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

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

The Great Britain

Notwithstanding the long preparation of our minds, we were struck with admiration and delight by a view of the vast steam-ship. Once again we envied him of whose thought this is the full-grown offspring, and when admitted to see the apparatus of heart and lungs, felt that if Man is no longer a giant, he is at least the creator of giants. It is a proud feeling to tread these decks from end to end; ought indeed to be proud for those who steer her mighty path upon the Ocean.

As we looked on her, we longed for a Homer to describe her with that accuracy in detail and full glory of epithet by which he makes present to us the apparatus of the old heroic time. So the Greek described the Argo, earliest bud of a growth that has now towered so high.1 But that beautiful boat was more to him, than all the wonders of our waters are to us, for he contemplated it with deeper feeling and more intelligent appreciation.

We have a letter written to us from New-York, when the Great Western first left her harbor, that is a true poem as good as one of Greece, and many thousands shared the enthusiasm of that hour. But now the magic spells evoke forms of wonder so thickly that the gazers have not time left to admire, but glance at them with the same nonchalance that they do at the glories of sunset and sunrise. There is no miracle that man will not soon learn to hold carelessly as one of the counters in his game of life. Yet let us pause now and then a moment and open the eyes to the grand, the poetic combinations of our time. Our point of view is so grand and commanding, if we will but command from it. We are not, ourselves, sufficiently used to New-York, not consciously to realize, as well as move with, the vast tides of life that flow through her. We still wish no poem beyond the sight of the wood of masts that embraces her. We still feel the life-blood rushing from an entire continent to swell her heart.

We see that there have been just now made in Paris for the city of Boulogne a sword and vases of fine design. The designs for the sword are elegant, but we

____________________
1
The Argo, in Greek legend, was the ship the Argonauts sailed in to carry off the Golden Fleece.

-207-

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