MEMORIES OF HAWTHORNE
Rose Hawthorne Lathrop
It will be seen that this volume is really written by Sophia Hawthorne; whose letters from earliest girlhood are so expressed, and so profound in thought and loveliness, that some will of sterner quality than a daughter's must cast them aside. I have tried to weed out those written records of hers (even from 1820) reaching to her last year in 1871, that could give no especial pleasure to any descendant who might come upon them; and I have been astonished to find that there was scarcely one such page. This is the explanation of my return, in the company of the friends of my father and mother, to an old garden, a familiar discourse, and a circle of life that embraced so much beauty.
ROSE HAWTHORNE LATHROP.
NEW YORK, February 20th, 1897.
[online ed: page numbers omitted]
THE HAWTHORNES AND THE PEABODYS
The Hawthornes summoned from their quietude by the Peabodys. Sophia Peabody's mother and grandmother, the latter wife of General Palmer, who was prominent in the Revolution. Characteristics of the Misses Peabody. Letters to the Hawthornes from the Peabodys, though so close at hand, because of the difficulty of seeing the former at any time. The dignity of George Peabody's nature. Sophia's fondness for profound books. The great affection of friends for her, who bring rare flowers to the little studio where she is often imprisoned. Elizabeth Hawthorne consents to walk with the Peabodys. Dr. Channing's regard for Sophia's artistic talent and motive. Miss Burley's literary club, to which Hawthorne liked to go with Sophia. The wooing not a moment delayed. Visits from Emerson and Very. Elizabeth goes forth among the most interesting people of Boston, and remains to teach their daughters.
THE DAYS OF THE ENGAGEMENT
Hawthorne and Sophia become engaged, but defer the announcement for a year. Sophia visits friends in Boston, and Hawthorne visits Boston also. Washington Allston's deep approval of Sophia's talents. Elizabeth visits the Emersons in Concord, and writes as if from heaven. Mr. Bancroft remarked to Emerson that Hawthorne was exceptionally thorough in business. Sophia draws and paints vigorously in her happy security of the highest love. Letters from Hawthorne to her. Fragment of a Scrap-Book kept by Hawthorne at the Boston Custom House. Friends rejoice in the engagement when it is made known.
THE EARLY DAYS OF THE MARRIAGE
The beautiful marriage is appreciated by all. Letters to Mrs. Caleb Foote and to Sophia's mother describe life at the Old Manse in Concord. The birth of Una. Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne skate upon the river near the Manse, with differing aspects. The radiance and sublimity of a Massachusetts winter enrich the landscape. Evening readings by Hawthorne to his wife from the classics begun and always continued. Friends call somewhat frequently, at last, from the outside world; Visits to relatives in Boston and Salem. Mary Peabody becomes the wife of Horace Mann. Sophia describes Una's favorable impression upon the circle of friends in Salem and Boston. Returning to the Old Manse renews the enjoyment of nature and peace.
LIFE IN SALEM
Salem becomes their home for the second time. Letter from George W. Curtis while in Europe. Sophia expresses in a letter to Hawthorne her entire satisfaction, though poor and in the midst of petty cares, under his enchanting protection. Daniel Webster's oration in Salem. Alcott's monologue. Thoreau's lecture. Letters about the attack of certain mistaken people upon Hawthorne as a Democrat and official. Hawthorne writes to Horace Mann upon the subject. The best citizens are active to remedy the offense against Hawthorne. George Mullet's letters describing Hawthorne as official and man.
FROM SALEM TO BERKSHIRE
The Hawthornes seek a home by the sea, but drift up to the mountains of Berkshire, and are happy. Letter from Mrs. James R. Lowell, nee White. The Sedgwicks are the kindest friends in the world. Herman Melville is drawn to the life by Mrs. Hawthorne, in a letter to her mother. A poem, by Mrs. Hawthorne, to her husband.
Letters and visits from friends are frequent in Lenox, where a literary group begin to suggest flight to the Hawthornes, who have no liking for a fussy succession of intercourse. Hawthorne reads the "House of the Seven Gables" aloud to his wife as he writes it. He sends a long letter to William B. Pike. Charming long letters come from Herman Melville, though he is not far off.
FROM LENOX TO CONCORD
Letter, full of amused astonishment, from Hawthorne to Mrs. Tappan. Descriptions of the divine Lenox home life, by Mrs. Hawthorne. The removal to West Newton, and finally to Concord, is made. Letter from Maria L. Porter, a kindred nature. Mr. Alcott is lovingly analyzed by Mrs. Hawthorne. Letters to her from Mr. Alcott. Letters to her, from Emerson, of an earlier date. Letters from Margaret Fuller. Mrs. Hawthorne describes The Wayside. General Solomon McNiel wields his affable sword. The Emersons pervade the little town like reigning powers.
THE LIVERPOOL CONSULATE
The Wayside begins to be hospitable in earnest, and Mr. Miller, the artist, talks unceasingly there. Mrs. Hawthorne describes her husband. Hawthorne visits the Isles of Shoals. Ex-President Pierce is insulted and bears it well. Hawthorne visits Brunswick College, and is welcomed back there. A talk on The Wayside hill. The Liverpool Consulate is given to Hawthorne, who visits Washington before embarking for England. Description of Hawthorne by his daughter Rose. The voyage is described in a letter from Mrs. Hawthorne. Field Talfourd pleases her, especially. Mr. Henry Bright shines upon the family. Rose describes him. Mrs. Hawthorne writes to her father about him, his family at their home, and of English ways.
ENGLISH DAYS: I
Hospitable English strangers make the American strangers welcome. An English mansion described by Mrs. Hawthorne. Liverpool organizations honor Hawthorne by attentions. The Squareys of Dacre Hill. Hawthorne's unstinted friendliness towards Americans in distress. The De Quincey family greatly desire to see Hawthorne, Ticknor says. Hawthorne meets the sons of Burns. Liscard Vale and its dinner-party described by Mrs. Hawthorne, who is entertained by the magnificence and the characters richly gathered there. Mrs. Hawthorne tells her father about a visit to Chester on Sunday. The "Westminster Review" praises Hawthorne's art. Distinguished English people seek Hawthorne out. Mr. Martineau described by Mrs. Hawthorne. Mr. Bennoch's first call upon the family. Miss Cushman visits the Hawthornes with her splendid geniality. Mrs. Hawthorne described by her daughter Rose. Hawthorne is hunted to gorgeous dinners against his better instincts. Henry Bright more delightfully drives him to beautiful scenes. "The Scarlet Letter" sells very largely in England, and is read. The Consulate is sighed over by Mrs. Hawthorne.
ENGLISH DAYS: II
The Isle of Man is visited as if it were Fairyland. The Consulate is again described by Mrs. Hawthorne. Hawthorne refuses to let two hundred shipwrecked American soldiers die in destitution, and charters a ship to send them home, at some risk of personal bankruptcy. The death of Mrs. Hawthorne's father is communicated to her by her husband. A letter from Una tells about the family and the scene of the country-side, and refers to Lenox pastimes. Visit of the family to Wales. Hawthorne goes to a dinner-party to meet Mr. Buchanan and Miss Lane. Hawthorne and Mrs. Hawthorne described by Rose. Hawthorne still reads aloud in the evenings. Letters from Hawthorne to Rose. His playfulness and generous thought for his children noted. The home life of the family depicted, and also Mrs. Hawthorne's energy of geniality. A sketch of Mr. Bennoch, and a letter from him. Lord Houghton and others try to bring Hawthorne to society by letter. The family go to London for the ostensible purpose of enjoying society, but Hawthorne is obliged to spend part of the time in Liverpool. Mrs. Hawthorne writes to him of London and Henry Bright, who is there, and speaks of Miss Bacon's genius.
ENGLISH DAYS: III
Mrs. Hawthorne's letter to Miss Elizabeth P. Peabody describes Wordsworth's country. The family visit Southport for the winter, for Mrs. Hawthorne's health. A trip to Manchester, for the Exhibition, includes a glimpse of Tennyson and his family. Mrs. Hawthorne carefully describes them. She refers to slavery with contempt. Hawthorne writes to Miss Elizabeth P. Peabody about her anti-slavery essay with frankest honesty and distaste, being importuned for his opinion. His estimate of Goodrich. A visit to Kenilworth by the family is portrayed in a letter of Mrs. Hawthorne's. English days in Leamington are quiet and economical, but always suggestive to imagination. A visit to a genuinely palatial hotel in Bath described by Mrs. Hawthorne. Redcar and Hawthorne's enjoyment of it reproduced by descriptions and diaries. "The Marble Faun" worked out and finished in this seaport town.
ITALIAN DAYS: I
Rome has a superlative effect upon the family. Hawthorne's manner in the midst of the richest scene in history. A host of friends happen to congregate, at Carnival time. Miss Maria Mitchell, Miss Harriet Hosmer, and Miss Elizabeth Hoar described. Una's illness proves the true friendship of lifelong and new acquaintances. C. G. Thompson and his studio sketched. Rome's lasting charm for a little girl evident.
ITALIAN DAYS: II
Six months in Florence. Mrs. Hawthorne's letters continue to catch and imprison the atmosphere of every scene. The castle of Montauto fascinates the family. Catholicity penetrates the heart of both husband and wife, in spite of much armor. Stella humbly and silently expresses religious gentleness. Spiritualism introduces its clumsy morbidness to Mrs. Hawthorne in the presence of the Brownings. Mr. and Mrs. Browning described from the enthusiastic memory of a child. Motley's letter about "Monte Beni" is given.
The Wayside welcomes the family to a life of simplicity, second-rate enjoyment, and sacrifice. Interesting minds working for humanity are the happy reward for a quiet life. Emerson, Alcott, Thoreau and Channing described. Visits to the Fields's in Boston, where rare people are met. The Wayside, quiet as it is, is not quite out of the world, and friends and letters from abroad often follow Hawthorne thither. One of Louisa Alcott's jolly little poems. General Hitchcock is mentioned by Mrs. Hawthorne, who valued him among a group of finest minds. Concord life portrayed in Mrs. Hawthorne's journals and letters. Hawthorne's breaking health soon affects the family with half-admitted dread. President Lincoln becomes a verified ideal.
THE ARTIST AT WORK
Hawthorne's habits of work are described, and his attitude of mind is guessed, by his daughter Rose. The "North British Review" quoted upon Hawthorne's art. His efforts to continue at his work unflinchingly, by means of exercise and hardihood.
Emerson and Longfellow write of their desire to be with Hawthorne in companionship. Dr. Holmes flashes joyfully yet longingly as he speaks of Hawthorne's personality. Miss Elizabeth M. Hawthorne makes a visit to The Wayside, and her niece Rose tries to study her. Una's lifelong love and admiration for her. Hawthorne's devoted care for her, which he bequeathed to his family. Mrs. Hawthorne expresses in a letter to a friend some of her vigorous and sublime principles of thought and action. Hawthorne's death comes while he is away from his wife, but she is conscious of its presence.
MEMORIES OF HAWTHORNE
THE HAWTHORNES AND THE PEABODYS
To my lot have fallen sundry letters of my mother's, received in youth by her sisters and friends, and by her husband and others in later life. I have often read over these magic little pictures of old days, and each time have felt less inclined to let them remain silently in the family. The letters are full of sunshine, which is not even yet in the least dimmed; and there is a pleasant chatter of persons of whom we have heard widely in the most refined atmosphere this country knows.
The scene surrounds a soul, my father's, whose excellence grows more and more evident, and who enriches every incident and expression that comes in contact with him. The tone of the life depicted is usually glad; but even where discomfort and sorrow break it, Hawthorne's unflinching endurance suggests unsoured activity and a brave glance.
I will preserve, as well as I can by selections, the effect produced upon me by the many packages of letters which I opened some years ago. What Hawthorne cared for is somewhat clearly shown by side-lights; and there is also some explanation from my mother, as unintentionally given as the rest, of why he cared.
It was a genial and vivid existence which enveloped her family always; and it became an interesting problem to the Peabodys to entice the reticent Hawthornes into it, from the adjacent Herbert Street,—by gentle degrees, well-adjusted baits, and affectionate compliments. Trout-fishing comes to mind,—and the trout were very skillful in keeping aloof. Nevertheless, Hawthorne liked all he heard and saw at the Peabodys' in Charter Street; and Sophia, his future wife, gleams near him as the unwitting guide to the warm contact with his kind for which he searched, though with delicacy of choice.
Sophia's mother had strong intellect and great refinement, as well as a strength of character which gave her the will to teach school for many years, while her own children were growing up. She was very well connected in various directions; in other words, she had sprung from cultivated intelligences.
Mrs. Peabody's mother was the wife of Judge Cranch, of Boston, whose sister, the wife of General Palmer, wrote to her in Revolutionary days the following letter, wherein very mild words stand for very strong emotions:—
GERMANTOWN, February 12, 1775.
DEAR SISTER,—It is a long time since we have heard from you, except by transient reports that your family was pretty well. I suppose you are all anxious about publick affairs as well as other folks. 'T is a dreadful dull time for writing; this suspense that we are in seems to absorb every Faculty of the mind, especially in our situation where we seldom see anybody from the busy world.
Mr. Palmer has been gone a fortnight to Congress, and we have never heard a word from him. The folks are almost impatient to hear what they are about.
Certainly we at this time want every motive of Religion to strengthen our souls and bear up our spirits, that we may not faint in the evil time. Why should not there be religious as well as Political correspondencies? I believe much good might be done by such means, as those who are sincerely good would be able to strengthen each other—oh dear! I am so stupid! I wonder whether you feel so, too; but you have little ones about you that will keep you rousing. My Love to them all, together with my Brother.
Your affectionate sister, M. PALMER.
Literature, art, and intercourse were the three gracious deities of the Peabody home, and many persons came to join the family in worshiping them; so that the pages of all the letters and journals, from which but a fragmentary gleaning has been made, blossom daily with name after name of callers. Elizabeth was profoundly interesting, Mary was brilliant, and Sophia was lovely in her studio, to which everybody eagerly mounted. At about the time when I begin to levy upon the letters, the efforts of these young ladies to establish common ground of friendship with the Hawthornes peep forth in small messages, bequeathed to me by my recluse aunt Ebie Hawthorne.
Elizabeth Peabody was the first and most frequent angler at the brookside, and actually succeeded in establishing a sturdy friendship with the young author, who was being sought for by the best people in Salem. His mother and sisters, walks and books, were the principal factors in his capture by the admiring enemy. Elizabeth had already a high intercourse upon high themes with the best minds among manly American thought. Her perfect simplicity of motive and abandonment of selfish, vain effeminateness made her the delight of the great men she met. She was a connoisseur in this field. To such a genial cultivator of development it seemed folly for the women of the Hawthorne family so to conceal their value; it was positively non-permissible for the genius of the family to conceal his, and so this New World Walton fished him forth. She sends a note to Herbert Street:—
MY DEAR MRS. HAWTHORNE,—I have taken the liberty to have your book bound before I returned it to you, as it was somewhat abused at the printing-office. And besides, I thought there should be some attempt at harmony between the outside and the inside; and more than that, I wanted in some slight degree to express my respect for it. How happy you must be in reading these tales! For if the genius which produced them is independent of all source but the divine bounty, the holiness and virtue which breathe on every page may be fairly attributed to the sacred influences of a pure New England home, in no small degree. But to enter upon the satisfactions of a mother in such a case I feel to be intruding upon consecrated ground. Yet you will easily pardon the feeling that impels me.
With the greatest respect, yours,
ELIZABETH P. PEABODY.
My mother joins in the pursuit, though interested only in catching a glimpse of the widow and the shy eldest daughter. It must have been worth many experiments to gently succeed in putting their skill in hiding to naught. She slaps a dainty fishing-line through the leaves:—
MY DEAR ELIZABETH,—I send you a volume of Carlyle, lately published. It is well worth reading; and your mother—will she like to read it? I shall charge Bridget to inquire how your mother's and Louisa's headaches are. I should have gone myself to-day to ask, had not the wind been east. Won't you come to walk to-morrow afternoon with my mother, dear Elizabeth, and then I shall see you a few minutes? I want very much to see you, and to show you a certain white vase filled with brilliant flowers, which would charm your eye. I hope you enjoyed the music last evening.
Truly yours and Louisa's,
S. A. PEABODY.
I can imagine nothing more curious to the Peabodys than people who withdrew themselves from choice. My mother was often hidden, because of great delicacy of health, which her ardent pursuance of art constantly fatigued; but she saw so many people that there was scarcely a whole day of isolation. At the Hawthornes', on the contrary, quiet prevailed: caused partly by bereavement, partly by proud poverty, and no doubt not a little by the witch-shadow of Judge Hawthorne's unfortunate condemnation of Rebecca Nurse, whose dying curse was never ignored; partly also by a sense of superiority, which, I think, was the skeleton in every Hawthorne's body at that time.
For a year one of the brothers at the Peabodys', George, remained in his room, slowly dying from the effects of over-exertion in athletic sports. He was of large frame and of noble appearance, and was referred to by my mother in after-life with the deepest admiration. She writes:—
"It is difficult to realize how ill he is. He has none of the ways of sick people. His voice is as cheerful as ever, with no whine in its tones. He has no whims. He is always ready to smile, and reads constantly. . . . Mary and I spent the evening with the beloved one. He was pretty cheery, and told a comical anecdote of Dean Swift. He stood up on Friday much more firmly than formerly. Elizabeth Hawthorne sent him Miss Martineau's book, after tea, which was certainly very kind and attentive in her. I am determined to go and see her this week. I spent the morning upon my bed, reading Herodotus. . . . I found that mother had taken James and gone to Paradise after a hawthorne bush. It is a bush for which she has had a longing for several years, but never could get any kind friend to uproot it for her."
The highest principles of thought and action are constantly danced about and caressed by my mother in all her letters, as we imagine a Greek maiden paying cheerful homage to beautiful statues of the gods. For instance, in writing to the brother already mentioned, before his illness, she says:—
"I do not like to have you say that you enjoy despising people, George. It would be a little better to say you cannot help it sometimes; and even that is a dangerous attitude of mind. It is better to sorrow over than to despise. You know, Wordsworth says, 'He that feels contempt for any living thing hath faculties which he has never used.'"
A message from Mary Peabody shows how intimate Herbert and Charter streets were growing:—
MY DEAR ELIZABETH,—I am very sorry to have been prevented from walking, but I hope to be able to go by Tuesday. George is fast growing weaker, and we do not know what a day may bring forth. Still, I feel it is necessary to take exercise when I can. We do not tell all our fears to Sophia, whom we wish to keep cheerfully employed as long as we can. Will you ask your brother to dine with us to-morrow? Elizabeth [who was then teaching school in Boston] depends upon the pleasure of seeing him when she comes. We dine as early as twelve on Sunday. Yours very truly,
MARY T. PEABODY.
From this point, the letters and fragments of journals bring to view what Hawthorne saw, and make real to us the woman he soon loved.
SALEM, October 22, 1832.
I have been in old native Salem for ten days. Betty and I returned by seven o'clock to our minimum of a house, and upon entering I really felt a slight want of breath to find the walls so near together and the ceiling nearly upon my head. But there stood my beloved mother, all in white, her face radiant with welcome and love, and in her arms there was no want of room. In September or October I live par excellence. I feel in the abstract just as an autumn leaf looks. I step abroad from my clay house, and become a part of the splendor and claritude and vigor around.
DEAR BETTY,—I forgot to tell you that mother's garden has been arranged. She is quite happy in it. Father presided over a man as he uprooted and planted. The man was quite an original. He came looking very nice, very gentlemanly, in broadcloth and cambric cravat. But after disappearing into the barn for several minutes, he came forth transformed into a dirty workman, though still somewhat distinguished by his figure and air. He expressed himself in very courtly phrase, also, and was quite sentimental about the shrubbery round the tombs. [A graveyard was close to the house.] I should much like to know the history of his mind and career. . . . The clematis which climbs into my window is all sprouting. My glorious tree—my hieroglyphic for the everlasting forests—is also putting forth leaves, and the robins sing among the branches.
Ellen Barstow came with an exquisite crimson rose, for me, which she wished to present herself; and as I was lying down, she went away to come again. So towards tea-time I saw her and Augusta running along. Ellen discovered me at the window, and shouted and flew on. As they were ascending the stairs I heard Ellen say, "Now hold your hand behind you, Augusta!" They entered with hands concealed and gleaming faces, and when they were within reach suddenly the concealed hands were thrust towards my face, each adorned with a crimson rose. My exclamation of delight seemed to fulfill their desires; and now I want to know if it is not worth fifteen years of bodily pain and discomfort to be the cause of such divine sentiment in the souls of so many children as I am? I feel perfectly consecrated by it, and bound over to be worthy of such pure emotions. Oh, not mysterious Providence! How even are thy golden scales—sweetest compensations poising exactly the ills! It is not suffering which I think beautiful or desirable, but what suffering brings along with it, and causes. My door was open, and who should unexpectedly come out of Mary's room but Miss Elizabeth Hawthorne, going to walk with Mary. I was very glad to see her, and wanted her to come into my studio, but Mary was in haste to be walking. Miss Hawthorne looked very interesting. They had a delightful ramble, and she sent me a bunch of seaweed fastened to a rock, which she stepped into the sea to get for me. It looks like a drooping plume if it is held up, and I went into George's room to get his admiration; but he persisted in declaring it hideous. I was delighted by her thinking of sending it to me.
I happened to be up in the third story just as the children were going home [Mary was teaching two or three little girls], and they went into my studio with Mary. I was very much impressed with what I heard said in tones of reverence. "Look at that hammock! Oh, that picture! And there are the flowers! Oh, I gave her those! Miss Peabody, is that a bed? Oh, how beautifully everything looks! Is Sophia gone out?" I cannot convey to you the intonations of affection and interest which made these sentences so touching.
This morning Mary came in and threw at me a beautiful handful of flowers, which I crowed over for a time, and then arose. I worked a little while at my painting, and then Mary Channing came gliding in upon me, like a dream, with more flowers, the Scotch rose and many rare things among them. Mr. Doughty [the artist, who had consented to give Sophia lessons] came, as bright as possible. The cool breezes, the flowers, etc., put him into excellent humor. He said it was luxury to sit and paint here. He created a glowing bank in broad sunshine. Mr. Russell called, and came up into my studio. He thought such a studio and such an occupation must cure the headache. Then I prepared to make several calls, but on my way was arrested by Mr. George Hillard, who was altogether too agreeable to leave. He is amazingly entertaining, to be sure. He remarked what a torment of his life Mr. Reed, the postmaster in Cambridge, was. He is an old man, about a hundred and forty years old, who always made him think of the little end of nothing sharpened off into a point. He had but one joke—to tell people sometimes when they asked for a letter that they must pay half a dollar for it; and then, if in their simplicity they gave it, he would laugh, and say it was a joke. After Mr. Hillard went away, Sally Gardiner came in with an armful of roses, which she poured upon me, taken from Judge Jackson's garden. She had just returned from Milton, and was overflowing with its grandeur and beauty.
The somewhat invalided little artist was highly and widely admired; and to illustrate the happy fact I quote this letter, written by her spirited sister Mary:—
BOSTON, June 19, 1833.
MY DEAREST,—I went to Dr. Channing's yesterday afternoon and carried him your drawings, with which he was so enchanted that I left them for him to look at again. He gathered himself up in a little striped cloak, and all radiant with that soul of his, said with his most divine inflection, "This is a great and noble undertaking, and will do much for us here." And then he rolled his orbs upon me in that majestic way of his, which, when it melts into loveliness as it sometimes does, so takes captivity captive. In short, he was quite in an ecstasy with you and your notions. [Probably drawings illustrating auxiliary verbs.] He inquired very particularly for you, and showed me all the new books he had just received from England, which he thought a great imposition, they being big books. Edward [his brother] came in, and they greeted affectionately. After a long survey of the Professor, he exclaimed, "Why, Edward, you look gross—take care of the intellect!" Then he handed him one of the great books, just arrived, which was an edition of Thomas Belsham's works, with a likeness of the author. "There," said he, "is a man who had not quite the dimensions of a hogshead; but he was the largest man I ever saw." Edward looked rather uneasy. "William," he replied, "I don't think you are any judge of large men. Last week I looked quite thin, but to-day my head and face are very much swelled." The Doctor, in the simplicity of his heart, never thinks of feelings, only of things, as Plato would say. Your affectionate sister,
Sophia writes to Elizabeth in Boston, in 1838, of her daily life, as follows:—
"I went to my hammock [in the studio] with Xenophon. Socrates was divinest, after Jesus Christ, I think. He lived up to his thought. . . . After dinner, Mary went out 'to take the fresh,' intending to finish the afternoon by a walk with Miss Hawthorne, and I commissioned her to bring home both her and her brother, if he should go, that I might give him my fragrant violets. . . .
"Miss Hawthorne came to walk, and remarked to Mary how beautiful the crocuses were which I had given to her brother. Mary told her that I sent them to her. 'That is a pretty story,' she replied. 'He never told me so.'
"Just after seven Mr. Hawthorne came. He looked very brilliant. . . . His coming here is one sure way of keeping you in mind, and it must be excessively tame for him after his experience of your society and conversation; so that, I think, you will shine the more by contrast."
One evening, she says, she "showed him Sarah Clarke's picture of the island, and that gorgeous flower in the Chinese book of which there is a mighty tree in Cuba. And then I turned over the pictures of those hideous birds, which diverted him exceedingly. One he thought deserved study. . . .
"I was to go to see his sister Elizabeth that afternoon, and he had heard about it. He asked if I could go, and said he should have waited for me to come if he had not supposed the east wind would prevent me. I said that it would. He wanted to know if I would come the next day. I meant to call Mary, but he prevented me by saying he could not stay long enough. . . . [He seldom stayed unless he found Sophia alone.]
"Last evening Mr. Hawthorne came for Mary to go with him to Miss Burley's [to a club which met every week]. Mary could not go. It seemed a shame to refuse him. I came down to catch a glimpse of him. He has a celestial expression which I do not like to lose. . . .
"The children have just come in, and brought me a host of odorous violets. I made George a visit in the afternoon, in the midst of my battle with headache, and to my question of 'How dost?' he replied, for the first time, 'Pretty fair,' instead of the unvarying 'Middling.' Skeptics surely cannot disbelieve in one thing that is invisible, and that is Pain."
After my siesta I went down to Herbert Street with the book I wished to leave, and when I opened the gate [of the Hawthornes' house] the old woman with her hood on [an aunt of the Hawthornes] was stooping over a flower-bed, planting seeds. She lifted her smiling face, which must have been very pretty in her youth, and said, "How do you do, Miss Peabody?" Yet I never saw her in my life before. She begged me to walk in, but I refused, and gave her my message of thanks for the book.
Ever thine wholly,
May 14, 1838.
To-day I was tempted to trot about the room and arrange all my vases, and give an air to the various knickknacks. I am much more easily tired than ever before. My walk to Castle Hill before February did not make me feel so hopelessly tired as it now does to walk as far as the Hawthornes'. Mr. Hawthorne had declined to come to dine with you on your arrival, but was to be here directly after dinner. When he came I happened to be the only one ready to go down. His first question was, "Where is Elizabeth?" He was not at all inclined to bear the disappointment of your not being here, after all. He thought it "too bad," "insufferable," "not fair," and wondered what could be the reason. I told him your excuse, and that there was a letter for him, which Mary soon brought. He put it into his pocket without breaking the seal. He looked very handsome, and was full of smiles. I assured him the morning was the best time to do creative work. He said he believed he would go and take a walk in South Salem. "Won't you go?" he asked of me. But the wind was east.
MY DEAR LIZZIE,—I can think of nothing now but Charles Emerson. A sudden gloom seems to overshadow me. I hope you will tell us to-morrow whether he is dangerously ill. 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. Good-by,
June 1, 1838.
One afternoon Elizabeth Hawthorne came to walk with Mary, and mother went with her instead. She first came up into my chamber, and seemed well pleased with it, but especially admired the elm-tree outside. She looked very interesting. Mother took her to the cold spring, and they did not return till just at dark, loaded with airy anemones and blue violets and a few columbines. They had found Mr. John King and his daughter at the spring, looking for wild-flowers, and mother introduced Miss Hawthorne; but she hung her head and scarcely answered, and did not open her lips again, though Mr. King accompanied them all the way home. He gave mother some columbines, and after a while said, "I must make your bunch like Mrs. Peabody's, my dear," and so put some more into Miss Hawthorne's hand.
The day before Mr. Hawthorne had called at noon to see our ladyships, and I never saw him look so brilliantly rayonnant. He said to me, "Your story will be finished soon, Sophia—to-morrow or next day." I was surprised to have the story so appropriated, and I do long to see it. [Probably Edward Randolph's Portrait.] He proposed to Mary to go to the beach the same day, and she consented. He said that he had not spoken to his sister about it, but would do so as soon as he went home. He wished to go early, and have a good walk. Only think what progress! To come and propose a walk at mid-day!
He said he had a letter nearly written to you, but should not finish it till you wrote. He seemed quite impatient to hear from you, and remarked that he had not heard since you were here. Mary went to Herbert Street to join Miss Hawthorne for the walk, but did not see her. Her mother said Elizabeth did not want to go because it was windy, and the sun was too hot, and clouds were in the south! (It was the loveliest day in the world.) Was it not too bad to disappoint her brother so? I could have whipped her. When Mary went the next day with the tulips, Louisa told her that Elizabeth was very sorry afterwards that she did not go.
A successful visit, almost accidental, upon Ebie Hawthorne pleased Sophia very much, and she writes:—
"She was very agreeable, and took the trouble to go and get some engravings of heads to show me, Wordsworth among the number, which I had never seen before.
"Elizabeth also inquired particularly for George, and gave me more books for him. She asked if we did not miss you exceedingly. I should like to have stayed for two or three hours. She came downstairs with me, and out of the door, and talked about the front yard, where her aunt is going to make a garden."
Elizabeth Peabody's letters are always delight-, fully direct, and varied in quality of emotion, being equally urgent over philosophy or daily bread, as the ensuing one will show in part:—
53 MYRTLE STREET, BOSTON, 1838.
MY DEAR SOPHIA,—Your beautiful letters require an answer, but I cannot possibly answer them in kind. This evening, notwithstanding the storm, George and Susan Hillard have gone to a singing-school, and left me to amuse myself. I hoped Mr. Hawthorne would come in. I have not seen him yet. Last night I took tea with Sally Gardiner and Miss Jackson, who are still enjoying your Flaxman drawings. Why do not you Salem folks have a hencoop and keep hens! five or six hens would overwhelm you with eggs all the year round. I like to hear the little items about Hawthorne. I had a nice talk with Mr. Capen about him to-day. He has him in his mind, and I hope it will come to some good purpose for the public.
Yours truly and ever, E. P. P.
July 23, 1838.
William White arrived on Saturday. Why did not you send Stuart's Athens by him? He said that he had heard it remarked that Mr. Emerson expected another Messiah. Your slight account of Mr. E.'s "Address" is enough to wake the dead, and I do not know what the original utterance must have done. I told Mary I thought Mr. Emerson was the Word again. She exclaimed, "You blasphemer!" "Do you really think it blasphemy?" said I. "Oh no," she replied. "It is the gospel according to you." Was not that a happy saying? While the maid was at Miss Hurley's on an errand, she saw Mr. Hawthorne enter, probably for a take-leave call. He was here also, looking radiant. He said he took up my Journal [written in Cuba] to bring it back, but my "works were so voluminous that he concluded to send them!"
Elizabeth Peabody makes, upon her return to 'Salem for the winter, an heroic move towards gaining a still more affectionate advantage over the solitaries in Herbert Street. A little smile must have given her face its most piquant expression as she wrote:—
Saturday, November 10, 1838.
DEAR LOUISA,—You know I want to knit those little stockings and shoes,—I think I will do it in the course of time at your house,—and would thank you to buy the materials for me, and I will pay you what they cost, when I know what it is. I suppose the four or five evenings which I shall anticipate spending with you (in the course of the winter!) will complete the articles.
When Elizabeth wakes, please give her this note and rose and book; and when Nathaniel comes to dinner please give him the note I wrote to him. He said he was going to write to-day, and therefore I should prefer that he should not be interrupted on purpose to read it. We will not interrupt the bird in his song. I wonder what sort of a preparation he finds an evening of whist, for the company of the Muse!
Yours ever truly,
E. P. PEABODY.
It is delightful to picture the commotion in the fernlike seclusion which enveloped the women of the Hawthorne household when this note was opened and read. Squirrels aroused, owls awakened, foxes startled, would have sympathized. Louisa, the only really active member of the trio, wonderfully deft in finest sewing and embroidery, generously willing to labor for all the relatives when illness required, may not have felt faint or fierce. But Mrs. Hawthorne, even in the covert of her chamber, where she chiefly resided, no doubt drew back; and Elizabeth's beautiful eyes must have shone superbly. However, to prove that the trio among the ferns (guarding, as testimony proves, Hawthorne himself with unasked care) could serve the needs of others on occasion,
I will insert a little letter of a much earlier date, from Louisa.
TO MISS MARY MANNING, RAYMOND, MAINE, CARE OF RICHARD MANNING, ESQ.
SALEM, March 3, 1831.
MY DEAR AUNT,—Uncle Sammie has returned from Boston, and has taken up his abode for the present at uncle Robert's [his brother, who befriended Hawthorne in his early youth], and is much better than we expected to see him. We should have been glad to have him with us, and would have done everything in our power to make him happy. We are so near that he can at any time command our services and our company. Nathaniel goes in to see him, and I am there a great part of the time. Mother has kept about all winter. There have been worse storms than I ever remember; the roads were absolutely impassable, and the snow-banks almost as high as the house. I would write more, but my time is much taken up now. I remain yours, With much affection,
M. L. HATHORNE.
That the reluctance to be genial with very genial folk was bravely overcome (to some extent) the ensuing notes prove:—
DEAR ELIZABETH,—As you were out on Saturday evening, I hope you will be able to come and spend to-morrow evening with us—will you not? I should be extremely happy to see Mary, though I despair of it; and though I cannot venture to ask Sophia, perhaps you can for me. Pray tell me particularly how your father is; we are all anxious to hear; and whether George is as he was when we heard last.
I am, in haste, E, M. H.
DEAR ELIZABETH,—Shall we go to the beach? If so, I propose that we set off instanter. I think a sea-breeze would be most refreshing this afternoon. Truly yours,
M. T. P.
Don't forget to ask your brother.
MY DEAR E.,—I am afraid I shall not be able to go and spend an evening with you while the girls are gone. To-morrow, you know, is the eclipse. I wish you would come here in the afternoon. The graveyard is an open place to see it from, and I should be very glad of your company. Yesterday I heard of Nathaniel. A gentleman was shut up with him on a rainy day in a tavern in Berkshire, and was perfectly charmed with his luck. In haste, yours,
E. P. P.
By and by Elizabeth Peabody returns to Boston, and Sophia goes on with letters:—
I do not think I am subject to my imagination; I can let an idea go to the grave that I see is false. When I am altogether true to the light I have, I shall be in the heaven where the angelic Very now is. I went to see dear Miss Burley, who sent for me to go to her room. She insisted upon accompanying me all the way downstairs, limping painfully, and would open the outer door for me, and bow me out with as much deference as if I had been Victoria, or Hawthorne himself! So much for the Word uttering itself through my fingers in the face of Ilbrahim. [She had just finished illustrating "The Gentle Boy" by a drawing which was greatly praised.]
Jones Very came to tea that afternoon. He was troubled at first, but we comforted him with sympathy. His conversation with George was divine, and such level rays of celestial light as beamed from his face upon George, every time he looked up at him, were lovely to behold. We told him of our enjoyment of his sonnets. He smiled, and said that, unless we thought them beautiful because we also heard the Voice in reading them, they would be of no avail. "Since I have shown you my sonnets," said he to me, "I think you should show me your paintings," Mary brought my drawing-book and "AEschylus" [wonderfully perfect drawings from Flaxman's illustrations]. He deeply enjoyed all. I told him of my Ilbrahim. He said he delighted in the "Twice-Told Tales." Yesterday Mr. Hawthorne came in, and said, "I am going to Miss Hurley's, but you must not go. It is too cold. You certainly must not go." I assured him I should go, and was sorry I was not wanted. He laughed, and said I was not. But I persisted. He knew I should be made sick; that it was too cold. Meanwhile I put on an incalculable quantity of clothes. Father kept remonstrating, but not violently, and I gently imploring. When I was ready, Mr. Hawthorne said he was glad I was going. Mary was packed up safely, also. I was very animated, and felt much better than on either of the previous club nights. Mr. Hawthorne declared it must be the spirit of contradiction that made me so; and I told him it was nothing but fact. We walked quite fast, for I seemed stepping on air. It was partly because I had not got tired during the day. It was splendid moonlight. I was not in the least cold, except my thumb and phiz. Mr. H. said he should have done admirably were it not for his nose. He did not believe but that it would moderate, "For God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, and when you go out we may expect mild weather!" Was not that sweet? Mr. II. and I went into the parlor together, and Miss Burley looked delighted. He was exquisitely agreeable, and talked a great deal, and looked serene and happy and exceedingly beautiful. Miss Burley showed Mary and me some botanical specimens, and he came to the table and added much to the lights. But oh, we missed you so much; Miss Burley said so, and I felt it. They do not understand Very, there. When we were taking leave, Mr. Howes said to Mr. Hawthorne that he hoped nothing would prevent his coming next Saturday.
"Oh no," replied he. "It is so much a custom, now, that I cannot do without it." Was not that delightful for Miss Burley's ears? I was so glad he said it. When we came out it was much more moderate, and we got home very comfortably. Mr. H. said he thought of coming for me to walk on Friday, but was afraid the walking was not good enough. I told him how we were all disappointed at his vanishing that night, and he laughed greatly. He said he should not be able to come this evening to meet Very, because he had something to read, for he was engaged Monday and Tuesday evening and could not read then. I am so sorry.
Yours affectionately, SOPHIE.
THE DAYS OF THE ENGAGEMENT
The engagement of Hawthorne to his future wife was now a fact, but it was not spoken of except to one or two persons. Sophia had slipped away for a visit to friends in Boston; but as Elizabeth was at present in Newton, her letters to the latter continued as follows:—
WEST STREET, BOSTON, May 19, 1839.
DEAREST LIZZIE,—Two days ago Mr. Hawthorne came. He said that there was nothing to which he could possibly compare his surprise, to find that the bird had flown when he went to our house. He said he sat for half an hour in the parlor before he knocked to announce his presence, feeling sure I would know he was there, and descend,—till at last he was 'tired of waiting. "Oh, it was terrible to find you gone," he said. And it was such a loss, to be sure, to me not to see him. I am glad you enjoyed his visit so much. He told me he should be at the picture-gallery the next morning [Sophia went very early to avoid the crowd], and there I found him at eight o'clock. He came home with me through a piercing east wind, which he was sure would 'make me ill for a week. In the evening he came to see if it had given me a cold, but it had not. Caroline [Tappan] was busy with her children, and did not come down for half an hour. When she did, she was very agreeable, and so was Mr. Hawthorne. She admired him greatly. He said he should be at the gallery this morning, if possible. I went before eight, and found the room empty, except for Mr. William Russell. Mr. IT. arrived at nine, for, as it was cloudy weather until then, he thought I would not be there, and he came with the sunshine. At ten it began to grow crowded, and we went out. He peremptorily declared I should ride.
Washington Allston had a great regard for Sophia's talent in art. Elizabeth refers to it in a letter written while visiting the Emersons:—
CONCORD, MASS., June 23, 1839.
Here I am on the Mount of Transfiguration, but very much in the condition of the disciples when they were prostrate in the dust. I got terribly tired in Boston. I went to the Athenaeum Gallery on Monday morning, and in the evening Hawthorne came and said that he went to the Allston gallery on Saturday afternoon. I went to Allston's on Tuesday evening. He was in delightful spirits, but soft as a summer evening. He seemed transported with delight on hearing of your freedom from pain, and was eager to know what you were going to paint. I said you had several things a-going, but did not like to tell of your plans. He said, then you would be more likely to execute them, and that it was a good thing to have several paintings at once, because that would save time, as you could rest yourself by change. I carried to him a volume of "Twice-Told Tales," to exchange for mine. He said he thirsted for imaginative writing, and all the family had read the book with great delight. I am really provoked that I did not bring "The Token" with me, so as to have "The Mermaid" and "The Haunted Mind" to read to people. I was hardly seated here, after tea yesterday, before Mr. Emerson asked me what I had to say of Hawthorne, and told me that Mr. Bancroft said that Hawthorne was the most efficient and best of the Custom House officers. Pray tell that down in Herbert Street. Mr. Emerson seemed all congenial about him, but has not yet read his writings. He is in a good mood to do so, however, and I intend to bring him to his knees in a day or two, so that he will read the book, and all that Hawthorne has written. He is in a delightful state of mind; not yet rested from last winter's undue labors, but keenly industrious. He has uttered no heresies about Mr. Allston, but only beautiful things,—dwelling, however, on his highest merits least. He says Very forbids all correcting of his verses; but nevertheless he [Emerson] selects and combines with sovereign will, "and shall," he says, "make out quite a little gem of a volume." "But," says he, "Hawthorne says he [Very] is always vain. I find I cannot forget that dictum which you repeated; but it is continually confirmed by himself, amidst all his sublimities." And then he repeated some of Very's speeches, and told how he dealt with him. I am very stupid. I have been awake for about two months! Mr. Emerson is very luminous, and wiser than ever. Oh, he is beautiful, and good, and great! Your sister, E.
Sophia, once more in Salem, replies:—
June 29, 1839.
I am very sorry you were disappointed by not meeting Mr. Hawthorne at the galleries. But I am delighted that you saw Mr. Allston. How kind and inspiring is his interest about my health. I am rejoiced that Mr. Emerson has uttered no heresies about our High Priest of Nature. For him to think that because a man is born to-day instead of yesterday he cannot move the soul seems quite inconsistent with his proclamation that "the sun shines to-day, also!"
When some other callers had departed, came Mr. Hawthorne. It was a powerful east wind, and he would not let me go out; but we were both so virtuous that he went alone to Miss Burley's. You never can know what a sacrifice that was! If you could, you would never again accuse either of us of disregard of the claims of others. I told him what Mr. Bancroft said, and he blushed deeply, and replied, "What fame!" After he went away, I read "Bettina von Arnim." She is not to be judged; she is to be received and believed. She is genius, life, love, inspiration. If anybody undertakes to criticise her before me, I intend to vanish, if it is from a precipice into the sea. Tuesday, my Demon called upon me to draw some of the Auxiliary Verbs. . . .
July 5. Yesterday was the great day, and this wretched town made no appropriations for celebrating it—not even for the ringing of bells. So the people in wrath hung flags at half-mast, and declared they would toll the bells. Then it was granted that there should be joyful ringing at noon and sunset. They pealed forth jubilantly, and I heard the clash of cymbals in the afternoon. Every soul in America should thrill on the anniversary of the most illustrious event in all history; and as some souls sleep, these should be stirred with bells, trumpets, and eloquence.
To-day the Demon demanded the completion of St. George and Una; and, alternating with my music, I drew all the morning. A horse has leaped out of my mind. I wonder what those learned in horses would say to him. George says he is superb. My idea was to have St. George's whole figure express the profoundest repose, command, and self-involvedness, while the horse should be in most vivid action and motion, the glory of his nostrils terrible, "as much disdaining to the curb to yield." The foam of power, and the stillness of power. You must judge if I have succeeded. The figure of Una is now far better than the first one. You cannot imagine with what ease I draw; I feel as if I could and might do anything, now. Next week, if Outlines do not prevail, I shall begin again with oils. I feel on a height. Oh, I am so happy! But I have not ridden horse-back since Tuesday on account of the weather. Is it not well that I kept fast hold of the white hand of Hope, dear Betty? For behold where she has led me! My wildest imaginations, during my hours of sickness in the past, never could have compassed such a destiny. All my life long my word has been, "This is well, and to-morrow it will be better; and God knows when to bring that morrow." You mistake me if you thought I ever believed that we should not be active for others. That is of course. With regard to our own minds, it seems to me we should take holy care of the present moment, and leave the end to God.
Now I am indeed made deeply conscious of what it is to be loved. Most tunefully sweet is this voice which affirms ever, for negation belongs to this world only. Its breath so informs the natural body that the spiritual body begins to plume its wings within, and I seem appareled in celestial light.
A few paragraphs from letters written by Hawthorne follow:—
Six o'clock, P. M.
What a wonderful vision that is—the dream-angel. I do esteem it almost a miracle that your pencil should unconsciously have produced it; it is as much an apparition of an ethereal being as if the heavenly face and form had been shadowed forth in the air, instead of upon paper. It seems to me that it is our guardian angel, who kneels at the footstool of God, and is pointing to us upon earth, and asking earthly and heavenly blessings for us,—entreating that we may not be much longer divided, that we may sit by our own fire-side. . . .
BOSTON, September 9, half past eight P. M., 1839.
I was not at the end of Long Wharf to-day, but in a distant region; my authority having been put in requisition to quell a rebellion of the captain and "gang" of shovelers aboard a coal-vessel. . . . Well—I have conquered the rebels, and proclaimed an amnesty; so to-morrow I shall return to that Paradise of Measures, the end of Long Wharf. Not to my former salt-ship, she being now discharged; but to another, which will probably employ me wellnigh a fortnight longer. The salt is white and pure—there is something holy in salt.
Your wisdom is not of the earth; it has passed through no other mind, but gushes fresh and pure from your own, and therefore I deem myself the safer when I receive your outpourings as a revelation from Heaven. Not but what you have read, and tasted deeply, no doubt, of the thoughts of other minds; but the thoughts of other minds make no change in your essence, as they do in almost everybody else's essence. You are still sweet Sophie Hawthorne, and still your soul and intellect breathe forth an influence like that of wildflowers, to which God, not man, gives all their sweetness. . . . If the whole world had been ransacked for a name, I do not think that another could have been found to suit you half so well. It is as sweet as a wildflower. You ought to have been born with that very name—only then I should have done you an irreparable injury by merging it in my own.
You are fitly expressed to my soul's apprehension by those two magic words—Sophia Hawthorne! I repeat them to myself sometimes; and always they have a new charm. I am afraid I do not write very clearly, having been pretty hard at work since sunrise. You are wiser than I, and will know what I have tried to say. . . . NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.
Their engagement was not announced for about a year, because it was expected that it would be a very long one; and also to avoid, for as great an interval as possible, causing consternation in Herbert Street, since there, the approach of any permanent change on Hawthorne's part from a quiet sojourn under shadows and through enchantingly mellowed lights was looked upon as a Waterloo.
I go back a little from the last date to give the following fragment of a diary, contained in a small leather-bound memorandum-book, marked on the cover "Scrap-Book, 1839." The period covered is a brief portion of Hawthorne's service as weigher and ganger in the Boston Custom House, a position to which he was appointed by George Bancroft, at that time collector of the port.
February 7, 1839. Yesterday and day before, measuring a load of coal from the schooner Thomas Lowder, of St. John, N. B. A little, black, dirty vessel. The coal stowed in the hold, so as to fill the schooner full, and make her a solid mass of black mineral. The master, Best, a likely young man; his mate a fellow jabbering in some strange gibberish, English I believe—or nearer that than anything else—but gushing out all together—whole sentences confounded into one long, unintelligible word. Irishmen shoveling the coal into the two Custom House tubs, to be craned out of the hold, and others wheeling it away in barrows, to be laden into wagons. The first day, I walked the wharf, suffering not a little from cold; yesterday, I sat in the cabin whence I could look through the interstices of the bulkhead, or whatever they call it, into the hold. My eyes, what a cabin! Three paces would more than measure it in any direction, and it was filled with barrels, not clean and new, but black, and containing probably the provender of the vessel; jugs, firkins, the cook's utensils and kitchen furniture—everything grimy and sable with coal dust. There were two or three tiers of berths; and the blankets, etc., are not to be thought of. A cooking stove, wherein was burning some of the coal—excellent fuel, burning as freely as wood, and without the bituminous melting of Newcastle coal. The cook of the vessel, a grimy, unshaven, middle-aged man, trimming the fire at need, and sometimes washing his dishes in water that seemed to have cleansed the whole world beforehand—the draining of gutters, or caught at sink-spouts. In the cessations of labor, the Irishmen in the hold would poke their heads through the open space into the cabin and call "Cook!"—for a drink of water or a pipe—whereupon Cook would fill a short black pipe, put a coal into it, and stick it into the Irishman's mouth. Here sat I on a bench before the fire, the other guests of the cabin being the stevedore, who takes the job of getting the coal ashore, and the owner of the horse that raised the tackle—the horse being driven by a boy. The cabin was lined with slabs—the rudest and dirtiest hole imaginable, yet the passengers had been accommodated here in the trip from New Brunswick. The bitter zero atmosphere came down the companion-way, and threw its chill over me sometimes, but I was pretty comfortable—though, on reaching home, I found that I had swaggered through several thronged streets with coal streaks on my visage.
The wharfinger's office is a general resort and refuge for people who have business to do on the wharf, in the spaces before work is commenced, between the hours of one and two, etc. A salamander stove—a table of the signals, wharves, and agent of packets plying to and from Boston—a snuff-box—a few chairs—etc., constituting the furniture. A newspaper.
February 11. Talk at the Custom House on Temperance. Gibson gives an account of his brother's sore leg, which was amputated. Major Grafton talks of ancestors settling early in Salem—in 1632. Of a swallow's nest, which he observed, year after year, on revisiting his boyhood's residence in Salem, for thirty years. It was so situated under the eaves of the house, that he could put his hand in and feel the young ones. At last, he found the nest gone, and was grieved thereby. Query, whether the descendants of the original builders of the nest inhabited it during the whole thirty years. If so, the family might vie for duration with the majority of human families.
February 15. At the Custom House, Mr. Pike told a story of a human skeleton without a head being discovered in High Street, Salem, about eight years ago—I think in digging the foundations of a building. It was about four feet below the surface. He sought information about the mystery of an old traditionary woman of eighty, resident in the neighborhood. She, coming to the spot where the bones were, lifted up her hands and cried out, "So! they 've found the rest of the poor Frenchman's bones at last!" Then, with great excitement, she told the bystanders how, some seventy-five years before, a young Frenchman had come from over-seas with a Captain Tanent, and had resided with him in Salem. He was said to be very wealthy, and was gayly appareled in the fashion of those times. After a while the Frenchman disappeared and Captain Tanent gave out that he had gone to some other place, and been killed there. After two or three years, it was found that the Captain had grown rich; but he squandered his money in dissipated habits, died poor—and there are now none left of the race. Many years afterwards, digging near his habitation, the workmen found a human skull; and it was supposed to be that of the young Frenchman, who was all along supposed to have been murdered by the Captain. They did not seek for the rest of the skeleton; and no more was seen of it till Mr. Pike happened to be present at the discovery. The bone first found was that of the leg. He described it as lying along horizontally, so that the head was under the corner of the house; and now I recollect that they were digging a post-hole when the last discovery was made, and at that of the head they were digging the foundation of the house. The bones did not adhere together, though the shape of a man was plainly discernible. There were no remnants of clothing.
Mr. Pike told furthermore how a lady of truth and respectability—a church member—averred to him that she had seen a ghost. She was 'sitting with an old gentleman, who was engaged in reading the newspaper; and she saw the figure of a woman advance behind him and look over his shoulder. The narrator then called to the old gentleman to look around. He did so rather pettishly, and said, "Well, what do you want me to look round for?" The figure either vanished or went out of the room, and he resumed the reading of his newspaper. Again the narrator saw the same figure of a woman come in and look over his shoulder, bending forward her head. This time she did not speak, but hemmed so as to attract the old gentleman's attention; and again the apparition vanished. But a third time it entered the room, and glided behind the old gentleman's chair, as before, appearing, I suppose, to glance at the newspaper; and this time, if I mistake not, she nodded or made some sort of sign to the woman. How the ghost vanished, I do not recollect; but the old gentleman, when told of the matter, answered very scornfully. Nevertheless, it turned out that his wife had died precisely, allowing for the difference of time caused by distance of place, at the time when this apparition had made its threefold visit.
Mr. Pike is not an utter disbeliever in ghosts, and has had some singular experiences himself:—for instance, he saw, one night, a boy's face, as plainly as ever he saw anything in his life, gazing at him. Another time—or, as I think, two or three other times—he saw the figure of a man standing motionless for half an hour in Norman Street, where the headless ghost is said to walk.
February 19. Mr. Pike is a shortish man, very stoutly built, with a short neck—an apoplectic frame. His forehead is marked, but not expansive, though large—I mean, it has not a broad, smooth quietude. His face dark and sallow—ugly, but with a pleasant, kindly, as well as strong and thoughtful expression. Stiff, black hair, which starts bushy and almost erect from his forehead—a heavy, yet very intelligent countenance. He is subject to the asthma, and moreover to a sort of apoplectic fit, which compels [him] to sleep almost as erect as he sits; and if he were to lie down horizontally in bed, he would feel almost sure of one of these fits. When they seize him, he awakes feeling as if [his] head were swelled to enormous size, and on the point of bursting—with great pain. He has his perfect consciousness, but is unable to call for assistance, or make any noise except by blowing forcibly with his mouth, and unless this brings help, he must die. When shaken violently, and lifted to a sitting posture, he recovers. After a fit, he feels a great horror of going to bed again. If one were to seize him at his boarding-house, his chance would be bad, because if any heard his snortings, they would not probably know what was the matter. These two afflictions might seem enough to make one man miserable, yet he appears in pretty fair spirits.
He is a Methodist, has occasionally preached, and believes that he has an assurance of salvation immediate from the Deity. Last Sunday, he says, he gave religious instruction to a class in the State's Prison.
Speaking of his political hostilities, he said that he never could feel ill will against a person when he personally met him, that he was not capable of hatred, but of strong affection,—that he always remembered that "every man once had a mother, and she loved him." A strong, stubborn, kindly nature this.
The City-Crier, talking in a familiar style to his auditors— delivering various messages to them, intermixed with his own remarks. He then runs over his memory to see whether he has omitted anything, and recollects a lost child—"We've lost a child," says he; as if, in his universal sympathy for all who have wants, and seek the gratification of them through his medium, he were one with the parents of the child. He then tells the people, whenever they find lost children, not to keep them overnight, but to bring them to his office. "For it is a cruel thing"—to keep them; and at the conclusion of his lecture, he tells them that he has already worn out his lungs, talking to them of these things. He completely personifies the public, and considers it as an individual with whom he holds converse,—he being as important on his side, as they on theirs.
An old man fishing on Long Wharf with a pole three or four feet long—just long enough to clear the edge of the wharf. Patched clothes, old, black coat—does not look as if he fished for what he might catch, but as a pastime, yet quite poor and needy looking. Fishing all the afternoon, and takes nothing but a plaice or two, which get quite sun-dried. Sometimes he hauls up his line, with as much briskness as he can, and finds a sculpin on the hook. The boys come around him, and eye his motions, and make pitying or impertinent remarks at his ill-luck—the old man answers not, but fishes on imperturbably. Anon, he gathers up his clams or worms, and his one sun-baked flounder—you think he is going home—but no, he is merely going to another corner of the wharf, where he throws his line under a vessel's counter, and fishes on with the same deathlike patience as before. He seems not quiet so much as torpid,—not kindly nor unkindly feeling—but not to have anything to do with the rest of the world. He has no business, no amusement, but just to crawl to the end of Long Wharf, and throw his line over. He has no sort of skill in fishing, but a peculiar clumsiness.
Objects on a wharf—a huge pile of cotton bales, from a New Orleans ship, twenty or thirty feet high, as high as a house. Barrels of molasses, in regular ranges; casks of linseed oil. Iron in bars landing from a vessel, and the weigher's scales standing conveniently. To stand on the elevated deck or rail of a ship, and look up the wharf, you see the whole space of it thronged with trucks and carts, removing the cargoes of vessels, or taking commodities to and from stores. Long Wharf is devoted to ponderous, evil-smelling, inelegant necessaries of life—such as salt, salt-fish, oil, iron, molasses, etc.
Near the head of Long Wharf there is an old sloop, which has been converted into a store for the sale of wooden ware, made at Hingham. It is afloat, and is sometimes moored close to the wharf;—or, when another vessel wishes to take its place, midway in the dock. It has been there many years. The storekeeper lives and sleeps on board.
Schooners more than any other vessels seem to have such names as Betsey, Emma-Jane, Sarah, Alice,—being the namesakes of the owner's wife, daughter, or sweet-heart. They are a sort of domestic concern, in which all the family take an interest. Not a cold, stately, unpersonified thing, like a merchant's tall ship, perhaps one of half a dozen, in which he takes pride, but which he does not love, nor has a family feeling for. Now Betsey, or Sarah-Ann, seems like one of the family—something like a cow.
Long flat-boats, taking in salt to carry it up the Merrimack canal, to Concord, in New Hampshire. Contrast and similarities between a stout, likely country fellow, aboard one of these, to whom the scenes of a sea-port are entirely new, but who is brisk, ready, and shrewd in his own way, and the mate of a ship, who has sailed to every port. They talk together, and take to each other.
The brig Tiberius, from an English port, with seventy or thereabouts factory girls, imported to work in our factories. Some pale and delicate-looking; others rugged and coarse. The scene of landing them in boats, at the wharf-stairs, to the considerable display of their legs;—whence they are carried off to the Worcester railroad in hacks and omnibuses. Their farewells to the men—Good-by, John, etc.,—with wavings of handkerchiefs as long as they were in sight.
A pert, petulant young clerk, continually fooling with the mate, swearing at the stevedores and laboring men, who regard him not. Somewhat dissipated, probably.
The mate of a coal-vessel—a leathern belt round his waist, sustaining a knife in a leathern sheath. Probably he uses it to eat his dinner with; perhaps also as a weapon.
A young sailor, with an anchor handsomely traced on the back of his hand—a foul anchor—and perhaps other naval insignia on his wrists and breast. He wears a sky-blue silk short jacket, with velvet collar—a bosom-pin, etc.
An old seaman, seventy years of age—he has spent seven years in the British Navy (being of English birth) and nine in ours; has voyaged all over the world—for instance, I asked if he had ever been in the Red Sea, and he had, in the American sloop of war that carried General Eaton, in 1803. His hair is brown—without a single visible gray hair in it; and he would seem not much above fifty. He is of particularly quiet demeanor—but observant of all things, and reflective—a philosopher in a check shirt and sail-cloth trousers. Giving an impression of the strictest integrity—of inability not to do his duty, and his whole duty. Seemingly, he does not take a very strong interest in the world, being a widower without children; but he feels kindly towards it, and judges mildly of it; and enjoys it very tolerably well, although he has so slight a hold on it that it would not trouble him much to give it up. He said he hoped he should die at sea, because then it would be so little trouble to bury him. Me is a skeptic,—and when I asked him if he would not wish to live again, he spoke doubtfully and coldly. He said that he had been in England within two or three years—in his native county, Yorkshire—and finding his brother's children in very poor condition, he gave them sixty golden sovereigns. "I have always had too many poor friends," he said, "and that has kept me poor." This old man kept tally of the Alfred Tyler's cargo, on behalf of the Captain, diligently marking all day long, and calling "tally, Sir," to me at every sixth tub. Often would he have to attend to some call of the stevedores, or wheelers, or shovelers—now for a piece of spun-yarn—now for a handspike—now for a hammer, or some nails—now for some of the ship's molasses, to sweeten water—the which the Captain afterwards reprehended him for giving. These calls would keep him in about movement enough to give variety to his tallying—he moving quietly about the decks, as if he belonged aboard ship and nowhere else. Then sitting down he would converse (though by no means forward to talk) about the weather, about his recent or former voyages, etc., etc., etc., we dodging the intense sun round the main mast.
Sophia writes to Hawthorne from Milton:—
Sunday A. M., May 30, 1841.
DEAREST,—The chilling atmosphere keeps me from church to-day. . . . Since I saw you at the Farm, I wish far more than ever to have a home for you to come to, after associating with men at the Farm [Brook Farm] all day. A sacred retreat you should have, of all men. Most people would not desire or like it, but notwithstanding your exquisite courtesy and conformableness and geniality there, I could see very plainly that you were not leading your ideal life. Never upon the face of any mortal was there such a divine expression of sweetness and kindliness as I saw upon yours during the various transactions and witticisms of the excellent fraternity. Yet it was also the expression of a witness and hearer, rather than of comradeship. Had I perceived a particle of even the highest kind of pride in your manner, it would have spoiled the perfect beauty and fitness.
M. L. Sturgis, in a little note, gives a glimpse of Sophia's world at that date:—
"I have seen your 'Gentle Boy' to-night. I like it very much indeed. The boy I love already. Do you see Mr. Hawthorne often? It was a shame he did not talk more that night at the Farm. Just recall that beautiful moon over the water, and those dear trees!"
Ellen Hooper, when the engagement is known, shows how people felt about the new author:—
"Your note seems to require a mood quite apart from the 'every day' of one's life, wherein to be read and answered. . . . I do not know Mr. Hawthorne—and yet I do; and I love him with that eminently Platonic love which one has for a friend in black and white [print]. He seems very near to me, for he is not only a dreamer, but wakes now and then with a pleasant 'Good-morrow' for shabby human interests. I am glad to hear that he is healthful, for I profoundly admire this quality; and particularly in one who is not entitled to it on the ground of being stupid!"
Sophia's aptness for writing poetry led her to inclose this poem to her future husband in one of her letters:—
God granteth not to man a richer boon Than tow'rd himself to draw the waiting soul, Making it swift to pray this high control. Would with according grace its jars attune. And man on man the largest gift bestows When from the vision-mount he sings aloud, And pours upon the unascended crowd Pure Order's heavenly stream that o'er him flows. So thou, my friend, hast risen through thought supreme To central insight of eternal law. Thy golden-cadenced intuitions gleam From that new heaven which John of Patmos saw; And I my spirit lowly bend to thine, In recognition of thy words divine.
From Salem she writes to Elizabeth, her summer jaunt being over:—
"I have not touched a pencil since I came home. I cannot be grateful enough that I can be hands and feet to the dearest mother in the world, who has all my life been all things to me, so delicate as I have been. There is pastime, pleasure, and a touch of the infinitely beautiful to me in what is generally considered drudgery; and I find there is nothing so inconsiderable in life that the moving of the spirit of love over it does not commute it into essential beauty."
THE EARLY DAYS OF THE MARRIAGE
Just before her marriage, on July 9, 1842, and her residence in the Old Manse, Sophia wrote to Mrs. Caleb Foote, of Salem:—
MY DEAR MARY,—You mistake much when you say you will not hear from me after I have gone to my own home. I shall tell those who are dear to me that I love them still. I feel to-day like a rising Phoenix.
Mr. Hawthorne has been here, looking like the angel of the Apocalypse, so powerful and gentle. It seems as if I were realizing the dreams of the poets in my own person. Just think of the felicity of showing him my inscriptions with pencil and sculpturing-tool—and he so just and severe a critic! He is far the best critic I ever had. The agent of Heaven in this Concord plan was Elizabeth Hoar; a fit minister on such an errand, for minister means angel of God. Her interest has been very great in every detail. . . . Yours affectionately,
The following note is descriptive of the real happiness in the marriage, which was felt and often uttered by friends:—
DEAR SOPHIA,—I am not much used to expressing to others what I feel about them, but I will give way to the feeling which prompts me to tell you how much I think about you now. An event like your marriage with Mr. Hawthorne is, like the presence of a few persons in this world, precious to me as an assurance of the good we all long for. I do not know your husband personally, but I care for him so much that I could well do the thought of him a passing reverence, like the young man who, I was told, uncovered his head as he passed Mr. Hawthorne's house. Perhaps you are too much absorbed to recognize now, even in thought, the greeting of a friend; perhaps we shall meet very little hereafter, as indeed we have hardly been intimate heretofore; but I shall remember you with interest. Affectionately yours,
E. S. HOOPER.
Mrs. Hawthorne's letters and journals while at the Old Manse now portray a beautiful existence:—
CONCORD, December 18, 1842.
MY DEAR MARY [Mrs. Caleb Foote, of Salem],—I hoped I should see you again, before I came home to our Paradise. I intended to give you a concise history of my elysian life. Soon after we returned, my dear lord began to write in earnest; and then commenced my leisure, because, till we meet at dinner, I do not see him. I have had to sew, as I did not touch a needle all summer, and far into the autumn, Mr. Hawthorne not letting me have a needle or a pen in my hand. We were interrupted by no one, except a short call now and then from Elizabeth Hoar, who can hardly be called an earthly inhabitant; and Mr. Emerson, whose face pictured the promised land (which we were then enjoying), and intruded no more than a sunset, or a rich warble from a bird.
One evening, two days after our arrival at the Old Manse, George Hillard and Henry Cleveland appeared for fifteen minutes, on their way to Niagara Falls, and were thrown into raptures by the embowering flowers and the dear old house they adorned, and the pictures of Holy Mothers mild on the walls, and Mr. Hawthorne's Study, and the noble avenue. We forgave them for their appearance here, because they were gone as soon as they had come, and we felt very hospitable. We wandered down to our sweet, sleepy river, and it was so silent all around us and so solitary, that we seemed the only persons living. We sat beneath our stately trees, and felt as if we were the rightful inheritors of the old abbey, which had descended to us from a long line. The treetops waved a majestic welcome, and rustled their thousand leaves like brooks over our heads. But the bloom and fragrance of nature had become secondary to us, though we were lovers of it. In my husband's face and eyes I saw a fairer world, of which the other was a faint copy. I fast ceased to represent Lilias Fay, under the influence of happiness, peace, and rest. We explored the woods. Sarah the maid was very tasty, and we had beautiful order; and when we ran races down the avenue, or I danced before my husband to the measures of the great music-box, she declared it did her heart good to see us as joyful as two children.
December 30. Sweet, dear Mary, nearly a fortnight has passed since I wrote the above. I really believe I will finish my letter to-day, though I do not promise. That magician upstairs is very potent! In the afternoon and evening I sit in the Study with him. It is the pleasantest niche in our temple. We watch the sun, together, descending in purple and gold, in every variety of magnificence, over the river. Lately, we go on the river, which is now frozen; my lord to skate, and I to run and slide, during the dolphin-death of day. I consider my husband a rare sight, gliding over the icy stream. For, wrapped in his cloak, he looks very graceful; perpetually darting from me in long, sweeping curves, and returning again—again to shoot away. Our meadow at the bottom of the orchard is like a small frozen sea, now; and that is the present scene of our heroic games. Sometimes, in the splendor of the dying light, we seem sporting upon transparent gold, so prismatic becomes the ice; and the snow takes opaline hues, from the gems that float above as clouds. It is eminently the hour to see objects, just after the sun has disappeared. Oh, such oxygen as we inhale! Often other skaters appear,—young men and boys,—who principally interest me as foils to my husband, who, in the presence of nature, loses all shyness, and moves regally like a king. One afternoon, Mr. Emerson and Mr. Thoreau went with him down the river. Henry Thoreau is an experienced skater, and was figuring dithyrambic dances and Bacchic leaps on the ice—very remarkable, but very ugly, methought. Next him followed Mr. Hawthorne who, wrapped in his cloak, moved like a self-impelled Greek statue, stately and grave. Mr. Emerson closed the line, evidently too weary to hold himself erect, pitching headforemost, half lying on the air. He came in to rest himself, and said to me that Hawthorne was a tiger, a bear, a lion,—in short, a satyr, and there was no tiring him out; and he might be the death of a man like himself. And then, turning upon me that kindling smile for which he is so memorable, he added, "Mr. Hawthorne is such an Ajax, who can cope with him!"
After the first snowstorm, before it was so deep, we walked in the woods, very beautiful in winter, and found slides in Sleepy Hollow, where we became children, and enjoyed ourselves as of old,—only more, a great deal. Sometimes it is before breakfast that Mr. Hawthorne goes to skate upon the meadow. Yesterday, before he went out, he said it was very cloudy and gloomy, and he thought it would storm. In half an hour, oh, wonder! what a scene! Instead of black sky, the rising sun, not yet above the hill, had changed the firmament into a vast rose! On every side, east, west, north, and south,—every point blushed roses. I ran to the Study, and the meadow sea also was a rose, the reflection of that above. And there was my husband, careering about, glorified by the light. Such is Paradise.
In the evening we are gathered together beneath our luminous star, in the Study, for we have a large hanging astral lamp, which beautifully illumines the room, with its walls of pale yellow paper, its Holy Mother over the fireplace, and pleasant books, and its pretty bronze vase, on one of the secretaries, filled with ferns. Except once Mr. Emerson, no one hunts us out in the evening. Then Mr. Hawthorne reads to me. At present we can only get along with the old English writers, and we find that they are the hive from which all modern honey is stolen. They are thick-set with thought, instead of one thought serving for a whole book. Shakespeare is preeminent; Spenser is music. We dare to dislike Milton when he goes to heaven. We do not recognize God in his picture of Him. There is something so penetrating and clear in Mr. Hawthorne's intellect, that now I am acquainted with it, merely thinking of him as I read winnows the chaff from the wheat at once. And when he reads to me, it is the acutest criticism. Such a voice, too,—such sweet thunder! Whatever is not worth much shows sadly, coming through such a medium, fit only for noblest ideas. From reading his books you can have some idea of what it is to dwell with Mr. Hawthorne. But only a shadow of him is found in his books. The half is not told there. Your true friend,
SOPHIA A. HAWTHORNE.
P. S. Mr. Hawthorne sends his love to your husband.
CONCORD, April 6, 1843.
MY DEAREST MARY,—I received your letter of April 2 late last evening. It is one, I am sure, which might call a response out of a heart of adamant; and mine, being of a tenderer substance, it answers with all its chords. Dear, sweet, tender, loving Mary, you are more like Herder's Swan than anything else I can think of. The spirits of your translated babes bring you airs from heaven. What a lovely trinity of souls; what a fair star they form, according to Swedenborg's beautiful idea. I doubt not there is a path of descent, like that of Jacob's ladder, from their Father's bosom to your heart, and they ascend and descend, like those angels of his dream.
Dear Mary, just imagine my husband in reality, as faintly shadowed in his productions. Fresh as a young fountain, with childlike, transparent emotions; vivid as the flash of a sword in the sun with sharp wit and penetration; of such an unworn, unworldly observance of all that is enacted and thought under the sun; as free from prejudice and party or sectarian bias as the birds, and therefore wise with a large wisdom that is as impartial as God's winds and sunbeams. His frolic is like the sport of Milton's "unarmed youth of heaven." But I will not pretend to describe his intellect; and I have by no means yet searched it out. I repose in it as upon some elemental force, which always seems just created, though we cannot tell when it began to be. Of his beautiful, genial, tender, and great nature I can still less adequately discourse. His magnanimity, strength, and sweetness alternately, and together, charm me. He fascinates, wins, and commands.