Whatever the attitude of the transcendentalists as intimates of a domestic circle, sub specie æternitatis, so to speak, they were ardent believers in the rights of women. In this respect, perhaps, they were merely in harmony with the general trend of enlightened opinion during the nineteenth century. Indeed, so far as literature was concerned, even the unenlightened could not fail to appreciate the conquests made by the "damned mob of scribbling women," as Hawthorne dubbed them, or the "female poets" whose names appear in the collections of Griswold and others. When Poe delivered himself of such a eulogy as his essay on Mrs. Osgood, he may have shown himself to be, like any good journalist, a reflector of public taste, rather than a wholly misguided lover of female charms. Be that as it may, although many a young lady among the literary aspirants of the forties might have confessed with pride that she was a transcendentalist, the inner circle of the New School was blessed with an intimate association with only two Blue Stockings: Margaret Fuller and Elizabeth Peabody.
A romantic death and the services of friendly biographers have combined to make the first of these ladies a person of great importance to an age which finds a delight in "historical personalities who never existed." One who does not read Margaret Fuller's literary effusions might easily be led to believe that she was a critic of unusual discernment, simply because of the tradition which has been built up around her memory. Elizabeth Peabody has not been so kindly dealt with by posterity. Hers was the placid domestic life of a New England nun. Yet in her