"I Accept The Universe"

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Last Updated on May 20, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 215

Context: A minor New England writer of the nineteenth century, Margaret Fuller was a homely, brilliant, talkative eccentric who edited the transcendentalist magazine The Dial and published several books. In the summer of 1846 she traveled to Europe with a family named Spring, sending back gossipy letters which were published in the New York Tribune. Among the famous people she met was Thomas Carlyle, in whose home she visited. Emerson had recommended her to Carlyle as "this wise, sincere, accomplished, and most entertaining of women." Carlyle was later to write to Emerson that he had found her a "high-soaring, clear, enthusiast soul" and to his brother John Carlyle that she was "a strange, lilting lean old maid, not nearly such a bore as I had expected." Margaret's most famous reported remark is, "I accept the Universe!" To this, Carlyle is supposed to have said, "By god! she'd better" or "Gad! she'd better!" D. A. Wilson, one of Carlyle's biographers, believes that Carlyle's remark was made in Margaret's presence during a visit that Jane and Thomas Carlyle made to Margaret and her friends the Springs. Says Wilson:

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It may have been on the same night that Margaret perorated picturesquely, to the admiration of all her listeners but one,–"I accept the Universe!"
"Gad, you'd better!" said Carlyle.

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