Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller

By Joan Von Mehren | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

Yet earning money -- think of that. 'Tis but a little but 'tis a beginning. I shall be a professional character yet.



Vain World Begone

Margaret never understood her father's decision to move to Groton. She said she "secretly wondered how a mind which had for thirty years been so widely engaged in the affairs of men could care so much for trees and crops." Only the younger boys could possibly benefit, but even that advantage seemed blighted when Arthur's accident resulted in the loss of sight in one eye.

Timothy, no longer in a position to legislate Jeffersonian principles in the wider community, now planned to live as a farmer-scholar as Jefferson himself had done in his retirement from public life. Convinced that "the endurance and industry" of farm life would harden his children and make them able candidates for Jefferson's natural aristocracy, he imposed a rigorous routine: early hours, cold baths, and simple meals of bread and milk. 1

The square farmhouse, though less dignified than the Dana Mansion or the Brattle House, was large and comfortable; it sat on a rise at the north end of Farmer's Row with a wide view toward both Mount Monadnock and Mount Wachusett. During the first spring and summer they built a new barn, seeded five acres in corn, beans, pumpkins, and potatoes, and fenced another ten acres as pasturage for three cows, a yoke of oxen, and the family horse, Old Charley. With Margaret's help, Margarett Crane Fuller planted a herbaceous border along the walk from the side piazza all the way to the road. Margaret ran the home school, served as the family seamstress, and helped her mother in the dairy. 2

At the bottom of the hill, Timothy built a rustic arbor in a section of the woodlot and christened it Margaret's Grove, but she found herself another hideaway, a quarter of a mile from the house on the side of the river. "The birds and the wind. . . and the thick carpet of last year's dried oak leaves do their best to make me feel at home." She called it Hazel Grove. 3

In early May, after a quarrel with her mother, she rushed off to her grove and began a Groton journal with an Italian inscription: "Scrivo sol per sfogar l'interna" ("I write only to vent my inner life"). She devoted a soliloquy to a confession of her faults -- "Thou art too vain, too selfish" -- and the unlikelihood that she would ever marry; she ended with a prayer.

But Oh -- might I but see a little onward Father, I cannot be a spirit of power

-54-

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Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction - Margaret Fuller: Should She Be Famous? 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Protected Years 6
  • Chapter 2 - A Varied Education 24
  • Chapter 3 - An Unfavorable Turn 38
  • Chapter 4 - Vain World Begone 54
  • Chapter 5 - A Trial to Fortitude 72
  • Chapter 6 - Schoolkeeping in Providence 90
  • Chapter 7 - Episodes in the Crusade 104
  • Chapter 8 - The Dial: Discontent and Freedom 120
  • Chapter 9 - A Sojourner on Earth 137
  • Chapter 10 - Marriage Studies 152
  • Chapter 11 - The Great Lawsuit 162
  • Chapter 12 - Summer on the Lakes 172
  • Chapter 13 - Woman in the Nineteenth Century 189
  • Chapter 14 - Mary and Horace Greeley 200
  • Chapter 15 - James Nathan 207
  • Chapter 16 - New York, 1845-1846 215
  • Chapter 17 - England and Scotland 230
  • Chapter 18 - France 241
  • Chapter 19 - Italy at Last 252
  • Chapter 20 - Return to Rome 264
  • Chapter 21 - 1848: on Her Own 276
  • Chapter 22 - The Roman Republic 289
  • Chapter 23 - Siege and Escape 303
  • Chapter 24 - Florence 318
  • Chapter 25 - Return 333
  • Chapter 26 - Aftermath and Debate 340
  • Notes 353
  • Index 387
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