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the doves, together with an innocence which carries its own safeguard, might have been used unsuccessfully a thousand times before being wrought by Hawthorne's subtile power into enduring form.
Kenyon is a proof of the instinct Hawthorne had for avoiding the realistic fact. One would fancy this a character which would take on realism of its own accord, a character which could be depended on to become human and bohemian, to smoke, swear, tell emphatic stories, and yet be gentle and high-minded withal, like Bret Harte's angel-miners. But Kenyon is almost as shadowy as Hilda.
Miriam with her rich dark beauty (making her in contrast with Hilda as Night to Day) is the one strong human character, capable of infinite pity and infinite devotion, a woman to die for -- if the need were, and such need is not uncommon in romances. The shadow of a nameless crime hangs over her, from which, though innocent, she cannot escape. She has warned Donatello of the fatality that attends her. She holds his love in esteem so light as to be almost contempt until the moment when he shows the force to grapple with her enemy; then love flames up in her own heart. For her Donatello stains his hands with blood, suffers agony indescribable, and then comes back to his
original self, with an inestimable treasure of improvement won from an experience of pain.' And as Miriam contemplates him on the day be
fore he gives himself up to justice, she asks whether the story of the fall of man has not been repeated in the romance of Monte Beni.
The deficiencies and excesses of The Marble Faun have been often pointed out. The superabundance of guide-book description which disturbed Sir Leslie Stephen was noted by Hawthorne as a defect and apologized for in the preface. It is astonishing how it fits into place when, after an interval of several years, one comes to re-read the story. The Marble Faun is a magical piece of work, its very enigmas, mysteries, and its inconclusiveness tending to heighten the effect. And it does not in the least detract from the enjoyment that one cannot follow the author to the extent of believing it his best work.
LATEST AND POSTHUMOUS WRITINGS
OUR OLD HOME, NOTE-BOOKS, DOLLIVER
Our Old Home is a volume of twelve chapters on English life and experiences. Acute, frank, sympathetic, modestly phrased, abounding in humor, it may fairly be accounted one of the best of Hawthorne's works. The English are said to have been disturbed by a number of the comments on their
character and manners. If so, they must be as touchy as Americans. Our Old Home contains nothing that should offend, unless indeed it be an offence to speak of one's neighbor in any terms not those of unmitigated eulogy. Hawthorne noted certain differences between the national types of the two countries and gave an account of them. But of any disposition to laud his own people at the expense of their British cousins, the book contains not a trace.
Passages from the English Note-Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne is the raw material out of which was fashioned such a charming and perfect literary study as Our Old Home. It is idle to dispute over the question whether the fragmentary journalizings of an eminent author should or should not be given to the public. They will always be given to the public, and the public will always be grateful for them, even though it has no deeper cause for gratitude than that involved in satisfaction of mere curiosity. At all events, the passion for looking into the work-shop of a great artist cannot be overcome. Perhaps this most trivial form of heroworship deserves countenance.
The Note-Books (English, Italian, and American) bear the same relation to Our Old Home that a man talking with his most trusted friend bears to that same man when talking with an agreeable chance acquaintance. In the one case he is wholly unguarded, in the other he keeps himself in check even at the moment he seems most frank and expansive.
The Dolliver Romance is one of a group of studies for an elaborate narrative in which Hawthorne proposed to trace the fortunes of an American family back to those of its English forebears. The idea of connecting the obscure New England branch of the house with the proud Old-World descendants by some vague claim on the ancestral estate is almost too common in fiction. But Hawthorne seems to have been drawn towards it by his life in the consulate at Liverpool, where he had continually to check the exuberance of misguided fellow-countrymen who had appropriated, in mind, not a few of the finest estates in England, and only lacked faint encouragement to attempt entering on actual possession.
The idea of the Bloody Footstep was taken from a tradition connected with Smithell's Hall in Bolton-le-Moors, and Hawthorne went to see what purported to be the mark made in the stone step by the unhappy man about whose mysterious history the romance gathers. The quest and discovery of an elixir of life is in itself a threadbare motive, but could hardly have been commonplace under Hawthorne's treatment.
He was not to complete his design. The four versions of the story, The Dolliver Romance, The Ancestral Footstep, Septimius Felton, and Doctor Grimshawe's Secret, furnish another glimpse into Hawthorne's literary studio, though we are warned not to infer that he always worked in the way
the existence of these fragments might suggest.
Hawthorne was the most gifted of our American romancers. In a certain sense his field was a narrow one, but the soil was rich, and there was magic in his husbandry. He himself once declared that he never knew what patriotism was until he met an Englishman; that he was not an American, New England was as big a lump of earth as he could hold in his heart. The defect (if indeed it be a defect) was one of the sources of his power. Hawthorne did indeed love New England, but to suppose that he loved it with a blind and uncritical love is wholly to misunderstand both the man and his work. He was the genius of his little world. He knew its poetry and its prose, its mystery, charm, beauty, and its repellent and sordid features. New England will have no profounder interpreter, though it may be that as the superficial characteristics of the people change, his transcripts of life will increasingly take on the qualities of pure romance.