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The Life and Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Frank Preston Stearns

Part 4 out of 6

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original of his heroine? If the latter supposition be true, he
certainly was not very successful, for in either case it is evident
that Margaret Fuller was prominent in his thoughts at the time he wrote
those two chapters.

Hawthorne's idea of her, however, should not be accepted as a finality.
What Emerson and other friends have said concerning her should also be
considered in order to obtain a just impression of a woman who combined
more varied qualities than perhaps any other person of that time.
Hawthorne says of Zenobia, that she was naturally a stump oratoress,--
rather an awkward expression for him--and that "her mind was full of
weeds." Margaret Fuller was a natural orator, and her mind was full of
many subjects in which Hawthorne could take little interest. She was a
revolutionary character, a sort of female Garibaldi, who attacked old
Puritan traditions with a two-edged sword; she won victories for
liberalism, but left confusion behind her. Like all such characters,
she made friends and enemies wherever she went. She sometimes gave
offence by hasty impulsive utterances, but more frequently by keenly
penetrating arguments for the various causes which she espoused. Only a
woman could deliver such telling shots.

Lowell, who was fond of an argument himself, did not like her better
than Hawthorne did. There may be some truth in what he says in "The
Fable for Critics," that the expression of her face seemed to suggest a
life-long familiarity with the "infinite soul"; but Margaret Fuller was
sound at heart, and when she talked on those subjects which interested
her, no one could be more self-forgetful or thoroughly in earnest. At
times, she seemed like an inspired prophetess, and if she had lived two
thousand years earlier, she might have been remembered as a sibyl.
[Footnote: See Appendix B.]

"The Blithedale Romance" is written with a freer pen and less carefully
than "The House of the Seven Gables," and is so much the better; for
the author's state of mind in which he is writing will always affect
the reader more or less, and if the former feels under a slight
constraint the latter will also. A writer cannot be too exact in
ascertaining the truth,--Macaulay to the contrary,--but he can trouble
himself too much as to the expression of it. At the same time, "The
Blithedale Romance" is the least poetic of Hawthorne's more serious
works (which is the same as saying that it is more like a novel), for
the reason that Hawthorne in this instance was closer to his subject.
It is also more of a personal reminiscence, and less an effort of the
imagination. He has included in it a number of descriptive passages
taken from his Brook Farm diary; most notably the account of that
sylvan masquerade, in which Coverdale finds his former associates
engaged on his return to Blithedale in the autumn. Perhaps this is the
reason why the book has so pleasant a flavor--a mellow after-thought of
old associations.

An air of mystery adds an enchantment to a work of art, whether in
poetry, painting, or sculpture,--perhaps also in music; but there is a
difference in kind between mystery and uncertainty. We do not like to
be left half in the dark, in regard to things which we think we ought
to know. There is a break in Hawthorne's chain of evidence against
Hollingsworth and Zenobia, which might possibly have been filled to
advantage. He would certainly have been non-suited, if his case had
been carried into court. We are permitted to suppose that Zenobia, in
order to clear her path of a successful rival, assists the mountebank,
Westervelt, to entrap Priscilla, over whom he possesses a kind hypnotic
power, and to carry her off for the benefit of his mountebank
exhibitions; but it remains a supposition and nothing more. We cannot
but feel rejoiced, when Hollingsworth steps onto the platform and
releases Priscilla from the psychological net-work in which she is
involved, and from which she has not sufficient will-power to free
herself. He certainly deserves her hand and fortune; but, as to his
condemnatory charges against Zenobia, which led directly to her
suicide,--what could they have been? Was there nothing more than the
trick she had attempted upon Priscilla? And if he accused her of that
only, why should he suffer perpetual remorse on account of her death?
Surely there was need of further explanation here, for the catastrophe
and its consequences are out of all proportion to the apparent cause.

His account of the recovery of Zenobia's body is a close transcript of
the search for that unfortunate school-mistress, who drowned herself in
Concord River; and it is possible that, if Hawthorne had not been
present on that occasion, the plot might have terminated in some other
manner.

The story closes without a ray of hope for Hollingsworth; but the
reader can perceive one in the generous devotion of his single-minded
wife, even if Hawthorne did not.

CHAPTER XII

THE LIVERPOOL CONSULATE: 1852-1854

Why Hawthorne returned to Concord in 1852 is more of a mystery than the
suicide of Zenobia. Horace Mann also left Newton, to be President of
Antioch College (and to die there in the cause of feminine education),
in the autumn of that year; but this could hardly have been expected
six months earlier. Hawthorne was not very favorably situated at
Newton, being rather too near the railroad; but there was plenty of
land on the top of the hill, where he might have built himself a house,
and in the course of twelve years his property would have quadrupled in
value. A poet will not be less of a poet, but more so, for
understanding the practical affairs of life. Or he might have removed
to Cambridge, where Longfellow, always foremost in kind offices, would
have been like a guardian angel to him, and where he could have made
friends like Felton and Agassiz, who would have been much more in
harmony with his political views. Ellery Channing was the only friend
he appears to have retained in Concord, and it was not altogether a
favorable place to bring up his children; but the natural topography of
Concord is unusually attractive, and it may be suspected that he was
drawn thither more from the love of its pine solitudes and shimmering
waters, than from any other motive.

The house he purchased was nearly a mile from the centre of the town,
and has ever since been known by the name of the Wayside. After
Hawthorne's return from Europe in 1860, he remodelled it somewhat, so
that it has a more dignified aspect than when he first took possession
of it. Alcott, who occupied it for some years previously, had adorned
it with that species of rustic architecture in which he was so skilful.
The house was half surrounded by a group of locust trees, much in
fashion seventy years ago, and had been set so close against the hill-
side, that a thicket of stunted pines and other wild growth rose above
the roof like a crest. Bronson Alcott was his next-door neighbor,--
almost too strong a contrast to him,--and Emerson's house was half a
mile away; so that these three families formed a group by themselves in
that portion of Concord.

Hawthorne wrote a letter to his sister Elizabeth, describing his new
acquisition, and expressing satisfaction in it. It was the first house
that he had ever owned; and it is no small comfort to a man to live
under his own roof, even though it be a humble one. At this time,
however, he did not remain at the Wayside but a single year. After
that, the house stood empty until the untimely death of Horace Mann,
August 2, 1859, when Mrs. Mann came to Concord with her three boys, and
occupied it until Hawthorne's return from Europe.

[Illustration: THE WAYSIDE]

It may as well be noticed here, that, during the eight years which
Hawthorne spent altogether in Concord, he accomplished little literary
work, and none of any real importance. It is impossible to account for
this, except upon those psychological conditions which sometimes affect
delicately balanced minds. Whether the trouble was in the social
atmosphere of the place, or in its climatic conditions, perhaps
Hawthorne himself could not have decided; but there must have been a
reason for it of some description. Julian Hawthorne states that his
father had a plan at this time of writing another romance, of a more
cheerful tone than "The Blithedale Romance," but the full current of
his poetic activity was suddenly brought to a standstill by an event
that nobody would have dreamed of.

Hawthorne had hardly established himself in his new abode, when
Franklin Pierce was nominated for the presidency by the Democratic
party. The whole country was astonished, for no such nomination had
ever been made before, and it is probable that Pierce himself shared
largely in this. The New Hampshire delegation had presented his name to
the convention, in order to procure him distinction in his own State,
but without expectation that he would become a serious candidate. Like
the nomination of Hayes in 1876, it resulted from the jealousy of the
great party leaders,--always an unfortunate position for a public man
to be placed in. Theodore Parker said, "Any one is now in danger of
becoming President."

Hawthorne evidently felt this, for he wrote to Bridge, "I do not
consider Pierce the brightest man in the country, for there are twenty
more so." It would have been a mild statement if he had said two
hundred. Pierce wanted him, of course, to write a campaign biography,
and communicated with him to that effect; but Hawthorne disliked
meddling in such matters, and at first declined to do it, although it
was expected to be highly remunerative. Pierce, however, insisted, for
Hawthorne's reputation was now much beyond his own, and he felt that a
biography by so distinguished a writer would confer upon him great
dignity in the eyes of the world; and as Hawthorne felt already much
indebted to Pierce, he finally consented,--although a cheap spread-
eagle affair would have served the purpose of his party quite as well.
The book had to be written in haste, and just at the time when
Hawthorne wished to take a little leisure. There were so few salient
points in Pierce's life, that it was almost like making a biography out
of nothing, and as for describing him as a hero, that was quite
impossible. It was fortunate that he knew so much of Pierce's early
life, and also that Pierce had kept a diary during the Mexican War,
which formed a considerable portion of the biography.

The book is worth reading, although written in this prosaic manner.
Hawthorne states in the preface, frankly and manfully, that he objected
to writing it, and this ought to be an excuse sufficient for his doing
so--if excuse be needed. He does not attempt to represent his friend as
a great statesman, but rather as a patriotic country gentleman, who is
interested in public affairs, and who rises from one honorable position
to another through a well-deserved popularity. This would seem to have
been the truth; and yet there was a decided inconsistency in Franklin
Pierce's life, which Hawthorne represents plainly enough, although he
makes no comment thereon.

Franklin Pierce's father was captain of a militia company in 1798, when
war was declared against the French Directory, for seizing and
confiscating American merchant ships, contrary to the law of nations.
There could not have been a more just occasion for war, but Captain
Pierce resigned his commission, because he considered it wrong to fight
against a republic; and Hawthorne approves of him for this. Franklin
Pierce, however, resigned his seat in the Senate in 1842, on account of
the interests of his family, alleging that "he would never enter public
life again, unless the needs of his country imperatively demanded it,"
yet four years later he organized a regiment for the invasion of
Mexico,--not only for making war upon a republic, but an unjust and
indefensible war. General Grant's opinion ought to be conclusive on
this latter point, for he belonged to the same political party as
Pierce and Hawthorne. Certainly, Pierce's services were not required
for the defence of his native land.

To do Hawthorne justice, there can be no doubt that in his heart he
disapproved of this; for in one of his sketches written at the Old
Manse, he speaks censoriously of "those adventurous spirits who leave
their homes to emigrate to Texas." He evidently foresaw that trouble
would arise in that direction, and perhaps Ellery Channing assisted him
in penetrating the true inwardness of the movement.

It will be remembered that in Franklin Pierce's youth, he was
exceptionally interested in military manuvres, and this may have been
one of the inducements which led him into the Mexican War; but young
men who are fond of holiday epaulets do not, for obvious reasons, make
the best fighters. Pierce's military career was not a distinguished
one; for, whether he was thrown from his horse in his first engagement,
or, as the Whigs alleged, fell from it as soon as he came under fire,
it is certain that he did not cover himself with glory, as the phrase
was at that time. But we can believe Hawthorne, when he tells us that
Pierce took good charge of the troops under his command, and that he
was kind and considerate to sick and wounded soldiers. That was in
accordance with his natural character.

It was impossible at that time to avoid the slavery question in dealing
with political subjects, and what Hawthorne said on this point, in the
life of General Pierce, attracted more attention than the book itself.
Like Webster he considered slavery an evil, but he believed it to be
one of those evils which the human race outgrows, by progress in
civilization,--like the human sacrifices of the Gauls perhaps,--and he
greatly deprecated the anti-slavery agitation, which only served to
inflame men's minds and make them unreasonable.

There were many sensible persons in the Northern States at that time,
like Hawthorne and Hillard, who sincerely believed in this doctrine,
but they do not seem to have been aware that there was a pro-slavery
agitation at the South which antedated Garrison's _Liberator_ and
which was much more aggressive and vehement than the anti-slavery
movement, because there were large pecuniary interests connected with
it. The desperate grasping of the slave-holders for new territory,
first in the Northwest and then in the Southwest, was not because they
were in any need of land, but because new slave States increased their
political power. Horatio Bridge says, relatively to this subject:

"No Northern man had better means for knowing the dangers impending,
previous to the outbreak of the war, than had General Pierce.
Intimately associated--as he was--with the strong men of the South, in
his Cabinet and in Congress, he saw that the Southerners were
determined, at all hazards, to defend their peculiar institution of
slavery, which was imperilled by the abolitionists."

If Franklin Pierce was desirous of preserving the Union, why did he
give Jefferson Davis a place in his Cabinet, and take him for his chief
adviser? Davis was already a pronounced secessionist, and had been
defeated in his own State on that issue. In subserviency to Southern
interests, no other Northern man ever went so far as Franklin Pierce,
nor did Garrison himself accomplish so much toward the dissolution of
the Union. He was an instance in real life of Goldsmith's "good-natured
man," and the same qualities which assisted him to the position of
President prevented his administration from being a success. Presidents
ought to be made of firmer and sterner material.

Hawthorne had barely finished with the proofs of this volume, when he
received the saddest, most harrowing news that ever came to him. After
her mother's death, in 1849, Louisa Hawthorne had gone to live with her
aunt, Mrs. John Dike; and in July, 1852, Mr. Dike went with her on an
excursion to Saratoga and New York City. On the morning of July 27,
they left Albany on the steamboat "Henry Clay," which, as is well
known, never reached its destination. When nearing Yonkers, a fire
broke out near the engines, where the wood-work was saturated with oil,
and instantly the centre of the vessel was in a bright blaze. Mr. Dike
happened to be on the forward deck at the moment, but Louisa Hawthorne
was in the ladies' cabin, and it was impossible to reach her. The
captain of the Henry Clay immediately ran the vessel on shore, so that
Mr. Dike and those who were with him escaped to land, but Louisa and
more than seventy others, who threw themselves into the water, were
drowned. It would seem to have been impossible to save her.

The death of Hawthorne's mother may be said to have come in the course
of Nature, and his mind was prepared for it; but Louisa had been the
playmate of his childhood, and her death seemed as unnecessary as it
was sharp and sudden. It happened almost on the third anniversary of
his mother's death, and these were the only two occasions in
Hawthorne's life, when the Dark Angel hovered about his door.

Rebecca Manning says: "Louisa Hawthorne was a most delightful, lovable,
interesting woman--not at all 'commonplace,' as has been stated. Her
death was a great sorrow to all her friends. Her name was Maria Louisa,
and she was often called Maria by her mother and sister and aunts."

Depressed and unnerved, in the most trying season of the year,
Hawthorne went in the latter part of August to visit Franklin Pierce at
Concord, New Hampshire; but there a severe torrid wave came on, so that
Pierce advised him to go at once to the Isles of Shoals, promising to
follow in a few days, if his numerous engagements would permit him.

The Isles of Shoals have the finest summer climate on the Atlantic
Ocean; an atmosphere at once quieting and strengthening, and always at
its best when it is hottest on the main-land. Hawthorne found a pair of
friends ready-made there, and prepared to receive him,--Levi Thaxter,
afterwards widely known as the apostle of Browning in America, and his
wife, Celia, a poetess in the bud, only sixteen, but very bright,
original, and pleasant. They admired Hawthorne above all living men,
and his sudden advent on their barren island seemed, as Thaxter
afterward expressed it, like a supernatural presence. They became good
companions in the next two weeks; climbing the rocks, rowing from one
island to another,--bald pieces of rock, like the summits of mountains
rising above the surface of the sea,--visiting the light-house, the
monument to Captain John Smith, Betty Moody's Cave, the graves of the
Spanish sailors, the trap dikes of ancient lava, and much else. Every
day Hawthorne wrote a minute account in his diary of his various
proceedings there, including the observation of a live shark, which
came into the cove by the hotel, a rare spectacle on that coast.
General Pierce did not make his appearance, however, and on September
15, Hawthorne returned to his own home.

The election of Pierce to the presidency was as remarkable as his
nomination. In 1848, General Taylor, the victor of a single battle, but
a man of little education, was nominated for the presidency over the
heads of the finest orators and ablest statesmen in America, and was
enthusiastically elected. General Scott, Franklin Pierce's opponent,
defeated the Mexicans in four decisive battles, captured the capital of
the country, and conducted one of the most skilful military expeditions
of the past century. He was a man of rare administrative ability, and
there is no substantial argument against his character. We have Grant's
testimony that it was pleasant to serve under him. Yet he was
overwhelmingly defeated at the polls by a militia general without
distinction, military or civil.

Hawthorne was naturally delighted at the result of the election;
unfortunate as it afterwards proved for his country. He derived a
threefold satisfaction from it, in the success of his friend, in the
defeat of the Whigs, and in the happy prospects which it opened for
himself. He could now return to the Salem Custom House in triumph,--as
the wisest man might be tempted to do,--but he looked forward to
something that would be more advantageous to his family. He had already
written on October 18 to Horatio Bridge:

"Before undertaking it [the biography] I made an inward resolution,
that I should accept no office from him; but, to say the truth, I doubt
whether it would not be rather folly than heroism to adhere to this
purpose, in case he should offer me anything particularly good. We
shall see. A foreign mission I could not afford to take. The consulship
at Liverpool, I might." [Footnote: Bridge 130]

We may conclude from this, that Pierce had already intimated the
Liverpool consulate, which at that time was supposed to be worth
twenty-five thousand dollars a year in fees. It was an excellent plan
for the President of the United States to have such a gift at his
disposal, to reward some individual like Hawthorne, to whom the whole
nation was indebted to an extent that could never be repaid; but it is
a question whether it would not have been as well, in this particular
case, for Hawthorne to have remained in his own country. If he could
have written five or six romances more, this would have secured him a
good competency, and would have assured a sufficient income for his
family after his death. As it happened, the Liverpool consulate did not
prove so profitable as was anticipated.

With such "great expectations" before him, Hawthorne could do no
serious work that winter, so he occupied himself leisurely enough, with
writing a sequel to his "Wonder Book," which he called "Tanglewood
Tales," apparently after the thicket which surmounted the hill above
his residence. This was finished early in March, and given to Ticknor &
Company to publish when they saw fit. As it is a book intended for
children, the consideration of it need not detain us.

Early in April, 1853, Hawthorne was appointed and confirmed to the
Liverpool consulate, and on the 14th he went to Washington, as he tells
us, for the first time, to thank the President in person. Otherwise he
has divulged nothing concerning this journey, except that he was
introduced to a larger number of persons than he could remember the
names or faces of, and received ten times as many invitations as he
could accept. If Charles V. honored himself with posterity by picking
up the paint-brush which Titian had dropped on the floor, President
Pierce might have done himself equal credit by making Hawthorne his
guest at the White House; but if he did not go so far as this, it
cannot be doubted that he treated Hawthorne handsomely. There were
giants at Washington in those days. Webster and Clay were gone, but
Seward was the Charles Fox and Sumner the Edmund Burke of America;
Chase and Marcy were not much less in intellectual stature. Hawthorne
must have met them, but we hear nothing of them from him.

Hawthorne delayed his departure for England, until the most favorable
season arrived, for his fragile wife and infant children to cross the
"rolling forties." At length, on July 6, two days after his forty-ninth
birthday, he sailed from Boston in the "Niagara," and with _placida
onda prospero il vento_, in about twelve days they all arrived
safely at their destination.

The great stone docks of Liverpool, extending along its whole water-
front, give one a strong impression of the power and solidity of
England. Otherwise the city is almost devoid of interest, and
travellers customarily pass through it, to take the next train for
Oxford or London, without further observation, unless it be to give a
look at the conventional statue of Prince Albert on an Arab horse.
Liverpool is not so foggy a place as London, but it has a damper and
less pleasant climate, without those varied attractions and substantial
enjoyments which make London one of the most pleasant residences and
most interesting of cities.

London fog is composed of soft-coal smoke, which, ascending from
innumerable chimneys, is filtered in the upper skies, and then, mixed
with vapor, is cast back upon the city by every change of wind. It is
not unpleasant to the taste, and seems to be rather healthful than
otherwise; but all the vapors which sail down the Gulf Stream, and
which are not condensed on the Irish coast in the form of rain, collect
about the mouth of the Mersey, so that the adjacent country is the best
watered portion of all England, Cornwall possibly excepted. There is
plenty of wealth in Liverpool, and all kinds of private entertainments,
but in no other city of its size are there so few public
entertainments, and the only interesting occupation that a stranger
might find there, would be to watch the strange and curious characters
in the lower classes, faces and figures that cannot be caricatured,
emerging from cellar-ways or disappearing through side-doors. Go into
an alehouse in the evening and, beside the pretty barmaid, who deserves
consideration as much for her good behavior as for her looks, you will
see plainly enough where Dickens obtained his _dramatis personae_
for "Barnaby Rudge" and "The Old Curiosity Shop." Either in Liverpool
or in London you can see more grotesque comedy characters in a day,
than you could meet with in a year in America. These poor creatures are
pressed down, and squeezed out into what they are, under the
superincumbent weight of an enormous leisure class.

Such was the environment in which Hawthorne was obliged to spend the
ensuing four years. He soon, however, discovered a means to escape from
the monotonous and labyrinthine streets of the city, by renting an
imitation castle at Rock Ferry,--a very pretty place, much like Dobbs
Ferry, on the Hudson, although the river is not so fine,--where his
wife and children enjoyed fresh air, green grass, and all the sunshine
attainable, and whence he could reach the consulate every morning by
the Mersey boat. We find them located there before September 1.

Of the consulate itself, Hawthorne has given a minute pictorial
description in "Our Old Home," from which the following extract is
especially pertinent to our present inquiry:

"The Consulate of the United States in my day, was located in
Washington Buildings (a shabby and smoke-stained edifice of four
stories high, thus illustriously named in honor of our national
establishment), at the lower corner of Brunswick Street, contiguous to
the Goree Arcade, and in the neighborhood of some of the oldest docks.
This was by no means a polite or elegant portion of England's great
commercial city, nor were the apartments of the American official so
splendid as to indicate the assumption of much consular pomp on his
part. A narrow and ill-lighted staircase gave access to an equally
narrow and ill-lighted passage-way on the first floor, at the extremity
of which, surmounting a door frame, appeared an exceedingly stiff
pictorial representation of the Goose and Gridiron, according to the
English idea of those ever-to-be-honored symbols. The staircase and
passage-way were often thronged of a morning, with a set of beggarly
and piratical-looking scoundrels (I do no wrong to our countrymen in
styling them so, for not one in twenty was a genuine American),
purporting to belong to our mercantile marine, and chiefly composed of
Liverpool Blackballers, and the scum of every maritime nation on earth;
such being the seamen by whose assistance we then disputed the
navigation of the world with England. These specimens of a most
unfortunate class of people were shipwrecked crews in quest of bed,
board, and clothing, invalids asking permits for the hospital, bruised
and bloody wretches complaining of ill-treatment by their officers,
drunkards, desperadoes, vagabonds, and cheats, perplexingly
intermingled with an uncertain proportion of reasonably honest men. All
of them (save here and there a poor devil of a kidnapped landsman in
his shore-going rags) wore red flannel shirts, in which they had
sweltered or shivered throughout the voyage, and all required consular
assistance in one form or another."

The position of an American consul in a large foreign seaport,
especially at Liverpool, is anything but a sinecure, and in fact
requires a continual exercise of judgment much beyond the average
duties of a foreign minister. The difficulty also of being continually
obliged to distinguish between true and false applications for charity,
especially when the false are greatly in excess of the true, and among
a class of persons notably given to mendacious tricks, is one of the
most unpleasant conditions in which a tender-hearted man can find
himself. As curious studies in low life, the rascality of these
nautical mendicants may often have been interesting, and even amusing,
to Hawthorne, but as a steady pull they must have worn hard on his
nerves, even though his experienced clerk served as a breakwater to a
considerable portion. It has already been noticed that Hawthorne was a
conscientious office-holder, and he never trusted to others any duties
which he was able to attend to in person. Moreover, although he was a
man of reserved manners, there was an exceptionally tender, sympathetic
heart behind this impenetrable exterior, and it may be suspected that
he relieved many instances of actual distress, which could not be
brought within the government regulations. He may have suffered like
the ghost in Dickens's "Haunted Man," on account of those whom he could
not assist. It is certain that he aged more, in appearance at least,
during these four years, than at any similar period of his life.

It is no wonder, therefore, that, after a visit to the English lakes,
the following summer, Hawthorne wrote to his friend, Henry Bright, from
Liverpool:

"I have come back only for a day or two to this black and miserable
hole. I do not mean to apply these two adjectives to my consulate, but
to the whole of Liverpool."

Yet it should be recollected that there were nearly a million of
persons in Liverpool, who were obliged to spend their lives there, for
good and evil fortune; and, as Emerson says, we can never think too
lightly of our own difficulties.

Neither did Hawthorne find the news from America particularly
interesting. On March 30, 1854, he wrote to Bridge:

"I like my office well enough, but my 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."

[Footnote: J. Hawthorne, ii. 65.]

The last sentence in this ought to be printed in italics, for it is the
essence of patriotism. The "fuss and tumult" in America were due, for
the time being, to the apple of discord which Douglas had cast into the
Senate, by his Kansas-Nebraska bill. Hawthorne was too far away to
distinguish the full force and insidious character of that measure, but
if he had been in Concord, we believe he would have recognized (as so
many did who never had before) the imminent danger to the Union, from
the repeated concessions to the slave power. After he had become
disenthralled from his allegiance to party, we find him in his letters
to Bridge, taking broad views on political subjects.

An event was soon to happen, well calculated to disenthrall him. The
Congress of 1854, after passing the Kansas-Nebraska bill, resolved, in
order to prove its democratic spirit, to economize in the
representation of our government to foreign powers. On April 14, the
good-hearted, theoretical O'Sullivan arrived in Liverpool, on his way
to be minister to Portugal, and warned Hawthorne that there was a bill
before Congress to reduce the consulate there to a salaried position.
This was a terrible damper on Hawthorne's great expectations, and on
April 17 he wrote again to Bridge, protesting against the change:
[Footnote: Bridge, 135, 136.]

"I trust, in Heaven's mercy, that no change will be made as regards the
emoluments of the Liverpool consulate--unless indeed a salary is to be
given in addition to the fees, in which case I should receive it very
thankfully. This, however, is not to be expected; and if Liverpool is
touched at all, it will be to limit its emoluments by a fixed salary--
which will render the office not worth any man's holding. It is
impossible (especially for a man with a family and keeping any kind of
an establishment) not to spend a vast deal of money here. The office,
unfortunately, is regarded as one of great dignity, and puts the holder
on a level with the highest society, and compels him to associate on
equal terms with men who spend more than my whole income on the mere
entertainments and other trimmings and embroidery of their lives. Then
I feel bound to exercise some hospitality towards my own countrymen. I
keep out of society as much as I decently can, and really practice as
stern an economy as I ever did in my life; but, nevertheless, I have
spent many thousands of dollars in the few months of my residence here,
and cannot reasonably hope to spend less than six thousand per annum,
even after all the expenditure of setting up an establishment is
defrayed."

In addition to this, he states that his predecessor in office, John J.
Crittenden, never received above fifteen thousand dollars in fees, of
which he saved less than half.

We can trust this to be the plain truth in regard to the Liverpool
consulate, and if twenty-five thousand a year was ever obtained from
it, there must have been some kind of deviltry in the business.
Congress proved inexorable,--as it might not have been, had Hawthorne
possessed the influence of a prominent politician like Crittenden. It
was a direct affront to the President from his own party, and Pierce
did not dare to veto the bill.

What O'Sullivan said to Hawthorne on other subjects may be readily
inferred from Hawthorne's next letter to Bridge, in which he begs him
to remain in Washington for Pierce's sake, and says:

"I feel a sorrowful sympathy for the poor fellow (for God's sake don't
show him this), and hate to have him left without one true friend, or
one man, who will speak a single honest word to him."

It is not very clear how Horatio Bridge could counteract the influence
of Jefferson Davis and Caleb Cushing, but this shows that Franklin
Pierce's weakness as an administrator was already painfully apparent to
his friends, and that even Hawthorne could no longer disguise it to
himself.

CHAPTER XIII

HAWTHORNE IN ENGLAND: 1854-1858

Hawthorne's life in England was too generally monotonous to afford many
salient points to his biographer. It was monotonous in his official
duties, in his pleasure-trips, and in his social experiences. He found
one good friend in Liverpool, Mr. Henry Bright, to whom he had already
been introduced in America, and he soon made another in Mr. Francis
Bennoch, who lived near the same city. They were both excellent men,
and belonged to that fine class of Englishmen who possess a comfortable
income, but live moderately, and prefer cultivating their minds and the
society of their friends, to clubs, yachting, horse-racing, and other
forms of external show. They were not distinguished, and were too
sensible to desire distinction. Henry Bright may have been the more
highly favored in Hawthorne's esteem, but they both possessed that tact
and delicacy of feeling which is rare among Englishmen, and by
accepting Hawthorne simply as a man like themselves, instead of as a
celebrity, they won that place in his confidence from which so many had
been excluded.

Otherwise, Hawthorne contracted no friendships among distinguished
Englishmen of letters, like that between Emerson and Carlyle; and from
first to last he saw little of them. He had no sooner landed than he
was greeted with a number of epistles from sentimental ladies, or
authors of a single publication, who claimed a spiritual kinship with
him, because of their admiration for his writings. One of them even
addressed him as "My dear brother." These he filed away with a mental
reservation to give the writers as wide a circuit as he possibly could.
He attended a respectable number of dinner parties in both Liverpool
and London, at which he remained for the most part a silent and
unobtrusive guest. He was not favored with an invitation to Holland
House, although he met Lady Holland on one occasion, and has left a
description of her, not more flattering than others that have been
preserved for us. He also met Macaulay and the Brownings at Lord
Houghton's; but for once Macaulay would not talk. Mrs. Browning
evidently pleased Hawthorne very much. [Footnote: J. Hawthorne, ii.
129.]

The great lights of English literature besides these,--Tennyson,
Carlyle, Ruskin, Thackeray, Dickens,--he was never introduced to,
although he saw Tennyson in a picture-gallery at Manchester, and has
left a description of him, such as might endure to the end of time.
Neither did he make the acquaintance of those three luminaries, Froude,
Marian Evans, and Max Muller, who rose above the horizon, previous to
his return to America. That he was not presented at Court was a matter
of course. There was nothing which he could have cared for less.

After his return he published a volume of English sketches, which he
entitled "Our Old Home," but he seems to have felt actually less at
home in England than in any other country that he visited. In that
book, and also in his diary, the even tenor of his discourse is
interrupted here and there by fits of irritability which disclose
themselves in the use of epithets such as one would hardly expect from
the pen of Hawthorne. If we apply to him the well-known proverb with
respect to the Russians, we can imagine that under similar conditions
an inherited sailor-like tendency in him came to the surface. We only
remember one such instance in his American Note-book, that in which he
speaks of Thoreau's having a face "as homely as sin."

[Footnote: The general effect of Thoreau's face was by no means
unpleasant.]

Hawthorne did not carry with him to Europe that narrow provincialism,
which asserts itself in either condemning or ridiculing everything that
differs essentially from American ways and methods. On the contrary,
when he compares the old country with the new,--for instance, the
English scenery with that of New England,--Hawthorne is usually as
fair, discriminating, and dispassionate as any one could wish, and
perhaps more so than some would desire. His judgment cannot be
questioned in preferring the American elm, with its wine-glass shape,
to the rotund European species; but he admires the English lake country
above anything that he has seen like it in his own land. "Centuries of
cultivation have given the English oak a domestic character," while
American trees are still to be classed with the wild flowers which
bloom beneath their outstretched arms.

Matthew Arnold spoke of his commentaries on England as the writing of a
man chagrined; but what could have chagrined Hawthorne there? The
socially ambitious man may become chagrined, if he finds that doors are
closed to him, and so may an unappreciated would-be genius. But
Hawthorne's position as an author was already more firmly established
than Matthew Arnold's ever could be; and as for social ambition, no
writer since Shakespeare has been so free from it. It seems more
probable that the difficulty with Hawthorne in this respect was due to
his old position on the slavery question, which now began to bear
bitter fruit for him. All Englishmen at that time, with the exception
of Carlyle, Froude, and the nobility, were very strongly anti-slavery,
--the more so, as it cost them nothing to have other men's slaves
liberated,--and the English are particularly blunt, not to say
_gauche_, in introducing topics of conversation which are liable
to become a matter of controversy. At the first dinner-party I attended
in London some thirty-odd years ago, I had scarcely tasted the soup,
before a gentleman opposite asked me: "What progress are you making in
the United States toward free trade? Can you tell me, sir?" He might as
well have asked me what progress we were making in the direction of
monarchy. Fortunately for Hawthorne, his good taste prevented him from
introducing the slavery question in his publications, excepting in the
life of Pierce, but for this same reason his English acquaintances in
various places were obliged to discover his opinions at first hand, nor
is it very likely that they were slow to do this. Phillips and Garrison
had been to England and through England, and their dignified speeches
had made an excellent impression. Longfellow, Emerson, Lowell and
Whittier had spoken with no uncertain sound, protesting against what
they considered a great national evil. How did it happen that Hawthorne
was an exception?

Through his kind friend Mr. Bennoch, he fell in with a worthy whom it
would have been just as well to have avoided--the proverbial-philosophy
poet, Martin Farquhar Tupper; not a genuine poet, nor considered as
such by trustworthy critics, but such a good imitation, that he
persuaded himself and a large portion of the British public, including
Queen Victoria, that he was one. Hawthorne has given an account of his
visit to this man, [Footnote: J. Hawthorne, ii. 114.] second only in
value to his description of Tennyson; for it is quite as important for
us to recognize the deficiencies of the one, as it is to know the true
appearance of the other. It is an unsparing study of human nature, but
if a man places himself on a pedestal for all people to gaze at, it is
just this and nothing more that he has to expect. Hawthorne represents
him as a kindly, domestic, affectionate, bustling little man, who kept
on bustling with his hands and tongue, even while he was seated--a man
of no dignity of character or perception of his deficiency of it. This
all does well enough, but when Hawthorne says, "I liked him, and
laughed in my sleeve at him, and was utterly weary of him; for
certainly he is the ass of asses," we feel that he has gone too far,
and suspect that there was some unpleasantness connected with the
occasion, of which we are not informed. The word "ass," as applied to a
human being, is not current in good literature, unless low comedy be
entitled to that position, and coming from Hawthorne, of all writers,
it seems like an oath from the mouth of a woman. Tupper, who was quite
proud of his philanthropy, was also much of an abolitionist, and he may
have trodden on Hawthorne's metaphysical toes half a dozen times,
without being aware of what he was doing. Altogether, it seems like
rather an ill return for Tupper's hospitality; but Hawthorne himself
did not intend it for publication, and on the whole one does not regret
that it has been given to the public. We have been, however,
anticipating the order of events.

During the summer of 1854, the Hawthorne family made a number of
unimportant expeditions, visiting mediaeval abbeys and ruinous
castles,--especially one to Chester and Eton Hall, which was not quite
worth the fees they paid to the janitors. An ancient walled city is
much of a novelty to an American for the first time, but, having seen
one, you have seen them all, and Chester Cathedral does not stand high
in English architecture. On September 14, O'Sullivan appeared again,
and they all went into the Welsh mountains, where they examined the old
fortresses of Rhyl and Conway, which were built by Edward Longshanks to
hold the Welshmen in check. Those relics of the feudal system are very
impressive, not only on account of their solidity and the great human
forces which they represent, but from a peculiar beauty of their own,
which modern fortifications do not possess at all. They seem to belong
to the ground they stand on, and the people who live about them look
upon them as cherished landmarks. They are the monuments of an heroic
age, and Hawthorne's interest in them was characteristic of his nature.

O'Sullivan returned to Lisbon early in October, and on the 5th of that
month, Hawthorne found himself obliged to make a speech at an
entertainment on board a merchant vessel called the "James Barnes,"
which had been built in Boston for a Liverpool firm of ship-owners. He
considered this the most serious portion of his official duty,--the
necessity of making after-dinner speeches at the Mayor's or other
public tables. He writes several pages on the subject in a humorously
complainant tone, congratulating himself that on the present occasion
he has succeeded admirably, for he has really said nothing, and that is
precisely what he intended to do. After-dinner speeches are like soap-
bubbles: they are made of nothing, signify nothing, float for a moment
in the air, attract a momentary attention, and then disappear. But the
difficulty is, to make an apparent something out of nothing, to say
nothing that will offend anybody, and to say something that will be
different from what others say. It is truly a hard situation in which
to place even a very talented man, and, as Longfellow once remarked,
those were most fortunate who made their speeches first, and could then
enjoy their dinner, while their successors were writhing in agony.
However, there are those who like it, and having practised it to
perfection, can do it better than anything else. Hawthorne analyzes his
sensations, after finishing his speech, with rare self-perception.
"After sitting down, I was conscious of an enjoyment in speaking to a
public assembly, and felt as if I should like to rise again. It is
something like being under fire,--a sort of excitement, not exactly
pleasure, but more piquant than most pleasures." Was it President
Jackson, or Senator Benton, who said that fighting a duel was very much
like making one's maiden speech?

Mrs. Hawthorne thus describes the residence of the President of the
Chamber of Commerce at Liverpool: [Footnote: Mrs. Lathrop, 238.] "We
were ushered into the drawing-room, which looked more like a brilliant
apartment in Versailles than what I had expected to see. The panels
were richly gilt, with mirrors in the centre, and hangings of gilded
paper; and the broad windows were hung with golden-colored damask; the
furniture was all of the same hue; with a carpet of superb flowers; and
vases of living flowers standing everywhere; and a chandelier of
diamonds (as to indefatigable and vivid shining), and candlesticks of
the same,--not the long prisms like those on Mary's astral, but a
network of crystals diamond-cut."

This was the coarse commercial taste of the time, previous to the
reforms of Ruskin and Eastlake. The same might be said of Versailles.
There is no true elegance in gilding and glass-work, including mirrors,
unless they be sparingly used.

The Hawthornes were equally overpowered by a dinner-party given by a
millionaire and country squire of Liscard Vale; "two enormous silver
dish-covers, with the gleam of Damascus blades, putting out all the
rest of the light;" and after the fish, these were replaced by two
other enormous dishes of equal brilliancy. The table was shortly
covered with an array of silver dishes, reflecting the lights above in
dazzling splendor. At one end of the table was a roast goose and at the
other a boiled turkey; while "cutlets, fricassees, ragouts, tongue,
chicken-pies," and much else, filled the intermediate spaces, and the
sideboard groaned under a round of beef "like the dome of St. Peter's."
It was fortunate that the American consul came to this Herculean repast
with an excellent appetite.

Henry Bright was their chief refuge from this flummery, as Hawthorne
called it; "an extremely interesting, sincere, earnest, independent,
warm and generous hearted man; not at all dogmatic; full of questions,
and with ready answers. He is highly cultivated, and writes for the
_Westminster_,"--a man who respected formalities and could
preserve decorum in his own household, but liked a simple,
unostentatious mode of living--in brief, he was a true English
gentleman. Mrs. Hawthorne has drawn his portrait with only less skill
than her husband:

"His eyes are large, bright, and prominent, rather indicating great
facility of language, which he has. He is an Oxford scholar, and has
decided literary tastes. He is delicately strung, and is as
transparent-minded and pure-hearted as a child, with great enthusiasm
and earnestness of character; and, though a Liberal, very loyal to his
Queen and very admiring of the aristocracy."

He appears to have been engaged in the Australian carrying trade, and
owned the largest sailing vessel afloat.

Hawthorne went to an exhibition of English landscape paintings, and he
remarked that Turner's seemed too ethereal to have been painted by
mortal hands,--the finest compliment that Turner could have received,
for in delicate effects of light and shade,--in painting the atmosphere
itself,--he has no rival.

In January, James Buchanan, who was then minister to England, came to
visit Hawthorne, and talked with him about the presidency,--for which
he considered himself altogether too old; but at the same time he did
not suggest the renomination of Franklin Pierce. This, of course,
disclosed his own ambition, and as Hawthorne's impartial pen-and-ink
sketch of him may not be recognized by many readers, on account of the
form in which it appears in the note-books, we append it here, with the
regret that Hawthorne could not have treated his friend Pierce in an
equally candid manner.

"I like Mr.--. He cannot exactly be called gentlemanly in his manners,
there being a sort of rusticity about him; moreover, he has a habit of
squinting one eye, and an awkward carriage of his head; but, withal, a
dignity in his large person, and a consciousness of high position and
importance, which give him ease and freedom. Very simple and frank in
his address, he may be as crafty as other diplomatists are said to be;
but I see only good sense and plainness of speech,--appreciative, too,
and genial enough to make himself conversable. He talked very freely of
himself and of other public people, and of American and English
affairs. He returns to America, he says, next October, and then retires
forever from public life."

A certain amount of rusticity would seem to have been essential to a
presidential candidate during the middle of the past century.

During this dismal winter Hawthorne was beset more than ever, by
nautical mendicants of all countries,--Hungarians, Poles, Cubans,
Spanish Americans, and French Republicans, who, unhappily for him, had
discovered that the American consul was a tender-hearted man. He had,
beside, to deal with a number of difficult cases of maltreated American
sailors,--the more difficult, because both parties to the suits were
greatly given to lying, even on occasions when it would have been more
expedient for them to tell the truth. He has recorded one such in his
diary, that deserves more than a superficial consideration.

An American bark was on the point of sailing, when the captain cast
ashore a bruised and battered-looking man, who made his way painfully
to the consulate, and begged Hawthorne for a permit to be placed in the
hospital. He called himself the son of a South Carolina farmer, and
stated that he had gone on board this vessel with a load of farm
products, but had been impressed by the captain for the voyage, and had
been so maltreated, that he thought he would die,--and so he did, not
long afterward, at the hospital. Letters were found upon him,
substantiating the statement concerning his father, but it was
discovered, from the same source, that he was a jail-bird, and the
tattooed figures upon his arms showed that he had been a sailor of many
years' standing, although he had denied this to the consul. Hawthorne
speaks of him as an innocent man, the victim of criminal brutality
little less than murder; it is certainly difficult to account for such
severe ill-treatment, but the man was clearly a bad character, and it
is also true that sea-captains do not interfere with their deck-hands
without some kind of provocation. The man clung desperately to life up
to the last moment, and the letters he carried with him indicated that
he was more intelligent than the average of the nautical fraternity.

In June, Hawthorne went with his family to Leamington, of which he
afterward published an account in the _Atlantic Monthly_,
criticised at the time for the manner in which he referred to English
ladies, as "covering a large area of Nature's foot-stool"; but this
element in Hawthorne's English writing has already been considered.
From Leamington he went, early in July, to the English lakes,
especially Windermere, and fortunately found time to thoroughly enjoy
them. He enjoyed them not only for their scenery, which he preferred to
that of New England, but also as illustrations to many descriptive
passages in Wordsworth's poetry, which serves the same purpose in the
guidebook of that region, as "Childe Harold" serves in the guidebooks
for Italy and Greece. Hawthorne also was interested in such places for
the sake of their associations. He describes Wordsworth's house, the
grounds about it, and the cemetery where he lies, with the accuracy of
a scientific report. He finds the grass growing too high about the
head-stone of Wordsworth's grave, and plucks it away with his own
hands, reflecting that it may have drawn its nourishment from his
mortal remains. We may suppose that he preserved this grass, and it is
only from such incidental circumstances that we discover who were
Hawthorne's favorites among poets and other distinguished writers. He
twice visited Wordsworth's grave.

Their first two winters in Liverpool had not proved favorable to Mrs.
Hawthorne's health She had contracted a disorder in her throat from the
prevailing dampness, which threatened to become chronic, and her
husband felt that it would not be prudent for her to remain there
another winter. He thought of resigning and returning to America. Then
he thought of exchanging his consulship for one in southern Europe,
although the salaries of the more southern consulates were hardly
sufficient to support a married man. Then he thought of exchanging
places with O'Sullivan, but he hardly knew languages well enough for an
ambassador. The doctors, however, had advised Mrs. Hawthorne to spend a
winter at Madeira, and she courageously solved the problem by proposing
to go there alone with her daughters, for which Lisbon and O'Sullivan
would serve as a stepping-stone by the way. There are wives who would
prefer such an expedition to spending a winter in England with their
husbands, but Mrs. Hawthorne was not of that mould, and in her case it
was a brave thing to do.

Accordingly, on the second Monday in October, Mrs. Hawthorne and her
two daughters sailed for Lisbon. She was presented at court there;
concerning which occasion she wrote a lengthy and very interesting
account to her husband, published in her son's biography. The King of
Portugal held a long conversation with her and Minister O'Sullivan, and
she describes him as dressed in a flamboyant manner,--a scarlet
uniform, lavishly ornamented with diamonds. With how much better taste
did the Empress of Austria receive the President of the French
Republic,--in a simple robe of black velvet, fastened at her throat
with a diamond brooch. One can envy Mrs. Hawthorne a winter at Madeira,
for there is no place in Europe pleasanter for that purpose, unless it
be Rome. Meanwhile, her husband spent the winter with his son (who was
now old enough to be trusted safely about the streets), at a sea-
captains' boarding-house in Liverpool. There, as in Salem, he felt
himself most companionable in such company, as he had been accustomed
to it from boyhood; and it appears that at this time he was in the
habit of composing fables for the entertainment of Julian, not unlike
the yarns which sailors often spin to beguile landsmen. [Footnote: J.
Hawthorne, ii. 75.]

Hawthorne found his third winter in Liverpool dismal enough without his
wife and the two little girls, and this feeling was considerably
increased by his dislike for the sea-captains' boarding-house keeper,
[Footnote: English Note-book, November 28, 1855.]with whom he was
living, and concerning whom he remarks, that a woman in England "is
either decidedly a lady or decidedly not." She would not have annoyed
him so much, had it not been for "her bustle, affectation, intensity,
and pretension of literary taste." The race of landladies contains
curious specimens, although we have met with some who were real ladies
nevertheless. Thackeray's description of a French boarding-house keeper
in "The Adventures of Philip" goes to every heart. Hawthorne writes
much in his diary, at this juncture, of his friend Francis Bennoch, who
clearly did the best he could, as a man and a brother, to make life
cheerful for his American friend; a true, sturdy, warm-hearted
Englishman.

Christmas was celebrated at Mrs. Blodgett's, after the fashion of a
second-rate English house of entertainment. The servants hung mistletoe
about in various places, and woe to the unlucky wight that was caught
under it. Hawthorne presents an amusing picture of his boy Julian, nine
years old, struggling against the endearments of a chamber-maid, and
believes that he himself was the only male person in the house that
escaped. [Footnote: English Note-book, December, 1855.]If any man would
be sure to escape that benediction, he would have been the one; for no
one could be more averse to public demonstrations of affection.

Hawthorne was witness to a curious strategic manuvre between President
Pierce and Minister Buchanan, which, however, he was not sufficiently
familiar with practical politics to perceive the full meaning of. On
the way to Southampton with his wife in October, they called on
Buchanan in London, and were not only civilly but kindly received. Mrs.
Hawthorne wished to view the Houses of Parliament while they were in
session, and the ambassador made a knot in his handkerchief, so as to
be sure to remember his promise to her. He informed Hawthorne at that
time of his desire to return to America, but stated that the President
had just written to him, requesting him to remain until April, although
he was determined not to do so. He excused himself on the plea of old
age, and Hawthorne seems to have had a suspicion of the insincerity of
this, but concluded on reflection not to harbor it. Pierce knew already
that Buchanan was his most dangerous rival for renomination, and
desired that he should remain as far off as possible; while Buchanan
was aware that, if he intended to be on the ground, he must not return
so late as to attract public attention. There were so many presidential
aspirants that Pierce may have found it difficult to supply Buchanan's
place, for the time being.

Buchanan delayed a respectful length of time, and then handed in his
resignation. His successor, George M. Dallas, arrived at Liverpool
during the second week of March, and Hawthorne who does not mention him
by name, called upon him at once, and gives us this valuable portrait
of him.

"The ambassador is a venerable old gentleman, with a full head of
perfectly white hair, looking not unlike an old-fashioned wig; and
this, together with his collarless white neckcloth and his brown coat,
gave him precisely such an aspect as one would expect in a respectable
person of pre-revolutionary days. There was a formal simplicity, too,
in his manners, that might have belonged to the same era. He must have
been a very handsome man in his youthful days, and is now comely, very
erect, moderately tall, not overburdened with flesh; of benign and
agreeable address, with a pleasant smile; but his eyes, which are not
very large, impressed me as sharp and cold. He did not at all stamp
himself upon me as a man of much intellectual or characteristic vigor.
I found no such matter in his conversation, nor did I feel it in the
indefinable way by which strength always makes itself acknowledged.
Buchanan, though somehow plain and uncouth, yet vindicates himself as a
large man of the world, able, experienced, fit to handle difficult
circumstances of life, dignified, too, and able to hold his own in any
society." [Footnote: English Note-book, March, 1856.]

Morton McMichael, whose statue now stands in Fairmount Park, once
related this incident concerning Dallas, at a meeting of the
Philadelphia Hock Club. Somewhere about 1850 Dallas was invited to
deliver a 4th of July oration at Harrisburg, where McMichael was also
requested to read the Declaration of Independence. McMichael performed
his part of the ceremony, and sat down; then Dallas arose and thanked
the assembly for honoring him with such an invitation, but confessed to
some difficulty in considering what he should say, for an occasion
which had been celebrated by so many famous orators; but that a few
nights since, while he was lying awake, it occurred to him what he
should say to them. After this he proceeded to read his address from a
newspaper printed in 1841, which the audience could not see, but which
McMichael, from his position on the platform, could see perfectly well.

Hawthorne's description suggests a man somewhat like this; but the
opinion of the Hock Club was that Dallas was not greatly to blame; for
how could any man make two distinct and original 4th of July orations?

The 1st of April 1856, Hawthorne and Bennoch set off on a bachelor
expedition of their own, first to visit Tupper at Albany, as has been
already related, and then going to view a muster of British troops at
Aldershot; thence to Battle Abbey, which Hawthorne greatly admired, and
the field of Hastings, where England's greatness began in defeat. He
does not mention the battle, however, in his diary, and it may be
remarked that, generally, Hawthorne felt little interest in historical
subjects. After this, they went to London, where Bennoch introduced
Hawthorne at the Milton Club and the Reform Club. At the former, he
again encountered Martin F. Tupper, and became acquainted with Tom
Taylor, the editor of _Punch_, as well as other writers and
editors, of whom he had not previously heard. The Club was by no means
Miltonic, and one would suppose not exactly the place where Hawthorne
would find himself much at home. Neither were the proceedings
altogether in good taste. Bennoch opened the ball with a highly
eulogistic speech about Hawthorne, and was followed by some fifty
others in a similar strain, so that the unfortunate incumbent must have
wished that the earth would open and let him down to the shades of
night below. On such an occasion, even a feather weight becomes a
burden. Oh, for a boy, with a tin horn!

Neither did Hawthorne apparently find his peers at the Reform Club.
Douglas Jerrold, who reminded him somewhat of Ellery Channing, was the
most notable writer he met there. There was, however, very little
speech-making, and plenty of good conversation. Unfortunately, he
offended Jerrold, by using the word "acrid" as applied to his writing,
instead of some other word, which he could not think of at the moment.
The difficulty, however, was made up over a fresh bottle of Burgundy,
and with the help of Hawthorne's unlimited good-will, so that they
parted excellent friends, and much the better for having known each
other. Either Jerrold or some other present told Hawthorne that the
English aristocracy, for the most part hated, despised, and feared men
of literary genius. Is it not much the same in America?

After these two celebrations, and attending the Lord Mayor's banquet,
where he admired the beautiful Jewess whom he has described as Miriam
in "The Marble Faun," Hawthorne returned to Liverpool; and early in May
took another recess, with a Mr. Bowman, to York, Edinburgh, the
Trossachs, Abbotsford, and all the haunts of Scott and Burns; with his
account of which a large portion of the second volume of English Note-
books is filled; so that, if Scotland should sink into the sea, as a
portion is already supposed to have done in antediluvian times, all
those places could be reconstructed through Hawthorne's description of
them.

This expedition lasted nearly three weeks, and on June 12 Hawthorne
received word that his wife, with Una and Rose, had already landed at
Southampton. He hastened at once to meet them, greatly rejoiced to find
Mrs. Hawthorne entirely restored to health. They had been separated for
more than seven months.

They first proceeded to Salisbury, to see the cathedral and
Stonehenge,--the former, very impressive externally, but not so
satisfactory within; and the latter, a work of man emerging out of
Nature. Then they went to London, to enjoy the June season, and see the
regular course of sights in that huge metropolis. They visited St.
Paul's, the Tower, Guildhall, the National Gallery, the British Museum,
Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament, apparently finding as
much satisfaction in this conventional occupation as they did in the
social entertainments of London. At the house of Mr. S. C. Hall, a
noted entertainer of those days, Hawthorne became acquainted with the
most celebrated singer of her time, or perhaps of all time; namely,
Jenny Lind. No modern orator has held such a sway over the hearts of
men and women, as that Swedish nightingale,--for the purity of her
voice seemed no more than the emanation of her lofty nature. Hawthorne
describes her as a frank, sincere person, rather tall,--certainly no
beauty, but with sense and self-reliance in her aspect and manners. She
immediately gave Hawthorne an illustration of her frankness by
complaining of the unhealthy manner in which Americans, and especially
American women, lived. This seems like a prosaic subject for such a
person, but it was natural enough; for a concert singer has to live
like a race-horse, and this would be what would constantly strike her
attention in a foreign country. Hawthorne rallied to the support of his
countrywomen, and believed that they were, on the whole, as healthy and
long-lived as Europeans. This may be so now, but there has been great
improvement in the American mode of living, during the past fifty
years, and we can imagine that Jenny Lind often found it difficult to
obtain such food as she required.

That she should have requested an introduction to Hawthorne is
significant of her interest in American literature, and suggests a
taste as refined and elevated as her music.

It was on Hawthorne's wedding-day this happened, and a few days later
he was invited to a select company at Monckton Milnes's, which included
Macaulay, the Brownings, and Professor Ticknor. He found both the
Brownings exceedingly pleasant and accessible, but was somewhat
startled to find that Mrs. Browning was a believer in spiritism--not
such a sound and healthy intelligence as the author of "Middle-march,"
and he might have been still more so, if he had known that she and her
husband were ardent admirers of Louis Napoleon. That was something
which an American in those days could not quite understand. However, he
found her an exceedingly pleasant companion. After dinner they looked
over several volumes of autographs, in which Oliver Cromwell's was the
only one that would to-day be more valuable than Hawthorne's own.

A breakfast at Monckton Milnes's usually included the reading of a copy
of verses of his own composition, but perhaps he had not yet reached
that stage on the present occasion.

Hawthorne heard such varied and conflicting accounts of Charles Dickens
that he hardly knew whether he would like to meet him or not. He wanted
to see Tennyson when he was at the Isle of Wight, but feared that his
visit might be looked on as an intrusion, by a person who lived so
retired a life,--judging perhaps from his own experience. While at
Windermere he paused for a moment in front of Harriet Martineau's
cottage, but on second thought he concluded to leave the good deaf lady
in peace.

Conway speaks of Hawthorne's social life in England as a failure; but
failure suggests an effort in some direction or other, and Hawthorne
made no social efforts. Being lionized was not his business. He had
seen enough of it during the London season of 1856, and after that he
retired into his domestic shell, cultivating the acquaintance of his
wife and children more assiduously than ever, so that even his two
faithful allies, Bright and Bennoch, found it difficult to withdraw him
from it. Watching the development of a fine child is much more
satisfactory than any course of fashionable entertainments--even than
Lowell's twenty-nine dinner-parties in the month of June. Nothing
becomes more tedious than long-continued pleasure-seeking, with post-
prandial speeches and a constant effort to be agreeable.

Hawthorne remained in England fully seventeen months after this, and
made a number of excursions; especially one to Oxford, where he and his
family were dined by a former mayor of the city, and where he greatly
admired the broad verdant grounds and Gothic architecture of the
colleges; and also a second journey to Edinburgh and the Trossachs,
undertaken for the benefit of Mrs. Hawthorne and Una. But we hear no
more of him in London society, and it only remains for us to chronicle
his exceptional kindness to an unfortunate American woman.

It seems strange that the first doubt in regard to the authorship of
Shakespeare should have originated on this side of the Atlantic. If
Dante was a self-educated poet, there seems no good reason why
Shakespeare should not have been; and if the greatest of French writers
earned his living as an actor, why should not the greatest of English
writers have done the same? That would seem to be much more in harmony
with the central idea of American life--the principle of self-
helpfulness; but this is a skeptical epoch, and the tendency of our
political institutions is toward skepticism of character and distrust
of tradition. Hence we have Delia Bacon, Holmes, and Donnelly.

Hawthorne has given future generations an account of Delia Bacon, which
will endure as the portrait of a gifted and interesting woman, diverted
from the normal channels of feminine activity by the force of a single
idea; but he makes no mention of his efforts in her behalf. He found
her in the lodgings of a London tradesman, and although she received
him in a pleasant and lady-like manner, he quickly perceived that her
mind was in an abnormal condition, and that it was positively dangerous
to discuss her favorite topic in a rational manner. He had a feeling
that the least opposition on his part to the Baconian theory would
result in his expulsion from the room, yet he found her conversation
interesting, and recognized that if her conclusions were erroneous she
had nevertheless unearthed valuable historic material, which ought to
be given to the world. He loaned her money, which he did not expect to
be repaid, and exerted himself to find a publisher for her,
recollecting perhaps the vows he had made to the gods in the days of
his own obscurity. He mentions in his diary calling on the Rutledges
for this purpose--where he saw Charles Reade, a tall, strong-looking
man, just leaving the office. He also wrote to Ticknor & Fields, and
finally did get Miss Bacon's volume brought out in London. The critics
treated it in a contemptuous manner, as a desecration of Shakespeare's
memory; and Hawthorne was prepared for this, but it opened a new era in
English bibliography. Shortly after the publication of her book Miss
Bacon became insane.

To many this appeared like a Quixotic adventure, but now we can see
that it was not, and that it was necessary in its way to prove the
generosity of Hawthorne. We can readily infer from it what he might
have done with ampler means, and what he must often have wished to do.
To be sure, the truest kindness to Delia Bacon would have been to have
purchased a ticket on a Cunard steamer for her, after her own funds had
given out, and to have persuaded her to return to her own country; but
those who have dealt with persons whose whole vitality is absorbed in a
single idea, can testify how difficult, if not impossible, this would
have been. It redounds the more to Hawthorne's credit that although
Elizabeth Peabody was converted to Delia Bacon's theory, Hawthorne
himself never entertained misgivings as to the reality of Shakespeare
as a poet and a dramatist.

He had doubts, however, and I felt the same in regard to the
authenticity of the verses on Shakespeare's marble slab. It is
fortunate that Miss Bacon's purpose of opening the tomb at Stratford
was not carried out, but that is no reason why it should not be opened
in a properly conducted manner, for scientific purposes--in order to
discover all that is possible concerning so remarkable and mysterious a
personality. Raphael's tomb has been opened, and why should not
Shakespeare's be also?

At the Democratic convention in 1856 the Southern delegates wished to
renominate Franklin Pierce, but the Northern delegates refused their
agreement to this, because they knew that in such a case they would be
liable to defeat in their own districts. James Buchanan was accordingly
nominated, and Pierce's fears in regard to him were fully realized. He
was elected in November, and the following June appointed Beverly
Tucker to succeed Hawthorne as consul at Liverpool. Hawthorne resigned
his office on July 1, 1857, and went with his family on a long tour in
Scotland. Two weeks earlier he had written a memorial to the Secretary
of State concerning the maltreatment of a special class of seamen,
which deserved more consideration than it received from the government
at Washington.

The gold discoveries in California had induced a large immigration to
America from the British Isles, and many who went thither in hopes of
bettering their fortunes became destitute from lack of employment, and
attempted to work their passage back to Liverpool in American sailing
vessels. It is likely that they often represented themselves as more
experienced mariners than they actually were, and there were also a
good many stowaways who might expect little mercy; but there was no
court in England that could take cognizance of their wrongs,--in order
to obtain justice they would have to return to America,--and it cannot
be doubted that the more brutal sort of officers took advantage of this
fact. The evil became so notorious that the British minister at
Washington requested Pierce's administration to have legislation
enacted that would cover this class of cases, but the President
declined to interfere. This may have been prudent policy, but Hawthorne
felt for the sufferers, and the memorial that he submitted to our
government on their account has a dignity, a clearness and cogency of
statement, worthy of Blackstone or Marshall. It is in marked contrast
to the evasive reply of Secretary Cass, both for its fine English and
for the directness of its logic. It is published at length in Julian
Hawthorne's biography of his father, and is unique for the insight
which it affords as to Hawthorne's mental ability in this direction. We
may infer from it that if he had made a study of jurisprudence, he
might have risen to the highest position as a writer on law.

Hawthorne's English Note-books are the least interesting of that
series, on account of the literal descriptions of castles, abbeys,
scenery and palaces, with which they abound. The perfectly cultivated
condition of England and Scotland, so far as he went in the latter
country, is not stimulating to the imagination; for, as he says
somewhere, even the trees seemed to be thoroughly domesticated. They
are excellent reading for Americans who have never been to England, or
for those who wish to renew their memories in regard to certain places
there--perhaps better for the latter than for the former; and there are
fine passages in them, especially his descriptions of the old abbeys
and Gothic cathedrals, which seem to have delighted him more than the
gardens at Blenheim and Eton, and to have brought to the surface a rare
quality in his nature, or otherwise hidden in its depths,--his
enthusiasm. Never before did words fail him until he attempted to
describe the effect of a Gothic cathedral,--the time-honored mystery of
its arches, the sober radiance of its stained windows, and the solemn
aspiration of its lofty vault. As Schiller says, they are the monuments
of a mighty civilization of which we know only too little.

Hawthorne's object in writing these detailed accounts of his various
expeditions becomes apparent from a passage in his Note-book, of the
date of August 21, 1856, in which he says: "In my English romance, an
American might bring a certain tradition from over the sea, and so
discover the cross which had been long since forgotten." It may have
been his intention from the first to write a romance based on English
soil, but that soil was no longer productive of such intellectual
fruit, except in the form in which Dickens dug it up, like peat, out of
the lower classes. We find Francis Bennoch writing to Hawthorne after
his return to America, [Footnote: Mrs. Lathrop, 310.] hoping to
encourage him in this direction, but without apparent effect. Instead
of a romance, he made a collection of essays from those portions of his
diary which were most closely connected together, enlarging them and
rounding them out, which he published after his return to America, in
the volume we have often referred to as "Our Old Home." But as truthful
studies of English life and manners Mrs. Hawthorne's letters, though
not always sensible, are much more interesting than her husband's
diary.

When Doctor Johnson was inquired of by a lady why he defined "pastern"
in his Dictionary as the knee of a horse, he replied, "Ignorance,
madam, pure ignorance;" and if Hawthorne had been asked a year
afterwards why he went to Scotland in the summer of 1857, instead of to
the Rhine and Switzerland, he might have given a similar excuse. In
this way he missed the grandest and some of the most beautiful scenery
in Europe. He could not, however, have been ignorant of the attractions
of Paris, and yet he lingered in England until the following January,
and then went over to that metropolis of fashion at a most unseasonable
time. He had, indeed, planned to leave England in October, [Footnote:
English Note-book, December, 1857.] and does not explain why he
remained longer. He made a last visit to London in November, where he
became reconciled to his fellow-townsmen of Salem, in the person of
Edward Silsbee, of whom he writes as "a man of great intelligence and
true feeling, absolutely brimming over with ideas." Mr. Silsbee was an
amateur art critic and connoisseur, who often made himself serviceable
to American travellers in the way of a gentleman-cicerone. He went with
the Hawthorne family to the Crystal Palace, where there were casts of
all famous statues, models of architecture, and the like, and gave
Hawthorne his first lesson in art criticism. Hawthorne indicated a
preference for Michel Angelo's statue of Giuliano d Medici, called "Il
Pensero;" also for the "Perseus" of Cellini, and the Gates of the
Florentine Baptistery by Lorenzo Ghiberti. If we except the other
statues of Michel Angelo, these are the most distinguished works in
sculpture of the modern world.

CHAPTER XIV

ITALY

Hawthorne went to Italy as naturally as the salmon ascends the rivers
in spring. His artistic instinct drew him thither as the original home
of modern art and literature, and perhaps also his interest in the
Latin language, the single study which he cared for in boyhood. Does
not romance come originally from Roma,--as well as Romulus? He wished
to stand where Csar stood, to behold the snowy Soracte of Horace, and
to read Virgil's description of an Italian night on Italian ground. It
is noticeable that he cared little or nothing for the splendors of
Paris, the glittering peaks of Switzerland, medical-musical Vienna, or
the grand scholarship and homely sweetness of old Germany.

Of all the Anglo-Saxon writers who have celebrated Italy, Byron,
Shelley, Rogers, Ruskin and the two Brownings, none were more admirably
equipped for it than Hawthorne. We cannot read "The Romance of Monte
Beni" without recognizing a decidedly Italian element in his
composition,--not the light-hearted, subtle, elastic, fiery Italian,
such as we are accustomed to think them, but the tenderly feeling,
terribly earnest Tuscan, like Dante and Savonarola. The myrtle and the
cypress are both emblematic of Italian character, and there was more of
the latter than the former, though something of either, in Hawthorne's
own make-up.

The Hawthornes left London on January 6, and, reaching Paris the
following day, they made themselves comfortable at the Hotel du Louvre.
However, they only remained there one week, during which it was so cold
that they saw little and enjoyed little. They went to Notre Dame, the
Louvre, the Madeleine, and the Champs Elysees, but without being
greatly impressed by what they beheld. Hawthorne does not mention a
single painting or statue among the art treasures of the Louvre, which
if rivalled elsewhere are certainly unsurpassed; but Hawthorne began
his studies in this line by an examination of the drawings of the old
masters, and confesses that he was afterward too much fatigued to
appreciate their finished paintings.

On January 19 they reached Marseilles, and two days later they embarked
on that dreary winter voyage, so pleasant at an earlier season, for
Civita Vecchia; and on the 20th they rolled into the Eternal City, with
such sensations as one may imagine. On the 24th they located themselves
for the season in the Palazzo Larazani, Via Porta Pinciana. [Footnote.
Italian Note-book.]

_Nemo similis Homeri_.--There is nothing like the charm of a first
visit to Rome. The first sight of the Forum, with its single pathetic
column, brings us back to our school-days, to the study of Csar and
the reading of Plutarch; and the intervening period drops out of our
lives, taking all our care and anxiety with it. In England, France,
Germany, we feel the weight of the present, but in Rome the present is
like a glass window through which we view the grand procession of past
events. What _is_, becomes of less importance than what was, and
for the first time we feel the true sense of our indebtedness to the
ages that have gone before. We bathe deep in the spirit of classical
antiquity, and we come out refreshed, enlarged and purified. We return
to the actualities of to-day with a clearer understanding, and better
prepared to act our part in them.

Hawthorne did not feel this at first. He arrived in inclement weather,
and it was some weeks before he became accustomed to the climatic
conditions--so different from any northern atmosphere. He hated the
filth of the much-neglected city, the squalor of its lower classes, the
narrowness of its streets, and the peculiar pavement, which, as he says
makes walking in Rome a penitential pilgrimage. He goes to the
carnival, and his penetrating glance proves it to be a sham
entertainment.

But in due course he emerges from this mood; he rejoices in the
atmospheric immensity of St. Peter's; he looks out from the Pincian
hill, and sees _Nivea Soracte_ as Horace beheld it; and he is
overawed (if Hawthorne could be) by the Forum of Trajan and the Column
of Antoninus. He makes a great discovery, or rediscovery, that
Phidias's colossal statues of Castor and Pollux on the Monte Cavallo
are the finest figures in Rome. They are late Roman copies, but
probably from Phidias,--not by Lysippus or Praxiteles; and he felt the
presence of Michel Angelo in the Baths of Diocletian. It is not long
before he goes to the Pincian in the afternoon to play at jack-stones
with his youngest daughter.

William W. Story, the American sculptor, would seem to have been a
former acquaintance. His father, the famous law lecturer, lived in
Salem during Hawthorne's youth, but afterward removed to Cambridge,
where the younger Story was educated, and there married an intimate
friend of Mrs. James Russell Lowell. This brought him into close
relations with Lowell, Longfellow, and their most intimate friends. He
was something of a poet, and more of a sculptor, but, inheriting an
independent fortune and living in the Barberini Palace, he soon became
more of an Englishman than an American, a tendency which was visibly
increased by a patent of nobility bestowed on him by the King of
Naples.

Hawthorne soon renewed William Story's acquaintance, and found him
modelling the statue of Cleopatra, of which Hawthorne has given a
somewhat idealized description in "The Marble Faun." This may have
interested him the more from the fact that he witnessed its development
under the sculptor's hands, and saw that distinguished historical
person emerge as it were out of the clay, like a second Eve; but he
makes a mental reservation that it would be better if English and
American sculptors would make a freer use of their chisels--of which
more hereafter. Story was a light-hearted, discursive person, with a
large amount of bric--brac information, who could appreciate Hawthorne
either as a genius or as a celebrity. He soon became Hawthorne's chief
companion and social mainstay in Rome, literally a _vade mecum_,
and we may believe that he exercised more or less influence over
Hawthorne's judgment in matters of art.

Hawthorne listened to Story, and read Mrs. Jameson, although Edward
Silsbee had warned him against her as an uncertain authority; but
Hawthorne depended chiefly on his own investigations. He and his wife
declined an invitation to Mrs. Story's masquerade, and lived very
quietly during this first winter in Rome, making few acquaintances, but
seeing a good deal of the city. They went together to all the principal
churches and the princely galleries; and beside this Hawthorne
traversed Rome from one end to the other, and across in every
direction, sometimes alone, or in company with Julian, investigating
everything from the Mamartine prison, in which Jugurtha was starved, to
the catacombs of St. Calixtus and the buffaloes on the Campagna. The
impression which Conway gives, that he went about sight-seeing and
drinking sour wine with Story and Lothrop Motley, is not quite correct,
for Motley did not come to Rome until the following December, and then
only met Hawthorne a few times, according to his own confession.
[Footnote: Mrs. Lathrop, 406.] We must not forget, however, that
excellent lady and skilful astronomer, Miss Maria Mitchell, who joined
the Hawthorne party in Paris, and became an indispensable accompaniment
to them the rest of the winter.

Hawthorne also became acquainted with Buchanan Read, who afterward
painted that stirring picture of General Sheridan galloping to the
battle of Cedar Run; and on March 12 Mr. Read gave a party, at his
Roman dwelling, of painters and sculptors, which Hawthorne attended,
and has entered in full, with the moonlight excursion afterward, in
"The Marble Faun." There Hawthorne met Gibson, to whom he refers as the
most distinguished sculptor of the time. So he was, in England, but
there were much better sculptors in France and in Germany. Gibson's
personality interested Hawthorne, as it well might, but he saw clearly
that Gibson was merely a skilful imitator of the antique, or, as he
calls him, a pagan idealist. He also made acquaintance with two
American sculptors, a Yankee and a girlish young woman, whose names are
prudently withheld; for he afterward visited their studios, and readily
discovered that they had no real talent for their profession.

If we feel inclined to quarrel with Hawthorne anywhere, it is in his
disparagement of Crawford. There might be two opinions in regard to the
slavery question, but there never has been but one as to the greatest
of American artists. It was a pity that his friend Hillard could not
have been with Hawthorne at this time to counteract the jealous
influences to which he was exposed. He writes no word of regret at the
untimely death of Crawford, but goes into his studio after that sad
event and condemns his work. Only the _genre_ figure of a boy
playing marbles, gives him any satisfaction there; although a plea of
extenuation might be entered in Hawthorne's favor, for statues of
heroic size could not be seen to greater disadvantage than when packed
together in a studio. The immense buttons on the waistcoats of our
revolutionary heroes seem to have startled him on his first entrance,
and this may be accepted as an indication of the rest. Yet the tone of
his criticism, both in the "Note-book" and in "The Marble Faun," is far
from friendly to Crawford. He does not refer to the statue of
Beethoven, which was Crawford's masterpiece, nor to the statue of
Liberty, which now poses on the lantern of the Capitol at Washington,--
much too beautiful, as Hartmann says, for its elevated position, and
superior in every respect to the French statue of Liberty in New York
harbor.

Hawthorne had already come to the conclusion that there was a certain
degree of poison in the Roman atmosphere, and in April he found the
climate decidedly languid, but he had fallen in love with this pagan
capital and he hated to leave it. Mrs. Anna Jameson arrived late in
April; a sturdy, warm-hearted Englishwoman greatly devoted to art, for
which her books served as elementary treatises and pioneers to the
English and Americans of those days. She was so anxious to meet
Hawthorne that she persuaded William Story to bring him and his wife to
her lodgings when she was too ill to go forth. They had read each
other's writings and could compliment each other in all sincerity, for
Mrs. Jameson had also an excellent narrative style; but Hawthorne found
her rather didactic, and although she professed to be able "to read a
picture like a book," her conversation was by no means brilliant. She
had contracted an unhappy marriage early in life, and found an escape
from her sorrows and regrets in this elevated interest.

It was just before leaving Rome that Hawthorne conceived the idea of a
romance in which the "Faun" of Praxiteles should come to life, and play
a characteristic part in the modern world; the catastrophe naturally
resulting from his coming into conflict with a social organization for
which he was unfitted. This portion of Hawthorne's diary is intensely
interesting to those who have walked on classic ground.

On May 24 Hawthorne commenced his journey to Florence with a
_vetturino_ by easy stages, and one can cordially envy him this
portion of his Italian sojourn; with his devoted wife and three happy
children; travelling through some of the most beautiful scenery in the
world,--nearly if not quite equal to the Rhineland--without even the
smallest cloud of care and anxiety upon his sky, his mind stored with
mighty memories, and looking forward with equal expectations to the
prospect before him,--_bella Firenze_, the treasure-house of
Italian cities; through sunny valleys, with their streams and hill-
sides winding seaward; up the precipitous spurs of the Apennines, with
their old baronial castles perched like vultures' nests on inaccessible
crags; passing through gloomy, tortuous defiles, guarded by Roman
strongholds; and then drawn up by white bullocks over Monte Somma, and
to the mountain cities of Assisi and Perugia, older than Rome itself;
by Lake Trasimenus, still ominous of the name of Hannibal; over hill-
sides silver-gray with olive orchards; always a fresh view and a new
panorama, bounded by the purple peaks on the horizon; and over all, the
tender blue of the Italian sky. Hawthorne may have felt that his whole
previous life, all he had struggled, lived and suffered for, was but a
preparation for this one week of perfectly harmonious existence. Such
vacations from earthly troubles come but rarely in the most fortunate
lives, and are never of long duration.

When they reached Florence, they found it, as Rose Hawthorne says, very
hot--much too hot to enjoy the city as it should be enjoyed. Her
reminiscences of their life at Florence, and especially of the Villa
Manteto, have a charming freshness and virginal simplicity, although
written in a somewhat high-flown manner. She succeeds, in spite of her
peculiar style, in giving a distinct impression of the old chateau, its
surroundings, the life her family led there, and of the wonderful view
from Bellosguardo. One feels that beneath the disguise of a fashionable
dress there is an innocent, sympathetic, and pure-spirited nature.

The Hawthornes arrived in Florence on the afternoon of June 3, and
spent the first night at the Albergo della Fontano, and the next day
obtained apartments in the Casa del Bello, opposite Hiram Powers'
studio, and just outside of the Porta Romana. Hawthorne made Mr.
Powers' acquaintance even before he entered the city, and Powers soon
became to him what Story had been in Rome. The Brownings were already
at Casa Guidi,--still noted in the annals of English poesy,--and called
upon the Hawthornes at the first notice of their arrival. Alacrity or
readiness would seem to have been one of Robert Browning's prominent
characteristics. Elizabeth Browning's mind was as much occupied with
spiritism as when Hawthorne met her two years previously at Monckton
Milnes's breakfast; an unfortunate proclivity for a person of frail
physique and delicate nerves. Neither did she live very long after
this. Her husband and Hawthorne both cordially disapproved of these
mesmeric practices; but Mrs. Browning could not be prevented from
talking on the subject, and this evidently produced an ecstatic and
febrile condition of mind in her, very wearing to a poetic temperament.
Hawthorne heartily liked Browning himself, and always speaks well of
him; but there must also have been an undercurrent of disagreement
between him and so ardent an admirer of Louis Napoleon, and he recalls
little or nothing of what Browning said to him. This continued till the
last of June, when Robert and Elizabeth left Florence for cooler
regions.

Meanwhile Hawthorne occupied himself seriously with seeing Florence and
studying art, like a man who intends to get at the root of the matter.
Florence afforded better advantages than Rome for the study of art, not
only from the superiority of its collections, but because there the
development of mediaeval art can be traced to its fountain-source. He
had no textbooks to guide him,--at least he does not refer to any,--and
his investigations were consequently of rather an irregular kind, but
it was evidently the subject which interested him most deeply at this
time. His Note-book is full of it, and also of discussions on sculpture
with Hiram Powers, in which Hawthorne has frequently the best of the
argument.

In fact Powers looked upon his art from much too literal a stand-point.
He agreed with Hawthorne as to the fine expression of the face of
Michel Angelo's "Giuliano d Medici," [Footnote: As Hawthorne did not
prepare his diary for publication, it would not be fair to hold him
responsible for the many instances of bad Italian in the Note-book,
which ought to have been edited by some one who knew the language.] but
affirmed that it was owing to a trick of overshadowing the face by the
projecting visor of Giuliano's helmet. Hawthorne did not see why such a
device did not come within the range of legitimate art, the truth of
the matter being that Michel Angelo left the face unfinished; but the
expression of the statue is not in its face, but in the inclination of
the head, the position of the arms, the heavy droop of the armor, and
in fact in the whole figure. Powers' "Greek Slave," on the contrary,
though finely modelled and sufficiently modern in type, has no definite
expression whatever.

Hawthorne found an exceptional interest in the "Venus d Medici," now
supposed to have been the work of one of the sons of Praxiteles, and
its wonderful symmetry gives it a radiance like that of the sun behind
a summer cloud; but Powers cooled down his enthusiasm by objecting to
the position of the ears, the vacancy of the face, the misrepresentation
of the inner surface of the lips, and by condemning particularly the
structure of the eyes, which he declared were such as no human being
could see with. [Footnote: Italian Note-book, June 13, 1858.] Hawthorne
was somewhat puzzled by these subtleties of criticism, which he did not
know very well how to answer, but he still held fast to the opinion that
he was fundamentally right, and retaliated by criticising Powers' own
statues in his diary.

The Greeks, in the best period of their favorite art, never attempted a
literal reproduction of the human figure. Certain features, like the
nostrils, were merely indicated; others, like the eyelashes, often so
expressive in woman, were omitted altogether; hair and drapery were
treated in a schematic manner. In order to give an expression to the
eyes, various devices were resorted to. The eyelids of the bust of
Pericles on the Acropolis had bevelled edges, and the eyeballs of the
"Apollo Belvedere" are exceptionally convex, to produce the effect of
looking to a distance, although the human eye when gazing afar off
becomes slightly contracted. The head of the "Venus d Medici" is
finely shaped, but small, and her features are pretty, rather than
beautiful; but her eyes are exceptional among all feminine statues for
their tenderness of expression--swimming, as it were, with love; and it
is the manner in which this effect is produced that Powers mistook for
bad sculpture. Hiram Powers' most exceptional proposition was to the
effect that the busts of the Roman emperors were not characteristic
portraits. Hawthorne strongly dissented from this; and he was in the
right, for if the character of a man can be read from marble, it is
from those old blocks. Hawthorne has some admirable remarks on this
point.

Such was Hawthorne's internal life during his first month at Florence.
He was full of admiration for the cathedral, the equestrian statue of
Cosmo d Medici, the "David" of Michel Angelo, the Loggia d Lanzi,
Raphael's portrait of Julius II., the "Fates" of Michel Angelo, and
many others; yet he confesses that the Dutch, French, and English
paintings gave him a more simple, natural pleasure,--probably because
their subjects came closer to his own experience.

A strange figure of an old man, with "a Palmer-like beard," continually
crossed Hawthorne's path, both in Rome and in Florence, where he dines
with him at the Brownings'. His name is withheld, but Hawthorne informs
us that he is an American editor, a poet; that he voted for Buchanan,
and was rejoicing in the defeat of the Free-soilers,--"a man to whom
the world lacks substance because he has not sufficiently cultivated
his emotional nature;" and "his personal intercourse, though kindly,
does not stir one's blood in the least." Yet Hawthorne finds him to be
good-hearted, intelligent, and sensible. This can be no other than
William Cullen Bryant. [Footnote: Italian Note-book, ii. 15.]

In the evening of June 27 the Hawthornes went to call on a Miss
Blagden, who occupied a villa on Bellosguardo, and where they met the
Brownings, and a Mr. Trollope, a brother of the novelist. It could not
have been the Villa Manteto, which Miss Blagden rented, for we hear of
her at Bellosguardo again in August, when Hawthorne was living there
himself; and after this we do not hear of the Brownings again.

Hawthorne's remark on Browning's poetry is one of the rare instances in
which he criticises a contemporary author:

"I am rather surprised that Browning's conversation should be so clear,
and so much to the purpose at the moment, since his poetry can seldom
proceed far, without running into the high grass of latent meanings and
obscure allusions."

It is precisely this which has prevented Browning from achieving the
reputation that his genius deserves. We wish that Hawthorne could have
favored us with as much literary criticism as he has given us of art
criticism, and we almost lose patience with him for his repeated
canonization of General Jackson--St. Hickory--united with a
disparagement of Washington and Sumner; but although Hawthorne's
insight into human nature was wonderful in its way, it would seem to
have been confined within narrow boundaries. At least he seems to have
possessed little insight into grand characters and magnanimous natures.
He wishes now that Raphael could have painted Jackson's portrait. So,
conversely, Shakespeare belittles Csar in order to suit the purpose of
his play. Which of Shakespeare's male characters can be measured beside
George Washington? There is not one of them, unless Kent in "King
Lear." Strong, resolute natures, like Washington, Hamilton, Sumner, are
not adapted to dramatic fiction, either in prose or in verse.

A Florentine summer is about equal to one in South Carolina, and now,
when Switzerland can be reached by rail in twenty-four hours, no
American or Englishman thinks of spending July and August there; but in
Hawthorne's time it was a long and expensive journey over the Pennine
Alps; Hawthorne's physique was as well attempered to heat as to cold;
and he continued to frequent the picture-galleries and museums after
all others had ceased to do so; although he complains in his diary that
he had never known it so hot before, and that the flagstones in the
street reflect the sun's rays upon him like the open doors of a
furnace.

At length, in an entry of July 27, he says:

"I seldom go out nowadays, having already seen Florence tolerably well,
and the streets being very hot, and myself having been engaged in
sketching out a romance, [Footnote: "The Marble Faun."] which whether
it will ever come to anything is a point yet to be decided. At any
rate, it leaves me little heart for journalizing, and describing new
things; and six months of uninterrupted monotony would be more valuable
to me just now, than the most brilliant succession of novelties."

This is the second instance in which we hear of a romance based on the
"Faun" of Praxiteles, and now at last he appears to be in earnest.

It may be suspected that his entertaining friend, Hiram Powers, was the
chief obstacle to the progress of his new plot, and it is rather
amusing to believe that it was through the agency of Mr. Powers, who
cared for nothing so much as Hawthorne's welfare, that this impediment
was removed. Five days later, Hawthorne and his household gods, which
were chiefly his wife and children, left the Casa del Bello for the
Villa Manteto where they remained in peaceful retirement until the
first of October.

On the tower of the Villa he could enjoy whatever enlivening breezes
came across to Florence from the mountains to the north and east. When
the _tramontana_ blew, he was comfortable enough. Thunder-storms
also came frequently, with the roar of heaven's artillery reverberating
from peak to peak, and enveloping Bellosguardo in a dense vapor, like
the smoke from Napoleon's cannon; after which they would career down
the valley of the Arno to Pisa, flashing and cannonading like a
victorious army in pursuit of the enemy.

The beauty of the summer nights at Florence amply compensates for the
sultriness of the days,--especially if they be moonlight nights,--and
the bright starlight of the Mediterranean is little less beautiful.
Travellers who only see Italy in winter, know not what they miss.
Hawthorne noticed that the Italian sky had a softer blue than that of
England and America, and that there was a peculiar luminous quality in
the atmosphere, as well as a more decided difference between sunshine
and shadow, than in countries north of the Alps. The atmosphere of
Italy, Spain, and Greece is not like any American air that I am
acquainted with. During the summer season, all Italians whose
occupation will permit them, sleep at noon,--the laborers in the
shadows of the walls,--and sit up late at night, enjoying the fine air
and the pleasant conversation which it inspires. Hawthorne found the
atmosphere of Tuscany favorable for literary work, even in August.

On the 4th of that month he looked out from his castle wall late at
night and noticed the brilliancy of the stars,--also that the Great
Dipper exactly overhung the valley of the Arno. At that same hour the
astronomer Donati was sweeping the heavens with his telescope at the
Florentine observatory, and it may have been ten days later that he
discovered in the handle of the Dipper the great comet which will
always bear his name,--the most magnificent comet of modern times, only
excepting that of 1680, which could be seen at noonday. It first became
visible to the naked eye during the last week of August, as a small
star with a smaller tail, near the second star from the end of the
handle of the Dipper; after which it grew apace until it extended
nearly from the horizon to the zenith, with a tail millions of miles in
length. This, however, did not take place until near the time of
Hawthorne's departure from Florence. In his case it proved sorrowfully
enough a harbinger of calamity.

Hawthorne blocked out his sketch of "The Romance of Monte Beni" in a
single month, and then returned to the churches and picture-galleries.
He could not expect to revisit Italy in this life, and prudently
concluded to make the most of it while the opportunity lasted. He
notices the peculiar fatigue which sight-seeing causes in deep natures,
and becomes unspeakably weary of it, yet returns to it again next day
with an interest as fresh as before.

Neither did he lack for society. William Story came over to see him
from Siena, where he was spending the summer, exactly as Hawthorne
describes the visit of Kenyon to Donatello in his romance. Mr. and Mrs.
Powers came frequently up the hill in the cool of the evening, and Miss
Blagden also proved an excellent neighbor. Early in September the
"spirits" appeared again in great force. Mrs. Hawthorne discovered a
medium in her English governess; table-rappings and table-tippings were
the order of the evening; and some rather surprising results were
obtained through Miss Shepard's fingers. [Footnote: J. Hawthorne, i.
31.] Powers related a still more surprising performance [Footnote:
Italian Note-book.] that he had witnessed, which was conducted by D. D.
Home, an American mountebank, who hoaxed more crowned heads, princes,
princesses, and especially English duchesses than Cagliostro himself.
Hawthorne felt the repugnance of the true artist to this uncanny
business, and his thorough detestation of the subject commends itself
to every sensible reader. He came to the conclusion that the supposed
revelations of spirits were nothing more than the mental vagaries of
persons in the same room, conveyed in some occult manner to the brain
of the medium. The governess, Miss Shepard, agreed with him in this,
but she could give no explanation as to the manner in which the
response came to her. Twenty years of scientific investigations have
added little or nothing to this diagnosis of Hawthorne's, nor are we
any nearer to an explanation of the simple fact; which is wonderful
enough in its way. Hawthorne compares the revelations of mediums to
dreams, but they are not exactly like them, for they are at the same
time more rational and less original or spontaneous than dreams. In my
dreams my old friends often come back to me and speak in their
characteristic manner,--more characteristic perhaps than I could
represent them when awake,--but the responses of mediums are either
evasive or too highly generalized to be of any particular value. The
story of Mary Runnel, or Rondel, which Julian Hawthorne narrates, is an
excellent case in point. Hawthorne had probably heard of that
flirtation of his grandfather some time in his youth, and the fact was
unconsciously latent in his mind; but nothing that Mary divulged at
Bellosguardo was of real interest to him or to the others concerned.
The practice of spiritism, hypnotism, or Christian Science opens a wide
door for superstition and imposture to walk in and seat themselves by
our firesides.

About a year before this, Congress had given Hiram Powers a commission
to model a colossal statue of _America_ for the Capitol at
Washington. This he had done, and the committee in charge accepted his
design,--Hawthorne also writes admiringly of it,--but it was also
necessary to receive the approval of the President, and this Buchanan
with his peculiar obstinacy refused to give. Powers was left without
compensation for a whole year of arduous labor, and Hawthorne for once
was thoroughly indignant. He wrote in his diary:

"I wish our great Republic had the spirit to do as much, according to
its vast means, as Florence did for sculpture and architecture when it
was a republic.... And yet the less we attempt to do for art the
better, if our future attempts are to have no better result than such
brazen troopers as the equestrian statue of General Jackson, or even
such naked respectabilities as Greeneough's Washington."

Perhaps Powers' "America" was a fortunate escape, and yet it does not
seem right that any enlightened government should set such a pitfall
for honest men to stumble into. There certainly ought to be some
compensation in such cases. The experience of history hitherto has been
that, whereas painting and literature have nourished under all forms of
government, sculpture has only attained its highest excellence in
republics like Athens, Rhodes, Florence, and Nuremberg; so that upon
this line of argument there is good hope for America in the future.

CHAPTER XV

HAWTHORNE AS ART CRITIC: 1858

Nearly one-third of the Italian Note-book is devoted to the criticisms
or descriptions of paintings, statues, and architecture, for which we
can be only too thankful as coming from such a bright, penetrating, and
ingenious intelligence. It is much in their favor that Hawthorne had
not previously undertaken a course of instruction in art; that he wrote
for his own benefit, and not for publication; and that he was not
biased by preconceived opinions. It cannot be doubted that he was
sometimes influenced by the opinions of Story, Powers, and other
artists with whom he came in contact; but this could have happened only
in particular cases, and more especially in respect to modern works of
art. When Hawthorne visited the galleries he usually went alone, or
only accompanied by his wife.

The only opportunities for the study of aesthetics or art criticism,
fifty years ago, were to be found in German universities. Kugler's
handbook of painting was the chief authority in use, rather academic,
but correct enough in a general way. Ruskin, a more eloquent and
discriminating writer, had devoted himself chiefly to celebrating the
merits of Turner and Tintoretto, but was never quite just to Florentine
art. Mrs. Jameson followed closely after Kugler, and was the only one
of these that Hawthorne appears to have consulted. Winckelmann's
history of Greek sculpture, which was not a history in the proper sense
of the word, had been translated by Lodge, but Hawthorne does not
mention it, and it would not have been much assistance to him if he had
read it. Like Winckelmann and Lessing, however, he admired the
"Laocon,"--an admiration now somewhat out of fashion.

There can be no final authority in art, for the most experienced
critics still continue to differ in their estimates of the same
painting or statue. More than this, it is safe to affirm that any one
writer who makes a statement concerning a certain work of art at a
given time, would have made a somewhat different statement at another
time. In fact, this not unfrequently happens in actual practice; for
all that any of us can do is, to reproduce the impression made on us at
the moment, and this depends as much on our own state of mind, and on
our peculiarities, as on the peculiarities of the picture or statue
that we criticise. It is the same in art itself. If Raphael had not
painted the "Sistine Madonna" at the time he did, he would have
produced a different work. It was the concentration of that particular
occasion, and if any accident had happened to prevent it, that pious
and beautiful vision would have been lost to the world.

It requires years of study and observation of the best masters to
become a trustworthy art critic, and then everything depends of course
upon the genius of the individual. It has happened more than once that
a wealthy American, with a certain kind of enthusiasm for art, has
prepared himself at a German university, has studied the science of
connoisseurship, and has become associate member of a number of foreign
societies, only to discover at length that he had no talent for the
profession. Hawthorne enjoyed no such advantages, nor did he even think
of becoming a connoisseur. His whole experience in the art of design
might be included within twelve months, and his original basis was
nothing better than his wife's water-color painting and the mediocre
pictures in the Boston Athenaeum; but he brought to his subject an eye
that was trained to the closest observation of Nature and a mind
experienced beyond all others [Footnote: At least at that time.] in the
mysteries of human life. He begins tentatively, and as might be
expected makes a number of errors, but quite as often he hits the nail,
where others have missed it. He learns by his mistakes, and steadily
improves in critical faculty. Hawthorne's Italian Note-book is a unique
record, in which the development of a highly organized mind has
advanced from small beginnings to exceptional skill in a fresh
department of activity.

Hawthorne brought with him to Italy the Yankee preference for newness
and nicety, which our forefathers themselves derived from their
residence in Holland, and there is no city in Europe where this
sentiment could have troubled him so much as in Rome. He disliked the
dingy picture-frames, the uncleanly canvases, the earth-stains and
broken noses of the antique statues, the smoked-up walls of the Sistine
Chapel, and the cracks in Raphael's frescos. He condemns everything as
rubbish which has not an external perfection; forgetting that, as in
human nature, the most precious treasures are sometimes allied with an
ungainly exterior. Yet in this he only echoes the impressions of
thousands of others who have gone to the Vatican and returned
disconsolate, because amid a perplexing multitude of objects they knew
not where to look for consummate art. One can imagine if an experienced
friend had accompanied Hawthorne to the Raphael stanza, and had pointed
out the figures of the Pope, the cardinal, and the angelic boys in the
"Mass at Bolsena," he would have admired them without limitation. He
quickly discovered Raphael's "Transfiguration," and considered it the
greatest painting that the world contains.

The paintings in the princely collections in Rome are, with the
exception of those in the Borghese gallery, far removed from princely.
A large proportion of their best paintings had long since been sold to
the royal collections of northern Europe, and had been replaced either
by copies or by works of inferior masters. In the Barberini palace
there are not more than three or four paintings such as might
reasonably detain a traveller, and it is about the same in the Ludovisi
gallery. There was not a grain of affectation in Hawthorne; he never
pretended to admire what he did not like, nor did he strain himself
into liking anything that his inner nature rebelled against.

Hawthorne's taste in art was much in advance of his time. His quick
appreciation of the colossal statues of Castor and Pollux on the
Quirinal is the best proof of this. Ten years later it was the fashion
in Rome to deride those statues, as a late work of the empire and
greatly lacking in artistic style. Brunn, in his history of ancient
sculpture, attributes them to the school of Lysippus, a contemporary of
Alexander, which Brunn certainly would not have done if he had
possessed a good eye for form. Vasari, on the contrary, a surer critic,
considered them worthy to be placed beside Michel Angelo's "David"; but
it remained for Furtwngler to restore them to their true position as a
work of the Periclean age, although copied by Italian sculptors. They
must have been the product of a single mind, [Footnote: On the base of
one is _Opus Phidiae_, and on that of the other, _Opus Praxitelis._]
either Phidias, Alcameres, or the elder Praxiteles--if there ever was
such a person; and they have the finest figures of any statues in Rome
(much finer than the dandified "Apollo Belvedere") and also the most
spirited action.

Hawthorne went to the Villa Ludovisi to see the much-vaunted bas-relief
of Antinous, which fifty years ago was considered one of the art
treasures of the city; but a more refined taste has since discovered
that in spite of the rare technical skill, its hard glassy finish gives
it a cold and conventional effect. Hawthorne returned from it
disappointed, and wrote in his diary:

"This Antinous is said to be the finest relic of antiquity next to the
Apollo and the Laocon; but I could not feel it to be so, partly, I
suppose, because the features of Antinous do not seem to me beautiful
in themselves; and that heavy, downward look is repeated till I am more
weary of it than of anything else in sculpture."

The Greek artist of Adrian's time attempted to give the face a pensive
expression, but only succeeded in this heavy downward look.

Hawthorne felt the same disappointment after his first visit to the
sculpture-gallery of the Vatican. "I must confess," he wrote, "taking
such transient glimpses as I did, I was more impressed with the extent
of the Vatican, and the beautiful order in which it is kept and its
great sunny, open courts, with fountains, grass, and shrubs ... than
with the statuary." The Vatican collection has great archaeological
value, but, with the exception of the "Laocon," the "Meleager," the
"Apollo," and a few others, little or no artistic value. The vast
majority of the statues there are either late Roman works or cheap
Roman copies of second-rate Hellenic statues. Some of them are
positively bad and others are archaic, and Hawthorne was fully
justified in his disatisfaction with them. He noticed, however, a
decided difference between the original "Apollo" and the casts of it
with which he was familiar. On a subsequent visit he fails to observe
the numerous faults in Canova's "Perseus," and afterwards writes this
original statement concerning the "Laocon":

"I felt the Laocon very powerfully, though very quietly; an immortal
agony with a strange calmness diffused through it, so that it resembles
the vast age of the sea, calm on account of its immensity; as the
tumult of Niagara, which does not seem to be tumult, because it keeps
pouring on forever and ever."

Professor E. A. Gardner and the more fastidious school of critics have
recently decided that the action of the "Laocon" is too violent to be
contained within the proper boundaries of sculpture; but Hawthorne
controverts this view in a single sentence. The action is violent, it
is true, but the _impression_ which the statue makes on him is not
a violent one; for the greatness of the art sublimates the motive. It
is a tragedy in marble, and Pliny, who had seen the works of Phidias
and Praxiteles, placed Agesander's "Laocon" above them all. This,

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