Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

the novelist, who was born at Salem, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1804.

Captain Hawthorne died at Surinam in 1808. The rigid seclusion in which his widow lived after her husband's death had a marked effect on her son, quickening his sensibilities and at the same time clouding his lively nature with a shadow of premature gravity.

Hawthorne's boyhood was passed partly at Salem, partly on the shores of Sebago Lake, in Maine, where his grandfather Manning owned large tracts of land. His reading for pleasure included Clarendon and Froissart, to say nothing of that old-time boys' delight, the Newgate Calendar. The first book that he bought with his own money was Spenser's Faery Queen. At sixteen he had read Caleb Williams, St. Leon, and Mandeville. "I admire Godwin's novels and intend to read all of them.'

He entered Bowdoin College in the same class with Longfellow and Franklin Pierce, and was graduated in 1825. For the next twelve years he lived the life of a recluse in his own home at Salem, indulging his passion for writing and for taking twilight walks. It was the period of his literary apprenticeship. Later he was, as he says, “drawn 'somewhat into the world and became pretty much like other people. In 1828 he published, anonymously and at his own expense, a novel, Fanshawe. He made some mystery about it, binding by

[ocr errors]

a

solemn promises the few who were in the secret of the authorship, not to betray it. The public was indifferent to the book, and Hawthorne afterwards destroyed the copies he could find. His early sketches and stories were published in annuals such as “The Token,' and in periodicals such as ‘The New England Magazine,''Knickerbocker,' and The Democratic Review. For the most part they 'passed without notice.'

In 1837 appeared a volume of eighteen of these sketches and stories, to which Hawthorne gave the title of Twice-Told Tales. An enlarged edition, containing twenty-one additional stories, appeared in 1842. Between the two, Hawthorne brought out a group of children's stories, Grandfather's Chair, Famous Old People, and the Liberty Tree, all in 1841, and Biographical Stories for Children, 1842.

When Bancroft became Collector of the Port of Boston, he appointed Hawthorne as weigher and gauger (1839). Thrown out by the change of administration (1841), Hawthorne invested his savings in the Brook Farm enterprise. This move (described by his latest biographer as 'the only 'apparently freakish action of his life') was made in the hope of providing a home for his betrothed, Sophia Peabody. He threw himself with good humor into the life of the community, planted potatoes, cut straw, milked three cows night and morning, and signed his letters to his sister · Nath.

a

a

‘Hawthorne, Ploughman.' Reports circulated that the author of the Twice-Told Tales might be seen dressed in a farmer's frock, carrying milk to Boston every morning; also that he was 'to do the travel'ling in Europe for the Community.'

Brook Farm proved thralldom and weariness,' and Hawthorne abandoned it, losing, as he later discovered, the one thousand dollars he had invested. In July, 1842, he married and settled in the Old Manse' at Concord.

He had now enough and to spare of the leisure which a deliberate writer finds indispensable. In a room overlooking the battlefield (the room in which Emerson had written Nature) Hawthorne penned many of the tales afterwards incorporated in Mosses from an Old Manse. The period of his residence at Concord will always seem to those who have studied its many charming records not undeserving the characterization of idyllic. It was brought to a close in 1845, when there seemed a likelihood (made a certainty the following year) of his becoming Surveyor of Customs for the Port of Salem. Hawthorne held this post until June, 1849. His removal gave him time for the working out of an idea that had possessed him for many months, and which took shape in the form of his great romance, The Scarlet Letter.

From the spring of 1850 to the autumn of 1851 Hawthorne lived at Lenox in the Berkshire Hills, and there wrote The House of the Seven Gables. He then removed to West Newton, where, during the winter of 1851-52, he wrote The Blithedale Romance. In June, 1852, he took possession of a house in Concord, which he had bought of Alcott. He had but fairly settled himself in his new home (* The Wayside ' he called it) when his friend Franklin Pierce, now President of the United States, made him consul at Liverpool.

Hawthorne assumed his charge in July, 1853, and conducted its affairs with energy and skill until September, 1857. The period of his English residence was rich in experiences, of which social honors formed the least part. The quiet, brooding observer had no wish to be lionized and apparently discouraged the few well-meant advances that were made. He once saw Tennyson at the Arts' Exhibition at Manchester, and rejoiced in him more than in all the other wonders of the place; but it was like Hawthorne to have been content merely to gaze at the laureate without presuming on his own achievements as ground for claiming acquaintance.

After leaving Liverpool, Hawthorne spent two winters in Italy, where The Marble Faun was conceived. The greater part of the actual writing was done in England, at Redcar on the North Sea.

At this point it will be well to take note of Hawthorne's principal writings subsequent to the publication of the second edition of the Twice-Told Tales. They are: The Celestial Railroad, 1843 ;

2

Mosses from an Old Manse, 1846;' The Scarlet Letter, 1850; The House of the Seven Gables, 1851; A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys, 1852 ; The Snow-Image, and Other Twice-Told Tales, 1852; The Blithedale Romance, 1852; Life of Franklin Pierce, 1852; Tanglewood Tales, 1853; The Marble Faun, or the Romance of Monte Beni, 1860;Our Old Home, 1863.

The posthumous publications are: Passages from the American Note-Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1868 ; Passages from the English NoteBooks 1870; Passages from the French and Italian Note-Books 1872 ; Septimius Felton, 1872; The Dolliver Romance, 1876; Doctor Grimshawe's Secret, 1883.

In June, 1860, after an absence of seven years, Hawthorne returned to “The Wayside.' He felt the burden of the political situation now culminating in civil war. With little sympathy for the cause of Abolition, Hawthorne, when the conflict had actually begun, found it delightful to share in the heroic sentiment of the time and to feel that he had a country.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

2 Published in England under the absurd title of Transformation. Hawthorne wrote to Henry Bright : 'Smith and Elder do • take strange liberties with the titles of books. I wanted to call • it the Marble Faun, but they insisted on Transformation which • will lead the reader to expect a sort of pantomime.' 3 Letter to Horatio Bridge, May 26, 1861.

>

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »