Yesterdays with Authors
James T. Fields

Part 2 out of 8

sisters sat and listened to the beautiful creations of his fresh and
glowing fancy. We can imagine the happy group gathered around the
evening lamp! "Well, my son," says the fond mother, looking up from her
knitting-work, "what have you got for us to-night? It is some time since
you read us a story, and your sisters are as impatient as I am to have a
new one." And then we can hear, or think we hear, the young man begin in
a low and modest tone the story of "Edward Fane's Rosebud," or "The
Seven Vagabonds," or perchance (O tearful, happy evening!) that tender
idyl of "The Gentle Boy!" What a privilege to hear for the first time a
"Twice-Told Tale," before it was even _once_ told to the public! And I
know with what rapture the delighted little audience must have hailed
the advent of every fresh indication that genius, so seldom a visitant
at any fireside, had come down so noiselessly to bless their quiet
hearthstone in the sombre old town. In striking contrast to Hawthorne's
audience nightly convened to listen while he read his charming tales and
essays, I think of poor Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, facing those
hard-eyed critics at the house of Madame Neckar, when as a young man and
entirely unknown he essayed to read his then unpublished story of "Paul
and Virginia." The story was simple and the voice of the poor and
nameless reader trembled. Everybody was unsympathetic and gaped, and at
the end of a quarter of an hour Monsieur de Buffon, who always had a
loud way with him, cried out to Madame Neckar's servant, "Let the horses
be put to my carriage!"

Hawthorne seems never to have known that raw period in authorship which
is common to most growing writers, when the style is "overlanguaged,"
and when it plunges wildly through the "sandy deserts of rhetoric," or
struggles as if it were having a personal difficulty with Ignorance and
his brother Platitude. It was capitally said of Chateaubriand that "he
lived on the summits of syllables," and of another young author that "he
was so dully good, that he made even virtue disreputable." Hawthorne had
no such literary vices to contend with. His looks seemed from the start
to be

"Commercing with the skies,"

and he marching upward to the goal without impediment. I was struck a
few days ago with the untruth, so far as Hawthorne is concerned, of a
passage in the Preface to Endymion. Keats says: "The imagination of a
boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but
there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the
character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition
thick-sighted." Hawthorne's imagination had no middle period of
decadence or doubt, but continued, as it began, in full vigor to the

* * * * *

In 1852 I went to Europe, and while absent had frequent most welcome
letters from the delightful dreamer. He had finished the "Blithedale
Romance" during my wanderings, and I was fortunate enough to arrange for
its publication in London simultaneously with its appearance in Boston.
One of his letters (dated from his new residence in Concord, June 17,
1852) runs thus:--

"You have succeeded admirably in regard to the 'Blithedale Romance,'
and have got L150 more than I expected to receive. It will come in
good time, too; for my drafts have been pretty heavy of late, in
consequence of buying an estate!!! and fitting up my house. What a
truant you are from the Corner! I wish, before leaving London, you
would obtain for me copies of any English editions of my writings
not already in my possession. I have Routledge's edition of 'The
Scarlet Letter,' the 'Mosses,' and 'Twice-Told Tales'; Bohn's
editions of 'The House of the Seven Gables,' the 'Snow-Image' and
the 'Wonder-Book,' and Bogue's edition of 'The Scarlet
Letter';--these are all, and I should be glad of the rest. I meant
to have written another 'Wonder-Book' this summer, but another task
has unexpectedly intervened. General Pierce of New Hampshire, the
Democratic nominee for the Presidency, was a college friend of mine,
as you know, and we have been intimate through life. He wishes me to
write his biography, and I have consented to do so; somewhat
reluctantly, however, for Pierce has now reached that altitude when
a man, careful of his personal dignity, will begin to think of
cutting his acquaintance. But I seek nothing from him, and therefore
need not be ashamed to tell the truth of an old friend.... I have
written to Barry Cornwall, and shall probably enclose the letter
along with this. I don't more than half believe what you tell me of
my reputation in England, and am only so far credulous on the
strength of the L200, and shall have a somewhat stronger sense of
this latter reality when I finger the cash. Do come home in season
to preside over the publication of the Romance."

He had christened his estate The Wayside, and in a postscript to the
above letter he begs me to consider the name and tell him how I like it.

Another letter, evidently foreshadowing a foreign appointment from the
newly elected President, contains this passage:--

"Do make some inquiries about Portugal; as, for instance, in what
part of the world it lies, and whether it is an empire, a kingdom,
or a republic. Also, and more particularly, the expenses of living
there, and whether the Minister would be likely to be much pestered
with his own countrymen. Also, any other information about foreign
countries would be acceptable to an inquiring mind."

When I returned from abroad I found him getting matters in readiness to
leave the country for a consulship in Liverpool. He seemed happy at the
thought of flitting, but I wondered if he could possibly be as contented
across the water as he was in Concord. I remember walking with him to
the Old Manse, a mile or so distant from The Wayside, his new residence,
and talking over England and his proposed absence of several years. We
strolled round the house, where he spent the first years of his married
life, and he pointed from the outside to the windows, out of which he
had looked and seen supernatural and other visions. We walked up and
down the avenue, the memory of which he has embalmed in the "Mosses,"
and he discoursed most pleasantly of all that had befallen him since he
led a lonely, secluded life in Salem. It was a sleepy, warm afternoon,
and he proposed that we should wander up the banks of the river and lie
down and watch the clouds float above and in the quiet stream. I recall
his lounging, easy air as he tolled me along until we came to a spot
secluded, and ofttimes sacred to his wayward thoughts. He bade me lie
down on the grass and hear the birds sing. As we steeped ourselves in
the delicious idleness, he began to murmur some half-forgotten lines
from Thomson's "Seasons," which he said had been favorites of his from
boyhood. While we lay there, hidden in the grass, we heard approaching
footsteps, and Hawthorne hurriedly whispered, "Duck! or we shall be
interrupted by somebody." The solemnity of his manner, and the thought
of the down-flat position in which we had both placed ourselves to avoid
being seen, threw me into a foolish, semi-hysterical fit of laughter,
and when he nudged me, and again whispered more lugubriously than ever,
"Heaven help me, Mr. ---- is close upon us!" I felt convinced that if
the thing went further, suffocation, in my case at least, must ensue.

He kept me constantly informed, after he went to Liverpool, of how he
was passing his time; and his charming "English Note-Books" reveal the
fact that he was never idle. There were touches, however, in his private
letters which escaped daily record in his journal, and I remember how
delightful it was, after he landed in Europe, to get his frequent
missives. In one of the first he gives me an account of a dinner where
he was obliged to make a speech. He says:--

"I tickled up John Bull's self-conceit (which is very easily done)
with a few sentences of most outrageous flattery, and sat down in a
general puddle of good feeling." In another he says: "I have taken a
house in Rock Park, on the Cheshire side of the Mersey, and am as
snug as a bug in a rug. Next year you must come and see how I live.
Give my regards to everybody, and my love to half a dozen.... I wish
you would call on Mr. Savage, the antiquarian, if you know him, and
ask whether he can inform me what part of England the original
William Hawthorne came from. He came over, I think in 1634.... It
would really be a great obligation if he could answer the above
query. Or, if the fact is not within his own knowledge, he might
perhaps indicate some place where such information might be obtained
here in England. I presume there are records still extant somewhere
of all the passengers by those early ships, with their English
localities annexed to their names. Of all things, I should like to
find a gravestone in one of these old churchyards with my own name
upon it, although, for myself, I should wish to be buried in
America. The graves are too horribly damp here."

The hedgerows of England, the grassy meadows, and the picturesque old
cottages delighted him, and he was never tired of writing to me about
them. While wandering over the country, he was often deeply touched by
meeting among the wild-flowers many of his old New England
favorites,--bluebells, crocuses, primroses, foxglove, and other flowers
which are cultivated in out gardens, and which had long been familiar to
him in America.

I can imagine him, in his quiet, musing way, strolling through the
daisied fields on a Sunday morning and hearing the distant church-bells
chiming to service. His religion was deep and broad, but it was irksome
for him to be fastened in by a pew-door, and I doubt if he often heard
an English sermon. He very rarely described himself as _inside_ a
church, but he liked to wander among the graves in the churchyards and
read the epitaphs on the moss-grown slabs. He liked better to meet and
have a talk with the _sexton_ than with the _rector_.

He was constantly demanding longer letters from home; and nothing gave
him more pleasure than, monthly news from "The Saturday Club," and
detailed accounts of what was going forward in literature. One of his
letters dated in January, 1854, starts off thus:--

"I wish your epistolary propensities were stronger than they are.
All your letters to me since I left America might be squeezed into
one.... I send Ticknor a big cheese, which I long ago promised him,
and my advice is, that he keep it in the shop, and daily, between
eleven and one o'clock, distribute slices of it to your half-starved
authors, together with crackers and something to drink.... I thank
you for the books you send me, and more especially for Mrs. Mowatt's
Autobiography, which seems to me an admirable book. Of all things I
delight in autobiographies; and I hardly ever read one that
interested me so much. She must be a remarkable woman, and I cannot
but lament my ill fortune in never having seen her on the stage or
elsewhere.... I count strongly upon your promise to be with us in
May. Can't you bring Whipple with you?"

One of his favorite resorts in Liverpool was the boarding-house of good
Mrs. Blodgett, in Duke Street, a house where many Americans have found
delectable quarters, after being tossed on the stormy Atlantic. "I have
never known a better woman," Hawthorne used to say, "and her motherly
kindness to me and mine I can never forget." Hundreds of American
travellers will bear witness to the excellence of that beautiful old
lady, who presided with such dignity and sweetness over her hospitable

On the 13th of April, 1854, Hawthorne wrote to me this characteristic
letter from the consular office in Liverpool:--

"I am very glad that the 'Mosses' have come into the hands of our
firm; and I return the copy sent me, after a careful revision. When
I wrote those dreamy sketches, I little thought that I should ever
preface an edition for the press amidst the bustling life of a
Liverpool consulate. Upon my honor, I am not quite sure that I
entirely comprehend my own meaning, in some of these blasted
allegories; but I remember that I always had a meaning, or at least
thought I had. I am a good deal changed since those times; and, to
tell you the truth, my past self is not very much to my taste, as I
see myself in this book. Yet certainly there is more in it than the
public generally gave me credit for at the time it was written.

"But I don't think myself worthy of very much more credit than I
got. It has been a very disagreeable task to read the book. The
story of 'Rappacini's Daughter' was published in the Democratic
Review, about the year 1844; and it was prefaced by some remarks on
the celebrated French author (a certain M. de l'Aubepine), from
whose works it was translated. I left out this preface when the
story was republished; but I wish you would turn to it in the
Democratic, and see whether it is worth while to insert it in the
new edition. I leave it altogether to your judgment.

"A young poet named ---- has called on me, and has sent me some
copies of his works to be transmitted to America. It seems to me
there is good in him; and he is recognized by Tennyson, by Carlyle,
by Kingsley, and others of the best people here. He writes me that
this edition of his poems is nearly exhausted, and that Routledge is
going to publish another enlarged and in better style.

"Perhaps it might be well for you to take him up in America. At all
events, try to bring him into notice; and some day or other you may
be glad to have helped a famous poet in his obscurity. The poor
fellow has left a good post in the customs to cultivate literature
in London!

"We shall begin to look for you now by every steamer from Boston.
You must make up your mind to spend a good while with us before
going to see your London friends.

"Did you read the article on your friend De Quincey in the last
Westminster? It was written by Mr. ---- of this city, who was in
America a year or two ago. The article is pretty well, but does
nothing like adequate justice to De Quincey; and in fact no
Englishman cares a pin for him. We are ten times as good readers and
critics as they.

"Is not Whipple coming here soon?"

Hawthorne's first visit to London afforded him great pleasure, but he
kept out of the way of literary people as much as possible. He
introduced himself to nobody, except Mr. ----, whose assistance he
needed, in order to be identified at the bank. He wrote to me from 24
George Street, Hanover Square, and told me he delighted in London, and
wished he could spend a year there. He enjoyed floating about, in a sort
of unknown way, among the rotund and rubicund figures made jolly with
ale and port-wine. He was greatly amused at being told (his informants
meaning to be complimentary) "that he would never be taken for anything
but an Englishman." He called Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade,"
just printed at that time, "a broken-kneed gallop of a poem." He

"John Bull is in high spirits just now at the taking of Sebastopol.
What an absurd personage John is! I find that my liking for him
grows stronger the more I see of him, but that my admiration and
respect have constantly decreased."

One of his most intimate friends (a man unlike that individual of whom
it was said that he was the friend of everybody that did not need a
friend) was Francis Bennoch, a merchant of Wood Street, Cheapside,
London, the gentleman to whom Mrs. Hawthorne dedicated the English
Note-Books. Hawthorne's letters abounded in warm expressions of
affection for the man whose noble hospitality and deep interest made his
residence in England full of happiness. Bennoch was indeed like a
brother to him, sympathizing warmly in all his literary projects, and
giving him the benefit of his excellent judgment while he was sojourning
among strangers. Bennoch's record may be found in Tom Taylor's admirable
life of poor Haydon, the artist. All literary and artistic people who
have had the good fortune to enjoy his friendship have loved him. I
happen to know of his bountiful kindness to Miss Mitford and Hawthorne
and poor old Jerdan, for these hospitalities happened in my time; but he
began to befriend all who needed friendship long before I knew him. His
name ought never to be omitted from the literary annals of England; nor
that of his wife either, for she has always made her delightful fireside
warm and comforting to her husband's friends.

Many and many a happy time Bennoch, Hawthorne, and myself have had
together on British soil. I remember we went once to dine at a great
house in the country, years ago, where it was understood there would be
no dinner speeches. The banquet was in honor of some society,--I have
quite forgotten what,--but it was a jocose and not a serious club. The
gentleman who gave it, Sir ----, was a most kind and genial person, and
gathered about him on this occasion some of the brightest and best from
London. All the way down in the train Hawthorne was rejoicing that this
was to be a dinner without speech-making; "for," said he, "nothing would
tempt me to go if toasts and such confounded deviltry were to be the
order of the day." So we rattled along, without a fear of any impending
cloud of oratory. The entertainment was a most exquisite one, about
twenty gentlemen sitting down at the beautifully ornamented table.
Hawthorne was in uncommonly good spirits, and, having the seat of honor
at the right of his host, was pretty keenly scrutinized by his British
brethren of the quill. He had, of course, banished all thought of
speech-making, and his knees never smote together once, as he told me
afterwards. But it became evident to my mind that Hawthorne's health was
to be proposed with all the honors. I glanced at him across the table,
and saw that he was unsuspicious of any movement against his quiet
serenity. Suddenly and without warning our host rapped the mahogany, and
began a set speech of welcome to the "distinguished American romancer."
It was a very honest and a very hearty speech, but I dared not look at
Hawthorne. I expected every moment to see him glide out of the room, or
sink down out of sight from his chair. The tortures I suffered on
Hawthorne's account, on that occasion, I will not attempt to describe
now. I knew nothing would have induced the shy man of letters to go down
to Brighton, if he had known he was to be spoken at in that manner. I
imagined his face a deep crimson, and his hands trembling with nervous
horror; but judge of my surprise, when he rose to reply with so calm a
voice and so composed a manner, that, in all my experience of
dinner-speaking, I never witnessed such a case of apparent ease.
(Easy-Chair C ---- himself, one of the best makers of after-dinner or
any other speeches of our day, according to Charles Dickens,--no
inadequate judge, all will allow,--never surpassed in eloquent effect
this speech by Hawthorne.) There was no hesitation, no sign of lack of
preparation, but he went on for about ten minutes in such a masterly
manner, that I declare it was one of the most successful efforts of the
kind ever made. Everybody was delighted, and, when he sat down, a wild
and unanimous shout of applause rattled the glasses on the table. The
meaning of his singular composure on that occasion I could never get him
satisfactorily to explain, and the only remark I ever heard him make, in
any way connected with this marvellous exhibition of coolness, was
simply, "What a confounded fool I was to go down to that speech-making

During all those long years, while Hawthorne was absent in Europe, he
was anything but an idle man. On the contrary, he was an eminently busy
one, in the best sense of that term; and if his life had been prolonged,
the public would have been a rich gainer for his residence abroad. His
brain teemed with romances, and once I remember he told me he had no
less than five stories, well thought out, any one of which he could
finish and publish whenever he chose to. There was one subject for a
work of imagination that seems to have haunted him for years, and he has
mentioned it twice in his journal. This was the subsequent life of the
young man whom Jesus, looking on, "loved," and whom he bade to sell all
that he had and give to the poor, and take up his cross and follow him.
"Something very deep and beautiful might be made out of this," Hawthorne
said, "for the young man went away sorrowful, and is not recorded to
have done what he was bidden to do."

One of the most difficult matters he had to manage while in England was
the publication of Miss Bacon's singular book on Shakespeare. The poor
lady, after he had agreed to see the work through the press, broke off
all correspondence with him in a storm of wrath, accusing him of
pusillanimity in not avowing full faith in her theory; so that, as he
told me, so far as her good-will was concerned, he had not gained much
by taking the responsibility of her book upon his shoulders. It was a
heavy weight for him to bear in more senses than one, for he paid out of
his own pocket the expenses of publication.

I find in his letters constant references to the kindness with which he
was treated in London. He spoke of Mrs. S.C. Hall as "one of the best
and warmest-hearted women in the world." Leigh Hunt, in his way, pleased
and satisfied him more than almost any man he had seen in England. "As
for other literary men," he says in one of his letters, "I doubt whether
London can muster so good a dinner-party as that which assembles every
month at the marble palace in School Street."

All sorts of adventures befell him during his stay in Europe, even to
that of having his house robbed, and his causing the thieves to be tried
and sentenced to transportation. In the summer-time he travelled about
the country in England and pitched his tent wherever fancy prompted. One
autumn afternoon in September he writes to me from Leamington:--

"I received your letter only this morning, at this cleanest and
prettiest of English towns, where we are going to spend a week or
two before taking our departure for Paris. We are acquainted with
Leamington already, having resided here two summers ago; and the
country round about is unadulterated England, rich in old castles,
manor-houses, churches, and thatched cottages, and as green as
Paradise itself. I only wish I had a house here, and that you could
come and be my guest in it; but I am a poor wayside vagabond, and
only find shelter for a night or so, and then trudge onward again.
My wife and children and myself are familiar with all kinds of
lodgement and modes of living, but we have forgotten what home
is,--at least the children have, poor things! I doubt whether they
will ever feel inclined to live long in one place. The worst of it
is, I have outgrown my house in Concord, and feel no inclination to
return to it.

"We spent seven weeks in Manchester, and went most diligently to the
Art Exhibition; and I really begin to be sensible of the rudiments
of a taste in pictures."

It was during one of his rambles with Alexander Ireland through the
Manchester Exhibition rooms that Hawthorne saw Tennyson wandering about.
I have always thought it unfortunate that these two men of genius could
not have been introduced on that occasion. Hawthorne was too shy to seek
an introduction, and Tennyson was not aware that the American author was
present. Hawthorne records in his journal that he gazed at Tennyson with
all his eyes, "and rejoiced more in him than in all the other wonders of
the Exhibition." When I afterwards told Tennyson that the author whose
"Twice-Told Tales" he happened to be then reading at Farringford had met
him at Manchester, but did not make himself known, the Laureate said in
his frank and hearty manner: "Why didn't he come up and let me shake
hands with him? I am sure I should have been glad to meet a man like
Hawthorne anywhere."

At the close of 1857 Hawthorne writes to me that he hears nothing of the
appointment of his successor in the consulate, since he had sent in his
resignation. "Somebody may turn up any day," he says, "with a new
commission in his pocket." He was meanwhile getting ready for Italy, and
he writes, "I expect shortly to be released from durance."

In his last letter before leaving England for the Continent he says:--

"I made up a huge package the other day, consisting of seven closely
written volumes of journal, kept by me since my arrival in England,
and filled with sketches of places and men and manners, many of
which would doubtless be very delightful to the public. I think I
shall seal them up, with directions in my will to have them opened
and published a century hence; and your firm shall have the refusal
of them then.

"Remember me to everybody, for I love all my friends at least as
well as ever."

Released from the cares of office, and having nothing to distract his
attention, his life on the Continent opened full of delightful
excitement. His pecuniary situation was such as to enable him to live
very comfortably in a country where, at that time, prices were moderate.

In a letter dated from a villa near Florence on the 3d of September,
1858, he thus describes in a charming manner his way of life in Italy:--

"I am afraid I have stayed away too long, and am forgotten by
everybody. You have piled up the dusty remnants of my editions, I
suppose, in that chamber over the shop, where you once took me to
smoke a cigar, and have crossed my name out of your list of authors,
without so much as asking whether I am dead or alive. But I like it
well enough, nevertheless. It is pleasant to feel at last that I am
really away from America,--a satisfaction that I never enjoyed as
long as I stayed in Liverpool, where it seemed to me that the
quintessence of nasal and hand-shaking Yankeedom was continually
filtered and sublimated through my consulate, on the way outward and
homeward. I first got acquainted with my own countrymen there. At
Rome, too, it was not much better. But here in Florence, and in the
summer-time, and in this secluded villa, I have escaped out of all
my old tracks, and am really remote.

"I like my present residence immensely. The house stands on a hill,
overlooking Florence, and is big enough to quarter a regiment;
insomuch that each member of the family, including servants, has a
separate suite of apartments, and there are vast wildernesses of
upper rooms into which we have never yet sent exploring expeditions.

"At one end of the house there is a moss-grown tower, haunted by
owls and by the ghost of a monk, who was confined there in the
thirteenth century, previous to being burned at the stake in the
principal square of Florence. I hire this villa, tower and all, at
twenty-eight dollars a month; but I mean to take it away bodily and
clap it into a romance, which I have in my head ready to be written

"Speaking of romances, I have planned two, one or both of which I
could have ready for the press in a few months if I were either in
England or America. But I find this Italian atmosphere not favorable
to the close toil of composition, although it is a very good air to
dream in. I must breathe the fogs of old England or the east-winds
of Massachusetts, in order to put me into working trim.
Nevertheless, I shall endeavor to be busy during the coming winter
at Rome, but there will be so much to distract my thoughts that I
have little hope of seriously accomplishing anything. It is a pity;
for I have really a plethora of ideas, and should feel relieved by
discharging some of them upon the public.

"We shall continue here till the end of this month, and shall then
return to Rome, where I have already taken a house for six months.
In the middle of April we intend to start for home by the way of
Geneva and Paris; and, after spending a few weeks in England, shall
embark for Boston in July or the beginning of August. After so long
an absence (more than five years already, which will be six before
you see me at the old Corner), it is not altogether delightful to
think of returning. Everybody will be changed, and I myself, no
doubt, as much as anybody. Ticknor and you, I suppose, were both
upset in the late religious earthquake, and when I inquire for you
the clerks will direct me to the 'Business Men's Conference.' It
won't do. I shall be forced to come back again and take refuge in a
London lodging. London is like the grave in one respect,--any man
can make himself at home there; and whenever a man finds himself
homeless elsewhere, he had better either die or go to London.

"Speaking of the grave reminds me of old age and other disagreeable
matters; and I would remark that one grows old in Italy twice or
three times as fast as in other countries. I have three gray hairs
now for one that I brought from England, and I shall look venerable
indeed by next summer, when I return.

"Remember me affectionately to all my friends. Whoever has a
kindness for me may be assured that I have twice as much for him."

Hawthorne's second visit to Rome, in the winter of 1859, was not a
fortunate one. His own health was excellent during his sojourn there,
but several members of his family fell ill, and he became very nervous
and longed to get away. In one of his letters he says:--

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

He found solace, however, during the series of domestic troubles
(continued illness in his family) that befell, in writing memoranda for
"The Marble Faun." He thus announces to me the beginning of the new

"I take some credit to myself for having sternly shut myself up for
an hour or two almost every day, and come to close grips with a
romance which I have been trying to tear out of my mind. As for my
success, I can't say much; indeed, I don't know what to say at all.
I only know that I have produced what seems to be a larger amount of
scribble than either of my former romances, and that portions of it
interested me a good deal while I was writing them; but I have had
so many interruptions, from things to see and things to suffer, that
the story has developed itself in a very imperfect way, and will
have to be revised hereafter. I could finish it for the press in the
time that I am to remain here (till the 15th of April), but my brain
is tired of it just now; and, besides, there are many objects that I
shall regret not seeing hereafter, though I care very little about
seeing them now; so I shall throw aside the romance, and take it up
again next August at The Wayside."

He decided to be back in England early in the summer, and to sail for
home in July. He writes to me from Rome:--

"I shall go home, I fear, with a heavy heart, not expecting to be
very well contented there.... If I were but a hundred times richer
than I am, how very comfortable I could be! I consider it a great
piece of good fortune that I have had experience of the discomforts
and miseries of Italy, and did not go directly home from England.
Anything will seem like Paradise after a Roman winter.

"If I had but a house fit to live in, I should be greatly more
reconciled to coming home; but I am really at a loss to imagine how
we are to squeeze ourselves into that little old cottage of mine. We
had outgrown it before we came away, and most of us are twice as big
now as we were then.

"I have an attachment to the place, and should be sorry to give it
up; but I shall half ruin myself if I try to enlarge the house, and
quite if I build another. So what is to be done? Pray have some
plan for me before I get back; not that I think you can possibly hit
on anything that will suit me.... I shall return by way of Venice
and Geneva, spend two or three weeks or more in Paris, and sail for
home, as I said, in July. It would be an exceeding delight to me to
meet you or Ticknor in England, or anywhere else. At any rate, it
will cheer my heart to see you all and the old Corner itself, when I
touch my dear native soil again."

I went abroad again in 1859, and found Hawthorne back in England,
working away diligently at "The Marble Faun." While travelling on the
Continent, during the autumn I had constant letters from him, giving
accounts of his progress on the new romance. He says: "I get along more
slowly than I expected.... If I mistake not, it will have some good
chapters." Writing on the 10th of October he tells me:--

"The romance is almost finished, a great heap of manuscript being
already accumulated, and only a few concluding chapters remaining
behind. If hard pushed, I could have it ready for the press in a
fortnight; but unless the publishers [Smith and Elder were to bring
out the work in England] are in a hurry, I shall be somewhat longer
about it. I have found far more work to do upon it than I
anticipated. To confess the truth, I admire it exceedingly at
intervals, but am liable to cold fits, during which I think it the
most infernal nonsense. You ask for the title. I have not yet fixed
upon one, but here are some that have occurred to me; neither of
them exactly meets my idea: 'Monte Beni; or, The Faun. A Romance.'
'The Romance of a Faun.' 'The Faun of Monte Beni.' 'Monte Beni: a
Romance.' 'Miriam: a Romance.' 'Hilda: a Romance.' 'Donatello: a
Romance.' 'The Faun: a Romance.' 'Marble and Man: a Romance.' When
you have read the work (which I especially wish you to do before it
goes to press), you will be able to select one of them, or imagine
something better. There is an objection in my mind to an Italian
name, though perhaps Monte Beni might do. Neither do I wish, if I
can help it, to make the fantastic aspect of the book too prominent
by putting the Faun into the title-page."

Hawthorne wrote so intensely on his new story, that he was quite worn
down before he finished it. To recruit his strength he went to Redcar,
where the bracing air of the German Ocean soon counteracted the ill
effect of overwork. "The Marble Faun" was in the London printing-office
in November, and he seemed very glad to have it off his hands. His
letters to me at this time (I was still on the Continent) were jubilant
with hope. He was living in Leamington, and was constantly writing to me
that I should find the next two months more comfortable in England than
anywhere else. On the 17th he writes:--

"The Italian spring commences in February, which is certainly an
advantage, especially as from February to May is the most
disagreeable portion of the English year. But it is always summer by
a bright coal-fire. We find nothing to complain of in the climate of
Leamington. To be sure, we cannot always see our hands before us for
fog; but I like fog, and do not care about seeing my hand before me.
We have thought of staying here till after Christmas and then going
somewhere else,--perhaps to Bath, perhaps to Devonshire. But all
this is uncertain. Leamington is not so desirable a residence in
winter as in summer; its great charm consisting in the many
delightful walks and drives, and in its neighborhood to interesting
places. I have quite finished the book (some time ago) and have sent
it to Smith and Elder, who tell me it is in the printer's hands, but
I have received no proof-sheets. They wrote to request another title
instead of the 'Romance of Monte Beni,' and I sent them their choice
of a dozen. I don't know what they have chosen; neither do I
understand their objection to the above. Perhaps they don't like the
book at all; but I shall not trouble myself about that, as long as
they publish it and pay me my L600. For my part, I think it much my
best romance; but I can see some points where it is open to assault.
If it could have appeared first in America, it would have been a
safe thing....

"I mean to spend the rest of my abode in England in blessed
idleness: and as for my journal, in the first place I have not got
it here; secondly, there is nothing in it that will do to publish."

* * * * *

Hawthorne was, indeed, a consummate artist, and I do not remember a
single slovenly passage in all his acknowledged writings. It was a
privilege, and one that I can never sufficiently estimate, to have
known him personally through so many years. He was unlike any other
author I have met, and there were qualities in his nature so sweet and
commendable, that, through all his shy reserve, they sometimes asserted
themselves in a marked and conspicuous manner. I have known rude people,
who were jostling him in a crowd, give way at the sound of his low and
almost irresolute voice, so potent was the gentle spell of command that
seemed born of his genius.

Although he was apt to keep aloof from his kind, and did not hesitate
frequently to announce by his manner that

"Solitude to him
Was blithe society, who filled the air
With gladness and involuntary songs,"

I ever found him, like Milton's Raphael, an "affable" angel, and
inclined to converse on whatever was human and good in life.

Here are some more extracts from the letters he wrote to me while he was
engaged on "The Marble Faun." On the 11th of February, 1860, he writes
from Leamington in England (I was then in Italy):--

"I received your letter from Florence, and conclude that you are now
in Rome, and probably enjoying the Carnival,--a tame description of
which, by the by, I have introduced into my Romance.

"I thank you most heartily for your kind wishes in favor of the
forthcoming work, and sincerely join my own prayers to yours in its
behalf, but without much confidence of a good result. My own opinion
is, that I am not really a popular writer, and that what popularity
I have gained is chiefly accidental, and owing to other causes than
my own kind or degree of merit. Possibly I may (or may not) deserve
something better than popularity; but looking at all my productions,
and especially this latter one, with a cold or critical eye, I can
see that they do not make their appeal to the popular mind. It is
odd enough, moreover, that my own individual taste is for quite
another class of works than those which I myself am able to write.
If I were to meet with such books as mine, by another writer, I
don't believe I should be able to get through them.

* * * * *
"To return to my own moonshiny Romance; its fate will soon
be settled, for Smith and Elder mean to publish on the 28th of this
month. Poor Ticknor will have a tight scratch to get his edition
out contemporaneously; they having sent him the third volume
only a week ago. I think, however, there will be no danger of
piracy in America. Perhaps nobody will think it worth stealing.
Give my best regards to William Story, and look well at his Cleopatra,
for you will meet her again in one of the chapters which I wrote
with most pleasure. If he does not find himself famous henceforth,
the fault will be none of mine. I, at least, have done my duty by
him, whatever delinquency there may be on the part of other critics.

"Smith and Elder persist in calling the book 'Transformation,' which
gives one the idea of Harlequin in a pantomime; but I have strictly
enjoined upon Ticknor to call it 'The Marble Faun; a Romance of Monte

In one of his letters written at this period, referring to his design of
going home, he says:--

"I shall not have been absent seven years till the 5th of July next,
and I scorn to touch Yankee soil sooner than that.... As regards
going home I alternate between a longing and a dread."

Returning to London from the Continent, in April, I found this letter,
written from Bath, awaiting my arrival:--

"You are welcome back. I really began to fear that you had been
assassinated among the Apennines or killed in that outbreak at Rome.
I have taken passages for all of us in the steamer which sails the
16th of June. Your berths are Nos. 19 and 20. I engaged them with
the understanding that you might go earlier or later, if you chose;
but I would advise you to go on the 16th; in the first place,
because the state-rooms for our party are the most eligible in the
ship; secondly, because we shall otherwise mutually lose the
pleasure of each other's company. Besides, I consider it my duty,
towards Ticknor and towards Boston, and America at large, to take
you into custody and bring you home; for I know you will never come
except upon compulsion. Let me know at once whether I am to use

"The book (The Marble Faun) has done better than I thought it
would; for you will have discovered, by this time, that it is an
audacious attempt to impose a tissue of absurdities upon the public
by the mere art of style of narrative. I hardly hoped that it would
go down with John Bull; but then it is always my best point of
writing, to undertake such a task, and I really put what strength I
have into many parts of this book.

"The English critics generally (with two or three unimportant
exceptions) have been sufficiently favorable, and the review in the
Times awarded the highest praise of all. At home, too, the notices
have been very kind, so far as they have come under my eye. Lowell
had a good one in the Atlantic Monthly, and Hillard an excellent one
in the Courier; and yesterday I received a sheet of the May number
of the Atlantic containing a really keen and profound article by
Whipple, in which he goes over all my works, and recognizes that
element of unpopularity which (as nobody knows better than myself)
pervades them all. I agree with almost all he says, except that I am
conscious of not deserving nearly so much praise. When I get home, I
will try to write a more genial book; but the Devil himself always
seems to get into my inkstand, and I can only exorcise him by
pensful at a time.

"I am coming to London very soon, and mean to spend a fortnight of
next month there. I have been quite homesick through this past
dreary winter. Did you ever spend a winter in England? If not,
reserve your ultimate conclusion about the country until you have
done so."

We met in London early in May, and, as our lodgings were not far apart,
we were frequently together. I recall many pleasant dinners with him and
mutual friends in various charming seaside and country-side places. We
used to take a run down to Greenwich or Blackwall once or twice a week,
and a trip to Richmond was always grateful to him. Bennoch was
constantly planning a day's happiness for his friend, and the hours at
that pleasant season of the year were not long enough for our delights.
In London we strolled along the Strand, day after day, now diving into
Bolt Court, in pursuit of Johnson's whereabouts, and now stumbling
around the Temple, where Goldsmith at one time had his quarters.
Hawthorne was never weary of standing on London Bridge, and watching
the steamers plying up and down the Thames. I was much amused by his
manner towards importunate and sometimes impudent beggars, scores of
whom would attack us even in the shortest walk. He had a mild way of
making a severe and cutting remark, which used to remind me of a little
incident which Charlotte Cushman once related to me. She said a man in
the gallery of a theatre (I think she was on the stage at the time) made
such a disturbance that the play could not proceed. Cries of "Throw him
over" arose from all parts of the house, and the noise became furious.
All was tumultuous chaos until a sweet and gentle female voice was heard
in the pit, exclaiming, "No! I pray you don't throw him over! I beg of
you, dear friends, don't throw him over, but--_kill him where he is_."

One of our most royal times was at a parting dinner at the house of
Barry Cornwall. Among the notables present were Kinglake and Leigh Hunt.
Our kind-hearted host and his admirable wife greatly delighted in
Hawthorne, and they made this occasion a most grateful one to him. I
remember when we went up to the drawing-room to join the ladies after
dinner, the two dear old poets, Leigh Hunt and Barry Cornwall, mounted
the stairs with their arms round each other in a very tender and loving
way. Hawthorne often referred to this scene as one he would not have
missed for a great deal.

His renewed intercourse with Motley in England gave him peculiar
pleasure, and his genius found an ardent admirer in the eminent
historian. He did not go much, into society at that time, but there were
a few houses in London where he always seemed happy.

I met him one night at a great evening-party, looking on from a nook a
little removed from the full glare of the _soiree_. Soon, however, it
was whispered about that the famous American romance-writer was in the
room, and an enthusiastic English lady, a genuine admirer and
intelligent reader of his books, ran for her album and attacked him for
"a few words and his name at the end." He looked dismally perplexed, and
turning to me said imploringly in a whisper, "For pity's sake, what
shall I write? I can't think of a word to add to my name. Help me to
something." Thinking him partly in fun, I said, "Write an original
couplet,--this one, for instance,--

'When this you see,
Remember me,'"

and to my amazement he stepped forward at once to the table, wrote the
foolish lines I had suggested, and, shutting the book, handed it very
contentedly to the happy lady.

We sailed from England together in the month of June, as we had
previously arranged, and our voyage home was, to say the least, an
unusual one. We had calm summer, moonlight weather, with no storms. Mrs.
Stowe was on board, and in her own cheery and delightful way she
enlivened the passage with some capital stories of her early life.

When we arrived at Queenstown, the captain announced to us that, as the
ship would wait there six hours, we might go ashore and see something of
our Irish friends. So we chartered several jaunting-cars, after much
tribulation and delay in arranging terms with the drivers thereof, and
started off on a merry exploring expedition. I remember there was a good
deal of racing up and down the hills of Queenstown, much shouting and
laughing, and crowds of beggars howling after us for pence and beer. The
Irish jaunting-car is a peculiar institution, and we all sat with our
legs dangling over the road in a "dim and perilous way." Occasionally a
horse would give out, for the animals were sad specimens, poorly fed
and wofully driven. We were almost devoured by the ragamuffins that ran
beside our wheels, and I remember the "sad civility" with which
Hawthorne regarded their clamors. We had provided ourselves before
starting with much small coin, which, however, gave out during our first
mile. Hawthorne attempted to explain our inability further to supply
their demands, having, as he said to them, nothing less than a sovereign
in his pocket, when a voice from the crowd shouted, "Bedad, your honor,
I can change that for ye"; and the knave actually did it on the spot.

Hawthorne's love for the sea amounted to a passionate worship; and while
I (the worst sailor probably on this planet) was longing, spite of the
good company on board, to reach land as soon as possible, Hawthorne was
constantly saying in his quiet, earnest way, "I should like to sail on
and on forever, and never touch the shore again." He liked to stand
alone in the bows of the ship and see the sun go down, and he was never
tired of walking the deck at midnight. I used to watch his dark,
solitary figure under the stars, pacing up and down some unfrequented
part of the vessel, musing and half melancholy. Sometimes he would lie
down beside me and commiserate my unquiet condition. Seasickness, he
declared, he could not understand, and was constantly recommending most
extraordinary dishes and drinks, "all made out of the _artist's_ brain,"
which he said were sovereign remedies for nautical illness. I remember
to this day some of the preparations which, in his revelry of fancy, he
would advise me to take, a farrago of good things almost rivalling
"Oberon's Feast," spread out so daintily in Herrick's "Hesperides." He
thought, at first, if I could bear a few roc's eggs beaten up by a
mermaid on a dolphin's back, I might be benefited. He decided that a
gruel made from a sheaf of Robin Hood's arrows would be strengthening.
When suffering pain, "a right gude willie-waught," or a stiff cup of
hemlock of the Socrates brand, before retiring, he considered very good.
He said he had heard recommended a dose of salts distilled from the
tears of Niobe, but he didn't approve of that remedy. He observed that
he had a high opinion of hearty food, such as potted owl with Minerva
sauce, airy tongues of sirens, stewed ibis, livers of Roman Capitol
geese, the wings of a Phoenix not too much done, love-lorn nightingales
cooked briskly over Aladdin's lamp, chicken-pies made of fowls raised by
Mrs. Carey, Nautilus chowder, and the like. Fruit, by all means, should
always be taken by an uneasy victim at sea, especially Atalanta pippins
and purple grapes raised by Bacchus & Co. Examining my garments one day
as I lay on deck, he thought I was not warmly enough clad, and he
recommended, before I took another voyage, that I should fit myself out
in Liverpool with a good warm shirt from the shop of Nessus & Co. in
Bold Street, where I could also find stout seven-league boots to keep
out the damp. He knew another shop, he said, where I could buy
raven-down stockings, and sable clouds with a silver lining, most warm
and comfortable for a sea voyage.

His own appetite was excellent, and day after day he used to come on
deck after dinner and describe to me what he had eaten. Of course his
accounts were always exaggerations, for my amusement. I remember one
night he gave me a running catalogue of what food he had partaken during
the day, and the sum total was convulsing from its absurdity. Among the
viands he had consumed, I remember he stated there were "several yards
of steak," and a "whole warrenful of Welsh rabbits." The "divine spirit
of Humor" was upon him during many of those days at sea, and he revelled
in it like a careless child.

That was a voyage, indeed, long to be remembered, and I shall ever look
back upon it as the most satisfactory "sea turn" I ever happened to
experience. I have sailed many a weary, watery mile since then, but
_Hawthorne_ was not on board!

The summer after his arrival home he spent quietly in Concord, at the
Wayside, and illness in his family made him at times unusually sad. In
one of his notes to me he says:--

"I am continually reminded nowadays of a response which I once heard
a drunken sailor make to a pious gentleman, who asked him how he
felt, 'Pretty d--d miserable, thank God!' It very well expresses my
thorough discomfort and forced acquiescence."

Occasionally he wrote requesting me to make a change, here and there, in
the new edition of his works then passing through the press. On the 23d
of September, 1860, he writes:--

"Please to append the following note to the foot of the page, at the
commencement of the story called 'Dr. Heidegger's Experiment,' in
the 'Twice-Told Tales': 'In an English Review, not long since, I
have been accused of plagiarizing the idea of this story from a
chapter in one of the novels of Alexandra Dumas. There has
undoubtedly been a plagiarism, on one side or the other; but as my
story was written a good deal more than twenty years ago, and as the
novel is of considerably more recent date, I take pleasure in
thinking that M. Dumas has done me the honor to appropriate one of
the fanciful conceptions of my earlier days. He is heartily welcome
to it; nor is it the only instance, by many, in which the great
French romancer has exercised the privilege of commanding genius by
confiscating the intellectual property of less famous people to his
own use and behoof.'"

Hawthorne was a diligent reader of the Bible, and when sometimes, in my
ignorant way, I would question, in a proof-sheet, his use of a word, he
would almost always refer me to the Bible as his authority. It was a
great pleasure to hear him talk about the Book of Job, and his voice
would be tremulous with feeling, as he sometimes quoted a touching
passage from the New Testament. In one of his letters he says to me:--

"Did not I suggest to you, last summer, the publication of the Bible
in ten or twelve 12mo volumes? I think it would have great success,
and, at least (but, as a publisher, I suppose this is the very
smallest of your cares), it would result in the salvation of a great
many souls, who will never find their way to heaven, if left to
learn it from the inconvenient editions of the Scriptures now in
use. It is very singular that this form of publishing the Bible in a
single bulky or closely printed volume should be so long continued.
It was first adopted, I suppose, as being the universal mode of
publication at the time when the Bible was translated. Shakespeare,
and the other old dramatists and poets, were first published in the
same form; but all of them have long since been broken into dozens
and scores of portable and readable volumes; and why not the Bible?"

During this period, after his return from Europe, I saw him frequently
at the Wayside, in Concord. He now seemed happy in the dwelling he had
put in order for the calm and comfort of his middle and later life. He
had added a tower to his house, in which he could be safe from
intrusion, and where he could muse and write. Never was poet or romancer
more fitly shrined. Drummond at Hawthornden, Scott at Abbotsford,
Dickens at Gad's Hill, Irving at Sunnyside, were not more appropriately
sheltered. Shut up in his tower, he could escape from the tumult of
life, and be alone with only the birds and the bees in concert outside
his casement. The view from this apartment, on every side, was lovely,
and Hawthorne enjoyed the charming prospect as I have known, few men to
enjoy nature.

His favorite walk lay near his house,--indeed it was part of his own
grounds,--a little hillside, where he had worn a foot-path, and where he
might be found in good weather, when not employed in the tower. While
walking to and fro on this bit of rising ground he meditated and
composed innumerable romances that were never written, as well as some
that were. Here he, first announced to me his plan of "The Dolliver
Romance," and, from what he told me of his design of the story as it
existed in his mind, I thought it would have been the greatest of his
books. An enchanting memory is left of that morning when he laid out the
whole story before me as he intended to write it. The plot was a grand
one, and I tried to tell him how much I was impressed by it. Very soon
after our interview, he wrote to me:--

"In compliance with your exhortations, I have begun to think
seriously of that story, not, as yet, with a pen in my hand, but
trudging to and fro on my hilltop.... I don't mean to let you see
the first chapters till I have written the final sentence of the
story. Indeed, the first chapters of a story ought always to be the
last written.... If you want me to write a good book, send me a good
pen; not a gold one, for they seldom suit me; but a pen flexible and
capacious of ink, and that will not grow stiff and rheumatic the
moment I get attached to it. I never met with a good pen in my

Time went on, the war broke out, and he had not the heart to go on with
his new Romance. During the month of April, 1862, he made a visit to
Washington with his friend Ticknor, to whom he was greatly attached.
While on this visit to the capital he sat to Leutze for a portrait. He
took a special fancy to the artist, and, while he was sitting to him,
wrote a long letter to me. Here is an extract from it:--

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

In the same letter he thus describes the sinking of the Cumberland, and
I know of nothing finer in its way:--

"I see in a newspaper that Holmes is going to write a song on the
sinking of the Cumberland; and feeling it to be a subject of
national importance, it occurs to me that he might like to know her
present condition. She lies with her three masts sticking up out of
the water, and careened over, the water being nearly on a level with
her maintop,--I mean that first landing-place from the deck of the
vessel, after climbing the shrouds. The rigging does not appear at
all damaged. There is a tattered bit of a pennant, about a foot and
a half long, fluttering from the tip-top of one of the masts; but
the flag, the ensign of the ship (which never was struck, thank
God), is under water, so as to be quite invisible, being attached to
the gaff, I think they call it, of the mizzen-mast; and though this
bald description makes nothing of it, I never saw anything so
gloriously forlorn as those three masts. I did not think it was in
me to be so moved by any spectacle of the kind. Bodies still
occasionally float up from it. The Secretary of the Navy says she
shall lie there till she goes to pieces, but I suppose by and by
they will sell her to some Yankee for the value of her old iron.

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

Hawthorne has rested so long in the twilight of impersonality, that I
hesitate sometimes to reveal the man even to his warmest admirers. This
very day Sainte-Beuve has made me feel a fresh reluctance in unveiling
my friend, and there seems almost a reproof in these words, from the
eloquent French author:--

"We know nothing or nearly nothing of the life of La Bruyere, and
this obscurity adds, it has been remarked, to the effect of his
work, and, it may be said, to the piquant happiness of his destiny.
If there was not a single line of his unique book, which from the
first instant of its publication did not appear and remain in the
clear light, so, on the other hand, there was not one individual
detail regarding the author which was well known. Every ray of the
century fell upon each page of the book and the face of the man who
held it open in his hand was veiled from our sight."

Beautifully said, as usual with Sainte-Beuve, but I venture,
notwithstanding such eloquent warning, to proceed.

After his return home from Washington Hawthorne sent to me, during the
month of May, an article for the Atlantic Monthly, which he entitled
"Chiefly about War-Matters." The paper, excellently well done
throughout, of course, contained a personal description of President
Lincoln, which I thought, considered as a portrait of a living man, and
drawn by Hawthorne, it would not be wise or tasteful to print. The
office of an editor is a disagreeable one sometimes, and the case of
Hawthorne on Lincoln disturbed me not a little. After reading the
manuscript, I wrote to the author, and asked his permission to omit his
description of the President's personal appearance. As usual,--for he
was the kindest and sweetest of contributors, the most good-natured and
the most amenable man to advise I ever knew,--he consented to my
proposal, and allowed me to print the article with the alterations. If
any one will turn to the paper in the Atlantic Monthly (it is in the
number for July, 1862), it will be observed there are several notes; all
of these were written by Hawthorne himself. He complied with my request
without a murmur, but he always thought I was wrong in my decision. He
said the whole description of the interview and the President's personal
appearance were, to his mind, the only parts of the article worth
publishing. "What a terrible thing," he complained, "it is to try to let
off a little bit of truth into this miserable humbug of a world!"
President Lincoln is dead, and as Hawthorne once wrote to me, "Upon my
honor, it seems to me the passage omitted has an historical value," I
will copy here verbatim what I advised my friend, both on his own
account and the President's, not to print nine years ago. Hawthorne and
his party had gone into the President's room, annexed, as he says, as
supernumeraries to a deputation from a Massachusetts whip-factory, with
a present of a splendid whip to the Chief Magistrate:--

"By and by there was a little stir on the staircase and in the
passage way, and in lounged a tall, loose-jointed figure, of an
exaggerated Yankee port and demeanor, whom (as being about the
homeliest man I ever saw, yet by no means repulsive or disagreeable)
it was impossible not to recognize as Uncle Abe.

"Unquestionably, Western man though he be, and Kentuckian by birth,
President Lincoln is the essential representative of all Yankees,
and the veritable specimen, physically, of what the world seems
determined to regard as our characteristic qualities. It is the
strangest and yet the fittest thing in the jumble of human
vicissitudes, that he, out of so many millions, unlooked for,
unselected by any intelligible process that could be based upon his
genuine qualities, unknown to those who chose him, and unsuspected
of what endowments may adapt him for his tremendous responsibility,
should have found the way open for him to fling his lank personality
into the chair of state,--where, I presume, it was his first impulse
to throw his legs on the council-table, and tell the Cabinet
Ministers a story. There is no describing his lengthy awkwardness,
nor the uncouthness of his movement; and yet it seemed as if I had
been in the habit of seeing him daily, and had shaken hands with him
a thousand times in some village street; so true was he to the
aspect of the pattern American, though with a certain extravagance
which, possibly, I exaggerated still further by the delighted
eagerness with which I took it in. If put to guess his calling and
livelihood, I should have taken him for a country schoolmaster as
soon as anything else. 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 an 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 an impending brow; his nose is large, and the lines
about his mouth are very strongly defined.

"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, and
would impel him, I think, to take an antagonist in flank, rather
than to make a bull-run at him right in front. 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.

"Immediately on his entrance the President accosted our member of
Congress, who had us in charge, and, with a comical twist of his
face, made some jocular remark about the length of his breakfast. He
then greeted us all round, not waiting for an introduction, but
shaking and squeezing everybody's hand with the utmost cordiality,
whether the individual's name was announced to him or not. His
manner towards us was wholly without pretence, but yet had a kind of
natural dignity, quite sufficient to keep the forwardest of us from
clapping him on the shoulder and asking for a story. A mutual
acquaintance being established, our leader took the whip out of its
case, and began to read the address of presentation. The whip was an
exceedingly long one, its handle wrought in ivory (by some artist in
the Massachusetts State Prison, I believe), and ornamented with a
medallion of the President, and other equally beautiful devices; and
along its whole length there was a succession of golden bands and
ferrules. The address was shorter than the whip, but equally well
made, consisting chiefly of an explanatory description of these
artistic designs, and closing with a hint that the gift was a
suggestive and emblematic one, and that the President would
recognize the use to which such an instrument should be put.

"This suggestion gave Uncle Abe rather a delicate task in his reply,
because, slight as the matter seemed, it apparently called for some
declaration, or intimation, or faint foreshadowing of policy in
reference to the conduct of the war, and the final treatment of the
Rebels. But the President's Yankee aptness and not-to-be-caughtness
stood him in good stead, and he jerked or wiggled himself out of
the dilemma with an uncouth dexterity that was entirely in
character; although, without his gesticulation of eye and
mouth,--and especially the flourish of the whip, with which he
imagined himself touching up a pair of fat horses,--I doubt whether
his words would be worth recording, even if I could remember them.
The gist of the reply was, that he accepted the whip as an emblem of
peace, not punishment; and, this great affair over, we retired out
of the presence in high good-humor, only regretting that we could
not have seen the President sit down and fold up his legs (which is
said to be a most extraordinary spectacle), or have heard him tell
one of those delectable stories for which he is so celebrated. A
good many of them are afloat upon the common talk of Washington, and
are certainly the aptest, pithiest, and funniest little things
imaginable; though, to be sure, they smack of the frontier freedom,
and would not always bear repetition in a drawing-room, or on the
immaculate page of the Atlantic."

So runs the passage which caused some good-natured discussion nine years
ago, between the contributor and the editor. Perhaps I was squeamish not
to have been, willing to print this matter at that time. Some persons,
no doubt, will adopt that opinion, but as both President and author have
long ago met on the other side of criticism and magazines, we will leave
the subject to their decision, they being most interested in the
transaction. I did what seemed best in 1862. In 1871 "circumstances have
changed" with both parties, and I venture to-day what I hardly dared

* * * * *

Whenever I look at Hawthorne's portrait, and that is pretty often, some
new trait or anecdote or reminiscence comes up and clamors to be made
known to those who feel an interest in it. But time and eternity call
loudly for mortal gossip to be brief, and I must hasten to my last
session over that child of genius, who first saw the light on the 4th of
July, 1804.

One of his favorite books was Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott, and
in 1862 I dedicated to him the Household Edition of that work. When he
received the first volume, he wrote to me a letter of which I am so
proud that I keep it among my best treasures.

"I am exceedingly gratified by the dedication. I do not deserve so
high an honor; but if you think me worthy, it is enough to make the
compliment in the highest degree acceptable, no matter who may
dispute my title to it. I care more for your good opinion than for
that of a host of critics, and have an excellent reason for so
doing; inasmuch as my literary success, whatever it has been or may
be, is the result of my connection with you. Somehow or other you
smote the rock of public sympathy on my behalf, and a stream gushed
forth in sufficient quantity to quench my thirst though not to drown
me. I think no author can ever have had publisher that he valued so
much as I do mine."

He began in 1862 to send me some articles from his English Journal for
the Atlantic magazine, which he afterwards collected into a volume and
called "Our Old Home." On forwarding one for December of that year he

"I hope you will like it, for the subject seemed interesting to me
when I was on the spot, but I always feel a singular despondency and
heaviness of heart in reopening those old journals now. However, if
I can make readable sketches out of them, it is no matter."

In the same letter he tells me he has been re-reading Scott's Life, and
he suggests some additions to the concluding volume. He says:--

"If the last volume is not already printed and stereotyped, I think
you ought to insert in it an explanation of all that is left
mysterious in the former volumes,--the name and family of the lady
he was in love with, etc. It is desirable, too, to know what have
been the fortunes and final catastrophes of his family and intimate
friends since his death, down to as recent a period as the death of
Lockhart. All such matter would make your edition more valuable; and
I see no reason why you should be bound by the deference to living
connections of the family that may prevent the English publishers
from inserting these particulars. We stand in the light of
posterity to them, and have the privileges of posterity.... I
should be glad to know something of the personal character and life
of his eldest son, and whether (as I have heard) he was ashamed of
his father for being a literary man. In short, fifty pages devoted
to such elucidation would make the edition unique. Do come and see
us before the leaves fall."

While he was engaged in copying out and rewriting his papers on England
for the magazine he was despondent about their reception by the public.
Speaking of them, one day, to me, he said: "We must remember that there
is a good deal of intellectual ice mingled with this wine of memory." He
was sometimes so dispirited during the war that he was obliged to
postpone his contributions for sheer lack of spirit to go on. Near the
close of the year 1862 he writes:--

"I am delighted at what you tell me about the kind appreciation of
my articles, for I feel rather gloomy about them myself. I am really
much encouraged by what you say; not but what I am sensible that you
mollify me with a good deal of soft soap, but it is skilfully
applied and effects all you intend it should.... I cannot come to
Boston to spend more than a day, just at present. It would suit me
better to come for a visit when the spring of next year is a little
advanced, and if you renew your hospitable proposition then, I shall
probably be glad to accept it; though I have now been a hermit so
long, that the thought affects me somewhat as it would to invite a
lobster or a crab to step out of his shell."

He continued, during the early months of 1863, to send now and then an
article for the magazine from his English Note-Books. On the 22d of
February he writes:--

"Here is another article. I wish it would not be so wretchedly long,
but there are many things which I shall find no opportunity to say
unless I say them now; so the article grows under my hand, and one
part of it seems just about as well worth printing as another.
Heaven sees fit to visit me with an unshakable conviction that all
this series of articles is good for nothing; but that is none of my
business, provided the public and you are of a different opinion. If
you think any part of it can be left out with advantage, you are
quite at liberty to do so. Probably I have not put Leigh Hunt quite
high enough for your sentiments respecting him; but no more genuine
characterization and criticism (so far as the writer's purpose to be
true goes) was ever done. It is very slight. I might have made more
of it, but should not have improved it.

"I mean to write two more of these articles, and then hold my hand.
I intend to come to Boston before the end of this week, if the
weather is good. It must be nearly or quite six months since I was
there! I wonder how many people there are in the world who would
keep their nerves in tolerably good order through such a length of
nearly solitary imprisonment?"

I advised him to begin to put the series in order for a volume, and to
preface the book with his "Consular Experiences." On the 18th of April
he writes:--

"I don't think the public will bear any more of this sort of
thing.... I had a letter from ----, the other day, in which he sends
me the enclosed verses, and I think he would like to have them
published in the Atlantic. Do it if you like, I pretend to no
judgment in poetry. He also sent this epithalamium by Mrs. ----, and
I doubt not the good lady will be pleased to see it copied into one
of our American newspapers with a few laudatory remarks. Can't you
do it in the Transcript, and send her a copy? You cannot imagine how
a little praise jollifies us poor authors to the marrow of our
bones. Consider, if you had not been a publisher, you would
certainly have been one of our wretched tribe, and therefore ought
to have a fellow-feeling for us. Let Michael Angelo write the
remarks, if you have not the time."

("Michael Angelo" was a clever little Irish-boy who had the care of my
room. Hawthorne conceived a fancy for the lad, and liked to hear stories
of his smart replies to persistent authors who called during my absence
with unpromising-looking manuscripts.) On the 30th of April he writes:--

"I send the article with which the volume is to commence, and you
can begin printing it whenever you like. I can think of no better
title than this, 'Our Old Home; a Series of English Sketches, by,'
etc. I submit to your judgment whether it would not be well to print
these 'Consular Experiences' in the volume without depriving them
of any freshness they may have by previous publication in the

"The article has some of the features that attract the curiosity of
the foolish public, being made up of personal narrative and gossip,
with a few pungencies of personal satire, which will not be the less
effective because the reader can scarcely find out who was the
individual meant. I am not without hope of drawing down upon myself
a good deal of critical severity on this score, and would gladly
incur more of it if I could do so without seriously deserving

"The story of the Doctor of Divinity, I think, will prove a good
card in this way. It is every bit true (like the other anecdotes),
only not told so darkly as it might have been for the reverend
gentleman. I do not believe there is any danger of his identity
being ascertained, and do not care whether it is or no, as it could
only be done by the impertinent researches of other people. It seems
to me quite essential to have some novelty in the collected volume,
and, if possible, something that may excite a little discussion and
remark. But decide for yourself and me; and if you conclude not to
publish it in the magazine, I think I can concoct another article in
season for the August number, if you wish. After the publication of
the volume, it seems to me the public had better have no more of

"J---- has been telling us a mythical story of your intending to
walk with him from Cambridge to Concord. We should be delighted to
see you, though more for our own sakes than yours, for our aspect
here is still a little winterish. When you come, let it be on
Saturday, and stay till Monday. I am hungry to talk with you."

I was enchanted, of course, with the "Consular Experiences," and find
from his letters, written at that time, that he was made specially happy
by the encomiums I could not help sending upon that inimitable sketch.
When the "Old Home" was nearly all in type, he began to think about a
dedication to the book. On the 3d of May he writes:--

"I am of three minds about dedicating the volume. First, it seems
due to Frank Pierce (as he put me into the position where I made all
those profound observations of English scenery, life, and character)
to inscribe it to him with a few pages of friendly and explanatory
talk, which also would be very gratifying to my own lifelong
affection for him.

"Secondly, I want to say something to Bennoch to show him that I am
thoroughly mindful of all his hospitality and kindness; and I
suppose he might be pleased to see his name at the head of a book of

"Thirdly, I am not convinced that it is worth while to inscribe it
to anybody. We will see hereafter."

The book moved on slowly through the press, and he seemed more than
commonly nervous about the proof-sheets. On the 28th of May he says in a
note to me:--

"In a proof-sheet of 'Our Old Home' which I sent you to-day (page
43, or 4, or 5 or thereabout) I corrected a line thus, 'possessing a
happy faculty of seeing my own interest.' Now as the public interest
was my sole and individual object while I held office, I think that
as a matter of scanty justice to myself, the line ought to stand
thus, 'possessing a happy faculty of seeing my own interest and the
public's.' Even then, you see, I only give myself credit for half
the disinterestedness I really felt. Pray, by all means, have it
altered as above, even if the page is stereotyped; which it can't
have been, as the proof is now in the Concord post-office, and you
will have it at the same time with this.

"We are getting into full leaf here, and your walk with J---might
come off any time."

An arrangement was made with the liberal house of Smith and Elder, of
London, to bring out "Our Old Home" on the same day of its publication
in Boston. On the 1st of July Hawthorne wrote to me from the Wayside as

"I am delighted with Smith and Elder, or rather with you; for it is
you that squeeze the English sovereigns out of the poor devils. On
my own behalf I never could have thought of asking more than L50,
and should hardly have expected to get L10; I look upon the L180 as
the only trustworthy funds I have, our own money being of such a
gaseous consistency. By the time I can draw for it, I expect it will
be worth at least fifteen hundred dollars.

"I shall think over the prefatory matter for 'Our Old Home' to-day,
and will write it to-morrow. It requires some little thought and
policy in order to say nothing amiss at this time; for I intend to
dedicate the book to Frank Pierce, come what may. It shall reach you
on Friday morning.

"We find ---- a comfortable and desirable guest to have in the
house. My wife likes her hugely, and for my part, I had no idea that
there was such a sensible woman of letters in the world. She is just
as healthy-minded as if she had never touched a pen. I am glad she
had a pleasant time, and hope she will come back.

"I mean to come to Boston whenever I can be sure of a cool day.

"What a prodigious length of time you stayed among the mountains!

"You ought not to assume such liberties of absence without the
consent of your friends, which I hardly think you would get. I, at
least, want you always within attainable distance, even though I
never see you. Why can't you come and stay a day or two with us, and
drink some spruce beer?"

Those were troublous days, full of war gloom and general despondency.
The North was naturally suspicious of all public men, who did not bear a
conspicuous part in helping to put down the Rebellion. General Pierce
had been President of the United States, and was not identified, to say
the least, with the great party which favored the vigorous prosecution
of the war. Hawthorne proposed to dedicate his new book to a very dear
friend, indeed, but in doing so he would draw public attention in a
marked way to an unpopular name. Several of Hawthorne's friends, on
learning that he intended to inscribe his book to Franklin Pierce, came
to me and begged that I would, if possible, help Hawthorne to see that
he ought not to do anything to jeopardize the currency of his new
volume. Accordingly I wrote to him, just what many of his friends had
said to me, and this is his reply to my letter, which bears date the
18th of July, 1863:--

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

"Nevertheless, I have no fancy for making myself a martyr when it is
honorably and conscientiously possible to avoid it; and I always
measure out my heroism very accurately according to the exigencies
of the occasion, and should be the last man in the world to throw
away a bit of it needlessly. So I have looked over the concluding
paragraph and have amended it in such a way that, while doing what I
know to be justice to my friend, it contains not a word that ought
to be objectionable to any set of readers. If the public of the
North see fit to ostracize me for this, I can only say that I would
gladly sacrifice a thousand or two of dollars rather than retain the
good-will of such a herd of dolts and mean-spirited scoundrels. I
enclose the rewritten paragraph, and shall wish to see a proof of
that and the whole dedication.

"I had a call from an Englishman yesterday, and kept him to dinner;
not the threatened ----, but a Mr. ----, introduced by ----. He says
he knows you, and he seems to be a very good fellow. I have strong
hopes that he will never come back here again, for J---- took him on
a walk of several miles, whereby they both caught a most tremendous
ducking, and the poor Englishman was frightened half to death by the
thunder.... On the other page is the list of presentation people,
and it amounts to twenty-four, which your liberality and kindness
allow me. As likely as not I have forgotten two or three, and I held
my pen suspended over one or two of the names, doubting whether they
deserved of me so especial a favor as a portion of my heart and
brain. I have few friends. Some authors, I should think, would
require half the edition for private distribution."

"Our Old Home" was published in the autumn of 1863, and although it was
everywhere welcomed, in England the strictures were applied with a
liberal hand. On the 18th of October he writes to me:--

"You sent me the 'Reader' with a notice of the book, and I have
received one or two others, one of them from Bennoch. The English
critics seem to think me very bitter against their countrymen, and
it is, perhaps, natural that they should, because their self-conceit
can accept nothing short of indiscriminate adulation; but I really
think that Americans have more cause than they to complain of me.
Looking over the volume, I am rather surprised to find that whenever
I draw a comparison between the two people, I almost invariably cast
the balance against ourselves. It is not a good nor a weighty book,
nor does it deserve any great amount either of praise or censure. I
don't care about seeing any more notices of it."

Meantime the "Dolliver Romance," which had been laid aside on account of
the exciting scenes through which we were then passing, and which
unfitted him for the composition of a work of the imagination, made
little progress. In a note written to me at this time he says:--

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

I invited him to come to Boston and have a cheerful week among his old
friends, and threw in as an inducement a hint that he should hear the
great organ in the Music Hall. I also suggested that we could talk over
the new Romance together, if he would gladden us all by coming to the
city. Instead of coming, he sent this reply:--

"I thank you for your kind invitation to hear the grand instrument;
but it offers me no inducement additional to what I should always
have for a visit to your abode. I have no ear for an organ or a
jewsharp, nor for any instrument between the two; so you had better
invite a worthier guest, and I will come another time.

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

"Besides, I want to prefix a little sketch of Thoreau to it,
because, from a tradition which he told me about this house of mine,
I got the idea of a deathless man, which is now taking a shape very
different from the original one. It seems the duty of a live
literary man to perpetuate the memory of a dead one, when there is
such fair opportunity as in this case: but how Thoreau would scorn
me for thinking that _I_ could perpetuate him! And I don't think so.

"I can think of no title for the unborn Romance. Always heretofore I
have waited till it was quite complete before attempting to name it,
and I fear I shall have to do so now. I wish you or Mrs. Fields
would suggest one. Perhaps you may snatch a title out of the
infinite void that will miraculously suit the book, and give me a
needful impetus to write it.

"I want a great deal of money..... I wonder how people manage to
live economically. I seem to spend little or nothing, and yet it
will get very far beyond the second thousand, for the present
year.... If it were not for these troublesome necessities, I doubt
whether you would ever see so much as the first chapter of the new

"Those verses entitled 'Weariness,' in the last magazine, seem to me
profoundly touching. I too am weary, and begin to look ahead for the
Wayside Inn."

I had frequent accounts of his ill health and changed appearance, but I
supposed he would rally again soon, and become hale and strong before
the winter fairly set in. But the shadows even then were about his
pathway, and Allan Cunningham's lines, which he once quoted to me, must
often have occurred to him,--

"Cauld's the snaw at my head,
And cauld at my feet,
And the finger o' death's at my een,
Closing them to sleep."

We had arranged together that the "Dolliver Romance" should be first
published in the magazine, in monthly instalments, and we decided to
begin in the January number of 1864. On the 8th of November came a long
letter from him:--

"I foresee that there is little probability of my getting the first
chapter ready by the 15th, although I have a resolute purpose to
write it by the end of the month. It will be in time for the
February number, if it turns out fit for publication at all. As to
the title, we must defer settling that till the book is fully
written, and meanwhile I see nothing better than to call the series
of articles 'Fragments of a Romance.' This will leave me to exercise
greater freedom as to the mechanism of the story than I otherwise
can, and without which I shall probably get entangled in my own
plot. When the work is completed in the magazine, I can fill up the
gaps and make straight the crookednesses, and christen it with a
fresh title. In this untried experiment of a serial work I desire
not to pledge myself, or promise the public more than I may
confidently expect to achieve. As regards the sketch of Thoreau, I
am not ready to write it yet, but will mix him up with the life of
The Wayside, and produce an autobiographical preface for the
finished Romance. If the public like that sort of stuff, I too find
it pleasant and easy writing, and can supply a new chapter of it for
every new volume, and that, moreover, without infringing upon my
proper privacy. An old Quaker wrote me, the other day, that he had
been reading my Introduction to the 'Mosses' and the 'Scarlet
Letter,' and felt as if he knew me better than his best friend; but
I think he considerably overestimates the extent of his intimacy
with me.

"I received several private letters and printed notices of 'Our Old
Home' from England. It is laughable to see the innocent wonder with
which they regard my criticisms, accounting for them by jaundice,
insanity, jealousy, hatred, on my part, and never admitting the
least suspicion that there may be a particle of truth in them. The
monstrosity of their self-conceit is such that anything short of
unlimited admiration impresses them as malicious caricature. But
they do me great injustice in supposing that I hate them. I would as
soon hate my own people.

"Tell Ticknor that I want a hundred dollars more, and I suppose I
shall keep on wanting more and more till the end of my days. If I
subside into the almshouse before my intellectual faculties are
quite extinguished, it strikes me that I would make a very pretty
book out of it; and, seriously, if I alone were concerned, I should
not have any great objection to winding up there."

On the 14th of November came a pleasant little note from him, which
seemed to have been written in better spirits than he had shown of
late. Photographs of himself always amused him greatly, and in the
little note I refer to there is this pleasant passage:--

"Here is the photograph,--a grandfatherly old figure enough; and I
suppose that is the reason why you select it.

"I am much in want of _cartes de visite_ to distribute on my own
account, and am tired and disgusted with all the undesirable
likenesses as yet presented of me. Don't you think I might sell my
head to some photographer who would be willing to return me the
value in small change; that is to say, in a dozen or two of cards?"

The first part of Chapter I. of "The Dolliver Romance" came to me from
the Wayside on the 1st of December. Hawthorne was very anxious to see it
in type as soon as possible, in order that he might compose the rest in
a similar strain, and so conclude the preliminary phase of Dr. Dolliver.
He was constantly imploring me to send him a good pen, complaining all
the while that everything had failed him in that line. In one of his
notes begging me to hunt him up something that he could write with, he

"Nobody ever suffered more from pens than I have, and I am glad that
my labor with the abominable little tool is drawing to a close."

In the month of December Hawthorne attended the funeral of Mrs. Franklin
Pierce, and, after the ceremony, came to stay with us. He seemed ill and
more nervous than usual. He said he found General Pierce greatly needing
his companionship, for he was overwhelmed with grief at the loss of his
wife. I well remember the sadness of Hawthorne's face when he told us he
felt obliged to look on the dead. "It was," said he, "like a carven
image laid in its richly embossed enclosure, and there was a remote
expression about it as if the whole had nothing to do with things
present." He told us, as an instance of the ever-constant courtesy of
his friend General Pierce, that while they were standing at the grave,
the General, though completely overcome with his own sorrow, turned and
drew up the collar of Hawthorne's coat to shield him from the bitter

The same day, as the sunset deepened and we sat together, Hawthorne
began to talk in an autobiographical vein, and gave us the story of his
early life, of which I have already written somewhat. He said at an
early age he accompanied his mother and sister to the township in Maine,
which his grandfather had purchased. That, he continued, was the
happiest period of his life, and it lasted through several years, when
he was sent to school in Salem. "I lived in Maine," he said, "like a
bird of the air, so perfect was the freedom I enjoyed. But it was there
I first got my cursed habits of solitude." During the moonlight nights
of winter he would skate until midnight all alone upon Sebago Lake, with
the deep shadows of the icy hills on either hand. When he found himself
far away from his home and weary with the exertion of skating, he would
sometimes take refuge in a log-cabin, where half a tree would be burning
on the broad hearth. He would sit in the ample chimney and look at the
stars through the great aperture through which the flames went roaring
up. "Ah," he said, "how well I recall the summer days also, when, with
my gun, I roamed at will through the woods of Maine. How sad middle life
looks to people of erratic temperaments. Everything is beautiful in
youth, for all things are allowed to it then."

The early home of the Hawthornes in Maine must have been a lonely
dwelling-place indeed. A year ago (May 12, 1870) the old place was
visited by one who had a true feeling for Hawthorne's genius, and who
thus graphically described the spot.

"A little way off the main-travelled road in the town of Raymond
there stood an old house which has much in common with houses of its
day, but which is distinguished from them by the more evident marks
of neglect and decay. Its unpainted walls are deeply stained by
time. Cornice and window-ledge and threshold are fast falling with
the weight of years. The fences were long since removed from all the
enclosures, the garden-wall is broken down, and the garden itself is
now grown up to pines whose shadows fall dark and heavy upon the old
and mossy roof; fitting roof-trees for such a mansion, planted there
by the hands of Nature herself, as if she could not realize that her
darling child was ever to go out from his early home. The highway
once passed its door, but the location of the road has been changed;
and now the old house stands solitarily apart from the busy world.
Longer than I can remember, and I have never learned how long, this
house has stood untenanted and wholly unused, except, for a few
years, as a place of public worship; but, for myself, and for all
who know its earlier history, it will ever have the deepest
interest, for it was _the early home of Nathaniel Hawthorne_.

"Often have I, when passing through that town, turned aside to study
the features of that landscape, and to reflect upon the influence
which his surroundings had upon the development of this author's
genius. A few rods to the north runs a little mill-stream, its
sloping bank once covered with grass, now so worn and washed by the
rains as to show but little except yellow sand. Less than half a
mile to the west, this stream empties into an arm of Sebago Lake.
Doubtless, at the time the house was built, the forest was so much
cut away in that direction as to bring into view the waters of the
lake, for a mill was built upon the brook about half-way down the
valley, and it is reasonable to suppose that a clearing was made
from the mill to the landing upon the shore of the pond; but the
pines have so far regained their old dominion as completely to shut
out the whole prospect in that direction. Indeed, the site affords
but a limited survey, except to the northwest. Across a narrow
valley in that direction lie open fields and dark pine-covered
slopes. Beyond these rise long ranges of forest-crowned hills, while
in the far distance every hue of rock and tree, of field and grove,
melts into the soft blue of Mount Washington. The spot must ever
have had the utter loneliness of the pine forests upon the borders
of our northern lakes. The deep silence and dark shadows of the old
woods must have filled the imagination of a youth possessing
Hawthorne's sensibility with images which later years could not

"To this place came the widowed mother of Hawthorne in company with
her brother, an original proprietor and one of the early settlers of
the town of Raymond. This house was built for her, and here she
lived with her son for several years in the most complete seclusion.
Perhaps she strove to conceal here a grief which she could not
forget. In what way, and to what extent, the surroundings of his
boyhood operated in moulding the character and developing the genius
of that gifted author, I leave to the reader to determine. I have
tried simply to draw a faithful picture of his early home."

On the 15th of December Hawthorne wrote to me:--

"I have not yet had courage to read the Dolliver proof-sheet, but
will set about it soon, though with terrible reluctance, such as I
never felt before.... I am most grateful to you for protecting me
from that visitation of the elephant and his cub. If you happen to
see Mr. ---- of L----, a young man who was here last summer, pray
tell him anything that your conscience will let you, to induce him
to spare me another visit, which I know he intended. I really am not
well and cannot be disturbed by strangers without more suffering
than it is worth while to endure. I thank Mrs. P---- and yourself
for your kind hospitality, past and prospective. I never come to see
you without feeling the better for it, but I must not test so
precious a remedy too often."

The new year found him incapacitated from writing much on the Romance.
On the 17th of January, 1864, he says:--

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

The end of February found him in a mood which is best indicated in this
letter, which he addressed to me on the 25th of the month:--

"I hardly know what to say to the public about this abortive
Romance, though I know pretty well what the case will be. I shall
never finish it. Yet it is not quite pleasant for an author to
announce himself, or to be announced, as finally broken down as to
his literary faculty. It is a pity that I let you put this work in
your programme for the year, for I had always a presentiment that it
would fail us at the pinch. Say to the public what you think best,
and as little as possible; for example: 'We regret that Mr.
Hawthorne's Romance, announced for this magazine some months ago,
still lies upon the author's writing-table, he having been
interrupted in his labor upon it by an impaired state of health';
or, 'We are sorry to hear (but know not whether the public will
share our grief) that Mr. Hawthorne is out of health and is thereby
prevented, for the present, from proceeding with another of his
promised (or threatened) Romances, intended for this magazine'; or,
'Mr. Hawthorne's brain is addled at last, and, much to our
satisfaction, he tells us that he cannot possibly go on with the
Romance announced on the cover of the January magazine. We consider
him finally shelved, and shall take early occasion to bury him under
a heavy article, carefully summing up his merits (such as they were)
and his demerits, what few of them can be touched upon in our
limited space'; or, 'We shall commence the publication of Mr.
Hawthorne's Romance as soon as that gentleman chooses to forward it.
We are quite at a loss how to account for this delay in the
fulfilment of his contract; especially as he has already been most
liberally paid for the first number.' Say anything you like, in
short, though I really don't believe that the public will care what
you say or whether you say anything. If you choose, you may publish
the first chapter as an insulated fragment, and charge me with the
overpayment. I cannot finish it unless a great change comes over me;
and if I make too great an effort to do so, it will be my death; not
that I should care much for that, if I could fight the battle
through and win it, thus ending a life of much smoulder and scanty
fire in a blaze of glory. But I should smother myself in mud of my
own making. I mean to come to Boston soon, not for a week but for a
single day, and then I can talk about my sanitary prospects more
freely than I choose to write. I am not low-spirited, nor fanciful,
nor freakish, but look what seem to be realities in the face, and am
ready to take whatever may come. If I could but go to England now, I
think that the sea voyage and the 'Old Home' might set me all right.

"This letter is for your own eye, and I wish especially that no echo
of it may come back in your notes to me.

"P.S. Give my kindest regards to Mrs. F----, and tell her that one
of my choicest ideal places is her drawing-room, and therefore I
seldom visit it."

On Monday, the 28th of March, Hawthorne came to town and made my house
his first station on a journey to the South for health. I was greatly
shocked at his invalid appearance, and he seemed quite deaf. The light
in his eye was beautiful as ever, but his limbs seemed shrunken and his
usual stalwart vigor utterly gone. He said to me with a pathetic voice,
"Why does Nature treat us like little children! I think we could bear it
all if we knew our fate; at least it would not make much difference to
me now what became of me." Toward night he brightened up a little, and
his delicious wit flashed out, at intervals, as of old; but he was
evidently broken and dispirited about his health. Looking out on the bay
that was sparkling in the moonlight, he said he thought the moon rather
lost something of its charm for him as he grew older. He spoke with
great delight of a little story, called "Pet Marjorie," and said he had
read it carefully through twice, every word of it. He had much to say
about England, and observed, among other things, that "the extent over
which her dominions are spread leads her to fancy herself stronger than
she really is; but she is not to-day a powerful empire; she is much like
a squash-vine, which runs over a whole garden, but, if you cut it at the
root, it is at once destroyed." At breakfast, next morning, he spoke of
his kind neighbors in Concord, and said Alcott was one of the most
excellent men he had ever known. "It is impossible to quarrel with him,
for he would take all your harsh words like a saint."

He left us shortly after this for a journey to Washington, with his
friend Mr. Ticknor. The travellers spent several days in New York, and
then proceeded to Philadelphia. Hawthorne wrote to me from the
Continental Hotel, dating his letter "Saturday evening," announcing the
severe illness of his companion. He did not seem to anticipate a fatal
result, but on Sunday morning the news came that Mr. Ticknor was dead.
Hawthorne returned at once to Boston, and stayed here over night. He was
in a very excited and nervous state, and talked incessantly of the sad
scenes he had just been passing through. We sat late together,
conversing of the friend we had lost, and I am sure he hardly closed his
eyes that night. In the morning he went back to his own home in Concord.

His health, from that time, seemed to give way rapidly, and in the
middle of May his friend, General Pierce, proposed that they should go
among the New Hampshire hills together and meet the spring there.

The first letter we received from Mrs. Hawthorne[*] after her husband's
return to Concord in April gave us great anxiety. It was dated "Monday
eve," and here are some extracts from it:--

"I have just sent Mr. Hawthorne to bed, and so have a moment to
speak to you. Generally it has been late and I have not liked to
disturb him by sitting up after him, and so I could not write since
he returned, though I wished very much to tell you about him, ever
since he came home. He came back unlooked for that day; and when I
heard a step on the piazza, I was lying on a couch and feeling quite
indisposed. But as soon as I saw him I was frightened out of all
knowledge of myself,--so haggard, so white, so deeply scored with
pain and fatigue was the face, so much more ill he looked than I
ever saw him before. He had walked from the station because he saw
no carriage there, and his brow was streaming with a perfect rain,
so great had been the effort to walk so far.... He needed much to
get home to me, where he could fling off all care of himself and
give way to his feelings, pent up and kept back for so long,
especially since his watch and ward of most excellent, kind Mr.
Ticknor. It relieved him somewhat to break down as he spoke of that
scene.... But he was so weak and weary he could not sit up much, and
lay on the couch nearly all the time in a kind of uneasy somnolency,
not wishing to be read to even, not able to attend or fix his
thoughts at all. On Saturday he unfortunately took cold, and, after
a most restless night, was seized early in the morning with a very
bad stiff neck, which was acutely painful all Sunday. Sunday night,
however, a compress of linen wrung in cold water cured him, with
belladonna. But he slept also most of this morning.... He could as
easily build London as go to the Shakespeare dinner. It tires him so
much to get entirely through his toilet in the morning, that he has
to lie down a long time after it. To-day he walked out on the
grounds, and could not stay ten minutes, because I would not let him
sit down in the wind, and he could not bear any longer exercise. He
has more than lost all he gained by the journey, by the sad event.
From being the nursed and cared for,--early to bed and late to
rise,--led, as it were, by the ever-ready hand of kind Mr. Ticknor,
to become the nurse and night-watcher with all the responsibilities,
with his mighty power of sympathy and his vast apprehension of
suffering in others, and to see death for the first time in a state
so weak as his,--the death also of so valued a friend,--as Mr.
Hawthorne says himself, 'it told upon him' fearfully. There are
lines ploughed on his brow which never were there before.... I have
been up and alert ever since his return, but one day I was obliged,
when he was busy, to run off and lie down for fear I should drop
before his eyes. My head was in such an agony I could not endure it
another moment. But I am well now. I have wrestled and won, and now
I think I shall not fail again. Your most generous kindness of
hospitality I heartily thank you for, but Mr. Hawthorne says he
cannot leave home. He wants rest, and he says when the wind is
_warm_ he shall feel well. This cold wind ruins him. I wish he were
in Cuba or on some isle in the Gulf Stream. But I must say I could
not think him able to go anywhere, unless I could go with him. He is
too weak to take care of himself. I do not like to have him go up
and down stairs alone. I have read to him all the afternoon and
evening and after he walked in the morning to-day. I do nothing but
sit with him, ready to do or not to do, just as he wishes. The
wheels of my small _menage_ are all stopped. He is my world and all
the business of it. He has not smiled since he came home till
to-day, and I made him laugh with Thackeray's humor in reading to
him; but a smile looks strange on a face that once shone like a
thousand suns with smiles. The light for the time has gone out of
his eyes, entirely. An infinite weariness films them quite. I thank
Heaven that summer and not winter approaches."

[Footnote *: As I write this paragraph, my friend, the Reverend James
Freeman Clarke, puts into my hand the following note, which Hawthorne
sent to him nearly thirty years ago:--

54 PINCKNEY STREET, Friday, July 8, 1842.

MY DEAR SIR,--Though personally a stranger to you, I am about to
request of you the greatest favor which I can receive from any man.
I am to be married to Miss Sophia Peabody; and it is our mutual
desire that you should perform the ceremony. Unless it should be
decidedly a rainy day, a carriage will call for you at half past
eleven o'clock in the forenoon.

Very respectfully yours,


Rev. JAMES F. CLARKE, Chestnut Street.]

On Friday evening of the same week Mrs. Hawthorne sent off another
despatch to us:--

"Mr. Hawthorne has been miserably ill for two or three days, so that I
could not find a moment to speak to you. I am most anxious to have him
leave Concord again, and General Pierce's plan is admirable, now that
the General is well himself. I think the serene jog-trot in a private
carriage into country places, by trout-streams and to old farm-houses,
away from care and news, will be very restorative. The boy associations
with the General will refresh him. They will fish, and muse, and rest,
and saunter upon horses' feet, and be in the air all the time in fine
weather. I am quite content, though I wish I could go for a few _petits
sions_. But General Pierce has been a most tender, constant nurse for
many years, and knows how to take care of the sick. And his love for Mr.
Hawthorne is the strongest passion of his soul, now his wife is
departed. They will go to the Isles of Shoals together probably, before
their return.

"Mr. Hawthorne cannot walk ten minutes now without wishing to sit down,
as I think I told you, so that he cannot take sufficient air except in a
carriage. And his horror of hotels and rail-cars is immense, and human
beings beset him in cities. He is indeed very weak. I hardly know what
takes away his strength. I now am obliged to superintend my workman, who
is arranging the grounds. Whenever my husband lies down (which is sadly
often) I rush out of doors to see what the gardener is about.

"I cannot feel rested till Mr. Hawthorne is better, but I get along. I
shall go to town when he is safe in the care of General Pierce."

On Saturday this communication from Mrs. Hawthorne reached us:--

"General Pierce wrote yesterday to say he wished to meet Mr.
Hawthorne in Boston on Wednesday, and go from thence on their way.

"Mr. Hawthorne is much weaker. I find, than he has been before at
any time, and I shall go down with him, having a great many things
to do in Boston; but I am sure he is not fit to be left by himself,
for his steps are so uncertain, and his eyes are very uncertain too.
Dear Mr. Fields, I am very anxious about him, and I write now to say
that he absolutely refuses to see a physician officially, and so I
wish to know whether Dr. Holmes could not see him in some ingenious
way on Wednesday as a friend; but with his experienced, acute
observation, to look at him also as a physician, to note how he is
and what he judges of him comparatively since he last saw him. It
almost deprives me of my wits to see him growing weaker with no aid.
He seems quite bilious, and has a restlessness that is infinite. His
look is more distressed and harassed than before; and he has so
little rest, that he is getting worn out. I hope immensely in regard
of this sauntering journey with General Pierce.

"I feel as if I ought not to speak to you of anything when you are
so busy and weary and bereaved. But yet in such a sad emergency as
this, I am sure your generous, kind heart will not refuse me any
help you can render.... I wish Dr. Holmes would feel his pulse; I do
not know how to judge of it, but it seems to me irregular."

His friend, Dr. O.W. Holmes, in compliance with Mrs. Hawthorne's desire,
expressed in this letter to me, saw the invalid, and thus describes his
appearance in an article full of tenderness and feeling which was
published in the "Atlantic Monthly" for July, 1864:--

"Late in the afternoon of the day before he left Boston on his last
journey I called upon him at the hotel where he was staying. He had
gone out but a moment before. Looking along the street, I saw a form
at some distance in advance which could only be his,--but how
changed from his former port and figure! There was no mistaking the
long iron-gray locks, the carriage of the head, and the general look
of the natural outlines and movement; but he seemed to have shrunken
in all his dimensions, and faltered along with an uncertain, feeble
step, as if every movement were an effort. I joined him, and we
walked together half an hour, during which time I learned so much
of his state of mind and body as could be got at without worrying
him with suggestive questions,--my object being to form an opinion
of his condition, as I had been requested to do, and to give him
some hints that might be useful to him on his journey.

"His aspect, medically considered, was very unfavorable. There were
persistent local symptoms, referred especially to the
stomach,--'boring pain,' distension, difficult digestion, with great
wasting of flesh and strength. He was very gentle, 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.

"With all his obvious depression, there was no failing noticeable in
his conversational powers. There was the same backwardness and
hesitancy which in his best days it was hard for him to overcome, so
that talking with him was almost like love-making, and his shy,
beautiful soul had to be wooed from its bashful prudency like an
unschooled maiden. The calm despondency with which he spoke about
himself confirmed the unfavorable opinion suggested by his look and

I saw Hawthorne alive, for the last time, the day he started on this his
last mortal journey. His speech and his gait indicated severe illness,
and I had great misgivings about the jaunt he was proposing to take so
early in the season. His tones were more subdued than ever, and he
scarcely spoke above a whisper. He was very affectionate in parting, and
I followed him to the door, looking after him as he went up School
Street. I noticed that he faltered from weakness, and I should have


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