Margaret Fuller, Critic: Writings from the New-York Tribune, 1844-1846

By Judith Mattson Bean; Joel Myerson | Go to book overview

[“Age could not wither her…”]

“Age could not wither her nor custom stale Her infinite variety.”1

So was one person described by the pen which has made a clearer mark than any other on the history of man. But is it not surprising that such a description should apply to so few?

Of two or three women we read histories that correspond with the hint given in these lines. They were women in whom there was intellect enough to temper and enrich, heart enough to soften and enliven, the entire being. There was soul enough to keep the body beautiful through the term of earthly existence; for while the roundness, the pure, delicate lineaments, the flowery bloom of youth were passing, the marks left in the course of those years were not merely of time and care, but also of exquisite emotions and noble thoughts. With such chisels Time works upon his statues tracery and fretwork well worth loss of the first virgin beauty of the alabaster, while the fire within, growing constantly brighter and brighter, shows all these changes in the material as rich and varied ornaments. The vase, at last, becomes a lamp of beauty; fit to animate the councils of the great, or the solitude of the altar.

Two or three women there have been who have thus grown even more beautiful with age. We know of many more men of whom this is true.—These have been heroes, or still more frequently, poets and artists; with whom the habitual life tended to expand the soul, deepen and vary the experience, refine the perceptions and immortalize the hopes and dreams of youth.

They were persons who never lost their originality of character, nor spontaneity of action. Their impulses proceeded from a fullness and certainty of character, that made it impossible they should doubt or repent, whatever the results of their actions might be. They could not repent, in matters little or

____________________
1
Antony and Cleopatra, act 2, scene 3.

-402-

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