MoboReader > Literature > Memories of Hawthorne

   Chapter 1 THE HAWTHORNES AND THE PEABODYS

Memories of Hawthorne By Rose Hawthorne Lathrop Characters: 34386

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04


To my lot have fallen sundry letters of my mother's, received in youth by her sisters and friends, and by her husband and others in later life. I have often read over these magic little pictures of old days, and each time have felt less inclined to let them remain silently in the family. The letters are full of sunshine, which is not even yet in the least dimmed; and there is a pleasant chatter of persons of whom we have heard widely in the most refined atmosphere this country knows.

The scene surrounds a soul, my father's, whose excellence grows more and more evident, and who enriches every incident and expression that comes in contact with him. The tone of the life depicted is usually glad; but even where discomfort and sorrow break it, Hawthorne's unflinching endurance suggests unsoured activity and a brave glance.

I will preserve, as well as I can by selections, the effect produced upon me by the many packages of letters which I opened some years ago. What Hawthorne cared for is somewhat clearly shown by side-lights; and there is also some explanation from my mother, as unintentionally given as the rest, of why he cared.

It was a genial and vivid existence which enveloped her family always; and it became an interesting problem to the Peabodys to entice the reticent Hawthornes into it, from the adjacent Herbert Street,-by gentle degrees, well-adjusted baits, and affectionate compliments. Trout-fishing comes to mind,-and the trout were very skillful in keeping aloof. Nevertheless, Hawthorne liked all he heard and saw at the Peabodys' in Charter Street; and Sophia, his future wife, gleams near him as the unwitting guide to the warm contact with his kind for which he searched, though with delicacy of choice.

Sophia's mother had strong intellect and great refinement, as well as a strength of character which gave her the will to teach school for many years, while her own children were growing up. She was very well connected in various directions; in other words, she had sprung from cultivated intelligences.

Mrs. Peabody's mother was the wife of Judge Cranch, of Boston, whose sister, the wife of General Palmer, wrote to her in Revolutionary days the following letter, wherein very mild words stand for very strong emotions:-

GERMANTOWN, February 12, 1775.

DEAR SISTER,-It is a long time since we have heard from you, except by transient reports that your family was pretty well. I suppose you are all anxious about publick affairs as well as other folks. 'T is a dreadful dull time for writing; this suspense that we are in seems to absorb every Faculty of the mind, especially in our situation where we seldom see anybody from the busy world.

Mr. Palmer has been gone a fortnight to Congress, and we have never heard a word from him. The folks are almost impatient to hear what they are about.

Certainly we at this time want every motive of Religion to strengthen our souls and bear up our spirits, that we may not faint in the evil time. Why should not there be religious as well as Political correspondencies? I believe much good might be done by such means, as those who are sincerely good would be able to strengthen each other-oh dear! I am so stupid! I wonder whether you feel so, too; but you have little ones about you that will keep you rousing. My Love to them all, together with my Brother.

Your affectionate sister, M. PALMER.

Literature, art, and intercourse were the three gracious deities of the Peabody home, and many persons came to join the family in worshiping them; so that the pages of all the letters and journals, from which but a fragmentary gleaning has been made, blossom daily with name after name of callers. Elizabeth was profoundly interesting, Mary was brilliant, and Sophia was lovely in her studio, to which everybody eagerly mounted. At about the time when I begin to levy upon the letters, the efforts of these young ladies to establish common ground of friendship with the Hawthornes peep forth in small messages, bequeathed to me by my recluse aunt Ebie Hawthorne.

Elizabeth Peabody was the first and most frequent angler at the brookside, and actually succeeded in establishing a sturdy friendship with the young author, who was being sought for by the best people in Salem. His mother and sisters, walks and books, were the principal factors in his capture by the admiring enemy. Elizabeth had already a high intercourse upon high themes with the best minds among manly American thought. Her perfect simplicity of motive and abandonment of selfish, vain effeminateness made her the delight of the great men she met. She was a connoisseur in this field. To such a genial cultivator of development it seemed folly for the women of the Hawthorne family so to conceal their value; it was positively non-permissible for the genius of the family to conceal his, and so this New World Walton fished him forth. She sends a note to Herbert Street:-

MY DEAR MRS. HAWTHORNE,-I have taken the liberty to have your book bound before I returned it to you, as it was somewhat abused at the printing-office. And besides, I thought there should be some attempt at harmony between the outside and the inside; and more than that, I wanted in some slight degree to express my respect for it. How happy you must be in reading these tales! For if the genius which produced them is independent of all source but the divine bounty, the holiness and virtue which breathe on every page may be fairly attributed to the sacred influences of a pure New England home, in no small degree. But to enter upon the satisfactions of a mother in such a case I feel to be intruding upon consecrated ground. Yet you will easily pardon the feeling that impels me.

With the greatest respect, yours,

ELIZABETH P. PEABODY.

My mother joins in the pursuit, though interested only in catching a glimpse of the widow and the shy eldest daughter. It must have been worth many experiments to gently succeed in putting their skill in hiding to naught. She slaps a dainty fishing-line through the leaves:-

MY DEAR ELIZABETH,-I send you a volume of Carlyle, lately published. It is well worth reading; and your mother-will she like to read it? I shall charge Bridget to inquire how your mother's and Louisa's headaches are. I should have gone myself to-day to ask, had not the wind been east. Won't you come to walk to-morrow afternoon with my mother, dear Elizabeth, and then I shall see you a few minutes? I want very much to see you, and to show you a certain white vase filled with brilliant flowers, which would charm your eye. I hope you enjoyed the music last evening.

Truly yours and Louisa's,

S. A. PEABODY.

I can imagine nothing more curious to the Peabodys than people who withdrew themselves from choice. My mother was often hidden, because of great delicacy of health, which her ardent pursuance of art constantly fatigued; but she saw so many people that there was scarcely a whole day of isolation. At the Hawthornes', on the contrary, quiet prevailed: caused partly by bereavement, partly by proud poverty, and no doubt not a little by the witch-shadow of Judge Hawthorne's unfortunate condemnation of Rebecca Nurse, whose dying curse was never ignored; partly also by a sense of superiority, which, I think, was the skeleton in every Hawthorne's body at that time.

For a year one of the brothers at the Peabodys', George, remained in his room, slowly dying from the effects of over-exertion in athletic sports. He was of large frame and of noble appearance, and was referred to by my mother in after-life with the deepest admiration. She writes:-

"It is difficult to realize how ill he is. He has none of the ways of sick people. His voice is as cheerful as ever, with no whine in its tones. He has no whims. He is always ready to smile, and reads constantly. . . . Mary and I spent the evening with the beloved one. He was pretty cheery, and told a comical anecdote of Dean Swift. He stood up on Friday much more firmly than formerly. Elizabeth Hawthorne sent him Miss Martineau's book, after tea, which was certainly very kind and attentive in her. I am determined to go and see her this week. I spent the morning upon my bed, reading Herodotus. . . . I found that mother had taken James and gone to Paradise after a hawthorne bush. It is a bush for which she has had a longing for several years, but never could get any kind friend to uproot it for her."

The highest principles of thought and action are constantly danced about and caressed by my mother in all her letters, as we imagine a Greek maiden paying cheerful homage to beautiful statues of the gods. For instance, in writing to the brother already mentioned, before his illness, she says:-

"I do not like to have you say that you enjoy despising people, George. It would be a little better to say you cannot help it sometimes; and even that is a dangerous attitude of mind. It is better to sorrow over than to despise. You know, Wordsworth says, 'He that feels contempt for any living thing hath faculties which he has never used.'"

A message from Mary Peabody shows how intimate Herbert and Charter streets were growing:-

MY DEAR ELIZABETH,-I am very sorry to have been prevented from walking, but I hope to be able to go by Tuesday. George is fast growing weaker, and we do not know what a day may bring forth. Still, I feel it is necessary to take exercise when I can. We do not tell all our fears to Sophia, whom we wish to keep cheerfully employed as long as we can. Will you ask your brother to dine with us to-morrow? Elizabeth [who was then teaching school in Boston] depends upon the pleasure of seeing him when she comes. We dine as early as twelve on Sunday. Yours very truly,

MARY T. PEABODY.

From this point, the letters and fragments of journals bring to view what Hawthorne saw, and make real to us the woman he soon loved.

SALEM, October 22, 1832.

I have been in old native Salem for ten days. Betty and I returned by seven o'clock to our minimum of a house, and upon entering I really felt a slight want of breath to find the walls so near together and the ceiling nearly upon my head. But there stood my beloved mother, all in white, her face radiant with welcome and love, and in her arms there was no want of room. In September or October I live par excellence. I feel in the abstract just as an autumn leaf looks. I step abroad from my clay house, and become a part of the splendor and claritude and vigor around.

DEAR BETTY,-I forgot to tell you that mother's garden has been arranged. She is quite happy in it. Father presided over a man as he uprooted and planted. The man was quite an original. He came looking very nice, very gentlemanly, in broadcloth and cambric cravat. But after disappearing into the barn for several minutes, he came forth transformed into a dirty workman, though still somewhat distinguished by his figure and air. He expressed himself in very courtly phrase, also, and was quite sentimental about the shrubbery round the tombs. [A graveyard was close to the house.] I should much like to know the history of his mind and career. . . . The clematis which climbs into my window is all sprouting. My glorious tree-my hieroglyphic for the everlasting forests-is also putting forth leaves, and the robins sing among the branches.

Ellen Barstow came with an exquisite crimson rose, for me, which she wished to present herself; and as I was lying down, she went away to come again. So towards tea-time I saw her and Augusta running along. Ellen discovered me at the window, and shouted and flew on. As they were ascending the stairs I heard Ellen say, "Now hold your hand behind you, Augusta!" They entered with hands concealed and gleaming faces, and when they were within reach suddenly the concealed hands were thrust towards my face, each adorned with a crimson rose. My exclamation of delight seemed to fulfill their desires; and now I want to know if it is not worth fifteen years of bodily pain and discomfort to be the cause of such divine sentiment in the souls of so many children as I am? I feel perfectly consecrated by it, and bound over to be worthy of such pure emotions. Oh, not mysterious Providence! How even are thy golden scales-sweetest compensations poising exactly the ills! It is not suffering which I think beautiful or desirable, but what suffering brings along with it, and causes. My door was open, and who should unexpectedly come out of Mary's room but Miss Elizabeth Hawthorne, going to walk with Mary. I was very glad to see her, and wanted her to come into my studio, but Mary was in haste to be walking. Miss Hawthorne looked very interesting. They had a delightful ramble, and she sent me a bunch of seaweed fastened to a rock, which she stepped into the sea to get for me. It looks like a drooping plume if it is held up, and I went into George's room to get his admiration; but he persisted in declaring it hideous. I was delighted by her thinking of sending it to me.

I happened to be up in the third story just as the children were going home [Mary was teaching two or three little girls], and they went into my studio with Mary. I was very much impressed with what I heard said in tones of reverence. "Look at that hammock! Oh, that picture! And there are the flowers! Oh, I gave her those! Miss Peabody, is that a bed? Oh, how beautifully everything looks! Is Sophia gone out?" I cannot convey to you the intonations of affection and interest which made these sentences so touching.

This morning Mary came in and threw at me a beautiful handful of flowers, which I crowed over for a time, and then arose. I worked a little while at my painting, and then Mary Channing came gliding in upon me, like a dream, with more flowers, the Scotch rose and many rare things among them. Mr. Doughty [the artist, who had consented to give Sophia lessons] came, as bright as possible. The cool breezes, the flowers, etc., put him into excellent humor. He said it was luxury to sit and paint here. He created a glowing bank in broad sunshine. Mr. Russell called, and came up into my studio. He thought such a studio and such an occupation must cure the headache. Then I prepared to make several calls, but on my way was arrested by Mr. George Hillard, who was altogether too agreeable to leave. He is amazingly entertaining, to be sure. He remarked what a torment of his life Mr. Reed, the postmaster in Cambridge, was. He is an old man, about a hundred and forty years old, who always made him think of the little end of nothing sharpened off into a point. He had but one joke-to tell people sometimes when they asked for a letter that they must pay half a dollar for it; and then, if in their simplicity they gave it, he would laugh, and say it was a joke. After Mr. Hillard went away, Sally Gardiner came in with an armful of roses, which she poured upon me, taken from Judge Jackson's garden. She had just returned from Milton, and was overflowing with its grandeur and beauty.

Yours affectionately,

SOPHIE.

The somewhat invalided little artist was highly and widely admired; and to illustrate the happy fact I quote this letter, written by her spirited sister Mary:-

BOSTON, June 19, 1833.

MY DEAREST,-I went to Dr. Channing's yesterday afternoon and carried him your drawings, with which he was so enchanted that I left them for him to look at again. He gathered himself up in a little striped cloak, and all radiant with that soul of his, said with his most divine inflection, "This is a great and noble undertaking, and will do much for us here." And then he rolled his orbs upon me in that majestic way of his, which, when it melts into loveliness as it sometimes does, so takes captivity captive. In short, he was quite in an ecstasy with you and your notions. [Probably drawings illustrating auxiliary verbs.] He inquired very particularly for you, and showed me all the new books he had just received from England, which he thought a great imposition, they being big books. Edward [his brother] came in, and they greeted affectionately. After a long survey of the Professor, he exclaimed, "Why, Edward, you look gross-take care of the intellect!" Then he handed him one of the great books, just arrived, which was an edition of Thomas Belsham's works, with a likeness of the author. "There," said he, "is a man who had not quite the dimensions of a hogshead; but he was the largest man I ever saw." Edward looked rather uneasy. "William," he replied, "I don't think you are any judge of large men. Last week I looked quite thin, but to-day my head and face are very much swelled." The Doctor, in the simplicity of his heart, never thinks of feelings, only of things, as Plato would say. Your affectionate sister,

MARY.

Sophia writes to Elizabeth in Boston, in 1838, of her daily life, as follows:-

"I went to my hammock [in the studio] with Xenophon. Socrates was divinest, after Jesus Christ, I think. He lived up to his thought. . . . After dinner, Mary went out 'to take the fresh,' intending to finish the afternoon by a walk with Miss Hawthorne, and I commissioned her to bring

home both her and her brother, if he should go, that I might give him my fragrant violets. . . .

"Miss Hawthorne came to walk, and remarked to Mary how beautiful the crocuses were which I had given to her brother. Mary told her that I sent them to her. 'That is a pretty story,' she replied. 'He never told me so.'

"Just after seven Mr. Hawthorne came. He looked very brilliant. . . . His coming here is one sure way of keeping you in mind, and it must be excessively tame for him after his experience of your society and conversation; so that, I think, you will shine the more by contrast."

One evening, she says, she "showed him Sarah Clarke's picture of the island, and that gorgeous flower in the Chinese book of which there is a mighty tree in Cuba. And then I turned over the pictures of those hideous birds, which diverted him exceedingly. One he thought deserved study. . . .

"I was to go to see his sister Elizabeth that afternoon, and he had heard about it. He asked if I could go, and said he should have waited for me to come if he had not supposed the east wind would prevent me. I said that it would. He wanted to know if I would come the next day. I meant to call Mary, but he prevented me by saying he could not stay long enough. . . . [He seldom stayed unless he found Sophia alone.]

"Last evening Mr. Hawthorne came for Mary to go with him to Miss

Burley's [to a club which met every week]. Mary could not go. It

seemed a shame to refuse him. I came down to catch a glimpse of him.

He has a celestial expression which I do not like to lose. . . .

"The children have just come in, and brought me a host of odorous violets. I made George a visit in the afternoon, in the midst of my battle with headache, and to my question of 'How dost?' he replied, for the first time, 'Pretty fair,' instead of the unvarying 'Middling.' Skeptics surely cannot disbelieve in one thing that is invisible, and that is Pain."

May, 1838.

After my siesta I went down to Herbert Street with the book I wished to leave, and when I opened the gate [of the Hawthornes' house] the old woman with her hood on [an aunt of the Hawthornes] was stooping over a flower-bed, planting seeds. She lifted her smiling face, which must have been very pretty in her youth, and said, "How do you do, Miss Peabody?" Yet I never saw her in my life before. She begged me to walk in, but I refused, and gave her my message of thanks for the book.

Ever thine wholly,

SOPHIECHEN.

May 14, 1838.

To-day I was tempted to trot about the room and arrange all my vases, and give an air to the various knickknacks. I am much more easily tired than ever before. My walk to Castle Hill before February did not make me feel so hopelessly tired as it now does to walk as far as the Hawthornes'. Mr. Hawthorne had declined to come to dine with you on your arrival, but was to be here directly after dinner. When he came I happened to be the only one ready to go down. His first question was, "Where is Elizabeth?" He was not at all inclined to bear the disappointment of your not being here, after all. He thought it "too bad," "insufferable," "not fair," and wondered what could be the reason. I told him your excuse, and that there was a letter for him, which Mary soon brought. He put it into his pocket without breaking the seal. He looked very handsome, and was full of smiles. I assured him the morning was the best time to do creative work. He said he believed he would go and take a walk in South Salem. "Won't you go?" he asked of me. But the wind was east.

MY DEAR LIZZIE,-I can think of nothing now but Charles Emerson. A sudden gloom seems to overshadow me. I hope you will tell us to-morrow whether he is dangerously ill. We had an exquisite visit from Waldo. It was the warbling of the Attic bird. The gleam of his diffused smile; the musical thunder of his voice; his repose, so full of the essence of life; his simplicity-just think of all these, and of my privilege in seeing and hearing him. He enjoyed everything we showed him so much. He talked so divinely to Raphael's Madonna del Pesce. I vainly imagined I was very quiet all the while, preserving a very demure exterior, and supposed I was sharing his oceanic calm. But the next day I was aware that I had been in a very intense state. I told Mary, that night after he had gone, that I felt like a gem; that was the only way I could express it. I don't know what Mary hoped to get from him, but I was sure of drinking in that which would make me paint Cuban skies better than even my recollections could have made me, were they as vivid as the rays of the sun in that sunniest of climates. He made me feel as Eliza Dwight did once, when she looked uncommonly beautiful and animated. I felt as if her beauty was all about the room, and that I was in it, and therefore beautiful too. It seemed just so with Waldo's soul-beauty. Good-by,

SOPHY.

June 1, 1838.

One afternoon Elizabeth Hawthorne came to walk with Mary, and mother went with her instead. She first came up into my chamber, and seemed well pleased with it, but especially admired the elm-tree outside. She looked very interesting. Mother took her to the cold spring, and they did not return till just at dark, loaded with airy anemones and blue violets and a few columbines. They had found Mr. John King and his daughter at the spring, looking for wild-flowers, and mother introduced Miss Hawthorne; but she hung her head and scarcely answered, and did not open her lips again, though Mr. King accompanied them all the way home. He gave mother some columbines, and after a while said, "I must make your bunch like Mrs. Peabody's, my dear," and so put some more into Miss Hawthorne's hand.

The day before Mr. Hawthorne had called at noon to see our ladyships, and I never saw him look so brilliantly rayonnant. He said to me, "Your story will be finished soon, Sophia-to-morrow or next day." I was surprised to have the story so appropriated, and I do long to see it. [Probably Edward Randolph's Portrait.] He proposed to Mary to go to the beach the same day, and she consented. He said that he had not spoken to his sister about it, but would do so as soon as he went home. He wished to go early, and have a good walk. Only think what progress! To come and propose a walk at mid-day!

He said he had a letter nearly written to you, but should not finish it till you wrote. He seemed quite impatient to hear from you, and remarked that he had not heard since you were here. Mary went to Herbert Street to join Miss Hawthorne for the walk, but did not see her. Her mother said Elizabeth did not want to go because it was windy, and the sun was too hot, and clouds were in the south! (It was the loveliest day in the world.) Was it not too bad to disappoint her brother so? I could have whipped her. When Mary went the next day with the tulips, Louisa told her that Elizabeth was very sorry afterwards that she did not go.

A successful visit, almost accidental, upon Ebie Hawthorne pleased

Sophia very much, and she writes:-

"She was very agreeable, and took the trouble to go and get some engravings of heads to show me, Wordsworth among the number, which I had never seen before.

"Elizabeth also inquired particularly for George, and gave me more books for him. She asked if we did not miss you exceedingly. I should like to have stayed for two or three hours. She came downstairs with me, and out of the door, and talked about the front yard, where her aunt is going to make a garden."

Elizabeth Peabody's letters are always delight-, fully direct, and varied in quality of emotion, being equally urgent over philosophy or daily bread, as the ensuing one will show in part:-

53 MYRTLE STREET, BOSTON, 1838.

MY DEAR SOPHIA,-Your beautiful letters require an answer, but I cannot possibly answer them in kind. This evening, notwithstanding the storm, George and Susan Hillard have gone to a singing-school, and left me to amuse myself. I hoped Mr. Hawthorne would come in. I have not seen him yet. Last night I took tea with Sally Gardiner and Miss Jackson, who are still enjoying your Flaxman drawings. Why do not you Salem folks have a hencoop and keep hens! five or six hens would overwhelm you with eggs all the year round. I like to hear the little items about Hawthorne. I had a nice talk with Mr. Capen about him to-day. He has him in his mind, and I hope it will come to some good purpose for the public.

Yours truly and ever, E. P. P.

Sophia writes:-

July 23, 1838.

William White arrived on Saturday. Why did not you send Stuart's Athens by him? He said that he had heard it remarked that Mr. Emerson expected another Messiah. Your slight account of Mr. E.'s "Address" is enough to wake the dead, and I do not know what the original utterance must have done. I told Mary I thought Mr. Emerson was the Word again. She exclaimed, "You blasphemer!" "Do you really think it blasphemy?" said I. "Oh no," she replied. "It is the gospel according to you." Was not that a happy saying? While the maid was at Miss Hurley's on an errand, she saw Mr. Hawthorne enter, probably for a take-leave call. He was here also, looking radiant. He said he took up my Journal [written in Cuba] to bring it back, but my "works were so voluminous that he concluded to send them!"

Elizabeth Peabody makes, upon her return to 'Salem for the winter, an heroic move towards gaining a still more affectionate advantage over the solitaries in Herbert Street. A little smile must have given her face its most piquant expression as she wrote:-

Saturday, November 10, 1838.

DEAR LOUISA,-You know I want to knit those little stockings and shoes,-I think I will do it in the course of time at your house,-and would thank you to buy the materials for me, and I will pay you what they cost, when I know what it is. I suppose the four or five evenings which I shall anticipate spending with you (in the course of the winter!) will complete the articles.

When Elizabeth wakes, please give her this note and rose and book; and when Nathaniel comes to dinner please give him the note I wrote to him. He said he was going to write to-day, and therefore I should prefer that he should not be interrupted on purpose to read it. We will not interrupt the bird in his song. I wonder what sort of a preparation he finds an evening of whist, for the company of the Muse!

Yours ever truly,

E. P. PEABODY.

It is delightful to picture the commotion in the fernlike seclusion which enveloped the women of the Hawthorne household when this note was opened and read. Squirrels aroused, owls awakened, foxes startled, would have sympathized. Louisa, the only really active member of the trio, wonderfully deft in finest sewing and embroidery, generously willing to labor for all the relatives when illness required, may not have felt faint or fierce. But Mrs. Hawthorne, even in the covert of her chamber, where she chiefly resided, no doubt drew back; and Elizabeth's beautiful eyes must have shone superbly. However, to prove that the trio among the ferns (guarding, as testimony proves, Hawthorne himself with unasked care) could serve the needs of others on occasion,

I will insert a little letter of a much earlier date, from Louisa.

TO MISS MARY MANNING, RAYMOND, MAINE, CARE OF RICHARD MANNING, ESQ.

SALEM, March 3, 1831.

MY DEAR AUNT,-Uncle Sammie has returned from Boston, and has taken up his abode for the present at uncle Robert's [his brother, who befriended Hawthorne in his early youth], and is much better than we expected to see him. We should have been glad to have him with us, and would have done everything in our power to make him happy. We are so near that he can at any time command our services and our company. Nathaniel goes in to see him, and I am there a great part of the time. Mother has kept about all winter. There have been worse storms than I ever remember; the roads were absolutely impassable, and the snow-banks almost as high as the house. I would write more, but my time is much taken up now. I remain yours, With much affection,

M. L. HATHORNE.

That the reluctance to be genial with very genial folk was bravely overcome (to some extent) the ensuing notes prove:-

DEAR ELIZABETH,-As you were out on Saturday evening, I hope you will be able to come and spend to-morrow evening with us-will you not? I should be extremely happy to see Mary, though I despair of it; and though I cannot venture to ask Sophia, perhaps you can for me. Pray tell me particularly how your father is; we are all anxious to hear; and whether George is as he was when we heard last.

I am, in haste, E, M. H.

DEAR ELIZABETH,-Shall we go to the beach? If so, I propose that we set off instanter. I think a sea-breeze would be most refreshing this afternoon. Truly yours,

M. T. P.

Don't forget to ask your brother.

MY DEAR E.,-I am afraid I shall not be able to go and spend an evening with you while the girls are gone. To-morrow, you know, is the eclipse. I wish you would come here in the afternoon. The graveyard is an open place to see it from, and I should be very glad of your company. Yesterday I heard of Nathaniel. A gentleman was shut up with him on a rainy day in a tavern in Berkshire, and was perfectly charmed with his luck. In haste, yours,

E. P. P.

By and by Elizabeth Peabody returns to Boston, and Sophia goes on with letters:-

I do not think I am subject to my imagination; I can let an idea go to the grave that I see is false. When I am altogether true to the light I have, I shall be in the heaven where the angelic Very now is. I went to see dear Miss Burley, who sent for me to go to her room. She insisted upon accompanying me all the way downstairs, limping painfully, and would open the outer door for me, and bow me out with as much deference as if I had been Victoria, or Hawthorne himself! So much for the Word uttering itself through my fingers in the face of Ilbrahim. [She had just finished illustrating "The Gentle Boy" by a drawing which was greatly praised.]

Jones Very came to tea that afternoon. He was troubled at first, but we comforted him with sympathy. His conversation with George was divine, and such level rays of celestial light as beamed from his face upon George, every time he looked up at him, were lovely to behold. We told him of our enjoyment of his sonnets. He smiled, and said that, unless we thought them beautiful because we also heard the Voice in reading them, they would be of no avail. "Since I have shown you my sonnets," said he to me, "I think you should show me your paintings," Mary brought my drawing-book and "AEschylus" [wonderfully perfect drawings from Flaxman's illustrations]. He deeply enjoyed all. I told him of my Ilbrahim. He said he delighted in the "Twice-Told Tales." Yesterday Mr. Hawthorne came in, and said, "I am going to Miss Hurley's, but you must not go. It is too cold. You certainly must not go." I assured him I should go, and was sorry I was not wanted. He laughed, and said I was not. But I persisted. He knew I should be made sick; that it was too cold. Meanwhile I put on an incalculable quantity of clothes. Father kept remonstrating, but not violently, and I gently imploring. When I was ready, Mr. Hawthorne said he was glad I was going. Mary was packed up safely, also. I was very animated, and felt much better than on either of the previous club nights. Mr. Hawthorne declared it must be the spirit of contradiction that made me so; and I told him it was nothing but fact. We walked quite fast, for I seemed stepping on air. It was partly because I had not got tired during the day. It was splendid moonlight. I was not in the least cold, except my thumb and phiz. Mr. H. said he should have done admirably were it not for his nose. He did not believe but that it would moderate, "For God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, and when you go out we may expect mild weather!" Was not that sweet? Mr. II. and I went into the parlor together, and Miss Burley looked delighted. He was exquisitely agreeable, and talked a great deal, and looked serene and happy and exceedingly beautiful. Miss Burley showed Mary and me some botanical specimens, and he came to the table and added much to the lights. But oh, we missed you so much; Miss Burley said so, and I felt it. They do not understand Very, there. When we were taking leave, Mr. Howes said to Mr. Hawthorne that he hoped nothing would prevent his coming next Saturday.

"Oh no," replied he. "It is so much a custom, now, that I cannot do without it." Was not that delightful for Miss Burley's ears? I was so glad he said it. When we came out it was much more moderate, and we got home very comfortably. Mr. H. said he thought of coming for me to walk on Friday, but was afraid the walking was not good enough. I told him how we were all disappointed at his vanishing that night, and he laughed greatly. He said he should not be able to come this evening to meet Very, because he had something to read, for he was engaged Monday and Tuesday evening and could not read then. I am so sorry.

Yours affectionately, SOPHIE.

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares