MoboReader > Literature > Memories of Hawthorne


Memories of Hawthorne By Rose Hawthorne Lathrop Characters: 48719

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04

Just before her marriage, on July 9, 1842, and her residence in the

Old Manse, Sophia wrote to Mrs. Caleb Foote, of Salem:-

July 5.

MY DEAR MARY,-You mistake much when you say you will not hear from me after I have gone to my own home. I shall tell those who are dear to me that I love them still. I feel to-day like a rising Phoenix.

Mr. Hawthorne has been here, looking like the angel of the Apocalypse, so powerful and gentle. It seems as if I were realizing the dreams of the poets in my own person. Just think of the felicity of showing him my inscriptions with pencil and sculpturing-tool-and he so just and severe a critic! He is far the best critic I ever had. The agent of Heaven in this Concord plan was Elizabeth Hoar; a fit minister on such an errand, for minister means angel of God. Her interest has been very great in every detail. . . . Yours affectionately,


The following note is descriptive of the real happiness in the marriage, which was felt and often uttered by friends:-

DEAR SOPHIA,-I am not much used to expressing to others what I feel about them, but I will give way to the feeling which prompts me to tell you how much I think about you now. An event like your marriage with Mr. Hawthorne is, like the presence of a few persons in this world, precious to me as an assurance of the good we all long for. I do not know your husband personally, but I care for him so much that I could well do the thought of him a passing reverence, like the young man who, I was told, uncovered his head as he passed Mr. Hawthorne's house. Perhaps you are too much absorbed to recognize now, even in thought, the greeting of a friend; perhaps we shall meet very little hereafter, as indeed we have hardly been intimate heretofore; but I shall remember you with interest. Affectionately yours,


Mrs. Hawthorne's letters and journals while at the Old Manse now portray a beautiful existence:-

CONCORD, December 18, 1842.

MY DEAR MARY [Mrs. Caleb Foote, of Salem],-I hoped I should see you again, before I came home to our Paradise. I intended to give you a concise history of my elysian life. Soon after we returned, my dear lord began to write in earnest; and then commenced my leisure, because, till we meet at dinner, I do not see him. I have had to sew, as I did not touch a needle all summer, and far into the autumn, Mr. Hawthorne not letting me have a needle or a pen in my hand. We were interrupted by no one, except a short call now and then from Elizabeth Hoar, who can hardly be called an earthly inhabitant; and Mr. Emerson, whose face pictured the promised land (which we were then enjoying), and intruded no more than a sunset, or a rich warble from a bird.

One evening, two days after our arrival at the Old Manse, George Hillard and Henry Cleveland appeared for fifteen minutes, on their way to Niagara Falls, and were thrown into raptures by the embowering flowers and the dear old house they adorned, and the pictures of Holy Mothers mild on the walls, and Mr. Hawthorne's Study, and the noble avenue. We forgave them for their appearance here, because they were gone as soon as they had come, and we felt very hospitable. We wandered down to our sweet, sleepy river, and it was so silent all around us and so solitary, that we seemed the only persons living. We sat beneath our stately trees, and felt as if we were the rightful inheritors of the old abbey, which had descended to us from a long line. The treetops waved a majestic welcome, and rustled their thousand leaves like brooks over our heads. But the bloom and fragrance of nature had become secondary to us, though we were lovers of it. In my husband's face and eyes I saw a fairer world, of which the other was a faint copy. I fast ceased to represent Lilias Fay, under the influence of happiness, peace, and rest. We explored the woods. Sarah the maid was very tasty, and we had beautiful order; and when we ran races down the avenue, or I danced before my husband to the measures of the great music-box, she declared it did her heart good to see us as joyful as two children.

December 30. Sweet, dear Mary, nearly a fortnight has passed since I wrote the above. I really believe I will finish my letter to-day, though I do not promise. That magician upstairs is very potent! In the afternoon and evening I sit in the Study with him. It is the pleasantest niche in our temple. We watch the sun, together, descending in purple and gold, in every variety of magnificence, over the river. Lately, we go on the river, which is now frozen; my lord to skate, and I to run and slide, during the dolphin-death of day. I consider my husband a rare sight, gliding over the icy stream. For, wrapped in his cloak, he looks very graceful; perpetually darting from me in long, sweeping curves, and returning again-again to shoot away. Our meadow at the bottom of the orchard is like a small frozen sea, now; and that is the present scene of our heroic games. Sometimes, in the splendor of the dying light, we seem sporting upon transparent gold, so prismatic becomes the ice; and the snow takes opaline hues, from the gems that float above as clouds. It is eminently the hour to see objects, just after the sun has disappeared. Oh, such oxygen as we inhale! Often other skaters appear,-young men and boys,-who principally interest me as foils to my husband, who, in the presence of nature, loses all shyness, and moves regally like a king. One afternoon, Mr. Emerson and Mr. Thoreau went with him down the river. Henry Thoreau is an experienced skater, and was figuring dithyrambic dances and Bacchic leaps on the ice-very remarkable, but very ugly, methought. Next him followed Mr. Hawthorne who, wrapped in his cloak, moved like a self-impelled Greek statue, stately and grave. Mr. Emerson closed the line, evidently too weary to hold himself erect, pitching headforemost, half lying on the air. He came in to rest himself, and said to me that Hawthorne was a tiger, a bear, a lion,-in short, a satyr, and there was no tiring him out; and he might be the death of a man like himself. And then, turning upon me that kindling smile for which he is so memorable, he added, "Mr. Hawthorne is such an Ajax, who can cope with him!"

After the first snowstorm, before it was so deep, we walked in the woods, very beautiful in winter, and found slides in Sleepy Hollow, where we became children, and enjoyed ourselves as of old,-only more, a great deal. Sometimes it is before breakfast that Mr. Hawthorne goes to skate upon the meadow. Yesterday, before he went out, he said it was very cloudy and gloomy, and he thought it would storm. In half an hour, oh, wonder! what a scene! Instead of black sky, the rising sun, not yet above the hill, had changed the firmament into a vast rose! On every side, east, west, north, and south,-every point blushed roses. I ran to the Study, and the meadow sea also was a rose, the reflection of that above. And there was my husband, careering about, glorified by the light. Such is Paradise.

In the evening we are gathered together beneath our luminous star, in the Study, for we have a large hanging astral lamp, which beautifully illumines the room, with its walls of pale yellow paper, its Holy Mother over the fireplace, and pleasant books, and its pretty bronze vase, on one of the secretaries, filled with ferns. Except once Mr. Emerson, no one hunts us out in the evening. Then Mr. Hawthorne reads to me. At present we can only get along with the old English writers, and we find that they are the hive from which all modern honey is stolen. They are thick-set with thought, instead of one thought serving for a whole book. Shakespeare is preeminent; Spenser is music. We dare to dislike Milton when he goes to heaven. We do not recognize God in his picture of Him. There is something so penetrating and clear in Mr. Hawthorne's intellect, that now I am acquainted with it, merely thinking of him as I read winnows the chaff from the wheat at once. And when he reads to me, it is the acutest criticism. Such a voice, too,-such sweet thunder! Whatever is not worth much shows sadly, coming through such a medium, fit only for noblest ideas. From reading his books you can have some idea of what it is to dwell with Mr. Hawthorne. But only a shadow of him is found in his books. The half is not told there. Your true friend,


P. S. Mr. Hawthorne sends his love to your husband.

CONCORD, April 6, 1843.

MY DEAREST MARY,-I received your letter of April 2 late last evening. It is one, I am sure, which might call a response out of a heart of adamant; and mine, being of a tenderer substance, it answers with all its chords. Dear, sweet, tender, loving Mary, you are more like Herder's Swan than anything else I can think of. The spirits of your translated babes bring you airs from heaven. What a lovely trinity of souls; what a fair star they form, according to Swedenborg's beautiful idea. I doubt not there is a path of descent, like that of Jacob's ladder, from their Father's bosom to your heart, and they ascend and descend, like those angels of his dream.

Dear Mary, just imagine my husband in reality, as faintly shadowed in his productions. Fresh as a young fountain, with childlike, transparent emotions; vivid as the flash of a sword in the sun with sharp wit and penetration; of such an unworn, unworldly observance of all that is enacted and thought under the sun; as free from prejudice and party or sectarian bias as the birds, and therefore wise with a large wisdom that is as impartial as God's winds and sunbeams. His frolic is like the sport of Milton's "unarmed youth of heaven." But I will not pretend to describe his intellect; and I have by no means yet searched it out. I repose in it as upon some elemental force, which always seems just created, though we cannot tell when it began to be. Of his beautiful, genial, tender, and great nature I can still less adequately discourse. His magnanimity, strength, and sweetness alternately, and together, charm me. He fascinates, wins, and commands.

We have passed the winter delightfully, reading to each other, and lately studying German. I knew a little, just enough to empower me to hold the rod, and be somewhat impertinent, and I have entire preeminence in the way of pronunciation. But ever and anon I am made quite humble by being helped out of thick forests by my knight, instead of guiding him. So we teach each other in the most charming manner, and I call it the royal road to knowledge, finally discovered by us. Mr. Hawthorne writes all the morning. Do you see "The Democratic Review"? In the March number is "The Procession of Life." Mr. Jonathan Phillips told Elizabeth he thought it a great production, and immediately undertook to read all else my husband had written. "The Celestial Railroad," for the April number, is unique, and of deep significance. It is a rare privilege to hear him read his manuscript aloud with the true expression.

Elizabeth Hoar has taken tea with us only once this winter, and I have seen her very rarely. The walking is so bad in the country in winter that only tall boots can cope with it. Unawares one foot sinks down to the Celestial Empire, and the other anchors in the moon. I have had to confine myself principally to the avenue, through which our Flibbertigibbet [or Imp] made a clear path for me. Mr. Thoreau has been pretty often, and is very interesting. Mr. Emerson, from January, was at the South; so Sirius was not visible to the eye for nearly three months.

Among other things, I have been very much interested in teaching my Irish angel to read and write. She is as bright as Burke, and repays me an hundredfold by her progress. She is so sweet and generous and gentle, that it is pleasant to happen upon her pretty face about the house.

Mr. Hawthorne, says I must tell you that he shall be most happy to meet you in heaven; but he wishes you would as a preliminary come and spend a week with us this summer. He says this is the best way to get acquainted with him.

To Mrs. Peabody, now living in Boston, Sophia writes:-


DARLING MOTHER,-I find my heart cannot rest unless I send you an enormous bunch of columbines; and so I have concluded to take my cake-box and fill it with flowers. My husband and I have gathered all these columbines since dinner, on the bank of the river, two fields off from the battle-ground. Now I think of it, it is Lizzie's favorite wildflower. I cannot bear to think of you as two prisoners in the book-room, at this time. I do not know, however, as Elizabeth would be happy to remain in the country, because men and women are her flowers, and they do not grow on hills and slopes. But you were born to live in a garden, where flowers at your tendance might gladlier grow (according to Milton). We had a letter from Louisa Hawthorne to-day, which says that the cat Beelzebub is dead. We are going to put our Pigwiggin in mourning for her cousin. [Hawthorne was, as all his family were, remarkably fond of cats. He had given Beelzebub his name.]

Another letter now goes to Mrs. Foote:-

August 11.

BELOVED MARY,-I received your long expected letter during a visit from the Hillards. I feared you were ill, but not that you had forgotten me; for I have an imperturbable faith in the love of my friends which appearances cannot affect.

No influenzas or epidemics of any kind reach our old abbey, though in the village of Concord they often prevail. I think the angel who descended with healing in his wings, and stirred the pool of Bethesda, must purify the air around us. We have had a charming summer. At the first flinging open of our doors my father made us a visit of a week, and, according to his love of order, put everything out of doors in place; moved patriarchal boards covered with venerable moss, and vividly exercised all his mechanical powers. Among other things he prepared the clay with which I mould men and heroes, so that I began Mr. Hawthorne's bust. Next came Miss Anna Shaw [Mrs. S. G. Ward], in full glory of her golden curls, flowing free over her neck and brows, so that she looked like the goddess Diana, or Aurora. Everything happened just right. The day she arrived, Mr. Emerson came to dine, and shone back to the shining Anna. He was truly "tangled in the meshes of her golden hair," for he reported in several places how beautiful it was, afterwards. It was very warm, and after Mr. Emerson left us, we went out upon the lawn under the shady trees, and Anna extended herself on the grass, leaning her arms upon a low cricket, and "Sydnian showers of sweet discourse" distilled upon us. Towards sunset we went to the terrace on the bank of the river, and then there was a walk to Sleepy Hollow. Afterwards, we again resorted to the lawn, and the stars all came out over our heads with great brilliancy; and Anna, again upon the grass, pointed out the most beautiful constellations. Now we expect Louisa Hawthorne every day. Excepting for the three weeks and a little more occupied by our friends, we have been quite alone. The 9th of July, our wedding-day, was most heavenly, and at night there was a most lustrous moon. That night Mr. Allston died. Nature certainly arrayed herself in her most lovely guise, to bid him farewell. Mr. Hawthorne has written a little, and cultivated his garden a great deal; and as you may suppose, such vegetables never before were tasted. It is a sober fact, dear Mary, that I never ate any so good. When Apollos tend herds and till the earth, it is but reasonable to expect unusual effects. I planted flowers, which grow pretty well. We have voyaged on the river constantly, harvesting water-lilies; and lately cardinal-flowers, which enrich the borders with their superb scarlet mantles in great conclaves.

I have just finished Ranke's "History of the Popes." I stumbled quite accidentally upon ecclesiastical history, lately. I asked my husband to bring me any book that he chanced to touch upon from his Study, one day, and it proved to be "Luther, and the Reformation." So I have gone on and backwards, upon the same subject. I read several volumes of the Theological Library, fretting all the time over the narrow spirit in which great men were written about. Finally I took Ranke. He is splendid and whole-sided, and has given me an idea of the state of Europe from the first times.

Elizabeth Hoar came while Susan Hillard was here, looking as usual like the Rose of Sharon, though thinner than ever. Ellery Channing and E. live in a little red cottage on the road, with one acre attached, upon which Ellery has worked very hard. E. keeps a small school for little children. They are very happy, and Ellery is a very charming companion. He talks very agreeably.

October 15.

BELOVED MARIE,-I received your requiem for Mrs. Peabody [not a near connection of Mrs. Hawthorne's, but of Mr. George Peabody's, the philanthropist] yesterday, and cannot delay responding to it. We talk a great deal about the reality of Heaven and the shadowiness of earth, but no one acts as if it were the truth. It seems as if the benign and tender Father of men, in whose presence we rejoice and confide, became suddenly changed into a dark power, and curtained Himself with gloom, the instant death laid its hand upon our present bodies, and freed the soul for another condition. And this, too, although Jesus Christ at the hour when His spirit resigned the clay rent the veil from top to bottom, and revealed to all eyes the golden cherubim and the Holy of Holies. God alone knows whether I could act my belief in the greatest of all possible earthly separations. But before I loved as I now do heaven was dim to me in comparison. I cannot conceive of a separation for one moment from my transfigured soul in him who is transfused with my being. I am in heaven now. Oh, let me not doubt it, if for a little while a shadow should wrap his material form from my sight.

I am in rejoicing and most vigorous health. After breakfast I paint for two or three hours. I am now copying Mr. Emerson's divine Endymion. After dinner we walk till about five.

The following letter refers to Sophia's sister Mary, who had become

Mrs. Horace Mann:-

DEAREST MARY,-I do not know whether you were ever aware of the peculiar love I have felt from childhood for my precious sister, who is now so blest. It has always been enthusiastic and profound. Her still and perfect disinterestedness, her noiseless self-devotion, her transparent truthfulness and all-comprehensive benevolence through life! No words can ever express what a spear in my side it has been to see her year after year toiling for all but herself, and growing thin and pale with too much effort. Not that ever her heroic heart uttered a word of complaint or depreciation. But so much the more did I feel for her. I saw her lose her enchanting gayety, and become grave and sad, yet could do nothing to restore her spirits. I was hardly aware, until it was removed, how weighty had been the burden of her unfulfilled life upon my heart. At her engagement, all my wings were unfolded, and my body was light as air.

Mrs. Mann had been to Europe for her wedding-tour, and was thus welcomed home:-

November 7.

BELOVED MARY,-Yesterday noon my dear husband came home from the village but a few seconds-it seemed even to me-after he left me, shining with glad tidings. They were, that the steamer had arrived with you in it! Imagine my joy, for I cannot tell it. You will come and see me, I am sure. I am especially commissioned by Mr. Emerson to request my dear and honorable brother, Mr. Mann, to come to Concord to lecture at the Lyceum as soon as he possibly can. He says that Mr. Hoar told him he had never heard such eloquence from human lips as from Mr. Mann's. "Therefore," says he, "this is the place of all others for him to come and lecture." Tell me beforehand whether your husband eats anything in particular, that I may have it all ready for him. I am in the greatest hurry that mortal has been in since Absalom ran from his pursuers. Your own


The record for Sophia's mother goes on unfailingly:-

November 19.

My DEAREST MOTHER,-This Indian summer is very beautiful. The dulcet air and stillness are lovely. This morning we watched the opal dawn, and the stars becoming pale before it, as also the old moon, which rose between five and six o'clock, and, in the form of a boat of pure silvery-gold, floated up the sea of clear, rosy air. I am so very early a riser that the first faint light usually finds me busy.

I wish you could see how charmingly my husband's Study looks now. As we abandon our drawing-room this winter, I have hung on his walls the two Lake Como and the Loch Lomond pictures, all of which I painted expressly for him; and the little mahogany centre-table stands under the astral lamp, covered with a crimson cloth. The antique centre-table broke down one day beneath my dear husband's arms, with a mighty sound, astonishing me in my studio below the Study. He has mended it. On one of the secretaries stands the lovely Ceres, and opposite it Margaret Fuller's bronze vase. In the afternoon, when the sun fills the room and lights up the pictures, it is beautiful. Yet still more, perhaps, in the evening, when the astral enacts the sun, and pours shine upon all the objects, and shows, beneath, the noblest head in Christendom, in the ancient chair with its sculptured back [a chair said to have come over in the Mayflower, and owned by the Hawthorne family]; and whenever I look up, two stars beneath a brow of serene white radiate love and sympathy upon me. Can you think of a happier life, with its rich intellectual feasts? That downy bloom of happiness, which unfaithful and ignoble poets have persisted in declaring always vanished at the touch and wear of life, is delicate and fresh as ever, and must remain so if we remain unprofane. The sacredness, the loftiness, the ethereal delicacy of such a soul as my husband's will keep heaven about us. My thought does not yet compass him. December. For the world's eye I care nothing; but in the profound shelter of this home I would put on daily a velvet robe, and pearls in my hair, to gratify my husband's taste. This is a true wife's world. Directly after dinner my lord went to the Athenaeum; and when he returned, he sat reading Horace Walpole till he went out to the wood-house to saw and split wood. Presently I saw, hastening up the avenue, Mr. George Bradford. He stayed to tea. His beautiful character makes him perennial in interest. As my husband says, we can see nature through him straight, without refraction. My water this morning was deadly cold instead of livingly cold, and I knew the Imp must have taken it from some already drawn, instead of right from the well. The maid brought for me from Mrs. Emerson's "The Mysteries of Paris," which I read all the evening. I have been to see E. Channing, who looked very pretty. She has a dog named Romeo, which Mrs. S. G. Ward gave them. I borrowed a book of E. about sainted women. In "The Democratic Review" was my husband's "Fire Worship." I could not wait to read it! It is perfectly inimitable, as usual. His wit is as subtle as fire. This morning I got up by moonlight again, and sewed till Mary brought my fresh-drawn water. The moon did not set till after dawn. To-day I promenaded in the gallery with wadded dress and muff and tippet on. After tea, my lord read Jones Very's criticism upon "Hamlet." This morning was very superb, and the sunlight played upon the white earth like the glow of rubies upon pearls. My husband was entirely satisfied with the beauty of it. He is so seldom fully satisfied with weather, things, or people, that I am always glad to find him pleased. Nothing short of perfection can content him. How can seraphs be contented with less? After breakfast, as I could not walk out on account of the snow, I concluded to housewife. My husband shoveled paths (heaps of snow being trifles to his might), and sawed and split wood, and brought me water from the well. To such uses do seraphs come when they get astray on earth. I painted till after one o'clock. There was a purple and gold sunset. After dinner to-day Mr. Hawthorne went

to the village, and brought back "The Salem Gazette." Some one had the impudence to speak of him in it as "gentle Nat Hawthorne." I cannot conceive who could be so bold and so familiar. Gentle he surely is, but such an epithet does not comprehend him, and gives a false idea. As usual after sunset, he went out to find exercise till quite dark. Then he read aloud part of "The Tempest," while I sewed. In the evening he told me about his early life in Raymond [Maine], and he gave me some of Mr. Bridge's famous wine. To-day my husband partly read "Two Gentlemen of Verona." I do not like it much. What a queer mood Shakespeare must have been in, to write it. He seems to be making fun. I wrote to Mrs. Follen, and made up a budget of a paper from my husband for her "Child's Friend." It was the incident of Mr. Raike's life, with regard to his founding of Sunday-schools, most exquisitely told, and set in a frame of precious jewels. Whatever my husband touches turns to gold in the intellectual and spiritual world. I sewed on a purple blouse for him till dusk. We have the luxury of our maid's absence, and Apollo helped me by making the fires. I warmed rice for myself, and had the happiness of toasting his bread. He read aloud "Love's Labour 's Lost," and said that play had no foundation in nature. To-day there have been bright gleams, but no steady sunshine. Apollo boiled some potatoes for breakfast. Imagine him with that magnificent head bent over a cooking-stove, and those star-eyes watching the pot boil! In consequence, there never were such good potatoes before. For dinner we did not succeed in warming the potatoes effectually; but they were edible, and we had meat, cheese, and apples. This is Christmas Day, which I consider the most illustrious and sacred day of the year. Before sunrise, a great, dark blue cloud in the east made me suppose it was to be a dismal day; but I was quite mistaken, for it has been uncommonly beautiful. Peace has seemed brooding "with turtle wing" over the world, and no one stirs, as if all men obeyed the command of the elements, which was, "Be still, as we are." I intended to make a fine bowl of chocolate for my husband's dinner, but he proposed to celebrate Christmas by having no cooking at all. At one o'clock we went together to the village, my husband going to the Athenaeum, and I to Mrs. Emerson's, where Mr. Thoreau was dining. On the way home I saw in the distance the form of forms approaching. We dined on preserved fruits and bread and milk,-quite elegant and very nice. What a miracle my husband is! He has the faculty of accommodating himself to all sorts of circumstances with marvelous grace of soul. In the afternoon he brought me some letters, one being from E. Hooper, with verses which she had written after reading "Fire Worship." The motto is "Fight for your stoves!" and the measure that of "Scots wha hae." It is very good. The maid returned. This morning we awoke to a mighty snowstorm. The trees stood white-armed all around us. In the afternoon some one knocked at the front door. I was amazed, supposing no one could overcome the roads, and thought it must be a government officer. As the door opened, I heard a voice say, "Where is the man?" It was Ellery Channing, who exclaimed, as he appeared at the Study, where we were, that it was the very time to come,-he liked the snow. He looked like a shaggy bear; but his face was quite shining, as usual. He brought some novels and reviews, which Queen Margaret [Fuller] had sent to Ellen Channing [her sister] to read. We had to leave him, while we dined, at three. He would not join us, and made his exit while we were in the dining-room. To-day as I painted the wind arose, and howled and swept about, and clouded the sun, and wearied my spirits. I was obliged to put away my palette at half past twelve o'clock, and then came up, and looked into the Study at my husband. He was writing, and I was conscience-stricken for having interrupted him. We went to walk, and a neighbor invited us to drive to town in his sleigh. I accepted, but my husband did not. The Imp sprang on, as we passed his house; and then I found that the kind old man was Mr. Jarvis of the hill. I went to the post-office, where my husband was reading a letter from Mr. Hillard. We stayed at the Athenaeum till after two, and then braved the warring winds homewards. We had no reading in the evening, for the wind was too noisy.

January 1, 1844. A quiet morning at last; the wind had howled itself dead, as if it were the breath of the Old Year, by midnight. On our way home to-day from the Athenaeum, Dr. Bartlett met us, and offered to take me along. On the way he spoke of George Bradford's worshiping Mr. Hawthorne. I had a fine time painting, this morning. Everything went right, and I succeeded quite to my mind. I felt sure my husband above me must also be having a propitious morning. When he came to dinner, he said he did not know as he ever felt so much like writing on any one day. Mr. Emerson called.

January 9.

BELOVED MOTHER,-I dated all the documents I sent by Plato [Mr. Emerson] a day too late. My husband will dispatch a budget to Mr. Hillard's care, containing a paper which he is to send to Mr. Griswold, editor of "Graham's Magazine." He wrote to my husband, when he took the editorship, and requested him to contribute, telling him he intended to make the magazine of a higher character, and therefore ventured to ask, offering five dollars per page, and the liberty of drawing for the money the moment the article was published. "The Democratic Review" is so poor now that it can only offer twenty dollars for an article of what length soever, so that Mr. Hawthorne cannot well afford to give any but short stories to it; and it is besides sadly dilatory about payment. The last paper he sent to it was a real gift, as it was more than four pages; but he thought its character better suited to the grave "Democrat" than for the other publication. Why did not you send the last number? lie is quite impatient for it. I also long to read again that terrific and true picture of a cold heart. [The Bosom Serpent.] I do not know what the present production is about, even; for I have made it a law to myself never to ask him a word concerning what he is writing, because I always disliked to speak of what I was painting. He often tells me; but sometimes the story remains hidden till he reads it aloud to me, before sending it away. I can comprehend the delicacy and tricksiness of his mood when he is evolving a work of art. He waits upon the light in such a purely simple way that I do not wonder at the perfection of each of his stories. Of several sketches, first one and then another come up to be clothed upon with language, after their own will and pleasure. It is real inspiration, and few are reverent and patient enough to wait for it as he does. I think it is in this way .that he comes to be so void of extravagance in his style and material. He does not meddle with the clear, true picture that is painted on his mind. He lifts the curtain, and we see a microcosm of nature, so cunningly portrayed that truth itself seems to have been the agent of its appearance. Thus his taste is genuine-the most faultless I ever knew. Now, behold! all unforeseen, a criticism upon the genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne!

Dear mother, Louisa Hawthorne has sent me some exquisite silk flannel for little shirts, but not quite enough. It is a dollar a yard. Mrs. Emerson says that you will find it at Jacobs', on Tremont Street. I could not refuse my child the luxury of feeling such a material over its dear little bosom. I have to spend a great deal of time in darning the small craters in my stockings.

January 21. In the hope of some unoccupied carrier-pigeon's straying this way, I shall write to-day. The extreme cold freezes the ground, and my lord will not consent to my putting foot out of doors, so I remain a singing-bird in my happy cage, endeavoring by walks in the long upper entry (which is enlivened by sundry winds rushing through a broken window-pane) to make some amends for being deprived of the outward world. Yesterday I felt as if I had dieted upon diamonds and were sparkling with rainbow colors like an icicle in the sun. I painted upon Endymion. My husband blasphemes the fierce winds and extreme cold in a very picturesque manner; but the disapprobation he feels is a moral ope, not a physical discomfort. He cleaves the air like a Damascus blade, so finely attempered that he is unharmed. I never knew any person in such fine health as he is; because he is not obtusely well-he has no brute force; but every part of his frame seems in perfect diapason, like a bird's. I should be afraid of him if he were in ferocious health; but his health is heavenly. Endymion will certainly be finished this week if I remain alive, and the sun shines. [It is a picture in pale brown monochromes, of the most remarkable perfection of finish and beauty of draughtsmanship.] I shall ask Plato to carry it to Boston in his arms, unless my honorable brother Horace [Mann] will take it when he comes to lecture. It will be perfectly light, but cannot be given up to the stage-man. I do not want it shown to any person until it be framed, with a glass over it. Daggett must be made to hasten his work; but he is as obstinate and cross as a mule; yet no one can make such superlative frames. The price must be an hundred dollars independently of the frame; if it be worth one cent, it is worth that. I dearly desire that some one I know should possess it. I shall be glad some day to redeem it, for it has come out of my soul. What a record it is of these happy, hopeful days! The divine dream shining in Endymion's face, his body entranced in sleep, his soul bathed in light, every curve flowing in consummate beauty-in some way it is my life. But, for Endymion, I must look upon a small bit of gold. [Her husband would not let her sell the picture, after all.]

March 16.

MY DEAREST MOTHER,-The sumptuous boxful arrived, and the dressed beef is most acceptable, and the wafers are very nice, Mr. Hawthorne liking them exceedingly. Una went to see her father yesterday morning, the nurse declaring that she looked as nice as silver and pretty as a white rose. Great was his surprise to see his little daughter coming to him! My husband wishes father would please go to the agents for "The Democratic Review," and tell them he is on the free list. The three last numbers have not been sent to him, they having stopped sending at the printing of "The Christmas Banquet." Will father also look into "Graham's Magazine" for March, and see whether it contains "Earth's Holocaust," and if so, send it to us?


Directly after you left us, baby went to sleep, and slept three hours, during which time I accomplished wonders. We dined upon potatoes, corn, carrots, and whortleberry pudding, quite sumptuously. Our cook was Hyperion, whom we have engaged. He, with his eyes of light, his arched brow, and "locks of lovely splendor," officiated even to dish-washing, with the air of one making worlds. I, with babe on arm, looked at him part of the time. No accident happened, except that a sprigged saucer "came into halves;" and I found that Hyperion, in his new office, had put the ivory handles of the knives into the water, knowing no better, and left the silver to be washed last instead of first. I dragged Una in her carriage in the avenue, and she was very happy. She woke a little after four this morning, and when I first opened my eyes upon her, her feet were "in the sky." I laid the breakfast-table, and prepared everything for Hyperion to cook milk and boil water. At breakfast, baby sat radiant in her coach. George Prescott brought a hot Indian cake from his mother, while we were at table. Before Hyperion had quite finished his kitchen-work, Colonel Hall and his little son came to see him. The Colonel only stayed about an hour, and could not come to dinner. The unhappy lamb was boiled, together with some shelled beans and corn.

August 20. Your packet arrived last evening. I am much inclined to have the black woman. My husband says he does not want me to undertake to keep anybody who is apparently innocent, after my late sore experience. He says the old black lady is probably as bad already as she ever will be. If you find the blackey not disinclined to come to such poor folks, I will take her in September. I cannot well ask dear Mary to visit me while my Hyperion is cook and maid. He will not let me go into his kitchen, hardly; but it is no poetry to cook, and wash dishes; and I cannot let him do it for anybody but myself alone. The only way we can make money now seems to be to save it; and as he declares he can manage till September, we will remain alone till then. It is beyond words enchanting to be so. But, I assure you, his office is no sinecure. He actually does everything. And I sit upstairs, and out of doors with baby, more of a queen than ever, for I have a king to my servitor. It would cost too much to board; you know we cannot live cheaper anywhere or anyhow than thus.

Again, a letter is sent to Mrs. Caleb Foote:-

The Promised Land.

MY DEAR MARY,-You are the most satisfactory person to draw for of any one I know. [Sophia had sent one of her pictures as a present.] Your letter gave me the purest pleasure, for it made me feel as if I had caused two hearts to be glad, and that is worth living for, if it be done but once in a life. . . . We have passed the happiest winter, the long evenings lifted out of the common sphere by the magic of Shakespeare. Mr. Hawthorne read aloud to me all the Plays. And you must know how he reads, before you can have any idea what it was. I can truly say I never comprehended Shakespeare before; and my husband was pleased to declare that he never himself understood him so well, though he has pored over the Plays all his life. All the magnificence, the pomp, the cunning beauty, the wisdom and fine wit, and the grace were revealed to me as by a new light. Every character is unfixed from the page, and stands free in life. Meanwhile I sewed, and whenever a little garment was finished, I held it up, and won a radiant smile for it and the never-weary question (with the charming, arch glance) "Pray, who is that for?"

We breakfast about nine o'clock, because we do not dine till three; and we have no tea ceremony, because it broke our evenings too much. I break my fast upon fruit, and we lunch upon fruit, and in the evening, also, partake of that paradisaical food. Mr. Emerson, with his sunrise smile, Ellery Channing, radiating dark light, and, very rarely, Elizabeth Hoar, with spirit voice and tread, have alone varied our days from without; but we have felt no want. My sweet, intelligent maid sings at her work, with melodious note. I do not know what is in store for me; but I know well that God is in the future, and I do not fear, or lose the precious present by anticipating possible evil. I remember Father Taylor's inspired words, "Heaven is not afar. We are like phials of water in the midst of the ocean. Eternity, heaven, God, are all around us, and we are full of God. Let the thin crystal break, and it is all one." Mr. Mann came to Concord to lecture last week. He looked happiest. What can he ask for more, having Mary for his own? Hold me ever as Your true and affectionate friend,


The Hawthornes left the Old Manse for visits to their relatives.

Hawthorne went to Salem in advance of his wife, who writes to him:-

BOSTON, August 15.

. . . Yesterday your letter raised me to the eighth heaven-one heaven beyond the imagination of the great poet. . . . I am very sorry you did not come, for Mr. Atherton was to be at home at eight o'clock that evening, hoping to see you, and Mr. Pierce was also in the city, desiring to meet you. Una knew Mr. Atherton directly, when I took her to call, and at once challenged him to run after her. Soon afterwards a fine wooden singing-bird arrived, with a card on which was written "for Una Hawthorne." Mrs. Williams called. She asked me to give you a great deal of love. She wished we would visit her in Augusta, Maine. I have taken Una upon the Common several times, and she runs after all babies and dogs. She is so beautiful that I am astonished at her. Frank Shaw says she is perfect, and like Raphael's ideal babies. This morning a letter came to you from the Count [Mr. John O'Sullivan was usually called by this title by the Hawthornes], who has some good proposals. The offer from the "Blatant Beast" [name given by Hawthorne to a certain publisher] of the-But I will send the letter; it will not cost any more than mine alone, thanks to the new law.

Having gone to stay for a few days in Herbert Street, Mrs. Hawthorne writes to her mother:-

SALEM, November 19.

. . . Father took most beautiful care of us, and did not leave us till we were seated in the cars. Mr. Dike followed. I told him that if he wished to see Una, he could do it by sitting behind. This he did, and kept up a constant talking with her, all the way. She looked lofty and grave, and unfathomable in her eyes; but finally had compassion on him, and faintly smiled in that way which always makes her father say, "Mightily gracious, madam!" An old man by the side of Mr. Dike asked him whether Una were his grandchild! She liked the old man, and smiled at him whenever he spoke to her. Upon arriving in Salem, Mr. Dike went to find my husband; whom, however, I saw afar off in the crowd of ugly men, showing like a jewel (pearl) in an Ethiop's ear, so fine and pale, with the large lids cast down, and a radiant smile on his lips.

For the first time since my husband can remember, he dined with his mother! This is only one of the miracles which the baby is to perform. Her grandmother held her on her lap till one of us should finish dining, and then ate her own meal. She thinks Una is a beauty, and, I believe, is not at all disappointed in her. Her grandmother also says she has the most perfect form she ever saw in a baby. She waked this morning like another dawn, and smiled bountifully, and was borne off to the penetralia of the house to see Madam Hawthorne and aunt Elizabeth. My husband's muse is urging him now, and he is writing again. He never looked so excellently beautiful. Una is to be dressed as sumptuously as possible to-day, to visit her grandaunt Ruth [Manning]. Louisa wants her to overcome with all kinds of beauty, outward and inward. I feel just made. All are quite well here, and enjoy the baby vastly.

To Hawthorne in Salem:-

BOSTON, December 19.

. . . If I asked myself strictly whether I could write to you this evening, I should say absolutely no, for ten thousand different things demand the precious moments while our baby sleeps. . . . I bless God for such a destiny as mine; you satisfy me beyond all things. . . . Una is now downstairs with her aunt Elizabeth, and she shines with perfection of well-being. When she is near a chair, with both hands resting upon it, she will suddenly let go, and for a few glorious seconds maintain her equilibrium, and then down she sits upon the floor. C. Sturgis and Anna Shaw have been to see her. I took her to William Story's yesterday, and he thought her eyes very beautiful, and said he had scarcely ever seen perfectly gray eyes before; and that such were the finest eyes in the world, capable of the most expression. He added, that her eyes were like those of an exquisite child of Raphael's, which he had seen, in oils.

Mr. Colton has been again to see you. Perhaps it is quite fortunate that you were guarded from an interview, since you would have refused his offers. When will you come back? Mr. Hillard said you promised to go there again. You can always come here.

Your loving wife, PHOEBE.

After returning home, Sophia writes:-

CONCORD, January 26, 1845.

BEST MOTHER (I like that Swedish epithet),-The jewel is precisely what I wanted. It appears strange for us to make presents of precious stones set in gold; but the occasion is sufficient to justify it. Mrs. Prescott is perpetually doing for me what she will not allow me to pay for, and often what I cannot pay for. She remains rich in consciousness, but the burden of obligation is too great. She papered my kitchen with her own hands, and would not let me even pay for the paper; she also employed her man to put up a partition; and she is stiff-necked as an Israelite on these points. She sends us Indian cakes and milk bread, or any nicety she happens to have. George has the pleasantest way of going of errands about which I cannot employ the Imp, Ben, and he took excellent care of Leo, the dog, during our absence, feeding him so sumptuously that he looked very superb when we returned, only requiring to have an heroic soul to be the Doge of dogs. I never imagined anything so enchanting as Una's rapid development. Every morning, as soon as she is awake, she extends her little hand to the Madonna. Then she points to Loch Lomond (which I have moved to my room), and then to Abbotsford, each time observing something about the pictures, as she gazes into my face. My replies I always feel to be very stupid; but I do as well as I can, considering that I am not now a baby. Another of her acts is to put up her forefinger to my mouth, to be kissed; and often she puts up her own mouth for a kiss, and then smiles with an expression of covert fun-sub ridens, her father calls it. The other evening, while the trees were still crystal chandeliers, it grew dusk before the lamps were lighted; and all at once, behold the full moon rose up from behind the hill "over against our house," exactly between the trees at the entrance of our avenue. Picture to yourself the magnificence. The sharp gleam of the crystals made it seem as if the stars had fallen, and were caught by the branches, and a thousand shining scimitars flashed into view. Una happened to be turned towards the scene. How I wish you could have seen the wonder and gleam of her face! As the moon rose higher and higher, she continued to talk about it, her hand extended. We lighted no lamp that evening. The next morning I asked her where the moon was, and she turned towards the window with a questioning tone. Last evening my better than Epaminondas was stretched upon the floor, for her entertainment. It was the prettiest sight that ever was. Una is as strong as a little lion, and I could dance at any moment. The half-hour glass that you gave me is a great enchantment to my husband, and has already suggested some divine production.

To Mrs. Foote, once more:-

Paradise Regained, May 4, 1845.

MY DEAR MARY,-My husband and I will be most happy to receive you, I would say at once, but I must wait till these avenue trees are in leaf, because I want you to see our quiet Eden in its full summer dress. It has begun to array itself; and the Balm of Gilead, a significant tree for us, is already in tender green, and the showerful poplar, so mightily abused, is, this lovely morning, becoming golden with new yellow foliage. But as this is our last year in the blessed old abbey, you must see it in perfection. The lawn beneath the trees is already a rich emerald, and large gold stars begin to spangle it. You shall see my little darling running over the green grass, with a continued song of exultation. She thinks this is the first Paradise, and that her father is the primal Adam, and that she possesses the earth, now that she is out of leading-strings.

December 7, 1845.

I was very glad of an answer to my volume of a letter, and that it gave you satisfaction. Words are a poor portrait of Una, this ray of light. The distinctness and intelligence of her language are a kind of miracle. Her father said one day that she was the book of Revelation. Once, I said for her Mother Goose's "Cushy cow bonny, let down your milk!" and after hearing the whole verse several times she began to repeat it to herself, but said, "Tushy tow bonny, let down Nona's milk!" And she always corrects me if I omit her name. She often says, "Bobby Shafto's done to sea; tome back, marry Nona!" with a very facetious expression. Her father tells her that he shall not allow Bobby to marry her.

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

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top