of Mazzini, and enthusiastic for Roman liberty. All those dreadful months she ministered to the wounded and dying in the hospitals, and was their "saint," as they called her.

But there was another reason why Margaret Fuller loved Italy.

Soon after her arrival in Rome, as she was attending vespers at St. Peter's with a party of friends, she became separated from them. Failing to find them, seeing her anxious face, a young Italian came up to her, and politely offered to assist her. Unable to regain her friends, Angelo Ossoli walked with her to her home, though he could speak no English, and she almost no Italian. She learned afterward that he was of a noble and refined family; that his brothers were in the Papal army, and that he was highly respected.

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After this he saw Margaret once or twice, when she left Rome for some months. On her return, he renewed the acquaintance, shy and quiet though he was, for her influence seemed great over him. His father, the Marquis Ossoli, had just died, and Margaret, with her large heart, sympathized with him, as she alone knew how to sympathize. He joined the Liberals, thus separating himself from his family, and was made a captain of the Civic Guard.

Finally he confessed to Margaret that he loved her, and that he "must marry her or be miserable." She refused to listen to him as a lover, said he must marry a younger woman,--she was thirty-seven, and he but thirty,--but she would be his friend. For weeks he was dejected and unhappy. She debated the matter with her own heart. Should she, who had had many admirers, now marry a man her junior, and not of surpassing intellect, like her own? If she married him, it must be kept a secret till his father's estate was settled, for marriage with a Protestant would spoil all prospect of an equitable division.

Love conquered, and she married the young Marquis Ossoli in December, 1847. He gave to Margaret the kind of love which lasts after marriage, veneration of her ability and her goodness. "Such tender, unselfish love," writes Mrs. Story, "I have rarely before seen; it made green her days, and gave her an expression of peace and serenity which before was a stranger to her. When she was ill, he nursed and watched over her with the tenderness of a woman. No service was too trivial, no sacrifice too great for him. 'How sweet it is to do little things for you,' he would say."

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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