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

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

Mrs. Child's Letters

The extensive and growing popularity of Mrs. Child as a writer is an earnest of good. It shows that the world is ready to value, if it cannot appreciate, the sincere purpose and active fidelity of the inner life, when brought near to it through a character so affectionate, humane, and lively as hers.—Let those who cannot make themselves heard rouse themselves to a sense of their deficiencies!

These pictures of New-York life, so interesting now from their familiar freedom, will retain a permanent value from the same cause. They will take their place in the history of a growth so rapid that only “Fine-ear” can discern its pulses, and of which few even of the fine-ear genius have skill, spirit, and time united to take count. These sketches are not superficial, but show a true and companionable insight to the purposes, no less than the symptoms, of our life. The insight is well expressed in the following passage:

“The New Year's show in the windows was exceedingly beautiful this year. The shawls are of richer colors, the patterns more delicately tinged, the jewelry, cutlery, and crockery, are of more tasteful patterns. I look with interest on these continually progressive improvements, because they seem to me significant of a more perfect state of society than we have yet known. The outward is preparing itself for the advancing idea of the age, as a bride adorns herself for her husband.”

Mrs. Child's acquaintance with common life is large, and various, such as can be won only by powers of ardent sympathy, balanced by a love of justice. Yet still dearer to her are the hours when fancy takes flight above experience, or the mind, rooted in reality, raises its eyes with assurance to the region of spiritual laws.

Thus there will be found in this book two kinds of pleasure and instruction, which will meet the wants of two different classes of readers. For him who

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