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Margaret

Margaret: A Tale of the Real and Ideal, Blight and Bloom

SYLVESTER JUDD
Edited with an introduction by Gavin Jones
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 464
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vk6gm
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    Margaret
    Book Description:

    Praised at the time as the most emphatically “American” book ever written, Margaret is a breathtaking combination of female bildungsroman, utopian novel, and historical romance. First published in 1845, Sylvester Judd’s novel centers on the fictional New England village of Livingston, where the young Margaret Hart strives to escape the poverty and vice of her surroundings by learning from a mysterious teacher, the “Master,” and by entwining herself with the powers of nature. But when Margaret’s brother is tried and hanged for murder, this rural community collapses, forcing Margaret to face the temptations of an urban underworld and to confront the intrigue of her family history. Margaret is the story of a young woman’s attempt to create a new social order, founded on beauty and truth, in a land plagued by violence, debauchery, and political instability. As Gavin Jones points out in his new introduction, Margaret perhaps stands alone in its creation of a female character who grows in social rather than domestic power. The novel also remains unique in its exploration of transcendental philosophy in novelistic form. Part ecocriticism, part seduction novel, part temperance tract, and part social history, Margaret is a virtual handbook for understanding the literary culture of midnineteenthcentury America, the missing piece in puzzling out connections between writers such as Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Thoreau. Margaret was widely read and deeply influential on both British and American writers throughout the nineteenth century but controversial for its representations of alcoholism and capital punishment. Judd’s novel remains resonant for today’s readers as it overturns conventional views of the literary representation of women and the origins of the American Renaissance.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-116-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. vii-xxii)
    Gavin Jones

    Sylvester Judd’sMargaret(1845) is the first book of the American Renaissance. Self-consciously beginning his novel in “what may be termed the mediaeval or transition period of New England history,” Judd predicts both in theme and in scope the flowering of aesthetic expression that mid-twentieth-century scholars would claim as nationally exceptional. Leading figures of New England literary culture soon intuited the prophetically national quality of Judd’s novel. Theodore Parker sent a copy ofMargaretto the English philosopher James Martineau, asserting “that it was the most original and characteristic book that would appear here for twenty years to come.” Margaret...

  4. NOTE ON THE TEXT
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  5. PART I. CHILDHOOD

    • CHAPTER I. PHANTASMAGORICAL — INTRODUCTORY.
      (pp. 3-5)

      We behold a child eight or ten months old; it has brown, curly hair, dark eyes, fair conditioned features, a health-glowing cheek, and well-shaped limbs. Who is it? Whose is it? what is it? where is it? It is in the centre of fantastic light, and only a dimly-revealed form appears. It may be Queen Victoria’s or Sally Twig’s.¹ It is God’s own child, as all children are. The blood of Adam and Eve, through how many soever channels diverging, runs in its veins, and the spirit of the Eternal, that blows everywhere, has animated its soul. It opens its...

    • CHAPTER II. WORK AND BEAUTY. — AN IMPRESSION OF THE REAL.
      (pp. 6-10)

      The child Margaret sits in the door of her house, on a low stool, with a small wheel, winding spools, in our vernacular, “quilling,” for her mother, who, in a room near by, is mounted in a loom, weaving and smoking, the fumes of her pipe mingling with the whizz of the shuttle, the jarring of the lathe, and the clattering of treadles. From a windle the thread is conducted to the quills, and buzz, buzz, goes Margaret’s wheel, while a grey squirrel, squatted on her shoulder, inspects the operation with a most profound gravity.

      “Look up the chimney, child,”...

    • CHAPTER III. LOCALITIES DESCRIBED. — THE FAMILY MORE PARTICULARLY ENUMERATED. — OBED INTRODUCED.
      (pp. 11-16)

      The house where Margaret lived, of a type common in the early history of New England, and still seen in the regions of the West, was constructed of round logs sealed with mud and clay; the roof was a thatch composed of whitebirch twigs, sweet-flag and straw wattled together, and overlaid with a slight battening of boards; from the ridge sprang a low stack of stones indicating the chimney-top. Glass-windows there were none, and in the place thereof swung wooden shutters fastened on the inside by strings. The house was divided by the chimney into two principal apartments, one being...

    • CHAPTER IV. THE WIDOW WRIGHT.
      (pp. 17-20)

      Margaret was up early in the morning, before the sun. She washed at the cistern and wiped herself on a coarse crash¹ towel, rough, but invigorating, beautifying and healthy. She did her few chores, and, as she had promised, started for the Widow Wright’s. Hash was getting ready his team, a yoke of starveling steers, in a tumbril-cart,² the axle fast in the wheels, which were cut from a solid block of wood. He set her in the cart, he desired to show his skill in driving, perhaps he wished to tease her on the way. “Haw! Buck, hish! Bright,...

    • CHAPTER V. THE BEE-HUNT. — MARGARET GOES FARTHER INTO NATURE. — SHE SINS AND REPENTS. — THE MASTER.
      (pp. 21-27)

      The next morning, Chilion and Margaret, joined by Obed, started on a bee-hunt. Obed was to remain with them till they should have been successful in this enterprise, then Margaret agreed to help him gather such plants and roots, growing wild in the woods, as could be of use to his mother. They took with them the honey, an axe, leather-mittens for the hands, and screens for the face, some brimstone and a tinderbox, a basket, spade, &c., for their several purposes. They entered the woods lying to the south of the Pond, an unlimited range, extending in some directions...

    • CHAPTER VI. WHY MARGARET WAS SORROWFUL. — DREAMS. — LIVINGSTON. — A GLIMPSE AT “THE WORLD.” — ISABEL. — NIGHT AND OTHER SHADOWS.
      (pp. 28-41)

      After dinner, hospitable as it was rude, of which the Master partook with sensible relish, Pluck proposed that Chilion should play.

      “The rosin, Margery,” said her brother.

      “I have some rosin in my pocket,” said the Master, at the same time producing a pint flask, which he set upon the table.

      “A bibilous accompaniment,” he added, “I thought would not be out of place.”

      “Good enough for any of their High Mightenesses!” ejaculated Pluck, drinking, and returning the bottle to the Master.

      “Nay, friend,” replied the latter; “Femina et vinum¹ maketh glad the heart of man. Let her ladyship gladden...

    • CHAPTER VII. RETROSPECTIVE AND EXPLANATORY.
      (pp. 42-47)

      At this day of comparative abstinence and general sobriety, one is hardly prepared to receive the accounts that might be given of the consumption of intoxicating liquors in former times. In the Old World, drinking was cultivated as an Art; it was patronized by courtiers, it fellowshipped with rustics; it belonged to the establishment, and favored dissent; it followed in the wake of colonial migration, and erected its institutions in the New World. Contemporary with the foundation, it flourished with the growth and dilated with the extension of this Western Empire. Herein comes to pass a singular historical inversion; what...

    • CHAPTER VIII. MARGARET’S OLDEST BROTHER, NIMROD, COMES HOME. — HE PROPOSES A VARIETY OF DIVERSIONS.
      (pp. 48-56)

      Nimrod made his annual visit to his father’s. Where he had been, or what he did, none asked, none knew. His appearance would indicate the sailor and the horse-jockey; he wore a tarpaulin and blue jacket, a pair of high-top boots with spurs and leather trousers; he flourished a riding stick, commonly known as a cow-hide, a pair of large gold rings dangled in his ears. He rode a horse, a cast-iron looking animal, thin and bony, of a deep grey color, called Streaker. He seemed also to have money in his pocket, as he evidently had brandy in his...

    • CHAPTER IX. MARGARET SUCCESSFUL IN A NOVEL ADVENTURE.
      (pp. 57-59)

      A few days afterwards, there came to the Widow Wright’s Mr. Palmer from the Ledge, the man who found Margaret in the woods and delivered her to his wife. He purchased of the Widow a prescription for his daughter Rhody, who he said was not in strong health, and then stated that his family had been troubled for want of water, and intimated a conjecture of his wife that Margaret was one in whom resided the faculty of discovering it, and asked the Widow if she would accompany him to Pluck’s, and aid in procuring the services of the child...

    • CHAPTER X. THANKSGIVING, OR NEW ENGLAND’S HOLIDAY. — MARGARET HAS HER DIVERSION.
      (pp. 60-70)

      It is a noticeable fact, that we of the present age have fewer holidays than our puritanical ancestors. “The King’s Birth Day,” was formerly celebrated with great pomp; in addition there were enjoyed “Coronation Days,” the “Birth of a Prince,” Accessions and Burials of Governors, Victories in War, Masonic Festivals, to say nothing of Military Reviews, Election Days, Ordination of Ministers, Executions for Murder; and at a still later period Washington’s Birth Day, now almost forgotten,¹ The Fourth of July, at present diverted to a Sundayschool or Temperance Festival.² But of Thanksgiving; a day devoted to mirth, gratefulness, hospitality, family...

    • CHAPTER XI. A REVISED ACCOUNT OF NIMROD AND HIS DOINGS.
      (pp. 71-75)

      We shall omit the wild-turkey hunt of a bright autumnal moon-light night in the woods, exciting and engaging though it was, and the race with Streaker, in which Margaret bore no part, while we proceed to enumerate some particulars of her eldest brother, that have a relation to herself. Nimrod evinced a volatile, roving, adventure-seeking habit from his boyhood. The severe waspish temper of his mother he could not abide, the coarse, dogged despotism of Hash he resented; Chilion was only a boy, and one not sufficiently social and free; with his father he had more in common. At the...

    • CHAPTER XII. THE STORY OF GOTTFRIED BRÜCKMANN AND JANE GIRARDEAU.
      (pp. 76-92)

      Among the Mercenaries, popularly known as Hessians,¹ employed by England against America during the war of our Revolution, was Gottfried Brückmann. He was, properly speaking, a Waldecker,² having been born in Pyrmont, an inconsiderable city of that principality. From what we know of his history, he seems to have shared largely in the passion for music, which distinguishes many of his countrymen. To this also he added a thirst for literary acquisition. But, being a peasant by caste, he encountered not a few obstacles in these higher pursuits. He became bellows-boy for the organ in the church of his native...

    • CHAPTER XIII. RETURNS TO MARGARET, WHO ADVANCES IN CHILDHOOD AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD.
      (pp. 93-103)

      Military Trainings¹ we have alluded to as a sort of New England Holiday. Pluck, taking with him Margaret and Hash, Chilion and Bull, went down to the village at an early hour. The Green flowed with people, soldiers, men, women and children. Portions of the horse-sheds were converted into booths for the sale of liquors, fruits and bread; wheelbarrows and carts were converted to the same use. An angle of the Meeting-house, Mr. Smith, the Tavern Keeper at No. 4, appropriated for his peculiar calling. Pluck engaged himself as tapster² in one of the horse-sheds. Margaret, having orders not to...

    • CHAPTER XIV. THE SABBATH. — MARGARET GOES TO MEETING FOR THE FIRST TIME. — HER DREAM OF JESUS.
      (pp. 104-129)

      It was a Sabbath morning, a June Sabbath morning, a June Sabbath morning in New England. The sun rose over a hushed, calm world, wrapt like a Madonna in prayer. It was The Day, as the Bible is The Book. It was an intersection of the natural course of time, a break in the customary order of events, and lay between, with its walls of Saturday and Sunday night on either side, like a chasm, or a dyke, or a mystical apartment, whatever you would please liken it to. It was such a Sabbath to the people of Livingston as...

    • CHAPTER XV. MARGARET PASSES A NIGHT AT THE STILL, AND SOLOMON SMITH MAKES HER USEFUL.
      (pp. 130-137)

      It will be remembered that Hash, the brother of Margaret, at the Spring training, was punished not only by imprisonment, but also with an inconsiderable fine, for disorderly behavior on that occasion. Not being himself possessed of the money, he had recourse to the Smiths at No. 4, to whom he pledged his oxen for the sum advanced. To acquit himself in that quarter, he engaged his services as nightwarden at the Still. In addition — for this seemed to be a point especially insisted upon — he promised that Margaret should accompany him in that duty.

      The “Still,” or...

    • CHAPTER XVI. MARGARET ENQUIRES AFTER THE INFINITE; AND CANNOT MAKE HER WAY OUT OF THE FINITE. — SHE UNWITTINGLY CREATES A GREAT SENSATION IN THE TOWN OF LIVINGSTON.
      (pp. 138-158)

      “What is God?” said Margaret one morning to the Master, who in his perambulations encountered her just as she was driving the cow to pasture, and helped her put up the bars.

      “God, God — ” replied he, drawing back a little, and thrusting his golden-headed cane under his arm, and blowing his nose with his red bandanna handkerchief. “You shut your cow in the pasture to eat grass, don’t you, mea discipula?”¹ added he after returning his handkerchief to his pocket, and planting himself once more upon his cane.

      “Yes,” she replied.

      “What if she should try to get...

    • CHAPTER XVII WINTER.
      (pp. 159-182)

      An event common in New-England, is at its height. It is snowing, and has been for a whole day and night, with a strong north-east wind. Let us take a moment when the storm intermits, and look in at Margaret’s and see how they do. But we cannot approach the place by any of the ordinary methods of travel; the roads, lanes and by-paths are blocked up: no horse or ox could make his way through those deep drifts, immense mounds and broad plateaus of snow. If we are disposed to adopt the means of conveyance formerly so much in...

  6. PART II. YOUTH

    • CHAPTER I. SPRING. — ROSE. — MARGARET KEEPS SCHOOL. — SUNDRY MATTERS. — MR. ANONYMOUS.
      (pp. 185-221)

      This Part commences with an omission of five or six years, the particulars of which, one familiar with life at the Pond will not find it difficult to supply. Margaret has pursued the tenor of her way, even or uneven, as the case may be; assisting her mother, entertaining her father, the companion of Chilion, and the pupil of the Master. If variety in unity be the right condition of things, then her life has been truthful and sound. She has made considerable progress in her studies, pursued for the most part in a line suggested by the peculiarities of...

    • CHAPTER II MARGARET. — MR. EVELYN. — CHRIST.
      (pp. 222-240)

      We would come nearer to Margaret; we have kept too far from her. What she denied to Mr. Anonymous, she will grant to her readers, who, as a parent, have watched about her from her babyhood, — a more intimate approximation. And if what Isabel said be true, that she could bear the truth, she can certainly bear to be looked at, a distinction not mortifying to most young ladies. She denied that she had a heart; has she any? If she has none, unlike most young ladies, in another respect also she differs from many of her sex and...

    • CHAPTER III. CHRISTIANITY.
      (pp. 241-264)

      Another day Mr. Evelyn came to the Pond. Margaret watched his approach with composure, and returned his greeting without confusion. “You have been on the Head,” said she, “and I must take you to other places to-day. First the Maples.”

      “This is a fine mineralogical region,” said he as they entered the spot. “I wish I had a hammer.”

      “I will go for one,” said she.

      “O no, Miss Hart, I will get it if you will tell me where it is.”

      “You are not in health you told me, and you do not look very strong. I must go...

    • CHAPTER IV. SUNDRY MATTERS.
      (pp. 265-273)

      Another day found Mr. Evelyn at the Pond, and with Margaret, on the Head, now called Mons Christi.

      “The name which this eminence has commonly borne,” said Mr. Evelyn, “together with the broad forest about, bring strongly, I may say, mournfully to recollection, the original population, the Indians, I mean.”

      “What do you know about them?” asked Margaret.

      “If we may rely on accounts written when they and the whites first met as friends, before a mutual hostility exasperated the judgment of the historian, and disordered the conduct of the natives, we shall form a pleasing picture of their character...

    • CHAPTER V. MR. EVELYN UNEXPECTEDLY DETAINED. — MARGARET GOES AFTER HIM, IS ABSENT FROM HOME SOME WEEKS. — HE RETURNS WITH HER TO THE POND, IN THE FALL. — WHEN ALSO ROSE MAKES HERSELF COMPANIONABLE.
      (pp. 274-298)

      Monday came, but not Mr. Evelyn, nor did the whole week bring him. His absence can be accounted for. He exhibited symptoms of the Small Pox, a disease the scourge and terror of the age. He was from a town on the sea-board where the infection raged. The people of Livingston immediately took the alarm, town meetings were held, a Pock House was established,¹ Mr. Evelyn conveyed thither, and a general beating up for patients was had throughout the town. All who had been exposed were ordered to the Hospital, and candidates for the disease universally were taken thither. This...

    • CHAPTER VI. THE HUSKING BEE.
      (pp. 299-311)

      The full Fall of the year had set in. The leaves of the trees, merging from their bright dappled colors into a dull uniform brown, had dropped to the earth, and were swept by the winds in dusty crackling torrents. The crops were harvested; potatoes garnered in the cellar, apples carried to the cider-mill, corn stacked for husking. A part of Margaret’s work for the season was gleaning from the bounties of forest and field, and aided by Rose she gathered several bushels of walnuts and chesnuts, and many pounds of vegetable down. The family had formerly depended upon such...

    • CHAPTER VII. THE ARREST. — THE PEOPLE OF LIVINGSTON DELIBERATE ON THE STATE OF AFFAIRS.
      (pp. 312-324)

      The next morning dawned dismally and darkly on the Pond and over the town. Rumor of what had fallen out at the husking party was rapidly distributed through the region. Early in the forenoon an inquest was holden on the body of young Smith, at No. 4, and it was declared that he came to his death from violence inflicted by one or more members of the family of Pluck. The uncertainty of the affair, aggravated by the bewildered state of the witnesses, rendered it expedient to arrest the entire household. Shortly on the Brandon road, which, but a few...

    • CHAPTER VIII. THE TRIAL.
      (pp. 325-340)

      The magistral investigation resulted in the discharge of all the family but Chilion, who was committed to answer before the Supreme Court, which would sit the next week. The testimony of the witnesses was varying and confused, as their observation had been uncertain and indistinct. What with the trepidation of the moment, and the clouded condition in which the catastrophe found the party, it took no small sagacity and patience in Esq. Bowker, who seemed disposed to conduct the case with entire candor, to distinguish, resolve, and average the singular materials that were submitted to his attention. Chilion himself would...

    • CHAPTER IX. MARGARET AND CHILION.
      (pp. 341-351)

      Margaret was carried to Deacon Ramsdill’s, where she was bled, and after lingering for three or four days in comparative exhaustion, she recovered so far as to be able to go abroad. There was no precedent that forbade a man, under sentence of death, the sight of his friends, and, what she had so much at heart, she at length attained, permission to visit her brother. In the Jail-house, her dress and person were strictly searched by Miss Arunah Shooks, maiden daughter of the Jailer, who stripped her of every article by which it was supposed the death or escape...

    • CHAPTER X. THE EXECUTION.
      (pp. 352-361)

      The morning of the Execution, like that of the Resurrection, brought out “both small and great, a multitude which no man could number.”¹ They came “from the East and the West, the North and the South.” Highways were glutted with waggons and horses, by-ways with foot-people. They came from distances of eight, twenty, and even forty miles. Booths, carts, wheel-barrows supplied a profusion of eatables and drinkables. A man with a hand-organ in cap and bells, hawkers of ballads, a “Lion from Barbary,”² Obed peddling his nostrums, gaming tables, offered attractions to the crowd, and contributed to the variety of...

    • CHAPTER XI. MARGARET GOES TO THE BAY.
      (pp. 362-383)

      When all things were ready, one cool but pleasant morning in the early part of November, they took their final start from the Widow Wright’s, — Obed and Rose on Tim, a thick-set animal of small stature, who in addition to his load bore a pair of large panniers,¹ stocked with the Leech’s simples and compounds; Nimrod with Margaret, on a horse of his own, and one, in the estimation of his master who piqued himself with being a good judge in such things, of admirable proportions and other desirable qualities. Margaret passed her old home, now deserted and dead,...

    • CHAPTER XII. THE HISTORY OF MR. GIRARDEAU.
      (pp. 384-390)

      During the period of our Colonial existence, the American Planters were in the practice, not of importing black slaves from the coast of Guinea alone, but also white servants from various parts of Europe.¹ Among the proprietors of the Simsbury Copper Mines were several Frenchmen, the wealthy, enterprising, exiled Huguenots.² It became an object with these gentlemen to combine in their establishment those who could speak their own tongue. About the year 1740, there arrived in Norfolk, Virginia, a cargo of servants, and of the number were some from Jersey, an Island belonging to the English Crown, but inhabited in...

  7. PART III. WOMANHOOD

    • [PART III. Introduction]
      (pp. 391-468)

      MY DEAR ANNA: — You told me to write you everything; but how shall I utter myself? How can I give shape or definition to what I am? Easy were it for me to tell you what I am not. Has a volcano burst within me; has a tornado prostrated me? If you were to excavate the Herculaneum¹ that I seem to myself to be, would you find only the charred semblance of life, the skeletons of old emotions, the very slaves of my hopes stricken down in the act of running away? With Rose, I would forget myself, that...

  8. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 469-469)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 470-470)