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Title: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Author: Woodberry, George Edward
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Nathaniel Hawthorne" ***

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V-M Österman, Eric Eldred, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed





The narrative of Hawthorne's life has been partly told in the
autobiographical passages of his writings which he himself addressed to
his readers from time to time, and in the series of "Note Books," not
meant for publication but included in his posthumous works; the
remainder is chiefly contained in the family biography, "Nathaniel
Hawthorne and his Wife" by his son Julian Hawthorne, "Memories of
Hawthorne" by his daughter, Mrs. Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, and "A Study of
Hawthorne," by his son-in-law, George Parsons Lathrop. Collateral
material is also to be found abundantly in books of reminiscences by his
contemporaries. These are the printed sources of the present biography.

The author takes pleasure in expressing his thanks to his publishers for
the ample material they have placed at his disposal; and also to Messrs.
Harper and Brothers for their permission to make extracts from Horatio
Bridge's "Personal Recollections of Nathaniel Hawthorne," and to Samuel
T. Pickard, Esq., author of "Hawthorne's First Diary," and to Dr.
Moncure D. Conway, author of "Nathaniel Hawthorne" (Appleton's), for a
like courtesy.

COLUMBIA COLLEGE, April 1, 1902.












       *       *       *       *       *



The Hathorne family stock, to name it with the ancient spelling, was
English, and its old home is said to have been at Wigeastle, Wilton, in
Wiltshire. The emigrant planter, William Hathorne, twenty-three years
old, came over in the Arbella with Winthrop in 1630. He settled at
Dorchster, but in 1637 removed to Salem, where he received grants of
land; and there the line continued generation after generation with
varying fortune, at one time coming into public service and local
distinction, and at another lapsing again into the common lot, as was
the case of the long settled families generally. The planter, William
Hathorne, shared to the full in the vigor and enterprise of the first
generation in New England. He was a leader in war and peace, trade and
politics, with the versatility then required for leadership, being
legislator, magistrate, Indian fighter, explorer, and promoter, as well
as occasionally a preacher; and besides this practical force he had a
temper to sway and incite, which made him reputed the most eloquent man
in the public assembly. He possessed--and this may indicate another side
to his character--a copy of Sir Philip Sidney's "Arcadia," certainly a
rare book in the wilderness. He was best remembered, both in local
annals and family tradition, as a patriot and a persecutor, for he
refused to obey the king's summons to England, and he ordered Quaker
women to be whipped through the country-side.

The next generation, born in the colony, were generally of a narrower
type than their fathers, though in their turn they took up the work of
the new and making world with force and conscience; and the second
Hathorne, John, of fanatical memory, was as characteristically a
latter-day Puritan as his father had been a pioneer. He served in the
council and the field, but he left a name chiefly as a magistrate. His
duty as judge fell in the witchcraft years, and under that adversity of
fortune he showed those qualities of the Puritan temperament which are
most darkly recalled; he examined and sentenced to death several of the
accused persons, and bore himself so inhumanely in court that the
husband of one of the sufferers cursed him,--it must have been
dramatically done to have left so vivid a mark in men's minds,--him and
his children's children. This was the curse that lingered in the family
memory like a black blot in the blood, and was ever after used to
explain any ill luck that befell the house. The third heir of the name,
Joseph, was a plain farmer, in whose person the family probably ceased
from the ranks of the gentry, as the word was then used. The fourth,
Daniel, "bold Hathorne" of the Revolutionary ballad, was a
privateersman, robust, ruddy of face, blue-eyed, quick to wrath,--a
strong-featured type of the old Salem shipmaster. His son, Nathaniel,
the fifth descendant, was also bred to the sea, a young man of slight,
firm figure, and in face and build so closely resembling his famous
son--for he was the father of Hawthorne--that a passing sailor once
recognized the latter by the likeness. What else he transmitted to his
son, in addition to physique, by way of temperament and inbred capacity
and inclination, was to suffer more than a sea-change; but he is
recalled as a stern man on deck, of few words, showing doubtless the
early aging of those days under the influence of active responsibility,
danger, and the habit of command, and, like all these shipmasters--for
they were men of some education--he took books to sea with him. He died
at Surinam in 1808, when thirty-two years old. He had married Elizabeth
Clarke Manning, herself a descendant in the fifth generation of Richard
Manning, of St. Petrox Parish, Dartmouth, whose widow emigrated to New
England with her children in 1679. Other old colonial families that had
blended with the Hathornes and Mannings in these American years were the
Gardner, Bowditch, and Phelps stocks, on the one side, and the Giddings,
Potter, and Lord, on the other. Of such descent, Nathaniel Hawthorne,
the second child and only son of this marriage, was born at Salem, July
4, 1804, in his grandfather Daniel's house, on Union Street, near the

The pleasant, handsome, bright-haired boy was four years old when his
mother called him into her room and told him that his father was dead.
She soon removed with him and his sisters, of whom Elizabeth was four
years older and Louisa two years younger than himself, to her father's
house in the adjoining yard, which faced on Herbert Street; and there
the young mother, who was still but twenty-seven, following a custom
which made much of widows' mourning in those times, withdrew to a life
of seclusion in her own room, which, there or elsewhere, she maintained
till her death, through a period of forty years; and, as a perpetual
outward sign of her solitude, she took her meals apart, never eating at
the common table. There is a touch of mercy in life which allows
childhood to reconcile itself with all conditions; else one might regret
that the lad was to grow up from his earliest memory in the visible
presence of this grief separating him in some measure from his mother's
life; it was as if there were a ghost in the house; and though early
anecdotes of him are few and of little significance, yet in his childish
threat to go away to sea and never come back again, repeated through
years, one can but trace the deep print of that sorrow of the
un-returning ones which was the tragedy of women's lives all along this
coast. His mother cared for him none the less, though she was less his
companion, and there seems to have been no diminution of affection and
kindness between them, though an outward habit of coldness sprang up as
time went on. He had his sisters for playmates at first, and as he grew
up, he was much looked after by his uncles. His first master was Dr.
Worcester, the lexicographer, then just graduated from Yale, who set up
a school in Salem; and, the lad being lamed in ball-playing, the young
teacher came to the house to carry on the lessons. The accident happened
when Hawthorne was nine years old, and the injury, which reduced him to
crutches, continued to trouble him till he was twelve, at least, after
which, to judge by the fact that he attended dancing-school, he seems to
have entirely recovered from it. The habit of reading came to him
earlier, perhaps because of his confinement and disability for sports in
these three or four years; he was naturally thrown back upon himself. He
is seen lying upon the floor habitually, and when not playing with
cats--the only boyish fondness told of him--reading Shakspere, Milton,
Thomson, the books of the household, not uncommon in New England homes,
where good books were as plenty then as all books are now; and on
Sundays, at his grandmother Hathorne's, across the yard, he would crouch
hour after hour over Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," that refuge of
boyhood on the oldtime Sabbaths. It is recollected that, by the time he
was fourteen, he had read Clarendon, Froissart, and Rousseau, besides
"The Newgate Calendar," a week-day favorite; and he may be said to have
begun youth already well versed in good English books, and with the
habit and taste of literary pleasure established as a natural part of
life. "The Faërie Queene" was the first book he bought with his own
money. He was vigorous enough now; but the two outward circumstances
that most affected his boyhood, the monotone of his mother's sorrow and
his own protracted physical disability, must have given him touches of
gravity and delicacy beyond his years. It is noticeable that nothing is
heard of any boy friends; nor did he contract such friendships,
apparently, before college days.

In the fall of 1818, when Hawthorne was fourteen years old, the family
removed to Raymond, in Maine, where the Mannings possessed large tracts
of land. The site of this township was originally a grant to the
surviving members and the heirs of Captain Raymond's militia company of
Beverly, the next town to Salem, for service in the French and Indian
war; and Hawthorne's grandfather, Richard Manning, being the secretary
of the proprietors, who managed the property and held their meetings in
Beverly, had toward the close of the century bought out many of their
rights. After his death the estate thus acquired was kept undivided, and
was managed for his children by his sons Richard and Robert, and finally
at any rate, more particularly by the latter, who stood in the closest
relation to Hawthorne of all his uncles, having undertaken to provide
for his education. He had built a large, square, hip-roofed house at
Raymond, after the model common in his native county of Essex, as a
comfortable dwelling, but so seemingly grand amid the humble
surroundings of the Maine clearing as to earn the name of "Manning's
folly;" and, about 1814, he built a similar house for his sister, near
his own, but she had not occupied it until now, when she came to live
there, at first boarding with a tenant. It was pleasantly situated, with
a garden and apple orchard, and with rows of butternut-trees planted
beside it; and perhaps she had sought this retirement with the hope of
its being consonant with her own solitude. The country round about was
wilderness, most of it primeval woods. The little settlement, only a
mill and a country store and a few scattered houses, lay on a broad
headland making out into Sebago Lake, better known as the Great Pond, a
sheet of water eight miles across and fourteen miles long, and connected
with other lakes in a chain of navigable water; to the northwest the
distant horizon was filled with the White Mountains, and northward and
eastward rose the unfrequented hill and lake country, remarkable only,
then as now, for its pure air and waters, and presenting a vast
solitude. This was the Maine home of Hawthorne, of which he cherished
the memory as the brightest part of his boyhood. The spots that can be
named which may have excited his curiosity or interested his imagination
are few, and similar places would not be far off anywhere on the coast.
There was near his home a Pulpit Rock, such as tradition often
preserves, and by the Pond there was a cliff with the usual legend of a
romantic leap, and under it were the Indian rock-paintings called the
Images; but the essential charm of the place was that in all directions
the country lay open for adventure by boat or by trail. Hawthorne had
visited the scene before, in summer times, and he revisited it afterward
in vacations, but his long stay here was in his fifteenth year, the
greater part of which he passed in its neighborhood.

The contemporary record of these days is contained in a diary [Footnote:
Hawthorne's First Diary, with an account of its discovery and loss. By
Samuel T. Pickard. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1897. The volume has
been withdrawn by its editor in consequence of his later doubts of its
authenticity.] which has been regarded as Hawthorne's earliest writing.
The original has never been produced, and the copy was communicated for
publication under circumstances of mystery that easily allow doubts of
its authenticity to arise. The diary is said to have been given to him
by his uncle Richard "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,"--these words being written on the first leaf
with the date, "Raymond, June 1, 1816." Whether this inscription and the
entries which follow it are genuine must be left undetermined; there is
nothing strange in Hawthorne's keeping a boy's diary, and being urged to
do so, in view of his tastes and circumstances, and it would be
interesting to trace to so early a beginning that habit of the note-book
that was such a resource to him in mature years; but the evidence is
inconclusive. Whether by his hand or not, the diary embodies the life he
led in this region on his visits and during his longer stay; the names
and places, the incidents, the people, the quality of the days are the
same that the boy knew, wrote of in letters of the time, and remembered
as a man; and though the story may be the fabrication of his mulatto boy
comrade of those days, it is woven of shreds and patches of reality.
After all, the little book is but a lad's log of small doings,--swapping
knives, swimming and fishing, of birds and snakes and bears, incidents
of the road and excursions into the woods and on the lake, and notices
of the tragic accidents of the neighborhood. It has some importance as
illustrating the external circumstances of the place, a very rural place
indeed, and suggesting that among these country people Hawthorne found
the secret of that fellowship--all he ever had--with the rough and
unlearned, on a footing of democratic equality, with the ease and
naturalness of a man. Here at Raymond in his youth, where his personal
superiority was too much a matter of course to be noticed, he must have
learned this freemasonry with young and old at the same time that he
held apart from all in his own life. For the rest, he has told himself
in his undoubted words how he swam and hunted, shot hen-hawks and
partridges, caught trout, and tracked bear in the snow, and ran wild,
yet not wholly free of the call-whistle of his master-passion: "I ran
quite wild," he wrote a quarter-century later, "and would, I doubt not,
have willingly run wild till this time, fishing all day long, or
shooting with an old fowling-piece; but reading a good deal, too, on
rainy days, especially in Shakespeare and 'The Pilgrim's Progress,' and
any poetry or light books within my reach. These were delightful
days.... I would skate all alone on Sebago Lake, with the deep shadows
of the icy hills on either hand. When I found myself far from home, and
weary with the exhaustion of skating, I would sometimes take refuge in a
log cabin where half a tree would be burning on the broad hearth. I
would sit in the ample chimney, and look at the stars through the great
aperture through which the flames went roaring up. Ah, how well I recall
the summer days, also, when with my gun I roamed at will through the
woods of Maine!" In these memories, it is evident, many years, younger
and older, are diffused in one recollection. For him, here rather than
by his native sea were those open places of freedom that boyhood loves,
and with them he associated the beginnings of his spirit,--the dark as
well as the bright; near his end he told Fields, as his mind wandered
back to these days, "I lived in Maine like a bird of the air, so perfect
was the freedom I enjoyed. But it was there I first got my cursed habits
of solitude." The tone of these reminiscences is verified by his
letters, when he went back to Salem; in the first months he writes of
"very hard fits of homesickness;" a year later he breaks out,--"Oh, that
I had the wings of a dove, that I might fly hence and be at rest! How
often do I long for my gun, and wish that I could again savageize with
you! But I shall never again run wild in Raymond, and I shall never be
so happy as when I did;" and, after another year's interval, "I have
preferred and still prefer Raymond to Salem, through every change of
fortune." There can be no doubt where his heart placed the home of his
boyhood; nor is it, perhaps, fanciful to observe that in his books the
love of nature he displays is rather for the woods than the sea, though
he was never content to live long away from the salt air.

It was plainly the need of schooling that took him from his mother's
home at Raymond and brought him back to Salem by the summer of 1819,
when he was just fifteen years old. Even in the winter interval he seems
to have gone for a few weeks to the house of the Rev. Caleb Bradley,
Stroudwater, Westbrook, in the same county as Raymond, to be tutored. He
remained in Salem with his uncles for the next two years, and was
prepared for college, partly, at least, by Benjamin Oliver, a lawyer, at
the expense of his uncle Robert, and during a portion of this time he
earned some money by writing in the office of his uncle William; but he
was occupied chiefly with his studies, reading, and early compositions.
At the beginning of this period, in his first autumn letters, he
mentions having lately read "Waverley," "The Mysteries of Udolpho," "The
Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom," "Roderick Random," and a volume
of "The Arabian Nights;" and he has learned the easy rhyming of first
verses, and stuffs his letters with specimens of his skill, clever
stanzas, well written, modulated in the cadences of the time, with
melancholy seriousness and such play of sad fancy as youthful poets use.
He laid little store by his faculty for verse, and yet he had practiced
it from an early childish age and had a fair mastery of its simple
forms; and once or twice in mature life he indulged himself in writing
and even in publishing serious poems. In these years, however, verses
were only a part of the ferment of his literary talent, nor have any of
them individuality. He practiced prose, too, and in the next summer,
1820, issued four numbers of a boy's paper, "The Spectator," bearing
weekly date from August 21 to September 18, and apparently he had made
an earlier experiment, without date, in such adolescent journalism; it
was printed with a pen on small note-paper, and contained such serious
matter as belongs to themes at school on "Solitude" and "Industry," with
the usual addresses to subscribers and the liveliness natural to family
news-columns. The composition is smooth and the manner entertaining, and
there is abundance of good spirits and fun of a boyish sort. The paper
shows the literary spirit and taste in its very earliest bud; but no
precocity of talent distinguished it, though doubtless the thought of
authorship fed on its tender leaves. Such experiments belong to the life
of growing boys where education is common and literary facility is
thought to be a distinction and sign of promise in the young; and
Hawthorne did not in these ways differ from the normal boy who was
destined for college. Nothing more than these trifles is to be gleaned
of his intellectual life at that time, but two or three letters
pleasantly illustrate his brotherly feeling, his spirits, and his
uncertainties in regard to the future, at the same time that they
display his absorption in the author's craft; and they conclude the
narrative of these early days before college. The first was written in
October, 1820, just after the last issue of "The Spectator," to his
younger sister Louisa, and shows incidentally that these literary
pleasures were a family diversion:--

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. Leon," 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 bookkeeper 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. I must conclude, as I
am in a "monstrous hurry"!

Your affectionate brother,


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

  "She 'a 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.

A passage from a second letter, six months later, March 13, 1821, to his
mother, reveals the character of his relationship with her:--

I don't read so much now as I did, because I am more taken up in
studying. I am quite reconciled to going to college, since I am to spend
the vacations with you. Yet four years of the best part of my life is a
great deal to throw away. I have not yet concluded what profession I
shall have. The being a minister is of course out of the question. I
should not think that even you could desire me to choose so dull a way
of life. Oh, no, mother, I was not born to vegetate forever in one
place, and to live and die as calm and tranquil as--a puddle of water.
As to lawyers, there are so many of them already that one half of them
(upon a moderate calculation) are in a state of actual starvation. A
physician, then, seems to be "Hobson's choice;" but yet I should not
like to live by the diseases and infirmities of my fellow-creatures. And
it would weigh very heavily on my conscience, in the course of my
practice, if I should chance to send any unlucky patient "ad inferum,"
which being interpreted is, "to the realms below." Oh that I was rich
enough to live without a profession! What do you think of my becoming an
author, and relying for support upon my pen? Indeed, I think the
illegibility of my handwriting is very author-like. How proud you would
feel to see my works praised by the reviewers, as equal to the proudest
productions of the scribbling sons of John Bull! But authors are always
poor devils, and therefore Satan may take them. I am in the same
predicament as the honest gentleman in "Espriella's Letters:"--

  "I am an Englishman, and naked I stand here,
  A-musing in my mind what garment I shall wear."

But as the mail closes soon, I must stop the career of my pen. I will
only inform you that I now write no poetry, or anything else. I hope
that either Elizabeth or you will write to me next week. I remain

Your affectionate son,


Do not show this letter.

A third letter, June 19, 1821, also to his mother, on the eve of his
departure for college, is interesting for the solicitude it exhibits for
her happiness in the solitary life she had come to live.

"I hope, dear mother, that you will not be tempted by my entreaties to
return to Salem to live. You can never have so much comfort here as you
now enjoy. You are now undisputed mistress of your own house.... If you
remove to Salem, I shall have no mother to return to during the college
vacations, and the expense will be too great for me to come to Salem. If
you remain at Raymond, think how delightfully the time will pass, with
all your children round you, shut out from the world, and nothing to
disturb us. It will be a second Garden of Eden.

  'Lo, what an entertaining sight
  Are kindred who agree!'

"Elizabeth is as anxious for you to stay as myself. She says she is
contented to remain here for a short time, but greatly prefers Raymond
as a permanent place of residence. The reason for my saying so much on
this subject is that Mrs. Dike and Miss Manning are very earnest for you
to return to Salem, and I am afraid they will commission uncle Robert to
persuade you to it. But, mother, if you wish to live in peace, I conjure
you not to consent to it. Grandmother, I think, is rather in favor of
your staying."

A few weeks later, in the summer of 1821, being then seventeen years
old, Hawthorne left Salem for Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine, by
the mail stage from Boston eastward, and before reaching his destination
picked up by the way a Sophomore, Franklin Pierce, afterwards President
of the United States, and two classmates of his own, Jonathan Cilley,
who went to Congress and was the victim of the well-remembered political
duel with Graves, and Alfred Mason; he made friends with these new
companions, and Mason became his room-mate for two years. Bowdoin was a
small college, graduating at that time about thirty students at its
annual Commencement; its professors were kindly and cultivated men, and
its curriculum the simple academic course of those days. Hawthorne's
class, immortalized fifty years later by Longfellow's grave and tender
anniversary lines, "Morituri Salutamus," was destined to unusual
distinction in after life. Longfellow, its scholastic star, was a boy of
fourteen, favored by the regard of the professors, and belonging to the
more studious and steady set of fellows, who gathered in the Peucinian
Society. Hawthorne joined the rival organisation, the Athenaeum, a more
free and boisterous group of lower standing in their studies, described
as the more democratic in their feelings. He is remembered as "a slender
lad, having a massive head, with dark, brilliant, and most expressive
eyes, heavy eyebrows, and a profusion of dark hair." He carried his head
on one side, which gave a singularity to his figure, and he had
generally a countrified appearance; but he took his place among his
mates without much observation. He was reticent in speech and reserved
in manner, and he was averse to intimacy; he had, nevertheless, a full
share in collegiate life and showed no signs of withdrawal from the
common arena. He did not indulge in sports, saving some rough-and-tumble
play, nor did he ride horseback or drive, nor apparently did he care for
that side of youthful life at all, though he was willing to fight on
occasion, and joined the military company of which Pierce was captain.
His athleticism seems to have been confined to his form. He played cards
for small stakes, being a member of the Androscoggin Loo Club, and he
took his part in the convivial drinking of the set where he made one,
winning the repute of possessing a strong head. These indulgences were
almost too trifling to deserve mention, for the scale of life at Bowdoin
was of the most inexpensive order, and though there was light gambling
and occasional jollification, bad habits were practically impossible in
these directions. He was certainly not ashamed of his doings, for on
being detected in one of these scrapes, at the end of his Freshman year,
anticipating a letter of the President, he wrote to his mother, May 30,
1822, an account of the affair:--

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. 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.

       *       *       *       *       *

He takes up the subject again in a letter to one of his sisters, August
5, 1822:--

"To quiet your suspicions, I can assure you that I am neither 'dead,
absconded, or anything worse.' 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."

The last week of the term and the close of the Senior year appear to
have been the seasons of conviviality, and Hawthorne's life of this sort
ended with his being an officer of the Navy Club, an impromptu
association of those of his classmates, fourteen out of thirty-eight,
who for one reason or another were not to have a Commencement part on
graduation. The Club met at the college tavern, Miss Ward's, near the
campus, for weekly suppers and every night during Commencement week;
this entertainment was for these youths the happy climax of their
academic life together.

In his studies Hawthorne must have followed his own will very freely. He
refused to declaim, and no power could make him do so, and for this
reason he was denied the honor of a Commencement part, which he had won,
being number eighteen by rank in his class; he was nervously shy about
declaiming, owing, it is said, to his having been laughed at on his
first attempt as a school-boy at Salem; but he either delivered or read
a Latin theme at a Junior exhibition. He also paid scant attention to
mathematics and metaphysics, and had no pride as to failing in
recitation in those branches; but he distinguished himself as a Latin
scholar and in English. His most fruitful hours, as so often happens,
were those spent in the little library of the Athenaeum Society, a
collection, as he writes home, of eight hundred books, among which he
especially mentions Rees's Cyclopædia--such was the wealth of a boy of
genius in those days--but among the eight hundred books it is certain
that the bulk of English literature was contained. He practiced writing
somewhat, though he had given up poetry; and he played a prank by
sending to a Boston paper a fabricated account of one of those
destroying insects which visit that region from time to time, with notes
on ways of exterminating it,--all for the benefit of his uncle, who took
the paper; but no other trace of his composition remains except a memory
of his elder sister's that he wrote to her of "progress on my novel."
His way of life intellectually had not changed since his schoolboy days,
for it is noticeable that then he never mentioned his studies, but only
the books he read; so now he read the books for pleasure, and let his
studies subsist as best they could in the realm of duty. He was poor,
and even in the modest simplicity of this country college, where his
expenses could hardly have been three hundred dollars a year, was
evidently embarrassed with homely difficulties; the state of his clothes
seems to have been on his mind a good deal. But he was self-respecting,
patient, and grateful; he formed the good habit of hating debt; and he
went on his way little burdened except by doubtful hopes.

Though he was familiar with his classmates and contemporaries at
college, and firm and fast friends with a few, like Pierce and Cilley,
forming with them the ties that last through all things, he had but one
confidant, Horatio Bridge, afterwards of the United States Navy.
Hawthorne roomed at first with Alfred Mason, in Maine Hall, and being
burned out in their Freshman year, they found temporary quarters
elsewhere, but when the Hall was rebuilt returned to it and occupied
room number nineteen for the Sophomore year. The two chums, however, did
not become intimate, beyond pleasant companionship, and they belonged to
different societies; and the last two years Hawthorne roomed alone in a
private house, Mrs. Cunning's, where both he and Bridge also boarded. It
is from the latter, who remained through life one of Hawthorne's most
serviceable friends, that the account of his college days mainly comes.
He especially remembered, besides such matters of fact as have been
recounted, their walks and rambles together in the pine woods that
stretched about the college unbroken for miles, and by the river with
its rafts of spring logs, and over to the little bay sent up by a
far-reaching arm of the sea; and he recalled the confidences of
Hawthorne in speaking of his hopes of being a writer, in repeating to
him verses as they leaned in the moonlight over the railing of the
bridge below the falls, listening to the moving waters, and in allowing
him some inward glimpses of his solitary life in the brooding time of
youth. Bridge was a fellow of infinite cheer, and praised him, and
clapped him, and urged him on, and gave him the best companionship in
the world for that time of life, if not for all times,--the
companionship of being believed in by a friend. Hawthorne did not forget
it, and in due time paid the tribute of grateful remembrance in the
preface to the volume he dedicated to Bridge, where he recalled his
college days and his friend's part in them.

"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 or
gray squirrels in the woods, or bat-fowling in the summer twilight, or
catching trout 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 would have been the worse for us--still, it was your
prognostic of your friend's destiny that he was to be a writer of

The picture is a vignette of the time, and being in the open, too,
pleasantly ends the tale of college. On separating, it is pleasant to
notice, the friends exchanged keepsakes.

The four years had lapsed quietly and quickly by, and Hawthorne, who now
adopted the fanciful spelling of the name after his personal whim, was
man grown. There had been trying circumstances in these early days, but
he had met them hardily and lightly, as a matter of course; he had
practically educated himself by the help of books, and had also
discharged his duties as they seemed to the eyes of others; he could go
home feeling that he had satisfied his friends. He seems to have feared
that he might have satisfied them too well; and, some commendation
having preceded him, he endeavored to put them right by a letter to his
sister, July 14, 1825:--

"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."

This has the ring of sincerity, like all his home letters, and it is
true that so far there had been nothing precocious, brilliant, or
extraordinary in him to testify of genius,--he was only one of hundreds
of New England boys bred on literature under the shelter of academic
culture; and yet there may have been in his heart something left
unspoken, another mood equally sincere in its turn, for the heart is a
fickle prophet. As Mr. Lathrop suggests in that study of his
father-in-law which is so subtly appreciative of those vital suggestions
apt to escape record and analysis, another part of the truth may lie in
the words of "Fanshawe" where Hawthorne expresses the feelings of his
hero in a like situation with himself at the end of college days:--

"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."



In the summer of 1825 Hawthorne returned to Salem, going back to the old
house on Herbert Street,--the home of his childhood, where his mother,
disregarding his boyish dissuasions, had again taken up her abode three
years before. He occupied a room on the second floor in the southwest
sunshine under the eaves, looking out on the business of the
wharf-streets; and in it he spent the next twelve years, a period which
remained in his memory as an unbroken tract of time preserving a
peculiar character. The way of his life knew little variation from the
beginning to the end. He lived in an intellectual solitude deepened by
the fact that it was only an inner cell of an outward seclusion almost
as complete, for the house had the habits of a hermitage. His mother,
after nearly a score of years of widowhood, still maintained her
separation even from her home world; she is said to have seen none of
her husband's relatives and few of her own, and a visitor must have been
a venturesome person. The custom of living apart spread through the
household. The elder sister, Elizabeth, who was of a strong and active
mind capable of understanding and sympathizing with her brother, and the
younger sister, Louisa, who was more like other people, stayed in their
rooms. The meals of the family, even, which usually go on when
everything else fails in the common life of house-mates, had an
uncertain and variable element in their conduct, as was not unnatural
where the mother never came to the table. The recluse habits of all
doubtless increased with indulgence, and after a while Hawthorne
himself, who was plainly the centre of interest there, fell into the
common ways of isolation. "He had little communication," writes Mr.
Lathrop, "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!'" He seldom went out by day,
unless for long excursions in the country; an early sea bath on summer
mornings and a dark walk after supper, longer in the warm weather,
shorter in the winter season, were habitual, and a bowl of thick
chocolate with bread crumbed into it, or a plate of fruit, on his return
prepared him for the night's work. Study in the morning, composition in
the afternoon, and reading in the evening, are described as his routine,
but it is unlikely that any such regularity ruled where times and
seasons were so much at his own command. He had no visitors and made no
friends; hardly twenty persons in the town, he thought, were aware of
his existence; but he brought home hundreds of volumes from the Salem
Athenaeum, and knew the paths of the woods and pastures and the way
along the beaches and rocky points, and he had the stuff of his fantasy
with which to occupy himself when nature and books failed to satisfy
him. At first there must have been great pleasure in being at home, for
he had not really lived a home life since he was fifteen years old, and
he was fond of home; and, too, in the young ambition to become a writer
and his efforts to achieve success, if not fame, in fiction, and in the
first motions of his creative genius, there was enough to fill his mind,
to provide him with active interest and occupation, and to abate the
sense of loneliness in his daily circumstances: but as youth passed and
manhood came, and yet fortune lagged with her gifts, this existence
became insufficient for him,--it grew burdensome as it showed barren,
and depression set in upon him like a chill and obscure fog over the
marshes where he walked. This, however, year dragging after year, was a
slow process; and the kind of life he led, its gray and deadening
monotone, sympathetic though it was with his temperament, was seen by
him better in retrospect than in its own time.

It is singular that Hawthorne should have undertaken to live by his pen,
or been allowed to do so by his friends, as a practical way of life, but
he was indulged at home, the young lord of the family. "We were in those
days," says Elizabeth, "almost absolutely obedient to him." Occasionally
he thought of going into his uncle's counting-room and so obtaining a
business and place in the world, but he never took this step. He
probably drifted, more or less, into authorship, partly through a
dilatory reluctance to do anything else, and partly led on by the hope
of a success with some one of his tales which would justify him.

The first attempts he made in the craft are involved in some obscurity.
He may have merely carried over from college days what he then had in
hand. At all events his sister Elizabeth, from whom the information
comes in respect to these details, remembered a little collection which
he had prepared for publication with the title "Seven Tales of my Native
Land," and she says that she read it in the summer of 1825; in that case
these stories must have been written at college, but her memory may have
erred. She gives the names of two of them as "Alice Doane" and "Susan
Grey," and adds that he told her, while the volume was still in the
stage of being offered to publishers, that he would first "write a story
which would make a smaller book, and get it published immediately if
possible, before the arrangements for bringing out the 'Tales' were
completed." This was presumably "Fanshawe," which may also have been the
novel she recollected his writing to her about while at college.

"Fanshawe" [Footnote: _Fanshawe_. A Tale. Boston: Marsh & Capen,
362 Washington St. Press of Putnam and Hunt, 1828. 12mo. Pp. 141.] was
published in 1828 by Marsh and Capen, at Boston, without the author's
name but at his expense, one hundred dollars being the sum paid; it
failed, and Hawthorne looked on it with so much subsequent displeasure
that he called in all the copies he could find and destroyed them, and
thus nearly succeeded in sinking the book in oblivion, but the few
copies which survived secured its republication after his death. The
novel is brief, with a melodramatic plot, well-marked scenes, and
strongly contrasted character; the style flows on pleasantly; but the
book is without distinction. Like many a just graduated collegian,
Hawthorne had recourse to his academic experience in lieu of anything
else, and in the setting of the story and some of its delineation of
character Longfellow recognized the strong suggestion of Bowdoin days;
in the same way the hero, Fanshawe, borrowed something from Hawthorne's
own temperament. The figure of the villain, too, adumbrates, though
faintly, the type which engaged Hawthorne's mind in later years.
"Fanshawe" as a whole in all its scenes, whether in the house of the old
President, the tavern, the hut, or the outdoor encounters of the lovers
and rivals, is strongly reminiscent of Scott, the management being
entirely in his manner; its low-life tragedy, its romantic scenery, and
its bookish humor, as well as the characterization in general, are also
from Scott; in fact, notwithstanding what Hawthorne had taken from his
own observation and feelings, this provincial sketch, for it is no more,
is a Scott story, done with a young man's clever mastery of the manner,
but weak internally in plot, character, and dramatic reality. It is as
destitute of any brilliant markings of his genius as his undergraduate
life itself had been, and is important only as showing the serious care
with which he undertook the task of authorship. It is the only relic,
except the shadowy "Seven Tales," of his literary work in the first
three years after leaving college. The "Tales" he is said to have
burned; no better publisher appearing, a young Salem printer, Ferdinand
Andrews, undertook to bring them out, but as he delayed the matter
through lack of capital, Hawthorne, growing impatient and exasperated,
recalled the manuscript and destroyed it.

The example of Scott was, perhaps, the potent influence in fixing
Hawthorne's attention on a definite object, and incited him to seek in
the history of his own country, and especially in the colonial tradition
of New England, which was so near at hand, the field of fiction. He
stored his mind, certainly, with the story of his own people during the
two centuries since the settlement, and prepared himself to describe its
stirring events and striking characters under the veil of imaginative
history. The nature of his reading shows that this was a conscious aim;
and, besides, it was an opinion, loudly proclaimed and widely shared in
that decade, that American writers should look to their own country for
their themes; Cooper was doing so in fiction, and Longfellow felt this
predilection in his choice of subject for verse. Salem was a true centre
of the old times; and a young imagination in that town and neighborhood,
already disposed to writing prose romance, would feel the charm of
historical association and naturally catch impulse from the past,
especially if, as in the case of Hawthorne, the history of his ancestors
was inwoven with its good and evil. It is not surprising therefore that,
as Hawthorne had begun, though unsuccessfully, with tales of his native
land, he should continue to work the vein; and, to adopt what seems to
be a reasonable inference, he now gathered from his materials a new
series which he knew as "Provincial Tales," in which it remains doubtful
how much of the old survived, for the burnt manuscripts of youth have
something of the phoenix in their ashes.

The first trace of these is "The Young Provincial," an anonymous piece,
[Footnote: It is unquestionable that Hawthorne contributed to annuals
and periodicals anonymous tales and sketches that he never claimed, as
he states in the preface to _Twice-Told Tales_ and in a letter to
Fields in which he beseeches him not to revive them. The identification
of such work, however, is beset with much temptation to find a tale
genuine, if it can be plausibly so represented, and in few cases can the
proof be conclusive. Mr. F. B. Sanborn presents the fullest list, all
from _The Token_, which he accepts as genuine, as follows: _The
Adventures of a Raindrop_, 1828, _The Young Provincial_, 1830,
_The Haunted Quack_ and _The New England Village_, 1831, _My
Wife's Novel_, 1832, _The Bald Eagle_, 1833, _The Modern
Job_, or _The Philosopher's Stone_, 1834. The correspondence
with Goodrich does not indicate that Hawthorne contributed to _The
Token_ before the issue for 1831. _The Young Provincial_ seems
to be the same sort of a tale as _The Downer's Banner_, as has been
intimated above: yet it would, perhaps, be more readily accepted,
together with _The Haunted Quack_ and _The Modern Job_. The
latest edition of Hawthorne includes all of these tales, given above,
except the first and last, but its editor does not vouch for their
authenticity.] ascribed to him on internal evidence and contributed to
"The Token," an annual published at Boston, for its issue of 1830. The
story relates the adventures of a youthful Revolutionary soldier who had
handed down to his descendants a "grandfather's gun;" it tells of Bunker
Hill, of imprisonment at Halifax and of escape, and it may be from
Hawthorne's pen. It must have been written early in 1829, if not before,
and it is noticed in the review of "The Token" in Willis's Boston
periodical, "The American Monthly Magazine" for September, 1829, where
it is described as a "pleasing story, told quite inartificially," and is
illustrated by a brief extract. It may not be irrelevant to observe that
a similar "provincial tale" appeared in this number of the magazine,
"The Downer's Banner," and if it was not by the same youthful author, it
shows that the same kind of subject had singularly interested two
writers in that neighborhood. It is, however, only in "The Token" that
Hawthorne can be further traced.

The editor of this annual, which was intended as a literary gift-book
for Christmas, was S. G. Goodrich, famous as "Peter Parley" in after
days, and to him belongs the honor of being Hawthorne's first literary
friend, and he always remained a faithful one. He was a promoter of
publishers' enterprises, in that part of the field of literature which
is distinctly pervaded with business; and in it he was successful, as
the millions of the Peter Parley books abundantly attest. At this time
he was sincerely interested, it must be believed, in furthering the
interests of American writers and artists, according to his lights and
means, and Griswold, who was a good judge, said of him, "It is
questionable whether any other person has done as much to improve the
style of the book manufacture or to promote the arts of engraving." With
such ambitions he had begun, in 1828, the issue of the annual, which is
now best remembered, and which in its own day longest survived the
changes of public taste. The nature of these volumes, of which there
were many in different publishing centres, is well described by a writer
in Willis's "Magazine" for 1829: "A few years ago, an elegant taste,
joined, perhaps, to a love of 'filthy lucre,' induced some English
publishers to give to the world the first specimens of those souvenirs
and 'Forget Me Nots' which are now so common through our country. How
beautiful they were at their first appearance, the eagerness with which
they were read will testify. How rapid was their increase, may be seen
by referring to the counters of every book-store. America, ready and
willing as she ever is to acknowledge the excellence, and imitate the
example of the parent country in every good thing, has imitated and
improved upon the plan. We can now boast of a species of literature,
which is conducted almost wholly by young men, and which has merited the
affection, because it has developed the power of our native genius.
Those who have made their first essays in literature, through the medium
of the pages of a Souvenir, will gain confidence in proportion as they
have tested their own strength. The American annuals do not profess to
be the works of the most finished or most accomplished writers of this
country. They should not be taken as specimens of what our literature
is, but as indications of what it may one day be. They are not the
matured fruits, but the bright promise and blossoming of genius; and
thus far they have been an honor to the taste and talent of American
writers, and monuments of the swift progress of our artists towards
excellence in their profession."

Such was the contemporary view of the annuals, and it is justified,
perhaps, by the fact that Longfellow, for example, was then contributing
to the "Atlantic Souvenir" of Philadelphia, the first of the brood, and
that Hawthorne found in "The Token" the principal opportunity to obtain
a hearing for himself in his first productive years.

Mr. Goodrich, in his "Recollections," states that he sought out
Hawthorne. "I had seen," he says, "some anonymous publications which
seemed to me to indicate extraordinary powers. I inquired of the
publishers as to the writer, and through them a correspondence ensued
between me and 'N. Hawthorne.' This name I considered a disguise, and it
was not till after many letters had passed, that I met the author, and
found it to be a true title, representing a very substantial personage."
This correspondence began, as nearly as can be judged, in 1829, and in
the course of it Hawthorne had already sent to Goodrich "The Young
Provincial," if that is to be accepted as by him, and also "Roger
Malvin's Burial," and, apparently later than this last, at least three
other tales, "The Gentle Boy," "My Uncle Molineaux," and "Alice Doane."
He had presented these as specimens of the "Provincial Tales," for which
he desired a publisher. Goodrich acknowledges these, January 19, 1830,
from Hartford, Connecticut, where he lived, and promises in the note to
endeavor to find a publisher for the book when he returns to Boston in
April. He adds, "Had 'Fanshawe' been in the hands of more extensive
dealers, I do believe it would have paid you a profit;" from which it
may be inferred that "Fanshawe" was the anonymous work which had
attracted Goodrich's attention. He praises the tales, and offers
thirty-five dollars for "The Gentle Boy" to be used in "The Token." The
first letter from Hawthorne, in respect to the matter, which has come to
light, is on May 6, 1830, and is given in Derby's "Fifty Years."

"I send you the two pieces for 'The Token.' They were ready some days
ago, but I kept them in expectation of hearing from you. I have complied
with your wishes in regard to brevity. You can insert them (if you think
them worthy a place in your publication) as by the author of 'Provincial
Tales,'--such being the title I propose giving my volume. I can conceive
no objection to your designating them in this manner, even if my tales
should not be published as soon as 'The Token,' or, indeed, if they
never see the light at all. An unpublished book is not more obscure than
many that creep into the world, and your readers will suppose that the
'Provincial Tales' are among the latter." The "two pieces" to which he
refers were clearly not members of the series he proposed to publish in
the book, and perhaps they should be identified as "Sights from a
Steeple," certainly, and for the other either "The New England Village"
or "The Haunted Quack," both which, besides the first, were published in
"The Token" for 1831, and have been ascribed to Hawthorne on internal
evidence of the same sort as that on which "The Young Provincial" has
been accepted.

Goodrich did not find a publisher for the "Provincial Tales," and
Hawthorne allowed him to use such as he desired for "The Token" for
1832. The publication of this annual, it should be observed, was
prepared for early in the preceding year, and the tales which it
contained must be regarded as at least a year old when issued. Thus, in
respect to the issue for 1832, just mentioned, Goodrich writes May 31,
1831: "I have made a very liberal use of the privilege you gave me as to
the insertion of your pieces in 'The Token.' I have already inserted
four of them; namely, 'The Wives of the Dead,' 'Roger Malvin's Burial,'
'Major Molineaux,' and 'The Gentle Boy;'" and he adds that they are as
good if not better than anything else he gets; and in a later note,
written on the publication of the volume, in October, he says, "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." In this issue,
besides the four mentioned, the story "My Wife's Novel" has also been
attributed to Hawthorne.

The project of the "Provincial Tales" had by this time been abandoned,
temporarily at least, and the author's mind turned to other kinds of
writing. He had already opened new veins in attempting to sketch
contemporary scenes, either after the fashion of the pleasant meditative
essay, such as "Sights from a Steeple," or else in the way of humorous
description. The scenes he looked down on, in fancy, in this first
paper, were the roof-tops and streets and horizon of Salem; but he had
wandered in other parts of his native land also, though not widely, and
he used these journeys in his compositions. It is noticeable that
Hawthorne always used all his material, consumed it, and made stories,
essays, and novels of it, except the slag. It was his characteristic
from youth. There is the same dubiousness about these journeys, his
earliest ventures in the world, as about his first attempts in the field
of authorship. He himself says, in the autobiographical notes he
furnished to Stoddard, that he left Salem "once a year or thereabouts,"
for a few weeks; and in his sketches there are traces of these
excursions, as at Martha's Vineyard, for example; but their times and
localities are verifiable only to a slight degree. It is stated that the
fact that his uncles, the Mannings, were interested in stage-lines gave
him some privileges as a traveller, or perhaps this only gave occasion
for a journey now and then, in which he joined his uncles on some
convenient business; thus, it was in company with his uncle Samuel, that
he was in New Hampshire in 1831, and visited the Shaker community at
Canterbury. Another known journey was in 1830, and took him through
Connecticut; and it is said, probably on conjecture, that it was at this
time that he went on, by the canal, to Niagara, and visited Ticonderoga
on his return. If his writings, in which he described these places, are
to be taken literally, he even embarked for Detroit; but information in
respect to the whole Niagara excursion is of the scantiest. All that is
known is that in some way, during his long stay at Salem in these years,
he made himself acquainted with portions of Connecticut, Vermont, New
York, and New Hampshire, to add to his knowledge of Massachusetts and
Maine; within this rather limited circle his wanderings were confined;
and the period when he went about with most freedom and vivacity of
impression was the summer of 1830 and, perhaps, the next year or two.

These experiences gave him the suggestion and in part the scene of his
next compositions, "The Canterbury Pilgrims" and "The Seven Vagabonds,"
the one a New Hampshire, the other a Connecticut tale, and in
Connecticut, too, is laid "The Bald Eagle," a humorous sketch of a
reception of Lafayette which failed to come off, attributed to Hawthorne
on the same grounds as the other doubtful pieces of these years; these
three appeared in "The Token" for 1833, "The Seven Vagabonds" as by the
author of "The Gentle Boy," the others anonymously, and, in addition,
that issue also contained the historical sketch, "Sir William
Pepperell," described as by the author of "Sights from a Steeple." If
"The Haunted Quack," which had already appeared in 1831, be regarded as
Hawthorne's, the journey by the canal which it records must have taken
place as early as 1829, in order for the manuscript to have been ready
in time for publication. The particular times and stories, however, are
of less importance; nor are these provincial travels noteworthy except
for the fact that Hawthorne found in them, whenever or wherever they
occurred, suggestions for his pen.

The idea which was the germ of his next conception for a book arose out
of this country rambling before the days of railroads. At the end of
"The Seven Vagabonds," he represented himself as taking up the character
of an itinerant story-teller on the impulse of the moment. To this he
now returned, and proposed to write a series of tales on the thread of
the adventures of this vagrant, and call it "The Story-Teller." The
work, such as he here conceived it, exists only as a fragment, "Passages
from a Relinquished Work," though he doubtless used elsewhere the
stories he intended to incorporate into it. In the young man as he is
sketched in the opening passage there is, notwithstanding the
affectation of levity, a touch of Hawthorne's own position:--

"I was a youth of gay and happy temperament, with an incorrigible levity
of spirit, of no vicious propensities, sensible enough, but wayward and
fanciful. What a character was this, to be brought in contact with the
stern old Pilgrim spirit of my guardian! We were at variance on a
thousand points; but our chief and final dispute arose from the
pertinacity with which he insisted on my adopting a particular
profession; while I, being heir to a moderate competence, had avowed my
purpose of keeping aloof from the regular business of life. This would
have been a dangerous resolution, anywhere in the world; it was fatal,
in New England. There is a grossness in the conceptions of my
countrymen; they will not be convinced that any good thing may consist
with what they call idleness; they can anticipate nothing but evil of a
young man who neither studies physic, law, nor gospel, nor opens a
store, nor takes to farming, but manifests an incomprehensible
disposition to be satisfied with what his father left him. The principle
is excellent, in its general influence, but most miserable in its effect
on the few that violate it. I had a quick sensitiveness to public
opinion, and felt as if it ranked me with the tavern-haunters and
town-paupers,--with the drunken poet, who hawked his own Fourth of July
odes, and the broken soldier who had been good for nothing since the
last war. The consequence of all this was a piece of light-hearted

The youth then takes up the character of the writer of "The Seven
Vagabonds," saying, "The idea of becoming a wandering story-teller had
been suggested, a year or two before, by an encounter with several merry
vagabonds in a showman's wagon, where they and I had sheltered
ourselves, during a summer shower;" and he announces that he determined
to follow that life, the account of which he proceeds to give with this
preliminary word of explanation:--

"The following pages will contain a picture of my vagrant life,
intermixed with specimens, generally brief and slight, of that great
mass of fiction to which I gave existence, and which has vanished like
cloud-shapes. Besides the occasions when I sought a pecuniary reward, I
was accustomed to exercise my narrative faculty, wherever chance had
collected a little audience, idle enough to listen. These rehearsals
were useful in testing the strong points of my stories; and, indeed, the
flow of fancy soon came upon me so abundantly, that its indulgence was
its own reward; though the hope of praise, also, became a powerful
incitement. Since I shall never feel the warm gush of new thought, as I
did then, let me beseech the reader to believe, that my tales were not
always so cold as he may find them now. With each specimen will be given
a sketch of the circumstances in which the story was told. Thus my
air-drawn pictures will be set in frames, perhaps more valuable than the
pictures themselves, since they will be embossed with groups of
characteristic figures, amid the lake and mountain scenery, the villages
and fertile fields, of our native land. But I write the book for the
sake of its moral, which many a dreaming youth may profit by, though it
is the experience of a wandering story-teller."

He makes the acquaintance of another itinerant, a preacher, Eliakim
Abbott, drawn after the fashion of that crude grotesque which is found
in Hawthorne's early work, and is not without a reminiscence of Scott in
the literary handling; and the two become fellows of the road, the one
with a sermon, the other with a story, and their fortune with their
audiences is related. The only adventure of note, however, is the
appearance of the Story-Teller as an attraction of a traveling
theatrical company, by special engagement, announced by posters, which
also bear on a pasted slip of paper a notice of Eliakim Abbott's
religious meeting. On this occasion he recited with great applause the
tale of "Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe." With this the fragment ends.

It is plain that Hawthorne intended by this scheme to unite with his
stories sketches of country life and scenes as he had noticed their
features in his wayside travels, and use the latter as the background
for his imaginative and fanciful work. These were the two sides of his
literary faculty, so far as he had tried his hand, and he would have the
benefit of both in one work, which would thereby gain variety and unity.
The success of the experiment cannot be thought striking, and it is
doubtful how far he carried the actual composition of the intervening
scenes. He confided the plan to Goodrich, who did not encourage it, so
far as can be judged, but took the opening chapters to the editors of
"The New England Magazine" on Hawthorne's behalf. This periodical, which
had three years before absorbed Willis's "Magazine," had been conducted
on somewhat grave and serious lines, as a kind of Boston cousin, as it
were, of the "North American," and was now in a state of change. Mr.
Buckingham relinquished the editorship, and the magazine went into the
hands of Dr. Samuel G. Howe and John O. Sargent. It was at this
favorable moment that Goodrich appeared with Hawthorne's manuscript; the
piece was accepted; and it was published, half in the first and half in
the second number issued by the new editors, in November and December,
1834. The connection proved a fortunate one for Hawthorne, and "The New
England Magazine" [Footnote: In the Riverside edition of Hawthorne's
works a paper, _Hints to Young Ambition_, which appeared in _The
New England Magazine,_ 1832, signed "H.," is included. The piece is
one of several, with the same signature, and there can he little
hesitation in rejecting it, as Goodrich would hardly have needed to
introduce Hawthorne to a magazine to which he already contributed. The
other pieces are not in his vein, and "H." is a common signature in the
periodicals of the time. At all events, Hawthorne would have gone
further afield for a pseudonym than the initial of his own name, which
he is not known ever to have used.] now became equally with "The Token"
a constant medium for the publication of his writings of all sorts. Park
Benjamin, who was soon associated with Howe and Sargent in the
editorship, took sole charge in March, 1835, and was from the first, and
always remained, a firm admirer of the new author's genius. To him, next
to Goodrich, Hawthorne owed his introduction to such readers as he then

If Hawthorne made any effort to break a way for himself in reaching the
public, it has not been traced, except that one letter exists, January
27, 1832, in which he offers his pen to the "Atlantic Souvenir" of
Philadelphia; but that annual was bought out by Goodrich the same year
and merged with "The Token," so that Hawthorne's venture only brought
him back to the old stand. In 1833 his connection with Goodrich appears
to have been temporarily broken, as "The Token" for 1834, which appeared
that fall, contains nothing by him. For 1835 he contributed to it "The
Haunted Mind" and "The Mermaid, A Revery," now known as "The Village
Uncle," anonymously, and "Alice Doane's Appeal" as by the author of "The
Gentle Boy." In "Youth's Keepsake" for the same year appeared "Little
Annie's Ramble." These stories were published in the fall of 1834,
before the venture of "The Story-Teller." Early in 1835 he furnished for
the next year's "Token," 1836, "The Wedding Knell" and "The Minister's
Black Veil" as by the author of "Sights from a Steeple," and "The
May-pole of Merry Mount" as by the author of "The Gentle Boy." What
there was left in his hands must have gone almost as a block to "The New
England Magazine," and perhaps his stock of unused papers was thus
exhausted. To complete the record, he published in this magazine "The
Gray Champion" as by the author of "The Gentle Boy," in January; "Old
News" anonymously, in February, March, and May; "My Visit to Niagara,"
in February; "Young Goodman Brown," in April; "Wakefield," in May; "The
Ambitious Guest," in June, and in the same month, anonymously in both
instances, "Graves and Goblins" and "A Bill from the Town Pump;" "The
Old Maid in the Winding Sheet," now known as "The White Old Maid," in
July; "The Vision of the Fountain," in August; "The Devil in Manuscript"
as by "Ashley A. Royce," in November; "Sketches from Memory" as by "A
Pedestrian," in November and December. All these pieces, except as
stated above, are given as by the author of "The Gray Champion." It may
fairly be thought that he had emptied his desk of its accumulations,
though a few tales may have been reserved for Goodrich.

Hawthorne had now been before the public with increasing frequency for
five years, but he had made little impression, and his success as an
author must have remained as doubtful to him as at the start. Goodrich,
in the passage already quoted from his "Recollections," went on to
describe him during this early time of their acquaintance, and shows how
slight was his progress in winning attention:--

"At this period he was unsettled as to his views; he had tried his hand
in literature, and considered himself to have met with a fatal rebuff
from the reading world. His mind vacillated between various projects,
verging, I think, toward a mercantile profession. I combated his
despondence, and assured him of triumph if he would persevere in a
literary career. He wrote numerous articles which appeared in 'The
Token;' occasionally an astute critic seemed to see through them, and to
discover the soul that was in them; but in general they passed without
notice. Such articles as 'Sights from a Steeple,' 'Sketches beneath an
Umbrella,' 'The Wives of the Dead,' 'The Prophetic Pictures,' now
universally acknowledged to be productions of extraordinary depth,
meaning, and power, extorted hardly a word of either praise or blame,
while columns were given to pieces since totally forgotten. I felt
annoyed, almost angry, indeed, at this. I wrote several articles in the
papers, directing attention to these productions, and finding no echo to
my views, I recollect to have asked John Pickering to read some of them,
and give me his opinion of them. He did as I requested; his answer was
that they displayed a wonderful beauty of style, with a kind of double
vision, a sort of second sight, which revealed, beyond the outward forms
of life and being, a sort of Spirit World."

Park Benjamin, in a notice of "The Token" for 1836 published in "The New
England Magazine," October, 1835, gave a single line to the author,
speaking of him as "the most pleasing writer of fanciful prose, except
Irving, in the country;" and in November of the same year, in a review
of the same work, Chorley, the critic of the London "Athenaeum,"
commended his tales and gave extracts from them. This was the first
substantial praise of a nature to encourage the author.

In Hawthorne's own eyes the stories and sketches had become a source of
depression, and the difficulties he had met with in getting out a book
had especially irritated him. It might be thought, perhaps, that he had
destroyed a good deal of his work, to judge by his own words, but this
seems unlikely, although he may have rewritten some of the earlier
pieces. The tale of "The Devil in Manuscript" is taken to be the
autobiographical parable, at least, commemorating the burning of the
"Seven Tales of my Native Land;" but it was written some years later,
and reflects his general experience as a discouraged storyteller, and it
contains touches of bitterness more marked than occur elsewhere. Its
personal character is emphasized by the hero's name, "Oberon," a
familiar signature Hawthorne used in his letters to his old college
friend, Bridge. The following passages are distinctly autobiographical,
and afford the most vivid view of the young author's inner life:--

"You cannot conceive what an effect the composition of these tales has
had on 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,--a
solitude in the midst of men,--where nobody wishes for what I do, nor
thinks nor feels as I do. The tales have done all this. When they are
ashes, perhaps I shall be as I was before they had existence. Moreover,
the sacrifice is less than you may suppose, since nobody will publish

"But the devil of the business is this. These people have put me so out
of conceit with the tales, that I loathe the very thought of them, and
actually experience a physical sickness of the stomach, whenever I
glance at them on the table. I tell you there is a demon in them! I
anticipate a wild enjoyment in seeing them in the blaze; such as I
should feel in taking vengeance on an enemy, or destroying something

"But how many recollections throng upon me, as I turn over these leaves!
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 wrapt 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!...

"Sometimes my ideas were like precious stones under the earth, requiring
toil to dig them up, and care to polish and brighten them; but often a
delicious stream of thought would gush out upon the page at once, like
water sparkling up suddenly in the desert; and when it had passed, I
gnawed my pen hopelessly, or blundered on with cold and miserable toil,
as if there were a wall of ice between me and my subject."

"Do you now perceive a corresponding difference," inquired I, "between
the passages which you wrote so coldly, and those fervid flashes of the

"No," said Oberon, tossing the manuscripts on the table. "I find no
traces of the golden pen with which I wrote in characters of fire. My
treasure of fairy coin is changed to worthless dross. My picture,
painted in what seemed the loveliest hues, presents nothing but a faded
and indistinguishable surface. I have been eloquent and poetical and
humorous in a dream,--and behold! it is all nonsense, now that I am

"I will burn them! Not a scorched syllable shall escape! Would you have
me a damned author--To undergo sneers, taunts, abuse, and cold neglect,
and faint praise, bestowed, for pity's sake, against the giver's
conscience! A hissing and a laughing-stock to my own traitorous
thoughts! An outlaw from the protection of the grave,--one whose ashes
every careless foot might spurn, unhonored in life, and remembered
scornfully in death! Am I to bear all this, when yonder fire will insure
me from the whole? No! There go the tales! May my hand wither when it
would write another!"

These extracts set forth the mixed emotions of young authorship in a
life-like manner. They have the stamp of personal experience. A
supplement to them is found in one of his more obscure pieces, "The
Journal of a Solitary Man," in which Hawthorne bids farewell to that
eidolon of himself which he had embodied as "Oberon." He describes the
character as an imaginary friend, from whose journals he gives extracts;
but the veil thrown over his own personality is transparent.

"Merely skimming the surface of life, I know nothing, by my own
experience, of its deep and warm realities. I have achieved none of
those objects which the instinct of mankind especially prompts them to
pursue, and the accomplishment of which must therefore beget a native
satisfaction. The truly wise, after all their speculations, will be led
into the common path, and, in homage to the human nature that pervades
them, will gather gold, and till the earth, and set out trees, and build
a house. But I have scorned such wisdom. I have rejected, also, the
settled, sober, careful gladness of a man by his own fireside, with
those around him whose welfare is committed to his trust, and all their
guidance to his fond authority. Without influence among serious affairs,
my footsteps were not imprinted on the earth, but lost in air; and I
shall leave no son to inherit my share of life, with a better sense of
its privileges and duties, when his father should vanish like a bubble;
so that few mortals, even the humblest and the 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.

"Such are the repinings of one who feels, too late, that the sympathies
of his nature have avenged themselves upon him. They have prostrated,
with a joyless life and the prospect of a reluctant death, my selfish
purpose to keep aloof from mortal disquietudes, and be a pleasant idler
among care-stricken and laborious men. I have other regrets, too,
savoring more of my old spirit. The time has been when I meant to visit
every region of the earth, except the poles and Central Africa. I had a
strange longing to see the Pyramids. To Persia and Arabia, and all the
gorgeous East, I owed a pilgrimage for the sake of their magic tales.
And England, the land of my ancestors! Once I had fancied that my sleep
would not be quiet in the grave unless I should return, as it were, to
my home of past ages, and see the very cities, and castles, and
battle-fields of history, and stand within the holy gloom of its
cathedrals, and kneel at the shrines of its immortal poets, there
asserting myself their hereditary countryman. This feeling lay among the
deepest in my heart. Yet, with this homesickness for the fatherland, and
all these plans of remote travel,--which I yet believe that my peculiar
instinct impelled me to form, and upbraided me for not accomplishing,--
the utmost limit of my wanderings has been little more than six
hundred miles from my native village. Thus, in whatever way I consider
my life, or what must be termed such, I cannot feel as if I had lived
at all.

"I am possessed, also, with the thought that I have never yet discovered
the real secret of my powers; that there has been a mighty treasure
within my reach, a mine of gold beneath my feet, worthless because I
have never known how to seek for it; and for want of perhaps one
fortunate idea, I am to die

  'Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.'"

"Oberon" is represented as in the position of the "Story-Teller," and
leaves home because of some fancied oppression; he visits Niagara, of
which he gives some scenes as well as other anecdotes of his pedestrian
journey, but he falls ill and determines to return home to die. As he
approaches his birthplace he pleases himself with the fancy that there
is some youth there whom he can teach by the lesson of his life, and he
moralizes in a vein in which self-criticism may be read between the

"He shall be taught by my life, and by my death, that the world is a sad
one for him who shrinks from its sober duties. My experience shall warn
him to adopt some great and serious aim, such as manhood will cling to,
that he may not feel himself, too late, a cumberer of this overladen
earth, but a man among men. I will beseech him not to follow an
eccentric path, nor, by stepping aside from the highway of human
affairs, to relinquish his claim upon human sympathy. And often, as a
text of deep and varied meaning, I will remind him that he is an

Finally he describes the power he has obtained by the use of his
imagination, in the view of life:--

"I have already a spiritual sense of human nature, and see deeply into
the hearts of mankind, discovering what is hidden from the wisest. The
loves of young men and virgins are known to me, before the first kiss,
before the whispered word, with the birth of the first sigh. My glance
comprehends the crowd, and penetrates the breast of the solitary man. I
think better of the world than formerly, more generously of its virtues,
more mercifully of its faults, with a higher estimate of its present
happiness, and brighter hopes of its destiny."

These passages from "The Devil in Manuscript" and "The Journal of a
Solitary Man" may fairly be taken as a contemporary general account of
Hawthorne's secret life in the years before his own "Note-Books" begin.
The latter afford rather a view of his existence, from day to day. The
earliest of them which has survived opens in the summer of 1835, and
while containing scraps of information that he had jotted down as in a
commonplace book, and also brief memoranda of ideas for tales and
sketches, it also keeps record of his observations in his walks and
drives, and thus pictures his outward life. He lived at Salem still, in
the habits of seclusion that had always obtained in the house, and saw
little of mankind. Society, if he sought it at all, was found for him
among common people at the tavern or by the wayside, and was of the sort
that he enjoyed on his summer journeys. But solitude was his normal
state. This was indulged in his own room; or else he took a morning or
afternoon to wander out to the near Salem beaches and points, or to the
pleasant lanes of Danvers or across the river to the upland or seashore
of Beverly. He occasionally drove a dozen miles or more to Ipswich,
Nahant, or Andover. What he saw, however, was only rustic life of the
countryside, or the natural views of wood and sky and sea, with the
nearer objects to attract particular attention, of which he has left so
many minute descriptions. His observation at such times, though without
the naturalist's preoccupation,--rather with the poet's or
novelist's,--was as keen and detailed as Thoreau's. These Note-Books,
however, do not open his familiar life except as a record of changing
seasons and of detached thoughts to be worked up in fiction. Many of his
later tales are found here in the germ, in 1835 and for the year or two
after; but the diary is not so much a confidant as it afterward became.

The time had now come when he must make some further step in
establishing himself in some means of livelihood. He never showed much
power of initiative, and at every stage was materially aided by his
friends in obtaining employment and position. In this instance it was
Goodrich again who gave him opportunity. It was not a great chance, but
it was doubtless all Goodrich had to offer. He procured for him the
editorship of a small publication which undertook to disseminate popular
information, called "The American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining
Knowledge," and published by the Bewick Company, at Boston, with which
Goodrich had some connection through his interests in engraving. His
salary was to be five hundred dollars, and he entered on his duties
about the beginning of 1836. The change was welcomed by his friends, or
such of them as were still near enough to him to know of his affairs;
and from this time his college mates, Pierce, Cilley, and especially
Bridge, interested themselves in his fortunes. Bridge, writing from
Havana, February 20, 1836, congratulated him, as did also Pierce from
Washington, on the intelligence concerning his "late engagement in
active and responsible business," and particularly on his having got
"out of Salem," which he credits with "a peculiar dulness;" and in later
letters he continues to hearten him, subscribes for his magazine, reads
and praises it, in the most cordial and cheering way. But the event did
not justify these hopes and prognostications of a better fortune. The
magazine was, after all, the merest hack-work. Hawthorne, with the aid
of his sister Elizabeth, wrote most of it, compiling the matter from
books or utilizing his own notes of travel. In it appeared, of such
pieces as have found a place in his works, "An Ontario Steamboat," "The
Duston Family," "Nature of Sleep," "Bells," besides much that has been
suffered to repose in its scarce pages. The material, though
conscientiously dealt with according to the measure of time at his
disposal, is the slightest in interest, and the least re-worked from the
raw state, of any of his writings. He had, however, little temptation to
do more for the magazine than its limited scope required. He found great
difficulty in collecting his salary, and for this he blames Goodrich,
who had made promises of pay which he kept very imperfectly. Hawthorne
states that of forty-five dollars he was to receive on coming to Boston
he got only a small part, and on June 3, 1836, he received a notice, in
answer to a dunning letter, that the Bewick Company had made an
assignment, and he would have to wait until the settlement. Shortly
after this he gave up the editorship, and returned to Salem. The
incident was unfortunate, as in the course of it he developed a great
deal of irritation toward Goodrich, who was his best friend in practical
ways, and broke off communication with him. This, however, did not last
long; and Goodrich offered him the job of compiling a "Peter Parley"
book, for one hundred dollars. He wrote this, also with the aid of his
sister Elizabeth, and gave her the money. The volume was "Peter Parley's
Universal History on the basis of Geography," [Footnote: _Peter
Parley's Universal History on the basis of Geography._ For the Use of
Families. Illustrated by Maps and Engravings. Boston: American
Stationers' Company. John B. Russell, 1837. 12mo, cloth. 2 vols., pp.
380, 374.] and was published in 1837, and had a very large sale,
amounting finally, it is said, to more than a million copies.

In the mean time, Hawthorne had found cause of complaint also in his
relations with "The New England Magazine." This periodical had come to
an end in 1835, and at the close of that year was merged in "The
American Monthly Magazine" of New York, whither Park Benjamin, its
editor, went. It paid, according to its own statement, only one dollar a
page for contributions, but it appears to have been in arrears with
Hawthorne at the time of the change. Bridge states that when Hawthorne,
in consequence, stopped writing for it, the editor "begged for a mass of
manuscript in his possession, as yet unpublished, and it was scornfully
bestowed. 'Thus,' wrote Hawthorne, 'has this man, who would be
considered a Mæcenas, taken from a penniless writer material
incomparably better than any his own brain can supply.'" In this
Hawthorne, if correctly reported, was scarcely just. Park Benjamin, who
had a violent quarrel with Goodrich, exempted Hawthorne from any adverse
criticism, even when writing a short notice of "The Token," and always
spoke well of him. The manuscripts he carried to New York could have
been but few and slight, unless they were burned in the fire which
destroyed the archives of the "American Monthly Magazine" not long
afterwards. At all events, the only paper by Hawthorne in that magazine
appears to have been "Old Ticonderoga," a note of travel, published in
February, 1836, unless "The Journal of a Solitary Man," which did not
appear till July, 1837, be added as one of the left-over manuscripts,
and also a paper, never yet attributed to him but which seems clearly
from his pen, "A Visit to the Clerk of the Weather," anonymously
published in May, 1836. Whatever the coolness was between Hawthorne and
Benjamin, it was overcome by the end of the year, and the quarrel was
made up. In 1836, too, he kept his temper with Goodrich sufficiently to
allow him to contribute to "The Token" of 1837, published in the
preceding fall, a group of tales, eight in number: "Monsieur du Miroir,"
as by the author of "Sights from a Steeple;" "Mrs. Bullfrog," as by the
author of "The Wives of the Dead;" "Sunday at Home" and "The Man of
Adamant," both as by the author of "The Gentle Boy," "David Swan, A
Fantasy," "Fancy's Show Box, A Morality," and "The Prophetic Pictures,"
all anonymously; and "The Great Carbuncle," as by the author of "The
Wedding Knell." These papers constituted one third of the volume, and
for them he was paid a dollar a page, or one hundred and eight dollars,
which may be regarded therefore as the normal price he received from
Goodrich. Two of these tales are on subjects set down in his "Note-Book"
of 1835; the others are perhaps earlier in conception. These tales were
his substantial work for the year.

They gave occasion for what appears to have been the first public
mention of Nathaniel Hawthorne as the author who had hitherto disguised
himself under so many descriptions. It is not surprising that his name
was unknown, for he had sedulously suppressed it. His sister, referring
to these years, said, "He kept his very existence a secret so far as
possible." He had never signed an article in the twelve years since
leaving college. He had preferred to become known in "the author of
Waverley" style, but the charm did not work. In "The Token" he was, in
the main, the author of "Sights from a Steeple" or "The Gentle Boy;" in
"The New England Magazine" he was the author of "The Gray Champion." But
now his anonymity was to be dissipated in a friendly if rude way. It
was, doubtless, Park Benjamin, in New York, who wrote thus of these last
tales in "The Token," in "The American Monthly Magazine" for October,

"The author of 'Sights from a Steeple,' of 'The Gentle Boy,' and of 'The
Wedding Knell,' we believe to be one and the same individual. The
assertion may sound very bold, yet we hesitate not to call this author
second to no man in this country, except Washington Irving. We refer
simply to romance writing; and trust no wise man of Gotham will talk of
Dewey, and Channing, and Everett, and Verplanck. Yes, to us the style of
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE is more pleasing, more fascinating, than any one's
except their dear Geoffry Crayon! This mention of the real name of our
author may be reprobated by him. His modesty is the best proof of his
true excellence. How different does such a man appear to us from one who
anxiously writes his name on every public post! We have read a
sufficient number of his pieces to make the reputation of a dozen of our
Yankee scribblers; and yet how few have heard the name above written! He
does not even cover himself with the same anonymous shield at all times;
but liberally gives the praise, which, concentrated on one, would be
great, to several unknowns. If Mr. Hawthorne would but collect his
various tales and essays into one volume, we can assure him that their
success would be brilliant--certainly in England, perhaps in this

It was in this way that the world began to hear of Mr. Nathaniel
Hawthorne, of Salem; but it was still long before the public knew him.
Meanwhile, at the very moment of the disclosure, he was in the lowest
ebb of discouragement, in spirits, that he ever knew. It is to this time
that his gloomiest memories attached themselves. He had tried to enter
the world, he had even tried to earn a living, and had failed. Cilley,
his old college mate, was just elected to Congress from Maine, Pierce
was just elected Senator from New Hampshire, and Longfellow had found
the ways of literature as smooth as the primrose path to the everlasting
bonfire. Hawthorne was of a noble disposition, and glad of the fortunes
that came to these of his circle in boyhood at Bowdoin; but it was not
in human nature to be oblivious of the difference in his own lot. To
this mood must be referred the dream he described afterwards as one that
recurred through life:--

"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."

Under another picture, he describes this same state in the preface to
"The Snow Image," dedicated to Bridge:--

"I sat down by the wayside of life, like a man under enchantment, and a
shrubbery sprung 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. And there, perhaps, I should be
sitting at this moment, with the moss on the imprisoning tree-trunks,
and the yellow leaves of more than a score of autumns piled above me, if
it had not been for you. For it was through your interposition--and
that, moreover, unknown to himself--that your early friend was brought
before the public, somewhat more prominently than heretofore, in the
first volume of 'Twice-Told Tales.'"

Bridge had been, in fact, his only confidant from boyish days. To him he
showed the misery of "hope deferred" that then was in his heart, and to
him allowed himself to speak in words that went beyond his steady sense
of the situation, though representing moments of low courage. "I'm a
doomed man," he wrote to him, "and over I must go."

It was under the impulse of the sight of this deep discouragement in
Hawthorne, in 1836, that this cheerful and sanguine friend made up his
mind to find out why Hawthorne could not get a volume of tales
published. He applied to Goodrich for information, and received an
answer, October 20, 1836, in which it was stated that if a guarantee of
two hundred and fifty dollars were furnished by Bridge, an edition of
one thousand copies, costing four hundred and fifty dollars and paying
Hawthorne a royalty of ten per cent, would be issued. Goodrich was not
himself a publisher, at that time, and he elsewhere says that he had
previously attempted to have the Stationers' Company, which now
undertook the volume on Bridge's guarantee, publish it, but without
success; he adds that he relinquished his own rights to Hawthorne, who
had sold the tales to him so far as they had appeared in "The Token,"
and that he also joined in the bond given by Bridge; but in these
remarks he seems to be taking credit to himself, for the tales were
valueless to him and his property in them was of a sort not often
claimed by an editor, while Bridge took the real risk. This transaction
was unknown to Hawthorne at the time, and Bridge felt obliged to warn
him not to be too grateful to Goodrich. A glance at the other letters of
this month shows that Bridge was almost alarmed by Hawthorne's
depression, and endeavoring in thoughtful ways to reassure him, as well
as to bring him forward in public. "I have just received your last," he
writes, October 22, 1836, "and do not like its tone at all. There is a
kind of desperate coolness about it that seems dangerous. I fear you are
too good a subject for suicide, and that some day you will end your
mortal woes on your own responsibility." The prospect of the book, even,
was not wholly an undoubted blessing to Hawthorne, now he had come to
its realization, and in December, on Christmas Day, the work being then
in proofs, Bridge writes to him again:--

"Whether your book will sell extensively may be doubtful; but that is of
small importance in the first one you publish. At all events, keep up
your spirits till the result is ascertained; and, my word for it, there
is more honor and emolument in store for you, from your writings, than
you imagine. The bane of your life has been self-distrust. This has kept
you back for many years; which, if you had improved by publishing, would
long ago have given you what you must now wait a short time for. It may
be for the best, but I doubt it.

"I have been trying to think what you are so miserable for. Although you
have not much property, you have good health and powers of writing,
which have made, and can still make, you independent.

"Suppose you get but $300 per annum for your writings. You can, with
economy, live upon that, though it would be a tight squeeze. You have no
family dependent upon you, and why should you 'borrow trouble'?

"This is taking the worst view of your case that it can possibly bear.
It seems to me that you never look at the bright side with any hope or
confidence. It is not the philosophy to make one happy.

"I expect, next summer, to be full of money, a part of which shall be
heartily at your service, if it comes."

Before the new volume went to press Hawthorne had made a connection,
apparently on the editor's initiative, with S. Gaylord Clark's
"Knickerbocker Magazine," and contributed to it, in the January number,
"The Fountain of Youth," now known as "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment"; and
in the opening months of the year he was engaged in preparing his usual
group of articles for the next "Token." Goodrich had also offered to him
a new "Peter Parley" book, on the manners and customs of all nations,
for three hundred dollars, but this Hawthorne seems to have declined.

"Twice-Told Tales" [Footnote: _Twice-Told Tales_. By Nathaniel
Hawthorne. Boston: American Stationers' Co. John B. Russell, 1837. 12mo,
cloth. Pp. 334. It contained the following tales: The Gray Champion,
Sunday at Home, The Wedding Knell, The Minister's Black Veil, The
May-Pole of Merry Mount, The Gentle Boy, Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe,
Little Annie's Ramble, Wakefield, A Rill from the Town Pump, The Great
Carbuncle, The Prophetic Pictures, David Swan, Sights from a Steeple,
The Hollow of the Three Hills, The Vision of the Fountain, Fancy's Show
Box, Dr. Heidegger's Experiment.] appeared, under the author's name,
from the press of the Boston American Stationers' Co., early in March,
1837. It contained eighteen pieces only, out of the thirty-six
undoubtedly by Hawthorne published up to this time, to neglect all
others which have been ascribed to him during this period; and it must
reflect his own judgment of what was best in his work. Far as it was
from being a complete collection, it was large and varied enough to
afford an adequate experiment of the public taste, and it included all
those articles, whether tale or essay, which had made him known in the
circle of his readers. The reception of the volume was, he thought,
cool, but it sold somewhat from the first, and within two months six or
seven hundred copies had been disposed of. Goodrich states that it "was
deemed a failure for more than a year, when a breeze seemed to rise and
fill its sails, and with it the author was carried on to fame and
fortune." Bridge was much pleased with the success of his venture, and
when he met Goodrich, in April, some of his good feeling overflowed upon
him: "I like him very much better than before," he wrote. "He told me
that the book was successful. It seemed that he was inclined to take too
much credit to himself for your present standing, on the ground of
having early discovered and brought you forward. But, on the whole, I
like him much." Hawthorne's view of Goodrich is contained in a letter
written to his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Peabody, twenty years later:--

"As regards Goodrich's accounts of the relations between him and me, it
is funny enough to see him taking the airs of a patron; but I do not
mind it in the least, nor feel the slightest inclination to defend
myself or be defended. I should as soon think of controverting his
statement about my personal appearance (of which he draws no very lovely
picture) as about anything else that he says. So pray do not take up the
cudgels on my behalf; especially as I perceive that your recollections
are rather inaccurate. For instance, it was Park Benjamin, not Goodrich,
who cut up the 'Storyteller.' As for Goodrich, I have rather a kindly
feeling towards him, and he himself is a not unkindly man, in spite of
his propensity to feed and fatten himself on better brains than his own.
Only let him do that, and he will really sometimes put himself to some
trouble to do a good-natured act. His quarrel with me was, that I broke
away from him before he had quite finished his meal, and while a portion
of my brain was left; and I have not the slightest doubt that he really
felt himself wronged by my so doing. Really, I half think so too. He was
born to do what he did, as maggots to feed on rich cheese."

There is something too little generous in this. The record shows beyond
any cavil that Goodrich was the first and most constant friend of
Hawthorne in the way of helping him to get his work before the public;
he was also interested in him, thoughtful for him, and gave him hack
work to do, which, though it be a lowly is a true service, however
unwelcome the task may be in itself; and he used such influence as he
had in introducing Hawthorne to other employers and to publishers.
During these twelve years it may fairly be said that Goodrich was the
only person, not a relative, who cared for Hawthorne's genius or did
anything for him until Park Benjamin appeared as a second in the
periodical world and Horatio Bridge came to the rescue as a business
friend. It is true that Goodrich did not succeed in exploiting his
author; but he paid him the market price and gave him his chance, and
after all those days were not for Goodrich what our days have since
become for men of his calibre. Advertisement was not then the tenth

If the papers were "cool," as Hawthorne thought, there was a word of
comfort here and there in the periodicals. "The American Monthly
Magazine," recalling its announcement of Hawthorne as the author of
these tales in the preceding fall, took occasion in a notice of "The
Token" for 1838 to flatter itself that the new volume was due to its own
suggestion; and the writer, who is presumably Park Benjamin, renews his
old praise. A later notice of the book itself, ascribed by Mr. Lathrop
to Charles Fenno Hoffman, appeared in March, 1838, and, while somewhat
ineffective and sentimental, discovers at the end the right new word to
say: "His pathos we would call New England pathos, if we were not afraid
it would excite a smile; it is the pathos of an American, of a New
Englander. It is redolent of the images, objects, thoughts, and feelings
that spring up in that soil and nowhere else." It was, however, to
Longfellow that both Bridge and Hawthorne looked to help his old college
mate's book with the criticism that would have the accent of good taste
and literary authority, and would carry weight in those higher social
circles where fame was lost and won, at least as was then believed.
Hawthorne sent him the volume as soon as it was issued, with a note
regretting that they were not better acquainted at college and
expressing his gladness in Longfellow's success as a writer, author of
"Outre-Mer," and also in obtaining his Harvard professorship; and some
three months later he followed this with a letter, so characteristic and
valuable autobiographically that it cannot be passed over, and
interesting also as beginning that easy and amiable friendliness which
continued between them unbroken thereafter:--

"Not to burden you with my correspondence, 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; 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."

Longfellow's notice of "Twice-Told Tales" appeared in the July number of
"The North American Review," and gave perhaps more pleasure to Hawthorne
than he had hoped for; and in acknowledging it he mentions, with a
home-touch that carries more gratitude than a score of golden phrases,
the happiness that "my mother, my two sisters, and my old maiden aunt"
have had in it. The notice itself is elegant, kindly, warm even, with
the old-fashioned academic distinction of manner, through which the
young poet's picturesque fancy keeps playing, like a flutter of light;
it gives one a strange sense of old-world youthfulness to read it now.
Its characteristic passages, apart from this glamour, are its praise of
the lucid style and of the home-bred quality, "the nationality" of the
Tales: "The author has chosen his themes among the traditions of New
England, the dusty legends of 'the good old colony times when we lived
under a king.' This is the right material for story." But,
notwithstanding the good-will of Hawthorne's few friends, and this
handsome treatment by that one of them who had the greatest opportunity
to applaud him, his place was not yet won.

Meanwhile, his political friends had not been idle. The problem of a
livelihood, of an active share in the world's business, which Hawthorne
now sincerely desired, was not likely to be much advanced by the
publication of this volume. In any case, it would seem that Hawthorne's
friends were agreed that what he needed was to be got into an entirely
different set of surroundings, to have a change of scene. It was,
perhaps, with some such idea that Pierce suggested to him to join the
South Sea Exploring Expedition, then being planned by Reynolds, as
historian. There is something humorous, unconscious though it was, in
sending Hawthorne from the monotony and loneliness of Salem to seek
society in the polar regions, though no hint of it appears in the
correspondence. The scheme appealed to Hawthorne, however, and he was
desirous to go; but though his friends were active in his interest, and
brought the Maine and New Hampshire delegations to support his
candidacy, success was doubtful, and, the expedition being temporarily
abandoned, the plan came to nothing. On its failure Hawthorne went to
visit Bridge at his home in Augusta, Maine, and passed the month of July
with him very happily, as he tells at large in his Note-Books of that

On his return to Salem at midsummer he could hardly have flattered
himself on any perceptible change in his position. He fell into the old
life of rambling about the country and writing new tales; and, except
that he was in communication with his old friends, Bridge, Pierce, and
Cilley, and occasionally saw them in Boston, he was as much isolated and
without prospects as ever. The connection he had established with "The
Knickerbocker Magazine" he had kept up by contributing to it "A Bell's
Biography" as by the author of "Twice-Told Tales," in March, and he now
published, in the September issue, "Edward Fane's Rosebud" anonymously.
The publication of the book had attracted to him the notice of the new
"Democratic Review," edited by John O'Sullivan, a young fellow of
enterprise, spirits, and an Irish charm, who had solicited Hawthorne to
contribute to it, early in April. In reply to this application,
presumably, "A Toll Gatherer's Day," as by the author of "Twice-Told
Tales," appeared in the October number. The stories which Hawthorne had
prepared in the spring for "The Token" of 1838 now came out in the fall
of 1837, five in number: two of them, "Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure" and
"The Shaker Bridal" as by the author of the "Twice-Told Tales," and
three anonymously, "Night Scenes under an Umbrella," "Endicott and the
Red Cross," and "Sylph Etheredge." He still persistently neglected to
put his own name to his work. There was a reason for his anonymity in
"The Token," but elsewhere he continued his old custom, and was to be
known habitually only under the style "The Author of 'Twice-Told
Tales,'" which he adopted henceforth. To this time belong some further
traces of a more varied mixing with society in Salem than he had
hitherto shown. He attended the meetings of a club at Miss Burley's,
where the transcendental group appears to have gathered, and among them
Jones Very. The most singular episode of the time, however, is one that
would hardly be credited, had it not been mentioned by those who should
have known the truth. It is said that Hawthorne's sympathies were so
engaged by a lady who confided to him the injurious treatment she
alleged she had suffered from an acquaintance that he challenged the man
to a duel; he went to Washington for the purpose, and was only withdrawn
from the affair, under the advice of Cilley and Pierce, by the discovery
that he had been practiced upon by the lady, who had been led on by a
spirit of mischief or malice to deceive him, there being no basis for
the affair. A dark turn is given to the incident by the suggestion that
it was the citing of this example of Hawthorne's to his friend Cilley
which persuaded the latter to enter on the duel with Graves, in which he
lost his life not long after these events. Bridge, however, denies that
this was the case, and he should have known. Just when this incident
occurred is not stated; but Hawthorne's solitude in Salem must have been
less complete than has been represented in order for it to occur at all;
and it must be believed that he had at all times associates, whom he met
in one way and another, both men and women, however small the circle.

The period of twelve years which he used to refer to as the time of his
isolation in Salem had now come to an end; but he remained in the old
house for some time longer, though with a difference in his mood and
life. The habit of seclusion and the sense of separation from the world
had been somewhat broken up by the rally that his college friends, led
by Bridge, had made for him and the feeling of renewed companionship
with them, as well as by his appearance before the public in his own
right as the author of "Twice-Told Tales;" the old state of affairs,
however, was not ended by these things, but by a more vital matter.
There can be no doubt that in his own mind the acquaintance and growing
intimacy which now sprang up between himself and Sophia Peabody
coincided with the disappearance of the solitary depression of these
years,--for him the twelve years ended when he first saw this small,
graceful, intensely alive invalid, dressed in a simple white wrapper,
who had come down from her room to meet him in the family parlor. She
might seem, indeed, like himself, rather a "visitant" than an inhabitant
of this planet, and their courtship not unlike one of his own stories of
half immaterial lovers who go hand in hand, with sentiments for
sentences and great heedlessness of mortal matters, to an idyllic union
of hearts. He rose, on her entrance, to greet her, and looked at her
with great intentness; and it immediately occurred to her sister that he
would fall in love with her.

The narrative of this love-making has been very fully told, and in the
most lifelike way, since the characters have been allowed to speak for
themselves in their diaries and letters. It is a story so touched with
delicacies, and with such shades of humor, too, as to defy any
re-telling; even to outline it seems crude, because the effect lies all
in the details of trifles, phrases, and spontaneous things. The Peabody
family was of a type that flourished in that period, as good as was ever
produced on this soil, with the most sterling qualities, and blending an
intellectual culture of transcendental kinship with practical and
hospitable duties. The home, which was one of very moderate means, was
characterized by a moral high-mindedness pervading its life, and by
those literary and artistic tastes then spreading in the community,
which, though it is easy to smile at them in a vein of latter-day
superiority, were everywhere the signs of a nascent intellectual life
among our people. In this case, the fruits are the best comment on the
home, for of the three daughters, the eldest, Elizabeth, passed a much
honored and long life as a teacher in Boston, the friend of every good
cause; the second, Mary, became the wife of Horace Mann; and the third,
Sophia, the wife of Hawthorne. The Peabodys had been neighbors of the
Hawthornes in much earlier years, and the elder children had been little
playmates together; but the family had removed from Salem, and came back
again in 1828. It was not, however, till 1837, on the publication of
"Twice-Told Tales," that Elizabeth Peabody recognized in the author the
same person she had known as a child. She took steps to renew the
acquaintance with his sisters, and so to meet him again, till by many
little attentions, notes, books, walks, flowers, and whatever she could
invent, she succeeded in establishing an interchange of social civility
between the two houses. She affords, in her recollections, the best
glimpse of Hawthorne's mother. "Madame Hawthorne," she says, "always
looked as if she had walked out of an old picture, with her antique
costume, and a face of lovely sensibility and great brightness--for she
did not _seem_ at all a victim of morbid sensibility, notwithstanding
her all but Hindoo self-devotion to the manes of her husband. She
was a woman of fine understanding and very cultivated mind. But she
had very sensitive nerves." Elizabeth, Hawthorne's sister, was
strong-minded but abnormally retired, jealous of her brother, and not
much disposed to have him stolen out of the house. Louisa was more
companionable, and with his mother would sit with Hawthorne after tea;
and there was an old maiden aunt flitting about in the little garden,
apparently as recluse as the rest. With these feminine members of the
household Elizabeth Peabody made friends, and though a year elapsed in
the process, she then had her reward in receiving Hawthorne and his
sisters, who one evening came to call. She ran upstairs to her sister,
exclaiming, "Oh, Sophia, you must get up and dress and come down! The
Hawthornes are here, and you never saw anything so splendid as he
is,--he is handsomer than Lord Byron!" But Sophia did not come down, and
it was only on the second call that the two met as has been described.

Sophia Peabody was at this time twenty-six years old, having been born
in 1811, and had been an invalid through her girlhood; she was afflicted
with an acute nervous headache which lasted uninterruptedly, says her
son, from her twelfth to her thirty-first year, though the pain was not
so severe, her sister remarks, but that she could sometimes read. She
had received her education at home, mainly from her sister, who kept a
school in the house, and in spite of her ill-health had many and varied
acquisitions. She read Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and was somewhat
familiar with history. Passages in her journal show the character and
range of her reading, which was of that strangely mixed sort that
belonged to the notion of culture in those days; thus, for instance, in
her twentieth year, she records having read on one day De Gérando,
Fénelon, St. Luke and Isaiah, Young, Addison, and four comedies of
Shakspere, besides doing some sewing. She was a good French and Italian
scholar. Filled with intellectual enthusiasm and ambition as she was,
her sensibilities seem rather to have been roused by natural beauty,
effects of sky and weather and color, and her active powers took the
direction of art; she sketched, painted, and modeled in clay. In 1832
she had gone to Cuba with her mother for three years, and received some
benefit from the climate. She had especially practiced horseback-riding
there, of which she was fond. No permanent improvement, however, had
followed, on her return to Salem in 1835. When Hawthorne came to know
her, she was living a half-invalid life, taking her meals in her own
room, which she had fitted up with artistic prettiness, and yet
suffering the full transcendental tide of culture and emotion. Perhaps
no single passage can better illustrate her mind and feelings than a
description of Emerson's call in the spring of 1838, which she writes to
her sister, whom, at an earlier time, he had taught Greek:--

"We had an exquisite visit from Waldo. It was the warbling of the Attic
bird. The gleam of his _diffused_ smile; the musical thunder of his
voice; his repose, so full of the essence of life; his simplicity--just
think of all these, and of my privilege in seeing and hearing him. He
enjoyed everything we showed him so much! He talked so divinely to
Raphael's Madonna del Pesce! I vainly imagined I was very quiet all the
while, preserving a very demure exterior, and supposed I was sharing his
oceanic calm. But the next day I was aware that I had been in a very
intense state. I told Mary, that night after he had gone, that I felt
like a _gem_; that was the only way I could express it. I don't
know what Mary hoped to get from him, but _I_ was sure of drinking
in that which would make me paint Cuban skies better than even my
recollections could have made me, were they as vivid as the rays of the
sun in that sunniest of climates. He made me feel as Eliza Dwight did
once, when she looked uncommonly beautiful and animated. I felt as if
her beauty was all about the room, and that I was in it, and therefore
beautiful too. It seemed just so with Waldo's soul-beauty."

She had been in communication with others of the leading spirits of that
day besides Emerson. Dr. Channing and Allston sent her messages, kindly
and flattering, about her drawings and painting. She had copied some of
Allston's pictures. Her studio was the centre of her life; and there her
friends "glided in," to use her phrase, with roses and columbines,
little girls came to take peeps at its wonders, and from it came the
sunshine of the house. Here, to give some further trifling indications,
she described herself, after a visit of Hawthorne, as feeling "quite
lark-like, or like John of Bologna's Mercury;" or she indulged one of
her "dearest visions," which was "to get well enough to go into prisons
and tell felons I have sympathy for them, especially women;" or, when
Hawthorne called, lamented that she should have to smooth her hair, and
dress, "while he was being wasted downstairs." She felt his attractive
power from the first, and was happy in his attentions, in the walks they
took, in their visits to Miss Burley's weekly meetings, in the picture
of Ilbrahim, "The Gentle Boy," which she made for him, in her story,
"Edward Randolph's Portrait," which he wrote for her, in the columbines
and tulips that strewed the way of love-making, and, in brief, in the
thousand trifles of the old story. Hawthorne, on his part, was equally
attracted in his different ways, and responded to the vivacity and
ebullience of this intense feminine nature disclosed to him in the live
woman who had met him, as if coming out of a vision, on life's road. The
spring budded and flowered into summer, and when he took his habitual
journey into the world,--this time into Berkshire and Vermont, from July
23 to September 24,--meaning, as he told her, to cut himself wholly away
from every one, so that even his mother should not know his whereabouts,
it is not unlikely that he was desirous of this solitude to think it all

They became engaged at the close of the year, though the matter was kept
a profound secret, there being apparently some apprehension that his
mother would not approve of it. His sister Elizabeth, was, perhaps, not
very cordial about it, also, but there was, as it proved, no occasion
for anxiety. It might well have seemed imprudent for Hawthorne, whose
worldly success had been slight, to marry an invalid wife. Fortune,
however, was not wholly unkind, and George Bancroft, whose attention had
been called to Hawthorne's needs, gave him an appointment at the Boston
Custom House as weigher and gauger, at a salary of twelve hundred
dollars. It was this opportunity, possibly, which emboldened Hawthorne
to take the final step; and marriage would be hoped for, should this
experiment of entering on a fixed employment prove successful.

During the progress of this courtship, to complete the chronicle of
Hawthorne's literary publications, he had written the carrier's address,
"Time's Portraiture," for "The Salem Gazette," January 2, 1838, the home
paper which had made him known to his fellow-townsmen by reprinting "The
Fountain of Youth," in the preceding March; and for the same paper he
wrote the address for the following year, January 1, 1839, "The Sister
Years." He had also contributed to "The American Monthly Magazine," for
January, 1838. an article under his own name on his friend, Thomas Green
Fessenden, a Maine politician who had recently died; and to the same
periodical, for March, "The Three-fold Destiny" under the old pseudonym
of Ashley Allen Royce. It was, however, "The Democratic Review" which
served as the principal channel of publication. It contained
successively "Footprints on the Beach," January; "Snowflakes," February;
"Howe's Masquerade," May; "Edward Randolph's Portrait," July; "Lady
Eleanore's Mantle," "Chippings with a Chisel," and a sketch of Jonathan
Cilley, his friend who had just been shot by Graves in a duel, all in
September; and these tales he signed as by The Author of "Twice-Told
Tales." The Province House series was concluded by "Old Esther Dudley,"
in this same periodical, April, 1839, and to this he affixed his own
name for the first time. "The Lily's Quest" had appeared, January 19,
1839. in "The Southern Rose," published at Charleston, South Carolina.
Here the first stage of his literary career ended.

He was now to leave that chamber under the eaves, in which these years,
lengthened to fourteen now, had been spent, but not without a farewell.
Here he had written, in 1835, "In this dismal chamber fame was won." A
dismal sort of fame he thought it then. It was on returning to it in
1840 that he penned the well-known passage:--

"Here I sit in my old, accustomed chamber, where I used to sit in days
gone by.... Here I have written many tales,--many that have been burned
to ashes, many that doubtless deserved the same fate. 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
here I sat a long, long time, waiting patiently for the world to know
me, and sometimes wondering why it did not know me sooner, or whether it
would ever know me at all,--at least, till I were in my grave. And
sometimes it seemed as if I were already in the grave, with only life
enough to be chilled and benumbed. But oftener I was happy,--at least,
as happy as I then knew how to be, or was aware of the possibility of
being. By and by, the world found me out in my lonely chamber, and
called me forth,--not, indeed, with a loud roar of acclamation, but
rather with a still, small voice,--and forth I went, but found nothing
in the world that I thought preferable to my old solitude till now....
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 been covered with earthly dust, and my
heart might have become callous by rude encounters with the
multitude.... But living in solitude till the fullness of time was come,
I still kept the dew of my youth and the freshness of my heart.... I
used to think I could imagine all passions, all feelings, and states of
the heart and mind; but how little did I know!... Indeed, we are but
shadows; we are not endowed with real life, and all that seems most real
about us is but the thinnest substance of a dream,--till the heart be
touched. That touch creates us,--then we begin to be,--thereby we are
beings of reality and inheritors of eternity."

This sentiment always continued to play about this room, and whenever he
returned to it he was apt to set down some word of memory. In one
passage he even describes it as a shrine of literary pilgrimage, and
mentions, with that well-known touch, half fantastic, half grotesque,
its various articles of furniture,--the washstand, the mahogany-framed
glass, the pine table, the flag-bottomed chair, the old chest of
drawers, the closet, the worn-out shoe-brush, imagining the thoughts of
the pilgrim on beholding these relics. It was the type for him of the
old life of loneliness, of disappointment, of household gloom; but it
was also the place where he had spent those "tranquil and not unhappy
years," of which he afterwards said these early tales were the
memorials; and, however the room might darken in comparison with the
happiness of his married life, his last thought in regard to it was that
contained in a letter written late in life: "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."



Early in January, 1839, Hawthorne took up his new duties as weigher and
gauger in the Boston Custom House. He wrote very cheerfully to
Longfellow that he had no reason to doubt his capacity to fulfill his
duties, since he had not yet learned what they were, and he indulges his
humor in fancying imaginary little essays which he will write in the
unoccupied time he pleasantly anticipates will be his lot. He was glad
to have a material task to do, something with the stubbornness of fact
in its resistance, a practical duty such as belongs in the ordinary
lives of men. This desire to come out of his old way of existence, with
its preoccupation with the imaginary world, had become a strong and
rooted feeling, a fixed idea. "If I could only make tables," he said, "I
should feel myself more of a man." In the bustle of the wharves he felt
himself in touch with the world's business, and he took hold of his work
with interest and vigor as well as with that conscientious fidelity
which belonged to his character. Bancroft, a few months later, told
Emerson that he was "the most efficient and best of the Custom House
officers," and Mr. Lathrop says that he "used to make it a point in all
weathers to get to the wharf at the earliest possible hour," so that the
laborers, who were employed by the hour, might not lose their time. The
life he led is fully described in his own journals, with all its details
of shipping business, of the sailors and laborers and their tasks, of
the salt, salt fish, oil, iron, molasses, and other inelegant
merchandise, and the day's work in its various aspects of character,
things, and weather. Hawthorne's powers of observation, which he had
previously exercised in the taverns of New England and along his native
roadside and beaches, were now fully occupied and newly animated with
the novelty of the scene and his part in it. He made these careful notes
almost by instinct, but after all, they were of curiously little use to
him; it would seem rather that they gave his mind occupation in the
intervals of his imaginative creation; they were a resource to him like
the recreation of a walk; they represent the vacant and idle times of
his genius; and for this reason his observations, which are in the main
a kind of admirable reporting, afford a well-nigh complete setting for
his life, and constitute an external autobiography. He is hardly to be
truly seen apart from them.

At the end of six months he had begun to feel the wearisome drag upon
his spirits which was to be expected from toilsome days. Practical life
as a sort of vacation was welcome, but as it became the continuing
business of his time, and that other world of the artistic faculty was
now, in turn, known only by visiting glimpses, the look of the facts
changed. "I do not mean to imply," he writes, "that I am unhappy or
discontented, for this is not the case. My life only is a burden in the
same way that it is to every toilsome man; and mine is a healthy
weariness, such as needs only a night's sleep to remove it. 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." At first, no
doubt, the outdoor occupation and the having to do with sea and harbor
life, for which he had an hereditary affection, were important elements
in his happiness; and the association with rough and hardy men, whose
contact with life was primitive and had the genuineness and health of
such occupations, was the kind of human companionship which he felt most
naturally and pleasurably. But the wearing in of the facts upon him is
seen in the way in which the blackness of coal and the whiteness of salt
begin to color the page, until it would seem as if he handled and saw no
other objects, and also in the comfort that the cold sea-wind, and
freshening waves, and the horizon of cloud and green are to him. At the
end of a year the signs of weariness come out clear in a well-known
passage of the "Note-Books," as a condensed picture of these two years
of life:--

"I have been measuring coal all day, on board of a black little British
schooner, in a dismal dock at the north end of the city. Most of the
time I paced the deck to keep myself warm; for the wind (northeast, I
believe) blew up through the dock, as if it had been the pipe of a pair
of bellows. The vessel lying deep between two wharves, there was no more
delightful prospect, on the right hand and on the left, than the posts
and timbers, half immersed in the water, and covered with ice, which the
rising and falling of successive tides had left upon them, so that they
looked like immense icicles. Across the water, however, not more than
half a mile off, appeared the Bunker Hill monument; and, what interested
me considerably more, a church-steeple, with the dial of a clock upon
it, whereby I was enabled to measure the march of the weary hours.
Sometimes I descended into the dirty little cabin of the schooner, and
warmed myself by a red-hot stove, among biscuit-barrels, pots and
kettles, sea-chests, and innumerable lumber of all sorts,--my
olfactories, meanwhile, being greatly refreshed by the odor of a pipe,
which the captain or some one of his crew was smoking. But at last came
the sunset, with delicate clouds, and a purple light upon the islands;
and I blessed it, because it was the signal of my release."

He soon began to "pray that in one year more I may find some way of
escaping from this unblest Custom House; for it is a very grievous
thralldom;" and beginning now to write again, he feels as if "the
noblest part of man had been left out of my composition or had decayed
out of it since my nature was given to my own keeping." Yet he tries to
be just to his experience, and adds what he thought the good of it had

"It is only once in a while that the image and desire of a better and
happier life makes me feel the iron of my chain; for, after all, a human
spirit may find no insufficiency of food fit for it, even in the Custom
House. And, with such materials as these, I do think and feel and learn
things that are worth knowing, and which I should not know unless I had
learned them there, so that the present portion of my life shall not be
quite left out of the sum of my real existence.... It is good for me, on
many accounts, that my life has had this passage in it. I know much more
than I did a year ago. I have a stronger sense of power to act as a man
among men. I have gained worldly wisdom, and wisdom also that is not
altogether of this world. And, when I quit this earthly cavern, where I
am now buried, nothing will cling to me that ought to be left behind."

The rebellion, nevertheless, continued, and as the spring came on the
Custom House is a "darksome dungeon," where he "murders the joyful young
day," quenching the sunshine; when he shall be free again, he thinks, he
will enjoy all things anew like a child of five, and "go forth and stand
in a summer shower, and all the worldly dust that has collected on me
shall be washed away at once, and my heart will be like a bank of fresh
flowers for the weary to rest upon." He goes to the Common, to the
highest point, where he could "see miles and miles into the country.
Blessed be God for this green tract, and the view which it affords,
whereby we poor citizens may be put in mind, sometimes, that all his
earth is not composed of blocks of brick houses, and of stone or wooden
pavements. Blessed be God for the sky, too, though the smoke of the city
may somewhat change its aspect,--but still it is better than if each
street were covered over with a roof. There were a good many people
walking the mall,--mechanics apparently, and shopkeepers' clerks, with
their wives; and boys were rolling on the grass, and I would have liked
to lie down and roll too."

He looks out over the waters. "The footsteps of May can be traced upon
the islands in the harbor, and I have been watching the tints of green
upon them gradually deepening, till now they are almost as beautiful as
they ever can be." He is convinced that "Christian's burden consisted of
coal," and he takes comfort in salt: "Salt is white and pure--there is
something holy in salt." Yet this tone was not constant, and from time
to time he shows something of his first appreciation and enjoyment of
the element of labor and reality in the experience. Almost at the end of
his life on the wharf, after more than two years of it, he exemplifies
his later feeling perhaps most justly:--

"I have been busy all day, from early breakfast-time till late in the
afternoon; and old Father Time has gone onward somewhat less heavily
than is his wont when I am imprisoned within the walls of the Custom
House. It has been a brisk, breezy day, an effervescent atmosphere, and
I have enjoyed it in all its freshness,--breathing air which had not
been breathed in advance by the hundred thousand pairs of lungs which
have common and invisible property in the atmosphere of this great city.
My breath had never belonged to anybody but me. It came fresh from the
wilderness of ocean.... It was exhilarating to see the vessels, how they
bounded over the waves, while a sheet of foam broke out around them. I
found a good deal of enjoyment, too, in the busy scene around me; for
several vessels were disgorging themselves (what an unseemly figure is
this,--'disgorge,' quotha, as if the vessel were sick) on the wharf, and
everybody seemed to be working with might and main. It pleased me to
think that I also had a part to act in the material and tangible
business of this life, and that a portion of all this industry could not
have gone on without my presence. Nevertheless, I must not pride myself
too much on my activity and utilitarianism. I shall, doubtless, soon
bewail myself at being compelled to earn my bread by taking some little
share in the toils of mortal men."

The truth was that Hawthorne led a life apart in his own genius, and
this life of the spirit rose out of his daily and habitual existence, or
flowed through it like a hidden stream, and did not mingle with the tide
of the hours as they passed. He felt the need of a fuller, earthly,
practical life, a real life, as he would have called it by contrast with
the impalpable things of his genius, and sought it in outward
employments; but in these, when his spirit awoke, he felt himself a
captive, and defrauded of that higher life of the soul; and after the
day's work or the year's labor was over, he could not be content with
the fact that it had been, and had served its purpose, and was gone, but
he still was compelled to ask how it had served this higher life, in
what ways it had fed the spirit which should be master of all the days
of one's life, and he found no satisfactory answer except the crude one
that possibly his experience and observation might be useful, though
doubtfully, as material for the books that were to be. After all he was
not content with practical life as an end; it was a means only, such was
the necessity of his constitution; he felt its interference with his
creative faculty and he was far from being convinced that he had gained
anything from it which would be fruitful when he should find time and
strength to write again. The leisure he had fondly anticipated was only
a dream. He had to work too hard.

During these two years, from January, 1839, to April, 1841, the other
part of Hawthorne's life lay in his companionship with Sophia Peabody.
At first, communication was mostly by letters; but the Peabodys removed
from Salem to Boston in 1840, and after that the two lovers--for they
were lovers in the most simple sense--met constantly. The memorials of
the time, touching as they are in their intimacy of feeling, have that
essential privacy which best bespeaks a noble nature. The exchanges of
confidences, the little gifts, such as the two pictures which she sent
him and which he always held so preciously in his affection, the trifles
of lovers' talk, like his confession that he always washed his hands
before reading her letters, the quiet, firm advice, the consolations,
the happy praise he renders her,--all these belong to the love-story, if
it must needs be told. But, besides this, Hawthorne felt toward this
love of his married life in a peculiar way not often so purely
disclosed; there were touches of solemnity in it, something not of this
world; there was that sense of what can be described only as sacredness,
which he intimates and in part reveals as a thing never absent from his
heart, whether with her or away from her. Love had come to him, not in
his youth, but after the years of solitude had ripened both heart and
imagination,--a man's love; it filled his whole nature, and with it went
a feeling of glad release from the past, of the coming of a freeing
power bringing new life, which gave something of heavenly gratitude to
his bosom. How deep, serious, truly sacred, his love was, can be read in
all the lines of his writing that even remotely allude to it; and at
this time he gave expression to it with a sincerity so unconscious that
in reading his letters--and there are many of them, though happily he
destroyed his wife's--one looks straight into his heart. It is strange,
he thinks, that "such a flower as our affection should have blossomed
amid snow and wintry winds;" and in all ways this love had the
singularity that deep natures feel in their own experiences. "I never
till now," writes Hawthorne, "had a friend who could give me repose; all
have disturbed me, and whether for pleasure or pain, it was still
disturbance. But peace overflows from your heart into mine." So one
might weave the chain of lovers' phrases, linking the old words over;
but here, at least, it will be enough to let one or two separate
passages stand for his abiding mood. In June, 1840, he writes to her
when she is at Concord:--

"My heart thirsts and languishes to be there, away from the hot sun, and
the coal-dust, and the steaming docks, and the thick-pated, stubborn,
contentious men, with whom I brawl from morning till night, and all the
weary toil that quite engrosses me, and yet occupies only a small part
of my being, which I did not know existed before I became a measurer. I
do think I should sink down quite disheartened and inanimate if you were
not happy, and gathering from earth and sky enjoyment for both of us;
but this makes me feel that my real, innermost soul is apart from all
these unlovely circumstances, and that it has not ceased to exist, as I
might sometimes suspect, but is nourished and kept alive through you.
You know not what comfort I have in thinking of you amid those beautiful
scenes and amid those sympathizing hearts. If you are well and happy, if
your step is light and joyous there, and your cheek is becoming rosier,
and if your heart makes pleasant music, then is it not better for you to
stay there a little longer? And if better for you, is it not so for me
likewise? Now, I do not press you to stay, but leave it all to your
wisdom; and if you feel it is now time to come home, then let it be so."

Similarly, in the fall of the same year, from Boston, and again from
Salem, he sums in memory what this new life had been to him now for
nearly two years:--

"Sometimes, during my solitary life in our old Salem house, it seemed to
me as if I had only life enough to know that I was not alive; for I had
no wife then to keep my heart warm. But, at length, you were revealed to
me, in the shadow of a seclusion as deep as my own. I drew nearer and
nearer to you, and opened my heart to you, and you came to me, and will
remain forever, keeping my heart warm and renewing my life with your
own. You only have taught me that I have a heart,--you only have thrown
a light, deep downward and upward, into my soul. You only have revealed
me to myself; for without your aid my best knowledge of myself would
have been merely to know my own shadow,--to watch it flickering on the
wall, and mistake its fantasies for my own real actions....

"Whenever I return to Salem, I feel how dark my life would be without
the light that you shed upon it,--how cold, without the warmth of your
love. Sitting in this chamber, where my youth wasted itself in vain, I
can partly estimate the change that has been wrought. It seems as if the
better part of me had been born since then. I had walked those many
years in darkness, and might so have walked through life, with only a
dreamy notion that there was any light in the universe, if you had not
kissed my eyelids and given me to see. You, dearest, have always been
positively happy. Not so I,--I have only not been miserable."

To turn to other matters, the preoccupation of Hawthorne's mind with his
business, together with the distraction of his courtship, proved
unfavorable to imaginative work. It may be, too, that the impulse to
create had been somewhat exhausted by the rapid production of his later
tales in the year or two preceding. Only one original story appeared in
this period of labor and love, "John Inglefield's Thanksgiving," which
was published in the "Democratic Review" for March, 1840, as by the Rev.
A. A. Royce. An interesting edition of "The Gentle Boy," [Footnote:
_The Gentle Boy._ A Thrice Told Tale. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. With
an Original Illustration. Boston: Weeks, Jordan & Co., 121 Washington
Street. New York & London: Wiley & Putnam. 1839. 4to. Pp. 20.] under
Hawthorne's name, had been issued in 1839 at his own expense; it
contained the original sketch of Ibrahim, by Sophia Peabody, engraved by
J. Andrews, and was evidently intended only as a kind of lover's gift to
her, to whom it was dedicated. He gave his attention now to writing some
children's books, partly under the influence of his old "Peter Parley"
instruction and experience, and partly, no doubt, under the
encouragement and advice of Elizabeth Peabody, who was interested in
such literature. The Peabodys, on removing to Boston, had opened a shop,
a library and book-store and homoeopathic drug-store, all in one, of
which she was the head, and with her name Hawthorne associated his new
ventures. He had contemplated writing children's books, as a probable
means of profit, before he received his appointment in the Custom House,
as he said in his letter to Longfellow; and he merely stuck to the plan
under the new conditions. The result was three volumes of historical
tales for young people, drawn from New England in the colonial and
revolutionary times, under different titles, but making one series:
"Grandfather's Chair," [Footnote: _Grandfather's Chair._ A History
for Youth. By Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of Twice-Told Tales. Boston:
E. P. Peabody. New York: Wiley & Putnam. 1841. 32mo. Pp. vii, 140. The
preface is dated Boston, November, 1840.] "Famous Old People,"
[Footnote: _Famous Old People._ Being the Second Epoch of
Grandfather's Chair. By Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of Twice-Told Tales.
Boston: E. P. Peabody, 13 West St. 1841. 32mo. Pp. vii, 158. The preface
is dated December 30, 1840.] and "Liberty Tree." [Footnote: _Liberty
Tree._ With the Last Words of Grandfather's Chair. By Nathaniel
Hawthorne, author of Twice-Told Tales. Boston: E. P. Peabody, 13 West
St. 1841. 32mo. Pp. vii, 160. The preface is dated Boston, February 27,
1841.] They appeared in rapid succession in 1841, and were successful.
But notwithstanding the high character of these little books as
entertainment for children, it will hardly be thought that literature
had profited much by the devotion of genius to coal and salt and the
oversight of day laborers.

In the spring of 1841, immediately after the change of administration in
March, Hawthorne lost his place in the Custom House, and he at once
betook himself to Brook Farm, in Roxbury, a suburb of Boston, or, to
give its full name, "The Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and
Education." The place, the celebrities who gathered there in their
youth, and their way of life, have all been many times described, so
that there is no occasion to renew a detailed account, especially as
Hawthorne's interest in the scheme was purely incidental. He must have
had his plans already made in preparation for a change in his life. The
shop of the Peabodys in Boston was a centre of transcendentalism, "The
Dial" being published there; and Hawthorne's attention may have been
drawn to the movement for a practical application of the new social
ideas by this circumstance, and he may well have made the acquaintance
of Ripley, the chief projector, through these family friends. It is to
be remembered, too, that he had been interested previously in the
community idea, in the case of the Shakers, and had twice written tales
on motives suggested by their life. But an experiment in the
regeneration of society by a group of radicals would hardly have given
him much practical concern, had it not fallen in with some peculiarities
of his private position. Something, it is true, is to be allowed for the
infection of the time, which would touch a morally speculative mind such
as Hawthorne's to some degree; he would have observed these dreamers,
breaking out new paths in the hardened old world of custom and
inheritance, and would have followed the fortunes of the dream in its
effects on individual lives, for it would appeal to the moral
imagination and to his general sentiment about human life; but to become
one of the promoters would require, in a man so wary, so hard-headed and
cool as he naturally was in one half of his brain at least, a certain
pressure of fact upon him. No man was less of a reformer than Hawthorne;
he was constitutionally phlegmatic about society, a party man in
politics, and an ironical critic of all "come-outers," as these people
were then popularly named; and, in this instance, which is the only
apparently freakish action of his life, he was certainly swayed by what
he supposed to be his own interest. He was merely prospecting for a home
in which to settle. He was anxious to be married; he was thirty-seven
years old, and Sophia was thirty, and the engagement had already lasted
two years and more. In this new community hopes were held out that there
would be cottages for families, and the whole business of supporting a
family was to be simplified and made easier by the joint arrangements of
the community, in an economical sense; moreover, that blessed union of
manual toil with intellectual labor was a prime part of the enterprise,
and something akin to this Hawthorne still very much desired in his own
mind. To have some material work to do, to sustain a practical relation
with men and their general life, to have daily contact with matter of
fact as a means of escape from the old life of shadows, were still very
definite and prized ends with him. He was fairly possessed with this
idea for some years. It may fairly be believed that he had no ulterior
purpose or belief in the affair, but merely for his personal convenience
desired on the one hand to solve the old problem of living in the world
while not of it, and to provide a house for his wife to come to. He was
willing to try the new scheme, nothing else seeming so feasible at the
time to accomplish his immediate purpose; and he put into it all his
savings, one thousand dollars, but with the idea of withdrawing this
capital in case he was dissatisfied with the results, and should return
to the ordinary ways of the world.

Hawthorne arrived at the farm among the first of the new settlers, in an
April snowstorm, on the twelfth of the month, and began at once to make
the acquaintance of the barnyard. He was entirely destitute of
agricultural talents, original or acquired, a green hand in every sense
of the word, with that muscular willingness to learn which exhibits
itself by unusual destructive capacity upon implements of toil and the
docility of patient farm animals. He had physical strength, and after
attempting to chop, hay, and milk, he was given a dung-fork and set to
work at a pile of manure. He writes about these details with a softening
of the raw facts by elegancies of language, and much gentle fun, but
from the start he shows a playfulness of disposition in regard to the
whole affair, like a great boy on a vacation, as if the sense of it all
being, so far as he was concerned, a surprising joke on a novel scale
were in his mind and attitude all the time; and it is this humor,
interlacing on the page like sunshine, that makes the life of his
narrative. Occasionally there is the touch of true enjoyment out of
doors, as when, under the clear blue sky on the hillside, it seemed as
if he "were at work in the sky itself," and he notices the wild flowers
coming into the chill world; but, as before at the wharf, so now at his
farming, doubts assail his mind whether this manual labor is a
satisfactory solution of his difficulties in adjusting himself to the
world and opening communication with his fellow-men. The disillusion, if
there really had ever been any true hope on his part, was effected even
more quickly than before. Six weeks of manuring had brought him to
enthusiastic thankfulness that it was near done:--

"That abominable gold-mine! Thank God, we anticipate getting rid of its
treasures in the course of two or three days! Of all hateful places that
is the worst, and I shall never comfort myself for having spent so many
days of blessed sunshine there. It is my opinion that a man's soul may
be buried and perish under a dung-heap, or in a furrow of the field,
just as well as under a pile of money."

Ten weeks more finished the matter. "Joyful thought! in a little more
than a fortnight I shall be free from my bondage, ... free to enjoy
Nature,--free to think and feel!... Even my Custom House experience was
not such a thraldom and weariness; my mind and heart were free. Oh,
labor is the curse of the world, and nobody can meddle with it without
becoming proportionably brutified! Is it a praiseworthy matter that I
have spent five golden months in providing food for cows and horses? It
is not so."

Shortly after this outburst he made a visit to his home at Salem, where
he had been much missed. The few letters that his sister Louisa wrote to
him after he first went to the farm afford the pleasantest, and almost
the only glimpse of his place in the family. His experiment was plainly
not welcome to them; his mother "groaned over it;" but, apart from that,
in which there may have been some family pride, though there was also
real personal solicitude, it is noticeable how his sister counts the
weeks he has been gone, and expresses their vehement desires for his
return, and shows the thoughtfulness of the family for him in many ways.
"Mother apostrophizes your picture because you do not come home," she
writes, after "nine weeks" of absence,--"a great deal too long." In that
secluded home he must indeed have been missed, and doubtless it seemed
to them day by day more certain that he had really gone out from them
into another world of his own. When he was in Salem in September,
however, he no sooner crossed the threshold than he felt the old
deserted life fall on him again like an evil spirit. "How immediately
and irrecoverably," he writes to Sophia, "should I relapse into the way
of life in which I spent my youth! If it were not for you, this present
world would see no more of me forever. The sunshine would never fall on
me, no more than on a ghost. Once in a while people might discern my
figure gliding stealthily through the dim evening,--that would be all. I
should be only a shadow of the night; it is you that give me reality,
and make all things real for me. If, in the interval since I quitted
this lonely old chamber, I had found no woman (and you were the only
possible one) to impart reality and significance to life, I should have
come back hither ere now, with a feeling that all was a dream and a

Brook Farm seems to him now only another dream, and he gives his final
judgment on that matter:--

"Really I should judge it to be twenty years since I left Brook Farm;
and I take this to be one proof that my life there was an unnatural and
unsuitable, and therefore an unreal one. It already looks like a dream
behind me. The real Me was never an associate of the community; there
has been a spectral Appearance there, sounding the horn at daybreak, and
milking the cows, and hoeing potatoes, and raking hay, toiling in the
sun, and doing me the honor to assume my name. But this spectre was not
myself. Nevertheless, it is somewhat remarkable that my hands have,
during the past summer, grown very brown and rough, insomuch that many
people persist in believing that I, after all, was the aforesaid
spectral horn-sounder, cow-milker, potato-hoer, and hay-raker. But such
people do not know a reality from a shadow. Enough of nonsense."

Nevertheless he went back for a while, not now as a farmhand, but
apparently as a boarder, though he was made a trustee of the association
and chairman of the committee on finance. He took, from this time,
little part in the working life of the community. He had made up his
mind that there was to be no home for him there, though "weary, weary,
thrice weary of waiting so many ages." He turns his mind to other plans
of book-making, but does not have the seclusion he had found necessary
for composition, and rather mournfully writes that he "must observe, and
think, and feel, and content myself with catching glimpses of things
which may be wrought out hereafter." He did observe with his habitual
closeness the people who came and went, and the life of the inmates,
sitting himself apart a good deal with a book before his face. He made
friends with a few, a very few, of whom George Bradford and Frank Farley
remained to him in later times; but he was, as always, averse to
literary society, and came nearer to men of a different type in his
human intercourse. Sophia, who had seen him there amid the fraternity,
described his relationship to the others accurately, one of "courtesy
and conformableness and geniality;" but, she tells him, the expression
of his countenance was "that of a witness and hearer rather than of
comradeship." In the fall weather he spent much of his time rambling
about, and the scarlet color of the pastures, the warmth of the autumn
woods, and the fading of the blue-fringed gentian, last blossom of the
year, made up the texture of his notable life, just as similar things
had earlier done by the Salem shore. In the spring he left the
community, and made ready to go to Concord, where a place had been found
for him to settle.

In the production of literature, life at Brook Farm had proved as barren
as the years on Long Wharf. He had contributed one story, "A Virtuoso's
Collection," to "The Boston Miscellany" for May, 1842, and had added one
more to his little books, "Biographical Stories [Footnote:
_Biographical Stories for Children._ Benjamin West, Sir Isaac
Newton, Samuel Johnson, Oliver Cromwell, Benjamin Franklin, Queen
Christina. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. Author of Historical Tales for Youth,
Twice-Told Tales, etc. Boston: Tappan and Dennet, 114 Washington St.
1842. 18mo. Pp. v, 161. "Historical Tales for Youth" was made up by
binding the three Grandfather's Chair books in the 18mo second edition,
1842, together with this volume, and issued as four volumes in two, so
labeled on the back.] for Children." The volume was added to the
"Grandfather's Chair" series, which was brought out in a new edition in
1842. To the same year belongs the enlarged edition of "Twice-Told
Tales," [Footnote: _Twice-Told Tales._ By Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Boston: James Munroe and Company. 1842. 2 vols. 12mo. Pp. 331, 356. The
first volume contained the same tales as the former edition, with The
Toll-Gatherer's Day added. The second volume contained the following:
Howe's Masquerade, Edward Randolph's Portrait, Lady Eleanore's Mantle,
Old Esther Dudley, The Haunted Mind, The Village Uncle, The Ambitious
Guest, The Sister Years, Snowflakes, The Seven Vagabonds, The White Old
Maid, Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure, Chippings with a Chisel, The Shaker
Bridal, Night Sketches, Endicott and the Red Cross, The Lily's Quest,
Footprints on the Sea-Shore, Edward Fane's Rosebud, The Threefold
Destiny.] in two volumes, in which the number of stories was doubled,
but the collection still left out many titles which were afterwards

Hawthorne had now been practically idle, so far as his genius was
concerned, for three years, and had experimented to his heart's content
in other modes of life. He had decided on immediate marriage. Sophia had
recovered from her invalidism, and the lifelong headache she had
experienced disappeared. It remained only to inform Madam Hawthorne of
the engagement which had been so long concealed. He felt some
trepidation, since, he says, "almost every agitating circumstance of her
life had cost her a fit of illness." But his fears were groundless; she
came out of her chamber to meet him as soon as he arrived, looking
better and more cheerful than usual, and full of kindness. "Foolish me,"
he writes happily to Sophia, "to doubt that my mother's love could be
wise, like all other genuine love!... It seems that our mother had seen
how things were a long time ago; at first her heart was troubled,
because she knew that much of outward as well as inward fitness was
requisite to secure our peace; but gradually and quietly God has taught
her that all is good, and so we shall have her fullest blessing and
concurrence. My sisters, too, begin to sympathize as they ought, and all
is well. God be praised! I thank Him on my knees, and pray Him to make
me worthy of the happiness you bring me." The quiet marriage took place
on July 9, 1842, at the home of the Peabodys in Boston, and Hawthorne
and his wife went to Concord to reside at the Old Manse.



The life upon which the Hawthornes now entered for a period of three
years and more was one of village quiet and country happiness. Concord
was a characteristic town of eastern Massachusetts, with woodland,
pasture, and hill lying unevenly in a diversified landscape, and in the
midst the little river winding its slow way along by the famous bridge.
The neighbors were few, and for the most part were members of the
literary group of residents or visitors which gave Concord its later
distinction. Yet even here, amid this rural peace and in so restricted a
society, life at the Old Manse had a still deeper seclusion, as of a
place of retreat and inviolable privacy; there was an atmosphere of
solitude about it, wrapping it round, a sense of life with nature, and
only slight and distant contact with the world, the privacy of a house
that is snow-bound, lasting on as if by enchantment through July heats
as well as February drifts. Hawthorne enjoyed this freedom in the place
that first seemed to him like real home; and he and his wife pleased
their fancy with thinking of it as a native paradise, with themselves as
the new Adam and Eve, a thought which he had held in prospect before
marriage and now clung to with a curious tenacity, pursuing it through
many changes of idea; and, on the level of fact, he used to write that
he had never lived so like a boy since he really was a boy in the old
days in Maine.

The situation of the house lent itself to his tastes and inclinations.
It was set back from the street, toward which an avenue of trees led
out, and in the rear was the apple orchard with the river on its edge.
He could look from his windows on the life of the road, with its
occasional passers-by, for it was seldom that any one turned up the
avenue to call; and he could go down to the stream to bathe and fish in
summer, and to skate in winter on the black ice. He would wander out
over the fields and into the woods with Ellery Channing, and go boating
with Thoreau, both of whom were companions he liked to be with; or if he
met Margaret Fuller in the paths of Sleepy Hollow, he could spend an
hour or two in such half transcendental, half-sentimental talk as he
records from such a chance encounter. Emerson came, also, to talk and
walk with a man who was so firm-set in his own ways, being attracted to
him by the subtleties of personality, for he never could read
Hawthorne's tales then or afterwards, so profound was the opposition of
their genius. If visitors stayed at the manse, it would be George
Bradford, whom Hawthorne respected in the highest degree which his
appreciation of others ever reached, or Frank Farley, the half-crazy
Brook Farmer, whom he gave himself to in a more self-sacrificing way to
aid and comfort in his bewildered and imperfect state; or else Hillard
would arrive, with much cheerfulness and news from Longfellow or others
of the Cambridge men. But Hawthorne still kept the social world at a
distance from his private and intimate self; these men, though he
maintained kindly intercourse with them, never penetrated the shell of
his true reserve; the contact was but superficial; and though they were
good for company, he was often glad when they were gone and he was again
alone with nature and his dreams, and the ways and things of household

In doors, and out doors, too, the new life was full of happiness. The
gentle felicity of the literary recluse breathes through the description
he gave of the place and time and habits of existence in the Manse,
which he wrote out for his readers in the pleasantest of his
autobiographical papers; and as for details to supply a more complete
picture,--are they not written at large in the family letters? His wife
worshiped him, and named him all the names of classic mythology and
history,--Endymion, Epaminondas, Apollo,--glorying in his physical
kinghood, as she saw it, when he glided skating in the rose-colored air
of twilight, and also in the divine qualities of his spirit in doors,
where he, on occasion--and the occasion grew more and more
frequent--would wash the dishes, do the chores, cook the meals even,
relieving her of every care of this kind in servant matters. He read to
her in the evenings Macaulay, all of Shakspere, the Sermon on the Mount
for Sunday, and generally the old books over, Thomson's "Castle,"
Spenser's faeryland, and the rest. She rejoiced in him and all that was
his; and she painted and modeled a good deal and worked out her artistic
instincts very happily for herself, and much to her husband's
sympathetic pleasure. Una, the first child, was born March 3, 1844, and
with this new revelation life went on in deeper and sweeter ways of
feeling, thought, and service. The home is easily to be seen now, though
it was then so private a place,--a home essentially not of an uncommon
New England type, where refined qualities and noble behavior flourished
close to the soil of homely duties and the daily happiness of natural
lives under whatever hardships; a home of friendly ties, of high
thoughts within, and of poverty bravely borne.

There is no other word for it. Into this paradise of the Manse at
Concord, set in the very heart of outer and inward peace so complete,
poverty had come. Hawthorne had never had any superfluity in the things
that give comfort and ease to life even on a small scale. The years at
Salem had been marked by strict economies always, it is plain; there was
no more than enough in that house, and thence arose in part its proud
instinct of isolation; and Bridge, it may be recalled, had cheered up
Hawthorne's doubting spirits on one occasion by telling him that the
three hundred dollars he earned, at the age of thirty, was sufficient to
support him. On such a scale, he would not have called himself poor. But
he was poor now, with that frank meaning that the word has to a man
willing to do without, who cannot pay his small debts; in fact the
smallness of the debt gives its edge to the misery. Hawthorne's whole
New England nature rebelled against it; for there is nothing so
deep-grained in the old New England character as the dislike to be
"dependent," as the word is used. Hawthorne had gone through his
training, too, in boyhood; he had never contracted debts till he had the
money to pay them; and now he had miscalculated the "honesty"--as he
doubtless named it in his thoughts--of other men. He had expected to
draw out the thousand dollars invested at Brook Farm, and he supposed he
would get it, especially if he really needed it, so unbusiness-like were
his ideas; but as a matter of fact, he had lost that money in the
speculation as much as if he had risked it in any other way. There was
more to justify his irritation in the fact that "The Democratic Review,"
which had begun by paying five dollars a page, and had dropped to twenty
dollars an article independent of length, had practically failed. He
could not get paid for his work, and so he could not pay the small bills
of household expenses. They were insignificant, in one sense, but the
fact that they were not paid was independent of the amount. Emerson told
him, so his wife writes, "to whistle for it, ... everybody was in debt,
... all worse than he was." There had been hardship almost from the
first, as appears from Hawthorne's anger at Mr. Upham for telling tales
in Salem of their "poverty and misery," on which his most significant
comment, perhaps, is, "We never have been quite paupers." This was in
March, 1843, and it is not unlikely that the modest ways of the house,
and possibly that disregard for regular meals in which Hawthorne had
long been experienced, may have given an impression of greater economy
than there was need of; but, for all Hawthorne's natural disclaimer, the
family plainly spent as little as possible, and he found the kitchen
garden, whose fortunes he follows with such interest, gave him food as
well as exercise. The "Paradisaical dinner," on Christmas Day, 1843, "of
preserved quince and apple, dates, and bread and cheese, and milk,"
though of course its simplicity was only due to the cook's absence in
Boston, indicates other difficulties of housekeeping, as also do a
hundred half-amusing details of the household life. But the time of
trouble came in dead earnest in the course of 1845, and in the fall of
that year extremity is seen nigh at hand when Mrs. Hawthorne writes to
her mother: "He and Una are my perpetual Paradise, and I besieged heaven
with prayers that we might not find it our duty to separate, whatever
privations we must outwardly suffer in consequence of remaining

The way out of all this trouble was found for Hawthorne by the same
friends who had formerly rescued him in the time of his bitter
discouragement before his engagement. In the spring of 1845, Bridge and
Frank Pierce appeared on the scene, and finding Hawthorne at his daily
task of chopping wood in the shed, they had a meeting of the old
college-boy sort that brightens the page with one of those human scenes
that, occurring seldom in Hawthorne's life, have such realistic effect.

"Mr. Bridge caught a glimpse of him, and began a sort of waltz towards
him. Mr. Pierce followed; and when they reappeared, Mr. Pierce's arm was
encircling my husband's old blue frock. How his friends do love him! Mr.
Bridge was perfectly wild with spirits. He danced and gesticulated and
opened his round eyes like an owl.... My husband says Mr. Pierce's
affection for and reliance upon him are perhaps greater than any other
person's. He called him 'Nathaniel,' and spoke to him and looked at him
with peculiar tenderness."

The friends agreed that something should be done for Hawthorne through
political influence, and in the course of the succeeding months there
was much discussion of one and another office without immediate result;
and meanwhile Hawthorne prepared to remove to Salem again, where he
would so arrange matters that his mother and sisters should live in the
same house with him. He had occasionally visited them during his married
life, and on one of these short stays at home an incident occurred that
should be recorded, not only for its singularity, but for its glimpse of
his mother in a new light.

"For the first time since my husband can remember, he dined with his
mother! This is only one of the miracles which the baby is to perform.
Her grandmother held her on her lap till one of us should finish dining,
and then ate her own meal. She thinks Una is a beauty, and, I believe,
is not at all disappointed in her. Her grandmother also says she has the
most perfect form she ever saw in a baby."

It was a year later than this anecdote that the family was reunited in
Salem, but before following Hawthorne in his return to his native,
though never very well loved town, his literary work in these years at
Concord should be looked at.

When Hawthorne came to live at the Old Manse it was some time since he
had produced any imaginative work, or, indeed, written anything except
the stories for children in "Grandfather's Chair," which hardly rise
above the class of hack work. Since leaving Salem in January, 1840, he
had published but one paper that is remembered in his better writings,
and that, "A Virtuoso's Collection," was of a peculiar character, being
no more than a play of fancy, a curiosity of literary invention. After
the lapse of two years and a half, during which his imagination was
uncreative, it might have been anticipated that, under the new
conditions of tranquillity and private happiness, in the favorable
surroundings of the Manse, he would have shown unusual fruitfulness; but
such was not the case. In the additional three years and a half that had
now passed since he settled at Concord, he gave to the world only
eighteen papers. They did not begin until 1843, and were distributed,
for the most part, evenly over the next two years. "Little
Daffydowndilly" appeared in "The Boys' and Girls' Magazine" in 1843.
Lowell's periodical, "The Pioneer," which lived only through the first
three months of that year, contained "The Hall of Fantasy," in the
February, and "The Birthmark," in the March number. "The Democratic
Review," which was still edited by O'Sullivan, a warm friend though
editorially impecunious, received the remaining tales and sketches with
a few exceptions. It published them as follows: in 1843, "The New Adam
and Eve," February; "Egotism, or The Bosom Serpent," March; "The
Procession of Life," April; "The Celestial Railroad," May; "Buds and
Bird Voices," June; "Fire Worship," December; in 1844, "The Christmas
Banquet," January; "The Intelligence Office," March; "The Artist of the
Beautiful," June; "A Select Party," July; "Rappaccini's Daughter,"
December; in 1845, "P.'s Correspondence," April. "Earth's Holocaust" had
appeared in "Graham's Magazine," March, 1844, apparently on Griswold's
invitation; and two tales, "Drowne's Wooden Image," and "The Old Apple
Dealer," were published, if at all, in some unknown place. All of these
appeared under the author's own name, except that he once relapsed into
his old habit by sending forth "Rappaccini's Daughter" as a part of the
writings of Aubépine, a former pseudonym. "The Celestial Railroad"
[Footnote: _The Celestial Railroad._ By Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Boston: published by Wilder & Co., No. 46 Washington Street. 1843. 82mo,
paper. Pp. 32.] was published separately as a pamphlet. He had edited
for "The Democratic Review" also the "Papers of an old Dartmoor
Prisoner;" and, in 1845, he assisted his friend Bridge to appear as an
author by arranging and revising his "Journal of an African Cruiser."
[Footnote: _Journal of an African Cruiser._ Comprising Sketches of
the Canaries, The Cape de Verdes, Liberia, Madeira, Sierra Leone, and
Other Places of Interest on the West Coast of Africa. By an Officer of
the U. S. Navy. Edited by Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York & London: Wiley
and Putnam. 1845. 12mo. Pp. 179.] This amount of literary work, taken
altogether, is not considerable, and it is noticeable that in the last
year, 1845, he seems to have practically ceased writing. He may have
been a slow, and possibly an infrequent writer; such, in fact, is the
inference to be drawn also from his earlier years, when he does not seem
to have been a rapid producer except at the time of the issue of
"Twice-Told Tales," when he had the strongest spur of ambition and most
felt the need of succeeding. He had written, in all, about ninety tales
and sketches in twenty years, so far as is known, of which thirty-nine
had been collected in the "Twice-Told Tales." He now took all his new
tales and, adding to them five others from his earlier uncollected
stock, wrote the introductory sketch of his Concord life, and issued
them as "Mosses from an Old Manse" [Footnote: _Mosses from an Old
Manse_. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. In two parts. New York: Wiley and
Putnam. 1846. 12mo. Pp. 211. The volume, the two parts bound as one,
contained The Old Manse, The Birthmark, A Select Party, Young Goodman
Brown, Rappaccini's Daughter, Mrs. Bullfrog, Fire Worship, Buds and Bird
Voices, Monsieur du Miroir, The Hall of Fantasy, The Celestial Railroad,
The Procession of Life.] in Wiley and Putnam's Library of American
Books, New York. The work appeared in the earlier part of 1846. Later he
was to gather up the yet uncollected papers of the first period, and add
the very few tales afterwards written; but, in fact, Hawthorne's
activity as a writer of tales practically ended with his leaving
Concord. His work of that kind was done; and some idea of what he had
accomplished, some analysis of his temperament and art as disclosed in
these tales that were the only enduring fruits of the score of years
since he left college and began the literary life, may now fairly be
built on the total result.

These hundred tales and sketches of Hawthorne, broadly speaking, embody
the literary results of his life, especially from his thirtieth to his
fortieth year, and represent all its activities. In comparison with his
later romances on the larger scale of life, they are studies, the
'prentice work of his learning hand, and they disclose successively the
varieties and modes of his growth, which was one of slow and almost
imperceptible gradations, until his method was fully formed, perhaps
unconsciously, and became the artistic mould of his genius. In his first
attempts there was little, if anything, more than in the instinctive
motions of a bird's wings,--the disposition for flight. He had the
faculty of literary expression, which had been nourished within and
outwardly shaped in manner by constant contact with the English classic
authors, and especially with good prose, clear, simple, and direct, from
which melodious cadence had not yet been eliminated. He was touched,
also, by some vague literary ambition, not well defined, but predisposed
to fiction; and he had a physically indolent habit, which kept him
disengaged from practical affairs and led him more and more into
meditative ways. He did not have any inspiration from within, any
enthusiasm of sympathy or purpose, any life of his own, seeking
expression; nor did he find easily a definite subject outside himself to
observe, describe, and animate. He turned, in his early tales, to the
local traditions and memories of his native place, and his stories were
no more than sketched history, provincial in atmosphere; nor did his
genius show even faintly in them any of its characteristic lines. Scott,
undoubtedly, was the author who had most affected his mental habit, and
with this exception, notwithstanding what some critics have alleged of
his so-called "American predecessors," Charles Brockden Brown and the
author of "Peter Rugg," there is no trace of any other literary
influence upon him either in this preparatory time or later in life; but
something of Scott is to be found permanently in his creative work,--in
the figure-grouping, the high speeches, the oddities of character
humorously treated, and especially in the use of set scenes individually
elaborated to give the high lights and to advance the story. But Scott's
method was at first inadequately applied, nor is there any sign that the
young author yet appreciated the artistic capabilities of the material
he was using.

Hawthorne's instinct was always right in the preferences he showed among
his works, of which he was an excellent critic. It was not merely by
accident that he was first known as the author of "Sights from a
Steeple," though accident may have had its share in the matter; and he
long continued to use this signature. This little essay is very
carefully written, and displays in remarkable perfection one quality
that became so characteristic of his work that he has no rival in it
except Poe; it has that harmony of tone which is known as keeping a
unity of design and development so pervasive that the heavens above and
the earth below are seen from the little steeple as from a centre, and
nature and life seem to revolve around the eye at that altitude with
complete breadth as well as smallness of proportion. It is the simplest
of trifles, as a composition; and, like much of Hawthorne's writing, has
a curious accent of the school reader, as if it were meant for that, so
well is it adjusted to ready comprehension, so mild is its interest, so
matter-of-fact yet playful in fancy is its substance, and so immediate
is its village charm. He was proud of it as a piece of writing, and
justly enough, for though it may seem like one of the books of Lilliput,
it perfectly accomplishes its little life. The type once struck out in
this clear way, Hawthorne returned to it again and again, and always
with the same happiness in execution and the same delight in the thing
itself. In such a frame he would set the miniature of a day, as in "The
Toll-Gatherer's Day," or "Footprints on the Sea-Shore," or "Sunday at
Home;" or he would enclose a portrait, of Dutch faithfulness in detail,
and suggestive also of the school in other ways, as in "The Old Apple
Dealer," or with greater breadth of life, in "The Village Uncle." "A
Rill from the Town Pump" and "Main Street" belong to the same kind of
writing; and most akin to it, at least, are such mingled nature and home
pieces as "Snowflakes," "Buds and Bird Voices," and "Fire Worship."
These titles cover the whole period of the tales, but there is no change
in the manner or quality,--they are all of one kind.

To make sketches so slight as these interesting, much more to embalm
them in literature, requires some magical touch either in the hand of
the author or the heart of the reader. They are the thistledown of
literature, creatures of a contemplative idleness as pure as childhood's
own, the sun's impartial photography on the film of a rambler's eye; yet
in these few pages are condensed some thousands, probably, of
Hawthorne's days. The life they depict has been called barren, and the
literary product has been described as thin. "What triviality, what
monotony, what emptiness!" the critics exclaim. It is, indeed,
provincial; rusticity is its element. Hawthorne, however, did not choose
it, as a topic, for that reason, with a conscious intention to exploit
it. He could not have been aware, he could not have half known even, how
provincial it was, for he had never gone out of this countryside in
which he was bred, or become acquainted with a different world; even on
his journeys in stage-coaches he had not got free of it. The sketches
made no artificial appeal; they have the true flavor of the soil, and
are written for those who sprang from it and dwelt upon it and would be
buried in it. This is the charm that still clings to them, and indeed
pervades them like an aromatic odor in East Indian wood. They are true
transcripts of life, though vanished now from its place at least in that
region, which then enjoyed the seclusion of a nest of villages uninvaded
by railroads, and was nearer perhaps to Calcutta and Sumatra and the
Gold Coast than to New York. He was not so solitary and alone in this
life, after all. That part of New England was not far from being a
Forest of Arden, when Emerson might be met any day with a pail berrying
in the pastures, or Margaret Fuller reclining by a brook, or Hawthorne
on a high rock throwing stones at his own shadow in the water. There was
a Thoreau--there still is--in every New England village, usually
inglorious. The lone fisherman of the Isaak Walton type had become, in
the New World, the wood-walker, the flower-hunter, the bird-fancier, the
berry-picker, and many another variety of the modern ruralist. Hawthorne
might easily have found a companion or two of similar wandering habits
and half hermit-like intellectual life, though seldom so fortunate as to
be able to give themselves entirely up to vagrancy of mind, like
himself. Thoreau is, perhaps, the type, on the nature side; and
Hawthorne was to the village what Thoreau was to the wild wood.

The truth of these sketches is their prime quality, for Hawthorne wrote
them with the familiar affection and home-attachment of one who had
fleeted the golden time of his youth amid these scenes of common day,
and prolonged it far into manhood, and should never quite lose its glow
of mere existence, its kindliness for humble things, its generous
leisure for the perishable beauty of nature dotted here and there with
human life. It is a countrified scene that is disclosed, but this truth
which characterizes it, this fidelity of fact and sentiment and mood,
suggests new and deeper values,--a charm, a health, even a power comes
to the surface as one gazes, the power of peace in quiet places; and
even a cultivated man, if he be not callous with culture, may feel its
attractiveness, a sense that the tide of life grows full in the still
coves as well as on all the sounding beaches of the world; and an
existence in which the smell of peat-smoke is an event, and the sight of
some children paddling in the water is a day's memory, and the mere
drawing in of the salt sea wind is life itself, may seem as important in
its simplicity as the varied impressions of a day in the season. This
was Hawthorne's life; was it after all so valueless? He was well aware
that even the native moralist, though unenlightened, would call him to
account for wasting his time; and he made his apology after having
obeyed his mood:--

"Setting forth at my last ramble on a September morning, I bound myself
with a hermit's vow to interchange no thoughts with man or woman, to
share no social pleasure, but to derive all that day's enjoyment from
shore and sea and sky,--from my soul's communion with these, and from
fantasies and recollections, or anticipated realities. Surely here is
enough to feed a human spirit for a single day. Farewell, then, busy
world! Till your evening lights shall shine along the street,--till they
gleam upon my sea-flushed face as I tread homeward,--free me from your
ties, and let me be a peaceful outlaw.

"... But grudge me not the day 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 me in 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. And when, at noontide, I
tread the crowded streets, the influence of this day will still be felt;
so that I shall walk among men kindly and as a brother, with affection
and sympathy, but yet shall not melt into the indistinguishable mass of
humankind. I shall think my own thoughts, and feel my own emotions, and
possess my individuality unviolated."

The apology seems adapted to the comprehension of the native moralist,
it must be confessed, and is only an afterthought; for Hawthorne enjoyed
his out-door life for its own sake, with little reference to its
ameliorating influence on his social behavior. It is his own life,
nothing more or less, that he thus describes, in the surroundings that
heaven vouchsafed to him for better or worse in the Salem streets, in
the Danvers lanes, by the coves of Marblehead, and along the western
river uplands or the winding seashore of Beverly beside the islands. If
he went far afield to Nantucket, he returned with "Chippings with a
Chisel;" if he took an umbrella for a walk in the rain at home, he
brought back "Night Sketches." Such was his place. His own delight in
this existence is noticeable, for it fitted his nature; in none of his
works is the pleasure of the author in writing them so marked a trait,
and in none does one come nearer to his natural self. They are complete
and intimate revelations of the life of his senses, the sounds and
sights and happenings of daily life. They pleased the readers he had at
that time in New England, because they were a faithful reproduction of
the commonplace, played upon by sentiment and slightly moralized, but
quite in the tone of the community; and all men like to see themselves
and their ways reflected in the mirror of words. They continue to yield
the same mild pleasure now, perhaps rather by virtue of a reminiscent
charm, for this life still exists on the horizons of memory as a part of
the days gone by. They belong with the literature of the old red
schoolhouse, the moss-covered bucket, and the barefoot boy,--they are of
a past that was countrified and old-fashioned, and are its best record;
and even in the style, the mode of conception, they have the look of
antiquated things. Their nearness to the school has been adverted to;
the cognate piece, "A Bell's Biography," has the completeness of a boy's
composition; there is a touch of nonage in them all, intellectually. In
this, too, they are true to the time. Things provincial seen by a
provincial mind and set forth by a provincial art,--such are these
delicately minute sketches; and unless one takes them so, he misses
their excellence, their virtue, the vitality they have. Life in the
provinces, however, is also a divine gift, and its values have seldom
been better portrayed, its breadth, its narrowness, its shadings through
sunshine and nightfall, its sentiment, its miscellaneousness, its
weariness; but its controlling characteristic is its rural peace, such
as one likes to see in a painting on the wall for year-long
contemplation, and if this be broken, it is with real tragedy, disasters
of the sea, or such an inland story as the drowning of the young woman
at Concord so accurately told in the "Note-Books." Hawthorne's
personality counts for much, too, in these pieces, as Irving's also does
in his sketches. The sense of a kindly temperament, hospitable to all
that lives and is in the dusty world, is felt like a touch of nature
making us akin to the writer; the classic quality of the prose itself
gilds all with sunshine; and one only needs love of the soil to complete
the charm.

These records of memory and sentiment, however, belong to Hawthorne's
ocular observation, in the main, and to the exterior sphere of his art.
It is in the historical tales that his imagination first acts with
seeing power; and here, too, the story by which he preferred to be
known, "The Gentle Boy," stands out, though its prominence is rather a
matter of priority than of distinction, for it is the fruit of his
sympathies more than of his imagination. The remembrance of his
ancestor's share in the persecution of the Quakers may have suggested
the theme, and specially drawn out his own gentleness in the treatment.
The singularity of the tale is partly due to the fascination of the
child's name, Ilbrahim, which brings before the mind an eastern
background, emphasizes his loneliness, and gives a suggestion of
Scriptural charm to the narrative. One almost expects to see palm-trees
growing up over him. He is, however, not individualized,--he is the
universal orphan child; nor does it require any stretch of fancy to see
in him the Christchild that St. Christopher bore over the river, for so
might that Child have come into this wilderness preaching the eternal
lesson. The pathetic story is a fable of piety, in fact, and is somewhat
nervelessly handled for reality; the figures seem to glide in their
motions, they are not quite set on the earth, they are impalpable except
in their emotions. The facts lack firmness, though the feeling is
wrought out with truth and refinement and makes an irresistible appeal
of pity. It is, however, rather in the second historical tale which
Hawthorne chose to stand as his pseudonym of authorship, "The Gray
Champion," that he finds the type whose method he afterward repeats
while developing it more richly. This tale is a picture, a scene, ending
in a tableau; the surrounding stir of life, excitement, and atmosphere
is first prepared, then the procession comes down the street, and is
arrested, challenged, and thrown back by the venerable figure of the old
Puritan who stands alone, like a prophet come back from the dead to
deliver the people. The composition, the development, the focusing are
in Scott's manner; it is from him that this dramatic presentation of
history in a single scene, as here, or by a succession of scenes
carrying on a story, is derived; partly pictorial, partly theatrical,
always dramatic, this is the method which Hawthorne applied, the art of
"The Author of Waverley," who was its great master in English fiction.
"Endicott and the Red Cross" is a small study of the same sort; and in
that sketch, and elsewhere, it is noticeable that in bearing and
language the characters resemble the Covenanters, as Scott fixed the
type in literature, more than they recall the real New England Puritans.
Hawthorne's interest in colonial history found its most complete early
expression in the "Tales of the Province House," in which he for once
succeeded in grouping a series in a natural and effective way so as to
make a larger whole. "Sir William Howe's Masquerade" is told by a
succession of scenes, quite in the manner described, and the suggestion
of mystery, the supernatural intention felt in the incident though not
explicitly present in the fact, which in this story attends the last
descending figure of the line of royal governors, as it also attended
the figure of the Gray Champion, is also in Scott's manner, though more
subtly effected. In "Edward Randolph's Portrait" the appearance of the
picture on the faded canvas is mechanically accounted for, but at the
moment of its discovery this same supernatural expectancy, as it were,
is aroused in the beholders; the incident itself recalls the appearance
of the portrait of old Lord Ravenswood at the marriage ball of "The
Bride of Lammermoor," though the analogy may very likely never have
occurred to Hawthorne. "Old Esther Dudley" is hardly more than a
character portrait,--the memory of the Province House and all it stood
for preserved in the devotion of the old servant into whose life it had
passed and whose spirit it occupied like a reliquary of old time. The
best of these four tales is "Lady Eleanore's Mantle," and it is so
because in it Hawthorne's genius passed out of the sphere of history and
touched on that universal moral world where his most original creation
was to lie. It is necessary here only to observe that in this tale he
has fully seized the power of the physical object, plainly sensible to
all as matter of fact, to serve as the medium for moral suggestion often
difficult to put into words, of that sort whose effect is rather in the
feelings than in thought; and this, without turning the object into an
express symbol. The mantle of Lady Eleanore is a garment of pride, and
also a garment of death in its dread form of pestilence; the story
continually returns to it, as its physical theme, and the imagination
fixes upon it by a kind of fascination, as through it the double aspect
of Lady Eleanore's isolation is sensibly clothed, her haughtiness and
her contagion, whose fatal bond is in this mantle, which finally seems
not only to express her life but to rule her tragedy. Here one feels a
new power, because while Hawthorne still retains the method of narration
he had adopted, he has enriched it with an art and genius distinctly his
own. In another tale,--which is provincial if not historical, and which
was one of his earlier pieces,--"Roger Malvin's Burial," there is also a
noticeable beginning in his art, for in this he uses undesigned
coincidence to give that impression of a guided accomplishment of fate,
which is so dramatically effective to the moral sense. From these few
instances it will be observed that Hawthorne reached artistic
consciousness, and a mastery of aim and method, slowly and along no one
line of development; rather his genius seemingly put forth many
tendrils, seeking direction and support and growth, and gradually in
these hundred tales he found himself and his art.

History assisted Hawthorne's imagination in its operation by affording
that firmness and distinctness of outline which was most needed in his
work; it gave body to his creations, but in his most characteristic and
original tales this body was not to be one of external fact, but of
moral thought. His genius contained a primary element of reflection, of
meditation on life, of the abstract; and while his imagination might
take its start and find an initial impulse, an occasion, in some
concrete object on which it fastened, its course in working itself out
was governed by this abstract moral intention. In dealing with life
directly, and not through history, the tales which are at the least
remove from mere observation are those that were immediately suggested
by his journeys and embody these experiences in their background if not
in the whole; such are "The Seven Vagabonds" and the two Shaker
episodes, "The Canterbury Pilgrims" and "A Shaker Bridal." His
experiments in the grotesque style, "Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe" and
"Mrs. Bullfrog," can be left one side, for they never passed the stage
of amateurish weakness, and led to nothing. His meditation on life
sometimes centres about an individual, but this is only seeming; his
real interest was always in collective life or in the atmosphere round
about all lives. To take a simple case, but one typical of his point of
view and method, "The Haunted Mind" is a study in the night-atmosphere
of the human soul, in a certain state, and is rendered with the
vividness of personal experience. "Fancy's Show-Box" is a more
individualized variant of the same motive, and yet its substance is the
frankly abstract question of responsibility for guilt which is not acted
but only entertained; and as in this tale the story is of the sins that
hover round the soul waiting to be born, so in "David Swan" the story is
of the events that might happen to an unsuspecting man, but pass by
innocuous after merely shadowing his sleep like a threat. To this
atmosphere of life also belongs the elaborate shadow sketch, "Monsieur
de Miroir," a motive often treated in literature and here more lightly
handled than one would have anticipated, and hence more ineffectively,
for Hawthorne's power did not lie in his playfulness of fancy so much as
in its darker workings. Hawthorne let his mind brood over these
possibilities of life, these half-vital acts, thoughts, and beings, like
fears in an anxious mind, things that have only partial being, but are
real enough at times to trouble the mind's eye. A touch of this
atmosphere of unreality is found, also, in such a tale as "Wakefield,"
the story of the man who disappeared from his place in life though he
remained in the neighborhood unknown; the main theme is rather the man
cut off from life, which Hawthorne so often recurred to, but the element
of life's contingency, the nearness of an event that might happen but
never does, is what makes the strangeness of this curious study.

In approaching life itself in its individual forms, the slightness of
Hawthorne's attempt in the earlier pieces is very marked. A good example
of it is "The Wives of the Dead." Two wives, who suppose their husbands
have been lost at sea, are told separately at different hours of the
night, in the house they occupy together, that the lost has been saved;
each believing the other a widow leaves her to sleep. Here are merely
two dramatic moments described and opposed, a perfect example of
likeness in difference on a small scale, done with great truth to
nature; the sketch is finely wrought, and gains by its intense
condensation of situation and its brief single mood. Two such moments,
in his simpler tales, Hawthorne was accustomed to take, and treat by
opposition; the power lies in the contrast. Such, to give examples, are
"The White Old Maid," "Edward Fane's Rosebud," and with less
distinctness, "The Wedding Knell," where the contrast goes back to lost
youth for effect. In the very artificial fable, which has elements of
the fairy story in it, "The Three-fold Destiny," there is this simple
construction, and it is found also in "The Prophetic Pictures," though
that tale is primarily a study in the idea of fate, a subject seldom
touched by Hawthorne, the notion of an inevitable destiny foreseen by
the painter's intuition and forecast on the canvas, but implicit from
the beginning in character. In all these tales scene, situation, and
character, as well as the dialogue, are handled with little variation;
pictorial and dramatic effects are sought, and the slight plot is
developed, by the means usual to Hawthorne's hand. The allegorizing
method, it should be observed, though it appears with greater or less
influence, is not employed with any exclusiveness, but takes its place
with other resources of his art. In "The Great Carbuncle," however, and
in "The Man of Adamant," the allegory is predominant and absorbs the
tale. Perhaps it is as an offshoot of this allegorizing mood that the
tales of pure fancy should be regarded, those masque-like inventions, "A
Select Party" and "The Hall of Fantasy," together with "The Intelligence
Office" and "A Virtuoso's Collection," also remnants of old-fashioned
ingenuity. In such fantasy Hawthorne found a better channel for that
play of his mind which had earlier sought expression in the grotesque;
oddity of thought he had in plenty, and the sense of oddity was often as
far as his humorous faculty reached, for it was perceptive rather than

Of collective life, frankly so treated, Hawthorne wrote frequently,--the
group is an important one. The crowd attracted him by its polarity to
his own solitude, and it is curious to observe how fond he was of the
processional in his work. The simple illustration of this sort is "The
Procession of Life;" here he marshals mankind, as with the power of a
magician's rod, in hordes. In "The New Adam and Eve" he reviews society
in its institutions and its garniture of civilization; and the
conception is a happy device by which to obtain the requisite distance
and wholeness for a single point of view. "Earth's Holocaust," though
superficially different, is a variant of the same theme, presenting the
product of life in masses; its inclusion of the indestructibility of the
good is noticeable as a philosophical idea such as he rarely introduced
in an explicit way. The felicitous allegory of "The Celestial Railroad"
satirizes human nature without bitterness; but, while the universality
of Bunyan's emblems is strikingly shown by the ease with which they are
adapted to the new age of steam, the tale is, as it were, music
transposed; the cleverness is Hawthorne's, but Bunyan wrote the piece.
These four tales, admirable as they are in breadth, are nevertheless
essentially reflective. The imaginative group of the same scope is of a
higher rank. In it the general life is set forth with more
individuality, though life in the abstract still occupies the
foreground. To set aside such a moral parable as "The Lily's Quest," or
such an illustration of the power of love to raise a man above himself
temporarily as "Drowne's Wooden Image," or such a study of isolation as
"The Man of Adamant," in all of which the didacticism is rather nakedly
felt, there are two tales that equally exemplify this class, "Dr.
Heidegger's Experiment" and "The Christmas Banquet." In the first the
ghastliness of the reversal of the course of life backward, as the
guests drink the elixir of youth, while it suggests the paltriness of
our pleasures, is a powerful lesson in the beneficence of that daily
death whereby we resign the past; this rejuvenation violates nature, and
so shocks us, and by the very shock we are reconciled with nature, from
which we had parted in thought. "The Christmas Banquet" is one of the
most artistically conceived of all the tales, though its subject repels
us; the wretchedness of life is shown in the persons of numerous guests
through a succession of years, with the effect of a multiplicity of
instances; yet at the end it is found that the worst wretch of all is
the constant guest with the cold, unfeeling heart,--the climax of misery
is not to have lived at all. The tale is carefully composed, especially
in those points of keeping, balance, and contrast in which Hawthorne was
expert, yet by some misadventure it fails to interpret itself clearly.
In proportion, however, as imagination enters into these stories under
the impulse of the artistic faculty, it will be seen that they lend
themselves less readily to such definite classification as has thus far
been attempted; the various elements of Hawthorne's genius and art draw
together and combine, and in the group that remains to be noticed his
originality is most conspicuous, and this requires a more flexible
treatment, though without exception these tales fall under the head of
the general life set forth reflectively in the forms of concrete

Probably in no one point is Hawthorne's peculiarity so obviously marked
as in the persistency with which he clings to a physical image, vividly
impressing it upon the mind, like a text which gathers atmosphere and
discloses significance under the special treatment of the preacher. It
is said that he had, artistically, the allegorizing temperament, and he
in fact did use all those forms of imagery--the fable, apologue,
parable--which belong to this mode of presentation; but in his most
effective work the allegory is more subtly embodied,--it exists in
suggestion, and its appeal is as much emotional as didactic. The nucleus
of this new mystery is the physical object that he seizes upon and in
which his imagination works as if it were clay, recreating it so that it
becomes more than pure symbol, as has been illustrated in "Lady
Eleanore's Mantle;" and sometimes it is almost vitalized into a life of
its own. This power of such an object to become the medium of thought
and emotion as well as to convey merely allegorical meaning he gradually
discovered; and doubtless he especially valued its function to afford by
its crude definiteness a balance to the tenuous and impalpable, the
vagueness, refinement, and mystery, to which it is the complement, in
his art; he gains reality by its presence for what else, as a whole,
might seem too insubstantial, too much a part of that shadow world in
which he dreaded to dwell altogether.

Such an object is, at all events, a necessity for him in his greater
work. A crude form of it is the snake, in the tale of "The Bosom
Serpent," one of those "allegories of the heart" which he apparently
meant to write in a series of which he never found the key. The idea is
an old one; the man with a snake in his bosom is a hypochondriac, who by
centring his thoughts on himself has developed this fancy and is
tortured by it. The cure is wrought when he forgets himself in returning
to the love of his wife. The almost physical dismissal of the serpent
into the fountain, which is neither averred nor denied, like a devil
cast out as in old times, is puerile; but Hawthorne was, in other tales,
not averse to a naturalistic explanation of his mysteries, as if a basis
of matter of fact, however irrelevant essentially, gave more
plausibility to their truth. If the snake is "egotism," if it is the
torture of self in a man, if its cure is the loss of self in love, then
making the snake real and physical is absurdity; medicine and morals are
confounded; the scientific fact has nothing to do with the artistic
meaning and is a concession to the gross senses of the reader. The story
illustrates the method, rather than its successful application; for the
physical horror is really greater here than the moral revulsion. In "The
Minister's Black Veil" the object is more happily dealt with. It is to
be noticed that Hawthorne did not invent these objects, he found them;
and, in this case, he has used the tradition of an old Puritan minister
of the past age. He uses the veil to typify man's concealment of himself
from others, even the nearest; and while it visibly isolates the
minister among his fellow-men, it finally unites him with them in a
single lot; for to the mind's eye, educated by this image to a new power
of seeing, all men wear this veil; humanity is clothed with it in life,
and moulders away beneath it in the grave, whither its secrets are
carried. The seeming exception is found to be the rule; the horror
attaching to the one unseen face is now felt in all faces; the race is
veiled, and the bit of crape has fallen like the blackness of night upon
all life, for life has become a thing of darkness, a concealment. Here
the moral idea is predominant, and in it the symbol issues into its full

Hawthorne's art became always, not only more vividly symbolized, but
more deeply moralized. The secrecy of men's bosoms was a matter that
interested him very much; the idea had a fascination for him. It is the
substance of the tale of "Young Goodman Brown," who goes to the witches'
Sabbath in the Essex woods and there sees those who have taught him
religion, the righteous and the good, men and women, and his own
wife,--sees them or their devil-brewed phantasms; he calls on heaven,
and finds himself suddenly alone; but when he returns to the village,
and looks again on the venerable fathers and mothers of his childhood
and his own tender and loving wife, he cannot free his mind from the
doubt,--were they what they seemed or had he indeed beheld them there in
the woods at their orgy? It is as if for him the veil were lifted, and
he alone saw, like omniscience, into the bosoms of all. Suspicion,
arising from his own contact with evil, though he escaped, has imparted
the look of hypocrisy to all life; this is his bedevilment. Here the
place of the physical object is taken by the incident of the woods, and
the moral idea is less clearly stated; the story is one of those whose
significance is felt to contain mystery which Hawthorne meant to remain
in its dark state.

In "The Birthmark" the physical object is again found as the initial
point of the tale and the guiding clue of the imagination in working it
out. The situation presents the opposition of the love of science to
human love, but no conflict is described, because the first is the
master passion from the beginning, and, being indulged, leads to the
loss of the second in the death of the wife, who perishes in having the
birthmark removed. The moral idea, as not unfrequently happens, seems to
flake off from the tale, like the moral of the old fable, and is to the
effect that imperfection belongs to mortal life, and if it is removed
wholly mortality must go with it; and the lesson is of the acceptance of
imperfection in what men love, as a permanent condition, and indeed
almost as the humanizing feature, of earthly life. It is noticeable that
the clergyman, the physician, and the artist are the only specific types
that attracted Hawthorne; he held them all romantically, and science he
conceived as alchemy. This same predisposition appears in "Rappaccini's
Daughter;" she was the experiment of her father in creating a live
poison-woman, a vitalized flower, the Dryad as it were of the
poison-tree humanized in mortal shape; the physical object is here the
flowering tree, with its heavy fragrance; and the plot lies only in the
gradual transformation of the young man by continuous and unconscious
inoculation until he is drawn into the circle of death to share the
woman's isolation as a lover, both being shut off from their kind by the
poison atmosphere that exhales from them; the catastrophe lies in the
moral idea that for such poison there is no antidote but death, and the
lady dies in drinking the draught that should free her. The fact that
Hawthorne, when writing the story, said he did not know how it would
end, is interesting as indicating that his literary habit was to let the
story tell itself from within according to its impulses, and not to
shape it from without by his own predetermined purpose; a pure
allegorist, it may be observed, would have followed naturally the latter
method. This may account for the indefiniteness and mystery of effect
often felt, as well as for the inartistic didacticism in the concluding
sentences, frequently to be observed, where it appears as one or more
afterthoughts possibly to be drawn from the story, but not exhausting
its moral significance. In this case, powerful as the tale is, the moral
intention is left vague, though except as a parable the invention is

In the last story to be instanced, "The Artist of the Beautiful," the
lucidity of the parable is complete. The physical object is the
butterfly; on its wings the tale moves, and perishes in its destruction.
The moral idea lies in the exposition of achievement as a freeing of the
artist's soul so that his work has become a thing of indifference to
him, let its fortunes be what they will,--it is the dead chrysalis from
which he has escaped; and the isolation of the artist's life is set
forth pathetically but with no suggestion of evil in it, for though the
world has rejected him he lives in his own world in the calm of victory.
No tale is so delicately wrought as this; in it the symbolism, which is
carried out in minute and precise detail, the moral significance, which
is as clear as it is deep, and the presence of a spiritual world in life
for which a visible language is found, are all present, in harmonious
blending; and it has the added and rare charm of happiness without loss
of truth. It is unique; and if one were to choose a single tale, best
representing Hawthorne's powers, methods, and successes, technically and
temperamentally as well as in imaginative reach and spiritual appeal, it
is by this he should be known.

In these six tales in which Hawthorne's originality is most
characteristically expressed, the idea of isolation is common to all;
like the secrecy of men's bosoms, this solitude in life is a fixed idea
in his imagination, an integral part of life as it was viewed by him,
and he seldom freed his attention from it even temporarily. On the other
hand, sin, conscience, evil, though their realm is felt to be a
neighboring province, are not here directly dealt with. His probings in
that sphere belong to a later time. These tales, like the others, are
studies of life, not of the evil principle by itself as a thing of
special interest; they view life as lying under a shadow, it is true,
but this shadow is their atmosphere, not their world. The point should
be defined, perhaps more explicitly: the Calvinism of New England, its
interest in the perversion of man's will, his sinful state, and the
mysterious modes of salvation, is not the region of Hawthorne's
imagination, as here disclosed. It is enough to note this, here, as
bearing on his representative character. The most surprising thing,
however, is that his genius is found to be so purely objective; he
himself emphasized the objectivity of his art. From the beginning, as
has been said, he had no message, no inspiration welling up within him,
no inward life of his own that sought expression. He was not even
introspective. He was primarily a moralist, an observer of life, which
he saw as a thing of the outside, and he was keen in observation, cool,
interested. If there was any mystery in his tales, it was in the object,
not in the author's breast; he makes no confessions either direct or
indirect,--he describes the thing he sees. He maintained that his tales
were perfectly intelligible, and he meant this to apply not only to
style but to theme. It is best to cite his own testimony. His personal
temper is indicated in the fragmentary phrase in the "Note-Books;" "not
that I have any love of mystery, but because I abhor it," he writes; and
again in the oft-quoted passage, he describes perfectly the way in which
his nature cooperated with his art to give the common ground of human
sympathy, but without anything peculiar to himself being called into

"A cloudy veil stretches over the abyss of my nature. I have, however,
no love of secrecy and darkness. I am glad to think that God sees
through my heart, and, if any angel has power to penetrate into it, he
is welcome to know everything that is there. Yes, and so may any mortal
who is capable of full sympathy, and therefore worthy to come into my
depths. But he must find his own way there. I can neither guide nor
enlighten him. It is this involuntary reserve, I suppose, that has given
the objectivity to my writings; and when people think that I am pouring
myself out in a tale or an essay, I am merely telling what is common to
human nature, not what is peculiar to myself. I sympathize with them,
not they with me."

In the preface to "Twice-Told Tales," which however was prefixed to a
late edition and may be fairly held to cover his view of his tales in
general, he directs attention to their objectivity in another form:--

"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. They have none of the abstruseness
of idea or obscurity of expression which mark the written communications
of a solitary mind with itself. They never need translation. It is, in
fact, the style of a man of society. 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."

A little further on he adds his statement of what the sketches both are
and are not:--

"They are not the talk of a secluded man with his own mind and heart
(had it been so, they could hardly have failed to be more deeply and
permanently valuable), but his attempts, and very imperfectly successful
ones, to open an intercourse with the world."

To Hawthorne himself these tales seemed so external; and his analysis,
however much may be allowed for modesty in the statement, appears to be

Hawthorne left himself out of his work, so far as a man can. Indeed, his
own life was neither vigorous nor one of much variety of faculty,
outside of his art. He had the indolence of the meditative habit, or of
the artistic nature, if one chooses to call it so. He clearly spent a
great deal of time doing nothing in particular; he read, observed the
world of the passing seasons, made long memoranda of nature and human
nature and short notes of ideas for tales and sketches, and had in fact
large leisure, except in the years when he was in the Boston Custom
House, and he was not without leisure even then. He shows no inclination
toward scholarship, but was a desultory reader of English, with some
French; he had no intellectual interests, apparently, of a philosophical
kind; the aloofness in which he stood from Longfellow and Emerson, for
example, was not shyness of nature wholly, but stood for the real
aloofness of his mind from their ways of life, from the things that
absorbed them in their poetic and speculative activity; it is but
another example, if it is added that he took no interest in public
affairs, truly speaking. He was a Democrat, but that does not fully
account for his indifference to those philanthropies which his literary
friends shared; for, as a party man, he was not zealous. His nature was
torpid in all these ways; there was dullness of temperament,
indifference to all except the one thing in which he truly lived, his
artistic nature; and here he was an observer, using an objective method
with as little indebtedness to personal experience as ever artist had.
His reserve amounted to suppression; and, in fact, his personal life was
not of the sort that must find a voice. He seemed to feel that the
"Twice-Told Tales," at least, which he described as "memorials of
tranquil and not unhappy years," had contracted some faintness of life
from their author's mind, as if a low vital tone characterized them,
owing to his incapacity to yield himself with fullness of power even to
this reflective or creative art:--

"They have the pale tint of flowers that blossomed in too retired a
shade,--the coolness of a meditative habit, which diffuses itself
through the feeling and observation of every sketch. Instead of passion
there is sentiment; and, even in what purport to be pictures of actual
life, we have allegory, not always so warmly dressed in its habiliments
of flesh and blood as to be taken into the reader's mind without a
shiver. Whether from lack of power, or an unconquerable reserve, the
Author's touches have often an effect of tameness; the merriest man can
hardly contrive to laugh at his broadest humor; the tenderest woman, one
would suppose, will hardly shed warm tears at his deepest pathos. The
book, if you would see anything in it, requires to be read in the clear,
brown, twilight atmosphere in which it was written; if opened in the
sunshine, it is apt to look exceedingly like a volume of blank pages."

This is, of course, the natural overstatement of an author whose work
has gone from him and seems less vital because he has outlived it; but
nevertheless it contains sound judgment as to the limitations of his

But notwithstanding Hawthorne's objectivity and reserve, of which he
justly makes so much, and the low vital tone of his work, resulting from
whatever cause, he did not altogether escape from himself in his art;
his shadow followed him into that world. The "clear brown twilight
atmosphere" of which he speaks was an affair of temperament; it exhaled
from his personality. That recurring idea of isolation, the sense of the
secrecy of men's bosoms, the perception of life as always lying in the
shadow that falls on it, proceeded from predilections of his own,
differentiating him from other men; there may have been no very perilous
stuff in his breast, nothing to confess or record peculiar to himself in
act or experience, no intensity of self-life, but there was this
temperament of the solitary brooder upon life. In that common fund of
human nature which he said was the basis of sympathy between himself and
the world, there was also some specialization, which is rightly ascribed
to his race qualities. He took practically no interest in life except as
seen under its moral aspects as a life of the soul; and this absorption
in the moral sphere was due to his being a child of New England. It was
his inheritance from Puritanism. What distinguished Puritan life and the
people who grew up under its influences was an intense self-
consciousness of life in the soul,--in a word, spirituality of life;
and Hawthorne, as he came to find himself in his growth, disclosed
one form of this spirituality both reflectively and imaginatively in his
writings, the form that lived in him. The moral world, the supremacy of
the soul's interests, how life fared in the soul, was his region; he
thought about nothing else. He desired to present what he saw through
the medium of romantic art, but he was never able to be wholly content
with this medium; he desired to make assurance doubly sure by expressing
it in its abstract moral terms also, either explicitly in an idea which
shows through the story, or else imperfectly in an allegory or symbol
where the moral element should be definitely felt in its intellectual,
its unartistic form. The fact that this abstract element really
outvalues the tale and its characters is shown, for example, by the lack
of interest one feels in the future of his characters, in what becomes
of them at the end of the story; they are lost from the mind, because
their function is fulfilled in illustrating an idea; and, that once
conveyed, the characters cease to have life,--they disappear, like the
man of science or the artist of the beautiful, into the background of
the general world; they fade out. It is by this abstract moral element
that Hawthorne's art is universalized.

His manner, it must be acknowledged, retains provinciality; in the best
of the tales, just as in those sketches of observation in Salem, there
is something countrified in the mode of handling, something archaic and
stiff in the literary mould, something awkward, cramped, and bare in the
way his art works in its main motions, however felicitous in word and
fall is the garment of prose as language. There is a lack of urban ease,
certainty, and perfection of manner. The limitation, however, stops
there. The world in which the artist works is the universal world of
man's nature, just as much as is Shakespeare's. He escapes from
provincialism here, in the substance, because he was a New Englander,
not in spite of that fact; for the spirituality which is the central
fact of New England life itself escapes from provincialism, being a pure
expression of that Christianity in which alone true cosmopolitanism is
found, of that faith which presents mankind as one and indivisible.
Hence arises in Hawthorne a second distinctly Puritan trait, his
democracy. He looks only at the soul; all outward distinctions of rank
and place, fortune, pride, poverty, disappear as unconcerning things; he
sees all men as in the light of the judgment day. He does this
naturally, too, almost without knowing it, so inbred in him is that
preconception of the Christian soul, whose moral fortune constitutes
alone the significance of life. In these ways the race element, the New
England element, is shown; from it springs the moral prepossession of
his art, its universal quality, and its democratic substance. This was
the nucleus of inheritance and breeding, which together with his
temperament governs his art from within, even amid all its personal
reserve and its objectivity. The gradually increasing power of these
elements gave his tales greater intensity and reach, and was to lift his
romances to another level; for what was inchoate and experimental in the
tales, in many ways, was to receive a new and greater development in his
later work, on which his world-wide fame rests. The tales had not
brought him fame; as yet, his audience was small, and confined to New
England. He had advanced so far as to seem like one talking to his
friends, instead of, as at first, one talking to himself in a dark
place, as he said; but recognition, such as he desired, he had not
obtained. There is certainly some irritation in his repeated references
to the early neglect he felt from the public, at the time when, as he
says, he "was for a good many years the obscurest man of letters in
America." He thought this lack of appreciation palsied his efforts, so
that he did not do what he might have done, and it may have been the
case; but before the days when he wrote "The Artist of the Beautiful" he
must have learned that one must serve the Muses for themselves alone.



Amid the hard conditions of his life at Concord Hawthorne had decided to
place himself again under the aegis of his political friends to earn his
living as a public officer. He had no confidence in his literary
capacity as a means of livelihood. He found himself, he says, unable to
write more than a third of the time, and he composed slowly and with
difficulty; he refers more than once to that hatred of the pen which
belongs to a tired writer, and he was frequently indisposed to
composition for long periods; and, in any event, he thought that what he
wrote must appeal necessarily to so small an audience that, should he
continue to devote himself exclusively to a literary career, he must do
so as a professional hack-writer of children's books, translations,
newspaper essays, and such miscellaneous drudgery. His habits, formed in
his years at Salem, included an element of large leisure, an indulgence
of one's self in times and seasons of mental activity, a certain
lethargy of life; and he had not shown any power of sustained production
in the monotony of daily work for bread. He felt a dread of such
necessity. "God keep me," he writes to Hillard before this time, "from
ever being really a writer for bread!" The only alternative for him was

The election of Polk to the Presidency gave his friends the opening, and
the campaign to secure an appointment was begun. Bridge, then living in
bachelor quarters at Portsmouth Navy Yard, conceived the rather daring
idea of a sailor house-party with Hawthorne as its centre, for the
purpose of making him acquainted with the political group in whose hands
influence lay; and, if it be remembered that the Hawthornes had not
spent an evening out for years, and still continued their seclusive
life, the proposition may well seem a bold stroke. The party, however,
gathered in the summer of 1845; Franklin Pierce and his wife, Senator
Atherton and his wife, of New Hampshire, and Senator Fairfield of Maine,
to mention the notables, were the principal guests, and there were
several others, making a greater company than Hawthorne had been thrown
with since he lodged at Brook Farm. It was an informal naval picnic,
apparently, of two or three weeks, and Bridge thought that its main
object of popularizing Hawthorne with the Senators was attained. The
point of attack was the Salem Post Office, but this proved
impracticable, and attention was turned to the Custom House, where
either the surveyorship or the naval office might be got. Meanwhile
Bancroft offered him a clerkship in the Charlestown Navy Yard, which he
declined. He was sufficiently sure of success to make him remove from
Concord to Salem to reside, and early in October he was established
again in the old chamber of his youth, having decided to share his
mother's house for the present. He spent his time in writing the
introductory sketch of the Old Manse, and in seeing the "Mosses" through
the press. The appointment lagged, owing to local complications in the
party, but an arrangement was finally made which was agreeable to all
concerned, so that Hawthorne took office without enmity from
disappointed candidates who would have benefited if he had not appeared
upon the scene backed by what must have been locally regarded as outside
interference. He received notice of his nomination as surveyor on March
23, 1846, and it was described "as decidedly popular with the party," as
well as with men of letters and the community; he soon took charge of
the office, those who had made way for him were appointed inspectors
under him, and he entered on the enjoyment of a salary of twelve hundred

It was indeed a singular chance of life that had transformed the recluse
romancer of the silent Herbert Street house, where for all the years of
early manhood he had lived unnoticed and almost unknown, into the high
business official of the Custom House, the lofty neighbor of that humble
dwelling, on whose wide granite steps, columned portico, and emblematic
eagle, with the flag over all, he must have looked so often with never a
thought that there was to be his distinguished place in the world of
men; and yet Hawthorne, on coming into this office, seems to have been
pleased with a sense of making a part of Salem as his ancestors had done
in the old days. He did not love Salem, but genuine truth gives body to
those passages of autobiography in which he claims his parentage and
kinship and seems writing the obituary of his race there, in connection
with his memories of the Custom House. He knew himself a story-teller
whom these ancestors would little approve, for all his mask as the
surveyor, but in his official place he felt himself a Salemite with some
peculiar thoroughness; and, familiar as the passage is, no other words
can take the place of his own expression of this sense of rootedness in
the soil, which is so close to the secret of his genius:--

"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. Indeed, so far as its physical
aspect is concerned, with its flat, unvaried surface, covered chiefly
with wooden houses, few or none of which pretend to architectural
beauty,--its irregularity, which is neither picturesque nor quaint, but
only tame,--its long and lazy street lounging wearisomely through the
whole extent of the peninsula, with Gallows Hill and New Guinea at one
end, and a view of the almshouse at the other,--such being the features
of my native town, it would be quite as reasonable to form a sentimental
attachment to a disarranged checkerboard. 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. The
sentiment is probably assignable to the deep and aged roots which my
family has struck into the soil. It is now nearly two centuries and a
quarter since the original Briton, the earliest emigrant of my name,
made his appearance in the wild and forest-bordered settlement, which
has since become a city. And here his descendants have been born and
died, and have mingled their earthly substance with the soil, until no
small portion of it must necessarily be akin to the mortal frame
wherewith, for a little while, I walk the streets. In part, therefore,
the attachment which I speak of is the mere sensuous sympathy of dust
for dust. Few of my countrymen can know what it is; nor, as frequent
transplantation is perhaps better for the stock, need they consider it
desirable to know.

"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 sort of home-feeling with
the past, which I scarcely claim in reference to the present phase of
the town. I seem to have a stronger claim to a residence here on account
of this grave, bearded, sable-cloaked and steeple-crowned
progenitor,--who came so early, with his Bible and his sword, and trode
the unworn street with such a stately port, and made so large a figure,
as a man of war and peace,--a stronger claim than for myself, whose name
is seldom heard and my face hardly known. He was a soldier, legislator,
judge; he was a ruler in the Church; he had all the Puritanic traits,
both good and evil. He was likewise a bitter persecutor, as witness the
Quakers, who have remembered him in their histories, and relate an
incident of his hard severity towards a woman of their sect, which will
last longer, it is to be feared, than any record of his better deeds,
although these were many. His son, too, inherited the persecuting
spirit, and made himself so conspicuous in the martyrdom of the witches,
that their blood may fairly be said to have left a stain upon him. So
deep a stain, indeed, that his old dry bones, in the Charter Street
burial-ground, must still retain it, if they have not crumbled utterly
to dust!... Let them scorn me as they will, strong traits of their
nature have intertwined themselves with mine.

"Planted deep, in the town's earliest infancy and childhood, by these
two earnest and energetic men, the race has ever since subsisted here,--
always, too, in respectability; never, so far as I have known, disgraced
by a single unworthy member; but seldom or never, on the other hand,
after the first two generations, performing any memorable deed, or so
much as putting forward a claim to public notice. Gradually, they have
sunk almost out of sight, as old houses, here and there about the
streets, get covered halfway to the eaves by the accumulation of new
soil. From father to son, for above a hundred years, they followed the
sea; a gray-headed shipmaster, in each generation, retiring from the
quarter-deck to the homestead, while a boy of fourteen took the
hereditary place before the mast, confronting the salt spray and the
gale, which had blustered against his sire and grandsire. The boy, also,
in due time, passed from the forecastle to the cabin, spent a
tempestuous manhood, and returned from his world-wanderings, to grow
old, and die, and mingle his dust with the natal earth. This long
connection of a family with one spot, as its place of birth and burial,
creates a kindred between the human being and the locality, quite
independent of any charm in the scenery or moral circumstances that
surround him. It is not love, but instinct. The new inhabitant--who came
himself from a foreign land, or whose father or grandfather came--has
little claim to be called a Salemite; he has no conception of the
oysterlike tenacity with which an old settler, over whom his third
century is creeping, clings to the spot where his successive generations
have been imbedded. It is no matter that the place is joyless for him;
that he is weary of the old wooden houses, the mud and dust, the dead
level of site and sentiment, the chill east wind, and the dullest of
social atmospheres,--all these, and whatever faults besides he may see
or imagine, are nothing to the purpose. The spell survives, and just as
powerfully as if the natal spot were an earthly paradise. So has it been
in my case. I felt it almost as a destiny to make Salem my home; so that
the mould of features and cast of character which had all along been
familiar here--ever, as one representative of the race lay down in his
grave, another assuming, as it were, his sentry-march along the main
street--might still in my little day be seen and recognized in the old
town.... On emerging from the Old Manse, it was chiefly this strange,
indolent, unjoyous attachment for my native town that brought me to fill
a place in Uncle Sam's brick edifice, when I might as well, or better,
have gone somewhere else. My doom was on me."

Long as this extract is, it dispenses with pages of critical analysis,
and the hundred details requisite to build up such an impression of
ancestry from the soil, of the way in which the New England past had
entered into the fibre of Hawthorne's nature, of the sort of historic
consciousness that was latent, like clairvoyance, in his imagination.
Here, too, it serves to give Hawthorne a natural right in his new public
place in the community. He did not feel himself a stranger there; the
floor of the Custom House was as much home to his feet as a ship's deck.
He made, it is said, a good surveyor, as in Boston previously he had
been an excellent under officer. His duties were not arduous; they
consumed about three hours and a half of his day, leaving him ample
leisure. He has himself made of his stay at the Custom House a half
humorous story by drawing the characters of his associates and setting
forth the general atmosphere of the place with such lifelike drollery as
only genius can achieve. He does it with no kindly hand. He was capable
of great irritation, at times; and, as was shown on rare occasions, he
had outbursts of anger. Dr. Loring describes him as "tempestuous and
irresistible when aroused," and tells the anecdote of one dismayed
captain who "fled up the wharf and took refuge in the office, inquiring,
'What in God's name have you sent on board my ship as an inspector?'" In
writing of his old associates satirically, he was not indulging in any
rage of anger, but he would hardly have felt the impulse to give his pen
such liberty unless grievances had still rankled in his memory. The
scene he sets forth is one of burlesque, done like fiction. "On
ascending the steps you would discern," he says, "a row of venerable
figures, sitting in old-fashioned chairs, which were tipped on their
hind legs back against the wall. Oftentimes they were asleep, but
occasionally might be heard talking together, in voices between speech
and a snore, and with that lack of energy that distinguishes the
occupants of almshouses, and all other human beings who depend for
subsistence on charity, on monopolized labor, or anything else but their
own independent exertions. These old gentlemen--seated, like Matthew, at
the receipt of customs, but not very liable to be summoned thence, like
him, for apostolic errands--were Custom House officers." When he comes
to the details, in this style, the portrait approaches--if it does not
realize--caricature. There was another side, we may be sure, to the
lives and characters of these men whom Hawthorne has portrayed as if
human nature existed to be the pigment of an artist's brush and should
laugh or weep, look silly or solemn, at the whim of his temperament and
will. All the time he got on with them very amiably, and if he found
some of them in his own silent thoughts rather foolish and superfluous,
doubtless it would have been the same in any other group among whom his
lot might have been thrown. With others of his associates, whatever he
thought of them and their ways, he was friendly and tolerant, if not
sociable; it was in connection with these that the gossip circulated of
his "loafing about with hard drinkers." Dr. Loring describes them to the
life as "a group of men all of whom had remarkable characteristics, not
of the best many times, but original, strong, highly-flavored, defiant
democrats, with whom he was officially connected, who made no appeal to
him, but responded to the uncultivated side of his nature, and to whose
defects he was blind on account of their originality." This picture must
be added to that which Hawthorne gave, and between the two, if some
allowance, also, be made for the unfavorable temper in which he wrote,
it will appear, perhaps, that in the Custom House he found human nature
about as it is always in an office having to do with sea business, in
which naturally a rough, racy, unpolished, original, sturdy stock took a
leading part, and a place was found for the retired old hulks of the
profession to enjoy a comfortable anchorage.

Hawthorne, in fact, repeated in the Custom House the experience he had
formerly had on the Boston wharf and at Brook Farm. At first, the change
was a pleasure and a relief to him. He had once more escaped, if not
from the dreamland of his own solitary fancy, at least from the
unreality which the literary life seems always to have had for him, and
which he now associated particularly with the character of his
friendships. The tone of relief is unmistakable:--

"After my fellowship of toil and impracticable schemes with the dreamy
brethren of Brook Farm; after living for three years within the subtile
influence of an intellect like Emerson's; after those wild, free days on
the Assabeth, indulging fantastic speculations, beside our fire of
fallen boughs, with Ellery Channing; after talking with Thoreau about
pine-trees and Indian relics, in his hermitage at Walden; after growing
fastidious by sympathy with the classic refinement of Hillard's culture;
after becoming imbued with poetic sentiment at Longfellow's
hearth-stone,--it was time, at length, that I should exercise other
faculties of my nature, and nourish myself with food for which I had
hitherto had little appetite. Even the old inspector was desirable, as a
change of diet, to a man who had known Alcott. I look upon it as an
evidence, in some measure, of a system naturally well balanced, and
lacking no essential part of a thorough organization, that, with such
associates to remember, I could mingle at once with men of altogether
different qualities, and never murmur at the change."

So he mixed in the new scene, laughed with the others at the old
sea-yarns and jokes, joined in with his associates on more even terms
than was his habit with the literary friends of Concord, and was once
more a part of this material world. But it was not long before the old
disgust and restlessness came over him; he felt his imaginative nature
deadened; this after all was not his own life, and the figures that
moved in it, the business they were concerned with, the existence they
led round about him took on the same shabby color of fact that had
formerly spread over the coal and salt of the wharf, and the manure of
Brook Farm; and that feeling of repulsion from it all, which came to
involve also a half-contempt for the people and their affairs, grew in
him. He describes the torpor that fell upon his faculties; he ceased to
write, just as in the earlier time; he could not create, and though he
had time enough, and the sea and the woods and the winter moonlight were
all there, they did not unlock his magical power as of old. He laments
over it, but confesses it; he had temporarily ceased to be a man of

Domestic affairs contributed to withhold him from his pen. The old
Herbert Street house had proved an inconvenient domicile for the two
families, and they had removed to a dwelling in Chestnut Street. For a
while Mrs. Hawthorne had been absent in Boston, and there a boy, Julian,
had been born, so that there were two children in the nursery. It was in
this room that Hawthorne spent his afternoons, for he had no study, and
there for a year his desk stood, says his wife, without having been once
opened. They moved again to another house, more easily adapted to the
needs of both households, in Mall Street, and here Hawthorne again had a
study "high from all noise," and Madame Hawthorne was provided for with
a suite wholly separate. She and her two daughters still maintained the
lifelong habit of isolation. "Elizabeth," says Mrs. Hawthorne, "is an
invisible entity. I have seen her but once in two years; and Louisa
never intrudes;" and she adds her satisfaction in knowing that Madame
Hawthorne would have the pleasure of her son's and the children's
company for the rest of her life. "I am so glad to win her out of that
Castle Dismal, and from the mysterious chamber into which no mortal ever
peeped till Una was born, and Julian,--for they alone have entered the
_penetralia_. Into that chamber the sun never shines. Into these
rooms in Mall Street it blazes without stint." Mrs. Hawthorne was very
happy in this life with her husband, though they were still retired in
their habits. He had, however, become an officer of the Lyceum, and they
attended the lectures. They went out very seldom, only on such an
occasion as when Emerson was visiting a neighbor, for example. The
happiness was all indoors and in their hearts. "No art nor beauty," the
wife writes, "can excel my daily life, with such a husband and such
children, the exponents of all art and beauty. I really have not even
the temptation to go out of my house to find anything better." The
husband expresses the same felicity, in his turn, repeatedly, as on one
occasion during a visit of Mrs. Hawthorne in Boston. "Oh, Phoebe," he
writes to her, "I want thee much. Thou art the only person in the world
that ever was necessary to me. Other people have occasionally been more
or less agreeable; but I think I was always more at ease alone than in
anybody's company, till I knew thee. And now I am only myself when thou
art within my reach. Thou art an unspeakably beloved woman."

They still spent their evenings together, mostly in reading. He never
wrote at night, and for a year and a half seems not to have written at
all, except some slight unremembered article, it might be, for a Salem
newspaper. In November, 1847, he began to compose regularly every
afternoon. In the year following he produced "The Snow Image," "The
Great Stone Face," "Main Street," and possibly "Ethan Brand," but these,
with the exception of the third, which appeared in Elizabeth Peabody's
"Aesthetic Papers," 1849, remained unpublished. He had exhausted himself
as a writer of short tales and sketches; the kind no longer appealed to
him, and he wrote with much difficulty and against the grain. "At
length," he writes in a letter of literary business, December 14, 1848,
"by main strength I have wrenched and torn an idea out of my miserable
brain; or rather, the fragment of an idea, like a tooth ill-drawn, and
leaving the roots to torture me." His imagination had, in fact, begun to
work upon a larger scale and in a higher world of art, though he
apparently did not know the change in scope that he was undergoing, and
thought of his new story only as a longer tale; the idea of "The Scarlet
Letter," after lying for some years in his brain, was unfolding in the
form of a great romance. It was to be his resource when the Custom House

It was on June 8, 1849, that the news of his dismissal from office came.
Tyler's Whig administration had come in, and Democratic heads would
naturally fall; but Hawthorne, having obtained office, as he conceived
it, as a literary man provided for by government, had not expected to be
turned out on the change of parties, especially as he was not a partisan
or in fact a politician at all. He resented the action, even when it was
only threatened, as unjust, and took some steps to secure himself in
place by suggesting an appeal to men in Boston, among whom he mentions
Rufus Choate, "whose favorable influence," he says, "would make it
impossible to remove me, and whose support and sympathy might fairly be
obtained on my behalf,--not on the ground that I am a very good writer,
but because I gained my position, such as it is, by my literary
character, and have done nothing to forfeit that tenure." When he found,
however, that he had been removed, ostensibly at least, on the ground of
a paper forwarded from Salem and charging him with political
partisanship, both as a writer for the newspaper press and in his
official capacity, his resentment became a much warmer feeling. The
story of a removal from office is usually unedifying, and there is no
occasion to go into all the details. It appears that one man, Charles W.
Upham, was especially singled out by Hawthorne as the principal mover,
and on him he deliberately avenged himself at a later time. The charges
Hawthorne met very fully and specifically, and showed that he had indeed
rather incurred the reproach of his party for not taking a partisan
course than deserved the criticism of his enemies. He was, however, very
angry; his wife writes to her father, "The lion was roused in him;" and
the numerous letters to his friends show that he was much disturbed, but
much more by what he regarded as the attack made secretly upon his
character than by the loss of the office. There was a small tempest in
the town, in which his friends male and female bore their part, and
plans of one kind and another were discussed to secure his retention;
but, as usually happens in such cases, the affair soon blew over. In a
political scuffle, Hawthorne was a man out of his element.

The most unfortunate thing in the whole incident was the effect it had
on Hawthorne's attachment to his native place. It turned his cold love
to a bitter feeling that he never overcame; and it also threw upon Salem
the reproach of having injured as well as neglected her most famous son.
Citizens of both parties joined in the movement by which he was ousted,
and no one of influence withstood them; but there was probably no enmity
in the matter, and the simple explanation, perhaps, was that the new
candidate had more cordial friends in the community on both sides, for
Hawthorne was not personally popular with the merchants as a class. He
kept them at a distance just as he did men of letters, and could not mix
with them on even and frank terms. Dr. Loring, in discussing the subject
of Hawthorne's treatment by his fellow townsmen, very justly says that
"Salem did not treat its illustrious son, at all, because he gave it no
opportunity." He was, so far as then appeared, an author, forty-five
years old, who had written two or three books of short tales and
sketches, not yet famous, and he held a not very lucrative public
office, which he had secured, not in the usual way, by party service,
but by the political influence of his old college mates, who were
strangers to the town. He was inoffensive, but he was not liked, and
took no pains to make himself one of the community; he was ignored by
the citizens of the place because he ignored them, and when his
Washington friends lost power, there was no one else interested in
keeping him in office, and he had no influence of his own on the spot.
In private life he was uncommonly solitary, and he was in no sense a
public man. What happened was perfectly natural, and might fairly have
been foreseen; for the notion of providing a government post for a man
because he was an author, and retaining him in it by a literary tenure,
must have seemed very novel to the gentlemen of the Essex district in
those days, as it would seem now. But Hawthorne had the sense of
superiority, the silent, suppressed pride, the susceptibility of a
solitary nature; and whatever might be the public side of the matter, of
which he was no very good judge, privately he felt aggrieved and
outraged; that irritability toward the general public which has already
been remarked upon, just because he was "for some years the most obscure
man of letters in America," was condensed, as it were, and discharged
upon Salem, which stood as the deaf and blind and hateful embodiment of
the unappreciative world that would have none of him, but rather took
away the little bread and salt he had contrived to earn for himself, and
would not give him room even in a paltry office among the old sea-dogs
he has described. "I mean as soon as possible," he writes two months
later, "to bid farewell forever to this abominable city."

Apart from the disagreeable circumstances of his removal and the
penniless condition in which it left him, there is no reason to think
that Hawthorne was anything but happy to leave office. His first thought
was of his poverty; before he had laid down the telegram he heard the
wolf at the door. He at once wrote the news to Hillard, and after saying
that he had paid his old debts but had saved nothing, requests his
friendly aid in words through which, brief and straight as they are, one
feels the stern grip of the fact as it immediately took hold on him, the
poor man's need:--

"If you could do anything in the way of procuring me some stated
literary employment, in connection with a newspaper, or as corrector of
the press to some printing establishment, etc., it could not come at a
better time. Perhaps Epes Sargent, who is a friend of mine, would know
of something. I shall not stand upon my dignity; that must take care of
itself. Perhaps there may be some subordinate office connected with the
Boston Athenaeum. Do not think anything too humble to be mentioned to
me.... The intelligence has just reached me, and Sophia has not yet
heard it. She will bear it like a woman,--that is to say, better than a

He went home at once to tell his wife, and as his son tells the story,
on his meeting her expression of pleasure at seeing him so soon with the
remark that "he had left his head behind him," she exclaimed, "Oh, then
you can write your book!" and when he smiled and answered that it "would
be agreeable to know where their bread and rice were to come from while
the story was writing," she brought forth from a hiding-place "a pile of
gold"--it appears to have been one hundred and fifty dollars--that she
had saved from the household weekly expenses. So for the time being
anxiety was lessened.

The fact that Hawthorne was glad at heart to be free again comes out in
many ways. Something may be due to his wife's bearing the news "better
than a man," perhaps, but on the same day it came she is found writing
to her mother, "I have not seen my husband happier than since this
turning out. He has felt in chains for a long time, and being a man he
is not alarmed at being set on his own feet again,--or on his
_head_ I might say, for that contains the available gold of a mine
scarcely yet worked at all." He himself, a few days later, writes to
Hillard, "I have come to feel that it is not good for me to be here. I
am in a lower moral state than I have been--a duller intellectual one.
So let me go; and, under God's providence, I shall arrive at something
better." It would not be long before he would be looking back to the
last three years, and saying, "The life of the Custom House lies like a
dream behind me," in almost the identical words that he used of Boston
wharfs and the Brook Farmers. The pendulum of temperament had swung
again to the other extreme, and he was now all for the imaginative world
once more.

There was, however, to be one sad experience before his new life began.
In the midst of these troubles, while he was still writing his vain
letters and receiving the vain sympathy of his friends in the injury he
had felt, his mother fell into serious illness, and it was plain that
the end of her long vigil was near. With that strange impulse which led
Hawthorne, out of his sensitive reserve and almost morbid seclusion, to
make an open book of his private life, writing it all at large in his
journals, he spent the hours of her last days in describing the scenes
and incidents of the house in its shadow of death. His wife had the main
care of the invalid, and to him was left the charge of the children, Una
and Julian, who played in the yard in the warm July weather and were
seized with the singular fancy of acting over in their play the scenes
of the sick chamber above, while their father watched them from the
window of his room and wrote down their prattle. Hawthorne was attached
to his mother, and had been a good son, but there was something now that
startled his nature, perhaps in the unusual nearness in which he found
himself to her life, and he was hardly prepared for the distress of the
circumstances. His wife wrote, "My husband came near a brain fever after
seeing her for an hour;" and the hour is the one which Hawthorne himself
recorded, in a passage vividly recalling the tone and character of those
scenes in which Carlyle painted the darker moments of his own
shadow-haunted life:--

"About five o'clock I went to my mother's chamber, and was shocked to
see such an alteration since my last visit. I love my mother; but there
has been, ever since boyhood, a sort of coldness of intercourse between
us, such as is apt to come between persons of strong feelings if they
are not managed rightly. I did not expect to be much moved at the
time,--that is to say, not to feel any overpowering emotion struggling
just then,--though I knew that I should deeply remember and regret her.
Mrs. Dike was in the chamber; Louisa pointed to a chair near the bed,
but I was moved to kneel down close by my mother, and take her hand. She
knew me, but could only murmur a few indistinct words; among which I
understood an injunction to take care of my sisters. Mrs. Dike left the
chamber, and then I found the tears slowly gathering in my eyes. I tried
to keep them down, but it would not be; I kept filling up, till, for a
few moments, I shook with sobs. For a long time I knelt there, holding
her hand; and surely it is the darkest hour I ever lived. Afterwards I
stood by the open window and looked through the crevice of the curtain.
The shouts, laughter, and cries of the two children had come up into the
chamber from the open air, making a strange contrast with the death-bed
scene. And now, through the crevice of the curtain, I saw my little Una
of the golden locks, looking very beautiful, and so full of spirit and
life that she was life itself. And then I looked at my poor dying
mother, and seemed to see the whole of human existence at once, standing
in the dusty midst of it."

The next day the children continued the play--they have never left it
off--of their grandmother's death-bed, and Hawthorne writes it all down
in his journal with minute realism. His genius felt some appeal in it
that let him go on unchecked in the transcript of baby-life mocking
death in all innocence and unwitting:--

"Now Una is transformed into grandmamma, and Julian is mamma taking care
of her. She groans, and speaks with difficulty, and moves herself feebly
and wearisomely; then lies perfectly still, as if in an insensible
state; then rouses herself and calls for wine; then lies down on her
back with clasped hands; then puts them to her head. It recalls the
scene of yesterday to me with frightful distinctness; and out of the
midst of it little Una looks at me with a smile of glee. Again, Julian
assumes the character. 'You're dying now,' says Una; 'so you must lie
still,'"--and so the journal goes on through the slow quarter-hours,
till it stops when Madame Hawthorne's heart ceased to beat.

The death of his mother removed the last and only reason for Hawthorne's
continuing to reside in Salem, but he remained there through the summer
and winter. He was hard at work on "The Scarlet Letter," perhaps being
more absorbed in it than he ever was in any other of his compositions.
It was a time of much trouble in every way. There was sickness in the
family, he was himself afflicted with pain, and his wife's sister
Elizabeth Peabody seems to have come to the rescue of domestic comfort
for the household. O'Sullivan, the kind-hearted editor of the defunct
"Democratic Review," bethought himself of his old debt to Hawthorne and
sent him a hundred dollars; so the purse was replenished. It was in
early winter that the cheerful personality of James T. Fields, the
publisher, appeared on the scene, and it was a fortunate hour for
Hawthorne that brought such an appreciative, enthusiastic, and faithful
friend to his door. Fields was just the man to warm Hawthorne's genius
into action,--cordial, whole-souled, and happily not so much a man of
letters as to repel him with that alienation which he certainly felt in
his contact with authors by profession like Emerson and his other
contemporaries. Fields was, too, in a very real sense, the messenger and
herald of fame standing at last in the humble doorway of the Mall Street
house that had latterly been the scene of such a tangle of human events.
The anecdote of what he found there is finely told in his own words:--

"I found him alone in a chamber over the sitting-room of the dwelling;
and as the day was cold, he was hovering near a stove. We fell into talk
about his future prospects, and he was, as I feared I should find him,
in a very desponding mood. 'Now,' said I, 'is the time for you to
publish, for I know during these years in Salem you must have got
something ready for the press.' 'Nonsense,' said he, 'what heart had I
to write anything, when my publishers have been so many years trying to
sell a small edition of the "Twice-Told Tales"?' I still pressed upon
him the good chances he would have now with something new. 'Who would
risk publishing a book for _me_, the most unpopular writer in
America?' 'I would,' said I, 'and would start with an edition of two
thousand copies of anything you write.' 'What madness!' he exclaimed;
'Your friendship for me gets the better of your judgment. No, no,' he
continued; 'I have no money to indemnify a publisher's losses on my
account.' I looked at my watch, and found that the train would soon be
starting for Boston, and I knew there was not much time to lose in
trying to discover what had been his literary work during these last few
years in Salem. I remember that I pressed him to reveal to me what he
had been writing. He shook his head, and gave me to understand that he
had produced nothing. At that moment I caught sight of a bureau or set
of drawers near where we were sitting; and immediately it occurred to me
that hidden away somewhere in that article of furniture was a story or
stories by the author of the 'Twice-Told Tales,' and I became so
positive of it that I charged him vehemently with the fact. He seemed
surprised, I thought, but shook his head again; and I rose to take my
leave, begging him not to come into the cold entry, saying I would come
back and see him again in a few days. I was hurrying down the stairs
when he called after me from the chamber, asking me to stop a moment.
Then quickly stepping into the entry with a roll of manuscript in his
hands, he said: 'How, in Heaven's name, did you know this thing was
there? As you found me out, take what I have written, and tell me, after
you get home and have time to read it, if it is good for anything. It is
either very good or very bad,--I don't know which.' On my way up to
Boston I read the germ of 'The Scarlet Letter.'"

The romance that was thus captured was not yet in the form which it
finally took. Hawthorne had conceived it as a rather longer tale of the
same sort that he had previously written, and designed to make it one
story in a new collection such as his former volumes had been. He
thought it was too gloomy to stand alone, and in fact did not suspect
that here was a new kind of work, such that it would put an end forever
to his old manner of writing. He intended to call the new volume
"Old-Time Legends: together with Sketches, Experimental and Ideal,"--a
title that is fairly ghostly with the transcendental nonage of his
genius, pale, abstract, ineffectual, with oblivion lurking in every
syllable. Fields knew better than that. But he gave him something more
than advice; he cheered him with his extravagant appreciation, as it
seemed to Hawthorne, and invigorated him by a true sympathy with his
success. Fields urged that the story be elaborated, filled out, and made
into a single volume; and, under this wise suggestion, Hawthorne went to
work upon it with renewed interest and with something probably of the
power of a new ambition.

His friends, too, had come to his aid with material assistance, and
apart from the fact that he was thus enabled to go on with the labor of
composition, free from the immediate pressure of poverty and its trials
of the spirit, he was stimulated by their confidence and kindness to do
all he could for himself. Hillard was the medium of this friendliness,
and accompanied the considerable sum of money with a letter, January 17,

"It occurred to me and some other of your friends that, in consideration
of the events of the last year, you might at this time be in need of a
little pecuniary aid. I have therefore collected, from some of those who
admire your genius and respect your character, the enclosed sum of
money, which I send you with my warmest wishes for your health and
happiness. I know the sensitive edge of your temperament; but do not
speak or think of obligation. It is only paying, in a very imperfect
measure, the debt we owe you for what you have done for American
Literature. Could you know the readiness with which every one to whom I
applied contributed to this little offering, and could you have heard
the warm expressions with which some accompanied their gift, you would
have felt that the bread you had cast upon the waters had indeed come
back to you. Let no shadow of despondency, my dear friend, steal over
you. Your friends do not and will not forget you. You shall be protected
against 'eating cares,' which, I take it, mean cares lest we should not
have enough to eat."

Kindly as this letter was, it could only temper what was for Hawthorne a
rough and bitter experience; for he had, in intense form, that proud
independence in such matters which characterizes the old New England
stock. The words he wrote in reply came from the depths of his nature:--

"I read your letter in the vestibule of the Post Office; and it
drew--what my troubles never have--the water to my eyes; so that I was
glad of the sharply cold west wind that blew into them as I came
homeward, and gave them an excuse for being red and bleared.

"There was much that was very sweet--and something, too, that was very
bitter--mingled with that same moisture. It is sweet to be remembered
and cared for by one's friends--some of whom know me for what I am,
while others, perhaps, know me only through a generous faith--sweet to
think that they deem me worth upholding in my poor work through life.
And it is bitter, nevertheless, to need their support. It is something
else besides pride that teaches me that ill-success in life is really
and justly a matter of shame. I am ashamed of it, and I ought to be. The
fault of a failure is attributable--in a great degree at least--to the
man who fails. I should apply this truth in judging of other men; and it
behooves me not to shun its point or edge in taking it home to my
_own_ heart. Nobody has a right to live in the world unless he be
strong and able, and applies his ability to good purpose.

"The money, dear Hillard, will smooth my path for a long time to come.
The only way in which a man can retain his self-respect, while availing
himself of the generosity of his friends, is by making it an incitement
to his utmost exertion, so that he may not need their help again. I
shall look upon it so--nor will shun any drudgery that my hand shall
find to do, if thereby I may win bread."

Four days after this, on February 3, 1850, he finished "The Scarlet
Letter." He read the last scene to his wife, just after writing it, on
that evening,--"tried to read it, rather," he wrote to Bridge the next
day, "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." He had, indeed, put his whole energy into
the book, writing "immensely," says his wife in the previous autumn, as
much as nine hours a day. He now felt the reaction, and besides he had a
less healthy regimen of life than hitherto, and had fallen into
middle-age habits of lowered physical tone, less active now in his
out-door life these last three or four years. He continues in the letter
to Bridge, just quoted: "I long to get into the country, for my health
latterly is not quite what it has been for many years past. I should not
long stand such a life of bodily inactivity and mental exertion as I
have lived for the last few months. An hour or two of daily labor in a
garden, and a daily ramble in country air, or on the sea-shore, would
keep all right. Here, I hardly go out once a week. Do not allude to this
matter in your letters to me, as my wife already sermonizes me quite
sufficiently on my habits; and I never own up to not feeling perfectly
well. Neither do I feel anywise ill; but only a lack of physical vigor
and energy, which reacts upon the mind." "The Scarlet Letter" [Footnote:
_The Scarlet Letter_. A Romance. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. Boston:
Ticknor, Reed and Fields. 1850. 12mo. Pp. iv, 322.] was already in the
publisher's hands, before the last scene was written, and was rapidly
put through the press. It was issued early in April in an edition of
five thousand copies, which was soon exhausted; a new edition followed
at once, and Hawthorne's fame was at last established.

"The Scarlet Letter" is a great and unique romance, standing apart by
itself in fiction; there is nothing else quite like it. Of all
Hawthorne's works it is most identified with his genius in popular
regard, and it has the peculiar power that is apt to invest the first
work of an author in which his originality finds complete artistic
expression. It is seldom that one can observe so plainly the different
elements that are primary in a writer's endowment coalesce in the fully
developed work of genius; yet in this romance there is nothing either in
method or perception which is not to be found in the earlier tales; what
distinguishes it is the union of art and intuition as they had grown up
in Hawthorne's practice and had developed a power to penetrate more
deeply into life. Obviously at the start there is the physical object in
which his imagination habitually found its spring, the fantastically
embroidered scarlet letter on a woman's bosom which he had seen in the
Puritan group described in "Endicott and the Red Cross." It had been in
his mind for years, and his thoughts had centred on it and wandered out
from it, tracking its mystery. It has in itself that decorative quality,
which he sought in the physical object,--the brilliant and rich effect,
startling to the eye and yet more to the imagination as it blazes forth
with a secret symbolism and almost intelligence of its own. It
multiplies itself, as the tale unfolds, with greater intensity and
mysterious significance and dread suggestion, as if in mirrors set round
about it,--in the slowly disclosed and fearful stigma on the minister's
hidden heart over which he ever holds his hand, where it has become
flesh of his flesh; in the growing elf-like figure of the child, who,
with her eyes always fastened on the open shame of the letter on her
mother's bosom or the hidden secret of the hand on her father's breast,
has become herself the symbol, half revealed and half concealed, is
dressed in it, as every reader remembers, and fantastically embodies it
as if the thing had taken life in her; and, as if this were not enough,
the scarlet letter, at a climax of the dark story, lightens forth over
the whole heavens as a symbol of what cannot be hid even in the
intensest blackness of night. The continual presence of the letter seems
to have burnt into Hawthorne's own mind, till at the end of the
narrative he says he would gladly erase its deep print from the brain
where long meditation had fixed it. In no other work is the physical
symbol so absorbingly present, so reduplicated, so much alive in itself.
It is the brand of sin on life. Its concrete vividness leads the author
also by a natural compulsion as well as an artistic instinct to display
his story in that succession of high-wrought scenes, tableaux, in fact,
which was his characteristic method of narrative, picturesque,
pictorial, almost to be described as theatrical in spectacle. The
background, also, as in the early tales, is of the slightest, no more
than will suffice for the acting of the drama as a stage setting
sympathetic with the central scene,--a town, with a prison, a
meeting-house, a pillory, a governor's house, other habitations on a
street, a lonely cottage by the shore, the forest round about all; and
for occasion and accessories, only a woman's sentence, the incidental
death of Winthrop unmarked in itself, a buccaneering ship in the harbor,
Indians, Spanish sailors, rough matrons, clergy; this will serve, for
such was Hawthorne's fine economy, knowing that this story was one in
which every materialistic element must be used at its lowest tone.
Though the scene lay in this world, it was but transitory scaffolding;
the drama was one of the eternal life.

The characteristic markings of Hawthorne's genius are also to be found
in other points. He does not present the scene of life, the crowd of the
world with its rich and varied fullness of interest, complexity of
condition and movement, and its interwoven texture of character, event,
and fate, such as the great novelists use; he has only a few individual
figures, and these are simplified by being exhibited, not in their
complete lives, but only in that single aspect of their experience which
was absorbing to themselves and constituted the life they lived in the
soul itself. There are three characters, Hester, the minister, and the
physician; and a fourth, the child, who fulfills the function of the
chorus in the old drama, in part a living comment, in part a spectator
and medium of sympathy with the main actors. In all four of these that
trait of profound isolation in life, so often used before in the earlier
tales, is strongly brought out; about each is struck a circle which
separates not only one from another, but from all the world, and in the
midst of it, as in a separate orb, each lives an unshared life. It is
inherent, too, in such a situation that the mystery that had fascinated
Hawthorne in so many forms, the secrecy of men's bosoms, should be a
main theme in the treatment. He has also had recourse to that method of
violent contrast which has been previously illustrated; on the one hand
the publicity of detected wrongdoing, on the other the hidden and
unsuspected fact; here the open shame and there the secret sin, whose
sameness in a double life is expressed by the identity of the
embroidered letter and the flesh-wrought stigma. But it is superfluous
to illustrate further the genesis of this romance out of Hawthorne's art
and matter in his earlier work, showing how naturally it rose by a
concentration of his powers on a single theme that afforded them scope,
intensity, and harmony at once. The new thing here is the power of his
genius to penetrate, as was said above, deep into life.

The romance begins where common tales end. The crime has been committed;
in it, in its motives, circumstances, explanation, its course of passion
and human tide of life, Hawthorne takes no interest. All that is past,
and, whatever it was, now exists only as sin; it has passed from the
region of earthly fact into that of the soul, out of all that was
temporal into the world where eternal things only are. Not crime, not
passion, not the temptation and the fall, but only sin now staining the
soul in consequence is the theme; and the course of the story concerns
man's dealing with sin, in his own breast or the breasts of others. It
is a study of punishment, of vengeance if one will; this is the secret
of its gloom, for the idea of salvation, of healing, is but little
present and is not felt; there is no forgiveness in the end, in any
sense to dispel the darkness of evil or promise the dawn of new life in
any one of these tortured souls. The sin of the lovers is not the centre
of the story, but only its initial source; that sin breeds sin is the
real principle of its being; the minister is not punished as a lover,
but as the hypocrite that he becomes, and the physician is punished as
the revenger that he becomes. Hester's punishment is visibly from the
law, and illustrates the law's brutality, the coarse hand of man for
justice, the mere physical blow meant to hurt and crush; it is man's
social way of dealing with sin, and fails because it makes no connection
with the soul; the victim rises above it, is emancipated from its ideas,
transforms the symbol of disgrace into a message of mercy to all who
suffer, and annuls the gross sentence by her own higher soul-power. The
minister's punishment, also, is visibly from the physician, who
illustrates man's individual way of dealing with sin in another; but it
is not the minister's suffering under the hand of revenge working subtly
in secret that arrests our attention; it is the physician's own
degeneracy into a devil of hate through enjoyment of the sight and
presence of this punishment, that stamps him into the reader's mind as a
type of the failure of such a revenge. "Vengeance is mine, saith the
Lord" is the text here blazed forth. In the sphere of the soul human law
and private revenge have no place. It is in that sphere that Hester is
seen suffering in the touch of the child, being unable to adjust the
broken harmonies of life; her incapacity to do that is the ever-present
problem that keeps her wound open, not to be stanched, but rather
breaking with a more intimate pain with the unfolding of little Pearl's
wide-eyed soul. In that sphere, too, the minister is seen suffering--not
for the original sin, for that is overlaid, whelmed, forgotten, by the
second and heavier transgression of hypocrisy, cowardice,
desertion,--but merely from self-knowledge, the knowledge that he is a
living lie. The characters, so treated, become hardly more than types,
humanly outlined in figure, costume, and event, symbolic pictures of
states of the soul, so simplified, so intense, so elementary as to
belong to a phantasmagoric rather than a realistic world, to that mirror
of the soul which is not found in nature but in spiritual
self-consciousness, where the soul is given back to itself in its
nakedness, as in a secret place.

Yet it is in the sense of reality that this romance is most intense. It
is a truthful story, above all; and only its truth could make it
tolerable to the imagination and heart, if indeed it be tolerable to the
heart at all. A part of this reality is due to the fact that there is a
story here that lies outside of the moral scheme in which Hawthorne's
conscious thought would confine it; the human element in it threatens
from time to time to break the mould of thought and escape from bondage,
because, simple as the moral scheme is, human life is too complex to be
solved by it even in this small world of the three guilty ones and the
child. This weakness of the moral scheme, this rude strength of human
nature, this sense of a larger solution, are most felt when Hawthorne
approaches the love element, and throughout in the character of Hester,
in whom alone human nature retains a self-assertive power. The same
thing is felt vaguely, but certainly, in the lack of sympathy between
Hawthorne and the Puritan environment he depicts. He presents the
community itself, its common people, its magistrates and clergy, its
customs, temper, and atmosphere, as forbidding, and he has no good word
for it; harshness characterizes it, and that trait discredits its
ideals, its judgments, and its entire interpretation of life. Hester,
outcast from it, is represented as thereby enfranchised from its
narrowness, enlightened, escaped into a world of larger truth:--

"The world's law was no law for her mind. It was an age in which the
human intellect, newly emancipated, had taken a more active and a wider
range than for many centuries before. Men of the sword had overthrown
nobles and kings. Men bolder than these had overthrown and
rearranged--not actually, but within the sphere of theory, which was
their most real abode--the whole system of ancient prejudice, wherewith
was linked much of ancient principle. Hester Prynne imbibed this spirit.
She assumed a freedom of speculation, then common enough on the other
side of the Atlantic, but which our forefathers, had they known it,
would have held to be a deadlier crime than that stigmatized by the
scarlet letter. In her lonesome cottage, by the sea-shore, thoughts
visited her, such as dared to enter no other dwelling in New England;
shadowy guests, that would have been as perilous as demons to their
entertainer, could they have been seen so much as knocking at her door."

This is the foregleam of the next age, felt in her mind, the coming of a
larger day. Hawthorne does not develop this or justify it; he only
states it as a fact of life. And in the motive of the story, the love of
Hester and Arthur, much is left dim; but what is discerned threatens to
be unmanageable within the limits of the scheme. Did Hester love her
lover, and he love her, through those seven years in silence? Did either
of them ever repent their passion for its own sake? And when Hester's
womanhood came back in its bloom and her hair fell shining in the forest
sunlight, and she took her lover, hand and head and form, in all his
broken suffering to her affectionate care and caress, and planned the
bold step that they go out together across the seas and live in each
other's lives like lovers in truth and reality,--was this only the
resurrection of a moment or the firm vital force of a seven years'
silent passion? Had either of them ever repented, though one was a
coward and the other a condemned and public criminal before the law, and
both had suffered? Was not the true sin, as is suggested, the source of
all this error, the act of the physician who had first violated Hester's
womanhood in a loveless marriage as he had now in Arthur's breast
"violated in cold blood the sanctity of a human heart"? "Thou and I,"
says Arthur, "never did so." The strange words follow, strange for
Hawthorne to have written, but better attesting his truth to human
nature than all his morality:--

"Never, never!" whispered she. "What we did had a consecration of its
own. We felt it so! We said so to each other! Hast thou forgotten it?"

"Hush, Hester!" said Arthur Dimmesdale, rising from the ground. "No; I
have not forgotten!"

That confession is the stroke of genius in the romance that humanizes it
with a thrill that is felt through every page of the stubborn, dark,
harsh narrative of misery. It was not a sin against love that had been
committed; it was a sin against the soul; and the sin against the soul
lay in the lack of confession, which becomes the cardinal situation of
the romance solved in the minister's dying acknowledgment. But the love
problem is never solved, just as the hate problem in the physician is
never solved; both Hester and Roger Chillingworth, one with her mystery
of enduring love, the other with his mystery of insatiable hatred, are
left with the issue, the meaning of their lives inexplicable, untold.
Yet it is from the presence of these elements in the story that
something of its intense reality comes.

It remains true, however, that the essential reality lies in the vivid
sense of sin, and its experience in conscience. Hawthorne has not given
a historical view of New England life; such a village, with such a
tragedy, never existed, in that environing forest of the lone seacoast;
but he has symbolized historical New England by an environment that he
created round a tragedy that he read in the human heart, and in this
tragedy itself he was able also to symbolize New England life in its
internal features. One thing stood plainly out in our home
Puritanism,--spirituality; the transcendent sense of the reality of the
soul's life with God, its conscience, its perils, and its eternal issue.
Spirituality remained the inheritance of the New England blood; and
Hawthorne, who was no Puritan in doctrine or sympathy even, was Puritan
in temperament, and hence to him, too, spirituality in life was its main
element. He took that sin of passion which has ever been held typical of
sin against the purity of the soul's nature, and transformed it into the
symbol of all sin, and in its manifestation revolved the aspects of sin
as a presence in the soul after the act,--the broken law disturbing
life's external harmonies but working a worse havoc within, mining all
with corruption there, while it infects with disease whatever approaches
it from without. It is by its moral universality that the romance takes
hold of the imagination; the scarlet letter becomes only a pictorial
incident, but while conscience, repentance, confession, the modes of
punishment, and the modes of absolution remain instant and permanent
facts in the life of the soul, many a human heart will read in this book
as in a manual of its own intimate hours.

The romance is thus essentially a parable of the soul's life in sin; in
its narrower scope it is the work of the moral intellect allegorizing
its view of life; and where creative genius enters into it, in the
Shakespearean sense of life in its own right, it tends to be a larger
and truer story breaking the bonds of its religious scheme. It has its
roots in Puritanism, but it is only incidentally a New England tale; its
substance is the most universal experience of human nature in religious
life, taking its forms only, its local habitation and name, from the
Puritan colony in America, and these in a merely allegorical, not
historical manner. Certain traits, however, ally it more closely to New
England Puritanism. It is a relentless tale; the characters are
singularly free from self-pity, and accept their fate as righteous; they
never forgave themselves, they show no sign of having forgiven one
another; even God's forgiveness is left under a shadow in futurity. They
have sinned against the soul, and something implacable in evil remains.
The minister's dying words drop a dark curtain over all.

"Hush, Hester, hush!" said he, with tremulous solemnity. "The law we
broke!--the sin here so awfully revealed!--let these alone be in thy
thoughts! I fear! I fear! It may be that, when we forgot our God,--when
we violated our reverence each for the other's soul,--it was thenceforth
vain to hope that we could meet hereafter, in an everlasting and pure

Mercy is but a hope. There is also a singular absence of prayer in the
book. Evil is presented as a thing without remedy, that cannot change
its nature. The child, even, being the fruit of sin, can bring, Hester
and Arthur doubt, no good for others or herself. In the scheme of
Puritan thought, however, the atonement of Christ is the perpetual
miracle whereby salvation comes, not only hereafter but in the holier
life led here by grace. There is no Christ in this book. Absolution, so
far as it is hinted at, lies in the direction of public confession, the
efficacy of which is directly stated, but lamely nevertheless; it
restores truth, but it does not heal the past. Leave the dead past to
bury its dead, says Hawthorne, and go on to what may remain; but life
once ruined is ruined past recall. So Hester, desirous of serving in her
place the larger truth she has come to know, is stayed, says Hawthorne,
because she "recognized the impossibility that any mission of divine and
mysterious truth should be confided to a woman stained with sin, bowed
down with shame, or even burdened with a life-long sorrow." That was
never the Christian gospel nor the Puritan faith. Indeed, Hawthorne here
and elsewhere anticipates those ethical views which are the burden of
George Eliot's moral genius, and contain scientific pessimism. This
stoicism, which was in Hawthorne, is a primary element in his moral
nature, in him as well as in his work; it is visited with few touches of
tenderness and pity; the pity one feels is not in him, it is in the
pitiful thing, which he presents objectively, sternly, unrelentingly. It
must be confessed that as an artist he appears unsympathetic with his
characters; he is a moral dissector of their souls, minute, unflinching,
thorough, a vivisector here; and he is cold because he has passed
sentence on them, condemned them. There is no sympathy with human nature
in the book; it is a fallen and ruined thing suffering just pain in its
dying struggle. The romance is steeped in gloom. Is it too much to
suggest that in ignoring prayer, the atonement of Christ, and the work
of the Spirit in men's hearts, the better part of Puritanism has been
left out, and the whole life of the soul distorted? Sin in the soul, the
scarlet flower from the dark soil, we see; but, intent on that, has not
the eye, and the heart, too, forgotten the large heavens that ensphere
all--even this evil flower--and the infinite horizons that reach off to
the eternal distance from every soul as from their centre? This romance
is the record of a prison-cell, unvisited by any ray of light save that
earthly one which gives both prisoners to public ignominy; they are
seen, but they do not see. These traits of the book, here only
suggested, have kinship with the repelling aspects of Puritanism, both
as it was and as Hawthorne inherited it in his blood and breeding; so,
in its transcendent spirituality, and in that democracy which is the
twin-brother of spirituality in all lands and cultures, by virtue of
which Hawthorne here humiliates and strips the minister who is the type
of the spiritual aristocrat in the community, there is the essence of
New England; but, for all that, the romance is a partial story, an
imperfect fragment of the old life, distorting, not so much the Puritan
ideal--which were a little matter--but the spiritual life itself. Its
truth, intense, fascinating, terrible as it is, is a half-truth, and the
darker half; it is the shadow of which the other half is light; it is
the wrath of which the other half is love. A book from which light and
love are absent may hold us by its truth to what is dark in life; but,
in the highest sense, it is a false book. It is a chapter in the
literature of moral despair, and is perhaps most tolerated as a
condemnation of the creed which, through imperfect comprehension, it

With this book Hawthorne came into fame; but his fellow townsmen were
ill pleased to find some disrepute of their own accompanying his
success. It is surely to be regretted that this was the case; and,
effective as his sketch of the Custom House is, one feels that Hawthorne
stooped in taking his literary revenge on his humble associates by
holding them up to personal ridicule. The tone of pleasantry veils ill
feeling, which is expressed without cover in a letter he wrote to Bridge
a day or two before he left the town:--

"As to the Salem people, I really thought that 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 several attacks, on two false indictments--
without hardly a voice being raised on my behalf; and then sending one
of the false witnesses to Congress, others to the Legislature, and
choosing another as the mayor.

"I feel an infinite contempt for them--and probably have expressed more
of it than I intended--for my preliminary chapter has caused the
greatest uproar that has happened here since witch-times. If I escape
from town without being tarred and feathered, I shall consider it good
luck. I wish they would tar and feather me; it would be such an entirely
novel kind of distinction for a literary man. And, from such judges as
my fellow-citizens, I should look upon it as a higher honor than a
laurel crown."

He had said his farewell in the too famous sketch, with an ill grace,
shaking the dust of his native place from his feet, and frankly taking
upon himself the character of the unappreciated genius, which is seldom
a becoming one. The passage fitly closes this chapter in which his
nativity, for better or worse, is most apparent.

"Soon my old native town will loom upon me through the haze of memory, a
mist brooding over and around it, as if it were no portion of the real
earth, but an overgrown village in cloud-land, with only imaginary
inhabitants to people its wooden houses, and walk its homely lanes, and
the unpicturesque prolixity of its main street. Henceforth it ceases to
be a reality of my life. I am a citizen of somewhere else. My good
townspeople will not much regret me; for--though it has been as dear an
object as any, in my literary efforts, to be of some importance in their
eyes, and to win myself a pleasant memory in this abode and burial-place
of so many of my forefathers--_there_ has never been, for me, the
genial atmosphere which a literary man requires, in order to ripen the
best harvest of his mind. I shall do better amongst other faces; and
these familiar ones, it need hardly be said, will do just as well
without me."



In the late spring of 1850 Hawthorne removed his family and household
goods to the little red cottage amid the Berkshire Hills which was to be
a nature's hermitage to him for the next year and a half. It was a
story-and-a-half building, rude and simple, on a great hillside,
commanding a view of a small lake below and of beautiful low mountain
horizons. Here began again that secluded happy family life which had
belonged to the Old Manse, and he was perhaps happier than he had ever
been. The home had the same internal look as of old, for he had brought
with him the relics of family furniture, the oriental objects from over
sea that were heirlooms from his father, and the Italian Madonnas, the
casts and paintings with which his wife delighted to surround the
home-life in an atmosphere of artistic adornment and suggestion; and, as
the quarters were very small, the effect was one of mingled homeliness
and refinement. Bridge soon joined them, and devoted himself in a
practical way to making things shipshape, providing necessary closets
and shelves out of packing boxes, and generally eking out the interior
arrangements with a sailor's ready ingenuity. Outside there was a
barnyard, and a two-story hencoop to be put to rights, with its brood of
pet chickens each with its name,--Snowdrop, Crown Imperial, Queenie,
Fawn, and the like decorative appellations. The two children, Una and
Julian, were in a paradise. Other friends came, too, to visit or to
call. Mrs. Hawthorne soon remarked that they seemed to see more society
than ever before. Herman Melville lived near by, at Pittsfield, and
became a welcome guest and companion, with his boisterous genuine
intellectual spirits and animal strength. Fanny Kemble made an
interesting figure on her great black horse at the gate. The Sedgwick
neighbors were thoughtful and serviceable. O'Sullivan reappeared for a
moment in all his Celtic vivacity, and Fields, Holmes, Duyckinck, and
others of the profession came and went in the summer days. Hawthorne
breathed the air of successful authorship at last, and knew its vanities
and its pleasures. The mail brought him new acquaintances, and now and
then a hero-worshiper lingered at the gate for a look. But as the warm
days went by, and the frosts came, he found himself in his old
sheltering nook, in a place removed from the world, living practically
alone with his wife and children, though the increasing sense of
friendliness in the world cheered and warmed him.

He had, however, begun to age. He was forty-six years old, and the last
year had told upon him, with its various anxieties, excitement, and hard
labor with the pen. He was more easily fatigued, he was less robust and
venturesome, less physically confident. He showed the changes of time.
On his arrival, "weary and worn," says his wife, "with waiting for a
place to be, to think, and to write in," he gave up with something like
nervous fever; "his eyes looked like two immense spheres of troubled
light; his face was wan and shadowy, and he was wholly uncomfortable."
He soon recovered tone; but though he pleaded that his mind never worked
well till the frosts brought out the landscape's autumnal colors and had
some similar alchemy for his own brain, it was a needed rest that he
enjoyed while giving and receiving these early hospitalities in a new
country. He even found the broad mountain view, with the lake in its
bosom, a distraction which made it hard for him to write in its
presence. He had always been used to narrow outlooks from his windows;
even at the Old Manse the scene was small though open. With the coming
of the fall days, however, he again took up his writing, and showed how
stimulating to his ambition and energies the first taste of popularity
had been. Indeed from this time he was more productive than at any other
period, and wrote regularly and successfully as he had never before
done. The scale of the novel gave more volume to his work of itself, and
its mere continuity sustained his effort; moreover the excitement of a
new kind of work was a strong stimulus. He now began to write novels,
differently studied and composed from his earlier stories, more akin to
the usual narrative of fiction. "The Scarlet Letter," a work of pure
imagination, was the climax of his tales, the furthest reach of his
romantic allegorizing moral art in creation; but he now undertook to
utilize his experience and observation in the attempt to delineate life
in its commoner and more realistic aspects of character and scene. He
began "The House of the Seven Gables" in September and finished it early
in January. He wrote regularly, but the story went on more slowly than
he had hoped, requiring more care and thought than "The Scarlet Letter,"
because the latter was all in one tone, while here there was variety. He
had to wait for the mood, at times; but the composition was really
rapid, and seemed slow only because he was used to the smaller scale of
effort. The book was at once sent to press and published in the spring.
[Footnote: _The House of The Seven Gables_. A Romance. By Nathaniel
Hawthorne. Boston: Ticknor, Reed and Fields. 1851. 12mo. Pp. vi, 344.]

"The House of the Seven Gables" is a succession of stories bound
together to set forth the history of a family through generations under
the aspect of an inherited curse which inheres in the house itself. The
origin of the curse and of the plot lies in the founder of the family,
Colonel Pyncheon, whose character, wrong-doing, and death make the first
act; the second, which is no more than an illustrative episode and
serves to fill out the history of the house itself, is the tale of
Alice, the mesmerized victim of a later generation, in which the
witchcraft element of the first story is half rationalized; the third
part, which these two lead up to and explain, is the body of the novel,
and contains the working out of the curse and its dissipation in the
marriage of the descendants of the Colonel and the old wizard Maule,
from whose dying lips it had come. The curse itself, "God will give him
blood to drink," is made physical by the fact that death comes to the
successive heirs by apoplexy, an end which lends itself to an atmosphere
of secrecy, mysteriousness, and judgments; but the permanence of those
traits which made the Colonel's character harsh and harmful, his
ambition, will-power, and cruelty, gives moral probability to the curse
and secures its operation as a thing of nature. There is, nevertheless,
a lax unity in the novel, owing to this dispersion of the action; and
its somewhat thin material in the contemporary part needs the
strengthening and enrichment that it derives from the historical
elements. The series is united by the uncut thread of a vengeful
punishment that must continue until the original wrong itself shall
disappear; but when that happens, the Indian deed hidden behind the
portrait is worthless, the male line is extinct, and the house itself a
thing of the past. The presence of the past in life, both as inheritance
and environment, is the moral theme, and here it is an evil past
imparting misery to whomever it touches. The old house is its physical
sign and habitation; the inhabitants are its victims, and in the later
story they are innocent sufferers, as Alice had been in the intermediate

Such a canvas is one which Hawthorne loved to fill up with the shadowed
lights, the melodramatic coloring and fantastic decorativeness of his
fancies. The characters are, as always, few. There are but five of them,
Hepzibah, Clifford, Phoebe, the daguerreotypist, and the Judge, with the
contributory figures of Uncle Venner and little Ned Higgins. They have
also the constant Hawthorne trait of great isolation, and live entirely
within the world of the story. In sketching them Hawthorne had recourse
to real life, to observation, as also in all the contemporary background
and atmosphere. The substance and attraction of the novel lie in this
fidelity to the life he knew so minutely; for the plot, the crime, the
curse, except in their own historical atmosphere, in the Colonel and in
Alice's story, interest us but little and languidly. It is, perhaps, not
refining too much to see in the novel a closer relationship to those
earlier tales and sketches which drew their matter from observation,
were less imaginative, more realistic, and belong to a less purely
creative art. If "The Scarlet Letter" was the culmination of the finer
tales, "The House of the Seven Gables" is the climax of this less
powerful, but more every-day group of the familiar aspect of country
life. It was, possibly, with some vague sense of this that Hawthorne
preferred this novel as one "more characteristic of my mind, and more
proper and natural for me to write;" it came from his more familiar
self. He was able to introduce into it that realistic detail concerning
trifles which he delighted to record in his journals; and the minute
analysis which in the great romance he gave to the feelings and inner
life of pain, he here gives rather to the elaboration of the scene, to
external things, to the surface and texture of the physical elements. He
has succeeded consequently in delineating and coloring a picture of New
England conditions with Dutch faithfulness, and this is the charm of the
work. It appeals, like life and memory themselves, to the people of that
countryside, and goes to their hearts like the sight of home. To others
it can be only a provincial study, with the attraction of such life in
any land, and for them more dependent on its romantic setting, its moral
suggestion, and general human truth. Those who have the secret and are
of kin to New England, however, find in the mere description something
that endears the book. The life of the little back street, as it revives
in Clifford's childishly pleased senses, with its succession of morning
carts, its scissor-grinder, and other incidents of the hour; the garden
of flowers and vegetables, with the Sunday afternoon in the ruinous
arbor, the loaf of bread and the china bowl of currants; the life of the
immortal cent-shop, with its queer array, and its string of customers
jingling the bell; the hens, evidently transported from the great coop
of the Berkshire cottage, but with the value of an event in the
novel,--all these things, with a hundred other features that are each
but a trifle, make up a glamour of reality that grows over the whole
book like the mosses on the house. In the characters themselves this
local realism is carried to the highest degree of truth, especially in
Hepzibah, who in her half-vital state, with her faded gentility and
gentle, heroic heart of patient love, in all her outer queerness and
grotesquely thwarted life, is the most wholly alive of all of
Hawthorne's characters; in Phoebe, too, though in a different way, is
the same truth, a life entirely real; and, on the smaller scale, Uncle
Venner is also to be reckoned a character perfectly done. Clifford is
necessarily faint, and does not interest one on his own account; he is
pitiable, but his love of the beautiful is too much sentimentalized to
engage sympathy in the special way that Hawthorne attempts, and one sees
in him only the victim of life, the prisoner whom the law mistook and
outraged and left ruined; and Holgrave is no more than a spectator,
mechanically necessary to the action and useful in other ways, but he
does not affect us as a character. There remains Judge Pyncheon, on whom
Hawthorne evidently exhausted his skill in the effort to make him
repellent. He is studied after the gentleman who was most active in the
removal of Hawthorne from the Custom House, and was intended to be a
recognizable portrait of him in the community. Perhaps the knowledge of
this fact interferes with the proper effect of the character, since it
makes one doubt the truth of it. The practice of introducing real
persons into literature as a means of revenge by holding them up to
detestation is one that seldom benefits either fiction or truth; it was
the ugliest feature of Pope's character, and it always affects one as
unhandsome treatment. In this instance it detracts from the sense of
reality, inasmuch as one suspects caricature. But taken without
reference to the original, Judge Pyncheon is somewhat of a stage
villain, a puppet; his villainy is presented mainly in his physique, his
dress and walk, his smile and scowl, and generally in his demeanor; it
is not actively shown, though the reader is told many sad stories of his
misbehaviour; even at the end, in the scene in which he comes nearest to
acting, the plot never gets further than a threat to do a cruel thing.
In other words it is a portrait that is drawn, not a character that is
shown in its play of evil power actually embodying itself in life. He is
the bogy of the house, the Pyncheon type incarnated in each generation;
and when he sits dead in the old chair, he seems less an individual than
the Pyncheon corpse. In the long chapter which serves as his requiem,
and in which there is the suggestion of Dickens not in the best phase of
his art, the jubilation is somewhat diabolic; it affects one as if
Hawthorne's thoughts were executing a dance upon a grave. The character
is too plainly hated by the author, and it fails to carry conviction of
its veracity. Yet in certain external touches and aspects it suggests
the hypocrite who everywhere walks the streets, placid, respectable,
sympathetic in salutations, but bearing within a cold, gross, cruel,
sensual, and selfish nature which causes a shudder at every casual
glimpse that betrays its lurking hideousness. The character is
thoroughly conceived, but being developed by description instead of
action, seems overdone; prosperity has made him too flabby to act, and
kills him with a fit as soon as he works himself up to play the role.

After all, the story in its contemporary phase is but a small part of
the novel, which does not much suffer even if the Judge in his youthful,
hard-hearted, cowardly crime and the victim in his aesthetic delicacy
are both ineffective in making the impression the author aimed at. The
real scene is the singularly trivial and barren life of the old house,
where nothing takes place but the purchase of a Jim Crow, a breakfast of
mackerel, a talk about chickens, gossip with Uncle Venner, and the
passing of a political procession in the street; and one too easily
forgets the marvelous art which could make such a life interesting and
stimulating and engaging to the affections, even with the aid of
Hepzibah and Phoebe in their simpleness. What makes the happiness of the
story is to be found in these details, and in the century-old atmosphere
which Hawthorne has generated about them, compounding into one element
the witchcraft memories, the foreign horizons, the curse in the house,
the threadbare gentility, the decay material and spiritual, the odor of
time, all of which he had absorbed from his Salem life; thence it came
that he was able to give to New England its only imaginative work that
has ancestral quality. All this, too, is distilled from the soil.
Hawthorne felt in his own life the weight of this past; its elements
were familiar and near to him, so that his own family legend imparts
coloring to the tale and gives him sympathy with it; and in leaving
Salem it was from such a past that he desired to be free. He expresses
himself, in these matters, through Holgrave, in his democratic new life
urging Hepzibah to abandon gentility and be proud of her cent shop as a
genuine thing in a practical and real world,--she would begin to live
now at sixty, such was his narrowness of youthful view; but the
democratic sentiment is Hawthorne's. So, too, in his rhetorical
impeachment of the past, though the passage is meant to summarize the
point of view of reform, there is an emphasis such as sincerity gives:--

"'Shall we never, never get rid of this Past?' cried he, keeping up the
earnest tone of his preceding conversation. 'It lies upon the Present
like a giant's dead body! In fact, the case is just as if a young giant
were compelled to waste all his strength in carrying about the corpse of
the old giant, his grandfather, who died a long while ago, and only
needs to be decently buried. Just think a moment, and it will startle
you to see what slaves we are to bygone times,--to Death, if we give the
matter the right word!'

"'But I do not see it,' observed Phoebe.

"'For example, then,' continued Holgrave, 'a dead man, if he happen to
have made a will, disposes of wealth no longer his own; or, if he die
intestate, it is distributed in accordance with the notions of men much
longer dead than he. A dead man sits on all our judgment-seats; and
living judges do but search out and repeat his decisions. We read in
dead men's books! We laugh at dead men's jokes, and cry at dead men's
pathos! We are sick of dead men's diseases, physical and moral, and die
of the same remedies with which dead doctors killed their patients! We
worship the living Deity according to dead men's forms and creeds.
Whatever we seek to do, of our own free motion, a dead man's icy hand
obstructs us! Turn our eyes to what point we may, a dead man's white,
immitigable face encounters them, and freezes our very heart! And we
must be dead ourselves before we can begin to have our proper influence
on our own world, which will then be no longer our world, but the world
of another generation, with which we shall have no shadow of a right to
interfere. I ought to have said, too, that we live in dead men's houses;
as, for instance, in this of the Seven Gables!'"

This is in the form of dialogue; but Hawthorne's own attitude toward
reform is clearly disclosed in the analytic passages in which he
discusses Holgrave, though it is observable that he embodies no adverse
criticism upon it in the character itself, as he was to do in his next
novel. He appears to take the same view of reform that is sometimes
found in respect to prayer, that it has great subjective advantages and
is good for the soul, but is futile in the world of fact. It was well
for Holgrave, he says, to think as he did; this enthusiasm "would serve
to keep his youth pure and make his aspirations high," and he goes on
with his own judgment on the matter:--

"And when, with the years settling down more weightily upon him, his
early faith should be modified by inevitable experience, it would be
with no harsh and sudden revolution of his sentiments. He would still
have faith in man's brightening destiny, and perhaps love him all the
better, as he should recognize his helplessness in his own behalf; and
the haughty faith, with which he began life, would be well bartered for
a far humbler one at its close, in discerning that man's best directed
effort accomplishes a kind of dream, while God is the sole worker of

This may be profound truth, as it is intended to be; but it needs no
penetration to see here a man whose sympathies with all kinds of those
"come-outers" who then multiplied exceedingly in his neighborhood, would
be infinitesimal. He had not, however, yet engaged with this problem so
closely as he was to do. So far one would discern only that fatalistic
and pessimistic trait indicated by "The Scarlet Letter" and found in
"The House of the Seven Gables" in the hard conclusion that there was no
remedy for the harm that had been done in the long past. The curse was
done with now, it is true, by the marriage of Phoebe and Holgrave, but
for Clifford and Hepzibah there was no amends for the lives the dead
Judge had ruined by the aid of an imperfect and blundering human law;
they were wrecks, so Hawthorne represents it,--they had missed life's
happiness and were now in hospital, as it were, till they should die;
but in their lives evil had been triumphant, had made them innocent
victims, and for this there was neither help nor compensation. The
irremediableness of the breach that sin makes in the soul had been
preached in "The Scarlet Letter;" here is the other half of the truth,
as Hawthorne saw it, the irremediableness of the injury done to others.
So far as the book has ethical meaning it lies in the implacability of
the uncanceled wrong lingering as a curse, destroying the bad and
blasting the good descendants of the house, and presenting the mystery
of evil as something positive, persisting, and unchecked in its career.
The moral element, nevertheless, lies well in the background and is
overlaid with romantic and legendary features; its hatefulness in the
main story is not the principal theme; and the novel pleases and
succeeds, not by these traits, but by its humble realism, its delicate
character-drawing, and that ancestral power which makes it the story of
a house long lived in.

On finishing this work Hawthorne took that rest which he always required
after any great intellectual exertion, and spent the time with his
children and wife. His second daughter, Rose, was born in the spring. A
happier childhood seldom gets into books than that which appears in the
reminiscences of this small family, whether they were in Salem, or
Berkshire, or Liverpool. Hawthorne lived much with his children, and he
had the habit of observing them minutely and writing down the history of
their little lives in his journals. All winter their play and
recreation, their sayings and adventures and habits, diversified the
Berkshire days; they thrived on "the blue nectared air," and had rosy
cheeks and abounding spirits, and their heads were stuffed with fairy
tales. The year was a glorious one in Julian's memory, and the page he
makes of it may be taken as a leaf of his father's life at home,
disclosing his daily life and home-nature, as it was through years of
domestic happiness. Hawthorne, indeed, is never so attractive as when
seen with the light of his children's eyes upon him:--

"He made those spring days memorable to his children. He made them boats
to sail on the lake, and kites to fly in the air; he took them fishing
and flower-gathering, and tried (unsuccessfully for the present) to
teach them swimming. Mr. Melville used to ride or drive up, in the
evenings, with his great dog, and the children used to ride on the dog's
back. In short, the place was made a paradise for the small people. In
the previous autumn, and still more in the succeeding one, they all went
nutting, and filled a certain disused oven in the house with such bags
upon bags of nuts as not a hundred children could have devoured during
the ensuing winter. The children's father displayed extraordinary
activity and energy on these nutting expeditions; standing on the ground
at the foot of a tall walnut-tree, he would bid them turn their backs
and cover their eyes with their hands; then they would hear, for a few
seconds, a sound of rustling and scrambling, and, immediately after, a
shout, whereupon they would uncover their eyes and gaze upwards; and lo!
there was their father--who but an instant before, as it seemed, had
been beside them--swaying and soaring high aloft on the topmost
branches, a delightful mystery and miracle. And then down would rattle
showers of ripe nuts, which the children would diligently pick up, and
stuff into their capacious bags. It was all a splendid holiday; and they
cannot remember when their father was not their playmate, or when they
ever desired or imagined any other playmate than he."

The spirit of such a fatherhood, and all this delight in the children's
world, was distilled for the great multitude of other children in "The
Wonder-Book" and its sequel "Tanglewood Tales." From very early in his
career he had written charming childhood sketches, of which "Little
Annie's Ramble" and "Little Daffydown-dilly" are easily recalled; and
his association with his wife's sister, Elizabeth Peabody, had directed
his attention particularly to literature for children, and
"Grandfather's Chair" had been the result. Whenever he fell into
discouragement in respect to the earning capacity of his pen, his first
thought was that he would write children's books for a living. For some
time he had meditated a volume which should adapt the classical tales of
mythology to the understanding and interests of such children as his
own, and he now put the plan in execution. He began "The Wonder-Book"
with the summer, and finished it at one effort in six weeks of June and
July; the ease with which he accomplished the task indicates how
pleasurable it was, and well adapted to his sympathies and powers; and
the result was very successful, a book of sunshine from cover to cover.
It [Footnote: _A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys_. By Nathaniel
Hawthorne, with Engravings by Baker from designs by Billings. Boston:
Ticknor, Reed and Fields. 1852. 16mo. Pp. vi. 256.] was published in the
fall, and was followed after an interval by its second part, "Tanglewood
Tales." [Footnote: _Tanglewood Tales for Girls and Boys_. Being a
Second Wonder-Book. By Nathaniel Hawthorne, with Fine Illustrations.
Boston: Ticknor, Reed and Fields. 1853. 16mo. Pp. 336.]

A multitude of children have loved these books, for whom their very
names are a part of the golden haze of memory; and, in view of the
association of Hawthorne's genius and temperament with quite other
themes and the darker element in grown lives, this band of children make
a kind of halo round his figure. Whether the thing done should have been
so done, whether Greek should have been turned into Gothic, is a foolish
matter. To please a child is warrant enough for any work; and here
romantic fancy plays around the beautiful forms and noble suggestion of
old heroic and divine life, and marries them to the hillside and
fireside of New England childhood with the naturalness of a fairy
enchantment; these tales are truly transplanted into the minds of the
little ones with whose youngest tendrils of imagination they are
intertwined. To tear apart such tender fibres were a poor mode of
criticism, for the living fact better speaks for itself; and, in the
case of the present writer, whose earliest recollection of the great
world of literature, his first dawn-glimpse of it, lying in dreamy
beauty, was Bellerophon's pool, the memory is potent and yields an
appreciation not to be distilled in any other alembic. Few facts are
more fixed in his memory than that he was the child who watched the pool
for the tall boy with the shining bridle who was his strange friend from
another world. If to wake and feed the imagination and charm it, and
fill the budding mind with the true springtime of the soul's life in
beautiful images, noble thoughts, and brooding moods that have in them
the infinite suggestion, be success for a writer who would minister to
the childish heart, few books can be thought to equal these; and the
secret of it lies in the wondering sense which Hawthorne had of the
mystical in childhood, of that element of purity in being which is felt
also in his reverence for womanhood, and which, whether in child or
woman, was typical of the purity of the soul itself,--in a word, the
spiritual sense of life. His imagination, living in the child-sphere,
pure, primitive, inexperienced, found only sunshine there, the freshness
of the early world; nor are there any children's books so dipped in
morning dews.

On finishing "The Wonder-Book" Hawthorne devoted himself to life with
Julian for three weeks, during the absence of the rest of the family on
a visit, and wrote a daily account of it with such fullness that this
history would fill a hundred pages of print. Some passages have been
published, and they illustrate how this amusement had taken the place of
the earlier note-books which recorded his observations of ordinary and
even trivial life round about him. There may be some wonder that a mind
of Hawthorne's powers should find its play in such literary
journalizing, and the inference is ready that, when not at work in
imagination, he was mentally unoccupied; his intellectual interests
were, however, always limited in scope, and his readings in the evening
to his wife were confined to pure literature; outside of such books he
apparently had no intellectual life, and his thoughts and affections
found their exercise in the domestic circle just as his eyes were
engaged with the look of the landscape, the incidents of the road, and
the changes of the weather. His capacity for idleness was great, and as
his vigor had already somewhat waned his periods of repose were long. He
undertook no new work during the summer, but prepared for the press a
new volume of tales, "The Snow Image," [Footnote: _The Snow Image and
other Twice-Told Tales_. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. Boston: Ticknor,
Reed and Fields. 1852. 12mo, brown cloth. Pp. 273. The contents and
source of the tales were as follows: The Snow Image, _International
Review_, November, 1850; The Great Stone Face, _National Era_,
January 24, 1850; Main Street, _Æsthetic Papers_, 1849; Ethan
Brand, _Dollar Magazine_, May, 1851; A Bell's Biography,
_Knickerbocker Magazine_, March, 1837; Sylph Etherege, Boston
_Token_, 1838; The Canterbury Pilgrims, Boston _Token_, 1833;
No. I, Old News, _New England Magazine_, February, 1835; No. II,
The Old French War, March, 1835; No. III, The Old Tory, May, 1835; The
Man of Adamant, Boston _Token_, 1837; The Devil in Manuscript,
_New England Magazine_, May, 1835; John Inglefield's Thanksgiving,
_Democratic Review_, March, 1840; Old Ticonderoga, _Democratic
Review_, February, 1836; The Wives of the Dead, Boston _Token_,
1832; Little Daffydowndilly, _Boys' and Girls' Magazine_, Boston,
1843; Major Molineux, Boston _Token_, 1832.] which was ready by the
first of November and was soon afterwards issued. It is made up of
stories and sketches out of old periodicals, which had not been gathered
in the former collection, some of them dating from the beginning of his
career. Three, however, were later in composition, and were perhaps
among those which he had thought of binding up with "The Scarlet
Letter," had that been issued according to his original plan as one of
several new tales. These three were "The Great Stone Face," from "The
National Era," January 24, 1850, "The Snow Image" from "The
International Magazine," November, 1850, and "Ethan Brand; a Chapter
from an Abortive Romance," from "Holden's Dollar Magazine," May, 1851;
they were all published with the author's name. These stories require no
comment, as the types to which they belong are well marked. They were,
in reality, his last trials of his art as a teller of tales.

Late in November, the family again removed to a new dwelling-place. The
inland air had proved, it was thought, less favorable to health than was
expected, and except in the bracing months of mid-winter Hawthorne found
it enervating. He had been, however, very happy in Berkshire, as happy
probably as it was in his nature to be, and the distant beauty and near
wildness of the country had been attractive; the house, nevertheless,
was very small, and he fretted at its inconveniences, not in a
disagreeable way, but desiring to have a house and home of his own among
more familiar scenes and within reach of the sea; he regarded the new
move as a makeshift, and settled in West Newton, a suburb of Boston,
where his wife's family lived, until he should purchase a place of his
own. The change from the winter picturesqueness of Berkshire was marked,
but the village was of the usual New England type and his surroundings
were not essentially different from those he was accustomed to at
Concord and Salem.

West Newton was near to Roxbury and the scenes of his rural experience
at Brook Farm; but he hardly needed to refresh his memory of the places
and persons that had been so much a part of his life ten years before.
Brook Farm, as an experiment in the regeneration of society, had run its
course, and was gone; but much that was characteristic of it externally
was now to be transferred to the novel Hawthorne had in hand as his next
work. "The Blithedale Romance" [Footnote: The Blithedale Romance, By
Nathaniel Hawthorne. Boston: Ticknor, Reed and Fields. 1852. 12mo,
cloth. Pp. viii, 288.] was written during the winter, and was finished
as early as May, 1852, when it was at once issued. It is the least
substantial of any of his longer works. It lacks the intensity of power
that distinguishes "The Scarlet Letter," and the accumulated richness of
surface that belongs to "The House of the Seven Gables," due to the
overlaying of story on story in that epitome of a New England family
history. "The Blithedale Romance," on the contrary, has both less depth
and less inclusiveness; and much of its vogue springs from the fact of
its being a reflection of the life of Brook Farm, which possesses an
interest in its own right. Hawthorne used his material in the direct way
that was his custom, and transferred bodily to his novel, to make its
background and atmosphere, what he had preserved in his note-books or
memory from the period of his residence with the reformers. The April
snowstorm in which he arrived at the farm, his illness there, the
vine-hung tree that he made his autumnal arbor, the costume and habits,
the fancy-dress party, the Dutch realism of the figure of Silas Foster,
and many another detail occur at once to the mind as from this origin;
his own attitude is sketched frankly in Miles Coverdale, and the germs
of others of the characters, notably Priscilla, are to be found in the
same experience. The life of the farmhouse, however, is not of
sufficient interest in itself to hold attention very closely, and the
socialistic experiment, after all, is not the theme of the story; these
things merely afford a convenient and appropriate ground on which to
develop a study of the typical reformer, as Hawthorne conceived him, the
nature, trials, temptations, and indwelling fate of such a man; and to
this task the author addressed himself. In the way in which he worked
out the problem, he revealed his own judgment on the moral type brought
so variously and persistently under his observation by the wave of
reform that was so strongly characteristic of his times.

The characters are, as usual, few, and they have that special trait of
isolation which is the birthmark of Hawthorne's creations. Zenobia,
Priscilla, and Hollingsworth are the trio, who, each in an environment
of solitude, make the essence of the plot by their mutual relations.
Zenobia is set apart by her secret history and physical nature, and
Priscilla by her magnetic powers and enslavement to the mesmerist;
Hollingsworth is absorbed in his mission. It is unlikely that Hawthorne
intended any of these as a portrait of any real person, though as the
seamstress of Brook Farm gave the external figure of Priscilla, it may
well be that certain suggestions of temperament were found for the other
two characters among his impressions of persons whom he met. Neither
Zenobia nor Priscilla, notwithstanding the latter's name, are
essentially New England characters; in each of them there is something
alien to the soil, and they are represented as coming from a different
stock. Hollingsworth, on the other hand, is meant as a native type. The
unfolding of the story, and the treatment of the characters, are not
managed with any great skill. Hawthorne harks back to his old habits,
and does so in a feebler way than would have been anticipated. He
interjects the short story of The Veiled Lady, for example, in the
middle of the narrative, as he had placed the tale of Alice in "The
House of the Seven Gables," but very ineffectively; it is a pale
narrative and does not count visibly in the progress of the novel, but
only inferentially. He uses also the exotic flower, which Zenobia wears,
as a physical symbol, but it plays no part and is only a relic of his
old manner. The description of the performance in the country hall seems
like an extract from one of the old annuals of the same calibre as the
Story-Teller's Exhibition. Mesmerism is the feebler substitute for the
old witchcraft element. In a word, the work is not well knit together,
and the various methods of old are weakly combined. One comes back to
the moral situation as the centre of interest; and in it he exhibits the
reformer as failing in the same ways in which other egotists fail, for
he perceives in the enthusiasm of the humanitarian only selfishness,
arrogance, intolerance in another form. Hollingsworth, with the best of
motives apparently, since his cause is his motive, as he believes, is
faithless to his associates and willing to wreck their enterprise
because it stands in his way and he is out of sympathy with it; he is
faithless to Priscilla in so far as he accepts Zenobia because she can
aid him with her wealth, and on her losing her wealth he is faithless to
her in returning to Priscilla; he has lost the power to be true, in the
other relations of life, through his devotion to his cause. One feels
that Hollingsworth is the victim of Hawthorne's moral theory about him.
It is true that at the end Hawthorne has secured in the character that
tragic reversal which is always effective, in the point that
Hollingsworth, who set out to be the friend and uplifter and saviour of
the criminal classes, sees at last in himself the murderer of Zenobia;
but this is shown almost by a side-light, and not as the climax of the
plot, perhaps because the reader does not hold him guilty in any true
sense of the disaster which overtakes Zenobia. In its main situation,
therefore, the plot, while it suggests and illustrates the temptations
and failures of a nature such as Hollingsworth's, does not carry
conviction. Description takes the place of action; much of Zenobia's
life and of Hollingsworth's, also, is left untold in the time after
Coverdale left them; as in the case of Judge Pyncheon, the wrong-doing
is left much in the shadow, suggested, hinted at, narrated finally, but
not shown in the life; and such wrong-doing loses the edge of villainy.
It might be believed that Hollingsworth as a man failed; but as a
typical man, as that reformer who is only another shape of the selfish
and heartless egotist sacrificing everything wrongfully to his
philanthropic end, it is not so easily believed that he must have
failed; it is the absence of this logical necessity that discredits him
as a type, and takes out of his character and career the universal
quality. This, however, may be only a personal impression. The truth of
the novel, on the ethical side, may be plainer to others; it presents
some aspects of moral truth, carefully studied and probably observed,
but they seem very partial aspects, and too incomplete to allow them,
taken all together, to be called typical. The power of the story lies
rather in its external realism, and especially in that last scene, which
was taken from Hawthorne's experience at Concord on the night when he
took part in rescuing the body of the young woman who had drowned
herself; but with the exception of this last scene, and of some of the
sketches that reproduce most faithfully the life and circumstances of
Brook Farm, the novel does not equal its predecessors in the ethical or
imaginative value of its material, in romantic vividness, or in the
literary skill of its construction. The elements of the story are
themselves inferior; and perhaps Hawthorne made the most of them that
they were capable of; but his mind was antipathetic to his main theme.
His representation of the New England reformer is as partial as that of
the Puritan minister; both are depraved types, and in the former there
is not that vivid truth to general human nature which makes the latter
so powerful a revelation of the sinful heart.

Hawthorne had purchased at some time during the winter, while at work
upon this novel, the house at Concord that he named The Wayside. It had
belonged to Mr. Alcott, and was an ordinary country residence with about
twenty acres of ground, part of which was a wooded hillside rising up
steeply back of the house, which itself stood close to the road. The
family took possession of this new home early in June, and it soon took
on the habitual look of their domicile, which, wherever it might be, had
a character of its own. Mrs. Hawthorne, as usual, was much pleased with
everything, and wrote an enthusiastic account of its prettiness and
comfort, though no important changes were then made in the house itself.
She describes the "Study," and the passage, which is in a letter to her
mother, gives the very atmosphere of the place:--

"The study is the pet room, the temple of the Muses and the Delphic
shrine. The beautiful carpet lays the foundation of its charms, and the
oak woodwork harmonizes with the tint in which Endymion is painted. At
last I have Endymion where I always wanted it--in my husband's study,
and it occupies one whole division of the wall. In the corner on that
side stands the pedestal with Apollo on it, and there is a
fountain-shaped vase of damask and yellow roses. Between the windows is
the Transfiguration [given by Mr. Emerson]. (The drawing-room is to be
redeemed with one picture only,--Correggio's Madonna and Christ.) On
another side of the Study are the two Lake Comos. On another, that
agreeable picture of Luther and his family around the Christmas-tree,
which Mr. George Bradford gave to Mr. Hawthorne. Mr. Emerson took Julian
to walk in the woods, the other afternoon. I have no time to think what
to say, for there is a dear little mob around me. Baby looks fairest of
fair to-day. She walks miles about the house."

No words but her own do justice to the happiness of her married life.
She worshiped her husband, who always remained to her that combination
of adorable genius and tender lover and strong man that he had been ten
years before when they were wedded. He had been on his part as devoted
to her, and especially he had never allowed the burden of poverty to
fall upon her in any physical hardship. In the absence of servants, for
example, he himself did the work, and would not permit her to task
herself with it. He was never a self-indulgent man, except toward his
genius; he had early learned the lesson of "doing without," as the
phrase is, and she describes him as being "as severe as a Stoic about
all personal comforts" and says he "never in his life allowed himself a
luxury." Her testimony to his household character is a remarkable
tribute, nor does it detract from it to remember that it is an encomium
of love:--

"He has perfect dominion over himself in every respect, so that to do
the highest, wisest, loveliest thing is not the least effort to him, any
more than it is to a baby to be innocent. It is his spontaneous act, and
a baby is not more unconscious in its innocence. I never knew such
loftiness, so simply borne. I have never known him to stoop from it in
the most trivial household matter, any more than in a larger or more
public one. If the Hours make out to reach him in his high sphere, their
wings are very strong. But I have never thought of him as in time, and
so the Hours have nothing to do with him. Happy, happiest is the wife
who can bear such and so sincere testimony to her husband after eight
years' intimate union. Such a person can never lose the prestige which
commands and fascinates. I cannot possibly conceive of my happiness,
but, in a blissful kind of confusion, live on. If I can only be so
great, so high, so noble, so sweet, as he in any phase of my being, I
shall be glad."

This was written in the Berkshire days, but it represents her habitual
feeling at all times; and now, in the pleasant society of Concord and
among the scenes which were endeared to their memory as those of their
early married life, this strain of happiness often overflows in her
letters like a flood of sunshine. "All that ground," she writes of the
neighborhood of the Old Manse, "is consecrated to me by unspeakable
happiness; yet not nearly so great happiness as I now have, for I am ten
years happier in time, and an uncounted degree happier in kind. I know
my husband ten years better, and I have not arrived at the end; for he
is still an enchanting mystery, beyond the region I have discovered and
made my own. Also, I know partly how happy I am, which I did not well
comprehend ten years ago."

One scene, out of scores that are contained in her correspondence, is
too pretty and characteristic to miss, and, besides, serves by a single
glimpse to give the home life of this new Concord sojourn with great
vividness, yielding--what is the hardest of all to obtain in such
intimate views--its quality, like a tone of color. It describes
Hawthorne's return from a three weeks' absence at the Isles of Shoals
during which he had also attended his class reunion at Bowdoin:--

"I put the vase of delicious rosebuds, and a beautiful China plate of
peaches and grapes, and a basket of splendid golden Porter apples on his
table; and we opened the western door and let in a flood of sunsetting.
Apollo's 'beautiful disdain' seemed kindled anew. Endymion smiled richly
in his dream of Diana. Lake Como was wrapped in golden mist. The divine
form in the Transfiguration floated in light. I thought it would be a
pity if Mr. Hawthorne did not come that moment. As I thought this, I
heard the railroad-coach--and he was here. He looked, to be sure, as he
wrote in one of his letters, 'twice the man he was.'"

Earlier in the summer this happy home had been shadowed by the tragedy
of the death of Hawthorne's sister, Louisa, who was lost in a steamship
disaster on the Hudson. Like all such natures, Hawthorne took his griefs
hard and in loneliness; but in such a home healing influences were all
about him, and even such a sorrow, which he deeply felt, could only add
another silence to his life. His summer work, to which he had turned
with reluctance and had rapidly finished by the end of August, was the
campaign biography of Franklin Pierce, his life-long friend, who was now
a candidate for the Presidency. It is a brief but sufficient book,
[Footnote: _Life of Franklin Pierce_. By Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Boston: Ticknor, Reed and Fields. 1852. Pp. 144. 12mo.] done well though
without distinction, and it holds no real place among his works. Much
adverse criticism has, however, been made upon him for writing it at
all. It is thought that as a man of letters he lost dignity by using his
skill for a political end, and also that as a Northerner he placed
himself upon the wrong side in the important public questions then
coming to a great national crisis. This is an unjust view. It has
already become plain, in the course of the story of his life, that he
was not a reformer nor in any real sympathy with reform. He was not only
not an abolitionist, which in itself, in view of the closeness of his
association with the friends of the cause, argues great immobility in
his character; he was, on the contrary, a Democrat in national politics,
and took the party view of the slavery question, not with any energy,
but placidly and stolidly, so far as one can judge. In fact he took
little or no interest in the matter. There was no objection in his mind
to writing the biography because of Pierce's political position; he did
not hesitate on that score. He did not hang back, on the other hand,
because he felt that he could not tell the truth about his friend in a
book pledged to see only the good in him. He was as honest as the
granite, so far as that is concerned; and he respected as well as loved
his friend, and was quite willing to serve him by showing his life and
character as he knew them. He had no intention to deceive any one by a
eulogy. He indulged in no illusions about Pierce, nor about any of his
other friends. He was, in fact, an unsparing critic of men's characters,
and he had a trait, not rare in New England,--a willingness to underrate
men and minimize them. His fellow-citizens are not natural
hero-worshipers; to them "a man is a man, for a' that," with an accent
that levels down as well as up. Hawthorne had to the full this
democratic, familiar, derogatory temper. Pierce was to him a politician,
just as Cilley had been, and for politicians as a class he had a
well-defined contempt. He believed Pierce to be a man of honor,
sagacity, and tact, a true man, not great in any way, but quite the
equal of other men in the country and fit in ability, experience, and
character to be President, if his fellow-citizens desired him to serve
in that office. The biography Hawthorne wrote contains no conscious
untruth. It cannot be thought that Hawthorne compromised with himself
either with regard to the national question involved or to the personal
character of the candidate. His reluctance to write the book had no
deeper root than a dislike to seem to be paid for doing it by an office.
He knew that Pierce would provide him with a lucrative post in any case;
and the public would say that office was his pay. The prospect of this
situation was so irksome to him that he decided beforehand to refuse the
office, since he preferred rather to do that than to decline the request
of his friend to oblige him with his literary service at such a crisis
of his career. It is unjust to Hawthorne to suppose that the act had any
political complexion, or was anything else than a mere piece of
friendliness, natural and proper in itself; his association with the
political group, of which Pierce was one, did not proceed from
principle, but was an accident of college companionship; the fact is,
however strange it may seem, he had no politics, but stood apart from
the great antislavery cause just as he did from the transcendental
philosophy; neither of these two main movements in the life of his times
touched him at all in a personal way. It belongs to the shallowness of
his objection to undertake the biography, his dislike to take office as
a kind of pay, that it was easily removed. Fields very sensibly
persuaded him that he should not neglect so favorable an opportunity to
provide for his wife and children, who had no support but his life. When
the newly elected President, therefore, offered him the best office in
his gift, the Liverpool consulate, Hawthorne decided to take it. The
nomination was confirmed March 26, 1853; and, after sending "Tanglewood
Tales" to the press, which had been his winter's work, he prepared to
leave Concord for a long residence abroad.



Hawthorne left the Wayside home with a good deal of regret for its quiet
happiness, and yet with pleasant anticipations of the opportunity of
seeing foreign countries. He had the roaming instinct; and, though he
had almost completed fifty years of life, its satisfaction had been of
the slightest. It is necessary to recall how very little he had seen of
the world in order to appreciate at all the way in which England and
Italy looked to his middle-aged eyes, the points in which they failed to
appeal to him as well as those in which they arrested his interest. With
all his love, or at least sentiment, for the sea, this was the first
voyage he had made, and finding himself a good sailor he enjoyed it
immensely. It was the next thing to commanding a ship himself upon his
ancestral element, and he felt the mystery and distance and that vague
impression of indefinite time that belong to the ocean atmosphere,--the
wish to sail on and on forever. In Liverpool, where he arrived in July,
he was plunged at once into a confused mass of new impressions and also
into the very mundane duties and surroundings of the consulate.

The narrative of his European experiences in every aspect is fully told
in the book of reminiscences "Our Old Home," which he published after
his return, and in the voluminous note-books kept in his English,
French, and Italian sojourns; and this long story is still further
enlarged and varied by the letters of the family, and the recollections
of his friends. It can be read in detail, and except as a story of
detail it has very little interest. The essential point which belongs to
his biography is to see how Hawthorne bore himself, the general
impression made on him, the ways in which his character came out, in
these novel circumstances. At first, he found the office itself very
much an old story. In fact, as a matter of routine and a part of daily
external affairs, the life of the consulate was that of the Boston coal
wharf and the Salem Custom House over again. He repeated the history of
these early experiences to the letter, except that he was no longer
ridden with the idea that he must go to work in a material, every-day
task in order to be a man among men; he was free from that delusion, but
at the same time he welcomed the change of life. Politics had already
begun to take on that unpleasantness for a Northern man of his
affiliations which could make even so dull a participant as he was, in
his sluggish conservatism, very uncomfortable; he had felt its rude
censures and misapprehensions of delicate personal relations--such as
existed between himself and President Pierce--disagreeably near at
hand; and he was glad to get away from his native land, upon which
before a year had passed he looked back with the feeling that he never
desired to return to it. He did not enjoy England so much, however, as
this might seem to indicate; and, especially, he did not enjoy his work,
for, notwithstanding his philosophy of the usefulness of manual toil and
regular occupation of an unliterary kind, the touch of work always
disenchanted his mind at once. He liked it no better than on the two
previous occasions at Boston and Salem; it bored and wearied him, and
just as before, though he does not now complain of the fact, it put an
end to his literary activity, paralyzed and sterilized his genius as
completely as if it had blasted him with a curse. The difficulty of
serving two masters, though it is sometimes thought to be a service
peculiarly fitted for men of letters, was illustrated in Hawthorne's
career in many ways and on several occasions, but nowhere more plainly
than in the period of his five years of atrophy from the time he entered
the consulate till the composition of "The Marble Faun." He wrote
vigorously in his note-books, from time to time, but such composition
was the opiate it had always been for his higher imaginative and moral
powers, and exercised only his faculty of observation. The fact that he
does not complain of this state of affairs is due probably to his
growing weariness of higher literary effort, the true power of his
genius, which now had only an ebbing physical force for its basis. He
was too much engaged in affairs, and too tired, to write; but he was not
displeased to have so good an excuse, and perhaps his ambition was
already really satisfied by the success he had achieved, and he felt the
spur less.

Altogether, the first and lasting impression made by his account of his
life at Liverpool is that he was the same discontented employee who had
chafed against circumstances before, and had not changed his mind with
the skies over him. The expression of his moods has the old touch of
irritability, too, in its excess of language, its air of confiding
something that one would not say aloud, its half-conscious pettishness.
In March, 1854, he writes to Bridge, in this character, though here
possibly it is the presence of politics that is the disturbing factor:--

"I like my office well enough, but any official duties and obligations
are irksome to me beyond expression. Nevertheless, the emoluments will
be a sufficient inducement to keep me here, though they are not above a
quarter part what some people suppose them.

"It sickens me 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, but--after quitting office--should go to Italy, and live
and die there. If Mrs. Bridge and you would go, too, we might form a
little colony amongst ourselves, and see our children grow up together.
But it will never do to deprive them of their native land, which I hope
will be a more comfortable and happy residence in their day than it has
been in ours. In my opinion, we are the most miserable people on earth.

"I wish you would send me the most minute particulars about Pierce--how
he looks and behaves when you meet him, how his health and spirits
are--and above all, what the public really thinks of him--a point which
I am utterly unable to get at through the newspapers. Give him my best
regards, and ask him whether he finds his post any more comfortable than
I prophesied it would be."

Another year's experience completed his dissatisfaction, and it had
reached the familiar acute stage, as early as July, 1855, when he
indited that well-known note to Mr. Bright, "the tall, slender,
good-humored, laughing, voluble" English friend, who had done everything
in the world to make him happy:--

Dear Mr. Bright,--I have come back (only for a day or two) to this black
and miserable hole.

Truly yours, Nath. Hawthorne.

There spoke the man, as if the sun had photographed him. It is true that
he had a particular occasion for black spirits at the moment, inasmuch
as the law reducing the emoluments of the office had just gone into
effect, in consequence of which the wages of his slavery were much
reduced. He was now very much disposed to resign. He had saved enough
money to free his mind from any anxiety for the future, since he thought
he could live on what he had with the exercise of economy; the health of
Mrs. Hawthorne was somewhat impaired, and it was necessary to arrange a
change of residence for her; and he was thoroughly weary of his English
surroundings. The President offered him a post in the American Legation
at Lisbon, but he declined to consider it; and finally the matter was
settled by Mrs. Hawthorne spending the winter at Lisbon with O'Sullivan,
who was minister there, while Hawthorne himself retained the consulate
and remained in Liverpool, keeping Julian with him while the other two
children accompanied their mother. Mrs. Hawthorne, after a delightful
visit, returned much improved in health, and it was not until the autumn
of 1857 that Hawthorne retired from office, after Buchanan became

As a consul Hawthorne discharged his duties with fidelity and
efficiency, and was in every way a satisfactory officer. He was diligent
and attentive in business affairs, and he was especially considerate of
the numbers of distressed citizens who naturally drifted into his care
and notice, and was always conscientious and generous in dealing with
them, while the burden was a heavy charge. The only matter that stands
out notably in his official action is his interest in the inhumane
treatment of sailors on American ships, and just before he left office
he sent a long dispatch to his government in respect to it. His
reflections on the subject, which are apposite and sensible enough, are
of less interest biographically than a few sentences upon himself in
this philanthropic character, which he wrote to his sister-in-law:--

"I do not know what Sophia may have said about my conduct in the
Consulate. I only know that I have done no good,--none whatever.
Vengeance and beneficence are things that God claims for Himself. His
instruments have no consciousness of His purpose; if they imagine they
have, it is a pretty sure token that they are _not_ His
instruments. The good of others, like our own happiness, is not to be
attained by direct effort, but incidentally. All history and observation
confirm this. I am really too humble to think of doing good! Now, I
presume you think the abolition of flogging was a vast boon to seamen. I
see, on the contrary, with perfect distinctness, that many murders and
an immense mass of unpunishable cruelty--a thousand blows, at least, for
every one that the cat-of-nine-tails would have inflicted--have resulted
from that very thing. There is a moral in this fact which I leave you to
deduce. God's ways are in nothing more mysterious than in this matter of
trying to do good."

This is the same voice that was heard in "The House of the Seven Gables"
and "The Blithedale Romance," and shows how deep-seated was Hawthorne's
antipathy to conscious philanthropy, and doubtless he meant Elizabeth
Peabody as she read it to lay it to heart as an abolitionist.

If Hawthorne observed much cruelty among the crews of American ships, he
must have accepted it as a part of the general misery of the world with
as much philosophy as he was master of, while he did his duty with
regard to it according to his opportunities. He was well liked by the
sea captains who came in contact with him. He had, indeed, a good
previous training, inasmuch as his terms of service in the Custom House
had made him familiarly acquainted with this seafaring type, to which he
was also akin. He met the American captains not only at his office, but
at the boarding-house of Mrs. Blodgett, where they resorted in numbers,
and where he himself lived at various times, and during the whole period
of his wife's absence in Portugal. This house is described by himself as
strongly impregnated with tar and bilge-water, and the men as very much
alive. He admired them, and thought they contrasted very favorably with
Englishmen in vitality, and he liked to be with them. Just as he had
associated happily and on equal terms with similar men whom he had known
in his own country, and made good-fellowship with them at Salem, he now
was a welcome and companionable member of this hardy group, which his
son Julian remembered in its general look and quality, and describes in
a smoking-room scene that makes this side of Hawthorne more lifelike
than it appears elsewhere:--

"The smoking-room was an apartment barely twenty feet square, though of
a fair height; but the captains smoked a great deal, and by nine o'clock
sat enveloped in a blue cloud. They played euchre with a jovial
persistence that seems wonderful in the retrospect, especially as there
was no gambling. The small boys in the house (there were two or three)
soon succeeded in mastering the mysteries of the game, and occasionally
took a hand with the captains. Hawthorne was always ready to play, and
used to laugh a great deal at the turns of fortune. He rather enjoyed
card-playing, and was a very good hand at whist; and knew, besides, a
number of other games, many of which are now out of fashion, but which
he, I suppose, had learned in his college days. Be the diversion or the
conversation what it might, he was never lacking in geniality and
good-fellowship; and sparkles of wit and good humor continually came
brightening out of his mouth, making the stalwart captains haw-haw
prodigiously, and wonder, perhaps, where his romances came from.
Nevertheless, in his official capacity, he sometimes made things (in
their own phrase) rather lively for them; and it is a tribute to his
unfailing good sense and justice, that his enforcement of the law never
made him unpopular."

Christmas Day was an occasion of special festivity at this
boarding-house, and that of 1855 was unusually distinguished in its
annals by the presence of Hawthorne and the legend of the merry-making
about him which his friend Bright put into his clever rhymes of the
"Song of Consul Hawthorne." Whether in his office, or at the
boarding-house, or going about the docks at Liverpool, "Consul
Hawthorne" was evidently a very typical New Englander abroad, and
popular with his own people. He had laid the author off, and was as
purely a practical man of nautical affairs as would be found in any
shipping office in the city; and it needed no close observer to see that
the native element in him was of a very obstinate and unmalleable

It has been suggested that Hawthorne was afraid of liking English people
better than an American ought, as he says he suspects Grace Greenwood

"She speaks rapturously of the English hospitality and warmth of heart.
I likewise have already experienced something of this, and apparently
have a good deal more of it at my option. I wonder how far it is
genuine, and in what degree it is better than the superficial good
feeling with which Yankees receive foreigners,--a feeling not calculated
for endurance, but a good deal like a brushwood fire. We shall see!"

He had abundant opportunity to see, for he was very kindly received by
the society which it was natural for him to mingle with, and several of
his hosts were untiring in their efforts to please him and render him
comfortable. He was by no means incapable of social intercourse,
notwithstanding his retired habits; the capacity had never been
developed by early breeding or by later necessity, and though on his
return home, the change in him was noticeable, even under the influence
of his foreign travels he remained a silent, difficult, and evasive
person in society. When he was among his own old and familiar friends,
such as Bridge or Pierce, or with new companions whom he accepted into
his circle, such as Fields, he was open enough and took his share
genially and sometimes jovially, as well as when he was with the
American sea captains or his old associates in Salem; but the touch of
social formality, the presence of a stranger, the ways and habits of
conventionality shut him up in impenetrable reserve and made him
temporarily miserable. In England, however, he was compelled to meet and
be met in the ordinary intercourse of men and women, and he fared much
better than might have been anticipated. Very greatly to the surprise of
his friends he proved an excellent after-dinner speaker, not only on the
public occasions where the sense of his official station as a
representative of his country would have spurred him to acquit himself
well, but also at private parties and in purely personal relations. Like
many silent men he was a good listener, and his sensitiveness and mental
alertness gave the impression of more sympathy than perhaps he felt. He
made himself agreeable, at all events, and he submitted to an amount of
human fellowship that was astonishing to himself. The novelty of the
society he entered, doubtless, attracted him, and fed his curiosity, as
it certainly was an excitement to his wife. They had lived all their
lives in a community so much simpler in all the furnishings of refined
living, so much less characterized by the material luxuries of wealth,
than this in which they now found themselves, that the mere sight of the
houses, dinners, and liveries was a new experience, and they observed
them like country cousins. The manners of this society, also, arrested
their attention. It was inevitable that Hawthorne should maintain an
aloofness from all this, nevertheless, with the natural democratic
questioning of the reality of the courtesy, the propriety of the system,
the kind and quality of the social results. He felt the appeal that this
life made, he perceived its fitness to the soil, he saw it as a growth
that belonged in its place; but he was thoroughly glad that there was
nothing like it in his own country. There is not the slightest hint in
any word of his that he regarded himself as an ambassador of friendship
in a foreign country or thought that it was any part of his duty to
cultivate international good feeling: he felt himself politically,
socially, fundamentally, an alien in England, and he preferred to be so;
what first struck him were those obvious differences that distinguish
the two peoples, and these remained most prominently in his mind. He was
a stranger when he landed at Liverpool, and he never suffered the least
tincture of naturalization while he was in the country.

This attitude determines the point of view in his notes and
reminiscences. He was an observer, close and accurate and interested;
but he had not that sympathy which seeks to understand, to interpret, to
justify what one sees, and to put one's self in accord with it. He had
his standards already well fixed, and his limitations which he was not
sufficiently aware of to desire to escape. He had, too, the critical
spirit which is a New England trait, and with this went its natural
attendant, the habit of speaking his mind. In writing down his
impressions of English manners and institutions and people, he behaved
exactly as he had done in his records of similar things at home; there
was no difference in his method or in the character of what he said; he
was telling what he saw with that indifference to how it would strike
other people which comes near to being unconsciousness. He was a good
deal surprised when he discovered that the English did not relish what
he said; he protested that he had done them more than justice, that they
were too easily hurt, and as for hating them, he adds, "I would as soon
hate my own people." There is no ill-nature in "Our Old Home;" there is
only the clearly expressed, bare, unsympathetic statement of what he had
seen, touched here and there with that irony and humor which were apt to
mix with his view of men and things. So the people at Salem had thought
he did them injustice in his sketch of his native home, and he in turn
had told them that he had treated them very considerately, without
enmity or ill feeling of any kind, and in fact what he had written
"could not have been done in a better or kindlier spirit nor with a
livelier effect of truth." He had written of England in precisely the
same way, with that remorseless adherence to his own impression which
was second nature to him, and with that willingness to see the wrong
side of things that he disliked, to minimize human nature when it bored
him, and to get a grim humor out of his victims, which was also a part
of his endowment. In all this, as in some other parts of Hawthorne's
personality, there is a reminder of Carlyle. The hard judgment he wrote
down of Margaret Fuller, for example, and the humorous extravagance of
his visit to Martin Tupper, are not to be paralleled except in Carlyle's
reminiscences; there was the same unflinching rigor, the same cold
obtuseness, the same half-wearied contempt for what excited their humor
in both men. In his vexation of spirit Hawthorne is especially
suggestive of some discomfortable cousinship between them; and he was
often vexed in spirit. He was, it would seem, especially burdened by the
material comfort of England, in which he found a grossness but little
consonant with his own taste and spirit, and he made of this the type of
things English, as it is easy to do:--

"The best thing a man born in this island can do is to eat his beef and
mutton and drink his porter, and take things as they are; and think
thoughts that shall be so beefish, muttonish, portish, and porterish,
that they shall be matters rather material than intellectual. In this
way an Englishman is natural, wholesome, and good; a being fit for the
present time and circumstances, and entitled to let the future alone!"

The ascetic and intellectual element, which was large in his ideal past,
was revolted by these things, just as the democratic instincts of his
nature were shocked by the aristocratic system of society with its
social results. He was, too, always in a certain sense homesick; not
that he was anxious to go home or looked forward to his return with
great pleasure, but he was a man out of place, and had lost the natural
harmonies between the outer and the inner life. He had taken a house at
Rock Park, a suburb of Liverpool, but he could not make a home out of
it, and his account of his residence there gives the whole interior
atmosphere of his English stay.

"I remember to this day the dreary feeling with which I sat by our first
English fireside and watched the chill and rainy twilight of an autumn
day darkening down upon the garden, while the preceding occupant of the
house (evidently a most unamiable personage in his lifetime) scowled
inhospitably from above the mantelpiece, as if indignant that an
American should try to make himself at home there. Possibly it may
appease his sulky shade to know that I quitted his abode as much a
stranger as I entered it."

It is plain to see that he rather endured than enjoyed English life,
notwithstanding the true pleasures he found and the kind friends he
made. He was a stranger, taking a stranger's view and with much
suspicion of his surroundings, anticipating something hostile in them
and forestalling it with his own defenses not too friendly in aspect; in
a word he was a foreigner, and he never lost the sense of being in a
country not his own, to which he felt superior in all essential matters.

Some regret has been expressed that he did not come into closer contact
with English literary life, and especially with the more famous writers
of the day. He did not even make the acquaintance of Dickens, Thackeray,
Tennyson, Carlyle, George Eliot, to name the most important, nor was he
really introduced to the best intellectual life of England at all. He
met several second-rate writers, and he knew the Brownings more
particularly in Italy. It is not likely, however, that much was lost by
this failure to get into touch with the great masters of his own art or
with English thinkers and poets in general. Hawthorne had never cared
for such society in his own country, and it was probably by his own
choice that he missed the literary sets in London. The distaste that he
felt for society seems to have taken an aggravated form where his own
craft was concerned, whether through self-consciousness, or the memory
of his years of obscurity, or for whatever reason; perhaps he had known
authors enough at Concord and had no spirit of adventure left in that
direction. His own genius was solitary, and in his friendships literary
sympathy had no share, for he neither received nor gave it; in fact, if
he became familiar with an author, such as Thoreau or Ellery Channing or
Herman Melville, it was with the man, not the author. The terms on which
he stood with Longfellow and Emerson are those on which, at the
happiest, he might have met Thackeray, Tennyson, or Carlyle; but, though
speculation must be vain, it is far more probable that he would have
found little congeniality with any one of the three. Lord Houghton
appears to have made an effort to take him about, but with so little
success that he thought Hawthorne had taken a dislike to him. As it was,
Hawthorne saw quite enough, and more than he desired, of literary
England; it was mostly weariness to him.

It must be acknowledged that the manners and institutions of the
country, and its people for the most part, were little to Hawthorne's
taste, and he showed this in his book about them; but, for all that, he
found the country interesting and often lovely in its picturesque
antiquity and softnesses of light and color, and he appreciated to the
full the literary and historical sentiment that most appeals to
Americans of like education and breeding. He made many excursions in
different parts of England, and visited Scotland and the Isle of Man,
and he lingered in many towns and villages and was disposed to haunt old
places with a pilgrim devotion. He loved the face of the country, too,
and notwithstanding its misted and dreary skies, especially over
Liverpool, he found some good words for its weather, its seasons, its
long days, and all its out-door look. He went about with the mind and
senses of a tourist, satiating his instincts for minute and detailed
observation and writing it all down; in a spirit, too, of enjoyment and
discovery; and out of this satisfaction of his inveterate habits of
observing and noting and walking about with no other end in view, just
as if he were taking an autumn stroll in Salem, came the felicity of the
English notes, which after all deductions is very great in its own field
of delicate sentiment and realistic grasp and the atmosphere of a mind.
Hawthorne was thoroughly happy in indulging his wandering propensity in
such voyages of discovery; especially in London he found a city that
satisfied his idea of it, and he seems to have busied himself there for
days and weeks in merely going about from point to point and seeing the
spectacle of its vast and varied life. Hawthorne's English experiences
will, perhaps, be best realized, if he is thought of apart from
literature, as a man much identified with the shipping interests and
commercial society of Liverpool, and attending to this business rather
doggedly and wearily, not especially liking the place or the people,
whose ways and notions he was instinctively against, being himself a
settled New Englander of a strong race type; and yet, besides this, a
man who managed in his four years' residence to see a great deal of the
length and breadth of England, as a summer tourist might visit its
shrines on pilgrimage. This describes his life, nevertheless, only from
the outside; as soon as one opens his note-books, his personality
changes the impression, and pervades even his least sympathetic pages
with a human quality that wins on the reader in spite of all
reservations, and one sees how in the face of his prejudices and
limitations England was saved to him by his literary faculty, the
interests, susceptibilities, and powers that were his as a man of
letters. One finds in his experience, too, besides the consul and the
man of letters, a kindly and simple manhood of a more primitive element,
the human heart in its own original right, as in the well-known incident
of the workhouse child who was so strangely drawn to him. Of the humane
actions, however, of which any record remains, none is so honorable as
his considerateness, generosity, and conscientiousness in his
correspondence with Delia Bacon, whom he endured and befriended with
infinite patience and delicacy; the letters which he wrote to her show
his character in a very noble light, and bring out one side of his life
which has little illustration, his habitual thoughtfulness for the weak.
One recalls his care for his Brook Farm friend Farley at Concord, for
example; and all his relations with what one may call the wayside
acquaintance of life were to his honor.

One other incident must also find a place here, which completes an
earlier story and rounds out his own conception of integrity. On coming
to Liverpool he had incurred heavy expenses, but six months of his more
fortunate days had not gone by before he sent to Hillard the money which
his friends had given to him in his sore need at Salem while he was
writing "The Scarlet Letter." His own words best express the feelings
which led him to make this restitution:--

Liverpool, _December 9, 1853._

Dear Hillard,--I herewith send you a draft on Ticknor for the sum (with
interest included) which was so kindly given me by unknown friends,
through you, about four years ago.

I have always hoped and intended to do this, from the first moment when
I made up my mind to accept the money. It would not have been right to
speak of this purpose before it was in my power to accomplish it; but it
has never been out of my mind for a single day, nor hardly, I think, for
a single working hour. I am most happy that this loan (as I may fairly
call it, at this moment) can now be repaid without the risk on my part
of leaving my wife and children utterly destitute. I should have done it
sooner; but I felt that it would be selfish to purchase the great
satisfaction for myself, at any fresh risk to them. We are not rich, nor
are we ever likely to be; but the miserable pinch is over.

The friends who were so generous to me must not suppose that I have not
felt deeply grateful, nor that my delight at relieving myself from this
pecuniary obligation is of any ungracious kind. I have been grateful all
along, and am more so now than ever. This act of kindness did me an
unspeakable amount of good; for it came when I most needed to be assured
that anybody thought it worth while to keep me from sinking. And it did
me even greater good than this, in making me sensible of the need of
sterner efforts than my former ones, in order to establish a right for
myself to live and be comfortable. For it is my creed (and was so even
at that wretched time) that a man has no claim upon his
fellow-creatures, beyond bread and water and a grave, unless he can win
it by his own strength or skill. But so much the kinder were those
unknown friends whom I thank again with all my heart.

       *       *       *       *       *

This money must have been the first he had saved, and he could now spare
it from his income. In the four years that he held the consulate he had
held to his main purpose of laying by a competency, and when he
resigned, on August 31, 1857, his mind was at ease with regard to the
future for himself and his family. His gratitude for this late won
independence, humble as it was, must have been deeply felt, as is
apparent from his letters at the time; a great weight had been lifted
from his spirit, and his happiness was such as only a man with his ideas
of personal independence could realize. He proposed now to linger in
Europe for some time longer; and when he was relieved from his duties in
the fall he went with the family through France to Italy, hoping that
the southern winter would be of benefit to Mrs. Hawthorne's still
uncertain health.

Life in Italy proved far more agreeable than it had been in England, and
there were periods in it when Hawthorne enjoyed as great happiness in
the placid course of the days as he ever experienced. For the first time
in his life he was free from the necessity of labor, and he had recently
escaped from that practical business of affairs and daily duties which
was always irksome to him. The change, too, from the dark skies of
England and its grimy Liverpool materialism to an atmosphere of sun and
warmth and artistic beauty was itself enough to reanimate his spirit;
and he found at once some congenial society, and not a few who seemed to
him like old friends. He appears for the first time in his life really
to live with other people, not as an occasional visitant coming out of
his hermitage, but as one of themselves. He sought out Story, who was an
old neighbor at Salem, though he had known him only slightly, and under
his guidance he mixed with the American artists then in Rome,--Miss
Hosmer, Thompson, Kopes, and Miss Lander,--as well as with others of the
foreigners resident there, Miss Bremer, Mrs. Jameson, and Bryant among
the rest; and he became good friends with Motley and his family, whose
companionship he enjoyed in a very natural, frank way. The picturesque
ruins of Home, its gardens and fountains and the sky and air appealed to
him, as if to new senses or at least to senses newly awakened and
developed; and he was sensibly attracted by the artistic works on every
hand. He was not wholly uncultivated in art, though his aesthetic sense
had been rather a hope than a reality all through his life. He had
written to his wife before marriage, nearly twenty years ago, "I never
owned a picture in my life; yet pictures have been among the earthly
possessions (and they are spiritual ones too) which I most coveted;" and
in his tales there is a recurring reference to pictures as a part of his
imaginative world. The influence of his wife's artistic tastes in his
home life had also been a kind of preparation for appreciation of the
masterpieces, many of which had long been familiar to his eyes and
thoughts in reproductions. In his Boston days he use to visit such
collections of pictures as were accessible to him, and he knew sculpture
somewhat through casts. Such cultivation, however, was at best a very
limited and incomplete preparation, and did not preserve him from the
tourist's weariness of galleries. He had wished in London that the Elgin
marbles had all been reduced to lime. There was something pictorial in
his genius, but painting was slower to give up its secrets to him than
sculpture, which, being a more abstract art and simpler in intention, as
well as nearer to the living form, made the easier appeal to him. He did
not respond to Italian painting very perfectly at the best, and his
education hardly proceeded farther than an appreciation of the softer
and brighter works of Guido and Raphael, nor did he ever free himself
from the intellectual prepossessions of his mind. He did not become even
an amateur in art, and he probably knew it; he had begun too late to
enter that world; and he contented himself with a moral sympathy, an
apprehension of idea and feeling, rather than the seeing eye and
understanding heart by which one takes possession of the artistic world
as a free citizen there. It was not an important matter, however; his
comments on art have only a personal interest, lighting up his own
nature; but, within his limits, he enjoyed a new and great experience,
one that illumined and softened his mind, in his wanderings about the
galleries and churches and his sittings in artists' studios. The
contemporary and native world of Italy he attended to but very little,
noting its picturesque aspects somewhat, but taking the slightest
interest in its people; if he had felt a barrier between himself and the
English, here was a gulf of difference that it was hopeless to attempt
to pass over, and he left the Italians in the inaccessible foreignness
in which he found them.

The first four months were spent at Rome, in this gradual opening of his
mind to the new impressions of the city, so fascinating to his
imagination, and in establishing himself and his family in the new
society of their daily life. Late in May, 1858, they went north by the
carriage road, and settled at Florence in the Casa Bella, near Casa
Guidi, where the Brownings were, and not far from Powers's studio. In
August they took possession of the old villa of Montaüto on the hill of
Bellosguardo, near the city, which is so closely associated with
Hawthorne's Italian days as the tower of Monte Beni. Here he began to
write "The Marble Faun," shutting himself up for an hour or two every
day in the stern effort, as he describes it, of coming "to close grip
with a romance which I have been trying to tear out of my mind." The
scene of his labors was quite remote, such a place as he liked to have
to write in, and he was undisturbed unless it were by the Spiritualism
of the Browning villa, where Mrs. Browning was a believer; and, perhaps
under the influence of this association, Mrs. Hawthorne showed more
plainly her natural inclination to a more than curious interest in the
phenomena. She was, indeed, somewhat a believer in the power of
communication with the spiritual world, and its near presence and
influence in our lives. The seclusion of the villa of Montaüto was very
grateful to Hawthorne, and he writes of it to Fields with almost a
home-feeling, as if he had again found a lodging place at least for his
wandering Penates:--

"It is pleasant to feel at last that I am really away from America--a
satisfaction that I never really enjoyed as long as I stayed in
Liverpool, where it seemed to me that the quintessence of nasal and
hand-shaking Yankeedom was gradually 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. I like my
present residence immensely. The house stands on a hill, overlooking
Florence, and is big enough to quarter a regiment, insomuch that each
member of the family, including servants, has a separate suite of
apartments, and there are vast wildernesses of upper rooms into which we
have never yet sent exploring expeditions. At one end of the house there
is a moss-grown tower, haunted by owls and by the ghost of a monk who
was confined there in the thirteenth century, previous to being burnt at
the stake in the principal square of Florence. I hire this villa, tower
and all, at twenty-eight dollars a month; but I mean to take it away
bodily and clap it into a romance, which I have in my head, ready to be
written out."

The kind of life that was led by the family is more vividly sketched by
his daughter in her reminiscences of the time, and her pages afford the
only full companion picture to those of the Old Manse and the Berkshire
cottage, and to some extent supply the lack of that autobiographic
background to "The Marble Faun" which the reader misses in Hawthorne's
own preface.

"The walls of the hall and staircase were of gray stone, as were the
steps which led echoingly up to the second story of the house. My sister
exclaims in delight concerning the whole scene: 'This villa,--you have
no idea how delightful it is! I think there must be pretty nearly a
hundred rooms in it, of all shapes, sizes, and heights. The walls are
never less than five feet thick, and sometimes more, so that it is
perfectly cool. I should feel very happy to live here always. I am
sitting in the loggia, which is delightful in the morning freshness. Oh,
how I love every inch of that beautiful landscape!' The tower and the
adjacent loggia were the features that preëminently sated our thirst for
suggestive charm, and they became our proud boast and the chief
precincts of our daily life and social intercourse. The ragged gray
giant looked over the road-walls at its foot, and beyond and below them
over the Arno valley, rimmed atop with azure distance, and touched with
the delicate dark of trees. Internally, the tower (crowned, like a rough
old king of the days of the Round Table, with a machicolated summit) was
dusty, broken, and somewhat dangerous of ascent. Owls that knew every
wrinkle of despair and hoot-toot of pessimism clung to narrow crevices
in the deserted rooms, where the skeleton-like prison frameworks at the
unglazed windows were in keeping with the dreadful spirits of these
unregenerate anchorites. The forlorn apartments were piled one above the
other until the historic cylinder of stone opened to the sky. In
contrast to the barrenness of the gray inclosures, through the squares
of the windows throbbed the blue and gold, green and lilac, of Italian
heavens and countryside....

"Some of the rooms at Montaüto I studiously avoided. The forlorn cavern
of a parlor, or ballroom, I remember to have seen only once. There was a
painful vacuum where good spirits ought to have been. Along the walls
were fixed seats, like those in the apse of some morally fallen
cathedral, and they were covered with blue threadbare magnificence that
told the secrets of vanity. Heavy tables crowded down the centre of the
room. I came, saw, and fled. The oratory was the most thrilling place of
all. It opened out of my sister's room, which was a large, sombre
apartment. It was said to attract a frequently seen ghost by the force
of its profound twilight and historic sorrows; and my sister, who was
courageous enough to startle a ghost, highly approved of this corner of
her domain. But she suddenly lost her buoyant taste for disembodied
spirits, and a rumor floated mistily about that Una had seen the
wretched woman who could not forget her woes in death. In 'Monte Beni'
this oratory is minutely pictured, where 'beneath the crucifix ... lay a
human skull ... carved in gray alabaster, most skillfully done ... with
accurate imitation of the teeth, the sutures, the empty eye-caverns.'
Everywhere the intense picturesqueness gave material, at Montaüto, for
my father's romance."

Amid such surroundings the new romance was sketched out, but not very
much progress could have been made with it. In October the family
returned to Rome by way of Siena, where some happy days were spent with
Story,--a town which impressed Hawthorne almost temperamentally,
standing apart in his mind with Perugia. "A thoughtful, shy man," he
says, "might settle down here with the view of making the place a home,
and spend many years in a sombre kind of happiness." At Rome they
settled again in the Piazza Poli, and entered on the winter days with
much happiness, feeling acquainted now and partly at home in the city.
But a misfortune came to them in the illness of Una, who was taken with
Roman fever, and her life was despaired of. Hawthorne always took his
sorrows hard, and he suffered much in this period of anxiety, enduring
in his stoic way the heavy pressure; happily the doctor proved mistaken
in his confidence that the child would die, and though her illness was
long, she gradually recovered strength. It was during her convalescence
that Pierce came to Rome, and Hawthorne found in his friendship a great
support and comfort. It is plain that Pierce was the only man that
Hawthorne loved with his full heart, and he had come to recognize the
great place this friendship held in his life. His loyalty to Pierce was
a true tribute, and its expression does honor to both men:--

"I have found him here in Rome, the whole of my early friend, and even
better than I used to know him; a heart as true and affectionate, a mind
much widened and deepened by the experience of life. We hold just the
same relation to one another as of yore, and we have passed all the
turning-off places, and may hope to go on together, still the same dear
friends, as long as we live. I do not love him one whit the less for
having been President, nor for having done me the greatest good in his
power; a fact that speaks eloquently in his favor, and perhaps says a
little for myself. If he had been merely a benefactor, perhaps I might
not have borne it so well; but each did his best for the other, as
friend for friend."

The illness of Una had thrown a shadow over these last days at Rome, and
it was in any case necessary to take her away. In a characteristic
outburst Hawthorne writes to Fields:--

"I bitterly detest Rome, and shall rejoice to bid it farewell forever;
and I fully acquiesce in all the mischief and ruin that has happened to
it, from Nero's conflagration downward. In fact, I wish the very site
had been obliterated before I ever saw it."

They left Rome late in May and went by sea to Marseilles, and after a
rapid journey up the Rhone and to Geneva went by Paris to London. The
return to England was somewhat like homecoming, and during this second
residence Hawthorne shows a more sympathetic and contented spirit. He
determined to finish his romance here, and settled first at Whitby and
afterwards at Redcar, and still later he migrated to Leamington; but the
romance was mainly put into shape at Redcar, where the necessary
conditions of solitude were best realized. He lived very much as when he
had written his other works at home, writing in the morning and spending
the rest of the day with the children out of doors on the sands. He
finished the book on November 8, and it was published early the
following spring. [Footnote: _The Marble Faun_, or the Romance of
Monte Beni. By Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of "The Scarlet Letter."
Boston: Ticknor and Fields. 1860. 12mo. 2 vols., pp. 283; 288.]

Hawthorne came to the writing of "The Marble Faun" after his genius was
matured, with his temperament fully ripened, his intellectual and moral
and artistic nature consonant in its varied play, and at the height of
his literary powers. The story is in one sense a culmination, and it is
perhaps his most complete expression of life; but it is less
characteristic of him, less peculiarly his own, than the American tales,
notwithstanding its greater breadth, its finer beauty, and its more
profound mystery. In method he develops nothing new; the scheme, the
manner, the tone are the same already made familiar. He had recourse to
his life abroad for the realism of the scene, and took out of his
note-books and memory the whole visible world of his romance, precisely
as he had formerly utilized the New England village life and the Brook
Farm experience. He has drunk in the charm of Italy and absorbed the
picturesque and artistic atmosphere of Rome and its religious
impressiveness; he has taken most delicately and harmoniously into his
sensitive temperament the loveliness and the power of both the world of
the past and the world of art, and he renders them back in description
as they were mirrored in himself; the stir of Roman life, its antiquity,
its still and immutable forms of picture and sculpture, are given back
with full sympathy and as clearly as the autumn woodland of the old
Puritan town in his first romance; and this realism, for such it is
notwithstanding its glamour, is the substance of the tale, though it is
all surface, just as was the case with "The House of the Seven Gables."
He has done for Rome and Italy what he there did for Salem, different as
the effect may seem, owing to the greater nobility and dignity of the

He has also in the management of the story confined himself, as was his
wont, to a few characters, Donatello, Miriam, Hilda, and Kenyon, each
strictly isolated in peculiar individuality, and offering the
opportunity for powerful contrasts; and he has allowed his imagination
to find its spring in the symbolism of a physical object, here the
marble statue of the faun, and let his moral scheme evolve out of the
brooding of his thought upon the spiritual thing thus suggested for the
play of meditation. The plot itself, though more definitely disclosed in
its main incident of crime, which is made central in the narrative, is
of the simplest sort, and no more than enough to provide corporal fact
sufficient to give the body of event and situation; and, for the rest,
the story both before and after is left wholly vague, the mystery of
Donatello's fate repeating the mystery of Miriam's past. In this he
showed again his indifference to what became of his characters when they
had fulfilled their function artistically; he had no human sympathy with
their personal fortunes. This peculiarity is only another phase of the
fact that crime itself did not interest him in its mortal career. The
use he found in crime was only as the means by which sin was generated
in the soul; and his concern was with the latter, not the former.

He has projected on such a background and out of such a group of
characters an analytic study of the nature of evil, and this is his main
theme, overlaid as it is with all the decorative beauty of his
interpretation of Italy. He had formerly set forth the history of sin in
the heart, taking the evil for granted and reflecting upon it as a thing
given; he now looks backward and is engaged with the genesis of sin in a
natural man, the coming of sin into the world of nature; and yet this is
not all, but he endeavors to think about the meaning of evil, the reason
for sin's existence, the old problem fundamental in thought about the
spiritual life. It cannot be regarded as a matter on which he came to
any satisfactory conclusion or even uttered any novel reflections; and
it is this that gives its lack of firmness to the work on the ethical
side. Donatello is made into a living soul of a higher capacity by his
experience of crime; but Hawthorne suggests that evil serves a good
purpose in this only with much reluctance, and indeed he may almost be
said to reject this explanation. Donatello became "a sadder and a wiser
man," and with that old phrase the issue for him seems to be summed. It
is noticeable that, as in "The Scarlet Letter," there is no question of
how this soul that has come into a miserable consciousness is to be
healed; and it is remarkable that the only consolation the Church can
give is vouchsafed by Hawthorne to the heretic Hilda, but not to the
child of its own bosom. Hawthorne, if he indicates through Kenyon his
ideas, seems to advise, as elsewhere, letting the dead past bury its
dead while Donatello and Miriam should go on to what self-sacrificing
life they can find. Unsatisfactory as the story is, merely as a tale, it
is less vague than the central truth, the moral theme which it embodies.
The truth is that after all, in the ethical sphere of the story,
Hawthorne has given no more than his meditations, very much at random,
upon sin as it appears in the world of nature, and the way in which his
chosen characters react under its influence. Hilda is as innocent as
Donatello, but her soul frees itself from the contact; and Miriam is as
guilty, yet she alone is unaffected by the crime in her essential
nature, so far as appears. She is the most vital character in the book,
having touches in her of both Hester and Zenobia; the three women are
all of one kind in their different environment, and Miriam is the most
human of the three,--strong, assertive, practical as they all are, and
also entirely resourceless in their tragedies.

The romance is not of a kind to sustain very firm critical handling, for
its structure is thus weak, not merely in the plot but in its ethical
meaning; if the former is left unwrought, so the latter is left
unclarified. The power of the work lies rather in its artistic effects,
independent of any purpose Hawthorne had in writing; his genius was
creative in its own right, and when he had once brought the background,
the characters, and the idea together, they in a certain sense took life
and built up their own story, while his hand linked picture to picture
in the unfolding scene, with a free play of sentiment, fancy, and
meditation round about them. Intense points show out, as if by an inner
and undesigned brilliancy. The companionship of Donatello, full of the
freshness and laughter of the early world, with Miriam tracked by her
own terrible secret, is itself a startling situation, and the effecting
of their union by a crime, which paralyzes the love of one while it
creates the love of the other, is the work of a master imagination.
Hilda in her dove-cote, keeping the perpetual lamp burning at the
Virgin's shrine and taking into her heart the lovely pictures of old
time as a pool reflects heaven in its quiet depths, is a figure of
sensitive purity, rendered symbolically, with the same truth and
delicacy as Donatello, though so opposed in contrast to his natural
innocence blighted and stained; even the quality of mercilessness, which
Hawthorne gave her out of his own heart, she turns to favor and to
prettiness, till it seems to belong to her as a part of her chastity of
nature. The reduplication of the characters in the world of art about
them, though it is frequently resorted to by Hawthorne, does not grow
monotonous; but by this method he rather animates the external world, as
if picture and statue and tower had absorbed life and were permeated
with its human emotion. The faun is, perhaps, a somewhat hard symbol,
and needs to be vitalized in Donatello before its truth is felt to be
alive; but the drawing that reproduces the model as the demon's face,
the sketches of Miriam portraying a woman's revengeful mischief, the
sights that Donatello and Kenyon shape out of the sunset, the
benediction of the statue of the pontiff, the evasive eyes of Beatrice
felt in Hilda, Donatello, and Miriam, are instances of borrowed or
attributed life, which illustrate how constantly and effectively
Hawthorne uses this means of expression, and it is the chief means by
which he has integrated and harmonized the various material into a whole
artistically felt. It is an error, however, to force his interpretation
too far, as in the attempt to see in the Beatrice portrait a shadow of
Miriam's mystery; if such a thought crossed his mind, it left no record
of itself, and he was as ignorant as others of Miriam's actual past, one
may be sure. That unwillingness to be gazed upon, of which he makes so
much, recurring to it again and again and most pointedly in Donatello,
was the simplest and primary symbol to him, apparently, of the shock of
sin, whether it were in the victim like Beatrice or the participant like
Donatello or the spectator like Hilda. In Miriam it is less felt,
because to her the knowledge of evil had come in her earlier career.

It is in rendering this spiritual shock, disturbing the very seat of
life, that Hawthorne best succeeds in the moral part of his subject; and
it is by awakening some answering vibration in his readers that he
imparts to the romance that universal interest which makes it rank so
high as it does in the literature of the soul's life. He was not,
however, very apt in the mechanics of his art, and in lieu of structure
such as a man of far less faculty might be an adept in, he finds in his
imagined tale a principle of life itself; his work is seldom well
reasoned, but it has vital germs of thought, emotion, and action, and
these are loosed into activity and grow of themselves, and he fosters
and develops them in his richly brooding mind. So, here, the spiritual
shock, which is the central spring of the romance, is allowed to
transmit itself in every direction, and he lays bare its workings. It is
saddest in Donatello in the moment when he heard the cry of the falling
wretch, when he turned cold at Miriam's touch, when he lost his kinship
with the wild creatures he loved; and it is fixed in his unquiet,
evasive eyes. One loves Donatello, and of no other character of
Hawthorne can it be said that it wins affection; and one wishes that, if
he must have a soul, he might have come into it in some way of natural
kindness dissociated from a moral theory. This theory--and here is the
one discord--is, after all, felt to be an exotic in the Italian air.
Donatello has been puritanized, and though the character may be a
perfect symbolic type, it has nothing racial in it; and to be racial was
Donatello's charm. It is the same wherever the story is taken up; it is
charming as an artistic work, but when one begins to think about it, the
method of approach is proved to be wrong because it solves nothing and
ends in futility. It is throughout a Puritan romance, which has wandered
abroad and clothed itself in strange masquerade in the Italian air.
Hawthorne's personality pervades it, like life in a sensitive hand. It
is the best and fullest and most intimate expression of his temperament,
of the man he had come to be, and takes the imprint of his soul with
minute delicacy and truth. It is a meditation on sin, but so made
gracious with beauty as to lose the deformity of its theme; and it
suffers a metamorphosis into a thing of loveliness. To us it is in
boyhood our dream of Italy, and in after years the best companion of
memory; it is also a romance of nature and art, and of the mystery of
evil, shot through with such sunshine gleams, with the presence of pure
color and divine forms, as to seem like the creations of that old mythic
Mediterranean world which, though it held shapes of terror, was the most
beautiful land that the imagination has ever known.



Hawthorne reached Concord, on his home journey, late in June, 1860, and
took possession of the Wayside almost unobserved. He had intended to
improve the house and grounds, and set about the task; the well-known
tower, in memory of the tower of Montaüto, was added for his study, and
some other changes were made, but his funds, which were diminished by an
unfortunate loan, were insufficient to enable him to do all he desired.
He was welcomed by his old Concord friends, and began again the
agreeable village life he had formerly known; but he mingled more on
equal terms with other people than had been his custom before his
foreign residence had forced him into some share of society. He went not
infrequently to the Saturday Club in Boston, and though always a silent
and reserved person in such gatherings, his enjoyment of these occasions
was as great as he could ever derive from literary companionship, and
many of the members were old and familiar acquaintances. It was at home,
however, that he spent his days, working in his study over his writing,
and pacing the footpath on the hill-ridge back of his house, and from
time to time going to the seaside at Beverly or in Maine with his son
Julian for a companion. His health was not so firm as it had been. A
change seems to have fallen on him with some suddenness on his return to
America; for some years, ever since the hard winter of "The Scarlet
Letter" at Salem, he had complained of fatigue in writing and of
lassitude and slowness of mind; after the winter in Rome he felt this
with new weariness, as he says when he practically ended his notebooks
in Switzerland, not having the vital impulse to continue them, and in
the intervening time he had completed "The Marble Faun;" now he began
perceptibly to lose physical force, to grow thin, and to lack energy. He
wrote a good deal, sitting down to his desk and "blotting successive
sheets of paper as of yore;" but with little satisfaction to himself.

The times were unfavorable to peace of mind and the quiet of literary
occupation. Secession began soon after he arrived, and war followed in
the spring with that outburst of passionate devotion to the Union which
was transforming all his neighborhood into a camp and sending all the
youth of his people to the battle southward. To Hawthorne, being in such
imperfect sympathy with this feeling and the causes which gave it
passion, the war was only vexation and disaster, with much
meaninglessness, foolishness, uselessness, however he might try to look
at it with Northern eyes. In nothing is his natural detachment from life
so marked as in this incapacity to understand the national life in so
supreme a crisis and under the impulse of so profound a passion. He
stood aloof from it, unmoved in his superannuated conservatism, as
abroad he had stood aloof from the English life wrapped in his
imperturbable New England breeding. He was obliged to take some stand in
his own mind, and he naturally went with his own State, never having
been really an American, on the national scale, but only a New
Englander, as he confessed. During his life at Liverpool, four years
before, he had made up his mind which side he would be on, when the
prospect of war began to loom up as a possibility, and wrote briefly to
Bridge about it:--

"I regret that you think so doubtfully (or, rather, despairingly) 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. At present we have no
country--at least, none in the sense an Englishman has a country. I
never conceived, in reality, what a true and warm love of country is
till I witnessed it in the breasts of Englishmen. The States are too
various and too extended to form really one country. New England is
quite as large a lump of earth as my heart can really take in.

"Don't let Frank Pierce see the above, or he would turn me out of
office, late in the day as it is. However, I have no kindred with, nor
leaning towards, the abolitionists."

In the first flush of the war he felt the contagion of the patriotic
thrill, and was with his friends a "war Democrat;" but his mind was
filled with reservations. On May 26, 1861, he again writes to Bridge:--

"The war, strange to say, has had a beneficial effect upon my spirits,
which were flagging woefully before it broke out. But it was delightful
to share in the heroic sentiment of the time, and to feel that I had a
country,--a consciousness which seemed to make me young again. One thing
as regards this matter I regret, and one thing I am glad of. The
regrettable thing is that I am too old to shoulder a musket myself, and
the joyful thing is that Julian is too young. He drills constantly with
a company of lads, and means to enlist as soon as he reaches the minimum
age. But I trust we shall either be victorious or vanquished before that
time. Meantime, though I approve the war as much as any man, I don't
quite understand what we are fighting for, or what definite result can
be expected. If we pummel the South ever so hard, they will love us none
the better for it; and even if we subjugate them, our next step should
be to cut them adrift. If we are fighting for the annihilation of
slavery, to be sure it may be a wise object, and offer a tangible
result, and the only one which is consistent with a future union between
North and South. A continuance of the war would soon make this plain to
us, and we should see the expediency of preparing our black brethren for
future citizenship by allowing them to fight for their own liberties,
and educating them through heroic influences. Whatever happens next, I
must say that I rejoice that the old Union is smashed. We never were one
people, and never really had a country since the Constitution was

Six months later he writes again with nearly the same point of view,
accepting in fact the theory of disunion as the only possible result:--

"I am glad you take such a hopeful view of our national prospects so far
as regards the war; but my own opinion is that no nation ever came safe
and sound through such a confounded difficulty as this of ours. 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, and all we ought to fight
for is the liberty of selecting the point where our diseased members
shall be lop't off. I would fight to the death for the northern slave
States and let the rest go."

It is this despair of the Union that characterizes his attitude
throughout, and with it goes also an absence of belief in the Union; but
one feels that he is not deeply interested in the matter for its own
sake. Thus after another interval he again writes to Bridge, February
14, 1862:--

"Frank Pierce came here and spent a night, a week or two since, and we
mingled our tears and condolences for the state of the country. Pierce
is truly patriotic, and thinks there is nothing left for us but to fight
it out, but I should be sorry to take his opinion implicitly as regards
our chances in the future. He is bigoted to the Union, and sees nothing
but ruin without it; whereas I (if we can only put the boundary far
enough south) should not much regret an ultimate separation."

The next month Hawthorne visited Washington and saw the edges of the
conflict, and he wrote out his impressions of men and of the scenes in
his article "Chiefly about War Matters," which was published in "The
Atlantic Monthly" for July, 1862. The text was sufficiently
unsympathetic with the times to trouble the editor's mind, and
Hawthorne, to ease the situation, added explanatory comments of his own
as if from an editorial pen. The article shows conclusively how little
Hawthorne had been affected, how completely he stood out of the national
spirit, being as mere an observer of what was going on as at any time in
his life and expressing his own view from time to time with entire
obliviousness, as in the passages on Lincoln and on John Brown, of
everything except his own impression. The judgment he passes on John
Brown illustrates, too, better than pages of comment, his mental
attitude in politics, its excuses and its limitations:--

"I shall not pretend to be an admirer of old John Brown, any farther
than sympathy with Whittier's excellent ballad about him may go; nor did
I expect ever to shrink so unutterably from any apothegm of a sage,
whose happy lips have uttered a hundred golden sentences, as from that
saying (perhaps falsely attributed to so honored a source), that the
death of this blood-stained fanatic has 'made the Gallows as venerable
as the Cross!' Nobody was ever more justly hanged. He won his martyrdom
fairly, and took it firmly. He himself, I am persuaded (such was his
natural integrity), would have acknowledged that Virginia had a right to
take the life which he had staked and lost; although it would have been
better for her, in the hour that is fast coming, if she could generously
have forgotten the criminality of his attempt in its enormous folly. On
the other hand, any common-sensible man, looking at the matter
unsentimentally, must have felt a certain intellectual satisfaction in
seeing him hanged, if it were only in requital of his preposterous
miscalculation of possibilities."

Whatever one may think of this as the truth of common-sense, its
publication in the summer of 1862 in Massachusetts showed an
impenetrable self-possession in the author, and it is doubtless true, as
has been said, that no other Northern man could have written such an
article as this, so disengaged from the realities, the passion and
prejudices of the time, so cold in observation and so impartial in
feeling, so free from any participation in the scene.

It was during the winter of this year and the spring of 1863 that
Hawthorne renewed his literary work by contributing to "The Atlantic
Monthly" the papers afterwards published as "Our Old Home." [Footnote:
_Our Old Home_. A Series of English Sketches. By Nathaniel
Hawthorne. Boston: Ticknor and Fields. 1863. 12mo. Pp. 398.] The
contents of this volume have already been spoken of, and it need only be
remarked here that some allowance may fairly be made for their tone and
manner on the score of the depression of the time, arising from
Hawthorne's increasing ill-health as well as from public confusion. The
one memorable incident connected with the new book is the adherence of
the author to his design of dedicating it to Franklin Pierce, to whom
indeed it fitly belonged. Fields, however, was doubtful how the public
would look on a compliment paid to the unpopular ex-President, and on
communicating his views to Hawthorne he received this answer:--

"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."

Hawthorne's decision was in the line of his character, and the
dedication itself was in excellent taste.

The imaginative work of these last years was considerable in bulk, but
it was never brought to any perfection; and though it has been
published, the entire mass of it is only a bundle of more or less rough
or uncompleted sketches and studies. It is comprised in the group of
half-wrought tales, "The Ancestral Footstep," "Septimius Felton," "Dr.
Grimshawe's Secret," and "The Dolliver Romance," which are all various
shapes of the one work that Hawthorne was trying to evoke from his mind.
They are interesting illustrations of the operation of his imagination,
of his methods of thought, construction and elaboration, and in general
of the manner in which a romance might grow under the hand; but there is
little probability, so far as can be judged, that Hawthorne ever before
worked in this experimental and ineffectual way. He had sketched an
English romance "The Ancestral Foot-Step," in 1858, before his Italian
experiences, and laid it aside. It was after his return to Concord that
he again took up the scheme, and he attempted to join it with another
plan involving a different idea. The four states in which the romance
exists are the results of his various efforts, but in none of them is it
anything more than inchoate. The idea on the English side of the story
sprang from the imprint of a bloody footstep at the foot of the great
staircase at Smithell's Hall; on the American side it sprang from a
tradition which Thoreau reported about the Concord house, to the effect
that a man had lived there in the Revolution who sought the elixir of
life. But neither of these two topics developed satisfactorily. The
physical type which had served Hawthorne so well hitherto no longer
responded to his art; neither the bloody footstep, nor the flower that
grew upon the grave, which was after all only a fungus and not the real
flower of life, had any story in them, either alone or together, and the
figure of Sylph, who embodies allegorically this graveyard flower, has
no power to win credence such as other, earlier, symbolic characters had
won. The power of narration, the rich surface of romantic art, the
character of the physician and the child, the scene of the Revolutionary
morning, the English chamber, the white-haired old man, the treasure
chest with its secret of golden hair,--all these things are in one or
another of these studies, and there is much loveliness of detail; but
there is no vitality in any of these; that element of life which has
been spoken of before, as the germinal power in Hawthorne's imaginative
work, is gone; here are only relics and fragments, the costume and
settings, the figures, the sentiment, the beauty of surface, the
atmosphere of romance, but the story has refused to take life. Whether
it was due to Hawthorne's failing powers or to inherent incapacities of
the theme, is immaterial; he was not to finish this last work, and he
knew it. He had gone so far as to give Fields the promise of "The
Dolliver Romance," as if it were in that form that he meant to reduce
the whole; but he did so with no confidence, as appears from his
successive notes:--

"There is something preternatural in my reluctance to begin. I linger at
the threshold, and have a perception of very disagreeable phantoms to be
encountered if I enter.... I don't see much probability of my having the
first chapter of the Romance ready as soon as you want it. There are two
or three chapters ready to be written, but I am not robust enough to
begin, and I feel as if I should never carry it through." And he writes
again: "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
keep quiet. Perhaps I shall have a new spirit of vigor, if I wait
quietly for it; perhaps not."

In February, 1864, he advises that some notice be given the readers of
the magazine that he cannot furnish the promised romance, and he tries
to touch the subject with humor, but it is too plain that his spirits
are ill at ease:--

"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 it is not quite pleasant for an author to announce himself, or
to be announced, as finally broken down as to his literary faculty.... I
cannot finish it unless a great change comes over me; and if I make too
great an effort to do so, it will be my death; not that I should care
much for that, if I could fight the battle through and win it, thus
ending a life of much smoulder and a scanty fire in a blaze of glory.
But I should smother myself in mud of my own making.... I am not
low-spirited, nor fanciful, nor freakish, but look what seem to me
realities in the face, and am ready to take whatever may come. If I
could but go to England now, I think that the sea-voyage and the 'old
Home' might set me all right."

At the end of March he started south with Ticknor, in hopes of some
improvement by the change of air and scene; his companion, who was
expected rather to have the care of Hawthorne, was himself taken ill and
suddenly died in Philadelphia. The shock to Hawthorne in his state of
health was a great one, and he returned home excited and nervous. He
failed rapidly, and his family and friends became anxious about him,
though they did not anticipate the suddenness of the end. In the middle
of May Frank Pierce proposed that they should go to the New Hampshire
lakes and up the Pemigewasset, by carriage, and Hawthorne consented. He
bade his wife and children good-by, and was perhaps convinced that he
would never return; whatever thoughts were in his mind, he kept silence
concerning them. The narrative of the journey, with its end, is given by
Pierce in a letter to Bridge:--

"I met H. at Boston, Wednesday (11th), came to this place by rail
Thursday morning, and went to Concord, N. H., by evening train. The
weather was unfavorable, and H. feeble; and we remained at C. until the
following Monday. We then went slowly on our journey, stopping at
Franklin, Laconia, and Centre Harbor, and reaching Plymouth Wednesday
evening (18th). We talked of you, Tuesday, between Franklin and Laconia,
when H. said--among other things--'We have, neither of us, met a more
reliable friend.' The conviction was impressed upon me, the day we left
Boston, that the seat of the disease from which H. was suffering was in
the brain or spine, or both; H. walked with difficulty, and the use of
his hands was impaired. In fact, on the 17th I saw that he was becoming
quite helpless, although he was able to ride, and, I thought, more
comfortable in the carriage with gentle motion than anywhere else; for
whether in bed or up, he was very restless. I had decided, however, not
to pursue our journey beyond Plymouth, which is a beautiful place, and
thought, during our ride Wednesday, that I would the next day send for
Mrs. Hawthorne and Una to join us there. Alas! there was no next day for
our friend.

"We arrived at Plymouth about six o'clock. After taking a little tea and
toast in his room, and sleeping for nearly an hour upon the sofa, he
retired. A door opened from my room to his, and our beds were not more
than five or six feet apart. I remained up an hour or two after he fell
asleep. He was apparently less restless than the night before. The light
was left burning in my room--the door open--and I could see him without
moving from my bed. I went, however, between one and two o'clock to his
bedside, and supposed him to be in a profound slumber. His eyes were
closed, his position and face perfectly natural. His face was towards my
bed. I awoke again between three and four o'clock, and was surprised--as
he had generally been restless--to notice that his position was
unchanged,--exactly the same that it was two hours before. I went to his
bedside, placed my hand upon his forehead and temple, and found that he
was dead. He evidently had passed from natural sleep to that sleep from
which there is no waking, without suffering, and without the slightest

The funeral took place at Concord on May 24, 1864, and he was buried in
Sleepy Hollow; on his coffin lay his unfinished romance, and his friends
stood about the open grave, for he was almost the first of the
distinguished group to which he belonged to lay down the pen. Emerson
and others whose names have been frequent in this record now lie with
him in that secluded spot, which is a place of long memory for our
literature. His wife survived him a few years and died in London in
1871; perhaps even more than his genius the sweetness of his home life
with her, as it is so abundantly shown in his children's memories,
lingers in the mind that has dwelt long on the story of his life.


Advertisement, the tenth Muse.
Æsthetic Papers, Hawthorne's contributions to.
Alcott, Amos Bronson.
Aliston, Washington.
American Magazine of Useful and
  Entertaining Knowledge, The, Hawthorne edits.
American Monthly Magazine, The;
  Hawthorne's contributions to;
  Benjamin writes of Hawthorne in.
Andrews, Ferdinand, a Salem printer.
Androscoggin Loo Club.
Annuals, contemporary opinion of.
Arbella, the ship.
Athenæum Society at Bowdoin College.
Athenæum, The London, favorable
  notice of Hawthorne in.
Atherton, Senator Charles G., meets Hawthorne.
Atlantic Monthly, The, Hawthorne's contributions to.
Atlantic Souvenir, The, Philadelphia.
Augusta, Maine, Hawthorne visits Bridge at.
Austin, William, so-called "American predecessor"
  of Hawthorne.

Bacon, Delia, Hawthorne's kindness to.
Bancroft, George, appoints Hawthorne
  weigher and ganger in Boston Custom House;
  offers Hawthorne a clerkship in Charlestown
  Navy Yard.
Benjamin, Park, recognizes Hawthorne's genius;
  coolness of Hawthorne toward.
Bewick Company, The, Boston.
Blithedale Romance, The, estimate of;
  external realism of.
Blodgett, Mrs., with whom Hawthorne
  boarded at Liverpool.
Boston American Stationers' Company.
Boston Athenæum.
Boston Miscellany, The, "A Virtuoso's
  Collection" published in.
Bowditch family, the.
Bowdoin College;
  simplicity of;
  Hawthorne's distinguished classmates in.
Boys' and Girls' Magazine, The,
  Hawthorne's contributions to.
Bradford, George P.
Bradley, Rev. Caleb, Hawthorne tutored by.
Bremer, Fredrika.
Bridge, Horatio, Hawthorne's early confidant;
  Hawthorne's letters to, quoted;
  his friendship for;
  guarantees publication of "Twice-Told Tales";
  again aids Hawthorne;
  Hawthorne assists in revising
  "Journal of an African Cruiser";
  his "naval picnic," _note_;
  visits Hawthorne in Berkshire;
  "a reliable friend,".
Bright, Henry,
  his "Song of Consul Hawthorne,"
Brook Farm;
  Hawthorne at;
  broken up.
Brown, Charles Brockden, so-called
  "American predecessor"
  of Hawthorne.
Brownings, the, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett.
Bryant, William Cullen.
Buchanan, James.
Buckingham, Joseph Tinker.
Barley, Miss Susan,
  of Salem.

  Shaker Community in.
Carlyle, Thomas,
  wherein Hawthorne resembled.
Casa Bella,
  Hawthorne's residence in Florence.
Chamber under the Eaves, the.
Charming, Ellery.
Channing, William Ellery.
Choate, Rufus.
Chorley, Henry F.
Cilley, Jonathan,
  classmate of Hawthorne;
  elected to Congress;
  shot in a duel.
Clark, S. Gaylord,
  editor Knickerbocker Magazine.
Concord, Mass.,
  Hawthorne moves to Old Manse in;
  literary work in;
  hard conditions of Hawthorne's life in;
  Hawthorne settles at The Wayside in.
Cooper, James Fenimore.
Custom House, Boston.
Custom House, Salem,
  Hawthorne appointed surveyor;
  his sketch of;
  an antidote to Transcendentalism.

Democratic Review, The, Hawthorne's contributions to.
Dewey, Rev. Orville.
Dial, The, transcendental publication.
Diary, Hawthorne's first, _note_.
Dickens, Charles,
  his manner suggested in "House of the Seven Gables".
Dike, Mrs. Priscilla Manning.
Duyckinck, Evert Augustus.
Dwight, Mrs. William (Eliza White).

Emerson, Ralph Waldo,
  his visit to Sophia Peabody;
  relations with Hawthorne.
Everett, Edward.

Faërie Queene, The,
  Hawthorne's first book purchase.
Fairfield, Senator John,
  meets Hawthorne at Portsmouth Navy Yard.
Farley, Frank.
Fesseuden, Thomas Green.
Fields, James T.,
  his wise suggestion;
  good advice;
  Hawthorne writes to, from Montaüto;
  from Rome;
  regarding dedication to "Life of Franklin Pierce";
  about "The Dolliver Romance".
Fuller, Margaret,
  Hawthorne's hard judgment of.

Gardner family, the.
Giddings family, the.
Goodrich, Samuel Griswold,
  "Peter Parley";
  his "Recollections," quoted;
  transactions with Hawthorne;
  Hawthorne's ungenerous view of.
Graham's Magazine,
  Hawthorne's contributions to.
Graves, William J.,
  his duel with Jonathan Cilley.
"Greenwood, Grace" (Sara Jane Lippincott),
  Hawthorne's comment on.
Griswold, Rufus Wilmot.

Hathorne, family stock of.
Hathorne, Daniel,
  of Revolutionary ballad fame.
Hathorne, Judge John,
  of witchcraft memory.
Hathorne, Joseph.
Hathorne, William, emigrant planter.
Hathorne, Nathaniel.
Hawthorne, Elizabeth;
  her mental resemblance to Nathaniel;
  "an invisible entity,".
Hawthorne, Julian;
Hawthorne, Louisa;
  letter from Nathaniel to, quoted;
  no recluse;
  letters to Nathaniel quoted;
  death of.
Hawthorne, Mrs., mother of Nathaniel;
  relations with her son;
  her solitary life;
  Elizabeth Peabody's description of;
  delight in her grandchildren;
  her home in Herbert Street;
  moves to Mall Street;
Hawthorne, Nathaniel
  date of birth;
  life at Raymond, Me;
  returns to Salem;
  early reading;
  preparation for college;
  letters to his sisters and mother;
  considers choice of profession;
  enters Bowdoin College;
  youthful characteristics;
  excels in Latin and English;
  narrow circumstances;
  early friendships;
  changes spelling of his name;
  manner of life in Salem;
  a born Solitary;
  drifts into authorship;
  choice of subjects;
  literary ventures;
  yearly journeys;
  basis of imaginative work;
  first substantial gains;
  a close observer;
  editor of American Magazine of
  Useful and Entertaining Knowledge;
  editorial difficulties;
  quarrels with Benjamin;
  his anonymity dispelled;
  Bridge guarantees publication of "Twice-Told Tales";
  Goodrich's services to;
  reception of "Twice-Told Tales";
  Pierce suggests South Sea Exploring Expedition;
  challenges a man to a duel;
  his solitude broken;
  meets Miss Sophia Peabody;
  is appointed weigher and gauger in Boston Custom House;
  bids farewell to Herbert Street;
  practical life wearies;
  his courtship;
  loses place in Boston Custom House;
  reasons for joining Brook Farm;
  life there;
  letter to Sophia Peabody;
  averse to literary society;
  barren years;
  Paradise in the Old Manse, Concord;
  Una's birth;
  straits for money;
  Bridge and Pierce assist;
  temperament and art analyzed;
  literary faculty;
  permanently influenced by Scott;
  prime qualities in his work;
  provincial note;
  primary element in genius;
  allegorizing temperament;
  vivid symbolism;
  his objectivity;
  a moralist;
  essentially an artist;
  capacity for idleness;
  his democracy;
  "obscurest man of letters in America,";
  made surveyor of the port of Salem;
  his feeling for Salem;
  as a government official;
  literary revenge;
  gossip concerning;
  imagination languishes;
  Julian born;
  home happiness;
  dismissed from office;
  his resentment;
  his susceptibility;
  applies to Hillard;
  his mother's death;
  visited by Fields;
  a bitter experience,
  letter to Hillard;
  finishes "Scarlet Letter";
  fame established;
  characteristics of his genius;
  unsympathetic as an artist;
  farewell to Salem;
  family life in Berkshire;
  productive period;
  "House of the Seven Gables" written and published;
  power of realistic detail;
  marvelous art;
  no sympathy with reform;
  fatalistic trait;
  Rose born;
  delight in his children;
  his "spiritual sense of life";
  narrow intellectual interests;
  temporary residence in West Newton;
  "Blithedale Romance" written;
  purchases "The Wayside";
  objects to writing Pierce's "Life";
  friendship for Pierce;
  an unsparing critic;
  accepts Liverpool consulate;
  life at Liverpool;
  notable official action;
  his opinion of philanthropy;
  kindly received in England;
  good after-dinner speaker;
  alien in England;
  competence secured;
  resigns consulate;
  life in Italy;
  its influence;
  begins "Marble Faun";
  describes Villa Montaüto;
  Una's illness;
  leaves Rome and finishes "Marble Faun";
  height of his literary power;
  sensitive temperament;
  creative genius;
  defective technique;
  his fullest expression;
  returns to Concord;
  health fails;
  despairs of the Union;
  mental attitude in politics;
  last days;

  _Alice Doane's Appeal_;
  _Ambitious Guest, The_;
  American Note-Books;
  Ancestral Footstep, The;
  _Artist of the Beautiful, The_;
  _Bald Eagle_;
  _Bell's Biography, A_;
  Biographical stories, _note_;
  _Birthmark, The_;
  _Buds and Bird Voices_;
  _Canterbury Pilgrims, The_;
  _Celestial Railroad, The, note_;
  _Chiefly about War Matters_;
  _Chippings with a Chisel_;
  _Christmas Banquet, The_;
  _Cilley, Jonathan_;
  _Custom House, The_;
  _David Swan_;
  _Devil in Manuscript, The_;
  _Diary, First_, authenticity questioned, _note_;
  Dr. Grimshawe's Secret;
  Dolliver Romance, The;
  _Dr. Heidegger's Experiment_;
  _Downer's Banner, The_;
  _Drowne's Wooden Image_;
  _Duston Family, The_;
  _Earth's Holocaust_;
  _Edward Fane's Rosebud_;
  _Edward Randolph's Portrait_;
  _Egotism, or the Bosom Serpent_;
  _Endicott and the Red Cross_;
  _Ethan Brand_;
  _Fancy's Show Box_;
  Famous Old People;
  Fanshawe, _note_;
  _Fessenden, Thomas Green_;
  _Fire Worship_;
  _Footprints on the Sea-Shore_;
  _Gentle Boy, The, note_;
  Grandfather's Chair;
  _Graves and Goblins_;
  _Gray Champion, The_;
  _Great Carbuncle, The_;
  _Great Stone Face, The_;
  _Hall of Fantasy, The_;
  _Haunted Mind, The_;
  _Haunted Quack, The_;
  _Hollow of the Three Hills, The_;
  House of the Seven Gables, The;
  _Howe's Masquerade_;
  _Intelligence Office, The_;
  _John Inglefield's Thanksgiving_;
  _Journal of a Solitary Man_;
  _Lady Eleanore's Mantle_;
  Liberty Tree, The, _note_;
  _Lily's Quest, The_;
  _Little Annie's Ramble_;
  _Little Daffydowndilly_;
  _Main Street_;
  _Man of Adamant, The_;
  Marble Faun, The;
  _Maypole of Merry Mount, The_;
  _Minister's Black Veil, The_;
  _Monsieur du Miroir_;
  Mosses from an Old Manse _note_;
  _Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe_;
  _Mrs. Bullfrog_;
  _My Uncle Molineaux_;
  _My Wife's Novel,_ attributed to Hawthorne;
  _Nature of Sleep_;
  _New Adam and Eve, The_;
  _New England Village, The_;
  _Ontario Steamboat, An_;
  _Niagara, My Visit to_;
  _Old Apple Dealer, The_;
  _Old Esther Dudley,_ first story to
  bear Hawthorne's name;
  _Old French War, The_;
  _Old Manse, The_;
  Old News;
  _Old Ticonderoga_;
  _Old Tory, The_;
  Our Old Home _note_;
  _Papers of an Old Dartmoor Prisoner_;
  _Passages from a Relinquished Work_;
  _Pepperell, Sir William_;
  _Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure_;
  _"Peter Parley's" Universal History, note_;
  Pierce, Franklin, Life of;
  _Procession of Life, The_;
  _Prophetic Pictures, The_;
  _Province House Series_;
  _Provincial Tales_;
  _P.'s Correspondence_;
  _Rappaccini's Daughter_;
  _Rill from the Town Pump, A_;
  _Roger Malvin's Burial_;
  Scarlet Letter, The;
  Septimius Felton;
  Seven Tales of my Native Land;
  _Seven Vagabonds, The_;
  _Shaker Bridal, The_;
  _Sights from a Steeple_;
  _Sister Years, The_;
  _Night Scenes under an Umbrella_;
  _Sketches from Memory_;
  Snow Image, The, _note_;
  _Spectator, The,_ first essay in journalism;
  _Story-Teller, The_;
  _Sunday at Home_;
  _Sylph Etheredge_;
  Tanglewood Tales;
  _Three-fold Destiny, The_;
  _Time's Portraiture_;
  _Toll Gatherer's Day, The_;
  Twice-Told Tales, _note_;
  _Veiled Lady, The_;
  _Village Uncle, The_;
  _Virtuoso's Collection, A_;
  _Vision of the Fountain, The_;
  _Visit to the Clerk of the Weather, A,_
  never yet attributed to Hawthorne;
  _Wedding Knell, The_;
  _White Old Maid, The_;
  _Wives of the Dead_;
  Wonder-Book, A;
  _Young Goodman Brown_;
  _Young Provincial, The, note_.
Hawthorne, Mrs. Nathaniel. See
  Sophia Peabody.
Hawthorne, Rose,
  her sketch of Montaüto.
Hawthorne, Una,
  a beautiful child;
  illness at Rome.
Hillard, George S.,
  Hawthorne writes to;
  letter to Hawthorne.
Hoffman, Charles Fenno,
  his apt characterization of "Twice-Told Tales".
Holden's Dollar Magazine,
  "Ethan Brand" published in.
Holmes, Oliver Wendell.
Hosmer, Harriet,
Houghton, Lord (Richard Monckton Milnes).
House of the Seven Gables, The,
  analysis of;
  lax unity in;
  local realism of;
  suggestion of Dickens in;
  ancestral quality;
  ethical meaning in.
Howe, Dr. Samuel Gridley.

International Magazine, The,
  "Snow Image" published in.
Irving, Washington,
  Hawthorne compared to.
Italy, Hawthorne's life in.

Jameson, Mrs. Anna.

Kemble, Fanny.
Knickerbocker Magazine, The,
  Hawthorne's contributions to.

Lander, Louisa.
Lathrop, George Parsons,
  his study of Hawthorne;
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth;
  recognizes college days in "Fanshawe,";
  Hawthorne's letter to;
  notices "Twice-Told Tales" in North American Review.
Long Wharf.
Lord family, the.
Loring, Dr. George B.,
  on Hawthorne's connection with Salem Custom House.

Maine Hall,
  at Bowdoin College.
Mann, Horace.
Manning, Elizabeth Clarke. See Mrs. Hawthorne.
Manning, Richard,
  of St. Petrox Parish.
Manning, Richard,
  Hawthorne's grandfather.
Manning, Richard,
  Hawthorne's uncle.
Manning, Robert;
  undertakes Hawthorne's education.
Manning, Samuel,
  Hawthorne travels with.
Manning, William,
  Hawthorne writes in office of.
"Manning's Folly".
Marble Faun, The;
  ethical weakness of;
  source of its interest;
  Puritan romance masquerading;
  analytic study of nature of evil.
Marsh and Capen, Boston,
  publish "Fanshawe" at Hawthorne's expense.
Mason, Alfred,
  Hawthorne's roommate in college.
Melville, Herman.
Montaüto, villa of,
  where Hawthorne began "Marble Faun".
Morituri Salutamus, Longfellow's.
Mosses from an Old Manse.
Motley, John Lothrop,
  Hawthorne's friendliness toward.

National Era,
  The "Great Stone Face" published in.
Navy Club.
Navy Yard, Charlestown.
New England;
  homes of;
  colonial tradition of;
  central fact in life of;
  the secret of.
New England Magazine, The,
  Hawthorne's contributions to, _note_;
  Hawthorne noticed in.
North American Review, The;
  Longfellow's notice of "Twice-Told Tales" in.
Note-Books, Hawthorne's,
  beginning of;
  his use of.

"Oberon," signature Hawthorne used
  in writing to Bridge;
  farewell to his eidolon.
Old Manse, the.
Oliver, Benjamin.
O'Sullivan, John,
  editor "Democratic Review,";
  U. S. minister at Lisbon.
Our Old Home; remorseless impressionism of, _note_.

Peabody, Elizabeth, quoted;
  letters of Hawthorne to.
Peabody, Mary (Mrs. Horace Mann).
Peabody, Sophia;
  her love story;
  Hawthorne's letters to;
  recovers health and is married;
  "A New Adam and Eve";
  Hawthorne's devotion to;
  courage in ill-fortune;
  spends winter in Lisbon;
  English life interests;
  uncertain health;
  death of.
"Peter Parley." See Goodrich, S. G.
Peter Parley's Universal History on
  the basis of Geography, written
  by Nathaniel and Elizabeth Hawthorne.
Peucinian Society, at Bowdoin College.
Phelps family, the.
Pickering, John.
Pierce, Franklin
  early friendship for Hawthorne;
  interests himself in his fortunes;
  elected Senator from New Hampshire;
  advises change of scene for Hawthorne;
  his affection for;
  at Portsmouth Navy Yard;
  Hawthorne writes Life of;
  elected President of the United States,
  and appoints Hawthorne to Liverpool consulate;
  offers Hawthorne a post in American Legation at Lisbon;
  Hawthorne's love for;
  writes Bridge about Hawthorne's last days.
Pioneer, The,
  Hawthorne's contributions to.
Plymouth, N. H.,
  Hawthorne's death at.
Poe, Edgar Allan,
  Hawthorne's only rival in harmony of tone.
Polk, James K.
Portsmouth Navy Yard,
  political "naval picnic" at.
Potter family, the.
Powers, Hiram.

Raymond, Captain George.
Raymond, Maine,
  Hawthorne's boyhood home.
Rome, Hawthorne in.
Ropes, Joseph.

  Hawthorne born at;
  Dr. Worcester's school in;
  Hawthorne's life in;
  much missed in;
  unappreciative "of its illustrious son";
  Hawthorne characterizes people of;
  Hawthorne's debt to.
Salem Athenæum, The.
Salem Gazette, The,
  Hawthorne writes Carrier's Address for.
Salem Lyceum, Hawthorne an officer of.
Sargent, Epes.
Sargent, John Osborne.
Saturday Club, the.
Sawtelle, Cullen,
  a classmate of Hawthorne.
"Scarlet Letter, The";
  analysis of;
  genesis of;
  a study of punishment;
  reality of;
  parable of soul's life in sin;
  moral despair of.
Scott, Sir Walter, Hawthorne influenced by.
Sebago Lake, Maine.
Sedgwick, Catherine Maria.
Siena, Hawthorne's happy days at.
Sleepy Hollow, Concord, Hawthorne's burial place.
Southern Rose, The,
  Charleston, S. C., "The Lily's Quest" appeared in.
Spectator, The,
  Hawthorne's first essay in journalism.
Stoddard, Richard Henry.
Story, William Wetmore;
  Hawthorne's happy days with.

Thompson, Launt.
Thoreau, Henry D.
Ticknor, William D., sudden death of.
Token, The;
  Hawthorne's contributions to;
  Park Benjamin notices Hawthorne's articles in.
Tupper, Martin Farquhar,
  Hawthorne's visit to.
Tyler, John.

Upham, Charles W.

Verplanck, Gulian Crommelin.
Very, Jones.

War, the Civil.
Wayside, The,
  Hawthorne's home in Concord.
Willis, Nathaniel Parker.
Worcester, Dr. Joseph Emerson,
  Hawthorne's first master.

Youth's Keepsake, The,
  Hawthorne's contributions to.

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