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Title: A Study of Hawthorne
Author: Lathrop, George Parsons, 1851-1898
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A STUDY OF HAWTHORNE

BY

GEORGE PARSONS LATHROP.

[Illustration]



CONTENTS.

   I. POINT OF VIEW

  II. SALEM

 III. BOYHOOD.--COLLEGE DAYS.--FANSHAWE

  IV. TWILIGHT OF THE TWICE-TOLD TALES

   V. AT BOSTON AND BROOK FARM

  VI. THE OLD MANSE

 VII. THE SCARLET LETTER.

VIII. LENOX AND CONCORD: PRODUCTIVE PERIOD

  IX. ENGLAND AND ITALY

   X. THE LAST ROMANCE

  XI. PERSONALITY

 XII. POE, IRVING, HAWTHORNE

XIII. THE Loss AND THE GAIN

APPENDIX I.

APPENDIX II.

APPENDIX III.

INDEX



A STUDY OF HAWTHORNE.



I.


POINT OF VIEW.

This book was not designed as a biography, but is rather a portrait.
And, to speak more carefully still, it is not so much this, as my
conception of what a portrait of Hawthorne should be. For I cannot write
with the authority of one who had known him and had been formally
intrusted with the task of describing his life. On the other hand, I do
not enter upon this attempt as a mere literary performance, but have
been assisted in it by an inward impulse, a consciousness of sympathy
with the subject, which I may perhaps consider a sort of inspiration. My
guide has been intuition, confirmed and seldom confuted by research.
Perhaps it is even a favoring fact that I should never have seen Mr.
Hawthorne; a personality so elusive as his may possibly yield its traits
more readily to one who can never obtrude actual intercourse between
himself and the mind he is meditating upon. An honest report upon
personal contact always has a value denied to the reviews of
after-comers, yet the best criticism and biography is not always that of
contemporaries.

Our first studies will have a biographical scope, because a certain
grouping of facts is essential, to give point to the view which I am
endeavoring to present; and as Hawthorne's early life has hitherto been
but little explored, much of the material used in the earlier chapters
is now for the first time made public. The latter portion of the career
may be treated more sketchily, being already better known; though
passages will be found throughout the essay which have been developed
with some fulness, in order to maintain a correct atmosphere,
compensating any errors which mere opinions might lead to. Special
emphasis, then, must not be held to show neglect of points which my
space and scope prevent my commenting on. But the first outline
requiring our attention involves a distant retrospect.

The history of Hawthorne's genius is in some sense a summary of all New
England history.

From amid a simple, practical, energetic community, remarkable for its
activity in affairs of state and religion, but by no means given to
dreaming, this fair flower of American genius rose up unexpectedly
enough, breaking the cold New England sod for the emission of a light
and fragrance as pure and pensive as that of the arbutus in our woods,
in spring. The flower, however, sprang from seed that rooted in the old
colonial life of the sternly imaginative pilgrims and Puritans.
Thrusting itself up into view through the drift of a later day, it must
not be confounded with other growths nourished only by that more recent
deposit; though the surface-drift had of course its own weighty
influence in the nourishment of it. The artistic results of a period of
action must sometimes be looked for at a point of time long subsequent,
and this was especially sure to be so in the first phases of New England
civilization. The settlers in this region, in addition to the burdens
and obstacles proper to pioneers, had to deal with the cares of forming
a model state and of laying out for posterity a straight and solid path
in which it might walk with due rectitude. All this was in itself an
ample enough subject to occupy their powerful imaginations. They were
enacting a kind of sacred epic, the dangers and the dignity and
exaltation of which they felt most fervently. The Bible, the Bay Psalm
Book, Bunyan, and Milton, the poems of George Wither, Baxter's Saint's
Rest, and some controversial pamphlets, would suffice to appease
whatever yearnings the immense experiment of their lives failed to
satisfy. Gradually, of course, the native press and new-comers from
England multiplied books in a community which held letters in unusual
reverence. But the continuous work of subduing a new country, the
dependence upon the mother-land for general literature, and finally the
excitements of the Revolutionary period, deferred the opportunity for
any aesthetic expression of the forces that had been at work here ever
since Winthrop stepped from the Arbella on to the shore of the New
World, with noble manliness and sturdy statesmanship enough in him to
uphold the whole future of a great people. When Hawthorne came,
therefore, his utterance was a culmination of the two preceding
centuries. An entire side of the richly endowed human nature to which we
owe the high qualities of New England,--a nature which is often so
easily disposed of as meagre, cold, narrow, and austere,--this side,
long suppressed and thrown into shade by the more active front, found
expression at last in these pages so curiously compounded of various
elements, answering to those traits of the past which Hawthorne's genius
revived. The sensuous substance of the early New England character had
piously surrendered to the severe maxims which religion and prudence
imposed; and so complete was its suppression, that all this part of
Puritan nature missed recording itself, except by chance glimpses
through the history of the times. For this voluntary oblivion it has
been rarely compensated in the immortality it meets with through
Hawthorne. Not that he set himself with forethought to the illustration
of it; but, in studying as poet and dramatist the past from which he
himself had issued, he sought, naturally, to light it up from the
interior, to possess himself of the very fire which burned in men's
breasts and set their minds in movement at that epoch. In his own person
and his own blood the same elements, the same capabilities still
existed, however modified or differently ordered. The records of
Massachusetts Bay are full of suggestive incongruities between the
ideal, single-souled life which its founders hoped to lead, and the
jealousies, the opposing opinions, or the intervolved passions of
individuals and of parties, which sometimes unwittingly cloaked
themselves in religious tenets. Placing himself in the position of these
beings, then, and conscious of all the strong and various potencies of
emotion which his own nature, inherited from them, held in curb, it was
natural that Hawthorne should give weight to this contrast between the
intense, prisoned life of shut sensibilities and the formal outward
appearance to which it was moulded. This, indeed, is the source of
motive in much of his writing; notably so in "The Scarlet Letter." It is
thus that his figures get their tremendous and often terrible relief.
They are seen as close as we see our faces in a glass, and brought so
intimately into our consciousness that the throbbing of their passions
sounds like the mysterious, internal beating of our own hearts in our
own ears. And even when he is not dealing directly with themes or
situations closely related to that life, there may be felt in his style,
I think,--particularly in that of the "Twice-Told Tales,"--a union of
vigorous freedom, and graceful, shy restraint, a mingling of guardedness
which verges on severity with a quick and delicately thrilled
sensibility for all that is rich and beautiful and generous, which is
his by right of inheritance from the race of Non-conformist colonizers.
How subtile and various this sympathy is, between himself and the past
of his people, we shall see more clearly as we go on.

Salem was, in fact, Hawthorne's native soil, in all senses; as
intimately and perfectly so as Florence was the only soil in which Dante
and Michael Angelo could have had their growth. It is endlessly
suggestive, this way that historic cities have of expressing themselves
for all time in the persons of one or two men. Silently and with
mysterious precision, the genius comes to birth and ripens--sometimes
despite all sorts of discouragement--into a full bloom which we afterward
see could not have reached its maturity at any other time, and would
surely have missed its most peculiar and cherished qualities if reared
in any other place. The Ionian intellect of Athens culminates in Plato;
Florence runs into the mould of Dante's verse, like fluid bronze; Paris
secures remembrance of her wide curiosity in Voltaire's settled
expression; and Samuel Johnson holds fast for us that London of the
eighteenth century which has passed out of sight, in giving place to the
capital of the Anglo-Saxon race today. In like manner the sober little
New England town which has played a so much more obscure, though in its
way hardly less significant part, sits quietly enshrined and preserved
in Hawthorne's singularly imperishable prose.

Of course, Salem is not to be compared with Florence otherwise than
remotely or partially. Florence was naturally the City of Flowers, in a
figurative sense as well as in the common meaning. Its splendid,
various, and full-pulsed life found spontaneous issue in magnificent
works of art, in architecture, painting, poetry, and sculpture,--things
in which New England was quite sterile. Salem evolved the artistic
spirit indirectly, and embodied itself in Hawthorne by the force of
contrast: the weariness of unadorned life which must have oppressed many
a silent soul before him at last gathered force for a revolt in his
person, and the very dearth which had previously reigned was made to
contribute to the beauty of his achievement. The unique and delicate
perfume of surprise with which his genius issued from its crevice still
haunts his romances. A quality of homeliness dwells in their very
strangeness and rarity which endears them to us unspeakably, and
captivates the foreign sense as well; so that one of Hawthorne's chief
and most enduring charms is in a measure due to that very barrenness of
his native earth which would at first seem to offer only denial to his
development. It is in this direction that we catch sight of the analogy
between his intellectual unfolding and that of the great Florentines. It
consists in his drawing up into himself the nourishment furnished by the
ground upon which he was born, and making the more and the less
productive elements reach a climax of characteristic beauty. One marked
difference, however, is that there was no abundant and inspiriting
municipal life of his own time which could enter into his genius: it was
the consciousness of the past of the place that affected him. He himself
has expressed as much: "This old town of Salem--my native place, though
I have dwelt much away from it, both in boyhood and maturer
years--possesses, or did possess, a hold on my affections, the force of
which I have never realized during my seasons of actual residence
here.... And yet, though invariably happiest elsewhere, there is within
me a feeling for old Salem, which, in lack of a better phrase, I must be
content to call affection.... But the sentiment has likewise its moral
quality. The figure of that first ancestor, invested by family tradition
with a dim and dusky grandeur, was present to my boyish imagination as
far back as I can remember. It still haunts me, and induces a kind of
home-feeling with the past, which I scarcely claim in reference to the
present phase of the town."

It is by briefly reviewing that past, then trying to reproduce in
imagination the immediate atmosphere of Hawthorne's youth, and comparing
the two, that we shall best arrive at the completion of our proposed
portrait. We have first to study the dim perspective and the suggestive
coloring of that historic background from which the author emerges, and
then to define clearly his own individual traits as they appear in his
published works and Note-Books.

The eagerness which admirers of such a genius show, to learn all
permissible details of his personal history, is, when freed from the
vulgar and imbecile curiosity which often mars it, a sort of homage that
it is right to satisfy. It is a respect apt to be paid only to men whose
winning personal qualities have reached through their writing, and
touched a number of grateful and appreciative hearts. But two objections
may be urged against giving such details here: one is, that Hawthorne
especially disapproved the writing of a Life of himself; the other, that
the history of Salem and the works of Hawthorne are easily accessible to
any one, without intervention.

Of the first it may frankly be said, indeed, that Hawthorne alone could
have adequately portrayed his life for us; though in the same breath it
should be added that the idea of his undertaking to do it is almost
preposterous. To such a spirit as his, the plan would have had an
exquisite absurdity about it, that might even have savored of
imposition. The mass of trivial details essential to the accurate and
consecutive account of an entire life could never have gained his
serious attention: his modesty would have made as little of them as of
boyish slate-scribblings, full of significance, fun, and character to
observers, but subjected to the sponge without a pang by their producer.
There is something natural and fine in this. I confess that to me the
spectacle presented by Goethe when dwelling on the minutest incidents of
his childhood with senile vanity and persistence, and fashioning with
avaricious care the silver shrine and crystal case in which--like a very
different sort of Saint Charles Borromeo--he hopes to have the reverent
ages view him, is one which increases my sense of his defective though
splendid personality. And yet I cannot suppress the opposite feeling,
that the man of note who lets his riches of reminiscence be buried with
him inflicts a loss on the world which it is hard to take resignedly. In
the Note-Books of Hawthorne this want is to a large extent made good.
His shrinking sensitiveness in regard to the embalming process of
biography is in these somewhat abated, so that they have been of
incalculable use in assisting the popular eye to see him as he really
was. Other material for illustration of his daily life is somewhat
meagre; and yet, on one account, this is perhaps a cause for rejoicing.
There is a halo about every man of large poetic genius which it is
difficult for the world to wholly miss seeing, while he is alive.
Afterward, when the biographer comes, we find the actual dimensions, the
physical outline, more insisted upon. That is the biographer's business;
and it is not altogether his fault, though partly so, that the public
regard is thus turned away from the peculiar but impalpable sign that
floats above the poet's actual stature. But, under this subtile
influence, forgetting that old, luminous hallucination (if it be one),
we suddenly feel the want of it, are dissatisfied; and, not perceiving
that the cause lies largely with us, we fall to detracting from the
subject. Thus it is fortunate that we have no regular biography of
Shakespere authoritative enough to fade our own private conceptions of
him; and it is not an unmixed ill that some degree of similar mystery
should soften and give tone to the life of Hawthorne. Not that Hawthorne
could ever be seriously disadvantaged by a complete record; for behind
the greatness of the writer, in this case, there stands a person eminent
for strength and loveliness as few men are eminent in their private
lives. But it is with dead authors somewhat as it proved with those
Etruscan warriors, who, seen through an eyehole lying in perfect state
within their tombs, crumbled to a powder when the sepulchres were
opened. The contact of life and death is too unsympathetic. Whatever
stuff the writer be made of, it seems inevitable that he should suffer
injury from exposure to the busy and prying light of subsequent life,
after his so deep repose in death.

"Would you have me a damned author?" exclaims Oberon, in "The Devil in
Manuscript," [Footnote: See the Snow Image, and other Twice-Told Tales.]
"to undergo sneers, taunts, abuse, and cold neglect, and faint praise
bestowed against the giver's conscience!... An outlaw from the
protection of the grave,--one whose ashes every careless foot might
spurn, unhonored in life, and remembered scornfully in death!" This, to
be sure, is a heated statement, in the mouth of a young author who is
about to cast his unpublished works into the fire; but the dread
expressed here is by no means unfounded. Even the publication of
Hawthorne's Note-Books has put it in the power of various writers of the
day to assume an omniscience not altogether just, and far from
acceptable. Why, then, should further risk of this be incurred, by
issuing the present work?

It is precisely to put a limit to misconstructions, as well as to
meet--however imperfectly--the desire of genuine appreciators, that it
has been written. If this study for a portrait fulfils its aim, it will
at least furnish an outline, fix a definite shape, within which whatever
is observed by others may find its place with a truer effect and more
fitting relation. The mistakes that have been made, indeed, are in no
wise alarming ones; and it would be difficult to find any author who has
been more carefully considered, on the whole, or with such generally
fair conclusions, as Hawthorne. Still, if one sees even minor
distortions current, it can do no harm to correct them. Besides, there
has as yet been no thorough attempt at a consistent synthetic
portraiture; and the differences of different critics' estimates need
some common ground to meet and be harmonized upon. If this can be
supplied, there will be less waste of time in future studies of the same
subject.

It will be seen, therefore, that my book makes no pretension to the
character of a Life. The wish of Hawthorne on this point would alone be
enough, to prevent that. If such a work is to be undertaken, it should
be by another hand, in which the right to set aside this wish is much
more certainly vested than in mine. But I have thought that an earnest
sympathy with the subject might sanction the present essay. Sympathy,
after all, is the talisman which may preserve even the formal biographer
from giving that injury to his theme just spoken of. And if the insight
which guides me has any worth, it will present whatever material has
already been made public with a selection and shaping which all
researchers might not have time to bestow.

Still, I am quite alive to the difficulties of my task; and I am
conscious that the work may to some appear supererogatory. Stricture and
praise are, it will perhaps be said, equally impertinent to a fame so
well established. Neither have I any rash hope of adding a single ray to
the light of Hawthorne's high standing. But I do not fear the charge of
presumption. Time, if not the present reader, will supply the right
perspective and proportion.

On the ground of critical duty there is surely defence enough for such
an attempt as the one now offered; the relative rank of Hawthorne, and
other distinctions touching him, seem to call for a fuller discussion
than has been given them. I hope to prove, however, that my aim is in no
wise a partisan one. Criticism is appreciative estimation. It is
inevitable that the judgments of competent and cultivated persons should
flatly contradict each other, as well as those of incompetent persons;
and this whether they are coeval or of different dates. At the last, it
is in many respects matter of simple individual impression; and there
will always be persons of high intelligence whom it will be impossible
to make coincide with us entirely, touching even a single author. So
that the best we can do is to set about giving rational explanation of
our diverse admirations. Others will explain theirs; and in this way,
everything good having a fit showing, taste finds it easier to become
catholic.

Whoever reverences something has a meaning. Shall he not record it? But
there are two ways in which he may express himself,--through speech and
through silence,--both of them sacred alike. Which of these we will use
on any given occasion is a question much too subtle, too surely fraught
with intuitions that cannot be formulated, to admit of arbitrary
prescription. In preferring, here, the form of speech, I feel that I
have adopted only another kind of silence.

[Illustration]



II.


SALEM.

Let us now look more closely at the local setting. To understand
Hawthorne's youth and his following development, we must at once
transport ourselves into another period, and imagine a very different
kind of life from the one we know best. It hardly occurs to readers,
that an effort should be made to imagine the influences surrounding a
man who has so recently passed away as Hawthorne. It was in 1864 that he
died,--little more than a decade since. But he was born sixty years
before, which places his boyhood and early youth in the first quarter of
the century. The lapse since then has been a long one in its effects;
almost portentously so. The alterations in manners, relations,
opportunities, have been great. Restless and rapid in their action,
these changes have multiplied the mystery of distance a hundred-fold
between us and that earlier time; so that there is really a considerable
space to be traversed before we can stand in thought where Hawthorne
then stood in fact. Goldsmith says, in that passage of the Life of
Parnell which Irving so aptly quotes in his biography of the writer: "A
poet while living is seldom an object sufficiently great to attract much
attention.... When his fame is increased by time, it is then too late to
investigate the peculiarities of his disposition; the dews of morning
are past, and we vainly try to continue the chase by the meridian
splendor." The bustle of American life certainly does away with "the
dews of morning" very promptly; and it is not quite a simple matter to
reproduce the first growth of a life which began almost with the
century. But there are resources for doing so. To begin with, we shall
view Salem as it is. Vigorous and thriving still, the place has
fortunately not drifted so far from its moorings of seventy years since
as to take us out of our bearings, in considering its present aspect.
Pace its quiet, thoroughfares awhile, and you will find them leading
softly and easily into the past.

You arrive in the ordinary way, by railroad, and at first the place
wears a disappointingly commonplace aspect. It does not seem
impressively venerable; hacks and horse-cars rattle and tinkle along the
streets, people go about their affairs in the usual way, without any due
understanding that they ought to be picturesque and should devote
themselves to falling into effective groups posed in vistas of historic
events. Is antiquity, then, afraid to assert itself, even here in this
stronghold, so far as to appear upon the street? No. But one must
approach these old towns with reverence, to get at their secrets. They
will not yield inspiration or meaning save to an imaginative effort.
Under the influence of that, the faded past, traced in sympathetic ink,
as it were, revives and starts into distinctness. Passing down Essex
Street, or striking off from its modest bustle a little way, we come
upon shy, ungainly relics of other times. Gray gambrel-roofed houses
stand out here and there, with thick-throated chimneys that seem to hold
the whole together. Again you pass buildings of a statelier cast, with
carved pilasters on the front and arched doorways bordered with some
simple, dainty line of carving; old plaster-covered urns, perhaps, stand
on the brick garden-wall, and the plaster is peeling off in flakes that
hang long and reluctant before falling to the ground. There are quaint
gardens everywhere, with sometimes an entrance arched with iron
gracefully wrought by some forgotten colonial Quentin Matsys, and always
with their paths bordered by prim and fragrant box, and grass that keeps
rich and green in an Old World way, by virtue of some secret of growth
caught from fresher centuries than ours. If your steps have the right
magic in them, you will encounter presently one of the ancient pumps
like to the Town Pump from which Hawthorne drew that clear and sparkling
little stream of revery and picture which has flowed into so many and
such distant nooks, though the pump itself has now disappeared, having
been directly in the line of the railroad. But, best of all, by
ascending Witch Hill you may get a good historic outlook over the past
and the present of the place. Looking down from here you behold the
ancient city spread before you, rich in chimneys and overshadowed by
soft elms. At one point a dark, strong steeple lifts itself like a huge
gravestone above the surrounding houses, terminating in a square top or
a blunt dome; and yonder is another, more ideal in its look, rising
slight and fine, and with many ascents and alternating pauses, to reach
a delicate pinnacle at great height in the air. It is lighted at
intervals with many-paned and glittering windows, and wears a probable
aspect of being the one which the young dreamer would have chosen for
the standpoint of his "Sights from a Steeple"; and the two kinds of
spire seem to typify well the Puritan gloom and the Puritan aspiration
that alike found expression on this soil. Off beyond the gray and
sober-tinted town is the sea, which in this perspective seems to rise
above it and to dominate the place with its dim, half-threatening blue;
as indeed it has always ruled its destinies in great measure, bringing
first the persecuted hither and then inviting so many successive
generations forth to warlike expedition, or Revolutionary privateering
or distant commercial enterprise. With the sea, too, Hawthorne's name
again is connected, as we shall presently notice. Then, quitting the
brimming blue, our eyes return over the "flat, unvaried surface covered
chiefly with wooden houses, few or none of which pretend to
architectural beauty," with its "irregularity which is neither
picturesque nor quaint, but only tame"; and retracing the line upon
which Hawthorne has crowded the whole history of Salem, in "Main
Street," [Footnote: See The Snow Image, and other Twice-Told Tales.] we
fall to pondering upon the deeds that gave this hill its name. At its
foot a number of tanneries and mills are grouped, from which there are
exhalations of smoke and steam. The mists of superstition that once
overhung the spot seem at last to have taken on that form. Behind it the
land opens out and falls away in a barren tract known from the earliest
period as the Great Pastures, where a solitude reigns almost as complete
as that of the primitive settlement, and where, swinging cabalistic webs
from one to another of the arbor-vitae and dwarf-pine trees that grow
upon it, spiders enough still abide to furnish familiars for a world
full of witches. But here on the hill there is no special suggestion of
the dark memory that broods upon it when seen in history. An obliging
Irish population has relieved the descendants of both the witches and
their exterminators from an awkward task, by covering with their own
barren little dwellings the three sides of the height facing the town.
Still, they have not ventured beyond a certain line. One small area at
the summit is wholly unencroached upon. Whether or not through fear of
some evil influence resting upon the spot, no house as yet disturbs this
space, though the thin turf has been somewhat picked away by desultory
sod-diggers. There is nothing save this squalid, lonely desolation to
commemorate the fact that such unhappy and needless deaths were here
endured. It is enough. Mere human sympathy takes us back with awful
vividness to that time when the poor victims looked their last from
this, upon the bleak boundary-hills of the inland horizon and that
hopeless semicircle of the sea on the other side. A terrible and fitting
place for execution, indeed! It looms up visible for many miles of lower
country around; and as you stand upon the top, earth seems to fall away
with such a fatal ease around it!

The stranger is naturally drawn hence to the Court House, where, by
calling a clerk from his routine in a room fairly lined and stuccoed
with bundles of legal papers, he may get a glimpse of the famous
"witch-pins." These are the identical little instruments which the
afflicted children drew from different parts of their dress, in the
trial-room, declaring that some one of the accused had just caused them
to be sharply inserted into their persons. The pins are kept in a small
glass bottle, and are thin and rudely made; and as one looks at the
curious, homely little relics, it is hard to know whether to laugh at
the absurdly insignificant sight, or shudder at the thought of what
deadly harm they worked in the hands of the bewitched. So, while one is
hesitating, one gives the bottle back to the clerk, who locks it up
speedily, and at the next instant is absorbed in the drawing up of some
document; leaving the intruder free to pursue his search for antiquities
elsewhere. But the monuments and remains of the past are nowhere large
enough, in our American towns, to furnish the pilgrim a complete shelter
and make an atmosphere of their own. The old Curwin Mansion, or "Witch
House," to be sure, with its jutting upper story, and its dark and grimy
room where witch-trials are rumored to have been held, is a solid scrap
of antique gloom; but an ephemeral druggist's shop has been fastened on
to a corner of the old building, and clings there like a wasp's
nest,--as subversive, too, of quiet contemplation. The descendants of
the first settlers have with pious care preserved the remains of the
First Church of Salem, and the plain little temple may still be seen,
though hidden away in the rear of the solid, brick-built Essex
Institute. Yet, after all, it is only the skeleton of the thing, the
original framework set into a modern covering for protection,--the whole
church being about as large as a small drawing-room only. Into this
little space a few dumb and shrinking witnesses of the past have been
huddled: the old communion-table, two ancient harpsichords, a single
pew-door, a wooden samp-mortar, and a huge, half-ruinous loom; and some
engraved portraits of ancient ministers hang upon the walls. When I
visited the place, a party of young men and women were there, who
hopelessly scattered any slight dust of revery that might have settled
on me from the ancient beams, and sent the ghosts fleeing before their
light laughter. The young women fingered the old harpsichords, and
incontinently thrummed upon them; and one cried, "Play a waltz!" She was
a pretty creature; and, as her gay tone mingled with the rattle of
protesting strings in the worn-out instrument, one might easily have
divined how dire a fate would have been hers, in the days when men not
only believed in bewitchment, but made it punishable. Then a young man
who had clung for guidance amid her spells to the little printed
pamphlet that describes the church, read aloud from its pages,
seriously: "'Nowhere else in this land may one find so ancient and
worshipful a shrine. Within these walls, silent with the remembered
presence of Endicott, Skelton, Higginson, Roger Williams, and their
grave compeers, the very day seems haunted, and the sunshine falls but
soberly in.'"

"O don't!" besought the siren, again. "We're not in a solemn state."

And, whether it was the spell of her voice or not, I confess the
sunshine did not seem to me either haunted or sober.

Thus, all through Salem, you encounter a perverse fate which will not
let you be alone with the elusive spirit of the past. Yet, on
reflection, why should it? This perverse fate is simply the life of
to-day, which has certainly an equal right to the soil with that of our
dreams and memories. And before long the conflict of past and present
thus occasioned leads to a discovery.

In the first place, it transpires that the atmosphere is more favorable
than at first appears for backward-reaching revery. The town holds its
history in reverence, and a good many slight traces of antiquity, with
the quiet respect maintained for them in the minds of the inhabitants,
finally make a strong cumulative attack on the imagination. The very
meagreness and minuteness of the physical witnesses to a former
condition of things cease to discourage, and actually become an
incitement more effective than bulkier relics might impart. The delicacy
of suggestion lends a zest to your dream; and the sober streets open out
before you into vistas of austere reminiscence. The first night that I
passed in Salem, I heard a church-bell ringing loudly, and asked what it
was. It was the nine-o'clock bell; and it had been appointed to ring
thus every night, a hundred years ago or more. How it reverberated
through my mind, till every brain-cell seemed like the empty chamber of
a vanished year! Then, in the room where I slept, there was rich and
ponderous furniture of the fashion of eld; the bed was draped and
canopied with hangings that seemed full of spells and dreamery; and
there was a mirror, tall, and swung between stately mahogany posts
spreading their feet out on the floor, which recalled that fancy of
Hawthorne's, in the tale of "Old Esther Dudley," [Footnote: See also
American Note-Books, Vol. I.; and the first chapter of The House of the
Seven Gables.] about perished dames and grandees made to sweep in
procession through "the inner world" of a glass. Such small matters as
these engage the fancy, and lead it back through a systematic review of
local history with unlooked-for nimbleness. Gradually the mind gets to
roving among scenes imaged as if by memory, and bearing some strangely
intimate relation to the actual scenes before one. The drift of clouds,
the sifting of sudden light from the sky, acquire the import of historic
changes of adversity and prosperity. The spires of Salem, seen one day
through a semi-shrouding rain, appeared to loom up through the mist of
centuries; and the real antiquity of sunlight shone out upon me, at
other times, with cunning quietude, from the weather-worn wood of old,
unpainted houses. Every hour was full of yesterdays. Something of
primitive strangeness and adventure seemed to settle into my mood, and
the air teemed with anticipation of a startling event; as if the deeds
of the past were continually on the eve of returning. With all this,
too, a certain gray shadow of unreality stole over everything.

Then one becomes aware that this frame of mind, produced by actual
contact with Salem, is subtly akin to the mood from which so many of
Hawthorne's visions were projected. A flickering semblance, perhaps, of
what to him must have been a constant though subdued and dreamy flame
summoning him to potent incantation over the abyss of time; but from
this it was easy to conceive it deepened and intensified in him a
hundred-fold. Moreover, in his youth and growing-time, the influence
itself was stronger, the suggestive aspect of the town more salient. If
you read even now, on the ground itself, the story of the settlement and
the first century's life of Salem and the surrounding places, a delicate
suffusion of the marvellous will insensibly steal over the severe facts
of the record, giving them a half-legendary color. This arises partly
from the imaginative and symbolic way of looking at things of the
founders themselves.

John White, the English Puritan divine, who, with the "Dorchester
Adventurers," established the first colony at Cape Ann, was moved to
this by the wish to establish in Massachusetts Bay a resting-place for
the fishermen who came over from Dorchester in England, so that they
might be kept under religious influences. This was the origin of Salem;
for the emigrants moved, three years later, to this spot, then called
Naumkeag. In the Indian name they afterward found a proof, as they
supposed, that the Indians were an offshoot of the Jews, because it
"proves to be perfect Hebrew, being called Nahum Keike; by
interpretation, the bosom of consolation." Later, they named it Salem,
"for the peace," as Cotton Mather says, "which they had and hoped in
it"; and when Hugh Peters on one occasion preached at Great Pond, now
Wenham, he took as his text, "At Enon, near to Salim, because there was
much water there." This playing with names is a mere surface indication
of the ever-present scriptural analogy which these men were constantly
tracing in all their acts. Cut off by their intellectual asceticism from
any exertion of the imagination in literature, and denying themselves
all that side of life which at once develops and rhythmically restrains
the sense of earthly beauty, they compensated themselves by running
parallels between their own mission and that of the apostles,--a
likeness which was interchangeable at pleasure with the fancied
resemblance of their condition to that of the Israelites. When one
considers the remoteness of the field from their native shores, the
enormous energy needful to collect the proper elements for a population,
and to provide artificers with the means of work; the almost impassable
wildness of the woods; the repeated leagues of hostile Indians; the
depletions by sickness; and the internal dissensions with which they had
to struggle,--one cannot wonder that they invested their own unsurpassed
fortitude, and their genius for government and war, with the quality of
a special Providence. But their faith was inwoven in the most singular
way with a treacherous strand of credulity and superstition. Sometimes
one is impressed with a sense that the prodigious force by which they
subdued the knotty and forest-fettered land, and overcame so many other
more dangerous difficulties, was the ecstasy of men made morbidly strong
by excessive gloom and indifference to the present life. "When we are in
our graves," wrote Higginson, "it will be all one whether we have lived
in plenty or penury, whether we have died in a bed of downe or lockes of
straw." And Hawthorne speaks of the Puritan temperament as
"accomplishing so much, precisely because it imagined and hoped so
little." Yet, though they were not, as Winthrop says, "of those that
dreame of perfection in this world," they surely had vast hopes at
heart, and the fire of repressed imagination played around them and
before them as a vital and guiding gleam, of untold value to them, and
using a mysterious power in their affairs. They were something morbid in
their imaginings, but that this morbid habit was a chief source of their
power is a mistaken theory. It is true that their errors of imagination
were so closely knit up with real insight, that they could not
themselves distinguish between the two. Their religious faith, their
outlook into another life, though tinged by unhealthy terrorism, was a
solid, energetic act of imagination; but when it had to deal with
intricate tangles of mind and heart, it became credulity. That lurking
unhealthiness spread from the centre, and soon overcame their judgment
entirely. The bodeful glare of the witchcraft delusion makes this
fearfully clear. Mr. Upham, in his "Salem Witchcraft,"--one of the most
vigorous, true, and thorough of American histories, without which no one
can possess himself of the subject it treats,--has shown conclusively
the admirable character of the community in which that delusion broke
out, its energy, common-sense, and varied activity; but he points out
for us also the perilous state of the Puritan imagination in a matter
where religion, physiology, and affairs touched each other so closely as
in the witchcraft episode. The persecution at Salem did not come from
such deep degeneration as has been assumed for its source, and it was
not at the time at all a result of uncommon bigotry. In the persecution
in England in 1645-46, Matthew Hopkins, the "witch-finder-general,"
procured the death, "in one year and in one county, of more than three
times as many as suffered in Salem during the whole delusion"; several
persons were tried by water ordeal, and drowned, in Suffolk, Essex, and
Cambridgeshire, at the same time with the Salem executions; and capital
punishments took place there some years after the end of the trouble
here. It is well known, also, that persons were put to death for
witchcraft in two other American colonies. The excess in Salem was
heightened by a well-planned imposture, but found quick sustenance
because "the imagination, called necessarily into extraordinary action
in the absence of scientific certainty, was ... exercised in vain
attempts to discover, unassisted by observation and experiment, the
elements and first principles of nature," [Footnote: Upham, I. 382] and
"had reached a monstrous growth," nourished by a copious literature of
magic and demonology, and by the opinions of the most eminent and humane
preachers and poets.

The imagination which makes beauty out of evil, and that which
accumulates from it the utmost intensity of terror, are well exemplified
in Milton and Bunyan. Doubtless Milton's richly cultured faith, clothed
in lustrous language as in princely silks that overhang his chain-mail
of ample learning and argument, was as intense as the unlettered belief
of Bunyan; and perhaps he shared the prevalent opinions about
witchcraft; yet when he touches upon the superstitious element, the
material used is so transfused with the pictorial and poetic quality
which Milton has distilled from the common belief, and then poured into
this _image_ of the common belief, that I am not sure he cared for
any other quality in it.

  "Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, call'd
  In secret, riding through the air she comes,
  Lured by the smell of infant blood, to dance
  With Lapland witches, while the laboring moon
  Ellipses at their charms."

_Paradise Lost_, II. 662.

Again, in Comus:--

  "Some say, no evil thing that walks by night,
  Blue meagre hag, or stubborn, unlaid ghost
  That breaks his magic chains at curfew time,
  No goblin, or swart faery of the mine,
  Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity."

How near these passages come to Shakespere, where he touches the same
string! And is it not clear that both poets exulted so in the
_beauty_ born among dark, earthy depths of fear, that they would
have rejected any and every horror which failed to contribute something
to the beautiful? Indeed, it may easily be that such high spirits accept
awful traditions and cruel theologies, merely because they possess a
transmuting touch which gives these things a secret and relative value
not intrinsically theirs; because they find here something to satisfy an
inward demand for immense expansions of thought, a desire for all sorts
of proportioned and balanced extremes. This is no superficial
suggestion, though it may seem so. But in such cases it is not the
positive horror and its direct effect which attract the poet: a deeper
symbolism and an effect both aesthetic and moral recommend the element
to him. With Milton, however, there follows a curious result. He
produces his manufactured myth of Sin and Death and his ludicrous Limbo
of Vanity with a gravity and earnestness as convincing as those which
urge home any part of his theme; yet we are aware that he is only making
poetic pretence of belief; so that a certain distrust of his sincerity
throughout creeps in, as we read. How much, we ask, is allegory in the
poet's own estimation, and how much real belief? Now in Bunyan there is
nothing of this doubt. Though the author declares his narrative to be
the relation of a dream, the figment becomes absolute fact to us; and
the homely realism of Giant Despair gives him a firmer hold upon me as
an actual existence, than all the splendid characterization of Milton's
Beelzebub can gain. Even Apollyon is more real. Milton assumes the
historic air of the epic poet, Bunyan admits that he is giving an
allegory; yet of the two the humble recorder of Christian's progress
seems the more worthy of credit. Something of this effect is doubtless
due to art: the "Pilgrim's Progress" is more adequately couched in a
single and consistent strain than the "Paradise Lost." Milton, by
implying veracity and then vaporing off into allegory, challenges
dispute; but Bunyan, in humbly confessing himself a dreamer, disarms his
reader and traps him into entire assent. Certainly Bunyan was not the
greater artist: that supposition will not even bear a moment's
contemplation; but, as it happened, his weakness was his strength. He
had but one chance. His work would have been nothing without allegory,
and the simple device of the dream--which is the refuge of a man
unskilled in composition, who feels that his figures cannot quite stand
as self-sufficient entities--happens to be as valuable to him as it was
necessary; for the plea of unreality brings out, in the strong light of
surprise, a contrast between the sincere substance of the story and its
assumed insubstantiality. Milton had many chances, many resources of
power to rely on; but by grasping boldly at the effect of authenticity
he loses that one among the several prizes within his reach. I do not
know that I am right, but all this seems to me to argue a certain
dividing and weakening influence exerted by the imagination which uses
religious or superstitious dread for the purposes of beauty; while that
which discourses confidently of the passage from this to another life,
with all the several stages clearly marked, and floods the whole scene
with a vivid and inartificial light from "the powers and terrors of what
is yet unseen," affects the mind with every atom of energy economized
and concentred.

Leaving the literary question, we may bring this conclusion to bear upon
the Puritans and Salem, as their history affected Hawthorne. I have said
that a gradual suffusion of the marvellous overspreads the comparatively
arid annals of the town, if one reviews them amid the proper influences;
and I have touched upon the two phases of imagination which, playing
over the facts, give them this atmosphere. Now if what I guess from the
contrast between Milton and Bunyan be true, the lower kind of
imagination--that is, imagination deformed to credulity--would be likely
to be the more impressive. This uncanny quality of superstition, then,
is the one which insensibly exudes from the pages of New England's and
perhaps especially of Salem's colonial history, as Hawthorne turns them.
This is the dank effluence that, mingling with the sweeter and freer air
of his own reveries, has made so many people shudder on entering the
great romancer's shadowy but serene domain.

And just here it is advisable to triangulate our ground, by bringing
Milton, Bunyan, and Hawthorne together in a simultaneous view. Wide
apart as the first two stand, they seem to effect a kind of union in
this modern genius; or, rather, their influence here conjoins, as the
rays from two far-separated stars meet in the eye of him who watches the
heavens for inspiration. Something of the peculiar virtue of each of
these Puritan writers seems to have given tone to Hawthorne's no less
individual nature. In Bunyan, who very early laid his hand on
Hawthorne's intellectual history, we find a very fountain-head of
allegory. His impulse, of course, was supremely didactic, only so much
of mere narrative interest mixing itself with his work as was
inseparable from his native relish for the matter of fact; while in
Milton's poetry the clear aesthetic pleasure held at least an exact
balance with the moral inspiration, and, as we have just seen, perhaps
outweighed it at times. The same powerful, unrelaxing grasp of allegory
is found in the American genius as in Bunyan, and there likewise comes
to light in his mind the same delight in art for art's sake that added
such a grace to Milton's sinewy and large-limbed port. In special cases
the allegorical motive has distinctly got the upper hand, in Hawthorne's
work; yet even in those the artistic integument, that marvellous verbal
style, those exquisite fancies, are not absent: on the contrary, in the
very instances where Hawthorne has most constantly and clearly held to
the illustration of a single idea, and made his fiction fit itself most
absolutely to the jewelled truth it holds,--in these very causes, I say,
the command of his genius over literary resources is generally shown by
an unusual splendor of means applied to the ideal end in view. It is
here that, while resembling Bunyan, he is so unlike him. But more
commonly we find in Hawthorne the two moods, the ethical and the
aesthetic, exerted in full force simultaneously; and the result seems to
be a perfection of unity. The opposing forces, like centripetal and
centrifugal attractions, produce a finished sphere. And in this, again,
though recalling Milton, he differs from him also. In Milton's epic the
tendency is to alternate these moods; and one works against the other.
In short, the two elder writers undergo a good deal of refinement and
proportioning, before mixing their qualities in Hawthorne's veins.
However great a controversialist Milton may be held, too, the very fact
of his engaging in the particular discussions and in the manner he
chose, while never to be deplored, may have something to do with the
want of fusion of the different qualities present in his poetry. We may
say, and doubtless it is so, that Hawthorne could never have written
such magnificent pamphlets as the "Eikonoklastes," the "Apology," the
"Tetrachordon": I grant that his refinement, though bringing him
something which Milton did not have, has cost him something else which
Milton possessed. But, for all that, the more deep-lying and inclusive
truths which he constantly entertained, and which barred him from the
temporary exertion of controversy, formed the sources of his completer
harmony. There is a kind of analogy, too, between the omnipresence of
Milton in his work, and that of Hawthorne in his. The great Puritan
singer cannot create persons: his Satan is Milton himself in
singing-robes, assuming for mere argument's and epic's sake that side of
a debate which he does not believe, yet carrying it out in the most
masterly way; his angels and archangels are discriminated, but still
they are not divested of his informing quality; and "Comus" and "Samson
Agonistes," howsoever diverse, are illustrations of the athletic prime
and the autumnal strength of the poet himself, rather than anywise
dramatic evolutions of his themes. Bunyan, with much less faculty for
any subtle discrimination of characters, also fails to give his persons
individuality, though they stand very distinctly for a variety of
traits: it is with Bunyan as if he had taken an average human being,
and, separating his impulses, good and evil, had tried to make a new man
or woman out of each; so that there is hardly life-blood enough to go
round among them. Milton's creatures are in a certain way more vital,
though less real. Bunyan's characters being traits, the other's are
moods. Yet both groups seem to have been cast in a large, elemental
mould. Now, Hawthorne is vastly more an adept than either Milton or
Bunyan in keeping the creatures of his spirit separate, while
maintaining amongst them the bond of a common nature; but besides this
bond they are joined by another, by something which continually brings
us back to the author himself. It is like a family resemblance between
widely separated relatives, which suggests in the most opposite quarters
the original type of feature of some strong, far-back progenitor. These
characters, with far more vivid presence and clear definition than those
of the other two writers, are at the same time based on large and
elementary forces, like theirs. They are for the most part embodied
moods, or emotions expanded to the stature of an entire human being, and
made to endure unchanged for years together. Thus, while Hawthorne, as
we shall see more fully further on, is essentially a dramatic genius,
Bunyan a simple allegorist, and Milton an odic poet of unparalleled
strength,--who, taking dramatic and epic subjects and failing to fill
them, makes us blame not _his_ size and shape, but the too minute
intricacies of the theme,--there is still a sort of underground
connection between all three. It is curious to note, further, the
relation of Milton's majestic and multitudinous speech, the
chancellor-like stateliness of his wit, in prose, to Hawthorne's
resonant periods, and dignity that is never weakened though admirably
modified by humor. Altogether, if one could compound Bunyan and Milton,
combine the realistic imagination of the one with the other's passion
for ideas, pour the ebullient undulating prose style of the poet into
the veins of the allegorist's firm, leather-jerkined English, and make a
modern man and author of the whole, the result would not be alien to
Hawthorne.

Yet that native love of historic murkiness and mossy tradition which we
have been learning to associate with Salem would have to be present in
this compound being, to make the likeness complete. And this, with the
trains of revery and the cast of imagination which it must naturally
breed, would be the one thing not easily supplied, for it is the
predisposition which gives to all encircling qualities in Hawthorne
their peculiar coloring and charm. That predisposition did not find its
sustenance only in the atmosphere of sadness and mystery that hangs over
the story of Salem; bygone generations have left in the town a whole
legacy of legend and shudder-rousing passages of family tradition, with
many well-supported tales of supernatural hauntings; and it is worth
while to notice how frequent and forcible a use Hawthorne makes of this
enginery of local gossip and traditional horror, in preparing the way
for some catastrophe that is to come, or in overshooting the mark with
some exaggerated rumor which, by pretending to disbelieve it, he causes
to have just the right effect upon the reader's mind. Some of the old
houses that stand endwise to the street, looking askant at the
passer,--especially if he is a stranger in town,--might be veritable
treasuries of this sort of material. Gray, close-shuttered, and
retiring, they have not so much the look of death; it is more that they
are poor, widowed homes that have mournfully long outlived their lords.
One would not have them perish; and yet there is something drearily sad
about them. One almost feels that the present tenants must be in danger
of being crowded out by ghosts, or at least that they must encounter
strange obstacles to living there. Are not their windows darkened by the
light of other days? An old mansion of brick or stone has more character
of its own, and is less easily overshadowed by its own antiquity; but
these impressible wooden abiding-places, that have managed to cling to
the soil through so many generations, seem rife with the inspirations of
mortality. They have a depressing influence, and must often mould the
occupants and leave a peculiar impress on them. We are all odd enough in
our way, whatever our origin or habitation; but is it not possible that
in a town of given size, placed under specified conditions, there should
be a greater proportion of oddities produced than in another differently
circumstanced? Certainly, if this be so, it has its advantages as well
as its drawbacks; a stability of surrounding and of association, which
perhaps affects individuals in the extreme, is still a source of
continuity in town character. And Salem is certainly remarkable for
strong, persistent, and yet unexhausted individuality, as a town, no
less than for a peculiar dignity of character which has become a
pronounced trait in many of its children. But, on the other hand, it is
fecund of eccentricities. Though many absorb the atmosphere of age to
their great advantage, there must be other temperaments among the
descendants of so unique and so impressionable a body of men as the
early settlers of this region, which would succumb to the awesome and
depressing influences that also lurk in the air; and these may easily
pass from piquant personality into mere errant grotesqueness. Whether
from instinctive recognition of this or not, it has never seemed to me
remarkable that people here should see apparitions of themselves, and
die within the year; it did not strike me as strange when I was told of
persons who had gone mad with no other cause than that of inherited
insanity,--as if, having tried every species of sane activity for two or
three hundred years, a family should take to madness from sheer disgust
with the monotony of being healthy; nor could any case of warped
idiosyncrasy, or any account of half-maniacal genius be instanced that
seemed at all out of keeping. One day I passed a house where a crazy
man, of harmless temper, habitually amused himself with sitting at a
window near the ground, and entering into talk, from between the
half-closed shutters, with any one on the sidewalk who would listen to
him. Such a thing, to be sure, might easily be met with in twenty other
places; but here it seemed natural and fitting. It was not a
preposterous thought, that any number of other men in the neighborhood
might quietly drop into a similar vein of decrepitude, and also attempt
to palm off their disjointed fancies upon the orderly foot-passengers. I
do not by this mean to insinuate any excessive leaning toward mental
derangement on the part of the inhabitants; but it is as if the town,
having lived long enough according to ordinary rules to be justified in
sinking into superannuation, and yet not availing itself of the
privilege, but on the contrary maintaining a life of great activity, had
compensated itself in the persons of a few individuals. But when one has
reached this mood, one remembers that it is all embodied in "The House
of the Seven Gables." Though Hawthorne, in the Preface to that romance,
takes precautions against injuring local sentiment, by the assurance
that he has not meant "to describe local manners, nor in any way to
meddle with the characteristics of a community for whom he cherishes a
proper respect and a natural regard," the book is not the less a genuine
outgrowth of Salem. Perhaps the aspect under which Salem presents itself
to me is tinged with fancy, though Hawthorne in the same story has
called it "a town noted for its frugal, discreet, well-ordered, and
home-loving inhabitants, ... but in which, be it said, there are odder
individuals, and now and then stranger occurrences, than one meets with
almost anywhere else." But it is certain that poor Hepzibah Pyncheon,
and the pathetic Clifford, and quaint Uncle Venner, are types which
inevitably present themselves as belonging pre-eminently to this place.
Not less subtle is the connection with it of the old wizard Maule, and
the manner of his death at the witchcraft epoch; for it is hinted in the
romance that old Colonel Pyncheon joined in denouncing the poor man,
urged by designs on a piece of land owned by Maule; and Mr. Upham's
careful research has shown that various private piques were undoubtedly
mixed up in the witchcraft excitement, and swelled the list of
accusations. Young Holgrave, the photographer, also, represents in a
characteristic way the young life of the place, the germ that keeps it
fresh, and even dreams at times of throwing off entirely the visible
remains of the past.

It may be mentioned, at this point, as a coincidence, even if not
showing how Hawthorne insensibly drew together from a hundred nooks and
crannies, and formulated and embodied his impressions of this his native
place in "The House of the Seven Gables," that the name of Thomas Maule
(the builder of the house, and son of the Matthew brought to his death
by Colonel Pyncheon) appears in Felt's "Annals of Salem" as that of a
sympathizer with the Quakers. He was also author of a book called "Truth
Held Forth," published in 1695; and of a later one, the title of which,
"The Mauler Mauled," shows that he had humor in him as well as pluck. He
seems to have led a long career of independent opinion, not altogether
in comfort, however, for in 1669 he was ordered to be whipped for saying
that Mr. Higginson preached lies, and that his instruction was "the
doctrine of devils"; and his book of "Truth Held Forth," which contained
severe reflections on the government for its treatment of the Quakers,
was seized and suppressed. It is not improbable that at some time
Hawthorne may have read of this person. At all events, he serves as a
plausible suggestion of the Maule who so early in the romance utters his
prophecy of ill against Colonel Pyncheon, that he "shall have blood to
drink."

Another minor coincidence, and yet proper to be noted, is that of the
laboring-man Dixey, who appears in the opening of the story with some
comments upon Aunt Hepzibah's scheme of the cent-shop, and only comes in
once afterward, at the close, to touch upon the subject in a different
strain. At first, unseen, but overheard by Miss Pyncheon, he prophesies
to a companion, "in a tone as if he were shaking his head," that the
cent-shop will fail; and when Clifford and Hepzibah drive off in their
carriage, at the end, he remarks sagaciously, "Good business,--good
business." It certainly is odd that this subordinate in the romance
should find a counterpart in one William Dixy, appointed ensign of the
Salem military company which John Hawthorne commanded, in 1645.

The name Pyncheon, also, on which the imaginary Colonel and Judge cast
such a doubtful light, was a well-known name in old New England, and
became the source of some annoyance to Hawthorne, after he had written
the "Seven Gables"; but of this we shall hear more, further on. It is
enough, now, to recall these coincidences. I do not suppose that he
searched the names out and founded his use of them upon some suggestion
already connected with them; indeed, he expressly declared, when
remonstrated with on his use of the Pyncheons, that he did not know of
any person of that title connected with Salem history of that time; but
the circumstance of his using the other names is interesting as showing
that many minute facts must have gone to make up the atmosphere of that
half-historic and half-imaginative area whereon so many of his short
tales and two of the romances were enacted. Maule and Dixey were very
likely absorbed into his mind and forgotten; but suddenly when he
chanced to need these characters for the "Seven Gables," they revived
and took shape with something of the historic impress still upon them.
That their very names should have been reproduced finds explanation in
the statement once made by Hawthorne to a friend, that the most
vexatious detail of romance-writing, to him, was the finding of suitable
names for the _dramatis personae._ Balzac used to look long among
the shop-signs of Paris for the precise name needed by a preconceived
character, and the absolute invention of such titles is doubtless very
rare; few fictionists are gifted with Dickens's fertility in the
discovering of names bearing the most forcible and occult relations to
the fleshless owners of them. And it is interesting to find that
Hawthorne--somewhat as Scott drew from the local repertory of his
countrymen's nomenclature--found many of his surnames among those of the
settlers of New England. Hooper, Prynne, Felton, Dolliver, Hunnewell,
and others belong specially to these and to their descendants. Roger
Chillingworth, by the by, recalls the celebrated English divine and
controversialist, William; and Bishop Miles Coverdale's name has been
transferred, in "Blithedale," from the reign of Edward VI. to the
experimental era of Brook Farm.

It has been urged as a singular deficiency of Hawthorne's, that he could
not glorify the moral strength and the sweeter qualities of the Puritans
and of their lives. But there was nothing in the direction of his genius
that called him to this. As well urge against him that he did not write
philanthropic pamphlets, or give himself to the inditing of biographies
of benevolent men, or compose fictions on the plan of Sir Charles
Grandison, devoted to the illumination of praiseworthy characters. It is
the same criticism which condemns Dickens for ridiculing certain
preachers, and neglecting to provide the antidote in form of a model
apostle, contrasted in the same book. This is the criticism which would
reduce all fiction to the pattern of the religious tract. Certain men
have certain things before them to do; they cannot devote a lifetime to
proving in their published works that they appreciate the excellence of
other things which they have no time and no supreme command to do.
Nothing, then, is more unsafe, than to imply from their silence that
they are deficient in particular phases of sympathy. The exposition of
the merits of the New England founders has been steadily in progress
from their own time to the present; and they have found a worthy
monument in the profound and detailed history of Palfrey. All the more
reason, why the only man yet born who could fill the darker spaces of
our early history with palpitating light of that wide-eyed truth and
eternal human consciousness which cast their deep blaze through
Hawthorne's books, should not forego his immortal privilege! The eulogy
is the least many-sided and perpetual of literary forms, and unless
Hawthorne had made himself the eulogist of the Puritans, he would still
have had to turn to our gaze the wrongs that, for good or ill, were
worked into the tissue of their infant state. But as it is, he has been
able to suggest a profounder view than is permitted either to the race
of historians or that of philosophers. It does not profess to be a
satisfactory statement of the whole, nor is there the least ground for
assuming that it does so. Its very absorption in certain phases
constitutes its value,--a value unspeakably greater than that of any
other presentation of the Puritan life, because it rests upon the
insight of a poet who has sounded the darkest depths of human nature.
Had Hawthorne passed mutely through life, these gloomy-grounded pictures
of Puritanism might have faded from the air like the spectres of things
seen in dazzling light, which flit vividly before the eye for a time,
then vanish forever.

But in order to his distinctive coloring, no distortion had to be
practised; and I do not see why Hawthorne should be reckoned to have had
no sight for that which he did not record. With his unique and
penetrating touch he marked certain salient and solemn features which
had sunk deep into his sensitive imagination, and then filled in the
surface with his own profound dramatic emanations. But in his subtle and
strong moral insight, his insatiable passion for truth, he surely
represented his Puritan ancestry in the most worthy and obviously
sympathetic way. No New-Englander, moreover, with any depth of feeling
in him, can be entirely wanting in reverence for the nobler traits of
his stern forefathers, or in some sort of love for the whole body of
which his own progenitors formed a group. Partly for his romantic
purposes, and merely as an expedient of art, Hawthorne chose to treat
this life at its most picturesque points; and to heighten the elements
of terror which he found there was an aesthetic obligation with him. But
there is even a subtler cause at work toward this end. The touches of
assumed repugnance toward his Puritan forefathers, which appear here and
there in his writings, are not only related to his ingrained shyness,
which would be cautious of betraying his deeper and truer sentiment
about them, but are the ensigns of a proper modesty in discoursing of
his own race, his own family, as it were. He shields an actual
veneration and a sort of personal attachment for those brave earlier
generations under a harmless pretence that he does not think at all too
tenderly of them. It is a device frequently and freely practised, and so
characteristically American, and especially Hawthornesque, that it
should not have been overlooked for even a moment. By these means, too,
he takes the attitude of admitting the ancestral errors, and throws
himself into an understanding with those who look at New England and the
Puritans merely from the outside. Here is a profound resort of art, to
prepare a better reception for what he is about to present, by not
seeming to insist on an open recognition from his readers of the
reigning dignity and the noble qualities in the Puritan colony, which he
himself, nevertheless, is always quietly conscious of. And in this way
he really secures a broader truth, while reserving the pride of locality
and race intact; a broader truth, because to the world at large the most
pronounced feature of the Puritans is their austerity.

But if other reason were wanted to account for his dwelling on the
shadows and severities of the Puritans so intently, it might be found in
his family history and its aspects to his brooding mind. His own
genealogy was the gate which most nearly conducted him into the still
and haunted fields of time which those brave but stern religious exiles
peopled.

The head of the American branch of the Hathorne, or Hawthorne family,
was Major William Hathorne, of Wigcastle, Wilton, Wiltshire, [Footnote:
This name appears in the American Note-Books (August 22, 1837) as
Wigcastle, Wigton. I cannot find any but the Scotch Wigton, and have
substituted the Wilton of Wiltshire as being more probable. Memorials of
the family exist in the adjoining county of Somerset. (_A. N. B._,
October, 1836.)] in England, a younger son, who came to America with
Winthrop and his company, by the Arbella, arriving in Salem Bay June 12,
1630. He probably went first to Dorchester, having grants of land there,
and was made a freeman about 1634, and representative, or one of "the
ten men," in 1635. Although a man of note, his name is not affixed to
the address sent by Governor Winthrop and several others from Yarmouth,
before sailing, to their brethren in the English Church; but this is
easily accounted for by the fact that Hathorne was a determined
Separatist, while the major part of his fellow-pilgrims still clung to
Episcopacy. In 1636, Salem tendered him grants of land if he would
remove hither, considering that "it was a public benefit that he should
become an inhabitant of that town." He removed accordingly, and, in
1638, he had additional lands granted to him "in consideration of his
many employments for towne and countrie." Some of these lands were
situated on a pleasant rising ground by the South River, then held to be
the most desirable part of the town; and a street running through that
portion bears the name of Hathorne to this day. In 1645, he petitioned
the General Court that he might be allowed, with others, to form a
"company of adventurers" for trading among the French; and in the same
year he was appointed captain of a military company, the first regular
troop organized in Salem to "advance the military art." From 1636 to
1643 he had been a representative of the people, from Dorchester and
Salem; and from 1662 to 1679 he filled the higher office of an
assistant. It was in 1667 that he was empowered to receive for the town
a tax of twenty pounds of powder per ton for every foreign vessel over
twenty tons trading to Salem and Marblehead, thus forestalling his
famous descendant in sitting at the receipt of customs. Besides these
various activities, he officiated frequently as an attorney at law; and
in the Indian campaign of 1676, in Maine, he left no doubt of his
efficiency as a military commander. He led a portion of the army of
twelve hundred men which the colony had raised, and in September of this
year he surprised four hundred Indians at Cocheco. Two hundred of these
"were found to have been perfidious," and were sent to Boston, to be
sold as slaves, after seven or eight had been put to death. A couple of
weeks later, Captain Hathorne sent a despatch: "We catched an Indian
Sagamore of Pegwackick and the gun of another; we found him in many
lies, and so ordered him to be put to death, and the Cocheco Indians to
be his executioners." There was some reason for this severity, for in
crossing a river the English had been ambuscaded by the savages. The
captain adds: "We have no bread these three days." This early ancestor
was always prominent. He had been one of a committee in 1661, who
reported concerning the "patent, laws, and privileges and duties to his
Majesty" of the colonists, opposing all appeals to the crown as
inconsistent with their charter, and maintained the right of their
government to defend itself against all attempts at overthrow. Two years
later he was charged by Charles's commissioners with seditious words,
and apologized for certain "unadvised" expressions; but the committee of
1661 reported at a critical time, and it needed a good deal of
stout-heartedness to make the declarations which it did; and on the
whole William Hathorne may stand as a sturdy member of the community. He
is perhaps the only man of the time who has left a special reputation
for eloquence. Eliot speaks of him as "the most eloquent man of the
Assembly, a friend of Winthrop, but often opposed to Endicott, who
glided with the popular stream; as reputable for his piety as for his
political integrity." And Johnson, in his "Wonder-Working Providence,"
naming the chief props of the state, says: "Yet through the Lord's mercy
we still retain among our Democracy the godly Captaine William Hathorn,
whom the Lord hath indued with a quick apprehension, strong memory, and
Rhetorick, volubility of speech, which hath caused the people to make
use of him often in Publick Service, especially when they have had to do
with any foreign government." It is instructive to find what ground he
took during the Quaker persecutions of 1657 to 1662. Endicott was a
forward figure in that long-sustained horror; and if Hathorne naturally
gravitated to the other extreme from Endicott, he would be likely, one
supposes, to have sympathized with the persecuted. The state was divided
in sentiment during those years; but James Cudworth wrote that "he that
will not whip and lash, persecute, and punish men that differ in matters
of religion, must not sit on the bench nor sustain any office in the
commonwealth." Cudworth himself was deposed; and it happens that
Hathorne's terms of service, as recorded, seem at first to leave a gap
barely wide enough to include this troublesome period. But, in fact, he
resumed power as a magistrate just in time to add at least one to the
copious list of bloody and distinguishing atrocities that so disfigure
New England history.

Sewel relates [Footnote: History of the Quakers, I. 411, 412.] that
"Anne Coleman and four of her friends were whipped through Salem,
Boston, and Dedham by order of Wm. Hawthorn, who before he was a
magistrate had opposed compulsion for conscience; and when under the
government of Cromwell it was proposed to make a law that none shall
preach without license, he publicly said at Salem that if ever such a
law took place in New England he should look upon it as one of the most
abominable actions that were ever committed there, and that it would be
as eminent a Token of God's having forsaken New England, as any could
be." His famous descendant, alluding to this passage, [Footnote: See
"The Custom House," introductory to "The Scarlet Letter."] says that the
account of this incident "will last longer, it is to be feared, than any
record of his better deeds, though these were many." Yet it should not
be overlooked that Hathorne is the only one among the New England
persecutors whom Sewel presents to us with any qualifying remark as to a
previous more humane temper. Sole, too, in escaping the doom of sudden
death which the historian solemnly records in the cases of the rest. So
that even if we had not the eminent example of Marcus Aurelius and Sir
Thomas More, we might still infer from this that it is no less possible
for the man of enlightened ability and culture, than for the ignorant
bigot, to find himself, almost of necessity, a chief instrument of
religious coercion. Doubtless this energetic Puritan denouncer of
persecution never conceived of a fanaticism like that of the Friends,
which should so systematically outrage all his deepest sense of decency,
order, and piety, and--not content with banishment--should lead its
subjects to return and force their deaths, as it were, on the
commonwealth; as if a neighbor, under some mistaken zeal, were to
repeatedly mix poison with our porridge, until his arrest and death
should seem our only defence against murder. Perhaps he was even on the
dissenting side, for a time, though there is no record of his saying,
like one Edward Wharton of Salem, that the blood of the Quakers was too
heavy upon him, and he could not bear it. Wharton received twenty lashes
for his sensitiveness, and was fined twenty pounds, and subjected to
more torture afterward. But, whatever Hathorne's first feeling, after
five years of disturbance, exasperation was added to the responsibility
of taking office, and he persecuted. It is easy to see his various
justifications, now; yet one cannot wonder that his descendant was
oppressed by the act. That he was so cannot be regretted, if only
because of the authentic fact that his reading of Sewel inspired one of
his most exquisite tales, "The Gentle Boy."

William Hathorne, however,--whatever his taste in persecution,--makes
his will peacefully and piously in 1679-80: "_Imprimis_, I give my
soul into the hands of Jesus Christ, in whom I hope to bind forevermore
my body to the earth in hope of a glorious resurrection with him, whom
this vile body shall be made like unto his glorious body; and for the
estate God hath given me in this world.... I do dispose of as
followeth." Then he bequeaths various sums of money to divers persons,
followed by "all my housing and land, orchard and appurtenances lying in
Salem," to his son John. Among other items, there is one devising his
"farm at Groton" to "Gervice Holwyse my gr. ch. [grandchild] if he can
come over and enjoy it." Here, by the way, is another bit of coincidence
for the curious. _Gervase Helwyse_ is the name of the young man who
appears in "Lady Eleanor's Mantle," [Footnote: Twice-Told Tales, Vol.
II.] bereft of reason by his love for the proud and fatal heroine of
that tale. [Footnote: In the English Note-Books, May 20, 1854, will be
found some facts connected with this name, unearthed by Mr. Hawthorne
himself. He there tells of the marriage of one _Gervase Elwes_, son
of Sir Gervase Elwes, Baronet of Stoke, in Suffolk. This Gervase died
before his father; his son died without issue; and thus John Maggott
Twining, grandson of the second Gervase through a daughter, came into
the baronetcy. This Twining assumed the name of Elwes. "He was the
famous miser, and must have had Hawthorne blood in him," says Mr.
Hawthorne, "through his grandfather Gervase, whose mother was a
Hawthorne." He then refers to William's devise, and says: "My ancestor
calls him his _nephew_." The will says, "gr. ch."; and I suppose
the mistake occurred through Mr. Hawthorne's not having that document at
hand, for reference.] Captain Hathorne must have been well advanced in
years when he led his troops against the Indians at Cocheco in 1676; for
it was only five years later that he disappeared from history and from
this life forever.

His son John inherited, together with housing and land, a good deal of
the first Hathorne's various energy and eminence. He was a freeman in
1677, representative from 1683 to 1686, and assistant or counsellor,
from 1684 to 1712, except the years of Andros's government. After the
deposition of Andros, he was called to join Bradstreet's Council of
Safety pending the accession of William of Orange; a magistrate for some
years; quartermaster of the Essex companies at first, and afterward, in
1696, the commander of Church's troops, whom he led against St. John. He
attacked the enemy's fort there, but, finding his force too weak, drew
off, and embarked for Boston. As his father's captaincy had somehow
developed into the dignity of major, so John found himself a colonel in
1711. But in 1717 he, too, died. And now there came a change in the
fortunes of the Hathorne line. Colonel John, during his magistracy, had
presided at the witchcraft trials, and had shown himself severe,
bigoted, and unrelenting in his spirit toward the accused persons.
Something of this may be seen in Upham's volumes. One woman was brought
before him, whose husband has left a pathetic record of her suffering.
"She was forced to stand with her arms stretched out. I requested that I
might hold one of her hands, but it was declined me; then she desired me
to wipe the tears from her eyes, and the sweat from her face, which I
did; then she desired that she might lean herself on me, saying she
should faint. Justice Hathorne replied she had strength enough to
torment these persons, and she should have strength enough to stand. I
repeating something against their cruel proceedings, they commanded me
to be silent, or else I should be turned out of the room." [Footnote:
Chandler's American Criminal Trials, I. p. 85.] It is not strange that
this husband should have exclaimed, that God would take revenge upon his
wife's persecutors; and perhaps he was the very man whose curse was said
to have fallen upon the justice's posterity.

From this time, at all events, the family lost its commanding position
in Salem affairs. Justice Hathorne's son Joseph subsided into the quiet
of farm-life. The only notable association with his name is, that he
married Sarah Bowditch, a sister of the grandfather of the distinguished
mathematician, Nathaniel Bowditch. But it is in the beginning of the
eighteenth century that the Hathornes begin to appear as mariners. In
the very year of the justice's death, one Captain Ebenezer Hathorne
earned the gloomy celebrity attendant on bringing small-pox to Salem, in
his brig just arrived from the Barbadoes. Possibly, Justice John may
have died from this very infection; and if so, the curse would seem to
have worked with a peculiarly malign appropriateness, by making a member
of his own family the unwilling instrument of his end. By and by a
Captain Benjamin Hathorne is cast away and drowned on the coast, with
four other men. Perhaps it was his son, another Benjamin, who, in 1782,
being one of the crew of an American privateer, "The Chase," captured by
the British, escaped from a prison-ship in the harbor of Charleston, S.
C., with six comrades, one of whom was drowned. Thus, gradually,
originated the traditional career of the men of this family,--"a
gray-headed shipmaster in each generation," as the often-quoted passage
puts it, "retiring from the quarter-deck to the homestead, while a boy
of fourteen took the hereditary place before the mast." But the most
eminent among these hardy skippers is Daniel, the son of farmer Joseph,
and grandfather of the author.

Daniel Hathorne lived to be eighty-five, and expired only on April 18,
1796, eight years and a little more before his famous grandson came into
the world. Something of the old prowess revived in him, and being a
stout seafarer, and by inheritance a lover of independence, he became
commander of a privateer during our Revolution; indeed, it is said he
commanded several. His guns have made no great noise in history, but
their reverberation has left in the air a general tradition of his
bravery. The only actual account of his achievements which I have met
with is the following ballad, written by the surgeon of his ship, who
was perhaps better able than any one else to gauge the valor of his
countryman and commander, by the amount of bloodshed on his piratical
craft:--

BRIG "FAIR AMERICAN": DANIEL HATHORNE, COMMANDER.

  The twenty-second of August, before the close of day,
  All hands on board our privateer, we got her under weigh.
  We kept the Eastern shore on board for forty leagues or more,
  When our departure took for sea, from the Isle of Monhegan
  shore.

  Bold Hathorne was commander, a man of real worth,
  Old England's cruel tyranny induced him to go forth;
  She with relentless fury was plundering all the coast,
  And thought because her strength was great, our glorious cause
  was lost.

  Now farewell to America,--farewell our friends and wives,
  We trust in Heaven's peculiar care, for to protect their lives,
  To prosper our intended cruise upon the raging main,
  And to preserve our dearest friends till we return again.

  The wind it being leading and bore us on our way,
  As far unto the Eastward as the Gulf of Florida,
  When we fell in with a British ship hound homeward from the main;
  We gave her two bow-chasers, and she returned the same.

  We hauled up our courses and prepared for fight;
  The contest held four glasses,[*] until the dusk of night;
  Then having sprung our mainmast, and had so large a sea,
  We dropped astern, and left our chase till the returning day.

[* The time consumed in the emptying of a half-hour glass four
times,--two hours.]

  Next day we fished our mainmast, the ship still being nigh,
  All hands was for engaging, our chance once more to try;
  But wind and sea being boisterous, our cannon would not bear;
  We thought it quite imprudent, and so we left her there.

  We cruised to the Eastward, near the coast of Portuigale:
  In longitude of twenty-seven we saw a lofty sail.
  We gave her chase, and soon perceived she was a British scow
  Standing for fair America with troops for General Howe.

  Our captain did inspect her with glasses, and he said:--
  "My boys, she means to fight us, but be you not afraid;
  All hands repair to quarters, see everything is clear;
  We'll give him a broadside, my boys, as soon as she comes near."

  She was prepared with nettings, and her men were well secured,
  And bore directly for us, and put us close on board,
  When the cannons roared like thunder, and the muskets fired amain;
  But soon we were alongside, and grappled to her chain.

  And now the scene is altered,--the cannon ceased to roar;
  We fought with swords and boarding-pikes one glass and something more;
  The British pride and glory no longer dared to stay,
  But cut the Yankee grappling, and quickly bore away.

  Our case was not so desperate, as plainly might appear,
  Yet sudden death did enter on board our privateer;
  Mahany, Clew, and Clemmans, the valiant and the brave,
  Fell glorious in the contest, and met a watery grave!

  Ten other men were wounded, among our warlike crew,
  With them our noble captain, to whom all praise is due.
  To him and all our officers let's give a hearty cheer!
  Success to fair America and our good privateer!

This ballad is as long as the cruise, and the rhythm of it seems to show
that the writer had not quite got his sea-legs on, in boarding the
poetic craft. Especially is he to be commiserated on that unhappy
necessity to which the length of the verse compels him, of keeping "the
Eastern shore on board for forty leagues," in the first stanza; but it
was due to its historic and associative value to give it entire.

Perhaps, after all, it was a shrewd insight that caused the Hathornes to
take to the sea. Salem's greatest glory was destined for a term to lie
in that direction. Many of these old New England seaports have
magnificent recollections of a commercial grandeur hardly to be guessed
from their aspect to-day. Castine, Portsmouth, Wiscasset, Newburyport,
and the rest,--they controlled the carrying of vast regions, and
fortune's wheel whirled amid their wharves and warehouses with a merry
and reassuring sound. Each town had its special trade, and kept the
monopoly. Portsmouth and Newburyport ruled the trade with Martinique,
Guadaloupe, and Porto Rico, sending out fish and bringing back sugar;
Gloucester bargained with the West Indies for rum, and brought coffee
and dye-stuffs from Surinam; Marblehead had the Bilboa business; and
Salem, most opulent of all, usurped the Sumatra, African, East Indian,
Brazilian, and Cayenne commerce. By these new avenues over the ocean
many men brought home wealth that literally made princes of them, and
has left permanent traces in the solid and stately homes they built,
still crowded with precious heirlooms, as well as in the refinement
nurtured therein, and the thrifty yet generous character they gave to
the town. Among these successful merchants was Simon Forrester, who
married Nathaniel Hawthorne's great-aunt Rachel, and died in 1817,
leaving an immense property. Him Hawthorne speaks of in "The Custom
House"; alluding to "old King Derby, old Billy Gray, old Simon
Forrester, and many another magnate of his day; whose powdered head,
however, was scarcely in the tomb, before his mountain-pile of wealth
began to dwindle." But Nathaniel's family neither helped to undermine
the heap, nor accumulated a rival one. However good the forecast that
his immediate ancestors had made, as to the quickest and broadest road
to wealth, they travelled long in the wake of success without ever
winning it, themselves. The malediction that fell on Justice Hathorne's
head might with some reason have been thought to still hang over his
race, as Hawthorne suggests that its "dreary and unprosperous condition
... for many a long year back" would show. Indeed, the tradition of such
a curse was kept alive in his family, and perhaps it had its share in
developing that sadness and reticence which seem to have belonged to his
father.

It is plain from these circumstances how the idea of "The House of the
Seven Gables" evolved itself from the history of his own family, with
important differences. The person who is cursed, in the romance, uses a
special spite toward a single victim, in order to get hold of a property
which he bequeaths to his own heirs. Thus a double and treble wrong is
done, and the notion of a curse working upon successive generations is
subordinate to the conception of the injury which a man entails to his
own descendants by forcing on them a stately house founded upon a sin.
The parallel of the Hathorne decline in fortune is carried out; but it
must be observed that the peculiar separateness and shyness, which
doubtless came to be in some degree a trait of all the Hathornes, is
transferred in the book from the family of the accursed to that of
Maule, the utterer of the evil prophecy. "As for Matthew Maule's
posterity," says the romancer, "to all appearance they were a quiet,
honest, well-meaning race of people"; but "they were generally
poverty-stricken; always plebeian and obscure; working with unsuccessful
diligence at handicrafts; laboring on the wharves, or following the sea
as sailors before the mast"; and "so long as any of the race were to be
found, they had been marked out from other men--not strikingly, nor as
with a sharp line, but with an effect that was felt, rather than spoken
of--by an hereditary character of reserve. Their companions, or those
who endeavored to become such, grew conscious of a circle round about
the Maules, within the sanctity or the spell of which, in spite of an
exterior of sufficient frankness and good-fellowship, it was impossible
for any man to step." The points of resemblance here may be easily
distinguished. In the "American Note-Books" occurs an anecdote which
recalls the climax of the romance. It concerns Philip English, who had
been tried for witchcraft by John Hathorne, and became his bitter enemy.
On his death-bed, he consented to forgive him; "But if I get well," said
he, "I'll be damned if I forgive him!" One of English's daughters (he
had no sons) afterward married a son of John Hathorne. How masterly is
the touch of the artist's crayon in this imaginative creation, based
upon the mental and moral anatomy of actual beings! It is a delicate
study of the true creative art to follow out this romantic shape, and
contrast it with the real creatures and incidents to which it has a sort
of likeness. With perfect choice, the artist selects, probably not
consciously, but through association, whatever he likes from the real,
and deviates from it precisely where he feels this to be fitting; adds a
trait here, and transfers another there; and thus completes something
having a unity and inspiration of its own, neither a simple reproduction
nor an unmixed invention, the most subtile and harmonious product of the
creative power. It is in this way that "The House of the Seven Gables"
comes to be not merely fancifully a romance typical of Salem, but in the
most essentially true way representative of it. Surely no one could have
better right to thus embody the characteristics of the town than
Hawthorne, whose early ancestors had helped to magnify it and defend it,
and whose nearer progenitors had in their fallen fortunes almost
foreshadowed the mercantile decline of the long-lived capital. Surely no
one can be less open to criticism for illustrating various phases of his
townsmen's character and exposing in this book, as elsewhere, though
always mildly, the gloomier traits of the founders, than this deep-eyed
and gentle man, whose forefathers notably possessed "all the Puritanic
traits, both good and evil," and who uses what is as much to the
disadvantage of his own blood as to that of others, with such absolute,
admirable impartiality.

[Illustration]



III.


BOYHOOD.--COLLEGE DAYS.--FANSHAWE.

1804-1828.

With such antecedents behind him, and such associations awaiting him,
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born, July 4, 1804.

His father, the captain of a trading-vessel, was one of three sons of
the privateersman Daniel, and was born in 1776; so that both father and
son, it happens, are associated by time of birth with the year and the
day that American independence has made honorable and immemorial. The
elder Nathaniel wore his surname in one of several fashions that his
predecessors had provided,--for they had some eight different ways of
writing, though presumably but one of pronouncing it,--and called
himself Hathorne. It was not long after the birth of his only boy,
second of his three children, however, that he left the name to this
male successor, with whom it underwent a restoration to the more
picturesque and flowered form of Hawthorne. Nathaniel, the son of
Daniel, died in Surinam, in the spring of 1808, of a fever, it is
thought, and left his widow stricken with a lifelong grief, his family
suddenly overwhelmed with sorrow and solitude. I think I cannot convey
the sadness of this more fully than by simply saying it. Yet sombre as
the event is, it seems a fit overture to the opening life of this spirit
so nobly sad whom we are about to study. The tradition seems to have
become established that Captain Nathaniel was inclined to melancholy,
and very reticent; also, that though he was an admirable shipmaster, he
had a vigorous appetite for reading, and carried many books with him on
his long voyages. Those who know the inheritances that come with the
Puritan blood will easily understand the sort of dark, underlying
deposit of unutterable sadness that often reminds such persons of their
austere ancestry; but, in addition to this, the Hathornes had now firmly
imbibed the belief that their family was under a retributive ban for its
share in the awful severities of the Quaker and the witchcraft periods.
It was not to them the symbolic and picturesque thing that it is to us,
but a real overhanging, intermittent oppressiveness, that must often
have struck across their actions in a chilling and disastrous way. Their
ingrained reticence was in itself, when contrasted with Major Hathorne's
fame in oratory, a sort of corroboration of the idea that fate was
making reprisals upon them. The captain's children felt this; and the
son, when grown to manhood, was said to greatly resemble his father in
appearance, as well. Of the Endicotts, who also figured largely in the
maritime history of Salem, it is told that in the West Indies the name
grew so familiar as being that of the captain of a vessel, that it
became generic; and when a new ship arrived, the natives would ask, "Who
is the Endicott?" Very likely the Hathornes had as fixed a fame in the
ports where they traded. At all events, some forty years after the
captain's death at Surinam, a sailor one day stopped Mr. Surveyor
Hawthorne on the steps of the Salem Custom House, and asked him if he
had not once a relative--an uncle or a father--who died in Surinam at
the date given above. He had recognized him by his likeness to the
father, of whom Nathaniel probably had no memory at all.

But he inherited much from his mother, too. She has been described by a
gentleman who saw her in Maine, as very reserved, "a very pious woman,
and a very minute observer of religious festivals," of "feasts, fasts,
new moons, and Sabbaths," and perhaps a little inclined to superstition.
Such an influence as hers would inevitably foster in the son that strain
of reverence, and that especial purity and holiness of thought, which
pervade all that he has written. Those who knew her have said also, that
the luminous, gray, magnificent eyes that so impressed people in
Hawthorne were like hers. She had been Miss Elizabeth Clarke Manning,
the daughter of Richard Manning, whose ancestors came to New England
about 1680, and sister of Richard and of Robert Manning, a well-known
pomologist of the same place. After the death of her husband, this
brother Robert came to her assistance, Captain Hathorne having left but
little property: he was only thirty-two when he died.

Nathaniel had been born in a solid, old-fashioned little house on Union
Street, which very appropriately faced the old shipyard of the town in
1760; and it appears that in the year before his birth, the Custom House
of that time had been removed to a spot "opposite the long brick
building owned by W. S. Gray, and Benjamin H. Hathorne,"--as if the
future Surveyor's association with the revenue were already drawing
nearer to him. The widow now moved with her little family to the house
of her father, in Herbert Street, the next one eastward from Union. The
land belonging to this ran through to Union Street, adjoining the house
they had left; and from his top-floor study here, in later years,
Hawthorne could look down on the less lofty roof under which he was
born. The Herbert Street house, however, was spoken of as being on Union
Street, and it is that one which is meant in a passage of the "American
Note-Books" (October 25, 1838), which says, "In this dismal chamber FAME
was won," as likewise in the longer revery in the same volume, dated
October 4, 1840.

"Certainly," the sister of Hawthorne writes to me of him, "no man ever
needed less a formal biography." But the earlier portion of his life, of
which so little record has been made public, must needs bear so
interesting a relation to his later career, that I shall examine it with
as much care as I may.

Very few details of his early boyhood have been preserved; but these go
to show that his individuality soon appeared. "He was a pleasant child,
quite handsome, with golden curls," is almost the first news we have of
him; but his mastering sense of beauty soon made itself known. While
quite a little fellow, he is reported to have said of a woman who was
trying to be kind to him, "Take her away! She is ugly and fat, and has a
loud voice!" When still a very young school-boy, he was fond of taking
long walks entirely by himself; was seldom or never known to have a
companion; and in especial, haunted Legg's Hill, a place some miles from
his home. The impression of his mother's loss and loneliness must have
taken deep and irremovable hold upon his heart; the wide, bleak,
uncomprehended fact that his father would never return, that he should
never see him, seems to have sunk into his childish reveries like a
cabalistic spell, turning thought and feeling and imagination toward
mournful and mysterious things. Before he had passed from his mother's
care to that of the schoolmaster, it is known that he would break out
from the midst of childish broodings, and exclaim, "There, mother! I is
going away to sea, some time"; then, with an ominous shaking of the
head, "and I'll never come back again!" The same refrain lurked in his
mind when, a little older, he would tell his sisters fantastic tales,
and give them imaginary accounts of long journeys, which he should take
in future, in the course of which he flew at will through the air; on
these occasions he always ended with the same hopeless prophecy of his
failing to return. No doubt, also, there was a little spice of boyish
mischief in this; and something of the fictionist, for it enabled him to
make a strong impression on his audience. He brought out the
_dénouement_ in such a way as to seem--so one of those who heard
him has written--to enjoin upon them "the advice to value him the more
while he stayed with" them. This choice of the lugubrious, however,
seems to have been native to him; for almost before he could speak
distinctly he is reported to have caught up certain lines of "Richard
III." which he had heard read; and his favorite among them, always
declaimed on the most unexpected occasions and in his loudest tone,
was,--

  "Stand back, my Lord, and let the coffin pass!"

Though he has nowhere made allusion to the distant and sudden death of
his father, Hawthorne has mentioned an uncle lost at sea, in the
"English Notes," [Footnote: June 30, 1854]--a startling passage. "If it
is not known how and when a man dies," he says "it makes a ghost of him
for many years thereafter, perhaps for centuries. King Arthur is an
example; also the Emperor Frederic [Barbarossa] and other famous men who
were thought to be alive ages after their disappearance. So with private
individuals. I had an uncle John, who went a voyage to sea about the
beginning of the War of 1812, and has never returned to this hour. But
as long as his mother lived, as many as twenty years, she never gave up
the hope of his return, and was constantly hearing stories of persons
whose descriptions answered to his. Some people actually affirmed that
they had seen him in various parts of the world. Thus, so far as her
belief was concerned, he still walked the earth. And even to this day I
never see his name, which is no very uncommon one, without thinking that
this may be the lost uncle." At the time of that loss Hawthorne was but
eight years old; he wrote this memorandum at fifty; and all that time
the early impression had remained intact, and the old semi-hallucination
about the uncle's being still alive hung about his mind through forty
years. When we change the case, and replace the uncle in whom he had no
very distinct interest with the father whose decease had so overclouded
his mother's life, and thwarted the deep yearnings of his own young
heart, we may begin to guess the depth and persistence of the emotions
which must have been awakened in him by this awful silence and absence
of death, so early thrown across the track of his childish life. I
conceive those lonely school-boy walks, overblown by shadow-freighting
murmurs of the pine and accompanied by the far-off, muffled roll of the
sea, to have been full of questionings too deep for words, too sacred
for other companionship than that of uninquisitive Nature;--questionings
not even shaped and articulated to his own inner sense.

Yet, whatever half-created, formless world of profound and tender
speculations and sad reflections the boy was moulding within himself,
this did not master him. The seed, as time went on, came to miraculous
issue; but as yet the boy remained, healthily and for the most part
happily, a boy still. A lady who, as a child, lived in a house which
looked upon the garden of the widow's new abiding-place, used to see him
at play there with his sisters, a graceful but sturdy little figure; and
a little incident of his school-days, at the same time that it shows how
soon he began to take a philosophical view of things, gives a hint of
his physical powers. He was put to study under Dr. J. E. Worcester, the
famous lexicographer, (who, on graduating at Yale, in 1811, had come to
Salem and taken a school there for a few years;) and it is told of him
at this time, on the best authority, that he frequently came home with
accounts of having fought with a comrade named John Knights.

"But why do you fight with him so often?" asked one of his sisters.

"I can't help it," he said. "John Knights is a boy of very quarrelsome
disposition."

Something in the judicial, reproving tone of the reply seems to hint
that Hawthorne had taken the measure of his rival, physically as well as
mentally, and had found himself more than a match for the poor fellow.
All that is known of his bodily strength in maturer boyhood and at
college weighs on this side; and Horatio Bridge, [Footnote: See
Prefatory Note to The Snow Image.] his classmate and most intimate
friend at Bowdoin College, tells me that, though remarkably
calm-tempered, any suspicion of disrespect roused him into readiness to
give the sort of punishment that his athletic frame warranted.

But one of the most powerful influences acting on this healthy,
unsuspected, un-self-suspecting genius must have been that of books. The
house in Herbert Street was well provided with them, and he was allowed
to make free choice. His selection was seldom, if ever, questioned; and
this was well, for he thus drew to himself the mysterious aliment on
which his genius throve. Shakespere, Milton, Pope, and Thomson are
mentioned among the first authors with whom he made acquaintance on
first beginning to read; and "The Castle of Indolence" seems to have
been one of his favorite poems while a boy. He is also known to have
read, before fourteen, more or less of Rousseau's works, and to have
gone through, with great diligence, the whole of "The Newgate Calendar,"
which latter selection excited a good deal of comment among his family
and relatives, but no decisive opposition. A remark of his has come down
from that time, that he cared "very little for the history of the world
before the fourteenth century"; and he had a judicious shyness of what
was considered useful reading. Of the four poets there is of course but
little trace in his works; Rousseau, with his love of nature and
impressive abundance of emotion, seems to stand more directly related to
the future author's development, and "The Newgate Calendar" must have
supplied him with the most weighty suggestions for those deep ponderings
on sin and crime which almost from the first tinged the pellucid current
of his imagination. There is another book, however, early and familiarly
known to him, which indisputably affected the bent of his genius in an
important degree. This is Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress."

Being a healthy boy, with strong out-of-door instincts planted in him by
inheritance from his seafaring sire, it might have been that he would
not have been brought so early to an intimacy with books, but for an
accident similar to that which played a part in the boyhoods of Scott
and Dickens. When he was nine years old he was struck on the foot by a
ball, and made seriously lame. The earliest fragment of his writing now
extant is a letter to his uncle Robert Manning, at that time in Raymond,
Maine, written from Salem, December 9, 1813. It announces that his foot
is no better, and that a new doctor is to be sent for. "May be," the boy
writes, "he will do me some good, for Dr. B---- has not, and I don't
know as Dr. K---- will." He adds that it is now four weeks since he has
been to school, "and I don't know but it will be four weeks longer."
This weighing of possibilities, and this sense of the uncertain future,
already quaintly show the disposition of the man he is to grow into;
though the writing is as characterless as extreme youth, exaggerated
distinctness, and copy-books could make it. The little invalid has not
yet quite succumbed, however, for the same letter details that he has
hopped out into the street once since his lameness began, and been "out
in the office and had four cakes." But the trouble was destined to last
much longer than even the young seer had projected his gaze. There was
some threat of deformity, and it was not until he was nearly twelve that
he became quite well. Meantime, his kind schoolmaster, Dr. Worcester (at
whose sessions it may have been that Hawthorne read Enfield's "Speaker,"
the name of which had "a classical sound in his ears," long, long
afterward, when he saw the author's tombstone in Liverpool), came to
hear him his lessons at home. The good pedagogue does not figure after
this in Hawthorne's boyish history; but a copy of Worcester's Dictionary
still exists and is in present use, which bears in a tremulous writing
on the fly-leaf the legend: "Nathaniel Hawthorne, Esq., with the
respects of J. E. Worcester." For a long time, in the worst of his
lameness, the gentle boy was forced to lie prostrate, and choosing the
floor for his couch, he would read there all day long. He was extremely
fond of cats,--a taste which he kept through life; and during this
illness, forced to odd resorts for amusement, he knitted a pair of
stockings for the cat who reigned in the household at the time. When
tired of reading, he diverted himself with constructing houses of books
for the same feline pet, building walls for her to leap, and perhaps
erecting triumphal arches for her to pass under. In this period he must
have taken a considerable range in literature, for his age; and one
would almost say that Nature, seeing so rare a spirit in a sound body
that kept him sporting and away from reading, had devised a seemingly
harsh plan of luring him into his proper element.

It was more likely after this episode than before, that Bunyan took that
hold upon him so fraught with consequences. He went every Sunday to his
grandmother Hathorne's, and every Sunday he would lay hands upon the
book; then, going to a particular three-cornered chair in a particular
corner of the room, "he would read it by the hour, without once
speaking." I have already suggested the relations of the three minds,
Milton, Bunyan, and Hawthorne. The more obvious effect of this reading
is the allegorical turn which it gave the boy's thoughts, manifest in
many of his shorter productions while a young man; the most curious and
complete issue being that of "The Celestial Railroad," in the "Mosses,"
where Christian's pilgrimage is so deftly parodied in a railroad route
to the heavenly goal. Full of keen satire, it does not, as it might at
first seem, tend to diminish Bunyan's dignity, but inspires one with a
novel sense of it, as one is made to gradually pierce the shams of
certain modern cant. But a more profound consequence was the direction
of Hawthorne's expanding thought toward sin and its various and occult
manifestations. Imagine the impression upon a mind so fine, so
exquisitely responsive, and so well prepared for grave revery as
Hawthorne's, which a passage like the following would make. In his
discourse with Talkative, Faithful says: "A man may cry out against sin,
of policy; but he cannot abhor it but by virtue of a godly antipathy. I
have heard many cry out against sin in the pulpit, who can abide it well
enough in the heart, house, and conversation."

Here is almost the motive and the moral of "The Scarlet Letter." But
Hawthorne refined upon it unspeakably, and probed many fathoms deeper,
when he perceived that there might be motives far more complex than that
of policy, a condition much more subtly counterfeiting the mien of
goodness and spirituality. Talkative replies, "You lie at a catch, I
perceive,"--meaning that he is sophistical. "No, not I," says Faithful;
"I am only for setting things right." Did not this desire of setting
things right stir ever afterward in Hawthorne's consciousness? It is not
a little singular to trace in Bunyan two or three much more direct links
with some of Hawthorne's work. When Christiana at the Palace Beautiful
is shown one of the apples that Eve ate of, and Jacob's ladder with some
angels ascending upon it, it incites one to turn to that marvellously
complete "Virtuoso's Collection," [Footnote: Mosses from an Old Manse,
Vol. II.] where Hawthorne has preserved Shelley's skylark and the steed
Rosinante, with Hebe's cup and many another impalpable marvel, in the
warden-ship of the Wandering Jew. So, too, when we read Great-Heart's
analysis of Mr. Fearing, this expression, "He had, I think, a Slough of
Despond in his mind, a slough that he carried everywhere with him," we
can detect the root of symbolical conceptions like that of "The Bosom
Serpent." [Footnote: Mosses from an Old Manse, Vol. II.] I cannot
refrain from copying here some passages from this same portion which
recall in an exceptional way some of the traits of Hawthorne, enough, at
least, to have given them a partially prophetic power over his
character. Mr. Great-Heart says of Mr. Fearing: "He desired much to be
alone; yet he always loved good talk, and often would get behind the
screen to hear it." (So Hawthorne screened himself behind his genial
reserve.) "He also loved much to see ancient things, and to be pondering
them in his mind." What follows is not so strictly analogous throughout.
Mr. Honest asks Great-Heart why so good a man as Fearing "should be all
his days so much in the dark." And he answers, "There are two sorts of
reasons for it. One is, the wise God will have it so: some must pipe,
and some must weep.... And for my part, I care not at all for that
profession which begins not in heaviness of mind. The first string that
the musician usually touches is the bass, when he intends to put all in
tune. God also plays upon this string first, when he sets the soul in
tune for himself. Only there was the imperfection of Mr. Fearing; he
could play upon no other music but this, till towards his latter end."
Let the reader by no means imagine a moral comparison between Hawthorne
and Bunyan's Mr. Fearing. The latter, as his creator says, "was a good
man, though much down in spirit"; and Hawthorne, eminent in uprightness,
was also overcast by a behest to look for the most part at the darker
phases of human thinking and feeling; yet there could not have been the
slightest real similarity between him and the excellent but weak-kneed
Mr. Fearing, whose life is made heavy by the doubt of his inheritance in
the next world. Still, though the causes differ, it could be said of
Hawthorne, as of Master Fearing, "Difficulties, lions, or Vanity Fair,
he feared not at all; it was only sin, death, and hell that were to him
a terror." I mean merely that Hawthorne may have found in this
character-sketch--Bunyan's most elaborate one, for the typical subject
of which he shows an evident fondness and leniency--something peculiarly
fascinating, which may not have been without its shaping influence for
him. But the intimate, affectionate, and lasting relation between
Bunyan's allegory and our romancer is something to be perfectly assured
of. The affinity at once suggests itself, and there are allusions in the
"Note-Books" and the works of Hawthorne which recall and sustain it. So
late as 1854, he notes that "an American would never understand the
passage in Bunyan about Christian and Hopeful going astray along a
by-path into the grounds of Giant Despair, from there being no stiles
and by-paths in our country." Rarely, too, as Hawthorne quotes from or
alludes to other authors, there is a reference to Bunyan in "The
Blithedale Romance," and several are found in "The Scarlet Letter": it
is in that romance that the most powerful suggestion of kinship between
the two imaginations occurs. After Mr. Dimmesdale's interview with
Hester, in the wood, he suffers the most freakish temptations to various
blasphemy on returning to the town: he meets a deacon, and desires to
utter evil suggestions concerning the communion-supper; then a pious and
exemplary old dame, fortunately deaf, into whose ear a mad impulse urges
him to whisper what then seemed to him an "unanswerable argument against
the immortality of the soul," and after muttering some incoherent words,
he sees "an expression of divine gratitude and ecstasy that seemed like
the _shine of the celestial city_ on her face." Then comes the most
frightful temptation of all, as he sees approaching him a maiden newly
won into his flock. "She was fair and pure as a lily that had bloomed in
Paradise. The minister knew well that he himself was enshrined within
the stainless sanctity of her heart, which hung its snowy curtains about
his image, imparting to religion the warmth of love, and to love a
religious purity. Satan, that afternoon, had surely led the poor young
girl away from her mother's side, and thrown her into the pathway of
this sorely tempted, or--shall we not rather say?--this lost and
desperate man. As she drew nigh, the arch-fiend whispered to him to
condense into small compass and drop into her tender bosom a germ of
evil that would be sure to blossom darkly soon, and bear black fruit
betimes." Now, in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, "poor Christian was
so confounded, that he did not know his own voice.... Just when he was
come over against the mouth of the burning pit, one of the wicked ones
got behind him and stepped up softly to him, and, whisperingly,
suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily thought had
proceeded from his own mind." I need not enlarge upon the similar drift
of these two extracts; still less mark the matured, detailed, and
vividly human and dramatic superiority of Hawthorne's use of the element
common to both.

For other reading in early boyhood he had Spenser (it is said that the
first book which he bought with his own money was "The Faery Queen," for
which he kept a fondness all his life), Froissart's "Chronicles," and
Clarendon's "History of the Rebellion." The incident of Dr. Johnson's
penance in Uttoxeter Market dwelt so intimately in Hawthorne's mind (he
has treated it in the "True Stories," and touches very tenderly upon it
in "Our Old Home," where he says that he "has always been profoundly
impressed" by it), that I fancy a childish impression must have endeared
it to him; and Boswell may have been one of his acquisitions at this
time. Perhaps Dr. Worcester made the book known to him; and he would not
be at a loss to find endless entertainment there.

It was in November, 1813, that the accident at ball disabled him. In
June of the same year an event had taken place which must have entered
strongly into his heart, as into that of many another Salem boy. Young
Lawrence, of the American navy,--who had won honors for himself at
Tripoli and in the then prevailing war with Great Britain,--had just
been promoted, for gallant achievements off the coast of Brazil, to a
captaincy, and put in command of the frigate "Chesapeake," at Boston. A
British frigate, the "Shannon," had been cruising for some time in the
neighborhood, seeking an encounter with the "Chesapeake," and the
valiant Lawrence felt compelled to go out and meet her, though he had
only just assumed command, had had no time to discipline his crew (some
of whom were disaffected), and was without the proper complement of
commissioned officers. Americans know the result; how the "Chesapeake"
was shattered and taken in a fifteen minutes' fight off Marblehead, and
how Lawrence fell with a mortal wound, uttering those unforgotten words,
"Don't give up the ship." The battle was watched by crowds of people
from Salem, who swarmed upon the hillsides to get a glimpse of the
result.

When the details at last reached the town, many days afterward, Captain
George Crowninshield fitted out a flag of truce, sailed for Halifax with
ten shipmasters on board, and obtained the bodies of Lawrence and his
lieutenant, Ludlow. Late in August they returned, and the city gave
itself to solemnities in honor of the lost heroes, with the martial
dignity of processions and the sorrowing sound of dirges. Cannon
reverberated around them, and flags drooped above them at half-mast,
shorn of their splendor. Joseph Story delivered an eloquent oration over
them, and there was mourning in the hearts of every one, mixed with that
spiritualized sense of national grandeur and human worth that comes at
hours like this. Among the throngs upon the streets that day must have
stood the boy Nathaniel Hawthorne; not too young to understand, and
imbibing from this spectacle, as from many other sources, that profound
love of country, that ingrained, ineradicable American quality, which
marked his whole maturity.

I have not found any distinct corroboration of the report that Nathaniel
again lost the use of his limbs, before going to Maine to live. In
another brief, boyish letter dated "Salem, Monday, July 21, 1818" (all
these documents are short, and allude to the writer's inability to find
anything more to say), he speaks of wanting to "go to dancing-school a
little longer" before removing with his mother to the house which his
uncle is building at Raymond. He has also, he says, been to Nahant,
which he likes, because "fish are very thick there"; both items seeming
to show a proper degree of activity. There has been a tendency among
persons who have found nothing to obstruct the play of their fancies, to
establish a notion of almost ill-balanced mental precocity in this
powerful young genius, who seems to have advanced as well in muscular as
in intellectual development.

It was in October, 1818, that Mrs. Hathorne carried her family to
Raymond, to occupy the new house, a dwelling so ambitious, gauged by the
primitive community thereabouts, that it gained the title of "Manning's
Folly." Raymond is in Cumberland County, a little east of Sebago Lake,
and the house, which is still standing, mossy and dismantled, is near
what has since been called Radoux's Mills. Though built by Robert
Manning, it was purchased afterward by his brother Richard, whose widow
married Mr. Radoux, the owner of these mills. Richard Manning's will
provided for the establishing of a meeting-house in the neighborhood,
and his widow transformed the Folly into a Tabernacle; but, the
community ceasing to use it after a few years, it has remained
untenanted and decaying ever since, enjoying now the fame of being
haunted. Lonely as was the region then, it perhaps had a more lively
aspect than at present: A clearing probably gave the inmates of the
Folly a clear sweep of vision to the lake; and to the northwest, beyond
the open fields that still lie there, frown dark pine slopes, ranging
and rising away into "forest-crowned hills; while in the far distance
every hue of rock and tree, of field and grove, melts into the soft blue
of Mount Washington." This weird and woodsy ground of Cumberland became
the nurturing soil of Hawthorne for some years. He stayed only one
twelvemonth at Sebago Lake, returning to Salem after that for college
preparation. But Brunswick, where his academic years were passed, lies
less than thirty miles from the home in the woods, and within the same
county: doubtless, also, he spent some of his summer vacations at
Raymond. The brooding spell of his mother's sorrow was perhaps even
deepened in this favorable solitude. I know not whether the faith of
women's hearts really finds an easier avenue to such consecration as
this of Mrs. Hathorne's, in Salem, than elsewhere. I happen lately to
have heard of a widow in that same neighborhood who has remained
bereaved and uncomforted for more than seventeen years. With pathetic
energy she spends the long days of summer, in long, incessant walks,
sorrow-pursued, away from the dwellings of men. But, however this be, I
think this divine and pure devotion to a first love, though it may have
impregnated Hawthorne's mind too keenly with the mournfulness of
mortality, was yet one of the most cogent means of entirely clarifying
the fine spirit which he inherited, and that he in part owes to this
exquisite example his marvellous, unsurpassed spirituality. A woman thus
true to her highest experience and her purest memories, by living in a
sacred communion with the dead, annihilates time and is already set in
an atmosphere of eternity. Ah, strong and simple soul that knew not how
to hide your grief under specious self-comfortings and maxims of
convenience, and so bowed in lifelong prostration before the knowledge
of your first, unsullied love, be sure the world will sooner or later
know how much it owes to such as you!

More than once has Nathaniel Hawthorne touched the delicate fibres of
the heart that thrill again in this memorial grief of his mother's; and,
incongruous as is the connection of the following passage out of one of
the Twice-Told Tales, it is not hard to trace the origin of the
sensibility and insight which prompted it: "It is more probably the
fact," so it runs, "that while men are able to reflect upon their lost
companions as remembrances apart from themselves, women, on the other
hand, are _conscious that a portion of their being has gone with the
departed, whithersoever he has gone_" [Footnote: "drippings with a
Chisel," in Vol. II. of the Twice-Told Tales.] But the most perfect
example of his sympathy with this sorrow of widowhood is that brief,
concentrated, and seemingly slight tale, "The Wives of the Dead,"
[Footnote: See The Snow Image, and other Twice-Told Tales.] than which
I know of nothing more touching and true, more exquisitely proportioned
and dramatically wrought out among all English tales of the same scope
and length. It pictures the emotions of "two young and comely women,"
the "recent brides of two brothers, a sailor and a landsman; and two
successive days had brought tidings of the death of each, by the chances
of Canadian warfare and the tempestuous Atlantic." The action occupies
the night after the news, and turns upon the fact that each sister is
roused, unknown to the other, at different hours, to be told that the
report about her husband is false. One cannot give its beauty without
the whole, more than one can separate the dewdrop from the morning-glory
without losing the effect they make together. It is a complete
presentment, in little, of all that dwells in widowhood. One sentence I
may remind the reader of, nevertheless: "Her face was turned partly inward
to the pillow, and had been hidden there to weep; but a look of motionless
contentment was now visible upon it, as if her heart, like a deep lake,
had grown calm because its dead had sunk down so far within it." Even as
his widowed mother's face looked, to the true-souled boy, when they dwelt
there together in the forest of pines, beside the placid lake!

Yet clear and searching as must then have been his perceptions, he had
not always formulated them or made them his chief concern. On May 16,
1819 (the first spring after coming to the new abode), he writes to his
uncle Robert that "we are all very well"; and "the grass and some of the
trees look very green, the roads are very good, there is no snow on
Lymington mountains. The fences are all finished, and the garden is laid
out and planted.... I have shot a partridge and a henhawk, and caught
eighteen large trout out of our brooke. I am sorry you intend to send me
to school again." Happy boy! he thinks he has found his vocation: it is,
to shoot henhawks and catch trout. But his uncle, fortunately, is
otherwise minded, though Nathaniel writes, in the same note: "Mother
says she can hardly spare me." The sway of outdoor life must have been
very strong over this stalwart boy's temperament. One who saw a great
deal of him has related how in the very last year of his life Hawthorne
reverted with fondness, perhaps with something of a sick and sinking
man's longing for youthful scenes, to these early days at Sebago Lake;
"Though it was there," he confessed, "I first got my cursed habits of
solitude." "I lived in Maine," he said, "like a bird of the air, so
perfect was the freedom I enjoyed." During the moonlight nights of
winter he would skate until midnight all alone upon Sebago Lake, with
the deep shadows of the icy hills on either hand. When he found himself
far away from his home and weary with the exercise of skating, he would
sometimes take refuge in a log-cabin, where half a tree would be burning
on the broad hearth. He would sit in the ample chimney, and look at the
stars through the great aperture through which the flames went roaring
up. "Ah," he said, "how well I recall the summer days, also, when with
my gun I roamed at will through the woods of Maine!... Everything is
beautiful in youth, for all things are allowed to it then!" The same
writer mentions the author's passion for the sea, telling how, on the
return from England in 1860, Hawthorne was constantly saying in his
quiet, earnest way: "I should like to sail on and on forever, and never
touch the shore again." I have it from his sister that he used to
declare that, had he not been sent to college, he should have become a
mariner, like his predecessors. Indeed, he had the fresh air and the
salt spray in his blood.

Still it is difficult to believe that by any chance he could have missed
carrying out his inborn disposition toward literature. After we have
explained all the fostering influences and formative forces that
surround and stamp a genius of this sort, we come at last to the
inexplicable mystery of that interior impulse which, if it does not find
the right influences at first, presses forth, breaks out to right and
left and keeps on pushing, until it feels itself at ease. It cannot
wholly _make_ its own influences, but it fights to the death before
it will give up the effort to lay itself open to these; that is, to get
into a proper surrounding. The surrounding may be as far as possible
from what we should prescribe as the fit one; but the being in whom
perception and receptivity exist in that active state which we call
genius will adapt itself, and will instinctively discern whether the
conditions of life around it can yield a bare nourishment, or whether it
must seek other and more fertile conditions. Hawthorne had an ancestry
behind him connected with a singular and impressive history, had
remarkable parents, and especially a mother pure and lofty in spirit;
lived in a suggestive atmosphere of private sorrow and amid a community
of much quaintness; he was also enabled to know books at an early age;
yet these things only helped, and not produced, his genius. Sometimes
they helped by repression, for there was much that was uncongenial in
his early life; yet the clairvoyance, the unconscious wisdom, of that
interior quality, _genius_, made him feel that the adjustment of
his outer and his inner life was such as to give him a chance of
unfolding. Had he gone to sea, his awaking power would have come
violently into contact with the hostile conditions of sailor-life: he
would have revolted against them, and have made his way into literature
against head-wind or reluctant tiller-rope alike. It may, of course, be
said that this prediction is too easy. But there are evidences of the
mastering bent of Hawthorne's mind, which show that it would have ruled
in any case.

As we have seen, he returned to Salem in 1819, to school; and on March
7, 1820, he wrote thus to his mother:--

"I have left school, and have begun to fit for College under Benjm. L.
Oliver, Lawyer. So you are in great danger of having one learned man in
your family. Mr. Oliver thought I could enter College next commencement,
but Uncle Robert is afraid I should have to study too hard. I get my
lessons at home, and recite them to him [Mr. Oliver] at 7 o'clock in the
morning.... Shall you want me to be a Minister, Doctor, or Lawyer? A
minister I will not be." This is the first dawn of the question of a
career, apparently. Yet he still has a yearning to escape the solution.
"I am extremely homesick," he says, in one part of the letter; and at
the close he gives way to the sentiment entirely: "O how I wish I was
again with you, with nothing to do but to go a gunning. But the happiest
days of my life are gone.... After I have got through college, I will
come down to learn E---- Latin and Greek." (Is it too fanciful to note
that at this stage of the epistle "college" is no longer spelt with a
large C?) The signature to this letter shows the boy so amiably that I
append it.

"I remain," he says,
  "Your
    Affectionate
      and
        Dutiful
          son,
            and
              Most
                Obedient
                  and
                    Most
                      Humble
                        Servant,
                          and
                            Most
                              Respectful
                                and
                                  Most
                                    Hearty
                                      Well-wisher,
                            NATHANIEL HATHORNE."

A jesting device this, which the writer, were he now living, would
perhaps think too trivial to make known; yet why should we not recall
with pleasure the fact that in his boyish days he could make this
harmless little play, to throw an unexpected ray of humor and gladness
into the lonely heart of his mother, far away in the Maine woods? And
with this pleasure, let there be something of honor and reverence for
his pure young heart.

In another letter of this period [Footnote: This letter, long in the
possession of Miss E. P. Peabody, Mr. Hawthorne's sister-in-law,
unfortunately does not exist any longer. The date has thus been
forgotten, but the passage is clear in Miss Peabody's recollection.] he
had made a long stride towards the final choice, as witness this
extract:--

"I do not want to be a doctor and live by men's diseases, nor a minister
to live by their sins, nor a lawyer and live by their quarrels. So, I
don't see that there is anything left for me but to be an author. How
would you like some day to see a whole shelf full of books, written by
your son, with 'Hawthorne's Works' printed on their backs?"

But, before going further, it will be well to look at certain "Early
Notes," purporting to be Hawthorne's, and published in the Portland
"Transcript" at different times in 1871 and 1873. A mystery overhangs
them; [Footnote: See Appendix I.] and it has been impossible, up to this
time, to procure proof of their genuineness. Most of the persons named
in them have, nevertheless, been identified by residents of Cumberland
County, who knew them in boyhood, and the internal evidence of
authorship seems to make at least some of them Hawthorne's. On the first
leaf of the manuscript book, said to contain them, was written (as
reported by the discoverer) an inscription, to the effect that the book
had been given to Nathaniel Hawthorne by his uncle Richard Manning,
"with the advice that he write out his thoughts, some every day, in as
good words as he can, upon any and all subjects, as it is one of the
best means of his securing for mature years command of thought and
language"; and this was dated at Raymond, June 1, 1816. This account, if
true, puts the book into the boy's hands at the age of twelve. He did
not go to Raymond to live until two years later, but had certainly been
there, before, and his Uncle Richard was already living there in 1816.
So that the entries may have begun soon after June, of that year, though
their mature character makes this improbable. In this case, they must
cover more than a year's time. The dates were not given by the furnisher
of the extracts, and only one item can be definitely provided with a
date. This must have been penned in or after 1819; and yet it seems also
probable that the whole series was written before the author's college
days. If genuine, then, they hint the scope and quality of Hawthorne's
perceptions during a few years antecedent to his college-course,
and--whether his own work or not--they picture the sort of life which he
must have seen at Raymond.

"Two kingbirds have built their nest between our house and the
mill-pond. The male is more courageous than any creature that I know
about. He seems to have taken possession of the territory from the great
pond to the small one, and goes out to war with every fish-hawk that
flies from one to the other, over his dominion. The fish-hawks must be
miserable cowards, to be driven by such a speck of a bird. I have not
yet seen one turn to defend himself.

"Swapped pocket knives with Robinson Cook yesterday. Jacob Dingley says
that he cheated me, but I think not, for I cut a fishing pole this
morning, and did it well; besides, he is a Quaker, and they never
cheat."

Richard Manning had married Susan Dingley; this Jacob was probably her
nephew. In this allusion to Quakers one might fancy a germ of tolerance
which ripened into "The Gentle Boy."

"Captain Britton from Otisfield was at Uncle Richard's today. Not long
ago, uncle brought here from Salem a new kind of potatoes called 'Long
Reds.' Captain Britton had some for seed, and uncle asked how he liked
them. He answered, 'They yield well, grow very long,--one end is very
poor, and the other good for nothing.' I laughed about it after he was
gone, but uncle looked sour and said there was no wit in his answer, and
that the saying was 'stale.' It was new to me, and his way of saying it
very funny. Perhaps uncle did not like to hear his favorite potato
spoken of in that way, and that if the captain had praised it he would
have been called witty."

"Captain Britton promised to bring 'Gulliver's Travels' for me to read,
the next time he comes this way, which is every time he goes to
Portland. Uncle Richard has not the book in his library.

"This morning the bucket got off the chain, and dropped back into the
well. I wanted to go down on the stones and get it. Mother would not
consent, for fear the wall might cave in, but hired Samuel Shane to go
down. In the goodness of her heart, she thought the son of old Mrs.
Shane not quite so valuable as the son of the Widow Hawthorne. God bless
her for all her love for me, though it may be some selfish. We are to
have a pump in the well, after this mishap.

"Washington Longley has been taking lessons of a drumming master. He was
in the grist-mill to day, and practised with two sticks on the
half-bushel. I was astonished at the great number of strokes in a
second, and if I had not seen that he had but two sticks, should have
supposed that he was drumming with twenty."

"Major Berry went past our house with a large drove of sheep yesterday.
One, a last spring's lamb, gave out; could go no farther. I saw him down
near the bridge. The poor dumb creature looked into my eyes, and I
thought I knew just what he would say if he could speak, and so asked
Mr. Berry what he would sell him for. 'Just the price of his pelt, and
that will bring sixty-five cents,' was the answer. I ran and petitioned
mother for the money, which she soon gave me, saying with a smile that
she tried to make severe, but could not, that I was 'a great
spendthrift.' The lamb is in our orchard now, and he made a bow (without
taking off his hat) and thanked me this morning for saving him from the
butcher.

"Went yesterday in a sail-boat on the Great Pond, with Mr. Peter White
of Windham. He sailed up here from White's Bridge to see Captain
Dingley, and invited Joseph Dingley and Mr. Ring to take a boat-ride out
to the Dingley Islands and to the Images. He was also kind enough to say
that I might go (with my mother's consent), which she gave after much
coaxing. Since the loss of my father she dreads to have any one
belonging to her go upon the water. It is strange that this beautiful
body of water is called a 'Pond.' The geography tells of many in
Scotland and Ireland not near so large that are called 'Lakes.' It is
not respectful to speak of so noble, deep, and broad a collection of
clear water as a 'Pond'; it makes a stranger think of geese, and then of
goose-pond. Mr. White, who knows all this region, told us that the
streams from thirty-five ponds, large and small, flow into this, and he
calls it Great Basin. We landed on one of the small islands that Captain
Dingley cleared for a sheep pasture when he first came to Raymond. Mr.
Ring said that he had to do it to keep his sheep from the bears and
wolves. A growth of trees has started on the island, and makes a grove
so fine and pleasant, that I wish almost that our house was there. On
the way from the island to the Images Mr. Ring caught a black spotted
trout that was almost a whale, and weighed before it was cut open, after
we got back to Uncle Richard's store, eighteen and a half pounds. The
men said that if it had been weighed as soon as it came out of the water
it would have been nineteen pounds. This trout had a droll-looking
hooked nose, and they tried to make me believe, that if the line had
been in my hands, that I should have been obliged to let go, or have
been pulled out of the boat. They were men, and had a right to say so. I
am a boy, and have a right to think differently. We landed at the
Images, when I crept into the cave and got a drink of cool water. In
coming home we sailed over a place, not far from the Images, where Mr.
White has, at some time, let down a line four hundred feet without
finding bottom. This seems strange, for he told us, too, that his boat,
as it floated, was only two hundred and fifty feet higher than the boats
in Portland Harbor, and that if the Great Pond was pumped dry, a man
standing on its bottom, just under where we then were, would be more
than one hundred and fifty feet lower than the surface of the water at
the Portland wharves. Coming up the Dingley Bay, had a good view of
Rattlesnake Mountain, and it seemed to me wonderfully beautiful as the
almost setting sun threw over its western crags streams of fiery light.
If the Indians were very fond of this part of the country, it is easy to
see why; beavers, otters, and the finest fish were abundant, and the
hills and streams furnished constant variety. I should have made a good
Indian, if I had been born in a wigwam. To talk like sailors, we made
the old hemlock-stub at the mouth of the Dingley Mill Brook just before
sunset, and sent a _boy_ ashore with a hawser, and was soon safely
moored to a bunch of alders. After we got ashore Mr. White allowed me to
fire his long gun at a mark. I did not hit the mark, and am not sure
that I saw it at the time the gun went off, but believe, rather, that I
was watching for the noise that I was about to make. Mr. Ring said that
with practice I could be a gunner, and that now, with a very heavy
charge, he thought I could kill a horse at eight paces. Mr. White went
to Uncle Richard's for the night, and I went home and amused my mother
with telling how pleasantly the day had passed. When I told her what Mr.
Ring said about my killing a horse, she said he was making fun of me. I
had found that out before.

"Mr. March Gay killed a rattlesnake yesterday not far from his house,
that was more than six feet long and had twelve rattles. This morning
Mr. Jacob Mitchell killed another near the same place, almost as long.
It is supposed that they were a pair, and that the second one was on the
track of its mate. If every rattle counts a year, the first one was
twelve years old. Eliak Maxfield came down to mill to-day and told me
about the snakes.

"Mr. Henry Turner of Otisfield took his axe and went out between
Saturday and Moose ponds to look at some pine-trees. A rain had just
taken off enough of the snow to lay bare the roots of a part of the
trees. Under a large root there seemed to be a cavity, and on examining
closely something was exposed very much like long black hair. He cut off
the root, saw the nose of a bear, and killed him, pulled out the body;
saw another, killed that, and dragged out its carcass, when he found
that there was a third one in the den, and that he was thoroughly awake,
too; but as soon as the head came in sight it was split open with the
axe, so that Mr. Turner, alone with only an axe, killed three bears in
less than half an hour, the youngest being a good-sized one, and what
hunters call a yearling. This is a pretty great bear story, but probably
true, and happened only a few weeks ago; for John Patch, who was here
with his father Captain Levi Patch, who lives within two miles of the
Saturday Pond, told me so yesterday.

"A young man named Henry Jackson, Jr., was drowned two days ago, up in
Crooked River. He and one of his friends were trying which could swim
the faster. Jackson was behind but gaining; his friend kicked at him in
fun, thinking to hit his shoulder and push him back, but missed, and hit
his chin, which caused him to take in water and strangle, and before his
friend could help or get help, poor Jackson was (Elder Leach says)
beyond the reach of mercy. I read one of the Psalms to my mother this
morning, and it plainly declares twenty-six times that 'God's mercy
endureth forever.' I never saw Henry Jackson; he was a young man just
married. Mother is sad, says that she shall not consent to my swimming
any more in the mill-pond with the boys, fearing that in sport my mouth
might get kicked open, and then sorrow for a dead son be added to that
for a dead father, which she says would break her heart. I love to swim,
but I shall not disobey my mother.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Fishing from the bridge to-day, I caught an eel two thirds as long as
myself. Mr. Watkins tried to make me believe that he thought it a water
moccasin snake. Old Mr. Shane said that it was a 'young sea-sarpint
sure.' Mr. Ficket, the blacksmith, begged it to take home for its skin,
as he said for buskin-strings and flail-strings. So ends my day's
fishing.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Went over to-day to see Watkins make bricks. I have always thought
there was some mystery about it, but I can make them myself. Why did the
Israelites complain so much at having to make bricks without straw? I
should not use straw if I was a brick-maker; besides, when they are
burned in the kiln, the straw will burn out and leave the bricks full of
holes.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I can, from my chamber window, look across into Aunt Manning's garden,
this morning, and see little Betty Tarbox, flitting among the
rose-bushes, and in and out of the arbor, like a tiny witch. She will
never realize the calamity that came upon her brothers and sisters that
terrible night when her father and mother lay within a few rods of each
other, in the snow, freezing to death. I love the elf, because of her
loss; and still my aunt is much more to her than her own mother, in her
poverty, could have been."

       *       *       *       *       *

This little girl was the child of some poor people of the neighborhood
who were frozen to death one March night, in 1819. In a letter to his
uncle Robert, March 24, 1819, Nathaniel says: "I suppose you have not
heard of the death of Mr. Tarbox and his wife, who were froze to death
last Wednesday. They were brought out from the Cape on Saturday, and
buried from Captain Dingley's on Sunday." This determines the time of
writing the last-quoted extract from the journal.

       *       *       *       *       *

"This morning I saw at the grist-mill a solemn-faced old horse, hitched
to the trough. He had brought for his owner some bags of corn to be
ground, who, after carrying them into the mill, walked up to Uncle
Richard's store, leaving his half-starved animal in the cold wind with
nothing to eat, while the corn was being turned to meal. I felt sorry,
and nobody being near, thought it best to have a talk with the old nag,
and said, 'Good morning, Mr. Horse, how are you to-day?' 'Good morning,
youngster,' said he, just as plain as a horse can speak, and then said,
'I am almost dead, and I wish I was quite. I am hungry, have had no
breakfast, and must stand here tied by the head while they are grinding
the corn, and until master drinks two or three glasses of rum at the
store, then drag him and the meal up the Ben Ham Hill, and home, and am
now so weak that I can hardly stand. O dear, I am in a bad way'; and the
old creature cried. I almost cried myself. Just then the miller went
down stairs to the meal-trough; I heard his feet on the steps, and not
thinking much what I was doing, ran into the mill, and taking the
four-quart toll-dish nearly full of corn out of the hopper, carried it
out and poured it into the trough before the horse, and placed the dish
back before the miller came up from below. When I got out, the horse was
laughing, but he had to eat slowly, because the bits were in his mouth.
I told him that I was sorry, but did not know how to take them out, and
should not dare to if I did, for his master might come out and see what
I was about. 'Thank you,' said he, 'a luncheon of corn with the bits in
is much better than none. The worst of it is, I have to munch so slowly,
that master may come before I finish it, and thrash me for eating his
corn, and you for the kindness.' I sat down on a stone out of the wind,
and waited in trouble, for fear that the miller and the owner of the
corn would come and find out what I had done. At last the horse winked
and stuck out his upper lip ever so far, and then said, 'The last kernel
is gone'; then he laughed a little, then shook one ear, then the other,
then shut his eyes as if to take a nap. I jumped up and said: 'How do
you feel, old fellow; any better?' He opened his eyes, and looking at me
kindly, answered 'very much,' and then blew his nose exceedingly loud,
but he did not wipe it. Perhaps he had no wiper. I then asked if his
master whipped him much. He opened his eyes, and looking at me kindly,
answered, 'Not much lately; he used to till my hide got hardened, but
now he has a white-oak goad-stick with an iron brad in its end, with
which he jabs my hind quarters and hurts me awfully.' I asked him why he
did not kick up, and knock his tormentor out of the wagon. 'I did try
once,' said he, 'but am old and was weak, and could only get my heels
high enough to break the whiffletree, and besides lost my balance and
fell down flat. Master then jumped down, and getting a cudgel struck me
over the head, and I thought my troubles were over. This happened just
before Mr. Ben Ham's house, and I should have been finished and ready
for the crows, if he had not stepped out and told master not to strike
again, if he did he would shake his liver out. That saved my life, but I
was sorry, though Mr. Ham meant good.' The goad with the iron brad was
in the wagon, and snatching it out I struck the end against a stone, and
the stabber flew into the mill-pond. 'There,' says I, 'old colt,' as I
threw the goad back into the wagon, 'he won't harpoon you again with
_that_ iron.' The poor old brute knew well enough what I said, for
I looked him in the eye and spoke horse language. At that moment the
brute that owned the horse came out of the store, and down the hill
towards us. I slipped behind a pile of slabs. The meal was put in the
wagon, the horse unhitched, the wagon mounted, the goad picked up and a
thrust made, but dobbin was in no hurry. Looking at the end of the
stick, the man bawled, 'What little devil has had my goad?' and then
began striking with all his strength; but his steed only walked, shaking
his head as he went across the bridge; and I thought I heard the ancient
Equus say as he went, 'Thrash as much as you please, for once you cannot
stab.' I went home a little uneasy, not feeling sure that the feeding
the man's corn to his horse was not stealing, and thinking that if the
miller found it out, he would have me taken down before Squire Longley.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Polly Maxfield came riding to mill to-day on horseback. She rode as
gracefully as a Trooper. I wish with all my heart that I was as daring a
rider, or half so graceful.

       *       *       *       *       *

"This morning walked down to the Pulpit Rock Hill, and climbed up into
the pulpit. It looks like a rough place to preach from, and does not
seem so much like a pulpit when one is in it, as when viewing it from
the road below. It is a wild place, and really a curiosity. I brought a
book and sat in the rocky recess, and read for nearly an hour. This is a
point on the road known to all teamsters. They have a string of names
for reference by which they tell each other where they met
fellow-teamsters and where their loads got stuck, and I have learned
them from those who stop for drinks at the store. One meets another near
our house, and says, 'Where did you meet Bill?' 'Just this side of
Small's Brook,' or 'At the top of Gray's Pinch,' 'At the Dry Mill-Pond,'
'Just the other side of Lemmy Jones's,' 'On the long causeway,' 'At
Jeems Gowen's,' 'Coming down the Pulpit Rock Hill,' 'Coming down Tarkill
Hill.' I have heard these answers till I have them by heart, without
having any idea where any of the places are, excepting the one I have
seen to-day. While on the bridge near the Pulpit, Mr. West, who lives
not far away, came along and asked where I had been. On my telling him,
he said that no money would hire him to go up to that pulpit; that the
Devil used to preach from it long and long ago; that on a time when
hundreds of them were listening to one of his sermons, a great chief
laughed in the Devil's face, upon which he stamped his foot, and the
ground to the southwest, where they were standing, sunk fifty feet, and
every Indian went down out of sight, leaving a swamp to this day. He
declared that he once stuck a pole in there, which went down easily
several feet, but then struck the skull-bone of an Indian, when
instantly all the hassocks and flags began to shake; he heard a yell as
from fifty overgrown Pequots; that he left the pole and ran for life.
Mr. West also said that no Indian had ever been known to go near that
swamp since, but that whenever one came that way, he turned out of the
road near the house of Mr. West, and went straight to Thomas Pond,
keeping to the eastward of Pulpit Rock, giving it a wide berth. Mr. West
talked as though he believed what he said.

       *       *       *       *       *

"A pedler named Dominicus Jordan was to-day in Uncle Richard's store,
telling a ghost-story. I listened intently, but tried not to seem
interested. The story was of a house, the owner of which was suddenly
killed. Since his death the west garret-window cannot be kept closed;
though the shutters be hasped and nailed at night, they are invariably
found open the next morning, and no one can tell when or how the nails
were drawn. There is also on the farm an apple-tree, the fruit of which
the owner was particularly fond of, but since his death no one has been
able to get one of the apples. The tree hangs full nearly every year,
but whenever any individual tries to get one, stones come in all
directions as if from some secret infernal battery, or hidden catapult,
and more than once have those making the attempts been struck. What is
more strange, the tree stands in an open field, there being no shelter
near from which tricks can be played without exposure. Jordan says that
it seems odd to strangers to see that tree loaded with apples when the
snow is four feet deep; and, what is a mystery, there are no apples in
the spring; no one ever sees the wind blow one off, none are seen on the
snow, nor even the vestige of one on the grass under the tree; and that
children may play on the grass under and around it while it is in the
blossom, and until the fruit is large enough to tempt them, with perfect
safety; but the moment one of the apples is sought for, the air is full
of flying stones. He further says, that late one starlight night he was
passing the house, and looking up saw the phantom walk out of the garret
window with cane in hand, making all the motions as if walking on
_terra firma_, although what appeared to be his feet were at least
six yards from the ground; and so he went walking away on nothing, and
when nearly out of sight there was a great flash and an explosion as of
twenty field-pieces, then--nothing. This story was told with seeming
earnestness, and listened to as though it was believed. How strange it
is that almost all persons, old or young, are fond of hearing about the
supernatural, though it produces nervousness and fear! I should not be
willing to sleep in that garret, though I do not believe a word of the
story.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The lumbermen from Saccarappa are getting their logs across the Great
Pond. Yesterday a strong northwest wind blew a great raft of many
thousands over almost to the mouth of the Dingley Brook. Their anchor
dragged for more than a mile, but when the boom was within twenty or
thirty rods of the shore, it brought up, and held, as I heard some men
say who are familiar with such business. All the men and boys went from
the mill down to the pond to see the great raft, and I among them. They
have a string of logs fastened end to end and surrounding the great
body, which keeps them from scattering, and the string is called a boom.
A small, strong raft, it may be forty feet square, with an upright
windlass in its centre, called a capstan, is fastened to some part of
the boom. The small raft is called 'Head Works,' and from it in a
yawl-boat is carried the anchor, to which is attached a strong rope half
a mile long. The boat is rowed out the whole length of the rope, the
anchor thrown over, and the men on the headworks wind up the capstan and
so draw along the acres of logs. After we went down to the shore,
several of the men came out on the boom nearest to us, and, striking a
single log, pushed it under and outside; then one man with a gallon jug
slung to his back, taking a pickpole, pushed himself ashore on the small
single log,--a feat that seemed almost miraculous to me. This man's name
was Reuben Murch, and he seemed to be in no fear of getting soused. This
masterly kind of navigation he calls 'cuffing the rigging'; nobody could
tell me why he gave it that name. Murch went up to the store, had the
jug filled with rum (the supply having run out on the headworks), and
made the voyage back the way he came. His comrades received him with
cheers, and after sinking the log and drawing it back under the boom,
proceeded to try the contents of the jug, seeming to be well satisfied
with the result of his expedition. It turned out that Murch only rode
the single log ashore to show his adroitness, for the yawl-boat came
round from the headworks, and brought near a dozen men in red shirts to
where we were. I was interested listening to their conversation mixed
with sharp jokes. Nearly every man had a nickname. Murch was called
'Captain Snarl'; a tall, fierce-looking man, who just filled my idea of
a Spanish freebooter, was 'Dr. Coddle.' I think his real name was Wood.
The rum seems to make them crazy, for one, who was called 'Rub-a-dub,'
pitched 'Dr. Coddle' head and heels into the water. A gentlemanly man
named Thompson, who acted as master of ceremonies, or Grand Turk,
interfered and put a stop to what was becoming something like a fight.
Mr. Thompson said that the wind would go down with the sun, and that
they must get ready to start. This morning I went down to look for them,
and the raft was almost to Frye's Island.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I have read 'Gulliver's Travels,' but do not agree with Captain Britton
that it is a witty and uncommonly interesting book; the wit is obscene,
and the _lies_ too _false_."

       *       *       *       *       *

The next and last piece of this note-book was printed two years later
than the preceding items, and after the death of the person who
professed to own the manuscript, but still with the same degree of
mystery, except in the matter of date.

"Day before yesterday Mr. Thomas Little from Windham, Mr. M. P. Sawyer
of Portland, Mr. Thomas A. Deblois, a lawyer, Mr. Hanson of Windham, and
Enoch White, a boy of about my own age, from White's Bridge, came up to
the Dingley Brook in a sail-boat. They were on the way to Muddy River
Bog, for a day's sport, fishing, and shooting ducks. Enoch proposed that
I should go with them. I needed no urging, but knew how unwillingly my
mother would consent. They could wait but a few minutes, and Uncle
Richard kindly wrote a note, asking her to be willing to gratify me
_this_ time.

"She said, 'Yes,' but I was almost sorry, knowing that my day's pleasure
would cost _her_ one of anxiety. However, I gathered up hooks and
lines, with some white salted pork for bait, and with a fabulous number
of biscuit, split in the middle, the insides well buttered, then
skilfully put together again, and all stowed in sister's large work-bag,
and slung over my shoulder. I started, making a wager with Enoch White,
as we walked down to the boat, as to which would catch the largest
number of fish.

"The air was clear, with just breeze enough to shoot us along
pleasantly, without making rough waves. The wind was not exactly after
us, though we made but two tacks to reach the mouth of Muddy River. The
men praised the grand view, after we got into the Great Bay. We could
see the White Hills to the northwest, though Mr. Little said they were
eighty miles from us; and grand old Rattlesnake, to the northeast, in
its immense jacket of green oak, looked more inviting than I had ever
seen it; while Frye's Island, with its close growth of great trees,
growing to the very edge of the water, looked like a monstrous green
raft, floating to the southeastward. Whichever way the eye turned,
something charming appeared. Mr. Little seems to be familiar with every
book that has ever been written, and must have a great memory. Among
other things, he said:--

"'Gentlemen, do you know that this should be called the sea, instead of
the Great Pond; that ships should be built here and navigate this water?
The surface of the Sea of Galilee, of which we hear so much in the New
Testament, was just about equal to the surface of our sea to-day.'

"And then he went on to give a geographical description of the country
about the Sea of Galilee, and draw parallels between places named in the
Testament and points in sight. His talk stole my attention until we were
fairly at Muddy River mouth.

"Muddy River Bog is quite a curiosity. The river empties into the pond
between two small sandy capes or points, only a short distance apart;
but after running up a little between them we found the bog to widen to
fifty or sixty rods in some places, and to be between two or three miles
long. People say that it has no bottom, and that the longest poles that
ever grew may be run down into the mud and then pushed down with another
a little longer, and this may be repeated until the long poles are all
gone.

"Coarse, tall water-grass grows up from the mud over every part, with
the exception of a place five or six rods wide, running its whole
length, and nearly in the middle, which is called the Channel. One can
tell at first sight that it is the place for pickerel and water-snakes.

"Mr. Deblois stated something that I never heard before as a fact in
natural history, that the pickerel wages war upon all fish, except the
trout, who is too active for him; that he is a piscatorial cannibal; but
that under all circumstances and in all places, he lives on good terms
with the water-snake.

"We saw a great many ducks, but they seemed to know that Mr. Sawyer had
a gun, and flew on slight notice. At last, as four were flying and
seemed to be entirely out of gunshot, he fired, saying he would frighten
them, if no more; when, to our surprise, he brought one down. The gun
was loaded with ball, and Mr. Deblois told him he could not do it again
in a million shots. Mr. Sawyer laughed, saying that he had always been a
votary of Chance, and that, as a general thing, she had treated him
handsomely.

"We sailed more than a mile up the bog, fishing and trolling for
pickerel; and though we saw a great many, not one offered to be caught,
but horned pouts were willing, and we caught them till it was no sport.
We found a man there who had taken nearly two bushels of pouts. He was
on a raft, and had walked from near the foot of Long Pond, in Otisfield.
Mr. Little knew him, and, intending to have some fun, said, 'The next
time you come to Portland I want half a dozen of your best jewsharps;
leave them at my store at Windham Hill. I need them very badly.'

"The man deliberately took from the hook a large pout that he had just
pulled up, and, laying his fishing-pole down, began solemnly to explore
in his pockets, and brought out six quaint jewsharps carefully tied to
pieces of corn-cobs; then he tossed them into our boat to Mr. Little,
saying, 'There they are, Tom, and they are as good ones as I ever made;
I shall charge you fifty cents for them.' Mr. Little had the worst of
the joke; but as the other men began to rally him, he took out the
silver and paid the half-dollar; but they laughed at him till he told
them, if they would say no more about it, he would give them all the
brandy they could drink when they got home.

"Mr. Deblois said he would not be bribed; that he must tell Peter White
when he got to Windham Hill.

"Mr. Little said he would not have Peter White know it for a yoke of
steers.

"After fishing till all were tired, we landed on a small dry knoll that
made out into the bog, to take our luncheon. The men had a variety of
eatables, and several bottles that held no eatables. The question was
started whether Enoch and I should be invited to drink, and they
concluded not to urge us, as we were boys, and under their care. So Mr.
Deblois said, 'Boys, anything to eat that is in our baskets is as much
yours as ours; help yourselves; but we shall not invite you to drink
spirits.'

"We thanked them, and said that we had plenty of our own to eat, and had
no relish for spirits, but were very thirsty for water. Mr. Little had
been there before, and directed us to a spring of the best of water,
that boiled up like a pot from the ground, just at the margin of the
bog.

"Before starting to return, the bet between Enoeh and myself had to be
settled. By its conditions, the one who caught the largest number of
fish was to have all the hooks and lines of the other. I counted my
string and found twenty-five. Enoch made twenty-six on his; so I was
about turning over the spoils, when Mr. Sawyer said that my string was
the largest, and that there was a mistake. So he counted, and made
twenty-six on mine, and twenty-five on Enoch's. We counted again, and
found it was as he said, and Enoch prepared to pay the bet, when Mr.
Sawyer again interfered, saying that Enoch's string was certainly larger
than mine, and proposed to count again. This time I had but twenty-four,
and Enoch twenty-seven. All the men counted them several times over,
until we could not tell which was which, and they never came out twice
alike.

"At length Mr. Deblois said solemnly, 'Stop this, Sawyer, you have
turned these fish into a pack of cards, and are fooling us all.' The men
laughed heartily, and so should I if I had known what the point of the
joke was.

"Mr. Deblois said the decision as to our bet would have to go over to
the next term. After starting for home, while running down the bog, Mr.
Sawyer killed three noble black ducks at one shot, but the gun was not
loaded this time with ball. Mr. Hanson struck with his fishing-pole, and
killed a monstrous water-snake. Mr. Little measured a stick with his
hands, and using it as a rule, declared him to be five feet long. If I
thought any such snakes ever went over to Dingley Bay, I never would go
into the water there again.

"When we got out of the bog into the open water, we found a lively
breeze from the northwest, and they landed me at the Dingley Brook in
less than an hour, and then kept on like a great white bird down towards
the Cape, and for the outlet. I stood and watched the boat until it was
nearly half-way to Frye's Island, loath to lose sight of what had helped
me to enjoy the day so much. Taking my fish I walked home, and greeted
mother just as the sun went out of sight behind the hills in Baldwin.
The fish were worthless, but I thought I must have something to show for
the day spent. After exhibiting them to mother and sister, and hearing
the comments as to their ugliness, and much speculation as to what their
horns were for, I gave them to Mr. Lambard, who said that pouts were the
best of fish after they were skinned.

"I have made this account of the expedition to please Uncle Richard, who
is an invalid and cannot get out to enjoy such sport, and wished me to
describe everything just as it had happened, whether witty or silly, and
give my own impressions. He has read my diary, and says that it
interested him, which is all the reward I desire. And now I add these
lines to keep in remembrance the peculiar satisfaction I received in
hearing the conversation, especially of Mr. Deblois and Mr. Little.
August, 1818, Raymond."

       *       *       *       *       *

These extracts from the Raymond Journal, if they be genuine, as in most
respects I believe they must be, will furnish a clew, otherwise wanting,
to the distinct turn which the boy's mind took toward authorship after
his return to Salem, and on passing the propylon of classical culture.
We can also see in them, I think, the beginning of that painstaking
accumulation of fact, the effort to be first of all accurate, which is a
characteristic of his maturer and authenticated note-books; very
significant, too, is the dash of the supernatural and his tone
concerning it. A habit of thus preserving impressions, and of communing
with himself through the pen, so constant and assiduous as we know it to
have been in his later years,--even when mind and time were
preoccupied,--must have been formed early, to retain so strong a hold
upon him. But there is another reason for supposing that he had begun to
compose with care before coming from Raymond to Salem; and this is found
in the fact that, in 1820, he began issuing (probably to a very small
and intimate circle of subscribers) a neat little weekly paper printed
with the pen on sheets of a much-curtailed note size, and written in an
excellent style.

The first number, dated Monday, August 21, 1820, opens with the Editor's
Address:--

"Our feelings upon sending into the world the first number of the
Spectator may be compared to those of a fond Parent, when he beholds a
beloved child about to embark on the troubled Ocean of public Life.
Perhaps the iron hand of Criticism may crush our humble undertaking, ere
it is strengthened by time. Or it may pine in obscurity neglected and
forgotten by those, with whose assistance it might become the Pride and
Ornament of our Country.... We beg leave farther to remark that in order
to carry on any enterprise with spirit MONEY is absolutely necessary.
Money, although it is the root of all evil, is also the foundation of
everything great and good, and therefore our Subscribers ... will please
carefully to remember that the terms are two cents per month."

A little further on there is this allusion to the Scriptural proverb
cited above: "We have been informed that this expression is incorrect,
and that it is the love of Money which is the 'Root of all Evil.' But
money is certainly the cause of the love of Money. Therefore, Money is
the deepest 'Root of Evil.'" (Observe, here, the young student's pride
of reason, and the consciousness of a gift for casuistry!) Under the
head of "Domestic News" occur some remarks on the sea-serpent, the
deduction from various rumors about the monster being that "he seems to
possess a strange and we think rather unusual faculty of appearing in
different shapes to different eyes, so that where one person sees a
shark, another beholds a nameless dragon." (Here, too, is the humorously
veiled distrust that always lurked beneath his dealings with the
marvellous.) In the next columns there is found an advertisement of the
Pin Society, which "will commence lending pins to any creditable person,
on Wednesday, the 23d instant. No numbers except ten, twenty, and thirty
will be lent"; and the rate of interest is to be one pin on every ten
per day. This bold financial scheme is also carried on by the editor in
person,--a combination which in these days would lay him open to
suspicions of unfair dealing. I have seen a little manuscript book
containing the remarkable constitution and by-laws of this society, in
which there were but two members; and it is really a curious study of
whimsical intricacy, the work of a mind perfectly accustomed to solitude
and fertile in resources for making monotony various and delightful. It
does not surprise one to meet with the characteristic announcement from
this editor that he has "concluded not to insert deaths and marriages
(except of very distinguished persons) in the Spectator. We can see but
little use in thus giving to the world the names of the crowd who are
tying the marriage knot, and going down to the silent tomb." There is
some poetry at the end of the paper, excellent for a boy, but without
the easy inspiration of the really witty prose.

It would seem that this weekly once made a beginning, which was also an
end, before nourishing up into the series of which I have synopsized the
first issue; for there is another Number One without date, but
apparently earlier. This contains some exemplary sentiments "On
Solitude," with a touch of what was real profundity in so inexperienced
a writer. "Man is naturally a sociable being," he says; "and apart from
the world there are no incitements to the pursuit of excellence; there
are no rivals to contend with; and therefore there is no improvement....
The heart may be more pure and uncorrupted in solitude than when exposed
to the influences of the depravity of the world; but the benefit of
virtuous examples is equal to the detriment of vicious ones, and both
are equally lost." The "Domestic Intelligence" of this number is as
follows: "The lady of Dr. Winthrop Brown, a son and Heir. Mrs.
Hathorne's cat, Seven Kittens. We hear that both of the above ladies are
in a state of convalescence." Also, "Intentions of Marriage. The
beautiful and accomplished Miss Keziah Dingley will shortly be united to
Dominicus Jordan Esq." (The young author appears to have allowed himself
in this paragraph the stimulus of a little fiction respecting real
persons. Dominicus Jordan is the pedler of the Raymond notes. Who Miss
Keziah was I do not know, but from the name I guess her to have been a
relative, by appellation at least, through Richard Manning's wife. If
Hawthorne did not himself call Miss Dingley aunt, he may very likely
have heard her commonly spoken of by that title. Did the old, boyish
association perhaps unconsciously supply him with a name for the Indian
aunt of "Septimius Felton"?) The next item is "DEATHS. We are sorry to
be under the necessity of informing our readers that no deaths of
importance have taken place, except that of the publisher of this Paper,
who died of Starvation, owing to the slenderness of his patronage."
Notwithstanding this discouraging incident, one of the advertisements
declares that "Employment will be given to any number of indigent Poets
and Authors at this office." But shortly afterward is inserted the
announcement that "Nathaniel Hathorne proposes to publish by
subscription a new edition of the Miseries of Authors, to which will be
added a sequel, containing Facts and Remarks drawn from his own
experience."

In Number Two of the new series, the editor speaks of a discourse by Dr.
Stoughton, "on Tuesday evening.... With the amount of the contribution
which was taken up ... we are unacquainted, as, having no money in our
pockets, we departed before it commenced." This issue takes a despondent
view of the difficulties that beset editors. There is a clever paragraph
of "Domestic News" again. "As we know of no News," it says, "we hope our
readers will excuse us for not inserting any. The law which prohibits
paying debts when a person has no money will apply in this case." Next
we have a very arch dissertation "On Industry": "It has somewhere been
remarked that an Author does not write the worse for knowing little or
nothing of his subject. We hope the truth of this saying will be
manifest in the present article. With the benefits of Industry we are
not personally acquainted." The desperate editor winds up his week's
budget with a warning to all persons who may be displeased by
observations in the Spectator, that he is going to take fencing lessons
and practise shooting at a mark. "We also," he adds, "think it advisable
to procure a stout oaken cudgel to be the constant companion of our
peregrinations." The assumption of idleness in the essay on Industry,
just quoted, breaks down entirely in a later number, when the editor--in
apologizing for inaccuracies in the printing of his paper--enumerates
his different occupations: "In the first place we study Latin and Greek.
Secondly we write in the employment of William Manning Esq., [at that
time proprietor of an extensive line of stagecoaches]. Thirdly, we are
Secretary, Treasurer, and Manager of the 'Pin Society'; Fourthly, we are
editor of the Spectator; fifthly, sixthly, and lastly, our own Printers,
Printing Press and Types." But the young journalist carried on his
labors unabatedly, for the term of some five weeks, and managed to make
himself very entertaining. I take from an essay "On Benevolence" a
fragment which has a touch of poetry out of his own life. Benevolence,
he says, is "to protect the fatherless, and to make the Widow's heart
sing for joy." One of the most cherishable effusions is that "On
Wealth," in which the venerable writer drops into a charmingly
confidential and reminiscent vein. "All men," he begins, "from the
highest to the lowest, desire to pursue wealth.... In process of time if
we obtain possession" of a sum at first fixed as the ultimatum, "we
generally find ourselves as far from being contented as at first....
When I was a boy, I one day made an inroad into a closet, to the secret
recesses of which I had often wished to penetrate. I there discovered a
quantity of very fine apples. At first I determined to take only one,
which I put in my pocket. But those which remained were so very inviting
that it was against my conscience to leave them, and I filled my pockets
and departed, wishing that they would hold more. But alas! an apple
which was unable to find space enough among its companions bounced down
upon the floor before all the Family. I was immediately searched, and
forced, very unwillingly, to deliver up all my booty." In the same
number which contains this composition appears the token of what was
doubtless Hawthorne's first recognition in literature. It is a
"Communication," of tenor following:--

"Mr. Editor: I have observed in some of your last papers, Essays on
Various subjects, and am very much pleased with them, and wish you to
continue them. If you will do this, you will oblige

"MARIA LOUISA HATHORNE."

"We hail the above communication," writes the editor with exaggerated
gratitude, "as the dawn of a happy day for us." In his next and final
issue, though (September, 18, 1820), he satirically evinces his
dissatisfaction at the want of a literary fraternity in his native land,
through this "Request":--

"As it is part of the plan of the Spectator to criticise
home-manufactured publications, we most earnestly desire some of our
benevolent Readers to write a book for our special benefit. At present
we feel as we were wont to do in the days of our Boyhood, when we
possessed a Hatchet, without anything to exercise it upon. We engage to
execute the Printing and Binding, and to procure the Paper for the Work,
free of all expense to the Author. If this request should be denied us,
we must infallibly turn our arms against our own writings, which, as
they will not stand the test of criticism, we feel very unwilling to do.
We do not wish that the proposed work should be too perfect; the Author
will please to make a few blunders for us to exercise our Talents upon."

In these quotations one sees very clearly the increased maturity (though
it be only by a year or two) of the lad, since the engrossing of his
records at Raymond. We get in these his entire mood, catch gleams of a
steady fire of ambition under the light, self-possessed air of assumed
indifference, and see how easily already his humor began to play, with
that clear and sweet ripeness that warms some of his more famous pages,
like late sunshine striking through clusters of mellow and translucent
grapes. Yet our grasp of his mental situation at this point would not be
complete, without recognition of the graver emotions that sometimes
throbbed beneath the surface. The doubt, the hesitancy that sometimes
must have weighed upon his lonely, self-reliant spirit with weary
movelessness, and all the pain of awakening ambition and departing
boyhood, seem to find a symbol in this stanza from the fourth
"Spectator":--

  "Days of my youth, ye fleet away,
  As fades the bright sun's cheering ray,
  And scarce my infant hours are gone,
  Ere manhood's troubled step comes on.
    My infant hours return no more,
    And all their happiness is o'er;
    The stormy sea of life appears,
    A scene of tumult and of tears."

Of the vexations of unfledged manhood the boy of sixteen did not speak
without knowledge. Various sorts of pressure from uncongenial sources
were now and then brought to bear upon him; there was present always the
galling consciousness of depending on others for support, and of being
less self-sustaining than approaching manhood made him wish to be.
Allusion has been made to his doing writing for his uncle William. "I
still continue," he says in a letter of October, 1820, to his mother at
Raymond, "to write for Uncle William, and find my salary quite
convenient for many purposes." This, to be sure, was a first approach to
self-support, and flattering to his sense of proper dignity. But
Hawthorne, in character as in genius, had a passion for maturity. An
outpouring of his thoughts on this and other matters, directed to his
sister, accompanies the letter just cited. Let us read it here as he
wrote it more than a half-century ago:--

DEAR SISTER:--I am very angry with you for not sending me some of your
poetry, which I consider a great piece of ingratitude. You will not see
one line of mine until you return the confidence which I have placed in
you. I have bought the 'Lord of the Isles,' and intend either to send or
to bring it to you. I like it as well as any of Scott's other poems. I
have read Hogg's "Tales," "Caleb Williams," "St. Lean," and
"Mandeville." I admire Godwin's novels, and intend to read them all. I
shall read the "Abbot," by the author of "Waverley," as soon as I can
hire it. I have read all Scott's novels except that. I wish I had not,
that I might have the pleasure of reading them again. Next to these I
like "Caleb Williams." I have almost given up writing poetry. No man can
be a Poet and a book-keeper at the same time. I do find this place most
"dismal," and have taken to chewing tobacco with all my might, which, I
think, raises my spirits. Say nothing of it in your letters, nor of the
"Lord of the Isles." ... I do not think I shall ever go to college. I
can scarcely bear the thought of living upon Uncle Robert for four years
longer. How happy I should be to be able to say, "I am Lord of myself!"
You may cut off this part of my letter, and show the other to Uncle
Richard. Do write me some letters in skimmed milk. [The shy spirit finds
it thus hard, even thus early, to be under possible surveillance in his
epistolary musings, and wants to write invisibly.] I must conclude, as I
am in a "monstrous hurry!"

Your affectionate brother, NATH. HATHORNE.

P. S. The most beautiful poetry I think I ever saw begins:--

  "She's gone to dwell in Heaven, my lassie,
  She's gone to dwell in Heaven:
  Ye're ow're pure quo' a voice aboon
  For dwalling out of Heaven."

It is not the words, but the thoughts. I hope you have read it, as I
know you would admire it.

As to the allusion to college, it is but a single ray let into the
obscurity of a season when the sensitive, sturdy, proud young heart must
have borne many a vigil of vexatious and bitter revery. And this must
not be left out in reckoning the grains and scruples that were
compounding themselves into his inner consciousness. But at last he
struck a balance, wisely, among his doubts; and in the fall of 1821 he
went to Bowdoin to become one of the famous class with Longfellow and
Cheever, the memory of which has been enwreathed with the gentle verse
of "Morituri Salutamus,"--a fadeless garland. In "Fanshawe," an
anonymous work of his youth, Hawthorne has pictured some aspects of the
college at Brunswick, under a very slight veil of fiction.

"From the exterior of the collegians," he says, "an accurate observer
might pretty safely judge how long they had been inmates of those
classic walls. The brown cheeks and the rustic dress of some would
inform him that they had but recently left the plough, to labor in a not
less toilsome field. The grave look and the intermingling of garments of
a more classic cut would distinguish those who had begun to acquire the
polish of their new residence; and the air of superiority, the paler
cheek, the less robust form, the spectacles of green, and the dress in
general of threadbare black, would designate the highest class, who were
understood to have acquired nearly all the science their Alma Mater
could bestow, and to be on the point of assuming their stations in the
world. There were, it is true, exceptions to this general description. A
few young men had found their way hither from the distant seaports; and
these were the models of fashion to their rustic companions, over whom
they asserted a superiority in exterior accomplishments, which the
fresh, though unpolished intellect of the sons of the forest denied them
in their literary competitions. A third class, differing widely from
both the former, consisted of a few young descendants of the aborigines,
to whom an impracticable philanthropy was endeavoring to impart the
benefits of civilization.

"If this institution did not offer all the advantages of elder and
prouder seminaries, its deficiencies were compensated to its students by
the inculcation of regular habits, and of a deep and awful sense of
religion, which seldom deserted them in their course through life. The
mild and gentle rule ... was more destructive to vice than a sterner
sway; and though youth is never without its follies, they have seldom
been more harmless than they were here. The students, indeed, ignorant
of their own bliss, sometimes wished to hasten the time of their
entrance on the business of life; but they found, in after years, that
many of their happiest remembrances, many of the scenes which they would
with least reluctance live over again, referred to the seat of their
early studies."

       *       *       *       *       *

He here divides the honors pleasantly between the forest-bred and
city-trained youth, having, from his own experience, an interest in each
class. Yet I think he must have sided, in fact, with the country boys.
Horatio Bridge, his classmate, and throughout life a more confidential
friend than Pierce, was brought up on his father's estate at Bridgton,
north of Sebago Lake; and Franklin Pierce, in the class above him, his
only other frequent companion, was a native of the New Hampshire
hill-lands. He himself, in his outward bearing, perhaps gathered to his
person something the look of both the seaport lads and the sturdy
mountaineers and woodsmen. He was large and strong (in a letter to his
uncle Robert, just before entering college, he gives the measure of his
foot, for some new shoes that are to be sent; it is ten inches), but an
interior and ruling grace removed all suspicion of heaviness. Being a
sea-captain's son, he would naturally make his connections at college
with men who had the out-of-doors glow about them; the simple and severe
life at Raymond, too, had put him in sympathy with the people rather
than with the patricians (although I see that the reminiscences of some
of the old dwellers near Raymond describe the widow and her brother
Richard as being exclusive and what was there thought "aristocratic").
Hawthorne, Pierce, and Bridge came together in the Athenaean Society,
the newer club of the two college literary unions, and the more
democratic; and the trio preserved their cordial relations intact for
forty years, sometimes amid confusions and misconstructions, or between
cross-fires of troublous counter-considerations, with a rare fidelity.
Hawthorne held eminent scholarship easily within his grasp, but he and
his two cronies seem to have taken their curriculum very easily, though
they all came off well in the graduation. Hawthorne was a good Latinist.
The venerable Professor Packard has said that his Latin compositions,
even in the Freshman year, were remarkable; and Mr. Longfellow tells me
that he recalls the graceful and poetic translations which his classmate
used to give from the Roman authors. He got no celebrity in Greek, I
believe, but he always kept up his liking for the Latin writers. Some
years since a Latin theme of his was found, which had been delivered at
an exhibition of the Athenaean Society, in December, 1823. [Footnote:
See Appendix II.] It shows some niceties of selection, and the style is
neat; I even fancy something individual in the choice of the words
_sanctior nec beatior_, as applied to the republic, and a
distinctly Hawthornesque distinction in the _fulgor tantum fuit sine
fervore_; though a relic of this kind should not be examined too
closely, and claims the same exemption that one gives to Shelley's
school-compelled verses, _In Horologium_.

His English compositions also excited notice. Professor Newman gave them
high commendation, and Mr. Bridge speaks of their superiority. But none
of them have survived; whether owing to the author's vigilant
suppression, or to the accidents of time. It was Hawthorne's habit as a
young man to destroy all of his own letters that he could find, on
returning home after an absence; and few records of his college life
remain. Here is a brief note, however.

BRUNSWICK, August 12, 1823.

MY DEAR UNCLE:--I received your letter in due time, and should have
answered it in due season, if I had not been prevented, as L----
conjectures, by laziness. The money was very acceptable to me, and will
last me till the end of the term, which is three weeks from next
Wednesday. I shall then have finished one half of my college life.... I
suppose your farm prospers, and I hope you will have abundance of fruit,
and that I shall come home time enough to eat some of it, which I should
prefer to all the pleasure of cultivating it. I have heard that there is
a steamboat which runs twice a week between Portland and Boston. If this
be the case I should like to come home that way, if mother has no
apprehension of the boiler's bursting.

I really have had a great deal to do this term, as, in addition to the
usual exercises, we have to write a theme or essay of three or four
pages, every fortnight, which employs nearly all my time, so that I hope
you will not impute my neglect of writing wholly to laziness....

Your affectionate nephew, NATH. HATHORNE.

This letter, as well as the others here given, shows how much of boyish
simplicity surrounded and protected the rare and distinct personality
already unfolded in this youth of eighteen. The mixture makes the charm of
Hawthorne's youth, as the union of genius and common-sense kept his
maturity alive with a steady and wholesome light. I fancy that obligatory
culture irked him then, as always, and that he chose his own green lanes
toward the advancement of learning. His later writings vouchsafe only two
slight glimpses of the college days. In his Life of Franklin Pierce, he
recalls Pierce's chairmanship of the Athenaean Society, on the committee
of which he himself held a place. "I remember, likewise," he says, "that
the only military service of my life was as a private soldier in a
college company, of which Pierce was one of the officers. He entered
into this latter business, or pastime, with an earnestness with which I
could not pretend to compete, and at which, perhaps, he would now be
inclined to smile." But much more intimate and delightful is the
reminiscence which, in the dedicatory preface of "The Snow Image,"
addressed to his friend Bridge, he thus calls up. "If anybody is
responsible for my being at this day an author, it is yourself. I know
not whence your faith came: but, while we were lads together at a
country college, gathering blueberries in study hours under those tall
academic pines; or watching the great logs as they tumbled along the
current of the Androscoggin; or shooting pigeons and gray squirrels in
the woods; or bat-fowling in the summer twilight; or catching treats in
that shadowy little stream, which, I suppose, is still wandering
riverward through the forest,--though you and I will never cast a line
in it again,--two idle lads, in short (as we need not fear to
acknowledge now), doing a hundred things that the Faculty never heard
of, or else it had been the worse for us,--still it was your prognostic
of your friend's destiny, that he was to be a writer of fiction." I have
asked Mr. Bridge what gave him this impression of Hawthorne, and he
tells me that it was an indescribable conviction, aroused by the whole
drift of his friend's mind as he saw it. Exquisite indeed must have been
that first fleeting aroma of genius; and I would that it might have been
then and there imprisoned and perpetuated for our delight. But we must
be satisfied with the quick and sympathetic insight with which
Hawthorne's friend discovered his true bent. The world owes more,
probably, to this early encouragement from a college companion than it
can ever estimate.

Nothing in human intercourse, I think, has a more peculiar and
unchanging value than the mutual impressions of young men at college:
they meet at a moment when the full meaning of life just begins to
unfold itself to them, and their fresh imaginations build upon two or
three traits the whole character of a comrade, where a maturer man
weighs and waits, doubts and trusts, and ends after all with a like or
dislike that is only lukewarm. Far on toward the close of life,
Hawthorne, in speaking of something told him by an English gentleman
respecting a former classmate of the latter's, wrote: "It seemed to be
one of those early impressions which a collegian gets of his
fellow-students, and which he never gets rid of, whatever the character
of the person may turn out to be in after years. I have judged several
persons in this way, and still judge them so, though the world has come
to very different opinions. Which is right,--the world, which has the
man's whole mature life on its side; or his early companion, who has
nothing for it but some idle passages of his youth?" The world,
doubtless, measures more accurately the intrinsic worth of the man's
mature actions; but his essential characteristics, creditable or
otherwise, are very likely to be better understood by his classmates. In
this, then, we perceive one of the formative effects on Hawthorne's mind
of his stay at Brunswick. Those four years of student life gave him a
thousand eyes for observing and analyzing character. He learned then,
also, to choose men on principles of his own. Always afterward he was
singularly independent in selecting friends; often finding them even in
unpopular and out-of-the-way persons. The affinity between himself and
Bridge was ratified by forty years of close confidence; and Hawthorne
never swerved from his early loyalty to Pierce, though his faithfulness
gave him severe trials, both public and private, afterward. I am not of
those who explain this steadfastness by a theory of early prepossession
on Hawthorne's part, blinding him to Pierce's errors or defects. There
is ample proof in the correspondence between Bridge and himself, which I
have seen, that he constantly and closely scanned his distinguished
friend the President's character with his impartial and searching eye
for human character, whatsoever its relations to himself. I believe if
he had ever found that the original nucleus of honor and of a certain
candor which had charmed him in Pierce was gone, he would, provided it
seemed his duty, have rejected the friendship. As it was, he saw his old
friend and comrade undergoing changes which he himself thought
hazardous, saw him criticised in a post where no one ever escaped the
severest criticism, and beheld him return to private life amid
unpopularity, founded, as he thought, upon misinterpretation of what was
perhaps error, but not dishonesty. Meanwhile he felt that the old
"Frank," his brother through Alma Mater, dwelt still within the person
of the public man; and though to claim that brotherhood exposed
Hawthorne, under the circumstances, to cruel and vulgar insinuations, he
saw that duty led him to the side of his friend, not to that of the
harsh multitude.

Perhaps his very earliest contribution to light literature was an
apocryphal article which he is said to have written when about eighteen
or nineteen. Just then there came into notice a voracious insect, gifted
with peculiar powers against pear-trees. Knowing that his uncle was
especially concerned in fruit culture, Hawthorne wrote, and sent from
college to a Boston paper, a careful description of the new destroyer,
his habits, and the proper mode of combating him, all drawn from his own
imagination. It was printed, so the tale runs; and a package of the
papers containing it arrived in Salem just as the author reached there
for a brief vacation. Mr. Manning is said to have accepted in good faith
the knowledge which the article supplied, but Hawthorne's amusement was
not unmixed with consternation at the success of his first essay.

In the two or three letters from him at college which still survive,
there is no open avowal of the inner life, which was then the supplier
of events for his outwardly monotonous days; not a breath of that strain
of revery and fancy which impressed Bridge's mind! One allusion shows
that he systematically omitted declamation; and an old term bill of 1824
(the last year of his course) charges him with a fine of twenty cents
for neglect of theme! Spur to authorship:--the Faculty surely did its
best to develop his genius, and cannot be blamed for any shortcomings.
[Footnote: The amount of this bill, for the term ending May 21, 1824, is
but $19.62, of which $2.36 is made up of fines. The figures give a
backward glimpse at the epoch of cheap living, but show that the
disinclination of students to comply with college rules was even then
expensive. The "average of damages" is only thirty-three cents, from
which I infer that the class was not a destructive one.] Logically,
these tendencies away from essay and oratory are alien to minds destined
to produce literature; but empirically, they are otherwise. Meantime, we
get a sudden light on some of the solid points of character, apart from
genius, in this note from the college president, and the student's
parallel epistles.

May 29, 1822.

MRS. ELIZABETH C. HATHORNE.

MADAM:----By note of the Executive Government of this college, it is
made my duty to request your co-operation with us in the attempt to
induce your son faithfully to observe the laws of this institution. He
was this day fined fifty cents for playing cards for money, last term.
He played at different times. Perhaps he might not have gained, were it
not for the influence of a student whom we have dismissed from college.
It does not appear that your son has very recently played cards; yet
your advice may be beneficial to him. I am, madam,

Very respectfully,

Your obedient, humble servant,

WILLIAM ALLEN, _President_.

The next day after this note was written (on May 30, 1822) the subject
of it wrote thus:--

"MY DEAR MOTHER:--I hope you have safely arrived in Salem. I have
nothing particular to inform you of, except that all the card-players in
college have been found out, and my unfortunate self among the number.
One has been dismissed from college, two suspended, and the rest, with
myself, have been fined fifty cents each. I believe the President
intends to write to the friends of all the delinquents. Should that be
the case, you must show the letter to nobody. If I am again detected, I
shall have the honor of being suspended; when the President asked what
we played for, I thought it proper to inform him it was fifty cents,
although it happened to be a quart of wine; but if I had told him of
that, he would probably have fined me for having a blow. [It appears
that the mild dissipation of wine-drinking in vogue at Bowdoin at that
time was called having a "blow;" probably an abbreviation for the common
term "blow-out," applied to entertainments.] There was no untruth in the
case, as the wine cost fifty cents. I have not played at all this term.
I have not drank any kind of spirits or wine this term, and shall not
till the last week."

But in a letter to one of his sisters (dated August 5, 1822) a few
months afterward, he touches the matter much more vigorously:--

"To quiet your suspicions, I can assure you that I am neither 'dead,
absconded, or anything worse.' [The allusion is to some reproach for a
long silence on his part.] I have involved myself in no 'foolish
scrape,' as you say all my friends suppose; but ever since my misfortune
I have been as steady as a sign-post, and as sober as a deacon, have
been in no 'blows' this term, nor drank any kind of 'wine or strong
drink.' So that your comparison of me to the 'prodigious son' will hold
good in nothing, except that I shall probably return penniless, for I
have had no money this six weeks.... The President's message is not so
severe as I expected. I perceive that he thinks I have been led away by
the wicked ones, in which, however, he is greatly mistaken. I was full
as willing to play as the person he suspects of having enticed me, and
would have been influenced by no one. I have a great mind to commence
playing again, merely to show him that I scorn to be seduced by another
into anything wrong."

I cannot but emphasize with my own words the manly, clear-headed
attitude of the young student in these remarks. He has evidently made up
his mind to test the value of card-playing for wine, and thinks
himself--as his will be the injury, if any--the best judge of the wisdom
of that experiment. A weaker spirit, too, a person who knew himself less
thoroughly, would have taken shelter under the President's charitable
theory with thanksgiving; but Hawthorne's perfectly simple moral sense
and ingrained manhood would not let him forget that self-respect lives
by truth alone. In this same letter he touches lesser affairs:--

"I have not read the two novels you mention. I began some time ago to
read Hume's 'History of England,' but found it so abominably dull that I
have given up the undertaking until some future time. I can procure
books of all sorts from the library of the Athenaean Society, of which I
am a member. The library consists of about eight hundred volumes, among
which is Rees's Cyclopaedia [this work was completed in 1819], and many
other valuable works.... Our class will be examined on Tuesday for
admittance to our Sophomore year. If any of us are found deficient, we
shall be degraded to the Freshman class again; from which misfortune may
Heaven defend me."

But the young Freshman's trepidation, if he really felt any, was soon
soothed; he passed on successfully through his course. Not only did he
graduate well, but he had also, as we shall see, begun to prepare
himself for his career. Here is a letter which gives, in a fragmentary
way, his mood at graduation:--

"BRUNSWICK, July 14, 1825.

"MY DEAR SISTER:--.... I am not very well pleased with Mr. Dike's report
of me. The family had before conceived much too high an opinion of my
talents, and had probably formed expectations which I shall never
realize. I have thought much upon the subject, and have finally come to
the conclusion that I shall never make a distinguished figure in the
world, and all I hope or wish is to plod along with the multitude. I do
not say this for the purpose of drawing any flattery from you, but
merely to set mother and the rest of you right upon a point where your
partiality has led you astray. I did hope that Uncle Robert's opinion of
me was nearer to the truth, as his deportment toward me never expressed
a very high estimation of my abilities."

Mr. Dike was a relative, who had probably gone back to Salem, after
seeing the young man at Brunswick, with a eulogy on his lips.
Hawthorne's modesty held too delicate a poise to bear a hint of praise,
before he had yet been put to the test or accomplished anything
decisive. In some ways this modesty and shyness may have postponed his
success as an author; yet it was this same delicate admixture which
precipitated and made perfect the mysterious solution in which his
genius lay. The wish "to plod along with the multitude," seemingly
unambitious, is only a veil. The hearts that burn most undyingly with
hope of achievement in art, often throw off this vapor of discontent;
they feel a prophetic thrill of that nameless suffering through which
every seeker of truth must pass, and they long beforehand for rest, for
the sweet obscurity of the ungifted.

Another part of this letter shows the writer's standing at college:--

"Did the President write to you about my part? He called me to his
study, and informed me that, though my rank in the class entitled me to
a part, yet it was contrary to the law to give me one, on account of my
neglect of declamation. As he inquired mother's name and residence, I
suppose that he intended to write to her on the subject. If so, you will
send me a copy of the letter. I am perfectly satisfied with this
arrangement, as it is a sufficient testimonial to my scholarship, while
it saves me the mortification of making my appearance in public at
Commencement. Perhaps the family may not be so much pleased by it. Tell
me what are their sentiments on the subject.

"I shall return home in three weeks from next Wednesday."

Here the dim record of his collegiate days ceases, leaving him on the
threshold of the world, a fair scholar, a budding genius, strong, young,
and true, yet hesitant; halting for years, as if gathering all his
shy-souled courage, before entering that arena that was to echo such
long applause of him. Yet doubt not that the purpose to do some great
thing was already a part of his life, together with that longing for
recognition which every young poet, in the sweet uncertain certainty of
beginning, feels that he must some day deserve. Were not these words,
which I find in "Fanshawe," drawn from the author's knowledge of his own
heart?

"He called up the years that, even at his early age, he had spent in
solitary study,--in conversation with the dead,--while he had scorned to
mingle with the living world, or to be actuated by any of its motives.
Fanshawe had hitherto deemed himself unconnected with the world,
unconcerned in its feelings, and uninfluenced by it in any of his
pursuits. In this respect he probably deceived himself. If his inmost
heart could have been laid open, there would have been discovered that
dream of undying fame, which, dream as it is, is more powerful than a
thousand realities."

Already, while at Bowdoin, Hawthorne had begun to write verses, and
perhaps to print some of them anonymously in the newspapers. From some
forgotten poem of his on the sea, a single stanza has drifted down to
us, like a bit of beach-wood, the relic of a bark too frail to last. It
is this:--

  "The ocean hath its silent caves,
  Deep, quiet, and alone;
  Though there be fury on the waves,
  Beneath them there is none."

If one lets the lines ring in his ears a little, the true Hawthornesque
murmur and half-mournful cadence become clear. I am told, by the way,
that when the Atlantic cable was to be laid, some one quoted this to a
near relative of the writer's, not remembering the name of the author,
but thinking it conclusive proof that the ocean depths would receive the
cable securely. Another piece is preserved complete, and much more
nearly does the writer justice:--

"MOONLIGHT.

  "We are beneath the dark blue sky,
  And the moon is shining bright;
  O, what can lift the soul so high
  As the glow of a summer night;
  When all the gay are hushed to sleep
  And they that mourn forget to weep,
  Beneath that gentle light!

  "Is there no holier, happier land
  Among those distant spheres,
  Where we may meet that shadow band,
  The dead of other years?
  Where all the day the moonbeams rest,
  And where at length the souls are blest
  Of those who dwell in tears?

  "O, if the happy ever leave
  The bowers of bliss on high,
  To cheer the hearts of those that grieve,
  And wipe the tear-drop dry;
  It is when moonlight sheds its ray,
  More pure and beautiful than day,
  And earth is like the sky."

At a time when the taste and manner of Pope in poetry still held such
strong rule over readers as it did in the first quarter of the century,
these simple stanzas would not have been unworthy of praise for a
certain independence; but there is something besides in the refined
touch and the plaintive undertone that belong to Hawthorne's
individuality. This gentle and musical poem, it is curious to remember,
was written at the very period when Longfellow was singing his first
fresh carols, full of a vigorous pleasure in the beauty and inspiration
of nature, with a rising and a dying fall for April and Autumn, and the
Winter Woods. One can easily fancy that in these two lines from "Sunrise
on the Hills":--

  "Where, answering to the sudden shot, thin smoke
  Through thick-leaved branches from the dingle broke,"

it was the fire of Hawthorne's fowling-piece in the woods that attracted
the young poet, from his lookout above. But Longfellow had felt in the
rhythm of these earliest poems the tide-flow of his future, and Hawthorne
had as yet hardly found his appropriate element.

In 1828, however, three years after graduating, he published an
anonymous prose romance called "Fanshawe," much more nearly approaching
a novel than his later books. It was issued at Boston, by Marsh and
Capen; but so successful was Hawthorne in his attempt to exterminate the
edition, that not half a dozen copies are now known to be extant. We
have seen that he read and admired Godwin and Scott, as a boy.
"Kenilworth," "The Pirate," "The Fortunes of Nigel," "Peveril of the
Peak," "Quentin Durward," and others of Scott's novel; had appeared
while Hawthorne was at Bowdoin; and the author of "Waverley" had become
the autocrat of fiction. In addition to this, there is an inbred analogy
between New England and Scotland. In the history and character of the
people of each country are seen the influence of Calvin, and of a
common-school system. Popular education was ingrafted upon the policy of
both states at about the same period, and in both it has had the same
result, making of the farming-class a body of energetic, thrifty,
intelligent, and aspiring people. Scotland and New England alike owe
some of their best as well as their least attractive traits to bitter
climate and a parsimonious soil; and the rural population of either is
pushed into emigration by the scanty harvests at home. It is not a
little singular that the Yankee and the canny Scot should each stand as
a butt for the wit of his neighbors, while each has a shrewdness all his
own. The Scotch, it is true, are said to be unusually impervious to a
joke, while our Down-Easters are perhaps the most recondite and
many-sided of American humorists. And, though many of the conditions of
the two regions are alike, the temperaments of the two races are of
course largely dissimilar. The most salient distinction, perhaps, is
that of the Scotch being a musical and dancing nation; something from
which the New-Englanders are fatally far removed. As if to link him with
his Puritan ancestry and stamp him beyond mistake as a Pilgrim and not a
Covenanter, Hawthorne was by nature formed with little ear for music. It
seems strange that a man who could inform the verses on "Moonlight,"
just quoted, with so delicate a melody, and never admitted an ill-timed
strain or jarring cadence into his pure, symphonious prose, should
scarcely be able to distinguish one tune from another. Yet such was the
case. But this was owing merely to the absence of the _musical_
instinct. He would listen with rapture to the unaccompanied voice; and I
have been always much touched by a little incident recorded in the
"English Note-Books": "There is a woman who has several times passed
through this Hanover Street in which we live, stopping occasionally to
sing songs under the windows; and last evening ... she came and sang
'Kathleen O'Moore' richly and sweetly. Her voice rose up out of the dim,
chill street, and made our hearts throb in unison with it as we sat in
our comfortable drawing-room. I never heard a voice that touched me more
deeply. Somebody told her to go away, and she stopped like a nightingale
suddenly shot." Hawthorne goes on to speak with wonder of the waste of
such a voice, "making even an unsusceptible heart vibrate like a
harp-string"; and it is pleasant to know that Mrs. Hawthorne had the
woman called within, from the street. So that his soul was open to
sound. But the unmusicalness of New England, less marked now than
formerly, is only a symbol, perhaps,--grievous that it should be so!--of
the superior temperance of our race. For, by one of those strange
oversights that human nature is guilty of, Scotland, in opening the door
for song and dance and all the merry crew of mirth, seems to admit quite
freely two vagabonds that have no business there, Squalor and
Drunkenness. Yet notwithstanding this grave unlikeness between the two
peoples, Hawthorne seems to have found a connecting clew, albeit
unwittingly, when he remarked, as he did, on his first visit to Glasgow,
that in spite of the poorer classes there excelling even those of
Liverpool in filth and drunkenness, "they are a better looking people
than the English (and this is true of all classes), more intelligent of
aspect, with more regular, features." There is certainly one quality
linking the two nations together which has not yet been commented on, in
relation to Hawthorne; and this is the natural growth of the weird in
the popular mind, both here and in Scotland. It is not needful to enter
into this at all at length. In the chapter on Salem I have suggested
some of the immediate factors of the weird element in Hawthorne's
fiction; but it deserves remark that only Scott and Hawthorne, besides
George Sand, among modern novelists, have used the supernatural with
real skill and force; and Hawthorne has certainly infused it into his
work by a more subtle and sympathetic gift than even the magic-loving
Scotch romancer owned. After this digressive prelude, the reader will be
ready to hear me announce that "Fanshawe" was a faint reflection from
the young Salem recluse's mind of certain rays thrown across the
Atlantic from Abbotsford. But this needs qualification.

Hawthorne indeed admired Scott, when a youth; and after he had returned
from abroad, in 1860, he fulfilled a tender purpose, formed on a visit
to Abbotsford, of re-reading all the Waverley novels. Yet he had long
before arrived at a ripe, unprejudiced judgment concerning him. The
exact impression of his feeling appears in that delightfully humorous
whimsey, "P.'s Correspondence," which contains the essence of the best
criticism. [Footnote: See Mosses from an Old Manse, Vol. II.] In
allusion to Abbotsford, Scott, he says, "whether in verse, prose, or
architecture, could achieve but one thing, although that one in infinite
variety." And he adds: "For my part, I can hardly regret that Sir Walter
Scott had lost his consciousness of outward things before his works went
out of vogue. It was good that he should forget his fame, rather than
that fame should first have forgotten him. Were he still a writer, and
as brilliant a one as ever, he could no longer maintain anything like
the same position in literature. The world, nowadays, requires a more
earnest purpose, a deeper moral, and a closer and homelier truth than he
was qualified to supply it with. Yet who can be to the present
generation even what Scott has been to the past?" Now, in "Fanshawe"
there is something that reminds one of Sir Walter; but the very
resemblance makes the essential unlikeness more apparent.

The scene of the tale is laid at Harley College, "in an ancient, though
not very populous settlement in a retired corner of one of the New
England States." This, no doubt, is a reproduction of Bowdoin. Mr.
Longfellow tells me that the descriptions of the seminary and of the
country around it strongly suggest the Brunswick College. The President
of Harley is a Dr. Melmoth, an amiable and simple old delver in
learning, in a general way recalling Dominie Sampson, whose vigorous
spouse rules him somewhat severely: their little bickerings supply a
strain of farce indigenous to Scott's fictions, but quite unlike
anything in Hawthorne's later work. A young lady, named Ellen Langton,
daughter of an old friend of Dr. Melmoth's, is sent to Harley, to stay
under his guardianship. Ellen is somewhat vaguely sketched, in the style
of Scott's heroines; but this sentence ends with a trace of the young
writer's quality: "If pen could give an adequate idea of Ellen Langton's
beauty, it would achieve what pencil ... never could; for though the
dark eyes might be painted, the pure and pleasant thoughts that peeped
through them could only be seen and felt." This maiden the doctor once
took into his study, to begin a course of modern languages with her; but
she "having discovered an old romance among his heavy folios, contrived
by the sweet charm of her voice to engage his attention," and quite
beguiled him from severer studies. Naturally, she inthralls two young
students at the college: one of whom is Edward Wolcott, a wealthy,
handsome, generous, healthy young fellow from one of the seaport towns;
and the other, Fanshawe, the hero, who is a poor but ambitious recluse,
already passing into a decline through overmuch devotion to books and
meditation. Fanshawe, though the deeper nature of the two, and intensely
moved by his new passion, perceiving that a union between himself and
Ellen could not be a happy one, resigns the hope of it from the
beginning. But circumstances bring him into intimate relation with her.
The real action of the book, after the preliminaries, takes up only some
three days, and turns upon the attempt of a man named Butler to entice
Ellen away under his protection, then marry her, and secure the fortune
to which she is heiress. This scheme is partly frustrated by
circumstances, and Butler's purpose towards Ellen then becomes a much
more sinister one. From this she is rescued by Fanshawe; and, knowing
that he loves her, but is concealing his passion, she gives him the
opportunity and the right to claim her hand. For a moment, the rush of
desire and hope is so great that he hesitates; then he refuses to take
advantage of her generosity, and parts with her for the last time. Ellen
becomes engaged to Wolcott, who had won her heart from the first; and
Fanshawe, sinking into rapid consumption, dies before his class
graduates. It is easy to see how the sources of emotion thus opened
attracted Hawthorne. The noble and refined nature of Fanshawe, and the
mingled craftiness, remorse, and ferocity of Butler, are crude
embodiments of the same characteristics which he afterward treated in
modified forms. They are the two poles, the extremes,--both of them
remote and chilly,--of good and evil, from which the writer withdrew,
after exploring them, into more temperate regions. The movement of these
persons is visionary, and their personality faint. But I have marked a
few characteristic portions of the book which suggest its tone.

When the young lady's flight with the stranger actually takes place,
young Wolcott and President Melmoth ride together in the pursuit, and at
this point there occurs a dialogue which is certainly as laughable and
is better condensed than most similar passages in Scott, whom it
strongly recalls. A hint of Cervantes appears in it, too, which makes it
not out of place to mention that Hawthorne studied "Don Quixote" in the
original, soon after leaving college.

       *       *       *       *       *

"'Alas, youth! these are strange times,' observed the President, 'when a
doctor of divinity and an undergraduate set forth like a knight-errant
and his squire, in search of a stray damsel. Methinks I am an epitome of
the church militant, or a new species of polemical divinity. Pray
Heaven, however, there be no encounter in store for us; for I utterly
forgot to provide myself with weapons.'

"'I took some thought for that matter, reverend knight,' replied Edward,
whose imagination was highly tickled by Dr. Melmoth's chivalrous
comparison.

"'Ay, I see that you have girded on a sword,' said the divine. 'But
wherewith shall I defend myself?--my hand being empty except of this
golden-headed staff, the gift of Mr. Langton.'

"'One of those, if you will accept it,' answered Edward, exhibiting a
brace of pistols, 'will serve to begin the conflict, before you join the
battle hand to hand.'

"'Nay, I shall find little safety in meddling with that deadly
instrument, since I know not accurately from which end proceeds the
bullet,' said Dr. Melmoth. 'But were it not better, seeing we are so
well provided with artillery, to betake ourselves, in the event of an
encounter, to some stone-wall or other place of strength?'

"'If I may presume to advise,' said the squire, 'you, as being most
valiant and experienced, should ride forward, lance in hand (your long
staff serving for a lance), while I annoy the enemy from afar.'

"'Like Teucer behind the shield of Ajax,' interrupted Dr. Melmoth, 'or
David with his stone and sling. No, no, young man; I have left
unfinished in my study a learned treatise, important not only to the
present age, but to posterity, for whose sakes I must take heed to my
safety. But lo! who rides yonder?'"

       *       *       *       *       *

In one place only does the author give full rein to his tragic power;
but this is a vigorous burst, and remarkable also for its sure and
trenchant analysis. During his escape with Ellen, Butler is moved to
stop at a lonely hut inhabited by his mother, where he finds her dying;
and, torn by the sight of her suffering while she raves and yearns for
his presence, he makes himself known to her.

       *       *       *       *       *

"At that unforgotten voice, the darkness burst away at once from her
soul. She arose in bed, her eyes and her whole countenance beaming with
joy, and threw her arms about his neck. A multitude of words seem
struggling for utterance; but they gave place to a low moaning sound,
and then to the silence of death. The one moment of happiness, that
recompensed years of sorrow, had been her last.... As he [Butler]
looked, the expression of enthusiastic joy that parting life had left
upon the features faded gradually away, and the countenance, though no
longer wild, assumed the sadness which it had worn through a long course
of grief and pain. On beholding this natural consequence of death, the
thought perhaps occurred to him that her soul, no longer dependent on
the imperfect means of intercourse possessed by mortals, had communed
with his own, and become acquainted with all its guilt and misery. He
started from the bedside and covered his face with his hands, as if to
hide it from those dead eyes.... But his deep repentance for the misery
he had brought upon his parent did not produce in him a resolution to do
wrong no more. The sudden consciousness of accumulated guilt made him
desperate. He felt as if no one had thenceforth a claim to justice or
compassion at his hands, when his neglect and cruelty had poisoned his
mother's life, and hastened her death."

       *       *       *       *       *

What separates this story from the rest of Hawthorne's works is an
intricate plot, with passages of open humor, and a rather melodramatic
tone in the conclusion. These are the result in part of the prevalent
fashion of romance, and in part of a desire to produce effects not quite
consonant with his native bent. The choice of the title, "Fanshawe,"
too, seems to show a deference to the then prevalent taste for brief and
quaint-sounding names; and the motto, "Wilt thou go on with me?" from
Southey, placed on his title-page, together with quotations at the heads
of chapters, belongs to a past fashion. Fanshawe and Butler are powerful
conceptions, but they are so purely embodiments of passion as to assume
an air of unreality. Butler is like an evil wraith, and Fanshawe is as
evanescent as a sad cloud in the sky, touched with the first pale light
of morning. Fanshawe, with his pure heart and high resolves, represents
that constant aspiration toward lofty moral truth which marked
Hawthorne's own mind, and Butler is a crude example of the sinful spirit
which he afterward analyzed under many forms. The verbal style has few
marks of the maturer mould afterward impressed on it, except that there
is the preference always noticeable in Hawthorne for Latin wording. Two
or three phrases, however, show all the limpidness and ease for which he
gained fame subsequently. For instance, when Fanshawe is first surprised
by his love for Ellen, he returns to his room to study: "The books were
around him which had hitherto been to him like those fabled volumes of
magic, from which the reader could not turn away his eye, till death
were the consequence of his studies." This, too, is a pretty description
of Ellen: "Terror had at first blanched her as white as a lily.... Shame
next bore sway; and her blushing countenance, covered by her slender
white fingers, might fantastically be compared to a variegated rose,
with its alternate stripes of white and red." Its restraint is perhaps
the most remarkable trait of the novel; for though this comes of
timidity, it shows that Hawthorne, whether this be to his advantage or
not, was not of the order of young genius which begins with tumid and
excessive exhibition of power. His early acquaintance with books,
breeding a respect for literary form, his shy, considerate modes of
dealing with any intellectual problem or question requiring judgment,
and the formal taste of the period in letters, probably conspired to
this end.



IV.


TWILIGHT OF THE TWICE-TOLD TALES.

1828-1838.

We have now reached the point where the concealed foundations of
Hawthorne's life terminate, and the final structure begins to appear
above the surface, like the topmost portion of a coral island slowly
rising from the depths of a solitary ocean.

When he left college, his friends Cilley and Pierce entered into law,
the gateway to politics; Bridge returned to his father's estate at
Bridgton, to engage later in a large enterprise there; and other
classmates took up various activities in the midst of other men; but for
Hawthorne no very clear path presented itself. Literature had not yet
attained, in the United States, the rank of a distinct and powerful
profession. Fifteen years before, Brockden Brown had died prematurely
after a hapless struggle, worn out with overwork,--the first man who had
undertaken to live by writing in this country since its colonization.
"The North American Review," indeed, in Boston, was laying the
corner-stone of a vigorous periodical literature; and in this year of
1825 William Cullen Bryant had gone to New York to edit "The New York
Review," after publishing at Cambridge his first volume of poetry, "The
Ages." Irving was an author of recent but established fame, who was
drawing chiefly from the rich supplies of European manners, legend, and
history; while Cooper, in his pleasant Pioneer-land beside Otsego Lake,
had begun to make clear his claim to a wide domain of native and
national fiction. But to a young man of reserved temper, having few or
no friends directly connected with publication, and living in a sombre,
old-fashioned town, isolated as all like towns were before the era of
railroads, the avenue to publicity and a definite literary career was
dark and devious enough.

I suppose it was after his venture of "Fanshawe," that he set about the
composition of some shorter stories which he called "Seven Tales of my
Native Land." [Footnote: The motto prefixed to these was, "We are
seven."] His sister, to whom he read these, has told me that they were
very beautiful, but no definite recollection of them remains to her,
except that some of them related to witchcraft, and some to the sea,
being stories of pirates and privateers. In one of these latter were
certain verses, beginning,--

  "The pirates of the sea, they were a fearful race."

Hawthorne has described in "The Devil in Manuscript," while depicting a
young author about to destroy his manuscript, his own vexations in
trying to find a publisher for these attempts. "They have been offered
to some seventeen booksellers. It would make you stare to read their
answers.... One man publishes nothing but school-books; another has five
novels already under examination; ... another gentleman is just giving
up business on purpose, I verily believe, to escape publishing my
book.... In short, of all the seventeen booksellers, only one has
vouchsafed even to read my tales; and he--a literary dabbler himself, I
should judge--has the impertinence to criticise them, proposing what he
calls vast improvements, and concluding ... that he will not be
concerned on any terms.... But there does seem to be one honest man
among these seventeen unrighteous ones; and he tells me fairly that no
American publisher will meddle with an American work, seldom if by a
known writer, and never if by a new one, unless at the writer's risk."
He indeed had the most discouraging sort of search for a publisher; but
at last a young printer of Salem promised to undertake the work. His
name was Ferdinand Andrews; and he was at one time half-owner with Caleb
Cushing of an establishment from which they issued "The Salem Gazette,"
in 1822, the same journal in which Hawthorne published various papers at
a later date, when Mr. Caleb Foote was its editor. Andrews was
ambitious, and evidently appreciative of his young townsman's genius;
but he delayed issuing the "Seven Tales" so long that the author,
exasperated, recalled the manuscript. Andrews, waiting only for better
business prospects, was loath to let them go; but Hawthorne insisted,
and at last the publisher sent word, "Mr. Hawthorne's manuscript awaits
his orders." The writer received it and burned it, to the chagrin of
Andrews, who had hoped to bring out many works by the same hand.

This, at the time, must have been an incident of incalculable and
depressing importance to Hawthorne, and the intense emotion it caused
may be guessed from the utterances of the young writer in the sketch
just alluded to, though he has there veiled the affair in a light film
of sarcasm. The hero of that scene is called Oberon, one of the feigned
names which Hawthorne himself used at times in contributing to
periodicals. "'What is more potent than fire!' said he, in his gloomiest
tone. 'Even thought, invisible and incorporeal as it is, cannot escape
it.... All that I had accomplished, all that I planned for future years,
has perished by one common ruin, and left only this heap of embers! The
deed has been my fate. And what remains? A weary and aimless life; a
long repentance of this hour; and at last an obscure grave, where they
will bury and forget me!'" There is also an allusion to the tales
founded on witchcraft: "I could believe, if I chose," says Oberon, "that
there is a devil in this pile of blotted papers. You have read them, and
know what I mean,--that conception in which I endeavored to embody the
character of a fiend, as represented in our traditions and the written
records of witchcraft. O, I have a horror of what was created in my own
brain, and shudder at the manuscripts in which I gave that dark idea a
sort of material existence!' You remember how the hellish thing used to
suck away the happiness of those who ... subjected themselves to his
power." This is curious, as showing the point from which Hawthorne had
resolved to treat the theme. He had instinctively perceived that the
only way to make the witchcraft delusion available in fiction was to
accept the witch as a fact, an actual being, and expend his art upon
developing the abnormal character; while other writers, who have
attempted to use the subject for romantic ends, have uniformly taken the
historical view, and sought to extract their pathos from the effect of
the delusion on innocent persons. The historical view is that of
intelligent criticism; but Hawthorne's effort was the harbinger and
token of an original imagination.

After the publication of "Fanshawe" and the destruction of his "Seven
Tales," Hawthorne found himself advanced not so much as by a single
footstep on the road to fame. "Fame!" he exclaims, in meditation; "some
very humble persons in a town may be said to possess it,--as the
penny-post, the town-crier, the constable,--and they are known to
everybody; while many richer, more intellectual, worthier persons are
unknown by the majority of their fellow-citizens." But the fame that he
desired was, I think, only that which is the recognition by the public
that a man is on the way to truth. An outside acknowledgment of this is
invaluable even to the least vain of authors, because it assures him
that, in following his own inner impulse through every doubt and
discouragement, he has not been pursuing a chimera, and gives him new
heart for the highest enterprises of which he is capable. To attain
this, amid the peculiar surroundings of his life, was difficult enough.
At that time, Salem society was more peculiarly constituted than it has
been in later years. A strong circle of wealthy families maintained
rigorously the distinctions of class; their entertainments were
splendid, their manners magnificent, and the fame of the beautiful women
born amongst them has been confirmed by a long succession reaching into
the present day. They prescribed certain fashions, customs, punctilios,
to disregard which was social exile for the offending party; and they
were divided even among themselves, I am told, by the most inveterate
jealousies. It is said that certain people would almost have endured the
thumb-screw rather than meet and speak to others. There seems to be good
authority for believing that Hawthorne could have entered this circle,
had he so chosen. He had relatives who took an active part within it;
and it appears that there was a disposition among some of the
fashionable coterie to show him particular favor, and that advances were
made by them with the wish to draw him out. But one can conceive that it
would not be acceptable to him to meet them on any but terms of entire
equality. The want of ample supplies of money, which was one of the
results of the fallen fortunes of his family, made this impossible;
those who held sway were of older date in the place than some of the
Hawthornes, and, like many another long-established stock, they had a
conviction that, whatever their outward circumstances might be, a
certain intrinsic superiority remained theirs. They were, like the lady
of Hawthorne blood mentioned in the "American Note-Books," "proud of
being proud." The Hawthornes, it was said, were as unlike other people
as the Jews were to Gentiles; and the deep-rooted reserve which
enveloped Hawthorne himself was a distinct family trait. So that,
feeling himself to be in an unfair position, he doubtless found in these
facts enough to cause him acute irritation of that sort which only very
young or very proud and shrinking men can know. Besides this, the
altered circumstances of his line, and his years in Maine, had brought
him acquainted with humbler phases of life, and had doubtless developed
in him a sympathy with simpler and less lofty people than these
magnates. His father had been a Democrat, and loyalty to his memory, as
well as the very pride just spoken of, conspired to lead him to that
unpopular side. This set up another barrier between himself and the rich
and powerful Whigs, for political feeling was almost inconceivably more
bitter then than now. Thus there arose within him an unquiet,
ill-defined, comfortless antipathy that must have tortured him with
wearisome distress; and certainly shut him out from the sympathy and
appreciation which, if all the conditions had been different, might have
been given him by sincere and competent admirers. So little known among
his own townsfolk, it is not to be wondered at that no encouraging
answer reached him from more distant communities.

In his own home there was the faith which only love can give, but
outside of it a chill drove his hopes and ardors back upon himself and
turned them into despairs. His relatives, having seen him educated by
the aid of his uncle, and now arrived at maturity, expected him to take
his share in practical affairs. But the very means adopted to train him
for a career had settled his choice of one in a direction perhaps not
wholly expected; all cares and gains of ordinary traffic seemed sordid
and alien to him. Yet a young man just beginning his career, with no
solid proof of his own ability acquired, cannot but be sensitive to
criticism from those who have gained a right to comment by their own
special successes. As he watched these slow and dreary years pass by,
from his graduation in 1825 to the time when he first came fully before
the public in 1837, he must often have been dragged down by terrible
fears that perhaps the fairest period of life was being wasted, losing
forever the chance of fruition. "I sat down by the wayside of life," he
wrote, long after, "like a man under enchantment, and a shrubbery sprang
up around me, and the bushes grew to be saplings, and the saplings
became trees, until no exit appeared possible, through the entangling
depths of my obscurity." Judge in what a silence and solitary
self-communing the time must have passed, to leave a thought like this:
"To think, as the sun goes down, what events have happened in the course
of the day,--events of ordinary occurrence; as, the clocks have struck,
the dead have been buried." Or this: "A recluse like myself, or a
prisoner, to measure time by the progress of sunshine through his
chamber." His Note-Books show how the sense of unreality vexed and
pursued him; and how the sadness and solemnity of life returned upon him
again and again; and how he clothed these dark visitants of his brain
with the colors of imagination, and turned them away from him in the
guise of miraculous fantasies. He talks with himself of writing "the
journal of a human heart for a single day, in ordinary circumstances.
The lights and shadows that flit across it, its internal vicissitudes."
But this is almost precisely what his printed Note-Books have revealed
to us. Only now and then do we get precisely the thought that is passing
through his mind at the moment; it more often throws upon the page a
reflected image,--some strange and subtle hint for a story, the germs of
delicate fabrics long afterward matured, some merry or sad conceit, some
tender yet piercing inference,--like the shadows of clouds passing
quickly across a clear sky, and casting momentary glooms, and glances of
light, on the ground below. These journals do not begin until a date
seven years after "Fanshawe" was published; but it is safe to assume
that they mirror pretty closely the general complexion of the
intervening years.

His mode of life during this period was fitted to nurture his
imagination, but must have put the endurance of his nerves to the
severest test. The statement that for several years "he never saw the
sun," is entirely an error; but it is true that he seldom chose to walk
in the town except at night, and it is said that he was extremely fond
of going to fires if they occurred after dark. In summer he was up
shortly after sunrise, and would go down to bathe in the sea. The
morning was chiefly given to study, the afternoon to writing, and in the
evening he would take long walks, exploring the coast from Gloucester to
Marblehead and Lynn,--a range of many miles. Or perhaps he would pace
the streets of the town, unseen but observing, gathering material for
something in the vein of his delicious "Night Sketches." "After a time,"
he writes, "the visions vanish, and will not appear again at my bidding.
Then, it being nightfall, a gloomy sense of unreality depresses my
spirits, and impels me to venture out before the clock shall strike
bedtime, to satisfy myself that the world is not made of such shadowy
materials as have busied me throughout the day. A dreamer may dwell so
long among fantasies, that the things without him will seem as unreal as
those within." Or, if he chose a later hour, he might go abroad to
people the deserted thoroughfares with wilder phantoms. Sometimes he
took the day for his rambles, wandering perhaps over Endicott's ancient
Orchard Farm and among the antique houses and grassy cellars of old
Salem village, the witchcraft ground; or losing himself among the pines
of Montserrat and in the silence of the Great Pastures, or strolling
along the beaches to talk with old sailors and fishermen. His tramps
along the Manchester and Beverly shores or from Marblehead to Nahant
were productive of such delicate tracings as "Footprints by the
Sea-shore," or the dream-autobiography of "The Village Uncle." "Grudge
me not the day," he says, in the former sketch, "that has been spent in
seclusion, which yet was not solitude, since the great sea has been my
companion, and the little sea-birds my friends, and the wind has told me
his secrets, and airy shapes have flitted around my hermitage. Such
companionship works an effect upon a man's character, as if he had been
admitted to the society of creatures that are not mortal." This touches
the inmost secret of those lonely, youthful years, which moulded the
pure-hearted muser with ethereal, unsuspected fingers. Elsewhere,
Hawthorne has given another glimpse into his interior life at this time:
"This scene came into my fancy as I walked along a hilly road, on a
starlight October evening; in the pure and bracing air I became all
soul, and felt as if I could climb the sky, and run a race along the
Milky Way. Here is another tale in which I wrapped myself during a dark
and dreary night-ride in the month of March, till the rattling of the
wheels and the voices of my companions seemed like faint sounds of a
dream, and my visions a bright reality. That scribbled page describes
shadows which I summoned to my bedside at midnight; they would not
depart when I bade them; the gray dawn came, and found me wide awake and
feverish, the victim of my own enchantments!" Susan, the imaginary wife
in "The Village Uncle," is said to have had a prototype in the daughter
of a Salem fisherman, whose wit and charm gave Hawthorne frequent
amusement; and I suppose that not seldom he reaped delightful
suggestions from his meetings with frank, unconscious, and individual
people of tastes and life unlike his own. I have heard it told with a
polite, self-satisfied scorn, that he was in the habit of visiting now
and then a tavern patronized by 'longshore-men and nautical veterans, to
listen to their talk. I can well believe it, for it is this sort of
intercourse that a person of manly genius, with a republican
fellow-feeling for the unrenowned, most covets. How well he gives the
tone of these old sea-dogs, when he writes: "The blast will put in its
word among their hoarse voices, and be understood by all of them!" It
was this constant searching among the common types of men, and his ready
sympathy with them, refined as it was hearty, that stored his mind with
a variety of accurate impressions which afterward surprised observers,
in a man of habits so retired.

His uncles, the Mannings, were connected with extensive stage-coach
lines at this time, and Hawthorne seems to have used these as antennae
to bring himself in contact with new and nutritive regions and people. A
letter, probably written in 1830, which I do not feel at liberty to
quote entire, tells something of a trip that he took with Samuel Manning
through a part of Connecticut and the Connecticut valley. The extracts
that follow give a glimpse of the fresh and alert interest he felt about
everything; and I regard them as very important in showing the obverse
of that impression of unhealthy solitude which has been so generally
received from accounts of Hawthorne hitherto published.

"We did not leave New Haven till last Saturday ... and we were forced to
halt for the night at Cheshire, a village about fifteen miles from New
Haven. The next day being Sunday, we made a Sabbath day's journey of
seventeen miles, and put up at Farmington. As we were wearied with rapid
travelling, we found it impossible to attend divine service, which was
(of course) very grievous to us both. In the evening, however, I went to
a Bible class with a very polite and agreeable gentleman, whom I
afterward discovered to be a strolling tailor of very questionable
habits.... We are now at Deerfield (though I believe my letter is dated
Greenfield) ... with our faces northward; nor shall I marvel much if
your Uncle Sam pushes on to Canada, unless we should meet with two or
three bad taverns in succession....

"I meet with many marvellous adventures. At New Haven I observed a
gentleman staring at me with great earnestness, after which he went into
the bar-room, I suppose to inquire who I might be. Finally, he came up
to me and said that as I bore a striking resemblance to a family of
Stanburys, he was induced to inquire if I was connected with them. I was
sorry to be obliged to answer in the negative. At another place they
took me for a lawyer in search of a place to settle, and strongly
recommended their own village. Moreover, I heard some of the students at
Yale College conjecturing that I was an Englishman, and to-day, as I was
standing without my coat at the door of a tavern, a man came up to me,
and asked me for some oats for his horse."

It was during this trip, I have small doubt, that he found the scenery,
and perhaps the persons, for that pretty interlude, "The Seven
Vagabonds." The story is placed not far from Stamford, and the conjurer
in it says, "I am taking a trip northward, this warm weather, across the
Connecticut first, and then up through Vermont, and may be into Canada
before the fall." The narrator himself queries by what right he came
among these wanderers, and furnishes himself an answer which suggests
that side of his nature most apt to appear in these journeys: "The free
mind that preferred its own folly to another's wisdom; the open spirit
that found companions everywhere; above all, the restless impulse that
had so often made me wretched in the midst of enjoyments: these were my
claims to be of their society." "If there be a faculty," he also writes,
"which I possess more perfectly than most men, it is that of throwing
myself mentally into situations foreign to my own, and detecting with a
cheerful eye the desirableness of each." There is also one letter of
1831, sent back during an expedition in New Hampshire, which supplies
the genesis of another Twice-Told Tale, "The Canterbury Pilgrims."

"I walked to the Shaker village yesterday [he says], and was shown over
the establishment, and dined there with a squire and a doctor, also of
the world's people. On my arrival, the first thing I saw was a jolly old
Shaker carrying an immense decanter of their superb cider; and as soon
as I told him my business, he turned out a tumblerful and gave me. It
was as much as a common head could clearly carry. Our dining-room was
well furnished, the dinner excellent, and the table attended by a
middle-aged Shaker lady, good looking and cheerful.... This
establishment is immensely rich. Their land extends two or three miles
along the road, and there are streets of great houses painted yellow and
tipt with red.... On the whole, they lead a good and comfortable life,
and, if it were not for their ridiculous ceremonies, a man could not do
a wiser thing than to join them. Those whom I conversed with were
intelligent, and appeared happy. I spoke to them about becoming a member
of their society, but have come to no decision on that point.

"We have had a pleasant journey enough.... I make innumerable
acquaintances, and sit down on the doorsteps with judges, generals, and
all the potentates of the land, discoursing about the Salem murder [that
of Mr. White], the cow-skinning of Isaac Hill, the price of hay, and the
value of horse-flesh. The country is very uneven, and your Uncle Sam
groans bitterly whenever we come to the foot of a low hill; though this
ought to make me groan rather than him, as I have to get out and trudge
every one of them."

The "Clippings with a Chisel" point to some further wanderings, to
Martha's Vineyard; and an uncollected sketch reveals the fact that he
had been to Niagara. It was probably then that he visited Ticonderoga;
[Footnote: A brief sketch of the fortress is included in The Snow Image
volume of the Works.] but not till some years later that he saw New
York. With these exceptions, and a trip to Washington before going to
Liverpool in 1853, every day of his life up to that date was passed
within New England. In "The Toll-Gatherer's Day" one sees the young
observer at work upon the details of an ordinary scene near home. The
"small square edifice which stands between shore and shore in the midst
of a long bridge," spanning an arm of the sea, refers undoubtedly to the
bridge from Salem to Beverly. But how lightly his spirit hovers over the
stream of actual life, scarcely touching it before springing up again,
like a sea-bird on the crest of a wave! Nothing could be more accurate
and polished than his descriptions and his presentation of the actual
facts; but his fancy rises resilient from these to some dreamy,
far-seeing perception or gentle moral inference. The visible human
pageant is only of value to him as it suggests the viewless host of
heavenly shapes that hang above it like an idealizing mirage. His
attitude at this time recalls a suggestion of his own in "Sights from a
Steeple": "The most desirable mode of existence might be that of a
spiritualized Paul Pry, hovering invisible round man and woman,
witnessing their deeds, searching into their hearts, borrowing
brightness from their felicity, and shade from their sorrow, and
retaining no emotion peculiar to himself." He had the longing which
every creative mind must feel, to mix with other beings and share to the
utmost the possibilities of human weal or woe, suppressing his own
experience so far as to make himself a transparent medium for the
emotions of mankind; but he still lacked a definite connection with the
multifarious drama of human fellowship; he could not catch his cue and
play his answering part, and therefore gave voice to a constantly
murmurous, moralizing "aside." He delights to let the current of action
flow around him and beside him; he warms his heart in it; but when he
again withdraws by himself, it is with him as with the old toll-gatherer
at close of day, "mingling reveries of Heaven with remembrances of
earth, the whole procession of mortal travellers, all the dusty
pilgrimage which he has witnessed, seems like a flitting show of
phantoms for his thoughtful soul to muse upon."

"What would a man do," he asks himself, in his journal, "if he were
compelled to live always in the sultry heat of society, and could never
bathe himself in cool solitude?" As yet, this bracing influence of
quietude, so essential to his well-being, fascinates him, and he cannot
shake off its influence so far as to enter actively and for personal
interests into any of the common pursuits even of the man who makes a
business of literature. Yet nothing impresses him more than the fact
that every one carries a solitude with him, wherever he goes, like a
shadow. Twice, with an interval of three years between, this idea recurs
in the form of a hint for romance. "Two lovers or other persons, on the
most private business, to appoint a meeting in what they supposed to be
a place of the utmost solitude, and to find it thronged with people."
The idea implied is, that this would in fact be the completest privacy
they could have wished. "The situation of a man in the midst of a crowd,
yet as completely in the power of another, life and all, as if they two
were in the deepest solitude." This contradiction between the
_apparent_ openness that must rule one's conduct among men, and the
real secrecy that may coexist with it, even when one is most exposed to
the gaze of others, excites in his mind a whole train of thought based
on the falsity of appearances. If a man can be outwardly open and
inwardly reserved in a good sense, he can be so in a bad sense; so, too,
he may have the external air of great excellence and purity, while
internally he is foul and unfaithful. This discovery strikes our
perfectly sincere and true-hearted recluse with intense and endless
horror. He tests it, by turning it innumerable ways, and imagining all
sorts of situations in which such contradictions of appearance and
reality might be illustrated. At one time, he conceives of a friend who
should be true by day, and false at night. At another he suggests: "Our
body to be possessed by two different spirits, so that half the visage
shall express one mood, and the other half another." "A man living a
wicked life in one place and simultaneously a virtuous and religious one
in another." Then he perceives that this same uncertainty and
contradiction affects the lightest and seemingly most harmless things in
the world. "The world is so sad and solemn," he muses, "that things
meant in jest are liable, by an overpowering influence, to become
dreadful earnest." And then he applies this, as in the following: "A
virtuous but giddy girl to attempt to play a trick on a man. He sees
what she is about, and contrives matters so that she throws herself
completely into his power, and is ruined,--all in jest." Likewise, the
most desirable things, by this same law of contradiction, often prove
the least satisfactory. Thus: "A person or family long desires some
particular good. At last it comes in such profusion as to be the great
pest of their lives." And this is equally true, he finds, whether the
desired thing be sought in order to gratify a pure instinct or a wrong
and revengeful one. "As an instance, merely, suppose a woman sues her
lover for breach of promise, and gets the money by instalments, through
a long series of years. At last, when the miserable victim were utterly
trodden down, the triumpher would have become a very devil of evil
passions,--they having overgrown his whole nature; so that a far greater
evil would have come upon himself than on his victim." This theme of
self-punished revenge, as we know, was afterward thoroughly wrought out
in "The Scarlet Letter." Another form in which the thought of this
pervading falsehood in earthly affairs comes to him is the frightful
fancy of people being poisoned by communion-wine. Thus does the
insincerity and corruption of man, the lie that is hidden in nearly
every life and almost every act, rise and thrust itself before him,
whichever way he turns, like a serpent in his path. He is in the
position of the father confessor of whom he at one time thinks, and of
"his reflections on character, and the contrast of the inward man with
the outward, as he looks around his congregation, all whose secret sins
are known to him." But Hawthorne does not let this hissing serpent
either rout him or poison him. He is determined to visit the ways of
life, to find the exit of the maze, and so tries every opening,
unalarmed. The serpent is in all: it proves to be a deathless,
large-coiled hydra, encircling the young explorer's virgin soul, as it
does that of every pure aspirer, and trying to drive him back on
himself, with a sting in his heart that shall curse him with a life-long
venom. It does, indeed, force him to recoil, but not with any mortal
wound. He retires in profound sorrow, acknowledging that earth holds
nothing perfect, that his dream of ideal beings leading an ideal life,
which, in spite of the knowledge of evil, he has been cherishing for so
many years, is a dream to be fulfilled in the hereafter alone. He
confesses to himself that "there is evil in every human heart, which may
remain latent, perhaps, through the whole of life; but circumstances may
rouse it to activity." It is not a new discovery; but from the force
with which it strikes him, we may guess the strength of his aspiration,
the fine temper of his faith in the good and the beautiful. To be driven
to this dismal conclusion is for him a source of inexpressible dismay,
because he had trusted so deeply in the possibility of reaching some
brighter truth. No; not a new discovery;--but one who approaches it with
so much sensibility _feels_ it to be new, with all the fervor which
the most absolute novelty could rouse. This is the deepest and the true
originality, to possess such intensity of feeling that the oldest truth,
when approached by our own methods, shall be full of a primitive
impressiveness.

But, in the midst of the depression born of his immense sorrow over sin,
Hawthorne found compensations. First, in the query which he puts so
briefly: "The good deeds in an evil life,--the generous, noble, and
excellent actions done by people habitually wicked,--to ask what is to
become of them." This is the motive which has furnished novelists for
the last half-century with their most stirring and pathetic effects. It
is a sort of escape, a safety-valve for the hot fire of controversy on
the soul's fate, and offers in its pertinent indefiniteness a vast
solace to those who are trying to balance the bewildering account of
virtue with sin. Hawthorne found that here was a partial solution of the
problem, and he enlarged upon it, toward the end of his life, in "The
Marble Faun." But it was a second and deeper thought that furnished him
the chief compensation. In one of the "Twice-Told Tales," "Fancy's
Show-Box," he deals with the question, how far the mere thought of sin,
the incipient desire to commit it, may injure the soul. After first
strongly picturing the reality of certain sinful impulses in a man's
mind, which had never been carried out,--"A scheme of guilt," he argues,
taking up the other side, "till it be put in execution, greatly
resembles a train of incidents in a projected tale.... Thus a
novel-writer, or a dramatist, in creating the villain of romance, and
fitting him with evil deeds, and the villain of actual life in
projecting crimes that will be perpetrated, may almost meet each other
half-way between reality and fancy. It is not until the crime is
accomplished that guilt clinches its gripe upon the heart, and claims it
for its own. Then, and not before, sin is actually felt and
acknowledged, and, if unaccompanied by repentance, grows a thousand-fold
more virulent by its self-consciousness. Be it considered, also, that
men often overestimate their capacity for evil. At a distance, while its
attendant circumstances do not press upon their notice, its results are
dimly seen, they can bear to contemplate it.... In truth, there is no
such thing in man's nature as a settled and full resolve, either for
good or evil, except at the very moment of execution. Let us hope,
therefore, that all the dreadful consequences of sin will not be
incurred, unless the act have set its seal upon the thought. Yet ...
_man must not disclaim his brotherhood, even with the guiltiest_,
since, though his hand be clean, his heart has surely been polluted by
the flitting phantoms of iniquity." That is, purity is too spotless a
thing to exist in absolute perfection in a human being, who must often
feel at least the dark flush of passionate thoughts falling upon him,
however blameless of life he may be. From this lofty conception of
purity comes that equally noble humility of always feeling "his
brotherhood, even with the guiltiest." What more logical issue from the
Christian idea, what more exquisitely tender rendering of it than this?
"Let the whole world be cleansed, or not a man or woman of us can be
clean!" was his exclamation, many years later, in that English workhouse
which he describes in a heart-rending chapter of "Our Old Home" called
"Outside Glimpses of English Poverty." And it was then that he revealed
the vast depth and the reality of his human sympathy toward the wretched
and loathsome little foundling child that silently sued to him for
kindness, till he took it up and caressed it as tenderly as if he had
been its father.

Armed with these two perceptions, of the good that still persists in
evil persons, and the deep charity which every one must feel towards
even the most abject fellow-being, Hawthorne moves forth again to trace
the maze; and lo, the serpent drops down, cowering. He has found a charm
that robs sin and crime of their deadly hurt, and can handle them
without danger. It is said by some that Hawthorne treats wrong and
corruption too shrinkingly, and his mood of never-lessened and acute
sensibility touching them is contrasted with that of "virile" writers
like Balzac and George Sand. But these incline to make a menagerie of
life, thrusting their heads into the very lion's mouth, or boldly
embracing the snake of sin. They are indeed superior in strong dramatic
and realistic effects; but, unvicious as may be their aim, they are not
filled with a robust morality: they deliberately choose unclean elements
to heighten the interest,--albeit using such elements with magnificent
strength and skill. Let us be grateful that Hawthorne does not so covet
the applause of the clever club-man or of the unconscious vulgarian, as
to junket about in caravan, carrying the passions with him in gaudy
cages, and feeding them with raw flesh; grateful that he never loses the
archangelic light of pure, divine, dispassionate wrath, in piercing the
dragon!

We see now how, in this early term of probation, he was finding a
philosophy and an unsectarian religiousness, which ever stirred below
the clear surface of his language like the bubbling spring at bottom of
a forest pool. It has been thought that Hawthorne developed late. But
the most striking thing about the "Twice-Told Tales" and the first
entries in the "American Note-Books" is their evidence of a calm and
mellow maturity. These stories are like the simple but well-devised
theme which a musician prepares as the basis of a whole composition:
they show the several tendencies which underlie all the subsequent
works. First, there are the scenes from New England history,--"Endicott
and the Red Cross," "The Maypole of Merry Mount," "The Gray Champion,"
the "Tales of the Province House."

Then we have the psychological vein, in "The Prophetic Pictures," "The
Minister's Black Veil," "Dr. Heidegger," "Fancy's Show-Box"; and along
with this the current of delicate essay-writing, as in "The Haunted
Mind," and "Sunday at Home." "Little Annie's Ramble," again, foreshadows
his charming children's tales. It is rather remarkable that he should
thus have sounded, though faintly, the whole diapason in his first
works. Moreover, he had already at this time attained a style at once
flowing and large in its outline, and masterly in its minuteness.

But this maturity was not won without deep suffering and long-deferred
hope.

If actual contact with men resulted in such grave and sorrowful
reflection as we have traced, how drearily trying must have been the
climaxes of solitary thought after a long session of seclusion! And much
the larger portion of his time was consumed amid an absolute silence, a
privacy unbroken by intimate confidences and rife with exhausting and
depressing reactions from intense imagination and other severe
intellectual exercise. Not only must the repression of this period have
amounted at times to positive anguish, but there was also the perplexing
perception that his life's fairest possibilities were still barren.
"Every individual has a place in the world, and is important to it in
some respects, whether he chooses to be so or not." So runs one of the
extracts from the "American Note-Books"; and now and then we get from
the same source a glimpse of the haunting sense that he is missing his
fit relation to the rest of the race, the question whether his pursuit
was not in some way futile like all the human pursuits he had
noticed,--whether it was not to be nipped by the same perversity and
contradiction that seemed to affect all things mundane. Here is one of
his proposed plots, which turns an inner light upon his own frame of
mind: "Various good and desirable things to be presented to a young man,
and offered to his acceptance,--as a friend, a wife, a fortune; but he
to refuse them all, suspecting that it is merely a delusion. Yet all to
be real, and he to be told so when too late." Is this not, in brief,
what he conceives may yet be the story of his own career? Another
occurs, in the same relation: "A man tries to be happy in love; he
cannot sincerely give his heart, and the affair seems all a dream. In
domestic life the same; in politics, a seeming patriot: but still he is
sincere, and all seems like a theatre." These items are the merest
indicia of a whole history of complex emotions, which made this epoch
one of continuous though silent and unseen struggle. In a Preface
prefixed to the tales, in 1851, the author wrote: "They are the
memorials of very tranquil and not unhappy years." Tranquil they of
course were; and to the happy and successful man of forty-seven, the
vexing moods and dragging loneliness of that earlier period would seem
"not unhappy," because he could then see all the good it had contained.
I cannot agree with Edwin Whipple, who says of them, "There was audible
to the delicate ear a faint and muffled growl of personal discontent,
which showed they were not mere exercises of penetrating imaginative
analysis, but had in them the morbid vitality of a despondent mood." For
this applies to only one of the number, "The Ambitious Guest." Nor do I
find in them the "misanthropy" which he defines at some length. On the
contrary, they are, as the author says, "his attempts to open an
intercourse with the world," incited by an eager sympathy, but also
restrained by a stern perception of right and wrong.

Yet I am inclined to adhere to the grave view of his inner life just
sketched. When his friend Miss Peabody first penetrated his retirement,
his pent-up sympathies flowed forth in a way that showed how they had
longed for relief. He returned constantly to the discussion of his
peculiar mode of living, as if there could be no understanding between
himself and another, until this had been cleared up and set aside. Among
other things, he spoke of a dream by which he was beset, that he was
walking abroad, and that all the houses were mirrors which reflected him
a thousand times and overwhelmed him with mortification. This gives a
peculiar insight into his sensitive condition.

The noiseless, uneventful weeks slipped by, each day disguising itself
in exact semblance of its fellow, like a file of mischievous maskers.
Hawthorne sat in his little room under the eaves reading, studying,
voicelessly communing with himself through his own journal,
or--mastered by some wild suggestion or mysterious speculation--feeling his
way through the twilight of dreams, into the dusky chambers of that
house of thought whose haunted interior none but himself ever visited.
He had little communication with even the members of his family.
Frequently his meals were brought and left at his locked door, and it
was not often that the four inmates of the old Herbert Street mansion
met in family circle. He never read his stories aloud to his mother and
sisters, as might be imagined from the picture which Mr. Fields draws of
the young author reciting his new productions to his listening family;
though, when they met, he sometimes read older literature to them. It
was the custom in this household for the several members to remain very
much by themselves; the three ladies were perhaps nearly as rigorous
recluses as himself; and, speaking of the isolation which reigned among
them, Hawthorne once said, "We do not even _live_ at our house!"
But still the presence of this near and gentle feminine element is not
to be underrated as forming a very great compensation in the cold and
difficult morning of Hawthorne's life.

If the week-day could not lure him from his sad retreat, neither could
the Sunday. He had the right to a pew in the First Church, which his
family had held since 1640, but he seldom went to service there after
coming from college. His religion was supplied from sources not always
opened to the common scrutiny, and it never chanced that he found it
essential to join any church.

The chief resource against disappointment, the offset to the pain of so
much lonely living and dark-veined meditation was, of course, the
writing of tales. Never was a man's mind more truly a kingdom to him.
This was the fascination that carried him through the weary
waiting-time. Yet even that pleasure had a reverse side, to which the
fictitious Oberon has no doubt given voice in these words: "You cannot
conceive what an effect the composition of these tales has had upon me.
I have become ambitious of a bubble, and careless of solid reputation. I
am surrounding myself with shadows, which bewilder me by aping the
realities of life. They have drawn me aside from the beaten path of the
world, and led me into a strange sort of solitude ... where nobody
wished for what I do, nor thinks or feels as I do." Alluding to this
season of early obscurity to a friend who had done much to break it up,
he once said, "I was like a person talking to himself in a dark room."
To make his own reflection in a mirror the subject of a story was one of
his projects then formed, which he carried out in the "Mosses." With
that image of the dark room, and this suggested reflection in the
mirror, we can rehabilitate the scene of which the broken lights and
trembling shadows are strewn through the "Twice-Told Tales." Sober and
weighty the penumbrous atmosphere in which the young creator sits; but
how calm, thoughtful, and beautiful the dim vision of his face, lit by
the sheltered radiance of ethereal fancies! Behind his own form we catch
the movement of mysterious shapes,--men and women wearing aspects of joy
or anger, calm or passionate, gentle and pitiable, or stern, splendid,
and forbidding. It is not quite a natural twilight in which we behold
these things; rather the awesome shadowiness of a partial eclipse; but
gleams of the healthiest sunshine withal mingle in the prevailing tint,
bringing reassurance, and receiving again a rarer value from the
contrast. There are but few among the stories of this series afterward
brought together by the author which are open to the charge of
morbidness. In "The White Old Maid" an indefinable horror, giving the
tale a certain shapelessness, crowds out the compensating brightness
which in most cases is not wanting; perhaps, too, "The Ambitious Guest"
leaves one with too hopeless a downfall at the end; and "The Wedding
Knell" cannot escape a suspicion of disagreeable gloom. But these
extremes are not frequent. The wonder is that Hawthorne's mind could so
often and so airily soar above the shadows that at this time hung about
him; that he should nearly always suggest a philosophy so complete, so
gently wholesome, and so penetrating as that which he mixes with even
the bitterest distillations of his dreams. Nor is the sadness of his
tone disordered or destructive, more than it is selfish; he does not
inculcate despair, nor protest against life and fate, nor indulge in
gloomy or weak self-pity. The only direct exposition of his own case is
contained in a sketch, "The Journal of a Solitary Man," not reprinted
during his life. One extract from this I will make, because it sums up,
though more plaintively than was his wont, Hawthorne's view of his own
life at this epoch:--

"It is hard to die without one's happiness; to none more so than myself,
whose early resolution it had been to partake largely of the joys of
life, but never to be burdened with its cares. Vain philosophy! The very
hardships of the poorest laborer, whose whole existence seems one long
toil, has something preferable to my best pleasures. Merely skimming the
surface of life, I know nothing by my own experience of its deep and
warm realities, ... so that few mortals, even the humblest and weakest,
have been such ineffectual shadows in the world, or die so utterly as I
must. Even a young man's bliss has not been mine. With a thousand
vagrant fantasies, I have never truly loved, and perhaps shall be doomed
to loneliness throughout the eternal future, because, here on earth, my
soul has never married itself to the soul of woman."

The touch about avoiding the cares of life is no doubt merely
metaphorical; but the self-imposed doom of eternal loneliness reveals
the excess of sombreness in which he clothed his condition to his own
perception. One may say that the adverse factors in his problem at this
time were purely imaginary; that a little resolution and determined
activity would have shaken off the incubus: but this is to lose sight of
the gist of the matter. The situation in itself,--the indeterminateness
and repression of it, and the denial of any satisfaction to his warm and
various sympathies, and his capacity for affection and
responsibility,--must be allowed to have been intensely wearing. Hawthorne
believed himself to possess a strongly social nature, which was cramped,
chilled, and to some extent permanently restrained by this long seclusion
at the beginning of his career. This alone might furnish just cause for
bitterness against the fate that chained him. It was not a matter of
option; for he knew that his battle must be fought through as he had
begun it, and until 1836 no slightest loophole of escape into action
presented itself. It lay before him to act out the tragedy of isolation
which is the lot of every artist in America still, though greatly
mitigated by the devotion of our first generation of national writers.
If he had quitted his post sooner, and had tried by force to mould his
genius according to theory, he might have utterly distorted or stunted
its growth. All that he could as yet do for himself was to preserve a
certain repose and harmony in the midst of uncertainty and delay; and
for this he formed four wise precepts: "To break off customs; to shake
off spirits ill disposed; to meditate on youth; to do nothing against
one's genius." [Footnote: American Note-Books, Vol. I.] Thus he kept
himself fresh and flexible, hopeful, ready for emergency. But that
I have not exaggerated the severity and import of his long vigil, let
this revery of his show, written at Liverpool, in 1855: "I think I have
been happier this Christmas than ever before,--by my own fireside, and
with my wife and children about me; more content to enjoy what I have,
less anxious for anything beyond it in this life. My early life was
perhaps a good preparation for the declining half of life; it having
been such a blank that any thereafter would compare favorably with it.
For a long, long while I have been occasionally visited with a singular
dream; and I have an impression that I have dreamed it ever since I have
been in England. It is, that I am still at college,--or, sometimes, even
at school,--and there is a sense that I have been there unconscionably
long, and have quite failed to make such progress as my contemporaries
have done; and I seem to meet some of them with a feeling of shame and
depression that broods over me as I think of it, even when awake. This
dream, recurring all through these twenty or thirty years, must be one
of the effects of that heavy seclusion in which I shut myself up for
twelve years after leaving college, when everybody moved onward, and
left me behind." Experiences which leave effects like this must bite
their way into the heart and soul with a fearful energy! This precursive
solitude had tinged his very life-blood, and woven itself into the
secret tissues of his brain. Yet, patiently absorbing it, he wrote late
in life to a friend: "I am disposed to thank God for the gloom and chill
of my early life, in the hope that my share of adversity came then, when
I bore it alone." It was under such a guise that the test of his genius
and character came to him. Every great mind meets once in life with a
huge opposition that must somehow be made to succumb, before its own
energies can know their full strength, gain a settled footing, and make
a roadway to move forward upon. Often these obstacles are viewless to
others, and the combat is unsuspected; the site of many a Penuel remains
untraced; but none the less these are the pivots on which entire
personal histories turn. Hawthorne's comparatively passive endurance was
of infinitely greater worth than any active irruption into the outer
world would have been. It is obvious that we owe to the innumerable
devious wanderings and obscure sufferings of his mind, under the
influences just reviewed, something of his sure and subtle touch in
feeling out the details of morbid moods; for though his mind remained
perfectly healthy, it had acquired acute sympathy with all hidden
tragedies of heart and brain.

But another and larger purpose was not less well served by this
probation. The ability of American life to produce a genius in some
sense exactly responding to its most distinctive qualities had yet to be
demonstrated; and this could only be done by some one who would stake
life and success on the issue, for it needed that a soul and brain of
the highest endowment should be set apart solely for the experiment,
even to the ruin of it if required, before the truth could be
ascertained. Hawthorne, the slowly produced and complex result of a line
of New-Englanders who carried American history in their very limbs,
seemed providentially offered for the trial. It was well that
temperament and circumstance drew him into a charmed circle of reserve
from the first; well, also, that he was further matured at a simple and
rural college pervaded by a homely American tone; still more fortunate
was it that nothing called him away to connect him with European
culture, on graduating. To interpret this was the honorable office of
his classmate Longfellow, who, with as much ease as dignity and charm,
has filled the gap between the two half-worlds. The experiment to be
tried was, simply, whether with books and men at his command, and
isolated from the immediate influence of Europe, this American could
evolve any new quality for the enrichment of literature. The conditions
were strictly carried out; even after he began to come in contact with
men, in the intervals of his retirement, he saw only pure American
types. A foreigner must have been a rare bird in Salem, in those days;
for the maritime element which might have brought him was still
American. Hawthorne, as we have seen, and as his Note-Books show, pushed
through the farming regions and made acquaintance with the men of the
soil; and probably the first alien of whom he got at all a close view
was the Monsieur S---- whom he found at Bridge's, on his visit to the
latter, in 1837, described at length in the Note-Books. So much did
Hawthorne study from these types, and so closely, that he might, had his
genius directed, have written the most homely and realistic novels of
New England life from the material which he picked up quite by the way.
But though he did not translate his observations thus, the originality
which he was continuously ripening amid such influences was radically
affected by them. They established a broad, irrepressible republican
sentiment in his mind; they assisted his natural, manly independence and
simplicity to assert themselves unaffectedly in letters; and they had
not a little to do, I suspect, with fostering his strong turn for
examining with perfect freedom and a certain refined shrewdness into
everything that came before him, without accepting prescribed opinions.
The most characteristic way, perhaps, in which this American nurture
acted was by contrast; for the universal matter-of-fact tone which he
found among his fellow-citizens was an incessant spur to him to maintain
a counteracting idealism. Thus, singularly enough, the most salient
feature of the new American product was its apparent denial of the
national trait of practical sagacity. It is not to be supposed that
Hawthorne adhered consciously to the aim of asserting the American
nature in fiction. These things can be done only half consciously, at
the most. Perhaps it is well that the mind on which so much depends
should not be burdened with all the added anxiety of knowing how much is
expected from it by the ages. Therefore, we owe the triumphant assertion
of the American quality in this novel genius to Hawthorne's quiet,
unfaltering, brave endurance of the weight that was laid upon him,
unassisted by the certainty with which we now perceive that a great end
was being served by it. But, although unaware of this end at the time,
he afterward saw some of the significance of his youth. Writing in 1840,
he speaks thus of his old room in Union Street:--

"This claims to be called a haunted chamber, for thousands upon
thousands of visions have appeared to me in it; and some few of them
have become visible to the world. If ever I should have a biographer, he
ought to make great mention of this chamber in my memoirs, because so
much of my lonely youth was wasted here, and _here my mind and
character were formed_; and here I have been glad and hopeful, and
here I have been despondent.... And now I begin to understand why I was
imprisoned so many years in this lonely chamber, and why I could never
break through the viewless bolts and bars; for if I had sooner made my
escape into the world, I should have grown hard and rough, and my heart
might have become callous by rude encounters with the multitude.... But
living in solitude till the fulness of time, I still kept the dew of my
youth and the freshness of my heart."

Yes, and more than this, Hawthorne! It was a young nation's faith in its
future which--unsuspected by any then, but always to be remembered
henceforth--had found a worthy answer and after-type in this faithful
and hopeful heart of yours! Thus was it that the young poet who, in the
sense we have observed, stood for old New England, absorbed into himself
also the atmosphere of the United States. The plant that rooted in the
past had put forth a flower which drew color and perfume from to-day. In
such wise did Hawthorne prove to be the unique American in fiction.

I have examined the librarian's books at the Salem Athenaeum, which
indicate a part of the reading that the writer of the "Twice-Told Tales"
went through. The lists from the beginning of 1830 to 1838 include
nearly four hundred volumes taken out by him, besides a quantity of
bound magazines. This gives no account of his dealings with books in the
previous five years, when he was not a shareholder in the Athenaeum, nor
does it, of course, let us know anything of what he obtained from other
sources. When Miss E. P. Peabody made his acquaintance, in 1836-37, he
had, for example, read all of Balzac that had then appeared; and there
is no record of this in the library lists. These lists alone, then,
giving four hundred volumes in seven years, supply him with one volume a
week,--not, on the whole, a meagre rate, when we consider the volumes of
magazines, the possible sources outside of the library, and the
numberless hours required for literary experiment. I do not fancy that
he plodded through books; but rather that he read with the easy energy
of a vigorous, original mind, though he also knew the taste of severe
study. "Bees," he observes in one place, "are sometimes drowned (or
suffocated) in the honey which they collect. So some writers are lost in
their collected learning." He did not find it necessary to mount upon a
pyramid of all learning previous to his epoch, in order to get the
highest standpoint for his own survey of mankind. Neither was he "a man
of parts," precisely; being in himself a distinct whole. His choice of
reading was ruled by a fastidious need. He was fond of travels for a
rainy day, and knew Mandeville; but at other times he took up books
which seem to lie quite aside from his known purposes. [Footnote: See
Appendix III.] Voltaire appears to have attracted him constantly; he
read him in the original, together with Rousseau. At one time he
examined Pascal, at another he read something of Corneille and a part of
Racine. Of the English dramatists, he seems at this time to have tried
only Massinger; "Inchbald's Theatre" also occurs. The local American
histories took his attention pretty often, and he perused a variety of
biography,--"Lives of the Philosophers," "Plutarch's Lives," biographies
of Mohammed, Pitt, Jefferson, Goldsmith, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats,
Baxter, Heber, Sir William Temple, and others. Brewster's "Natural
Magic" and Sir Walter Scott's essay on "Demonology and Witchcraft" are
books that one would naturally expect him to read; and he had already
begun to make acquaintance with the English State Trials, for which he
always had a great liking. "Colquhoun on the Police" would seem not
entirely foreign to one who mentally pursued so many malefactors; but it
is a little surprising that he should have found himself interested in
"Babbage on the Economy of Machinery." He dipped, also, into botany and
zoölogy; turned over several volumes of Bayle's "Critical Dictionary,"
read Mrs. Jameson, and the "London Encyclopaedia of Architecture"; and
was entertained by Dunlap's "History of the Arts of Design in America."
It was from this last that he drew the plot of "The Prophetic Pictures,"
in the "Twice-Told Tales." Some Boston newspapers of the years 1739 to
1783 evidently furnished the material for an article called "Old News,"
reprinted in "The Snow Image." Hawthorne seems never to have talked much
about reading: 'tis imaginable that he was as shy in his choice of books
and his discussion of them, as in his intercourse with men; and there is
no more ground for believing that he did not like books, than that he
cared nothing for men and women. Life is made up, for such a mind, of
men, women, and books; Hawthorne accepted all three estates.

Gradually, from the midst of the young author's obscurity, there issued
an attraction which made the world wish to know more of him. One by one,
the quiet essays and mournful-seeming stories came forth, like drops
from a slow-distilling spring. The public knew nothing of the internal
movement which had opened this slight fountain, nor suspected the dark
concamerations through which the current made its way to the surface.
The smallest mountain rill often has a thunder-storm at its back; but
the average reader of that day thought he had done quite enough, when he
guessed that the new writer was a timid young man fabling under a
feigned name, excellent in his limited way, who would be a great deal
better if he could come out of seclusion and make himself more like
other people.

The first contributions were made to the "Salem Gazette" and the "New
England Magazine"; then his attempts extended to the "Boston Token and
Atlantic Souvenir," edited by S. G. Goodrich; and later, to other
periodicals. Mr. Goodrich wrote to his young contributor (October,
1831): "I am gratified to find that all whose opinion I have heard agree
with me as to the merit of the various pieces from your pen." But for
none of these early performances did Hawthorne receive any considerable
sum of money. And though his writings began at once to attract an
audience, he had slight knowledge of it. Three young ladies--of whom his
future sister-in-law, Miss Peabody, was one--were among the first
admirers; and though Hawthorne baffled his readers and perhaps retarded
his own notoriety by assuming different names in print, [Footnote: Among
these were "Oberon" and "Ashley Allen Royce," or "The Rev. A. A. Royce."
The latter was used by him in the Democratic Review, so late as March,
1840.] they traced his contributions assiduously, cut them out of
magazines, and preserved them. But they could not discover his personal
identity. One of them who lived in Salem used constantly to wonder, in
driving about town, whether the author of her favorite tales could be
living in this or in that house; for it was known that he was a Salem
resident. Miss Peabody, who had in girlhood known something of the
Hathorne family (the name was still written either way, I am told), was
misled by the new spelling, and by the prevalent idea that Nathaniel
Hawthorne was an assumed name. This trio were especially moved by "The
Gentle Boy" when it appeared, and Miss Peabody was on the point of
addressing "The Author of 'The Gentle Boy,'" at Salem, to tell him of
the pleasure he had given. When afterward told of this, Hawthorne said,
"I wish you had! It would have been an era in my life." Soon after, the
Peabodys returned to Salem, and she learned from some one that the new
romancer was the son of the Widow Hathorne. Now it so chanced that her
family had long ago occupied a house on Union Street, looking off into
the garden of the old Manning family mansion; and she remembered no son,
though a vague image came back to her of a strong and graceful boy's
form dancing across the garden, at play, years before. Her mind
therefore fastened upon one of the sisters, who, she knew, had shown
great facility in writing: indeed, Hawthorne used at one time to say
that it was she who should have been the follower of literature. Full of
this conception, she went to carry her burden of gratitude to the
author, and after delays and difficulties, made her way into the retired
and little-visited mansion. It was the other sister into whose presence
she came, and to her she began pouring out the reason of her intrusion,
delivering at once her praises of the elder Miss Hathorne's fictions.

"My brother's, you mean," was the response.

"It _is_ your brother, then." And Miss Peabody added: "If your
brother can write like that, he has no right to be idle."

"My brother never is idle," answered Miss Louisa, quietly.

Thus began an acquaintance which helped to free Hawthorne from the spell
of solitude, and led directly to the richest experiences of his life.
Old habits, however, were not immediately to be broken, and months
passed without any response being made to the first call. Then at last
came a copy of the "Twice-Told Tales," fresh from the press. But it was
not until the establishment of the "Democratic Review," a year or two
later, that occasion offered for a renewal of relations. Hawthorne was
too shy to act upon the first invitation. Miss Peabody, finally,
addressing him by letter, to inquire concerning the new periodical, for
which he had been engaged as a contributor, asked him to come with both
his sisters on the evening of the same day. Entirely to her surprise,
they came. She herself opened the door, and there before her, between
his sisters, stood a splendidly handsome youth, tall and strong, with no
appearance whatever of timidity, but, instead, an almost fierce
determination making his face stern. This was his resource for carrying
off the extreme inward tremor which he really felt. His hostess brought
out Plaxmau's designs for Dante, just received from Professor Felton of
Harvard, [Footnote: The book may have been Felton's Homer with Flaxman's
drawings, issued in 1833.] and the party made an evening's entertainment
out of them.

The news of this triumph, imparted to a friend of Miss Peabody's, led to
an immediate invitation of Hawthorne to dinner at another house, for the
next day. He accepted this, also, and on returning homeward, stopped at
the "Salem Gazette" office, full of the excitement of his new
experiences, announcing to Mr. Foote, the editor, that he was getting
dissipated. He told of the evening with Miss Peabody, where he said he
had had a delightful time, and of the dinner just achieved. "And I've
had a delightful time there, too!" he added. Mr. Foote, perceiving an
emergency, at once asked the young writer to come to his own house for
an evening. Hawthorne, thoroughly aroused, consented. When the evening
came, several ladies who had been invited assembled before the author
arrived; and among them Miss Peabody. When he reached the place he
stopped short at the drawing-room threshold, startled by the presence of
strangers, and stood perfectly motionless, but with the look of a sylvan
creature on the point of fleeing away. His assumed brusquerie no longer
availed him; he was stricken with dismay; his face lost color, and took
on a warm paleness. All this was in a moment; but the daughter of the
house moved forward, and he was drawn within. Even then, though he
assumed a calm demeanor, his agitation was very great: he stood by a
table, and, taking up some small object that lay upon it, he found his
hand trembling so that he was forced to put it down again.

While friends were slowly penetrating his reserve in this way, he was
approached in another by Mr. Goodrich, who induced him to go to Boston,
there to edit the "American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining
Knowledge." This work, which only continued from 1834 to September,
1837, was managed by several gentlemen under the name of the Bewick
Company. One of these was Bowen, of Charlestown, an engraver; another
was Goodrich, who also, I think, had some connection with the American
Stationers' Company. The Bewick Company took its name from Thomas
Bewick, the English restorer of the art of wood-engraving, and the
magazine was to do his memory honor by its admirable illustrations. But,
in fact, it never did any one honor, nor brought any one profit. It was
a penny popular affair, containing condensed information about
innumerable subjects, no fiction, and little poetry. The woodcuts were
of the crudest and most frightful sort. It passed through the hands of
several editors and several publishers. Hawthorne was engaged at a
salary of five hundred dollars a year; but it appears that he got next
to nothing, and that he did not stay in the position long. There is
little in its pages to recall the identity of the editor; but in one
place he quotes as follows from Lord Bacon: "The ointment which witches
use is made of the fat of children digged from their graves, and of the
juices of smallage, cinquefoil, and wolf's-bane, mingled with the meal
of fine wheat," and hopes that none of his readers will try to compound
it. In the tale of "Young Goodman Brown," when Goody Cloyse says, "I was
all anointed with the juice of small-age and cinquefoil and
wolf's-bane," and the Devil continues, "'Mingled with fine wheat and the
fat of a new-born babe,'--'Ah, your worship knows the recipe,' cried the
old lady, cackling aloud." A few scraps of correspondence, mostly
undated, which I have looked over, give one a new view of him in the
bustle and vexation of this brief editorial experience. He sends off
frequent and hurried missives to one of his sisters, who did some of the
condensing and compiling which was a part of the business. "I make
nothing," he says, in one, "of writing a history or biography before
dinner." At another time, he is in haste for a Life of Jefferson, but
warns his correspondent to "see that it contains nothing heterodox." At
the end of one of the briefest messages, he finds time to speak of the
cat at home. Perhaps with a memory of the days when he built
book-houses, he had taken two names of the deepest dye from Milton and
Bunyan for two of his favorite cats, whom he called Beelzebub and
Apollyon. "Pull Beelzebub's tail for me," he writes. But the following
from Boston, February 15, 1836, gives the more serious side of the
situation:--

"I came here trusting to Goodrich's positive promise to pay me
forty-five dollars as soon as I arrived; and he has kept promising from
one day to another, till I do not see that he means to pay at all. I
have now broke off all intercourse with him, and never think of going
near him ... I don't feel at all obliged to him about the editorship,
for he is a stockholder and director in the Bewick Company; ... and I
defy them to get another to do for a thousand dollars what I do for five
hundred."

Goodrich afterward sent his editor a small sum; and the relations
between them were resumed.. A letter of May 5, in the same year,
contains these allusions:--

"I saw Mr. Goodrich yesterday.... He wants me to undertake a Universal
History, to contain about as much as fifty or sixty pages of the
magazine. [These were large pages.] If you are willing to write any part
of it, ... I shall agree to do it. If necessary I will come home by and
by, and concoct the plan of it with you. It need not be superior in
profundity and polish to the middling magazine articles.... I shall have
nearly a dozen articles in The Token,--mostly quite short."

The historical project is, of course, that which resulted in the famous
"Peter Parley" work. "Our pay as historians of the universe," says a
letter written six days later, "will be about one hundred dollars, the
whole of which you may have. It is a poor compensation, but better than
the Token; because the writing is so much less difficult." He afterward
carried out the design, or a large part of it, and the book has since
sold by millions, for the benefit of others. There are various little
particulars in this ingenious abridgment which recall Hawthorne,
especially if one is familiar with his "Grandfather's Chair" and "True
Stories" for children; though the book has probably undergone some
changes in successive editions. This passage about George IV. is,
however, remembered as being his: "Even when he was quite an old man,
this king cared as much about dress as any young coxcomb. He had a great
deal of taste in such matters, and it is a pity that he was a king, for
he might otherwise have been an excellent tailor."

Up to this time (May 12) he had received only twenty dollars for four
months' editorial labor. "And, as you may well suppose," he says, "I
have undergone very grievous vexations. Unless they pay me the whole
amount shortly, I shall return to Salem, and stay there till they do."
It seems a currish fate that puts such men into the grasp of paltry and
sordid cares like these! But there is something deeper to be felt than
dissatisfaction at the author-publisher's feeble though annoying scheme
of harnessing in this rare poet to be his unpaid yet paying hack. This
deeper something is the pathos of such possibilities, and the spectacle
of so renowned and strong-winged a genius consenting thus to take his
share of worldly struggle; perfectly conscious that it is wholly beneath
his plane, but accepting it as a proper part of the mortal lot;
scornful, but industrious and enduring. You who have conceived of
Hawthorne as a soft-marrowed dweller in the dusk, fostering his own
shyness and fearing to take the rubs of common men, pray look well at
all this. And you, also, who discourse about the conditions essential to
the development of genius, about the _milieu_ and the
_moment_, and try to prove America a vacuum which the Muse abhors,
will do well to consider the phenomenon. "It is a poor compensation, yet
better than the Token"; so he wrote, knowing that his unmatched tales
were being coined for even a less reward than mere daily bread. He took
the conditions that were about him, and gave them a dignity by his own
fine perseverance. It is this inspired industry, this calm facing of the
worst and making it the best, which has formed the history of all art.
You talk of the ages, and choose this or that era as the only fit one.
You long for a cosey niche in the past; but genius crowds time and
eternity into the present, and says to you, "Make your own century!"

Meanwhile, if he received no solid gain from his exertions, Hawthorne
was winning a reputation. In January he had written home: "My worshipful
self is a very famous man in London, the 'Athenaeum' having noticed all
my articles in the last Token, with long extracts." This refers to the
'Athenaeum' for November 7, 1835, which mentioned "The Wedding Knell"
and "The Minister's Black Veil" as being stories "each of which has
singularity enough to recommend it to the reader," and gave three
columns to a long extract from "The Maypole of Merry Mount"; the notice
being no doubt the work of the critic Chorley, who afterward met
Hawthorne in England. Thus encouraged, he thought of collecting his
tales and publishing them in volume form, connected by the conception of
a travelling story-teller, whose shiftings of fortune were to form the
interludes and links between the separate stories. A portion of this,
prefatory to "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," has been published in the
"Mosses," with the heading of "Passages from a Relinquished Work."
Goodrich was not disposed to lavish upon his young beneficiary the
expense of bringing out a book for him, and the plan of reprinting the
tales with this framework around them was given up. The next year Bridge
came to Goodrich and insisted on having a simple collection issued,
himself taking the pecuniary risk. In this way the "Twice-Told Tales"
were first brought collectively before the world; and for the second
time this faithful comrade of Hawthorne laid posterity under obligation
to himself. It was not till long afterward, however, that Hawthorne knew
of his friend's interposition in the affair.

Mr. Bridge had not then entered the navy, and was engaged in a great
enterprise on the Androscoggin; nothing less than an attempt to dam up
that river and apply the water-power to some mills. In July of 1837,
Hawthorne went to visit him at Bridgton, and has described his
impressions fully in the Note-Books. It was probably his longest absence
from Salem since graduating at Bowdoin. "My circumstances cannot long
continue as they are," he writes; "and Bridge, too, stands between high
prosperity and utter ruin."

The change in his own circumstances which Hawthorne looked for did not
come through his book. It sold some six or seven hundred copies in a
short time, but was received quietly, [Footnote: Some of the sketches
were reprinted in England; and "A Rill from the Town Pump" was
circulated in pamphlet form by a London bookseller, without the author's
name, as a temperance tract.] though Longfellow, then lately established
in his Harvard professorship, and known as the author of "Outre-Mer,"
greeted it with enthusiasm in the "North American Review," which wielded
a great influence in literary affairs.

On March 7, 1837, Hawthorne sent this note to his former classmate, to
announce the new volume.

"The agent of the American Stationer's Company will send you a copy of a
book entitled 'Twice-Told Tales,'--of which, as a classmate, I venture
to request your acceptance. We were not, it is true, so well acquainted
at college, that I can plead an absolute right to inflict my
'twice-told' tediousness upon you; but I have often regretted that we
were not better known to each other, and have been glad of your success
in literature and in more important matters." Returning to the tales, he
adds: "I should like to flatter myself that they would repay you some
part of the pleasure which I have derived from your own 'Outre-Mer.'

"Your obedient servant,

"NATH. HAWTHORNE."

Longfellow replied warmly, and in June Hawthorne wrote again, a long
letter picturing his mood with a fulness that shows how keenly he had
felt the honest sympathy of the poet.

"Not to burden you with my correspondence," he said, "I have delayed a
rejoinder to your very kind and cordial letter, until now. It gratifies
me that you have occasionally felt an interest in my situation; but your
quotation from Jean Paul about the 'lark's nest' makes me smile. You
would have been much nearer the truth if you had pictured me as dwelling
in an owl's nest; for mine is about as dismal, and like the owl I seldom
venture abroad till after dusk. By some witchcraft or other--for I
really cannot assign any reasonable why and wherefore--I have been
carried apart from the main current of life, and find it impossible to
get back again. Since we last met, which you remember was in Sawtell's
room, where you read a farewell poem to the relics of the class,--ever
since that time I have secluded myself from society; and yet I never
meant any such thing, nor dreamed what sort of life I was going to lead.
I have made a captive of myself, and put me into a dungeon, and now I
cannot find the key to let myself out,--and if the door were open, I
should be almost afraid to come out. You tell me that you have met with
troubles and changes. I know not what these may have been, but I can
assure you that trouble is the next best thing to enjoyment, and that
there is no fate in this world so horrible as to have no share in either
its joys or sorrows. For the last ten years, I have not lived, but only
dreamed of living. It may be true that there have been some
unsubstantial pleasures here in the shade, which I might have missed in
the sunshine, but you cannot conceive how utterly devoid of satisfaction
all my retrospects are. I have laid up no treasure of pleasant
remembrances against old age; but there is some comfort in thinking that
future years can hardly fail to be more varied and therefore more
tolerable than the past.

"You give me more credit than I deserve, in supposing that I have led a
studious life. I have indeed turned over a good many books, but in so
desultory a way that it cannot be called study, nor has it left me the
fruits of study. As to my literary efforts, I do not think much of them,
neither is it worth while to be ashamed of them. They would have been
better, I trust, if written under more favorable circumstances. I have
had no external excitement,--no consciousness that the public would like
what I wrote, nor much hope nor a passionate desire that they should do
so. Nevertheless, having nothing else to be ambitious of, I have been
considerably interested in literature; and if my writings had made any
decided impression, I should have been stimulated to greater exertions;
but there has been no warmth of approbation, so that I have always
written with benumbed fingers. I have another great difficulty in the
lack of materials; for I have seen so little of the world that I have
nothing but thin air to concoct my stories of, and it is not easy to
give a lifelike semblance to such shadowy stuff. Sometimes through a
peep-hole I have caught a glimpse of the real world, and the two or
three articles in which I have portrayed these glimpses please me better
than the others.

"I have now, or shall soon have, a sharper spur to exertion, which I
lacked at an earlier period; for I see little prospect but that I shall
have to scribble for a living. But this troubles me much less than you
would suppose. I can turn my pen to all sorts of drudgery, such as
children's books, etc., and by and by I shall get some editorship that
will answer my purpose. Frank Pierce, who was with us at college,
offered me his influence to obtain an office in the Exploring Expedition
[Commodore Wilkes's]; but I believe that he was mistaken in supposing
that a vacancy existed. If such a post were attainable, I should
certainly accept it; for, though fixed so long to one spot, I have
always had a desire to run round the world.... I intend in a week or
two to come out of my owl's nest, and not return till late in the
summer,--employing the interval in making a tour somewhere in New
England. You who have the dust of distant countries on your
'sandal-shoon' cannot imagine how much enjoyment I shall have in this
little excursion....

"Yours sincerely,

"NATH. HAWTHORNE."

A few days later the quarterly, containing Longfellow's review of the
book, appeared; and the note of thanks which Hawthorne sent is full of
an exultation strongly in contrast with the pensive tone of the letter
just given.

SALEM, June 19th, 1837.

DEAR LONGFELLOW:--I have to-day received, and read with huge delight,
your review of 'Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales.' I frankly own that I was
not without hopes that you would do this kind office for the book;
though I could not have anticipated how very kindly it would be done.
Whether or no the public will agree to the praise which you bestow on
me, there are at least five persons who think you the most sagacious
critic on earth, viz., my mother and two sisters, my old maiden aunt,
and finally the strongest believer of the whole five, my own self. If I
doubt the sincerity and correctness of any of my critics, it shall be of
those who censure me. Hard would be the lot of a poor scribbler, if he
may not have this privilege....

Very sincerely yours,

NATH. HAWTHORNE.

That "Evangeline" was written upon a theme suggested to Hawthorne (by a
friend who had heard it from a French Canadian [Footnote: See American
Note-Books, October 24,1839]) and by him made over to the poet, has
already been made public. Hawthorne wrote, on its appearance:----

"I have read 'Evangeline' with more pleasure than it would be decorous
to express. It cannot fail, I think, to prove the most triumphant of all
your successes."

Nevertheless, he gave vent to some of his admiration in a notice of the
work which he wrote for "The Salem Advertiser," a Democratic paper.

"The story of Evangeline and her lover," he there says, "is as poetical
as the fable of the Odyssey, besides that it comes to the heart as a
fact that has actually taken place in human life." He speaks of "its
pathos all illuminated with beauty,----so that the impression of the
poem is nowhere dismal nor despondent, and glows with the purest
sunshine where we might the least expect it, on the pauper's
death-bed.... The story is told with the simplicity of high and
exquisite art, which causes it to flow onward as naturally as the
current of a stream. Evangeline's wanderings give occasion to many
pictures both of northern and southern scenery and life: but these do
not appear as if brought in designedly, to adorn the tale; they seem to
throw their beauty inevitably into the calm mirror of its bosom as it
flows past them.... By this work of his maturity he has placed himself
on a higher eminence than he had yet attained, and beyond the reach of
envy. Let him stand, then, at the head of our list of native poets,
until some one else shall break up the rude soil of our American life,
as he has done, and produce from it a lovelier and nobler flower than
this poem of Evangeline!"

Longfellow's characteristic kindly reply was as follows:----

"MY DEAR HAWTHORNE:----I have been waiting and waiting in the hope of
seeing you in Cambridge.... I have been meditating upon your letter, and
pondering with friendly admiration your review of 'Evangeline,' in
connection with the subject of which, that is to say, the Acadians, a
literary project arises in my mind for you to execute. Perhaps I can pay
you back in part your own generous gift, by giving you a theme for
story, in return for a theme for song. It is neither more nor less than
the history of the Acadians, _after_ their expulsion as well as
before. Felton has been making some researches in the State archives,
and offers to resign the documents into your hands.

"Pray come and see me about it without delay. Come so as to pass a night
with us, if possible, this week; if not a day and night.

"Ever sincerely yours,

"HENRY W. LONGFELLOW." There is nothing in our literary annals more
unique and delightful than this history of Longfellow's warm recognition
of his old classmate, and the mutual courtesies to which it led. One is
reminded by it of the William Tell episode between Goethe and Schiller,
though it was in this case only the theme and nothing of material that
was transferred.

An author now almost forgotten, Charles Fenno Hoffman, also published in
"The American Monthly Magazine," [Footnote: For March, 1838.] which he
was editing, a kindly review, which, however, underestimated the
strength of the new genius, as it was at first the general habit to do.
"Minds like Hawthorne's," he said, "seem to be the only ones suited to
an American climate.... Never can a nation be impregnated with the
literary spirit by minor authors alone.... Yet men like Hawthorne are
not without their use.".... In this same number of the magazine, by the
way, was printed Hawthorne's "Threefold Destiny," under the pseudonyme
of Ashley Allen Royce; and the song of Faith Egerton, afterward omitted,
is thus given:----

  "O, man can seek the downward glance,
  And each kind word,----affection's spell,----
  Eye, voice, its value can enhance;
  For eye may speak, and tongue can tell.

  "But woman's love, it waits the while
  To echo to another's tone;
  To linger on another's smile,
  Ere dare to answer with its own."

These versicles, though they might easily be passed over as commonplace,
hold a peculiar inner radiance that perhaps issued from the dawn of a
lifelong happiness for Hawthorne at this period.



V.


AT BOSTON AND BROOK FARM.

1838-1842.

Hawthorne's mood at this time was one of profound dissatisfaction at his
elimination from the active life of the world. "I am tired of being an
ornament," he said, with great emphasis, to a friend. "I want a little
piece of land that I can call my own, big enough to stand upon, big
enough to be buried in. I want to have something to do with this
material world." And, striking his hand vigorously on a table that stood
by: "If I could only make tables," he declared, "I should feel myself
more of a man." He was now thirty-four, and the long restraint and
aloofness of the last thirteen years, with the gathering consciousness
that he labored under unjust reproach of inaction, and the sense of loss
in being denied his share in affairs, had become intolerable. It was
now, also, that a new phase of being was opened to him. He had become
engaged to Miss Sophia Peabody, a sister of his friend.

President Van Buren had been two years in office, and Mr. Bancroft, the
historian, was Collector of the port of Boston. One evening the latter
was speaking, in a circle of Whig friends, of the splendid things which
the Democratic administration was doing for literary men. "But there's
Hawthorne," suggested a lady who was present.

"You've done nothing for him." "He won't take anything," was the answer:
"he has been offered places." In fact, Hawthorne's friends in political
life had urged him to enter politics, and he had at one time been
tendered a post of some sort in the West Indies, but refused it because
he would not live in a slaveholding community. "I happen to know," said
the lady, "that he would be very glad of employment." The result was
that a commission for a small post in the Boston Custom House came, soon
after, to the young author. On going down from Salem to inquire further
about it, he received another and a better appointment as weigher and
gauger, with a salary, I think, of twelve hundred a year. Just before
entering the Collector's office, he noticed a man leaving it who wore a
very dejected air; and, connecting this with the change in his own
appointment, he imagined this person to be the just-ejected weigher.
Speaking of this afterward, he said: "I don't believe in rotation in
office. It is not good for the human being." But he took his place,
writing to Longfellow (January 12, 1839):

"I have no reason to doubt my capacity to fulfil the duties; for I don't
know what they are. They tell me that a considerable portion of my time
will be unoccupied, the which I mean to employ in sketches of my new
experience, under some such titles as follows: 'Scenes in Dock,'
'Voyages at Anchor,' 'Nibblings of a Wharf Rat,' 'Trials of a
Tide-Waiter,' 'Romance of the Revenue Service,' together with an ethical
work in two volumes, on the subject of Duties, the first volume to treat
of moral and religious duties, and the second of duties imposed by the
Revenue Laws, which I begin to consider the most important class."

Two years later, when Harrison and Tyler carried the election for the
Whigs, he suffered the fate of his predecessor. And here I may offer an
opinion as to Hawthorne's connection with the Democratic party. When
asked why he belonged to it, he answered that he lived in a democratic
country. "But we are all republicans alike," was the objection to his
defence. "Well," he said, "I don't understand history till it's a
hundred years old, and meantime it's safe to belong to the Democratic
party." Still, Hawthorne was, so far as it comported with his less
transient aims, a careful observer of public affairs; and mere badinage,
like that just quoted, must not be taken as really covering the ground
of his choice in politics. A man of such deep insight, accustomed to
bring it to bear upon everything impartially, was not to be influenced
by any blind and accidental preference in these questions; albeit his
actual performance of political duties was slight. I think he recognized
the human strength of the Democratic, as opposed to the theorizing and
intellectual force of the Republican party. It is a curious fact, that
with us the party of culture should be the radical party, upholding
ideas even at the expense of personal liberty; and the party of
ignorance that of order, the conservating force, careful of personal
liberty even to a fault! Hawthorne, feeling perhaps that ideas work too
rapidly here, ranged himself on the side that offered the greater
resistance to them.

This term of service in Boston was of course irksome to Hawthorne, and
entirely suspended literary endeavors for the time. Yet "my life only is
a burden," he writes, "in the same way that it is to every toilsome
man.... But from henceforth forever I shall be entitled to call the sons
of toil my brethren, and shall know how to sympathize with them, seeing
that I likewise have risen at the dawn, and borne the fervor of the
midday sun, nor turned my heavy footsteps homeward till eventide." He
need not always have made the employment so severe, but the wages of the
wharf laborers depended on the number of hours they worked in a day, and
Hawthorne used to make it a point in all weathers, to get to the wharf
at the earliest possible hour, solely for their benefit. For the rest,
he felt a vast benefit from his new intercourse with men; there could
not have been a better maturing agency for him at this time; and the
interval served as an apt introduction to the Brook Farm episode.

That this least gregarious of men should have been drawn into a
socialistic community, seems at first inexplicable enough; but in
reality it was the most logical step he could have taken. He had
thoroughly tried seclusion, and had met and conquered by himself the
first realization of what the world actually is. Next, he entered into
the performance of definite duties and the receipt of gain, and watched
the operation of these two conditions on himself and those about him; an
experiment that taught him the evils of the system, and the necessity of
burying his better energies so long as he took part in affairs. This
raised doubts, of course, as to how he was to fit himself into the frame
of things; and while he mused upon some more generous arrangement of
society, and its conflicting interests, a scheme was started which
plainly proposed to settle the problem. Fourier had only just passed
away; the spread of his ideas was in its highest momentum. On the other
hand, the study of German philosophy, and the new dissent of Emerson,
had carried men's thoughts to the very central springs of intellectual
law, while in Boston the writing and preaching of Channing roused a
practical radicalism, and called for a better application of
Christianity to affairs. The era of the Transcendentalists had come. The
Chardon Street meetings--assemblages of ardent theorists and
"come-outers" of every type, who, while their sessions lasted, held
society in their hands and moulded it like clay--were a rude
manifestation of the same deep current. In the midst of these
influences, Mr. Ripley, an enthusiastic student of philosophy, received
an inspiration to establish a modified socialistic community on our own
soil. The Industrial Association which he proposed at West Roxbury was
wisely planned with direct reference to the emergencies of American
life; it had no affinity with the erratic views of Enfantin and the
Saint Simonists, nor did it in the least tend toward the mistakes of
Robert Owen regarding the relation of the sexes; though it agreed with
Fourier and Owen both, as I understand, in respect of labor. In a better
and freer sense than has usually been the case with such attempts, the
design sprang out of one man's mind and fell properly under his control.
His simple object was to distribute labor in such a way as to give all
men time for culture, and to free their minds from the debasing
influence of a merely selfish competition. It was a practical, orderly,
noble effort to apply Christianity directly to human customs and
institutions. "A few men and women of like views and feelings," one of
his sympathizers has said, "grouped themselves around him, not as their
master, but as their friend and brother, and the community at Brook Farm
was instituted." At various times Charles Dana, Pratt, the young
Brownson, Horace Sumner (a younger brother of Charles), George William
Curtis, and his brother Burrill Curtis were there. The place was a kind
of granary of true grit. People who found their own honesty too heavy a
burden to carry successfully through the rough jostlings of society,
flocked thither. "They were mostly individuals" says Hawthorne, "who had
gone through such an experience as to disgust them with ordinary
pursuits, but who were not yet so old, nor had suffered so deeply, as to
lose their faith in the better time to come."

To men like Hawthorne, however little they may noise the fact abroad,
the rotten but tenacious timbers of the social order shake beneath the
lightest tread. But he knew that the only wise method is to begin
repairing within the edifice, keeping the old associations, and losing
nothing of value while gaining everything new that is desirable. Because
Brook Farm seemed to adopt this principle, he went there. Some of the
meetings of the associators were held at Miss E. P. Peabody's, in
Boston, and the proceedings were related to him. Mr. Ripley did not at
first know who was the "distinguished literary gentleman" announced as
willing to join the company; and when told that it was Hawthorne, he
felt as if a miracle had befallen, or "as if," he tells me, "the heavens
would presently be filled with angels, and we should see Jacob's ladder
before us. But we never came any nearer to having _that_, than our
old ladder in the barn, from floor to hayloft." For his personal
benefit, Hawthorne had two ends in view, connected with Brook Farm: one,
to find a suitable and economical home after marriage; the other, to
secure a mode of life thoroughly balanced and healthy, which should
successfully distribute the sum of his life's labor between body and
brain. He hoped to secure leisure for writing by perhaps six hours of
daily service; but he found nearly sixteen needful. "He worked like a
dragon," says Mr. Ripley.

The productive industry of the association was agriculture; the leading
aim, teaching; and in some cases there were classes made up of men,
women, children, whom ignorance put on the same plane. Several buildings
accommodated the members: the largest, in which the public table was
spread and the cooking done, being called The Hive; another, The Pilgrim
House; a smaller one, The Nest; and still another was known as The
Cottage. In The Eyrie, Mr. and Mrs. Ripley lived, and here a great part
of the associators would gather in the evenings. Of a summer night, when
the moon was full, they lit no lamps, but sat grouped in the light and
shadow, while sundry of the younger men sang old ballads, or joined Tom
Moore's songs to operatic airs. On other nights, there would be an
original essay or poem read aloud, or else a play of Shakespere, with
the parts distributed to different members; and, these amusements
failing, some interesting discussion was likely to take their place.
Occasionally, in the dramatic season, large delegations from the farm
would drive into Boston in carriages and wagons to the opera or the
play. Sometimes, too, the young women sang as they washed the dishes, in
The Hive; and the youthful yeomen of the society came in and helped them
with their work. The men wore blouses of a checked or plaided stuff,
belted at the waist, with a broad collar folding down about the throat,
and rough straw hats; the women, usually, simple calico gowns, and
hats,--which were then an innovation in feminine attire. In the season
of wood-wanderings, they would trim their hats with wreaths of barberry
or hop-vine, ground-pine, or whatever offered,--a suggestion of the
future Priscilla of "Blithedale." Some families and students came to the
farm as boarders, paying for their provision in household or field
labor, or by teaching; a method which added nothing to the funds of the
establishment, and in this way rather embarrassed it. A great deal of
individual liberty was allowed. People could eat in private or public;
and it has been said by those who were there that the unconventional
life permitted absolute privacy at any time. Every one was quite
unfettered, too, in the sphere of religious worship. When a member
wished to be absent, another would generally contrive to take his work
for the interval; and a general good-will seems to have prevailed.
Still, I imagine there must have been a temporary and uncertain air
about the enterprise, much of the time; and the more intimate unions of
some among the members who were congenial, gave rise to intermittent
jealousies in those who found no special circle. "In this way it was
very much like any small town of the same number of inhabitants," says
one of my informants. Indeed, though every one who shared in the Brook
Farm attempt seems grateful for what it taught of the dignity and the
real fellowship of labor, I find a general belief in such persons that
it could not long have continued at its best. The system of compensating
all kinds of service, skilled or otherwise, according to the time used,
excited--as some have thought--much dissatisfaction even among the
generous and enlightened people who made up the society. "I thought I
could see some incipient difficulties working in the system," writes a
lady who was there in 1841. "Questions already arose as to how much
individual freedom could be allowed, if it conflicted with the best
interests of the whole. Those who came there were the results of another
system of things which still gave a salutary cheek to the more radical
tendencies; but the second generation there could hardly have shown
equal, certainly not the same, character." A confirmation of this augury
is the fact that the cast of the community became decidedly more
Fourieristic before it disbanded; and it is not impossible that another
generation might have decolorized and seriously deformed human existence
among them. Theories and opinions were very openly talked over, and
practical details as well; and though this must have had its charm, yet
it would also touch uncomfortably on a given temperament, or jar upon a
peculiar mood. In such enterprises there must always be a slight
inclination to establish a conformity to certain freedoms which really
become oppressions. Shyness was not held essential to a regenerated
state of things, and was perhaps too much disregarded; as also was
illness, an emergency not clearly provided for, which had to be met by
individual effort and self-sacrifice, after the selfish and
old-established fashion of the world. How this atmosphere affected
Hawthorne he has hinted in his romance founded on some aspects of
community life: "Though fond of society, I was so constituted as to need
these occasional retirements, even in a life like that of Blithedale,
which was itself characterized by a remoteness from the world. Unless
renewed by a yet further withdrawal towards the inner circle of
self-communion, I lost the better part of my individuality. My thoughts
became of little worth, and my sensibilities grew as arid as a tuft of
moss ... crumbling in the sunshine, after long expectance of a shower."
A fellow-toiler came upon him suddenly, one day, lying in a green hollow
some distance from the farm, with his hands under his head and his face
shaded by his hat. "How came you out here?" asked his friend. "Too much
of a party up there," was his answer, as he pointed toward the community
buildings. It has also been told that at leisure times he would sit
silently, hour after hour, in the broad old-fashioned hall of The Hive,
where he "could listen almost unseen to the chat and merriment of the
young people," himself almost always holding a book before him, but
seldom turning the leaves.

One sees in his letters of this time [Footnote: American Note-Books,
Vol. I.] how the life wore upon him; and his journal apparently ceased
during the whole bucolic experience. How joyously his mind begins to
disport itself again with fancies, the moment he leaves the association,
even temporarily! And in 1842, as soon as he is fairly quit of it, the
old darkling or waywardly gleaming stream of thought and imagination
flows freshly, untamably forward. Hawthorne remained with the Brook Farm
community nearly a twelvemonth, a small part of which time was spent in
Boston. Some of the letters which his sisters wrote him show a
delightful solicitude reigning at home, during the period of his
experiment.

"What is the use," says one, "of burning your brains out in the sun, if
you can do anything better with them?... I am bent upon coming to see
you, this summer. Do not you remember how we used to go a-fishing
together in Raymond? Your mention of wild flowers and pickerel has given
me a longing for the woods and waters again."

Then, in August,

"C---- A----," writes his sister Louisa, "told me the other day that he
heard you were to do the travelling in Europe for the community."

This design, if it existed, might well have found a place in the
Dialogues of the Unborn which Hawthorne once meant to write; for this
was his only summer at Brook Farm. "A summer of toil, of interest, of
something that was not pleasure, but which went deep into my heart, and
there became a rich experience," he writes, in "Blithedale." "I found
myself looking forward to years, if not to a lifetime, to be spent on
the same system." This was, in fact, his attitude; for, after passing
the winter at the farm as a boarder, and then absenting himself a little
while, he returned in the spring to look over the ground and perhaps
select a house-site, just before his marriage, but came to an adverse
decision. This no doubt accorded with perceptions which he was not
called upon to make public; but because he was a writer of fiction there
seems to have arisen a tacit agreement, in some quarters, to call him
insincere in his connection with this socialistic enterprise. He had not
much to gain by leaving the community; for he had put into its treasury
a thousand dollars, about the whole of his savings from the custom-house
stipend, and had next to nothing to establish a home with elsewhere,
while a niche in the temple of the reformers would have cost him nothing
but labor. The length of his stay was by no means uncommonly short, for
there was always a transient contingent at Brook Farm, many of whom
remained but a few weeks. A devoted but not a wealthy disciple, who had
given six thousand dollars for the building of the Pilgrim House, and
hoped to end his days within it, retired forever after a very short
sojourn, not dissuaded from the theory, but convinced that the practical
application was foredoomed to disaster. And, in truth, though a manful
effort was made, with good pecuniary success for a time, ten years
brought the final hour of failure to this millennial plan.

Very few people who were at Brook Farm seem to have known or even to
have seen Hawthorne there, though he was elected chairman of the Finance
Committee just before leaving, and I am told that his handsome presence,
his quiet sympathy, his literary reputation, and his hearty
participation in labor commanded a kind of reverence from some of the
members. Next to his friend George P. Bradford, one of the workers and
teachers in the community, his most frequent associates were a certain
Rev. Warren Burton, author of a curious little book called
"Scenery-Shower," designed to develop a proper taste for landscape; and
one Frank Farley, who had been a pioneer in the West, a man of singular
experiences and of an original turn, who was subject to mental
derangement at times. The latter visited him at the Old Manse,
afterward, when Hawthorne was alone there, and entered actively into his
makeshift housekeeping.

President Pierce, on one occasion, speaking to an acquaintance about
Hawthorne, said: "He is enthusiastic when he speaks of the aims and
self-sacrifice of some of the Brook Farm people; but when I questioned
him whether he would like to live and die in a community like that, he
confessed he was not suited to it, but said he had learned a great deal
from it. 'What, for instance?' 'Why, marketing, for one thing. I didn't
know anything about it practically, and I rode into Boston once or twice
with the men who took in things to sell, and saw how it was done.'" The
things of deepest moment which he learned were not to be stated fully in
conversation; but I suppose readers would draw the same inference from
this whimsical climax of Hawthorne's as that which has been found in
"The Blithedale Romance"; namely, that he looked on his socialistic life
as the merest jesting matter. Such, I think, is the general opinion; and
a socialistic writer, Mr. Noyes, of the Oneida Community, has
indignantly cried out against the book, as a "poetico-sneering romance."
This study of human character, which would keep its value in any state
of society that preserved its reflective faculty intact and sane, to be
belittled to the record of a brief experiment! Hawthorne indeed,
speaking in the prefatory third person of his own aim, says: "His whole
treatment of the affair is altogether incidental to the main purpose of
the romance; nor does he put forward the slightest pretensions to
illustrate a theory, or elicit a conclusion, favorable or otherwise, in
respect to socialism." And though he has told the story
autobiographically, it is through a character whom we ought by no means
to identify with Hawthorne in his whole mood. I have taken the liberty
of applying to Hawthorne's own experience two passages from Coverdale's
account, because they picture something known to be the case; and a
careful sympathy will find no difficulty in distinguishing how much is
real and how much assumed. Coverdale, being merely the medium for
impressions of the other characters, is necessarily light and
diaphanous, and Hawthorne, finding it more convenient, and an advantage
to the lifelikeness of the story, does not attempt to hold him up in the
air all the time, but lets him down now and then, and assumes the part
himself. The allusions to the community scheme are few, and most of them
are in the deepest way sympathetic. Precisely because the hopes of the
socialists were so unduly high, he values them and still is glad of
them, though they have fallen to ruin. "In my own behalf, I rejoice that
I could once think better of the world than it deserved. It is a mistake
into which men seldom fall twice in a lifetime; or, if so, the rarer and
higher is the nature that can thus magnanimously persist in error."
Where is the sneer concealed in this serious and comprehensive
utterance? There is a class of two-pronged minds, which seize a pair of
facts eagerly, and let the truth drop out of sight between them. For
these it is enough that Hawthorne made some use of his Brook Farm
memories in a romance, and then wrote that romance in the first person,
with a few dashes of humor.

Another critic, acting on a conventional idea as to Hawthorne's "cold,
self-removed observation," quotes to his disadvantage this paragraph in
a letter from Brook Farm: "Nothing here is settled.... My mind will not
be abstracted. I must observe and think and feel, and content myself
with catching glimpses of things which may be wrought out hereafter.
Perhaps it will be quite as well that I find myself unable to set
seriously about literary occupation for the present." This is offered as
showing that Hawthorne went to the community--unconsciously, admits our
critic, but still in obedience to some curious, chilly "dictate of his
nature"--for the simple purpose of getting fresh impressions, to work up
into fiction. But no one joined the society expecting to give up his
entire individuality, and it was a special part of the design that each
should take such share of the labor as was for his own and the general
good, and follow his own tastes entirely as to ideal pursuits. A
singular prerogative this, which every one who writes about Hawthorne
lays claim to, that he may be construed as a man who, at bottom, had no
other motive in life than to make himself uneasy by withdrawing from
hearty communion with people, in order to pry upon them intellectually!
He speaks of "that quality of the intellect and the heart which impelled
me (often against my own will, and to the detriment of my own comfort)
to live in other lives, and to endeavor--_by generous sympathies, by
delicate intuitions_, by taking note of things too slight for record,
and by bringing my human spirit into manifold accordance with the
companions God had assigned me--to learn the secret which was hidden
even from themselves"; and this is cited as evidence of "his cold
inquisitiveness, his incredulity, his determination to worm out the
inmost secrets of all associated with him." Such distortion is amazing.
The few poets who search constantly for truth are certainly impelled to
get at the inmost of everything. But what, in Heaven's name, is the
motive? Does any one seriously suppose it to be for the amusement of
making stories out of it? The holding up to one's self the stern and
secret realities of life is no such pleasing pursuit. These men are
driven to it by the divine impulse which has made them seers and
recorders.

As for Hawthorne, he hoped and loved and planned with the same rich
human faith that fills the heart of every manly genius; and if
discouraging truth made him suffer, it was all the more because his
ideals--and at first his trust in their realization--were so generous
and so high. Two of his observations as to Brook Farm, transferred to
the "The Blithedale Romance," show the wisdom on which his withdrawal
was based. The first relates to himself: "No sagacious man will long
retain his sagacity, if he live exclusively among reformers and
progressive people, without periodically returning to the settled system
of things, to correct himself by a new observation from that old
standpoint." He had too much imagination to feel safe in giving free
rein to it, in a special direction of theoretic conduct; he also
remembered that, as the old system of things was full of error, it was
possible that a new one might become so in new ways, unless watched. The
second observation touches the real weakness of the Brook Farm
institution: "It struck me as rather odd, that one of the first
questions raised, after our separation from the greedy, struggling,
self-seeking world, should relate to the possibility of getting the
advantage over the outside barbarians in their own field of labor. But
to own the truth, I very soon became sensible that, _as regarded
society at large, we stood in a position of new hostility rather than
new brotherhood._" And, in fact, the real good which Mr. Ripley's
attempt did, was to implant the co-operative idea in the minds of men
who have gone out into the world to effect its gradual application on a
grander scale. It is by introducing it into one branch of social energy
after another that the regenerative agency of to-day can alone be made
effectual. The leaders of that community have been broad-minded, and
recognize this truth. None of them, however, have ever taken the trouble
to formulate it as Hawthorne did, on perceiving it some years in
advance.

The jocose tone, it maybe added, seems to have been a characteristic
part of the Brook Farm experiment, despite the sober earnest and rapt
enthusiasm that accompanied it. The members had their laughing
allusions, and talked--in a strain of self-ridicule precisely similar
to Coverdale's--of having bands of music to play for the
field-laborers, who should plough in tune. This merely proves that they
were people who kept their wits whole, and had the humor that comes with
refinement; while it illustrates by the way the naturalness of the tone
Hawthorne has given to Coverdale.

The Priscilla of Blithedale was evidently founded upon the little
seamstress whom he describes in the Note-Books as coming out to the
farm, and Old Moodie's spectre can be discerned in a brief memorandum of
a man seen (at Parker's old bar-room in Court Square) in 1850. It has been
thought that Zenobia was drawn from Margaret Fuller, or from a lady at
Brook Farm, or perhaps from both: a gentleman who was there says that he
traces in her a partial likeness to several women. It is as well to
remember that Hawthorne distinctly negatived the idea that he wrote with
any one that he knew before his mind; and he illustrated it, to one of
his most intimate friends, by saying that sometimes in the course of
composition it would suddenly occur to him, that the character he was
describing resembled in some point one or more persons of his
acquaintance. Thus, I suppose that when the character of Priscilla had
developed itself in his imagination, he found he could give her a
greater reality by associating her with the seamstress alluded to; and
that the plaintive old man at Parker's offered himself as a good figure
to prop up the web-work of pure invention which was the history of
Zenobia's and Priscilla's father. There is a conviction in the minds of
all readers, dearer to them than truth, that novelists simply sit down
and describe their own acquaintances, using a few clumsy disguises to
make the thing tolerable. When they do take a hint from real persons the
character becomes quite a different thing to them from the actual
prototype. It was not even so definite as this with Hawthorne. Yet no
doubt, his own atmosphere being peculiar, the contrast between that and
the atmosphere of those he met stimulated his imagination; so that,
without his actually seeing a given trait in another person, the meeting
might have the effect of _suggesting_ it. Then he would brood over
this suggestion till it became a reality, a person, to his mind; and
thus his characters were conceived independently in a region somewhere
between himself and the people who had awakened speculation in his mind.

He had a very sure instinct as to when a piece of reality might be
transferred to his fiction with advantage. Mr. Curtis has told the story
of a young woman of Concord, a farmer's daughter, who had had her
aspirations roused by education until the conflict between these and the
hard and barren life she was born to, made her thoroughly miserable and
morbid; and one summer's evening she sought relief in the quiet, homely
stream that flowed by the Old Manse, and found the end of earthly
troubles in its oozy depths. Hawthorne was roused by Curtis himself
coming beneath his window (precisely as Coverdale comes to summon
Hollingsworth), and with one other they went out on the river, to find
the poor girl's body. "The man," writes his friend, "whom the villagers
had only seen at morning as a musing spectre in the garden, now appeared
among them at night to devote his strong arm and steady heart to their
service."

By this dark memory is the powerful climax of "The Blithedale Romance"
bound to the sphere of a reality as dread.



VI.


THE OLD MANSE.

1842-1846.

There is a Providence in the lives of men who act sincerely, which makes
each step lead, with the best result, to the next phase of their
careers. By his participation in the excellent endeavor at Brook Farm,
Hawthorne had prepared himself to enjoy to the full his idyllic
retirement at the Old Manse, in Concord. "For now, being happy," he
says, "I felt as if there were no question to be put."

Hawthorne was married in July, 1842, and went at once to this his first
home. Just before going to Brook Farm he had written "Grandfather's
Chair," the first part of a series of sketches of New England history
for children, which was published by Miss Peabody in Boston, and Wiley
and Putnam in New York; but the continuation was interrupted by his stay
at the farm. In 1842 he wrote a second portion, and also some
biographical stories, all of which gained an immediate success. He also
resumed his contributions to the "Democratic Review," the most brilliant
periodical of the time, in which Whittier, Longfellow, Lowell, Poe, and
other noted authors made their appearance. It was published at
Washington, and afterward at New York, and made considerable pretensions
to a national character. Hawthorne had been engaged as a contributor, at
a fair rate, in 1838, and his articles had his name appended (not always
Hie practice at that time) in a way that shows the high estimation into
which he had already grown. "John Inglefield's Thanksgiving," "The
Celestial Railroad," "The Procession of Life," "Fire Worship," "Buds and
Bird Voices," and "Roger Malvin's Burial," all appeared in the
"Democratic" in 1843. "Rappaccini's Daughter" and other tales followed
in the next year; and in 1845 the second volume of "Twice-Told Tales"
was brought out at Boston. During the same year Hawthorne edited the
"African Journals" of his friend Bridge, then an officer in the navy,
who had just completed a cruise. The editor's name evidently carried
great weight, even then. "The mere announcement, 'edited by Nathaniel
Hawthorne,'" said one of the critics, "is enough to entitle this book to
a place among the American classics." I dwell upon this, because an
attempt has been made to spread the idea that Hawthorne up to the time
of writing "The Scarlet Letter" was still obscure and discouraged, and
that only then, by a timely burst of appreciation in certain quarters,
was he rescued from oblivion. The truth is, that he had won himself an
excellent position, was popular, and was himself aware by this time of
the honor in which he was held. Even when he found that the small
profits of literature were forcing him into office again, he wrote to
Bridge: "It is rather singular that I should need an office: for
nobody's scribblings seem to be more acceptable than mine." The
explanation of this lies in the wretchedly dependent state of native
authorship at that time. The law of copyright had not then attained to
even the refined injustice which it has now reached. "I continue," he
wrote, in 1844, "to scribble tales with good success so far as regards
empty praise, some notes of which, pleasant enough to my ears, have come
from across the Atlantic. But the pamphlet and piratical system has so
broken up all regular literature, that I am forced to work hard for
small gains."

Besides the labors already enumerated, he edited for the "Democratic"
some "Papers of an old Dartmoor Prisoner" (probably some one of his
"sea-dog" acquaintance in Salem). He was in demand among the publishers.
A letter from Evert Duyckinck (New York, October 2, 1845), who was then
in the employ of Wiley and Putnam, publishers of the "African Cruiser,"
says of that book: "The English notices are bounteous in praise. No
American book in a long time has been so well noticed." The same firm
were now eager to bring out his recent tales, and were also, as appears
in the following from Duyckinck, urging the prosecution of another
scheme: "I hope you will not think me a troublesome fellow," he writes,
"if I drop you another line with the vociferous cry, MSS.! MSS.! Mr.
Wiley's American series is athirst for the volumes of tales; and how
stands the prospect for the History of Witchcraft, I whilom spoke of?"
The History Hawthorne wisely eschewed; but early in 1846 the "Mosses
from an Old Manse" was issued at New York, in two volumes. This
attracted at once a great deal of praise, and it certainly shows a
wider range and fuller maturity than the first book of "Twice-Told
Tales"; yet I doubt whether the stories of this group have taken such
intimate hold of any body of readers as those, although recommending
themselves to a larger audience. Hawthorne's life at the Old Manse was
assuredly one of the brightest epochs of his career: an unalloyed
happiness had come to him, he was full of the delight of first
possession in his home, a new and ample companionship was his, and the
quiet course of the days, with their openings into healthful outdoor
exercise, made a perfect balance between creation and recreation. The
house in which he dwelt was itself a little island of the past, standing
intact above the flood of events; all around was a mild, cultivated
country, broken into gentle variety of "hills to live with," and touched
with just enough wildness to keep him from tiring of it: the stream that
flowed by his orchard was for him an enchanted river. He renewed the
pleasant sports of boyhood with it, fishing and boating in summer, and
in winter whistling over its clear, black ice, on rapid skates. In the
more genial months, the garden gave him pleasant employment; and in his
journal-musings, the thought gratifies him that he has come into a
primitive relation with nature, and that the two occupants of the Manse
are in good faith a new Adam and Eve, so far as the happiness of that
immemorial pair remained unbroken. The charm of these experiences has
all been distilled into the descriptive chapter which prefaces the
"Mosses"; and such more personal aspects of it as could not be mixed in
that vintage have been gathered, like forgotten clusters of the harvest,
into the Note-Books. It remains to comment, here, on the contrast
between the peaceful character of these first years at Concord and the
increased sombreness of some of the visions there recorded.

The reason of this is, that Hawthorne's genius had now waxed to a
stature which made its emanations less immediately dependent on his
actual mood. I am far from assuming an exact autobiographical value for
the "Twice-Told Tales"; a theory which the writer himself condemned. But
they, as he has also said, require "to be read in the clear brown
twilight atmosphere in which they were written"; while the "Mosses" are
the work of a man who has learned to know the world, and the atmosphere
in which they were composed seems almost dissonant with the tone of some
of them. "The Birthmark," "The Bosom Serpent," "Rappaccini's Daughter,"
and that terrible and lurid parable of "Young Goodman Brown," are made
up of such horror as Hawthorne has seldom expressed elsewhere. "The
Procession of Life" is a fainter vibration of the same chord of
awfulness. Such concentration of frightful truth do these most graceful
and exquisitely wrought creations contain, that the intensity becomes
almost poisonous. What is the meaning of this added revelation of evil?
The genius of Hawthorne was one which used without stint that costliest
of all elements in production,--time; the brooding propensity was
indispensable to him; and, accordingly, as some of these conceptions had
occurred to him a good while before the carrying out, they received
great and almost excessive elaboration. The reality of sin, the
pervasiveness of evil, had been but slightly insisted upon in the
earlier tales: in this series, the idea bursts up like a long-buried
fire, with earth-shaking strength, and the pits of Hell seem yawning
beneath us. Dismal, too, is the story of "Roger Malvin's Burial," and
dreary "The Christmas Banquet," with its assembly of the supremely
wretched. In "Earth's Holocaust" we get the first result of Hawthorne's
insight into the demonianism of reformatory schemers who forget that the
centre of every true reform is the heart. And, incidentally, this marks
out the way to "The Scarlet Letter" on the one hand, and "The Blithedale
Romance" on the other, in which the same theme assumes two widely
different phases. Thus we find the poet seeking more and more certainly
the central fountain of moral suggestion from which he drew his best
inspirations. The least pleasing quality of the work is, I think, its
overcharged allegorical burden. Some of the most perfect of all his
tales are here, but their very perfection makes one recoil the more at
the supremacy of their purely intellectual interest. One feels a certain
chagrin, too, on finishing them, as if the completeness of embodiment
had given the central idea a shade of too great obviousness. Hawthorne
is most enjoyable and most true to himself when he offers us the chalice
of poetry filled to the very brim with the clear liquid of moral truth.
But, at first, there seems to have been a conflict between his aesthetic
and his ethical impulse. Coleridge distinguishes the symbolical from the
allegorical, by calling it a part of some whole which it represents.
"Allegory cannot be other than spoken consciously; whereas in the symbol
it is very possible that the general truth represented may be working
unconsciously in the writer's mind.... The advantage of symbolical
writing over allegory is that it presumes no disjunction of faculties,
but simple predominance." Now in the "Allegories of the Heart,"
collected in the "Mosses," there is sometimes an extreme consciousness
of the idea to be illustrated; and though the ideas are in a measure
symbolical, yet they are on the whole too disintegrating in their effect
to leave the artistic result quite generous and satisfying. Allegory
itself, as an echo of one's thought, is often agreeable, and pleases
through surprise; yet it is apt to be confusing, and smothers the poetic
harmony. In his romances, Hawthorne escapes into a hugely significant,
symbolic sphere which relieves the reader of this partial vexation. "The
Celestial Railroad," of course, must be excepted from censure, being the
sober parody of a famous work, and in itself a masterly satirical
allegory. And in two cases, "Drowne's Wooden Image," and "The Artist of
the Beautiful," we find the most perfect imaginable symbolism. In one,
the story of Pygmalion compressed and Yankeefied, yet rendered
additionally lovely by its homeliness; and the essence of all artistic
life, in the other, presented in a form that cannot be surpassed. "Mrs.
Bullfrog" is a sketch which is ludicrously puzzling, until one recalls
Hawthorne's explanation: "The story was written as a mere experiment in
that style; it did not come from any depth within me,--neither my heart
nor mind had anything to do with it." [Footnote: American Note-Books,
Vol. II.] It is valuable, in this light, as a distinct boundary-mark in
one direction. But the essay vein which had produced some of the
clearest watered gems in the "Twice-Told Tales," begins in the "Mosses"
to yield increase of brilliance and beauty; and we here find, with the
gathering strength of imagination,--the enlarged power for bringing the
most unreal things quite into the circle of realities,--a compensating
richness in describing the simply natural, as in "Buds and Bird Voices,"
"Fire Worship," "The Old Apple-Dealer."

Everything in these two volumes illustrates forcibly the brevity, the
absolutely right proportion of language to idea, which from the first
had marked Hawthorne with one trait, at least, quite unlike any
displayed by the writers with whom he was compared, and entirely foreign
to the mood of the present century. This _sense of form_, the
highest and last attribute of a creative writer, provided it comes as
the result of a deep necessity of his genius, and not as a mere
acquirement of art, is a quality that has not been enough noticed in
him; doubtless because it is not enough looked for anywhere by the
majority of critics and readers, in these days of adulteration and of
rapid manufacture out of shoddy and short-fibred stuffs. We demand a
given measure of reading, good or bad, and producers of it are in great
part paid for length: so that with much using of thin and shapeless
literature, we have forgotten how good is that which is solid and has
form. But, having attained this perfection in the short story, Hawthorne
thereafter abandoned it for a larger mould.

The "Mosses," as I have said, gained him many admirers. In them he for
the first time touched somewhat upon the tendencies of the current
epoch, and took an entirely independent stand among the philosophers of
New England. Yet, for a while, there was the oddest misconception of his
attitude by those at a distance. A Whig magazine, pleased by his manly
and open conservatism, felt convinced that he must be a Whig, though he
was, at the moment of the announcement, taking office under a Democratic
President. On the other hand, a writer in "The Church Review" of New
Haven, whom we shall presently see more of, was incited to a tilt
against him as a rabid New England theorist, the outcome, of
phalansteries, a subverter of marriage and of all other holy things. In
like manner, while Hawthorne was casting now and then a keen dart at the
Transcendentalists, and falling asleep over "The Dial" (as his journals
betray), Edgar Poe, a literary _Erinaceus_, wellnigh exhausted his
supply of quills upon the author, as belonging to a school toward which
he felt peculiar acerbity. "Let him mend his pen," cried Poe, in his
most high-pitched strain of personal abuse, "get a bottle of visible
ink, hang (if possible) the editor of 'The Dial,' cut Mr. Alcott, and
throw out of the window to the pigs all his odd numbers of the 'North
American Review.'" This paper of Poe's is a laughable and pathetic case
of his professedly punctilious analysis covering the most bitter
attacks, with traces of what looks like envy, and others of a resistless
impulse to sympathize with a literary brother as against the average
mind. He begins with a discussion of originality and peculiarity: "In
one sense, to be peculiar is to be original," he says, but the true
originality is "not the uniform but the continuous peculiarity, ...
giving its own hue to everything it touches," and touching everything.
From this flimsy and very uncertain principle, which seems to make two
different things out of the same thing, he goes on to conclude that,
"the fact is, if Mr. Hawthorne were really original, he could not fail
of making himself felt by the public. But the fact is, he is _not_
original in any sense." He then attempts to show that Hawthorne's
peculiarity is derivative, and selects Tieck as the source of this
idiosyncrasy. Perhaps his insinuation may be the origin of Hawthorne's
effort to read some of the German author, while at the Old Manse,--an
attempt given up in great fatigue. Presently, the unhappy critic brings
up his favorite charge of plagiarism; and it happens, as usual, that the
writer borrowed from is Poe himself! The similarity which he discovers
is between "Howe's Masquerade" and "William Wilson," and is based upon
fancied resemblances of situation, which have not the least foundation
in the facts, and upon the occurrence in both stories of the phrase,
"Villain, unmuffle yourself!" In the latter half of his review, written
a little later, Mr. Poe takes quite another tack:--

"Of Mr. Hawthorne's tales we would say emphatically that they belong to
the highest region of art,--an art subservient to genius of a very lofty
order. We had supposed, with good reason for so supposing, that he had
been thrust into his present position by one of the impudent
_cliques_ who beset our literature; ... but we have been most
agreeably mistaken.... Mr. Hawthorne's distinctive trait is invention,
creation, imagination, originality,--a trait which, in the literature of
fiction, is positively worth all the rest. But the nature of the
originality ... is but imperfectly understood.... The inventive or
original mind as frequently displays itself in novelty of _tone_ as
in novelty of matter. Mr. Hawthorne is original in _all_ points."

This, certainly, is making generous amends; but before he leaves the
subject, the assertion is repeated, that "he is peculiar, and _not_
original."

Though an extravagant instance, this tourney of Poe's represents pretty
well the want of understanding with which Hawthorne was still received
by many readers. His point of view once seized upon, nothing could be
more clear and simple than his own exposition of refined and evasive
truths; but the keen edge of his perception remained quite invisible to
some. Of the "Twice-Told Tales" Hawthorne himself wrote:--

"The sketches are not, it is hardly necessary to say, profound; but it
is rather more remarkable that they so seldom, if ever, show any design
on the writer's part to make them so.... Every sentence, so far as it
embodies thought or sensibility, may be understood and felt by anybody
who will give himself the trouble to read it, and will take up the book
in a proper mood."

But it was hard for people to find that mood, because in fact the Tales
_were_ profound. Their language was clear as crystal; but all the
more dazzlingly shone through the crystal that new light of Hawthorne's
gaze.

After nearly four years, Hawthorne's tenancy of the Manse came to an
end, and he returned to Salem, with some prospect of an office there
from the new Democratic government of Polk. It is said that President
Tyler had at one time actually appointed him to the Salem post-office,
but was induced to withdraw his name. There were local factions that
kept the matter in abeyance. The choice, in any case, lay between the
Naval Office and the surveyorship, and Bridge urged Hawthorne's
appointment to the latter. "Whichever it be," wrote Hawthorne, "it is to
you that I shall owe it, among so many other solid kindnesses. I have as
true friends as any man has, but you have been the friend in need and
the friend indeed." At this time he was seriously in want of some
profitable employment, for he had received almost nothing from the
magazine. It was the period of credit, and debts were hard to collect.
His journal at the Old Manse refers to the same trouble. I have been
told that, besides losing the value of many of his contributions to the
"Democratic," through the failure of the magazine, he had advanced money
to the publishers, which was never repaid; but this has not been
corroborated, and as he had lost nearly everything at Brook Farm, it is
a little doubtful. At length, he was installed as surveyor in the Salem
Custom-House, where he hoped soon to begin writing at ease.



VII.


THE SCARLET LETTER.

1846-1850.

The literary result of the four years which Hawthorne now, after long
absence, spent in his native town, was the first romance which gave him
world-wide fame. But the intention of beginning to write soon was not
easy of fulfilment in the new surroundings.

"Literature, its exertions and objects, were now of little moment in my
regard," he says, in "The Custom-House." "I cared not at this period for
books; they were apart from me.... A gift, a faculty, if it had not
departed, was suspended and inanimate within me."

Readers of that charming sketch will remember the account of the
author's finding a veritable Puritan scarlet letter in an unfinished
upper room of the public building in which he labored at this time, and
how he was urged by the ghost of a former surveyor, who had written an
account of the badge and its wearer, to make the matter public. The
discovery of these materials is narrated with such reassuring accuracy,
that probably a large number of people still suppose this to have been
the origin of "The Scarlet Letter." But there is no knowledge among
those immediately connected with Hawthorne of any actual relic having
been found; nor, of course, is it likely that anything besides the
manuscript memorandum should have been preserved. But I do not know that
he saw even this. The papers of Mr. Poe were probably a pure invention
of the author's.

A strange coincidence came to light the year after the publication of
the romance. A letter from Leutze, the painter, was printed in the Art
Union Bulletin, running thus:--

"I was struck, when some years ago in the Schwarzwald (in an old
castle), with one picture in the portrait-gallery; it has haunted me
ever since. It was not the beauty or finish that charmed me; it was
something strange in the figures, the immense contrast between the child
and what was supposed to be her gouvernante in the garb of some severe
order; the child, a girl, was said to be the ancestress of the family, a
princess of some foreign land. No sooner had I read 'The Scarlet Letter'
than it burst clearly upon me that the picture could represent no one
else than Hester Prynne and little Pearl. I hurried to see it again, and
found my suppositions corroborated, for the formerly inexplicable
embroidery on the breast of the woman, which I supposed was the token of
her order, assumed the form of the letter; and though partially hidden
by the locks of the girl and the flowers in her hair, I set to work upon
it at once, and made as close a copy of it, with all its quaintness, as
was possible to me, which I shall send you soon. How Hester Prynne ever
came to be painted, I can't imagine; it must certainly have been a freak
of little Pearl. Strange enough, the castle is named Perlenburg, the
Castle of Pearls, or Pearl Castle, as you please."

A more extraordinary incident in its way than this discovery, if it be
trustworthy, could hardly be conceived; but I am not aware that it has
been verified.

The germ of the story in Hawthorne's mind is given below. The name
Pearl, it will be remembered, occurs in the Note-Books, as an original
and isolated suggestion "for a girl, in a story."

In "Endicott and the Red Cross," one of the twice-told series printed
many years before, there is a description of "a young woman, with no
mean share of beauty, whose doom it was to wear the letter A on the
breast of her gown, in the eyes of all the world and her own children.
Sporting with her infamy, the lost and desperate creature had
embroidered the fatal token in scarlet cloth, with golden thread and the
nicest art of needlework." A friend asked Hawthorne if he had
documentary evidence for this particular punishment, and he replied that
he had actually seen it mentioned in the town records of Boston, though
with no attendant details. [Footnote: I may here transcribe, as a further
authority, which Hawthorne may or may not have seen, one of the laws of
Plymouth Colony, enacted in 1658, about the period in which the events
of "The Scarlet Letter" are placed. "It is enacted by the Court and the
Authoritie thereof that whosoeuer shall committ Adultery shal bee
seuerly Punished by whipping two seueral times viz: once whiles the
Court is in being att which they are convicted of the fact, and the
second time as the Court shall order, and likewise to were two Capitall
letters viz: A D cut cut in Cloth and sewed on their vpermost garments
on their arme or backe; and if at any time they shal bee taken without
said letters, whiles they are in the Gou'ment soe worne, to be forthwith
Taken and publicly whipt."] This friend said to another at the time: "We
shall hear of that letter again, for it evidently has made a profound
impression on Hawthorne's mind." Returning to Salem, where his
historical stories and sketches had mainly been written, he reverted
naturally to the old themes; and this one doubtless took possession of
him soon after his entrance on his customs duties. But these disabled
him from following it out at once. When the indefatigable Whigs got hold
of the government again, Hawthorne's literary faculty came into power
also, for he was turned out of office. In the winter of 1849, therefore,
he got to work on his first regular romance. In his Preface to the
"Mosses" he had formally renounced the short story; but "The Scarlet
Letter" proved so highly wrought a tragedy that he had fears of its
effect upon the public, if presented alone.

"In the present case I have some doubts about the expediency, [he wrote
to Mr. Fields, the junior partner of his new publisher, Ticknor,]
because, if the book is made up entirely of 'The Scarlet Letter,' it
will be too sombre. I found it impossible to relieve the shadows of the
story with so much light as I would gladly have thrown in. Keeping so
close to its point as the tale does, and diversified no otherwise than
by turning different sides of the same dark idea to the reader's eye, it
will weary very many people, and disgust some. Is it safe, then, to
stake the book entirely on this one chance?"

His plan was to add some of the pieces afterward printed with the "The
Snow Image," and entitle the whole "Old Time Legends, together with
Sketches Experimental and Ideal." But this was abandoned. On the 4th of
February, 1850, he writes to Bridge:--

"I finished my book only yesterday: one end being in the press at
Boston, while the other was in my head here at Salem; so that, as you
see, the story is at least fourteen miles long....

"My book, the publisher tells me, will not be out before April. He
speaks of it in tremendous terms of approbation; so does Mrs. Hawthorne,
to whom I read the conclusion last night. [Footnote: This recalls an
allusion in the English Note-Books (September 14, 1855): "Speaking of
Thackeray, I cannot but wonder at his coolness in respect to his own
pathos, and compare it with my emotions when I read the last scene of
The Scarlet Letter to my wife just after writing it,--tried to read it,
rather, for my voice swelled and heaved, as if I were tossed up and down
on an ocean as it subsides after a storm. But I was in a very nervous
state, then, having gone through a great diversity of emotion while
writing it, for many months."] It broke her heart, and sent her to bed
with a grievous headache,--which I look upon as a triumphant success.
Judging from its effect on her and the publisher, I may calculate on
what bowlers calls a 'ten-strike.' But I do not make any such
calculation."

Now that the author had strongly taken hold of one of the most tangible
and terrible of subjects, the public no longer held back. "The Scarlet
Letter" met with instant acceptance, and the first edition of five
thousand copies was exhausted in ten days. On the old ground of Salem
and in the region of New England history where he had won his first
triumphs, Hawthorne, no longer the centre of a small public, received
the applause of a widespread audience throughout this country, and
speedily in Europe too. His old friend, "The London Athenaeum," received
"The Scarlet Letter" with very high, though careful praise. But at the
same time with this new and wide recognition, an assault was made on the
author which it is quite worth while to record here. This was an article
in "The Church Review" (an Episcopal quarterly published at New Haven),
[Footnote: In the number for January, 1851.] written, I am told, by a
then young man who has since reached a high place in the ecclesiastical
body to which he belongs. The reviewer, in this case, had in a previous
article discussed the question of literary schools in America. Speaking
of the origin of the term "Lake School," he pronounced the epithet
_Lakers_ "the mere blunder of superficial wit and raillery." But
that did not prevent him from creating the absurd title of "Bay
writers," which he applied to all the writers about Boston, baptizing
them in the profane waters of Massachusetts Bay. "The Church Review" was
in the habit of devoting a good deal of its attention to criticism of
the Puritan movement which founded New England. Accordingly, "It is
time," announced this logician, in opening his batteries on Hawthorne,
"that the literary world should learn that Churchmen are, in a very
large proportion, their readers and book-buyers, and that the tastes and
principles of Churchmen have as good a right to be respected as those of
Puritans and Socialists." Yet, inconsistently enough, he declared that
Bay writers could not have grown to the stature of authors at all,
unless they had first shaken off the Puritan religion, and adopted "a
religion of indifference and unbelief." Thus, though attacking them as
Puritans and Socialists (this phrase was aimed at Brook Farm), he denied
that they were Puritans at all. Clear understanding of anything from a
writer with so much of the boomerang in his mind was not to be expected.
But neither would one easily guess the revolting vulgarity with which he
was about to view "The Scarlet Letter." He could discover in it nothing
but a deliberate attempt to attract readers by pandering to the basest
taste. He imagines that Hawthorne "selects the intrigue of an adulterous
minister, as the groundwork of his ideal" of Puritan times, and asks,
"Is the French era actually begun in our literature?" Yet, being in some
points, or professing to be, an admirer of the author, "We are glad," he
says, "that 'The Scarlet Letter' is, after all, little more than an
experiment, and need not be regarded as a step necessarily fatal." And
in order to save Mr. Hawthorne, and stem the tide of corruption, he is
willing to point out his error. Nevertheless, he is somewhat at a loss
to know where to puncture the heart of the offence, for "there is a
provoking concealment of the author's motive," he confesses, "from the
beginning to the end of the story. We wonder what he would be at:
whether he is making fun of all religion, or only giving a fair hint of
the essential sensualism of enthusiasm. But, in short, we are astonished
at the kind of incident he has selected for romance." The phraseology,
he finds, is not offensive: but this is eminently diabolical, for "the
romance never hints the shocking words that belong to its things, but,
like Mephistopheles, hints that the arch-fiend himself is a very
tolerable sort of person, if nobody would call him Mr. Devil." Where,
within the covers of the book, could the deluded man have found this
doctrine urged? Only once, faintly, and then in the words of one of the
chief sinners.

"Shelley himself," says the austere critic, airing his literature,
"never imagined a more dissolute conversation than that in which the
polluted minister comforts himself with the thought, that the revenge of
the injured husband is worse than his own sin in instigating it. 'Thou
and I never did so, Hester,' he suggests; and she responds, 'Never,
never! What we did had a consecration of its own.'"

And these wretched and distorted consolations of two erring and
condemned souls, the righteous Churchman, with not very commendable
taste, seizes upon as the moral of the book, leaving aside the terrible
retribution which overtakes and blasts them so soon after their vain
plan of flight and happiness. Not for a moment does Hawthorne defend
their excuses for themselves. Of Hester:--

"Shame, Despair, Solitude! These [he says] had been her teachers,--stern
and wild ones,--and they had made her strong, but taught her much
amiss."

And what she urges on behalf of herself and Dimmesdale must, of course,
by any pure-minded reader, be included among the errors thus taken into
her mind.

"The minister, on the other hand, had never gone through an experience
calculated to lead him beyond the scope of generally received laws;
although, in a single instance, he had so fearfully transgressed one of
the most sacred of them.... Were such a man once more to fall, what plea
could be urged in extenuation of his crime? _None_; unless it avail
him somewhat, that he was broken down by long and exquisite suffering;
that his mind was darkened and confused by the very remorse which
harrowed it."

But that these partial excuses are futile, the writer goes on to show,
in this solemn declaration:--

"And be the stern and sad truth spoken, that the breach which guilt has
once made into the human soul is never, in this mortal state, repaired.
It may be watched and guarded.... But there is still the ruined wall,
and near it the stealthy tread of the foe that would win over again his
unforgotten triumph."

How Mr. Dimmesdale yielded to this stealthy foe is then described; but
it is also shown how Roger Chillingworth, the personified retribution of
the two sinners, fastens himself to them in all their movements, and
will be with them in any flight, however distant.

"'Hadst thou sought the whole earth over,' said he, looking darkly at
the clergyman, 'there was no one place so secret, no high place nor
lowly place, where thou couldst have escaped me.'"

And it was precisely because Hawthorne would leave no specious turn of
the hypocrisy of sin unrevealed, that he carried us through this
delusive mutual consolation of the guilty pair, and showed us their
empty hope, founded on wrong-doing, powdered to dust at the moment of
fulfilment.

But the reverend critic, by some dark and prurient affinity of his
imagination, saw nothing of the awful truths so clearly though briefly
expressed, and finally came to the conclusion that the moral of the
whole fiction was "that the Gospel has not set the relations of man and
woman where they should be, and that a new gospel is needed to supersede
the Seventh Commandment, and the bond of matrimony."

"The lady's frailty, [writes the reviewer,] is philosophized into a
natural and necessary result of the Scriptural law of marriage, which by
holding her irrevocably to her vows, as plighted to a dried-up old
book-worm, ... is viewed as making her heart an easy victim.... The sin
of her seducer, too, seems to be considered as lying, not so much in the
deed itself, as in his long concealment of it; and in fact the whole
moral of the tale is given in the words, 'Be true, he true!' as if
sincerity in sin were a virtue, and as if 'Be clean, he clean!' were not
the more fitting conclusion."

But this moral of cleanliness was one so obvious that Hawthorne probably
never dreamed of any one's requiring it to be emphasized. In fact, it is
the starting-point, the very foundation, of the tragedy. The tale is a
massive argument for repentance, which is the flinging aside of
concealment, and the open and truthful acknowledgment of sin. In the
Puritan mode of dealing with sin, Hawthorne found the whole problem of
repentance and confession presented in the most drastic, concentrated,
and startling form; for the Puritans carried out in the severest style a
practical illustration of the consequences of moral offence. Since men
and women would not voluntarily continue in active remorse and public
admission of wrong-doing, these governors and priests determined to try
the effect of visible symbols in keeping the conscience alive. People
were set before the public gaze, in the stocks, whipped in public at the
whipping-post, and imprisoned in the pillory. Malefactors had their ears
cropped; scolding women had to wear a forked twig on the tongue; other
criminals to carry a halter constantly around the neck. But that this
was only a hellish device, after all; that the inflictors of such
punishment were arrogating too much to themselves, and shared the office
of the fiend; that, moreover, this compulsion of a dumb outward
truthfulness would never build up the real inner truth of the soul;--all
this Hawthorne perceived and endeavored to portray in a form which
should be as a parable, applying its morality to the men and women of
to-day, all the more persuasively because of its indirectness. As a
study of a system of social discipline never before so expounded, it
claimed the deepest attention. And never was the capacity of sinning men
and women for self-delusion more wonderfully illustrated than in this
romance. The only avenue of escape from such delusion was shown to be
self-analysis; that is, the conscientious view of one's self which keeps
the right or wrong of one's conduct always clearly visible. Hester was
on the whole the truest of the three persons in the drama, and the
advantages of this comparative trueness are constantly made manifest.
She in a measure conquers evil and partly atones for her wrong, by the
good which she is able to do among her fellow-beings,--as much
compensation as can rightfully be hoped for a woman who has once been so
essentially corrupted as she. Dimmesdale, too, retains so much of native
truth that he never allows his conscience to slumber for a moment, and
plies the scourge of remorse upon himself continually. To this extent he
is better than Chillingworth, who, in order to take into his own hands
the retribution that belongs to Heaven, deliberately adopts falsity for
his guide, and becomes a monster of deceit, taking a wicked joy in that
which ought to have awakened an endless, piteous horror in him instead,
and have led to new contemplation and study of virtue. But Dimmesdale,
though not coolly and maliciously false, stops short of open confession,
and in this submits himself to the most occult and corrosive influence
of his own sin. For him, the single righteousness possible consisted in
abject acknowledgment. Once announcing that he had fallen, and was
unworthy, he might have taken his place on the lower moral plane; and,
equally resigning the hope of public honor and of happiness with Hester,
he could have lent his crippled energies to the doing of some limited
good. The shock to the general belief in probity would have been great;
but the discovery that the worst had been made known, that the minister
was strong enough to condemn himself, and descend from the place he no
longer was fit for, would have restored the public mind again, by
showing it that a deeper probity possible than that which it wanted to
see sustained. This is the lesson of the tragedy, that nothing is so
destructive as the morality of mere appearances. Not that sincerity in
sin is a virtue, but that it is better than sin and falsehood combined.
And if anything were wanting, at first, to make this clear, there
certainly is not a particle of obscurity left by the glare of the
catastrophe, when the clergyman rejects Hester's hope that he and she
may meet after death, and spend their immortal life together, and says
that God has proved his mercy most of all by the afflictions he has laid
upon him.

As to the new truth which Hester hoped would be revealed, it could have
been no other than that ultimate lifting up of the race into a plane of
the utmost human truthfulness, which every one who believes in the
working of all things for good, looks forward to with vague longing, but
with most certain faith. How far the Puritan organization was from this
state of applied truth, the romance shows. Nearly every note in the
range of Puritan sympathies is touched by the poet, as he goes on. The
still unspoiled tenderness of the young matron who cannot but feel
something of mercifulness toward Hester is overruled by the harsh
exultation of other women in her open shame. We have the noble and
spotless character of Winthrop dimly suggested by the mention of his
death on the night of Dimmesdale's vigil at the pillory; but much more
distinct appears the mild and saintly Wilson, who, nevertheless, is
utterly incompetent to deal with the problem of a woman's lost morality.
Governor Bellingham is the stern, unflinching, manly upholder of the
state and its ferocious sanctions; yet in the very house with him dwells
Mistress Hibbins, the witch-lady, revelling in the secret knowledge of
widespread sin. Thus we are led to a fuller comprehension of
Chillingworth's attitude as an exponent of the whole Puritan idea of
spiritual government; and in his diabolical absorption and gloating
interest in sin, we behold an exaggerated--but logically
exaggerated--spectre of the Puritan attempt to precipitate and
personally supervise the punishments of eternity on this side of death.

Dr. George B. Loring, of Salem, wrote at the time an excellent reply to
this article in "The Church Review," though he recognized, as all
readers of general intelligence must, that the author of it did not by
any means represent the real enlightenment of the clergy and laity for
whom he undertook to be a mouthpiece.

Considered as a work of art, "The Scarlet Letter" is perhaps not so
excellent as the author's subsequent books. It may not unjustly
be called a novel without a plot, so far as this touches the
adroit succession of incidents and the interdependence of parts, which
we call "plot." Passion and motive and character, having been brought
together in given relations, begin to work toward a logical issue; but
the individual chapters stand before us rather as isolated pictures,
with intervals between, than as the closely conjoined links of a drama
gathering momentum as it grows. There is succession and acceleration,
indeed, in the movement of the story, but this is not quite so evident
as is the hand which checks each portion and holds it perfectly still,
long enough to describe it completely. The author does not, like a
playwright, reflect the action swiftly while it passes, but rather
arrests it and studies it, then lets it go by. It may be that this is
simply the distinction between the dramatist's and the novelist's
method; but probably we must allow it to be something more than that,
and must attribute it to the peculiar leisure which qualifies all
Hawthorne's fictions, at times enhancing their effect, but also
protracting the impression a little too much, at times. Yet the general
conception, and the mode of drawing out the story and of illustrating
the characters, is dramatic in a high degree. The author's exegesis of
the moods of his persons is brief, suggestive, restrained; and,
notwithstanding the weight of moral meaning which the whole work
carries, it is impossible to determine how much the movement of events
is affected by his own will, or by that imperious perception of the
necessary outcome of certain passions and temperaments, which influences
novelists of the higher order.

As a demonstration of power, it seems to me that this first extended
romance was not outdone by its successors; yet there is a harshness in
its tone, a want of mitigation, which causes it to strike crudely on the
aesthetic sense by comparison with those mellower productions. This was
no doubt fortunate for its immediate success. Hawthorne's faith in pure
beauty was so absolute as to erect at first a barrier between himself
and the less devout reading public. If in his earlier tales he had not
so transfused tragedy with the suave repleteness of his sense of beauty,
he might have snatched a speedier popular recognition. It is curious to
speculate what might have been the result, had he written "The House of
the Seven Gables" before "The Scarlet Letter." Deep as is the tragic
element in the former, it seems quite likely that its greater gentleness
of incident and happier tone would have kept the world from discovering
the writer's real measure, for a while longer. But "The Scarlet Letter"
burst with such force close to its ears, that the indolent public awoke
in good earnest, and never forgot, though it speedily forgave the shock.

There was another smaller but attendant explosion. Hawthorne's prefatory
chapter on the Custom-House incensed some of his fellow-citizens of
Salem, terribly. There seems to have been a general civic clamor against
him, on account of it, though it would be hard to find any rational
justification therefor. In reference to the affair, Hawthorne wrote at
the time:--

"As to the Salem people, I really thought I had been exceedingly
good-natured in my treatment of them. They certainly do not deserve good
usage at my hands, after permitting me ... to be deliberately lied down,
not merely once, but at two separate attacks, and on two false
indictments, without hardly a voice being raised on my behalf."

This refers to political machinations of the party opposed to Hawthorne
as an official: they had pledged themselves, it was understood, not to
ask for his ejection, and afterward set to work to oust him without
cause. There is reason to believe that Hawthorne felt acute exasperation
at these unpleasant episodes for a time. But the annoyance came upon him
when he was worn out with the excitement of composing "The Scarlet
Letter"; and this ebullition of local hostility must moreover have been
especially offensive at a moment when the public everywhere else was
receiving him with acclaim as a person whose genius entitled him to
enthusiastic recognition. Hawthorne had generous admirers and sincere
friends in Salem, and his feeling was, I suppose, in great measure the
culmination of that smouldering disagreement which had harassed him in
earlier years, and had lurked in his heart in spite of the constant mild
affection which he maintained toward the town.

But the connection between Hawthorne and Salem was now to be finally
broken off. He longed for change, for the country, and for the
recreation that the Old Manse garden had given him. "I should not long
stand such a life of bodily inactivity and mental exertion as I have led
for the last few months," he wrote to Bridge. "Here I hardly go out once
a week." On this account, and because of his difficulty in writing while
in office, he did not so much regret losing his place. One of the plans
proposed at this time was that he should rent or buy the Sparhawk house,
a famous old colonial mansion on Goose Creek, at Kittery, in Maine,
which was then to be disposed of in some way. Hawthorne, I think, would
have found much that was suggestive and agreeable in the neighborhood.
After his return from abroad, he made a visit to the quaint and stately
little city of Portsmouth, and dined at one of the most beautiful old
houses in New England, the ancient residence of Governor Langdon, then
occupied by the Rev. Dr. Burroughs. A memorial of that visit remains, in
this bright note from his host:--

PORTSMOUTH, September, 1860.

MR. HAWTHORNE.

MY DEAR SIR:--There are no Mosses on our "Old Manse," there is no
Romance at our Blithedale; and this is no "Scarlet Letter." But you can
give us a "Twice-Told Tale," if you will for the second time be our
guest to-morrow at dinner, at half past two o'clock.

Very truly yours,

CHARLES BURROUGHS.

But, at present, Hawthorne's decision led him to Berkshire.



VIII.


LENOX AND CONCORD: PRODUCTIVE PERIOD.

1850-1853.

In the early summer, after the publication of "The Scarlet Letter,"
Hawthorne removed from Salem to Lenox, in Berkshire, where himself and
his family were ensconced in a small red house near the Stockbridge
Bowl. It was far from a comfortable residence; but he had no means of
obtaining a better one. Meantime, he could do what he was sent into the
world to do, so long as he had the mere wherewithal to live.

He was much interested in Herman Melville, at this time living in
Pittsfield. There was even talk of their writing something together, as
I judge from some correspondence; though this was abandoned.

Between this summer of 1850 and June, 1853, Hawthorne wrote "The House
of the Seven Gables," "The Blithedale Romance," "The Wonder-Book for
Boys and Girls," and "Tanglewood Tales," besides the story of "The Snow
Image" in the volume to which this supplies the title; and his short
"Life of Franklin Pierce." The previous paucity of encouragements to
literature, and the deterring effect of official duties and of the Brook
Farm attempt, were now removed, and his pen showed that it could pour a
full current if only left free to do so.

The industry and energy of this period are the more remarkable because
he could seldom accomplish anything in the way of composition during the
warm months. "The House of the Seven Gables" was under way by September,
1850.

"I shan't have the new story ready," he writes to his publisher on the
1st of October, "by November, for I am never good for anything in the
literary way till after the first autumnal frost, which has somewhat
such an effect on my imagination that it does on the foliage here about
me,--multiplying and brightening its hues; though they are likely to be
sober and shabby enough after all."

The strain of reflection upon the work in hand which he indulged one
month later is so important as to merit dwelling upon.

"I write diligently, but not so rapidly as I had hoped. I find the book
requires more care and thought than 'The Scarlet Letter'; also I have to
wait oftener for a mood. 'The Scarlet Letter' being all in one tone, I
had only to get my pitch, and could then go on interminably. Many
passages of this book ought to be finished with the minuteness of a
Dutch picture, in order to give them their proper effect. Sometimes,
when tired of it, it strikes me that the whole is an absurdity, from
beginning to end; but the fact is, in writing a romance, a man is
always, or always ought to be, careering on, the utmost verge of a
precipitous absurdity, and the skill lies in coming as close as
possible, without actually tumbling over. My prevailing idea is, that
the book ought to succeed better than 'The Scarlet Letter,' though I
have no idea that it will."

By the 12th of January, 1851, he was able to write: "My 'House of the
Seven Gables' is, so to speak, finished; only I am hammering away a
little at the roof, and doing up a few odd jobs that were left
incomplete"; and at the end of that month, he despatched the manuscript
to Boston, still retaining his preference for it over the preceding work.

"It has met with extraordinary success from that portion of the public
to whose judgment it has been submitted, viz. from my wife. I likewise
prefer it to 'The Scarlet Letter'; but an author's opinion of his book
just after completing it is worth little or nothing, he being then in
the hot or cold fit of a fever, and certain to rate it too high or too
low.

"It has undoubtedly one disadvantage, in being brought so close to the
present time; whereby its romantic improbabilities become more glaring."

He also wrote to Bridge, in July, after listening to the critics, and
giving his own opinion time to mature:--

"I think it a work more characteristic of my mind, and more proper and
natural for me to write, than 'The Scarlet Letter,'--but, for that very
reason, less likely to interest the public. Nevertheless, it appears to
have sold better than the former, and I think is move sure of retaining
the ground that it acquires. Mrs. Kemble writes that both works are
popular in England, and advises me to take out my copyright there."

His opinion of the superiority of the fresh production to his first
great romance is no doubt one that critics will coincide with as regards
artistic completeness; though his fear that it would not succeed so well
was not confirmed, because, as I have suggested, he had begun to acquire
that momentum of public favor which sets in after its first immense
inertia has once been overcome. Acting on the reports from England, he
made a suggestion to his publisher; and though this at first met with
discouragement, ten months later £200 were received from a London house
for "The Blithedale Romance." English editions of his works had already
become numerous. But Hawthorne began now to receive a more ethereal and
not less welcome kind of tribute from abroad, that of praise from the
makers and markers of literature. The critics welcomed him to a high
place; authors wrote to him, urging him to cross the sea; and Miss
Mitford--of whom he said, "Her sketches, long ago as I read them, are as
sweet in my memory as the scent of new hay"--sent special messages
expressive of her pleasure.

When the "Blithedale Romance" had come out, Mr. Hawthorne sent Miss
Mitford a copy, and she wrote in reply this cordial and delightful
note:--

SWALLOWFIELD, August 6,1852.

At the risk of troubling you, dear Mr. Hawthorne, I write again to tell
you how much I thank you for the precious volume enriched by your
handwriting, which, for its own sake and for yours, I shall treasure
carefully so long as I live. The story has your mark upon it,--the fine
tragic construction unmatched amongst living authors, the passion of the
concluding scenes, the subtle analysis of jealousy, the exquisite finish
of style. I must tell you what one of the cleverest men whom I have ever
known, an Irish barrister, the juvenile correspondent of Miss Edgeworth,
says of your style: "His English is the richest and most intense essence
of the language I know of; his words conveying not only a meaning, but
more than they appear to mean. They point onward or upward or downward,
as the case may be, and we cannot help following them with the eyes of
imagination, sometimes smiling, sometimes weeping, sometimes shuddering,
as if we were victims of the mesmeric influence he is so fond of
bringing to bear upon his characters. Three of the most perfect
Englishmen of our day are Americans,--Irving, Prescott, and this great
new writer, Mr. Hawthorne." So far my friend Mr. Hockey. I forget, dear
Mr. Hawthorne, whether I told you that the writer of whose works you
remind me, not by imitation, but by resemblance, is the great French
novelist, Balzac. Do you know his books? He is untranslated and
untranslatable, and it requires the greatest familiarity with French
literature to relish him thoroughly.... I doubt if he be much known
amongst you; at least I have never seen him alluded to in American
literature. He has, of course, the low morality of a Frenchman, but,
being what he is, Mrs. Browning and I used to discuss his personages
like living people, and regarded his death as a great personal calamity
to both.

I am expecting Mrs. Browning here in a few days, not being well enough
to meet her in London.... How I wish, dear Mr. Hawthorne, that you were
here to meet them! The day will come, I hope. It would be good for your
books to look at Europe, and all of Europe that knows our tongue would
rejoice to look at you.

Ever your obliged and affectionate friend,

M. R. MITFORD.

I must transcribe here, too, part of a letter from Herman Melville, who,
in the midst of his epistle, suddenly assumes the tone of a reviewer,
and discourses as follows, under the heading, "_The House of the Seven
Gables: A Romance. By Nathaniel Hawthorne_. 16_mo. pp._ 344."

"The contents of this book do not belie its clustering romantic title.
With great enjoyment we spent almost an hour in each separate gable.
This book is like a fine old chamber, abundantly but still judiciously
furnished with precisely that sort of furniture best fitted to furnish
it. There are rich hangings, whereon are braided scenes from tragedies.
There is old china with rare devices, set about on the carved beaufet;
there are long and indolent lounges to throw yourself upon; there is an
admirable sideboard, plentifully stored with good viands; there is a
smell of old wine in the pantry; and finally, in one corner, there is a
dark little black-letter volume in golden clasps, entitled _Hawthorne:
A Problem_....

"We think the book for pleasantness of running interest surpasses the
other work of the author. The curtains are now drawn; the sun comes in
more; genialities peep out more. Were we to particularize what has most
struck us in the deeper passages, we should point out the scene where
Clifford, for a minute, would fain throw himself from the window, to
join the procession; or the scene where the Judge is left seated in his
ancestral chair.

"Clifford is full of an awful truth throughout. He is conceived in the
finest, truest spirit. He is no caricature. He is Clifford. And here we
would say, that did the circumstances permit, we should like nothing
better than to devote an elaborate and careful paper to the full
consideration and analysis of the purpose and significance of what so
strongly characterizes all of this author's writing. There is a certain
tragic phase of humanity, which, in our opinion, was never more
powerfully embodied than by Hawthorne: we mean the tragicalness of human
thought in its own unbiased, native, and profound workings. We think
that into no recorded mind has the intense feeling of the whole truth
ever entered more deeply than into this man's. By whole truth, we mean
the apprehension of the absolute condition of present things as they
strike the eye of the man who fears them not, though they do their worst
to him."

This really profound analysis, Mr. Mellville professes to extract from
the "Pittsfield Secret Review," of which I wish further numbers could be
found.

But chief among the prizes of this season were letters from his friends
Lowell and Holmes. The latter's I insert, because it admirably
illustrates the cordial relation which has always distinguished the
famous writers of New England,--no pleasant illusion of distance, but a
notable and praiseworthy reality.

BOSTON, April 9, 1851.

MY DEAR SIR:--I have been confined to my chamber and almost to my bed,
for some days since I received your note; and in the mean time I have
received what was even more welcome, the new Romance "from the Author."
While I was too ill to read, my wife read it to me, so that you have
been playing physician to my heartaches and headaches at once, with the
magnetism of your imagination.

I think we have no romancer but yourself, nor have had any for this long
time. I had become so set in this feeling, that but for your last two
stories I should have given up hoping, and believed that all we were to
look for in the way of spontaneous growth were such languid, lifeless,
sexless creations as in the view of certain people constitute the chief
triumphs of a sister art as manifested among us.

But there is rich red blood in Hester, and the flavor of the sweet-fern
and the bayberry are not truer to the soil than the native sweetness of
our little Phoebe! The Yankee mind has for the most part budded and
flowered in pots of English earth, but you have fairly raised yours as a
seedling in the natural soil. My criticism has to stop here; the moment
a fresh mind takes in the elements of the common life about us and
transfigures them, I am contented to enjoy and admire, and let others
analyze. Otherwise I should be tempted to display my appreciating
sagacity in pointing out a hundred touches, transcriptions of nature, of
character, of sentiment, true as the daguerreotype, free as crayon
sketching, which arrested me even in the midst of the palpitating story.
Only one word, then, this: that the solid reality and homely
truthfulness of the actual and present part of the story are blended
with its weird and ghostly shadows with consummate skill and effect;
this was perhaps the special difficulty of the story.

I don't want to refuse anything you ask me to do. I shall come up, I
trust, about the 1st of June. I would look over the MS. in question, as
a duty, with as much pleasure as many other duties afford. To say the
truth, I have as great a dread of the _Homo Caudatus_ Linn.,
Anglicé, the Being with a Tale, male or female, as any can have.

  "If foes they write, if friends they read me dead,"

said poor Hepzibah's old exploded poet. Still, if it must be, I will
stipulate to read a quantity not exceeding fifty-six pounds avoirdupois
by weight or eighteen reams by measure or "tale,"--provided there is no
locomotion in the case. The idea of visiting Albany does not enter into
my intentions. I do not know who would serve as a third or a second
member of the committee; Miss Sedgwick, if the Salic law does not
prevail in Berkshire, is the most natural person to do it. But the real
truth is, the little Albaneses want to see the author of "The Scarlet
Letter," and don't care a sixpence who else is on the committee. That is
what they are up to. So if you want two dummies, on the classical
condition _not to leave the country except in case of invasion_,
absentees, voters by proxy, potential but not personally present
bottle-holders, I will add my name to those of Latimer, Ridley, and Co.
as a Martyr in the cause of Human Progress.

Believe me, my dear sir,

Yours very sincerely,

O. W. Holmes.

Hawthorne's interest in Dr. Holmes's works was also very great, and one
of the last books which he read at all was "Elsie Venner," which he had
taken up for a second time shortly before his death.

Amid all the variety of thoughtful and thoughtless praise, or of other
comment on the new romance, he began to feel that necessity for
abstracting his attention entirely from what was said of his work in
current publications, which forces itself upon every creative mind
attempting to secure some centre of repose in a chattering and unprivate
age like the present. This feeling he imparted to Bridge, and it also
appears in one or two published letters. At the same time, it must be
remembered how careful a consideration he gave to criticism; and he
wrote of Edwin Whipple's reviewing of the "Seven Gables":--

"Whipple's notices have done more than pleased me, for they have helped
me to see my book. Much of the censure I recognize as just; I wish I
could feel the praise to be so fully deserved. Being better (which I
insist it is) than 'The Scarlet Letter,' I have never expected it to be
so popular."

In this same letter occurs the following:--

"---- ----, Esq., of Boston, has written to me, complaining that I have
made his grandfather infamous! It seems there was actually a Pyncheon
(or Pynchon, as he spells it) family resident in Salem, and that their
representative, at the period of the Revolution, was a certain Judge
Pynchon, a Tory and a refugee. This was Mr. ----'s grandfather, and (at
least, so he dutifully describes him) the most exemplary old gentleman
in the world. There are several touches in my account of the Pyncheons
which, he says, make it probable that I had this actual family in my
eye, and he considers himself infinitely wronged and aggrieved, and
thinks it monstrous that the 'virtuous dead' cannot be suffered to rest
quietly in their graves."

The matter here alluded to threatened to give Hawthorne almost as much
inconvenience as the tribulation which followed the appearance of "The
Custom-House." One of the complainants in this case, though objecting to
the use of the name Pyncheon, "respectfully suggests," with an ill-timed
passion for accuracy, that it should in future editions be printed with
the _e_ left out, because this was the proper mode in use by the
family.

There has been some slight controversy as to the original of the
visionary mansion described in this romance. Mr. Hawthorne himself said
distinctly that he had no particular house in mind, and it is also a
fact that none is recalled which fulfils all the conditions of that of
the "Seven Gables." Nevertheless, one party has maintained that the old
Philip English house, pulled down many years since, was the veritable
model; and others support the Ingersoll house, which still stands. The
Curwin, called the "Witch House," appears, by an antique painting from
which photographs have been made, to have had the requisite number of
peaks at a remote date; but one side of the structure being perforce
left out of the picture, there is room for a doubt. [Footnote: It is
from one of these photographs that the cut in the new edition of
Hawthorne's Works has been developed.]

In "The House of the Seven Gables" Hawthorne attained a connection of
parts and a masterly gradation of tones which did not belong, in the
same fulness, to "The Scarlet Letter." There is, besides, a larger range
of character, in this second work, and a much more nicely detailed and
reticulated portrayal of the individuals. Hepzibah is a painting on
ivory, yet with all the warmth of a real being. Very noticeable is the
delicate veneration and tenderness for her with which the author seems
to inspire us, notwithstanding the fact that he has almost nothing
definite to say of her except what tends to throw a light ridicule. She
is continually contrasted with the exquisite freshness, ready grace, and
beauty of Phoebe, and subjected to unfavorable comparisons in the mind
of Clifford, whose half-obliterated but still exact aesthetic perception
casts silent reproach upon her. Yet, in spite of this, she becomes in a
measure endeared to us. In the grace, and agreeableness too, with which
Hawthorne manages to surround this ungifted spinster, we find a unit of
measure for the beauty with which he has invested the more frightful and
tragic elements of the story. It is this triumph of beauty without
destroying the unbeautiful, that gives the romance its peculiar artistic
virtue. Judge Pyncheon is an almost unqualified discomfort to the
reader, yet he is entirely held within bounds by the prevailing charm of
the author's style, and by the ingenious manner in which the pleasanter
elements of the other characters are applied. At times the strong
emphasis given to his evil nature makes one suspect that the villain is
too deeply dyed; but the question of equity here involved is one of the
most intricate with which novelists have to deal at all. The
well-defined opposition between good and bad forces has always been a
necessity to man, in myths, religions, and drama. Heal life furnishes
the most absolute extremes of possession by the angel or the fiend; and
Shakespere has not scrupled to use one of these ultimate possibilities
in the person of Iago. Yet Hawthorne was too acutely conscious of the
downward bent in every heart, to let the Judge's pronounced iniquity
stand without giving a glimpse of incipient evil in another quarter.
This occurs in the temptation which besets Holgrave, when he finds that
he possesses the same mesmeric sway over Phoebe, the latest Pyncheon
offshoot, as that which his ancestor Matthew Maule exercised over Alice
Pyncheon. The momentary mood which brings before him the absolute power
which might be his over this fair girl, opens a whole new vista of
wrong, in which the retribution would have been transferred from the
shoulders of the Pyncheons to those of the Maules. Had Holgrave yielded
then, he might have damned his own posterity, as Colonel Pyncheon had
_his_. Thus, even in the hero of the piece, we are made aware of
possibilities as malicious and destructive as those hereditary faults
grown to such rank maturity in the Judge; and this may be said to offer
a middle ground between the side of justice and attractiveness, and the
side of injustice and repulsiveness, on which the personages are
respectively ranged.

The conception of a misdeed operating through several generations, and
righted at last solely by the over-toppling of unrestrained malevolence
on the one hand, and on the other by the force of upright character in
the wronged family, was a novel one at the time; this graphic depicture
of the past at work upon the present has anticipated a great deal of the
history and criticism of the following twenty-five years, in its close
conjunction of antecedent influences and cumulative effects.

As a discovery of native sources of picturesque fiction, this second
romance was not less remarkable than the one which preceded it. The
theme furnished by the imaginary Pyncheon family ranges from the tragic
in the Judge, through the picturesquely pathetic in Clifford, to a
grotesque cast of pathos and humor in Hepzibah. Thence we are led to
another vein of simple, fun-breeding characterization in Uncle Venner
and Ned Higgins. The exquisite perception which draws old Uncle Venner
in such wholesome colors, tones him up to just one degree of sunniness
above the dubious light in which Hepzibah stands, so that he may soften
the contrast of broad humor presented by little Ned Higgins, the "First
Customer." I cannot but regret that Hawthorne did not give freer scope
to his delicious faculty for the humorous, exemplified in the "Seven
Gables." If he had let his genius career as forcibly in this direction
as it does in another, when burdened with the black weight of the dead
Judge Pyncheon, he might have secured as wide an acceptance for the book
as Dickens, with so much more melodrama and so much less art, could gain
for less perfect works. Hawthorne's concentration upon the tragic
element, and comparative neglect of the other, was in one sense an
advantage; but if in the case under discussion he had given more bulk
and saliency to the humorous quality, he might also have been more
likely to avoid a fault which creeps in, immediately after that
marvellous chapter chanted like an unholy requiem over the lifeless
Judge. This is the sudden culmination of the passion of Holgrave for
Phoebe, just at the moment when he has admitted her to the house where
Death and himself were keeping vigil. The revulsion, here, is too
violent, and seems to throw a dank and deathly exhalation into the midst
of the sweetness which the mutual disclosure of love should have spread
around itself. There is need of an enharmonic change, at this point; and
it might have been effected, perhaps, by a slower passage from gloom to
gladness just here, and a more frequent play of the brighter mood
throughout the book. But the tragic predilection seems ultimately to
gain the day over the comic, in every great creative mind, and it was so
strong with Hawthorne, that instead of giving greater play to humor in
later fictions, it curtailed it more and more, from the production of
the "Seven Gables" onward.

Mr. Curtis has shown me a letter written soon after the publication of
the new book, which, as it gives another instance of the writer's keen
enjoyment of other men's work, and ends with a glimpse of the life at
Lenox, I will copy at length:--

LENOX, April 29,1851.

MY DEAR HOWADJI:--I ought to be ashamed (and so I really am) of not
having sooner responded to your note of more than a month ago,
accompanied as it was by the admirable "Nile Notes." The fact is, I have
been waiting to find myself in an eminently epistolary mood, so that I
might pay my thanks and compliments in a style not unworthy of the
occasion. But the moment has not yet come, and doubtless never will; and
now I have delayed so long, that America and England seem to have
anticipated me in their congratulations.

I read the book aloud to my wife, and both she and I have felt that we
never knew anything of the Nile before. There is something beyond
descriptive power in it. You make me feel almost as if we had been there
ourselves. And then you are such a luxurious traveller.... The fragrance
of your chibonque was a marvellous blessing to me. It cannot be
concealed that I felt a little alarm, as I penetrated the depths of
those chapters about the dancing-girls, lest they might result in
something not altogether accordant with our New England morality; and
even now I hardly know whether we escaped the peril, or were utterly
overwhelmed by it. But at any rate, those passages are gorgeous in the
utmost degree. However, I suppose you are weary of praise; and as I have
nothing else to inflict, I may as well stop here.

S---- and the children and I are plodding onward in good health, and in
a fair medium state of prosperity; and on the whole, we are quite the
happiest family to be found anywhere. We live in the ugliest little old
red farm-house you ever saw....

What shall you write next? For of course you are an author forever. I am
glad, for the sake of the public, but not particularly so for your own.

Very soon after the issue of the "Seven Gables," another lighter
literary project was put into execution.

"I mean [he had announced on the 23d of May] to write within six weeks
or two months next ensuing, a book of stories made up of classical
myths. The subjects are: The Story of Midas, with his Golden Touch;
Pandora's Box; The Adventure of Hercules in Quest of the Golden Apples;
Bellerophon and the Chimera; Baucis and Philemon; Perseus and Medusa."

The "Wonder-Book" was begun on the first of June, and finished by the
middle of July; so that the intention of writing it within six weeks was
strictly carried out: certainly a rapid achievement, considering the
excellent proportion and finish bestowed upon the book. It is a minor
work, but a remarkable one; not its least important trait being the
perfect simplicity of its style and scope, which, nevertheless, omits
nothing essential, and preserves a thorough elegance. Its peculiar
excellences come out still more distinctly when contrasted with Charles
Kingsley's "The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales," published in England
five years after the appearance of the "Wonder-Book" here. The fresher
play of Hawthorne's mind with those old subjects is seen in nothing more
agreeably than in the graceful Introduction and interludes which he has
thrown around the mythological tales, like the tendrils of a vine
curling over a sculptured capital. This midsummer task--it was very
uncommon for him to write in the hot season--perhaps had something to do
with further unsettling Hawthorne's health, which at this time was not
good. The somewhat sluggish atmosphere of the far inland valley did not
suit his sea-braced temperament; and so, instead of renting Mrs.
Kemble's country place, as he had thought of doing, he decided to leave
Berkshire with the birds; but not to go southward. Moving to West
Newton, near Boston, he remained there for the winter, writing
"Blithedale," which was put forth in 1852.

The special characteristic of "The Blithedale Romance" seems to me to be
its appearance of unlabored ease, and a consequent breeziness of effect
distinguishing its atmosphere from that of any of the other romances.
The style is admirably finished, and yet there is no part of the book
that gives the same impression of almost unnecessary polish which
occasionally intervenes between one's admiration and the "Seven Gables."
On this score, "Blithedale" is certainly the most consummate of the four
completed romances. And as Hawthorne has nowhere given us more robust
and splendid characterization than that of Zenobia and Hollingsworth,
the work also takes high rank on this ground. The shadows, which seemed
partly dispersed in the "Seven Gables," gather again in this succeeding
story; but, on the other hand, it is not so jarringly terrible as "The
Scarlet Letter." From this it is saved partly by the sylvan surrounding
and the pleasant changes of scene. In comparing it with the other works,
I find that it lets itself be best defined as a mean between extremes;
so that it ought to have the credit of being the most evenly attempered
of all. The theme is certainly as deep as that of the earlier ones, and
more tangible to the general reader than that of "The Marble Faun"; it
is also more novel than that of "The Scarlet Letter" or even the "Seven
Gables," and has an attractive air of growing simply and naturally out
of a phenomenon extremely common in New England, namely, the man who is
dominated and blinded by a theory. And the way in which Hollingsworth,
through this very prepossession and absorption, is brought to the ruin
of his own scheme, and has to concentrate his charity for criminals upon
himself as the first criminal needing reformation, is very masterly.
Yet, in discussing the relative positions of these four works. I am not
sure that we can reach any decision more stable than that of mere
preference.

There is a train of thought suggested in "Blithedale" which receives
only partial illustration in that story, touching the possible identity
of love and hate. It had evidently engaged Hawthorne from a very early
period, and would have made rich material for an entire romance, or for
several treating different phases of it. Perhaps he would have followed
out the suggestion, but for the intervention of so many years of
unproductiveness in the height of his powers, and his subsequent too
early death.

It was while at West Newton, just before coming to the Wayside, that he
wrote a note in response to an invitation to attend the memorial meeting
at New York, in honor of the novelist, Cooper, which should be read for
its cordial admiration of a literary brother, and for the tender thought
of the closing sentence.

_To Rev. R. W. Griswold._

February 20,1852.

Dear Sir:--I greatly regret that circumstances render it impossible for
me to be present on the occasion of Mr. Bryant's discourse in honor of
James Fenimore Cooper. No man has a better right to be present than
myself, if many years of most sincere and unwavering admiration of Mr.
Cooper's writings can establish a claim. It is gratifying to observe the
earnestness with which the literary men of our country unite in paying
honor to the deceased; and it may not be too much to hope that, in the
eyes of the public at large, American literature may henceforth acquire
a weight and value which have not heretofore been conceded to it: time
and death have begun to hallow it.

Very respectfully yours,

Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Early in the summer of 1852 he went to Concord again, where he had
bought a small house, there to establish his permanent home. Mr. Curtis
was at this time writing some chapters for a book on "The Homes of
American Authors," among which was to be included the new abode of
Hawthorne. The project called forth from the romancer this letter:--

CONCORD, July 14, 1852.

MY HEAR HOWADJI:--I think (and am glad to think) that you will find it
necessary to come hither in order to write your Concord Sketches; and as
for my old house, you will understand it better after spending a day or
two in it. Before Mr. Alcott took it in hand, it was a mean-looking
affair, with two peaked gables; no suggestiveness about it and no
venerableness, although from the style of its construction it seems to
have survived beyond its first century. He added a porch in front, and a
central peak, and a piazza at each end, and painted it a rusty olive
hue, and invested the whole with a modest picturesqueness; all which
improvements, together with its situation at the foot of a wooded hill,
make it a place that one notices and remembers for a few moments after
passing it. Mr. Alcott expended a good deal of taste and some money (to
no great purpose) in forming the hillside behind the house into
terraces, and building arbors and summer-houses of rough stems and
branches and trees, on a system of his own. They must have been very
pretty in their day, and are so still, although much decayed, and
shattered more and more by every breeze that blows. The hillside is
covered chiefly with locust-trees, which come into luxuriant blossom in
the month of June, and look and smell very sweetly, intermixed with a
few young elms and some white-pines and infant oaks,--the whole forming
rather a thicket than a wood. Nevertheless, there is some very good
shade to be found there. I spend delectable hours there in the hottest
part of the day, stretched out at my lazy length, with a book in my hand
or an unwritten book in my thoughts. There is almost always a breeze
stirring along the sides or brow of the hill.

From the hill-top there is a good view along the extensive level
surfaces and gentle, hilly outlines, covered with wood, that
characterize the scenery of Concord. We have not so much as a gleam of
lake or river in the prospect; if there were, it would add greatly to
the value of the place in my estimation.

The house stands within ten or fifteen feet of the old Boston road
(along which the British marched and retreated), divided from it by a
fence, and some trees and shrubbery of Mr. Alcott's setting out.
Whereupon I have called it "The Wayside," which I think a better name
and more morally suggestive than that which, as Mr. Alcott has since
told me, he bestowed on it,--"The Hillside." In front of the house, on
the opposite side of the road, I have eight acres of land,--the only
valuable portion of the place in a farmer's eye, and which are capable
of being made very fertile. On the hither side, my territory extends
some little distance over the brow of the hill, and is absolutely good
for nothing, in a productive point of view, though very good for many
other purposes.

I know nothing of the history of the house, except Thoreau's telling me
that it was inhabited a generation or two ago by a man who believed he
should never die. [Footnote: This is the first intimation of the story
of Septimius Felton, so far as local setting is concerned. The scenery
of that romance was obviously taken from the Wayside and its hill.] I
believe, however, he is dead; at least, I hope so; else he may probably
appear and dispute my title to his residence....

I asked Ticknor to send a copy of "The Blithedale Romance" to you. Do
not read it as if it had anything to do with Brook Farm (which
essentially it has not), but merely for its own story and character.
Truly yours,

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.

The Wayside was, perhaps, so named in remembrance of the time when its
owner had "sat down by the wayside like a man under enchantment." It
characterized well, too, his mental attitude in maturity; though the
spell that held him now was charged with happiness. The house itself was
small, but the proprietor might have carved on his lintel the legend
over Ariosto's door, _Parva, sed apta mihi_. In October, 1852, he
wrote to Bridge that he intended to begin a new romance within a day or
two, which he should make "more genial" than the last. What design this
was cannot now be even conjectured. Hawthorne had written, in the
preceding year, "I find that my facility of labor increases with the
demand for it"; and he always felt that an unlimited reserve of
invention and imagination awaited his drafts upon it, so that he could
produce as many books as he might have time for writing. But
circumstances again called him away from ideal occupations. Just as he
was preparing to write the "Tanglewood Tales," as a sequel to the
"Wonder-Book," General Pierce, the Democratic nominee for President,
urged him to write his biography, as a "campaign" measure. "I have
consented to do so," wrote Hawthorne, to his publisher; "somewhat
reluctantly, however, for Pierce has now reached that altitude where a
man careful of his personal dignity will begin to think of cutting his
acquaintance. But I seek nothing from him, and therefore need not be
ashamed to tell the truth of an old friend." To Bridge, after the book
was out, he wrote much more confidentially and strongly. "I tried to
persuade Pierce that I could not perform it as well as many others; but
he thought differently, and of course, after a friendship of thirty
years, it was impossible to refuse my best efforts in his behalf, at the
great pinch of his life." In this letter, also, he states that before
undertaking the work, he resolved to "accept no office" from Pierce;
though he raises the query whether this be not "rather folly than
heroism." In discussing this point, he says, touching Pierce:--

"He certainly owes me something; for the biography has cost me hundreds
of friends here at the North, who had a purer regard for me than Frank
Pierce or any other politician ever gained, and who drop off from me
like autumn leaves, in consequence of what I say on the slavery
question. But they were my real sentiments, and I do not now regret that
they are on record."

These have to do with Hawthorne's attitude during the war. Speaking of
Pierce's indorsement of the Compromise, both as it bore hard on Northern
views and exacted concessions from the South thought by it to be more
than reciprocal, he says:--

"It was impossible for him not to take his stand as the unshaken
advocate of Union, and of the mutual steps of compromise which that
great object unquestionably demanded. The fiercest, the least
scrupulous, and the most consistent of those who battle against slavery
recognize the same fact that he does. They see that merely human wisdom
and human efforts cannot subvert it, except by tearing to pieces the
Constitution, breaking the pledges which it sanctions, and severing into
distracted fragments that common country which Providence brought into
one nation, through a continued miracle of almost two hundred years,
from the first settlement of the American wilderness until the
Revolution."

He predicted, too, the evils of forcible abolition being certain, and
the good only a contingency, that the negroes would suffer aggravated
injuries from the very process designed to better their state. It is
useless here to enter into the question of degrees of right and wrong on
either side, in the struggle which had already become formidable before
Pierce's election; but one can see how sincerely, and with what generous
motives, a man like Hawthorne would feel that the Union must be
maintained peacefully. Without questioning the undoubted grandeur of
achievement which we sanely fell upon through the insane fit of civil
war, we may recognize a deep patriotism consistent with humanity which
forced itself to dissent from the noble action of the fighters, because
it could not share in any triumph, however glorious, that rested on the
shedding of brothers' blood. It was this kind of humanity that found
shelter in the heart of Hawthorne.

Unwelcome as was the task, he wrote the biography of Pierce, in
friendship, but in good faith also, even seeing the elements of
greatness in his old classmate, which might yet lead him to a career.
[Footnote: As a literary performance, the book is of course but slightly
characteristic; and being distasteful to the author, it is even dry. Yet
there is a great deal of simple dignity about it. The Whig journals
belabored it manfully, and exhausted the resources of those formidable
weapons, italics and small capitals, in the attempt to throw a
ridiculous light on the facts most creditable to Pierce. Hawthorne came
in for a share of the abuse too. One newspaper called the book his "new
romance"; another made him out a worthy disciple of Simonides, who was
the first poet to write for money. The other party, of course, took
quite another view of the work. A letter to Hawthorne from his elder
sister bears well upon his fidelity. "Mr. D---- has bought your Life of
Pierce, but he will not be convinced that you have told the precise
truth. I assure him that it is just what I have always heard you say."]
He had not much hope of his friend's election, but when that occurred,
the question of office, which he had already mooted, was definitely
brought before him. When Pierce learned that he positively would not
take an office, because to do so now might compromise him, he was
extremely troubled. He had looked forward to giving Hawthorne some one
of the prizes in his hand, if he should be elected. But the service he
had exacted from his friend threatened to deprive Hawthorne of the very
benefit which Pierce had been most anxious he should receive. At last,
Mr. Ticknor, Hawthorne's publisher, was made the agent of Pierce's
arguments, and to them he added personal considerations which were
certainly not without weight. Literature gave but a bare subsistence,
and Hawthorne was no longer young, having passed his forty-ninth year.
His books were not likely, it seemed, to fill the breach that would be
made in the fortunes of his family, were he to be suddenly removed.
This, Mr. Ticknor urged, in addition to the friendly obligation which
Pierce ought to be allowed to repay. Hawthorne, as we have seen, had
always wished to travel, and the prospect of some years in Europe was an
alluring one: the decision was made, to take the Liverpool consulship.

The appointment was well received, though many persons professed
surprise that Hawthorne could accept it. One gentleman in public life,
however, who knew how unjust current judgments may often be, was not of
this number, as appears from his note below.--

SENATE CHAMBER, March 26, 1853.

MY DEAR HAWTHORNE:--"Good! good!" I exclaimed aloud on the floor of the
Senate as your nomination was announced.

"Good! good!" I now write to you, on its confirmation. Nothing could be
more grateful to me. Before you go, I hope to see you.

Ever yours,

CHARLES SUMNER.



IX.


ENGLAND AND ITALY.

1853-1860.

It is very instructive to trace the contact of Hawthorne's mind with
Europe, as exhibited in his "English Note-Books" and "French and Italian
Note-Books." But in these records three things are especially
observable. He goes to Europe as unperturbed, with an individual mood as
easily sustained, as he would enter Boston or New York. He carries no
preconception of what may be the most admirable way of looking at it.
There has never been a more complete and charming presentment of a
multitude of ingenuous impressions common to many travellers of widely
differing endowment than here, at the same time that you have always
before you the finished writer and the possible romancer, who suddenly
and without warning flashes over his pages of quiet description a far,
fleeting light of delicious imagination. It is as if two brothers, one a
dreamer, and one a well-developed, intellectual, but slightly stoical
and even shrewd American, dealing exclusively in common-sense, had gone
abroad together, agreeing to write their opinions in the same book and
in a style of perfect homogeneity. Sometimes one has the blank sheet to
himself, sometimes the other; and occasionally they con each other's
paragraphs, and the second modifies the ideas of the first. It is
interesting to note their twofold inspection of Westminster Hall, for
example. The understanding twin examines it methodically, finding its
length to be eighty paces, and its effect "the ideal of an immense
barn." The reasoning and imagining one interposes to this, "be it not
irreverently spoken"; and also conjures up this splendid vision: "I
wonder it does not occur to modern ingenuity to make a scenic
representation, in this very hall, of the ancient trials for life or
death, pomps, feasts, coronations, and every great historic incident ...
that has occurred here. The whole world cannot show another hall such as
this, so tapestried with recollections." But in any case it is always
apparent that the thought is colored by a New World nurture. From this
freshness of view there proceeded one result, the searching,
unembarrassed, yet sympathetic and, as we may say, cordial criticism of
England in "Our Old Home." But it also gave rise to the second notable
quality, that exquisite apprehension of the real meaning of things
European, both institutions and popular manners and the varied products
of art. At times, Hawthorne seems to have been born for the one end of
adding this final grace of definition which he so deftly attaches to the
monuments of that older civilization. He brings a perception so keen and
an innate sympathy so true for everything beautiful or significant, that
the mere flowing out of this fine intellectual atmosphere upon the objects
before him invests them with a quality which we feel to be theirs, even
while we know that it could not have become _ours_ without his aid.
A breath of New England air touches the cathedral windows of the Old World,
and--I had almost said--bedims them with a film of evanescent frost-work;
yet, as that lingers, we suddenly discern through the veil a charm, a
legendary fascination in their deep-gemmed gorgeousness, which, although
we have felt it and read of it before, we never seized till now. I speak,
of course, from the American point of view; though in a great measure the
effect upon foreign readers may be similar. But I fancy a special
appropriateness for us in the peculiar mixture of estimation and
enthusiasm which forms the medium through which Hawthorne looks at the
spectacle of transatlantic life and its surroundings. He visits the
British Museum, and encounters only disappointment at the mutilated
sculptures of the Parthenon; but out of this confession, which is truth,
slowly arises the higher truth of that airy yet profound response with
which he greets the multiform mute company of marble or painted shapes
that form the real population of Rome.

Even there, he has much dissent to make, still; and we may not find
it at all essential or beneficial to follow each of his deviations
ourselves. But however we may differ with him, it is impossible not to
feel sure that within this circle of contradictions, of preference for
new frames and of his friend Thompson's pictures to all but a very few
of the old masters', somewhere within there is a perfectly trustworthy
aesthetic sensibility which grasps the "unwritten rules of taste," the
inmost truth of all art. This inmost secret is, however we may turn it,
a matter of paradox, and the moment it professes to be explained, that
moment are the gates of the penetralia shut upon us. The evasiveness and
the protest, then, with which Hawthorne discourses to himself as he
wanders through the galleries of Europe, are the trembling of the
needle, perfectly steadfast to the polar opposites of truth, yet
quivering as with a fear that it may be unsettled by some artificial
influence from its deep office of inner constancy. And as if, in this
singular world, all truth must turn to paradox at the touch of an index
finger, that almost faulty abstention from assuming the European tone
which has made Hawthorne the traveller appear to certain readers a
little crude,--that very air of being the uncritical and slightly
puzzled American is precisely the source of his most delightful
accuracies of interpretation.

The third greatest distinction of his foreign observation is its entire
freedom from specialism. Perhaps this cannot be made to appear more
clearly than in the contrast presented by his "English Note-Books" and
"Our Old Home" to Emerson's "English Traits," and Taine's "Notes on
England." The latter writer is an acute, alert, industrious, and
picturesque comparer of his own and a neighboring country, and is
accompanied by a light battery of literary and pictorial criticism,
detached from his heavier home armament. Emerson, on the other hand,
gives us probably the most masterly and startling analysis of a people
which has ever been offered in the same slight bulk, unsurpassed, too,
in brilliancy and penetration of statement. But the "English Traits" is
as clear, fixed, and accurate as a machinist's plan, and perhaps a
little too rigidly defined. Hawthorne's review of England, though not
comparable to Emerson's work for analysis, has this advantage, that its
outline is more flexible and leaves room for many individual
discriminations to which it supplies an easily harmonized groundwork.
Emerson and Taine give us their impressions of a foreign land: Hawthorne
causes us to inhale its very atmosphere, and makes the country ours for
the time being, rather than an alien area which we scrutinize in
passing. Yet here and there he partakes of the very qualities that are
dominant with Emerson and Taine. "Every Englishman runs to 'The Times'
with his little grievance, as a child runs to his mother," is as
epigrammatic as anything in "English Traits"; [Footnote: No one, I
think, has so well defined our relation to the English as Hawthorne, in
a casual phrase from one of his printed letters: "We stand in the light
of posterity to them, and have the privileges of posterity." This, on
London, ought to become proverbial: "London is like the grave in one
respect,--any man can make himself at home there; and whenever a man
finds himself homeless elsewhere, he had better die, or go to London."]
and there is a tendency in his pages to present the national character
in a concrete form, as the French writer gives it. But, in addition,
Hawthorne is an artist and a man of humor; and renders human character
with a force and fineness which give it its true value as being, after
all, far weightier and dearer to us than the most important or famous of
congealed _results_ of character. Withal a wide and keen observer
and a hospitable entertainer of opinions, he does not force these upon
us as final. Coming and going at ease, they leave a mysterious sense of
greater wisdom with us, an indefinable residue of refined truth.

It is a natural question, why did not Hawthorne write an English
romance, as well, or rather than an Italian one? More than half his stay
abroad was north of the Channel, and one would infer that there could
have been no lack of suggestion there. "My ancestor left England," he
wrote, "in 1630. I return in 1853. I sometimes feel as if I myself had
been absent these two hundred and twenty-three years, leaving England
just emerging from the feudal system, and finding it, on my return, on
the verge of republicanism." Herein lay a source of romantic
possibilities from which he certainly meant to derive a story. But the
greater part of his four years in England was spent in Liverpool, where
his consular duties suppressed fiction-making. [Footnote: And it was not
till he reached the villa of Montauto at Florence that he could write:--

"It is pleasant to feel at last that I am really away from America,--a
satisfaction that I never enjoyed as long as I stayed in Liverpool,
where it seemed to me that the quintessence of nasal and hand-shaking
Yankee-dom was continually filtered and sublimated through my consulate,
on the way outward and homeward. I first got acquainted with my own
countrymen there. At Rome, too, it was not much better. But here in
Florence, and in the summer-time, and in this secluded villa, I have
escaped out of all my old tracks, and am really remote."]

Hawthorne's genius was extremely susceptible to every influence about
it. One might liken its quality to that of a violin which owes its fine
properties to the tempering of time and atmosphere, and transmits
through its strings the very thrill of sunshine that has sunk into its
wood. His utterances are modulated by the very changes of the air. In
one of his letters from Florence he wrote:--

"Speaking of romances, I have planned two, one or both of which I could
have ready for the press in a few months if I were either in England or
America. But I find this Italian atmosphere not favorable to the close
toil of composition, although it is a very good air to dream in. I must
breathe the fogs of old England or the east-winds of Massachusetts, in
order to put me into working trim."

But though England might be his workshop for books dreamed of in Italy,
yet the aspect of English life seems much more fittingly represented by
his less excursively imaginative side, as in "Our Old Home," than in a
romance. Perhaps this is too ingenious a consolation; but I believe we
may much better spare the possible English romance, than we could have
foregone the actual Italian one.

In "The Marble Faun" Hawthorne's genius took a more daring and
impressive range than ever before, and showed conclusively--what,
without this testimony, would most likely have been questioned, or even
by some denied--that his previous works had given the arc of a circle
which no English or American writer of prose fiction besides himself has
even begun to span. It is not alone that he plucks from a prehistoric
time--"a period when man's affinity with nature was more strict, and his
fellowship with every living thing more intimate and dear"--this
conception of Donatello, the fresh, free, sylvan man untouched by sin or
crime. Donatello must rank with a class of poetic creations which has
nearly become extinct among modern writers: he belongs to the world of
Caliban, Puck, and Ariel. But besides this unique creation, the book
reveals regions of thought wide, ruin-scarred, and verdurously fair as
the Campagna itself, winning the mind back through history to the
primitive purity of man and of Christianity. I recoil from any attempt
at adequate analysis of this marvellous production, for it is one of
those works of art which are also works of nature, and will present to
each thoughtful reader a new set of meanings, according to his
individuality, insight, or experience. The most obvious part of the
theme is that which is represented in the title, the study of the Faun's
nature; and this embraces the whole question of sin and crime, their
origin and distinction. But it is not the case, as has been assumed,
that in this study the author takes the position of advocate to a theory
that sin was requisite to the development of soul in man. For, though he
shows that remorse developed in Donatello "a more definite and nobler
individuality," he also reminds us that "sometimes the instruction comes
without the sorrow, and oftener the sorrow teaches no lesson that abides
with us"; and he illustrates this in the exquisite height of
spirituality to which Hilda has attained through sinlessness. He is not,
I say, the advocate of a theory: this charge has been made by
self-confident critics, who saw only the one idea,--that of a
Beneficence which has so handled sin, that, instead of destroying man,
"it has really become an instrument most effective in the education of
intellect and soul." This idea is several times urged by Miriam and
Kenyon, but quickly rejected each time; first by Kenyon, and then by
Hilda; so that, while it is suggested, it is also shown to be one which
human nature cannot trust itself to dwell upon. But the real function of
the author is that of a profound religious teacher. The "Romance of
Monte Beni" is, as Miriam plainly says, the story of the fall of man
repeated. It takes us with fearless originality to the source of all
religious problems, affirming,--as one interpreter [Footnote: See an
unsigned article, "The Genius of Hawthorne," in the Atlantic Monthly for
September, 1868.] has said,--"the inherent freedom of man," and
illustrating how he may choose the good or the evil. Donatello is the
ideal of the childlike nature on the threshold of history who has lived
without choosing either, up to the time when his love and defence of
Miriam involve him in crime. Father Antonio, "the spectre of the
catacombs," and Miriam's persecutor, is the outcome of a continual
choice of evil and of utter degradation. These two extremes, more widely
asunder than Prospero and Caliban, Hawthorne has linked together in his
immense grasp of the inmost laws of life, and with a miraculous nicety
of artistic skill. Then comes Donatello's fall, illustrating the genesis
of sin from crime, in accordance with the Biblical story of Cain; and
this precipitates an examination, not only of the result upon Donatello
himself, but of the degree in which others, even the most guiltless, are
involved. There is first the reaction upon and inculpation of Miriam,
whose glance had confirmed Donatello's murderous intent; only a glance,
yet enough to involve her in the doom of change and separation--of sin
in short--which falls upon the Faun. And in Hilda's case, it is the
simple consciousness of another's guilt, which is "almost the same as if
she had participated" in it. The mutual relations of these persons, who
are made to represent the whole of society, afford matter for infinite
meditation, the artistic and moral abstract of which the author has
given.

But with this main theme is joined a very marvellous and intricate study
of the psychology of Beatrice Cenci's story, in a new form. Miriam is a
different woman placed in the same circumstances which made the Cenci
tragedy. In the "French and Italian Note-Books," Hawthorne describes the
look he caught sight of in Guido's picture,--that "of a being
unhumanized by some terrible fate, and gazing out of a remote and
inaccessible region, where she was frightened to be alone, but where no
human sympathy could reach her." It was of this single insight that both
Miriam and Hilda were born to his mind. He reproduces this description,
slightly modified, in the romance (Vol. I. Chap. XXIII.): "It was the
intimate consciousness of her father's guilt that threw its shadow over
her, and frightened her into" this region. Now, in the chapter called
"Beatrice," quite early in the story, he brings out between Miriam and
Hilda a discussion of Beatrice and her history. It is evident, from the
emphasis given by the chapter-title, that this subject is very deeply
related to the theme of the romance; and no theory can explain Miriam's
passionate utterances about the copy of Guido's portrait, except that
which supposes her own situation to be that of Beatrice. This chapter is
full of the strongest hints of the fact. Miriam's sudden resemblance to
the picture, at the instant when she so yearns to grasp the secret of
Beatrice's view of her own guilt or innocence; her ardent defence of
Beatrice's course, as "the best virtue possible under the
circumstances," when Hilda condemns it; her suggestion that, after all,
only a woman could have painted the poor girl's thoughts upon her face,
and that _she herself_ has "a great mind to undertake a copy,"
giving it "what it lacks";--all these things point clearly. But there is
a mass of inferential evidence, besides; many veiled allusions and
approaches to a revelation, as well as that very marked description of
the sketches in which Miriam has portrayed in various moods a "woman
acting the part of a revengeful mischief towards man," and the hint, in
the description of her portrait of herself, that "she might ripen to be
what Judith was, when she vanquished Holofernes with her beauty, and
slew him for too much adoring it." There is no need to pursue the proof
further: readers will easily find it on re-examining the book. But what
is most interesting, is to observe how Hawthorne has imagined two women
of natures so widely opposed as Hilda and Miriam under a similar
pressure of questionable blood-guiltiness. With Miriam, it is a guilt
which has for excuse that it was the only resort against an unnatural
depravity in Father Antonio. But as if to emphasize the indelibleness of
blood-stains, however justly inflicted, we have as a foil to Miriam the
white sensitiveness of Hilda's conscience, which makes her--though
perfectly free from even the indirect responsibility of Miriam--believe
herself actually infected. In both cases, it is the shadow of crime
which weighs upon the soul; but Miriam, in exactly the position of
Beatrice Cenci, is a more complex and deep-colored nature than she; and
Hilda, differently affected by the same question of conscience, is a
vastly spiritualized image of the historic sufferer. Miriam, after the
avenging of her nameless wrong, doubts, as Beatrice must have done,
whether there be any guilt in such avengement; but being of so different
a temperament, and having before her eyes the effect of this murder upon
the hitherto sinless Faun, the reality of her responsibility is brought
home to her. The clear conscience of Hilda confirms it. Thus by taking
two extremes on either side of Beatrice,--one, a woman less simply and
ethereally organized, and the other one who is only indirectly connected
with wrong or crime,--Hawthorne seems to extract from the problem of
Beatrice all its most subtle significance. He does not coldly condemn
Beatrice; but by re-combining the elements of her case, he succeeds in
magnifying into startling distinctness the whole awful knot of crime and
its consequence, which lies inextricably tangled up within it. How
different from Shelley's use of the theme! There is certainly nothing in
the "Marble Faun" to equal the impassioned expression of wrong, and the
piercing outcry against the shallow but awful errors of human justice,
which uplift Shelley's drama. But Shelley stops, on the one side, with
this climax:--

      "O plead
  With famine or wind-walking pestilence,
  Blind lightning or the deaf sea, not with man!"

And on the side of the moral question, he leaves us with Beatrice's
characterization of the parricide,

  "Which is, or is not, what men call a crime."

Hawthorne, on the contrary, starts from this latter doubt. "The foremost
result of a broken law," he says, "is ever an ecstatic freedom." But
instead of pausing to give this his whole weight, as Shelley does, he
distinctly pronounces the murder of Miriam's degraded father to be
crime, and proceeds to inquire how Miriam and Donatello may work out
their purification. So that if the first part of the romance is the Fall
of Man repeated, the second part is the proem to a new Paradise
Regained; and the seclusion of the sculptor and the Faun, and their
journey together to Perugia, seasoned with Kenyon's noble and
pure-hearted advice, compose a sort of seven-times-refined Pilgrim's
Progress. Apt culmination of a genius whose relations to Milton and
Bunyan we found to be so suggestive! The chief means which Kenyon offers
for regeneration is that Miriam and the Faun shall abandon any hope of
mutual joy, and consecrate themselves to the alleviation of misery in
the world. Having by violence and crime thrust one evil out of life,
they are now by patience and benevolence to endeavor to exorcise others.
At the same time, remarking that Providence has infinitely varied ways
of dealing with any deed, Hawthorne leaves a possibility of happiness
for the two penitents, which may become theirs as "a wayside flower,
springing along a path that leads to higher ends." But he also shows, in
Donatello's final delivering of himself up to justice, the wisdom of
some definite judgment and perhaps punishment bestowed by society. Thus,
avenues of thought are opened to us on every side, which we are at
liberty to follow out; but we are not forced, as a mere theorist would
compel us, to pursue any particular one to the exclusion of the others.
In all we may find our way to some mystic monument of eternal law, or
pluck garlands from some new-budded bough of moral truth. The romance is
like a portal of ebony inlaid with ivory,--another gate of
dreams,--swinging softly open into regions of illimitable wisdom. But
some pause on the threshold, unused to such large liberty; and these cry
out, in the words of a well-known critic, "It begins in mystery, and
ends in mist."

Though the book was very successful, few readers grasped the profounder
portions. It is a vast exemplar of the author's consummate charm as a
simple storyteller, however, that he exercised a brilliant fascination
over all readers, notwithstanding the heavy burden of uncomprehended
truths which they were obliged to carry with them. Some critics complain
of the extent to which Roman scenery and the artistic life in Rome have
been introduced; but, to my mind, there is scarcely a word wasted in the
two volumes. The "vague sense of ponderous remembrances" pressing down
and crowding out the present moment till "our individual affairs are but
half as real here as elsewhere," is essential to the perspective of the
whole; and nothing but this rich picturesqueness and variety could avail
to balance the depth of tragedy which has to be encountered; so that the
nicety of art is unquestionable. It is strange, indeed, that this great
modern religious romance should thus have become also the ideal
representative of ruined Rome--the home of ruined religions--in its
aesthetic aspects. But one instance of appreciation must be recorded
here, as giving the highest pitch of that delightful literary fellowship
which Hawthorne seems constantly to have enjoyed in England. His friend
John Lothrop Motley, the historian, wrote thus of "The Marble Faun,"
from Walton-on-Thames, March 29, 1860:--

"Everything that you have ever written, I believe, I have read many
times, and I am particularly vain of having admired 'Sights from a
Steeple,' when I first read it in the Boston 'Token,' several hundred
years ago, when we were both younger than we are now; of having detected
and cherished, at a later day, an old Apple-Dealer, whom, I believe, you
have unhandsomely thrust out of your presence, now that you are grown so
great. But the 'Romance of Monte Beni' has the additional charm for me,
that it is the first book of yours that I have read since I had the
privilege of making your personal acquaintance. My memory goes back at
once to those walks (alas, not too frequent) we used to take along the
Tiber, or in the Campagna; ... and it is delightful to get hold of the
book now, and know that it is impossible for you any longer, after
waving your wand as you occasionally did then, indicating where the
treasure was hidden, to sink it again beyond plummet's sound.

"I admire the book exceedingly.... It is one which, for the first
reading, at least, I didn't like to hear aloud.... If I were composing
an article for a review, of course, I should feel obliged to show cause
for my admiration; but I am only obeying an impulse. Permit me to say,
however, that your style seems, if possible, more perfect than ever.
Where, O where is the godmother who gave you to talk pearls and
diamonds?... Believe me, I don't say to you half what I say behind your
back; and I have said a dozen times that nobody can write English but
you. With regard to the story, which has been somewhat criticised, I can
only say that to me it is quite satisfactory. I like those shadowy,
weird, fantastic, Hawthornesque shapes flitting through the golden
gloom, which is the atmosphere of the book. I like the misty way in
which the story is indicated rather than revealed; the outlines are
quite definite enough from the beginning to the end to those who have
imagination enough to follow you in your airy flights; and to those who
complain, I suppose that nothing less than an illustrated edition, with
a large gallows on the last page, with Donatello in the most pensile of
attitudes,--his ears revealed through a white nightcap,--would be
satisfactory. I beg your pardon for such profanation, but it really
moves my spleen that people should wish to bring down the volatile
figures of your romance to the level of an every-day romance.... The way
in which the two victims dance through the Carnival on the last day is
very striking. It is like a Greek tragedy in its effect, without being
in the least Greek."

To this Hawthorne replied from Bath (April 1, 1860); and Mr. Motley has
kindly sent me a copy of the letter.

MY DEAR MOTLEY:--You are certainly that Gentle Reader for whom all my
books were exclusively written. Nobody else (my wife excepted, who
speaks so near me that I cannot tell her voice from my own) has ever
said exactly what I loved to hear. It is most satisfactory to be hit
upon the raw, to be shot straight through the heart. It is not the
quantity of your praise that I care so much about (though I gather it
all up most carefully, lavish as you are of it), but the kind, for you
take the book precisely as I meant it; and if your note had come a few
days sooner, I believe I would have printed it in a postscript which I
have added to the second edition, because it explains better than I
found possible to do the way in which my romance ought to be taken....
Now don't suppose that I fancy the book to be a tenth part as good as
you say it is. You work out my imperfect efforts, and half make the book
with your warm imagination; and see what I myself saw, but could only
hint at. Well, the romance is a success, even if it never finds another
reader.

We spent the winter in Leamington, whither we had come from the
sea-coast in October. I am sorry to say that it was another winter of
sorrow and anxiety.... [The allusion here is to illness in the family,
of which there had also been a protracted case in Rome]. I have engaged
our passages for June 16th.... Mrs. Hawthorne and the children will
probably remain in Bath till the eve of our departure; but I intend to
pay one more visit of a week or two to London, and shall certainly come
and see you. I wonder at your lack of recognition of my social
propensities. I take so much delight in my friends, that a little
intercourse goes a great way, and illuminates my life before and
after....

Your friend,

NATH. HAWTHORNE.

These seven years in Europe formed, outwardly, the most opulently happy
part of Hawthorne's life. Before he left America, although he had been
writing--with several interruptions--for twenty-four years, he had only
just reached a meagre prosperity. I have touched upon the petty clamor
which his Custom-House pictures aroused, and the offensive political
attacks following the Life of Pierce. These disagreeables, scattered
along the way, added to the weary delay that had attended his first
efforts, made the enthusiastic personal welcome with which he everywhere
met in England, and the charm of highly organized society, with its
powerful artistic classes centred upon great capitals there and in
Italy, a very captivating contrast. Still there were drawbacks. The most
serious one was the change in the consular service made during his term
at Liverpool. The consulate there was considered the most lucrative post
in the President's gift, at the time of his appointment. But, to begin
with, Pierce allowed the previous incumbent to resign prospectively, so
that Hawthorne lost entirely the first five months of his tenure. These
were very valuable months, and after the new consul came into office the
dull season set in, reducing his fees materially. Business continued bad
so long, that even up to 1855 little more than a living could be made in
the consulate. In February of that year a bill was passed by Congress,
remodelling the diplomatic and consular system, and fixing the salary of
the Liverpool consul at $7,500,--less than half the amount of the best
annual income from it before that time. The position was one of
importance, and involved an expensive mode of life; so that even before
this bill went into operation, though practising "as stern an economy,"
he wrote home, "as ever I did in my life," Hawthorne could save but
little; and the effect of it would have been not only to prevent his
accomplishing what he took the office for, but even to have imposed loss
upon him. For, in addition to social demands, the mere necessary office
expenses (including the pay of three clerks) were very large, amounting
to some thousands yearly; and the needs of unfortunate fellow-citizens,
to whom Hawthorne could not bring himself to be indifferent, carried off
a good portion of his income. As he says, "If the government chooses to
starve the consul, a good many will starve with him." The most
irritating thing about the new law was that it merely cut down the
consular fees, without bringing the government anything; for the fees
came from business that a notary-public could perform, and the consul
would naturally decline to take it upon himself when his interest in it
was removed. Fortunately, the President was given some discretion about
the date of reappointment, and allowed the old commission to continue
for a time. Meanwhile, Hawthorne was obliged, in anticipation of the new
rule, to alter his mode of life materially. He now planned to give up
the place in the autumn of 1855, and go to Italy; but this was not
carried out till two years later.

Italy charmed him wholly, and he longed to make it his home. There had
not been want of unjust criticism of him in America, while at Liverpool.
When some shipwrecked steamer passengers were thrown upon his hands, for
whom he provided extra-officially, on Mr. Buchanan's (then minister)
refusing to have anything to do with the matter, a newspaper rumor was
started at home that Mr. Hawthorne would do nothing for them until
ordered to by Mr. Buchanan.

"It sickens me," he wrote at that time, "to look back to America. I am
sick to death of the continual fuss and tumult and excitement and bad
blood which we keep up about political topics. If it were not for my
children, I should probably never return."

And on the eve of sailing, he wrote to another friend:--

"I shall go home, I fear, with a heavy heart, not expecting to be very
well contented there."

But his sense of duty, stronger than that of many Americans under
similar circumstances, was rigorously obeyed. We shall see what sort of
reward this fidelity to country won from public opinion at home.



X.


THE LAST ROMANCE.

1860-1863.

There are in the "English Note-Books" several dismal and pathetic
records of tragic cases of brutality or murder on shipboard, which it
was Hawthorne's duty as consul to investigate. These things, as one
might have divined they would, made a very strong and deep impression
upon him; and he tried strenuously to interest the United States
government in bettering the state of the marine by new laws. But though
this evil was and is still quite as monstrous as that of slavery, there
was no means of mixing up prejudice and jealousy with the reform, to
help it along, and he could effect nothing. He resolved, on returning
home, to write some articles--perhaps a volume--exposing the horrors so
calmly overlooked; but the slavery agitation, absorbing everybody,
perhaps discouraged him: the scheme was never carried out. It is a pity;
for, aside from the weight which so eminent a name might have given to a
good cause, the work would have clearly proven the quick, responsive,
practical nature of his humanity--a quality which some persons have seen
fit to deny him--in a case where no question of conflicting rights
divided his sense of duty.

He came to America in June, 1860. For several years the mutterings of
rising war between the States had been growing louder. In June of 1856
he had written to Bridge, expressing great hope that all would yet turn
out well. But so rapidly did the horizon blacken, that later in the same
year he declared that "an actual fissure" seemed to him to be opening
between the two sections of the country. In January, 1857:--

"I regret that you think so doubtfully of the prospects of the Union;
for I should like well enough to hold on to the old thing. And yet I
must confess that I sympathize to a large extent with the Northern
feeling, and think it is about time for us to make a stand. If compelled
to choose, I go for the North. New England is quite as large a lump of
earth as my heart can really take in.... However, I have no kindred with
nor leaning toward the Abolitionists."

He felt, no doubt, that the vital principle of The Union from the
beginning had been compromise, mutual concession, and if it was to be
severed, preferred that it should be peacefully. Still, his moods and
wishes varied as did those of many careful watchers at that time; and he
saw too clearly the arguments on either side to hold fixedly to one
course. In the December after his return, secession began; and for more
than a year following he could not fix his attention upon literary
matters. He wrote little, not even his journal, as Mrs. Hawthorne has
told us, until 1862. Accustomed to respond accurately to every influence
about him, with that sensitized exterior of receptive imagination which
overlay the fixed substance of personal character,--so that, as we have
seen, even a change of climate left its impress on his productions,--it
was not strange that the emotions of horror and pain, the passion of
hate, the splendid heroism which charged the whole atmosphere about him,
now, should absorb his whole sensibility, and paralyze his imagination.
It was no time for quiet observation or creative revery. A new era had
broken upon us, ushered by the wild din of trumpet and cannon, and
battle-cry; an era which was to form new men, and shape a new generation.
He must pause and listen to the agonies of this birth, striving vainly to
absorb the commotion into himself and to let it subside into clear visions
of the future. No hope! He could not pierce the war-smoke to any horizon
of better things. He who had schooled himself so unceasingly to feel with
utmost intensity the responsibility of each soul for any violence or crime
of others, could not cancel the fact of multitudinous murder by any
hypothesis of prospective benefit. Thus, in the midst of that magnificent
turbulence, he was like the central quiet of a whirlpool: all the fierce
currents met there, and seemed to pause,--but only seemed. Full of
sympathy as he was for his fellows, and agitated at times by the same
warlike impulses, he could not give himself rein as they did, nor dared
to raise any encouraging strain in his writing, as others felt that they
might freely do. His Puritan sense of justice, refined by descent and
wedded to mercy, compelled him to weigh all carefully, to debate long and
compassionately. But meantime the popular sense of justice--that same
New England sentiment, of which his own was a development--cared nothing
for these fine considerations, and Hawthorne was generally condemned by
it as being warped by his old Democratic alliances into what was called
treason. Nevertheless, he was glad to be in his native land, and suffer
bitter criticism here,--if that were all that could be granted,--rather
than to remain an unmolested exile.

An article which he contributed to the "Atlantic Monthly" in July, 1862,
gives a faint inkling of his state of mind at this time; but nothing
illustrates more clearly, either, the reserve which he always claimed
lay behind his seemingly most frank expressions in print. For he there
gives the idea of something like coldness in his attitude touching the
whole great tragedy. But those who saw him daily, and knew his real
mood, have remembered how deeply his heart was shaken by it.
Fortunately, there are one or two epistolary proofs of the degree in
which his sympathy with his own side of the struggle sometimes mastered
him. He used to say that he only regretted that his son was too young
and himself too old to admit of either of them entering the army; and
just after the first battle of Bull Run he wrote to Mr. Lowell, at
Cambridge, declining an invitation:--

THE WAYSIDE, CONCORD, July 23, 1861.

DEAR LOWELL:--I am to start, in two or three days, on an excursion
with----, who has something the matter with him, and seems to need
sea-air and change. If I alone were concerned, ... I would most gladly
put off my trip till after your dinner; but, as the case stands, I am
compelled to decline. Speaking of dinner, last evening's news will dull
the edge of many a Northern appetite; but if it puts all of us into the
same grim and bloody humor that it does me, the South had better have
suffered ten defeats than won this victory.

Sincerely yours,

NATH. HAWTHORNE.

And to another friend, in October:--

"For my part, I don't hope (nor, indeed, wish) to see the Union restored
as it was; amputation seems to me much the better plan.... I would fight
to the death for the Northern slave States, and let the rest go.... I
have not found it possible to occupy my mind with its usual trash and
nonsense during these anxious times; but as the autumn advances, I find
myself sitting down at my desk and blotting successive sheets of paper
as of yore."

He had now begun, I suppose, the "Romance of Immortality," or "Septimius
Felton," which has been posthumously printed, but had been abandoned by
him for another treatment of the same theme, called "The Dolliver
Romance." This last, of which two chapters appeared, was left unfinished
at his death. Of "Septimius" I shall not attempt an analysis: it
contains several related and concentric circles of meaning, to survey
which would require too much space. The subject had been one of the
earliest themes of meditation with Hawthorne, and he wrote as with a
fountain-pen in which was locked the fluid thought of a lifetime.
One of the less obvious aspects of the book is the typification
in Septimius's case of that endless struggle which is the lot of
every man inspired by an ideal aim. The poet and the painter are,
equally with Septimius, seekers after immortality, though of a more
ethereal kind; and his morbidness and exaggeration serve to excite in us
a tenderness and pity over him, assisting the reception of truth. These
relate mainly to the temptation of the artist to effect a severance of
ordinary, active human relations. (Sad to think what bitter cause the
author had to brood upon this, the fault attributed to himself!) The
poet, the creator in whatever art, must maintain his own circle of
serene air, shutting out from it the flat reverberations of common life;
but if he fail to live generously toward his fellows,--if he cannot make
the light of every day supply the nimbus in which he hopes to appear
shining to posterity,--then he will fall into the treacherous pit of
selfishness where Septimius's soul lies smothered. But this set of
meanings runs imperceptibly into others, for the book is much like the
cabalistic manuscript described in its pages: now it is blurred over
with deceptive sameness, and again it brims with multifarious beauties
like those that swim within the golden depth of Tieck's enchanted
goblet. The ultimate and most insistent moral is perhaps that which
brings it into comparison with Goethe's "Faust"; this, namely, that, in
order to defraud Nature of her dues, we must enter into compact with the
Devil. Both Faust and Septimius study magic in their separate ways, with
the hope of securing results denied to their kind by a common destiny;
but Faust proves infinitely the meaner of the two, since he desires only
to restore his youth, that he may engage in the mere mad joy of a lusty
existence for a few years, while Septimius seeks some mode, however
austere and cheerless, of prolonging his life through centuries of
world-wide beneficence. Yet the satanically refined egoism which lays
hold of Septimius is the same spirit incarnated in Goethe's
Mephistopheles,--_der Geist der stets verneint_. To Faust he denies
the existence of good in anything, primarily the good of that universal
knowledge to the acquisition of which he has devoted his life, but
through this scepticism mining his faith in all besides. To Septimius he
denies the worth of so brief a life as ours, and the good of living to
whatever end seems for the hour most needful and noble. Septimius might
perhaps be described as Faust at an earlier stage of development than
that in which Goethe represents him. [Footnote: Indeed, these words,
applied by Mephistopheles to Faust, suit Septimius equally well:--

 "Ihm hat das Schicksal einen Geist gegeben
    Der ungebändigt immer vorwarts dringt
  Und dessen übereiltes Streben
    Der Erde Freuden überspringt."]

As a further point of resemblance between the two cases, it may be
noticed that the false dreams of both are dispelled by the exorcising
touch of a woman. Both have fallen into error through perceiving only
half of the truth which has hovered glimmering before them; these errors
originate in the exclusively masculine mood, the asceticism, which has
prevailed in their minds. It will be observed that, in the first
relation of Rose to Septimius, Hawthorne takes pains to contrast with
this mood, delicately but strongly, the woman's gentle conservatism and
wisely practical tendency to be satisfied with life, which make her
influence so admirable a poising force to man. The subsequent alteration
of the situation, by which he makes her the half-sister of his hero, is
owing, as Mr. Higginson has pointed out, to the fact "that a heroine
must be supplied who corresponds to the idea in the lover's soul; like
Helena in the second part of Faust." [Footnote: A phase of character
rich in interest, but which I can only mention, in passing, is presented
in the person of Sybil Dacy, who here occupies very much the same place,
in some regards, as Roger Chillingworth in "The Scarlet Letter." The
movement of the story largely depends on a subtle scheme of revenge
undertaken by her, as that of "The Scarlet Letter" hangs upon the mode
of retribution sought by the physician; but her malice is directed,
characteristically, against the slayer of the young officer who had
despoiled her of her honor, and, again characteristically, she is unable
to consummate her plan, from the very tenderness of her feminine heart,
which leads her first to half sympathize with his dreams, then pity him
for the deceit she practised on him, and at last to rather love than
hate him.]

But there is a suitable difference between the working of the womanly
element in "Faust" and in Hawthorne's romance. In the former instance it
is through the gratification of his infernal desire that the hero is
awakened from his trance of error and restored to remorse; while
Septimius's failure to accomplish his intended destiny appears to be
owing to the inability of his aspiring nature to accommodate itself to
that code of "moral dietetics" which is to assist his strange project.
"Kiss no woman if her lips be red; look not upon her if she be very
fair," is the maxim taught him. "If thou love her, all is over, and thy
whole past and remaining labor and pains will be in vain." How pathetic
a situation this, how much more terrible than that of Faust, when he has
reached the turning-point in his career! A nature which could accept an
earthly immortality on these terms, for the sake of his fellows, must
indeed have been a hard and chilly one. But there is still too much of
the heart in it, to admit of being satisfied with so cruel an
abstraction. On the verge of success, as he supposes, with the
long-sought drink standing ready for his lips, Septimius nevertheless
seeks a companion. Half unawares, he has fallen in love with Sybil, and
thenceforth, though in a way he had not anticipated, "all is over." Yet,
saved from death by the poison in which he had hoped to find the spring
of endless life, his fate appears admirably fitting. There is no picture
of Mephisto hurrying him off to an apparently irrevocable doom. The
wrongs he has committed against himself, his friends, humanity,--these,
indeed, remain, and are remembered. He has undoubtedly fallen from his
first purity and earnestness, and must hereafter be content to live a
life of mere conventional comfort, full of mere conventional goodness,
conventional charities, in that substantial English home of his. Could
anything be more perfectly compensatory?

Nothing is more noticeable than the way in which, while so many
symbolisms spring up out of the story, the hero's half-crazed and
bewildered atmosphere is the one which we really accept, until the
reading is ended. By this means we are enabled to live through the whole
immortal future which he projects for himself, though he never in
reality achieves any of it. This forcing of the infinite into the
finite, we are again indebted to Mr. Higginson for emphasizing as "one
of the very greatest triumphs in all literature." "A hundred separate
tragedies," he says, "would be easier to depict than this which combines
so many in one."

But notice the growth of the romance in Hawthorne's mind. "Dr.
Heidegger's Experiment," in which several people are restored to youth
for an hour by a life-elixir, was published before 1837. In 1840 we have
this entry in the journal: "If a man were sure of living forever here,
he would not care about his offspring." A few years afterward, in "A
Virtuoso's Collection," the elixir vitae is introduced, "in an antique
sepulchral urn," but the narrator refuses to quaff it. "'No; I desire
not an earthly immortality,' said I. 'Were man to live longer on the
earth, the spiritual would die out of him.... There is a celestial
something within us, that requires, after a certain time, the atmosphere
of heaven to preserve it from ruin.'" But the revolt against death, and
then the reactionary meditation upon it, and final reverence for it,
must, from the circumstances of his youngest years, have been very early
familiar to Hawthorne; and in the course of these meditations, the
conception of deathlessness must often have floated before him. The
tradition as to the former owner of the Wayside, who had thought he
should never die (alluded to in the letter to Curtis, in 1852 [Footnote:
See ante, p. 244.]), brought it definitely home to him. He had in 1837
thought of this: "A person to spend all his life and splendid talents,
in trying to achieve something totally impossible,--as, to make a
conquest over nature"; but the knowledge of an actual person who had
expected to live forever gave the scattered elements coherence. The way
in which other suggestions came into the plan is exceedingly curious.
The idea of a bloody footstep appears in the Note-Books in 1850: "The
print in blood of a naked foot to be traced through the street of a
town." By a singular corroboration, he encountered five years afterward
in England an actual bloody footprint, or a mark held to be such, at
Smithell's Hall in Lancashire. ("English Note-Books," Vol. I. April 7,
and August 25, 1855.) The parting request of his hostess there was that
he "should write a ghost-story for her house," and he observes that "the
legend is a good one." Only five days after first hearing it he makes a
note thus: "In my Romance, the original emigrant to America may have
carried away with him a family secret, by which it was in his power, had
he so chosen, to have brought about the ruin of the family. This secret
he transmitted to his American progeny, by whom it is inherited
throughout all the intermediate generations. At last the hero of my
Romance comes to England, and finds that, by means of this secret, he
still has it in his power to procure the downfall of the family." This
clearly refers to something already rapidly taking shape in his mind,
and recalls at once the antique chest containing family papers, and the
estate in England waiting for an heir, of "Septimius." Could he have
already connected the two things, the bloody footstep and this
Anglo-American interest? The next piece of history comes in the shape of
a manuscript book in journal form, written in 1858, after Hawthorne had
left the consulate, and containing what must have been the earliest
sketch of the story, as he then conceived it. It begins abruptly, and
proceeds uncertainly, at the rate of a few pages each day, for about a
month. Detached passages of narration alternate with abstracts of the
proposed plot, and analysis of the characters. The chief interest seems
to lie in the project which a young American has formed, during a visit
to England, of tracing out and proving his inherited right to an old
manor-house formerly the property of his ancestors. This old hall
possesses the peculiarity of the bloody footstep, and with this some
mystery is connected, which the writer himself does not yet seem to have
discovered. He takes a characteristic pleasure in waiting for this
suggestive footstep to track the lurking interest of his story to its
lair, and lingers on the threshold of the tale, gazing upon it,
indulging himself with that tantalizing pleasure of vague anticipation
in which he hopes to envelop the good reader. The perusal of this
singular journal, in which the transactions recorded are but day-dreams,
is absorbing beyond description. But though at times he seems to be
rapidly approaching the heart of the story, yet at every point the
subtle darkness and coming terror of the theme seem to baffle the
author, and he retires, to await a more favorable moment. At its
conclusion, though he appears now to have formed a clear picture enough
of what his persons are to do, there is still wanting the underlying
thought, which he at moments dimly feels but cannot bring to light, and
without which he is unable to fuse the materials into readiness for the
mould.

Our only information as to the course of the story between April, 1858,
and the time of writing "Septimius," must be gathered from a sketch
found among the author's papers, the date of which it is not possible to
determine with precision, though both its matter and form indicate that
it must have been written subsequently to the journal above mentioned.
Herein are curiously mingled certain features of both "Septimius" and
the "Dolliver Romance." So far as is consistent with the essential
privacy of the manuscript, I shall give a general outline of its
contents. It consists of two sections, in the second of which a lapse of
some years is implied. In the first of these chapters, for they hardly
exceed that limit, the most prominent figure is that of a singular,
morose old man, who inhabits a house overlooking a New England
graveyard. But though his situation resembles in this particular that of
Grandsir Dolliver, his characteristics resemble more those of Dr.
Portsoaken. He is constantly accompanied, too, by brandy-and-water and a
cloud-compelling pipe; and his study, like the doctor's chamber in
"Septimius," is tapestried with spider-webs; a particularly virulent
spider which dangles over his head, as he sits at his writing-desk,
being made to assume the aspect of a devilish familiar. On the other
hand, his is a far richer and less debased nature than that of
Portsoaken. Hawthorne appears subsequently to have divided him,
straining off from the rank sediments which settle into the character of
Dr. Portsoaken the clear sweetness of good Grandsir Dolliver. This "grim
doctor," as he is almost invariably styled in the manuscript, seems to
have originated in Hawthorne's knowledge of a Mr. Kirkup, painter,
spiritualist and antiquarian, of Florence, [Footnote: French and Italian
Note-Books, Vol. II.] who also probably stood as a model for Grandsir
Dolliver. Not that either of these personages is copied from Mr. Kirkup;
but the personality and surroundings of this quaint old gentleman had
some sort of affinity with the author's idea, which led him to maintain
a certain likeness between him and his own fictitious persons. As in the
case of the Florentine antiquary, a little girl dwells in the house of
the doctor, her chief playmate being, like that of Mr. Kirkup's adopted
daughter, a very beautiful Persian kitten. There is much about her like
Pansie, of the "Dolliver" fragment, but she is still only dimly brought
out. The boy is described as of superior nature, but strangely addicted
to revery. Though his traits are but slightly indicated, he suggests in
general the character of Septimius, and may very easily have grown into
him, at a later period. At first he is much neglected by the doctor, but
afterwards, by resolute and manly behavior in questioning his mysterious
guardian as to his own origin, and the connection subsisting between
them, he secures greater consideration. The doctor gradually hints to
him the fact of his descent from an old English family, and frequent
mention is made of the ancestral hall, the threshold of which is stained
by the imprint of a bloody footstep marking the scene of some dark
tragedy, which, in the superstitious haze thrown over it by time,
assumes various and uncertain forms. At different times two strangers
are introduced, who appear to have some obscure knowledge of, and
connection with, the ghastly footstep; and, finally, a headstone is
discovered in the neighboring cemetery, marking the spot where an old
man had been buried many years since, and engraved with the likeness of
a foot. The grave has been recently opened to admit a new occupant, and
the children, in playing about it, discover a little silver key, which
the doctor, so soon as it is shown him, pockets, with the declaration
that it is of no value. After this, the boy's education is taken in hand
by his being sent to school; but presently the doctor sickens of life,
and characteristically resolving to abandon brandy-drinking, and die,
does so accordingly. Mention has previously been made of certain papers
which he had kept in a secret place, and these the youth now secures.
The second part describes his advent into England. He soon makes his way
to the old hall, but just as his connection with it and its inmates
begins, the manuscript terminates.

It will be noticed that in this fragment the scene is at first laid in
New England, whereas the journalized sketch opened the drama in England.
From this I infer that the former was written after the return to this
country. "The Marble Faun" appropriated the author's attention, after
the sketch of 1858; and in this, which was probably written just before
the commencement of the war, he had not yet clearly struck the key-note
of the story. When he recurred to it, in the autumn of 1861, on
beginning to "blot successive sheets as of yore," it was at last with
the definite design of uniting the legend of the deathless man with the
legend of Smithell's Hall. It is as if, having left England, he could no
longer write an English romance, but must give the book mainly an
American coloring again. There is a pathetic interest, too, in his thus
wavering between the two countries, which now so nearly equally divided
his affections, and striving to unite the Wayside with the far-off
English manor. Under the new design, everything began to fall into
place. The deathless man was made the hero; the English inheritance
became an inferior motive-power, on which, however, the romantic action
depends; the family papers and the silver key came well to hand for the
elucidation of the plot; the bloody footstep gained a new and deep
significance; and a "purple everlasting flower," presented in 1854 to
Mrs. Hawthorne by the gardener of Eaton Hall, blossomed out, with
supernatural splendor, as a central point in the design. The scene being
in Concord, and the time of writing that of war, the Revolutionary
association was natural. But the public phase of that epoch could not
assume an important place: it was sunk into the background, forming
merely a lurid field on which the figures of this most solemn and
terrific of all Hawthorne's works stand out in portentous relief. One
singular result of the historic location, however, is the use that was
now made of that tradition which Lowell had told him at the Old Manse,
concerning a boy who was chopping wood on the April morning of the
famous fight, and found a wounded British soldier on the field, whom he
killed with his axe. "Oftentimes, as an intellectual and moral exercise,
I have sought to follow that poor youth through his subsequent career,
and observe how his soul was tortured by the blood-stain.... This one
circumstance has borne more fruit for me than all that history tells us
of the fight." Thus had he written, fourteen years before; and now that
sombre study furnished him with the psychology of the death-scene in the
beginning of "Septimius."

But the romance, even in this form, was again abandoned, as we learn
from the prefatory note to Pierce in "Our Old Home," written in July,
1863. He there speaks of it as an "abortive project, utterly thrown
aside," which "will never now be accomplished." In November of that
year, "The Dolliver Romance" was announced for serial publication; and
in the first page of the isolated opening scene, published in July,
1864, occurs the mention of a certain potent cordial, from which the
good doctor had received great invigoration, and which we may well
suppose was destined to tincture the whole story. Another point from
which a connection with "Septimius Felton" may perhaps be traced is the
passing mention of Grandsir Dolliver's grandson Cornelius, by whom this
cordial had been compounded, he having displayed a great efficiency with
powerful drugs. Recalling that the author describes many nostrums as
having been attributed to Septimius, which he had perhaps chanced upon
in his unsuccessful attempts to distil the elixir of life, we may fairly
conjecture this posthumous character of Cornelius, this mere memory, to
be the remains of Septimius, who, it would seem, was to have been buried
by the author under the splendid monument of a still more highly wrought
and more aspiring form of the romance. The only remaining portions of
this latest form have been printed, and are lull of a silvery and
resonant promise. Unquestionably it was to have been as much a "Romance
of Immortality" as "Septimius"; and the exquisite contrast of the child
Pansie--who promised to be the author's most captivating feminine
creation--with the aged man, would no doubt have given us a theme of
celestial loveliness, as compared with the forbidding and remorseless
mournfulness of the preliminary work. In the manuscript sketch for
"Septimius" there is a note referring to a description in the "English
Note-Books" of two pine-trees at Lowood, on Windermere, "quite dead and
dry, although they have the aspect of dark, rich life. But this is
caused by the verdure of two great ivy-vines which have twisted round
them like gigantic snakes, ... throttling the life out of them, ... and
one feels that they have _stolen the life_ that belonged to the
pines." This does not seem to have been used; but the necessity of some
life being stolen in order to add to any other life more than its share,
is an idea that very clearly appears in the romance. In "Dolliver" the
same strain of feeling would probably have reappeared; but it would
there perhaps have been beautified, softened, expiated by the mutual
love of Pansie and the grandsire; each wishing to live forever, for the
other. Even in "Septimius" we can discern Hawthorne standing upon the
wayside hill-top, and, through the turbid medium of the unhappy hero,
tenderly diffusing the essence of his own concluding thoughts on art and
existence. Like Mozart, writing what he felt to be a requiem for his own
death, like Mozart, too, throwing down the pen in midmost of the melody,
leaving the strain unfinished, he labors on, prescient of the
overhanging doom. Genial and tender at times, amidst their sadness, his
reveries are nevertheless darkened by the shadow of coming death; and it
is not until the opening of "The Dolliver Romance" that the darkness
breaks away. Then, indeed, we feel once more the dewy freshness of the
long-past prime, with a radiance unearthly fair, besides, of some new,
undreamed-of morning. He who has gone down into the dark valley appears
for a brief space with the light of the heavenly city on his
countenance. Ah, prophet, who spoke but now so sadly, what is this new
message that we see brightening on your lips? Will it solve the riddle
of sin and beauty, at last? We listen intently; we seem to lean out a
little way from earth.

Only an eddying silence! And yet the air seems even now alive with his
last words.



XI.


PERSONALITY.

What has thus far been developed in this essay, concerning Hawthorne's
personality, though incidental, has, I hope, served the end in
view,--that of suggesting a large, healthy nature, capable of the most
profound thought and the most graceful and humorous mental play. The
details of his early life already given show how soon the inborn honor
of his nature began to shine. The small irregularities in his college
course have seemed to me to bring him nearer and to endear him, without
in any way impairing the dignity and beauty of character which prevailed
in him from the beginning. It is good to know that he shared the average
human history in these harmless peccadilloes; for they never hurt his
integrity, and they are reminders of that old but welcome truth, that
the greatest men do not need a constant diet of great circumstances. He
had many difficulties to deal with, as unpicturesque and harassing as
any we have to encounter in our daily courses,--a thing which people are
curiously prone to forget in the case of eminent authors. The way in
which he dealt with these throws back light on himself. We discover how
well the high qualities of genius were matched by those of character.

Fragmentary anecdotes have a value, but so relative that to attempt to
construct the subject's character out of them is hazardous. Conceptions
of a man derived only from such matter remind one of Charles Lamb's
ghosts, formed of the particles which, every seven years, are replaced
throughout the body by new ones. Likewise, the grossest errors have been
committed through the assumption that particular passages in Hawthorne's
writings apply directly and unqualifiedly to himself. There is so much
imagination interfused with them, that only a reverent and careful
imagination can apply them aright. Nor are private letters to be
interpreted in any other way than as the talk of the hour, very
inadequately representative, and often--unless read in many
lights--positively untrue, to the writer. It gives an entirely false
notion, for example, to accept as a trait of character this modest
covering up of a noble sentiment, which occurs in a letter refusing to
withdraw the dedication of "Our Old Home" to Pierce, in the time of the
latter's unpopularity:--

"Nevertheless, I have no fancy for making myself a martyr when it is
honorably and conscientiously possible to avoid it; and I always measure
out my heroism very accurately according to the exigencies of the
occasion, and should be the last man in the world to throw away a bit of
it needlessly."

Such a passage ought never to have been printed without some modifying
word; for it has been execrably misused. "I have often felt," Hawthorne
says, "that words may be a thick and darksome veil of mystery between
the soul and the truth which it seeks." What injustice, then, that he
should be judged by a literal construction of words quickly chosen for
the transient embodiment of a mood!

The first and most common opinion about the man Hawthorne is, that he
must have been extremely gloomy, because his mind nourished so many
grave thoughts and solemn fancies. But this merely proves that, as he
himself says, when people think he is pouring himself out in a tale or
an essay, he is merely telling what is common to human nature, not what
is peculiar to himself. "I sympathize with them, not they with me." He
sympathizes in the special direction of our darker side. A creative mind
of the higher order holds the thread which guides it surely through
life's labyrinths; but all the more on this account its attention is
called to the erratic movement of other travellers around it. The genius
who has the clew begins, therefore, to study these errors and to
describe them for our behoof. It is a great mistake to suppose that the
abnormal or preposterous phases which he describes are the fruit of
_self_-study,--personal traits disguised in fiction; yet this is
what has often been affirmed of Hawthorne. We don't think of attributing
to Dickens the multiform oddities which he pictures with such power, it
being manifestly absurd to do so. As Dickens raises the laugh against
them, we at once perceive that they are outside of himself. Hawthorne is
so serious, that we are absorbed in the sober earnest of the thing, and
forget to apply the rule in his case. Dickens's distinct aim is to
excite us with something uncommon; Hawthorne's, to show us that the
elements of all tragedies lie within our individual natures; therefore
we begin to attribute in undue measure to _his_ individual nature
all the abnormal conditions that he has shown to be potential in any of
us. But in truth he was a perfectly healthy person.

"You are, intellectually speaking, quite a puzzle to me," his friend
George Hillard wrote to him, once. "How comes it that, with so
thoroughly healthy an organization as you have, you have such a taste
for the morbid anatomy of the human heart, and such a knowledge of it,
too? I should fancy, from your books, that you were burdened with some
secret sorrow, that you had some blue chamber in your soul, into which
you hardly dared to enter yourself; but when I see you, you give me the
impression of a man as healthy as Adam in Paradise."

This very healthiness was his qualification for his office. By virtue of
his mental integrity and absolute moral purity, he was able to handle
unhurt all disintegrated and sinful forms of character; and when souls
in trouble, persons with moral doubts to solve and criminals wrote to
him for counsel, they recognized the healing touch of one whose pitying
immaculateness could make them well.

She who knew best his habitual tone through a sympathy such as has
rarely been given to any man, who lived with him a life so exquisitely
fair and high, that to speak of it publicly is almost irreverent, has
written:--

"He had the inevitable pensiveness and gravity of a person who possessed
what a friend has called his 'awful power of insight'; but his mood was
always cheerful and equal, and his mind peculiarly healthful, and the
airy splendor of his wit and humor was the light of his home. He saw too
far to be despondent, though his vivid sympathies and shaping
imagination often made him sad in behalf of others. He also perceived
morbidness wherever it existed instantly, as if by the illumination of
his own steady cheer."

His closest friends, too, speak with delight of his genial warmth and
ease in converse with them. He could seldom talk freely with more than
two or three, however, on account of his constitutional shyness, and
perhaps of a peculiarly concentrative cast of mind; though he possessed
a ready adaptability. "I talk with everybody: to Mrs. T---- good sense;
to Mary, good sense, with a mixture of fun; to Mrs. G----, sentiment,
romance, and nonsense." [Footnote: American Note-Books, 1837.] A
gentleman who was with him at Brook farm, and knew him well, tells me
that his presence was very attractive, and that he inspired great esteem
among all at the farm by his personal qualities. On a walking trip to
Wachusett, which they once made together, Hawthorne showed a great
interest in sitting in the bar-rooms of country taverns, to listen to
the talk of the attendant farmers and villagers. The manner in which he
was approached had a great deal to do with his response. If treated
simply and wisely, he would answer cordially; but he was entirely
dismayed, as a rule, by those who made demonstrations of admiration or
awe. "Why do they treat me so?" he asked a friend, in one case of this
sort. "Why, they're afraid of you." "But I tremble at _them_," he
said. "They think," she explained, "that you're imagining all sorts of
terrible things." "Heavens!" he answered; "if they only knew what I
_do_ think about." At one time, when he was visiting this same
friend, he was obliged to return some calls, and his companion in the
midst of conversation left him to continue it. He had previously asked
his hostess, in assumed terror, what he should talk about, and she
advised "climate." Accordingly, he turned to the naval officer whom he
was calling upon, and asked him if he had ever been to the Sandwich
Islands. "The man started," he said, on returning, "as if he had been
struck. He had evidently been there and committed some terrible crime,
which my allusion recalled. I had made a frightful mess of it. B---- led
me away to the door." This woful account was, of course, an imaginary
and symbolical representation of the terrors which enforced conversation
caused him; the good officer's surprise at the abrupt introduction of a
new subject had supplied him with the ludicrous suggestion. Mr. Curtis
has given an account of his demeanor on another occasion:--

"I had driven up with some friends to an aesthetic tea at Mr. Emerson's.
It was in the winter, and a great wood-fire blazed upon the hospitable
hearth. There were various men and women of note assembled; and I, who
listened attentively to all the fine things that were said, was for some
time scarcely aware of a man who sat upon the edge of the circle, a
little withdrawn, his head slightly thrown forward upon his breast, and
his black eyes ['black' is an error] clearly burning under his black
brow. As I drifted down the stream of talk, this person, who sat silent
as a shadow, looked to me as Webster might have looked had he been a
poet,--a kind of poetic Webster. He rose and walked to the window, and
stood there quietly for a long time, watching the dead-white landscape.
No appeal was made to him, nobody looked after him; the conversation
flowed steadily on, as if every one understood that his silence was to
be respected. It was the same thing at table. In vain the silent man
imbibed aesthetic tea. Whatever fancies it inspired did not flower at
his lips. But there was a light in his eye which assured me nothing was
lost. So supreme was his silence, that it presently engrossed me, to the
exclusion of everything else. There was very brilliant discourse, but
this silence was much more poetic and fascinating. Fine things were said
by the philosophers, but much finer things were implied by the dumbness
of this gentleman with heavy brows and black hair. When he presently
rose and went, Emerson, with the 'slow, wise smile' that breaks over his
face like day over the sky, said, 'Hawthorne rides well his horse of the
night.'"

He was not a lover of argumentation. "His principle seemed to be, if a
man cannot understand without talking to him, it is useless to talk,
because it is immaterial whether such a man understands or not." And the
same writer says:----

"His own sympathy was so broad and sure, that, although nothing had been
said for hours, his companion knew that not a thing had escaped his eye,
nor a single pulse of beauty in the day, or scene, or society, failed to
thrill his heart. In this way his silence was most social. Everything
seemed to have been said."

I am told that in his own home, though he was often silent, it was never
with sadness except in seasons of great illness in the house, the
prevailing effect of his manner being usually that of a cheerful and
almost humorous calm. Mr. Curtis gives perhaps one of the best
descriptions of his aspect, when he speaks of his "glimmering smile";
and of his atmosphere, when he says that at Emerson's house it seemed
always morning, but at Hawthorne's you passed into

  "A land in which it seemed always afternoon."

Hawthorne's personal appearance is said by those who knew him to have
been always very impressive. He was tall and strongly built, with
beautiful and lustrous gray-blue eyes, and luxuriant dark brown hair of
great softness, which grew far back from his forehead, as in the early
engraved portrait of him. His skin had a peculiar fineness and delicacy,
giving unusual softness to his complexion. After his Italian sojourn he
altered much, his hair having begun to whiten, and a thick dark mustache
being permitted to grow, so that a wit described him as looking like a
"boned pirate." When it became imperative to shake off his reticence, he
seems to have had the power of impressing as much by speech as he had
before done by silence. It was the same abundant, ardent, but
self-contained and perfectly balanced nature that informed either phase.
How commanding was this nature may be judged from the fact related of
him by an acquaintance, that rude people jostling him in a crowd would
give way at once "at the sound of his low and almost irresolute voice."
The occasions on which he gave full vent to his indignation at anything
were very rare; but when these came, he manifested a strength of sway
only to be described as regal. Without the least violence, he brought a
searching sternness to bear that was utterly overwhelming, carrying as
it did the weight of perfect self-control. Something even of the
eloquent gift of old Colonel Hathorne seemed to be locked within him,
like a precious heirloom rarely shown; for in England, where his
position called for speech-making, he acquitted himself with brilliant
honor. But the effort which this compelled was no doubt quite
commensurate with the success. He never shrank, notwithstanding, from
effort, when obligation to others put in a plea. A member of his family
has told me that, when talking to any one not congenial to him, the
effect of the contact was so strong as to cause an almost physical
contraction of his whole stalwart frame, though so slight as to be
perceptible only to eyes that knew his habitual and informal aspects;
yet he would have sunk through the floor rather than betray his
sensations to the person causing them. Mr. Curtis, too, records the
amusement with which he watched Hawthorne paddling on the Concord River
with a friend whose want of skill caused the boat continually to veer
the wrong way, and the silent generosity with which he put forth his
whole strength to neutralize the error, rather than mortify his
companion by an explanation. His considerateness was always delicate and
alert, and has left in his family a reverence for qualities that have
certainly never been surpassed and not often equalled in sweetness.

He was simple in his habits, and fond of being out of doors, but
not--after his college days--as a sportsman. While living beside the
Concord, he rowed frequently, with a dreamy devotion to the pastime, and
was fond of fishing; swimming, too, he enjoyed. But his chief exercise
was walking; he had a vast capacity for it, and was, I think, never even
seen upon horseback. At Brook Farm he "belabored the rugged furrows"
with a will; and at the Old Manse he presided over his garden in a
paradisiacal sort of way. Books in every form he was always eager for,
sometimes, as has been reported, satisfying himself with an old almanac
or newspaper, over which he would brood as deeply as over richly stored
volumes of classic literature. At other times he was fastidious in his
choice, and threw aside many books before he found the right one for the
hour. [Footnote: He would attach himself to a book or a poem apparently
by some law perceptible only to himself, perhaps often giving an
interest by his own genius. A poem On Solitude, in Dryden's Miscellany,
was at one time a special favorite with him.

It begins:--

  "O Solitude, my sweetest choice,
    Places devoted to the Night,
  Remote from Tumult and from Noise,
    How you my restless thoughts delight!"

And the last stanza has these lines:--

  "O, how I solitude adore,
    That element of noblest wit,
  Where I have learned Apollo's lore,
    Without the pains to study it."]

An impression has been set afloat that he cared nothing for books in
themselves, but this is incorrect. He never had the means to accumulate
a library of any size, but he had a passion for books.

"There yet lingers with me a superstitious reverence for literature of
all kinds," he writes in "The Old Manse." "A bound volume has a charm in
my eyes similar to what scraps of manuscript possess for the good
Mussulman; ... every new book or antique one may contain the 'open
sesame,'--the spell to disclose treasures hidden in some unsuspected
cave of Truth."

When he lived at the Wayside, and would occasionally bring home a small
package of books from Boston, these furnished him fresh pleasure for
many days. He would carry some favorite of them with him everywhere,
from room to room or to his hill-top. He was, as we have seen, a cordial
admirer of other writers, seldom vexing himself with a critical review
of their merits and defects, but applying to them instead the test of
his own catholic capacity for enjoyment. The deliberate tone in which he
judges his own works, in his letters, shows how little his mind was
impressed by the greatness of their fame and of the genius found in
them. There could not have been a more modest author, though he did not
weakly underrate his work. "Recognition," he once said to Mr. Howells,
"makes a man very modest."

An attempt has also been made to show that he had little interest in
animals, partly based, ludicrous as it may seem, on his bringing them
into only one of his books. In his American journals, however, there is
abundant evidence of his acute sympathy in this direction; at the Old
Manse he fried fish for his dog Leo, when he says he should not have
done it for himself; and in the Trosachs he finds a moment for pitying
some little lambs startled by the approach of his party. [Footnote:
English Note-Books (May, 1856).] I have already mentioned his fondness
for cats. It has further been said that he did not enjoy wild nature,
because in the "English Note-Books" there is no outgushing of ecstatic
description. But in fact he had the keenest enjoyment of it. He could
not enter into the spectacle when hurrying through strange regions.
Among the English lakes he writes:--

"To say the truth, I was weary of fine scenery, and it seemed to me
that I had eaten a score of mountains and quaffed as many lakes, all in
the space of two or three days, and the natural consequence was a
surfeit.

"I doubt if anybody ever does really see a mountain, who goes for the
set and sole purpose of seeing it. Nature will not let herself be seen
in such cases. You must patiently bide her time; and by and by, at some
unforeseen moment, she will quietly and suddenly unveil herself and for
a brief space allow you to look right into the heart of her mystery. But
if you call out to her peremptorily, 'Nature! unveil yourself this very
moment!' she only draws her veil the closer; and you may look with all
your eyes, and imagine that you see all that she can show, and yet see
nothing."

But this was because his sensibility was so great that he drew from
little things a larger pleasure than many feel when excited by grand
ones; and knowing this deeper phase, he could not be content with the
hasty admiration on which tourists flatter themselves. The beauty of a
scene which he could absorb in peace was never lost upon him. Every year
the recurrent changes of season filled him with untold pleasure; and in
the spring, Mrs. Hawthorne has been heard to say, he would walk with her
in continuous silence, his heart full of the awe and delight with which
the miracle of buds and new verdure inspired him. Nothing could be more
accurate or sensitive than the brief descriptions of nature in his
works. But there is nothing sentimental about them; partly owing to the
Anglo-Saxon instinct which caused him to seek precise and detailed
statement first of all, and partly because of a certain classic,
awe-inspired reserve, like that of Horace and Virgil.

There was a commendable indolence in his character. It was not a
constitutional weakness, overcoming will, but the instinctive precaution
of a man whose errand it was to rise to great emergencies of exertion.
He always waited for an adequate mood, before writing. But these
intervals, of course, were richly productive of revery which afterward
entered into the creative moments. He would sometimes become deeply
abstracted in imagination; and while he was writing "The Scarlet Letter"
it is related by a trustworthy person that, sitting in the room where
his wife was doing some sewing, he unconsciously took up a part of the
work and cut it into minute fragments with the scissors, without being
aware that he had done so. At some previous time, he had in the same way
gradually chipped off with a knife portions of a table, until the entire
folding-leaf was worn away by the process. The opinion was sometimes
advanced by him that without a certain mixture of uncongenial labor he
might not have done so much with the pen; but in this he perhaps
underestimated the leisure in his blood, which was one of the elements
of his power. Men of smaller calibre are hollowed out by the fire of
ideas, and decay too quickly; but this trait preserved him from such a
fate. Combined with his far-reaching foresight, it may have had
something to do with his comparative withdrawal from practical affairs
other than those which necessity connected him with. Of Holgrave he
writes:--

"His error lay in supposing that this age more than any past or future
one is destined to see the garments of antiquity exchanged for a new
suit, instead of gradually renewing themselves by patchwork; ... and
more than all, in fancying that it mattered anything to the great end in
view whether he himself should contend for it or against it."

The implied opinion of the author, here, is not that of a fatalist, but
of an optimist (if we must connect him with any "ism") who has a very
profound faith in Providence; not in any "special providence," but in
that operation of divine laws through unexpected agencies and
conflicting events, which is very gradually approximating human affairs
to a state of truthfulness. Hawthorne was one of the great believers of
his generation; but his faith expressed itself in the negative way of
showing how fragile are the ordinary objects of reverence in the world,
how subject the best of us are to the undermining influence of very
great sin; and, on the other hand, how many traits of good there are, by
consequence, even in the worst of us. This, however, is a mere skeleton
statement: the noblest element in his mood is that he believes with his
heart. A good interpreter has said that he _feels_ with his _brain_, and
_thinks_ with his _heart_, to show the completeness with which he
mingled the two elements in his meditations on existence. A warm, pure,
living sympathy pervaded all his analysis of mankind, without which that
analysis would have taken no hold upon us. It is a crude view which
reckons him to have been wanting in moral enthusiasm: he had not that
kind which can crush out sympathy with suffering, for the sake of
carrying out an idea. Perhaps in some cases this was a fault; but one
cannot dwell on the mistaken side of such a phase, when it possesses
another side so full of beneficent aid to humanity. And it must be
remembered that with all this susceptibility, he was not a suffering
poet, like Shelley, but distinctly an endurer. His moral enthusiasm was
deeper than that of any scheme or system.

His distaste for society has been declared to proceed from the fact
that, when he once became interested in people, he could no longer
chemically resolve them into material for romance. But this assumption
is also erroneous; for Hawthorne, if he felt it needful, could bring to
bear upon his best friends the same qualitative measuring skill that he
exercised on any one. I do not doubt that he knew where to place his
friends and acquaintance in the scale of relative excellence. All of us
who have not an equal analytic power with his own can at least reverence
his discretion so far as to believe that he had stand-points not open to
every one, from which he took views often more essentially just than if
he had assumed a more sweeping estimate. In other cases, where he
bestowed more friendship and confidence than the object of them
especially deserved, he no doubt sought the simple pleasure of accepting
what circumstances offered him. He was not a suspicious person;
although, in fear of being fooled by his fancy, he cultivated what he
often spoke of to a friend as "morose common-sense," deeming it a
desirable alloy. There was even, in many relations, an unquestioning
trust on his part; for he might well be called

        "As the greatest only are,
  In his simplicity sublime."

The connection between Pierce and himself involved too many
considerations to make it possible to pass them with indifference; and
he perhaps condemned certain public acts of the President, while feeling
it to be utter disloyalty to an old friend to discuss these mistakes
with any one. As to other slighter connections, it is very likely he did
not take the trouble that might have saved him from being imposed upon.

But it is impossible to define Hawthorne's personality precisely. A
poet's whole effort is to indirectly express this, by expressing the
effect of things upon him; and we may read much of Hawthorne in his
books, if we have the skill. But it is very clear that he put only a
part of himself into them; that part which best served the inexorable
law of his genius for treating life in a given light. For the rest, his
two chapters on "The Custom-House" and "The Old Manse" show us something
of his mode of taking daily affairs. But his real and inmost character
was a mystery even to himself, and this, because he felt so profoundly
the impossibility of sounding to the bottom any human heart. "A cloudy
veil stretches over the abyss of my nature," he writes, at one time. "I
have, however, no love of secrecy or darkness." At another time: "Lights
and shadows are continually flitting across my inward sky, and I know
neither whence they come nor whither they go; nor do I look too closely
into them." A mind so conscious as his of the slight reality of
appearances would be dissatisfied with the few tangible qualities which
are all of himself that a man can discern: at the same time he would
hesitate to probe the deeper self assiduously, for fear of turning his
searching gaze too intently within, and thus becoming morbid. In other
persons, however, he could perceive a contour, and pursue his study of
investigation from without inward,--a more healthy method. His
_instinctive_ knowledge of himself, being brought into play, would
of course aid him. Incidentally, then, something of himself comes to
light in his investigation of others. And it is perhaps this inability
to define their own natures, except by a roundabout method, which is the
creative impulse of all great novelists and dramatists. I doubt whether
many of the famous delineators of character could give us a very
distinct account of their own individualities; and if they did, it would
probably make them out the most uninteresting of beings. It would
certainly be divested of the special charm of their other writing.
Imagine Dickens clearly accounting for himself and his peculiar traits:
would he be able to excite even a smile? How much of his own delicious
personality could Thackeray have described without losing the zest of
his other portraitures? Hawthorne has given a kind of picture of himself
in Coverdale, and was sometimes called after that character by his
friends; but I suspect he has adroitly constructed Coverdale out of the
_appearance_ which he knew himself to make in the eyes of
associates. I do not mean that Hawthorne had not a very decisive
personality; for indeed he had. But the essence of the person cannot be
compressed into a few brief paragraphs, and must be slowly drawn in as a
pervasive elixir from his works, his letters, his note-books. In the
latter he has given as much definition of his interior self as we are
likely to get, for no one else can continue the broken jottings that he
has left, and extend them into outlines. We shall not greatly err if we
treat the hidden depths of his spirit with as much reverence as he
himself used in scrutinizing them. Curiously enough, many of those who
have studied this most careful and delicate of definers have embraced
the madness of attempting to bind him down in unhesitating, absolute
statements. He who mastered words so completely that he learned to
despise their obscurity, has been made the victim of easy epithets and a
few conventional phrases. But none can ever be said to know Hawthorne
who do not leave large allowances for the unknowable.



XII.


POE, IRVING, HAWTHORNE.

The names of Poe, Irving, and Hawthorne have been so often connected
without due discrimination, that it is imperative to consider here the
actual relation between the three men. Inquiry might naturally be roused
by the circumstance that, although Hawthorne has freely been likened to
Irving in some quarters, and in others to Poe, the latter two are never
supposed to hold anything in common. Indeed, they might aptly be cited
in illustration of the widely opposed tendencies already developed in
our brief national literature. Two things equal to the same thing are
equal to each other; and if Poe and Irving were each equal to Hawthorne,
there would be some similarity between them. But it is evident that they
are not like quantities; and we must conclude that they have been
unconsciously used by critics, in trying to find a unit of measure to
gauge the greatest of the triad with.

Undoubtedly there are resemblances in Hawthorne to both Poe and Irving.
Hawthorne and Irving represent a dignity and roundedness of diction
which is one of the old-fashioned merits in English writing; and because
they especially, among eminent authors of the century, have stood for
this quality, they have been supposed to stand close together. But
Irving's speech is not so much an organic part of his genius as a
preconceived method of expression which has a considerable share in
modifying his thought. It is rather a manner than a style. On the other
hand, it would be hard to find a style growing so naturally and strongly
out of elemental attributes as Hawthorne's, so deftly waiting upon the
slightest movement of idea, at once disclosing and lightly veiling the
informing thought,--like the most delicate sculptured marble drapery.
The radical differences of the two men were also obscured in the
beginning by the fact that Hawthorne did not for some time exhibit that
massive power of hewing out individual character which afterward had
full swing in his romances, and by a certain kinship of fancy in his
lighter efforts, with Irving's. "The Art of Book-Making" and "The
Mutability of Literature" are not far removed from some of Hawthorne's
conceits. And "The Vision of the Fountain" and "The Village Uncle" might
have issued in their soft meditativeness from Geoffrey Crayon's own
repertory, except that they are moulded with a so much more subtile art
than his, and with an instinct of proportion so much more sure. But even
in the earlier tales, taken all together, Hawthorne ranks higher than
Irving in the heraldry of genius: he has more quarterings in his shield.
Not only does he excel the other in brief essay, depending only on
endogenous forces, whereas Irving is always adorning his paragraphs with
that herb-o'-grace, quotation, but he also greatly surpasses him in the
construction of his stories; and finally, his psychological analysis and
symbolic imagination place him beyond rivalry. It is a brilliant
instance of the more ideal mind asserting its commanding power, by
admirable achievements in the inferior styles,--so that even in those he
was at once ranked with the most famous practiser of them,--and then
quietly reaching out and grasping a higher order of truths, which no one
had even thought of competing for. I suppose it is not assumed for a
moment that "Wolfert's Roost," the "Tales of a Traveller," the story of
"Rip Van Winkle," the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and the picturesque but
evanescent tales of "The Alhambra" can be brought into discussion on the
same terms with Hawthorne's romances, as works of art; and they
assuredly cannot be as studies of character, for of this they have next
to nothing. The only phases of character which Irving has any success in
dealing with are those of credulity and prejudice. The legendary
tendency of the two men has perhaps confused some readers. Both were
lovers of association, and turned naturally to the past for materials:
the New-Yorker found delightful sources of tradition or of ludicrous
invention in the past of that city, where his family held a
long-established and estimable footing; and the New-Englander, as we
have seen, drew also through the channel of descent from the dark tarn
of Puritan experience. But Irving turned his back upon everything else
when he entered the tapestried chamber of the past, while Hawthorne
sought that vantage-ground only to secure a more impressive view of
humanity. There is one gift of Irving's which won him an easier as well
as a wider triumph than that which awaited Hawthorne; and this is his
ability to take the simple story-teller's tone, devoid of double
meanings. Poe, also, had the passion for narrative in and for itself,
but in him it was disturbed by a diseased mind, and resulted in a horrid
fascination instead of cheerful attraction. Hawthorne, to be sure,
possessed the gift of the _raconteur_; but in general he was at
once seer and teller, and the higher exertions of his imagination were
always in the peculiarly symbolic atmosphere we are wont to associate
with him. Irving's contented disposition in this regard is certainly
very charming; there are often moods in which it is a great relief to
turn to it; and he has in so far the advantage over the other two. He
pitches for us the tone of average cultured minds in his time and
locality; and in reading him we have a comfortable sense of reality,
than which nothing in fiction is more reassuring. This is almost
entirely absent from the spell with which Hawthorne holds us; and here,
indeed, we touch the latter's most decided limitation as a writer of
fiction; for although his magnificently portrayed characters do not want
reality, an atmosphere of ghostliness surrounds them, warning us that we
must not look to find life there as we see it elsewhere. There is a
Northern legend of a man who lay down to sleep, and a thin smoke was
seen to issue from his nostrils, traverse the ground, cross a rivulet,
and journey on, finally returning to the place whence it came. When he
awoke, he described an imaginary excursion of his own, following exactly
the course which the smoke had taken. This indirect contact might
furnish a partially true type of Hawthorne's mysterious intercourse with
the world through his books.

It would be a mistake, however, to attribute this difference to the
greater strength of Irving's humor,--a trait, always much lauded in him.
It is without doubt a good quality. This mild, sweet radiance of an
uncontaminated and well-bred spirit is not a common thing in literature.
But I cannot fall in with the judgment that calls it "freer and far more
joyous" than Addison's. Both in style and in humor Irving has caught
something of the grace of "The Spectator"; but as in the style he
frequently falls short, writing feeble or jarring sentences, so in humor
I cannot see how he is to be brought at all on a level with Addison, who
is primarily a grave, stately, scholarly mind, but all the deeper on
that account in the lustre of his humorous displays. Addison, too, had
somewhat of the poet in him, and was capable of tragedy as well as of
neat satire and compact characterization. But if we looked for a pithy
embodiment of the difference between Irving and Hawthorne, we might call
the former a "polite writer," and the latter a profound poet: as,
indeed, I have called him in this essay, though with no intent to
confuse the term with that given to poets who speak in verse. Pathos is
the great touchstone of humor, and Irving's pathos is always a
lamentable failure. Is it not very significant, that he should have made
so little of the story of Rip Van Winkle? In his sketch, which has won
so wide a fame and given a lasting association to the Kaatskills, there
is not a suspicion of the immense pathos which the skill of an
industrious playwright and the genius of that rare actor, Mr. Jefferson,
have since developed from the tale. The Dame Van Winkle that we now know
is the creation of Mr. Boucicault; to him it is we owe that vigorous
character,--a scold, a tyrant to her husband, but nevertheless full of
relentful womanliness, and by the justice of her cause exciting our
sympathy almost as much as Rip himself does. In the story, she wears an
aspect of singular causelessness, and Rip's devotion to the drinking-can
is barely hinted: the marvellous tenderness, too, and joyful sorrow of
his return after the twenty years' sleep, are apparently not even
suspected by the writer. It is the simple wonder and picturesqueness of
the situation that charm him; and while in the drama we are moved to the
bottom of our hearts by the humorous tragicalness it casts over the
spectacle of conflicting passions, the only outcome of the written tale
is a passing reflection on the woe of being henpecked. "And it is a
common wish of all henpecked husbands in the neighborhood, when life
hangs heavy on their hands, that they might have a quieting draught out
of Rip Van Winkle's flagon." To be sure, there is a hidden moral here,
of the folly of driving men to drunkenness; but it is so much obscured
as to suggest that this was of small moment in the writer's mind. Such a
moral, in any case, must necessarily have been very delicately advanced,
in order not to becloud the artistic atmosphere; but a person of
searching dramatic genius would have found means to emphasize it without
injury to art, just as it has been done on the stage. Imagine what
divine vibrations of emotion Hawthorne would have smitten out of this
theme, had he been the originator of it. Certainly we should, as the
case stands, have missed the whole immortal figment, had not Irving
given it to us in germ; the fact that our playwright and our master
comedian have made it so much greater and more beautiful does not annul
that primary service; but, looking at the matter historically, we must
admit that Irving's share in the credit is that of the first projector
of a scientific improvement, and the latter sort of person always has to
forego a great part of his fame in favor of the one who consummates the
discovery. I am willing to believe that there was a peculiar advantage
in Irving's treatment; namely, that he secured for his story a quicker
and more general acceptance than might have been granted to something
more profound; but this does not alter the critical judgment that we
have to pass upon it. If Irving had grasped the tragic sphere at all, he
would have shone more splendidly in the comic. But the literary part of
him, at least, never passed into the shade: it somehow contrived to be
always on that side of the earth which was towards the sun. Observe,
now, the vital office of humor in Hawthorne's thought. It gleams out
upon us from behind many of the gravest of his conceptions, like the
silver side of a dark leaf turning in the wind. Wherever the concretion
of guilt is most adamantine, there he lets his fine slender jet of humor
play like a lambent fire, until the dark mass crumbles, and the choragos
of the tragedy begins his mournful yet hopeful chant among the ruins.
This may be verified in the "Seven Gables," "Blithedale," and "The
Marble Faun"; not in "The Scarlet Letter," for that does not present
Hawthorne's genius in its widest action. In one place he speaks of "the
tragic power of laughter,"--a discrimination which involves the whole
deep originality of his mind. It is not irrelevant here to remark that
at the most affecting portions of the play "Rip Van Winkle," the
majority of the audience always laugh; this, though irritating to a
thoughtful listener, is really an involuntary tribute to the marvellous
wisdom and perfection with which Jefferson mingles pathos and humor.
Again Hawthorne: "Human destinies look _ominous_ without some
perceptible intermixture of the sable or the gray." And, elsewhere:
"There is _something more awful in happiness than in sorrow_, the
latter being earthly and finite, the former composed of the substance
and texture of eternity, so that spirits still embodied may well tremble
at it." These thoughts could never have occurred to Irving with the same
intensity. Now, from all this we gather inference as to the deep sources
of Hawthorne's humor. I sometimes think that Thalia was the daughter,
and not the sister, of Melpomene. As to actual exhibition of humor,
Hawthorne's is made a diffusive medium to temper the rays of tragedy
with, and never appears in such unmixed form as that of Irving. So that
even though we must confess a smaller mental calibre in the latter, we
may gladly grant him a superiority in his special mood of fun.
An excellent English critic, Leslie Stephen, lately wrote: "Poe is a
kind of Hawthorne and _delirium tremens_." This announcement,
however, betrays a singular misapprehension. When Hawthorne's tales
first appeared, they were almost invariably taken to bear an intimate
and direct relation to the author's own moods; while Poe's were supposed
to be daring flights of pure imagination, or ingenious attempts to prove
theories held by the writer, but were not charged directly to his own
experience. Time has shown that the converse was the case. The psychical
conditions described by Hawthorne had only the remotest connection with
any mood of his own; they were mainly translations, into the language of
genius, of certain impressions and observations drawn from the world
around him. After his death, the Note-Books caused a general rustle of
surprise, revealing as they did the simple, wholesome nature of this
strange imaginer; yet though he there speaks--surely without prejudice,
because without the least knowledge that the world would ever hear
him--of "the objectivity" of his fictions, critics have not yet wholly
learned how far apart from himself these creations were. The observation
of some mental habit in men, or law of intercourse between human beings,
would strongly present itself to him; and in order to get a concise
embodiment, his genius planned some powerful situation to illustrate it
with; or, at another time it might be that a strange incident, like that
of Mr. Moody, suggesting "The Minister's Black Veil," or a singular
physiological fact like that on which "The Bosom Serpent" is based,
would call out his imagination to run a race with reality and outstrip
it in touching the goal of truth. But, the conception once formed, the
whole fictitious fabric would become entirely removed from
_himself_, except so far as it touched him very incidentally; and
this expulsion of the idea from himself, so that it acquires a life and
movement of its own, and can be contemplated by the artist from the
outside, is the very distinction between deeply creative and merely
inventive genius. Poe's was of the latter sort. He possessed a wild,
arbitrary imagination, that sometimes leaped frantically high; but his
impressiveness is always that of a nightmare, always completely morbid.
What we know of Poe's life leads inevitably to the conclusion that this
quality, if it did not spring from disease, was at least largely owing
to it. For a time, it was the fashion to make a moral question of Poe's
unfortunate obliquities; but a more humane tendency reduces it to a
scientific problem. Poe suffered great disaster at the hands of his
unjust biographer; yet he was a worse enemy to himself than any one else
could be. The fine enamel of his genius is all corroded by the deadly
acid of his passions. The imperfections of his temperament have pierced
his poetry and prose, shattered their structure, and blurred their
beauty. Only four or five of his poems--"The Raven," "Ligeia," the
earlier of the two addressed "To Helen," and the sonnet to his
wife--escape being flawed by some fit of haste, some ungovernable error
of taste, some hopeless, unaccountable break in their beauty. In
criticism, Poe initiated a fearless and agile movement; he had an acute
instinct in questions of literary form, amounting to a passion, as all
his instincts and perceptions did; he had also the knack of finding
clever reasons, good or bad, for all his opinions. These things are
essential to a critic's equipment, and it was good service in Poe to
exemplify them. Yet here, too, the undermining processes of his
thoroughly unsound mind subverted the better qualities, vitiated his
judgments with incredible jealousies and conflicting impulses, and
withered the most that he wrote in this direction into something very
like rubbish. We have seen, for example, how his attempt to
dispassionately examine Hawthorne resulted. Sooner or later, too, he ran
his own pen full against his rigid criteria for others. It is suggestive
to find that the holder of such exacting doctrine about beauty, the man
also of whom pre-eminently it may be said, as Baudelaire wrote of him,
"Chance and the incomprehensible were his two great enemies," should so
completely fail to reach even the unmoral perfection which he assigned
as the highest attainable. Professing himself the special apostle of the
beautiful in art, he nevertheless forces upon us continually the most
loathsome hideousness and the most debasing and unbeautiful horror. This
passionate, unhelmed, errant search for beauty was in fact not so much a
normal and intelligent desire, as an attempt to escape from interior
discord; and it was the discord which found expression, accordingly,
instead of the sense of beauty,--except (as has been said) in fragments.
Whatever the cause, his brain had a rift of ruin in it, from the start,
and though his delicate touch often stole a new grace from classic
antiquity, it was the frangibility, the quick decay, the fall of all
lovely and noble things, that excited and engaged him. "I have imbibed
the shadows of fallen columns," he says in one of his tales, "at Balbec,
and Tadmor, and Persepolis, until my very soul has become a ruin."
Always beauty and grace are with him most poetic in their overthrow, and
it is the shadow of ruined grandeur that he receives, instead of the
still living light so fair upon them, or the green growth clinging
around them. Hawthorne, too, wandered much amid human ruin, but it was
not with delight in the mere fact of decay; rather with grieving over
it, and the hope to learn how much of life was still left in the wreck,
and how future structures might be made stronger by studying the sources
of failure. One of the least thoughtful remarks which I have heard
touching Hawthorne was this, that his books could not live because they
dealt with the "sick side" of human nature. As if great poets ever
refrained from dealing with it! The tenure of fame depends on whether
the writer has himself become infected with sickness. With Hawthorne
this is most certainly not the case, for the morbid phases which he
studied were entirely outside of himself. Poe, on the other hand,
pictured his own half-maniacal moods and diseased fancies. There is
absolutely no study of character in his stories, no dramatic
separateness of being. He looks only for fixed and inert human
quantities, with which he may juggle at will. He did not possess
insight; and the analytic quality of which he was so proud was merely a
sort of mathematical ingenuity of calculation, in which, however, he was
extraordinarily keen. As a mere potency, dissociated from qualities, Poe
must be rated almost highest among American poets, and high among
prosaists; no one else offers so much pungency, such impetuous and
frightful energy crowded into such small compartments. Yet it would be
difficult to find a poetic fury less allied to sane human life than that
which informs his tales. It is not the _representation_ of
semi-insanity that he gives: he himself is its _representative_.
Instead of commanding it, and bringing it into some sort of healthy
relation with us, he is swayed and carried away by it. His genius
flourished upon him like a destructive flame, and the ashes that it
left, are like a deadly powdered poison. Clifford Pyncheon in the "Seven
Gables" is Poe himself, deprived of the ability to act: in both are
found the same consummate fastidiousness, the same abnormal egotism. And
it is worth attention that when Clifford is aroused to sudden action by
Judge Pyncheon's death, the coruscating play of his intellect is almost
precisely that brilliant but defective kind of ratiocination which Poe
so delights to display. It is crazy wildness, with a surface appearance
of accurate and refined logic. In this fact, that Hawthorne--the calm,
ardent, healthy master of imagination--is able to create the disordered
type that Poe _is_, we shall find by how much the former is greater
than the latter.

A recent writer has raised distinctly the medical question as to Poe. He
calls him "the mad man of letters _par excellence_," and by an
ingenious investigation seems to establish it as probable that Poe was
the victim of a form of epilepsy. But in demonstrating this, he attempts
to make it part of a theory that all men of genius are more or less
given over to this same "veiled epilepsy." And here he goes beyond the
necessities of the case, and takes up an untenable position. There is a
morbid and shattering susceptibility connected with some genius; but
that tremulous, constantly readjusted sensitiveness which indicates the
perfect equilibrium of health in other minds must not be confounded with
it. Such is the condition of the highest genius alone; of men like
Shakespere and Hawthorne, who, however dissimilar their temperaments,
grasp the two spheres of mind and character, the sane and the insane,
and hold them perfectly reconciled by their gentle yet unsparing
insight. A case like Poe's, where actual mental decay exists in so
advanced a stage and gives to his productions a sharper and more
dazzling effect than would have been theirs without it, is probably more
unique, but it is certainly less admirable, less original in the true
sense, than an instance of healthier endowment like Hawthorne. On the
side of art, it is impossible to bring Poe into any competition with
Hawthorne: although we have ranked him high in poetry and prose,
regarded simply as a dynamic substance, it must be confessed that his
prose has nothing which can be called style, nor even a manner like
Irving's very agreeable one. His feeling for form manifests itself in
various ways, yet he constantly violates proportion for the sake of
getting off one of his pseudo-philosophical disquisitions; and,
notwithstanding many successful hits in expression, and a specious but
misleading assumption of fervid accuracy in phraseology, his language is
loose, promiscuous, and altogether tiresome.

Poe, Irving, and Hawthorne have one marked literary condition in common:
each shows a double side. With Poe the antithesis is between poetry and
criticism; Irving, having been brought up by Fiction as a foster-mother,
is eventually turned over to his rightful guardian, History; and
Hawthorne rests his hand from ideal design, in elaborating quiet
pictures of reality. In each case there is more or less seeming
irreconcilement between the two phases found in combination; but the
opposition is rather more distinct in Hawthorne, and the grasp with
which it is controlled by him is stronger than that of either Poe or
Irving,--again a result pronouncing him the master.

There is still another issue on which comparison must be made. The
question of nationality will for some time to come be an interesting one
in any discussion of American authors. The American character is so
relative, that it is only by a long series of contrasts, a careful study
of the registering-plate of literature, that we shall come to the point
of defining it. American quality in literature is not like Greek,
German, French, English quality: those are each unified, and their
component elements stoutly enough welded together to make what may be
called a positive impression; but _our_ distinctions are relative.
The nearest and most important means that we have for measuring them is
that of comparison with England; and anything strikingly original in
American genius is found to be permanent in proportion as it maintains a
certain relation to English literature, not quite easy to define. It is
not one of hostility, for the best American minds thus far have had the
sincerest kindliness toward the mother country; it involves, however,
the claiming of separate standards of judgment. The primary division,
both in the case of the New England Pilgrims and in that of our
Revolutionary patriots, was based on clearer perceptions of certain
truths on the part of the cisatlantic English; and this claiming of
separate standards in literature is a continuation of that historic
attitude. We are making a perpetual minority report on the rest of the
world, sure that in time our voice will be an authoritative one. The
attitude being a relative and not very positively predicable one, a
singular integrity of judgment is required in sustaining it. Of this Poe
exhibits nothing. It was a part of the ingrained rebellion in him, that
he revolted against the moneyed mediocracy of this country,--a position
in which he deserves much sympathy,--and perhaps this underlies his want
of deep literary identification with the national character in general.
But more probably his genius was a detonating agent which could have
been convulsed into its meet activity anywhere, and had nothing to do
with a soil. It is significant that he was taken up by a group of men in
Paris, headed by Baudelaire and assisted by Théophile Gautier, as a sort
of private demigod of art; and I believe he stands in high esteem with
the Rossetti-Morris family of English poets. Irving, on the other hand,
comes directly upon the ground of difference between the American and
the English genius, but it is with the colors of a neutral. Irving's
position was peculiar. He went to Europe young, and ripened his genius
under other suns than those that imbrowned the hills of his native
Hudson. He had won success enough through "Salmagundi" and
"Knickerbocker's History" to give him the importance of an accredited
literary ambassador from the Republic, in treating with a foreign
audience; and he really did us excellent service abroad. This alone
secures him an important place in our literary history. Particularly
wise and dignified is the tone of his short chapter called "English
Writers on America"; and this sentence from it might long have served in
our days of fairer fame as a popular motto: "We have but to live on, and
every day we live a whole volume of refutation." His friendship with
Scott, also, was a delightful addition to the amenities of literature,
and shall remain a goodly and refreshing memory to us always. Yet what
he accomplished in this way for American literature at large, Irving
compensated for with some loss of his own dignity. It cannot be denied
that the success of "The Sketch-Book" led to an overdoing of his part in
"Bracebridge Hall." "Salmagundi" was the first step in the path of
palpable imitation of Addison's "Spectator"; in "The Sketch-Book,"
though taking some charming departures, the writer made a more refined
attempt to produce the same order of effects so perfectly attained by
the suave Queen Anne master; and in "Bracebridge Hall" the recollection
of the Sir Roger de Coverley papers becomes positively annoying. It is
not that the style of Addison is precisely reproduced, of course, but
the general resemblance in manner is as close as it could well have been
without direct and conscious copying, the memory of Addisonian methods
is too apparent. Irving's real genius, which occasionally in his other
writings emits delicious flashes, does not often assert itself in this
work; and though he has the knack of using the dry point of Addison's
humor, he doesn't achieve what etchers call "the burr" that ought to
result from its use. Addison, too, stings his lines in with true
aquafortis precision, and Irving's sketches are to his as pen-and-ink
drawing to the real etching. But it was not only this lack of literary
independence that belittled Irving's dignity. He had become so well
satisfied with his post of mediator between the writers of the two
nations, that it became paramount with him to preserve the good-will he
had won in England, and this appears in the cautious and _almost_
obsequious mien of "Bracebridge." One may trace it also, with amused
pain, in his correspondence with Paulding,--honest, pathetic Paulding, a
rabid miso-Briton who burned to write something truly American, and
couldn't; whom Drake laughingly hails as

             "The bard of the backwoods,
  The poet of cabbages, log-huts, and gin."

Irving was vexedly concerned at the violent outbreaks of his old
coadjutor, directed against the British; yet, though they were foolish,
they showed real pluck. But if we need other proof of the attitude which
Irving was distinctly recognized to have taken up, we may turn to a page
on which "The Edinburgh Review," unusually amiable toward him at first,
thus vented its tyrannical displeasure at his excessive complaisance:
"He gasped for British popularity [it said]: he came, and found it. He
was received, caressed, applauded, made giddy: natural politeness owed
him some return, for he imitated, admired, deferred to us.... It was
plain he thought of nothing else, and was ready to sacrifice everything
to obtain a smile or a look of approbation." In a less savage fashion
we, too, may admit the not very pleasant truth here enunciated with such
unjust extremeness. An interval of nearly forty years lies between the
date of the "Sketch-Book" and "Bracebridge" and that of "Our Old Home";
the difference in tone fully corresponds to the lapse of time.

In the use of native material, of course, Irving was a pioneer, along
with Cooper, and was in this quite different from Poe, who had no
aptitude in that way. "Knickerbocker's History of New York" is too
farcical to take a high position on this score, though it undoubtedly
had a beneficial effect in stirring up pride and interest in local
antiquities; but "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" were
valuable acquisitions so far as they went. Would that they had been
wrought out with a more masterly touch; and would that Irving had
penetrated further in this direction! But, though these Hudson legends
will long keep his fame renewed, it will perhaps be chiefly as a
historian that he will be prized. His pleasant compilation on Goldsmith,
his "Mahomet," "Columbus," and "Conquest of Granada," though not too
profound, fill an enviable niche in popular esteem; and his mellow and
stately narrative of Washington's life is a work of enduring excellence.
But these lie outside of our present discussion. Nor need we compare his
achievements in native fiction with Hawthorne's, after the review we
have been making of the latter's relation to New England.

Poe and Irving and Hawthorne have all met with acceptance in other
countries, and their works have been translated into several languages.
Irving has exercised no perceptible influence on literature at home or
abroad; Poe has entered more or less into the workings of a school in
England and a group in France. Hawthorne's position on the Continent has
perhaps not been so much one of conquest as of receiving an abstract
admiration; but he has taken much stronger hold of the Anglo-Saxon mind
than either of the others, and it is probable that his share in
inspiring noble literature in America will--as it has already begun to
show itself an important one--become vastly greater in future. It is
impossible, as we have seen, to fix an absolute ratio between these
writers. Irving has a more human quality than Poe, but Poe is beyond
dispute the more original of the two. Each, again, has something which
Hawthorne does not possess. But, if we must attempt at all to reduce so
intricate a problem to exact terms, the mutual position of the three may
be stated in the equation, Poe _plus_ Irving _plus_ an unknown
quantity equals Hawthorne.



XIII.


THE LOSS AND THE GAIN.

The suddenness with which Hawthorne faded away and died, when at the
zenith of his fame, is no less strange and sad and visionary now than it
was a poignant anguish then. He returned from Europe somewhat
lingeringly, as we have seen, knowing too well the difference between
the regions he was quitting and the thinner, sharper, and more wasting
atmosphere of a country where every one who has anything to give is
constantly drawn upon from every side, and has less resource for
intellectual replenishment than in other lands. His seven years in
England and Italy had, on the whole, been a period of high prosperity,
of warm and gratifying recognition, of varied and delightful literary
encounter, in addition to the pleasure of sojourning among so many new
and suggestive scenes. And when he found himself once more on the old
ground, with the old struggle for subsistence staring him steadily in
the face again, it is not difficult to conceive how a certain degree of
depression would follow. Just as this reaction had set in, the breaking
out of civil war threw upon Hawthorne, before he had time to brace
himself for the shock, an immense burden of sorrowing sympathy. The
conflict of feelings which it excited on the public side has been
sketched; and that alone should have been enough to make the years of
strife a time of continuous gloom and anxiety to him; but it would be
losing sight of a very large element in his distress, not to add that he
mourned over the multitude of private griefs which were the harvest of
battle as acutely as if they had all been his own losses. His intense
imagination burned them too deeply into his heart. How can we call this
weakness, which involved such strength of manly tenderness and sympathy?
"Hawthorne's life was shortened by the war," Mr. Lowell says. Expressing
this view once, to a friend, who had served long in the Union army, I
was met with entire understanding. He told me that his own father, a
stanch Unionist, though not in military service, was as certainly
brought to his death by the war as any of the thousands who fell in
battle. In how wide and touchingly humane a sense may one apply to
Hawthorne Marvell's line on Cromwell's death,--

  "To Love and Grief the fatal writ was signed!"

His decline was gradual, and semi-conscious, as if from the first he
foresaw that he could not outlive these trials. In April, 1862, he
visited Washington, and wrote the article "Chiefly about War Matters"
already alluded to. He has left this glimpse of himself at that time:--

"I stay here only while Leutze finishes a portrait, which I think will
be the best ever painted of the same unworthy subject. One charm it must
needs have,--an aspect of immortal jollity and well-to-do-ness; for
Leutze, when the sitting begins, gives me a first-rate cigar, and when
he sees me getting tired, he brings out a bottle of splendid champagne;
and we quaffed and smoked yesterday, in a blessed state of mutual
good-will, for three hours and a half, during which the picture made a
really miraculous progress. Leutze is the best of fellows."

The trip was taken to benefit his health, which had already begun to
give way; and though he wrote thus cheerily, he was by no means well. In
another published note there is this postscript:--

"My hair really is not so white as this photograph, which I enclose,
makes me. The sun seems to take an infernal pleasure in making me
venerable,--as if I were as old as himself."

He had already, as we know, begun to meditate upon "The Dolliver
Romance," trudging to and fro upon his hill-top, which was called, at
home, "the mount of vision." But before proceeding with that, he began
the series of essays composing "Our Old Home," not yet feeling strong
enough for the more trying exertion of fiction. But the preparation of
these, charming as they are, brought no exhilaration to his mind.
"I am delighted," he writes to his publisher, "at what you tell me
about the kind appreciation of my articles, for I feel rather gloomy
about them myself.... I cannot come to Boston to spend more than a day,
just at present. It would suit me better to come for a visit when the
spring of next year is a little advanced, and if you renew your
hospitable proposition then, I shall probably be glad to accept it;
though I have now been a hermit so long, that the thought affects me
somewhat as it would to invite a lobster or a crab to step out of his
shell."

His whole tone with regard to "Our Old Home" seems to have been one of
fatigue and discouragement. He had, besides, to deal with the harassing
question of the dedication to Franklin Pierce, which he solved in this
manly and admirable letter to his publisher:--

"I thank you for your note of the 15th instant, and have delayed my
reply thus long in order to ponder deeply on your advice, smoke cigars
over it, and see what it might be possible for me to do towards taking
it. I find that it would be a piece of poltroonery in me to withdraw
either the dedication or the dedicatory letter. My long and intimate
personal relations with Pierce render the dedication altogether proper,
especially as regards this book, which would have had no existence
without his kindness; and if he is so exceedingly unpopular that his
name is enough to sink the volume, there is so much the more need that
an old friend should stand by him. I cannot, merely on account of
pecuniary profit or literary reputation, go back from what I have
deliberately felt and thought it right to do; and if I were to tear out
the dedication, I should never look at the volume again without remorse
and shame. As for the literary public, it must accept my book precisely
as I think fit to give it, or let it alone."

By this time, the energy requisite for carrying on the Romance had sunk
still lower, so that he wrote:--

"I can't tell you when to expect an instalment of the Romance, if ever.
There is something preternatural in my reluctance to begin. I linger at
the threshold, and have a perception of very disagreeable phantasms to
be encountered if I enter. I wish God had given me the faculty of
writing a sunshiny book."

And, a little later:--

"I don't see much probability of my having the first chapter of the
Romance ready so soon as you want it. There are two or three chapters
ready to be written, but I am not yet robust enough to begin, and I feel
as if I should never carry it through."

His inability to work has been illustrated in the numerous bulletins of
this period published by Mr. Fields: they show him at times despondent,
as in the extracts above, then again in a state of semi-resolution. At
another time there is mixed presentiment and humor in his report.

"I am not quite up to writing yet, but shall make an effort as soon as I
see any hope of success. You ought to be thankful that (like most other
broken-down authors) I do not pester you with decrepit pages, and insist
upon your accepting them as full of the old spirit and vigor. That
trouble, perhaps, still awaits you, after I shall have reached a further
stage of decay. Seriously, my mind has, for the present, lost its temper
and its fine edge, and I have an instinct that I had better kept quiet.
Perhaps I shall have a new spirit of vigor, if I wait quietly for it;
perhaps not."

But over all these last notes there hangs a melancholy shadow that makes
the flickering humor even sadder than the awesome conviction that he has
done with writing. How singular the mingled mood of that last letter, in
which he grimly jests upon the breaking-down of his literary faculty!
Here he announces, finally: "I hardly know what to say to the public
about this abortive Romance, though I know pretty well what the case
will be. I shall never finish it." Yet the cause was not so much the
loss of literary power, as the physical exhaustion that had already worn
him away beyond recovery. He longed for England; and possibly if he
could have gone thither, the voyage, the milder climate, and the sense
of rest that he would have felt there, might have restored him. He had
friends in this country, however, who made attempts to break up the
disastrous condition into which he had so unexpectedly come. In May of
1863, when "Our Old Home" was printing, he received from his friend Mr.
Lowell this most charming invitation to come to Cambridge:--

MY DEAR HAWTHORNE:--I hope you have not forgotten that during
"anniversary week" you were to make me a little anniversary by a visit?
I have been looking forward to it _ever_ so long. My plan is that
you come on Friday, so as to attend the election-meeting of our club,
and then stay over Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday, which is the last
day of my holidays. How will that do? I am glad to hear your book is
going through the press, and you will be nearer your proof-sheets here.
I have pencils of all colors for correcting in all moods of mind,--red
for sanguine moments when one thinks there is some use in writing at
all, blue for a modest depression, and black for times when one is
satisfied there is no longer an intelligent public nor one reader of
taste left in the world. You shall have a room to yourself, nearly as
high and quite as easy of access as your tower, and I pledge myself that
my crows, cat-birds, orioles, chimbley-swallows, and squirrels shall
present you with the freedom of their city in a hollow walnut, so soon
as you arrive.

Now will you write and say when you are to be expected? I assure you I
have looked forward to your coming as one of my chiefest spring
pleasures, ranking it with the advent of the birds.

Always cordially yours,

J. R. LOWELL.

"I have smoked a cigar over your kind invitation," wrote Hawthorne, in
answer, "and mean to come. There is a little bit of business weighing
upon me (literary business of course, an article for the magazine and
for my volume, which I ought to have begun and finished long ago), but I
hope to smash it in a day or two, and will meet you at the club on
Saturday. I shall have very great pleasure in the visit."

But, at the last moment, he was obliged to give it up, being detained by
a cold. And there seemed indeed a fatality which interfered with all
attempts to thwart the coming evil. At the beginning of April, 1864,
completely broken down, yet without apparent cause, he set out southward
with Mr. William Ticknor. On arriving at Philadelphia he began to
improve; but Mr. Ticknor's sudden death overthrew the little he had
gained, and caused him to sink still more. It is not my purpose here to
dwell upon the sad and unbeautiful details of a last illness: these
things would make but a harsh closing chord in the strain of meditation
on Hawthorne's life which we have been following out,--a life so
beautiful and noble that to surround its ending with the remembrance of
mere mortal ailment has in it something of coarseness. But it was
needful to show in what way this great spirit bowed beneath the weight
of its own sympathy with a national woe. Even when Dr. Holmes saw him in
Boston, though "his aspect, medically considered, was very unfavorable,"
and though "he spoke as if his work were done, and he should write no
more," still "there was no failing noticeable in his conversational
powers." "There was nothing in Mr. Hawthorne's aspect," wrote Dr.
Holmes, "that gave warning of so sudden an end as that which startled us
all." He passed on into the shadow as if of his own will; feeling that
his country lay in ruins, that the human lot carried with it more hate
and horror and sorrow than he could longer bear to look at;
welcoming--except as those dear to him were concerned--the prospect of
that death which he alone knew to be so near. It was on the 19th of May,
1864, that the news came from Plymouth, in New Hampshire,--whither he
had gone with Ex-President Pierce,--that Hawthorne was dead. Afterward,
it was recalled with a kind of awe that through many years of his life
Hawthorne had been in the habit, when trying a pen or idly scribbling at
any time, of writing the number sixty-four; as if the foreknowledge of
his death, which he showed in the final days, had already begun to
manifest itself in this indirect way long before. Indeed, he had himself
felt that the number was connected with his life in some fatal way. Five
days later he was carried to Sleepy Hollow, the beautiful cemetery where
he had been wont to walk among the pines, where once when living at the
Manse he had lain upon the grass talking to Margaret Fuller, when Mr.
Emerson came upon them, and smiled, and said the Muses were in the woods
that day.

A simple stone, with the single word "Hawthorne" cut upon it, was placed
above him. He had wished that there should be no monument. He liked
Wordsworth's grave at Grasmere, and had written, "It is pleasant to
think and know that he did not care for a stately monument." Longfellow
and Lowell and Holmes, Emerson and Louis Agassiz, and his friends
Pierce, and Hillard, with Ellery Channing, and other famous men,
assembled on that peaceful morning to take their places in the funeral
train. Some who had not known him in life came long distances to see
him, now, and ever afterward bore about with them the memory of his
aspect, strong and beautiful, in his last repose. The orchards were
blossoming; the roadside-banks were blue with violets, and the lilies of
the valley, which were Hawthorne's favorites among the flowers, had come
forth in quiet companies, to look their last on his face, so white and
quiet too. So, while the batteries that had murdered him roared sullenly
in the distant South, the rites of burial were fulfilled over the dead
poet. Like a clear voice beside the grave, as we look back and listen,
Longfellow's simple, penetrating chant returns upon the ear.

In vain to sum up, here, the loss unspeakable suffered in Hawthorne's
death; and no less vain the attempt to fix in a few words the
incalculable gain his life has left with us. When one remembers the
power that was unexhausted in him still, one is ready to impeach cold
Time and Fate for their treason to the fair prospect that lay before us
all, in the continuance of his career. We look upon these few great
works, that may be numbered on the fingers of a hand, and wonder what
good end was served by the silent shutting of those rich pages that had
just begun to open. We remember the tardy recognition that kept the
fountain of his spirit so long half concealed, and the necessities that
forced him to give ten of his best years to the sterile industry of
official duties. But there are great compensations. Without the youthful
period of hopes deferred, Hawthorne, as we have seen, would not have
been the unique force, the high, untrammelled thinker that he became
through that fortunate isolation; wanting the uncongenial contact of his
terms at Boston and Salem and Liverpool, it may be that he could not
have developed his genius with such balance of strength as it now shows;
and, finally, without the return to his native land, the national fibre
in him would have missed its crowning grace of conscientiousness. He
might in that case have written more books, but the very loss of these,
implying as it does his pure love of country, is an acquisition much
more positively valuable.

There is a fitness, too, in the abrupt breaking off of his activity, in
so far as it gives emphasis to that incompleteness of any verbal
statement of truth, which he was continually insisting upon with his
readers.

Hawthorne, it is true, expanded so constantly, that however many works
he might have produced, it seems unlikely that any one of them would
have failed to record some large movement in his growth; and therefore
it is perhaps to be regretted that his life could not have been made to
solely serve his genius, so that we might have had the whole sweep of
his imagination clearly exposed. As it is, he has not given us a large
variety of characters; and Hester, Zenobia, and Miriam bear a certain
general likeness one to another. Phoebe, however, is quite at the
opposite pole of womanhood; Hilda is as unlike any of them as it is easy
to conceive of her being; and Priscilla, again, is a feminine nature of
unique calibre, as weird but not so warm as Goethe's Mignon, and at the
same time a distinctly American type, in her nervous yet captivating
fragility. In Priscilla and Phoebe are embodied two widely opposed
classes of New England women. The male characters, with the exception of
Donatello and Hollingsworth, are not so remarkable as the feminine ones:
Coverdale and Kenyon come very close together, both being artistic and
both reflectors for the persons that surround them; and Dimmesdale is to
some extent the same character,--with the artistic escape closed upon
his passions, so that they turn within and ravage his heart,--arrested
and altered by Puritan influences. Chillingworth is perhaps too devilish
a shape of revenge to be discussed as a human individual. Septimius,
again, is distinct; and the characterization of Westervelt, in
"Blithedale," slight as it is, is very stimulating. Perhaps, after all,
what leads us to pronounce upon the whole fictitious company a stricture
of homogeneity is the fact that the author, though presenting us each
time with a set of persons sufficiently separate from his previous ones,
does not emphasize their differences with the same amount of external
description that we habitually depend upon from a novelist. The
similarity is more in the author's mode of presentation than in the
creations themselves.

This monotone in which all the personages of his dramas share is nearly
related with some special distinctions of his genius. He is so
fastidious in his desire for perfection, that he can scarcely permit his
actors to speak loosely or ungrammatically: though retaining their
essential individuality, they are endowed with the author's own
delightful power of expression. This outward phasis of his work
separates it at once from that of the simple novelist, and leads us to
consider the special applicability to it of the term "romance." He had
not the realistic tendency, as we usually understand that, but he
possessed the power to create a new species of fiction. For the kind of
romance that he has left us differs from all compositions previously so
called. It is not romance in the sense of D'Urfé's or Scudéri's; it is
very far from coming within the scope of Fielding's "romances"; and it
is entirely unconnected with the tales of the German Romantic school. It
is not the romance of sentiment; nor that of incident, adventure, and
character viewed under a worldly coloring: it has not the mystic and
melodramatic bent belonging to Tieck and Novalis and Fouqué. There are
two things which radically isolate it from all these. The first is its
quality of revived belief. Hawthorne, as has been urged already, is a
great believer, a man who has faith; his belief goes out toward what is
most beautiful, and this he finds only in moral truth. With him, poetry
and moral insight are sacredly and indivisibly wedded, and their progeny
is perfect beauty. This unsparingly conscientious pursuit of the highest
truth, this metaphysical instinct, found in conjunction with a varied
and tender appreciation of all forms of human or other life, is what
makes him so decidedly the representative of a wholly new order of
novelists. Belief, however, is, not what he has usually been credited
with, so much as incredulity. But the appearance of doubt is
superficial, and arises from his fondness for illuminating fine
but only half-perceptible traces of truth with the torch of
superstition. Speaking of the supernatural, he says in his English
journal: "It is remarkable that Scott should have felt interested in
such subjects, being such a worldly and earthly man as he was; but then,
indeed, almost all forms of popular superstition do clothe the ethereal
with earthly attributes, and so make it grossly perceptible." This
observation has a still greater value when applied to Hawthorne himself.
And out of this questioning belief and transmutation of superstition
into truth--for such is more exactly his method--proceeds also that
quality of value and rarity and awe-enriched significance, with which he
irradiates real life until it is sublimed to a delicate cloud-image of
the eternal verities.

If these things are limitations, they are also foundations of a vast
originality. Every greatness must have an outline. So that, although he
is removed from the list of novelists proper, although his spiritual
inspiration scares away a large class of sympathies, and although his
strictly New England atmosphere seems to chill and restrain his dramatic
fervor, sometimes to his disadvantage, these facts, on the other hand,
are so many trenches dug around him, fortifying his fair eminence.
Isolation and a certain degree of limitation, in some such sense as
this, belong peculiarly to American originality. But Hawthorne is the
embodiment of the youth of this country; and though he will doubtless
furnish inspiration to a long line of poets and novelists, it must be
hoped that they, likewise, will stand for other phases of its
development, to be illustrated in other ways. No tribute to Hawthorne is
less in accord with the biddings of his genius than that which would
merely make a school of followers.

It is too early to say what position Hawthorne will take in the
literature of the world; but as his influence gains the ascendant in
America, by prompting new and _un_-Hawthornesque originalities, it
is likely also that it will be made manifest in England, according to
some unspecifiable ratio. Not that any period is to be distinctly
colored by the peculiar dye in which his own pages are dipped; but the
renewed tradition of a highly organized yet simple style, and still more
the masculine tenderness and delicacy of thought and the fine adjustment
of aesthetic and ethical obligations, the omnipresent truthfulness which
he carries with him, may be expected to become a constituent part of
very many minds widely opposed among themselves. I believe there is no
fictionist who penetrates so far into individual consciences as
Hawthorne; that many persons will be found who derive a profoundly
religious aid from his unobtrusive but commanding sympathy. In the same
way, his sway over the literary mind is destined to be one of no
secondary degree. "Deeds are the offspring of words," says Heine;
"Goethe's pretty words are childless." Not so with Hawthorne's.
Hawthorne's repose is the acme of motion; and though turning on an axis
of conservatism, the radicalism of his mind is irresistible; he is one
of the most powerful because most unsuspected revolutionists of the
world. Therefore, not only is he an incalculable factor in private
character, but in addition his unnoticed leverage for the thought of the
age is prodigious. These great abilities, subsisting with a temper so
modest and unaffected, and never unhumanized by the abstract enthusiasm
for art, place him on a plane between Shakespere and Goethe. With the
universality of the first only just budding within his mind, he has not
so clear a response to all the varying tones of lusty human life, and
the individuality in his utterance amounts, at particular instants, to
constraint. With less erudition than Goethe, but also less of the
freezing pride of art, he is infinitely more humane, sympathetic, holy.
His creations are statuesquely moulded like Goethe's, but they have the
same quick music of heart-throbs that Shakespere's have. Hawthorne is at
the same moment ancient and modern, plastic and picturesque. Another
generation will see more of him than we do; different interpreters will
reveal other sides. As a powerful blow suddenly descending may leave the
surface it touches unmarked, and stamp its impress on the substance
beneath, so his presence will more distinctly appear among those farther
removed from him than we. A single mind may concentrate your vision upon
him in a particular way; but the covers of any book must perforce shut
out something of the whole, as the trees in a vista narrow the
landscape.

Look well at these leaves I lay before you; but having read them throw
the volume away, and contemplate the man himself.



APPENDIX I.


In May, 1870, an article was published in the "Portland Transcript,"
giving some of the facts connected with Hawthorne's sojourn in Maine, as
a boy. This called out a letter from Alexandria, Va., signed "W. S.,"
and purporting to come from a person who had lived at Raymond, in
boyhood, and had been a companion of Hawthorne's. He gave some little
reminiscences of that time, recalling the fact that Hawthorne had read
him some poetry founded on the Tarbox disaster, already
mentioned. [Footnote: See _ante_, p. 89.] Himself he described as
having gone to sea at twenty, and having been a wanderer ever since. In.
speaking of the date of the poetry, "We could not have been more than
ten years old," he said. This, of course, is a mistake, the accident
having happened in 1819, when Hawthorne was fourteen. And it is
tolerably certain that he did not even visit Raymond until he was
twelve.

The letter called out some reminiscences from Mr. Robinson Cook, of
Bolster's Mills, in Maine, who had also known Hawthorne as a boy; some
poetry on the Tarbox tragedy was also found, and printed, which
afterward proved to have been written by another person; and one or two
other letters were published, not especially relevant to Hawthorne, but
concerning the Tarbox affair. After this, "W. S." wrote again from
Alexandria (November 23, 1870), revealing the fact that he had come into
possession, several years before, of the manuscript book from which he
afterward sent extracts. The book, he explained, was found by a man
named Small, who had assisted in moving a lot of furniture, among it a
"large mahogany bookcase" full of old books, from the old Manning House.
This was several years before the civil war, and "W. S." met Small in
the army, in Virginia. He reported that the book--"originally a bound
blank one not ruled," and "gnawed by mice or eaten by moths on the
edges"--contained about two hundred and fifty pages, and was written
throughout, "the first part in a boyish hand though legibly, and showing
in its progress a marked improvement in penmanship." The passages
reprinted in the present volume were sent by him, over the signature "W.
Sims," to the "Transcript," and published at different dates (February
11, 1871; April 22, 1871). Their appearance called out various
communications, all tending to establish their genuineness; but, beyond
the identification of localities and persons, and the approximate
establishing of dates, no decisive proof was forthcoming. Sims himself,
however, was recalled by former residents near Raymond; and there seemed
at least much inferential proof in favor of the notes. A long silence
ensued upon the printing of the second portion; and at the end of 1871
it was made known that Sims had died at Pensacola, Florida. The third
and last supposed extract from Hawthorne's note-book was sent from
Virginia again, in 1873 (published June 21 of that year), by a person
professing to have charge of Sims's papers. This person was written to
by the editors of the "Transcript," but no reply has ever been received.
A relative of Hawthorne in Salem also wrote to the Pensacola journal in
which Sims's death was announced, making inquiry as to its knowledge of
him and as to the source of the mortuary notice. No reply was ever
received from this quarter, either. Sims, it is said, had been in the
secret service under Colonel Baker, of dreaded fame in war-days; and it
may be that, having enemies, he feared the notoriety to which his
contributions to journalism might expose him, and decided to die,--at
least so far as printer's ink could kill him. All these circumstances
are unfortunate, because they make the solution of doubts concerning the
early notes quite impossible, for the present.

The fabrication of the journal by a person possessed of some literary
skill and familiar with the localities mentioned, at dates so long ago
as 1816 to 1819, might not be an impossible feat, but it is an extremely
improbable one. It is not likely that an ordinary impostor would hit
upon the sort of incident selected for mention in these extracts. Even
if he drew upon circumstances of his own boyhood, transferring them to
Hawthorne's, he must possess a singularly clear memory, to recall
matters of this sort; and to invent them would require a nice
imaginative faculty. One of the first passages, touching the "son of old
Mrs. Shane" and the "son of the Widow Hawthorne," is of a sort to
entirely evade the mind of an impostor. The whole method of observation,
too, seems very characteristic. If the portion descriptive of a raft and
of the manners of the lumbermen be compared with certain memoranda in
the "American Note-Books" (July 13 and 15, 1837), derived from somewhat
similar scenes, a general resemblance in the way of seizing
characteristics will be observed. Of course, if the early notes are
fabrications, it may be that the author of them drew carefully after
passages of the maturer journal, and this among others. But the
resemblance is crossed by a greater youthfulness in the early notes, it
seems to me, which it would be hard to produce artificially. The cool
and collected style of the early journal is not improbable in a boy like
Hawthorne, who had read many books and lived much in the companionship
of older persons. Indeed, it is very much like the style of "The
Spectator" of 1820. A noticeable coincidence is, that the pedler,
Dominicus Jordan, should be mentioned in both the journal and "The
Spectator." The circumstance that the dates should all have been said to
be missing from the manuscript book is suspicious. Yet the last extract
has the month and year appended, August, 1819. What is more important
is, that the date of the initial inscription is given as 1816; and at
the time when this was announced it had not been ascertained even by
Hawthorne's own family and relatives that he had been at Raymond so
early. But since the publications in the "Transcript," some letters have
come to light of which I have made use; and one of these, bearing date
July 21, 1818, to which I have alluded in another connection, speaks of
Raymond from actual recollection. "Does the Pond look the same as when I
was there? It is almost as pleasant at Nahant as at Raymond. I thought
there was no place that I should say so much of." The furnisher of the
notes, if he was disingenuous, might indeed have remembered that
Hawthorne was in Maine about 1816; he may also have relied on a
statement in the "Transcript's" editorial, to the effect that Hawthorne
was taken to Raymond in 1814. In that editorial, it is also observed:
"Hawthorne was then a lad of ten years." I have already said that Sims
refers to the period of the verses on the Tarboxes as being a time when
he and Hawthorne were "not more than ten years old." This, at first,
would seem to suggest that he was relying still further upon the
editorial. But if he had been taking the editorial statement as a basis
for fabrication, it is not likely that he would have failed to ascertain
exactly the date of the freezing of Mr. and Mrs. Tarbox, which was 1819.
The careless way in which he alludes to this may have been the
inadvertence of an impostor trying to make his account agree with one
already published; but it is more likely that the sender of the notes
did not remember the precise year in which the accident occurred, and
was confused by the statement of the "Transcript." An impostor must have
taken more pains, one would think. It must also be noticed that "the
Widow _Haw_thorne" is spoken of in the notes. Sims, however, in his
preliminary letter, refers to the fact that "the universal pronunciation
of the name in Raymond was Hathorn,--the first syllable exactly as the
word 'hearth' was pronounced at that time"; and the explanation of the
spelling in the notes doubtless is that Sims, or whoever transcribed the
passage, changed it as being out of keeping with the now historic form
of the name. It is possible that further changes were also made by the
transcriber; and a theory which has some color is, that the object in
keeping the original manuscript out of the way may have been, to make it
available for expansions and embellishments, using the actual record as
a nucleus.



II.


The theme referred to in Chapter III. is given in full below. After the
earlier portion of the present essay had been stereotyped, an article by
Professor G. T. Packard, on Bowdoin College, was published in
"Scribner's Monthly," which contains this mention of Hawthorne:--

"The author's college life was prophetic of the after years, when he so
dwelt apart from the mass of men, and yet stirred so deeply the world's
sensibilities and delighted its fancy. His themes were written in the
sustained, finished style that gives to his mature productions an
inimitable charm. The late Professor Newman, his instructor in rhetoric,
was so impressed with Hawthorne's powers as a writer, that he not
infrequently summoned the family circle to share in the enjoyment of
reading his compositions. The recollection is very distinct of
Hawthorne's reluctant step and averted look, when he presented himself
at the Professor's study, and with girlish diffidence submitted a
composition which no man in his class could equal.... When the class was
graduated, Hawthorne could not be persuaded to join them in having their
profiles cut in paper, the only class picture of the time; nor did he
take part in the Commencement exercises. His classmates understood that
he intended to be a writer of romance, but none anticipated his
remarkable development and enduring fame. It seems strange that among
his admirers no one has offered him a fitting tribute by founding the
Hawthorne Professorship of English Literature in the college where,
under the tutelage of the accomplished and appreciative Professor
Newman, he was stimulated to cultivate his native gift."

DE PATRIS CONSCRIPTIS ROMANORUM.

Senatum Romanorum jam primum institutum, simplicem siniul atquo
praestantissimuni fuisse sentiant onmes. Imperium fint, quod populo aec
avaritis nee luxuria vitiato optimum videretar. Lecti fuerunt senatores,
non qui ambitiose potestatem eupiere, sesl qui senectute, qui sapientia,
qui virtute bellica vel privata insigues, in republica plurimam
pollebant. Hominum consiliis virtute tam singulari praeditorum paruit
populus libenter atque senatores at patres civilius venerati. Studium
illis paternum adhibuere. Nulla unquam respublica, quam turn Romana, nec
sanctior nec beatior t'uit; iis temporibus etenim solum in publicum
commodum principes administrabant; fidemque principibus populi habetant.
Sed virtute prisca reipublierc perdita, inimicitus mutuis patres
plebesque flagrare coeperunt, alienaque prosequi. Senatus in populum
tyrannice saeviit, atque hostem se monstravit potiue quam custodem
reipubliere. Concitatur vulgus studio libertatis repetendre, alque per
multa secula patrum plebisque contentiones historia Romana memorat;
patribus pristinam auctoriratem servare conatis, liccentiaque plebis
omnia jura spernante. Hoc modo usque ad Panieum bellum, res se habebant.
Tun pericula externa discordiam domesticam superabant, reipublicaeque
studium priscam patribus sapientiam, priscam populis reverentiam
redundit. Hae aetate omnibus virtutibus cnituit Roma. Senatus, jure
omnium consensu facto, opes suas prope ad inopiam plebis aequavit;
patriaeque solum amore gloria quaesita, pecunia niluii habita est. Sed
quuam Carthaginem reformidavit non diutius Roma, rediit respublica ad
vitia pristina. Patres luxuria solum populis praestiterunt, et vestigia
eorum populi secuti sunt. Senatus auctoritatem, ex illo ipso tempore,
annus unusquisque diminuit, donce in aerate Angasti interitus nobilium
humiliumque delectus omnino fere dignitatem conficerunt. Augustus
equidem antiquam magnificentiam patribus reddidit, sed fulgor tantum
liut sine fervore. Nunquam in republica senatoribus potestates
recuperatae. Postremum species etiam amissa est.

HATHORNE.


THE ROMAN SENATE.

Every one perceives that the Roman Senate, as it was originally
constituted, was a no less simple than illustrious body. It was a
sovereignty which appeared most desirable to a populace vitiated neither
by avarice nor luxury. The senators were chosen, not from those who were
ambitious of power, but those who wielded the largest influence in the
Republic through wisdom and warlike valor or private virtue. The
citizens bowed willingly to the counsels of men endowed with such
singular worth, and venerated the senators as fathers. The latter
exercised a paternal care. No republic ever was holier or more blessed
than that of Rome at this time; for in those days the rulers
administered for the public convenience alone, and the people had faith
in their rulers. But, the pristine virtue of the Republic lost, the
fathers and the commonalty began to blaze forth with mutual hostilities,
and to seek after the possessions of others. The Senate vented its wrath
savagely upon the people, and showed itself rather the enemy than the
guardian of the Republic. The multitude was aroused by the desire of
recovering liberty, and through a very long period Roman history
recounts the contentions of the fathers and the commonalty; the fathers
attempting to preserve their old authority, and the license of the
commons scorning every law. Affairs remained in this condition until the
Punic War. Then foreign perils prevailed over domestic discord, and love
of the Republic restored to the fathers their early wisdom, to the
people their reverence. At this period, Rome shone with every virtue.
The Senate, through the rightfully obtained consent of all parties,
nearly equalized its power with the powerlessness of the commonalty; and
glory being sought solely through love of the fatherland, wealth was
regarded as of no account. But when Rome no longer dreaded Carthage, the
commonwealth returned to its former vices. The fathers were superior to
the populace only in luxury, and the populace followed in their
footsteps. From that very time, every year diminished the authority of
the Senate, until in the age of Augustus the death of the nobles and the
selection of insignificant men almost wholly destroyed its dignity.
Augustus, to be sure, restored to the fathers their ancient
magnificence, but, great as was the fire (so to speak), it was without
real heat. Never was the power of the senators recovered. At last even
the appearance of it vanished.



III.


The lists of books referred to in Chapter IV. were recorded by different
hands, or in different ways at various dates, so that they have not been
made out quite satisfactorily. Some of the authors named below were
taken out a great many times, but the number of the volume is given in
only a few cases. It would seem, for example, that Voltaire's complete
works were examined by Hawthorne, if we judge by his frequent
application for some part of them, and the considerable number of
volumes actually mentioned. In this and in other cases, the same volume
is sometimes called for more than once. To make the matter clearer here,
I have reduced the entries to a simple list of the authors read, without
attempting to show how often a particular one was taken up. Few or none
of them were read consecutively, and the magazines placed together at
the end of my list were taken out at short intervals throughout the
different years.

 1830.

  Oeuvres de Voltaire.
  Mémoire de Litérature.
  Liancourt.
  Oeuvres de Rousseau.
  Mass. Historical Collections.
  Trial and Triumph of Faith.
  Oeuvres de Pascal.
  Varenius' Geography.
  Mickle's Lucian.
  Dictionnaire des Sciences.
  Pamela. (Vols. I., II.)
  Life of Baxter.
  Tournefort's Voyage.
  Swift's Works.
  Hitt on Fruit-Trees.
  Bibliotheca Americana.
  Ames's Antiquities.
  Hamilton's Works.
  Gifford's Juvenal.
  Allen's Biographical Dictionary.
  Fénélon.
  Académie Royale des Inscriptions.
  Mather's Apology.
  Vertol's History of Sweden.
  Taylor's Sermons.
  Life of Luckington.
  L'an 2440.
  Montague's Letters.
  English Botany. (3 vols.)
  Gay's Poems.
  Inchbald's Theatre.
  Sowerby's English Botany.
  Crabbe's Borough.
  Crabbe's Bibliographical Dictionary.
  Collection of Voyages (Hakluyt's?).
  Lives of the Admirals.
  British Zoölogy.

  1831

  Los Eruditos.
  Connoisseur.
  Camilla.
  Gifford's Persius.
  Bartram's Travels.
  Humphrey's Works.
  Voltaire.
  Pennant's British Zoology.
  Mandeville's Travels.
  Rehearsal Transposed.
  Gay's Poems.
  Pompey the Little.
  Shaw's General Zoology.
  Philip's Poems.
  Sowerby's English Botany.
  Racine.
  Corneille.
  Wilkinson's Memoirs and Atlas.
  History of the Shakers.
  The Confessional.
  Calamy's Life of Baxter.
  Académie Royale des Inscripts.
  Essais de Montaigne. (Vols. I., II., III., IV.)
  Cadell's Journey through Italy and Carniola.
  Cobbet's Rule in France.
  Temple's Works. (Vols. I., II., III.)
  Asiatic Researches.
  Cochran's Tour in Siberia.
  Chardin's Travels.
  Brandt's History of the Reformation.
  Russell's Natural History.
  Aleppo. (Vol. I.)
  Answer to the Fable of the Bees.
  Hanway's Travels.
  Memoirs of C. J. Fox.
  Bayle's Critical Dictionary. (Vols. II., V., VI.)
  State Trials. (Vols. I., II., IV., V., VI.)
  Tales of a Traveller.
  Dictionnaire des Sciences. (Vol. XVII.)
  Bacon's Works. (Vol. II.)
  Gordon's Tacitus.
  Colquhoun on the Police.
  Cheyne on Health.
  Pope's Homer. (Vol I.)
  Letters: De Maintenon. (Vol. IX.)
  Reichard's Germany.
  Oeuvres de Rousseau.
  Notes on the West Indies by Prichard.
  Crishull's Travels in Turkey.

  1832-33.

  Clarendon's Tracts.
  History of England.
  Prose Works of Walter Scott. (Vols. III., V., VI.)
  Feltham's Resolves.
  Roscoe's Sovereigns.
  Histoire de l'Académie.
  South America.
  Savages of New Zealand.
  Stackhouse's History of the Bible.
  Dryden's Poems.
  Tucker's Light of Nature.
  History of South Carolina.
  Poinsett's Notes on Mexico.
  Brace's Travels.
  Browne's Jamaica.
  Collins's New South Wales.
  Broughton's Dictionary.
  Seminole War.
  Shaw's Zoology.
  Reverie.
  Gifford's Pitt.
  Curiosities of Literature.
  Massinger.
  Literary Recollections.
  Coleridge's Aids to Reflection.
  Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats.
  Paris and Fonblanque.
  Elia.
  Gardens and Menagerie.
  Medical Jurisprudence.
  History of Paris.
  Scott's Prose Works.
  Kittell's Specimens American Poetry.
  Lister's Journey.
  Annals of Salem.
  Library of Old English Prose Writers.
  Memoirs of Canning.
  Miscellaneous Works of Scott.
  Jefferson's Writings.
  History of Andover.
  Good's Book of Nature.
  History of Haverhill.
  Madden's Travels. (Vols. I., II.)
  Riedesel's Memoirs.
  Boston Newspapers (1736, 1739, 1754, 1762, 1771, 1783).
  Drake's Mornings in Spring.
  Drake's Evenings in Autumn.
  Anecdotes of Bowyer.
  Gouverneur Morris. (Vols. I., II.)
  Bryan Walton's Memoirs.
  Moses Mendelssohn.
  Collingwood.
  Felt's Annals.
  Strutt's Sports and Pastimes.
  Schiller.
  Mrs. Jameson. (2 vols.)
  Thatcher's Medical Biography.
  History of Plymouth.
  Crabbe's Universal Dictionary.
  Lewis's History of Lynn.
  A Year in Spain, by a Young American. (Vols. I., II.)
  Croker's Boswell.
  Deane's History of Scituate.
  Diplomatic Correspondence. (Vols. I., II.)
  Temple's Travels. (Vol. II.)
  Fuller's Holy State.
  Remarkables of Increase Mather.
  History of Portland. (Vols. I., II.)
  Practical Tourist.
  Elements of Technology.
  Heber's Life, by Taylor.
  Ductor Substantium.
  Heber's Travels in India. (Vols. I., II.)
  Byron's Works.
  Travels in Brazil and Buenos Ayres.
  History of Spain.
  Franklin's Works.
  Mental Cultivation.

  1835.

  Life of Gouverneur Morris.
  Hamilton's Progress of Society.
  Twiner's Sacred History.
  Encyclopaedia.
  Life of Arthur Lee.
  Life of Sir Humphry Davy.
  Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats.
  Prior's Poems. (Vol. I.)
  Jefferson's Writings. (Vols. I., II.)
  Memoirs of the Tower of London.
  History of King's Chapel.
  Memoirs of Dr. Burney.
  Hone's Every Day Book. (Vols. I, II., III.)
  Life of Livingstone.

  1836.

  Life of Hamilton. (Vol. I.)
  Debates in Parliament. (Vol. I.)
  Curiosities of Literature (Vol. I.)
  Combe on the Constitution of Man.
  Babbage on Economy of Machinery.
  Eulogies on Jefferson and Adams.
  Hone's Every Day Book. (Vols. I., III.)
  Dunlap's History of the Arts of Design. (Vols. I., II.)
  Mende's Guide to Observation of Nature.
  Cobbett's Cottage Economy.
  Douglas's Summary. (Vol. I.)
  Practical Tourist. (Vols. I., II.)
  Dick on Improvement of Society.
  Bush's Life of Mohammed.
  Temple's Travels in Peru. (Vol. I.)
  Gay's Poems.
  Pliny's Natural History.
  Coleridge's Table-Talk.
  Letters from Constantinople. (Vols. I., II.)
  Reynolds's Voyages.
  Adventures on Columbia River, by Ross Cox.
  Baine's History of Cotton Manufacture.
  History of Nantucket.
  Travels in South America.
  Müller's Universal History.
  Antar. A Bedoueen Romance.
  Lives of the Philosophers. (Vols. I., II.)
  Description of Trades.
  Colman's Visit to England.
  Ludolph's History of Ethiopia.
  Griffin's Remains.
  McCree's Life of Knox.
  Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy.
  Voyage de la mer du Sud an Nord.
  Biographia Literaria.
  The Stranger in America.
  Raumer's England in 1835.
  Random Recollections of the House of Lords.
  The German Student.
  Sparks's American Biography.
  Brewster's Natural Magic.
  Prior's Life of Goldsmith.
  Sparks's Washington.
  Walter Scott's Demonology and Witchcraft.
  Scott's Life of Bonaparte. (3 vols.)

  1837.

  Washington's Writings.
  Martineau's Miscellany.
  Wraxall's Memoirs.
  Bancroft's United States History.
  Rush, on the Human Voice.
  Drake's Indian Biography.
  Wordsworth's Poetical Works.
  Clarendon's History of the Rebellion.
  Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.
  Bayle's Historical Memoirs of Plymouth County.
  Life of Jefferson, by Tucker.
  Random Recollections of the House of Commons.
  Specimens of American Poetry.

  1838.

  Life of Jefferson.
  Brown's Novels.
  Parr's Works.
  Select Comedies.
  Froissart's Ancient Chronology.
  Byron's Works.
  Plutarch's Lives.
  London Encyclopedia of Architecture.
  Gentleman's Magazine.
  Monthly Magazine.
  Monthly Review.
  European Magazine.
  Christian Examiner.
  Edinburgh Magazine.
  Annual Register.
  Quarterly Review.
  Southern Review.
  Worcester's Magazine.
  North American Review.
  United States Service Journal.
  Court Magazine.
  Museum of Literature and Science.
  Westminster Review.
  London Monthly Magazine.
  Eclectic Review.
  Foreign Quarterly Review.
  Blackwood's Magazine.
  Metropolitan Magazine.
  New England Magazine.
  British Critic.
  American Encyclopaedia.
  Rees's Cyclopaedia.
  Gifford's Juvenal.



  INDEX.


  Addison, Joseph
  Allegory and symbolism
  Ambitious Guest, The
  America, Hawthorne's sentiment about returning to
  American Magazine
  American Note-Books, record of youth in
  American nurture of Hawthorne's genius
  American quality in literature
  Andrews, Ferdinand
  Apollyon, name of cat
  Artist of the Beautiful, The
  Atmosphere, Hawthorne's susceptibility to
  Autobiographies

  Balzac's method of dealing with sin
  Bancroft, George
  Baudelaire
  Bay writers, nickname given by Church Review
  Beelzebub, Hawthorne's cat
  Belief, Hawthorne's
  Bewick Company
  Biography, Hawthorne's feeling about
  Birth-mark, The
  Blithedale Romance
    its relation to Brook Farm
    real incident applied in
    when written
    remarks on
  Bloody Footstep
  Boston Custom-House
  Boston Token, The
  Bowdoin College
    passage from "Fanshawe" descriptive of
  Bridge, Horatio
   prognostic of, concerning Hawthorne
  Brig Fair American, Ballad of
  Brook Farm, origin of
    Hawthorne's aim in going to
    length of stay there
    trenchant remark upon, in Blithedale
  Brown, Brockden
  Buchanan, James
  Buds and Bird-Voices
  Bunyan, compared with Milton
    with Hawthorne
  Burroughs, Rev. Dr. Charles, note from, to Hawthorne
  Bryant, William Cullen

  Celestial Railroad, The
  Characters of Hawthorne
  Chippings with a Chisel
  Chorley, H. F.
  Christmas Banquet, The
  Church Review
    attack of, on The Scarlet Letter
  Cilley, Jonathan
  Clarendon's History
  Coleridge, S. T.
  Conception of Character, Hawthorne's method of
  Contact of life and death
  Contradictions of critics
  Cooper, J. Fenimore
  Cooper Memorial letter of Hawthorne
  Coverdale, Miles, origin of name
    character of, how related to Hawthorne
  Curtis, George William
    letters from Hawthorne to
  Curwin Mansion
  Cushing, Caleb
  Custom-House, prefatory chapter on the
    excitement over it in Salem

  Democratic Review
  Devil in Manuscript, The
  Dickens
  Dixey, William, name in Seven Gables
  Doctor Heidegger's Experiment
  Dolliver Romance, The
  Drake, J. R.
  Dramatic quality in Hawthorne
  Drowne's Wooden Image
  D'Urfé

  Early Notes, discovery of
    passages from
  Earth's Holocaust
  Eccentricity in Salem
  Edinburgh Review, stricture of, upon Irving
  Emerson's English Traits
  Endicott and The Red Cross
    passage from, bearing on Scarlet Letter
  Endicotts, anecdote of
  English Note-Books, characteristics of
  Evangeline, origin of
    Hawthorne's review of

  Fame, in what way desirable
  Fancy's Show-Box
  Faust
  "Fanshawe"
    abstract of
    passages from
  Fearing, Master, and Hawthorne
  Fielding, Henry
  Fields, J. T., mistake of
  Fine Art, Hawthorne's way of looking at
  Fire worship
  First Church of Salem
  First publication by Hawthorne
  Foote, Caleb
  Fouqué
  French and Italian Note-Books
  Froissart

  Gautier, Theophile
  Goethe
  Godwin, William
  Goldsmith
  Goodrich, S. G.
    employs Hawthorne as editor
    difficulties with
  Grandfather's Chair
    publication of
  Gray Champion, The

  Hathorne, Elizabeth C. Manning,
    mother of Nathaniel Hawthorne,
    piety of, her inconsolableness
    at loss of her husband
  Hathorne, John, judge in witchcraft
    trials
  Hathorne, Joseph, Benjamin,
    Daniel
  Hathorne, Nathaniel, father of Nathaniel,
    death of; Hawthorne's
    resemblance to
  Hathorne, William; his persecution
    of Quakers; his will
  Haunted Mind, The
  HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL, birth of
    changes spelling of name
    birthplace of; childhood of;
    lameness in boyhood;
    fondness for cats; scholarship
    of, at college; English
    compositions of; Latin theme
    of, (in full, Appendix);
    reading of; love
    of books; first printed
    article of; college associations
    of; literary struggles
    of; pecuniary difficulties
    of; Democratic sympathies
    of; his inability to
    distinguish tunes; social
    nature of; error as to long
    obscurity of; anecdotes of;
    value of these in
    general; his love of solitude;
    healthiness of;
    shyness; considerateness
    for others; personal appearance;
    G. W. Curtis's
    reminiscence of; his simplicity
    of habits; love of books;
    abstraction; moral enthusiasm
    of, characterized;
    unsuspiciousness of; introspection
    of, how exaggerated;
    distaste for society, how explainable;
    in what greater than
    Irving; ghostly atmosphere
    of; humor of; American   quality of; effect of civil
    war upon; death of; his
    grave; burial; literary
    and intellectual influence of
  Heine, Heinrich
  Helwyse, Gervase
  Hillard, George S.
  Hoffman, Charles Fenno
  Hogg's Tales
  Holmes, Oliver Wendell; letter
    from, to Hawthorne
  Horace
  House of the Seven Gables, The;
    Hathorne history; composition
    of; originals for the
    house; survey of
  Howells, W. D., Hawthorne's remark
    to

  Invisible struggles of genius
  Irving, Washington; comparison
    with Hawthorne; humor
    of; attitude of, in England;
    his use of native
    material; his histories;
    style of

  John Ingefield's Thanksgiving
  Johnson, Samuel
  Journal of an African Cruiser
  Journal of a Solitary Man

  Kingsley's Greek Fairy-Tales

  Latin Theme of Hawthorne;
    in full, Appendix
  Lawrence, Lieutenant, killed off
    Marblehead
  Lenox, removal to
  Letters of Hawthorne, in boyhood,
    from college;
    from Connecticut and New Hampshire;
    to Longfellow;
    to Bridge;
    to Curtis;
    to Motley;
    to Lowell
  Leutze
  Limitations of Hawthorne
  Liverpool consulate;
    reduction in receipts of;
    unjust criticism of Hawthorne in
  Longfellow, Henry W.;
    review of Twice-Told Tales;
    letter to Hawthorne
  Loring, Dr. G. B.
  Lowell, James Russell;
    letter from

  Maine, Hawthorne's sojourn in, in boyhood
  Manning, Elizabeth Clarke, Hawthorne's mother
  Manning's Folly
  Manning, Richard
  Manning, Robert
  Manning, Samuel
  Manuscript sketch for Septimius
  Marble Faun, The;
    examination of
  Marine outrages, Hawthorne's wish
  to redress
  Marvell, Andrew
  Maturity in Hawthorne, earliness of
  Maule, Thomas
  Maypole of Merry Mount, The
  Melville, Herman;
    private review of Seven Gables by
  Michael Angelo
  Milton compared with Bunyan and Hawthorne
  Minister's Black Veil, The
  Mitford, Miss, Letter from, to Hawthorne
  Mosses from an Old Manse;
    first issue of;
    criticism of
  Motley, John Lothrop, letter of, to Hawthorne
  Mozart
  Mrs. Bullfrog

  New England civilization;
    early character
  Newman, Professor
  Nomenclature of fiction
  Novalis

  Oberon
  Objectivity of Hawthorne
  Old Apple-Dealer, The
  Oliver, B. L.
  Our Old Home

  Packard, Professor G. T.;
    Appendix
  Papers of an old Dartmoor prisoner
  Paulding, J. K.
  Peabody, Miss E. P., acquaintance with Hawthorne
  Peabody, Miss Sophia
  Peter Parley's History, written by Hawthorne
  Pierce, Franklin;
    Hawthorne's Life of;
    (sentiments in, touching slavery;
    resulting abuse of Hawthorne;)
    dedication of Our Old Home to
  Pilgrim's Progress, Hawthorne's reading of;
    allusions to, in his works
  Plato
  Plymouth Colony enactment against adultery, foot-note
  Poe's criticism on Hawthorne;
  similarities of, to Hawthorne;
    effectiveness of;
    subjectivity of; doubtful
    sanity of; his ratiocination;
    foreign influence of
  Pope, Alexander
  Procession of Life, The
  Prophetic Pictures, The
  Pseudonymes of Hawthorne (foot-note)
  Puritan imagination
  Puritans, Hawthorne's view of
  Pyncheon, Clifford, how resembling Poe
  Pynchons, complaints of the, against Seven Gables

  Rappaccini's Daughter
  Raymond, Maine, removal to
  Ripley, George
  Roger Malvin's Burial
  Rossetti-Morris school
  Rousseau

  Salem, as a native soil; Hawthorne's
    sentiment for; aspects
    of; origin of name;
    trade
  Salem Custom-House
  Sand, George
  Sanity of highest genius

  Scarlet Letter; origin
    of; publication of;
    Leutze's coincidence;
    passage compared with Bunyan;
    theme of revenge in;
    analysis of the romance;
    as a work of art
  Scotland and New England
  Scott, Sir Walter; Hawthorne's
    estimate of
  Scudéri; Madeleine de
  Sebago Lake
  Sense of form in Hawthorne;
    in Poe
  Septimius Felton; symbolism
    of; origin of
  "Seven Tales of my Native Land."
  Shakespere
  Shelley's Latin verses; The
    Cenci, compared with Marble
    Faun
  Sights from a Steeple
  Sims, William, finder of supposed
    Early Notes, Appendix
  Sin, consciousness of, in Hawthorne;
    how conducive to originality
  Slavery, Hawthorne's sentiments
    concerning
  Snow Image
  Sparhawk House, Kittery
    "Spectator," The; extracts
    from
  Spenser
  St. John's, John Hathorne's attack
    on
  Story, Joseph
  Sumner, Charles, note of, to Hawthorne
  Sunday at Home
  Supernatural, Hawthorne's use of
  Surroundings of genius assist but
    do not produce it


  Taine's Notes on England
  Tales of the Province House
  Tanglewood Tales
  Term-Bill at College
  Thackeray
  Thomson, James
  Thoreau's Legend of the Wayside
  Tieck
  Toll-Gatherer's Day
  Tragedy of isolation
  True Stones
  Twice-Told Tales;
    temperament in style of; first
    collection of; second

  Union of the States, Hawthorne's
    feeling about
  Union Street
  Upham's "Salem Witchcraft."

  Verses by Hawthorne, at college
  Virgil
  Virtuoso's Collection
  Voltaire

  Wayside, The, purchase of
  Wedding Knell, The
  Weird, The, in Scotland and New
    England
  West Newton, removal to
  Whipple, Edwin, objection to remark
    of; Hawthorne's pleasure in
    reviews written by
  White, John, Rev.
  White Old Maid, The
  Widowhood, sentiment of, expressed
    by Hawthorne
  Winthiop, John
  Witchcraft
  Witch-ointment
  Witch-pins
  Wonder-Book
  Worcester, Dr. J. E.

  Young Goodman Brown.
  Youth of Hawthorne, habits in;
    valuable formative results
    of





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