Showing posts with label Nathaniel Hawthorne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nathaniel Hawthorne. Show all posts

Chiefly About War Matters / Nathaniel Hawthorne

There is no remoteness of life and thought, no hermetically sealed
seclusion, except, possibly, that of the grave, into which the
disturbing influences of this war do not penetrate. Of course, the
general heart-quake of the country long ago knocked at my cottage-door,
and compelled me, reluctantly, to suspend the contemplation of certain
fantasies, to which, according to my harmless custom, I was endeavoring
to give a sufficiently life-like aspect to admit of their figuring in a
romance. As I make no pretensions to state-craft or soldiership, and
could promote the common weal neither by valor nor counsel, it seemed,
at first, a pity that I should be debarred from such unsubstantial
business as I had contrived for myself, since nothing more genuine was
to be substituted for it.

The Wives of The Dead / Nathaniel Hawthorne

The following story, the simple and domestic incidents of which may be
deemed scarcely worth relating, after such a lapse of time, awakened some
degree of interest, a hundred years ago, in a principal seaport of the
Bay Province. The rainy twilight of an autumn day,--a parlor on the
second floor of a small house, plainly furnished, as beseemed the
middling circumstances of its inhabitants, yet decorated with little
curiosities from beyond the sea, and a few delicate specimens of Indian
manufacture,--these are the only particulars to be premised in regard to
scene and season. Two young and comely women sat together by the
fireside, nursing their mutual and peculiar sorrows. They were the
recent brides of two brothers, a sailor and a landsman, and two
successive days had brought tidings of the death of each, by the chances
of Canadian warfare and the tempestuous Atlantic.

The White Old Maid / Nathaniel Hawthorne

The moonbeams came through two deep and narrow windows, and showed a
spacious chamber, richly furnished in an antique fashion. From one
lattice, the shadow of the diamond panes was thrown upon the floor;
the ghostly light, through the other, slept upon a bed, falling
between the heavy silken curtains, and illuminating the face of a
young man. But, how quietly the slumberer lay! how pale his features!
and how like a shroud the sheet was wound about his frame! Yes; it
was a corpse, in its burial-clothes.

The Vision of the Fountain / Nathaniel Hawthorne

At fifteen, I became a resident in a country village, more than a hundred
miles from home. The morning after my arrival--a September morning, but
warm and bright as any in July--I rambled into a wood of oaks, with a few
walnut-trees intermixed, forming the closest shade above my head. The
ground was rocky, uneven, overgrown with bushes and clumps of young
saplings, and traversed only by cattle-paths. The track, which I chanced
to follow, led me to a crystal spring, with a border of grass, as freshly
green as on May morning, and overshadowed by the limb of a great oak.
One solitary sunbeam found its way down, and played like a goldfish in
the water.

A Virtuoso's Collection / Nathaniel Hawthorne

The other day, having a leisure hour at my disposal, I stepped into
a new museum, to which my notice was casually drawn by a small and
unobtrusive sign: "TO BE SEEN HERE, A VIRTUOSO'S COLLECTION." Such
was the simple yet not altogether unpromising announcement that
turned my steps aside for a little while from the sunny sidewalk of
our principal thoroughfare. Mounting a sombre staircase, I pushed
open a door at its summit, and found myself in the presence of a
person, who mentioned the moderate sum that would entitle me to

"Three shillings, Massachusetts tenor," said he. "No, I mean half a
dollar, as you reckon in these days."

The Village Uncle / Nathaniel Hawthorne

An Imaginary Retrospect.

Come! another log upon the hearth. True, our little parlor is
comfortable, especially here, where the old man sits in his old arm-
chair; but on Thanksgiving night the blaze should dance high up the
chimney, and send a shower of sparks into the outer darkness. Toss
on an armful of those dry oak chips, the last relics of the Mermaid's
knee-timbers, the bones of your namesake, Susan. Higher yet, and
clearer be the blaze, till our cottage windows glow the ruddiest in
the village, and the light of our household mirth flash far across
the bay to Nahant. And now, come, Susan, come, my children, draw
your chairs round me, all of you. There is a dimness over your
figures! You sit quivering indistinctly with each motion of the
blaze, which eddies about you like a flood, so that you all have the
look of visions, or people that dwell only in the fire light, and
will vanish from existence, as completely as your own shadows, when
the flame shall sink among the embers.

The Toll Gatherer's Day / Nathaniel Hawthorne

A Sketch of Transitory Life.

Methinks, for a person whose instinct bids him rather to pore over the
current of life, than to plunge into its tumultuous waves, no
undesirable retreat were a toll-house beside some thronged thoroughfare
of the land. In youth, perhaps, it is good for the observer to run
about the earth, to leave the track of his footsteps far and wide,--
to mingle himself with the action of numberless vicissitudes,--and,
finally, in some calm solitude, to feed a musing spirit on all that lie
has seen and felt. But there are natures too indolent, or too
sensitive, to endure the dust, the sunshine, or the rain, the turmoil of
moral and physical elements, to which all the wayfarers of the world
expose themselves. For such a mail, how pleasant a miracle, could life
be made to roll its variegated length by the threshold of his own
hermitage, and the great globe, as it were, perform its revolutions and
shift its thousand scenes before his eyes without whirling him onward in
its course. If any mortal be favored with a lot analogous to this, it is
the toll-gatherer.

Time's Portraiture / Nathaniel Hawthorne

Being the Carrier's Address to the Patrons of "The Salem Gazette" for

the 1st of January, 1838.


Kind Patrons:---We newspaper carriers are Time's errand-boys; and all
the year round, the old gentleman sends us from one of your doors to
another, to let you know what he is talking about and what he is doing.
We are a strange set of urchins; for, punctually on New Year's morning,
one and all of us are seized with a fit of rhyme, and breakforth in such
hideous strains, that it would be no wonder if the infant Year, with her
step upon the threshold, were frightened away by the discord with which
we strive to welcome her. On these occasions, most generous patrons,
you never fail to give us a taste of your bounty; but whether as a
reward for our verses, or to purchase a respite from further infliction
of them, is best known to your worshipful selves. Moreover, we, Time's
errand-boys as aforesaid, feel it incumbent upon us, on the first day of
every year, to present a sort of summary of our master's dealings with
the world, throughout the whole of the preceding twelvemonth.

The Threefold Destiny / Nathaniel Hawthorne

A Fairy Legend

I have sometimes produced a singular and not unpleasing effect, so far
as my own mind was concerned, by imagining a train of incidents, in
which the spirit and mechanism of the fairy legend should be combined
with the characters and manners of familiar life. In the little tale
which follows, a subdued tinge of the wild and wonderful is thrown
over a sketch of New England personages and scenery, yet, it is hoped,
without entirely obliterating the sober hues of nature. Rather than a
story of events claiming to be real, it may be considered as an
allegory, such as the writers of the last century would have expressed
in the shape of an Eastern tale, but to which I have endeavored to
give a more life-like warmth than could be infused into those fanciful

Sylph Etherege / Nathaniel Hawthorne

On a bright summer evening, two persons stood among the shrubbery of a
garden, stealthily watching a young girl, who sat in the window seat of a
neighboring mansion. One of these unseen observers, a gentleman, was
youthful, and had an air of high breeding and refinement, and a face
marked with intellect, though otherwise of unprepossessing aspect. His
features wore even an ominous, though somewhat mirthful expression, while
he pointed his long forefinger at the girl, and seemed to regard her as a
creature completely within the scope of his influence.

"The charm works!" said he, in a low, but emphatic whisper.

Sunday at Home / Nathaniel Hawthorne

Every Sabbath morning in the summer time I thrust back the curtain, to

watch the sunrise stealing down a steeple, which stands opposite my
chamber-window. First, the weathercock begins to flash; then, a fainter
lustre gives the spire an airy aspect; next it encroaches on the tower,
and causes the index of the dial to glisten like gold, as it points to
the gilded figure of the hour. Now, the loftiest window gleams, and now
the lower. The carved framework of the portal is marked strongly out.
At length, the morning glory, in its descent from heaven, comes down the
stone steps, one by one; and there stands the steeple, glowing with fresh
radiance, while the shades of twilight still hide themselves among the
nooks of the adjacent buildings. Methinks, though the same sun brightens
it every fair morning, yet the steeple has a peculiar robe of brightness
for the Sabbath.

Snow Flakes / Nathaniel Hawthorne

There is snow in yonder cold gray sky of the morning!-and, through
the partially frosted window-panes, I love to watch the gradual
beginning of the storm. A few feathery flakes are scattered widely
through the air, and hover downward with uncertain flight, now almost
alighting on the earth, now whirled again aloft into remote regions of
the atmosphere. These are not the big flakes, heavy with moisture,
which melt as they touch the ground, and are portentous of a soaking
rain. It is to be, in good earnest, a wintry storm. The two or three
people, visible on the side-walks, have an aspect of endurance, a
blue-nosed, frosty fortitude, which is evidently assumed in
anticipation of a comfortless and blustering day. By nightfall, or at
least before the sun sheds another glimmering smile upon us, the
street and our little garden will be heaped with mountain snow-
drifts. The soil, already frozen for weeks past, is prepared to
sustain whatever burden may be laid upon it; and, to a northern eye,
the landscape will lose its melancholy bleakness and acquire a beauty
of its own, when Mother Earth, like her children, shall have put on
the fleecy garb of her winter's wear.

The Sister Years / Nathaniel Hawthorne

Last night, between eleven and twelve o'clock, when the Old Year was
leaving her final foot prints on the borders of Time's empire, she
found herself in possession of a few spare moments, and sat down--of
all places in the world--on the steps of our new City Hall. The
wintry moonlight showed that she looked weary of body, and sad of
heart, like many another wayfarer of earth. Her garments, having been
exposed to much foul weather, and rough usage, were in very ill
condition; and as the hurry of her journey had never before allowed
her to take an instant's rest, her shoes were so worn as to be
scarcely worth the mending. But, after trudging only a little
distance farther, this poor Old Year was destined to enjoy a long,
long sleep. I forgot to mention, that when she seated herself on the
steps, she deposited by her side a very capacious bandbox, in which,
as is the custom among travellers of her sex, she carried a great deal
of valuable property. Besides this luggage, there was a folio book
under her arm, very much resembling the annual volume of a newspaper.
Placing this volume across her knees, and resting her elbows upon it,
with her forehead in her hands, the weary, bedraggled, world-worn Old
Year heaved a heavy sigh, and appeared to be taking no very pleasant
retrospect of her past existence.

Sights From A Steeple / Nathaniel Hawthorne

O! I have climbed high, and my reward is small. Here I stand, with
wearied knees, earth, indeed, at a dizzy depth below, but heaven far,
far beyond me still. O that I could soar up into the very zenith, where
man never breathed, nor eagle ever flew, and where the ethereal azure
melts away from the eye, and appears only a deepened shade of
nothingness! And yet I shiver at that cold and solitary thought. What
clouds are gathering in the golden west, with direful intent against the
brightness and the warmth of this dimmer afternoon! They are ponderous
air-ships, black as death, and freighted with the tempest; and at
intervals their thunder, the signal-guns of that unearthly squadron,
rolls distant along the deep of heaven. These nearer heaps of fleecy
vapor--methinks I could roll and toss upon them the whole day long!--
seem scattered here and there, for the repose of tired pilgrims through
the sky.

The Seven Vagabonds / Nathaniel Hawthorne

Rambling on foot in the spring of my life and the summer of the year,
I came one afternoon to a point which gave me the choice of three
directions. Straight before me, the main road extended its dusty
length to Boston; on the left a branch went towards the sea, and would
have lengthened my journey a trifle of twenty or thirty miles; while
by the right-hand path, I might have gone over hills and lakes to
Canada, visiting in my way the celebrated town of Stamford. On a
level spot of grass, at the foot of the guidepost, appeared an object,
which, though locomotive on a different principle, reminded me of
Gulliver's portable mansion among the Brobdignags. It was a huge
covered wagon, or, more properly, a small house on wheels, with a door
on one side and a window shaded by green blinds on the other. Two
horses, munching provender out of the baskets which muzzled them, were
fastened near the vehicle: a delectable sound of music proceeded from
the interior; and I immediately conjectured that this was some
itinerant show, halting at the confluence of the roads to intercept
such idle travellers as myself. A shower had long been climbing up
the western sky, and now hung so blackly over my onward path that it
was a point of wisdom to seek shelter here.

A Select Party / Nathaniel Hawthorne

The man of fancy made an entertainment at one of his castles in the
air, and invited a select number of distinguished personages to
favor him with their presence. The mansion, though less splendid
than many that have been situated in the same region, was
nevertheless of a magnificence such as is seldom witnessed by those
acquainted only with terrestrial architecture. Its strong
foundations and massive walls were quarried out of a ledge of heavy
and sombre clouds which had hung brooding over the earth, apparently
as dense and ponderous as its own granite, throughout a whole
autumnal day. Perceiving that the general effect was gloomy,--so
that the airy castle looked like a feudal fortress, or a monastery
of the Middle Ages, or a state prison of our own times, rather than
the home of pleasure and repose which he intended it to be,--the
owner, regardless of expense, resolved to gild the exterior from top
to bottom. Fortunately, there was just then a flood of evening
sunshine in the air. This being gathered up and poured abundantly
upon the roof and walls, imbued them with a kind of solemn
cheerfulness; while the cupolas and pinnacles were made to glitter
with the purest gold, and all the hundred windows gleamed with a
glad light, as if the edifice itself were rejoicing in its heart.

A Rill From the Town Pump / Nathaniel Hawthorne

(SCENE.--The corner of two principal streets.--[Essex and Washington
Streets, Salem.]--The Town Pump talking through its nose.)

NOON, by the North clock! Noon, by the east! High noon, too, by these
hot sunbeams, which fall, scarcely aslope, upon my head, and almost
make the water bubble and smoke, in the trough under my nose. Truly, we
public characters have a tough time of it! And, among all the town
officers, chosen at March meeting, where is he that sustains, for a
single year, the burden of such manifold duties as are imposed, in
perpetuity, upon the Town Pump? The title of "town treasurer" is
rightfully mine, as guardian of the best treasure that the town has.

P.'s Correspondence / Nathaniel Hawthorne

My unfortunate friend P. has lost the thread of his life by the
interposition of long intervals of partially disordered reason. The
past and present are jumbled together in his mind in a manner often
productive of curious results, and which will be better understood
after the perusal of the following letter than from any description
that I could give. The poor fellow, without once stirring from the
little whitewashed, iron-grated room to which he alludes in his
first paragraph, is nevertheless a great traveller, and meets in his
wanderings a variety of personages who have long ceased to be
visible to any eye save his own. In my opinion, all this is not so
much a delusion as a partly wilful and partly involuntary sport of
the imagination, to which his disease has imparted such morbid
energy that he beholds these spectral scenes and characters with no
less distinctness than a play upon the stage, and with somewhat more
of illusive credence. Many of his letters are in my possession, some
based upon the same vagary as the present one, and others upon
hypotheses not a whit short of it in absurdity.

The Prophetic Pictures / Nathaniel Hawthorne

[This story was suggested by an anecdote of Stuart, related in Dunlap's
History of the Arts of Design,--a most entertaining book to the general
reader, and a deeply interesting one, we should think, to the artist,]

"But this painter!" cried Walter Ludlow, with animation. "He not only
excels in his peculiar art, but possesses vast acquirements in all other
learning and science. He talks Hebrew with Dr. Mather, and gives
lectures in anatomy to Dr. Boylston. In a word, he will meet the best
instructed man among us, on his own ground. Moreover, he is a polished
gentleman,--a citizen of the world,--yes, a true cosmopolite; for he will
speak like a native of each clime and country on the globe, except our
own forests, whither he is now going. Nor is all this what I most admire
in him."

The Old Apple Dealer / Nathaniel Hawthorne

The lover of the moral picturesque may sometimes find what he, seeks
in a character which is nevertheless of too negative a description
to be seized upon and represented to the imaginative vision by word-
painting. As an instance, I remember an old man who carries on a
little trade of gingerbread and apples at the depot of one of our
railroads. While awaiting the departure of the cars, my
observation, flitting to and fro among the livelier characteristics
of the scene, has often settled insensibly upon this almost hueless
object. Thus, unconsciously to myself and unsuspected by him, I
have studied the old apple-dealer until he has become a naturalized
citizen of my inner world. How little would he imagine--poor,
neglected, friendless, unappreciated, and with little that demands
appreciation--that the mental eye of an utter stranger has so often
reverted to his figure! Many a noble form, many a beautiful face,
has flitted before me and vanished like a shadow. It is a strange
witchcraft whereby this faded and featureless old apple-dealer has
gained a settlement in my memory.

Popular Posts