Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller

By Joan Von Mehren | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 21

You would be amazed, I believe, could you know how different is my present phase of life, from that in which you knew me.



1848: On Her Own

ALL the Americans in Rome during the winter of 1847-48 complained of the unremitting cold rain. William Wetmore Story wrote James Russell Lowell that it rained from the end of December through Easter Week. George Hillard, in his travel book, Six Months in Italy, complained that the rain's "dispiriting influence" all but ruined the Roman Carnival that year. Fuller's rooms were so dark she kept the lamps lit all day. On New Year's Day, 1848, she wrote Richard that after sixteen days of continual rain she felt "quite destroyed." She had enough money for the next few months, but she needed to know exactly how much would be coming to her in the future. She did not reveal her strong suspicion that she was pregnant.1

Two months later she wrote Richard, whose fiancée had just broken their engagement, that she had concluded that the Fuller family luck had run out years before; she quoted a comment she remembered Eugene making at the time their father put the Dana Mansion up for sale to the effect that the family star had taken an unfavorable turn and they would never be lucky in the future. The best words of comfort Margaret could summon were, "We are never wholly sunk by storms, but no favorable wind ever helps our voyages."2

Her letters home were consistently morose and dejected. " Rome is no more Rome," she wrote her sister Ellen. "I suffered continually in N [ew] E [ngland]. I suffer in Italy; always it is suffering somewhere." Eugene and Arthur suspected something unusual was the matter and conspired to come to her aid. Eugene wrote Arthur at the end of February, "if you have received mine of the 16th you will perceive that the same idea which you suggest about M. has also occurred to me. I can afford to contribute $150."3

She came close to telling Caroline Sturgis Tappan everything in a letter dated January 11, but she only dropped provocative hints. Her letter congratulated Caroline on her marriage a month earlier to William Aspinwall Tappan. It was typical of Caroline that she chose to break the news of her marriage in an offhand manner -- she sent out wedding announcements in copies of her book, Rainbows for Children. Fuller learned of the marriage only secondhand and was hurt. Now she hinted to Caroline of a romantic involvement of her own. She wrote of two happy months of "passive, childlike well-being." But that phase was now over, she said bleakly.

-276-

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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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