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The Life and Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Frank Preston Stearns

Part 5 out of 6

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however, is a Roman view. What Hawthorne wrote in his diary should not
always be taken literally. When he declares that he would like to have
every artist that perpetrates an allegory put to death, he merely
expresses the puzzling effects which such compositions frequently
exercise on the weary-minded traveller; and when he wishes that all the
frescos on Italian walls could be obliterated, he only repeats a
sentiment of similar strain. Perhaps we should class in the same
category Hawthorne's remark concerning the Elgin marbles in the British
Museum, that "it would be well if they were converted into paving-
stones." There are no grander monuments of ancient art than those
battered and headless statues from the pediment of the Parthenon (the
figures of the so-called "Three Fates" surpass the "Venus of Melos"),
and archaeologists are still in dispute as to what they may have
represented; but the significance of the subject before him was always
the point in which Hawthorne was interested. Julian Hawthorne says of
his father, in regard to a similar instance:

"Of technicalities,--difficulties overcome, harmony of lines, and so
forth,--he had no explicit knowledge; they produced their effect upon
him of course, but without his recognizing the manner of it. All that
concerned him was the sentiment which the artist had meant to express;
the means and method were comparatively unimportant." [Footnote: J.
Hawthorne, ii. 193.]

The technicalities of art differ with every clime and every generation.
They belong chiefly to the connoisseur, and have their value, but the
less a critic thinks of them in making a general estimate of a painting
or statue, the more likely he is to render an impartial judgment.
Hawthorne's analysis of Praxiteles's "Faun," in his "Romance of Monte
Beni," being a subject in which he was particularly interested, is
almost without a rival in the literature of its kind; and this is the
more remarkable since the copy of the "Faun" in the museum of the
Capitol is not one of the best, at least it is inferior to the one in
the Glyptothek at Munich. It seems as if Hawthorne had penetrated to
the first conception of it in the mind of Praxiteles.

The Sistine Chapel, like the Italian scenery, only unfolds its beauties
on a bright day, and Hawthorne happened to go there when the sky was
full of drifting clouds, a time when it is difficult to see any object
as it really is. It may have been on this account that he entirely
mistook the action of the Saviour in Michel Angelo's "Last Judgment."
Christ has raised his arm above his head in order to display the mark
where he was nailed to the cross, and Hawthorne presumed this, as many
others have done, to be an angry threatening gesture of condemnation,
which would not accord with his merciful spirit. He appreciated the
symmetrical figure of Adam, and the majestic forms of the prophets and
sibyls encircling the ceiling, and if he had seen the face of the
Saviour in a fair light, he might have recognized that such divine
calmness of expression could not coexist with a vindictive motive.
This, however, can be seen to better advantage in a Braun photograph
than in the painting itself.

Hawthorne goes to the Church of San Pietro in Vincolo to see Michel
Angelo's "Moses," but he does not moralize before it, like a certain
Concord artist, on "the weakness of exaggeration;" nor does he
consider, like Ruskin, that its conventional horns are a serious
detriment. On the contrary he finds it "grand and sublime, with a beard
flowing down like a cataract; a truly majestic figure, but not so
benign as it were desirable that such strength should hold." An
Englishman present remarked that the "Moses" had very fine features,--
"a compliment," says Hawthorne, "for which the colossal Hebrew ought to
have made the Englishman a bow."

[Footnote: Italian Note-book, p. 164.]

Perhaps the Englishman really meant that the face had a noble
expression. The somewhat satyr-like features of the "Moses" would seem
to have been unconsciously adopted, together with the horns, from a
statue of the god Pan, which thus serves as an intermediate link
between the "Moses" and the "Faun" of Praxiteles; but he who cannot
appreciate Michel Angelo's "Moses" in spite of this, knows nothing of
the Alpine heights of human nature.

Of all the paintings that Hawthorne saw in Rome none impressed him so
deeply as Guido's portrait of Beatrice Cenci, and none more justly. If
the "Laocon" is the type of an old Greek tragedy, a strong man
strangled in the coils of Fate, the portrait of Beatrice represents the
tragedy of mediaeval Italy, a beautiful woman crushed by the downfall
of a splendid civilization. The fate of Joan of Arc or of Madame Roland
was merciful compared to that of poor Beatrice. Religion is no
consolation to her, for it is the Pope himself who signs her death-
warrant. She is massacred to gratify the avarice of the Holy See. Yet
in this last evening of her tragical life, she does find strength and
consolation in her dignity as a woman. Never was art consecrated to a
higher purpose; Guido rose above himself; and, as Hawthorne says, it
seems as if mortal man could not have wrought such an effect. It has
always been the most popular painting in Rome, but Hawthorne was the
first to celebrate its unique superiority in writing, and his discourse
upon it in various places leaves little for those that follow.

It may have been long since discovered that Hawthorne's single weakness
was a weakness for his friends; certainly an amiable weakness, but
nevertheless that is the proper name for it. When Phocion was Archon of
Athens, he said that a chief magistrate should know no friends; and the
same should be true of an authoritative writer. Hawthorne has not gone
so far in this direction as many others have who had less reason to
speak with authority than he; but he has indicated his partiality for
Franklin Pierce plainly enough, and his over-praise of Hiram Powers and
William Story, as well as his under-praise of Crawford, will go down to
future generations as something of an injustice to those three artists.


It is not necessary to repeat here what Hawthorne wrote concerning
Powers' Webster. The statue stands in front of the State House at
Boston, and serves as a good likeness of the famous orator, but more
than that one cannot say for it. The face has no definable expression,
and those who have looked for a central motive in the figure will be
pleased to learn what it is by reading Hawthorne's description of it,
as he saw it in Powers' studio at Florence. A sculptor of the present
day can find no better study for his art than the attitudes and changes
of countenance in an eloquent speaker; but which of them can be said to
have taken advantage of this? Story made an attempt in his statue of
Everett, but even his most indulgent friends did not consider it a
success. His "George Peabody," opposite the Bank of England, could not
perhaps have been altogether different from what it is.

What chiefly interested Story in his profession seems to have been the
modelling of unhappy women in various attitudes of reflection. He made
a number of these, of which his "Cleopatra" is the only one known to
fame, and in the expression of her face he has certainly achieved a
high degree of excellence. Neither has Hawthorne valued it too highly,
--the expression of worldly splendor incarnated in a beautiful woman on
the tragical verge of an abyss. If she only were beautiful! Here the
limitations of the statue commence. Hawthorne says, "The sculptor had
not shunned to give the full, Nubian lips and other characteristics of
the Egyptian physiognomy."

Here he follows the sculptor himself, and it is remarkable that a
college graduate like William Story should have made so transparent a
mistake. Cleopatra was not an Egyptian at all. The Ptolemies were
Greeks, and it is simply impossible to believe that they would have
allied themselves with a subject and alien race. This kind of small
pedantry has often led artists astray, and was peculiarly virulent
during the middle of the past century. The whole figure of Story's
"Cleopatra" suffers from it. Hawthorne says again, "She was draped from
head to foot in a costume minutely and scrupulously studied from that
of ancient Egypt." In fact, the body and limbs of the statue are so
closely shrouded as to deprive the work of that sense of freedom of
action and royal abandon which greets us in Shakespeare's and
Plutarch's "Cleopatra." Story might have taken a lesson from Titian's
matchless "Cleopatra" in the Cassel gallery, or from Marc Antonio's
small woodcut of Raphael's "Cleopatra."

Perhaps it is not too much to say of Crawford that he was the finest
plastic genius of the Anglo-Saxon race. His technique may not have been
equal to Flaxman's or St. Gaudens', but his designs have more of
grandeur than the former, and he is more original than the latter.
There are faults of modelling in his "Orpheus," and its attitude
resembles that of the eldest son of Niobe in the Florentine gallery,--
although the Niobe youth looks upward and Orpheus is peering into
darkness,--its features are rather too pretty; but the statue has
exactly what Powers' "Greek Slave" lacks, a definite motive,--that of
an earnest seeker,--which pervades it from head to foot; and it is no
imaginary pathos that we feel in its presence. There is, at least, no
imitation of the antique in Crawford's "Beethoven," for its conception,
the listening to internal harmonies, would never have occurred to a
Greek or a Roman. Even Hawthorne admits Crawford's skill in the
treatment of drapery; and this is very important, for it is in his
drapery quite as much as in the nude that we recognize the superiority
of Michel Angelo to Raphael; and the folds of Beethoven's mantle are as
rhythmical as his own harmonies. The features lack something of
firmness, but it is altogether a statue in the grand manner.

Hawthorne is rather too exacting in his requirements of modern
sculptors. Warrington Wood, who commenced life as a marble-worker,
always employed Italian workmen to carve his statues, although he was
perfectly able to do it himself, and always put on the finishing
touches,--as I presume they all do. Bronze statues are finished with a
file, and of course do not require any knowledge of the chisel.

In regard to the imitation of antique attitudes, there has certainly
been too much of it, as Hawthorne supposes; but the Greeks themselves
were given to this form of plagiarism, and even Praxiteles sometimes
adopted the motives of his predecessors; but Hawthorne praises Powers,
Story, and Harriet Hosmer above their merits.

The whole brotherhood of artists and their critical friends might rise
up against me, if I were to support Hawthorne's condemnation of modern
Venuses, and "the guilty glimpses stolen at hired models." They are not
necessarily guilty glimpses. To an experienced artist the customary
study from a naked figure, male or female, is little more than what a
low-necked dress at a party would be to many others. Yet the instinct
of the age shrinks from this exposure. We can make pretty good Venuses,
but we cannot look at them through the same mental and moral atmosphere
as the contemporaries of Scopas, or even with the same eyes that Michel
Angelo saw them. We feel the difference between a modern Venus and an
ancient one. There is a statue in the Vatican of a Roman emperor, of
which every one says that it ought to wear clothes; and the reason is
because the face has such a modern look. A raving Bacchante may be a
good acquisition to an art museum, but it is out of place in a public
library. A female statue requires more or less drapery to set off the
outlines of the figure and to give it dignity. We feel this even in the
finest Greek work--like the "Venus of Cnidos."

In this matter Hawthorne certainly exposes his Puritanic education, and
he also places too high a value on the carving of button-holes and
shoestrings by Italian workmen. Such things are the fag-ends of

His judgment, however, is clear and convincing in regard to the tinted
Eves and Venuses of Gibson. Whatever may have been the ancient practice
in this respect, Gibson's experiment proved a failure. Nobody likes
those statues; and no other sculptor has since followed Gibson's
example. The tinting of statues by the Greeks did not commence until
the time of Aristotle, and does not seem to have been very general.
Their object evidently was, not so much to imitate flesh as to tone
down the crystalline glare of the new marble. Pausanias speaks of a
statue in Arcadia, the drapery of which was painted with vermilion, "so
as to look very gay." This was of course the consequence of a late and
degraded taste. That traces of paint should have been discovered on
Greek temples is no evidence that the marble was painted when they were
first built.

It may be suspected that Hawthorne was one of the very few who have
seen the "Venus d Medici" and recognized the true significance of the
statue. The vast majority of visitors to the Uffizi only see in it the
type of a perfectly symmetrical woman bashfully posing for her likeness
in marble, but Hawthorne's perception in it went much beyond that, and
the fact that he attempts no explanation of its motive is in accordance
with the present theory. He also noticed that statues had sometimes
exercised a potent spell over him, and at others a very slight

Froude says that a man's modesty is the best part of him. Notice that,
ye strugglers for preferment, and how beautifully modest Hawthorne is,
when he writes in his Florentine diary:

"In a year's time, with the advantage of access to this magnificent
gallery, I think I might come to have some little knowledge of
pictures. At present I still know nothing; but am glad to find myself
capable, at least, of loving one picture better than another. I am
sensible, however, that a process is going on, and has been ever since
I came to Italy, that puts me in a state to see pictures with less
toil, and more pleasure, and makes me more fastidious, yet more
sensible of beauty where I saw none before."

Hawthorne belongs to the same class of amateur critics as Shelley and
Goethe, who, even if their opinions cannot always be accepted as final,
illuminate the subject with the radiance of genius and have an equal
value with the most experienced connoisseurs.

* * * * *

The return of the Hawthornes to Rome through Tuscany was even more
interesting than their journey to Florence in the spring, and they
enjoyed the inestimable advantage of a _vetturino_ who would seem
to have been the Sir Philip Sidney of his profession, a compendium of
human excellences. There are such men, though rarely met with, and we
may trust Hawthorne's word that Constantino Bacci was one of them; not
only a skilful driver, but a generous provider, honest, courteous,
kindly, and agreeable. They went first to Siena, where they were
entertained for a week or more by the versatile Mr. Story, and where
Hawthorne wrote an eloquent description of the cathedral; then over the
mountain pass where Radicofani nestles among the iron-browed crags
above the clouds; past the malarious Lake of Bolsena, scene of the
miracle which Raphael has commemorated in the Vatican; through Viterbo
and _Sette Vene_; and finally, on October 16, into Rome, through
the Porta' del Popolo, designed by Michel Angelo in his massive style,
--Donati's comet flaming before them every night. Thompson, the portrait
painter, had already secured a furnished house, No. 68 Piazza Poli, for
the Hawthornes, to which they went immediately.

Since the death of Julius Csar, comets have always been looked upon as
the forerunners of pestilence and war, but wars are sometimes
blessings, and Donati's discovery proved a harbinger of good to Italy,
--but to the Hawthornes, a prediction of evil. Continually in
Hawthorne's Italian journal we meet with references to the Roman
malaria, as if it were a subject that occupied his thoughts, and
nowhere is this more common than during the return-journey from
Florence. Did it occur to him that the lightning might strike in his
own house? No sensible American now would take his children to Rome
unless for a very brief visit; and yet William Story brought up his
family there with excellent success, so far as health was concerned.

We can believe that Hawthorne took every possible precaution, so far as
he knew, but in spite of that on November 1 his eldest daughter was
seized with Roman fever, and for six weeks thereafter lay trembling
between life and death, so that it seemed as if a feather might turn
the balance.

She does not appear to have been imprudent. Her father believed that
the "old hag" breathed upon her while she was with her mother, who was
sketching in the Palace of the Csars; but the Palatine Hill is on high
ground, with a foundation of solid masonry, and was guarded by French
soldiers, and it would have been difficult to find a more cleanly spot
in the city. A German count, who lived in a villa on the Clian Hill,
close by, considered his residence one of the most healthful in Rome.
Miss Una had a passionate attachment for the capital of the ancient
world; and it seems as if the evil spirit of the place had seized upon
her, as the Ice Maiden is supposed to entrap chamois hunters in the

One of the evils attendant on sickness in a foreign country is, the
uncertainty in regard to a doctor, and this naturally leads to a
distrust and suspicion of the one that is employed. Even so shrewd a
man as Bismarck fell into the hands of a charlatan at St. Petersburg
and suffered severely in consequence. Hawthorne either had a similar
experience, or, what came to the same thing, believed that he did. He
considered himself obliged to change doctors for his daughter, and this
added to his care and anxiety. During the next four months he wrote not
a word in his journal (or elsewhere, so far as we know), and he visibly
aged before his wife's eyes. He went to walk on occasion with Story or
Thompson, but it was merely for the preservation of his own health. His
thoughts were always in his daughter's chamber, and this was so
strongly marked upon his face that any one could read it. Toward the
Ides of March, Miss Una was sufficiently improved to take a short look
at the carnival, but it was two months later before she was in a
condition to travel, and neither she nor her father ever wholly
recovered from the effects of this sad experience.


"THE MARBLE FAUN": 1859-1860

What the Roman carnival was a hundred and fifty years ago, when the
Italian princes poured out their wealth upon it, and when it served as
a medium for the communication of lovers as well as for social and
political intrigue, which sometimes resulted in conflicts like those of
the Montagues and Capulets, can only be imagined. Goethe witnessed it
from a balcony in the Corso, and his carnival in the second part of
"Faust" was worked up from notes taken on that occasion; but it is so
highly poetized that little can be determined from it, except as a
portion of the drama. By Hawthorne's time the aristocratic Italians had
long since given up their favorite holiday to English and American
travellers,--crowded out, as it were, by the superiority of money; and
since the advent of Victor Emmanuel, the carnival has become so
democratic that you are more likely to encounter your landlady's
daughter there than any more distinguished person. Hawthorne's
description of it in "The Marble Faun" is not overdrawn, and is one of
the happiest passages in the book.

The carnival of 1859 was an exceptionally brilliant one. The Prince of
Wales attended it with a suite of young English nobles, who, always
decorous and polite on public occasions, nevertheless infused great
spirit into the proceedings. Sumner and Motley were there, and Motley
rented a balcony in a palace, to which the Hawthornes received general
and repeated invitations. On March 7, Miss Una was driven through the
Corso in a barouche, and the Prince of Wales threw her a bouquet,
probably recognizing her father, who was with her; and to prove his
good intentions he threw her another, when her carriage returned from
the Piazza, del Popolo. The present English sovereign has always been
noted for a sort of journalistic interest in prominent men of letters,
science, and public affairs, and it is likely that he was better
informed in regard to the Hawthornes than they imagined. Hawthorne
himself was too much subdued by his recent trial to enter into the
spirit of the carnival, even with a heart much relieved from anxiety,
but he sometimes appeared in the Motleys' balcony, and sometimes went
along the narrow sidewalk of the Corso, "for an hour or so among the
people, just on the edges of the fun." Sumner invited Mrs. Hawthorne to
take a stroll and see pictures with him, from which she returned
delighted with his criticisms and erudition.

A few days later Franklin Pierce suddenly appeared at No. 68 Piazza
Poli, with that shadow on his face which was never wholly to leave it.
The man who fears God and keeps his commandments will never feel quite
alone in the world; but for the man who lives on popularity, what will
there be left when that forsakes him? Hawthorne was almost shocked at
the change in his friend's appearance; not only at his gray hair and
wrinkled brow, but at the change in his voice, and at a certain lack of
substance in him, as if the personal magnetism had gone out of him.
Hawthorne went to walk with him, and tried to encourage him by
suggesting another term of the presidency, but this did not help much,
for even Pierce's own State had deserted him,--a fact of which
Hawthorne may not have been aware. The companionship of his old friend,
however, and the manifold novelty of Rome itself, somewhat revived the
ex-President, as may be imagined; and a month later he left for Venice,
in better spirits than he came.

They celebrated the Ides of March by going to see Harriet Hosmer's
statue of Zenobia, which was afterward exhibited in America. Hawthorne
immediately detected its resemblance to the antique,--the figure was in
fact a pure plagiarism from the smaller statue of Ceres in the
Vatican,--but Miss Hosmer succeeded in giving the face an expression of
injured and sorrowing majesty, which Hawthorne was equally ready to

On this second visit to Rome he became acquainted with a sculptor,
whose name is not given, but who criticised Hiram Powers with a rather
suspicious severity. He would not allow Powers "to be an artist at all,
or to know anything of the laws of art," although acknowledging him to
be a great bust-maker, and to have put together the "Greek Slave" and
the "Fisher-Boy" very ingeniously. "The latter, however (he says), is
copied from the Spinario in the _Tribune_ of the Uffizi; and the
former made up of beauties that had no reference to one another; and he
affirms that Powers is ready to sell, and has actually sold, the 'Greek
Slave,' limb by limb, dismembering it by reversing the process of
putting it together. Powers knows nothing scientifically of the human
frame, and only succeeds in representing it, as a natural bone-doctor
succeeds in setting a dislocated limb, by a happy accident or special
providence." [Footnote: Italian Note-book, 483.]

We may judge, from "the style, the matter, and the drift" of this
discourse, that it emanated from the same sculptor who is mentioned, in
"Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife," as having traduced Margaret Fuller
and her husband Count Ossoli. As Tennyson says, "A lie that is half a
truth is ever the blackest of lies," and this fellow would seem to have
been an adept in unveracious exaggeration. It is remarkable that
Hawthorne should have given serious attention to such a man; but an
English critic said in regard to this same incident that if Hawthorne
had been a more communicative person, if he had talked freely to a
larger number of people, he would not have been so easily prejudiced by
those few with whom he was chiefly intimate. To which it could be
added, that he might also have taken broader views in regard to public

Hawthorne was fortunate to have been present at the discovery of the
St. Petersburg "Venus," the twin sister of the "Venus d Medici," which
was dug up in a vineyard outside the Porta Portese. The proprietor of
the vineyard, who made his fortune at a stroke by the discovery,
happened to select the site for a new building over the buried ruins of
an ancient villa, and the "Venus" was discovered in what appeared to
Hawthorne as an old Roman bath-room. The statue was in more perfect
preservation than the "Venus d Medici," both of whose arms have been
restored, and Hawthorne noticed that the head was larger and the face
more characteristic, with wide-open eyes and a more confident
expression. He was one of the very few who saw it before it was
transported to St. Petersburg, and a thorough artistic analysis of it
is still one of the _desiderata_. The difference in expression,
however, would seem to be in favor of the "Venus d Medici," as more in
accordance with the ruling motive of the figure.

Miss Una Hawthorne had not sufficiently recovered to travel until the
last of May, when they all set forth northward by way of Genoa and
Marseilles, in which latter place we find them on the 28th, enjoying
the comfort and elegance of a good French hotel. Thence they proceeded
to Avignon, but did not find much to admire there except the Rhone; so
they continued to Geneva, the most pleasant, homelike resting place in
Europe, but quite deficient in other attractions.

It seems as if Hawthorne's Roman friends were somewhat remiss in not
giving him better advice in regard to European travelling. At Geneva he
was within a stone's throw of Chamounix, and hardly more than that of
Strasburg Cathedral, and yet he visited neither. Why did he go out of
his way to see so little and to miss so much? He went across the lake
to visit Lausanne and the Castle of Chillon, and he was more than
astonished at the view of the Pennine Alps from the deck of the
steamer. He had never imagined anything like it; and he might have said
the same if he had visited Cologne Cathedral. Instead of that, however,
he hurried through France again, with the intention of sailing for
America the middle of July; but after reaching London he concluded to
remain another year in England, to write his "Romance of Monte Beni,"
and obtain an English copyright for it.

He left Geneva on June 15, and as he turned his face northward, he felt
that Henry Bright and Francis Bennoch were his only real friends in
Great Britain. There could hardly have been a stronger contrast than
these two. Bright was tall, slender, rather pale for an Englishman,
grave and philosophical. Bennoch was short, plump, lively and jovial,
with a ready fund of humor much in the style of Dickens, with whom he
was personally acquainted. Yet Hawthorne recognized that Bright and
Bennoch liked him for what he was, in and of himself, and not for his
celebrity alone.

Bright was in London when Hawthorne reached there, and proposed that
they should go together to call on Sumner, [Footnote: J. Hawthorne, ii.
223.] who had been cured from the effects of Brooks's assault by an
equally heroic treatment; but Hawthorne objected that as neither of
them was Lord Chancellor, Sumner would not be likely to pay them much
attention; to which Bright replied, that Sumner had been very kind to
him in America, and they accordingly went. Sumner was kind to
thousands,--the kindest as well as the most upright man of his time,--
and no one in America, except Longfellow, appreciated Hawthorne so
well; but he was the champion of the anti-slavery movement and the
inveterate opponent of President Pierce. I suppose a man's mind cannot
help being colored somewhat by such conditions and influences.

Hawthorne wished for a quiet, healthful place, where he could write his
romance without the disturbances that are incident to celebrity, and
his friends recommended Redcar, on the eastern coast of Yorkshire, a
town that otherwise Americans would not have heard of. He went there
about the middle of July, remaining until the 5th of October, but of
his life there we know nothing except that he must have worked
assiduously, for in that space of time he nearly finished a book
containing almost twice as many pages as "The Scarlet Letter."
Meanwhile Mrs. Hawthorne entertained the children and kept them from
interfering with their father (in his small cottage), by making a
collection of sea-mosses, which Una and Julian gathered at low tides,
and which their mother afterward dried and preserved on paper. On
October 4th Una Hawthorne wrote to her aunt, Elizabeth Peabody:

"Our last day in Redcar, and a most lovely one it is. The sea seems to
reproach us for leaving it. But I am glad we are going, for I feel so
homesick that I want constant change to divert my thoughts. How
troublesome feelings and affections are."

[Footnote: Mrs. Lathrop, 35 a.]

One can see that it was a pleasant place even after the days had begun
to shorten, which they do very rapidly in northern England. From
Redcar, Hawthorne went to Leamington, where he finished his romance
about the first of December, and remained until some time in March,
living quietly and making occasional pedestrian tours to neighboring
towns. He was particularly fond of the walk to Warwick Castle, and of
standing on the bridge which crosses the Avon, and gazing at the walls
of the Castle, as they rise above the trees--"as fine a piece of
English scenery as exists anywhere; the gray towers and long line of
windows of the lordly castle, with a picturesquely varied outline;
ancient strength, a little softened by decay." It is a view that has
often been sketched, painted and engraved.

The romance was written, but had to be revised, the least pleasant
portion of an author's duties,--unless he chooses to make the index
himself. This required five or six weeks longer, after which Hawthorne
went to London and arranged for its publication with Smith & Elder, who
agreed to bring it out in three volumes--although two would have been
quite sufficient; but according to English ideas, the length of a work
of fiction adds to its importance. Unfortunately, Smith & Elder also
desired to cater to the more prosaic class of readers by changing the
name of the romance from "The Marble Faun" to "Transformation," and
they appear to have done this without consulting Hawthorne's wishes in
the matter. It was simply squeezing the title dry of all poetic
suggestions; and it would have been quite as appropriate to change the
name of "The Scarlet Letter" to "The Clergyman's Penance," or to call
"The Blithedale Romance" "The Suicide of a Jilt." If Smith & Elder
considered "The Marble Faun" too recondite a title for the English
public, what better name could they have hit upon than "The Romance of
Monte Beni"? Would not the Count of Monte Beni be a cousin Italian, as
it were, to the Count of Monte Cristo? We are thankful to observe that
when Hawthorne published the book in America, he had his own way in
regard to this point.

It was now that a new star was rising in the literary firmament, not of
the "shooting" or transitory species, and the genius of Marian Evans
(George Eliot) was casting its genial penetrating radiance over Great
Britain and the United States. She was as difficult a person to meet
with as Hawthorne himself, and they never saw one another; but a friend
of Mr. Bennoch, who lived at Coventry, invited the Hawthornes there in
the first week of February to meet Bennoch and others, and Marian Evans
would seem to have been the chief subject of conversation at the table
that evening. What Hawthorne gathered concerning her on that occasion
he has preserved in this compact and discriminating statement:

"Miss Evans (who wrote 'Adam Bede') was the daughter of a steward, and
gained her exact knowledge of English rural life by the connection with
which this origin brought her with the farmers. She was entirely self-
educated, and has made herself an admirable scholar in classical as
well as in modern languages. Those who knew her had always recognized
her wonderful endowments, and only watched to see in what way they
would develop themselves. She is a person of the simplest manners and
character, amiable and unpretending, and Mrs. B---- spoke of her with
great affection and respect."

There is actually more of the real George Eliot in this summary than in
the three volumes of her biography by Mr. Cross.

Thorwaldsen's well-known simile in regard to the three stages of
sculpture, the life, the death and the resurrection, also has its
application to literature. The manuscript is the birth of an author's
work, and its revision always seems like taking the life out of it; but
when the proof comes, it is like a new birth, and he sees his design
for the first time in its true proportions. Then he goes over it as the
sculptor does his newly-cast bronze, smoothing the rough places and
giving it those final touches which serve to make its expression
clearer. Hawthorne was never more to be envied than while correcting
the proof of "The Marble Faun" at Leamington. The book was given to the
public at Easter-time; and there seems to have been only one person in
England that appreciated it, even as a work of art--John Lothrop
Motley. The most distinguished reviewers wholly failed to catch the
significance of it; and even Henry Bright, while warmly admiring the
story, expressed a dissatisfaction at the conclusion of it,--although
he could have found a notable precedent for that in Goethe's "Wilhelm
Meister." The _Saturday Review_, a publication similar in tone to
the New York _Nation_, said of "Transformation:"

[Footnote: J. Hawthorne, ii. 250.]

"A mystery is set before us to unriddle; at the end the author turns
round and asks us what is the good of solving it. That the impression
of emptiness and un-meaningness thus produced is in itself a blemish to
the work no one can deny. Mr. Hawthorne really trades upon the honesty
of other writers. We feel a sort of interest in the story, slightly and
sketchily as it is told, because our experience of other novels leads
us to assume that, when an author pretends to have a plot, he has one."

The _Art Journal_ said of it: [Footnote: J. Hawthorne, ii. 249.]

"We are not to accept this book as a story; in that respect it is
grievously deficient. The characters are utterly untrue to nature and
to fact; they speak, all and always, the sentiments of the author;
their words also are his; there is no one of them for which the world
has furnished a model."

And the London _Athenaeum_ said: [Footnote: Ibid., ii. 244.]

"To Mr. Hawthorne truth always seems to arrive through the medium of
the imagination.... His hero, the Count of Monte Beni, would never have
lived had not the Faun of Praxiteles stirred the author's
admiration.... The other characters, Mr. Hawthorne must bear to be
told, are not new to a tale of his. Miriam, the mysterious, with her
hideous tormentor, was indicated in the Zenobia of 'The Blithedale
Romance.' Hilda, the pure and innocent, is own cousin to Phoebe in 'The
House of the Seven Gables'."

If the reviewer is to be reviewed, it is not too much to designate
these criticisms as miserable failures. They are not even well written.
Henry Bright seemed to be thankful that they were no worse, for he
wrote to Hawthorne: "I am glad that sulky _Athenaeum_ was so
civil; for they are equally powerful and unprincipled." The writer in
the _Athenaeum_ evidently belonged to that class of domineering
critics who have no literary standing, but who, like bankers' clerks,
arrogate to themselves all the importance of the establishment with
which they are connected. Fortunately, there are few such in America.
No keen-witted reader would ever confound the active, rosy, domestic
Phoebe Pyncheon with the dreamy, sensitive, and strongly subjective
Hilda of "The Marble Faun;" and Hawthorne might have sent a
communication to the _Athenaeum_ to refresh the reviewer's memory,
for it was not Zenobia in "The Blithedale Romance" who was dogged by a
mysterious persecutor, but her half-sister--Priscilla. Shakespeare's
Beatrice and his Rosalind are more alike (for Brandes supposes them to
have been taken from the same model) than Zenobia and Miriam; and the
difference between the persecutors of Priscilla and Miriam, as well as
their respective methods, is world-wide; but there are none so blind as
those who are enveloped in the turbid medium of their self-conceit.

The pure-hearted, chivalrous Motley read these reviews, and wrote to
Hawthorne a vindication of his work, which must have seemed to him like
a broad belt of New England sunshine in the midst of the London fog. In
reference to its disparagement by so-called authorities, Motley said:
[Footnote: Mrs. Lathrop, 408.]

"I have said a dozen times that nobody can write English but you. With
regard to the story which has been slightingly criticised, I can only
say that to me it is quite satisfactory. I like those shadowy, weird,
fantastic, Hawthornesque shapes flitting through the golden gloom which
is the atmosphere of the book. I like the misty way in which the story
is indicated rather than revealed. The outlines are quite definite
enough, from the beginning to the end, to those who have imagination
enough to follow you in your airy flights; and to those who complain---

"I beg your pardon for such profanation, but it really moves my spleen
that people should wish to bring down the volatile figures of your
romance to the level of an everyday novel. It is exactly the romantic
atmosphere of the book in which I revel."

The calm face of Motley, with his classic features, rises before us as
we read this, illumined as it were by "the mild radiance of a hidden
sun." He also had known what it was to be disparaged by English
periodicals; and if it had not been for Froude's spirited assertion in
his behalf, his history of the Dutch Republic might not have met with
the celebrity it deserved. He was aware of the difference between a
Hawthorne and a Reade or a Trollope, and knew how unfair it would be to
judge Hawthorne even by the same standard as Thackeray. He does not
touch in this letter on the philosophical character of the work,
although that must have been evident to him, for he had said enough
without it; but one could wish that he had printed the above statement
over his own name, in some English journal.

American reviewers were equally puzzled by "The Marble Faun," and,
although it was generally praised here, the literary critics treated it
in rather a cautious manner, as if it contained material of a dangerous
nature. The _North American_, which should have devoted five or
six pages to it, gave it less than one; praising it in a conventional
and rather unsympathetic tone. Longfellow read it, and wrote in his
diary, "A wonderful book; but with the old, dull pain in it that runs
through all Hawthorne's writings." There was always something of this
dull pain in the expression of Hawthorne's face.


It is like a picture, or a succession of pictures, painted in what the
Italians call the _sfumato_, or "smoky" manner. The book is
pervaded with the spirit of a dreamy pathos, such as constitutes the
mental atmosphere of modern Rome; not unlike the haze of an Indian
summer day, which we only half enjoy from a foreboding of the approach
of winter. All outlines are softened and partially blurred in it, as
time and decay have softened the outlines of the old Roman ruins. We
recognize the same style with which we are familiar in "The Scarlet
Letter," but influenced by a change in Hawthorne's external

It is a rare opportunity when the work of a great writer can be traced
back to its first nebulous conception, as we trace the design of a
pictorial artist to the first drawing that he made for his subject.
Although we cannot witness the development of the plot of this romance
in Hawthorne's mind, it is much to see in what manner the different
elements of which it is composed, first presented themselves to him,
and how he adapted them to his purpose.

The first of these in order of time was the beautiful Jewess, whom he
met at the Lord Mayor's banquet in London; who attracted him by her
_tout ensemble_, but at the same time repelled him by an indefinable
impression, a mysterious something, that he could not analyze. There would
seem, however, to have been another Jewess connected with the character
of Miriam; for I once heard Mrs. Hawthorne narrating a story in which she
stated that she and her husband were driving through London in a cab,
and passing close to the sidewalk in a crowded street they saw a beautiful
woman, with black hair and a ruddy complexion, walking with the most ill-
favored and disagreeable looking Jew that could be imagined; and on the
woman's face there was an expression of such deep-seated unhappiness that
Hawthorne and his wife turned to each other, and he said, "I think that
woman's face will always haunt me." I did not hear the beginning of Mrs.
Hawthorne's tale, but I always supposed that it related to "The Marble
Faun," and it would seem as if the character of Miriam was a composite
of these two daughters of Israel, uniting the enigmatical quality of one
with the unfortunate companionship of the other, and the beauty of both.

As previously noticed, the portrait of Beatrice Cenci excited a deeply
penetrating interest in Hawthorne, and his reflections on it day after
day would naturally lead him to a similar design in regard to the
romance which he was contemplating. The attribution of a catastrophe
like Beatrice's to either of the two Jewesses, would of course be
adventitious, and should be considered in the light of an artistic

The "Faun" of Praxiteles in the museum of the Capitol next attracted
his attention. This is but a poor copy of the original; but he
penetrated the motive of the sculptor with those deep-seeing eyes of
his, and there is no analysis of an ancient statue by Brunn or
Furtwngler that equals Hawthorne's description of this one. It seems
as if he must have looked backward across the centuries into the very
mind of Praxiteles, and he was, in fact, the first critic to appreciate
its high value. The perfect ease and simple beauty of the figure belong
to a higher grade of art than the Apollo Belvedere, and Hawthorne
discovered what Winckelmann had overlooked. He immediately conceived
the idea of bringing the faun to life, and seeing how he would behave
and comport himself in the modern world--in brief, to use the design of
Praxiteles as the mainspring of a romance. In the evening of April 22,
1858, he wrote in his journal:


"I looked at the Faun of Praxiteles, and was sensible of a peculiar
charm in it; a sylvan beauty and homeliness, friendly and wild at once.
It seems to me that a story, with all sorts of fun and pathos in it,
might be contrived on the idea of their species having become
intermingled with the human race; a family with the faun blood in them,
having prolonged itself from the classic era till our own days. The
tail might have disappeared, by dint of constant intermarriages with
ordinary mortals; but the pretty hairy ears should occasionally
reappear in members of the family; and the moral instincts and
intellectual characteristics of the faun might be most picturesquely
brought out, without detriment to the human interest of the story."

This statue served to concentrate the various speculative objects which
had been hovering before Hawthorne's imagination during the past
winter, and when he reached Florence six weeks later, the chief details
of the plot were already developed in his mind.

Hilda and Kenyon are, of course, subordinate characters, like the first
walking lady and the first walking gentleman on the stage. They are the
sympathetic friends who watch the progress of the drama, continually
hoping to be of service, but still finding themselves powerless to
prevent the catastrophe. It was perhaps their unselfish interest in
their mutual friends that at length taught them to know each other's
worth, so that they finally became more than friends to one another.
True love, to be firmly based, requires such a mutual interest or
common ground on which the parties can meet,--something in addition to
the usual attraction of the sexes. Mrs. Hawthorne has been supposed by
some to have been the original of Hilda; and by others her daughter

Conway holds an exceptional opinion, that Hilda was the feminine
counterpart of Hawthorne himself; but Hilda is only too transparent a
character, while Hawthorne always was, and still remains, impenetrable;
and there was enough of her father in Miss Una, to render the same
objection applicable in her case. Hilda seems to me very much like Mrs.
Hawthorne, as one may imagine her in her younger days; like her in her
mental purity, her conscientiousness, her devotion to her art,--which
we trust afterwards was transformed into a devotion to her husband,--
her tendency to self-seclusion, her sensitiveness and her lack of
decisive resolution. She is essentially what they call on the stage an
_ingenue_ character; that is, one that remains inexperienced in
the midst of experience; and it is in this character that she
contributes to the catastrophe of the drama.

If Hawthorne appears anywhere in his own fiction, it is not in "The
Blithedale Romance," but in the rle of Kenyon. Although Kenyon's
profession is that of a sculptor, he is not to be confounded with the
gay and versatile Story. Neither is he statuesque, as the English
reviewer criticised him. He is rather a shadowy character, as Hawthorne
himself was shadowy, and as an author always must be shadowy to his
readers; but Kenyon is to Hawthorne what Prospero is to Shakespeare,
and if he does not make use of magic arts, it is because they no longer
serve their purpose in human affairs. He is a wise, all-seeing,
sympathetic mind, and his active influence in the play is less
conspicuous because it is always so quiet, and so correct.

It will be noticed that the first chapter and the last chapter of this
romance have the same title: "Miriam, Hilda, Kenyon, Donatello." This
is according to their respective ages and sexes; but it is also the
terms of a proportion,--as Miriam is to Hilda, so is Kenyon to
Donatello. As the experienced woman is to the inexperienced woman, so
is the experienced man to the inexperienced man. This seems simple
enough, but it has momentous consequences in the story. Donatello, who
is a type of natural but untried virtue, falls in love with Miriam, not
only for her beauty, but because she has acquired that worldly
experience which he lacks. Hilda, suddenly aroused to a sense of her
danger in the isolated life she is leading, accepts Kenyon as a
protector. The means in this proportion come together and unite,
because they are the mean terms, and pursue a medium course. The
extremes fly apart and are separated, simply because they are extremes.
But there is a spiritual bond between them, invisible, but stronger
than steel, which will bring them together again--at the Day of
Judgment, if not sooner.

All tragedy is an investigation or exemplification of that form of
human error which we call sin; a catastrophe of nature or a simple
error of judgment may be tragical, but will not constitute a tragedy
without the moral or poetic element.

In "The Scarlet Letter," we have the sin of concealment and its
consequences. The first step toward reformation is confession, and
without that, repentance is little more than a good intention.

In "The House of the Seven Gables," Hawthorne has treated the sin of
hypocrisy--a smiling politician who courts popularity and pretends to
be everybody's friend, and agrees with everybody,--only with a slight
reservation. There may be occasions on which hypocrisy is a virtue; but
the habit of hypocrisy for personal ends is like a dry rot in the heart
of man.

In "The Blithedale Romance," we find the sin of moral affectation.
Neither Hollingsworth nor Zenobia is really what they pretend
themselves to be. Their morality is a hollow shell, and gives way to
the first effective temptation. Zenobia betrays Priscilla; and is
betrayed in turn by Hollingsworth,--as well as the interests of the
association which had been committed to his charge.

The kernel of "The Marble Faun" is _original sin_. It is a story
of the fall of man, told again in the light of modern science. It is a
wonderful coincidence that almost in the same months that Hawthorne was
writing this romance, Charles Darwin was also finishing his work on the
"Origin of Species;" for one is the moral counterpart of the other.
Hawthorne did not read scientific and philosophical books, but he may
have heard something of Darwin's undertaking in England, as well as
Napoleon's prophetic statement at St. Helena, that all the animals form
an ascending series, leading up to man. [Footnote: Dr. O'Meara's "A
Voice from St. Helena."] The skeleton of a prehistoric man discovered
in the Neanderthal cave, which was supposed to have proved the
Darwinian theory, does not suggest a figure similar to the "Faun" of
Praxiteles, but the followers of Darwin have frequently adverted to the
Hellenic traditions of fauns and satyrs in support of their theory.
Hawthorne, however, has made a long stride beyond Darwin, for he has
endeavored to reconcile this view of creation with the Mosaic
cosmogony; and it must be admitted that he has been fairly successful.
The lesson that Hawthorne teaches is, that evil does not reside in
error, but in neglecting to be instructed by our errors. It is this
which makes the difference between a St. Paul and a Nero. The fall of
man was only apparent; it was really a rise in life. The Garden of Eden
prefigures the childhood of the human race. Do we not all go through
this idyllic moral condition in childhood, learning through our errors
that the only true happiness consists in self-control? Do not all
judicious parents protect their children from a knowledge of the
world's wickedness, so long as it is possible to prevent it,--and yet
not too long, for then they would become unfitted for their struggle
with the world, and in order to avoid the pitfalls of mature life they
must know where the pitfalls are. It is no longer essential for the
individual to pass through the Cain and Abel experience--that has been
accomplished by the race as a whole; but it is quite possible to
imagine an incipient condition of society in which the distinction of
justifiable homicide in self-defence (which is really the justification
of war between nations) has not yet obtained.

Hawthorne's Donatello is supposed to belong, in theory at least, to
that primitive era; but it is not necessary to go back further than the
feudal period to look for a man who never has known a will above his
own. Donatello seizes Miriam's tormentor and casts him down the
Tarpeian Rock,--from the same instinct, or clairvoyant perception, that
a hound springs at the throat of his master's enemy. When the deed is
done he recognizes that the punishment is out of all proportion to the
offence,--which is in itself the primary recognition of a penal code,--
and more especially that the judgment of man is against him. He
realizes for the first time the fearful possibilities of his nature,
and begins to reflect. He is a changed person; and if not changed for
the better yet with a possibility of great improvement in the future.
His act was at least an unselfish one, and it might serve as the
argument for a debate, whether Donatello did not do society a service
in ridding the earth of such a human monstrosity. Hawthorne has
adjusted the moral balance of his case so nicely, that a single scruple
would turn the scales.

The tradition among the Greeks and Romans, of a Golden Age, corresponds
in a manner to the Garden of Eden of Semitic belief. There may be some
truth in it. Captain Speke, while exploring the sources of the Nile,
discovered in central Africa a negro tribe uncontaminated by European
traders, and as innocent of guile as the antelopes upon their own
plains; and this suggests to us that all families and races of men may
have passed through the Donatello stage of existence.

Hawthorne's master-stroke in the romance is his description or analysis
of the effect produced by this homicide on the different members of the
group to which he has introduced us. The experienced and worldly-wise
Kenyon is not informed of the deed until his engagement to Hilda, but
he has sufficient reason to suspect something of the kind from the
simultaneous disappearance of Donatello and the model, as well as from
the sudden change in Miriam's behavior. Yet he does not treat Donatello
with any lack of confidence. He visits him at his castle of Monte Beni,
which is simply the Villa Manteuto somewhat idealized and removed into
the recesses of the Apennines; he consoles him in his melancholy humor;
tries to divert him from gloomy thoughts; and meanwhile watches with a
keen eye and friendly solicitude for the _denouement_ of this
mysterious drama. If he had seen what Hilda saw, he would probably have
left Rome as quickly as possible, never to return; and Donatello's fate
might have been different.

The effect on the sensitive and inexperienced Hilda was like a horrible
nightmare. She cannot believe her senses, and yet she has to believe
them. It seems to her as if the fiery pit has yawned between her and
the rest of the human race. Her position is much like that of Hamlet,
and the effect on her is somewhat similar. She thrusts Miriam from her
with bitterness; yet forms no definite resolutions, and does she knows
not what; until, overburdened by the consciousness of her fatal secret,
she discloses the affair to an unknown priest in the church of St.
Peter. Neither does she seem to be aware at any time of the serious
consequences of this action.

Miriam, more experienced even than Kenyon, is not affected by the death
of her tormentor so much directly as she is by its influence on
Donatello. Hitherto she had been indifferently pleased by his
admiration for her; now the tables are turned and she conceives the
very strongest attachment for him. She follows him to his castle in
disguise, dogs his footsteps on the excursion which he and Kenyon make
together, shadows his presence again in Rome, and is with him at the
moment of his arrest. This is all that we know of her from the time of
her last unhappy interview with Hilda. Her crime consisted merely in a
look,--the expression of her eyes,--and the whole world is free to her;
but her heart is imprisoned in the same cell with Donatello. There is
not a more powerful ethical effect in Dante or Sophocles.

A certain French writer [Footnote: Name forgotten, but the fact is
indelible.] blames Hilda severely for her betrayal of Miriam (who was
at least her best friend in Rome), and furthermore designates her as an
immoral character. This, we may suppose, is intended for a hit at New
England Puritanism; and from the French stand-point, it is not unfair.
Hilda represents Puritanism in its weakness and in its strength. It is
true, what Hamlet says, that "conscience makes cowards of us all," but
only true under conditions like those of Hamlet,--desperate
emergencies, which require exceptional expedients. On the contrary, in
carrying out a great reform like the abolition of slavery, the
education of the blind, or the foundation of national unity, a man's
conscience becomes a tower of strength to him. As already intimated,
what Hilda ought to have done was, to leave Rome at once, and forever;
but she is no more capable of forming such a resolution, than Hamlet
was of organizing a conspiracy against his usurping uncle. When,
however, the priest steps out from the confessional-box and attempts to
make a convert of Hilda,--for which indeed she has given him a fair
opening,--she asserts herself and her New England training, with true
feminine dignity, and in fact has decidedly the best of the argument.
It is a trying situation, in which she develops unexpected resources.
Hawthorne's genius never shone forth more brilliantly than in this
scene at St. Peter's. It is Shakespearian.

Much dissatisfaction was expressed when "The Marble Faun" was first
published, at the general vagueness of its conclusion. Hawthorne's
admirers wished especially for some clearer explanation of Miriam's
earlier life, and of her relation to the strange apparition of the
catacombs. He answered these interrogatories in a supplementary chapter
which practically left the subject where it was before--an additional
piece of mystification. In a letter to Henry Bright he admitted that he
had no very definite scheme in his mind in regard to Miriam's previous
history, and this is probably the reason why his readers feel this
vague sense of dissatisfaction with the plot. I have myself often tried
to think out a prelude to the story, but without any definite result.
Miriam's persecuting model was evidently a husband who had been forced
upon her by her parents, and would not that be sufficient to account
for her moods of gloom and despondency? Yet Hawthorne repeatedly
intimates that there was something more than this. Let us not think of
it. If the tale was not framed in mystery, Donatello would not seem so
real to us. Do not the characters in "Don Quixote" and "Wilhelm
Meister" spring up as it were out of the ground? They come we know not
whence, and they go we know not whither. It is with these that "The
Marble Faun" should be classed and compared, and not with "Middle-
march," "Henry Esmond," or "The Heart of Midlothian."


Goethe said, while looking at the group of the "Laocon," "I think that
young fellow on the right will escape the serpents." This was not
according to the story Virgil tells, but it is true to natural history.
Similarly, it is pleasant to think that the Pope's mercy may ultimately
have been extended to Donatello. We can imagine an aged couple living a
serious, retired life in the castle of Monte Beni, childless, and to a
certain extent joyless, but taking comfort in their mutual affection,
and in acts of kindness to their fellow-mortals.

In order to see Hilda's tower in Rome, go straight down from the
Spanish Steps to the Corso, turn to the right, and you will soon come
to the Via Portoghese (on the opposite side), where you will easily
recognize the tower on the right hand. The tower is five stories in
height, set in the front of the palace, and would seem to be older than
the building about it; the relic, perhaps, of some distinguished
mediaeval structure. The odd little shrine to the Virgin, a toy-like
affair, still surmounts it; but its lamp is no longer burning. It was
fine imagination to place Hilda in this lofty abode.



There is no portion of Hawthorne's life concerning which we know less
than the four years after his return from England to his native land.
He was so celebrated that every eye was upon him; boys stopped their
games to see him pass by, and farmers stood still in the road to stare
at him. He was Hawthorne the famous, and every movement he made was
remembered, every word spoken by him was recorded or related, and yet
altogether it amounts to little enough. Letters have been preserved in
number,--many of his own and others from his English friends, and those
from his wife to her relatives; but they do not add much to the picture
we have already formed in our minds of the man. As he said somewhere,
fame had come too late to be a satisfaction to him, but on the contrary
more of an annoyance. Hawthorne left Leamington the last of March, and
transferred his family to Bath, which he soon discovered to be the
pleasantest English city he had lived in yet,--symmetrically laid out,
like a Continental city, and built for the most part of a yellowish
sandstone; not unlike in appearance the travertine of which St. Peter's
at Rome is built. The older portion of the city lies in a hollow among
the hills, like an amphitheatre, and the more recent additions rise
upon the hill-sides above it to a considerable height. This is the last
note of enthusiasm in his writings; and in the next entry in his diary,
which was written at Lothrop Motley's house, Hertford Street, London,
May 16, he makes this ominous confession: "I would gladly journalize
some of my proceedings, and describe things and people, but I find the
same coldness and stiffness in my pen as always since our return to
England." It is only too evident that from this time literary
composition, which had been the chief recreation of his youth, and in
which he had always found satisfaction until now, was no longer a
pleasure to him. It is the last entry in his journal, at least for more
than two years, and whatever writing he accomplished in the mean time
was done for the sake of his wife and children. Dickens had a similar
experience the last year of his life. Clearly, Hawthorne's nervous
force was waning.

On May 15, Hawthorne and Motley were invited to dine by Earl Dufferin,
that admirable diplomat and one of the pleasantest of men. In fact, if
there was a person living who could make Hawthorne feel perfectly at
his ease, it was Dufferin. Motley provided some entertainment or other
for his guest every day, and Hawthorne confessed that the stir and
activity of London life were doing him "a wonderful deal of good." What
he seems to have needed at this time was a vigorous, objective
employment that would give his circulation a start in the right
direction; but how was he to obtain that?

He enjoyed one last stroll with Henry Bright through Hyde Park and
along the Strand, and found time to say a long farewell to Francis
Bennoch: the last time he was to meet either of them on this side of

He returned to Bath the 1st of June, and ten days later they all
embarked for Boston,--as it happened, by a pleasant coincidence, with
the same captain with whom they had left America seven years before.
Mrs. Hawthorne's sister, Mrs. Horace Mann, prepared their house at
Concord for their reception, and there they arrived at the summer

The good people of Concord had been mightily stirred up that spring, by
an attempt to arrest Frank B. Sanborn and carry him forcibly to
Washington,--contrary to law, as the Supreme Court of the State decided
the following day. The marshal who arrested him certainly proceeded
more after the manner of a burglar than of a civil officer, hiding
himself with his _posse comitatus_ in a barn close to Sanborn's
school-house, watching his proceedings through the cracks in the
boards, and finally arresting him at night, just as he was going to
bed; but the alarm was quickly sounded, and the whole male population
of the place, including Emerson, turned out like a swarm of angry
hornets, and the marshal and his posse were soon thankful to escape
with their bones in a normal condition. A few nights later, the barn,
which was owned by a prominent official in the Boston Custom House, was
burned to the ground (the fire-company assisting), as a sacrifice on
the altar of personal liberty.

The excitement of this event had not yet subsided when the arrival of
the Hawthorne family produced a milder and more amiable, but no less
profound, sensation in the old settlement; and this was considerably
increased by the fact that for the first month nothing was seen of
them, except a sturdy-looking boy fishing from a rock in Concord River,
opposite the spot where his father and Channing had discovered the
unfortunate school-mistress. Old friends made their calls and were
cordially received, but Hawthorne himself did not appear in public
places; and it was soon noticed that he did not take the long walks
which formerly carried him to the outer limits of the town. He was
sometimes met on the way to Walden Pond, either alone or in company
with his son; but Bronson Alcott more frequently noticed him gliding
along in a ghost-like manner by the rustic fence which separated their
two estates, or on the way to Sleepy Hollow. When the weather became
cooler he formed a habit of walking back and forth on the hill-side
above his house, where the bank descends sharply like a railroad-cut,
with dwarf pines and shrub oaks on the further side of it. He wore a
path there, which is described in "Septimius Felton," and it is quite
possible that the first inception of that story entered his mind while
looking down upon the Lexington road beneath him, and imagining how it
appeared while filled with marching British soldiers.

About July 10, 1860, the scholars of Mr. Sanborn's school, male and
female, gave an entertainment in the Town Hall, not unlike Harvard
Class Day. Mrs. Hawthorne and her eldest daughter appeared among the
guests, and attracted much attention from the quiet grace and dignity
of their manners; but there was an expression of weariness on Miss
Una's face, which contrasted strangely with the happy, blithesome looks
of the school-girls. Some idea of the occasion may be derived from a
passing remark of Mrs. Hawthorne to a Harvard student present: "My
daughter will be happy to dance with you, sir, if I can only find her."

In September Hawthorne wrote to James T. Fields: [Footnote: Mrs. J. T.
Fields, 118.]

"We are in great trouble on account of our poor Una, in whom the bitter
dregs of that Roman fever are still rankling, and have now developed
themselves in a way which the physicians foreboded. I do not like to
write about it, but will tell you when we meet. Say nothing."

Miss Una was evidently far from well, and her father's anxiety for her
sensibly affected his mental tone.

He was invited at once to join the Saturday Club, popularly known at
that time as the Atlantic Club, because its most conspicuous members
were contributors to that periodical. Hawthorne did not return in
season to take part in the Club's expedition to the Adirondack
Mountains, concerning which Doctor Holmes remarked that, considering
the number of rifles they carried, it was fortunate that they all
returned alive. The meetings of the Club came but once a month, and as
the last train to Concord was not a very late one, Judge Hoar had his
carryall taken down to Waltham on such occasions, and thence he, with
Hawthorne and Emerson, drove back to Concord through the woods in the
darkness or moonlight; and Hawthorne may have enjoyed this as much as
any portion of the entertainment.

A club whose membership is based upon celebrity reminds one rather of a
congregation of stags, all with antlers of seven tines. There was every
shade of opinion, political, philosophical and religious, represented
in the Saturday Club, and if they never fought over such subjects it
was certainly much to their credit. Very little has been divulged of
what took place at their meetings; but it is generally known that in
the winter of 1861 Longfellow was obliged to warn his associates that
if they persisted in abusing Sumner he should be obliged to leave their
company; Sumner being looked upon by the Democrats and more timid
Republicans as the chief obstacle to pacification; as if any one man
could prop a house up when it was about to fall. After the War began,
this naturally came to an end, and Sumner was afterwards invited to
join the Club, with what satisfaction to Hoar, Lowell, and Holmes it
might be considering rather curiously to inquire. We can at least feel
confident that Hawthorne had no share in this. He did not believe in
fighting shadows, and he at least respected Sumner for his frankness
and disinterestedness.

Such differences of opinion, however, are not conducive to freedom of
discussion. Henry James, Sr., lifts the veil for a moment in a letter
to Emerson, written about this time, [Footnote: Memoir of Bronson
Alcott; also the "Hawthorne Centenary."] and affords us a picture of
Hawthorne at the Saturday Club, which might bear the designation of a
highly-flavored caricature. According to Mr. James, John M. Forbes, the
Canton millionaire, preserved the balance at one end of the table,
while Hawthorne, an oasis in a desert, served as the nearest approach
to a human being, at the other. "How he buried his eyes in his plate
and ate with such a voracity! that no one should dare to ask him a

We do not realize the caricaturist in Henry James, Jr., so readily, on
account of his elastic power of expression; but the relationship is
plain and apparent. Both father and son ought to have been baptized in
the Castalian Fount. There are those who have been at table with both
Hawthorne and the elder James, and without the slightest reflection on
Mr. James, have confessed their preference for the quiet composure and
simple dignity of Hawthorne. In truth Hawthorne's manners were above
those of the polished courtier or the accomplished man of fashion: they
were poetic manners, and in this respect Longfellow most nearly
resembled him of all members of the Club; although Emerson also had
admirable manners and they were largely the cause of his success. It
would have done no harm if Emerson had burned this letter after its
first perusal, but since it is out of the bag we must even consider it
as it deserves.

Hawthorne must have enjoyed the meetings of the Club or he would not
have attended them so regularly. He wrote an account of the first
occasion on which he was present, giving an accurate description of the
dinner itself and enclosing a diagram of the manner in which the guests
were seated, but without any commentary on the proceedings of the day.
It was, after all, one of the nerve-centres of the great world, and an
agreeable change from the domestic monotony of the Wayside. Thackeray
would have descried rich material for his pen in it, but Hawthorne's
studies lay in another direction. Great men were not his line in

Meanwhile Mrs. Hawthorne and her daughter were transforming their
Concord home into a small repository of the fine arts. Without much
that would pass by the title of elegance, they succeeded in giving it
an unpretentious air of refinement, and one could not enter it without
realizing that the materials of a world-wide culture had been brought
together there. Hawthorne soon found the dimensions of the house too
narrow for the enlarged views which he had brought with him from
abroad, and he designed a tower to be constructed at one corner of it,
similar to, if not so lofty as that of the Villa Manteuto. This
occupied him and the dilatory Concord carpenter for nearly half a year;
and meanwhile chaos and confusion reigned supreme. There was no one
whose ears could be more severely offended by the music of the
carpenter's box and the mason's trowel than Hawthorne, and he knew not
whether to fly his home or remain in it. Not until all this was over
could he think seriously of a new romance.

He made his study in the upper room of the tower; a room exactly twenty
feet square, with a square vaulted ceiling and five windows,--too
many, one would suppose, to produce a pleasant effect of light,--and
walls papered light yellow. There he could be as quiet and retired as
in the attic of his Uncle Robert Manning's house in Salem. Conway
states that he wrote at a high desk, like Longfellow, and walked back
and forth in the room while thinking out what he was going to say. The
view from his windows extended across the meadows to Walden woods and
the Fitchburg railroad track, and it also commanded the Alcott house
and the road to Concord village. It was in this work-shop that he
prepared "Our Old Home" for the press and wrote the greater part of
"Septimius Felton" and "The Dolliver Romance."

The War was a new source of distraction. It broke out before the tower
was finished, stimulating Hawthorne's nerves, but disturbing that
delicate mental equilibrium upon which satisfactory procedure of his
writing depended. On May 26, 1861, he wrote to Horatio Bridge:

"The war, strange to say, has had a beneficial effect upon my spirits,
which were flagging wofully before it broke out. But it was delightful
to share in the heroic sentiment of the time, and to feel that I had a
country,--a consciousness which seemed to make me young again. One
thing as regards this matter I regret, and one thing I am glad of. The
regrettable thing is that I am too old to shoulder a musket myself, and
the joyful thing is that Julian is too young." [Footnote: J. Hawthorne,
ii. 276.]

Hawthorne's patriotism was genuine and deep-seated. He was not the only
American whom the bombardment of Fort Sumter had awakened to the fact
that he had a country. What we have always enjoyed, we do not think of
until there is danger of losing it. In the same letter, he confesses
that he does not quite understand "what we are fighting for, or what
definite result can be expected. If we pummel the South ever so hard,
they will love us none the better for it; and even if we subjugate
them, our next step should be to cut them adrift."

There were many in those times who thought and felt as Hawthorne did.
Douglas said in the Senate, "Even if you coerce the Southern States and
bring them back by force, it will not be the same Union." A
_people_ does not necessarily mean a _nation_; for the idea
of nationality is of slow growth, and is in a manner opposed to the
idea of democracy; for if the right of government depends on the
consent of the governed, the primary right of the governed must be to
abrogate that government whenever they choose to do so. Hawthorne was
simply a consistent democrat; but time has proved the fallacy of
Douglas's statement, and that a forcible restoration of the Union was
entirely compatible with friendliness and mutal good-will between the
different sections of the country,--after slavery, which was the real
obstacle to this, had been eliminated. If the States east of the
Alleghanies should attempt to separate from the rest of the nation, it
would inevitably produce a war similar to that of 1861.

Hawthorne even went to the length at this time of proposing to arm the
negroes, and preparing them "for future citizenship by allowing them to
fight for their own liberties, and educating them through heroic
influences." [Footnote: The "Hawthorne Centenary," 197.] When George L.
Stearns was organizing the colored regiments in Tennessee in 1863 he
wrote concerning his work, in almost exactly these terms; and the
inference is plain that Hawthorne might have been more of a
humanitarian if his early associations had been different.

Such an original character as Bronson Alcott for a next-door neighbor
could not long escape Hawthorne's penetrating glance. Alcott was an
interesting personality, perfectly genuine, frank, kindly and
imperturbably good-humored. He had a benevolent aspect, and in general
appearance so much resembled the portraits of Benjamin Franklin that
his ingenious daughters made use of him in charades and theatricals for
that purpose. Hawthorne had known him many years earlier, and had
spoken very pleasantly of him in his first publication of "The Hall of
Fantasy." He even said, "So calm and gentle was he, so quiet in the
utterance of what his soul brooded upon, that one might readily
conceive his Orphic Sayings to well up from a fountain in his breast,
which communicated with the infinite abyss of thought,"--rather an
optimistic view for Hawthorne. Alcott's philosophy had the decided
merit, which Herbert Spencer's has not, of a strong affirmation of a
Great First Cause, and our direct responsibility thereto: but it was
chiefly the philosophy of Plotinus; and his constant reiteration of a
"lapse" in human nature from divine perfection (which was simply the
Donatello phase expressed in logic), with the various corollaries
deduced from it, finally became as wearisome as the harp with a single
string. Whether he troubled Hawthorne in that way, is rather doubtful,
for even as a hobby-rider, Alcott was a man of Yankee shrewdness and
considerable tact. Rose Hawthorne says that "he once brought a
particularly long poem to read, aloud to my mother and father; a
seemingly harmless thing from which they never recovered." What poem
this could have been I have no idea, but in his later years Alcott
wrote some excellent poetry, and those who ought to know do not think
that he bored Hawthorne very severely. They frequently went to walk
together, taking Julian for a make-weight, and Hawthorne could easily
have avoided this if he had chosen. There are times for all of us when
our next-door neighbors prove a burden; and it cannot be doubted that
in most instances this is reciprocal. [Footnote: Rose Hawthorne,
however, writes charmingly of the Alcotts. Take this swift sketch,
among others: "I imagine his slightly stooping, yet tall and well-grown
figure, clothed in black, and with a picturesque straw hat, twining
itself in and out of forest aisles, or craftily returning home with
gargoyle-like stems over his shoulders."]

Alcott was a romance character of exceptional value, and Hawthorne
recognized this, but did not succeed in inventing a plot that would
suit the subject. The only one of Hawthorne's preparatory sketches
given to the public--in which we see his genius in the "midmost heat of
composition"--supposes a household in which an old man keeps a crab-
spider for a pet, a deadly poisonous creature; and in the same family
there is a boy whose fortunes will be mysteriously affected in some
manner by this dangerous insect. He did not proceed sufficiently to
indicate for us how this would turn out, but he closes the sketch with
the significant remark, "In person and figure Mr. Alcott"; from which
it may be inferred that the crab-spider was intended to symbolize
Alcott's philosophy, and the catastrophe of the romance would naturally
result from the unhealthy mental atmosphere in which the boy grew up,--
a catastrophe which in Alcott's family was averted by the practical
sagacity of his daughters. The idea, however, became modified in its

It is with regret that we do not allot a larger space to this important
sketch, for it is clearly an original study (like an artist's drawing)
of the unfinished romance which was published in 1883 under the title
of "Doctor Grimshawe's Secret." Long lost sight of in the mass of
Hawthorne's manuscripts, this last of his posthumous works was reviewed
by the critics with some incredulity, and Lathrop had the hardihood to
publicly assert that no such romance by Hawthorne's pen existed,
thereby casting a gratuitous slander on his own brother-in-law. We may
have our doubts in regard to the authorship of Shakespeare's plays, for
we have no absolute standard by which to judge of Shakespeare's style,
but the "style, the matter, and the drift" of "Doctor Grimshawe's
Secret" are so essentially Hawthornish that a person experienced in
judging of such matters should not hesitate long in deciding that it
belongs in the same category with "Fanshawe" and "The Dolliver
Romance." It is even possible to determine, from certain peculiarities
in its style, the exact period at which it was written; which must have
been shortly after Hawthorne's return from Europe. In addition to this,
if further evidence were required, its close relationship to the
aforementioned sketch is a fact which no sophistry can reason away.
[Footnote: This sketch was published in the _Century_, January,

The bloody footstep suggested to Hawthorne by the antediluvian print in
the stone step at Smithell's Hall, in Lancashire, serves as the key-
note of this romance; but the eccentric recluse, the big crab-spider,
the orphaned grandchild, and even Bronson Alcott also appear in it.
Alcott, however,--and his identity cannot be mistaken,--does not play
the leading part in the piece, but comes in at the fifth chapter, only
to disappear mysteriously in the eighth; the orphan boy is companioned
by a girl of equal age, and these two bright spirits, mutually
sustaining each other, cast a radiance over the old Doctor in his
dusty, frowsy, cobwebby study, which brings out the external appearance
and internal peculiarities of the man, in the most vivid manner. The
dispositions and appearances of the two children are also contrasted,
as Raphael might have drawn and contrasted them, if he had painted a
picture on a similar subject.

The crab-spider is one of the most horrible of Nature's creations.
Hawthorne saw one in the British Museum and it seems to have haunted
his imagination ever afterward. Why the creature should have been
introduced into this romance is not very clear, for it plays no part in
the development of the plot. The spider hangs suspended over the old
Doctor's head like the sword of Damocles, and one would expect it to
descend at the proper moment in the narrative, and make an end of him
with its nippers; but Doctor Grimshawe dies a comparatively natural
death, and the desiccated body of the spider is found still clinging to
the web above him. The man and the insect were too closely akin in the
modes and purposes of their lives for either to outlast the other.
There is nothing abnormal in the fact of Doctor Grimshawe's possessing
this dangerous pet; for all kinds of poisonous creatures have a well-
known fascination for the medical profession. Doctor Holmes amused
himself with a rattlesnake.

In spite of its unpleasant associations with spiders and blood-stains,
"Doctor Grimshawe's Secret" is one of the most interesting of
Hawthorne's works, containing much of his finest thought and most
characteristic description. The portrait of the grouty old Doctor
himself has a solidity of impast like Shakespeare's Falstaff, and the
grave-digger, who has survived from colonial times, carries us back
involuntarily to the burial scene in "Hamlet." Alcott, whose name is
changed to Colcord, is not treated realistically, but rather idealized
in such kindly sympathetic manner as might prevent all possibility of
offence at the artistic theft of his personality. The plot, too, is a
most ingenious one, turning and winding like a hare, and even diving
out of sight for a time; but only to reappear again, as the school-
master Colcord does, with a full and satisfactory explanation of its
mysterious course. To judge from the appearance of the manuscript, this
romance was written very rapidly, and there are places in the text
which intimate this; but it vies in power with "The Scarlet Letter,"
and why Hawthorne should have become dissatisfied with it,--why he
should have failed to complete, revise, and publish it--can only be
accounted for by the mental or nervous depression which was now
fastening itself upon him.

It is noticeable, however, that where the plot is transferred to
English ground Hawthorne's writing has much the same tone and quality
that we find in "Our Old Home." External appearances seem to impede his
insight there; but this is additional proof of the authenticity of the
work. [Footnote: There are many other evidences; such as, "after-dinner
speeches on the necessity of friendly relations between England and the
United States," and "the whistling of the railway train, _two_ or
_three_ times a day."]

Shortly after the battle of Bull Run Hawthorne went with his boy to
recuperate at Beverly Farms, leaving his wife and daughters at the
Wayside, and the letters which passed between these two divisions of
the family, during his absence, give some very pretty glimpses of their
idyllic summer life. Mrs. Hawthorne "cultivated her garden," and gave
drawing lessons to the neighbors' children, while her husband, forty
miles away, was fishing and bathing. The Beverly shore has not a
stimulating climate, but is very attractive in summer to those who do
not mind a few sultry nights from land breezes. It was near enough to
Salem for Hawthorne to revive the reminiscences of his youth (which
become more and more precious after the age of fifty), without
obtruding himself on the gaze of his former townsmen or of the young
lady "who wished she could poison him." [Footnote: W. D. Howells'
Memoirs.] It is to be hoped that he saw something of his sister
Elizabeth again, the last remnant of his mother's household, who for
some inscrutable reason had never visited him at Concord.

We note here a curious circumstance; namely, that Hawthorne appears to
have lost the art of writing short sketches. It will be recollected
that twenty years earlier he did not feel equal to anything beyond
this, and that it cost him a strenuous effort to escape from the habit.
Now when he would have liked to return to that class of composition he
could not do so. Fields would have welcomed anything from his pen (so
severe a critic he was of himself), but his name does not appear in the
_Atlantic Monthly_ from July, 1861, to June, 1862, and it cannot
be doubted that with the education of his son before him, the
remuneration would have been welcome. It was not until nearly a year
later that he conceived the idea of cutting his English Note-book into
sections, and publishing them as magazine articles.

From this time forth, one discouragement followed another. In the
autumn of 1861 the illness of his daughter, which he had expected and
predicted, came to pass in a violent form. The old Roman virus, kept
under in her blood, for a time, by continual changes of air and
climate, at last gained the mastery, and brought her once more in
danger of her life. She had to be removed to the house of her aunt,
Mrs. Mann, who lived in the centre of the town, on account of her
father's nerves, so that the Concord doctor could attend her at night
when necessary. It was the severest and most protracted case of fever
that the physician had ever known to be followed by a recovery. Miss
Una did recover, but the mental strain upon her father was even more
exhausting than that which her previous illness had caused, and he was
not in an equal condition to bear it.

"Septimius Felton" may have been written about this time (perhaps
during his daughter's convalescence), but his family knew nothing of
it, until they discovered the manuscript after his death. When it was
published ten years later, the poet Whittier spoke of it as a failure,
and Hawthorne would seem to have considered it so; for he left it in an
unfinished condition, and immediately began a different story on the
same theme,--the elixir of life. It has no connection with the sketch
already mentioned, in which Alcott's personality becomes the
mainspring, but with another abortive romance, called "The Ancestral
Footstep," which Hawthorne commenced while he was in England. It is
invaluable for the light it throws on his method of working.
Descriptive passages are mentioned in it "to be inserted" at a later
time, meanwhile concentrating his energy on more important portions of
the narrative. Half way through the story he changed his original plan,
transforming the young woman who previously had been Septimius's
sweetheart to Septimius's sister; and it may have been the difficulty
of adjusting this change to the portion previously written, that
discouraged Hawthorne from completing the romance. But the work suffers
also from a tendency to exaggeration. The name of Hagburn is
unpleasantly realistic, and Doctor Portsoaken, with his canopy of
spider-webs hanging in noisome festoons above his head, is closely akin
to the repulsive. The amateur critic who averred that he could not read
Hawthorne without feeling a sensation as if cobwebs were drawn across
his face, must have had "Septimius Felton" in mind. Yet there are
refreshing passages in it, and the youthful English officer who kisses
Septimius's sweetheart before his eyes, and afterward fights an
impromptu duel with him, dying as cheerfully as he had lived, is an
original and charming character. The scene of the story has a peculiar
interest, from the fact that it is laid at Hawthorne's own door; the
Feltons are supposed to have lived at the Wayside and the Hagburns in
the Alcott house.

The firm of Ticknor & Fields now began to feel anxious on Hawthorne's
account, and the last of the winter the senior partner proposed a
journey to Washington, which was accordingly accomplished in the second
week of March. Horatio Bridge was now chief of a bureau in the Navy
Department, and was well qualified to obtain for his veteran friend an
inside position for whatever happened to be going on. In the midst of
the turmoil and excitement of war, Hawthorne attracted as much
attention as the arrival of a new ambassador from Great Britain.
Secretary Stanton appointed him on a civil commission to report
concerning the condition of the Army of the Potomac. He was introduced
to President Lincoln, and made excursions to Harper's Ferry and
Fortress Monroe. Concerning General McClellan, he wrote to his daughter
on March 16:

"The outcry opened against Gen. McClellan, since the enemy's retreat
from Manassas, is really terrible, and almost universal; because it is
found that we might have taken their fortifications with perfect ease
six months ago, they being defended chiefly by wooden guns. Unless he
achieves something wonderful within a week, he will be removed from
command, at least I hope so; I never did more than half believe in him.
By a message from the State Department, I have reason to think that
there is money enough due me from the government to pay the expenses of
my journey. I think the public buildings are as fine, if not finer,
than anything we saw in Europe." [Footnote: J. Hawthorne, ii. 309.]

General McClellan was not a great man, and Hawthorne's opinion of him
is more significant from the fact that at that time McClellan was
expected to be the Joshua who would lead the Democratic party out of
its wilderness. On his return to Concord, Hawthorne prepared a
commentary on what he had seen and heard at the seat of war, and sent
it to the _Atlantic Monthly_; but, although patriotic enough, his
melancholy humor was prominent in it, and Fields particularly protested
against his referring to President Lincoln as "Old Abe," although the
President was almost universally called so in Washington; and the
consequence of this was that Hawthorne eliminated everything that he
had written about Lincoln in his account,--which might be called
"dehamletizing" the subject. In addition to this he wrote a number of
foot-notes purporting to come from the editor, but really intended to
counteract the unpopularity of certain statements in the text. This was
not done with any intention to deceive, but, with the exception of
Emerson and a few others who could always recognize Hawthorne's style,
the readers of the _Atlantic_ supposed that these foot-notes were
written by either James T. Fields or James Russell Lowell, who had been
until recently the editor of the Magazine,--a practical joke which
Hawthorne enjoyed immensely when it was discovered to him.

This contribution, essay, or whatever it may be called, had only a
temporary value, but it contained a prediction, which has been often
recollected in Hawthorne's favor; namely, that after the war was over
"one bullet-headed general after another would succeed to the
presidential chair." In fact, five generals, whether bullet-headed or
not, followed after Lincoln and Johnson; and then the sequence came to
an end apparently because the supply of politician generals was
exhausted. Certainly the Anglo-Saxon race yields to no other in
admiration for military glory.

Fields afterward published Hawthorne's monograph on President Lincoln,
and, although it is rather an unsympathetic statement of the man, it
remains the only authentic pen-and-ink sketch that we have of him. Most
important is his recognition of Lincoln as "essentially a Yankee" in
appearance and character; for it has only recently been discovered that
Lincoln was descended from an old New England family, and that his
ancestors first emigrated to Virginia and afterward to Kentucky.
[Footnote: Essay on Lincoln in "True Republicanism."] Hawthorne says of

"If put to guess his calling and livelihood, I should have taken him
for a country schoolmaster as soon as anything else. [Footnote: The
country school-master of that time.--Ed.] He was dressed in a rusty
black frock-coat and pantaloons, unbrushed, and worn so faithfully that
the suit had adapted itself to the curves and angularities of his
figure, and had grown to be the outer skin of the man. He had shabby
slippers on his feet. His hair was black, still unmixed with gray,
stiff, somewhat bushy, and had apparently been acquainted with neither
brush nor comb that morning, after the disarrangement of the pillow;
and as to a nightcap, Uncle Abe probably knows nothing of such
effeminacies. His complexion is dark and sallow, betokening, I fear, an
insalubrious atmosphere around the White House; he has thick black
eyebrows and impending brow; his nose is large, and the lines about his
mouth are very strongly denned.

"The whole physiognomy is as coarse a one as you would meet anywhere in
the length and breadth of the States; but, withal, it is redeemed,
illuminated, softened, and brightened by a kindly though serious look
out of his eyes, and an expression of homely sagacity, that seems
weighted with rich results of village experience. A great deal of
native sense; no bookish cultivation, no refinement; honest at heart,
and thoroughly so, and yet, in some sort, sly,--at least, endowed with
a sort of tact and wisdom that are akin to craft.... But on the whole,
I liked this sallow, queer, sagacious visage, with the homely human
sympathies that warmed it; and, for my small share in the matter, would
as lief have Uncle Abe for a ruler as any man whom it would have been
practicable to put in his place." [Footnote: "Yesterdays with Authors,"

This is not a flattered portrait, like those by Lincoln's political
biographers; neither is it an idealized likeness, such as we may
imagine him delivering his Gettysburg Address. It is rather an external
description of the man, but it is, after all, Lincoln as he appeared in
the White House to the innumerable visitors, who, as sovereign American
citizens, believed they had a right to an interview with the people's
distinguished servant.

Hawthorne's European letter-bag in 1862 is chiefly interesting for
Henry Bright's statement that the English people might have more
sympathy with the Union cause in the War if they could understand
clearly what the national government was fighting for; and that Lord
Houghton and Thomas Hughes were the only two men he had met who
heartily supported the Northern side. Perhaps Mr. Bright would have
found it equally as difficult to explain why the British Government
should have made war upon Napoleon for twelve consecutive years.

Henry Bright, moreover, seemed to be quite as much interested in a new
American poet, named J. G. Holland, and his poem called "Bitter-Sweet."
Lord Houghton agreed with him that it was a very remarkable poem, and
they wished to know what Hawthorne could tell them about its author. As
Holland was not recognized as a poet by the Saturday Club, Hawthorne's
answer on this point would be very valuable if we could only obtain a
sight of it. Holland was in certain respects the counterpart of Martin
F. Tupper.

In the summer of this year Hawthorne went to West Goldsboro', Maine, an
unimportant place opposite Mount Desert Island, taking Julian with him;
a place with a stimulating climate but a rather foggy atmosphere. He
must have gone there for his health, and it is pathetic to see how the
change of climate braced him up at first, so that he even made the
commencement of a new diary, and then, as always happens in such cases,
it let him down again to where he was before. He did not complain, but
he felt that something was wrong with him and he could not tell what it

Wherever he went in passing through the civilized portion of Maine, he
found the country astir with recruits who had volunteered for the war,
so that it seemed as if that were the only subject which occupied men's
minds. He says of this in his journal:

"I doubt whether any people was ever actuated by a more genuine and
disinterested public spirit; though, of course, it is not unalloyed
with baser motives and tendencies. We met a train of cars with a
regiment or two just starting for the South, and apparently in high
spirits. Everywhere some insignia of soldiership were to be seen,--
bright buttons, a red stripe down the trousers, a military cap, and
sometimes a round-shouldered bumpkin in the entire uniform. They
require a great deal to give them the aspect of soldiers; indeed, it
seems as if they needed to have a good deal taken away and added, like
the rough clay of a sculptor as it grows to be a model."

Such is the last entry in his journal. Hawthorne was not carried off
his feet by the excitement of the time, but looked calmly on while
others expended their patriotism in hurrahing for the Union. What he
remarks concerning the volunteers was perfectly true Men cannot change
their profession in a day, and soldiers are not to be made out of
farmers' boys and store clerks simply by clothing them in uniform, no
matter how much courage they may have. War is a profession like other
professions, and requires the severest training of them all.



In the autumn of 1862 there was great excitement in Massachusetts.
President Lincoln had issued his premonitory proclamation of
emancipation, and Harvard College was stirred to its academic depths.
Professor Joel Parker, of the Law School, pronounced Lincoln's action
unconstitutional, subversive of the rights of property, and a most
dangerous precedent. With Charles Eliot Norton and other American
Tories, Parker headed a movement for the organization of a People's
Party, which had for its immediate object the defeat of Andrew for
Governor and the relegation of Sumner to private life. The first they
could hardly expect to accomplish, but it was hoped that a sufficient
number of conservative representatives would be elected to the
Legislature to replace Sumner by a Republican, who would be more to
their own minds; and they would be willing to compromise on such a
candidate as Honorable E. R. Hoar,--although Judge Hoar was innocent of
this himself and was quite as strongly anti-slavery as Sumner. The
movement came to nothing, as commonly happens with political movements
that originate in universities, but for the time being it caused a
great commotion and nowhere more so than in the town of Concord.
Emerson was never more emphatic than in demanding the re-election of
Andrew and Sumner.

How Hawthorne felt about this and how he voted in November, can only be
conjectured by certain indications, slight, it is true, but all
pointing in one direction. As long since explained, he entertained no
very friendly feeling toward the Cotton Whigs; his letter to his
daughter concerning Gen. McClellan, who set himself against the
proclamation and was removed in consequence, should be taken into
consideration; and still more significant is the letter to Horatio
Bridge, in which Hawthorne proposed the enlistment of negro soldiers.
Doctor George B. Loring, of Salem, always a loyal friend to the
Hawthorne family, came to Concord in September to deliver an address at
the annual cattle-show, and visited at the Wayside. He had left the
Democratic party and become a member of the Bird Club, which was then
the centre of political influence in the State. As a matter of course
he explained his new position to Hawthorne. He had long felt attracted
to the Republican party, and but for his influential position among his
fellow-Democrats, he would have joined it sooner. Parties were being
reconstructed. Half the Democrats had become Republicans; and a
considerable portion of the Whigs had joined the Democratic party. The
interests of the Republic were in the hands of the Republican party and
it ought to be supported. We can believe that Hawthorne listened to him
with close attention.

It was in the spring of 1862 that I first became well acquainted with
the Hawthorne family, which seemed to exist in an atmosphere of purity
and refinement derived from the man's own genius. Julian visited me at
our house in Medford during the early summer, where he made great havoc
among the small fruits of the season. We boxed, fenced, skated, played
cricket and studied Cicero together. As my father was one of the most
revolutionary of the Free-Soilers, this may have amused Hawthorne as an
instance of the Montagues and Capulets; but I found much sympathy with
my political notions in his household. When the first of January came
there was a grand celebration of the Emancipation in Boston Music Hall.
Mrs. Hawthorne and Una were very desirous to attend it, and I believe
they both did so--Miss Una at all events. If Mrs. Hawthorne's opinions
could be taken in any sense as a reflection of her husband's mind, he
was certainly drifting away from his old associations.

In October, 1862, Hawthorne published the first of a series of studies
from English life and scenery, taken chiefly from his Note-book, and he
continued this at intervals until the following summer, when Ticknor &
Fields brought them out with some additions in book form as "Our Old
Home;" a volume which has already been considered in these pages. It
was not a favorable time for the publication of classic literature, for
the whole population of the United States was in a ferment; and
moreover the unfriendly attitude of the English educated classes toward
the cause of the Union, was beginning to have its effect with us. In
truth it seemed rather inconsistent that the philanthropic Gladstone,
who had always professed himself the friend of freedom, should glorify
Jefferson Davis as the founder of a new nation--a republic of
slaveholders. In addition to this, Hawthorne insisted on dedicating the
volume to President Pierce, and when his publishers protested that this
would tend to make the book unpopular, he replied in a spirited manner,
that if that was the case it was all the more reason why Pierce's
friends should signify their continued confidence in him. This may have
made little difference, however, for comparatively few readers notice
the dedication of a book until after they have purchased it; and we
like Hawthorne for his firmness in this instance.

In England the book produced a sensation of the unfavorable sort.
Hawthorne's attack on the rotundity of the English ladies, whatever may
have been his reason for it, was, to speak reservedly, somewhat lacking
in delicacy. It stirred up a swarm of newspaper enemies against him;
and proved a severe strain to the attachment of his friends there.
Henry Bright wrote to him:

"It really was too bad, some of the things you say. You talk like a
cannibal. Mrs. Heywood says to my mother, 'I really believe you and I
were the only ladies he knew in Liverpool, and we are not like
beefsteaks.' So all the ladies are furious." [Footnote: J. Hawthorne,
ii. 280. Good Mrs. Alcott also objected stoutly to the reflections on
her sex.]

But Hawthorne was no longer what he had been, and allowance should be
made for this.

Hawthorne's chief interest at this time, however, lay in the
preparation of his son for Harvard College. Julian was sixteen in
August and, considering the itinerant life he had lived, well advanced
in his studies. He was the best-behaved boy in Concord, in school or
out, and an industrious though not ambitious scholar. He was strong,
vigorous and manly; and his parents had sufficient reason to be proud
of him. To expect him, however, to enter Harvard College at the age of
seventeen was somewhat unreasonable. His father had entered Bowdoin at
that age, but the requirements at Harvard were much more severe than at
Bowdoin; enough to make a difference of at least one year in the age of
the applicant. For a boy to enter college in a half-fitted condition is
simply to make a false start in life, for he is only too likely to
become discouraged, and either to drag along at the foot of the class
or to lose his place in it altogether. Hawthorne may have felt that the
end of earthly affairs was close upon him, and wished to see his son
started on the right road before that came; but Emerson also had an
interest in having Julian go to college at exactly this time; namely,
to obtain him as a chum for his wife's nephew, with the advantage of a
tutor's room thrown in as an extra inducement. He advised Hawthorne to
place Julian in charge of a Harvard professor who was supposed to have
a sleight-of-hand faculty for getting his pupils through the
examinations. Julian worked bravely, and succeeded in entering Harvard
the following July; but he was nine months (or a good school year),
younger than the average of his class.

Hawthorne did not leave home this summer (1863), and the only letter we
have of his was the one to James T. Fields concerning the dedication of
"Our Old Home," which was published in the autumn. Julian states that
his father spent much of his time standing or walking in his narrow
garden before the house, and looking wistfully across the meadows to
Walden woods. His strength was evidently failing him, yet he could not
explain why--nor has it ever been explained.

One bright day in November two of us walked up from Cambridge with
Julian and lunched at his father's. Mr. Hawthorne received us
cordially, but in a tremulous manner that betrayed the weakness of his
nerves. As soon as Julian had left the room, he said to us, "I suppose
it would be of little use to ask you young gentlemen what sort of a
scholar Julian is." H---- replied to this, that we were neither of us
in the division with him, but that he had heard nothing unfavorable in
regard to his recitations; and I told him that Julian went to the
gymnasium with me every evening, and appeared to live a very regular
kind of life. This seemed to please Mr. Hawthorne very much, and he
soon produced a decanter of port, and, his son having entered the room
again, he said, "I want to teach Julian the taste of good wine, so that
he will learn to avoid those horrible punches, which I am told you have
at Harvard." We all laughed greatly at this, which was afterward
increased by Julian's saying that the only punches he had yet seen were
those which the sophomores gave us in the foot-ball fight,--or some
such statement. It was a bright occasion for all of us, and when Mrs.
Hawthorne and her daughters entered the room, such a beautiful group as
they all formed together! And Hawthorne himself seemed ten years
younger than when he first greeted us.

He was the most distinguished-looking man that I ever beheld, and no
sensible person could meet him without instantly recognizing his
superior mental endowment. His features were not only classic but
grandly classic; and his eyes large, dark, luminous, unfathomable--
looking into them was like looking into a deep well. His face seemed to
give a pictorial reflection of whatever was taking place about him; and
again became like a transparency through which one could see dim vistas
of beautiful objects. The changes of expression on it were like the
sunshine and clouds of a summer day--perhaps thunder clouds sometimes,
with flashes of lightning, which his son may still remember; for where
there is a great heart there will always be great heat.


According to James T. Fields, the ground-plan of this work was laid the
preceding winter, but Hawthorne became dissatisfied with the way in
which the subject developed itself and so set the manuscript aside
until he could come to it again with fresh inspiration. With the more
bracing weather of September he commenced on it again, and wrote during
the next two months that portion which we now have. On December 1 he
forwarded two chapters to Ticknor & Fields, requesting to have them set
up so that he could see them in print and obtain a retrospective view
of his work before he proceeded further. Yet on December 15 he wrote
again, saying that he had not yet found courage to attack the proofs,
and that all mental exertion had become hateful to him. [Footnote:
"Yesterdays with Authors," 115.] He was evidently feeling badly, and
for the first time Mrs. Hawthorne was seriously anxious for him. Four
days later she wrote to Una, who was visiting in Beverly:

"Papa is comfortable to-day, but very thin and pale and weak. I give
him oysters now. Hitherto he has had only toasted crackers and lamb and
beef tea. I am very impatient that he should see Dr. Vanderseude, but
he wants to go to him himself, and he cannot go till it be good
weather.... The splendor and pride of strength in him have succumbed;
but they can be restored, I am sure. Meanwhile he is very nervous and
delicate; he cannot bear anything, and he must be handled like the
airiest Venetian glass." [Footnote: J. Hawthorne, ii. 333.]

He divided his time between lying on a sofa and sitting in an arm-
chair; and he did not seem very comfortable in either position. It was
long since he had attended meetings of the Saturday Club.

It is clear from this that Hawthorne had not recently consulted a
doctor concerning his condition, and perhaps not at all. He may have
been right enough in supposing that no common practitioner could give
him help, but there was at that time one of the finest of physiologists
in Boston, Dr. Edward H. Clark, who cured hundreds of sick people every
year, as quietly and unostentatiously as Dame Nature herself. He was a
graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and as such not generally
looked upon with favor by the Boston medical profession, but when
Agassiz's large brain gave way in 1868, Dr. Brown-Squard telegraphed
to him from Europe to consult Edward Clark, and Doctor Clark so
improved his health that Agassiz afterward enjoyed a number of years of
useful work. Perhaps he might have accomplished as much for Hawthorne;
but how was Hawthorne in his retired and uncommunicative life to know
of him? There are decided advantages in living in the great world, and
in knowing what goes on there,--if one only can.

It is doubtful if Hawthorne ever opened the proof of "The Dolliver
Romance." In February he wrote to Fields that he could not possibly go
on with it, and as it had already been advertised for the _Atlantic
Monthly_, a notification had to be published concerning the matter,
which startled Longfellow, Whittier and other old friends of Hawthorne,
who were not in the way of knowing much about him. The fragment that we
now have of it was printed in the _Atlantic_ many years after his

It was the last expiring ember of Hawthorne's genius, blazing up
fitfully and momentarily with the same brightness as of old, and then
disappearing like Hawthorne himself into the unknown and the
unknowable. It is a fragment, and yet it seems complete, for it is
impossible to imagine how the story could have been continued beyond
its present limits; and Hawthorne left no word from which we can
conjecture his further intentions in regard to it.

There was an old apothecary in Concord, named Reynolds, a similar man
to, but not so aged as, Hawthorne's Doctor Dolliver; and he also had a
son, a bright enterprising boy,--too bright and spirited to suit Boston
commercialism,--who went westward in 1858 to seek his fortune, nor have
I ever heard of his return. The child Pansie, frisking with her kitten
--a more simple, ingenuous, and self-centred, but also less sympathetic
nature than the Pearl of Hester Prynne--may have been studied from
Hawthorne's daughter Rose. There also lived at Concord in Hawthorne's
time a man with the title of Colonel, a pretentious, self-satisfied
person, who corresponded fairly to his description of Colonel Dabney,
in "The Dolliver Romance." Neither is it singular that the apothecary's
garden should have bordered on a grave-yard, for there are two old
cemeteries in Concord in the very centre of the town.

I know of no such portrait of an old man as Doctor Dolliver in art or
literature,--except perhaps Tintoretto's portrait of his aged self, in
the Louvre. We not only see the customary marks of age upon him, but we
feel them so that it seems as if we grew old and stiff and infirm as we
read of him; and the internal life of old age is revealed to us, not by
confessions of the man himself, but by every word he speaks and every
act he does as if the writer were a skilful tragedian upon the stage.
It seems as if Hawthorne must have felt all this himself during the
last year of his life, to describe it so vividly; but he ascends by
these infirm steps to loftier heights than ever before, and the scene
in which he represents Doctor Dolliver seated at night before the fire
in his chamber after Pansie had been put to bed, is the noblest passage
in the whole cycle of Hawthorne's art; one of those rare passages
written in moments of gifted insight, when it seems as if a higher
power guided the writer's hand. It is given here entire, for to
subtract a word from it would be an irreparable injury.

"While that music lasted, the old man was alive and happy. And there
were seasons, it might be, happier than even these, when Pansie had
been kissed and put to bed, and Grandsir Dolliver sat by his fireside
gazing in among the massive coals, and absorbing their glow into those
cavernous abysses with which all men communicate. Hence come angels or
fiends into our twilight musings, according as we may have peopled them
in by-gone years. Over our friend's face, in the rosy flicker of the
fire-gleam, stole an expression of repose and perfect trust that made
him as beautiful to look at, in his high-backed chair, as the child
Pansie on her pillow; and sometimes the spirits that were watching him
beheld a calm surprise draw slowly over his features and brighten into
joy, yet not so vividly as to break his evening quietude. The gate of
heaven had been kindly left ajar, that this forlorn old creature might
catch a glimpse within. All the night afterwards, he would be semi-
conscious of an intangible bliss diffused through the fitful lapses of
an old man's slumber, and would awake, at early dawn, with a faint
thrilling of the heart-strings, as if there had been music just now
wandering over them."

So Jacob in the desert saw angels descending and ascending on a ladder
from Heaven. Discouraged, depressed, the door closed upon his earthly
hopes, not only for himself, but for those whom he loves much better
than himself, so far as he could ever be a help and a providence to
them, Hawthorne finds a purer joy and a higher hope in the depths of
his own spirit.

In the second chapter, or fragment, of this romance, Doctor Dolliver,
followed by Pansie, goes out into the garden one frosty October
morning, and while the apothecary is digging at his herbs, the
imitative child, with an instinctive repulsion for everything strange
and morbid, pulls up the fatal plant from which the elixir of life was
distilled, and frightened at her grandfather's chiding, runs with it
into the cemetery where it is lost among the graves and never seen
again. This account stands by itself, having no direct connection with
what precedes or follows; but the delineation is so vivid, the poetic
element in it so strong, that it may be said to stand without
assistance, and does not require the name of Hawthorne to give it

In the conclusion, the elixir of life proves to be an elixir of death;
extremes meet and are reconciled. As he says in "The Marble Faun," joy
changes to sorrow and sorrow is laughed away; the experience of both
being that which is really valuable. Doctor Dolliver and Pansie are
figures for the end and the beginning of life; the Old Year and the
New. Such is the sum of Hawthorne's philosophy--the ultimate goal of
his thought. There could have been no more fitting consummation of his
work. The cycle of his art is complete, and death binds the laurel
round his brow.


After Hawthorne's letter of February 25, Fields felt that he ought to
make an effort in his behalf. Fields's partner, W. D. Ticknor, was also
ailing, and it was arranged that he and Hawthorne should go on a
journey southward as soon as the weather permitted. Doctor Holmes was
consulted, and the last of March Hawthorne came to Boston and met
Holmes at Fields's house. Holmes made an examination, which was
anything but satisfactory to his own mind; in fact, he was appalled at
the condition in which he found his former companion of the Saturday
Club. "He was very gentle," Holmes says; "very willing to answer
questions, very docile to such counsel as I offered him, but evidently
had no hope of recovering his health. He spoke as if his work were
done, and he should write no more." [Footnote: _Atlantic Monthly_,
July, 1864.] The doctor, however, must have been mistaken in supposing
that Hawthorne was suffering from the same malady that carried off
General Grant, for no human being could die in that manner without
suffering greater pain than Hawthorne gave any indication of; and the
sedatives which Holmes prescribed for him could only have resulted in a
weakening of the nerves. He even warned Hawthorne against the use of
alcoholic stimulants, to which for some time he had been more or less

Hawthorne and Ticknor went to New York, and two days later Ticknor was
able to write to Mrs. Hawthorne that her husband appeared to be much
improved. How cruelly disappointing to meet him at their own door four
days later, haggard, weary and more dispirited than when he had left
the Wayside on March 26! He had proceeded to Philadelphia with Ticknor,
and there at the Continental Hotel Ticknor was suddenly seized with a
mortal malady and died almost in Hawthorne's arms, before the latter
could notify his family in Boston that he was ill. What a severe ordeal
for a man who was strong and well, but to a person in Hawthorne's
condition it was like a thunderbolt. Ticknor's son came to him at once,
and together they performed the necessary duties of the occasion, and
made their melancholy way homeward. Nothing, perhaps, except a death in
his own family, could have had so unfavorable an effect upon
Hawthorne's condition.

Some good angel now notified Franklin Pierce of the serious posture of
affairs, and he came at once to Concord to offer his services in
Hawthorne's behalf. However, he could propose nothing more hopeful than
a journey in the uplands of New Hampshire, and for this it would be
necessary to wait for settled weather. So Hawthorne remained at home
for the next month without his condition becoming apparently either
better or worse. At length, on May 13, the ex-President returned and
they went together the following day.

We will not linger over that leave-taking on the porch of the Wayside;
so pathetic, so full of tenderness, even of despair, and yet with a
slender ray of hope beneath the leaden cloud of anxiety. To Hawthorne
it must have seemed even more discouraging than to his wife and
children, though none of them could have suspected that the end would

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