Infomotions, Inc.Hawthorne and His Circle / Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934



Author: Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934
Title: Hawthorne and His Circle
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): james; contributor; time; richard; man; gottheil; julian; circle; father; hawthorne; horatio; mother
Contributor(s): Gottheil, Richard James Horatio, 1862-1936 [Contributor]
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Title: Hawthorne and His Circle

Author: Julian Hawthorne

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HAWTHORNE AND HIS CIRCLE

BY

JULIAN HAWTHORNE

ILLUSTRATED


[IMAGE: NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (From a crayon drawing by Samuel Rowse)]




CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

Inheritance of friendships--Gracious giants--My own good fortune--My
father the central figure--What did his gift to me cost him?--A
revelation in Colorado--Privileges make difficulties--Lights and
shadows of memory--An informal narrative--Contrast between my father's
life and mine

I

Value of dates--My aunt Lizzie's efforts--My father's decapitation--My
mother's strong-box--The spirit of The Scarlet Letter--The strain of
imaginative composition--My grandmother Hawthorne's death--Infantile
indifference to calamity--The children's plays and books--The house on
Mall Street--Scarlet fever--The study on the third floor--The haunted
mahogany writing-desk--The secret drawers--The upright Egyptian--Mr.
Pickwick--My father in 1850--The flowered writing-gown, and the ink
butterfly--Driving the quill pen--The occupants of the second
floor--Aunt Louisa and Aunt Ebe--The dowager Mrs. Hawthorne--I kick my
aunt Lizzie--The kittens and the great mystery--The greatest book of
the age

II

Horatio Bridge's "I-told-you-so"--What a house by the sea might have
done--Unknown Lenox--The restlessness of youth--The Unpardonable Sin
and the Death--less Man--The little red house--Materials of
culture--Our best playmates--The mystery of Mrs. Peter's dough--Our
intellectual hen-fishing for poultry--Yacht-building--Swimming with
one foot on the ground--Shipwreck--Our playfellow the
brook--Tanglewood--Nuts--Giants and enchanters--Coasting--Wet noses,
dark eyes, ambrosial breath-My first horseback ride--Herman Melville's
stories--Another kind of James--The thunder-storm--Yearning ladies and
melancholy-sinners--Hindlegs--Probable murder--"I abominate the sight
of it!"--The peril of Tanglewood--The truth of fiction--An
eighteen-months' work--We leave five cats behind

III

Chariots of delight--West Newton--Raw American life--Baby's
fingers--Our cousin Benjamin's untoward head--Our uncle Horace--His
vacuum--A reformer's bristles--Grace Greenwood's first tears--The
heralding of Kossuth--The decorated engine--The chief incident of the
reception--Blithedale and Brook Farm--Notes from real life--Rough
draughts--Paths of composition--The struggle with the
Pensioner--Hawthorne's method--The invitation of Concord--Four wooden
walls and a roof--Mr. Alcott's assthetic carpentering--Appurtenances
of "The Wayside"--Franklin Pierce for President--"The most homeless
people in the world"

IV

A transfigured cattle-pen--Emerson the hub of Concord--His
incorrigible modesty--Grocery-store sages--To make common men feel
more like Emerson than he did--His personal appearance--His favorite
gesture--A glance like the reveille of a trumpet--The creaking
boots--"The muses are in the woods"--Emerson could not read
Hawthorne--Typical versus individual--Benefit from
child-prattle--Concord-grape Bull--Sounds of distant battle--Politics,
sociology, and grape-culture--The great white fence--Richard Henry
Stoddard--A country youth of genius--Whipple's Attic salt--An
unwritten romance--The consulship retires literature--Louisa's
tragedy--Hard hit--The spiritual sphere of good men--Nearer than in
the world--The return of the pilgrim

V

A paddle-wheel ocean-liner--The hens, the cow, and the carpenter--W.
D. Ticknor--Our first Englishman--An aristocratic acrobat--Speech that
beggars eulogy--The boots of great travellers--Complimentary
cannon--The last infirmity of noble republican minds--The golden
promise: the spiritual fulfilment--Fatuous serenity--Past and
future--The coquetry of chalk cliffs--Two kinds of imagination--The
thirsty island--Gloomy English comforts--Systematic geniality--A
standing puzzle--The respirator--Scamps, fools, mendicants, and
desperadoes--The wrongs of sailor-men--"Is this myself?"--"Profoundly
akin"--Henry Bright--Charm of insular prejudice--No stooping to
compromise--The battle against dinner--"I'm glad you liked it!"--An
English-, Irish-, and Scotchman--An Englishman owns his country--A
contradiction in Englishmen--A hospitable gateway--Years of memorable
trifles

VI

Patricians and plebeians--The discomforts of democracy--Varieties of
equality--Social rights of beggars--The coming peril--Being dragged to
the rich--Frankness of vulgarity and hopelessness of
destitution--Villages rooted in the landscape--Evanescence of the
spiritual and survival of the material--"Of Bebbington the holy
peak"--The Old Yew of Eastham--Malice--prepense interest--History and
afternoon tea--An East--Indian Englishman--The merchantman sticks in
the mud--A poetical man of the world--Likeness to Longfellow--Real
breakfasts--Heads and stomachs--A poet-pugilist--Clean-cut, cold,
gentle, dry--A respectable female atheist--The tragedy of the red
ants--Voluptuous struggles--A psalm of praise

VII

Life in Rock Park--Inconvenient independence of lodgings--The average
man--"How many gardeners have you got?"--Shielded by rose-leaves of
culture and refinement--The English middle class--Prejudice,
complacency, and Burke's Peerage--Never heard of Tennyson or
Browning--Satisfaction in the solid earth--A bond of fellowship--A
damp, winding, verdurous street--The parent of stucco
villas--Inactivity of individual conscience--A plateau and a
cliff--dwelling--"The Campbells are Coming!"--Sortes Virgilianae--A
division in the family--Precaution against famine--English praying and
card-playing--Exercise for mind and
body--Knight-errantry--Sentimentality and mawkishness--The policeman
and the cobbler--A profound truth--Fireworks by lamplight--Mr. Squarey
and Mrs. Roundey--Sandford and Merton--The ball of jolly

VIII

Cataclysmic adventures--On the trail of dazzling fortunes--"Lovely,
but reprehensible Madham"--The throne saves the artist--English robin
redbreast--A sad and weary old man--"Most indelicate woman I've ever
known"--Perfectly chaste--Something human stirred dimly--"She loves
me; she loves me!"--The Prince of Wales and half-a-crown--Portentous
and thundering title--Honest English simplicity--"The spirit
lacking"--Abelard, Isaac Newton, and Ruskin--A famous and charming
woman of genius--Deep and wide well of human sympathy--The
whooping-cough

IX

Two New England consciences--Inexhaustible faith and energy--Deep and
abiding love of England--"'How the Water Comes Down at Lodore"--"He
took an' he let go"--Naked mountains--The unsentimental little
quadruped--The human element in things sticks--The coasts of
England--A string of sleepy donkeys--Unutterable boy-thoughts--Grins
and chuckles like an ogress---Hideous maternal parody---The adorable
inverted bell-glass--Strange things happen in the world--An ominous
clouding of the water--Something the world has never
known--Overweening security--An admonition not to climb too high--How
vice may become virtue by repetition--Corporal Blair's
chest--Black-Bottle Cardigan--Called to Lisbon


X

If there were boarding-houses in paradise--Blodgett, the delight of
mankind--Solomon foresaw her--A withering retort--A modest, puny poise
about her--Hidden thoughts derived from Mother Eve and Grecian
Helen--The feminine council that ruled the Yankee captains--Bonds of
fraternity, double-riveted and copper-fastened--Through the
looking-glass--Men only of the manliest sort--The
lady-paramount--Hands which were true works of art--Retained his
dignity without putting it on--Sighed heavily over my
efforts--Unctuous M. Huguenin--"From dawn to eve I fell"--The
multum-in-parvo machine--"Beauty and the Beast"--Frank
Channing--"Blood-and water!"--A lapful of Irish stew

XI

Bennoch and Bright like young housekeepers--"What did you marry that
woman for?"--"Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures"--"The worst book anybody
ever wrote"--"Most magnificent eye I ever saw"--A great deal of the
feminine in Reade--Fire, pathos, fun, and dramatic animation--A
philosophical library in itself--Amusing appanage of his own
book--Oily and voluble sanctimoniousness--Self-worship of the
_os-rotundas_ sort--Inflamed rather than abated by years--"Every word
of it true; but--"--Better, or happier, because we had
lived--Appropriated somebody else's adventure--Filtering remarks
through the mind of a third person--A delightful
Irishman--Unparalleled audacity--An unregenerate opinion--The whole
line of Guelphs in it--"Oh, that somebody would invent a new
sin!"--"The Angel in the House"--Very well dressed--Indomitable
figure, aggressively American--Too much of the elixir of life--A
little strangeness between us--Sunshine will always rest on it

XII

Talked familiarly with kings and queens--Half-witted girl who giggled
all the time--It gnawed me terribly--A Scotch terrier named Towsey--A
sentiment of diplomatic etiquette--London as a physical entity--Ladies
in low-necked dresses--An elderly man like a garden-spider--Into the
bowels of the earth--The inner luminousness of genius--Isolated and
tragic situation--"Ate ever man such a morsel before!"--The great,
wild, mysterious Borrow--Her skeleton, huddled, dry, and
awful--"Ma'am, you expose yourself!"--Plane, spokeshave, gouge, and
chisel--"I-passed-the-Lightning"--Parallel-O-grams--A graduate of
Antioch--"Continual cursing"--A catastrophe--"Troubles are a sociable
sisterhood"--"In truth I was very sorry"--He had dreamed wide-awake of
these things--A friend of Emerson and Henry James--Embarked at
Folkestone for France

XIII

Old-Homesickness--The Ideal and the Real--A beautiful but perilous
woman with a past--The Garden of Eden a Montreal ice-palace--Confused
mountain of family luggage--Poplars for lances--Miraculous crimson
comforters--Rivers of human gore--Curling mustachios and nothing to
do--Odd behavior of grown people--Venus, the populace, and the
MacDaniels--The happiness to die in Paris--Lived alone with her
constellations--"O'Brien's Belt"--A hotel of peregrinations--Sitting
up late--Attempted assassination--My murderer--An old passion
reawakened--Italian shells and mediaeval sea-anemones--If you were in
the Garden of Eden--An umbrella full of napoleons--Was Byron an
Esquimau?


XIV

Our unpalatial palace--"Cephas Giovanni"--She and George Combe turned
out to be right--A rousing temper--Bright Titian hair--"All that's
left of him"--The pyramidal man of destiny--The thoughts of a boy are
long, long thoughts--Clausilia Bubigunia--Jabez Hogg and the
microscope--A stupendous surprise--A lifetime in fourteen months--My
father's jeremiades--Thank Heaven, there is such a thing as
whitewash!"--"Terrible lack of variety in the old masters"--"The
brazen trollop that she is!"--Several distinct phases of
feeling--Springs of creative imagination roused--The Roman fever--A
sad book--Effects of the death-blow--The rest is silence

XV

The Roman carnival in three moods--Apples of Sodom--Poor, battered,
wilted, stained hearts--A living protest and scourge--Dulce est
desipere in loco--A rollicking world of happy fools--Endless sunshine
of some sort--Greenwich Fair was worth a hundred of it--They thundered
past, never drawing rein--"Senza moccolo!"--Nothing more charming and
strange could be imagined--Girls surprised in the midst of dressing
themselves--A Unitarian clergyman with his fat wife--Apparent license
under courteous restraint--He laughed and pelted and was
pelted--William Story, as vivid as when I saw him last--A too facile
power--A deadly shadow gliding close behind--Set afire by his own
sallies--"Thy face is like thy mother's, my fair child!"--Cleopatra in
the clay--"Wer nie sein Brod mit thranen ass."

XVI

Drilled in Roman history--Lovely figures made of light and
morning--What superb figures!--The breath and strength of immeasurable
antiquity--Treasures coming direct from dead hands into mine--A
pleasant sound of coolness and refreshment--Receptacles of death now
dedicated to life--The Borghese is a forest of Ardennes--Profound and
important communings--A smiling deceiver--Of an early-rising
habit--Hauling in on my slack--A miniature cabinet magically made
Titanic--"If I had a murder on my conscience"--None can tell the
secret origin of his thoughts--A singularly beautiful young woman--She
actually ripped the man open--No leagues of chivalry needed in Rome--A
resident army--Five foot six--Corsets and padding--She was wounded in
the house of her friends

XVII

Miss Lander makes a bust--The twang of his native place--Wholly unlike
anybody else--Wise, humorous Sarah Clarke--Back to the Gods and the
Fleas--Horace Mann's statue--Miss Bremer and the Tarpeian Rock--"I was
in a state of some little tremor"--Mrs. Jameson and Ruskin--Most
thorough-going of the classic tragedies--A well-grown calf--An
adventure in Monte Testaccio--A vision of death--A fantastic and
saturnine genius--A pitch-black place--Illuminations and
fireworks--The Faun--Enjoying Rome--First impressions--Lalla's curses

XVIII

In Othello's predicament--Gaetano--Crystals and snail-shells--Broad,
flagstone pavements--Fishing-rods and blow-pipes--Ghostly
yarns--Conservative effects of genius--An ideal bust and a living
one--The enigma of spiritualism--A difficult combination to
overthrow--The dream-child and the Philistine--Dashing and plunging
this way and that--Teresa screamed for mercy--Grapes and figs and
ghostly voices--My father would have settled there--Kirkup the
necromancer--A miraculous birth--A four-year-old medium--The
mysterious touch--An indescribable horror--Not even a bone of her was
left--Providence takes very long views

XIX

Burnt Sienna--The Aquila Nera--A grand, noble, gentle creature--The
most beautiful woman in the world--Better friends than ever--A shadow
brooded--Boys are whole-souled creatures--Franklin Pierce--Miriam,
Hilda, Kenyon, Donatello--The historian of the Netherlands--When New
England makes a man--The spell of Trevi--An accession of mishaps--My
father's mustache--Three steps of stone, the fourth, death--Havre,
Redcar, Bath, London, Liverpool


ILLUSTRATIONS

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
(From a crayon drawing by Samuel Rowse)

BIRTHPLACE OF NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE AT
SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS

HERMAN MELVILLE

JAMES T. FIELDS

THE WAYSIDE
(Showing Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife)

EDWIN P. WHIPPLE

JAMES T. FIELDS, NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, AND
WILLIAM D. TICKNOR

RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES

ROBERT BROWNING

FRANCIS BANNOCH

REV. WILLIAM HENRY CHANNING, 1855

MARIA MITCHELL

WILLIAM WETMORE STORY

PENCIL SKETCHES IN ITALY, BY MRS. NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

THE MARBLE FAUN

HIRAM POWERS




INTRODUCTION


Inheritance of friendships--Gracious giants--My own good fortune--My
father the central figure--What did his gift to me cost him?--A
revelation in Colorado--Privileges make difficulties--Lights and
shadows of memory--An informal narrative--Contrast between my father's
life and mine.

The best use we can make of good fortune is to share it with our
fellows. Those to whom good things come by way of inheritance,
however, are often among the latest to comprehend their own advantage;
they suppose it to be the common condition.  And no doubt I had nearly
arrived at man's estate before it occurred to me that the lines of few
fishers of men were cast in places so pleasant as mine. I was the son
of a man of high desert, who had such friends as he deserved; and
these companions and admirers of his gave to me in the beginning of my
days a kindly welcome and encouragement generated from their affection
and reverence for him.  Without doing a stroke of work for it, I found
myself early in the enjoyment of a principality of good will and
fellowship--a species of freemasonry, I might call it, though the
secret was patent enough--for the rights in which, unaided, I might
have contended my lifetime long in vain. Men and women whose names are
consecrated apart in the dearest thoughts of thousands were familiars
and playmates of my childhood; they supported my youth and bade my
manhood godspeed. But to me, for a long while, the favor of these
gracious giants of mind and character seemed agreeable indeed, but
nothing out of the ordinary; my tacit presumption was that other
children as well as I could if they would walk hand in hand with
Emerson along the village street, seek in the meadows for arrow-heads
with Thoreau, watch Powers thump the brown clay of the "Greek Slave,"
or listen to the voice of Charlotte Cushman, which could sway
assembled thousands, modulate itself to tell stories to the urchin who
leaned, rapt, against her knees.  Were human felicity so omnipresent
as a happy child imagines it, what a world would this be!

In time, my misapprehension was corrected, rather, I think, through
the application to it of cold logic than by any rude awakening. I
learned of my riches not by losing them--the giants did not withdraw
their graciousness--but by comparing the lot of others with my own.
And yet, to tell the truth--perhaps I might better leave it untold;
only in these chapters, especially, I will not begin with reserves--to
say truth, then, my world, during my father's lifetime, and afterwards
for I will not say how long, was divided into two natural parts, my
father being one of them, and everybody else the other. Hence I was
led to regard the parties of the latter part, rich or poor, giants or
pygmies, as being, after all, of much the same stature and value. The
brightness (in the boy's estimation) of the paternal figure rendered
distinctions between other brightnesses unimportant. The upshot was,
in short, that I inclined to the opinion that while compassion was
unquestionably due to other children for not having a father like
mine, yet in other respects my condition was not egregiously superior
to theirs. They might not know the Brownings or the Julia Ward Howes;
but then, very likely, the Smiths and the Joneses, whom they did know,
were nearly as good.

After fifty years, of course, such prepossessions yield to experience.
My father was the best friend I ever had, and he will always stand in
my estimation distinct from all other friends and persons; but I can
now recognize that in addition to the immeasurable debt I owe him for
being to me what he was in his own person, he bestowed upon me a
privilege also immeasurable in the hospitality of these shining ones
who were his intimates. Did the gift cost him nothing? Nothing, in one
sense.  But, again, what does it cost a man to walk upright and
cleanly during the years of his pilgrimage: to deal justly with all,
and charitably: diligently to cultivate and develop every natural
endowment: always to seek truth, tell it, and vindicate it: to
discharge to the utmost of his ability every duty that was intrusted
to him: to rest content, in the line of his calling, with no work
inferior to his best: to say no word and do no act which, were they
known, might weaken the struggle against temptation of any
fellow-creature? These qualities were the price at which Hawthorne
bought his friends; and in receiving those friends from him, his
children could not but feel that the bequest represented his
unfaltering grasp upon whatever is pure, lofty, and generous in human
life.

Yes, whatever it may cost a man of genius to be all his life a good
man, and to use and develop his genius to the noblest ends only, that
my father's friends cost him, and in that amount am I his debtor; and
the longer I myself live, and the more I see of other men, the higher
and rarer do I esteem the obligation. Moreover, in speaking of his
friends, I was thinking of those who personally knew him; but the
world is full to-day of friends of his who never saw him, to whom his
name is my best and surest introduction. Once, only three years since,
in the remote heart of the Colorado mountains, I chanced to enter the
hut of an aged miner; he sat in a corner of the little family room; on
the wall near his hand was fixed a small bookshelf, filled with a
dozen dog-eared volumes. The man had for years been paralyzed; he
could do little more than to raise to that book-shelf his trembling
hand, and take from it one or other of the volumes.  When this
helpless veteran learned my name, he uttered a strange cry, and his
face worked with eager emotion; the wife of his broad-shouldered son
brought me to him in his corner; his old eyes glowed as they perused
me. I could not gather the meaning of his broken, trembling speech;
the young woman interpreted for me. Was I related to the great
Hawthorne? "Yes; I am his son." "His son!" Seldom have I met a gaze
harder to sustain than that which the paralytic bent upon me. Would I
might have worn, for the time being, the countenance of an archangel,
so to fill out the lineaments, drawn during so many lonely years by
his imagination and his reverence, of his ideal writer! "The son of
Hawthorne!" He said no more, save by the strengthless pressure of his
hands upon my own; the woman told me how all the books on the little
shelf were my father's books, and for fifteen years the old man had
read no others. Helpless tears of joy, of gratitude, of wonder ran
down the furrows of his cheeks into his white beard. And how could I
at whom he so gazed help being moved: on that desolate, unknown
mountain-side, far from the world, the name which I had inherited was
loved and honored! One does not get one's privileges for nothing. My
father gave me power to make my way, and cast sunshine on the path;
but he made the path arduous, too!

Be that as it may, I now ask who will to look in my mirror, and see
reflected there some of the figures and the scenes that have made my
life worth living. As I peer into the dark abysm of things gone by,
many places that seemed at first indistinct, grow clearer; but many
more must remain impenetrable.  Upon the whole, however, I am
surprised to find how much is still discernible. Nearly a score of
years ago I published, in the shape of a formal biography of Hawthorne
and his wife, the consecutive facts of their lives, and numerous
passages from their journals and correspondence. My aim is different
now; I wish to indite an informal narrative from my own point of view,
as child, youth, and man. There will be gaps in it--involuntary ones;
and others occasioned by the obligation to retain those pictures only
that seem likely to arouse a catholic interest. Yet there will be a
certain intimacy in the story; and some matters which history would
omit as trivial will be here adduced, for the sake of such color and
character as they may contain. I shall not stalk on stilts, or mouth
phrases, but converse comfortably and trustfully as between friends.
If a writing of this kind be not flexible, unpretending, discursive,
it has no right to be at all. Art is not in question, save the minor
art that lives from line to line. Gossip about men, women, and
things--it can amount to little more than that.

In the earlier chapters the dramatis personae and the incidents must
naturally group themselves about the figure of my father; for it was
thus that I saw them. To his boy he was the fountain of love, honor,
and energy; and to the boy he seemed the animating or organizing
principle of other persons and events. With his death, in my
eighteenth year, the world appeared disordered for a season; then,
gradually, I learned to do my own orientation. I was destined to an
experience superficially much more active and varied than his had
been; and it was a world superficially very different from his in
which I moved and dealt There must follow a corresponding modification
in the character of the narrative; yet that, after all is superficial,
too. For the memory of my father has always been with me, and has
doubtless influenced me more than I am myself aware. And certainly but
for him this book would never have been attempted.



I



Value of dates--My aunt Lizzie's efforts--My father's decapitation--My
mother's strong-box--The spirit of The Scarlet Letter--The strain of
imaginative composition--My grandmother Hawthorne's death--Infantile
indifference to calamity--The children's plays and books--The house on
Mall Street--Scarlet fever--The study on the third floor--The haunted
mahogany writing-desk--The secret drawers--The upright Egyptian--Mr.
Pickwick--My father in l850--The flowered writing-gown, and the ink
butterfly--Driving the quill pen--The occupants of the second
floor--Aunt Louisa and Aunt Ebe--The dowager Mrs. Hawthorne--I kick my
aunt Lizzie--The kittens and the great mystery--The greatest book of
the age.

My maternal aunt, Miss Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, was a very learned
woman, and a great student of history, and teacher of it; and by the
aid of huge, colored charts, done by my uncle Nat Peabody and hung on
the walls of our sitting-room, she labored during some years to teach
me all the leading dates of human history--the charts being designed
according to a novel and ingenious plan to fix those facts in childish
memory. But as a pupil I was always most inapt and grievous, in dates
and in matters mathematical especially; so that I gave her
inexhaustible patience many a sad hour. To this day I cannot tell in
what year was fought the battle of Marathon, or when John signed Magna
Charta; though the battle itself, and the scene of the barons with
menacing brows gathered about John, stood clearly pictured in my
imagination. Dates were arbitrary, and to my memory nothing arbitrary
would stick. Nevertheless, when I am myself constructing a narrative,
whether it be true or fictitious, I am wedded to dates, and cannot be
divorced from them. It must be set down precisely when the events took
place, in what years the dramatis personae were born, and how old they
were when each juncture of their fortunes came to pass. I can no more
dispense with dates than I can talk without consonants; they carry
form, order, and credibility. Or they are like the skeleton which
gives recognizable shape to men and animals. Nothing mortal can get on
without them..

Whether this addiction be in the nature of a reaction from my childish
perversity, giving my erudite and beloved aunt Lizzie (as I called
her) her revenge so long after our lessons are over; or how else to
explain it, I know not; but it leads me to affirm here that the nadir
of my father's material fortunes was reached about the year 1849. At
that time his age was five-and-forty, and I was three.

The causes of this financial depression were several. One morning he
awoke to find himself deprived, by political chicanery, of the income
of a custom-house surveyorship which for some while past had served to
support his small family. Now, some men could have gone on writing
stories in the intervals between surveying customs, and have thus
placed an anchor to windward against the time when the political storm
should set in; but Nathaniel Hawthorne was devoid of that useful
ability. Nor had he been able to spend less than he earned; so,
suddenly, there he was on his beam-ends. Leisure to write, certainly,
was now abundant enough; but he never was a rapid composer, and even
had he been so, the market for the kind of things he wrote was, in the
middle of the past century, in New England, neither large nor eager.
The emoluments were meagre to match; twenty dollars for four pages of
the Democratic Review was about the figure; and to produce a short
tale or sketch of that length would take him a month at least. How
were a husband and wife and their two children to live for a month on
the mere expectation of twenty dollars from the Democratic
Review--which was, into the bargain, terribly slow pay? Such was the
problem which confronted the dark-haired and grave-visaged gentleman
as he closed his desk in the Salem custom-house for the last time, and
put on his hat to walk home.

Thanks, however, to some divine foresight on my mother's part, aided
by a wonderful talent for practical economy, she had secretly
contrived to save, out of her weekly stipends, small sums which in the
aggregate bulked large enough to make an important difference in the
situation. So when her husband disclosed his bad news, she opened her
private drawer and disclosed her banknotes, with such a smile in her
eyes as I can easily picture to myself. Stimulated by the miracle, he
remembered that the inchoate elements of a story, in which was to
figure prominently a letter A, cut out of red cloth, or embroidered in
scarlet thread, and affixed to a woman's bosom, had been for months
past rumbling round in his mind; now was the time of times to shape it
forth. Yonder upon the table by the window stood the old mahogany
writing-desk so long unused; here were his flowered dressing-gown and
slippers down-at-heel. He ought to be able to finish the story before
the miraculous savings gave out; and then all he would have to do
would be to write others. And, after all, to be rid of the
surveyorship was a relief.

But matters were not to be run off quite so easily as this. The
Scarlet Letter, upon coming to close quarters with it, turned out to
be not a story of such moderate caliber as Hawthorne had hitherto been
used to write, but an affair likely to extend over two or three
hundred pages, which, instead of a month or so, might not be completed
in a year; yet it was too late to substitute something more manageable
for it--in the first place, because nothing else happened to be at his
disposal, and secondly, because The Scarlet Letter took such intimate
hold upon the vitals of his heart and mind that he was by no means
able to free himself from it until all had been fulfilled. Only men of
creative genius know in what glorious and harrowing thraldom their
creations hold them. Having once been fairly begun, The Scarlet Letter
must inevitably finish itself for good or ill, come what might to the
writer of it.

[IMAGE: BIRTHPLACE OF NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE AT SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS]

This is a story of people and events, not a study in literary
criticism; but the writing of The Scarlet Letter was an event of no
trifling importance in the story of its author's life. To read the
book is an experience which its readers cannot forget; what its
writing must have been to a man organized as my father was is hardly
to be conveyed in words.  Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth--he
must live through each one of them, feel their passion, remorse,
hatred, terror, love; and he must enter into the soul of the
mysterious nature of Pearl.  Such things cannot with impunity be done
by any one; the mere physical strain, all conditions being favorable,
would be almost past bearing. But my father, though uniformly his
bodily health was all his life sound, was never what I would call a
robust man; he was exquisitely balanced. At the time he began his book
he was jaded from years of office drudgery, and he was in some anxiety
as to the issue of his predicament. The house in which he dwelt, small
and ill-placed in a narrow side-street, with no possibility of
shutting out the noise of traffic and of domestic alarms, could not
but make the work tell more heavily upon him. But in addition to this
there were fortuitous occasions of emotional stress, all of which I
shall not mention; but among them were the distasteful turmoil aroused
by his political mishap; and, far more poignant, the critical illness
of his mother. Circumstances led to her being housed under his roof;
there she lingered long at death's door, and there at last she died.
He profoundly loved her; but deep-rooted, too, in both of them was
that strange, New England shyness, masking in visible ice the
underlying emotion.  Not since his boyhood had their mutual affection
found free, natural expression; and now, in this final hour, that
bondage of habit caused the words of tenderness to stumble on their
lips. The awful majesty of approaching death, prompting them to "catch
up the whole of love and utter it" ere it be too late, wrought this
involuntary self-repression into silent agony.

She died; his own health was shaken to its foundations; his children
fell ill, his wife underwent acute suffering; and through all this,
and more, The Scarlet Letter must be written. No wonder that, when he
came to read the story in manuscript to his wife, his voice faltered
and broke; and she slipped to her knees and hid her face on her arms
in the chair. "I had been suffering," he commentated, long afterwards,
"from a great diversity and severity of emotion." Great works of
art--things with the veritable spirit of enduring life in them--are
destined to be born in sore travail and pain. Those who give them
birth yield up their own life to them.

It was at this period--say, about l850--that my own personal
recollections, in a shadowy and incoherent way, begin. The shadows are
exclusively of time's making; they were not of the heart. All through
the trials of my parents I retained a jocund equanimity (save for some
trifling childish ailments) and esteemed this world a friendly and
agreeable place. The Scarlet Letter dashed my spirits not a whit; I
knew not of its existence, by personal evidence, till full a dozen
years later; and even the death of my grandmother left me light of
heart, for the passing of the spirit from the body can but awaken the
transient curiosity of a child of four.  For the rest, my physical
environment, in itself amusing and interesting enough to me, had its
chief importance from the material it afforded on which to construct
the imaginary scenes and characters of my play. My sister Una and
myself were forever enacting something or somebody not ourselves:
childish egoism oddly decking itself in the non-ego. We believed in
fairies, in magic, in angels, in transformations; Hans Christian
Andersen, Grimm, The Black Aunt (oh, delectable, lost volume) were our
sober history-books, and Robinson Crusoe was our autobiography. But I
did occasionally take note of concrete appearances, too; and some of
them I remember.

The house--the third which we had inhabited since my father became
surveyor--was on Mall Street, and was three stories in height, with a
yard behind and at one end; this yard, which was of importance to my
sister and myself, had access to the street by a swinging gate. There
were three or four trees in it, and space for play. The house was but
one room deep, and lying as it did about north and south, the rooms
were open to both the morning and the afternoon sunshine. They opened
one into the other in a series; and when my father was safe up-stairs
in his study, my mother would open all the doors of the suite on the
lower floor, and allow the children to career triumphantly to and fro.
No noise that we could make ever troubled her nerves, unless it was
the noise of conflict; the shriek of joy, however shrill, passed by
her harmless; but the lowest mutter of wrath or discontent distressed
her; for of such are the mothers of the kingdom of heaven! And so
zealous was our regard for her just and gentle law that I really think
we gave way as little as most children to the latter.

Of course, whenever the weather permitted, we were out in the yard, or
even promenaded for short distances up and down the street. And
once--"How are you?" inquired a friend of the family, as he drove by
in his wagon. "Oh, we've got the scarlet fever!" we proudly replied,
stepping out gallantly along the sidewalk. For we were treated by a
homoeopathic doctor of the old school, who was a high-dilutionist, and
mortal ills could never get a firm grip on us. In winter we rejoiced
in the snow; and my father's story of the Snow Image got most of its
local color from our gambols in this fascinating substance, which he
could observe from the window of his study.

The study was on the third floor of the house, secluded from the
turmoil of earth, so far as anything could be in a city street. No one
was supposed to intrude upon him there; but such suppositions are
ineffectual against children. From time to time the adamantine gates
fell ajar, and in we slipped. It seemed a heavenly place, tenanted by
a being possessed of every attribute that our imaginations could
ascribe to an angel. The room and its tenant glimmer before me as I
write, luminous with the sunshine of more than fifty years ago.  Both
were equipped for business rather than for beauty; furniture and
garments were simple in those Salem days. A homely old paper covered
the walls, a brownish old carpet the floor. There was an old
rocking-chair, its black paint much worn and defaced; another chair
was drawn up to the table, which stood to the left of the eastern
window; and on the table was a mahogany desk, concerning which I must
enter into some particulars.  It was then, and for years afterwards,
an object of my most earnest scrutiny. Such desks are not made
nowadays.

When closed, it was an oblong mahogany box, two feet long by half that
width, and perhaps nine inches high. It had brass corners, and a brass
plate on the top, inscribed with the name, "N.  Hawthorne." At one end
was a drawer, with a brass handle playing on a hinge and fitting into
a groove or socket when down; there was a corresponding handle at the
other end, but that was for symmetry only; the one drawer went clear
through the desk. I often mused over the ethics of this deception.

Being opened, the desk presented a sloping surface two feet square,
covered with black velvet, which had been cut here and there and
pasted down again, and was stiffened with many ink-spatterings.  This
writing surface consisted of two lids, hinged at their junction in the
centre; lifting them, you discovered two receptacles to hold
writing-paper and other desk furniture. They were of about equal
capacity; for although the upper half of the desk was the more
capacious, you must not forget that two inches of it, at the bottom,
was taken up by the long drawer already mentioned.

But there was, also, a more interesting curtailment of this interior
space. Along the very top of the desk, as it lay open, was a narrow
channel, perhaps a couple of inches wide and deep, divided into three
sections; two square ones, at the opposite ends, held the ink-bottle
and the sand-bottle; the long central one was for quill pens. These,
in the aggregate, appeared to the superficial eye to account for all
that remained of the cubic contents of the structure; but the supreme
mystery and charm of the affair was that they did not!

No; there was an esoteric secret still in reserve; and for years it
remained a secret to me. The bottle-sockets and pen-tray did not reach
down to the level of the long drawer by nearly an inch.  Measurement
would prove that; but you would have said that the interval must be
solid wood; for nothing but a smooth panel met the eye when you pulled
aside the sheets of writing-paper in their receptacle to investigate.
But the lesson of this world, and of the desk as a part of it, is that
appearances are not to be trusted. The guile of those old desk-makers
passes belief.

I will expose it. In the pen-tray lay a sort of brass nail, as long as
your little finger, and blunt at the end. Now take the sand-bottle
from its hole.  In one corner of the bottom thereof you will see a
minute aperture, just big enough to admit the seemingly useless brass
nail. Stick it in and press hard. With an abrupt noise that makes you
jump, if you are four or five years old, that smooth, unsuspected
strip of panel starts violently forward (propelled by a released
spring) and reveals--what? Nothing less than the fronts of two minute
drawers.  They fit in underneath the pen-tray, and might remain
undiscovered for a hundred years unless you had the superhuman wit to
divine the purpose of the brass nail. The drawers contain diamonds,
probably, or some closely folded document making you the heir to a
vast estate. As a matter of fact, I don't know what they contained;
the surprise of the drawers themselves was enough for me. I need not
add that I did not guess the riddle myself; but nothing that I can
call to mind impressed me more than when, one day, my father solved it
for me with his little brass wand. At intervals, afterwards, I was
allowed to work the miracle myself, always with the same thrill of
mysterious delight. The desk was human to me; it was alive.

There were little square covers for the ink and sand-bottles; and on
the under sides of these were painted a pair of faces; very ruddy in
the cheeks they were, with staring eyes and smiling mouths; and one of
them wore a pair of black side-whiskers.  They were done by my father,
with oil--colors filched from my mother's paint-box. They seemed to me
portraits of the people who lived in the desk; evidently they enjoyed
their existence hugely. And when I considered that the desk was also
somehow instrumental in the production of stories--such as the Snow
Image--of a delectable and magical character, the importance to my
mind of the whole contrivance may be conceived. When I grew beyond
child's estate, I learned that it had also assisted at the composition
of The Scarlet Letter. If ever there were a haunted writing-desk, this
should have been it; but the ghosts have long since carried it away,
whither I know not.

On the table were two ornaments; one, the finely moulded figure of an
Egyptian in bronze, the wide Egyptian head-dress falling on the
shoulders, the arms lying rigidly at the sides, with fists clinched.
Generations of handling had made it almost black, but the amiable
expression of the little countenance--the figure was about seven
inches tall--greatly endeared it to me. Its feet were pressed close
together on a small round stand; but one day somebody set it down on a
hot stove, where it remained without flinching till the feet were
melted off.  After some years my mother had an ebony stump affixed to
it, preserving the proportions of the figure and setting it once more
erect. He was of greater endurance and of finer physical if not of
moral development than the Tin Soldier of Hans Christian Andersen. The
other ornament, less than half the Egyptian's size, and also made of
bronze, was a warrior in mediaeval armor, whose head lifted off,
showing a sharp-pointed rod the sheath of which was the body. Its use
was to pick the wicks of the oil-lamps of that epoch, and its name was
Mr.  Pickwick. When afterwards I became acquainted with the world's
Mr. Pickwick, I supposed his creator had adopted the name from our
bronze warrior; but the world's Pickwick was made of stuff more
enduring than bronze; he remains, but our little warrior has vanished.

I come now to the human occupant of this chamber of marvels. I see a
tall, strong man, whose wide-domed head was covered with wavy black
hair, bushing out at the sides. It thinned somewhat over the lofty
crown and brow; the forehead was hollowed at the temple and rounded
out above, after the Moorish style of architecture. Under heavy, dark
eyebrows were eyes deep-set and full of light, marvellous in range of
expression, with black eyelashes. All seemed well with me when I met
their look. The straight, rather salient nose had a perceptible cleft
at the tip, which, I was told, was a sign of good lineage;
muddy-mettled rascals lacked it; so that I was much distressed by the
smooth, plebeian bluntness, at that time, of my own little snub. The
mouth, then unshaded by a mustache, had a slight upward turn at the
corners, indicative of vitality and good-humor; the chin rounded out
sharply convex from the lip. The round, strong column of the neck well
supported the head; my mother compared it with that of the Apollo
Belvedere, a bust of which stood in the corner of our sitting-room.
The head was deep--a great distance between the base of the ear and
the wing of the nostril--and was well filled out behind. Above the
blue of the shaven beard the complexion showed clear white and red,
announcing a strong heart and good digestion. My father shaved himself
daily; I was not permitted to see the operation, but I knew he
lathered, and wondered why. He was naturally athletic;
broad-shouldered and deep in the chest, lean about the loins, weighing
never over one hundred and eighty pounds; his height was five feet ten
and three-quarter inches; his legs and feet were slender and graceful,
his gait long and springy, and he could stand and leap as high as his
shoulder. In the house he wore slippers, which seemed always old and
down-at-heel.

In the house, also, he wore a writing-gown, made for him some years
before by my mother; it reached nearly to his heels, and had been a
gorgeous affair, though now much defaced. The groundwork was purple,
covered all over with conventional palm-leaf in old-gold color; the
lining was red. This lining, under the left-hand skirt of the gown,
was blackened with ink over a space as large as your hand; for the
author was in the habit of wiping his pen thereon; but my mother
finally parried this attack by sewing in the centre of the place a
penwiper in the shape of a butterfly.

While story-writing, the door of the study was locked against all the
world; but after noon he became approachable, except during The
Scarlet Letter period, when he wrote till evening. He did not mind my
seeing him write letters; he would sit with his right shoulder and
head inclined towards the desk; the quill squeaked softly over the
smooth paper, with frequent quick dips into the ink-bottle; a few
words would be written swiftly; then a pause, with suspended pen,
while the next sentence was forming in the writer's mind. When he
miswrote, instead of crossing out the word, he would smear it out with
his finger, and rewrite over the smear; so that his page had a mottled
appearance. The writing was accompanied by intermittent nods of the
head, as one would say, "Sic cogito!" So far as he is concerned, the
shadows close in on me here.

But I have said that the house was of three stories, and I have
accounted for two of them only.  The second was occupied by my
grandmother Hawthorne and her two daughters, Aunt Louisa and Aunt Ebe
(the latter appellation being an infantile version of her name
invented by my father, who was her junior, and used by us to
distinguish between her and that other Elizabeth who was Aunt Lizzie
Peabody). Of my grandmother Hawthorne I have no personal recollection
at all; she was a Manning, a beautiful old lady, whom her son
resembled.  She had been a recluse from society for forty years; it
was held to be good form, in that age and place, to observe such
Hindoo rites after the death of a husband; hers had died in his
thirty-fourth year in Surinam. But she had also insensibly fallen into
the habit of isolating herself in some degree from her own family;
they were all of them addicted to solitude of the body, though kindly
enough disposed in the abstract. When we went to live in the Mall
Street house, the old lady and her daughters uprooted themselves from
their home of many years in Herbert Street and dwelt with us; and that
quaint crystallization of their habits was in a measure broken up. But
the dowager Mrs.  Hawthorne, it soon appeared, had come there to die;
she was more than seventy years old. My aunt Louisa I seem dimly to
recall as a tall, fragile, pale, amiable figure, not very effective.
My aunt Ebe I afterwards came to know well, and shall defer mention of
her. So I was encompassed by kindly petticoats, and was very happy,
but might have been better for a stout playmate of my own sex. I had a
hobby-horse, which I rode constantly to fairy-land in quest of
treasure to bestow upon my friends. I swung with Una on the gate, and
looked out upon the wonder of the passing world.  The tragedy of my
grandmother's death, which, as I have said, interrupted the birth of
The Scarlet Letter, passed me by unknowing, or rather without leaving
a trace upon my memory. On the other hand, I can reconstitute vividly
two absurd incidents, destitute of historical value. After my
grandmother Hawthorne's death I fell ill; but the night before the
disease declared itself, I was standing in a chair at the nursery
window, looking out at the street-lamp on the corner, and my aunt
Lizzie Peabody, who had just come on from Boston, was standing behind
me, lest I should fall off. Now, I was normally the most
sweet-tempered little urchin imaginable; yet suddenly, without the
faintest warning or provocation, I turned round and dealt my loving
aunt a fierce kick in the stomach. It deprived her of breath for a
space; but her saintly nature is illustrated by the fact that the very
first use she made of her recovered faculties was to gasp out,
"Sophie, the child must be ill!" Fortunately for my reputation, the
illness was not long in arriving.  The other episode must have
happened at about the same period, and is likewise concerned with Aunt
Lizzie. We had a cat, and the cat had had kittens a day or two before.
Aunt Lizzie came into the nursery, where Una and I were building
houses of blocks, and sat down in the big easy-chair.  The cat was in
the room, and she immediately came up to my aunt and began to mew and
to pluck at her dress with her claws. Such attentions were rare on
pussy's part, and my aunt noticed them with pleasure, and caressed the
animal, which still continued to devote its entire attention to her.
But there was something odd in the sound of her mewing and in the
intent regard of her yellow eyes. "Can anything be the matter with
pussy?" speculated my aunt. At that moment my father entered the room,
and my aunt rose to greet him. Then the massacre was revealed, for she
had been sitting upon the kittens. Their poor mother pounced upon them
with a yowl, but it was too late. My dear aunt was rather a heavy
woman, and she had been sitting there fifteen minutes. We all stood
appalled in the presence of the great mystery.


One day a big man, with a brown beard and shining brown eyes, who
bubbled over with enthusiasm and fun, made his appearance and talked
volubly about something, and went away again, and my father and mother
smiled at each other. The Scarlet Letter had been written, and James
T. Fields had read it, and declared it the greatest book of the age.
So that was the last of Salem.




II


Horatio Bridge's "I-told-you-so"--What a house by the sea might have
done--Unknown Lenox--The restlessness of youth--The Unpardonable Sin
and the Deathless Man--The little red house--Materials of culture--Our
best playmates--The mystery of Mrs. Peter's dough--Our intellectual
hen--Fishing for poultry--Yacht-building--Swimming with one foot on
the ground--Shipwreck--Our playfellow the
brook--Tanglewood--Nuts--Giants and enchanters--Coasting--Wet noses,
dark eyes, ambrosial breath--My first horseback ride--Herman
Melville's stories--Another kind of James--The thunder-storm--Yearning
ladies and melancholy sinners--Hindlegs--Probable murder--"I abominate
the sight of it!"--The peril of Tanglewood--The truth of fiction--An
eighteen-months' work--We leave five cats behind.

Horatio Bridge, my father's college friend, was a purser in the navy
and lived in Augusta, Maine, his official residence being at
Portsmouth. He had kept in closer touch with the romancer than any of
his other friends had since their graduating days, and he had been
from the first a believer in his coming literary renown. So, when The
Scarlet Letter shone eminent in the firmament of book-land, it was his
triumphant "I-told-you-so" that was among the earliest to be heard.
And when my father cast about for a more congenial place than Salem to
live in, it was to Bridge that he applied for suggestions. He
stipulated that the place should be somewhere along the New England
sea-coast.

Had this wish of his been fulfilled it might have made great
differences. Hawthorne had always dwelt within sight and sound of the
Atlantic, on which his forefathers had sailed so often between the
Indies and Salem port, and Atlantic breezes were necessary to his
complete well-being. At this juncture physical health had for the
first time become an object to him; he was run down by a year of
suffering and hard work, and needed nature's kindest offices. A
suitable house of his own by the sea-side would probably have brought
him up to his best physical condition to begin with, and kept him so;
and it would so have endeared itself to him that when, two or three
years later, Pierce had offered him a foreign appointment he might
have been moved to decline it, and have gone on writing American
romances to the end--to the advantage of American letters. Concord had
its own attractions; but it never held him as the sea would have done,
nor nourished his health, nor stimulated his genius. A house of his
own beside the Atlantic might well have added twenty years to his
life.

But it was not upon the knees of the gods.

Bridge's zealous efforts failed to find a place available, and after
an uneasy interval, during which his friend wandered uncomfortably
about Boston and the neighborhood (incidentally noting down some
side-scenes afterwards to be incorporated in The Blithedale Romance),
a cottage in the Berkshire Hills was spoken of, and upon examination
seemed practicable. Lenox, at that time, was as little known as Mount
Desert; it was not until long afterwards that fashion found them out
and made them uninhabitable to any but fashionable folks. Moreover, my
father had seen something of Lenox a dozen years before.

A dozen years before he was not yet betrothed to Sophia Peabody; he
already loved her and she him; but her health seemed an insuperable
barrier between them. This and certain other matters were weighing
heavily upon his soul, and his future seemed dark and uncertain. He
thought of taking a voyage round the world; he thought of getting into
politics; he even thought--as young men full of life sometimes
will--of death. What he finally did, with native good sense, was to
make a two-months' trip in the mountainous region to the westward, to
change the scene and his state of mind, and to get what artists call a
fresh eye. He chose North Adams as his headquarters, and forayed
thence in various directions over a radius of twenty miles. He was
then beginning to revolve one of the two great romance themes that
preoccupied his whole after-life, neither of which was he destined to
write. This was the idea of the Unpardonable Sin; the other was the
conception of the Deathless Man. The only essay we have towards the
embodiment of the first vision is the short fragment published in
Mosses from an Old Manse, called "Ethan Brand." The other was
attempted in various forms, of which Septimius, Dr. Grimshawe's
Secret, and The Dolliver Romance, all posthumously published, are the
most important.

But Stockbridge, Pittsfield, and Lenox had been included among his
haunts during the break-away above mentioned, and he remembered that
the scenery was beautiful, the situation remote, and the air noble.
Next to the sea it seemed an ideal place to recuperate and write in.
Thither, at all events, he resolved to go, and early in the summer of
1850 we arrived at the little red house above the shores of
Stockbridge Bowl, with bag and baggage.  Little though the house was,
the bag and baggage were none too much to find easy accommodation in
it.

A fair-sized city drawing-room of these sumptuous contemporary days
could stow away in a corner the entire structure which then became our
habitation, and retain space enough outside it for the exploitation of
social functions. Nevertheless, by the simple expedient of making the
interior divisions small enough, this liliputian edifice managed to
contain eight rooms on its two floors (including the kitchen). One of
the rooms was, in fact, the entrance-hall; you stepped into it across
the threshold of the outer door, and the staircase ascended from it.
It was used as an extension of the drawing-room, which opened out of
it. The drawing-room adjoined the dining-room, with windows facing the
west, with a view of the mountains across the lake, and the
dining-room communicated with the kitchen. One of the western-looking
up-stairs rooms served as my father's study; my sister Una had her
chamber, I mine (which was employed as the guest-chamber upon
occasion), and our parents the other. What more could be asked? for
when Rose was born, her crib stood beside her mother's bedstead.

When we were not asleep--that is, during twelve hours out of the
twenty-four--Una's existence and mine were passed mainly in the outer
sitting-room and in the dining-room. There was plenty to entertain us.
I had my rocking-horse, which I bestrode with perfect fearlessness; my
porcelain lion, which still survives unscathed after the cataclysms of
half a century; my toy sloop, made for me by Uncle Nat; and a
jack-knife, all but the edge and point, which had been removed out of
deference to my youth. Una had a doll, a miniature mahogany
centre-table and bureau, and other things in which I felt no interest.
In common, we possessed the box of wooden bricks, and the big
portfolio containing tracings by my mother, exquisitely done, of
Flaxman's "Outlines of the Iliad and Odyssey" and other classic
subjects. We knew by heart the story of all these mythological
personages, and they formed a large part of our life. They also served
the important use of suggesting to my father his Wonder-Book and
Tanglewood Tales stories, and, together with the figures of Gothic
fairy-lore, they were the only playmates, with the exception of our
father and mother, that we had or desired.

But our father and mother were, of course, the main thing, after all.
She was with us all day long; he, from the time he stopped writing,
early in the afternoon, till our bed-time. They answered all our
questions about things animate and inanimate, physical and
metaphysical; and that must have taken time, for our curiosity was
magnificent; and "The Old Boy," my father records, "asked me today
what were sensible questions--I suppose with a view to asking me
some." They superintended our projections of creation on the
black-board--a great, old-fashioned black-board, the like of which I
have not since beheld; they read to us and told us stories. Many of
these stories were of incidents of their own child-life; and there was
also the narrative of our mother's voyage to Cuba and back, and
residence there when she was about eighteen or twenty--a fascinating
chronicle. Meal-times were delectable festivals, not only because the
bread-and-milk, the boiled rice and tapioca pudding, and eggs and
fruit tasted so good, but by reason of the broad outlook out of window
over the field, the wood, the lake, and the mountains; supper-time,
with the declining sun pouring light into the little room and making
the landscape glorious, was especially exhilarating.  Ambrosial was
the bread baked by Mrs. Peters, the taciturn and serious religious
person of color who attended to our cooking; the prize morsels were
the ends, golden brown in hue, crunching so crisply between our teeth.
I used to wonder how a being with hands so dark as those of Mrs.
Peters managed to turn out dough so immaculate.  She would plunge them
right into the ivory-hued substance, yet it became only whiter than
before.  But the life of life was, of course, out-doors.  There was a
barn containing a hay-mow and a large hen-coop, soon populous with
hens and chickens, with an heroic snow-white rooster to keep them in
order. Hens are the most audacious and presuming of pets, and they
have strong individuality.

One of our brood was more intellectual and enterprising than the
others; she found a way of getting out of the coop, no matter how
tightly it was shut up; and she would jump in our laps as we sat
eating a piece of bread in the barn doorway and snatch it away from
us; but I think we sometimes sat there with the bread on purpose to
have her do it. Once or twice--until I was detected and stopped--I
enjoyed the poignant delight of fishing for hens out of the barn loft;
my tackle consisted of a bent pin at the end of a string tied to a
stick. It was baited with a grain of corn, or a bit of rag would do as
well, for hens have no hereditary suspicion of anglers, and are much
more readily entrapped than fishes. Pulling them up, squawking and
fluttering, was thrilling, but, of course, it was wrong, like other
thrilling things, and had to be foregone. A less unregenerate
experiment was fastening two grains of corn to the ends of a long bit
of thread; two hens would seize each a grain and begin swallowing
thread until they interfered, with each other, when a disgorgement
would take place. It was an economical sport--the one bit of thread
and the two corn-grains would last all day--and, in view of the joy
afforded to the spectators, did not seem too unkind.  My father had
mechanical talent, and with an old door-knob and some strips of
shingle he would make a figure of a man with a saw; you fixed it to
the edge of a table, set the door-knob swinging, and the creature
would saw with the most absurd diligence.  From the same shingle he
would construct a pugilist, who, being set up where the wind played
upon him, would swing his arms interminably. It was yacht-building,
however, that afforded us most entertainment. A shingle was whittled
to a point at one end; a stick with a square paper slipped on it was
stuck up in the middle, and a rudder made fast to the stern; such a
boat would sail boldly out upon the vastness of the lake, till the eye
could no longer follow the diminishing white speck. These days beside
the lake were full of good things. The water was clear, with a white
sand bottom; we were given swimming-lessons in the hot summer weather;
having waded in up to our middles, we faced towards the shore, where
sat our father with a long fishing-pole, the end of which he kept
within our reach, and bade us lean forward on the water and kick up
our feet. But, for my part, I kept one foot on the bottom. It was not
till years afterwards that I mustered courage to take it off, and that
was in a lake three thousand miles from Stockbridge Bowl, with the
towers of the castle of Chillon reflected in its calm surface.

We also made limited use of a leaky old punt, which one day capsized
and emptied its whole crew into the water, luckily close to shore. We
fished for gold carp for hours together, and during our two summers we
caught a couple of them; there were thousands of them swimming about;
but a bent pin with the bait washed off is not a good lure. In winter,
the lake had five feet of ice on it, which lasted far into the spring,
and once or twice we got aboard this great raft and tracked across it,
with as much awe and enthusiasm as ever Kane had felt in his arctic
explorations. In all, we became intimate friends with the lake idea,
new to us then, but never to grow stale; and our good fortune favored
us during after-life with many lovely lakes and ponds, including such
gems as Rydal, Walden, and Geneva.

Water, in another enchanting guise, dashed and gurgled for us in the
brook that penetrated like a happy dream the slumber of the forest
that bordered on the lake. The wooded declivity through which it went
was just enough to keep it ever vocal and animated. Gazing down upon
it, it was clear brown, with glancing gleams of interior green, and
sparkles diamond white; tiny fishes switched themselves against the
current with quivering tails; the shaggy margins were flecked with
sunshine, and beautiful with columbines, violets, arbutus, and
houstonias. Fragments of rock and large pebbles interrupted its flow
and deepened its mellow song; above it brooded the twilight of the
tall pines and walnuts, responding to its merriment with solemn
murmurings. What playfellow is more inexhaustible than such a brook,
so full of life, of motion, of sound and color, of variety and
constancy. A child welcomes it as an answer to its own soul, with its
mystery and transparency, its bounded lawlessness, its love of earth
and its echoes of the sky. In winter our brook had a new charm: it ran
beneath a roof of ice, often mounded with snow; its voice sounding
cheerful as ever in those inscrutable caverns, as if it discoursed
secret wonders of fairy-land, and carried treasures of the elves and
gnomes. Zero, with his utmost rigors, could not still its speech for a
day or fix his grip upon those elastic limbs. Indeed, the frosty god
conspired with it for our delight; building crystal bridges, with
tracery of lace delicater than Valenciennes, and spangled
string-pieces, and fretted vaultings, whimsical sierras, stalactite
and stalagmite. An icicle is one of those careless toys of nature
which the decorative art of man imitates in vain. They are among the
myriad decorations of children's palaces.

To Tanglewood, as we called it, at all seasons of the year, came
Hawthorne and his wife and children.  In spring there was the issuing
forth of the new life from beneath the winter coverlid; the first
discovery of sociable houstonias, and the exquisite tints and
fragrance of the mayflower on its dark, bearded stalk. When June
became perfect, and afterwards till nuts were ripe, my father loved to
lie at full length upon the mossy and leaf-strewn floor, looking up at
the green roof, the lofty whispering-gallery of vaulted boughs, with
its azure lattices and descending sunlight-shafts; wrapped in
imaginings some of which were afterwards to delight the world; but
many more of them, no doubt, were fated to join the glorious company
of untold tales. Beside him sat our mother, on a throne which we had
fashioned for her from the upright stump of a tree; round about them
played the little girl and boy. They brought all the treasures which
this wonderfully affluent world afforded: flowers in all seasons;
strawberries, small but of potent flavor, which the little boy would
gather with earnest diligence, and fetch to the persons he loved,
mashed into premature jam in his small fist; exciting turtles with
variegated carapaces, and heads and feet that went in and out;
occasional newts from the plashy places; and in autumn, hatfuls of
walnuts. There were chestnuts, too, upon whose prickly hulls the
preoccupied children would sometimes inadvertently plump themselves.
Our father was a great tree-climber, and he was also fond of playing
the role of magician. "Hide your eyes!" he would say, and the next
moment, from being there beside us on the moss, we would hear his
voice descending from the sky, and behold! he swung among the topmost
branches, showering down upon us a hail-storm of nuts. There was a big
cavern behind the kitchen chimney, which gradually became filled with
these harvests, and on winter evenings they were brought forth and
cracked with a hammer on the hearth-stone.

The wide field, or croft, which sloped from the house to the wood was
thickly grown with mullein-stalks, against which I waged war with an
upper section of one of my father's old broken canes, for I took them
for giants, and stubborn, evil-minded enchanters. I slew them by
scores; but I could make no way against the grasshoppers, which jumped
against my bare legs and pricked them.  There were wasps, too; one of
them stung Una on the lower lip as she was climbing over a rail-fence.
Her lip at once assumed a Bourbon contour, and I reached the
conclusion, by some tacit syllogism of infancy, that the rail-fence
was at least half to blame for the catastrophe, and always carefully
avoided it. I likewise avoided the wasps; a certain trick they have of
giving a hitch to their after-parts as they walk along always struck
me as being obviously diabolical.

When the snows came, two and three feet deep, we got out the family
sled from its summer lodging in the barn and went forth, muffled in
interminable knit tippets and other woollen armor, to coast down the
long slope. Our father sat in front with the reins in his hands and
his feet thrust out to steer, and away we went clinging fast behind
him. Sometimes we swept triumphantly to the bottom; at other times we
would collide with some hidden obstacle, and describe each a separate
trajectory into the snow-banks. We made enormous snow-balls by
beginning with a small one and rolling it over and over in the soft
snow till it waxed too vast for our strength; two or three of these
piled one on another would be sculptured by the author of The Scarlet
Letter into a snow-man, who would stand stanch for weeks. Snow-storms
in Lenox began early and lasted till far into April. The little red
house had all it could do, sometimes, to lift its upper windows above
them. In the front yard there was a symmetrical balsam fir-tree,
tapering like a Chinese pagoda. One winter morning we found upon one
of its lower boughs a little brown sparrow frozen stiff. We put it in
a card-board coffin, and dug out a grave for it beneath the fir, with
a shingle head-stone. The funeral ceremonies had for the two mourners
a solemnity such as is not always felt at such functions in later
life.

Of the regular daily routine was the journey to Luther Butler's,
quarter of a mile up the road, for milk and butter. I generally
accompanied my father, and saw placid Luther's cows, placid as
himself, with their broad, wet noses, amiable dark eyes, questionable
horns, and ambrosial breath.  Mr. Tappan, our landlord, had horses,
and once he mounted me on the bare back of one of the largest of these
quadrupeds, which, to the stupefaction of everybody, instantly set off
at full gallop. Down the road we thundered, the rider, with his legs
sticking out at right angles, screaming with joy, for this transcended
any rocking-horse experiences.  A hundred yards away there was a bend
in the road.  Just at that point there was a manure-pile, which had
long bided its time. I had hold of a strand of the horse's mane; but
when he swerved at the bend I had to let go, and after a short flight
in air, the manure-pile received me in its soft embrace. Looking up
the road, I saw Mr. Tappan, with dilated eyes and a countenance
expressing keen emotion, coming towards me at a wonderful pace, and my
father and mother following him at a short distance. I did not myself
mind the smell of manure, and the others were glad to put up with it
in consideration of my having escaped broken bones.

We did not keep a dog, but Herman Melville, who often came over from
Pittsfield, had a large Newfoundland which he sometimes brought with,
him, and Mr. G. P. R. James, a novelist of the Walter Scott school,
had another, and I was permitted to bestride both of them; they were
safe enough, but they would turn back their heads and lay their cold
noses on my leg; I preferred the now-forbidden horse. But Melville
himself made up for everything by the tremendous stories he used to
tell about the South Sea Islands and the whale fishery.  Normally he
was not a man of noticeable appearance; but when the narrative
inspiration was on him, he looked like all the things he was
describing--savages, sea-captains, the lovely Fayaway in her canoe, or
the terrible Moby Dick himself. There was vivid genius in this man,
and he was the strangest being that ever came into our circle. Through
all his wild and reckless adventures, of which a small part only got
into his fascinating books, he had been unable to rid himself of a
Puritan conscience; he afterwards tried to loosen its grip by studying
German metaphysics, but in vain. He was restless and disposed to dark
hours, and there is reason to suspect that there was in him a vein of
insanity. His later writings were incomprehensible.  When we were
living in England, he passed through the midst of us on one of his
aimless, mysterious journeys round the world; and when I was in New
York, in 1884, I met him, looking pale, sombre, nervous, but little
touched by age. He died a few years later. He conceived the highest
admiration for my father's genius, and a deep affection for him
personally; but he told me, during our talk, that he was convinced
that there was some secret in my father's life which had never been
revealed, and which accounted for the gloomy passages in his books. It
was characteristic in him to imagine so; there were many secrets
untold in his own career.  But there were few honester or more lovable
men than Herman Melville.

[IMAGE: HERMAN MELVILLE]

James (no relation of our distinguished contemporary) was a
commonplace, meritorious person, with much blameless and intelligent
conversation; but the only thing that recalls him personally to my
memory is the fact of his being associated with a furious
thunder-storm. My father and I were alone in the house at the time; my
mother had gone to West Newton on a three weeks' visit. In the midst
of the thunder and lightning, the downpour and the hurricane, the
crash of matter and the wreck of worlds, our door burst open, and
behold! of all persons in the world to be heralded by such
circumstances, G. P. R. James! Not he only, but close upon his heels
his entire family, numerous, orthodox, admirable, and infinitely
undesirable to two secluded gentlemen without a wife and mother to
help them out. But it was a choice between murder and hospitality, and
come in they must.  Never before or after did our liliputian
drawing-room harbor so large an assemblage. They dripped on the
carpet, they were conventional and courteous; we made conversation
between us; but whenever the thunder rolled, Mrs. James became ghastly
pale. Mr. James explained that this was his birthday, and that they
were on a pleasure excursion.  He conciliated me by anecdotes of a pet
magpie or raven who stole spoons. At last, the thunder-storm and the
G. P. R. Jameses passed off together.

There were many other visitors, not only old friends, but persons
attracted thither out of the void by the fame of the book "along whose
burning leaves," as Oliver Wendell Holmes sang of it, "his scarlet web
our wild romancer weaves." It was a novel experience for the man who
had become accustomed to regarding himself as the obscurest man of
letters in America. Lonely, yearning ladies came; enthusiastic young
men; melancholy sinners. The little red house was not a literary Mecca
only, but a moral one. The dark-browed, kindly smiling author received
them all courteously; he was invariably courteous. "I would not have a
drunken man politer than I," he once answered me, when I asked him why
he had returned the salutation of a toper. What counsel he gave to
those who came to him as to a father confessor of course I know not;
but later, when I used to sit in his office in the Liverpool
consulate, I sometimes heard him speak plain truths to the waifs and
strays who drifted in there; and truth more plain, yet bestowed with
more humanity and brotherly purpose, I have never heard since. It made
them tremble, but it did them good. Such things made him suffer, but
he never flinched from the occasion by a hair's-breadth. He must have
loved his fellow-creatures.

Somebody gave me a rabbit, which I named Hind-legs.  I was deeply
interested in him for a while, especially when I learned that he could
not drink water; but he lasted only two weeks, and I am under the
impression that I killed him. Not that I loved him less; but children
are prone to experiment with this singular thing called life when it
is in their power. They do not believe that death can be other than a
transient phenomenon; the lifeless body may puzzle, but it does not
convince them.  I was certainly not a cruel urchin, and I can recall
none but cordial sentiments towards Hindlegs on my part. I remember no
details of the murder, if murder were done; but I do remember feeling
no surprise when, one morning, Hindlegs was found dead. After so many
years, I will not bring against the owner of Hindlegs a verdict of
positive guilt; but I suspect him. Hindlegs, at all events, achieved
an immortality which can belong to few of his brethren; for my father,
after pooh-poohing the imbecile little bundle of fur for a day or two,
conceived an involuntary affection for him, and reported his character
and habits in his journal in a manner which is likely to keep his
memory alive long after the hand that (perhaps) slew him is dust.

In default of dogs and Hindlegs, we had abundant cats. My father was
always fond of these mysterious deities of ancient Egypt, and they
were never turned away from our doors; but how so many of them
happened to find us out in this remote region I cannot explain. It
seems as if goodwill towards cats spontaneously generated them.  They
appeared, one after another, to the number of five; but when the time
came for us to leave the red house forever, the cats would not and
could not be packed up, and they were left behind. In my mind's eye I
still see them, squatting abreast, silhouetted against the sky, on the
brow of the hill as we drove down the road; for they had scampered
after our carry-all when we drove away. Cats teach Americans what they
are slow to learn--the sanctity and permanence of home.

But Lenox could not be a home for us. It was, indeed, a paradise for
the children; but the children's father was never well there. He had a
succession of colds--as those affections are called; it was ascribed
to the variations of temperature during the summers; but the
temperature would not have troubled him had he not been hard hit
before he went to Berkshire. He got out of patience with the climate,
and was wont to anathematize it with humorous extravagance, as his way
was: "It is horrible. One knows not for ten minutes together whether
he is too cool or too warm. I detest it! I hate Berkshire with my
whole soul. Here, where I had hoped for perfect health, I have for the
first time been made sensible that I cannot with impunity encounter
nature in all her moods." It was the summers that disagreed with him.
"Upon the whole," he said, "I think that the best time for living in
the country is the winter." It was during the winter that he did most
of his writing. The House of the Seven Gables was written between
September of 1850 and January or February of 1851.

But composition took more out of him than formerly.  He admitted to
his sister Louisa that he was "a little worn down with constant work,"
and added that he could not afford any idle time now, being evidently
of the opinion that his popularity would be short-lived, and that it
behooved him, therefore, to make the most of it. But "the pen is so
constantly in my fingers that I abominate the sight of it!" he
exclaimed. This was after he had transgressed his custom of never
writing in the hot months. He began in June and finished in forty days
the whole volume of The Wonder-Book. He also read the tales to his
domestic audience as fast as they were written, and benefited,
perhaps, by the expert criticism of the small people. Many passages in
the intercalated chapters, describing the adventures of Eustace Bright
and the Tangle-wood children, are based on facts well known to his own
two youngsters. And when Eustace tells his hearers that if the
dark-haired man dwelling in the cottage yonder were simply to put some
sheets of writing-paper in the fire, all of them and Tangle-wood
itself would turn into cinders and vanish in smoke up the
chimney--even the present chronicler saw the point; though, at the
same time, he somehow could not help believing in the reality of
Primrose, Buttercup, Dandelion, Squash-blossom, and the rest. Thus
early did he begin to grasp the philosophy of the truth of fiction.

The House of the Seven Gables and The Wonder-Book were a fair
eighteen-months' work, and in addition to them Hawthorne had, before
leaving Lenox, planned out the story of The Blithedale Romance; so
that after we got to West Newton--our half-way station on the road to
Concord--he was prepared to sit down and write it. Long before we left
Concord for England he had published Tangle-wood Tales, not to mention
the biography of Franklin Pierce. Una and her brother knew nothing
about the romances; they knew and approved the fairy tales; but their
feeling about all their father's writings was, that he was being
wasted in his study, when he might be with them, and there could be
nothing in any books, whether his own or other authors', that could
for a moment bear comparison with his actual companionship. What he
set down upon the page was but a less free and rich version of the
things that came from his living mouth in our heedless playtimes. "If
only papa wouldn't write, how nice it would be!" And, indeed, a book
is but a poor substitute for the mind and heart of a man, and it
exists only as one of the numberless sorry makeshifts to which time
constrains us, while we are waiting for eternity and full communion.

It was a dreary day in the beginning of the second winter that we set
out on our eastward journey; but Hawthorne's face was brighter than
the weather warranted, for it was turned once more towards the sea. We
were destined, ere we turned back, to go much farther towards the
rising sun than any of us then suspected. We took with us one who had
not been present at our coming--a little auburn-haired baby, born in
May. Which are the happiest years of a man's life? Those in which he
is too much occupied with present felicity to look either forward or
backward--to hope or to remember.  There are no such years; but such
moments there may be, and perhaps there were as many such moments
awaiting Hawthorne as had already passed.

His greatest work was done before he left his native land, and within
a year or two of his death he wrote to Richard Stoddard: "I have been
a happy man, and yet I cannot remember any moment of such happy
conspiring circumstances that I would have rung a joy-bell at it."




III


Chariots of delight--West Newton--Raw American life--Baby's
fingers--Our cousin Benjamin's untoward head--Our uncle Horace--His
vacuum--A reformer's bristles--Grace Greenwood's first tears--The
heralding of Kossuth--The decorated engine--The chief incident of the
reception--Blithedale and Brook Farm--Notes from real life--Rough
draughts--Paths of composition--The struggle with the
Pensioner--Hawthorne's method--The invitation of Concord--Four wooden
walls and a roof--Mr. Alcott's aesthetic carpentering--Appurtenances
of "The Wayside"--Franklin Pierce for President"--The most homeless
people in the world."

The sky that overhung Hawthorne's departure from Lenox was gray with
impending snow, and the flakes had begun to fall ere the vehicle in
which his family was ensconced had reached the railway station in
Pittsfield. Travel had few amenities in those days. The cars were all
plain cars, with nothing to recommend them except that they went
tolerably fast--from twenty to thirty miles an hour.  They were
chariots of delight to the children, who were especially happy in
occupying the last car of the train, from the rear windows of which
they could look down upon the tracks, which seemed to slide
miraculously away from beneath them. The conductor collected the
tickets--a mysterious rite.  The gradually whitening landscape fled
past, becoming ever more level as we proceeded; by-and-by there was a
welcome unpacking of the luncheon-basket, and all the while there were
the endless questions to be asked and faithfully answered. It was
already dark by the time we were bundled out at the grimy shed which
was called the depot, at West Newton, where we were met by the Horace
Manns, and somehow the transit to the latter's house, which we were to
occupy for the winter, was made. The scene was gloomy and unpleasant;
the change from the mountains of the west depressing; and, for my
part, I cannot remember anything agreeable in this raw little suburb.
American life half a century ago had a great deal of rawness about it,
and its external aspect was ugly beyond present belief. We may be a
less virtuous nation now than we were then, but we are indescribably
more good to look at. And the West Newton of to-day, as compared with
that of 1851, will serve for an illustration of this truth.

Horace Mann's house was a small frame dwelling, painted white, with
green blinds, and furnished with a furnace stiflingly hot. One of the
first things the baby did was to crawl under the sofa in the
sitting-room and lay her small fingers against the radiator or
register, or whatever it is called, through which the heat came. She
withdrew them with a bitter outcry, and on the tip of each was a
blister as big as the tip itself. We had no glorious out-door
playground in West Newton; it was a matter of back yards and sullen
streets. The snow kept piling up, week after week; but there was no
opportunity to put it to its proper use of coasting.  The only
redeeming feature of the physical situation that I recall is the
momentous fact of a first pair of red-topped boots. They were very
uncomfortable, and always either wet or stiff as iron from
over-dryness; but they made their wearer as happy as they have made
all other boys since boots began.  A boy of six with high boots is
bigger than most men.

But if the outward life was on the whole unprepossessing, inward
succulence was not lacking. We had the Manns, to begin with, and the
first real acquaintance between the two sets of children opened here.
Mary Peabody, my mother's elder sister, had married Horace Mann, whose
name is honorably identified with the development in this country of
common-school education. They had three children, of about our age,
all boys. A statue in bronze of Horace Mann stands in front of the
State-house in Boston, and the memory of the strenuous reformer well
merits the distinction. He took things seriously and rather grimly,
and was always emphatically in earnest. He was a friend of George
Combe, the phrenologist, after whom his second boy was named; and he
was himself so ardent a believer in the new science that when his
younger son, Benjamin, was submitted to him for criticism at a very
early age he declared, after a strict phrenological examination, that
he was not worth bringing up. But children's heads sometimes undergo
strange transformations as they grow up, and Benjamin lived to refute
abundantly his father's too hasty conclusion in his case. He became
eminent as an entomologist; George followed the example of his father
on educational lines.  Horace, who died comparatively early, was an
enthusiastic naturalist, who received the unstinted praise and
confidence of the great Agassiz.  My uncle Horace, as I remember him,
was a very tall man, of somewhat meagre build, a chronic sufferer from
headaches and dyspepsia. His hair was sandy, straight, rather long,
and very thick; it hung down uncompromisingly round his head. His face
was a long square, with a mouth and chin large and immitigably firm.
His eyes were reinforced by a glistening pair of gold-bowed
spectacles. He always wore a long-skirted black coat. His aspect was a
little intimidating to small people; but there were lovely qualities
in his nature, his character was touchingly noble and generous, and
the world knows the worth of his intellect. He was anxious, exacting,
and dogmatic, and was not always able to concede that persons who
differed from him in opinion could be morally normal. This was
especially noticeable when the topic of abolition happened to come up
for discussion; Horace Mann was ready to out-Garrison Garrison; he
thought Uncle Tom's Cabin a somewhat milk-and-water tract. He was
convinced that Tophet was the future home of all slave-holders, and
really too good for them, and he practically worshipped the negro. Had
he occupied a seat in Congress at that juncture, it is likely that the
civil war might have been started a decade sooner than it was. My
father and mother were much more moderate in their view of the
situation, and my mother used to say that if slavery was really so
evil and demoralizing a thing as the abolitionists asserted, it was
singular that they should canonize all the subjects of the
institution.  But, as a rule, all controversy with the indignant zeal
of our relative was avoided; in his eyes any approach to a
philosophical attitude on the burning question was a crime. Nor were
his convictions less pronounced on the subject of total abstinence
from liquor and tobacco. Now, my father smoked an occasional cigar,
and it once came about that he was led to mention the fact in Horace
Mann's hearing.  The reformer's bristles were set in a moment.  "Do I
understand you to say, Mr. Hawthorne, that you actually use tobacco?"
"Yes, I smoke a cigar once in a while," replied my father,
comfortably.  Horace Mann could not keep his seat; he started up and
paced the room menacingly. He had a high admiration for my father's
genius, and a deep affection for him as a man, and this infidelity to
the true faith seemed to him the more appalling. But he would be true
to his colors at all costs, and after a few moments he planted
himself, tall and tragic, before his interlocutor, and spoke, in a
husky voice, to this effect: "Then, Mr. Hawthorne, it is my duty to
tell you that I no longer have the same respect for you that I have
had." Then he turned and strode from the room, leaving the
excommunicated one to his reflections. Faithful are the wounds of a
friend, and my father was as much touched as he was amused by this
example of my uncle's candor.  Of course, there was a great vacuum in
the place where my uncle's sense of humor might have been; but there
are a time and place for such men as he, and more than once the men
without sense of humor have moved the world.

In addition to the Manns, there were visitors--the succession of whom,
indeed, was henceforth to continue till the end of my father's earthly
pilgrimage.  Among the earliest to arrive was Grace Greenwood, wading
energetically to our door through the December snow. She was one of
the first, if not the first, of the tribe of women correspondents; she
had lately returned, I think, from England, and the volume of her
letters from that strange country was in everybody's hands. She was
then a young woman, large and handsome, with dark hair and complexion,
and large, expressive eyes, harmonious, aquiline features, and a
picturesque appearance.  She wore her hair in abundant curls; she
exhaled an atmosphere of romance, of graceful and ardent emotions, and
of almost overpowering sentiment.  In fact, she had a genuine gift for
expression and description, and she made an impression in contemporary
letters. We might smile now--and, in truth, we sometimes did
then--over some of her pages; but much of her work would still be
called good, if resuscitated from the dusty book-shelves of the past.
I remember one passage in her English Letters which was often quoted
in our family circle as a typical illustration of the intensity of the
period: "The first tears," wrote Grace, "that I had shed since leaving
my dear native land fell fast into the red heart of an English rose!"
Nothing could be better than that; but the volume was full of similar
felicities. You were swimming in radiant tides of enthusiastic
appreciation, quotations from the poets and poetical rhapsodies;
incidents of travel, humorous, pathetic, and graphic; swirling eddies
of word-painting, of moral and ethical and historical reflection;
withal, an immense, amiable, innocent, sprawling temperament. And as
was her book, so was Grace herself; indeed, if any one could outdo the
book in personal conversation, Grace was that happy individual. What
she accomplished when she embarked, full-sailed, upon the topic of The
Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables may be pictured to
themselves by persons endowed with the rudiments of imagination; I
must not attempt to adorn this sober page with an attempted
reproduction of the scene. Mortal language reeled and cracked under
the strain of giving form to her admiration; but it was so honest and
well meant that it could not but give pleasure even in the midst of
bewilderment. My father bowed his head with a painful smile; but I
dare say it did him good when the ordeal was over.

At this time the reverberations of the European revolutionary year,
1848, were still breaking upon our shores. President Polk had given
mortal offence to Austria by sending over a special commissioner to
determine whether the seceding state of Hungary might be recognized as
a belligerent. In 1850 the Austrian representative, Baron Huelsmann,
had entered upon a correspondence with our own Daniel Webster. The
baron remonstrated, and Daniel mounted upon the national bird and
soared in the patriotic empyrean. The eloquence of the Secretary of
State perhaps aroused unwarranted expectations in the breasts of the
struggling revolutionists, and the Hungarian man of eloquence set out
for the United States to take the occasion by the forelock. Not since
the visit of Lafayette had any foreigner been received here with such
testimonials of public enthusiasm, or listened to by such applausive
audiences: certainly none had ever been sent home again with less wool
to show for so much cry. In 1851, the name of Kossuth was the most
popular in the country, and when it was learned that he had accepted
an invitation to speak in our little West Newton, we felt as if we
were almost embarked upon a campaign--upon an altruistic campaign of
emancipation against the Hapsburg oppressor. The excitement was not
confined to persons of mature age and understanding; it raged among
the smaller fry, and every boy was a champion of Kossuth. The train
conveying the hero from New York to Boston (whence he was to return to
West Newton after the reception there) was timed to pass through our
midst at three o 'clock in the afternoon, and our entire population
was at the track-side to see it go by. After one or two false alarms
it came in sight round the curve, the smokestack of the engine swathed
in voluminous folds of Old Glory. The smoke-stacks of those days were
not like our scientific present-day ones; they were huge, inverted
cones, affording ample surface for decoration. The train did not stop
at our station; but Kossuth no doubt looked out of the window as he
flew past and bowed his acknowledgments of our cheers. He was to
return to us the next day, and, meanwhile, the town-hall, or the
church, or whatever building it was that was to be the scene of his
West Newton triumph was put in order for his reception. The person who
writes these words, whose ears had eagerly devoured the story of the
Hungarian revolt, wished to give the august visitor some personal
assurance of his distinguished consideration, and it was finally
agreed by his indulgent parents that he should print upon a card the
legend, "GOD BLESS YOU, KOSSUTH," and be afforded an opportunity
personally to present it to the guest of the nation. Many cards had
been used and cast aside before the scribe, his fingers tremulous with
emotion, had produced something which the Hungarian might be
reasonably expected to find legible. Then, supported by his father and
mother, and with his uncles, aunts, and cousins doubtless not far off,
he proceeded proudly but falteringly to the scene of the presentation.
He dimly recalls a large interior space, profusely decorated with
stars and stripes, and also the colors of Hungary.  At the head of the
room was a great placard with "WELCOME, KOSSUTH" inscribed upon it.
There was a great throng and press of men and women, a subdued,
omnipresent roar of talk, and a setting of the tide towards the place
where the patriot stood to receive our personal greetings. The scribe
whom I have mentioned, being as yet brief of stature, was unable to
see anything except coat-tails and petticoats, until of a sudden there
was a breaking away of these obstacles and he found himself in close
proximity to a gentleman of medium height, strongly built, with a mop
of dark hair framing a handsome, pale, smiling face, the lower parts
of which were concealed by a thick brown beard.  It was Kossuth, and
there was that in his countenance and expression which satisfied all
the dreams of his admirer. He was chatting and shaking hands with the
elder persons; and in a minute we were moving on again, and the
printed card, for which the whole function had been created, had not
been presented.  At the last moment, in an agony of apprehension, the
boy pulled at his mother's skirt and whispered piteously, "But my
card!" She heard and remembered; but need was for haste; we had
already passed the vantage-point. She snatched it from the tightly
gripping fingers of the bearer, handed it to Kossuth, and at the same
moment, with a gesture, directed his attention to her small companion.
The Hungarian read the inscription at a glance, looked me in the eyes
with a quick smile of comprehension, and, stepping towards me, laid
his hand upon my head. It was a great moment for me; but as I went
away I suddenly dissolved in tears, whether from the reaction of
emotion, or because I had not myself succeeded in delivering my gift,
I cannot now determine. But Kossuth thereby became, and for years he
continued to be, the most superb figure in my political horizon.

All this while The Blithedale Romance was being written. Inasmuch as
it was finished on the last day of April, 1852, it could not have
occupied the writer more than five months in the composition.  Winter
was his best time for literary work, and there was winter enough that
year in West Newton.  In the middle of April came the heaviest
snowstorm of the season. Brook Farm (modified in certain respects to
suit the conditions) was the scene of the story, and Brook Farm was
within a fair walk of West Newton. I visited the place some thirty
years later, and found the general topographical features
substantially as described in the book. In 1852 it was ten years since
Hawthorne had lived there, and though he might have renewed his
acquaintance with it while the writing was going on, there is no
record of his having done so; and considering the unfavorable weather,
and the fact that the imaginative atmosphere which writers seek is
enhanced by distance in time, just as the physical effect of a
landscape is improved by distance of space, makes it improbable that
he availed himself of the opportunity. His note-books contain but few
comments upon the routine of life of the community; his letters to his
wife (then Sophia Peabody) are somewhat fuller; one can trace several
of these passages, artistically metamorphosed, in the romance. The
episode of the masquerade picnic is based on fact, and the scene of
the recovery of Zenobia's body from the river is a tolerably close
reproduction of an event in Concord, in which, several years before,
Hawthorne had been an actor.

The portrayal in the story of city life from the back windows of the
hotel, is derived from notes made just before we went to Lenox;
there are the enigmatic drawing-room windows, the kitchen, the
stable, the spectral cat, and the emblematic dove; the rain-storm; the
glimpse of the woman sewing in one of the windows. There is also a
passage containing a sketch of the personage who served as the
groundwork for Old Moody. "An elderly ragamuffin, in a dingy and
battered hat, an old surtout, and a more than shabby general aspect; a
thin face and a red nose, a patch over one eye, and the other half
drowned in moisture. He leans in a slightly stooping posture on a
stick, forlorn and silent, addressing nobody but fixing his one moist
eye on you with a certain intentness. He is a man who has been in
decent circumstances at some former period of his life, but, falling
into decay, he now haunts about the place, as a ghost haunts the spot
where he was murdered. The word ragamuffin," he adds, with
characteristic determination to be exact, "does not accurately express
the man, because there is a sort of shadow or delusion of
respectability about him, and a sobriety, too, and a kind of dignity
in his groggy and red-nosed destitution." Out of this subtle
correction of his own description arose the conception of making Old
Moody the later state of the once wealthy and magnificent Fauntleroy.
But one of the most striking and imaginative touches in the passage,
likening the old waif to a ghost haunting the spot (Parker's
liquor-bar) where he was murdered, is omitted in the book, because,
striking though it was, it was a little too strong to be in keeping
with the rest of the fictitious portrait. How many writers, having hit
upon such a simile, would have had conscience and self-denial enough,
not to mention fine enough artistic sense, to delete it!

The craftsman's workmanship may occasionally be traced in this way;
but, as a rule, it is difficult to catch a glimpse of him in his
creative moments. If he made rough draughts of his stories, he must
have destroyed them after the stories themselves were completed; for
none such, in the case of his finished products, was left. I have seen
the manuscripts of all his tales except The Scarlet Letter, which was
destroyed by James T. Fields's printers--Fields having at that time no
notion of the fame the romance was to achieve, or of the value that
would attach to every scrap of Hawthorne's writing. All the extant
manuscripts are singularly free from erasures and interlineations;
page after page is clear as a page of print. He would seem to have
taught himself so thoroughly how to write that, by the time the series
of his longer romances began, he was able to say what he wished to say
at a first attempt. He had the habit, undoubtedly, of planning out the
work of each day on the day previous, generally while walking in
solitude either out-of-doors or, if that were impracticable, up and
down the floor of his study. It was this habit which created the
pathway along the summit of the ridge of the hill at Wayside, in
Concord; it was a deeply trodden path, in the hard, root-inwoven soil,
hardly nine inches wide and about two hundred and fifty yards in
length. The monotonous movement of walking seemed to put his mind in
the receptive state favorable for hearing the voices of imagination.
The external faculties were quiescent, the veil of matter was lifted,
and he was able to peruse the vision beyond.

[MAGE: JAMES T. FIELDS]

But there is an important exception to this rule to be noted in the
matter of his fictitious narratives which were posthumously published.
These, as I have elsewhere said, are all concerned with a single
theme--the never-dying man. There are two complete versions of
Septimius, of about equal length, and many passages in the two are
identical. There is a short sketch on somewhat different lines, called
(by the editor) The Bloody Footstep; and there is still another, and a
much more elaborate attempt to embody the idea in the volume which I
have entitled Doctor Grimshawe's Secret. All these, in short, are
studies of one subject, and they were all unsatisfactory to the
author. The true vein of which he had been in search was finally
discovered in The Dolliver Romance, but the author's death prevented
its completion.

In this series of posthumous manuscripts there is a unique opportunity
for making a study of the esoteric qualities of my father's style and
methods, and on a future occasion I hope to present the result of my
investigations in this direction. There is, furthermore, in connection
with them, a mass of material of a yet more interesting and interior
character.  While writing the Grimshawe, he was deeply perplexed by
certain details of the plot; the meaning of the Pensioner, and his
proper function in the story, was one of these stumbling-blocks. But
the prosperity of the tale depended directly upon the solution of this
problem. Constantly, therefore, in the midst of the composition, he
would break off and enter upon a wrestling-match with the difficulty.
These wrestling-matches are of an absorbing significance; they reveal
to us the very inmost movements of the author's mind. He tries, and
tries again, to get at the idea that continues to elude him; he forms
innumerable hypotheses; he sets forth on the widest excursions; he
gets out of patience with himself and with his Pensioner, and often
damns the latter in good set terms; but he will not give up the
struggle; his resolve to conquer is adamantine, and the conflict is
always renewed.  And there it all stands in black and white; one of
the most instructive chapters in literary criticism in the world--the
battle of a great writer with himself.  The final issue, after all,
was hardly decisive, for although a tolerable modus vivendi was
reached and a truce declared, it is evident that Hawthorne regarded
the entire scheme of the story as a mistake, and it is concluded in a
perfunctory and indifferent manner.

But it may be doubted whether anything of this sort ever took place in
the making of any of the other stories. These depend but in a
subordinate degree upon what is called technically plot interest. The
author's method was to take a natural, even a familiar incident, and
to transmute it into immortal gold by simply elucidating its inner
spiritual significance.  The Scarlet Letter is a mere plain story of
love and jealousy; there is no serious attempt to hide the identity of
Roger Chillingworth or the guilt of the minister. The only surprise in
The House of the Seven Gables consists in the revelation of the fact
that Maule reappears after several generations in the person of his
modern descendant.  The structure of The Blithedale Romance appears
more complicated; but that is mainly because, in a masterly manner,
the author keeps the structural lines out of sight and concentrates
attention upon the interplay of character. The scaffolding upon which
are hung the splendid draperies of The Marble Faun is, again, of the
simplest formation, though the nature of the materials is unfamiliar.

This is a digression; the present volume, as I have already stated, is
not designed to include--except incidentally-anything in the way of
literary criticism.

Blithedale having been finished and published, the question of where
to settle down permanently once more came up for an answer. Of course,
our sojourn at Mr. Mann's house had been a temporary expedient only;
and for that matter, the Manns, following the example of most
Americans before and since, had rented the place merely as a
stepping-stone to something else. My father's eyes again turned with
longing towards the sea-shore; but the fitting nook for him there
still failed to offer itself. People are naturally disposed to return
to places in which they have formerly lived, and Concord could not but
suggest itself to one who had passed some of the happiest years of his
life among its serene pastures and piney forests. This suggestion,
moreover, was supplemented by the urgent invitations of his old
friends there, and Mr.  Emerson, who was a practical man as well as a
philosopher, substantiated his arguments by throwing into the scale a
concrete dwelling. It was an edifice which not even the most
imaginative and optimistic of house-agents would have found it easy to
picture as a sumptuous country-seat; it was just four wooden walls and
a roof, and they had been standing for a hundred years at least. The
occupants of this house had seen the British march past from Boston on
the l9th of April, 1775, and a few hours later they had seen them
return along the same dusty highway at a greatly accelerated pace and
under annoying circumstances. There was a legend that a man had once
lived there who had announced that death was not an indispensable
detail of life, and that he for his part intended never to die; but
after many years he had grown weary of the monotony of his success, or
had realized that it would take too long a time to prove himself in
the right, and rather than see the thing through he allowed himself to
depart. The old structure, in its original state, consisted of a big,
brick chimney surrounded by four rooms and an attic, with a kitchen
tacked on at the rear. It stood almost flush with the side-path along
the highway; behind it rose a steep hill-side to a height of about one
hundred feet; in front, on the other side of the road, stretched broad
meadows with a brook flowing through the midst of them. Such
conditions would not seem altogether to favor a man wedded to
seclusion.

But the thing was not at this juncture quite so bad as it had been.
Mr. Alcott, whose unselfish devotion to the welfare of the human race
made it incumbent upon his friends to supply him with the means of
earthly subsistence, had been recently domiciled in the house by Mr.
Emerson (how the latter came into possession of it I have forgotten,
if ever I knew), and he had at once proceeded to wreak upon it his
unique architectural talent. At any rate, either he himself or
somebody in his behalf had set up a small gable in the midst of the
front, thrown out a double bow-window, and added a room on the west
side. This interrupted the deadly, four-square uniformity, and
suggested further improvements. Mr. Alcott certainly built the
summer-house on the hill-side, and terraced the hill, which was also
planted with apple-trees. Another summer-house arose in the meadow
opposite, which went with the property, and rustic fences separated
the domain from the road. The dwelling was now fully as commodious as
the red house at Lenox, though it had no Monument Mountain and
Stockbridge Bowl to look out upon.

[IMAGE: THE WAYSIDE (Showing Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife)]

The estate, comprising, I think, forty-two acres, all told, including
upward of twenty acres of second-growth woodland above the hill,
perfectly useless except for kindling-wood and for the sea-music which
the pine-trees made, was offered to my father at a reasonable enough
figure, to be his own and his heirs' forever. He came over and looked
at the place, thought "The Wayside" would be a good name for it, and
was perhaps helped to decide upon taking it by the felicity of this
appellation. It was close upon the highway, undeniably; but then the
highway was so little travelled that it might almost as well not have
been there. One might, also, plant a high hedge in place of the fence
and make shift to hide behind it. One could enlarge the house as need
demanded; an affluent vegetable garden could be laid out in the
meadow, and fruit and ornamental trees could be added to the slopes of
the hill-side. The village was removed to a distance of a trifle over
a mile, so that the roar of its traffic would not invade this retreat;
and Mr. Emerson sat radiating peace and wisdom between the village and
"The Wayside"; while Mr. Alcott shone with ancillary lustre only a
stone's-throw away.  Thoreau and Ellery Channing were tramping about
in the neighborhood, and Judge Hoar and his beautiful sister dispensed
sweetness and light in the village itself. Walden Pond, still secluded
as when only the Indians had seen the sky and the trees reflected in
it, was within a two-mile walk, and the silent Musketaquid stole on
its level way beyond the hill on the other side. Surely, a man might
travel far and not find a spot better suited for work and meditation
and discreet society than Concord was.

But, of course, the necessity of settling down somewhere was a main
consideration. Concord, was inviting in itself, but it was also
recommended by the argument of exclusion; no other place so desirable
and at the same time so easy of attainment happened to present itself.
It did not lie within sound and sight of the ocean; but that was the
worst that could be urged against it. A man must choose, and Concord
was, finally, Hawthorne's choice.

At this epoch he had not contemplated, save in day-dreams, the
possibility of visiting the Old World. His friend, Franklin Pierce,
had just become President-elect, but that fact had not suggested to
his mind the change in his own fortunes which it was destined to bring
about. He was too modest a critic of his own abilities to think that
his work would ever bring him money enough for foreign travel, and,
therefore, in accepting Concord as his home, he believed that he was
fixing the boundaries of his future earthly experience. It was not his
ideal; no imaginative man can ever hope to find that; but as soon as
we have called a place our Home, it acquires a charm that has nothing
to do with material conditions. The best-known song in American poesy
has impressed that truth upon Americans--who are the most homeless
people in the world.




IV


A transfigured cattle-pen--Emerson the hub of Concord--His
incorrigible modesty--Grocery-store sages--To make common men feel
more like Emerson than he did--His personal appearance--His favorite
gesture--A glance like the reveille of a trumpet--The creaking
boots--"The muses are in the woods"--Emerson could not read
Hawthorne--Typical versus individual--Benefit from
child-prattle--Concord-grape Bull--Sounds of distant battle--Politics,
sociology, and grape-culture--The great white fence--Richard Henry
Stoddard--A country youth of genius--Whipple's Attic salt--An
unwritten romance--The consulship retires literature--Louisa's
tragedy--Hard hit--The spiritual sphere of good men--Nearer than in
the world--The return of the pilgrim.

My father's first look at "The Wayside" had been while snow was still
on the ground, and he had reported to his wife that it resembled a
cattle-pen.

But the family advent was effected in June, and although a heavy rain
had fallen while the domestic impedimenta were in transit, wetting the
mattresses and other exposed furniture, yet when the summer sun came
out things began to mend. My mother and Una came a day ahead of the
others, and with the help of carpenters and upholsterers, and a
neighboring Irishman and his wife for cleaning and moving purposes,
they soon got human order into the place of savage chaos. The new
carpet was down in the study, the walls had been already papered and
the wood-work grained, the pictures were hung in their places, and the
books placed on their shelves. By the time the father, the boy, the
baby, and the nurse drove up in the hot afternoon a home had been
created for their reception.

Mr. Emerson was, and he always remained, the hub round which the wheel
of Concord's fortunes slowly and contentedly revolved. He was at this
time between forty-five and fifty years old, in the prime of his
beneficent powers. He had fulfilled the promise of his unique
youth--obeyed the voice at eve, obeyed at prime. The sweet austerity
of his nature had been mellowed by human sorrows--the loss of his
brothers and of his eldest son; he had the breadth and poise that are
given by knowledge of foreign lands, and friendships with the best men
in them; he had the unstained and indomitable independence of a man
who has always avowed his belief, and never failed to be true to each
occasion for truth; he had the tranquillity of faith and insight, and
he was alert with that immortal curiosity for noble knowledge the
fruit of which enriches his writings. Upon his modestly deprecating
brows was already set the wreath of a world-wide fame, and yet every
village farmer and store-keeper, and every child, found in his
conversation the wisdom and companionship suited to his needs, and was
made to feel that his own companionship was a valued gift. Emerson
becomes more extraordinary the further we get away from him in years;
illustrating the truth which Landor puts into the mouth of Barrow in
one of his Imaginary Conversations, that "No very great man ever
reached the standard of his greatness in the crowd of his
contemporaries: this hath always been reserved for the secondary." The
wealth contained in his essays has only begun to be put in general
circulation, and the harvest of his poetry is still more remote; while
the sincere humility of the man himself, who was the best incarnate
example of many of his ideals, still puzzles those critics who believe
every one must needs be inferior to his professions.

"Though I am fond of writing and of public speaking," said Emerson, "I
am a very poor talker, and for the most part prefer silence"; and he
went on to compare himself in this respect with Alcott, "the prince of
conversers." Alcott was undoubtedly the prince of fluency, and Emerson
rarely, in private dialogue, ventured to string together many
consecutive sentences; but the things he did say, on small occasion or
great, always hit the gold. On being appealed to, or when his turn
came, he would hang a moment in the wind, and then pay off before the
breeze of thought with an accuracy and force that gave delight with
enlightenment. The form was often epigrammatic, but the air with which
it was said beautifully disclaimed any epigrammatic consciousness or
intention. It was, rather, "I am little qualified to speak adequately,
but this, at least, does seem to me to be true." In the end, therefore,
as the interlocutor thought it all over, he was perhaps surprised to
discover that, little in quantity as Emerson may have said during the
talk, he had yet said more than any one else in substance.  But it may
be admitted that he was even better in listening than in speech; his
look, averted but attentive, with a smile which seemed to postpone
full development to the moment when his companion should have uttered
the expected apple of gold in the picture of silver, was subtly
stimulating to the latter's intellect, and prompted him to outdo
himself. His questions were often revelations, discovering truth which
the other only then perceived, and thus beguiling him into admiration
of his own supposed intelligence. In this, as in other things, he
acted upon the precept that it is more blessed to give than to receive
gratification; he never seemed to need any other happiness than that
of imparting it.  And so selflessly and insensibly were the riches of
his mind and nature communicated to the community that innocent little
Concord could not quite help believing that its wealth and renown were
somehow a creation of its own.  The loafers in Walcott & Holden's
grocery store were, in their own estimation, of heroic stature,
because of the unegoistic citizen who dwelt over yonder among the
pines. Emerson was a great man, no doubt; but then he was no more than
their own confessed equal, or inferior!

This will and power to secularize himself is perhaps Emerson's unique
attribute. It is comparatively easy to stand on mountain-tops and to
ride Pegasus; but how many of those competent to such feats could at
the same time sit cheek by jowl with hucksters and teamsters without a
trace of condescension, and while rubbing shoulders with the rabble of
the street in town-meeting, speak without arrogance the illuminating
and deciding word? This, at last, is the true democracy that levels up
instead of down. An Emerson who can make common men feel more like
Emerson than he himself did is the kind of man we need to bring
America up to her ideals.

Emerson was ungainly in build, with narrow, sloping shoulders, large
feet and hands, and a projecting carriage of the head, which enhanced
the eagle-like expression of his glance and features.  His head was
small; it was covered (in 1852) with light brown hair, fine and
straight; he was cleanshaven save for a short whisker; the peaked ends
of an uncomfortable collar appeared above the folds of a high, black
silk stock. His long-skirted black coat was commonly buttoned up; he
wore, on different occasions, a soft felt hat or a high silk one, the
latter, from use, having become in a manner humanized. On the street
he kept his face up as he walked along, and perceived the approach of
an acquaintance afar off, and the wise, slow smile gleamed about his
mouth as he drew near. "How do you do?" was sometimes his greeting;
but more often, "Good-bye!" or "Good-night!"--an original and more
sensible greeting. Though ungainly in formation, he was not ungraceful
in bearing and action; there was a fitness and harmony in his
manifestations even on the physical plan. On the lecture platform he
stood erect and unadorned, his hands hanging folded in front, save
when he changed the leaf of his manuscript, or emphasized his words
with a gesture: his customary one, simple but effective, was to clinch
his right fist, knuckles upward, the arm bent at the elbow, then a
downward blow of the forearm, full of power bridled.  It was
accompanied by such a glance of the eyes as no one ever saw except
from Emerson: a glance like the reveille of a trumpet. Yet his eyes
were not noticeably large, and their color was greenish-gray; but they
were well set and outlined in his head, and, more than is the case
with most men, they were the windows of his soul. Wendell Phillips had
an eloquent and intrepid eye, but it possessed nothing approaching the
eloquence and spiritual influence of Emerson's. In every Lyceum course
in Concord, Emerson lectured once or twice, and the hall was always
filled. One night he had the misfortune to wear a pair of abominably
creaking boots; every slightest change of posture would be followed by
an outcry from the sole-leather, and the audience soon became
nervously preoccupied in expecting them. The sublimest thoughts were
mingled with these base material accompaniments.  But there was
nothing to be done, unless the lecturer would finish his lecture in
his stocking-feet, and we were fain to derive a fortuitous inspiration
from observing the unfaltering meekness with which our philosopher
accepted the predicament. I have forgotten the subject of the lecture
on that occasion, but the voice of the boots will always sound in my
memory.

In his own house Emerson shone with essential hospitality, and yet he
wonderfully effaced himself; any one but he might hold the centre of
the stage.  You felt him everywhere, but if you would see him, you
must search the wings. He sat in his chair, bending forward, one leg
crossed over the other, his elbows often supported on his knee; his
legs were rather long and slender, and he had a way, after crossing
his leg, of hitching the instep of that foot under the calf of the
other leg, so that he seemed braided up. He seldom stood in a room, or
paced to and fro, as my father was fond of doing. But the two men were
almost equally addicted to outdoor walking, and both preferred to walk
alone.  Emerson formed the habit of betaking himself to Walden woods,
which extended to within a mile or so of his door; thence would he
return with an exalted look, saying, "The muses are in the woods
to-day"; and no one who has read his Woodnotes can doubt that he found
them there. Occasionally Channing, Thoreau, or my father would be his
companion; Alcott preferred to busy himself about his rustic fences
and summer-houses, or to sit the centre of a circle and converse, as
he called it; meaning to soliloquize, looking round from face to face
with unalterable faith and complacency.

My father read Emerson with enjoyment; though more and more, as he
advanced in life, he was disposed to question the expediency of
stating truth in a disembodied form; he preferred it incarnate, as it
appears in life and in story. But he could not talk to Emerson; his
pleasure in his society did not express itself in that form. Emerson,
on the other hand, assiduously cultivated my father's company, and,
contrary to his general habit, talked to him continuously; but he
could not read his romances; he admitted that he had never been able
to finish one of them. He loved to observe him; to watch his silence,
which was full of a kind of speech which he was able to appreciate;
"Hawthorne rides well his horse of the night!" My father was Gothic;
Emerson was Roman and Greek. But each was profoundly original and
independent. My father was the shyer and more solitary of the two, and
yet persons in need of human sympathy were able to reach a more
interior region in him than they could in Emerson. For the latter's
thought was concerned with types and classes, while the former had the
individual touch. He distrusted rules, but had faith in exceptions and
idiosyncrasies. Emerson was nobly and magnanimously public; my father,
exquisitely and inevitably private; together they met the needs of
nearly all that is worthy in human nature.

Emerson rose upon us frequently during our early struggles with our
new abode, like a milder sun; the children of the two families became
acquainted, the surviving son, Edward, two years my elder, falling to
my share. But Emerson himself also became my companion, with a
humanity which to-day fills me with grateful wonder. I remember once
being taken by him on a long walk through the sacred pine woods, and
on another occasion he laid aside the poem or the essay he was writing
to entertain Una in his study, whither she had gone alone and of her
own initiative to make him a call! It is easy to compliment a friend
upon his children, but how many of us will allow themselves to be
caught and utilized by them in this fashion? But Emerson's mind was so
catholic, so humble, and so deep that I doubt not he derived benefit
even from child-prattle.  His wife rivalled him in hospitality, though
her frail health disabled her from entering into the physical part of
social functions with the same fortitude; in these first months we
were invited to a party where we were fellow-guests with all the other
children of Concord. There they were, their mothers with them, and
everything in sight that a child at a party could require. My new
friend Edward mounted me on his pony, and his father was at hand to
catch me when I fell off.  Such things sound incredible, but they are
true. A great man is great at all times, and all over.

Thoreau, Channing, and Alcott were also visible to us at this time,
but of none of them do I find any trace in my memory; though I know,
as a matter of fact, that Channing and my father once permitted me to
accompany them on a walk round the country roads, which inadvertently
prolonged itself to ten miles, and I knew what it was to feel
foot-weary.  But another neighbor of ours, hardly less known to fame,
though in a widely different line of usefulness, makes a very distinct
picture in my mind; this was Ephraim Wales Bull, the inventor of the
Concord grape. He was as eccentric as his name; but he was a genuine
and substantive man, and my father took a great liking to him, which
was reciprocated. He was short and powerful, with long arms, and a big
head covered with bushy hair and a jungle beard, from which looked out
a pair of eyes singularly brilliant and penetrating.  He had brains to
think with, as well as strong and skilful hands to work with; he
personally did three-fourths of the labor on his vineyard, and every
grape-vine had his separate care. He was married and had three
children, amiable but less interesting than himself. He had, also, a
tremendous temper, evidenced by his heavy and high-arched eyebrows,
and once in a while he let slip upon his helpers in the vineyard this
formidable wrath, which could easily be heard in our peaceful
precincts, like sounds of distant battle. He often came over and sat
with my father in the summer-house on the hill, and there talked about
politics, sociology (though under some other name, probably), morals,
and human nature, with an occasional lecture on grape-culture.  He
permitted my sister and me to climb the fence and eat all the grapes
we could hold; it seems to me he could hardly have realized our
capacity.  During our second summer he built a most elaborate fence
along the road-front of his estate; it must have been three hundred
yards long and it was as high as a man could reach; the palings,
instead of being upright, were criss-crossed over one another, leaving
small diamond-shaped interstices. The whole was painted brilliant
white, to match the liliputian cottage in which the Bull family
contrived (I know not how) to ensconce itself. When the fence was
built, Mr. Bull would every day come forth and pace slowly up and down
the road, contemplating it with the pride of a parent; indeed, it was
no puny achievement, and when I revisited Concord, thirty years later,
the great white fence was still there, with a few gaps in it, but
still effective. But the builder, and the grapes--where were they?
Where are Cheops, and the hanging gardens of Babylon?

Among many visitors came Richard Henry Stoddard, already a poet, but
anxious to supplement the income from his verses by a regular stipend
from the big pocket of Uncle Sam. His first coming was in summer, and
he and my father went up on the hill and sat in the summer-house
there, looking out upon the wide prospect of green meadows and distant
woods, but probably seeing nothing of them, their attention being
withdrawn to scenes yet fairer in the land of imagination and memory.
Stoddard was then, as always, a handsome man, strong and stanch,
black-haired and black-bearded, with strong eyes that could look both
fierce and tender. He was masculine, sensitive, frank, and humorous;
his chuckle had infinite merriment in it; but, as his mood shifted,
there might be tears in his eyes the next moment. He was at that time
little more than five-and-twenty years old, and he looked hardly that;
he was a New England country youth of genius. Nature had kindled a
fire in him which has never gone out. Like my father, he was
affiliated with the sea, and had its freshness and daring, though
combined with great modesty, and he felt honored by the affection with
which he inspired the author of The Scarlet Letter. It was not until
his second visit, in the winter, that the subject of a custom-house
appointment for him came up; for my father, being known as a close
friend of the President, whose biography he had written for the
campaign, became the object of pilgrimages other than literary ones.
He received sound advice, and introductions, which aided him in
getting the appointment, and he held it for nearly twenty years--more
to the benefit of the custom-house than of poetry, no doubt, though he
never let poetry escape him, and he is to-day a mine of knowledge and
wisdom on literary subjects. There is an immense human ardor, power,
and pathos in Stoddard; better than any other American poet does he
realize the conception of his great English brother--the love of love,
the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn. The world has proved impotent to
corrupt his heroic simplicity; he loved fame much, but truth more.  He
is a boy in his heart still, and he has sung songs which touch
whatever is sweetest, tenderest, and manliest in the soul of man.

[IMAGE: EDWIN P. WHIFFLE]

E. P. Whipple, essentially a man of letters, and famous in his day as
a critic of literature, appeared often in "The Wayside." His verdict
on a book carried weight; it was an era when literary criticism was
regarded seriously, and volumes devoted to critical studies had
something more than, a perfunctory vogue. He had written penetrating
and cordial things about my father's books, and foretold the high
place which he would ultimately occupy in our Pantheon. He was rich in
the kind of Attic salt which, was characteristic of Boston in the
middle century; the product of an almost excessive culture erected on
sound, native brains. He had abounding wit; not only wit of the sort
that begets mirth, but that larger and graver wit which Macaulay
notices in Bacon's writings--a pure, irradiating, intellectual light.
It had often the effect of an actual physical illumination cast upon
the topic.  He was magnificent as a dinner-table companion.  He was
rather a short, thick-shouldered man, with a big head on a short neck,
a broad, projecting forehead, prominent eyes, defended by shiny
spectacles, and bushy whiskers. He is not remembered now, probably
because he never produced any organic work commensurate with his huge
talent. Analyses of the work of others, however just, useful, and
creative, do not endure unless they are associated with writing of the
independent sort. Whipple, with all his ability and insight, never
entered the imaginative field on his own account, and in the press of
wits he falls behind and is forgotten.

My father had come to Concord with the idea of a new romance in his
mind; he designed it to be of a character more cheerful than the
foregoing ones.  It was never written, and but the slightest traces of
what it might have been are extant. Herman Melville had spent a day
with us at Concord, and he had suggested a story to Hawthorne; but the
latter, after turning it over in his mind, came to the conclusion that
Melville could treat the subject better than he could; but Melville
finally relinquished it also. It seems likely, however, that this
projected tale was not the one which Hawthorne had originally been
meditating. At all events, it was postponed in favor of a new book of
wonder-stories from Greek mythology--the first one having had.
immediate popularity, and by the time this was finished, the occasion
had arrived which led to the writing of Pierce's biography. This, in
turn, was followed by the offer by the President to his friend of the
Liverpool consulate, then the most lucrative appointment in the gift
of the administration; and Hawthorne's acceptance of it caused all
literary projects to be indefinitely abandoned.

But even had there been time for the writing of another book, the
death of Hawthorne's sister Louisa would doubtless have unfitted him
for a while from undertaking it. This was the most painful episode
connected with his life; Louisa was a passenger on a Hudson River
steamboat which was burned. She was a gentle, rather fragile woman,
with a playful humor and a lovable nature; she had not the
intellectual force either of her brother or of her sister Elizabeth;
but her social inclinations were stronger than theirs. She was a
delightful person to have in the house, and her nephew and niece were
ardently in love with her. She was on her way to "The Wayside" when
the calamity occurred, and we were actually expecting her on the day
she perished. Standing on the blazing deck, with the panic and the
death-scenes around her, the gentle woman had to make the terrible
choice between the river and the fire. She was alone; there was none
to advise or help her or be her companion in inevitable death. Her
thoughts must have gone to her brother, with his strength and courage,
his skill as a swimmer; but he was far away, unconscious of her
desperate extremity. She had to choose, and the river was her choice.
With that tragic conception of the drowning of Zenobia fresh in his
mind, the realization of his sister's fate must have gained additional
poignancy in my father's imagination. He was hard hit, and the traces
of the blow were manifest on him. After about a month, he made a
journey to the Isles of Shoals with Franklin Pierce, and in that
breezy outpost of the land he spent some weeks, much to his advantage.
This was in the autumn of 1852, and I recall well enough the gap in
things which his long absence made for me, and my perfect joy when the
whistle of the train at the distant railway station signalled his
return. Twenty minutes had to elapse before the railroad carriage
could bring him to our door; they were long and they were brief, after
the manner of minutes in such circumstances. He came, and there was a
moment of indescribable glory while he leaped from the carriage and
faced the situation on the doorstep of his home. His countenance was
glowing with health and the happiness of home-coming. I thought him,
as I always did, the most beautiful of human beings, by which I do not
mean beautiful in feature, for of that I was not competent to hold an
opinion; but beautiful in the feelings which he aroused in me
beholding him. He was beautiful to be with, to hear, touch, and
experience.  Such is the effect of the spiritual sphere of good men,
in whom nature and character are harmonious.  My father got his
appointment from Washington in the following March, 1853. His wife had
but one solicitude in leaving America; her mother was aged and in
delicate health, and their parting might be forever in this world. But
a month before the appointment was confirmed, her mother quietly and
painlessly died. It was as if she had wished not to be separated from
her beloved daughter, and had entered into the spiritual state in the
expectation of being nearer to her there than she could be in the
world. My mother always affirmed that she was conscious of her
mother's presence with her on momentous occasions during the remainder
of her own life.

June came; the farewells were said, we were railroaded to Boston,
embarked on the Cunard steamship Niagara, Captain Leitch, and steamed
out of Boston Harbor on a day of cloudlessness and calm.  Incoming
vessels, drifting in the smoothness, saluted us with their flags, and
the idle seamen stared at us, leaning over their bulwarks. The last of
the low headlands grew dim and vanished in the golden haze of the
afternoon. "Go away, tiresome old land!" sang out my sister and
myself; but my father, standing beside us, gazing westward with a
serious look, bade us be silent. Two hundred and twenty years had
passed since our first ancestor had sought freedom on those
disappearing shores, and our father was the first of his descendants
to visit the Old Home whence he came. What was to be the outcome? But
the children only felt that the ocean was pleasant and strange, and
they longed to explore it. The future and the past did not concern
them.




V


A paddle-wheel ocean-liner--The hens, the cow, and the carpenter--W.
D. Ticknor--Our first Englishman--An aristocratic acrobat--Speech that
beggars eulogy--The boots of great travellers--Complimentary
cannon--The last infirmity of noble republican minds--The golden
promise: the spiritual fulfilment--Fatuous serenity--Past and
future--The coquetry of chalk cliffs--Two kinds of imagination--The
thirsty island--Gloomy English comforts--Systematic geniality--A
standing puzzle--The respirator--Scamps, fools, mendicants, and
desperadoes--The wrongs of sailor-men--"Is this myself?"--"Profoundly
akin"--Henry Bright--Charm of insular prejudice--No stooping to
compromise--The battle against dinner--"I'm glad you liked it!"--An
English-, Irish-, and Scotchman--An Englishman owns his country--A
contradiction in Englishmen--A hospitable gateway--Years of memorable
trifles.

The steamship Niagara was, in 1853, a favorable specimen of nautical
architecture; the Cunard Company had then been in existence rather
less than a score of years, and had already established its reputation
for safety and convenience. But, with the exception of the red
smoke-stack with the black ring round the top, there was little
similarity between the boat that took us to England and the mammoths
that do that service for travellers now adays.  The Niagara was about
two hundred and fifty feet long, and was propelled by paddle-wheels,
upon the summits of whose curving altitudes we were permitted to climb
in calm weather. The interior decorations were neat and pretty, but
had nothing of the palatial and aesthetic gorgeousness which educates
us in these later ages. The company of passengers was so small that a
single cow, housed in a pen on deck, sufficed for their needs in the
way of milk, and there were still left alive and pecking contentedly
about their coop a number of fowls, after we had eaten all we could of
their brethren at the ten dinners that were served during the voyage.
The crew, from the captain down, were all able seamen, friendly and
companionable, and not so numerous but that it was easy to make their
individual acquaintance. The most engaging friend of the small people
was the carpenter, who had his shop on deck, and from whom I acquired
that passion for the profession which every normal boy ought to have,
and from the practice of which I derived deep enjoyment and many
bloody thumbs and fingers for ten years afterwards.

But we had companionship historically at least more edifying. William
D. Ticknor, the senior partner of my father's publishers, was the only
figure familiar at the outset. He was one of the most amiable of men,
with thick whiskers all round his face and spectacles shining over his
kindly eyes; a sturdy, thick-set personage, active in movement and
genial in conversation. It was James T. Fields who usually made the
trips to England; but on this occasion Fields got no farther than the
wharf, where the last object visible was his comely and smiling
countenance as he waved his adieux. Conspicuous among the group on the
after-deck, as we glided out of the smooth harbor of Boston, was an
urbane and dignified gentleman of perhaps sixty years of age, with a
clean-shaven mouth and chin, finely moulded, and with what Tennyson
would call an educated whisker, short and gray, defining the region in
front of and below his ears. He spoke deliberately, and in language
carefully and yet easily chosen, with intonations singularly distinct
and agreeable, giving its full value to every word. This was our first
native Englishman; no less a personage than Mr.  Crampton, in fact,
the British Minister, who was on his way to Halifax. He had fine,
calm, quietly observant eyes, which were pleasantly employed in
contemplating the beauty of that summer seascape--an opalescent ocean,
and islands slumbering in the July haze. Near him stood a light-built,
tall, athletic individual, also obviously English, but thirty years
younger; full, also, of artistic appreciation; this was Field
Talfourd, who was an artist, and many things besides; a man proficient
in all forms of culture. His features were high and refined, and,
without being handsome, irresistibly attractive.  He turned out to be
a delightful playmate for the children, and astonished them and the
rest of the company by surprising gymnastic feats in the rigging.  The
speech of these two Britishers gave the untravelled American a new
appreciation of the beauty and significance of the English language.
Not all Englishmen speak good English, but when they do, they beggar
eulogy.

[IMAGE: JAMES T. FIELDS, NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, AND WILLIAM D. TICKNOR]

George Silsbee was likewise of our party; he was an American of the
Brahman type, a child of Cambridge and Boston, a man of means, and an
indefatigable traveller. He had the delicate health and physique of
the American student of those days, when out-door life and games made
no part of our scholastic curricula. He may have been forty years old,
slight and frail, with a thin, clean-shaven face and pallid
complexion, but full of mind and sensibility.  We do not heed
travellers now, and I am inclined to think they are less worth heeding
than they used to be. It is so easy to see the world in these latter
days that few persons see it to any purpose even when they go through
the motions of doing so.  But to hear George Bradford or Silsbee talk
of England, France, and Italy, in the fifties, was a liberal
education, and I used sometimes to stare fascinated at the boots of
these wayfarers, admiring them for the wondrous places in which they
had trodden. Silsbee travelled with his artistic and historic
consciousness all on board, and had so much to say that he never was
able to say it all.

But to my father himself were accorded the honors of the captain's
table, and for him were fired the salutes of cannon which thundered us
out of Boston Harbor and into Halifax. These compliments, however,
were paid to him not as a man of letters, but as a political
representative of his country, and, let a man be as renowned as he
will on his personal account, he will still find it convenient, in
order to secure smooth and agreeable conditions on his way through the
world, to supplement that distinction with recommendations from the
State Department.  Respect for rank is the last infirmity even of
noble republican minds, and it oils the wheels of the progress of
those who possess it. An American widow of my later acquaintance, a
lady of two marriageable daughters and small social pretensions in her
own country, toured Europe with success and distinction, getting all
the best accommodations and profoundest obeisances by the simple
device of placing the word "Lady" before her modest signature in the
hotel registers. She was a lady, of course, and had a right so to
style herself, and if snobbish persons chose to read into the word
more than it literally meant, that was not Mrs. Green's affair.

American commerce still existed in 1853, and the Liverpool consulate
was supposed to have more money in it than any other office in the
gift of the administration. As a matter of fact, several of my
father's predecessors had retired from their tenure of office with
something handsome (pecuniarily speaking) to their credit; whether the
means by which it had been acquired were as handsome is another
question. Be that as it may, Congress, soon after my father's
accession, passed a law cutting down the profits about three-fourths,
and he was obliged to practise the strictest economy during his
residence abroad in order to come home with a few thousand dollars in
his pocket. Nevertheless, the dignity, in the official sense, of this
consular post was considerable, and it brought him, in combination
with his literary fame, a good deal more attention in England than he
well knew what to do with.  But, in one way or another, he also made
friends there who remained to the end among the dearest of his life
and more than countervailed all the time and energy wasted on the
Philistines.

The Atlantic, all the way across, with the exception of one brief
emotional disturbance between lunch and dinner-time, wore a smile of
fatuous serenity. The sun shone; the vast pond-surface oilily
undulated, or lay in absolute flatness, or at most defiled under our
eyes in endless squadrons of low-riding crests. My mother, whose last
experience of sea-ways had been the voyage to Cuba, in which the ship
was all but lost in a series of hurricanes, was captivated by this
soft behavior, and enjoyed the whole of it as much, almost, as her
husband, who expanded and drank in delight like a plant in the rain.
But, in truth, these must have been blessed hours for them both.
Behind them lay nearly eleven years of married life, spent in narrow
outward circumstances, lightened only towards the last by the promise
of some relaxation from strain, during which they had found their
happiness in each other, and in the wise and tender care of their
children, and in the converse of chosen friends. They had filled their
minds with knowledge concerning the beauties and interests of foreign
lands, with but a slender expectation of ever beholding them with
bodily sight, but none the less well prepared to understand and
appreciate them should the opportunity arrive. And now, suddenly, it
had arrived, and they were on the way to the regions of their dreams,
with the prospect of comparative affluence added. They had nearly
twelve years of earthly sojourn together before them, the afternoon
sunshine to be clouded a little near the close by the husband's
failing health, but glorified more and more by mutual love, and
enriched with memories of all that had before been unfulfilled
imaginings. This voyage eastward was the space of contemplation
between the two periods, and the balm of its tranquillity well
symbolized the peace of soul and mind with which they awaited what the
horizons were to disclose.

The right way to approach England for the first time is not by the
west coast, but by the south, as Julius Caesar did, beckoned on by the
ghostly, pallid cliffs that seem to lift themselves like battlements
against the invader. It is historically open to question whether there
would have been any Roman occupation, or any Saxon or Norman one
either, for that matter, but for the coquetry of those chalk cliffs.
An adventurer, sighting the low and marshy shores of Lancashire, and
muddying his prows in the yellow waters of the Mersey, would be apt to
think that such a land were a good place to avoid. But the race of
adventurers has long since died out, and their place is occupied by
the wide-flying cormorants of commerce, to whom mud flats and rock
deserts present elysian beauties, provided only there be profit in
them. One kind of imagination has been superseded by another, and both
are necessary to the full exploitation of this remarkable globe that
we inhabit.

But even the level capes of Lancashire were alluring to eyes that saw
England, our venerable mother, loom behind them, with her thousand
years' pageantry of warfare and civilization. The egregious little
island is a thirsty place; the land drinks rain as assiduously as do
its inhabitants beer and other liquors. Heavy mists and clouds
enveloped it as we drew near, and ushered us up the Mersey into a
brown omnipresence of rain.  The broad, clear sunshine of the Atlantic
was left behind, and we stood on wet decks and were transported to
sloppy wharfs by means of a rain-sodden and abominably smoking little
tug-boat--as the way was fifty years ago. Liverpool was a gray-stone
labyrinth open to the deluge, and its inhabitants went to and fro with
umbrellas over their heads and black respirators over their mouths,
looking as if such were their normal plight--as, indeed, it was. Much
of this was not needed to quench the enthusiasm of the children. The
Waterloo Hotel, to which, by advice of friends, we were driven, seemed
by its very name to carry out the idea of saturation, which the
activities of nature so insistently conveyed. It was intensely
discomfortable, and though the inside of the hotel was well supplied
with gloomy English comforts, and the solemn meals were administered
with a ceremonious gravity that suggested their being preliminaries to
funerals, yet it was hard to be light-hearted.  The open-grate coal
fires were the most welcome feature of this summer season, and no
doubt the wine list offered the best available substitute for
sunlight; but we had not been trained to avail ourselves of it. We
drank water, which certainly appeared an idle proceeding in such a
climate.  In Liverpool, however, or in its suburbs, we were to live
for the better part of four years, and we must make the best of it.
And there is in English people, when rightly approached, a steady and
systematic geniality that not only makes handsome amends for their
weather, but also accounts for the otherwise singular fact that the
country is inhabited at all. A people with a smaller fund of interior
warmth could not have endured it. The French talk about conquering
England, but they could not hold it if they did, and it is one of the
standing puzzles of history how the Romans, an Italian race, were able
to maintain themselves under these skies during four centuries. It may
be objected that the present English population is not indigenous to
the island; but they are the survival of the fittest and toughest
selected from many aspirants. Nor can it be doubted that the British
hunger for empire in all parts of the world is due to nothing so much
as to their anxiety to have a plausible pretext for living elsewhere
than at home.

My father took the rain, as he took everything that could not be
helped, philosophically, and it seemed to do him no harm; indeed, his
health was uniformly good all through his English residence.  It did
not suit so well my mother, who was constitutionally delicate in the
lungs; she was soon obliged to adopt the English respirator, and
finally was driven to take refuge for the greater part of a year in
Lisbon and Madeira, returning only a little before the departure of
the family for Italy in 1858.  But there must have been in him an
ancestral power of resistance still effective after more than two
centuries of transplantation; he grew ruddy and robust while facing
the mist and mirk, and inhaling the smoky moisture that did service
for air.  Nor was his health impaired by the long hours in the daily
consulate--a grimy little room barely five paces from end to end, with
its dusty windows so hemmed in by taller buildings that even had there
been any sunshine to make the attempt, it could never have succeeded
in effecting an entrance through them. Here, from ten in the morning
until four in the afternoon, he dealt with all varieties of scamps and
mendicants, fools and desperadoes, and all the tribe of piratical
cutthroats which in those days constituted a large part of the
merchant marine. Calamity, imbecility, and rascality were his constant
companions in that dingy little den; and the gloomy and sooty skies
without but faintly pictured the moral atmosphere which they exhaled;
he entered deeply into all their affairs, projects, and complaints,
feeling their troubles, probably, at least as keenly as they did
themselves, and yet he came out of it all with clear eyes and a sound
digestion. I presume the fact may have been that he unconsciously
regarded the whole affair somewhat as we do a drama in a theatre; it
works upon our sensibilities, and yet we do not believe that it is
real. There was nothing in the experience germane to his proper life;
it could not become a part of him, and therefore its posture towards
him remained inveterately objective.  The only feature of it that
quickened a responsive chord in him was the revelation of the
intolerable condition of the sailors in many of our ships, and upon
these abuses he enlarged in his communications to Washington.
Improvements were made in consequence of his remonstrances; but the
American merchant service had already begun its downward career, and
it is only very lately, owing to causes which are too novel and
peculiar to be intelligently discussed as yet, that our flag is once
more promising to compete against that of England.

It would be misleading to say, however, that my father was not
interested in his consulate work; there was a practical side in him
which took hold of the business in man-fashion, and transacted it so
efficiently as to leave no room for criticism, and nobody can produce
voluntary effects without feelng in himself a reaction from them. He
had occasion to look into the privacy of many human hearts, to pity
them and advise them, and from such services and insights he no doubt
obtained a residue of wisdom which might be applied to his own
ulterior uses. These were indirect and incidental issues; but from the
consulate qua consulate Hawthorne was radically alien, and when he
quitted it, he carried away with him no taint or trace of it. As he
says in his remarks upon the subject, he soon came to doubt whether it
were actually himself who had been the incumbent of the office at all.

But Providence does not deny manna to man in his extremity, and to my
father it came in the shape of a few English friends, and in
occasional escapes from the office into the outside England where,
after the centuries of separation, he found so much with which he
could still feel profoundly akin.  His most constant friendly visitor
was Henry A.  Bright, a university man, the son of a wealthy local
merchant, who sent ships to Australia, and was related (as most
agreeable Englishmen are--though there are shining exceptions) to the
aristocratic class. Bright, at this time, could not have been over
thirty years of age; he was intensely English, though his slender
figure and mental vivacity might make him seem near to the
conventional American type. But through him, as through an open
window, Hawthorne was enabled to see far into the very heart of
England. Bright not merely knew England; he was England, and England
at its best, and therefore also at its most insular and prejudiced. It
was unspeakably satisfying and agreeable to encounter a man at once so
uncompromising and so amiable, so wrong-headed (from the American
point of view) and so right-hearted.  He was drawn to my father as
iron is drawn to the magnet; on every outward point they fought each
other like the knight errants of old, while agreeing inwardly, beneath
the surface of things, as few friends are able to agree. Each admired
the other's onslaughts and his prowess, and, by way of testifying his
admiration, strove to excel himself in his counter attacks. The debate
was always beginning, and in the nature of things it could never end;
the effect of their blows was only to hammer each the other more
firmly into his previous convictions.  Probably all the things that
are English and all the things that are American never before or since
received such full and trenchant exposition as was given them by
Hawthorne and by Bright. The whole subject of monarchy and aristocracy
as against republicanism and democracy was threshed out to the last
kernel by champions each of whom was thoroughly qualified to vindicate
his cause. Each, constrained by the stress of battle to analyze and
expound his beliefs more punctually than ever before, thereby
convinced himself while leaving his adversary undaunted; and, of
course, both were right. For this world is so constituted that two
things incompatible in outward manifestation may in their roots be one
and the same, and equally appeal to the suffrages of honest men.
England and America are healthy and vigorous in proportion as they
differ from each other, and a morbid and vicious tendency in either is
noticeable the moment either begins to take a leaf from the other's
book. My father and Bright could not have been the lifelong friends
that they were had either of them yielded his point or stooped to
compromise.

Apart from political matters, and such social themes as were nearly
allied to them, the two friends had many points of agreement and
sympathy.  Bright had from the first been an ardent and intelligent
admirer of the romancer's writings, and though they might often differ
in their estimates of individual works, they were in hearty accord as
to the principles which underlie all literature and art. Upon matters
relating to society, my father was more apt to accept theories which
Bright might propound than to permit of their being illustrated in his
own person; he would admit, for example, that a consul ought to mingle
socially with the people to whom he was accredited; but when it came
to getting him out to dinner, in evening dress and with a speech in
prospect, obstacles started up like the armed progeny of the Dragon's
Teeth. For, though no one enjoyed real society more than he did, he
was ardently averse from conversing as an official with persons
between whom and himself as a man there could be little sympathy.
Almost as much, too, did he dislike to meet the polite world merely on
the basis of the books that he had written, which his entertainers
were bound to praise whether or not they had read or comprehended
them, and to whose well-meant but inexpert eulogies he must constantly
respond with the threadbare and pathetic phrase, "I'm glad you liked
it." Bright, of course, insisted that fame and position carried
obligations which must be met, and he was constantly laying plots to
inveigle or surprise his friend into compliance.  He often succeeded,
but he failed quite as frequently, so that, as a Mrs. Malaprop might
have said, Hawthorne as a social lion was a rara avis, from first to
last. The foible of artificial, as distinguished from spontaneous,
society is that it so seldom achieves simple human relations.

Another chief friend of his was Francis Bennoch.  England would never
have seemed "our old home" to my father, without the presence and
companionship of these two men. Both had literary leanings, both were
genial, true, and faithful; but in other respects they were widely
dissimilar. Bright was of the pure Saxon type; Bennoch represented
Great Britain at large; there were mingled in him English, Irish, and
Scotch ancestry. In himself he was a superb specimen of a human being;
broad-shouldered, straight, and vigorous, massive but active, with a
mellow, joyful voice, an inimitable brogue, sparkling black eyes full
of hearty sunshine and kindness, a broad and high forehead over bushy
brows, and black, wavy hair. He bubbled over with high spirits, humor,
and poetry, being, indeed, a poet in achievement, with a printed and
bound volume to show for it--songs, lyrics, and narrative poems,
composed in the spirit of Burns and Scott. He was at this time one of
the handsomest men in England, with a great heart, warmer than any
summer England ever knew, and a soul of ardor and courage, which sent
through his face continual flashes of sympathy and fellowship. One
naturally thought and spoke of him in superlatives; he was the
kindest, joiliest, most hospitable, most generous and chivalrous of
men, and his affection and admiration for my father were also of the
superlative kind. He had made a fortune in the wool business, and had
an office in Wood Street, London; but his affairs permitted him to
make frequent excursions to Liverpool, and to act as his American
friend's guide and cicerone to many places in England which would
otherwise have been unknown to him. My father enjoyed these trips
immensely; Bennoch's companionship gave the right keynote and
atmosphere to the sights they saw. A real Englishman owns his country,
and does the honors of it to a visitor as if it were his private
estate. Discussions of politics and of the principles of government
never arose between these two, as they did between my father and
Bright; for Bennoch, though one of the most loyal and enthusiastic of
her Majesty's subjects, and full of traditional respect for the
British nobility, was by nature broadly democratic, and met every man
as an equal and a brother. One often finds this contradiction in
Englishmen; but it is such logically only. A man born to the
traditions of monarchy and aristocracy accepts them as the natural
background of his ideas, just as the English landscape is the setting
of his house and park; he will vindicate them if assailed; but
ordinarily they do not consciously affect his mental activities, and
he will talk good republicanism without being aware of it. The
monarchy is a decoration, a sentiment, a habit; as a matter of fact,
England is more democratic in many essentials than we have as yet
learned how to be.  Bennoch was not a university man, and lacked the
historical consciousness that Bright so assiduously cultivated; he
lived by feeling and intuition more than by deliberate intellectual
judgments. He was emotional; tears would start to his eyes at a touch
of pathos or pity, as readily as the laughter of a moment before. So
lovable, gallant, honest, boyish a man is seldom born into this modern
world-boyish as only the manliest men can be.  He died thirty years
after the time I write of, the same fresh and ardent character as
ever, and loving and serving Hawthorne's children for Hawthorne's
sake. I shall have occasion to mention him hereafter; but I have dwelt
upon him here, both because he made it forever impossible for any one
who knew him well to do other than love the land which could breed
such a man, and because, for the American Hawthorne, he was as a
hospitable gate-way through which the England of his dreams and
imaginings was entered upon as a concrete and delightful reality.

With Bright and Bennoch on his right hand and on his left, then, my
father began his English experience. The two are frequently mentioned
in his English journals, and Bennoch figures as one of the subordinate
characters in the posthumous romance called Doctor Grimshawe's Secret.
It is but a sketch of him, however, and considerably modified from the
brilliant and energetic reality.  Meanwhile the consul began to
accustom himself to the routine of the consulate, and his family,
leaving the sombre respectability of the Waterloo Hotel, moved, first,
to the hospitable boarding-house of Mrs. Blodgett, and afterwards to a
private dwelling in Rock Park, Rock Ferry, on the opposite side of the
Mersey, where we were destined to dwell for several years. They were
years full of events very trifling in themselves, but so utterly
different from everything American as to stamp themselves upon the
attention and the memory.  It is the trifling things that tell, and
give character to nations; extraordinary things may occur anywhere,
and possess little national flavor. In another chapter I will attempt
some portrayal of this English life of fifty years since.




VI


Patricians and plebeians--The discomforts of democracy--Varieties of
equality--Social rights of beggars--The coming peril--Being dragged to
the rich--Frankness of vulgarity and hopelessness of
destitution--Villages rooted in the landscape--Evanescence of the
spiritual and survival of the material--"Of Bebbington the holy
peak"--The Old Yew of Eastham--Malice--prepense interest--History and
afternoon tea--An East-Indian Englishman--The merchantman sticks in
the mud--A poetical man of the world--Likeness to Longfellow--Real
breakfasts--Heads and stomachs--A poet-pugilist--Clean-cut, cold,
gentle, dry--A respectable female atheist--The tragedy of the red
ants--Voluptuous struggles--A psalm of praise.

In a country whose ruling principle is caste, it might be expected
that the line of cleavage between the upper and the lower grades would
be punctually observed. It is assumed that democracy levels and
aristocracy distinguishes and separates.  My father was not long in
remarking, however, that there was a freedom of intercourse between
the patrician and the plebeian--between people of all orders--such as
did not exist in America. And the fact, once perceived, was not
difficult of explanation.  In a monarchy of a thousand years'
standing, every individual knows his place in the social scale and
never thinks of leaving it. He represents a fixed function or element
in the general organism, and holds to it as a matter of course, just
as, in the human body, the body does not aspire to be the head, nor
the liver or heart to take the place of lungs or stomach. The laborer
looks back upon an ancestry of laborers; the shopkeeper has been a
shopkeeper for unnumbered generations; the artisan on the bench to-day
does the same work that his father and grandfathers did before him;
the noble inherits his acres as inevitably as the sun rises, and sits
in the House of Lords by immemorial usage and privilege. Social
position all along the line being thus anchored in the nature of
things, as it were, there is no anxiety on any one's part as to
maintaining his status. He is secure where he is, and nothing and
nobody can change him. There is no individual striving to rise nor
fear to fall. Consequently there can and must be entire freedom of
mutual conversation; the marquis with a revenue of half a million a
year meets as an equal his gardener who gets ten pounds a month, and
the tailor in his measuring-room offers a glass of sherry to his noble
patron who comes to him for a new coat.  Each is at his ease,
conscious that he performs a use and fills a place which no one else
can fill or perform, and that nothing else matters. The population is
a vast mutual-benefit association, without envy on the one side or
contempt on the other. And social existence moves as smoothly as a
well-oiled and adjusted machine.

This agreeable condition is impossible in a democracy--at all events,
in a democracy like ours, which is based upon the assumption that all
men are equal. Nevertheless, we are on the right track, and the
English are on the wrong one; for the agreeable English system
obstructs the insensible infiltration of fresh material into old
forms, which is essential to the continued health of the latter; while
the democracy, on the other hand, will gradually learn that it is just
as honorable and desirable to be a good shoemaker, for example, as a
good millionaire; that human life, in short, is a complex of countless
different uses, each one of which is as important on its own plane as
any of the others. But the intermediate period is undeniably irksome.

So my father noticed, not without a certain satisfaction, that even
beggars, in England, are not looked down upon, and that their rights,
such as they are, are recognized. In the steamboat waiting-room at
Rock Ferry, and in the boats themselves, he saw tramps and mendicants
take the best place at the fire or on the companion-way without rebuke
and without consciousness of presumption, and he saw the landlord of a
hotel, with a fortune of six hundred thousand pounds, wait at table as
deferentially as any footman in his employ. He was struck by the
contentment with which, in winter, women went barefoot in the streets,
and by the unpretentious composure with which the common herd, on
holidays, disported themselves in public, not seeking to disguise
their native vulgarity and shabbiness. At the same time, he could not
help a misgiving that the portentous inequality between rich and poor
must finally breed disaster; the secluded luxury of the rich was too
strongly contrasted with the desperate needs of the poor. This
contrast was very marked in England fifty years ago, and was
comparatively unknown in our own country--though to-day we can hardly
lay to our souls the nattering unction of such a difference.  The rage
for wealth has done for us in a generation what caste did for England
in a thousand years.

My father, when opportunity offered, was always finding himself among
the poor and their dwellings; he had to be dragged to the rich, though
among them, too, he found, when brought in contact with them, many
interesting points of dissimilarity from ourselves. His office as
consul naturally took him often to the police courts, where
magistrates passed upon the squalid cases cited before them, and in
the consulate itself he saw specimens enough of human crime and
misery. He visited the poor-house and the insane asylum, he was
approached by swindlers of all types, and often he went to fairs and
other resorts of public out-door amusement and watched the unwashed
populace at its play. Beggars followed him on the streets, awaited him
in their chosen coigns of vantage on the corners, or haunted him on
the ferry-boat that took him each day from his home to his office.
Wherever he encountered the forsaken of fortune, he found food for
sympathy, and, in spite of assurances that he was only encouraging
mendicancy, he often gave them money.  It was hard for him to believe
that there could be abject poverty where there was work for all, and
the appeal of man in want to man in plenty was too strong for him
easily to resist it. He liked the very frankness of vulgarity and
hopeless destitution of these people, and was appalled by the
simplicity with which they accepted things as they were.  There was no
restlessness, as in America--no protest against fate. It was harrowing
enough to see conditions so miserable; it was intolerable to see them
acquiesced in by the victims as inevitable.  He learned, after a
while, to harden himself somewhat against manifest imposition; but the
refusal to give cost him quite as much in discomfort as giving did in
purse.

The country villages and cottages, however, afforded him compensating
pleasure. In the neighborhood of Rock Ferry, on the shore of the
Mersey opposite from Liverpool, there were two or three ancient little
settlements which he loved to visit.  The thatched and whitewashed
cottages, with their tiny gardens of hollyhocks and marigolds, seemed
like parts of the framework of the land; the passage of centuries only
served to weld them more firmly in their places. The villages were
massed together, each in a small space, instead of being dispread
loosely over a township, as in his native New England, and enduring
stone and plaster took the place of timber and shingles. But the
churches, small and fabulously ancient, affected him most.  He placed
his hand on stones which had been set in place before William the
Conqueror landed in England, and this physical survival seemed to
bring into his actual presence the long succession of all the
intervening ages. These structures, still so solid and serviceable,
had witnessed the passing of the entire procession of English history;
all the mighty men and events of her career had come and gone while
they remained unscathed. Under his feet were the graves of the unknown
dead; within the narrow precincts he inhaled that strange, antique
odor of mortality that made him feel as if he were breathing the air
of long-dead centuries. This apparent evanescence of the spiritual
attested by the survival of the material is one of the most singular
and impressive of sensations; it takes history out of the realm of the
mind, and brings it into sensible manifestation. It is almost as
affecting as if the very figures of departed actors of former ages
were to reappear and rub shoulders with us of today, and cast their
shadows in the contemporary sunshine.

On most of these walks in the neighborhood of Rock Ferry I was my
father's companion, but, though my legs could march beside his, my
mental-equipment could not participate in his meditations.  He would
occasionally make some half-playful, imaginative remark, calculated to
help me realize the situation that was so vividly present to
himself.  His thoughts, however deep, were always ready to break into
playfulness outwardly.  We often walked through the village of
Bebbington, whose church had a high stone steeple, nearly to the
summit of which the ancient ivy had clambered. And as it came in view
he would always say, in a sort of recitative, perhaps reminiscent of
Scott's narrative poems, which he was at that time reading aloud to
us, "There is of Bebbington the holy peak!" To which I would as
constantly rejoin, "'Of Bebbington the holy spire,' father!"--being
offended by his use of a word so unmusical as peak. He would only
smile and trudge onward. He was somewhat solicitous, I suspect, to
check in his son any tendency towards mere poetical sentiment; his own
imaginative faculty was rooted in common-sense, and he knew the value
of the latter in curbing undue excursions into the fanciful and
transcendental.

In Eastham, on the village green, stood an old yew-tree which, six
centuries before, had been traditionally called The Old Yew of
Eastham, and was probably at least coeval with the village itself,
which was one of the oldest in England. It was of enormous girth, and
was still in leaf; but nothing but the bark was left of the great
trunk; all the wood had decayed away so long ago that the memory of
man held no record of it. There was a great conical gap in one side,
like an open door, and it was my custom--as it had doubtless been that
of innumerable children of ages gone--to enter this door and "play
house" in the spacious interior. Meanwhile my father would seat
himself on the twisted roots without, and let his thoughts drift back
to the time when this huge hulk had first cast a slender shadow over
the greensward of primitive, Saxon England. It was a massive tree
before the Domesday Book was begun; Chaucer would not be heard of for
four hundred years to come; and where was Shakespeare? What was
suspected of America? Yet here was this venerable vegetable, still
with life enough left in it, perhaps, to see the end of English
monarchy. The yew was a fact; but the ghosts were the reality, after
all.

These obscure village antiquities, which had no special history
attaching to them, were in a way more impressive than the great ruins
of England, which had formed the scene and background of famous
events. The latter had become conventional sights, which the tourist
felt bound to inspect under the voluble and exasperating guidance of a
professional showman; and this malice-prepense sort of interest and
picturesqueness always tried Hawthorne's patience and sympathy a
little. It is the unknown past that is most fascinating, that comes
home closest to the heart. The things told of in history books are
hackneyed, and they partake of the unreality inherent in the
descriptions of the writers. But the unrecorded things are virgin, and
enter into our most private sympathies and realization. My father
viewed and duly admired the great castles, palaces, and cathedrals of
England; but he loved the old villages and their appurtenances, and
could dream dreams more moving under the shadow of Eastham Yew than in
Westminster Abbey itself.

The historic houses and country-seats which were still inhabited were
still more difficult to get in touch with from the historic point of
view; the present dazzled the past out of sight. One was told who
built this facade, who added that wing, who was imprisoned in yonder
tower; where Queen Elizabeth slept, and the foot of what martyr
imprinted the Bloody Footstep on the threshold.

But you listened to these tales over a cup of tea in the drawing-room,
or between the soup and the roast beef at the dinner-table, and they
were not convincing. How were these ruddy-cheeked, full-bodied,
hospitable personages who sat about you to be held compatible with the
romantic periods and characters that they described? The duck and the
green pease, the plum-pudding and the port, the white neck-cloths and
the bare necks were too immediate and potent. In many cases, too, the
denizens of the ancient houses were not lineal descendants of the
original founders; they were interlopers, by purchase or otherwise. In
themselves they were kind and agreeable, their manners were excellent,
they helped one to comprehend the England of the passing moment; but
they only clipped the wings of imagination and retrospect. It was only
after an interval of some years that Hawthorne was able so far to
recover from the effect of their obtrusive existence as to be able to
see through them and beyond them to the splendid and gloomy vistas in
front of which they were grouped.

Yet England, past and present, rich and poor, real and ideal, did
somehow enter into him and become a part of his permanent
consciousness, and he liked it better than anything else he had known.
Even the social life, though he came to it under some compulsion,
rewarded him in the long run.  One of the first personal invitations
was to the country-seat of the Brights, where he met the family and
relatives of his friend Henry Bright.  Bright's father was a
remarkable figure; he resembled an East-Indian more than an
Englishman.  He was dark, slender, courteous, and vivid; in long
after-years I saw Brahmins like him in India.  I would liken him to a
rajah, except that rajahs of his age are commonly become gross and
heavy from indulgence, whereas he had an almost ascetic aspect. His
manners were singularly soft and caressing; he courted his wife, when
he returned each day from business, as if they were still in their
honeymoon, and his conduct towards all who surrounded him was
similarly polished. He did not in the least resemble his Saxon son;
and for my part, looking at him from the primitive boy stand-point, I
never suspected that he was related to my father's young friend. He
had made a fortune in colonial trade, and may possibly have been born
in India. At this juncture the dealings of his firm were chiefly with
Australia, and the largest merchant steamship then in the world had
just been built for them, and Hawthorne was invited to the launching.
For a British merchant prince such an occasion could not but be of
supreme importance and pride. Mr. Bright's Oriental visage was
radiant; his white hair seemed to shine with an added lustre; the
reserve of the Englishman was forgotten, and he showed the excitement
and emotion that he felt. There was a distinguished company on the
great deck to witness his triumph and congratulate him upon it. All
went well; at the appointed signal the retaining obstructions were cut
away, and the mighty vessel began its descent into the waiting river.
A lady of his family smashed a bottle of wine over the graceful bows.
For a few moments there was a majestic, sweeping movement downward;
then, of a sudden, it was checked. It was as if a great life had been
quenched at the instant when its heart first began to throb. A murmur
of dismay ran through the assemblage; but it was in the face of Mr.
Bright that the full tragedy of the disaster was displayed. Never was
seen a swifter change from the highest exultation to the depths of
consternation. The color left his cheeks; heavy lines appeared about
his handsome mouth; his eyes became fixed, and seemed to sink into his
head; his erect figure drooped like that of one who has received a
mortal blow. It was only that the ship had stuck in the deep mud of
the river bottom; but all ship-owners are superstitious, and the old
man foreboded the worst.  The ship was floated again some days later;
but the omens were fulfilled; she was lost on her first voyage. I do
not remember seeing Mr. Bright after this event, but I know he never
again was the same man as before.

Richard Monckton Milnes, who was afterwards Lord Houghton, was greatly
attracted towards my father, who liked him; but circumstances
prevented their seeing much of each other. Milnes was then forty-five
years old; he was a Cambridge man, and intimate with Tennyson, Hallam,
and other men of literary mark, and he was himself a minor poet, and
warm in the cause of literature. During his parliamentary career, in
1837, he was instrumental in passing the copyright act. He had
travelled in Greece and Italy in his twenties; was fond of society,
and society of him. A more urbane and attractive English gentleman did
not exist; everything that a civilized man could care for was at his
disposal, and he made the most of his opportunities.  His manners were
quiet and cordial, with a touch of romance and poetry mingling with
the man-of-the-world tone in his conversation, and he was quite an
emotional man. I have more than once seen tears in his eyes and heard
a sob in his voice when matters that touched his heart or imagination
were discussed. There was, indeed, a vein of sadness and pessimism in
Milnes, though only his intimates were aware of it; it was the
pessimism of a man who has too much leisure for intellectual analysis
and not enough actual work to do to keep him occupied.  It lent a fine
flavor of irony to some of his conversation. He was liberal in
politics and liberal in his attitude towards life in general; but
there was not force enough in him, or, at any rate, not stimulus
enough, to lift him to distinction.  Some of his poems, however,
betrayed a deep and radical vein of thought. He was of middle
height, well made, light built, with a large and well-formed head and
wavy, dark hair. His likeness to Longfellow was marked, though he was
hardly so handsome a man; but the type of head and face was the
same--the forehead and brain well developed, the lower parts of the
countenance small and refined, though sensuous. His eyes were dark,
brilliant, and expressive. He, like the old poet Rogers, made a
feature of giving breakfasts to chosen friends, and as he had the
whole social world to choose from, and unfailing good taste, his
breakfasts were well worth attending. They were real breakfasts--so
far as the hour was concerned--not lunches or early dinners in
masquerade; but wine was served at them, and Milnes was very
hospitable and had an Anacreontic or Omar touch in him. To breakfast
with him, therefore, meant--unless you were singularly abstemious and
strong-minded--to discount the remaining meals of the day. But the
amount of good cheer that an Englishman can carry and seem not
obscured by it surprises an American. A bottle or so of hock of a
morning will make most Americans feel that business, for the rest of
that day, is an iridescent dream; but an Englishman does not seem to
be burdened by it--at any rate, he did not fifty years ago.

[IMAGE: RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES]

Another hearty companion was Bryan Waller Procter, who, for literary
uses, anagrammed his name into Barry Cornwall, and made it famous,
fifty years ago, as that of the best song-writer in contemporary
England. But he had made a literary reputation before the epoch of his
songs; there were four or five dramatic and narrative poems to his
credit published during the first quarter of the last century. Procter
was, indeed, already a veteran in 1854, having been born in 1787, and
bred to the bar, to which he was admitted in 1831. But he spent the
active thirty years of his life in the discharge of that function
which seems often sought by respectable Englishmen-commissioner of
lunacy. He sent my father a small volume containing the Songs, and
some fragments; they fully deserved their reputation. The fragments
were mostly scraps of dramatic dialogue, of which one at least sticks
in my memory:

"She was a princess; but she fell; and now Her shame goes blushing
down a line of kings."

As I recollect him, he may have looked like a commissioner of lunacy,
but he did not look like a poet; he was rather undersized, with a
compact head and a solemn face, and the quietest, most unobtrusive
bearing imaginable. He was a well-made little man, and he lived to a
great age, dying some time in the seventies, at the age of
eighty-seven. He told my father that after leaving Harrow School he
was distinguished in athletics, and for a time sparred in public with
some professional bruiser. He had been a school-mate of Byron and Sir
Robert Peel, and had known Lamb, Kean, and the other lights of that
generation. He was a most likeable and remunerative companion. His
wife, who survived him (living, I think, to be over ninety), was a
woman of intellect and charm, and she retained her attractiveness to
the end of her life. There are poets who are consumed early by their
own fires, and others who are gently warmed by them beyond the common
span of human existence, and Barry Cornwall was one of these, and
transmitted his faculty, through sympathetic affection, to his wife.

Of renown not less than the song-writer's was the metaphysical
theologian, James Martineau, then in the Liverpool epoch of his
career. He was a clean-cut, cold, gentle, dry character, with a
somewhat Emersonian cast of countenance, but with the Emersonian
humanity and humility left out. Like Emerson, he had ascended a
Unitarian pulpit, but, unlike Emerson, he stayed there long after what
he was pleased to regard as his convictions had ceased to possess even
a Unitarian degree of religious quality.  He was always apostolic in
his manner, and his utterances were ex cathedra, and yet his whole
long life was a story of changing views on the subjects he had chosen
to be the theme of his career.

He was the great opponent of orthodoxy in his day, yet he led his
followers to no goal more explicit than might be surmised from a study
of Kant and Hegel. He was, however, sincere in his devotion to the
will-o'-the-wisp that he conceived to be the truth, and he was
courageous enough to admit that he never satisfied himself. There was
chilly and austere attraction about the man; he was so elevated and
superior that one could hardly help believing that he must know
something of value, and this illusion was the easier because he did
know so much in the way of scholarly learning. My father felt respect
for his character, but was bored by his metaphysics--a form of
intellectual athletics which he had exhausted while still a young man.
James's sister Harriet was also of the company. She was so deaf as to
be obliged to use an ear-trumpet, and she was as positive in her views
(which had become avowedly atheistic) as her brother, and whenever any
one began to utter anything with which she disagreed, she silenced him
by the simple expedient of dropping the ear-trumpet. In herself, she
was an agreeable old lady; but she seldom let her opinions rest long
enough for one to get at her on the merely human side, and she
cultivated a retired life, partly on account of her deafness, partly
because her opinions made society shy of her, and partly because she
did not think society worth her time and attention. She was a good
woman, with a mind of exceptional caliber, but the world admired more
than it desired her.

As a relief from the consideration of these exalted personages, I am
disposed to relate a tragic anecdote about our friend Henry Bright.
Early in our Rock Ferry residence he came to dine with us--or I rather
think it was to supper. At any rate, it was an informal occasion, and
the children were admitted to table. My mother had in the cupboard
a jar of excellent raspberry jam, and she brought it forth for the
delectation of our guest. He partook of it liberally, and said he had
never eaten any jam so good; it had a particular tang to it, he
declared, which outdid his best recollections of all previous
raspberry jam from his boyhood up. While he was in the midst of these
rhapsodies, and still consuming their subject with enthusiasm, my
mother, who had taken some of the jam on her own plate, suddenly made
a ghastly discovery. The jam-pot had been for several days standing in
the cupboard with its top off, or ajar, and an innumerable colony of
almost microscopic red ants had discovered it, and launched themselves
fervently upon it and into it; it had held them fast in its sweet but
fatal embrace, and other myriads had followed their fellows into the
same delicious and destructive abyss. What the precise color of the
ants may have been before they became incorporate with the jam is not
known; but as the case was, they could be distinguished from it only
by their voluptuous struggles in its controlling stickiness. Only the
keenest eye could discern them, and the eyes of Henry Bright were
among the most near-sighted in England. Besides, according to his
custom, he was talking with the utmost volubility all the time.

What was to be done? My father and mother stealthily exchanged an
awful look, and the question was settled. It was too late to recall
the ants which our friend had devoured by tens of thousands.  It
seemed not probable that, were he kept in ignorance of his
predicament, they would do him any serious bodily injury; whereas,
were he enlightened, imagination might get in her fatal work.
Accordingly, a rigorous silence upon the subject was maintained, and
the dear innocent actually devoured nearly that whole potful of red
ants, accompanying the meal with a continual psalm of praise of their
exquisite flavor; and never till the day of his death did he suspect
what the secret of that flavor was. I believe the Chinese eat ants and
regard them as a luxury. Very likely they are right; but at that
period of my boyhood I had not heard of this, and then and often
afterwards did I meditate with misgivings upon the predicament of
Henry Bright's stomach after his banquet.




VII


Life in Rock Park--Inconvenient independence of lodgings--The average
man--"How many gardeners have you got?"--Shielded by rose-leaves of
culture and refinement--The English middle class--Prejudice,
complacency, and Burke's Peerage--Never heard of Tennyson or
Browning--Satisfaction in the solid earth--A bond of fellowship--A
damp, winding, verdurous street--The parent of stucco
villas--Inactivity of individual conscience--A plateau and a
cliff-dwelling--"The Campbells are Coming!"--Sortes Virgiliance--A
division in the family--Precaution against famine--English praying and
card-playing--Exercise for mind and body--Knight-errantry--
Sentimentality and mawkishness--The policeman and the cobbler--
A profound truth--Fireworks by lamplight--Mr. Squarey and Mrs.
Roundey--Sandford and Merton--The ball of jolly.

That life at Rock Park had in it more unadulterated English quality
than any other with which we became conversant while in England. With
the exception of a short sojourn in Leamington, it was the only
experience vouchsafed us of renting a house. All the rest of the time
we lived in lodging or boarding houses, or in hotels. The
boarding-houses of England are like other boarding-houses; the hotels,
or inns, in the middle of the last century, were for the most part
plain and homely compared with what we have latterly been used to; but
the English lodging-house system had peculiarities.  You enjoyed
independence, but you paid for it with inconveniences. The owner of
the house furnished you with nothing except the house, with its dingy
beds, chairs, tables, and carpets. Everything else necessary to
existence you got for yourself. You made your own contracts with
butcher, baker, and grocer. You did your own firing and lighting.
Your sole conversation with the owner was over the weekly bill for the
rooms. You might cater to yourself to the tune of the prince or of the
pauper, as your means or your inclination suggested, but you must do
it upon the background of the same dingy rooms. Dingy or not so dingy,
the rooms, of course, never fitted you; they were a Procrustes bed,
always incompatible, in one way or in another, with the proportions
which nature had bestowed upon you. You wondered, in your misanthropic
moments, whether there ever was or could be any one whom English
lodgings would exactly fit.  Probably they were designed for the
average man, a person, as we all know, who exists only in the
imagination of statisticians. And if the environment shows the man,
one cannot help rejoicing that there is so little likelihood of one's
forming the average man's acquaintance.

There was nothing peculiar about rented houses in England beyond the
innate peculiarities attaching to them as English. If the house were
unfurnished, and you had leisure to pick and choose, you might suit
yourself tolerably well, always with the proviso that things English
could be suitable to the foreigner. And certainly, in the 1850's, the
English commanded living conditions more desirable, on the whole, than
Americans did. They understood comfort, as distinct from luxury--a
pitch of civilization to which we are even now but just attaining.
There was not then, and until the millennium there will probably never
be, anything else in the world which so ministered to physical ease
and general satisfaction as did the conditions of life among the
English upper classes. Kublai Khan, in Xanadu, never devised a
pleasure-dome so alluring to mere human nature-especially the English
variety of it--as was afforded by an English nobleman's country-seat.
Tennyson's Palace of Art is very good in poetry, but in real life the
most imaginative and energetic real-estate dealer could not have got
so good a price for it as would gladly have been paid for the dwelling
of, for example, the Duke of Westminster. "How many gardeners have you
got?" asked an American Minister of the duke of the period, after
meeting a fresh gardener, during a long afternoon stroll through the
grounds, at each new turn of the path. "Oh, I don't know--I fancy
about forty," replied the duke, somewhat taken aback by this demand
for precise information concerning the facts of his own establishment,
which, until that moment, he probably supposed had been attended to by
Providence. And really, the machinery of life in such a place is so
hidden, it is so nearly automatic, that one might easily believe it to
be operated according to some law of nature.  The servants are (or
were) so well trained, they did their jobs so well, that you were
conscious only of their being done; you never saw them a-doing. The
thought happened to cross your mind, of a morning, that you would like
to take a drive at eleven o'clock; you were not aware that you had
mentioned the matter; but at eleven o'clock the carriage was, somehow,
at the door. At dinner, the dishes appeared and disappeared, the
courses succeeded one another, invisibly, or as if by mere fiat of the
will; you must be very wide-awake to catch a footman or butler
meddling with the matter. You went up to the bedroom to change your
dress; you came down with it changed; but only by an effort could you
recall the fact that a viewless but supremely efficient valet had been
concerned in the transaction. The coal fire in the grate needed
poking; you glanced away for a moment; when you looked at the fire
again it had been poked--had, to all appearance, poked itself. And so
in all relations; to desire was to get; to picture a condition was to
realize it. You were shielded on every side by rose-leaves of culture
and refinement; all you had to do was to allow your mind to lapse from
one conception to another, and then, lifting your languorous eyelids,
behold! there you were--as Mr.  James would say.

But I set out to tell not of noblemen's country-seats, but of Rock
Park. Rock Park was one of the typical abodes of the English
respectable middle-class, and the English middle-class, respectable,
or not altogether respectable, is the substance of England. Not until
you have felt and smelt and tasted that do you know what England
really is.  Fifty years ago, the people in question were dull,
ignorant, material, selfish, prejudiced, conventional; they were
hospitable, on conventional lines; they were affable and even social,
so long as you did not awaken their prejudices; they were confidential
and communicative, if you conceded at the outset that England was the
best of all countries and the English the leading nation of the world.
They read a newspaper resembling in every particular themselves;
usually several of them united in a subscription to a single copy,
which passed solemnly from hand to hand. They were slow and
methodical, never taking short-cuts across lots; but they were
punctual; they knew their own business and business associates, their
circle of relatives, their dwelling and social place, and Burke's
Peerage; but they knew nothing else. In a group of intelligent persons
of this degree, question was raised, once upon a time, of two English
poets; but not one of the group had heard of either; the poets were
Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning. This may seem merely absurd or
apocryphal; but consider the terrible power of concentration which it
implies! And consider the effect which the impact against such a clay
wall must make upon a man and an American like my father!

Well, the very surprise and novelty of the adventure amused and
interested him, and even won a good deal upon his sympathies. He loved
the solid earth as well as the sky above it, and he was glad of the
assurance that this people existed, though he might be devoutly
thankful that two hundred years of America had opened so impassable a
gulf between him and them. Indeed, the very fact of that impassability
may have made his intercourse with them the easier--at any rate, on
his side. On their side, they regarded him with a dim but always
self-complacent curiosity; had he not been a consul, they would
probably not have regarded him at all. Of course they--the Rock Park
sort of people--had never read his books; literary cultivation was not
to be found in England lower down than the gentleman class. My father,
therefore, was never obliged to say, "I'm glad you liked it" to them.
And that relief, of itself, must have served as a substantial bond of
fellowship.

Rock Park, as I remember it, was a damp, winding, verdurous street,
protected at each end by a small granite lodge, and studded throughout
its length with stuccoed villas. The villas were mended-on to each
other (as one of the children expressed it) two and two; they had
front yards filled with ornamental shrubbery, and gardens at the back,
an acre or two in extent; they were fenced in with iron pickets, and
there were gates to the driveways, on which the children swung. Every
normal child supposes that gates are made for no other purpose.  The
trees were not large, but there were many of them, and they were thick
with leaves. There was a damp, arboreal smell everywhere, mingled with
the finer perfume of flowers and of the hawthorns and yellow
laburnums. Flowers, especially purple English violets, grew profusely
in the gardens, and gooseberry-bushes, bearing immense gooseberries
such as our climate does not nourish. There were also armies of
garden--snails, handsome gasteropods, which were of great interest to
me; for I was entering, at this period, upon a passionate pursuit of
natural history. For many years I supposed that the odor of the
violets proceeded from snails, and to this day I always associate
snails with violets, or vice versa. Una, Rose, and I were given each a
section of a garden-bed for our own; I cultivated mine so assiduously
that it became quite a deep hole; but I do not recall that anything
ever grew in it. The soil was a very rich loam, and ceaseless
diligence must have been required in me to keep it barren.

Gray skies, frequent showers, a cool or semi-chilly mildness, varied
every little while by the intrusion of a yellow fog from Liverpool,
over the river--such was the climate of Rock Park. There were
occasional passages of sunshine; but never, that I recollect, an
entire day of it. The stucco of the villas was streaked with green
dampness, and peeling off here and there. I suspect that the fashion
of castellated, stuccoed villas may have been set in the eighteenth
century by Horace Walpole when he built that marvellous edifice known
as Strawberry Hill. I first saw that achievement twenty years after
the time of which I now write, and recognized in it, as I thought, the
parent of my former Rock Park home and of innumerable of the latter's
kindred. Strawberry Hill is sprawling and vast, the progeny are
liliputian, but the family likeness is striking. The idea is to build
something which shall seem to be all that it is not. The gray-white
stucco pretends to be stone, and the lines of the stone courses are
carefully painted on the roughened surface; but nobody, since Horace's
time, could ever have been deceived by them. The castellated additions
and ornamentation are all bogus, of the cheapest and vulgarest sort.
It is singular that a people so sincere and solid as the English are
supposed to be should adopt this fashion for their dwellings. But then
they are used to follow conventions and adopt fashions set them by
those whom they esteem to be their betters, without thought, or
activity of individual conscience.  It is rather matter for wonder,
remembering what rascals and humbugs many of their "betters" have
been, that middle-class England is not more of a whited sepulchre than
it is. I do not mean to cast any reflections upon the admirable and
beguiling Horace; but he was a highly civilized person, and had a
brother named Robert, and perhaps solid sincerity should not be
expected from such a combination.

Our villa, within, was close and comfortable enough, for its era and
degree; but the furniture was ponderous and ugly to the point of
nightmare.  The chairs, tables, and sofas wore the semblance of solid
mahogany, twisted and tortured in a futile struggle to achieve
elegance; the carvings, or mouldings, were screwed or glued on, and
the lines of structure, intended to charm the eye, accomplished only
the discomfort of the body. The dining-table was like a plateau; the
sideboard resembled a cliff-dwelling. The carpets were of the Brussels
ilk: acanthus-leaves and roses and dahlias wreathed in inextricable
convolutions, glowing with the brightest and most uncompromising hues.
The lace curtains were imitation lace; the damask curtains were
imitation damask. The bedsteads.  ... But this is not a History of
England. After all, we were snug and comfortable. On the walls were
portraits of the family whose house this was; by name, Campbell; the
house-painter, or wood-grainer, one would suppose, had a leaning
towards this branch of art. I never saw the originals of these
portraits, but, upon the assumption that they had been faithfully
interpreted by the artist, I used to think, in my childish folly, that
the refrain of the old song, "The Campbells are Coming," was meant as
a phrase or threat to frighten people. Who would not have run upon
such an announcement? As I have already made one confession in these
pages not reflecting credit upon myself, I may as well make another
now. Just thirty years after the events I am describing, somebody
wrote to me from Rock Park, stating that the local inhabitants were
desirous of putting up on the house which Hawthorne had occupied there
a marble or bronze slab, recording the fact for the benefit of
pilgrims.  The committee, however, did not know which of three or four
houses was the right one, and the writer enclosed photographs of them
all, and requested me to put a cross over our former habitation.  Now,
all the houses in Rock Park had been turned out of the same mould, and
I knew no more than my interrogator which was which. But I reflected
that the committee had been put to trouble and expense for
photographs, postage-stamps, and what not, and that all that was
really wanted was something to be sentimental over. So, rather than
disappoint them, I resorted to a kind of sortes Virgillana; I shut my
eyes, turned round thrice, and made a mark at hazard on the line of
photographs.  The chances against my having hit it right were only
four to one; the committee were satisfied, the pilgrims have been made
happy, and it is difficult to see where harm has been done.
Nevertheless, the matter has weighed somewhat on my conscience ever
since, and I am glad to have thus lightened myself of it. What would
one better do in such circumstances? Is history written in this way?

The custom of our family in America had been to take all our meals
together; but in England the elders take lunch at noon, tea at four or
five, and dinner at seven or eight, while the children dine at noon
and sup at six. This arrangement was adopted in Rock Park. My father
used to leave home for the consulate at nine, and return--unless kept
away by an official or social engagement--at five or six.  There was
appointed for us children a nurse or governess, to oversee and
administer our supplies; our father and mother dining, with such
guests as might happen to be present, late in the evening.  We were
sometimes allowed to come in at dessert, to eat a few nuts and raisins
and exhibit our infantile good manners. This domestic separation was a
matter of much speculation arid curiosity to our immature minds; we
used to haunt the hall through which the servants carried the dishes,
smoking and fragrant, from the kitchen to the dining-room, and once in
a while the too-indulgent creatures would allow us to steal something.
How ravishingly delicious things thus acquired taste! And we,
fancying, of course, that they must be not less delicious for the
folks at table, used to marvel how they could ever bear to leave off
eating. The dinners were certainly rather elaborate compared with the
archaic repasts of Salem or of Concord; but they were as far inferior
in grandeur and interminableness to the astonishing banquets at which,
in some great houses, our father and mother were present. Consider,
for example, this dinner, in no way remarkable among such functions,
at the Hollands's, about this time.  There were twelve persons at
table. The service was of solid silver; two enormous covers were on
the table before the soup was served; being removed, they revealed
turbot and fried fish. Then followed boiled turkey and roast goose,
and between them innumerable smaller dishes, including chicken-pies,
ragouts, cutlets, fricasees, tongue, and ham, all being placed in
their silver receptacles on the table; on the sideboard was a vast
round of boiled beef, as a precaution against famine. With the sweets
were served grouse and pheasants; there were five kinds of wine, not
including the champagne, which was consumed as a collateral all the
way along.  The pudding which followed these trifles was an heroic
compound, which Gargantua might have flinched from; then came the nuts
and raisins, then the coffee, then the whiskey and brandy. There were
people in England, half a century ago, who ate this sort of dinners
six or seven times a week, and thought nothing of it. They actually
ate and drank them--did not merely glance at them and shake their
heads. The ancient Scandinavians, Gauls, Saxons, and Normans, of whom
they were descendants, could not have done more. One cannot help
respecting such prodigious trencher-men and women, or wonder that the
poverty-stricken class were ill-fed. Dinner in England had become a
very different thing when I lived there twenty years later, and though
port and Madeira were generally on the table, the only man whom I saw
habitually drink them was Robert Browning! Possibly this is the reason
the British got such a thrashing in South Africa the other day.

After dinner at Rock Park--or, if it were to be a late affair,
before--we would have family prayers, in which the servants joined.
This was in deference to English custom; not that we were irreligious,
but we had not before been accustomed to express our religious
feelings in just that manner. All being grouped in a semicircle, my
father would open the Bible and read a chapter; then he would take a
prayer-book containing thirty or forty well-considered addresses to
the Almighty, and everybody would kneel down and cover their eyes with
their hands. The "Amen" having been reached, and echoed by every one,
all would rise to their former positions, and the servants would file
out of the room. It must have been somewhat of an effort for my father
to go through this ceremony; but I think he did it, not only for the
reason above mentioned, but also because he thought it right that his
children should have the opportunity of gaining whatever religious
sentiment such proceedings might inculcate. But I do not think that he
had much faith in the practice as an English institution.  Indeed, he
has somewhere written that the English "bring themselves no nearer to
God when they pray than when they play cards."

[IMAGE: ROBERT BROWNING]

I understood long afterwards, as I did not at the time, how closely my
father and mother studied in all things the welfare and cultivation of
their children.  They were not formal or oppressive about it; all went
pleasantly and with seeming spontaneity, as if in accordance with our
own desire; but we were wisely and needfully guided. We were never
sent to school during our seven years in Europe; but either we were
taught our lessons by our parents at home or by governesses. In
addition to the constant walks which I took with my father, he
encouraged me to join a cricket club in the Park, and sent me to
Huguenin's gymnasium in Liverpool, to the Cornwallis swimming-baths,
and to a dancing-academy kept by a highly ornamental Frenchman, and he
bought me an enormous steel hoop, and set me racing after it at
headlong speed.  Nor did he neglect to stimulate us in the imaginative
and aesthetic side. From the date of our settlement in England to the
end of his life, he read aloud to us in the evenings many of the
classics of literature. Spenser's The Faerie Queene, the Don Quixote
of Cervantes, the poems and novels of Scott, Grimm's and Andersen's
Fairy Tales, much of Defoe and Swift, Goldsmith's Vicar of Wake field,
Coleridge's Ancient Mariner (he himself was very fond of that poem),
and many other things, and I cannot overestimate the good they did me.
His talks to me during our walks gave me, under the guise of
pleasantry, not so much specific information concerning things (though
that was not wanting), but--character; that is, the questions he put
to me, the remarks and comments he made, the stories he told, were all
calculated to give me a high idea of human duties and aspirations; to
encourage generosity, charity, courage, patriotism, and independence.
From the reading of The Faerie Queene and of Don Quixote I conceived a
vehement infatuation for mediaeval chivalry and knight-errantry; I
adopted the motto of the order, "Be faithful, brave, and true in deed
and word"; and I indulged in waking dreams of heroic adventures in
quest of fair renown, and to succor the oppressed. All this he
encouraged and abetted, though always, too, with a sort of twinkle of
the eye, lest I should take myself too seriously and wax priggish. He
permitted me to have a breastplate and a helmet with a golden dragon
crest (made by our nurse out of pasteboard covered with tinsel-paper),
and he bought me a real steel sword with a brass hilt wrought in
open-work; I used to spend hours polishing it, and picturing to myself
the giants and ogres I would slay with it.  Finally--with that
humorous arching of the eyebrow of his--he bade me kneel down, and
with my sword smote me on the shoulder, and dubbed me knight, saying,
"Rise up, Sir Julian!" It was worth many set moral homilies to me. He
knew the advantage of leading a boy to regard the practice of boyish
and manly virtues not as a burden but as a privilege and boon, and of
making the boy's own conscience his judge. His handling of the matter
was, of course, modified so as to reach the inner springs of my
particular nature and temperament, which he thoroughly understood.
Withal, he never failed to hold up to ridicule anything showing a
tendency to the sentimental; he would test me on this point in various
ways, and always betrayed pleasure when he found me quick to detect
the sentimental or mawkish taint in literature or life. I breathed a
manly, robust, and bracing atmosphere in his company, and when I
reflect upon what were my proclivities to folly during this
impressionable period, I thank my stars for such a father.

There was abundant quiet and seclusion in Rock Park, and had my father
been able to do any writing, he could hardly have found a retreat more
suitable.  The tradesmen called early at the houses in the Park, their
wagon-wheels making no sound upon the unpaved street, and the two
policemen, who lived in the stone lodges, kept the place free from
beggars and peddlers. These policemen, pacing slowly along in their
uniforms, rigid and dignified, had quite an imposing aspect, and it
was some time before we children discovered that they were only men,
after all. Each had a wife and children, who filled to overflowing the
tiny habitations; when their blue coats and steel-framed hats were
off, they were quite humble persons; one of them eked out his official
salary by mending shoes. After following with awe the progress along
the sidewalk of the officer of public order, stalking with solemn and
measured gait, and touching his hat, with a hand encased in a
snow-white cotton glove, to such of the denizens of the Park as he
might encounter, it was quite like a fairy-tale transformation to see
him squatting in soiled shirt-sleeves on his cobbler's bench, drawing
waxed thread through holes in a boot-sole. I once saw one of them, of
a Sunday afternoon, standing at ease in the doorway of his lodge, clad
in an old sack-coat which I recognized as having been my father's. I
am constitutionally reverent of law and order; but the revelation of
the domestic lives of these policemen gave me an insight, which I have
never since lost, into the profound truth that the man and the officer
are twain.

There were perhaps twenty families living in the Park, of whom we
became acquainted with two only; the people who lived next door to us
(whose name I have forgotten), and Mr. and Mrs. Squarey, who dwelt
higher up the street. The people next door had two boys of about my
own age, with whom I played cricket, and it was from the back windows
of their house that I saw for the first time an exhibition of
fireworks in their garden; I remember that when, just before the show
began, they put out the lamp in the room, I asked to have it
relighted, in order that I might see the as yet unexperienced wonder.
There are folks who go hunting for the sun with a lantern.

Mr. Squarey was tall and stiff of figure, with a singularly square
countenance, with a short whisker on each side of it; but spiritually
he was most affable and obliging; so was his wife; but as she was
short and globular, my father was wont to refer to her, in the privacy
of domestic intercourse, as Mrs.  Roundey. They were profuse in
invitations to go with us to places--to Chester, to the Welsh
show-places, and so forth; and although I think my father and mother
would rather have gone alone, they felt constrained to accept these
suggestions. It was in their company, at all events, that I first saw
Chester "Rows"; and also, from some coign of vantage on those
delightful old walls, an English horse-race, with jockeys in silk caps
and jackets tinted like the rainbow. Mr. Squarey's demeanor towards my
sisters and myself was like that of the benevolent tutor in Sandford
and Merton, with which excellent work we were very conversant at that
time; as, likewise, with Edgeworth's Parents' Assistant, and with
still another engaging volume called, I think, the Budget of
something; at any rate, it had two or three little boys and girls in
it, who were anxious to acquire useful and curious information on many
subjects, which was afforded them in generous measure by their highly
cultivated elders. Such flower-garlanded instruction was the best
specifically juvenile literature which those primitive ages afforded.
"Pray, mamma, why does the sun rise in the east instead of in the
west?" "Pray, papa, why was King Alfred called 'The Good'?" Mrs.
Markham's History of England was constructed upon the same artless
principle. What a distance we have travelled since then!

But it was a good and happy life in Rock Park, and I think our father
and mother enjoyed it almost as much as we children did. They were
meeting people many of whom were delightful--I shall try to paint the
portraits of some of them in the next chapter--and they were seeing
towns and castles and places of historic and picturesque interest; and
my father was earning more money than ever before, though less than a
quarter as much as he would have earned had not Congress, soon after
his accession to office, cut down the emoluments.  This was England;
the Old Home, and the Old World, for the understanding of which they
had prepared themselves all their lives previous. My father once said,
"If England were all the world, it would still have been worth while
for the Creator to have made it." The children were radiantly content
with their lot; and it is on record that the little boy once remarked,
"I don't remember when I carne down from heaven; but I'm glad I
happened to tumble into so good a family." The same individual,
rolling on the floor in excess of mirth over some childish comicality,
panted out, "Oh, mamma, my ball of jolly is so big I can't breathe!"
The ball of jolly became a household word for years thereafter.  It
was well nourished in those days.




VIII


Cataclysmic adventures--On the trail of dazzling fortunes--"Lovely,
but reprehensible Madham"--The throne saves the artist--English robin
redbreast--A sad and weary old man--"Most indelicate woman I've ever
known"--Perfectly chaste--Something human stirred dimly--"She loves
me; she loves me!"--The Prince of Wales and half-a-crown--Portentous
and thundering title--Honest English simplicity--"The spirit
lacking"--Abelard, Isaac Newton, and Ruskin--A famous and charming
woman of genius--Deep and wide well of human sympathy--The
whooping-cough.

In the spring of 1854 we were visited by John O'Sullivan, his wife and
mother, and a young relative of theirs, Miss Ella Rogers. O'Sullivan
had been appointed Minister to the Court of Portugal, and was on his
way thither. He was a Democrat of old standing; had edited the
Democratic Review in 1837, and had made my father's acquaintance at
that time through soliciting contributions from him; later they became
close friends, and when my sister Una was born, he sent her a silver
cup, and was ever after called "Uncle John" in the family, and, also,
occasionally, "the Count"--a title which, I believe, had some warrant
in his ancestry. For, although an American, Uncle John was born at sea
off the coast of Spain, of an Irish father and a mother of
aristocratic connections or extraction (I am a little uncertain, I
find, on this point); I think her parents were Italian. Uncle John had
all the charming qualities of the nations mentioned, and none of their
objectionable ones; though this is not to say that he was devoid of
tender faults, which were, if anything, more lovable than his virtues.
Beneath a tranquil, comely, and gentle exterior burned all the fire
and romance of the Celt; his faith and enthusiasm in "projects" knew
no bounds; he might be deceived and bankrupted a hundred times, and
would toe the mark the next time with undiminished confidence. He was
continually, and in the quietest way, having the most astonishing and
cataclysmic adventures; he would be blown up, as it were, by a
dynamite explosion, and presently would return from the sky
undisturbed, with only a slight additional sparkle in his soft eyes,
and with the lock of hair that fell gracefully over his forehead only
a trifle disordered. The most courteous and affectionate of men, with
the most yielding and self-effacing manners, he had the spirit of a
paladin, and was afraid of nothing. He would empty his pockets--or if,
as too often happened, they were already empty, he would pledge his
credit to help a friend out of a hole; and, on the other hand, he was
always hot upon the trail of a dazzling fortune, which, like Emerson's
Forerunners, never was overtaken. It would not long have availed him,
had it been otherwise, for never was there a Monte Cristo who lavished
wealth as O'Sullivan habitually did in anticipation, and would
undoubtedly have done in fact had the opportunity been afforded him.
He was gifted with a low, melodious, exquisitely modulated voice, and
a most engaging and winning manner, and when he set out to picture the
simple and easy methods whereby he proposed to make millions, it was
next to impossible to resist him.  He was like a beautiful, innocent,
brilliant child, grown up, endowed with an enchanter's wand, which was
forever promising all the kingdoms of the earth to him, but never (as
our modern phrase is) delivered the goods. He regarded my father as a
king of men, and he had, times without number, been on the very edge
of making him, as well as himself, a multifold millionaire. However,
President Pierce did what he could for him by giving him the
Portuguese mission (after first offering it to my father), and
O'Sullivan did excellent work there. But he became
interested--abstractly--in some copper-mines in Spain, which, as he
clearly demonstrated, could be bought for a song, and would pay a
thousand per cent, from the start.  Partly to gratify him, and partly
with the hope of at least getting his money back, my father finally,
in 1858 or 1859, advanced him ten thousand dollars to finance the
scheme. I saw the dear old gentleman, a generation later, in New York;
he had the same clear, untroubled, tranquil face as of old; his hair,
though gray, was as thick and graceful as ever; his manner was as
sweet and attractive; but though, in addition to his other
accomplishments, he had become an advanced spiritualist, he had not
yet coined into bullion his golden imagination.  He had forgotten the
Spanish copper-mines, and I took care not to remind him of them. Peace
to his generous, ardent, and loving soul!

Uncle John's wife was a good mate for him, in her own way as brilliant
and fascinating as he and with an unalterable belief in her husband's
destiny.  She was a tall, slender woman, with kindling eyes, a lovely
smile, and a wonderful richness and vivacity of conversation; nor have
I ever since known so truly witty a woman. But she lacked the
delightful mellowness and tenderness for which Uncle John was so
remarkable. The mother, Madame O'Sullivan, as she was called, was a
type of the finegrained, gently bred aristocrat, every outline
softened and made gracious by the long lapse of years through which
she had lived. She sat like a picture of reverend but still animated
age, with white, delicate lace about her pale cheeks and dark, kindly,
weary eyes, and making a frost-work over her silvery hair. As for Miss
Ella Rogers, it is with some embarrassment that I refer to her;
inasmuch as I fell violently in love with her at first sight, and I
have reason to think that she never fully appreciated or adequately
responded to my passion, though, at the time, I was nearly one-third
of her age--she being five-and-twenty. She was a dark and lively
beauty, thoroughly self-possessed, and versed in social
accomplishments, and gifted with dramatic talent. She afterwards made
a great impression in the court of the Portuguese monarch, and more
than once the King himself chose her as his partner in the ball.
Reports of these gayeties came to my ears; and I found the other day
part of a letter which I addressed to her, remonstrating against these
royal flirtations. It is written in pencil, upon the blue office-paper
of the consulate, and I can recall distinctly the small, indignant boy
and knight-errant, sitting at the desk opposite his hugely diverted
father, and beginning his epistle thus: "Lovely, but reprehensible
Madham!" I suspect that I consulted my father as to the spelling of
the second adjective, for it shows signs of having been overhauled;
but after that my feelings became too strong for me, and the remainder
of the letter is orthographically so eccentric that it was probably
cast aside and a copy made of it. But the rough draught, by some
inconceivable chance, was kept, and turns up now, after half a
century, with a strange thread of pathos woven by time into the
texture of its absurdity. Poor, little, lovely reprehensible Madham!
Her after-career was not a happy one.

These agreeable persons filled our stuccoed villa full, and gave
poignant addition to the quiet, gray beauty of that English spring. A
year or so later, when my mother's health compelled her to escape to a
warmer climate from fog-ridden Liverpool, she went with my sisters to
Lisbon, where the O'Sullivans were by that time established, and spent
several months with them, and saw all the splendors of the naive but
brilliant little court of Dom Pedro V. She brought home a portfolio of
etchings presented to her, and done by his youthful Majesty; which
indicate that his throne, little as he cared for it, preserved him
from the mortification of failing as an artist.

Early in the winter of the following year (1855), Mr. James Buchanan,
appointed Minister to the Court of St. James, found his way to my
father's retreat in Rock Park. The English winter was a mild affair
compared with our recent experiences of the arctic snows of Lenox;
there was no coasting, and not much snow-balling; but we had the
pleasure of making friends with the English robin-redbreast, a most
lovable little creature, who, every morning, hopped confidingly on our
window-sill and took bread-crumbs almost from our hands.  The old
American diplomatist and President that was to be (though he
vehemently disclaimed any such possibility) distracted our attention
from robin for a day or two. He had the aspect, perhaps cultivated for
political and democratic purposes, of a Pennsylvania farmer; he was, I
believe, born on a farm in Franklin County, in that State, at the
beginning of the last decade of the eighteenth century.  He was tall
and ungainly in figure, though he bore himself with a certain security
and dignity; his head was high and thinly covered with gray hair; he
carried it oddly, a little on one side; it was said at the time that
this was due to his having once attempted suicide by cutting his
throat. His visage--heavy, long, and noticeable--had the typical
traits of the American politician of that epoch; his eyes were small,
shrewd, and twinkling; there was a sort of professional candor in his
bearing, but he looked like a sad and weary old man. He talked
somewhat volubly to my father, who kept him going by a question now
and then, as his way generally was with visitors. There was a flavor
of rusticity in his speech; he was not a man of culture or polish,
though unquestionably of great experience of the world. He was dressed
in a wide-skirted coat of black broadcloth, and wore a white choker
put on a little askew. The English, who were prone to be critical of
our representatives, made a good deal of fun of Mr. Buchanan, and told
anecdotes about him which were probably exaggerated or apocryphal. It
was alleged, for example, that, speaking of the indisposition of a
female relative of his, he had observed that it was due to the
severity of the English climate.  "She never enjoyed delicate health
at home," he had declared; "in fact, she was always one of the most
indelicate women I've ever known." And it was asserted that he had
been admonished by the Lord High Chamberlain, or by the Gold
Stick-in-Waiting, for expectorating upon the floor of her Majesty's
palace at a levee.  Such ribaldries used to be popular in English
mouths concerning American visitors before the war; they were all of
similar tenor. Mrs. Abbott Lawrence was described as having bought a
handsome shawl at a shop on Lord Street, in Liverpool, and to have
walked down that populous thoroughfare with her new purchase on her
shoulders, ignorant that it bore the legend, inscribed on a white
card, which the salesman had neglected to remove, "Perfectly chaste."
The same lady was reported as saying, in asking an invitation to a
ball on behalf of Mrs. Augustus Peabody, of Boston, "I assure you, on
our side of the water, Mrs.  Peabody is much more accustomed to grant
favors than to ask them." Such anecdotes seem to bear upon them the
stamp of the British manufacturer. There would not seem to be much
harm in them, yet it is such things that sometimes interfere most
acutely with the entente cordials between nations. We had another
glimpse of Mr. Buchanan, in London, about a year later, and he then
remarked to my mother, indirectly referring to such reports, that the
Queen had treated him very kindly. For the present, he faded from the
Rock Park horizon, and we returned to the robin; nor have I been able
to understand how it happened that he made so distinct an impression
upon my memory. But a child's memory is unaccountable, both in what it
loses and in what it retains.


One Sunday forenoon, when it was not too cold for the young folks to
be swinging on that gate which has been mentioned, and the elders were
in-doors, enjoying the holiday in their own way, we descried an old
gentleman approaching up the winding street. As he drew nearer he
presented rather a shabby, or, at least, rusty appearance. His felt
hat was not so black as it had been; his coat was creased and soiled;
his boots needed a blacking.  He swung a cane as he stumped along, and
there was a sort of faded smartness in his bearing and a knowingness
in his grim old visage, indicating some incongruous familiarity with
the manners of the great world. He came to a halt in front of the
house, and, after quizzing it for a moment, went up the steps and beat
a fashionable tattoo with the knocker.

Summoned in-doors soon afterwards, we found this questionable
personage sitting in the drawing-room.  His voice was husky, but
modulated to the inflections of polite breeding; he used a good many
small gestures, and grinned often, revealing the yellow remains of his
ancient teeth; he laughed, too, with a hoarse sound in his throat.
There was about him an air of determined cheerfulness and affability,
though between the efforts the light died down in his wrinkled old
eyes and the lines of his face sagged and deepened. He offered to kiss
my sisters, but they drew back; he took my hand in his own large, dry
one with its ragged nails and swollen joints.  At length he inveigled
my younger sister to his knee, where she sat gazing unflinchingly and
solemnly into him with that persistence which characterizes little
girls of four or five who are not quite sure of their ground. Her
smooth, pink-and-white cheeks and unwinking eyes contrasted vividly
with his seamed yellowness and blinking grin; for a long time he
coquetted at her, and played peep-bo, without disturbing her gravity,
making humorous side comments to the on-lookers meanwhile. There was a
ragged and disorderly mop of gray hair on his head, which showed very
dingy beside the clear auburn of the child's. One felt a repulsion
from him, and yet, as he chatted and smirked and acted, there was a
sort of fascination in him, too. Some original force and fire of
nature still glowed and flickered in his old carcass; something human
stirred dimly under the crust of self-consciousness and artificiality.
Rose's adamantine seriousness finally relaxed in a faint smile, upon
which he threw up his hands, emitted a hoarse cackle of triumph, and
exclaimed, "There--there it is! I knew I'd get it; she loves me--she
loves me!" He then permitted her to slip down from his knee and
withdraw to her mother, and resumed the talk which our entrance had
interrupted. It was chiefly about people of whom we youngsters knew
nothing--though our ignorance only argued ourselves unknown, for he
named persons all famous in their day. He had seen George IV.,
Napoleon, Talleyrand, Wellington; he had been intimate with Coleridge,
De Quincey, Wordsworth, Lamb, Monk Lewis; he was a sort of elder
brother or deputy uncle to Tennyson, Browning, Dickens; he had quaffed
mountain-dew with Walter Scott and had tramped the moors shoulder to
shoulder with Kit North; the courts of Europe were his familiar
stamping-grounds; he had the nobility and gentry at his finger-ends;
he was privileged, petted, and sought after everywhere; if there were
any august door we wished to enter, any high-placed personage we
desired to approach, any difficult service we wanted rendered, he was
the man to help us to our object. Who, then, was he? He has long been
utterly forgotten; but he was well known, or notorious, during the
first half of the last century; he was such a character as could
flourish only in England. His name was William Jerdan; he was born in
1785, and was now, therefore, about seventy years old. He had started
in life poor, with no family distinction, but with some more or less
useful connections either on the father's or the mother's side. He had
somehow got an English education, and he had pursued his career on the
basis of his native wits, his indomitable effrontery and persistence,
his faculty of familiarity, his indifference to rebuffs, his lack of
shame, conscience, and morality. How he found the means to live nobody
could tell, but he uniformly lived well and had enjoyed the good
things of the world. After maintaining his ground during the first
twenty or thirty years, it had probably been easier for him to forge
along afterwards, for he could impose upon the new generation with his
stories of success in the former one. Uncouth and ugly though he was
by nature, the external polish and trick of good form which he had
acquired, and, no doubt, some inner force of social genius in him, had
influenced men to tolerate and often to like him, and had given him
extraordinary good-fortune with women. He had not only been twice
married, and had many children born in wedlock, but his intrigues and
liaisons had been innumerable, and they had by no means been confined
to the lower ranks of society. That he was a practised liar there can
be no doubt, but he had the long memory which the proverb recommends
to liars, and he was so circumspect that few of his claims and
pretensions lacked solid basis enough to make them pass current in a
hurrying and heedless world. Now, however, in his age, he was wellnigh
at the end of his tether; what we should call his "pull" was losing
its efficiency; he was lapsing to the condition where he would offer
to introduce a man to the Prince of Wales or to Baron Rothschild, and
then ask him for the loan of five pounds--or half a crown, as the case
might be. He was a character for Thackeray. He haunted my father for a
year or two more, and then vanished I know not where.

Poor, dingy old Jerdan purported to be himself a literary man, though
the only thing of his that I ever heard of was a work in four
pretentious volumes of "wretched twaddle"--as my father called
them--which he published under the title of My Autobiography. It
contained a long array of renowned names, with passages appended of
perfectly empty and conventional comment.

But other men crossed our path who had much sounder claims to renown
in literature; among them Samuel Warren, author of half a dozen books,
two of which are still sometimes heard of--_The Diary of a Late
Physician_ and _Ten Thousand a Year_. He lived upon the reputation
which these brought him, though they were published, the first as long
ago as 1830 and the other only ten years later. Like many other
authors, he fancied himself capable of things far better than belonged
to his true metier; and among the books in my father's library is one
called _The Moral and Intellectual Development of the Present Age_--a
thin volume, despite its portentous and thundering title--it carries
the gloss, in Warren's handwriting, "the fruit of many a long year's
reflection." So does every light comedian imagine that he can play
Hamlet. Of Warren himself I barely recall a slight, light figure with
a sharp nose and a manner lacking in repose; indeed, he was very much
like a light comedian in light comedy, eager to hold the centre of the
stage, full of small movements and remarks, and--which more interested
us children--with a gift for turning himself into other people by
slight contortions of countenance and alterations of voice. The
histrionic abilities of Dickens probably affected the social antics of
many writers at this epoch. Warren also told stories in a vivacious
and engaging manner, though, as they were about things and people out
of the sphere of his younger auditors, I remember only the way of the
telling, not what was told. I recalled, later, his anecdotes of Kit
North, who was a friend of his, on account of the contrast between the
stalwart proportions of that old worthy and the diminutive physique of
the novelist; they must have looked, together, like a bear and a
monkey. Warren was born in Wales, though whether of Welsh ancestry I
know not.

When we saw him he was only a trifle over five-and-forty years of age,
so his famous books must have been written when he was hardly more
than a boy.

As for Layard, eminent in his time for his work in Nineveh and
Babylon, and afterwards as a statesman, he did not, I think, come to
Rock Park, nor am I sure that I ever saw him. And yet it seems to me
that I have the picture in my mind of a vigorous, frank, agreeable
personage who was he; not a large man, still less a handsome one, but
full of life, manliness, and honest English simplicity. He was at this
time, like so many of his countrymen, very anxious concerning the
Crimean War, then in its first stages, and vehemently opposed to the
policy which had brought it about, for, up to that time, England and
Russia had been on friendly terms, and Layard could see no promising
or useful future for the Turk. My father shared his views, and he
wrote the following passage in commenting upon the general European
situation of that day and the prospects for England. It has never been
printed, because it stood only for the sentiment of the moment, but
may be opportunely quoted now that the aspect of European politics
shows symptoms of soon undergoing vital changes. "The truth is," wrote
my father, "there is a spirit lacking in England which we in America
do not lack; and for the want of it she will have to resign a foremost
position among the nations, even if there were not enough other
circumstances to compel her to do so. Her good qualities are getting
out of date; at all events, there should be something added to them in
the present stage of the world." England has a good deal changed since
those words were written, and the changes have probably been mainly
for the better, though all the important ones have caused our old
mother discomfort and embarrassment. The medicine of a new age, the
subtle infiltration of anti-insular ideas, the slow emergence of the
democracy have given her many qualms, but they are wholesome ones. Her
best and most cultivated minds are now on the side of progress,
instead of holding by the past, and, should the pinch come, these may
avail to save her better than martinet generals or unwieldy fleets.
The "spirit lacking" in her in 1855 may, perhaps, be found in them.
Whether the spirit in question be as conspicuous with us as it used to
be is another matter.

Henry Bright was still our most frequent visitor, and he brought us
the news and gossip of the world.  It was in 1855 that Millais married
the lady who had been Mrs. Ruskin. English society was much fluttered
by this event, and many of Ruskin's friends cut him for a time in
consequence of it.  Ruskin was a man of a rare type, not readily
understood in England, where a man is expected, in the fundamental
qualities of his nature at least, to be like everybody else. There are
two noted characters in history with whom, in some respects, he might
be compared, Isaac Newton being one and Abelard the other. All three
were men in whom, owing to causes either natural or accidental, the
intellect was able to absorb all the energies of the nature. The
intellect thus acquired extraordinary power and brilliance, and
appropriated to itself, in a sort of image, as it were, the qualities
which no longer possessed manifestation on the material plane. Nothing
out of the way would, therefore, be noticed, unless or until some
combination of circumstances should bring the exceptional condition
into every-day light. This happened with Ruskin, and he was, of
course, unable to regard the matter in the same light as his critics
did. He viewed his wife's disinclination towards him by the light of
mere cold logic; and the reason his friends were alienated from him
was, not that her grounds of objection to him were justifiable, but
that Ruskin (according to the common report of the time, as quoted by
Mr. Bright) did not see why he and she and Millais should discontinue
their life in common as before. Neither Millais nor Mrs. Ruskin would,
of course, accede to this proposition, and the divorce was accordingly
obtained. Ruskin intended simply to show magnanimity, and in the
course of years this was recognized and he was forgiven, just as we
forgive a person for being color-blind. In our present stage of
civilization we must, in certain matters, follow strict convention on
peril of ostracism, and nothing is less readily condoned in a man's
conduct than any suspicion of complaisance.  I did not see either
Ruskin or Millais until 1879 or 1880, of which beholding I will speak
when the time comes.

But we had with us for a short time a famous and charming woman of
genius, who made me for a season forget my infatuation for the
beautiful Ella Rogers. This was Charlotte Cushman. The acquaintance
then begun was renewed in Italy, and maintained till the end of her
life. Such is the power of the spiritual in nature and character to
dominate and even render invisible the physical, that I was
astonished, in after years, to hear Charlotte referred to as a woman
of plain or unattractive features. To me, won from the first by the
expression, the voice, the sphere, the warmth, strength, and nobility
of her presence, she had always seemed one of the handsomest as well
as most delightful of women. She was in her fortieth year, but she had
already announced her purpose of retiring from the stage. Some of her
best work was done in the following twenty years. Critics might call
her face plain, or ugly, if they chose, but there was no doubt that
its range of expression was vast and poignant, that it could reflect
with immense energy the thoughts of the mind, and could radiate the
very soul of tragedy. Her figure was tall and superb and her carriage
stately without any stiffness, and appalling though she was as Lady
Macbeth or Meg Merrilies, in our little drawing-room she was only
simple, sincere, gentle, and winning. Born actress though she was, her
horizon was by no means restricted to things histrionic; she talked
well on many subjects, and was at no loss for means to entertain even
so small and inexperienced a person as myself. I had never seen a
theatre, and did not know what an actress was, but I loved her, and
she was good to me. It was not the interest of the stories she told
me, so much as the personal influence that went with them, that
entranced me. I was sensible of her kindness, and of the hearty
good-will with which she bent her great and gracious self to the task
of making me happy. That wonderful array of tiny charms on her
watch-chain was beautiful and absorbing, owing less to anything
intrinsic in themselves than to some sparkling and lovable
communication from their wearer. If a woman be only large enough and
vigorous enough to begin with, the stage seems to develop her as
nothing else could--to bring out the best in her. It was perhaps the
deep and wide well of human sympathy in Charlotte Cushman that was at
the bottom of her success in her profession, though, of course, she
was greatly aided by her mental and physical gifts. I suppose there
may be women now capable of being actresses as great as she was, but
the audience to call forth their latent powers and ambition seems,
just at present, to be lacking.

Our social diversions at Rock Park were interrupted, at about this
period, by the whooping-cough, which seized upon all of us together,
and I well remember my father almost climbing up the wall of the room
in some of his paroxysms; but he treated it all as a joke, and was
always ready to laugh as soon as he got through coughing. It left no
ill effects except upon my mother, who had bronchial trouble which, as
I have intimated, finally led to the breaking-up of our household. She
was not made for England.




IX


Two New England consciences--Inexhaustible faith and energy--Deep and
abiding love of England--"How the Water Comes Down at Lodore"--"He
took an' he let go"--Naked mountains--The unsentimental little
quadruped--The human element in things sticks--The coasts of
England--A string of sleepy donkeys--Unutterable boy-thoughts--Grins
and chuckles like an ogress--Hideous maternal parody--The adorable
inverted bell-glass--Strange things happen in the world--An ominous
clouding of the water--Something the world has never
known--Overweening security--An admonition not to climb too high--How
vice may become virtue by repetition--Corporal Blair's
chest--Black-Bottle Cardigan--Called to Lisbon.

Emerson, as a matter of principle, was rather averse from travel,
though he made the trip to England twice; but he fortified his theory
by his practice of searching out great men rather than historic or
picturesque places. Ruskin's Modern Painters had not been written when
Emerson first left home, and I doubt if he read it at any time. He
found his mountain scenery in Carlyle and his lakes and vales
elsewhere among agreeable people. My father's conscience worked in a
different way; he thought himself under obligations to see whatever in
the way of towns, ruins, cathedrals, and scenery was accounted worthy
a foreigner's attention; but I think he would have enjoyed seeing them
much more had that feeling of obligation not been imposed upon him.
Set sights, as he often remarked, wearied him, just because they were
set; things that he happened upon unpremeditatedly, especially if they
were not described in guide-books, pleased him more and tired him
less. It can hardly be affirmed, however, that he would have missed
the set sights if he could have done so, and no doubt he was glad,
after the job was done, that he had done it. And he was greatly helped
along by the inexhaustible faith and energy in such matters of his
wife; she shrank from no enterprise, and seemed always in precisely
the right mood to appreciate whatever she beheld. She could go day
after day to a picture-gallery, and stay all day long; she would make
herself as familiar with churches, castles, and cathedrals as she was
with her own house; she would wander interminably and delightedly
about old towns and cities, or gaze with never-waning joy upon lakes
and mountains, and my father, accompanying her, was, in a measure,
recuperated and strengthened by her enthusiasm. In the end, as is
evidenced by Our Old Home and The Marble Faun, he got a good deal out
of Europe. On the other hand, he seemed to think himself justified in
avoiding persons as much as he decently might, even the most
distinguished; and if he had not been a consul, and a writer of books
that had been read, I doubt if he would have formed any acquaintances
during his foreign residence, and he would thereby have missed one of
the greatest and most enduring pleasures of memory that he took back
with him. For no one cared more for a friend, or was more stimulated
and emancipated by one, than he. It may have been that he had passed
the age of youthful buoyancy, of appetite for novelties; that he had
begun to lack initiative. "I have seen many specimens of mankind," he
wrote down, in a mood of depression, in one of his note-books, "but
come to the conclusion that there is little variety among them all."
That was scarcely a full thought, and he would never have let it pass
in one of his considered books. He made and published many other
remarks on similar subjects of quite an opposite tenor, and these more
truly represented his true feeling. But he did flag a little, once in
a while, and the deep and abiding love of England which was his final
sentiment had somewhat the appearance of having been forced upon him
against his inclination. We may surmise that he feared disappointment
more than he craved gratification.

[IMAGE: FRANCIS BANNOCH]

From Liverpool we explored the strangeness of the land in all
directions. Bennoch or Bright sometimes took off my father alone;
sometimes my father and mother would go with me, leaving my sisters at
home with the governess. Once in a while we all went together, as, for
example, to the Isle of Man or to Rhyl. So far as practicable, we
children were made acquainted with the literature of places we were to
visit before going there. Thus, before journeying to the Lakes and
Scotland, I had by heart a good deal of Wordsworth, Southey, Burns,
and Walter Scott, and was able, standing amid the lovely uproar of
Lodore, to shout out the story of how the water comes down there; and,
again, on the shores of Loch Katrine, at sunset, after spending a long
hour on the little white beach opposite Ellen's Isle, I ran along the
road in advance of my parents, and, climbing a cliff, saw the breadth
of the lake below me, golden under the sunset clouds, and very aptly
recited, as they came up, Sir Walter's descriptive verse:

  "One burnished sheet of living gold,
  Loch Katrine lay, beneath him rolled!"

But I was not always so well attuned to the environment.  I had got
hold of a hook and line at some hotel on the Lakes, and the old
passion for fishing, which had remained latent since Lenox days for
lack of opportunity, returned upon me with great virulence. So, one
day, when we had set out in a row-boat to visit Rob Roy's cave, I
requested, on arriving there, to be permitted to stay in the boat,
moored at the foot of the cliff, while the others climbed up into the
cave, and, as soon as they had disappeared, I pulled out my line, with
a dried-up worm on the hook, and cast it over the side. I wanted to
see the cave, but I wanted to catch a fish more. Up to that time, I
think, I had caught nothing in all our pilgrimages. If ever Providence
is going to give me success (I said to myself, devoutly), let it be
now! Accordingly, just before the others came back, I felt a strong
pull on my line and hauled in amain. In a moment the fish, which may
have been nine inches long, but which seemed to me leviathan himself,
broke the surface, wriggling this way and that vigorously; but that
was the extent to which my prayer was granted, for, in the words of a
rustic fisherman who related his own experience to me long afterwards,
"Just as I was a-goin' to land 'im, sir, he took an' he let go!" My
fish not only took and let go, but he carried off the hook with him.

I remember wandering with my father through a grassy old church-yard
in search of Wordsworth's grave, which we found at last, looking quite
as simple as his own most severely unadorned pastoral; but I had not
attained as yet to the region of sentiment which makes such things
impressive. The bare mountains, the blue lakes, and the gray ruins
filled me with riotous intoxication. The North of England and Scotch
mountains were much more effective in their nakedness than the wooded
hills I had seen in Berkshire of Massachusetts, and their contours
were more sharply modelled and various.  They were just large enough
to make their ascent seem easy until you undertook it, then those
seemingly moderate slopes lengthened out unaccountably.  The day we
reached the hotel at the base of Helvellyn, I started, nothing
doubting, to climb to its summit before supper; the weather was clear,
the top looked close at hand, and I felt great surprise that the young
gentleman mentioned in Scott's poem ("I climbed the dark brow of the
mighty Helvellyn," etc.) should have allowed himself to be lost. But
after a breathless struggle of fifteen or twenty minutes, finding
myself apparently no nearer my goal than at first, I thought
differently.  Mr. Bright told my father, by-the-way, that the legend
of the fidelity of the dead adventurer's little dog, "who scared the
hill-fox and the raven away," was far from being in accordance with
the prosaic facts. This unsentimental little quadruped had, in truth,
eaten up a large part of her master by the time his remains were
discovered, and had, furthermore, brought into the world a litter of
pups. Well, nothing can deprive us of the poem; but it is wholesome to
face realities once in a while.

Unless one have a vein of Ruskin in him, one does not recollect
scenery, however enchanting, with the same particularity as persons.
It is the human element in things that sticks to us. Scenes are more
punctually recalled in proportion as they are steeped in historic or
personal interest. The thatched cottages of Burns and of Shakespeare
stand clear in my memory; I recall our ramble over the battlements of
Carlisle, where imprisoned Queen Mary had walked three centuries
before; I remember the dark stain on the floor of the dark room in
which one of her lovers was slain; I can see the gray towers of
Warwick rising above the green trees and reflected in the still water;
and, entering the keep of the castle, I behold myself again trying on
the ponderous helmet of the gigantic Guy, and climbing into his
monstrous porridge-pot. But vain would be the attempt to marshal
before my mind's eye the glorious pageantry of the Trosachs, though,
at the time of its actual revelation, it certainly seemed to make a
far more vivid impression. The delight and exhilaration which such
magnificence inspired are easily summoned back, but not the incarnate
features of them. Wild nature takes us out of ourselves and refreshes
us; but she does not reveal her secret to us, or ally herself with
anything in us less deep than the abstract soul--which also is beyond
our reach.

I am not sure that my father did not like the seaside sojourns as well
as anything else, apart from the historical connections; for the
spirits of many seafaring forefathers murmured in his heart. But he
did not so much care for the soft, yielding, brown sands on which the
sea-waves broke. The coasts to which he had been used in his youth
were either rocky or firm as a macadamized road. Nor was he beguiled
into forgetting the tedium of walking over them, as his companion was,
by the fascination of the shells and sea curiosities to be picked up
on them. Many a mile have I trotted along beside him or behind him,
gathering these treasures, while he strode forward, abstracted, with
his gaze fixed towards the long ridge of the horizon. The sands at
Rhyl, near which Milton's friend was said to have been lost, were like
a rolling prairie; at low tide the white fringe of the surf could
scarcely be descried at their outermost verge, yet within a few
hours it would come tumbling back, flowing in between the higher
levels, flooding and brimming and overcoming, till it broke at our
feet once more.  Behind us rose the tumultuous curves and peaks of the
Welsh hills; before us, but invisible across the Irish Channel, the
black coast of rainy Ireland.  One night, during a gale, a ship came
ashore, so far out that it still seemed, in the morning, to be at sea,
except for its motionlessness, and the drenched and draggled crew came
straggling in--or some of them.  At Southport the beach was narrower
and the little sea-side settlement larger and livelier; a string of
sleepy donkeys always waited there, with the rout of ragged and
naughty little boys with sticks to thrash them into a perfunctory and
reluctant gallop for their riders. There was always one boy, larger
and also naughtier than the rest, who thrashed the thrashers and took
their pennies away from them. The prevailing occupation of the
children at these places, as on all civilized shores, apparently, was
the building of sand-mountains and the digging of pits with their
little wooden spades. One day an elderly gentleman, with a square,
ruddy face, edged with gray whiskers, who had stood observing my
labors in this kind for a long time, stepped up to me as I paused, and
said, with a sort of amused seriousness, "You'll do something when you
grow up, my little lad; your hill is bigger than any of the others'."
He nodded kindly to me and walked off, and I sat down beside my
mountain and watched the tide come up and level it, thinking
unutterable boy-thoughts.

The only approach to sea-side cliffs that we saw was at Whitby, on the
Yorkshire coast, where the abbey of St. Hilda stood, after whom the
American maiden in The Marble Faun was named. But the German Ocean was
bleak and cold, and my experiences in it were even more harrowing than
elsewhere; I can imagine nothing more dispiriting to a small boy than
to be dragged down over a harsh beach in an old-fashioned British
bathing-machine, its damp floor covered with gritty sand, with a tiny
window too high up for him to look out of; undressing in the cold
draughtiness and trying to hang up his clothes on pegs too high for
him to reach; being tossed from side to side, and forward and
backward, meanwhile, by the irregular jerking and swaying of the
dismal contrivance, drawn by the amphibious horses of the region;
until at last he hears the waves begin to dash against it, and it
comes to a pause in a depth which he feels must be fathomless. Then
comes a thumping at the door, and he knows that the bathing-woman is
hungrily awaiting his issuing forth. Nothing else is so terrible in
the world--nothing even in Alice in Wonderland--to a small, naked,
shivering boy as the British bathing-woman.  There she stands,
waist-deep in the swelling brine; she grins and chuckles like an
ogress; her red, grasping hands stretch forth like the tentacles of an
octopus; she seizes her victim in an irresistible embrace, and with
horrid glee plunges him head-under the advancing wave. Ere he can
fetch his breath to scream, down again he goes, and yet again. The
frigid, heavy water stings his cowering body; he has swallowed quarts
of it; his foot has come in contact with a crab or a starfish; before
him rolls the tumultuous expanse of desolation, surging forward to
take his life; behind him are the rickety steps of the bathing-
machine, which, but now a chamber of torture, has become his
sole haven of refuge. Buffeted by the billows, he makes shift at last
frantically to clamber back into it; he snatches the small, damp
towels, and attempts to dry his shivering limbs; his clothes have
fallen on the wet floor; he cannot force his blue toes into his oozy
socks. At the moment he is attempting to wriggle himself into his
trousers the horse is hitched-to again, and the jerky and jolty
journey back up the beach begins. If the hair of a boy of ten could
turn white in a single morning, there would be many a hoary-headed
youngster in British watering-places.  John Leech, in Punch, used to
make pictures of the experiences I have outlined, and I studied them
with deep attention and sympathy. The artist, too, must have suffered
from the sea-ogresses in his youth, else he could not have portrayed
the outrage so vividly. The mock-cheerfulness and hideous maternal
parody of their "Come, my little man!" has no parallel in life or
fiction. Nevertheless, such is the fortunate recuperative faculty of
boyhood that day after day I would forget the horrors of that hour,
and be happy in climbing over the decayed chalk acclivities of Whitby,
picking up the fossil shells that nestle there. Yonder on my table, as
I write, lies a coiled ammonite found there; it had been there ten
thousand years or ages before I detached it from its bed, and, for
aught I know, my remotest posterity may use it, as I have done, for a
paper-weight. Thanks to eternal justice, the bathing-machines and the
bathing-women will have gone to their place long ere then!

My father had given me a book called The Aquarium, written by Philip
Henry Gosse (father of the present poet, essayist, and critic),
illustrated with pictures of sea-anemones and other marine creatures
done from his own drawings in color, and so well done that nothing
which has been done since in the way of color-reproductions surpasses
them. It was delightfully written, and I absorbed it into my very
soul, and my dreams by night and longings by day were for an aquarium
of my own. At last--I think this was at Southport--a glass jar was
given me; it was an inverted bell-glass, mounted on a wooden stand,
and it cost ten shillings. I wonder if men often love their wives or
children with the adoring tenderness that I lavished upon that
bell-glass and its contents! I got sand and covered the bottom; I
found two jagged stones and leaned them against each other on the
sand; I gathered fronds of ulva latissima; I persuaded a boatman to
bring me a bucket of salt-water from beyond the line of breakers, and
I poured it carefully into the jar.  During the next twenty-four hours
I waited impatiently for the water to settle and clear; then I began
to introduce the living inmates. I collected prawns and crabs and
sea-snails, and a tiny sole or two, a couple of inches long, and by
good chance I found a small sepiola, or cuttle-fish, as big as a
beetle, which burrowed in the sand and changed color magically from
dark brown to faintest buff. I also had a pair of soldier-crabs, which
fought each other continually. When the sunlight fell on my aquarium,
I saw the silver bubbles of oxygen form on the green fronds of the
sea-weed; the little snails crawled along the sides of the glass,
sweeping out their tiny, scythelike tongues at every step; the prawns
hovered in the shade of the stones or darted back and forward light as
thoughts; the soles scuffled over the surface of the sand or hid
themselves in it from the stalking, felonious crabs. But I had no
sea-anemones; they are not found on sandy coasts, and without
sea-anemones my felicity could not be complete.

But strange things happen in this world occasionally, good as well as
bad. There came up a heavy storm, and the next morning, walking with
my father on the beach, strewn with deep-sea flotsam and jetsam, we
came upon the mast of a ship, water-logged till it had the weight of
iron; it might have been, as my father remarked, a relic of the
Spanish Armada. And it was covered from end to end with the rarest and
most beautiful species of sea-anemones!

This was fairy-land come true. I chipped off a handkerchiefful of the
best specimens, wishing I could take them all, and carried them to my
aquarium.  I deposited them, each in a coign of vantage, and in the
course of an hour or two they had swelled out their tinted bodies and
expanded their lovely tentacles, and the cup of my joy was full. This
prosperity continued for near a week, during which I remained with my
nose against the glass, as the street boys of Liverpool held theirs
against the windows of pastry-cooks' shops. At length I noticed an
ominous clouding of the water, which, as Mr. Gosse had forewarned me,
signified disaster of some sort, and, searching for the cause, I
finally discovered the body of the little sepiola, which had died
without being missed, and was contaminating with his decay the purity
of the aquarium. The water must be changed at once. I sent out the
servant for a fresh bucketful from the sea, while I poured the
polluted liquid from the jar.

Presently the bucket of water was brought in.  It was unusually clear.
I filled the jar with it, and then, as bedtime was near, I left the
aquarium to settle down to business again. The next morning I hastened
to it in my night-gown, and was confronted by a ghastly spectacle. The
crabs lay dead on the bottom, stomachs upward; the prawns hung
lifeless and white from the rocks; the soldier-crabs were motionless,
half out of their shells; the sea-anemones had contracted themselves
into buttons, and most of them had dropped from their perches.  Death
had been rampant during the night; but what could be the cause?

A sudden suspicion caused me to put a finger in the water and apply it
to my tongue. It was not salt-water at all, but had been taken fresh
from the cistern. That traitress servant-girl, to save her indolence a
few steps, had destroyed my aquarium!

I was too heart-broken to think of killing her; but she had killed
something in me which does not readily grow again. My trust in my
fellow-creatures was as shrunken and inanimate as the sea-anemones.
We left Southport soon after, and that was my last aquarium.

Let us turn to lighter matters. I accompanied my father and mother on
that pilgrimage to Old Boston which is described in Our Old Home. The
world does not know that it is to my presence on the little steamer on
the trip down the level river, through the Lincolnshire fens, with
nothing but the three-hundred-foot tower of St. Botolph's Church, in
the extreme distance, to relieve the tedium of a twenty-four-mile
journey made at the rate of never more than six miles per hour--it is
not known, I say, that to that circumstance is due my father's
description of the only incident which enlivened the way--the tragedy,
namely, of the duck family.  For it was that tragedy which stood out
clearest in my memory, and when I learned, in Concord, that my father
was preparing his paper about Old Boston for the Atlantic Monthly, I
besought him to insert an account of the episode. The duck and her
five ducklings had probably seen the steamer many times before, and
had acquired a contempt for its rate of progression, imagining that it
would always be easy to escape from it. But, somehow, in their
overweening security, they lingered on this occasion a little too
long, and we succeeded in running them down. Even then, as my father
notes, it was only one of them that was carried under; but the shock
to the nerves of the other youngsters must have stunted their growth,
and the old bird cannot but have suffered tortures from anxiety and
remorse.

The sadness caused by this event, added to the chilliness of the
sea-wind which blew against us all the way down the river, rendered my
first impressions of the ancient town, which had given its name to the
one I was born in, somewhat gloomy.  But the next morning it
brightened up, and our own spirits were correspondingly improved;
insomuch that I struck my head a violent blow against the stone roof
of the topmost pinnacle of St. Botolph's tower, such was the zeal of
my ascent into it. All this happened two years after the aquarium, in
1857, when I was older and wiser, but had not yet outgrown the
ambition to climb to the top of all high places; this bump may have
been an admonition not to climb too high. We went down and strayed
into Mr. Porter's little book-shop, and he transformed himself into a
new and more genial proprietor of a virtuoso's collection, and showed
us treasures, some of which his predecessor in Mosses from an Old
Manse might not have despised. I have never since then heard of his
portrait in crayon of the youthful Sterne; it would be worth a good
deal to any latter-day publisher of his works in a de luxe edition. As
for the green tassel from the bed of Queen Mary, in Holyrood House,
there is a passage in my father's description of it in his journal
which, out of regard, doubtless, for the feelings of Mr.  Porter, he
forbore to quote in his published article; but as the good old
gentleman (unless he has lived to be more than one hundred and twenty
years old) must have gone to the place where treasures are
indestructible, I will reproduce it now.  "This tassel," says my
father, "Mr. Porter told us (with a quiet chuckle and humorous
self-gratulation), he had personally stolen, and really, for my part,
though I hope I would not have done it myself, I thought it no sin in
him--such valuables being attracted by a natural magnetism towards
such a man. He obeys, in stealing them, a higher law than he breaks. I
should like to know precisely what portion of his rich and rare
collection he has obtained in a similar manner. But far be it from me
to speak unkindly or sneeringly of the good man; for he showed us
great kindness, and obliged us so much the more by being greatly and
evidently pleased with the trouble that he took on our behalf." It may
be added that each new stealing enhances the value of all the previous
ones, and therefore creates an obligation to steal yet more.  Thus
does an act which would, standing by itself, be criminal, become a
virtue if often enough repeated.

I am not arranging this narrative in chronological sequence; but I
think it was in this year that we went to Manchester to see the
exposition. The town itself was unlovely; but, as we had Italy in
prospect, it was deemed expedient to accustom ourselves in some
measure to the companionship of works of art, and the exhibition
professed to contain an exceptionally fine and catholic collection of
them. My father made a thorough study of them, going to learn and not
to judge, and he learned much, though not quite to believe in Turner
or to like the old masters. For my own part, when not taken on these
expeditions, I busied myself with the building of a kite six feet
high, of engineer's cambric, with a face painted on it, and used to go
out and fly it on a vacant lot in the rear of our lodgings,
accompanied by a large portion of the unoccupied population of
Manchester. The kite broke its string one day, and I saw it descend
over the roofs of a remote slum region towards the south, and I never
recaptured it. But my chief energies were devoted to acquiring the art
of fencing with the small-sword from one Corporal Blair, of the Fourth
Dragoon Guards--a regiment which had distinguished itself in the
Crimean War. The corporal was a magnificent-looking creature, and he
was as admirable inwardly as outwardly--the model of an English
non-commissioned officer. He used to come to our lodgings in his short
scarlet jacket and black trousers, and my father once asked him,
remarking the extraordinary prominence of his chest, what kind of
padding was used to produce so impressive a contour. "There's nothing
here but my linen, sir," answered the corporal, modestly, and blushing
a good deal; a fact which I, having often taken my lessons at the
barracks, in the private quarters of the corporal, where he permitted
himself to appear in his shirt-sleeves, already knew. My experience of
the British army not being so large as that of some other persons, I
am unable to say whether there were many other soldiers in it fit to
be compared with Blair; but my acquaintance with mankind in general
would lead me to infer that there could not have been then, and that
there are still less of such to-day. An army of six--footers like him,
with his intelligence, instincts of discipline, capacity and
expertness, physical strength and activity, and personal courage,
would easily account for more than all of England's warlike renown and
success; the puzzle is, how to account for anything but disaster
without them--though, to be sure, other armies might be equally
lacking in Blairs. He was well educated, modest, and moral; he was a
married man, with a wife who was the model of a soldier's consort, and
two or three little sons, all of them experts with the foils and the
broadsword.  It was against the regulations of the service for
privates or non-commissioned officers to have families, and, when
Blair's connubial condition became known to the authorities, he was
degraded in rank from sergeant to corporal, though he wore the
Balaklava medal; for he had taken part in that immortal charge, and I
only wish I could recall the story of it as he told it to me. His
regiment had been under the command of Lord Cardigan--"Black-Bottle
Cardigan," as he was nicknamed in the army, on account of the
well-known (real or apocryphal) incident. It was my good--fortune,
by-the-way, once to see this eminent captain. I was taking my lesson
at the barracks, when Blair told me that his lordship was expected to
visit them that afternoon. The hour appointed was three o'clock.
Punctually at three o'clock a carriage drove rapidly through the gates
of the barracks, and the guard turned out on the run and lined up to
salute the noble occupant. But, much to their disgust, the occupant
turned out to be some one else, not meriting a salute. The men
returned to the guard-room feeling as men do when they have been
betrayed into exertion and enthusiasm for nothing. However, in about
ten minutes more, another carriage drove up, and out came the guard
again and ranged themselves smartly, to please the eye of their
martinet commander, when lo! they had again been deceived. Again they
retired with dark looks, not being at all in a mood to recognize the
humor of the situation. This same thing actually occurred twice more,
by which time it was near four o'clock, and the men were wellnigh
mutinous, and it became evident that, for some reason, Cardigan had
been prevented from coming. Such being the case, the approach of still
another carriage attracted no attention whatever, until it came to a
half-pause, and I saw, thrust out of the window, a stern, dark,
warlike, soldierly face, full of surprise and indignation--and this
was Cardigan himself. The unhappy guard tumbled over themselves in
vain efforts to get into form; it was too late, and the haughty and
hot-tempered commander drove on without his salute. Blair, not being
on guard duty, had no part in this catastrophe, but I well remember
his unaffected sorrow over it. He was a grave man, though of an
equable and cheerful temper, and he felt his comrades' misfortune as
his own. But I never heard that any casualties occurred in consequence
of the mishap.

I have left two years of our English sojourn unaccounted for. In the
summer of 1855, my father nearly made up his mind to resign his
consulship (since it had become hardly worth keeping from the money
point of view), and, after making a visit to Italy, going back to
Concord. This plan seemed the more advisable, because my mother's
lungs could not endure the English climate. But while he was weighing
the matter, John O'Sullivan wrote from Lisbon, urgently inviting my
mother and sisters to come out and spend a few months with him and his
family there. The Lisbon climate was a specific for bronchial disease;
my father could complete his term, and we could go to Italy the
following year.  There was only one objection to this--it involved the
parting of my father from my mother, a thing which had never before
happened. But it did not take him long to decide that it would be a
good thing for her, and, therefore, in the long run, for him. Each
loved the other unselfishly, and had the courage of such love.
Liverpool without my mother would be a dismal trial for him to face;
Lisbon without my father would be tenfold an exile for her. But they
made up their minds, each for the other's sake, to undergo the
separation, and accordingly, in the autumn of the year, she and my
sisters sailed from Southampton, and my father and I went back to
Liverpool. How we fared there shall be told in the next chapter.




X


If there were boarding-houses in paradise--Blodgett, the delight of
mankind--Solomon foresaw her--A withering retort--A modest, puny poise
about her--Hidden thoughts derived from Mother Eve and Grecian
Helen--The feminine council that ruled the Yankee captains--Bonds of
fraternity, double-riveted and copper-fastened--Through the
looking-glass--Men only of the manliest sort--The
lady-paramount--Hands which were true works of art--Retained his
dignity without putting it on--Sighed heavily over my
efforts--Unctuous M. Huguenin--"From dawn to eve I fell"--The
multum-in-parvo machine--"Beauty and the Beast"--Frank
Channing--"Blood-and water!"--A lapful of Irish stew.

It was observed a little way back that English boarding-houses were
much like other boarding-houses in the civilized world. The rule is
proved by the exception of Mrs. Blodgett's establishment.  There never
was such another; there never will be; it was unique. It has vanished
from earth long since; but if there were boarding-houses in paradise,
I should certainly expect it to be found again there.  Who was Mrs.
Blodgett? Save that she was a widow of the British middle class, I
doubt if any one of her boarders knew. She had once been rich, and had
lived at Gibraltar. I have often meditated with fruitless longing
about what manner of man Mr. Blodgett could have been. He must have
been, like the Emperor Titus, the delight of mankind in his day. He
was a man, we must surmise, whose charms and virtues were such that
his wife, having felt the bliss and privilege of knowing and living
with him, registered a vow over his bier that she would devote her
future career to the attempt to make others as happy as he had made
her; that she would serve others as faithfully and generously as she
had served him. It was a lofty and beautiful conception, for she must
have perceived that only in that way could she keep his blessed spirit
near her; that the little heaven she would make in Duke Street,
Liverpool, would attract him from the kindred heaven above; that he
would choose to hover, invisible, above her plenteous table, inhaling
the grateful aromas that arose from it as from a savory sacrifice,
basking in the smiles and sympathizing in the satisfaction of the
fortunate guests, triumphing in their recognition of his beloved
consort as a queen among women. One might almost fancy that the steam
arising from the portly soup-tureen assumed as it arose something
suggesting a human form; that from its airy and fragrant mistiness a
shadowy countenance beamed down upon the good lady in black, with the
white cap, who ladled out the delicious compound to her waiting
devotees. The murmur of the tea-urn would seem to fashion itself into
airy accents, syllabling, "Mary, thy Blodgett is here!" His genial
spirit would preside over her labors in the kitchen, suggesting ever
more delightsome dishes and delicate desserts. He would warn her
against undesirable inmates and intractable servants, and would
inspire her tradesmen to serve her with the choicest comestibles and
to temper their bills to the unprotected widow. At night he would
bless her lonely pillow with peace, and would gently rouse her in the
morning to a new day of beneficences.

Mrs. Blodgett was about five feet four inches high, and may have
weighed twelve stone; into such limits were her virtues packed. She
was perhaps in the neighborhood of her fiftieth year; her dark hair
was threaded with honorable gray. Her countenance was rotund and
ruddy; it was the flower of kindness and hospitality in full bloom;
but there was also power in the thick eyebrows and in the massy
substance of the chin--of the chins, indeed, for here, as in other
gifts, nature had been generous with her. There was shrewdness and
discernment in the good-nature of her eyes; she knew human nature,
although no one judged it with more charity than she. Her old men were
her brothers, her young men were her sons, all children were her
children. Solomon foresaw her in the most engaging of his Proverbs.
Her maid-servants arose at six in the morning and called her blessed,
for though her rule was strict it was just and loving.  She was at
once the mistress and the friend of her household; no Yankee captain
so audacious that he ventured to oppose her law; no cynic so cold as
not to be melted by her tenderness. She was clad always in black, with
a white cap and ribbons, always spotless amid the grime of Liverpool;
in her more active moments--though she was always active--she added a
white apron to her attire.  She was ever anywhere where she was
needed; she was never anywhere where she could be dispensed with.
Wherever she went she brought comfort and a cheerful but not restless
animation. Her boarders were busy men, but it was always with an
effort that they wrenched themselves from her breakfast-table, and
they sat down to dinner as one man.  She made them happy, but she
would not spoil them. "You're a pretty young man!" she said, severely,
to complacent Mr. Crane, when, one morning, he came late to breakfast.
"I always knew that," returned he, reaching self-satisfiedly for the
toast-rack. "Well, I'm sure your glass never told you so!" was the
withering retort. Mr. Crane did not lift his neck so high after that.
The grin that went round the table was too crushingly unanimous.

Mrs. Blodgett was helped in her duties by her niece, Miss Maria, and
by her sister, Miss Williams.  Miss Maria was a little wisp of a
woman; I do not know her age then, but I think, were she alive today,
she would confess to about eighty-three. She wore ringlets, after the
fashion of the early nineteenth-century books of beauty. Her face was
thin and narrow, and ordinarily pale; but when Miss Maria had been a
little while in conversation with one or more of the gallant Yankee
captains you might see in the upper corner of each cheek a slight
touch of red. For though I would not call the little lady
coquettish--that is too coarse and obvious a word--yet there was in
her that inalienable consciousness of maidenhood, that sentiment, at
once of attraction and of recoil, towards creatures of the opposite
sex, that gentle hope of pleasing man, that secret emotion of being
pleased by him, that tremor at the idea of being desired, and that
flush at the thought of being desirable, which, I suppose, may animate
the mystic sensibilities of spinsterhood. She was anything but
aggressive and confident, yet there was a modest, puny poise about
her; she was like a plant that has always lived in a narrow, city
flower-pot, at a window too seldom visited by the sun, which has never
known the freedom of the rain, but has been skimpingly watered out of
a toy watering-pot; which has never so much as conceived of the daring
and voluptuous charms of its remote sisters of the forest and garden,
but has cherished its rudimentary perfume and its incipient tints in a
light reflected from brick walls and in the thin, stale atmosphere of
rear sitting-rooms. Yet it knows that it is a flower, and that it
might, somehow, fulfil its destiny and be beautiful. So Miss Maria
had, no doubt, hidden thoughts remotely derived from Mother Eve and
from Grecian Helen; she was aware of the potentiality in herself of
all virgin privileges and powers, and assumed thereupon her own little
dignity. Never but once did I see a masculine arm round Miss Maria's
trig, stiff little waist, and that was at Christmas-time, when there
were sprigs of mistletoe over every doorway; but, mistletoe or not,
the owner of that arm, if he did succeed in ravishing a kiss, got his
ears smartly boxed the next moment. I don't know precisely what was
Miss Maria's function in the economy of the household; I can fancy her
setting the table, and adding touches of neatness and prettiness;
dusting the ornaments and fine china on the shelves of the whatnot;
straightening the frames of the pictures on the walls; and, in her
less romantic moments, hemming towels or sheets, or putting up
preserved fruits. I know she was always amiable and obliging and that
everybody loved her.

Miss Williams was a good deal the elder of her sister, and was of a
clear white pallor and an aged delicacy and shyness that were very
captivating.  She had judgment and a clear, dispassionate brain, and I
presume she acted the part in the little firm of a sort of court of
appeals and final adviser and referee. She talked little and had
little to do with outward affairs, but she sat observant and
penetrating and formed conclusions in her mind. There had been no
brother of The Blodgett to induce her to change her maidenly state,
but I think there must have been a quiet, touching romance somewhere
hidden in the shadows of the previous forty or fifty years. She
admired and delighted in her energetic, practical sister as much as
the latter adored her for her serenity and wisdom. There was between
them an intimacy, confidence, and mutual understanding that were
charming to behold.  When the blessed Blodgett had died, one can
imagine the vital support and consolation which Miss Williams had been
able to afford to her afflicted sister. Each of them seemed, in some
way, to explain and enlarge one's conception of the other.  Widely
different as they appeared outwardly, there was a true sisterly
likeness deep down in them. Such was the feminine council that ruled
the destinies of the Yankee captains and of their consul.

These captains and this consul formed nine-tenths of the population of
the house, and such other denizens as it had were at least Americans.
I never learned the cause of this predilection for representatives of
the great republic and for the seafaring variety of them in
particular. Be that as it might (and it is an interesting inquiry in
itself), it can be readily understood that it worked out well as a
business idea. There were no quarrels or heart-burnings among the
jolly occupants of Mrs. Blodgett's table; first, because they were all
Americans in the country of their hereditary enemies, and, secondly,
because they were all men of the same calling, and that calling the
sea. The bonds of fraternity between them were double-riveted and
copper-fastened.  Thus all who had experienced the Blodgett regime
proclaimed its excellence far and wide, and the number of applicants
always exceeded the accommodations; in fact, during this year 1855-56,
our hostess was compelled to buy the house adjoining her own, and I
had the rare delight of watching every stroke of work done by the
carpenters and bricklayers who had the job of cutting a doorway
through the wall from the old house to the new one.  There was
something magical and adventurous in stepping through that opening for
the first time--crossing a boundary which had maintained itself so
long. Probably the sensation resembled that which Alice afterwards
experienced when she stepped through the looking-glass into the room
on the other side. The additional accommodations were speedily filled;
but after the first fascination had worn off nobody regarded the new
house as comparable with the old one, and the people who roomed in it
were looked down upon by their associates of the original dwelling.
They were, I believe, as much alike as two houses could be, and that
is saying much in this age, but the feeling was different, and the
feeling is everything if you have a soul.

If the Blodgett house, or houses, were unique, so were the Yankee
boarders. The race of our merchant-marine captains disappeared with
their ships, and they will return no more. The loss is irretrievable,
for in many respects they held the ideal of patriotic and energetic
Americanism higher than it is likely to go again. When at sea, in
command of and responsible for their ships and cargoes, they were, no
doubt, upon occasion, despots and slave-drivers; but their crews were
often recruited from among the dregs of men of all nations, who would
interpret kindness as timidity and take an ell where you gave them an
inch. No doubt, too, there were incarnate devils among these
captains--actual monomaniacs of cruelty and viciousness--though none
of these were known at Mrs. Blodgett's.  Round her board sat men only
of the manliest sort. They had the handiness and versatility of the
sailor, wide and various knowledge of all quarters of the globe and of
types of mankind, though, to be sure, their investigations did not
proceed far beyond their ports, and you were sometimes more astonished
at what they did not know than at what they did. They had the
self-poise and self-confidence of men who day by day and month by
month hold their lives in their hands, and are practised in finding a
way out of danger and difficulty. They had a code of good manners and
polite behavior which was not highly refined, but contained the sound,
essential elements of courtesy; not expressed in fancy, but honest and
solid. They had great shrewdness, and were capable of really fine
diplomacy, for the school they attended demanded such proficiency.
They had a dry, chuckling humor; a homely philosophy, often mingled
with the queerest superstitions; a racy wit, smacking somewhat, of
course, of the quarter-deck, or even of the forecastle; a seemingly
incongruous sensibility, so that tears easily sprang to their eyes if
the right chord of pathos were touched; a disposition to wear a
high-colored necktie and a broad, gold watch-chain, and to observe a
certain smartness in their boots and their general shore rigging; a
good appetite for good food, and not a little discernment of what was
good; a great and boylike enjoyment of primitive pleasures; a love of
practical jokes and a hearty roar of laughter for hearty fun; a
self-respecting naturalness, which made them gentlemen in substance if
not in all technical details; a pungent contempt for humbug and
artifice, though they might not mind a good, swaggering lie upon
occasion; a robust sense of honor in all matters which were trusted to
their honorable feeling; and, to make an end of this long catalogue, a
practical command of language regarded as a means of expressing and
communicating the essential core of thoughts, though the words might
not always be discoverable in Johnson's dictionary or the grammatical
constructions such as would be warranted by Lindley Murray. They were,
upon the average, good-looking, active, able men, and most of them
were on the sunny side of forty. They were ready to converse on any
subject, but if left to themselves they would choose topics proper to
their calling-ships and shipwrecks, maritime usages of various
countries, of laws of insurance, of sea-rights, of feats of
seamanship, of luck and ill luck, and here and there a little politics
of the old-fashioned, elementary sort. They boasted themselves and
their country not a little, and criticised everybody else, and John
Bull especially, very severely often, but almost always very acutely,
too. They would play euchre and smoke cigars from nine o'clock till
eleven, and would then go to bed and sleep till the breakfast-bell.
Altogether, they were fine company, and they did me much good. Such
were the captains of our merchant marine about the middle of the last
century.

Some of them would bring their wives with them for the voyage;
uniformly rather pretty women, a trifle dressy, somewhat fragile in
appearance, but really sound enough; naive, simple, good souls, loving
their husbands and magnifying them, and taking a vicarious pride in
their ships and sea-craft.  The lady-paramount of these, in my
estimation, was the wife of old Captain Howes, the inventor of Howes'
patent rig, which he was at that time perfecting.  He would sometimes
invite me up to his room to see the exquisitely finished model which
he had made with his own hands. He was the commodore of the captains,
the oldest, wisest, and most impressive of them; a handsome, massive,
Jovelike old gentleman, with the gentlest and most indulgent manners,
and a straightforward, simple mariner withal. He had ceased to make
voyages, and was settled, for the time being, in Liverpool. Mrs.
Howes seemed, to my boyish apprehension, to be a sort of princess of
exquisite and gracious refinement; I could imagine nothing in feminine
shape more delicate, of more languid grace, of finer patrician
elegance. She was certainly immensely good-natured and indulgent
towards me, and, in the absence of my mother, tried to teach me to be
less of an Orson; she had hands which were true works of art,
flexible, fine-grained, taper-fingered, and lily-white; these she used
very effectively, and would fain have induced me to attempt the
regeneration of my own dirty and ragged little fists. She would
beseech me, also, to part my hair straight, to forbear to soil my
jacket, and even to get my shoes blacked.  I was thankful for these
attentions, though I was unable to profit by them. Sometimes, at
table, I would glance up to find her eyes dwelling with mild reproach
upon me; doubtless I was continually perpetrating terrible enormities.
Had she herself been less perfect and immaculate, I might have felt
more hopes of my own amendment; but I felt that I was not in her class
at all, and I gave up at the start. She was a wonderful human
ornament, the despair, I thought, of all pursuit, not to mention
rivalry. Beside the heroic figure of her captain, she looked like a
lily mated with an oak; but they were as happy a pair, and as well
mated, as one could hope to see.

I was, perhaps, more in my proper element among the captains down in
the smoking-room, which was at the back of the house, at the end of
the hallway, on the left. My father sat there foot to foot with them,
played euchre with them, listened to their yarns, laughed at their
jokes, and felt, probably, the spirit of his own old sea-captain
ancestors stirring within him. Some of them were a little shy of his
official position at first, and indeed he was occasionally constrained
to adopt towards one or another of them, in the consulate, a bearing
very different from the easy comradeship of the Blodgett evenings; but
in process of time they came to understand him, and accepted him, on
the human basis, as a friend and brother. My father had the rare
faculty of retaining his dignity without putting it on. No one ever
took liberties with him, and he took none with anybody; yet there was
no trace in his intercourse of stiffness or pose; there did not need
to be, since there was behind his eye that potentiality of
self--protection which renders superfluous all outward demonstration
of personal sanctity.  On the other hand, he obviously elevated the
tone of our little society; the stout captains, who feared nothing
else, feared their worser selves in his presence. None of them knew or
cared a straw for his literary genius and its productions; but they
were aware of something in him which they respected as well as liked,
and there was no member of the company who was more popular or
influential.


Without letting me feel that I was the object of special solicitude or
watchfulness, my father knew all that I did, and saw to it that my
time was decently occupied. In addition to the dancing-lessons already
mentioned (in which I became brilliantly proficient, and achieved such
feats in the way of polkas, mazurkas, hornpipes, and Scotch reels as
filled my instructor and myself with pride)--in addition to this, I
was closeted twice a week with a very serious and earnest
drawing-master, who taught me with infinite conscientiousness, and
sighed heavily over the efforts which I submitted to him. The
captains, who were my champions and abettors in all things, might take
in their large hands a drawing of mine and the copy by the master
which had been my model, and say, one to the other, "Well, now, I
couldn't tell which was which--could you?" But the master could tell,
and the certainty of it steeped his soul in constant gloom.  I doubt
if he recovered from the pangs I gave him.  The fact was, I thought an
hour of dancing with lovely Mary Warren was worth all the art in the
world. Another instructor to whom I brought honor was thick-
shouldered, portly, unctuous M.  Huguenin, a Swiss, proprietor
of the once-famous gymnasium which bore his name. He so anointed me
with praise that I waxed indiscreet, and one day, as I was swinging on
the rings, and he was pointing out to some prospective patrons my
extraordinary merits, my grasp relaxed at the wrong moment and I came
sailing earthward from on high. It seemed to me that, like Milton's
Lucifer, "from dawn to eve I fell," M. Huguenin sprinting to intercept
my fall; but I landed on a mat and was little the worse for it. I fear
the prospective patrons were not persuaded, by my performance, of the
expediency of gymnastic training. On the other hand, M. Huguenin
managed to dispose to my father of one of his multum-in-parvo
exercising-machines, on the understanding that it was to be taken back
at half-price on the expiration of our stay in Liverpool; but, when
that time came, M. Huguenin failed to remember having been a party to
any such understanding; so the big framework was boxed up, and finally
was resurrected in Concord, where I labored with it for seven or eight
years more during my home-comings from Harvard.

In the intervals of my other pursuits, I was, at this period, sent
into society. The society at Mrs.  Blodgett's was, indeed, all that I
desired; but it was doubtless perceived that it was not all that my
polite development required; my Orsonism was too much indulged. I was
sent alone to Sandheys, the Brights' and Heywoods' place, where I was
moderately ill at ease; and also to the house of a lady in town, who
received a good deal of company, and there I was, at first, acutely
miserable. The formalities of the drawing-room and the elegant
conversation overwhelmed me with the kind of torture which Swedenborg
ascribes to those spirits of the lower orders who are admitted
temporarily into the upper heavens. Unlike these unfortunates,
however, I presently got acclimated; other boys of my age appeared,
and numbers of little girls (Mary Warren among them), and now society
occupied all my thoughts. The lady of the house got up private
theatricals--"Beauty and the Beast" was the play. I was cast for the
parts of the Second Sister and of the Beast; Mary Warren was the
Beauty. I got by heart not only my own lines, but those of all the
other performers and the stage directions.  The play was received with
applause, and after it was done the actors were feted; my father was
not present, but he appeared greatly diverted by my account of the
proceedings. He was probably testing me in various ways to see what I
was made of, and whether anything could be made of me. He encouraged
my predilection for natural history by getting me books on conchology
and taking me to museums to study the specimens and make pencil
drawings of them. In these avocations I was also companioned by Frank
Channing, whose specialty was ornithology, and who was making a series
of colored portraits of the birds in the museum, very cleverly done.

[IMAGE: WILLIAM HENRY CHANNING, 1855]

Frank was the son of the Rev. William Henry Channing, who was pastor
of a Unitarian church in Liverpool; he had brought his family to
England at about the same time that we came. He was a nephew, I
believe, of the William Ellery Channing who was one of the founders of
American Unitarianism, and the brother, therefore, of the Ellery
Channing of Concord. Frank inherited much of the talent of his family.
He was afterwards sent to Oxford, where he took the highest honors.
All intellectual operations came easy to him. He also showed a strong
proclivity to art, and he was wonderfully clever in all kinds of fine
handwork. He was at this time a tall and very handsome boy, about two
years my senior. He was, like myself, fanatically patriotic, an
American of Americans, and this brought us together in a foreign land;
but, aside from that, I have seldom met a more fascinating companion.
I followed him about with joy and admiration. He used to make for me
tiny little three-masted ships, about six inches long, with all the
rigging complete; they were named after the famous American clippers
of the day, and he painted microscopic American flags to hoist over
the taff-rail.  He tried to teach me how to paint in water-colors, but
I responded better to his eloquence regarding the future of our
country. He proved to me by a mathematical demonstration, which I
accepted without in the least understanding it, that in fifty years
New York would be larger and more populous than London at the end of
the same period. This brilliant boy seemed fitted for the highest
career in his native country; his father did not contemplate a
permanent stay in England, and in after years I used to look for his
name in our Senate, or among the occupants of the Supreme Bench. But,
as it turned out, he never revisited America, except for short
periods. His father was induced to remain abroad by the success of his
preaching, and Frank, after his career at Oxford, was overpowered by
the subtle attractions of English culture, and could not separate
himself from the old country. I saw him once while I was at Harvard.
He was an Englishman in all outward respects, and seemed to be so
inwardly likewise.  The other day I heard of a Frank Channing in
Parliament; probably the same man. But either the effect upon him of
his voluntary expatriation--his failure to obey at eve the voice
obeyed at prime--or some other cause, has prevented him from ever
doing anything to attract attention, or to appear commensurate with
his radiant promise. Henry James is the only American I know who has
not suffered from adopting England; and even he might have risen
higher than he has done had he overcome his distaste to the external
discomforts of the democracy and cast in his lot with ours.

Frank's father was a tall, intellectual, slender Yankee, endowed with
splendid natural gifts, which he had improved by assiduous
cultivation. In the pulpit he rose to an almost divine eloquence and
passion, and a light would shine over his face as if reflected from
the Holy Spirit itself. My father took a pew in his church, and sent
me to sit in it every Sunday; he never went himself. He was resolved,
I suppose, if there was any religion in me, to afford it an
opportunity to come out. Now, I had a religious reverence for divine
things, but no understanding whatever of dogma of any sort. I never
learned to repeat a creed, far less to comprehend its significance. I
was moved and charmed by Mr. Channing's discourses, but I did not like
to sit in the pew; I did not like "church." I remember nothing of the
purport of any of those sermons; but, oddly enough, I do recall one
preached by a gentleman who united the profession of preacher with
that of medicine; he occupied Channing's pulpit on a certain occasion,
and preached on the text in John xix., 34: "But one of the soldiers
with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout blood and
water." The good doctor, drawing on his physiological erudition,
demonstrated at great length how it was possible that blood should be
mingled with the water, and showed at what precise point in Christ's
body the spear must have entered. I seem to hear again his mellifluous
voice, repeating at the close of each passage of his argument, "And
forthwith came thereout blood-AND WATER!" I did not approve of this
sermon; I was not carried to heaven in the spirit by it, as by
Channing's; but somehow it has stuck in my memory all these
forty-eight years.

Often I stayed for a few days at a time at Channing's house; his wife
was a handsome, delicate, very nervous woman; his daughter Fanny was a
beauty, and became still more beautiful in after years; she was
married, when past her first youth, to Edwin Arnold, author of "The
Light of Asia," and of many rhetorical leading articles in the London
Telegraph. She died a few years ago. They were, all of them, kind to
me. I did the best I could to be a good little boy there; but I
recollect Mrs.  Channing's face of sorrow and distress when, one day
at dinner, I upset into my lap my plate, which she had just filled
with Irish stew--one of my best-loved dishes. "Frank never does that,"
she murmured, as she wiped me up; "never-never!" Nobody looked
cheerful, and I never got over that mortification.




XI


Bennoch and Bright like young housekeepers--"What did you marry that
woman for?"--"Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures"--"The worst book anybody
ever wrote"--"Most magnificent eye I ever saw"--A great deal of the
feminine in Reade--Fire, pathos, fun, and dramatic animation--A
philosophical library in itself--Amusing appanage of his own
book--Oily and voluble sanctimoniousness--Self-worship of the
os-rotundus sort--Inflamed rather than abated by years--"Every word of
it true; but--"--Better, or happier, because we had
lived--Appropriated somebody else's adventure--Filtering remarks
through the mind of a third person--A delightful
Irishman--Unparalleled audacity--An unregenerate opinion--The whole
line of Guelphs in it--"Oh, that somebody would invent a new
sin!"--"The Angel in the House"--Very well dressed--Indomitable
figure, aggressively American--Too much of the elixir of life--A
little strangeness between us--Sunshine will always rest on it.



The central event of 1856 was the return from Lisbon and Madeira of my
mother and sisters. Measuring time, as boys do (very sensibly), not by
the regulated pace of minutes, but by the vast spaces covered by
desire, it appeared to me, for some decades, that they had been absent
in those regions for years--two years at least; and I was astonished
and almost incredulous when dates seemed to prove that the interval
had been six or eight months only.  It was long enough.

In the course of the previous spring my father made two or three
little excursions of a few days or a week or so in various directions,
commonly convoyed by Bright or Bennoch, who were most enterprising on
his behalf, feeling much the same sort of ambition to show him all
possible of England and leading English folk that a young housekeeper
feels to show her visiting school-friend her connubial dwelling and
its arrangements, and to take her up in the nursery and exhibit the
children. Had my father improved all his opportunities he would have
seen a great deal, but the consulate would have been administered by
the clerks. He took trips through Scotland and the north of England,
and south to London and the environs; dined at the Milton Club and
elsewhere, visited the Houses of Parliament, spent a day with Martin
Farquhar Tupper, author of Proverbial Philosophy, and still was not
remarkably absent from the dingy little office down by the docks, or
from the euchre games in Mrs. Blodgett's smoking-room. For the most
part, I did not accompany him on these excursions, being occupied in
Liverpool with my pursuit of universal culture; yet not so much
occupied as to prevent me from feeling insolvent while he was away,
and rich as Aladdin when he got back. For his part, he struggled with
low spirits caused by anxiety lest the next mail from Portugal should
bring ill news of the beloved invalid there (instead of the cheerful
news which always did come); his real life was suspended until she
should return. Partings between persons who love each other seem to be
absolute loss of being; but that being revives, with a new spiritual
strength, when all partings are over.

Of the people whom he met on these sallies, I saw some, either then or
later: Disraeli, Douglas Jerrold, Charles Reade, Tom Taylor, Bailey,
the author of that once-famous philosophic poem, "Festus"; Samuel
Carter Hall, and a few more.  Disraeli, in 1856, had already been
chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the house, and was to hold
the same offices again two years later. He had written all but two of
his novels, and had married the excellent but not outwardly attractive
lady who did so much to sustain him in his career. At a dinner of
persons eminent in political life, about this juncture, Mr. and Mrs.
Disraeli were present, and also Bernal Osborne, a personage more
remarkable for cleverness and aggressiveness, in the things of
statesmanship, than for political loyalty or for a sense of his
obligations to his associates.  This gentleman had drunk a good deal
of wine at dinner, and had sat next to Mrs. Disraeli; when the ladies
had left the table he burst out, with that British brutality which
often passes for wit, "I say, Disraeli, what on earth did you marry
that woman for?" All talk was hushed by this astounding query, and
everybody looked at the sallow and grim figure to whom it was
addressed.  Disraeli for some moments played with his wineglass,
apparently unmoved; then he slowly lifted his extraordinary black,
glittering eyes to those of his questioner. "Partly for a reason," he
said, measuring his words in the silence, "which you will never be
capable of understanding--gratitude!" The answer meant much for both
of them; it was never forgotten, and it extinguished the clever and
aggressive personage. It was ill crossing swords with Disraeli.

Douglas Jerrold was at the height of his fame and success in this
year; he died, I think, the year following, at the age of fifty-four.
He was very popular during his later lifetime, but he seems to have
just missed those qualities of the humorist which insure immortality;
he is little more than a name to this generation. He was the son of an
actor, and had himself been on the stage; indeed, he had tried several
things, including a short service as midshipman in his Majesty's navy.
He wrote some two-score plays, and was a contributor to Punch from its
outset; there are several books to his credit; and he edited Lloyd's
Weekly Newspaper, which was first called by his own name. But people
who have read or heard of nothing else of his, have heard of or read
"Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures." Douglas Jerrold, however, is by no
means fully pictured by anything which he wrote; his charm and
qualities came out in personal intercourse. Nor does the mere
quotation of his brightnesses do him justice; you had to hear and see
him say them in order to understand them or him. He was rather a short
man, with a short neck and thick shoulders, much bent, and thick,
black hair, turning gray. His features were striking and pleasing; he
had large, clear, prominent, expressive black eyes, and in these eyes,
and in his whimsical, sensitive mouth, he lived and uttered himself.
They took all the bitterness and sting out of whatever he might say.
When he was about to launch one of his witticisms, he fixed his eyes
intently on his interlocutor, as if to call his attention to the good
thing coming, and to ask his enjoyment of it, quite apart from such
application to himself as it might have. It was impossible to meet
this look and to resent whatever might go with it. Thus a friend of
his, who wished to write telling books but could not quite do it, came
to him in haste one day and exclaimed, aggrievedly, "Look here,
Douglas, is this true that was told me--that you said my last book was
the worst I'd ever written?" Douglas gazed earnestly into the flushed
and troubled face, and said, in his softest tones, "Oh no, my dear
fellow, that isn't what I said at all; what I did say was that it was
the worst book anybody ever wrote." Such a retort, so delivered, could
not but placate even an outraged author.

Of Charles Reade my father saw little, and was not impressed by what
he saw; but Reade, writing of him to my sister Una, five-and-twenty
years after, said, "Your father had the most magnificent eye that I
ever saw in a human head." Reade was just past forty at the time he
met my father, and had just published _It Is Never Too Late to
Mend_--the first of his great series of reform novels. Christie
Johnstone and Peg Woffington were very clever, and written with
immense vigor and keenness, but did not give the measure of the man. I
doubt if my father had as yet read any of them; but later he was very
fond of Reade's writings. Certainly he could not but have been moved
by The Cloister and the Hearth, the greatest and most beautiful of all
historical novels. He saw in him only a tall, athletic, light-haired
man with blue eyes. I was more fortunate.  I not only came to know
Reade in 1879, but also knew several persons who knew him intimately
and loved and admired him prodigiously; they were all in one story
about him. He was then still tall and athletic, but his wavy hair and
beard were gray; his face was one of the most sensitive men's faces I
ever saw, and his forehead was straight and fine, full of observation
and humor; his eyes were by turns tender and sparkling. There was a
great deal of the feminine in Reade, together with his robust and
aggressive masculinity. The fault of his head was its lack of depth;
there was not much distance from the ear to the nostril, and the
backhead was deficient. It was high above. There was a discord or
incongruity in his nature, which made his life not what could be
called a happy one. He had the impulses of the radical and reformer,
but not the iron or the impassivity which would have enabled him to
endure unmoved the attacks of conservatism and ignorance. He kicked
against the pricks and suffered for it. He was passionate, impatient,
and extreme; but what a lovely, irresistible genius! He was never a
society figure, and withdrew more and more from personal contact with
people; but he kept up to the last the ardor of his attack upon the
abuses of civilization--or what he deemed to be such. He fell into
some errors, but they were as nothing to the good he effected even in
external conditions; and the happiness and benefit he brought to tens
of thousands of readers by the fire, pathos, fun, sweetness,
and--dramatic animation of his stories, and by the nobility and
lovableness of many of the characters drawn in them, are immeasurable,
and will touch us and abide with us again when the welter of the
present transition state has passed. His devotion to the drama injured
his style as a novelist, and also led him to adopt a sort of staccato
manner of construction and statement which sometimes makes us smile.
But upon the ground proper to his genius Reade had no rival. A true
and full biography of him, by a man bold enough and broad enough to
write it, would be a stirring book.

Bailey, the amiable mystical poet, whom my father mildly liked, was
another man my glimpses of whom came at a date much later than this.
He was a small, placid, gently beaming little philosopher, with a
large beard and an oval brow, and though he wrote several things
besides "Festus," they never detached themselves in the public mind
from the general theme of that production. Bailey himself seemed
finally to have recognized this, and he spent his later years (he
lived to a great age) in issuing continually fresh editions of his
book, with expansions and later thoughts, until it got to be a sort of
philosophical library in itself. He appeared in society in order to
give his admirers opportunity to offer up their grateful homage, and
to settle for them all questions relative to the meaning of man and of
religion. No misgivings troubled him; his smile was as an
unintermittent summer noonday.  He was accompanied by his wife, with
whom he seemed to be, as Tennyson says, "twinned, like horse's ear and
eye." She relieved him from the embarrassing necessity of saying
illuminative and eulogistic things about himself and his great work.
The book, upon its first publication, was really read by appreciable
numbers of persons; later, I think, "Festus Bailey" came to be, to the
general mind, an amusing kind of appanage of his own work, which was
now taken as read, but ceased to have readers. How happy a little
imperviousness may make a good man!

Tom Taylor, the dramatist, Punch contributor, and society wit, I
remember only as a pale face and a black beard. His wit had something
of a professional tang. There are many like him in club-land and
hanging about the stage; they catch up and remember all the satirical
sayings, the comicalities, and quips that they hear, and they maintain
a sort of factory for the production of puns. Their repartee explodes
like an American boy's string of toy crackers, and involves, to set it
going, no greater intellectual effort. They are not, in their first
state, less intelligent than the common run of men--rather the
contrary; but as soon as they have gone so far as to acquire a
reputation for wit, their output begins to betray that sad,
perfunctory quality which we find in wound-up music-boxes, and that
mechanical rattle makes us forget that they ever had brains. However,
Tom Taylor, with his century of plays and adaptations--among them "Our
American Cousin," which the genius of an actor, if not its own merit,
made memorable--should not be deemed unworthy of the reputation which,
in his time and place, he won. He was at his best when, stimulated by
applause and a good dinner, he portrayed persons and things with a
kind of laughable extravagance, in the mode introduced by Dickens.
Men of his ilk grow more easily in our soil than in the English, and
are much less regarded.

Henry Stevens--"the man of libraries," as my father calls him--was a
New-Englander, born in Vermont; he took betimes to books, came abroad,
and was employed by the British Museum in getting together Americana,
and by various collectors as an agent to procure books, and in these
innocent pursuits his amiable life was passed. He had a pleasing gift
of drollery, which made his companionship acceptable at stag-parties
and in the smoking-room of the clubs, and he had also a fund of
special information on literary subjects which was often of value. I
met him in after-life--twenty-five years after--and age had not
altered him, though, perhaps, custom had somewhat staled his variety.
He was of medium stature, dark haired and bearded.  With him was often
seen the egregious Mr. Pecksniff (as Samuel Carter Hall was commonly
known to his acquaintances since the publication of Martin Chuzzlewit
ten years before). Hall was a genuine comedy figure. Such oily and
voluble sanctimoniousness needed no modification to be fitted to
appear before the footlights in satirical drama. He might be called an
ingenuous hypocrite, an artless humbug, a veracious liar, so obviously
were the traits indicated innate and organic in him rather than
acquired. Dickens, after all, missed some of the finer shades of the
character; there can be little doubt that Hall was in his own private
contemplation as shining an object of moral perfection as he portrayed
himself before others. His perversity was of the spirit, not of the
letter, and thus escaped his own recognition. His indecency and
falsehood were in his soul, but not in his consciousness; so that he
paraded them at the very moment that he was claiming for himself all
that was their opposite.  No one who knew him took him seriously, but
admired the ability of his performance, and so well was he understood
that he did little or no harm beyond the venting of a spite here and
there and the boring of his auditors after the absurdity of him became
tedious. Self-worshippers of the _os-rotundus_ sort are seldom
otherwise mischievous. He may be sufficiently illustrated by two
anecdotes.

They both occurred at a dinner where I was a guest, and Bennoch sat at
the head of the table. Hall sat at Bennoch's left hand, and my place
was next to Hall's. The old gentleman--he was at this period panoplied
in the dignity of a full suit of snow-white hair, and that unctuous
solemnity and simpering self-complacency of visage and demeanor which
were inflamed rather than abated by years--began the evening by
telling in sesquipedalian language a long tale of an alleged adventure
of his with my father, which, inasmuch as there was no point to it,
need not be rehearsed here; but I noticed that Bennoch was for some
reason hugely diverted by it, and found difficulty in keeping his
hilarity within due bounds of decorum, Hall's tone being all the while
of the most earnest gravity. Later I took occasion to ask Bennoch the
secret of his mirth; was the tale a fiction? "Not a bit of it,"
Bennoch replied; "it's every word of it true; but what tickled me was
that it was myself and not Hall who was in the adventure with your
father; but Hall has been telling it this way for twenty years past,
and has long since come to believe that his lie is the truth." So
ended the first lesson.

The second was administered shortly before the company dispersed. Mr.
Hall again got the floor to deliver one of his more formal moral
homilies.  "And, my dear friends--my very dear friends," he went on,
resting his finger-ends upon the table, and inclining his body
affectionately towards his auditors, "may I, as an old man--I think
the oldest of any of you here present--conclude by asking your
indulgence for an illustration from the personal experience and custom
of one who may, I think--who at least has ever striven to be, a humble
Christian gentleman--may I, my dear friends, cite this simple example
of what I have been attempting to inculcate from my own personal
practice, and that of my very dear and valued wife, Mrs. Hall? It has
for very many years been our constant habit, before seeking rest at
night, to kneel down together at our bedside, and to implore,
together, the Divine blessing upon the efforts and labors of the
foregoing day. And before offering up that petition to the Throne of
Grace, my friends "--here the orator's voice vibrated a little with
emotion--"we have ever been sedulous to ask each other, and to
question our own hearts, as to whether, during that day, some human
fellow-creature had been made better, or happier, because we had
lived. And very seldom has it happened--very seldom, indeed, my dear
friends, has it happened--that we were unable to say to ourselves, and
to each other, that, during that day, some fellow-creature, if not
more than one, had had cause for thankfulness because we had lived.
And now I will beg of you, my dear friends," added Mr. Hall, producing
his large, white pocket-handkerchief and patting his eyes with it, "to
pardon a personal allusion, made in fulness of heart and brotherly
feeling, and if there be found in it anything calculated to assist any
of you towards a right comprehension of our Christian responsibilities
towards our fellow-man, I entreat that you take it into your hearts
and bosoms, and may it be sanctified unto you. I have done."

This report may be relied upon as substantially accurate, for the
reporter made a note of the apologue and exhortation soon afterwards.
Mrs. Hall, like her husband, was of Irish birth, and an agreeable and
clever woman. They were both born in 1800, and died, she in her
eighty-second, he in his ninetieth year. He remained the same Hall to
the very end of his long chapter, and really, if no one was the better
because he had lived, I don't know that any one was the worse, in the
long run, either; and there have been Pecksniffs of whom as much could
hardly be affirmed. There is, however, an anecdote of Hall which my
father tells, and seems to have credited; if it be true, it would
appear that once at least in his life he could hardly have implored
the Throne of Grace for a blessing on the deeds of the day. "He told
me," writes my father, "(laughing at the folly of the affair, but,
nevertheless, fully appreciating his own chivalry) how he and Charles
Lever, about ten years since, had been on the point of fighting a
duel. The quarrel was made up, however, and they parted good friends,
Lever returning to Ireland, whence Mr. Hall's challenge had summoned
him." I suspect good Mr. Hall must have once more appropriated
somebody else's adventure; it was not in the heat of youth that the
bloody-minded and unchristian episode is supposed to have occurred,
but when Mr. Hall was in his forty-seventh year.

Durham, the sculptor, was a lifelong friend of Bennoch's, and was
often in my father's company, and he manifested a friendly feeling
towards my father's son long afterwards. He was a man of medium
height, compactly built, with slightly curling hair, and a
sympathetic, abstracted expression of countenance. He was at this time
making a bust of Queen Victoria, and he told us that it was contrary
to court etiquette for her Majesty, during these sittings, to address
herself directly to him, or, of course, for him directly to address
her; they must communicate through the medium of the lady-in-waiting.
The Queen, however, said Durham, sometimes broke through this rule,
and so did the sculptor, the democracy of art, it would seem, enabling
them to surmount the obligation to filter through the mind of a third
person all such remarks as they might wish to make to each other.
Durham also said that when the bust was nearly finished the Queen
proposed that a considerable thickness of the clay should be removed
from the model, which was done. The bust, as an ideal work, was
thereby much improved, but the likeness to her Majesty was
correspondingly diminished. Years afterwards I was talking with W. G.
Wills, the painter and dramatist, a delightful Irishman of the most
incorrigibly republican and bohemian type. He had, a little while
before, been giving lessons in painting to the Princess Louise, who
married the Marquis of Lorne, and who was, herself, exceptionally
emancipated for a royal personage. One day, said Wills (telling the
story quite innocently), the Princess was prevented from coming as
usual to his studio, and he received a message from Windsor Castle,
where the Princess and the Queen were staying, from the Queen's
secretary, commanding his presence there to give the Princess her
lesson, and to spend the night. This would be regarded by the ordinary
British subject not only as an order to be instantly and
unhesitatingly obeyed, but as a high honor and distinction. "But the
fact is," said Wills, with his easy smile, "I'd promised to be at my
friend Corkran's reception that evening, and, of course, I couldn't
think of disappointing him; there was no time to write, so I just sent
a telegram to the castle saying I was engaged." Probably English
society history does not contain a parallel to this piece of audacity,
and one would have liked to see the face of the private secretary of
her Majesty when he opened the telegram. But Wills could not be made
to recognize anything singular in the affair.

Commenting in one of his private note-books, at this time, upon the
subject of modern sculpture in general, my father utters one of his
unregenerate opinions. "It seems to me," he says, "time to leave off
sculpturing men and women naked; such statues mean nothing, and might
as well bear one name as another; they belong to the same category as
the ideal portraits in books of beauty or in the windows of
print-shops. The art does not naturally belong to this age, and the
exercise of it, I think, had better be confined to manufacture of
marble fireplaces." As we shall see, he modified this radical view
before he left Italy; but there is some ground of truth in it,
nevertheless.

Here is another bit of art criticism. He has been giving a detailed
description of the sitting-room in one of our lodgings, and of the
objects contained in it, evidently as a part of his general practice
to record the minor facts of English life, to serve as a background
for the English romance he hoped to write afterwards. "On the
mantle-piece," he writes, "are two little glass vases, and over it a
looking-glass (not flattering to the beholder), and above hangs a
colored view of some lake or seashore, and on each side a cheap
colored print of Prince Albert and one of Queen Victoria. And, really,
I have seen no picture, bust, or statue of her Majesty which I feel to
be so good a likeness as this cheap print. You see the whole line of
Guelphs in it--fair, blue-eyed, shallow-brained, commonplace, yet with
a simple kind of heartiness and truth that make one somewhat
good-natured towards them."

"I must see Dickens before I leave England," he wrote, commenting upon
the various tales he heard of him from henchmen and critics; but he
never did see him, nor Thackeray either, whom he perhaps wished still
more to meet. Thackeray visited America while we were abroad; and when
Dickens came to Boston to read, my father was dead. Nor did he see
Bulwer, an apostrophe by whom he quotes: "Oh, that somebody would
invent a new sin, that I might go in for it!" Tennyson he saw, but did
not speak with him. He sat at table, on one occasion, with Macaulay,
and remarked upon the superiority over his portraits of his actual
appearance.  He made the acquaintance, which ripened into friendship,
in Italy, of Robert Browning and his wife, and of Coventry Patmore,
the author of "The Angel in the House," a poem which he greatly liked.
But, upon the whole, he came in contact with the higher class of
literary men in England less than with others, whom he was less likely
to find sympathetic.

One afternoon, when I had accompanied him to the consulate, there
entered a tall, active man, very well dressed, with black,
thick-curling hair and keen, blue eyes. He seemed under thirty years
of age, but had the self-confident manner of a man of the world, and a
great briskness of demeanor and speech. He sat down and began to tell
of his experiences; he had been all over the world, and knew
everything about the world's affairs, even the secrets of courts and
the coming movements of international politics. He was a striking,
handsome, indomitable figure, and aggressively American.  When he went
away, he left with my father a book which he had written, with an
engraved portrait of the author for frontispiece. This volume, faded
and shelf-worn, but apparently unread, bound in the execrable taste of
a generation and a half ago, I recently found among my father's
volumes. It bore on the title-page the dashing signature of George
Francis Train. Train saw things in the large--in their cosmic
relations; from us he was going forth to make a fortune compared with
which that of Monte Cristo would be a trifle. He did make fortunes, I
believe; but there seems to have been in his blood a little too much
of the elixir of life--more than he could thoroughly digest. His
development was arrested, or was continued on lines which carried him
away from practical contact with that world which he believed he held
in the hollow of his hand. My father suspected his soundness; but in
1856 there seemed to be no height to which he might not rise. The
spiritual steam-engine in him, however, somehow got uncoupled from the
mass of the machinery of human affairs, and has been plying in vacua,
so to say, ever since.  On the 9th of June came a telegram from
Southampton; my mother and sisters had arrived from Madeira. My father
and I left Liverpool the next day, feeling that our troubles were
over. In the afternoon we alighted at the little seaport and took a
cab to the Castle Hotel, close to the water.  My father, with a face
full of light, sprang up-stairs to the room in which my mother awaited
him; I found myself with my sisters and Fannie Wrigley, the faithful
nurse and companion who had accompanied them on their travels. How
tall and mature Una was! What a big girl baby Rose had become! There
was a little strangeness between us, but great good-will; we felt that
there were a great many explanations to be made. In a few minutes I
was called up-stairs to my mother. At the first glance she seemed
smaller than formerly; her face appeared a little different from my
memory of it; I was overcome by an odd shyness. She smiled and held
out her arms; then I saw my beloved mother, and a great passion of
affection poured through me and swept me to her. I was whole again,
and indescribably happy.

There was never such another heavenly room as that parlor in the
Castle Hotel; never another hotel so delightful, or another town to be
compared with Southampton. I was united to all I loved there, and in
my thoughts sunshine will always rest on it.




XII


Talked familiarly with kings and queens--Half-witted girl who giggled
all the time--It gnawed me terribly--A Scotch terrier named Towsey--A
sentiment of diplomatic etiquette--London as a physical entity--Ladies
in low-necked dresses--An elderly man like a garden-spider--Into the
bowels of the earth--The inner luminousness of genius--Isolated and
tragic situation--"Ate ever man such a morsel before!"--The great,
wild, mysterious Borrow--Her skeleton, huddled, dry, and
awful--"Ma'am, you expose yourself!"--Plane, spokeshave, gouge, and
chisel--"I-passed-the-Lightning"--Parallel-O-grams-A graduate of
Antioch--"Continual cursing"--A catastrophe--"Troubles are a sociable
sisterhood"--"In truth I was very sorry"--He had dreamed wide--awake
of these things--A friend of Emerson and Henry James--Embarked at
Folkestone for France.

We spent our first reunited week at the Castle Hotel, which was
founded on an ancient castle wall, or part of it; traces of it were
shown to guests. The harbor lapped the sea-wall in front; the Isle of
Wight, white-ramparted, gleamed through the haze in the offing. I
suppose, during that week, we were enough employed in telling one
another our histories during our separation; and naturally that of my
mother and sisters filled the larger space. They had brought home
words and phrases in a foreign tongue, which made me feel very
ignorant; they had talked familiarly with kings and queens; they had
had exciting experiences in Madeira; they brought with them
photographs and colored prints of people and places, unlike anything
that I had seen. My mother, who was an unsurpassed narrator of events,
gave us wonderful and vivid accounts of all they had seen and done,
which I so completely assimilated that to this day I could repeat a
great deal of them; my father listened with eyes like stars (as my
mother would have said), and with a smile in the corners of his mouth.
It was glorious weather all the time, or so it seems to have been to
me. My sisters and I renewed our acquaintance, and found one another
none the worse.  Nobody called on us except a Mrs. Hume, with whom a
stay of a fortnight was projected; she kept a girls' school, and, this
being vacation, she would take us as boarders. We were starved there,
as only a pinching, English, thin-bread-and-butter housekeeper can
starve people; and my sisters and I had for our playmate a half-witted
girl who was staying over the vacation, and who giggled all the time.
Mrs.  Hume had aroused my enthusiasm by telling me that there were
endless sea-anemones along the coast; but Providence seemed hostile to
my sea-anemone proclivities; for it turned out that what Mrs. Hume
understood by sea-anemones was a small, white-flowering weed that grew
on the low bluff beside the water. I never told her my disappointment,
imagining that it would distress her; but it gnawed me terribly, and
she did not merit such forbearance.

We would much better have stayed at the hotel, only that they charged
us fourteen dollars a day, which was considered exorbitant in those
days.  There were seven of us, including Fanny, the nurse.  What an
age, when two dollars a head was exorbitant! What Mrs. Hume charged us
I know not, but it is only just to admit that it must have been a good
deal less than one hundred dollars a week; though, again, it must not
be forgotten that translucent bread-and-butter is not expensive. We
were sent there, I suppose, in order to remind us that this was still
the world that we were living in, after all, and not yet Paradise. We
came out from her sobered and chastened, but cheerful still; and
meanwhile we visited Stonehenge and other local things of beauty or
interest. Then Mr. Bennoch (who, to tell the truth, had introduced
Mrs. Hume to us) invited us to spend a month at his house in
Blackheath, while he and his wife were making a little tour in
Germany, and we arrived at this agreeable refuge during the first half
of July. My father records that he was as happy there as he had ever
been since leaving his native land. It was a pleasant little house, in
a semi-countrified spot, and it contained, besides the usual furniture
proper to an English gentleman and his wife of moderate fortune, a
little Scotch terrier named Towsey, who commanded much of the
attention of us children, and one day inadvertently bit my thumb; and
I carry the scar, for remembrance, to this day.

Many well-known persons passed across our stage here; and London, with
all its wonders, was at our doors, the wide expanse of its
smoke-piercing towers visible in our distance. All the while my father
kept the official part of himself at Liverpool, where his consular
duties still claimed his attention; he went and came between Mrs.
Blodgett's and Black-heath.  The popularity of the incomparable
boarding-house in Duke Street had continued to increase, and he was
obliged to bestow himself in a small room at the back of the building,
which was reputed to be haunted by the spirit of one of his
predecessors in office, who had not only died in it, but had often
experienced there the terrors of delirium tremens; but the ghost,
perhaps from a sentiment of diplomatic etiquette, never showed itself
to my father. Or it may have been that the real self of him being in
Blackheath, what remained was not sufficient to be conscious of a
spiritual presence.  He came and went, like sunlight on a partly
cloudy day. I recollect taking a walk over the Heath at evening with
him and the doctor who was attending my mother; Mr. Bennoch was with
us; it must have been just before he and his wife went to the
Continent. After walking some distance (the gentlemen chatting
together, and I gambolling on ahead) we came to the summit of a low
rise, from which we beheld London, flung out, all its gloomy length,
before us; and in all my thoughts of London as a physical entity the
impression then received of it returns to me. It lay vast, low, and
obscure in front of the dull red of the sunset, with dim lights
twinkling dispersedly throughout it, and the dome of St. Paul's
doubtfully defining itself above the level. There is no other general
view of London to be compared with this, seen under those conditions.
Soon after, we came to some ridges and mounds, which, said Bennoch,
marked the place where were buried the heaps of the slain of some
great prehistoric battle--one, at least, which must have taken place
while the Romans yet ruled Britain. It was a noble scene for such an
antique conflict, when man met man, foot to foot and hand to hand,
with sword and spear. My mind was full of King Arthur and his
Round-Table knights of the Pendragonship, and I doubted not that their
mightiest fight had been fought here.

There were many walks in London itself. One day, going west along the
Strand, we found ourselves drawn into the midst of a vast crowd near
Charing Cross; some royal function was in progress.  Threading our way
slowly through the press, we saw a troop of horsemen in steel
breastplates, with nodding plumes on their helmets, and drawn swords
carried upright on their thighs--the famous Horse Guards; and farther
on we began to see carriages with highly ornamental coachmen and
footmen passing in dilatory procession; within them were glimpses of
ladies in low-necked dresses, feathers in their hair, and their necks
sparkling with jewels.

At length we turned off towards the north, and by-and-by were entering
a huge building of gray stone, with tall pillars in front of it, which
my father told me was the British Museum. What a place for a boy!
Endless halls of statues; enormous saloons filled with glass-cases of
shells; cases of innumerable birds; acres of butterflies and other
insects; strange objects which I did not understand--magic globes of
shining crystal, enormous masses of iron which were said to have
fallen from the sky; vases and jewels; and finally, at the farther end
of a corridor, a small door, softly opening, disclosed a circular room
of stupendous proportions, domed above, the curving walls filled with
myriads of books. In the centre was a circular arrangement of desks,
and in the midst of these an elderly man, like a garden-spider in his
web; but it was his duty to feed, not devour, the human flies who sat
or walked to and fro with literary meat gathered from all over the
world. It was my first vision of a great library.

Another time we went--all of us, I think--to the Tower of London. I
vibrated with joy at the spectacle of the array of figures in armor,
and picked out, a score of times, the suit I would most gladly choose
to put on. Here were St. George, King Arthur, Sir Scudamour, Sir
Lancelot--all but their living faces and their knightly deeds! Then I
found myself immured in dungeons with walls twenty feet thick,
darksome and low-browed, with tiny windows, and some of them bearing
on their stones strange inscriptions, cut there by captives who were
nevermore to issue thence, save to the block. Here the great Raleigh
had been confined; here, the lovable, rash-tempered Essex; here, the
noble Sir Henry Vane, who had once trod the rocky coast of my own New
England. Everywhere stood on the watch or paced about the Beef-eaters
in their brilliant fifteenth-century motley. I have never since then
passed the portals of the Tower, nor seen again the incomparable gleam
of the Koh-i-noor--if it were, indeed, the Koh-i-noor that I saw, and
not a glass model foisted on my innocence.

Again, I followed my father down many flights of steps, into the
bowels of the earth; but there were lights there, and presently we
passed through a sort of turnstile, and saw lengthening out before us
two endless open tubes, of diameter twice or thrice the height of a
man, with people walking in them, and disappearing in their
interminable perspective. We, too, entered and began to traverse them,
and after we had proceeded about half-way my father told me that the
river Thames was flowing over our heads, with its ships on its
surface, and its fishes, and its bottom of mud and gravel--under all
these this illuminated corridor, with ourselves breathing and seeing
and walking therein. Would we ever again behold the upper world and
the sky? The atmosphere was not pleasant, and I was glad to find
myself climbing up another flight of stairs and emerging on the other
side of the river, which we had crossed on foot, dry-shod.

Of the famous personages of this epoch I did not see much; only I
remember that a woman who seemed taller than common, dressed in a dark
silk gown, and moving with a certain air of composure, as if she knew
she was right, and yet meant to be considerate of others; whose
features were plain, and whose voice had a resonance and modulation
unlike other voices, was spoken of in my hearing as bearing a name
which I had heard often, and which had a glamour for my boyish
imagination--Jenny Lind. There also rises before me the dark,
courteous visage and urbane figure of Monckton Milnes; but there was
something more and better than mere courtesy and urbanity about him;
the inner luminousness, I suppose, of what was nearly genius, and
would have been altogether that but for the swaddling-clothes of rank
and society which hampered it.  My father thought him like Longfellow;
but there was an English materialism about Milnes from which the
American poet was free. Henry James told me long afterwards a comical
tale of how, being left to browse in Mimes's library one afternoon, he
strayed into an alcove of pretty and inviting volumes, in sweet
bindings, mellowed by age, and was presently terrified by the
discovery that he was enmeshed in the toils of what bibliophiles term,
I think, "Facetiae"--of which Milnes had a collection unmatched among
private book-owners. Milnes's social method was The Breakfast, which
he employed constantly, and nothing could be more agreeable--in
England; we cannot acclimate it here, because we work in the
afternoon. Of Miss Bacon, of the Bacon-wrote-Shakespeare theory, I saw
nothing, but heard much, for a time, in our family circle; my father
seemed to have little doubt of her insanity, and absolute certainty of
the despotic attitude she adopted towards her supporters, which was
far more intolerable than the rancor which she visited on those who
disregarded her monomaniacal convictions.  My mother, out of pure
compassion, I believe, for the isolated and tragic situation in which
the poor woman had placed herself, tried with all her might to read
the book and believe the theory; she would take up the mass of
manuscript night after night, and wade through it with that truly
saintlike self-abnegation which characterized her, occasionally, too,
reading out a passage which struck her. The result was that she could
not bring herself to disbelieve in Shakespeare, but she conceived a
higher admiration than ever of Bacon; and that, too, was
characteristic of her.

We made several incursions into the surrounding country. One was to
Newstead, where, from the talkative landlady of the hotel, we heard
endless stories about Byron and his wife; this was before Mrs. Harriet
Beecher Stowe published her well-intended but preposterous volume
about the poet.  Then we visited Oxford, and were shown about by the
mayor of the town, and by Mr. S. C. Hall, and were at one moment
bathed in the light emanating from Lady Waldegrave, of which interview
my father, in his private note-book, speaks thus: "Lady Waldegrave
appeared; whereupon Mr. Speirs (the mayor) instantly was transfigured
and transformed--like the English snob he is, worthy man--and looked
humbler than he does in the presence of his Maker, and so respectful
and so blest that it was pleasant to behold him. Nevertheless, she is
but a brummagem kind of countess, after all, being the daughter of
Braham, the famous singer, and married first to an illegitimate son of
an Earl Waldegrave--not to the legitimate son and possessor of the
title (who was her first love)--and after the death of these two to
the present old Mr. Harcourt.  She is still in her summer, even if it
be waning, a lady of fresh complexion and light hair, a Jewish nose
(to which her descent entitles her), a kind and generous expression of
face, but an officer-like figure and bearing. There seems to be a
peculiarity of manner, a lack of simplicity, a self-consciousness,
which I suspect would not have been seen in a lady born to the rank
which she has attained. But, anyhow, she was kind to all of us, and
complimentary to me, and she showed us some curious things which had
formerly made part of Horace Walpole's collection at Twickenham--a
missal, for instance, splendidly bound and beset with jewels, but of
such value as no setting could increase, for it was exquisitely
illuminated by the own hand of Raphael himself! I held the precious
volume in my grasp, though I fancy (and so does my wife) that the
countess scarcely thought it safe out of her own hands. In truth, I
suppose any virtuoso would steal it if he could; and Lady Waldegrave
has reason to look to the safe-keeping of her treasures, as she
exemplified by telling us a story while exhibiting a little silver
case. This once contained a portion of the heart of Louis XII. (how
the devil it was got I know not), and she was showing it one day to
Strickland, Dean of Westminster, when, to her horror and astonishment,
she saw him open the case and swallow the royal heart! Ate ever man
such a morsel before! It was a symptom of insanity in the dean, and I
believe he is since dead, insane." It was after this interview with
the countess that we visited Old Boston, and when my parents told old
Mr. Porter about the missal his jolly eyes took on a far-away
expression, as if he saw himself in the delightful act of purloining
it, "in obedience to a higher law than that which he broke."

The man who, of all writing men, was nearest to my heart in those
years, and long after, was George Borrow, whose book, Lavengro, I had
already begun to read. The publication of this work had made him
famous, though he had written two or three volumes before that, and
was at this very time bringing out its sequel, Romany Rye. But Borrow
was never a hanger-on of British society, and we never saw him. One
day, however, Mr.  Martineau turned up, and, the conversation chancing
to turn on Borrow, he said that he and George had been school-mates,
and that the latter's gypsy proclivities had given him a singular
influence over other boys. Finally, he had persuaded half a dozen of
them to run away from the school and lead a life of freedom and
adventure on the roads and lanes of England. To this part of Mr.
Martineau's tale I lent an eager and sympathetic ear; bat the narrator
was lowered in my estimation by the confession that he himself had not
been a member of Borrow's party. He went on to say that the fugitives
had been pursued and captured and brought back to bondage; and upon
Borrow's admitting that he had been the instigator of the adventure,
he was sentenced to be flogged, and that it was on the back of this
very Martineau that he had been "horsed" to undergo the punishment!
Imagine the great, wild, mysterious Borrow mounted upon the ascetic
and precise cleric that was to be, and the pedagogue laying on! My
father asked concerning the accuracy of some of Borrow's statements in
his books, to which Martineau replied that he could not be entirely
depended on; not that he meant to mislead or misrepresent, but his
imagination, or some eccentricity in his mental equipment, caused him
occasionally to depart from literal fact. Very possibly; but Borrow's
imagination brought him much nearer to essential truth than adherence
to what they supposed to be literal facts could bring most men.

One of the most interesting expeditions of this epoch--though I cannot
fix the exact date--was to an old English country-seat, built in the
time of Henry VIII., or earlier, and added to from age to age since
then, until now it presented an irregularity and incongruousness of
plan which rendered it an interminable maze of delight to us children
wandering through it. We were taken in charge by the children of the
family, of whom there were no fewer than fourteen, all boys, with only
twelve years between the eldest and the youngest (some of them being
twins). Hide-and-seek at once suggested itself as the proper game for
the circumstances, but no set game was needed; the house itself was
Hide-and-seek House; you could not go twenty feet without getting
lost, and the walls of many of the rooms had sliding panels, and
passages through the thickness of them, and even staircases, so that
when one of us went into a room there was no predicting where he would
come out. Finally they brought us to a black, oaken door with a great,
black lock on it, and bolts at the top and bottom; it was near the end
of a corridor, in the oldest wing of the building.  The door, in
addition to its native massiveness, was studded with great nails, and
there were bands of iron or steel crossing it horizontally. When we
proposed to enter, our friends informed us that this door had been
closed one hundred and eighty years before and had never been opened
since then, and that it had shut in a young woman who, for some
reason, had become very objectionable or dangerous to other persons
concerned. The windows of the room, they added, had been walled up at
the same time; so there this unhappy creature slowly starved to death
in pitch darkness. There, doubtless, within a few feet of where we
stood, lay her skeleton, huddled, dry, and awful in the garments she
wore in life. Sometimes, too, by listening long at the key-hole, you
could hear a faint sound, like a human groan; but it was probably
merely the sigh of the draught through the aperture. This story so
horrified me and froze my young blood that the fancies of Mrs.
Radcliffe and Edgar Allan Poe seemed like frivolous chatter beside it.

About the middle of September the Bennochs returned from the
Continent, and we made ready to transfer ourselves to the lodgings in
Southport which had been prepared for us. Bennoch, who was soon to
meet with the crucial calamity of his career, was in abounding
spirits, and he told my father an anecdote of our friend Grace
Greenwood, which is recorded in one of the private note-books.
"Grace, Bennoch says," he writes, "was invited to a private reading of
Shakespeare by Charles Kemble, and she thought it behooved her to
manifest her good taste and depth of feeling by going into hysterics
and finally fainting away upon the floor.  Hereupon Charles Kemble
looked up from his book and addressed himself to her sternly and
severely.  'Ma'am,' said he, 'this won't do! Ma'am, you disturb the
company! Ma'am, you expose yourself!'"

This last hit had the desired effect, for poor Grace probably thought
that her drapery had not adjusted itself as it ought, and that perhaps
she was really exposing more of her charms than were good to be
imparted to a mixed company. So she came to herself in a hurry, and,
after a few flutterings, subsided into a decorous listener. Bennoch
says he had this story from an eye-witness, and that he fully believes
it; and I think it not impossible that, betwixt downright humbug and a
morbid exaggeration of her own emotions, Grace may have been betrayed
into this awful fix. I wonder how she survived it!

At Southport we remained from the middle of September to the following
July, 1857. In addition to my aquarium, I was deeply involved in the
ship-building industry, and, the more efficiently to carry out my
designs, was apprenticed to a carpenter, an elderly, shirt-sleeved,
gray-bearded man, who under a stern aspect concealed a warm and
companionable heart. There were boys at the beach who had little
models of cutters and yachts, and I conceived the project of making a
sail-boat for myself. My father seems to have thought that some
practical acquaintance with the use of carpenter's tools would do me
no harm--by adding a knowledge of a handicraft to my other culture--so
he arranged with Mr. Chubbuck that I should attend his work-shop for
instruction. Mr. Chubbuck, accordingly, gave me thorough lessons in
the mysteries of the plane, the spokeshave, the gouge, and the chisel,
and finally presented me with a block of white pine eighteen inches
long and nine wide, and I set to work on my sloop. He oversaw my
labors, but conscientiously abstained from taking a hand in them
himself; the model gradually took shape, and there began to appear a
bluff-bowed, broad-beamed craft, a good deal resembling the French
fishing-boats which I afterwards saw off the harbors of Calais and
Havre. The outside form being done, I entered upon the delightful and
exciting work of hollowing it out with the gouge, narrowly avoiding,
more than once, piercing through from the hold into the outer world.
But the little ship became more buoyant every day, and finally stood
ready for her deck. This I prepared by planing down a bit of plank to
the proper thickness--or thinness--and carefully fitted it into its
place, with companionways fore and aft, covered with hatches made to
slide in grooves. Next, with chisel, spoke-shave, and sand-paper, I
prepared the mast and fitted a top-mast to it, and secured it in its
place with shrouds and stays of fine, waxed fishing-line.  The boom
and gaff were then put in place, and Fanny Wrigley (who had aforetime
made my pasteboard armor and helmet) now made me a main-sail,
top-sail, and jib out of the most delicate linen, beautifully hemmed,
and a tiny American flag to hoist to the peak. It only remained to
paint her; I was provided with three delectable cans of oil-paint, and
I gave her a bright-green under-body, a black upper-body, and white
port-holes with a narrow red line running underneath them. Thus
decorated, and with her sails set, she was a splendid object, and the
boys with bought models were depressed with envy, especially when I
called their attention to the stars and stripes.  This boat-building
mania of mine had originated while we were at Mrs. Blodgett's, where
the captain of one of the clippers gave me a beautiful model of his
own ship, fully rigged, and perfect in every detail; only it would not
sail, being solid. Concerning his clipper, by-the-way, I once
overheard a bit of dialogue in Mrs. Blodgett's smoking-room between my
captain and another. "Do you mean to say," demanded the latter, "that
you passed the Lightning?" To which my captain replied, in measured
and impressive tones, "I-passed-the-Lightning!" The Lightning, it may
be remarked, was at that time considered the queen of the Atlantic
passage; she had made the trip between Boston and Liverpool in ten
days. But my captain had once shown her his heels, nevertheless. I
wanted to christen my sloop The Sea Eagle, but my father laughed so
much at this name that I gave it up; he suggested The Chub, The
Mud-Pout, and other ignoble titles, which I indignantly rejected, and
what her name finally was I have forgotten. She afforded me immense
happiness.

At Southport we had a queer little governess, Miss Brown, who came to
us highly recommended both as to her personal character and for
ability to instruct us in arithmetic and geometry, geography, English
composition, and the rudiments of French.  She was barely five feet in
height, and as thin and dry as an insect; and although her personal
character came up to any eulogium that could be pronounced upon it,
her ignorance of the "branches" specified was, if possible, greater
than our own.  She was particularly perplexed by geometry; she aroused
our hilarity by always calling a parallelogram a parallel-O-gram, with
a strong emphasis on the penultimate syllable; and she spent several
days repeating over to herself, with a mystified countenance, the
famous words, "The square of the hypothenuse is equal to the sum of
the squares of the two legs." What were legs of a triangle, and how,
if there were any, could they be square? She never solved this enigma;
and although we liked little Miss Brown very much, she speedily lost
all shadow of control over us; we treated her as a sort of inferior
sister, and would never be serious.  "English governess" became for us
a synonym for an amiable little nonentity who knew nothing; and I was
surprised to learn, later, from the early works of Miss Rhoda
Broughton, that they could be beautiful and intelligent. Miss Brown
did not outlast our residence in Southport.

From Southport we removed to Manchester, and thence, after exhausting
the exposition, to Leamington, where we spent September and October of
1857. We expected to proceed direct from Leamington to France and
Italy, but we were destined to be delayed in London till January of
1858.

It was in Leamington that we were joined by Ada Shepard. She was a
graduate of Antioch, a men-and-women's college in Ohio, renowned in
its day, when all manner of improvements in the human race were
anticipated from educating the sexes together. Miss Shepard had got a
very thorough education there, so that she knew as much as a
professor, including--what would be of especial service to us--a
knowledge of most of the modern European languages. What seemed, no
doubt, of even more importance to her was her betrothal to her
classmate, Henry Clay Badger; they were to be married on her return to
America. Meanwhile, as a matter of mutual convenience (which rapidly
became mutual pleasure), she was to act as governess of us children
and accompany our travels. Ada (as my father and mother presently
called her) was then about twenty-two years old; she had injured her
constitution--never robust--by addiction to learning, and had
incidentally imbibed from the atmosphere of Antioch all the
women's-rights fads and other advanced opinions of the day. These,
however, affected mainly the region of her intellect; in her nature
she was a simple, affectionate, straightforward American maiden, with
the little weaknesses and foibles appertaining to that estate; and it
was curious to observe the frequent conflicts between these
spontaneous characteristics and her determination to live up to her
acquired views.  But she was fresh-hearted and happy then, full of
interest in the wonders and beauties of the Old World; she wrote,
weekly, long, criss-crossed letters, in a running hand, home to
"Clay," the king of men; and periodically received, with an
illuminated countenance, thick letters with an American foreign
postage-stamp on them, which she would shut herself into her chamber
to devour in secret. She was a little over the medium height, with a
blue-eyed face, not beautiful, but gentle and expressive, and wearing
her flaxen hair in long curls on each side of her pale cheeks. She
entered upon her duties as governess with energy and good-will, and we
soon found that an American governess was a very different thing from
an English one (barring the Rhoda Broughton sort). Her special aim at
present was to bring us forward in the French and Italian languages.
We had already, in Manchester, made some acquaintance with the books
of the celebrated Ollendorff; and my father, who knew Latin well, had
taught me something of Latin grammar, which aided me in my Italian
studies. I liked Latin, particularly as he taught it to me, and it
probably amused him, though it must also often have tried his patience
to teach me. I had a certain aptitude for the spirit of the language,
but was much too prone to leap at conclusions in my translations.  I
did not like to look out words in the lexicon, and the result was
sometimes queer. Thus, there was a sentence in some Latin author
describing the manner in which the Scythians were wont to perform
their journeys; relays of fresh horses would be provided at fixed
intervals, and thus they were enabled to traverse immense distances at
full speed. The words used were, I think, as follows: "Itaque
conficiunt iter continuo cursu." When I translated these, "So they
came to the end of their journey with continual cursing," I was
astonished to see my father burst into inextinguishable laughter,
falling back in his chair and throwing up his feet in the ebullience
of his mirth. I heard a good deal of that "continual cursing" for some
years after, and I believe the incident prompted me to pay stricter
attention to the dictionary than I might otherwise have done.

However, what with Ollendorff and Miss Shepard, we regarded ourselves,
by the time we were ready to set out for the Continent, as being in
fair condition to ask about trains and to order dinner.  My mother,
indeed, had from her youth spoken French and Spanish fluently, but not
Italian; my father, though he read these languages easily enough,
never attained any proficiency in talking them. After he had wound up
his consular affairs, about the first week in October, we left
Leamington and took the train for a few days in London, stopping at
lodgings in Great Russell Street, close to the British Museum.

We were first delayed by friendly concern for the catastrophe which at
this moment befell Mr. Bennoch.  He was a wholesale silk merchant, but
his literary and social tendencies had probably led him to trust too
much to the judgment and ability of his partners; at all events, on
his return from Germany he had found the affairs of his establishment
much involved, and he was now gazetted a bankrupt.  In the England of
those days bankruptcy was no joke, still less the avenue to fortune
which it is sometimes thought to be in other countries; and a man who
had built up his business during twenty years by conscientious and
honorable work, and who was sensitively proud of his commercial honor,
was for a time almost overwhelmed by the disaster.  My father felt the
most tender sympathy and grief for him, and we were additionally
depressed by a report, circumstantially detailed (but which proved to
be unfounded), that Mrs. Bennoch had died in childbirth--they had
never had children.  "Troubles," commented my father "(as I myself
have experienced, and many others before me), are a sociable
sisterhood; they love to come hand-in-hand, or sometimes, even, to
come side by side, with long-looked-for and hoped-for good-fortune."
He was doubtless thinking of that dark and bright period when his
mother lay dying in his house in Salem and The Scarlet Letter was
waiting to be born.

A few days later he went by appointment to Bennoch's office in Wood
Street, Cheapside, and I will quote the account of that interview for
the light it casts on the characters of the two friends:

"When I inquired for Bennoch, in the warehouse where two or three
clerks seemed to be taking account of stock, a boy asked me to write
my name on a slip of paper, and took it into his peculiar office. Then
appeared Mr.  Riggs, the junior partner, looking haggard and anxious,
poor man. He is somewhat low of stature, and slightly deformed, and I
fancied that he felt the disgrace and trouble more on that account.
But he greeted me in a friendly way, though rather awkwardly, and
asked me to sit down a little while in his own apartment, where he
left me. I sat a good while, reading an old number of Blackwood's
Magazine, a pile of which I found on the desk, together with some
well-worn ledgers and papers, that looked as if they had been pulled
out of drawers and pigeon-holes and dusty corners, and were not there
in the regular course of business. By-and-by Mr. Riggs reappeared,
and, telling me that I must lunch with them, conducted me up-stairs,
and through entries and passages where I had been more than once
before, but could not have found my way again through those extensive
premises; and everywhere the packages of silk were piled up and ranged
on shelves, in paper boxes, and otherwise--a rich stock, but which had
brought ruin with it. At last we came to that pleasant drawing-room,
hung with a picture or two, where I remember enjoying the hospitality
of the firm, with their clerks all at the table, and thinking that
this was a genuine scene of the old life of London City, when the
master used to feed his 'prentices at a patriarchal board. After all,
the room still looked cheerful enough; and there was a good fire, and
the table was laid for four. In two or three minutes Bennoch came
in--not with that broad, warm, lustrous presence that used to gladden
me in our past encounters--not with all that presence, at
least--though still he was not less than a very genial man, partially
be-dimmed.  He looked paler, it seemed to me, thinner, and rather
smaller, but nevertheless he smiled at greeting me, more brightly, I
suspect, than I smiled back at him, for in truth I was very sorry. Mr.
Twentyman, the middle partner, now came in, and appeared as much or
more depressed than his fellows in misfortune, and to bear it with a
greater degree of English incommunicativeness and reserve. But he,
too, met me hospitably, and I and these three poor ruined men sat down
to dinner--a good dinner enough, by-the-bye, and such as ruined men
need not be ashamed to eat, since they must needs eat something.  It
was roast beef, and a boiled apple-pudding, and--which I was glad to
see, my heart being heavy--a decanter of sherry and another of port,
remnants of a stock which, I suppose, will not be replenished. They
ate pretty fairly, but scarcely like Englishmen, and drank a
reasonable quantity, but not as if their hearts were in it, or as if
the liquor went to their hearts and gladdened them. I gathered from
them a strong idea of what commercial failure means to English
merchants--utter ruin, present and prospective, and obliterating all
the successful past; how little chance they have of ever getting up
again; how they feel that they must plod heavily onward under a burden
of disgrace--poor men and hopeless men and men forever ashamed. I
doubt whether any future prosperity (which is unlikely enough to come
to them) could ever compensate them for this misfortune, or make them,
to their own consciousness, the men they were. They will be like a
woman who has once lost her chastity: no after-life of virtue will
take out the stain. It is not so in America, nor ought it to be so
here; but they said themselves they would never again have put
unreserved confidence in a man who had been bankrupt, and they could
not but apply the same severe rule to their own case. I was touched by
nothing more than by their sorrowful patience, without any fierceness
against Providence or against mankind, or disposition to find fault
with anything but their own imprudence; and there was a simple
dignity, too, in their not assuming the aspect of stoicism. I could
really have shed tears for them, to see how like men and Christians
they let the tears come to their own eyes. This is the true way to do;
a man ought not to be too proud to let his eyes be moistened in the
presence of God and of a friend. They talked of some little
annoyances, half laughingly. Bennoch has been dunned for his gas-bill
at Blackheath (only a pound or two) and has paid it. Mr. Twentyman
seems to have received an insulting message from some creditor.  Mr.
Riggs spoke of wanting a little money to pay for some boots. It was
very sad, indeed, to see these men of uncommon energy and ability, all
now so helpless, and, from managing great enterprises, involving vast
expenditures, reduced almost to reckon the silver in their pockets.
Bennoch and I sat by the fireside a little while after his partners
had left the room, and then he told me that he blamed himself, as
holding the principal position in the firm, for not having exercised a
stronger controlling influence over their operations. The two other
men had recently gone into speculations, of the extent of which he had
not been fully aware, and he found the liabilities of the firm very
much greater than he had expected. He said this without bitterness,
and said it not to the world, but only to a friend. I am exceedingly
sorry for him; it is such a changed life that he must lead hereafter,
and with none of the objects before him which he might heretofore have
hoped to grasp. No doubt he was ambitious of civic, and even of
broader public distinction; and not unreasonably so, having the gift
of ready and impressive speech, and a behavior among men that wins
them, and a tact in the management of affairs, and many-sided and
never-tiring activity. To be a member of Parliament--to be lord
mayor--whatever an eminent merchant of the world's metropolis may
be--beyond question he had dreamed wide-awake of these things. And now
fate itself could hardly accomplish them, if ever so favorably
inclined.  He has to begin life over again, as he began it twenty-five
years ago, only under infinite disadvantages, and with so much of his
working-day gone forever.

"At parting, I spoke of his going to America; but he appeared to think
that there would be little hope for him there. Indeed, I should be
loath to see him transplanted thither myself, away from the warm,
cheerful, juicy English life into our drier and less genial sphere; he
is a good guest among us, but might not do well to live with us."

Bennoch was never lord mayor or member of Parliament; I do not know
that he cared to be either; but he lived to repay all his creditors
with interest, and to become once more a man in easy circumstances,
honored and trusted as well as loved by all who knew him, and active
and happy in all good works to the end of his days. There could be no
keeping down such a man, even in England; and when I knew him, in
after years, he was the Bennoch of yore, grown mellow and wise.

We were now ready for the Continent, when symptoms of some malady
began to manifest themselves among the younger persons of the family,
which presently culminated in an attack of the measles. It was six
weeks before we were in condition to take the road again. Meanwhile we
were professionally attended by Dr. J. J. Garth Wilkinson, a
homoeopathist, a friend of Emerson and of Henry James the elder, a
student of Swedenborg, and, at this particular juncture, interested in
spiritualism.  In a biography of my father and mother, which I
published in 1884, I alluded to this latter circumstance, and some
time afterwards I received from his wife a letter which I take this
opportunity to print:

"4 FINCHLEY ROAD, N. W., June 19, 1885.

"DEAR SIR,--May I beg of you in any future edition of the Life of your
father to leave out your passage upon my husband and spiritualism? He
is utterly opposed to it now. On Mr. Home's first appearance in
England very remarkable things did occur; but from the first I was a
most decided opponent, and by my firmness I have kept all I know and
love from having anything to do with it for at least thirty-five
years. You may imagine, therefore, I feel hurt at seeing so
spiritually minded a man as my husband really is to be mixed up with
so evil a thing as spiritism. You will pardon a faithful wife her just
appreciation of his character. One other author took the liberty of
using his name in a similar way, and I wrote to him also. Believe me,

"Yours faithfully,

"E. A. WILKINSON."

The good doctor and his wife are now, I believe, both of them in the
world where good spirits go, and no doubt they have long ere this
found out all about the rights and wrongs of spiritism and other
matters, but there is no doubt that at the time of my father's
acquaintance with him the doctor was a very earnest supporter of the
cult.  He was a man of mark and of brains and of most lovable personal
quality; he wrote books well worth deep study; Emerson speaks of "the
long Atlantic roll" of their style. Henry James named his third son
after him--the gentle and brave "Wilkie" James, who was my school-mate
at Sanborn's school in Concord after our return to America, and who
was wounded in the fight at Fort Fisher while leading his negro
soldiers to the assault.  But for the present, Dr. Wilkinson, so far
as we children knew him, was a delightful and impressive physician,
who helped us through our measles in masterly style, under all the
disadvantages of a foggy London winter.

On the 5th of January, 1858--we were ready to start the next
day--Bennoch came to take tea with us and bid us farewell. "He keeps
up a manly front," writes my father, "and an aspect of cheerfulness,
though it is easy to see that he is a very different man from the
joyous one whom I knew a few months since; and whatever may be his
future fortune, he will never get all the sunshine back again. There
is a more determinate shadow on him now, I think, than immediately
after his misfortunes; the old, equable truth weighs down upon him,
and makes him sensible that the good days of his life have probably
all been enjoyed, and that the rest is likely to be endurance, not
enjoyment.  His temper is still sweet and warm, yet, I half fancy, not
wholly unacidulated by his troubles--but now I have written it, I
decide that it is not so, and blame myself for surmising it. But it
seems most unnatural that so buoyant and expansive a character should
have fallen into the helplessness of commercial misfortune; it is most
grievous to hear his manly and cheerful allusions to it, and even his
jokes upon it; as, for example, when we suggested how pleasant it
would be to have him accompany us to Paris, and he jestingly spoke of
the personal restraint under which he now lived. On his departure,
Julian and I walked a good way down Oxford Street and Holborn with
him, and I took leave of him with the truest wishes for his welfare."

The next day we embarked at Folkestone for France, and our new life
began.




XIII


Old-Homesickness--The Ideal and the Real--A beautiful but perilous
woman with a past--The Garden of Eden a Montreal ice-palace--Confused
mountain of family luggage--Poplars for lances--Miraculous crimson
comforters--Rivers of human gore--Curling mustachios and nothing to
do--Odd behavior of grown people--Venus, the populace, and the
MacDaniels--The happiness to die in Paris--Lived alone with her
constellations--"O'Brien's Belt"--A hotel of peregrinations--Sitting
up late--Attempted assassination--My murderer--An old passion
reawakened--Italian shells and mediaeval sea-anemones--If you were in
the Garden of Eden--An umbrella full of napoleons--Was Byron an
Esquimau?



No doubt my father had grown fond of England during his four years'
residence there. Except for its profits he had not, indeed, liked the
consular work; but even that had given zest to his several excursions
from it, which were in themselves edifying and enjoyable. The glamour
of tradition, too, had wrought upon him, and he had made friends and
formed associations. Such influences, outwardly gentle and unexacting,
take deeper hold of the soul than we are at the time aware. They show
their strength only when we test them by removing ourselves from their
physical sphere.

Accordingly, though he looked forward with pleasure to leaving England
for the Continent, he was no sooner on the farther side of the narrow
seas than he began to be conscious of discomfort, which was only
partly bodily or sensible. An unacknowledged homesickness afflicted
him--an Old-Homesickness, rather than a yearning for America. He may
have imagined that it was America that he wanted, but, when at last we
returned there, he still looked back towards England. As an ideal,
America was still, and always, foremost in his heart; and his death
was hastened partly by his misgiving, caused by the civil war, lest
her best days were past. But something there was in England that
touched a deep, kindred chord in him which responded to nothing else.
America might be his ideal home, but his real home was England, and
thus he found himself, in the end, with no home at all outside of the
boundaries of his domestic circle.  A subconscious perception of this
predicament, combined with his gradually failing health, led him to
say, in a moment of frank self-communion, "Since this earthly life is
to come to an end, I do not try to be contented, but weary of it while
it lasts."

It is true that Rome, vehemently as at first he rebelled against it,
came at last to hold a power over him. Rome, if you give it
opportunity, subtly fastens its grasp upon both brain and heart, and
claims sympathies which are as undeniable as our human nature itself.
Yet there is something morbid in our love for the mystic city, like a
passion for some beautiful but perilous woman with a past--such as
Miriam in The Marble Faun, for example.  Only an exceptionally
vigorous and healthy constitution can risk it without danger. Had my
father visited Rome in his young manhood, he might have both cared for
it less and in a sense have enjoyed it more than he did during these
latter years of his life.

But from the time we left London, and, indeed, a little before that,
he was never quite himself physically.  Our departure was made at the
most inclement moment of a winter season of unusual inclemency; they
said (as they always do) that no weather to be compared with it had
been known for twenty years. We got up before dawn in London, and
after a dismal ride in the train to Folkestone, where the bitter waves
of the English Channel left edgings of ice on the shingle beach where
I went to pick up shells, we were frost-bitten all our two-hours
passage across to Boulogne, where it became cold in dead earnest, and
so continued all through Paris, Lyons, and Marseilles, and down the
Mediterranean to Genoa and Civita Vecchia, and thence up the long,
lonely, bandit-haunted road to Rome, and in Rome, with exasperating
aggravations, right up to April, or later. My own first recollection
of St. Peter's is that I slid on the ice near one of the fountains in
the piazza of that famous edifice; and my father did the same, with a
savage satisfaction, no doubt, at thus proving that everything was
what it ought not to be. Either in London, or at some intermediate
point between that and Paris, he caught one of the heaviest colds that
ever he had; and its feverish and debilitating effects were still
perceptible in May. "And this is sunny Italy--and this is genial
Rome!" he wrathfully exclaims. It was like looking forward to the
Garden of Eden all one's life, and going to vast trouble and expense
to get there, and, on arriving, finding the renowned spot to be a sort
of Montreal ice-palace. The palaces of Rome are not naturally fitted
to be ice-palaces, and the cold feels all the colder in them by
consequence.

But I am going too fast. The first thing my father did, after getting
on board the little Channel steamer, was to go down in the cabin and
drink a glass of brandy-and-water, hot, with sugar; and he afterwards
remarked that "this sea-passage was the only enjoyable part of the
day." But the wind cut like a scimitar, and he came on deck
occasionally only--as when I came plunging down the companion-way to
tell him, with the pride of a discoverer, that France was broad in
sight, and the sun was shining on it. "Oh!" exclaimed my mother,
looking up from her, pale discomfortableness on a sofa, with that
radiant smile of hers, and addressing poor Miss Shepard, who was still
further under the sinister influence of those historic alpine
fluctuations which have upset so many. "Oh, Ada, Julian says the sun
is shining on France!" Ada never stirred. She was the most amiable and
philosophic of young ladies; but if thought could visit her reeling
brain at that moment, she probably wondered why Providence had been so
inconsiderate as to sever Britain from its Gallic base in those old
geologic periods before man was yet born to sea-sickness.

Sunshine on the pale, smooth acclivities of France, and half a dozen
bluff-bowed fishing-boats, pitching to the swell, were all that was
notable on our trip across; and of Boulogne I remember nothing, except
the confused mountain of the family luggage on the pier, and
afterwards of its being fed into the baggage-car of the train.
Ollendorff abandoned me thus early in my travels; nor was my father
much better off. But Miss Shepard, now restored to life, made amends
for her late incompetence by discoursing with excited French officials
with what seemed to me preternatural intelligence; indeed, I half
doubted whether there were not some conspiracy to deceive in that
torrent of outlandish sounds which she and they were so rapidly
pouring forth to one another. However, all turned out well, and there
we were, in a compartment of a French railway-train, smelling of stale
tobacco, with ineffective zinc foot-warmers, and an increasing veil of
white frost on the window-panes, which my sisters and myself spent our
time in trying to rub off that France might become visible. But the
white web was spun again as fast as we dissipated it, and nothing was
to be seen, at all events, but long processions of poplars, which
interested me only because I imagined myself using them as lances in
some romantic Spenserian adventure of knight-errantry--for the spell
of that chivalric dream still hung about me. So we came to Amiens, a
pallid, clean, chilly town, with high-shouldered houses and a tall
cathedral, and thence went on to Paris at five o'clock. It was already
dusk, and our transit to the Hotel de Louvre in crowded cabs, through
streets much unlike London, is the sum of my first impressions of the
wonderful city.

Then, marshalled by princely yet deferential personages in rich
costumes, we proceeded up staircases and along gilded corridors to a
suite of sumptuous apartments, with many wax candles in candelabra,
which were immediately lighted by an attendant, and their lustre was
reflected from tall mirrors which panelled the rooms. The furniture
thus revealed was costly and elegant, but hardly comfortable to an
English-bred sense; the ceilings were painted, the floor rich with
glowing carpets.  But the glow of color was not answered by a glow of
any other sort; a deadly chill pervaded this palatial place, which
fires, as big as one's fist, kindled in fireplaces as large as hall
bedrooms, did nothing to dissipate. Hereupon our elders had compassion
on us, and, taking from the tall, awful bedsteads certain crimson
comforters, they placed each of us in an easy-chair and tucked the
comforters in over us. These comforters, covered with crimson silk,
were of great thickness, but also of extraordinary lightness, and for
a few minutes we had no confidence in their power to thaw us. But they
were filled with swan's-down; and presently a novel and delightful
sensation--that of warmth--began to steal upon us. It steadily
increased, until in quarter of an hour there might be seen upon our
foreheads and noses, which were the only parts of us open to view, the
beads of perspiration. It was a marvellous experience. The memory of
the crimson comforters has remained with me through life; light as
sunset clouds, they accomplished the miracle of importing tropic
warmth into the circle of the frozen arctic. I think we must have been
undressed and night-gowned before this treatment; at any rate, I have
forgotten how we got to bed, but to bed we somehow got, and slept the
blessed sleep of childhood.


The next morning my father, apparently as an accompaniment of his
cold, was visited by a severe nosebleed; no importance was attached to
it, beyond its preventing him from going forth to superintend the
examination of our luggage at the custom-house--the mountain having
been registered through from London. This duty was, therefore, done by
Miss Shepard and my mother. The next day, at dinner, the nosebleeding
began again.  "And thus," observed my father, "my blood must be
reckoned among the rivers of human gore which have been shed in Paris,
and especially in the Place de la Concorde, where the guillotines used
to stand"--and where our restaurant was. But these bleedings, which
came upon him at several junctures during his lifetime, and were
uniformly severe and prolonged, probably had a significance more
serious than was supposed. The last one occurred not many weeks before
his death, and it lasted twenty-four hours; he was never the same
afterwards. He joked about it then, as now, but there was the
forewarning of death in it.

But that day lies still unsuspected in the future, six years away. For
the present, we were in splendid Paris, with Napoleon III. in the
Tuileries, and Baron Haussmann regnant in the stately streets.  For a
week we went to and fro, admiring and--despite the cold, the
occasional icy rains, and once even a dark fog--delighted. In spirit
and in substance, nothing could be more different from London.  For my
part, I enjoyed it without reservation; the cold, which depressed my
sick father, exhilarated me. For Notre Dame, the Tuileries, the
Louvre, the Madeleine, the pictures, and the statues, I cared little
or nothing; I hardly even heeded the column of the Place Vendome or
the mighty mass of the Arc de Triomphe. But the Frenchiness of it all
captivated me. The throngs in the streets were kaleidoscopic in
costume and character: priests, soldiers, gendarmes, strange figures
with turbans and other Oriental accoutrements; women gayly dressed and
wearing their dresses with an air; men with curling mustachios, and
with nothing to do, apparently, but amuse themselves; romantic artists
with soft felt hats and eccentric beards; grotesque figures of poverty
in rags and with ominous visages, such as are never seen in London;
martial music, marching regiments, with gorgeous generals on
horseback, with shining swords; church processions; wedding pageants
crowding in and out of superb churches; newspapers, shop-signs, and
chatter, all in French, even down to the babble of the small children.
And the background of this parade was always the pleasant, light-hued
buildings, the majority of them large and of a certain uniformity of
aspect, as if they had been made in co-operation, and to look pretty,
instead of independently and incongruously, as in England. These
people seemed to be all playing and prattling; nobody worked; even the
shopkeepers held holiday in their shops. Such was my boyish idea of
Paris. Napoleon had been emperor only five or six years; he had been
married to Eugenie only four or five; and, so far as one could judge
who knew nothing of political coups d'etat and crimes, he was the
right man in the right place.  Moreover, the French bread was a
revelation; it tasted better than cake, and was made in loaves six
feet long; and the gingerbread, for sale on innumerable out-door
stalls, was better yet, with quite a new flavor. I ate it as I walked
about with my father. He once took a piece himself, and, said he, "I
desired never to taste any more." How odd is, sometimes, the behavior
of grown-up people!

But even my father enjoyed the French cookery, though he was in some
doubt whether it were not a snare of the evil one to lure men to
indulgence.  We dined in the banquet-hall of our hotel once or twice
only; in general we went to neighboring restaurants, where the food
was just as good, but cost less. I was always hungry, but hungrier
than ever in Paris. "I really think," wrote my father, "that Julian
would eat a whole sheep." In his debilitated state he had little
appetite either for dinners or for works of art; he looked even upon
the Venus of Milo with coldness. "It seemed," wrote he, speaking of
the weather one morning, "as if a cold, bitter, sullen agony were
interposed between each separate atom of our bodies. In all my
experience of bad atmospheres, methinks I never knew anything so
atrocious as this. England has nothing to compare with it." The "grip"
was a disease unnamed at that epoch, but I should suppose that it was
very vividly described in the above sentence.  He had the grip, and
for nearly six months he saw everything through its medium.

Besides the Venus and the populace, we saw various particular persons.
I went with my father to the bank, and saw a clerk give him a long
roll of bright gold coins, done up in blue paper; and we visited, or
were visited by, a Miss MacDaniel and her mother, two Salem women, "of
plain, New England manners and appearance," wrote my father, "and they
have been living here for nearly two years. The daughter was formerly
at Brook Farm. The mother suffered so much from seasickness on the
passage that she is afraid to return to America, and so the daughter
is kept here against her will, and without enjoyment, and, as I judge,
in narrow circumstances. It is a singular misfortune. She told me that
she had been to the Louvre but twice since her arrival, and did not
know Paris at all."  This looks like a good theme for Mr. Henry James.

We called on the American minister to Paris, Judge John Young Mason, a
simple and amiable personage. He was rubicund and stolid, and talked
like a man with a grievance; but, as my father afterwards remarked, it
was really Uncle Sam who was the aggrieved party, in being mulcted of
seventeen thousand dollars a year in order that the good old judge
should sleep after dinner in a French armchair.  The judge was
anticipating being superseded in his post, but, as it turned out, was
not driven to seek second-rate employment to support himself in his
old age; he had the happiness to die in Paris the very next year.

But the most agreeable of our meetings was with Miss Maria Mitchell,
the astronomer, who, like ourselves, was stopping a few days in Paris
on her way to Rome. She desired the protection of our company on the
journey, though, as my father remarked, she looked well able to take
care of herself. She was at this time about forty years old; born in
Nantucket; the plainest, simplest, heartiest of women, with a face
browned by the sun, of which she evidently was accustomed to see as
much as of the other stars in the heavens. Her mouth was resolute and
full of expression; but her remarkable feature was her eyes, which
were dark and powerful, and had the kindest and most magnetic look of
comradeship in them. Her dark hair was a little grizzled. She was
dressed in plain gray, and was active and energetic in her movements.
She was, as the world knows, a woman of unusual intellect and
character; but she had lived alone with her constellations, having
little contact with the world or practical knowledge of it, so that in
many respects she was still as much a child as I was, and I
immediately knew her for my friend and playmate and loved her with all
my heart. There was a charming quaintness and innocence about her, and
an immense, healthy curiosity about this new old world and its
contents. She had a great flow of native, spontaneous humor, and could
say nothing that was not juicy and poignant. She was old-fashioned,
yet full of modern impulses and tendencies; warmhearted and impulsive,
but rich in homely common-sense.  Though bold as a lion, she was,
nevertheless, beset with the funniest feminine timidities and
misgivings, due mainly, I suppose, to her unfamiliarity with the ways
of the world. There was already a friendship of long standing between
her and Miss Shepard, and they did much of their sightseeing during
the coming year together, and debated between themselves over the
statues and pictures.  Her talk with us children was of the fine,
countrified, racy quality which we could not resist; and in the
evenings, as we journeyed along, she told us tales of the stars and
gave us their names. On the steamer going to Genoa, one night, she
pointed out to me the constellation Orion, then riding high aloft in
glittering beauty, and I kindly communicated to my parents the
information that the three mighty stars were known to men as O'Brien's
Belt.  This was added to the ball of jolly as a household word.

[IMAGE: MARIA MITCHELL]

Miss Mitchell's trunk was contributed to our mountain, when we set out
anew on our pilgrimage, with a result at first deplorable, for the
number of our own pieces of luggage being known and registered in the
official documents, it turned out, at our first stopping-place, that
the trunk of our new companion had been substituted for one of our
own, which, of course, was left behind. It was ultimately recovered, I
believe, but it seemed as if the entire world of French officialdom
had to be upheaved from its foundations in order to accomplish it.

Our route lay through Lyons to Marseilles. At Lyons I remember only
the enormous hotel where we slept the first night, with corridors
wandering like interminable streets, up-stairs and down, turning
corners, extending into vistas, clean-swept, echoing, obscure, lit
only by the glimmering candle borne by our guide. We seemed to be
hours on our journey through these labyrinths; and when at last we
reached our rooms, they were so cold and so unwarmable that we were
fain to journey back again, up and down, along and athwart, marching
and countermarching past regiments of closed doors, until at length we
attained the region of the hotel dining-saloon, where it was at least
two or three degrees less cold than elsewhere. After dinner we had to
undertake a third peregrination to bed, and a fourth the next morning
to get our train.  The rooms of the hotel were on a scale suited to
the length of the connecting thoroughfares, and the hotel itself stood
hard by a great, empty square with a statue in the middle of it. But
the meals were not of a corresponding amplitude. And I think it was at
the railway station of this town that the loss of the trunk was
discovered.

The region from Lyons to Marseilles, along the valley of the Rhone,
with the lower ranges of the Alps on our left hand, was much more
picturesque than anything France had shown us hitherto. Ancient
castles crowned many of the lower acclivities; there were villages in
the vales, and presently vineyards and olive groves. The Rhone, blue
and swift as its traditions demanded, kept us close company much of
the way; the whole range of country was made for summer, and the
wintry conditions under which we saw it seemed all the more improper.
It must have been near midnight when our train rolled into the station
at Marseilles, and my pleasure in "sitting up late" had long become
stale.

The sun shone the next morning, and, being now in the latitude of
Florence and such places, it could not help being hot, though the
shaded sides of the streets were still icy cold; and most of the
streets were so narrow that there was a great deal of shade.  The
whole population seemed to be out-of-doors and collecting in the sun,
like flies, a very animated and voluble population and of a democratic
complexion; the proportion of poor folks was noticeable, and the
number of women, who seemed to camp out in the squares and
market-places, and there gossip and do their knitting, as other women
might at their firesides; but here the sun is the only fire.  But a
good deal of the bustle this morning was occasioned by the news from
Paris that an attempt to assassinate Napoleon III. had been made the
day before; had we remained one day longer in Paris we might have
assisted at the spectacle. The Marseilles people seemed to take it
comfortably; nobody was very sorry that the attempt had been made, nor
very glad that it had not succeeded. It was something to talk about.
It was ten years more before the French got thoroughly used to the
nephew of his uncle and decided that he was, upon the whole, a good
thing; and soon after they lost him. And for a decade after Sedan,
chatting with the boulevardiers in Paris, they would commonly tell me
that they wished they had the empire back again. Perhaps they will
have it, some day.

There was a great deal of filth in Marseilles streets and along her
wharves and in the corners of her many public squares; and even our
hotel, the "Angleterre," was anything but clean; it was a tall, old
rookery, from the windows of our rooms in which I looked down into an
open space between the strange, old buildings, and saw a juggler do
his marvels on a bit of carpet spread on the pavement, while a woman
handed him the implements of magic out of a very much travelled and
soiled deal-box. Later in the day, when the place was deserted, I
heedlessly flung out of the window the contents of a glass of water,
and, looking after it in its long descent, I was horrified to see
approaching a man of very savage and piratical aspect, with a terrible
black beard and a slouch hat. As luck would have it, the water struck
him full on the side of the face, probably the first time in many a
year that he had felt the impact of the liquid there. I withdrew my
head from the window in alarm, mingled with the natural joy that a boy
cannot help feeling at such a catastrophe; and by-and-by, when I felt
certain that he must have passed on, I peeped out again, but what were
my emotions at beholding him planted terribly right under the window
where he had been baptized, and staring upward with a blood-thirsty
expression.  I immediately drew back again, but too late--our eyes had
met, and he had made a threatening gesture at me. I now felt that a
very serious thing had happened, and that if I ventured out upon the
streets again I should assuredly be assassinated; that it would be no
mere attempt, as in the case of the Emperor, but a pronounced success.
I did not tell my fears to any of my family--I had not, to say the
truth, informed any of them of the incident which had imperilled my
life, but I no longer felt any curiosity to see more of Marseilles,
and was sincerely thankful when I found myself, betimes next morning,
on board the Calabrese, bound for Genoa.  I never saw my murderer
again, but I could make a fair likeness of him, I believe, to-day.
The trip to Genoa, and onward to Civita Vecchia, lasted two or three
days, the steamer generally pursuing her course by night and laying up
by day.

The first morning, soon after sunrise, found us approaching the bay of
Genoa, with the sun rising over the Mediterranean on our right and
throwing its light upon the curving acclivity on which the city
stands. The water had a beautiful blue-green color and was wonderfully
clear, so that, looking down through it over the ship's side, as we
glided slowly to our moorings, I saw sea-weeds and blocks of marble
and other marine curiosities which reawakened my old passion for
aquariums. Indeed, to be candid with the reader--as is my study
throughout this narrative--nothing in Genoa the Superb itself has, I
find, remained with me so distinctly as that glimpse of the floor of
the bay through the clear sea-water. I did not care to go up into the
town and see the palaces and churches; I wanted to stay on the beach
and hunt for shells--Italian shells--and classical or mediaeval
sea-anemones.  Of course, I had to go up into the town; and I saw, no
doubt, the churches and the palaces, with their rooms radiant with the
mellow brilliance of precious marbles and painted ceilings, and
statues and pictures, under the personal conduct of no less an
individual than Salvator Rosa himself--for that was the name of our
guide--and for years afterwards I never doubted that he was the
creator of the paintings which, in Rome and elsewhere, bore his
signature. I say I must have seen these things, but in memory I cannot
disentangle them from the innumerable similar objects which I beheld,
later, in other Italian cities; their soft splendor and beautiful art
could not hold their own for me beside that cool translucence of the
Mediterranean inlet, with its natural marvels dimly descried as'I bent
over the boat's side. It was for that, and not for the other, that my
heart yearned, and that became a part of me, all the more, no doubt,
that it was denied me. Our aim in the world is beauty and happiness;
but we are late in learning that they exist in the will and
imagination, and not in this or that accredited and venerable thing or
circumstance that is mechanically obtruded on our unready attention.
If you were put down in the Garden of Eden, and told that you might
stay there an hour and no more, what would you do? How would you
"improve" your time? Would you run to and fro, and visit the spot
where Adam first stood erect, and the place where he sat when he named
the animals, and the thymey bank on which he slept while Eve was
taking form from his rib, and the tree on which grew the fruit of the
knowledge of good and evil, and the precise scene of the temptation
and the fall, and the spot on which stood the altars on which Cain and
Abel offered their sacrifices, and where, presently, wrathful Cain
rose up against his brother and slew him? Would you make sure of all
these set sights in order that you might reply satisfactorily to the
cloud of interviewers awaiting you outside the Garden? Or would you
simply throw yourself down on the grass wherever the angel happened to
leave you, and try to see or to realize or to recall nothing, but
passively permit your soul to feel and experience and grow what way it
would, prompted by the inner voice and guided by the inner light,
heedless of what the interviewers were expecting and of what duty and
obligation and the unique opportunity demanded? It is worth thinking
about. It may be conceded that there is some risk to run.

I next find myself in a coach, with four horses harnessed to it,
trundling along the road from Civita Vecchia to Rome; for of Monaco I
recall nothing, nor of Leghorn; and though we passed within sight of
Elba, I saw only a lonely island on our starboard beam. As for the
coach, it was a necessity, if we would continue our journey, for the
railroad was still in the future in 1858. The coach-road was not only
as rugged and uneasy as it had been any time during the past three
hundred years, but it was outrageously infested by banditti; and,
indeed, a robbery had taken place on it only a week or two before. For
miles and miles on end it was totally destitute of dwellings, and
those that we saw might well have been the harboring-places of
iniquity. Moreover, we were so long delayed in making our start that
it was already afternoon before we were under way, and finally one of
our horses gave out ere we were many miles advanced, compelling us to
hobble along for the remainder of the trip at reduced speed. As the
shades of evening began to fall, we saw at intervals sundry persons
lurking along the roadway, clad in long cloaks and conical hats, with
the suggestion of the barrel of a musket about them, and it is
probable that we were preserved from a tragic fate only by the
fortunate accident that we were just behind the mail-coach and might
theoretically have hailed it for help had we been attacked. Meanwhile,
my father, with ostensible pleasantry, suggested that we should hide
our gold coin (of which we carried a considerable store) in various
queer, out-of-the-way receptacles. I remember that an umbrella was
filled with a handful or two of the shining pieces, and stuck with
studied carelessness through the straps in the roof of the vehicle.
This was regarded by us children as excellent sport, though I think
there was a lingering feeling of apprehension in the bottom of my
soul. My father kept a moderate sum in napoleons in his pockets, so
that, should the worst happen, the bandits might fancy it was our all.
But then there was our mountain of luggage, incredibly strapped on the
top of the conveyance, and behind it, and no reasonable bandits, one
would suppose, could have failed to be satiated with that. However, it
was written that we were to reach Rome unscathed, albeit long after
dark, and though we did not get past the Porta del Popolo without
suffering legalized robbery on the part of the custom-house officials.
But by that time we were so weary, downcast, and chilled that
depredation and outrage could not rouse or kindle us.

We ended, at last, in one of those refrigerator hotels to which our
travels had made us accustomed, in one of the hollow, dull, untoward
caverns of which I was presently put to bed and to sleep. "Oh, Rome,
my country, City of the Soul!" Oh, Byron, were you an Esquimau?




XIV


Our unpalatial palace--"Cephas Giovanni"--She and George Combe turned
out to be right--A rousing temper--Bright Titian hair--"All that's
left of him"--The pyramidal man of destiny--The thoughts of a boy are
long, long thoughts--Clausilia Bubigunia--Jabez Hogg and the
microscope--A stupendous surprise--A lifetime in fourteen months--My
father's jeremiades--"Thank Heaven, there is such a thing as
whitewash!"--"Terrible lack of variety in the old masters"--"The
brazen trollop that she is!"--Several distinct phases of
feeling--Springs of creative imagination roused--The Roman fever--A
sad book--Effects of the death-blow--The rest is silence.

We arrived in Rome on the 17th of January, 1858, at eleven o'clock at
night. After a day or two at Spillman's Hotel, we moved into lodgings
in the Via Porta Pinciana, the Palazzo Larazani.  The street extended
just below the ridge of the Pincian Hill, and was not far from the
broad flight of steps mounting upward from the Piazza d' Espagna, on
the left as you go up. In spite of its resounding name, our new
dwelling had not a palatial aspect. It was of no commanding height or
architectural pretensions; a stuccoed edifice, attached on both sides
to other edifices. The street, like other Roman streets, was narrow;
it was dirty like them, and, like them, was paved with cobble-stones.
The place had been secured for us by (I think) our friends the
Thompsons; Mr. Thompson--the same man who had painted my father's
portrait in 1853--had a studio hard by. The Thompsons had been living
in Rome for five years or more, and knew the Roman ropes. They were
very comfortable people to know; indeed, Rome to me would have been a
very different and less delightful place without them, as will
hereafter appear. The family consisted of Cephas Giovanni Thompson,
the father and artist; his wife and his two sons and one daughter.
"Cephas Giovanni," being interpreted, means plain Peter John; and it
was said (though, I believe, unjustifiably) that Peter John had been
the names originally given to Thompson by his parents at the
baptismal-font, but that his wife, who was a notable little woman, a
sister of Anna Cora Mowatt, the actress, well known in America and
England seventy years ago, had persuaded him to translate them into
Greek and Italian, as more suitable to the romantic career of an
artist of the beautiful.  I fancy the story arose from the fact that
Mrs.  Thompson was a woman who, it was felt, might imaginably conceive
so ambitious a project. She was small, active, entertaining, clever,
and "spunky," as the New-Englanders would have said; indeed, she had a
rousing temper, on occasion.  Her husband, on the other hand, had the
mildest, wisely smiling, philosophic air, with a low, slow voice, and
a beard of patriarchal fashion and size, though as yet it was a rich
brown, with scarcely a thread of silver in it. Brown and abundant,
also, was his hair; he had steady, bright, brown eyes, and was rather
under the average height of Anglo-Saxon man. But for all this
mild-shining aspect of his, his dark eyebrows were sharply arched, or
gabled rather; and my mother, who had absorbed from her former friend,
George Combe, a faith in the betrayals of phrenology, expressed her
private persuasion that good Mr. Thompson had a temper, too. She and
George Combe turned out to be right in this instance, though I am not
going to tell the tale of how we happened to be made acquainted with
the fact. Little thunder-storms once in a while occur in human skies
as well as in the meteorological ones; and the atmosphere is
afterwards all the sweeter and softer. No people could be more good,
honest, and kind than the Thompsons.

There was no other artist in Rome who could paint as well as Mr.
Thompson. That portrait of my father, to which reference has been
made, which now hangs in my house, looks even better, as a painting,
to-day than it did when it was fresh from his easel. Rubens could not
have laid on the colors with more solidity and with truer feeling for
the hues of life. But the trouble with Thompson was that he had never
learned how to draw correctly; and this defect appeared to some extent
in his portraits as well as in his figures. The latter were graceful,
significant, full of feeling and character; but they betrayed a
weakness of anatomical knowledge and of perspective. They had not the
conventional incorrectness of the old masters preceding Raphael, but
an incorrectness belonging personally to Thompson; it was not
excessive or conspicuous to any one, and certainly not to Thompson
himself. But his color redeemed all and made his pictures permanently
valuable. He was at this time painting a picture of Saint Peter being
visited by an angel, which was rich and beautiful; and he had some
sketches of a series based on Shakespeare's Tempest; and standing on
one side in the studio was a glowing figure of a woman in Oriental
costume, an odalisque, or some such matter, which showed that his
sympathy with life was not a restricted one. Later in our acquaintance
he fell in love with the bright Titian hair of my sister Rose, and
made a little portrait of her, which was one of his best likenesses,
apart from its admirable color; it even showed the tears in the
child's eyes, gathering there by reason of her antipathy to posing.

Cora Thompson, the daughter, was the most good-natured and
sunny-tempered of girls; she may have been fifteen at this time; she
inherited neither the handsomeness of her father nor the sharp-edged
cleverness of her mother; but she was lovable. Of the two boys, the
younger was named Hubert; he was about ten years old, small of his
age, and not robust in make or constitution. He was, however, a smart,
rather witty youth, a little precocious, perhaps, and able to take
care of himself. Some five and twenty years after the date of which I
am now writing I was at a large political dinner in New York and was
there introduced to a Mr. Thompson, who was the commissioner of public
works, and a party boss of no small caliber and power. He was an
immense personage, physically likewise, weighing fully three hundred
pounds, and, though not apparently advanced in years, a thorough man
of the world and of municipal politics. After we had conversed for a
few minutes, I was struck by a certain expression about my
interlocutor's eyebrows that recalled long-forgotten days and things.
I remembered that his name was Thompson, and had an impression that
his initials were H. O. "Are you little Hubert Thompson?" I suddenly
demanded.  "Why, of course I am--all that's left of him!" he replied,
with a laugh. So this was the boy whom, a quarter of a century before,
I could have held out at arm's-length. We talked over the old days
when we played together about the Roman streets and ruins. Nothing
more reveals the essential strangeness of human life than this meeting
after many years with persons we have formerly known intimately, who
are now so much changed in outward guise. We feel the changes to be
unreal, and yet, there they are! Grover Cleveland was being groomed
for his first Presidential term then; Hubert was one of his supporters
in New York, and he presented me to the pyramidal man of destiny.
Poor Hubert died, lamentably, not long after. He was a good and
affectionate son. He was perhaps too kind-hearted and loyal for the
political role which he enacted.

The elder Thompson boy was called Edmund, or, in my vernacular, Eddy.
There were in his nature a gravity, depth, and sweetness which won my
heart and respect, and we became friends in that intimate and complete
way that seems possible only to boys in their early teens. For that
matter, neither of us was yet over twelve; I think Eddy was part of a
year my junior. But you must search the annals of antiquity to find
anything so solid and unalterable as was our friendship. He was the
most absolutely good boy I ever knew, but by no means goody-goody; he
had high principles, noble ambitions, strong affections, the sweetest
of tempers; his seriousness formed a healthy foil to my own more
impetuous and hazardous character. "The thoughts of a boy are long,
long thoughts"; and not in many long lifetimes could a tithe of the
splendid projects we resolved upon have been carried out. We were
together from morning till night, month after month; we walked
interminably about Rome and frequented its ruins, and wandered far out
over the Campagna and along the shores of famous Tiber. We picked up
precious antique marbles, coins, and ancient curiosities of all sorts;
we hunted for shells and butterflies and lizards; our hearts were
uplifted by the martial music of the French army bands, which were
continually resounding throughout Rome; and we admired the gleaming
swords of the officers and the sharp, punctual drill and marching of
the red-legged rank and file. We haunted the lovely Villa Borghese,
the Pincian Hill, the Villa Pamphili Doria; we knew every nook and
cranny of the Palace of the Csesars, the Baths of Caracalla, the Roman
Forum, the Coliseum, the Egerian Grove; we were familiar with every
gate that entered Rome; we drank at every fountain; we lingered
through the galleries of the Vatican and of the Capitol; we made St.
Peter's Church our refuge in inclement weather; we threaded every
street and by-way of the city; we were on friendly and confidential
terms with the custode of every treasure. And all the time we talked
about what we thought, what we felt, what we would do; there is no
looking backward in boys' confidences; they live in the instant
present and in the infinite future. Eddy and I arranged to spend one
lifetime in Central Africa, in emulation of the exploits of David
Livingstone; there, freed from all civilized burdens, we would live,
and we would run, catch the wild goat by the hair, and hurl our lances
in the sun. At another epoch of our endless lives we would enter the
army and distinguish ourselves in heroic war; we would have swords
like sunbeams and ride steeds like Bucephalus. Then, and interleaved
with all this, as it were, there was an immense life of natural
history; we would have a private museum to rival the famous ones of
nations.  Eddy was especially drawn towards insects, while my own
predilection was still for conchology; and both of us spent hours
every week in classifying and arranging our respective collections,
not to speak of the time we devoted to hunting for specimens.  Eddy
had a green net at the end of a stick, and became very skilful in
making his captures; and how we triumphed over a "swallow-tail," so
difficult to catch, or an unfamiliar species! Eddy had his pins and
his strips of cork, and paper boxes; and his collections certainly
were fairer to look upon, to the ordinary view, than mine; moreover,
his was the more scientific mind and the nicer sense of order. For the
display of my snail-shells I used bits of card-board and plenty of
gum-arabic; and I was affluent in "duplicates," my plan being to get a
large card and then cover it with specimens of the shell, in serried
ranks. I also called literature to my aid, and produced several little
books containing labored descriptions of my collection, couched, so
far as possible, in the stilted and formal phraseology of the
conchological works to which I had access, but with occasional
outbursts after a style of my own. Here is a chapter from one of them;
a pen-and-ink portrait of the shell is prefixed to the original essay:

"CLAUSILIA BUBIGUNIA

"This handsome and elegant little shell is found in mossy places, or
in old ruins, such as the Coliseum--where it is found in immense
numbers--or the Palace of the Caesars.  But in Italy it is common in
any mossy ruin, in the small, moss-covered holes, where it is seen at
the farthest extremity.  After a rain they always crawl out of their
places of concealment in such numbers that one would think it had been
raining clausilias. The shell, in large and fine specimens, is
five-eighths of an inch in length.  The young are very small and look
like the top part of the spire of the adults. This shell is also
largest in the middle, shaped something like a grain of wheat. It has
nine whorls, marked by small white lines, which look like fine white
threads of sewing-cotton; and just below them are marks which look
like very fine and very small stitches of white cotton. The color of
the shell, down to next to the last whorl, is a brown color, but the
very last whorl is a little lighter. The shell is covered all over
with fine lines, but they need to be looked at through a
magnifying-glass, they are so fine. The lip is turning out, and very
thin; inside there are three ridges, two on the top part of the mouth,
and the other, which is very small, is below. The shell, when the
animal is out of it, is semi-transparent, and the little colomella, or
pillar, can be indistinctly seen through."

There follows a detailed and loving description of the animal
inhabiting the shell, which I must reserve for a future edition. Of
another species of snail, Helix strigata, our learned author observes
that "This shell is, when dead, one of those which is found on the
banks of the Tiber. It is a strange circumstance that, although it is
a land shell, it should be found more on the banks of a river than
anywhere else, and also only on the banks of the Tiber, for it is not
found on the banks of any other river. Any one would think that dead
shells were gifted with the power of walking about, for certainly it
is an inexplicable wonder how they got there." Of Helix muralis we are
informed that "The Romans eat these snails, not the whole of them, but
only their feet. In ancient times the most wealthy people used to eat
snails, and perhaps they ate the very ones which the poorest people
eat nowadays. It is most probable, for there are a great many
different kinds of snails round Rome, and the Romans would probably
select the best." I may perhaps be permitted to remark that the correct
orthography of this writer fills me with astonishment, inasmuch as in
later life I have reason to know that he often went astray in this
respect. Of the uniform maturity of the literary style, I have no need
to speak.

Eddy's father was in the habit of giving him an income of two or three
pauls a week, dependent on his good behavior and punctual preparation
of his lessons; and since Eddy was always well behaved and faithful in
his studies, the income came in pretty regularly. Eddy saved up this
revenue with a view to buying himself a microscope, for the better
prosecution of his zoological labors; being, also, stimulated thereto
by the fact that I already possessed one of these instruments, given
me by my father a year or two before. Mine cost ten shillings, but
Eddy meant to get one even more expensive.  I had, too, a large volume
of six hundred pages on The Microscope, Its History, Construction, and
Uses, by Jabez Hogg, the contents of which I had long since learned by
heart, and which I gladly communicated to my friend. At length Eddy's
economies had proceeded so far that he was able to calculate that on
his twelfth birthday he would possess a fortune of five scudi, and he
decided that he would buy a microscope at that figure; it is needless
to add that the microscope had long since been selected in the shop,
and was decidedly superior to mine. We could hardly contain our
impatience to enter upon the marvellous world whereof this instrument
was the key; that twelfth birthday seemed long in coming, but at last
it came.

I was to go with my friend to the shop to see him make the purchase;
and I was at his house betimes in the morning. But what a stupendous
surprise awaited me! Eddy was too much excited to say anything; with a
face beaming with emotion, he led me into the sitting-room, and there,
upon the table, was a microscope. But such a microscope! It was of
such unheard-of magnificence and elaborateness that it took my breath
away, and we both stood gazing at it in voiceless rapture. It was tall
and elegant, shining with its polished brass and mirrors, and its
magnifying powers were such as to disclose to us the very heart of
nature's mystery.  It was quiet Mr. Thompson's birthday present to his
son. That gentleman sat smiling in his armchair by the window, and
presently he said, with a delightful archness, "Well, Eddy, I suppose
you are ready to give me back all that money you've been collecting?"
Eddy grinned radiantly.  He spent his savings for microscope-slides
and other appurtenances, and for weeks thereafter he could hardly take
his eye away from the object-lens. He was luminous with happiness, and
I reflected his splendor from my sympathetic heart. Dear old Eddy! In
after years he entered West Point and became a soldier, and he died
early; I never saw him after parting from him in Italy in 1859. But he
is still my first friend, and there has been no other more dear.

I am not aware that Rome has ever been described from the point of
view of a twelve-year-old boy, and it might be worth doing; but I have
delayed attempting it somewhat too long; the moving pictures in my
mind have become too faded and confused. And yet I am surprised at the
minuteness of some of my recollections; they have, no doubt, been kept
alive by the numerous photographs of Rome which one carries about, and
also by the occasional perusal of The Marble Faun and other Roman
literature. But much is also due to the wonderful separateness which
Rome retains in the mind. It is like nothing else, and the spirit of
it is immortal. It seems as if I must have lived a lifetime there; and
yet I cannot make out that our total residence in the city extended
over fourteen months. Certainly no other passage of my boyhood time
looms so large or is rooted so deep.

But the passion for Rome (unless one be a Byron) is not a plant of
sudden growth, and I dare say that, during those first frigid weeks, I
may have shared my father's whimsical aversion to the city.  He has
described, in his journals, how all things seemed to be what they
should not; and he was terribly disgusted with the filth that defiled
the ruins and the street corners. He was impressed by the ruins, but
deplored their nakedness. "The marble of them grows black or brown, it
is true," says he, "and shows its age in that way; but it remains hard
and sharp, and does not become again a part of nature, as stone walls
do in England; some dry and dusty grass sprouts along the ledges of a
ruin, as in the Coliseum; but there is no green mantle of ivy
spreading itself over the gray dilapidation." We stumbled upon the
Fountain of Trevi in one of our early rambles, not knowing what it
was. "One of these fountains," writes my father, referring to it,
"occupies the whole side of a great edifice, and represents Neptune
and his steeds, who seem to be sliding down with a cataract that
tumbles over a ledge of rocks into a marble-bordered lake, the
whole--except the fall of water itself--making up an exceedingly
cumbrous and ridiculous affair." He goes to St. Peter's, and "it
disappointed me terribly by its want of effect, and the little justice
it does to its real magnitude externally; as to the interior, I am not
sure that it would not be even more grand and majestic if it were less
magnificent, though I should be sorry to see the experiment tried. I
had expected something dim and vast, like the great English
cathedrals, only more vast and dim and gray; but there is as much
difference as between noonday and twilight." The pictures, too, were
apt in these first days to go against the grain with him.
Contemplating a fresco representing scenes in purgatory, he broke
forth: "I cannot speak as to the truth of the representation, but, at
all events, it was purgatory to look at this poor, faded rubbish.
Thank Heaven, there is such a thing as whitewash; and I shall always
be glad to hear of its application to old frescoes, even at the
sacrifice of remnants of real excellence!" Such growlings torture the
soul of the connoisseur; but the unregenerate man, hearing them, leaps
up and shouts for joy. He found the old masters, in their sacred
subjects, lacking in originality and initiative; and when they would
represent mythology, they engendered an apotheosis of nakedness. His
conclusion was that "there is something forced, if not feigned, in our
taste for pictures of the old Italian school." Of the profane
subjects, he instances the Fornarina, "with a deep bright glow on her
face, naked below the waist, and well pleased to be so, for the sake
of your admiration--ready for any extent of nudity, for love or
money--the brazen trollop that she is! Raphael must have been capable
of great sensuality to have painted this picture of his own accord,
and lovingly." These are the iconoclasms of the Goth and Vandal at
their first advent to Rome. They remained to alter their mood, and
extol what they had before assaulted; and so did my father, as we
shall see presently. But at first he was sick and cold and
uncomfortable; and he consoled himself by hitting out at everything,
in the secret privacy of his diary, since opened to the world. With
warmer weather came equanimity and kinder judgments; but there is a
refreshing touch of truth and justice even in these mutterings of
exasperation.

It was not so much, I suppose, that Rome was cold as that my father
had expected it to be otherwise.  When one is in a place where
tradition and association invite the soul forth to be warmed and
soothed and rejoiced, and the body, venturing out, finds nothing but
chill winds and frigid temperature and discomfort, the shock is much
greater and more disagreeable than if one had been in some northern
Canada or Spitzbergen, where such conditions are normal. Ice in the
arctic circle is all right and exhilarating, but in the Piazza of St.
Peter's it is an outrage, and affects the mind and heart even more
than the flesh.

Circumstances caused my father to pass through several distinct phases
of feeling while he was in Rome. First, his own indisposition and the
inclement weather depressed and exasperated him.

Time, in due course, brought relief in these respects, and he began to
enjoy himself and his surroundings.  Anon, the springs of creative
imagination, long dormant in him, were roused to activity by thoughts
connected with the Faun of Praxiteles in the Capitol.  He now became
happy in the way of his genius and immediately took a new interest in
all things, looking at them from the point of view of possible
backgrounds or incidents for the romance which had begun to take form
in his mind. He describes what he saw con amore, and all manner of
harmonious ideas bloom through his thoughts, like anemones and other
flowers in the Villa Pamphili and the Borghese. This desirable mood
continued until, after our return to Rome from the Florentine visit,
my sister caught the Roman fever. She lay for weeks in danger of
death; and her father's anxiety about her not only destroyed in him
all thoughts of literary production and care for it, but made even
keeping his journal no longer possible for him. That strain, so long
continued, broke him down, and he never recovered from it so as to be
what he had been before. Nevertheless, when she became convalescent,
the reaction from his dark misgivings made him, for a time, as
light-hearted as a boy; and, the carnival happening to be coincident
with her recovery, he entered into the fun of it with a zest and
enjoyment that surprised himself.  But, again, it presently became
evident that her recovery was not complete, and probably never would
be so; the injury to her health was permanent, and she was liable to
recurrences of disease.  His spirits sank again, not so low as before,
but, on the other hand, they never again rose to their normal level.
It was in this saddened mood that he once more took up the Roman
romance and finished it; it is a sad book, and when there is a ray of
sunshine across the page, it has a melancholy gleam.  After we
returned to Concord, his apprehensions concerning Una's unsound
condition were confirmed; and, in addition, the bitter cleavage
between North and South inspired in him the gloomiest forebodings. A
wasting away of his whole physical substance ensued; and he died,
almost suddenly, while in years he might be considered hardly past the
prime of his life. A sensitive eye can trace the effects of the
death-blow all through The Marble Faun, and still more in Septimius
and Grimshawe, published after his death. In The Dolliver Romance
fragment, which was the last thing he wrote, there is visible once
more some reminiscence of the old sunshine of humor that was so often
apparent in his time of youth and vigor; but it, too, has a sad touch
in it, such as belongs to the last rays of the star of day before it
sinks below the horizon forever. Night follows, and the rest is
silence.




XV


The Roman carnival in three moods--Apples of Sodom--Poor, battered,
wilted, stained hearts--A living protest and scourge--Dulce est
desipere in loco--A rollicking world of happy fools--Endless sunshine
of some sort--Greenwich Fair was worth a hundred of it--They thundered
past, never drawing rein--"Senza moccolo!"--Nothing more charming and
strange could be imagined--Girls surprised in the midst of dressing
themselves--A Unitarian clergyman with his fat wife--Apparent license
under courteous restraint--He laughed and pelted and was
pelted--William Story, as vivid as when I saw him last--A too facile
power--A deadly shadow gliding close behind--Set afire by his own
sallies--"Thy face is like thy mother's, my fair child!"--Cleopatra in
the clay--"War nie sein Brod mit thranen ass."



THE Roman carnival opened about a month after our arrival in Rome. The
weather was bad nearly all the time, and my father's point of view was
correspondingly unsympathetic. The contrast between his mood now and a
year later, when he was not only stimulated by his daughter's recovery
from illness, but, also, was looking at everything rather as the
romancer than as the man, is worth bringing out. My father likewise
describes the carnival in the romance; there we see it in a third
phase--as art. But the passages in the note-books are written from the
realistic stand-point. In her transcriptions of the journals for the
press my mother was always careful to omit from the former everything
that had been "used" in the book; the principle, no doubt, was sound,
but it might be edifying for once, in a way, to do just the opposite,
in order to mark, if we choose to take the trouble, what kind of
changes or modifications Hawthorne the romancer would make in the work
of my father the observer of nature. Take your Marble Faun and turn to
two of the latter chapters and compare them with the corresponding
pages in my excerpts from the journals in the Biography. In the latter
you will find him always in a critical and carping humor; seeing
everything with abundant keenness, but recognizing nothing worth while
in it. The bouquets, he noticed, for example, were often picked up out
of the street and used again and again; "and," he adds, "I suppose
they aptly enough symbolized the poor, battered, wilted, stained
hearts that had flown from one hand to another along the muddy pathway
of life, instead of being treasured up in one faithful bosom. Really,
it was great nonsense."

It is true--such uncongenial interpretation--if you feel that way
about it. And I remember, in my rambles along the famous thoroughfare,
seeing a saturnine old fellow in a dingy black coat and slouch hat,
with a sour snarl on his unprepossessing features, who made it his
business, all day, to cuff and kick the little boys whom he caught
throwing confetti, or picking up the fallen bouquets, and to shove the
latter down into the sewer which ran beneath the street, through the
apertures opening underneath the curb. He seemed to have stationed
himself there as a living protest and scourge against and of the whole
spirit of the carnival; to hate it just because the rest of the world
enjoyed it, and to wish that he might make everybody else as miserable
and uncharitable as he was. He was like a wicked and ugly Mrs.
Partington, trying to sweep back the Atlantic of holiday merriment
with his dirty mop. But this crabbed humor of his, while it made him
conspicuous against the broad background of gayety, of course had no
effect on the gayety itself. The flood of laughter, jocundity, and
semi-boisterous frolic continued to roll up and down the Corso all day
long, never attempting to be anything but pure nonsense, indeed, but
achieving, nevertheless, the wise end of nonsense in the right time
and place--that of refreshing and lightening the mind and heart. Dulce
est desipere in loco--that old saw might have been made precisely to
serve as the motto of the Roman carnival; and very likely it was
actually suggested to its renowned author by some similar sport
belonging to the old Roman days, before Christianity was thought of.
The young fellows--English, American, or of whatever other
nationality--would stride up and down the overflowing street hour
after hour, clad in linen dust-coats down to their heels, with a bag
of confetti slung on one side and another full of bouquets on the
other; and they would plunge a warlike hand into the former and hurl
ammunition at their rivals; or they would, pick out a bunch of flowers
from the latter for a pretty girl--not that the flowers were worth
anything intrinsically, nor was that their fault--but just to show the
fitting sentiment. There was only one rule, the unwritten one that
everybody was to take everything that came with a smile or a laugh,
and never get angry at anything; and this universal good-humor lifted
the whole affair into a wholesome and profitable sphere. Then there
was the double row of carriages forever moving in opposite directions,
and passing within easy arm's-reach of each other; and the jolly
battle was waged between their occupants, with side conflicts with the
foot-farers at the same time. And as the same carriages would repass
one another every forty minutes or so, the persons in them would soon
get to recognize one another; and, if they were of the sterner sex,
they would be prepared to renew desperate battle; or if there was a
pretty girl or two in one of them, she would be the recipient of a
deluge of flowers or of really pretty bonbons. It was all play, all
laughter, all a new, rollicking world of happy fools, of comic
chivalry, of humorous gallantry.  For my part, I thought it was the
world which I had been born to live in; and I was too happy in it to
imagine even that anybody could be less happy than I was. My sole
grief was when my supply of confetti had given out, and I had no money
to buy more. I used to look at those great baskets at the
street-corners, filled with the white agglomeration, with longing
eyes, and wish I had it all in my pockets.  I picked up the fallen
bouquets, muddy or not, with no misgiving, and flung them at the girls
with the unquestioning faith of boyhood. I looked up at the people in
the windows and on the draped balconies with romantic emotions, and
exchanged smiles and beckonings with them. The February days were
never long enough for me; I only wished that the whole year was made
up of those days; if it rained, or was cold, I never knew it. There
was an endless sunshine of some sort which sufficed for me.  But my
father, at this epoch, could catch not a glimpse of it. "I never in my
life knew a shallower joke than the carnival at Rome; such a rainy and
muddy day, too; Greenwich Fair (at the very last of which I assisted)
was worth a hundred of it."

The masking day, and the ensuing night of the moccolo, were the
culminating features of the carnival; and it was on the afternoon of
this day, I think, that the horse-race, with bare-backed horses, took
place. The backs of these horses, though bare of riders, had attached
to them by strings little balls with sharp points in them, which, as
the horses ran, bobbed up and down, and did the office of spurs. The
race was preceded by a thundering gallop of cavalry down the whole
length of the Corso (the street having been cleared of carriages
beforehand), ostensibly to prevent anybody from being run over by the
race-horses; but, as a matter of fact, if any one were killed, it was
much more likely to be by the ruthless riding of these helmeted
dragoons than by the riderless steeds. They thundered past, never
drawing rein, no matter what stood or ran in their way; and then,
after an interval, during which the long crowds, packed back on the
opposite sidewalks, craned forward as far as they dared to see them,
came the eight or ten racers at a furious pace.  They were come and
gone in a breath; and finally, after the body of them were passed,
came a laggard, who had been left at the post, and was trying to make
up for lost time. I believe it was this horse who actually killed
somebody on the course. The race over, back into the street thronged
the crowd, filling it from wall to wall; then there was a gradual
thinning away, as the people went home for supper; and finally came
the night and the moccoli, with the biggest crowd of all. I was there
with my twist of moccolo and a box of matches; except the moccoli,
there was no other illumination along the length of the Corso. But
their soft lights were there by myriads, and made a lovely sight, to
my eyes at least. "Senza moccolo!" was the universal cry; young
knights-errant, singly or in groups, pressed their way up and down,
shouting the battle-cry, and quenching all lights within reach, while
striving to maintain the flame of their own; using now the whisk of a
handkerchief, now a puff of breath, now the fillip of a finger;
contriving to extinguish a fair lady's taper with the same effusion of
vain words wherewith they told her of their passion.  Most of the
ladies thus assailed sat in the lower balconies, elevated only a foot
or two above the level of the sidewalk; but those in the higher
retreats made war upon one another, and upon their own cavaliers; none
was immune from peril. The cry, uttered at once by such innumerable
voices far and near, made a singular murmur up and down the Corso; and
the soft twinkling of the lights, winking in and out as they were put
out or relighted, gave a singular fire-fly effect to the whole
illumination. It seemed to me then, and it still seems in the
retrospect, that nothing more charming and strange could be imagined;
and through it all was the constant blossoming of laughter, more
inextinguishable than the moccoletti themselves. The colors of the
tapestries and stuffs dependent from the windows and balconies glowed
out in light, or were dimmed by shadow; and the faces of the
thousandfold crowd of festival-makers glimmered forth and were lost
again on the background of the night, like the features of spirits in
the glimpses of a dream.  How long it all lasted I know not; but it
had its term, like other mortal things, even in this fairyland of
carnival; and when the last light was out the carnival was no more,
and Lent, unawares, had softly settled down upon us with the darkness.

But let us now listen to my father when, for the second time, he made
proof of the carnival in the year following our return from Florence,
and after Una had left her sick-room and could be at his side.  "The
weather has been splendid," he writes, "and the merriment far more
free and riotous than as I remember it in the preceding year. Tokens
of the festival were seen in flowers on street-stands, or borne aloft
on people's heads, while bushels of confetti were displayed, looking
like veritable sugarplums, so that a stranger might have thought that
the whole commerce and business of stern old Rome lay in flowers and
sweets. One wonders, however, that the scene should not be even more
rich and various when there has been so long a time (the immemorial
existence of the carnival) to prepare it, and adorn it with shapes of
gayety and humor.  There was an infinite number of clowns and
particolored harlequins; a host of white dominoes; a multitude of
masks, set in eternal grins, or with monstrous noses, or made in the
guise of monkeys, bears, dogs, or whatever beast the wearer chooses to
be akin to; a great many men in petticoats, and almost as many girls
and women, no doubt, in breeches; figures, too, with huge, bulbous
heads and all manner of such easy monstrosities and exaggerations..
It is strange how the whole humor of the thing, and the separate humor
of each individual character, vanishes the moment I try to grasp it
and describe it; and yet there really was fun in the spectacle as it
flitted by--for instance, in the long line of carriages a company of
young men in flesh-colored tights and chemises, representing a party
of girls surprised in the midst of dressing themselves, while an old
nurse in the midst of them expressed ludicrous horror at their
predicament.  Then the embarrassment of gentlemen who, while quietly
looking at the scene, are surrounded by groups of maskers, grimacing
at them, squeaking in their ears, hugging them, dancing round them,
till they snatch an opportunity to escape into some doorway; or when a
poor man in a black coat and cylinder hat is whitened all over with a
half-bushel of confetti and lime-dust; the mock sympathy with which
his case is investigated by a company of maskers, who poke their
stupid, pasteboard faces close to his, still with the unchangeable
grin; or when a gigantic female figure singles out some shy, harmless
personage, and makes appeals to his heart, avowing her passionate love
in dumb show, and presenting him with her bouquet; and a hundred other
nonsensicalities, among which the rudest and simplest are not the
least effective. A resounding thump on the back with a harlequin's
sword, or a rattling blow with a bladder half full of dried pease or
corn, answers a very good purpose. There was a good deal of absurdity
one day in a figure in a crinoline petticoat, riding on an ass and
almost filling the Corso with the circumference of crinoline from side
to side. Some figures are dressed in old-fashioned garbs, perhaps of
the last century, or, even more ridiculous, of thirty years ago, or in
the stately Elizabethan (as we should call them) trunk hose, tunics,
and cloaks of three centuries since. I do not know anything that I
have seen queerer than a Unitarian clergyman (Mr. Mountford), who
drives through the Corso daily with his fat wife in a one-horse
chaise, with a wreath of withered flowers and oak leaves round his
hat, the rest of his dress remaining unchanged, except that it is well
powdered with the dust of confetti. That withered wreath is the
absurdest thing he could wear (though, perhaps, he may not mean it to
be so), and so, of course, the best. I can think of no other masks
just now, but will go this afternoon and try to catch some more." You
see, he has that romance in view again. "Clowns, or zanies," he
resumes, after fresh inspection, "appear in great troupes, dancing
extravagantly and scampering wildly; everybody seems to do whatever
folly comes into his head; and yet, if you consider the matter, you
see that all this apparent license is kept under courteous restraint.
There is no rudeness, except the authorized pelting with confetti or
blows of harlequins' swords, which, moreover, are within a law of
their own. But nobody takes rough hold of another, or meddles with his
mask, or does him any unmannerly violence.  At first sight you would
think that the whole world had gone mad, but at the end you wonder how
people can let loose all their mirthful propensities without
unchaining the mischievous ones. It could not be so in America or in
England; in either of those countries the whole street would go mad in
earnest and come to blows and bloodshed were the populace to let
themselves loose to the extent we see here. All this restraint is
self-imposed and quite apart from the presence of the soldiery."

This mood, we see, is far more gentle and sympathetic than the former
one; there is sunshine within as well as without; and, indeed, I
remember with what glee my father took part in the frolic, as well as
looked on at it; he laughed and pelted and was pelted; he walked down
the Corso and back again; he drove to and fro in a carriage; he
mounted to Mr. Motley's balcony and took long shots at the crowd
below. The sombre spirit of criticism had ceased, for a time, to haunt
him.

[IMAGE: WILLIAM WETMORE STORY]

We went quite often to the studio of William Story, whom my father had
slightly known in Salem before he became a voluntary exile from
America. Mr. Story was at this time a small, wiry, nervous personage,
smiling easily, but as much through nervousness as from any inner
source or outward provocation of mirth, and as he smiled he would
stroke his cheeks, which were covered with a short, brown beard, with
the fingers and thumb of his right hand, while wrinkles would appear
round his bright, brown eyes. "He looks thin and worn already," wrote
my father; "a little bald and a very little gray, but as vivid as when
I saw him last; he cannot, methinks, be over thirty-seven." He was
thirty-nine in 1858. "The great difficulty with him, I think, is a too
facile power," my father goes on; "he would do better things if it
were more difficult for him to do merely good ones.  Then, too, his
sensibility is too quick; being easily touched by his own thoughts, he
cannot estimate what is required to touch a colder and duller person,
and so stops short of the adequate expression." He commented on the
vein of melancholy beneath the sparkle of his surface, as if, in the
midst of prosperity, he was conscious of a "deadly shadow gliding
close behind." Boys of twelve are not troubled with insight, unless of
that unconscious, intuitive kind that tells them that a person is
likeable, or the reverse, no matter what the person may do or say.  I
liked Mr. Story, and thought him as light of spirit as he seemed; not
that he was not often earnest enough in his talks with my father, to
whom he was wont to apply himself with a sort of intensity, suggesting
ideas, and watching, with his nervous smile, my father's reception of
them; plunging into deep matters, beyond my comprehension, dwelling
there a few minutes, and then emerging again with a sparkle of wit; he
was certainly very witty, and the wit was native and original, not
memorized. When he got into the current of drollery, he would, as it
were, set himself afire by his own sallies, and soar to astonishing
heights, which had an irresistible contagion for the hearers; and he
would sometimes, sitting at a table with pen and paper at hand,
illustrate his whimsicalities with lightning sketches of immense
cleverness, considering their impromptu character. I have preserved a
sheet of letter-paper covered with such drawings. The conversation had
got upon Byron, whom Mr. Story chose to ridicule; as he talked, he
drew a head of "Byron as he thought he was," followed by one of "Byron
as he was," and by another of "Byron as he might have been," showing a
very pronounced negro type.  Then he made a portrait of "Ada, sole
daughter of my house and heart," and wrote under it, "Thy face was like
thy mother's, my fair child!" a hideous, simpering miss, with a snub
nose and a wooden mouth--"A poet's dream!" He also showed the
appearance of the Falls of Terni, "as described by Byron," and added
studies of infant phenomena, mother's darlings, a Presidential
candidate, and other absurdities, accompanying it all with a running
comment and imaginative improvisations which had the charm of genius
in them, and made us ache with laughter, young and old alike. Such a
man, nervous, high-strung, of fine perceptions and sensibilities, must
inevitably pass through rapid and extreme alternations of feeling;
and, no doubt, an hour after that laughing seance of ours, Mr.  Story
was plunged deep in melancholy. Yet surely his premonitions of evil
were unfulfilled; Story lived long and was never other than fortunate.
Perhaps he was unable to produce works commensurate with his
conceptions; but unhappiness from such a cause is of a noble sort, and
better than most ordinary felicities.

I remember very well the statue of Cleopatra while yet in the clay.
There she sat in the centre of the large, empty studio, pondering on
Augustus and on the asp. The hue of the clay added a charm to the
figure which even the pure marble has not quite maintained. Story said
that he never was present while the cast of one of his statues was
being made; he could not endure the sight of the workmen throwing the
handfuls of plaster at the delicate clay. Cleopatra was substantially
finished, but Story was unwilling to let her go, and had no end of
doubts as to the handling of minor details. The hand that rests on her
knee--should the forefinger and thumb meet or be separated? If they
were separated, it meant the relaxation of despair; if they met, she
was still meditating defiance or revenge.  After canvassing the
question at great length with my father, he decided that they should
meet; but when I saw the marble statue in the Metropolitan Museum the
other day I noticed that they were separated. In the end the artist
had preferred despair. Such things indicate the man's character, and,
perhaps, explain his failure to reach the great heights of art. He
could not trust a great idea to manage itself, but sought subtler
expression through small touches, and thus, finally, lost the feeling
of the larger inspiration. A little more of the calm, Greek spirit
would have done him good.

He had many projects for other statues, which he would build up in
fancy before my father and discuss with him. His words and gestures
made the ideas he described seem actual and present, but he seldom got
them into marble; he probably found, upon trial, that they did not
belong to sculpture.  He had the ambition to make marble speak not its
own language merely, but those of painting and of poetry likewise; and
when this proved impossible he was unhappy and out of conceit with
himself, On the other hand, he did good work in poetry and in prose;
but neither did these content him. After all, my father's observation
hit the mark; things came too easy to him. Goethe speaks the word for
him:

  "Wer nie sein Brod mit thranen ass,
   Er kennt euch nicht, ihr ewige Machte!"




XVI


Drilled in Roman history--Lovely figures made of light and
morning--What superb figures!--The breath and strength of immeasurable
antiquity--Treasures coming direct from dead hands into mine--A
pleasant sound of coolness and refreshment--Receptacles of death now
dedicated to life--The Borghese is a forest of Ardennes--Profound and
important communings--A smiling deceiver--Of an early-rising
habit--Hauling in on my slack--A miniature cabinet magically made
Titanic--"If I had a murder on my conscience"--None can tell the
secret origin of his thoughts--A singularly beautiful young woman--She
actually ripped the man open--No leagues of chivalry needed in Rome--A
resident army--Five foot six--Corsets and padding--She was wounded in
the house of her friends.

We children had been drilled in Roman history, from Romulus to Caesar,
and we could, and frequently did, repeat by heart the Lays of Ancient
Rome by Macaulay, which were at that period better known, perhaps,
than they are now. Consequently, everything in Rome had a certain
degree of meaning for us, and gave us a pleasure in addition to the
intrinsic beauty or charm that belonged thereto. Our imagination
thronged the Capitol with senators; saw in the Roman Forum the
contentions of the tribunes and the patricians; heard the populus
Romanus roar in the Coliseum; beheld the splendid processions of
victory wind cityward through the Arch of Titus; saw Caesar lie
bleeding at the base of Pompey's statue; pondered over the fatal
precipice of the Tarpeian Rock; luxuriated in the hollow spaces of the
Baths of Caracalla; lost ourselves in gorgeous reveries in the palace
of the Caesars, and haunted the yellow stream of Tiber, beneath which
lay hidden precious treasures and forgotten secrets. And we were no
less captivated by the galleries and churches, which contained the
preserved relics of the great old times, and were in themselves so
beautiful. My taste for blackened old pictures and faded frescoes was,
indeed, even more undeveloped than my father's; but I liked the
brilliant reproductions in mosaic at St. Peter's and certain
individual works in various places. I formed a romantic attachment for
the alleged Beatrice Cenci of Guido, or of some other artist, and was
very sorry that she should be so unhappy, though, of course, I was
ignorant of the occasion of her low spirits. But I liked much better
Guide's large design of Aurora, partly because I had long been
familiar with it on the head-board of my mother's bedstead. Before her
marriage she had bought a set of bedroom furniture, and had painted it
a dull gold color, and on this surface she had drawn in fine black
lines the outlines of several classical subjects, most of them from
Flaxman; but in the space mentioned she had executed an outline of
this glorious work of the Italian artist. I knew every line of the
composition thoroughly; and, by-the-way, I doubt if a truer, more
inspired copy of the picture was ever produced by anybody. But the
color had to be supplied by the observer's imagination; now, for the
first time, I saw the hues as laid on by the original painter. In
spite of time, they were pure and exquisite beyond description; these
lovely figures seemed made of light and morning. Another favorite
picture of mine was the same artist's "Michael Overcoming the Evil
One," and I even had the sense to like the painting better than the
mosaic copy. Raphael's "Transfiguration" I also knew well from the old
engraving of it that used to hang on our parlor wall from my earliest
recollections; it still hangs yonder. But I never cared for this
picture; it was too complicated and ingenious--it needed too much
co-operation from the observer's mind. Besides, I had never seen a boy
with anything approaching the muscular development of the epileptic
youth in the centre.  The thing in the picture that I most approved of
was the end of the log in the little pool, in the foreground; it
looked true to life.

But my delight in the statues was endless. It seems to me that I knew
personally every statue and group in the Vatican and in the Capitol.
Again and again, either with my parents, or with Eddy, or even alone,
I would pass the warders at the doors and enter those interminable
galleries, and look and look at those quiet, stained-marble effigies.
My early studies of Flaxman had, in a measure, educated me towards
appreciation of them. I never tired of them, as I did of the
Cleopatras and the Greek Slaves. What superb figures! What power and
grace and fleetness and athletic loins! The divine, severe Minerva,
musing under the shadow of her awful helmet; the athlete with the
strigil, resting so lightly on his tireless feet; the royal Apollo,
disdaining his own victory; the Venus, half shrinking from the
exquisiteness of her own beauty; the swaying poise of the Discobulus,
caught forever as he drew his breath for the throw; the smooth-limbed,
brooding Antinous; the terrible Laocoon, which fascinated me, though
it always repelled me, too; the austere simplicity of the Dying
Gladiator's stoop to death--the most human of all the great statues;
the heads of heroic Miltiades, of Antony, of solitary Cassar, of
indifferent Augustus; the tranquil indolence of mighty Nile, clambered
over by his many children--these, and a hundred others, spoke to me
out of their immortal silence. I can conceive of no finer discipline
for a boy; I emulated while I adored them. Power, repose, beauty,
nobility, were in their message: "Do you, too, possess limbs and
shoulders like ours!" they said to me; "such a bearing, such a spirit
within!" I cannot overestimate even the physical good they did me; it
was from them that I gained the inspiration for bodily development and
for all athletic exercise which has, since then, helped me over many a
rough passage in the path of life. But they also awoke higher
ambitions and conferred finer benefits.

From these excursions into the ideal I would return to out-of-doors
with another inexhaustible zest. That ardent, blue Roman sky and
penetrating, soft sunshine filled me with life and joy.  The breath
and strength of immeasurable antiquity emanated from those massive
ruins, which time could deface but never conquer. Emerald lizards
basked on the hot walls; flowers grew in the old crevices; butterflies
floated round them; they were haunted by spirits of heroes. There is
nothing else to be compared with the private, intimate, human, yet
sublimated affection which these antique monuments wrought in me. They
were my mighty brothers, condescending to my boyish thoughts and
fancies, smiling upon me, welcoming me, conscious of my love for them.
Each ruin had its separate individuality for me, so that to-day I must
play with the Coliseum, to-morrow with the Forum, or the far-ranging
arches of the Aqueduct, or the Temple of Vesta. Always, too, my eyes
were alert for treasures in the old Roman soil, coming, as it seemed,
direct from the dead hands of the vanished people into mine. I valued
the scraps that I picked up thus more than anything to be bought in
shops or seen in museums. These bits of tinted marble had felt the
touch of real Romans; their feet had trodden on them, on them their
arms had rested, their hands had grasped them. Two thousand years had
dulled the polish of their surfaces; I took them to the stone-workers,
who made them glow and bloom again--yellow, red, black, green, white.
They were good-natured but careless men, those marble-polishers, and
would sometimes lose my precious relics, and when I called for them
would say, every day, "Domane--domane," or try to put me off with some
substitute--as if a boy could be deceived in such a matter! I once
found in the neighborhood of a recent excavation a semi-transparent
tourmaline of a cool green hue when held to the light; it had once
been set in the ring of some Roman beauty. It had, from long abiding
in the earth, that wonderful iridescent surface which ancient glass
acquires. Rose, my sister, picked up out of a rubbish heap a little
bronze statuette, hardly three inches high, but, as experts said, of
the best artistic period. Such things made our Roman history books
seem like a tale of yesterday, or they transported us back across the
centuries, so that we trod in the footsteps of those who had been but
a moment before us.

In those warm days, after our walks and explorations, Eddy and I, and
little Hubert, who sometimes was permitted to accompany us, though we
deemed him hardly in our class, would greatly solace ourselves with
the clear and gurgling fountains which everywhere in Rome flow forth
into their marble and moss-grown basins with a pleasant sound of
coolness and refreshment. Rome without her fountains would not be
Rome; every memory of her includes them. In the streets, in the
piazzas, in the wide pleasaunces and gardens, the fountains allure us
onward, and comfort us for our weariness.  In the Piazza d' Espagna,
at the foot of the famous steps, was that great, boat-shaped fountain
whose affluent waters cool the air which broods over the wide, white
stairway; and not far away is the mighty Trevi, with its turmoil of
obstreperous figures swarming round bragging Neptune, and its cataract
of innumerable rills welling forth and plunging downward by devious
ways to meet at last in the great basin, forever agitated with baby
waves lapping against the margins. These, and many similar elaborate
structures, are for the delight of the eye; but there are scores of
modest fountains, at the corners of the ways, in shady or in sunny
places, formed of an ancient sarcophagus receiving the everlasting
tribute of two open-mouthed lion-heads, or other devices, whose
arching outgush splashes into the receptacle made to hold death, but
now immortally dedicated to the refreshment of life. It was at these
minor fountains that we quenched our boyish thirst, each drinking at
the mouth of a spout; and when we discovered that by stopping up one
spout with our thumb the other would discharge with double force, we
played roguish tricks on each other, deluging each other at unawares
with unmanageable gushes of water, till we were forced to declare a
mutual truce of honor. But what delicious draughts did we suck in from
those lion-mouths into our own; never elsewhere did water seem so
sweet and revivifying. And then we would peer into the transparent
depths of the old sarcophagus, with its fringes of green, silky moss
waving slightly with the movement of the water, and fish out
tiny-spired water-shells; or dip in them the bits of ancient marbles
we had collected on our walk, to see the hues revive to their former
splendor.  Many-fountained Rome ought to be a cure for wine-bibbers;
yet I never saw an Italian drink at these springs; they would rather
quaff the thin red and white wines that are sold for a few baiocchi at
the inns.

The Pincian Hill and the adjoining grounds of the Borghese Palace came
at length to be our favorite haunts. The Borghese is a delectable
spot, as my father remarks in one of those passages in his diary which
was afterwards expanded into the art-picture of his romance. "Broad
carriageways," he says, "and wood-paths wander beneath long vistas of
sheltering boughs; there are ilex-trees, ancient and sombre, which, in
the long peace of their lifetime, have assumed attitudes of indolent
repose; and stone-pines that look like green islands in the air, so
high above earth are they, and connected with it by such a slender
length of stem; and cypresses, resembling dark flames of huge,
funereal candles. These wooded lawns are more beautiful than English
park scenery; all the more beautiful for the air of neglect about
them, as if not much care of men were bestowed upon them, though
enough to keep wildness from growing into deformity, and to make the
whole scene like nature idealized--the woodland scenes the poet
dreamed of--a forest of Ardennes, for instance. These lawns and gentle
valleys are beautiful, moreover, with fountains flashing into marble
basins, or gushing like natural cascades from rough rocks; with bits
of architecture, as pillared porticos, arches, columns, of marble or
granite, with a touch of artful ruin on them; and, indeed, the pillars
and fragments seem to be remnants of antiquity, though put together
anew, hundreds of years old, perhaps, even in their present form, for
weeds and flowers grow out of the chinks and cluster on the tops of
arches and porticos.  There are altars, too, with old Roman
inscriptions on them. Statues stand here and there among the trees, in
solitude, or in a long range, lifted high on pedestals, moss-grown,
some of them shattered, all grown gray with the corrosion of the
atmosphere. In the midst of these sunny and shadowy tracts rises the
stately front of the villa, adorned with statues in niches, with
busts, and ornamented architecture blossoming in stone-work.  Take
away the malaria, and it might be a very happy place."

[IMAGE: PENCIL SKETCHES IN ITALY, BY MRS. NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE]

Here was a playground for boys of imaginative but not too destructive
proclivities, such as the world hardly furnishes elsewhere. But much
of my enjoyment of it I ascribe to my friend Eddy.  My conversation
with no person since then has rivalled the profundity and importance
of my communings with his sympathetic soul. We not only discussed our
future destinies and philosophical convictions, but we located in
these delicious retreats the various worlds which we purposed to
explore and inhabit during the next few hundred years. Here we passed
through by anticipation all our future experiences. Sometimes we were
accompanied by other boys; but then our visits lost their distinction;
we merely had good times in the ordinary way of boys; we were robber
barons, intrenched in our strongholds, and attacked by other robbers;
or we ran races, or held other trials of strength and activity, or we
set snares for the bright-colored fishes which lurked in some of the
fountains.  The grounds were occasionally invaded by gangs of Italian
boys, between whom and ourselves existed an irreconcilable feud. We
could easily thrash them in the Anglo-Saxon manner, with nature's
weapons; but they would ambush us and assail us with stones; and once
one of them struck at me with a knife, which was prevented from
entering my side only by the stout leather belt which I chanced to
wear. We denounced these assassins to the smiling custode of the
grounds, and he promised, smilingly, to bar the entrance to them
thenceforth; but he was a smiling deceiver; our enemies came just the
same. After all, we would have regretted their absence; they added the
touch of peril to our chronic romance which made it perfect. It is
forty-four years since then. Are there any other Borghese Gardens to
come for me in the future, I wonder? There was a rough pathway along
the banks of the Tiber, extending up the stream for two or three
miles, as far as the Ponte Molle, where the corktrees grew, and
farther, for aught I know. This was a favorite walk of mine, because
of the fragments of antique marbles to be found there, and also the
shells which so mysteriously abounded along the margin, as shown by
the learned conchological author hereinbefore cited. And, being of an
early rising habit, it was my wont to get up long before breakfast and
tramp up and down along the river for an hour or two, thinking, I
suppose, as I gazed upon the turbulent flood, of brave Horatius
disdainfully escaping from the serried hosts of Lars Porsena and false
Sextus, or of Caesar and Cassius buffeting the torrent on a "dare,"
and with lusty sinews flinging it aside. There were also lovely
effects of dawn upon the dome of St. Peter's, and the redoubtable mass
of St. Angelo, with its sword-sheathing angel. Moreover, sunrise, at
twelve years of age, is an exhilarating and congenial phenomenon.  And
I painted my experiences in colors so attractive that our Ada Shepard
was inflamed with the idea of accompanying me on my rambles. She was a
child in heart, though so mature in intellect, and her spirit was
valiant, though her flesh was comparatively infirm. It was my custom
to set out about five o'clock in the morning, and Miss Shepard
promised to be ready at that hour. But after keeping awake most of the
night in order not to fail of the appointment, she fell asleep and
dreamed only of getting up; and, after waiting for her for near an
hour, I went without her. She was much mortified at her failure, and
suggested a plan to insure her punctuality, in which I readily agreed
to collaborate. When she went to bed she attached a piece of string to
one of her toes, the other end of the filament being carried
underneath doors and along passages to my own room. I was instructed
to haul in on my slack at the proper hour; and this I accordingly did,
with good-will, and was at once made conscious that I had caught
something, not only by the resistance which my efforts encountered,
but by the sound of cries of feminine distress and supplication, heard
in the distance. However, my companion appeared in due season, and we
took our walk, which, she declared, fulfilled all the anticipations which
my reports had led her to form.

Nevertheless, I cannot remember that we ever again made the expedition
together; it is a mistake to try to repeat a perfect joy.

It seems to me that I must have been a pretty constant visitor at St.
Peter's. The stiff, heavy, leathern curtain which protects the
entrance having been strenuously pushed aside (always with remembrance
of Corinne's impossible act of grace and courtesy in holding it aside
with one hand for Lord Neville), the glorious interior expanded,
mildly radiant, before me. As has been the case with so many other
observers, the real magnitude of the spectacle did not at first affect
me; the character of the decoration and detail prevented the
impression of greatness; it was only after many times traversing that
illimitable pavement, and after frequent comparisons with ordinary
human measurements of the aerial heights of those arches and that
dome, that one conies to understand, by a sort of logical compulsion,
how immense it all is. It is a miniature cabinet magically made
titanic; but the magic which could transform inches into roods could
not correspondingly enlarge the innate character of the ornament; so
that, instead of making the miniature appear truly vast, it only makes
us seem unnaturally small. Still, after all criticisms, St. Peter's
remains one of the most delightful places in the world; its sweet
sumptuousness and imperial harmonies seem somehow to enter into us and
make us harmonious, rich, and sweet. The air that we inhale is just
touched with the spirit of incense, and mellowed as with the still
memories of the summers of five hundred years ago. The glistening
surfaces of the colored marbles, dimmed with faint, fragrant mists,
and glorified with long slants of brooding sunshine, soothe the eye
like materialized music; and the soft twinkle of the candles on the
altars, seen in daylight, has a jewel-like charm. As I look back upon
it, however, and contrast it with the cathedrals of England, the total
influence upon the mind of St. Peter's seems to me voluptuous rather
than religious. It is a human palace of art more than a shrine of the
Almighty. A prince might make love to a princess there without feeling
guilty of profanation.  St. Peter himself, sitting there in his chair,
with his highly polished toe advanced, is a doll for us to play with.
On one occasion I was in the church with my father, and the great nave
was thronged with people and lined with soldiers, and down the midst
went slowly a gorgeous procession, with Pope Pio Nono borne aloft,
swayingly, the triple crown upon his head.  He blessed the crowd, as
he passed along, with outstretched hand. One can never forget such a
spectacle; but I was not nearly so much impressed in a religious sense
as when, forty years later, I stood in the portals of a Mohammedan
mosque in Central India and saw a thousand turbaned Moslems prostrate
themselves with their foreheads in the dust before a voice which
proclaimed the presence of the awful, unseen God.

My father enjoyed the church more after each visit to it. But it was
the confessionals and their significance that most interested him.
"What an institution the confessional is! Man needs it so, that it
seems as if God must have ordained it." And he dwells upon the idea
with remarkable elaboration and persistence. Those who have followed
the painful wanderings of heart-oppressed Hilda to the carven
confessional in the great church, where she found peace, will
recognize the amply unfolded flower of this seed. What I supposed to
be my notion of St. Peter's looking like the enlargement of some
liliputian edifice is also there, though I had forgotten it till I
myself reread the pages. In this book of my memories, which is also
the book of my forgettings, I must walk to and fro freely, if I am to
walk at all. None can tell the secret origin of his thoughts.

Besides the monumental and artistic features of Rome, the human side
of it appealed to me. There was something congenial in the Romans,
and, indeed, in the Italians generally, so that I seemed to be
renewing my acquaintance with people whom I had partly forgotten. I
picked up the conversational language with unusual ease, perhaps owing
to the drilling in Latin which my father had given me; and I liked the
easy, objectless ways of the people, and the smiles which so readily
took the place of the sallow gravity which their faces wore in repose.
But it was the Transteverini women who chiefly attracted me; they wore
an antique costume familiar enough in paintings, and they claimed to
be descendants of the ancient race; they had the noble features and
bearing which one would have looked for in such descendants, at all
events.  Looking in their dark, haughty eyes, one seemed to pass back
through the terrible picturesqueness of mediaeval Italy, with its
Borgias and Bella Donnas, its Lorenzos and Fornarinas, to the Rome of
Nero, Augustus, Scipio, and Tarquin. Eddy and I would sometimes make
excursions across the river to Transtevere, and stroll up and down
those narrow streets, imagining all manner of suitable adventures and
histories for the inhabitants, stalking there in their black and
scarlet and yellow habiliments, and glancing imperially from under the
black brows of their dark countenances. One afternoon during the
carnival I was in a dense crowd in the piazza, towards the lower end
of the Corso, and found myself pushed into the neighborhood of a
singularly beautiful young woman of this class, dressed in the height
of her fashion, who was slowly making her way in my direction through
the press. All at once a man, smartly clad in the garb of recent
civilization, stepped in front of her and said something to her; what
it was I knew not. She drew herself back, as from something poisonous
or revolting, and the expression of her face became terrible. At the
same time her right hand went swiftly to the masses of her sable hair,
and as swiftly back again, armed with the small, narrow dagger which
these women wear by way of hair-pin. Before the unhappy creature who
had accosted her knew what was happening, she thrust the dagger, with
a powerful movement--while her white teeth showed, set edge to edge,
through her drawn lips--deep into his body. As he collapsed forward
she drew the weapon upward, putting the whole strength of her body
into the effort, and actually ripped the man open.  Down he fell at
her feet. There was a score or more of Roman citizens within
arm's-reach of her at the moment; no one spoke, still less attempted
to restrain her. On the contrary, as she turned they respectfully
opened a way for her through the midst of them, and none made an offer
to assist the dying wretch who lay writhing and faintly coughing on
the cobble-stone pavement of the piazza. I was soon elbowed quietly
away from the spot where he lay; I caught a glimpse of the crimson
head-dress of his slayer passing away afar amid the crowd; presently
the cocked hat of a gendarme appeared from another direction,
advancing slowly against manifest obstructions; everybody seemed to
get in his way, without appearing to intend it. Such was the attitude
towards assassination of the Roman people in those days. I have often
thought over the incident since then. Their sympathy is with private
vengeance, never with ordained statute law. They love to use the
poniard and to see it used, and will do their best to shield the
users. Pity for the victim they have none; they assume that he has his
deserts. For that matter, my own sympathies, filled though I was with
horror at the spectacle of actual murder done before my eyes, were
wholly with the savage beauty, and not with the fatuous creature who
had probably insulted her. It is needless to say that the women of
Transtevere were not so often called upon to resent insults as are the
ladies of New York and other American cities. They did not wait for
policemen or for "leagues of chivalry" to avenge them.

Towards the French soldiers I was cordially disposed.  Their dark-blue
tunics and baggy, red peg-tops were never out of sight, and though I
had seen troops in England, and had once observed the march of a
British regiment in Liverpool going to embark for the Crimea (whence,
I believe, very few of this particular regiment returned), yet the
conception of a resident army first came to me in Rome.  About the
French army of those days still hovered the lustre bestowed upon it by
the deeds of the great Napoleon, which their recent exploits in the
Crimea had not diminished. There were among them regiments of fierce
and romantic looking zouaves, with Oriental complexions and
semi-barbaric attire, marching with a long swing, and appearing savage
and impetuous enough to annihilate anything; and there was also a
brigade, the special designation of which I have forgotten, every man
of which was a trained athlete, and whose drill was something
marvellous to witness. But the average French soldier was simply a
first-class soldier, good-natured, light-hearted, active, trim, and
efficient; in height averaging not more than five foot six; carrying
muskets which seemed out of proportion large, though they handled them
lightly enough, and wearing at their sides a short sword, like the
sword of ancient Rome, which was also used as a bayonet. There was
always a drill or a march in progress somewhere, and sentinels paced
up and down before the palaces. The officers were immensely
impressive; the young ones had wasp waists, surpassing those of the
most remorseless belles of fashion; and the old ones were, en
revanche, immensely stout in that region, as if outraged nature were
resolved to assert herself at last. But, young or old, their swords
were sun-bright and lovely to behold--I used to polish my own little
weapon in vain in the attempt to emulate them.  Hopelessly envious was
I, too, of the heroic chests of these warriors (not knowing them to be
padded, as the waists were corseted), and I would swell out my own
little pectoral region to its utmost extent as I walked along the
streets, thereby, though I knew it not, greatly benefiting my physical
organism.  Of course I had no personal commerce with the officers, but
the rank and file fraternized with me and my companions readily; there
was always a number of them strolling about Rome and its environs on
leave, in pairs or groups, and they were just as much boys as we were.
They would let me heft their short, strong swords, and when they
understood that I was gathering shells they would climb lightly about
the ruins, and bring me specimens displayed in their broad, open
palms. Our conversation was restricted to few words and many grunts
and gestures, but we understood one another and were on terms of gay
camaraderie. A dozen years afterwards, when there was war between
France and Germany, my sympathies were ardently with the former, and
great were my astonishment and regret at the issue of the conflict.
Man for man, and rightly led and managed, I still believe that Gaul
could wipe up the ground with the Teuton, without half trying. But
there were other forces than those of Moltke and Bismarck fighting
against poor France in that fatal campaign.  She was wounded in the
house of her friends.




XVII


Miss Lander makes a bust--The twang of his native place--Wholly unlike
anybody else--Wise, humorous Sarah Clarke--Back to the Gods and the
Fleas--Horace Mann's statue--Miss Bremer and the Tarpeian Rock--"I was
in a state of some little tremor"--Mrs. Jameson and Ruskin--Most
thorough-going of the classic tragedies--A well-grown calf--An
adventure in Monte Testaccio--A vision of death--A fantastic and
saturnine genius--A pitch-black place--Illuminations and
fireworks--The Faun-Enjoying Rome--First impressions--Lalla's curses.

While my father was conscientiously making acquaintance with the
achievements of old-time art, modern artists were trying to practise
their skill on him; he had already sat to Cephas Giovanni Thompson,
and he was now asked to contribute his head to the studio of a certain
Miss Lander, late of Salem, Massachusetts, now settled, as she
intended, permanently in Rome. "When I dream of home," she told him,
"it is merely of paying a short visit and coming back here before my
trunk is unpacked." Miss Lander was not a painter, but a sculptor,
and, in spite of what my father had said against the nude in
sculpture, I think he liked clay and marble as a vehicle of art better
than paint and canvas. At all events, he consented to give her
sittings. He was interested in the independence of her mode of life,
and they got on very comfortably together; the results of his
observation of her appear in the references to Hilda's and Miriam's
unhampered ways of life in The Marble Faun. She had, as I recall her,
a narrow, sallow face, sharp eyes, and a long chin. She might have
been thirty years old. Unlike Miss Harriet Hosmer, who lived not far
away, Miss Lander had no attractiveness for us children. I have reason
to think, too, that my father's final opinion of her was not so
favorable as his first one. Except photographs, no really good
likeness of my father was ever taken; the portrait painted in
Washington, in 1862, by Leutze, was the least successful of them all.
The best, in my opinion, was an exquisitely wrought miniature of him
at the age of thirty, which I kept for a long time, till it was stolen
by a friend in London in 1880.

Paul Akers, a Maine Yankee, with the twang of his native place still
strong in him after ten years in Rome, was another sculptor of our
acquaintance; he was very voluble, and escorted us about Rome, and
entertained us at his own studio, where he was modelling his best
group, "The Drowned Fisher-boy," as he called it. The figure is
supposed to be lying at the bottom of the sea, face upward, with a
fragment of rock supporting on its sharp ridge the small of the
back--a most painful and uncomfortable attitude, suggesting that even
in death there could be no rest for the poor youth. Mr. Akers was
rather sharply critical of his more famous brother-artists, such as
Greenough and Gibson, and was accused by them, apparently not wholly
without justification, of yielding too much to the influence of other
geniuses in the designing of his groups.  But he was a sensible and
obliging little personage, and introduced us to the studios of several
of his fellow-artists in Rome, some of which were more interesting
than his own.

Bright little Miss Harriet Hosmer, with her hands in her
jacket-pockets, and her short hair curling up round her velvet cap,
struts cheerfully forth out of the obscurity of the past in my memory;
her studio, I think, adjoined that of Gibson, of whom I remember
nothing whatever. Her most notable production at that time was a Puck
sitting on a toadstool, with a conical shell of the limpet species by
way of a cap; he somehow resembled his animated and clever creator.
Miss Hosmer's face, expressions, gestures, dress, and her
manifestations in general were perfectly in keeping with one another;
there never was a more succinct and distinct individuality; she was
wholly unlike anybody else, without being in the least unnatural or
affected.  Her social manner was of a persistent jollity; but no doubt
she had her grave moments or hours, a good and strong brain, and a
susceptibility to tragic conceptions, as is shown by the noble figure
of her Zenobia. This figure I saw in clay in her studio during our
second season in Rome. Miss Hosmer's talk was quick, witty, and
pointed; her big eyes redeemed her round, small-featured face from
triviality; her warm heart glowed through all she said and did. Her
studio was a contrast to the classicality of Gibson's, whose
influence, though she had studied under him during her six years'
residence in Rome, had affected her technique only, not her
conceptions or aims in art. We all liked her much.  She was made known
to us, I believe, through the medium of grave, wise, humorous Sarah
Clarke, the sister of the James Freeman Clarke who married my mother
to my father, and who, twenty-two years later, read over my father the
burial service. Sarah Clarke was often abroad; she was herself an
admirable artist in water-color, and was always a dear friend of my
mother's. After we had returned to Concord, in 1860, Miss Hosmer wrote
to us, and one of her letters has been preserved; I quote it, because
it is like her:

"MY DEAR MRS. HAWTHORNE,--It is not unlikely that you may be somewhat
surprised to hear from me; but after you have received the four dozen
letters which, sooner or later, I intend writing you, you will cease
to be so. I begin at the present moment with the first of the
forty-eight, partly for business and partly for pleasure. Reversing,
then, the order of things which some unknown but well-regulated-minded
individual considered to be correct, I will go in for pleasure first,
under which head I seek information respecting the health and
well-being of all members of your family. It seems cruel that you
should go off to the glorious Republic when there are other places in
Rome besides the Piazza Poli. Now that you are safely out of it, I
must try to persuade you that it was the most unhealthy place in the
whole city, not only because I really believe it to be so, but that
malaria may not be mingled and cherished with every remembrance of
this delicious, artistic, fleay, malarious paradise. But I suppose
little short of a miracle would transport you here again, not only
because Una is probably becoming the size of Daniel Lambert, in her
native air, but because Julian is probably weaving a future
President's chair out of the rattans he is getting at school. However
that may be, the result is the same, I fear, as to your getting back
to the Gods and the Fleas; and I must look forward to a meeting in
America. Well, as that carries me over the ocean, in my mind's eye,
Mrs.  Hawthorne, the business clause of my epistle is suggested--and
it is this: I have just had a letter from my best of friends, Mr.
Crow, of St. Louis [she had studied anatomy in St. Louis before coming
to Rome], who has been passing the summer in New York and Boston, and
he writes: 'They are talking in Boston of a monument to the memory of
Mr. Horace Mann, and I have said to one of the active men engaged in
it that if you could have the commission I would subscribe handsomely
towards it.' Now, it occurred to me that perhaps you or yours might
have an opportunity of saying a good word for me, in which case I
would have you know how pleased and grateful I should be. You may not
have the occasion offered you, but if it chances, I commend myself to
you distintamente, and trust to your good-nature not to consider me
pushing for having suggested it. I send this through our well-beloved
Sarah Clarke, and hope it will arrive before 1861. When you have
nothing better to do, pray give me a line, always in care of Pakenham
& Hooker. Good-bye, dear Mrs.  Hawthorne--my best love to Mr.
Hawthorne and the chicks--and the best wish I can make is that you are
all as fat as yours always affectionately,

"HARRIET HOSMER."

All the influence which my father and mother possessed was given to
Miss Hosmer's cause, but some other person got the commission. I
remember, too, that my mother, at Mrs. Mann's request, was at great
pains to make drawings for the face of the statue which now confronts
from the slopes of Beacon Hill the culture and intelligence of Boston,
which Horace Mann did so much to promote. But he was not a subject
which accommodated itself readily to the requirements of plastic art.
There is a glimpse of Miss Hosmer in one of my father's diaries, which
I will reproduce, for the sake of indicating his amused and benevolent
attitude towards her. "She had on," says he, "a neat little jacket, a
man's shirt-bosom, and a cravat with a brooch in it; her hair is cut
short, and curls jauntily round her bright and smart little
physiognomy; and, sitting opposite me at table, I never should have
imagined that she terminated in a petticoat any more than in a fish's
tail. However, I do not mean to speak disrespectfully of Miss Hosmer,
of whom I think very favorably; but, it seems to me, her reform of the
female dress begins with its least objectionable part, and is no real
improvement."

One evening we visited Miss Bremer, the novelist, of Sweden, who was
then near the end of her foreign travels, which had begun with her
visit to America in 1849. She had met my father in Lenox, and had
written of him in the book of her travels. She was a small woman, with
a big heart and broad mind, packed full of sense, sentiment, and
philanthropy.  She had an immense nose, designed, evidently, for some
much larger person; her conversation in English, though probably
correct, was so oddly accented that it was difficult to follow her.
She was a very lovable little creature, then nearing her sixtieth
year. Most of her voluminous literary work was done. Her house in Rome
was near the Capitol and the Tarpeian Rock; and after we had
forgathered with her there for a while, she accompanied us forth--the
moon being up--to see the famous precipice. It was to this incident
that we owe the scene in The Marble Faun, the most visibly tragic in
my father's writings. "The court-yard," he writes in his notes, "is
bordered by a parapet, leaning over which we saw a sheer precipice of
the Tarpeian Rock, about the height of a four-story house; not that
the precipice was a bare face of rock, but it appeared to be cased in
some sort of cement, or ancient stone-work, through which the primeval
rock, here and there, looked grimly and doubtfully. Bright as the
Roman moonlight was, it would not show the front of the wall, or rock,
so well as I should have liked to see it, but left it pretty much in
the same degree of dubiety and half-knowledge in which the
antiquarians leave most of the Roman ruins. Perhaps this precipice may
have been the Traitor's Leap; perhaps it was the one on which Miss
Bremer's garden verges; perhaps neither of the two. At any rate, it
was a good idea of the stern old Romans to fling political criminals
down from the very height of the Capitoline Hill on which stood the
temples and public edifices, symbols of the institutions which they
sought to violate." But there was no tragic suggestion in our little
party, conducted about by the prattling, simple, affectionate little
woman, so homely, tender, and charitable. "At parting," wrote my
father, "she kissed my wife most affectionately on each cheek,
'because,' she said, 'you look so sweetly'; and then she turned
towards myself. I was in a state of some little tremor, not knowing
what might be about to befall me, but she merely pressed my hand, and
we parted, probably never to meet again. God bless her good heart, and
every inch of her little body, not forgetting her red nose, big as it
is in proportion to the rest of her! She is a most amiable little
woman, worthy to be the maiden aunt of the whole human race!"

Venerable Mrs. Jameson, author of a little library of writings on
Italian art, was likewise of our company occasionally; and she evinced
a marked liking for my father, which was remarkable, inasmuch as he
was able to keep no sort of pace with her in her didactic homilies,
which were delivered with a tranquil, ex-cathedra manner, befitting
one who was the authority on her subject; one would no more have
thought of questioning her verdicts than those of Ruskin; but I should
have liked to see the latter and her together, with a difference
between them.  Her legs were less active than her mind, and most of
our expeditions with her were made in carriages, from which she
dispensed her wisdom placidly as we went along, laying the dust of our
ignorance with the droppings of her erudition, like a watering-cart.
However, she so far condescended from her altitudes as to speak very
cordially of my father's books, for which he expressed proper
acknowledgment; and she had a motherly way of holding his hand in hers
when he took leave of her, and looking maternally in his face, which
made him somewhat uneasy. "Were we to meet often," he remarked,

"I should be a little afraid of her embracing me outright--a thing to
be grateful for, but by no means to be glad of!" We drove one day to
some excavations which had just been opened near the tomb of Cecilia
Metella, outside the walls of Rome. Both Christian and Roman graves
had been found, and they had been so recently discovered that, as my
father observed, there could have been very little intervention of
persons (though much of time) between the departure of the friends of
the dead and our own visit. The large, excavated chambers were filled
with sarcophagi, beautifully sculptured, and their walls were
ornamented with free-hand decoration done in wet plaster, a marvellous
testimony to the rapid skill of the artists. The sarcophagi were
filled with the bones and the dust of the ancient people who had once,
in the imperial prime of Rome, walked about her streets, prayed to her
gods, and feasted at her banquets. My father remarked on the fact that
many of the sarcophagi were sculptured with figures that seemed
anything but mournful in their demeanor; but Mrs. Jameson said that
there was almost always, in the subject chosen, some allusion to
death, instancing the story of Meleager, an Argonaut, who, I think,
slew the Calydonian boar, and afterwards his two uncles, who had tried
to get the boar's hide away from Meleager's beloved Atalanta;
whereupon the young hero was brought to death by his mother, who in
turn killed herself. It is one of the most thoroughgoing of the
classic tragedies, and was a favorite theme for the sculptors of
sarcophagi. Certainly, in the sarcophagi of the Vatican the
bas-reliefs are often scenes of battle, the rush of men and horses,
and the ground strewn with dead; and in others, a dying person seems
to be represented, with his friends weeping along the sides of the
sarcophagus; but often, too, the allusion to death, if it exists at
all, is very remote. The old Romans, like ourselves, had individual
ways of regarding the great change; according to their mood and faith,
they were hopeful or despairing. But death is death, think of it how
we will.

I think it was on a previous occasion that I went with my father,
afoot, along this same mighty Appian Way, beside which rise so many
rounded structures, vast as fortresses, containing the remains of the
dead of long ago, and culminating in the huge mass of the Cecilia
Metella tomb, with the mediseval battlements on its summit. And it was
on that walk that we met the calf of The Marble Faun: "A well-grown
calf," my father says in his notes, "who seemed frolicsome, shy, and
sociable all at the same time; for he capered and leaped to one side,
and shook his head, as I passed him, but soon came galloping behind
me, and again started aside when I looked round." How little I
suspected then (or the bull-calf either, for that matter) that he was
to frolic his way into literature, and go gambolling down the ages to
distract the anxious soul of the lover of Hilda! Another walk of ours
was to the huge, green mound of the Monte Testaccio; it was, at that
period, pierced by numerous cavities, in the dark coolness of which
stores of native wines were kept; and they were sold to customers at
the rude wooden tables in front of the excavations, in flasks shaped
like large drops of water, protected with plaited straw. When,
nowadays, in New York or other cities here, I go to an Italian
restaurant, I always call for one of these flasks, and think, as I
drink its contents, of that afternoon with my father. It was the first
time I had been permitted to taste a fermented liquor. I liked it very
much, and got two glasses of it; and when we rose to depart I was
greatly perplexed, and my father was vastly tickled, to discover a
lack of coherence between my legs and my intentions. It speedily
passed off, for the wines are of the lightest and airiest description;
but when, a little later on in life, I came to read that Horatian
verse describing how, turning from barbaric splendors such as the
Persians affect, he binds his brows with simple myrtle, and sips,
beneath the shadow of his garden bower, the pure vintage of the native
grape, I better appreciated the poetry of the theme from having
enjoyed that Testaccionesque experience.

It was in Rome, too, that I first came in contact with death. It
aroused my liveliest curiosity, but, as I remember, no alarm; partly,
I suspect, because I was unable to believe that there was anything
real in the spectacle. The scene has been woven into the texture of
the Italian romance; it is there described almost as it actually
presented itself to the author's observation. A dead monk of the
Capuchin order lay on a bier in the nave of their church, and while we
looked at him a stream of blood flowed from his nostrils. We went down
afterwards, I recollect, into the vaults, and saw the fine, Oriental
loam in which the body was to lie; and it seems to me there were
arches and other architectural features composed of skulls and bones
of long-dead brothers of the order. He must have been a fantastic and
saturnine genius who first suggested this idea.

Another subterranean expedition of ours was to the Catacombs, the
midnight passages of which seemed to be made of bones, and niches
containing the dust of unknown mortality, which were duskily revealed
in the glimmer of our moccoli as we passed along in single file.
Sometimes we came to chambers, one of which had in it a bier covered
with glass, in which was a body which still preserved some semblance
of the human form. There were occasional openings in the vaulted roof
of the corridors, but for the most part the darkness was Egyptian, and
for a few moments a thrill of anxiety was caused by the disappearance
either of my sister Una or of Ada Shepard; I forget which.  They were
soon found, but the guide read us a homily upon the awful peril of
lifelong entombment which encompassed us. But the air was dry and
cool, and the whole adventure, from my point of view, enjoyable.

Again, we went down a long flight of steps somewhere near the Forum,
till we reached a pitch-black place, where we waited till a guide came
up from still lower depths, down into which we followed him--each with
a moccolo--till we felt level earth or stone beneath our feet, and
stood in what I suppose is as lightless a hole as can exist in nature.
It was wet, too, and the smell of it was deadly and dismal. This,
however, was the prison in which the old Romans used to confine
important prisoners, such as Jugurtha and the Apostle Peter; and here
they were strangled to death or left to starve. It was the Mamertine
Prison. I did not like it. I also recall the opening of an oubliette
in the castle of San Angelo, which affected me like a nightmare.
Before leaving Concord, in 1853, I had once tumbled through a rotten
board into a well, dug by the side of the road ages before, and had
barely saved myself from dropping to the bottom, sixty feet below, by
grabbing the weeds which grew on the margin of the hole. I was not
much scared at the moment; but the next day, taking my father to the
scene of the accident, he remarked that had I fallen in I never could
have got out again; upon which I conceived a horror of the well which
haunts me in my dreams even to this day. Only a tuft of grass between
me and such a fate! I was, therefore, far from comfortable beside the
oubliette, and was glad to emerge again into the Roman sunshine.

One night we climbed the Pincian Hill, and saw, far out across Rome,
the outlines of St. Peter's dome in silver light. While we were
thinking that nothing could be more beautiful, all of a sudden the
delicate silver bloomed out into a golden glory, which made everybody
say, "Oh!" Was it more beautiful or not? Theoretically, I prefer the
silver illumination; but, as a matter of fact, I must confess that I
liked the golden illumination better. We were told that the wonder was
performed by convicts, who lay along the dome and applied their
matches to the lamps at the word of command, and that, inasmuch as the
service was apt to prove fatal to the operators, these convicts were
allowed certain alleviations of their condition for doing it. I
suppose it is done by electricity now, and the convicts neither are
killed nor obtain any concessions. Such are the helps and hindrances
of civilization!

Shortly after this, on a cool and cloudy night, I was down in the
Piazza, del Popolo and saw the fireworks, the only other pyrotechnic
exhibition I had witnessed having been a private one in Rock Park,
which, I think, I have described. This Roman one was very different,
and I do not believe I have ever since seen another so fine. The whole
front of the Pincian was covered with fiery designs, and in the air
overhead wonderful fiery serpents and other devices skimmed, arched,
wriggled, shot aloft, and detonated.  A boy accepts appearances as
realities; and these fireworks doubtless enlarged my conceptions of
the possibilities of nature, and substantiated the fables of the
enchanters.

[IMAGE: THE MARBLE FAUN]

The Faun of Praxiteles, as the world knows, attracted my father,
though he could not have visited it often; for both in his notes and
in his romance he makes the same mistake as to the pose of the figure:
"He has a pipe," he says in the former, "or some such instrument of
music in the hand which rests upon the tree, and the other, I think,
hangs carelessly by his side." Of course, the left arm, the one
referred to, is held akimbo on his left hip. That my father's eyes
were, however, already awake to the literary and moral possibilities
of the Faun is shown by his further observations, which are much the
same as those which appear in the book. "The whole person," he says,
"conveys the idea of an amiable and sensual nature, easy, mirthful,
apt for jollity, yet not incapable of being touched by pathos. The
Faun has no principle, nor could comprehend it, yet is true and honest
by virtue of his simplicity; very capable, too, of affection. He might
be refined through his feelings, so that the coarser, animal part of
his nature would be thrown into the background, though liable to
assert itself at any time. Praxiteles has only expressed the animal
part of the nature by one (or, rather, two) definite signs--the two
ears, which go up in a little peak, not likely to be discovered on
slight inspection, and, I suppose, they are covered with downy fur. A
tail is probably hidden under the garment.  Only a sculptor of the
finest imagination, most delicate taste, and sweetest feeling would
have dreamed of representing a faun under this guise; and, if you
brood over it long enough, all the pleasantness of sylvan life, and
all the genial and happy characteristics of the brute creation, seem
to be mixed in him with humanity--trees, grass, flowers, cattle, deer,
and unsophisticated man." This passage shows how much my father was
wont to trust to first impressions, and even more on the moral than on
the material side. He recognized a truth in the first touch--the first
thought--which he was wary of meddling with afterwards, contenting
himself with slightly developing it now and then, and smoothing a
little the form and manner of its presentation.  The finest art is
nearest to the most veritable nature--to such as have the eye to see
the latter aright.  Rome, like other ancient cities which have fallen
from the positive activity of their original estate, has one great
advantage over other places which one wishes to see (like London, for
instance), that the whole business of whoever goes there, who has any
business whatever, is to see it; and when the duty-sights have been
duly done, the sight-seer then first begins to live his true life in
independence and happiness, going where he lists, staying no longer
than he pleases, and never knowing, when he sallies forth in the
morning, what, or how many, or how few things he will have
accomplished by nightfall.

The duty to see is indeed the death of real vision; the official
cicerone leads you anywhere but to the place or thing that you are in
the mood to behold or understand. But with his disappearance the fun
and the pageant begin; one's eyes are at last opened, and beauty and
significance flow in through every pore of the senses. It is in this
better phase of his Roman sojourn that I picture my father; he trudges
tranquilly and happily to and fro, with no programme and no
obligations, absorbing all things with that quiet, omnivorous glance
of his; pausing whenever he takes the fancy, and contemplating for
moments or minutes whatever strikes his fancy; often turning aside
from egregious spectacles and giving his attention to apparent
trifles, to the mere passing show; pondering on the tuft of flowers in
a cranny of the Coliseum wall, on the azure silhouette of the Alban
Mountains, on the moss collected on the pavement beneath the aperture
in the roof of the Pantheon, on the picturesque deformity of old,
begging Beppo on the steps of the Piazza, d' Espagna.  I am trudging
joyously beside him, hanging on to his left hand (the other being
occupied with his hook-headed cane), asking him innumerable questions,
to which he comfortably, or abstractedly, or with humorous impatience,
replies; or I run on before him, or lag behind, busy with my endless
occupation of picking up things to me curious and valuable, and
filling with them my much-enduring pockets; in this way drinking in
Rome in my own way, also, and to my boyish advantage. He tells me
tales of old Rome, always apposite to the occasion; draws from me,
sometimes, my private views as to persons, places, and scenes, and
criticises those views in his own terse, arch, pregnant way, the force
and pertinency whereof are revealed to me only in my later meditations
upon them. It is only after one has begun to deal in this way with
Rome that its magic and spell begin to work upon one; and they are
never to be shaken off. Anxiety and pain may be mingled with them, as
was the case with my father before we said our final farewell to the
mighty city; but it is thereby only the more endeared to one. Rome is
one of the few central facts of the world, because it is so much more
than a fact.  Byron is right--it is the city of the soul.

On one of the last evenings of our first season we went to the
Thompsons', and were there shown, among other things, a portfolio of
sketches. There is in The Marble Faun a chapter called "Miriam's
Studio," in which occurs a reference to a portfolio of sketches by
Miriam herself; the hint for it may have been taken from the portfolio
of Mr. Thompson, though the sketches themselves were of a very
different quality and character. The latter collection pleased me,
because I was just beginning to fill an album of my own with such
lopsided attempts to represent real objects, and yet more preposterous
imaginative sallies as my age and nature suggested.  My father was
interested in them on account of the spiritual vigor which belongs to
the artist's first vision of his subject. In their case, as well as in
his own, he felt that it was impossible, as Browning put it, to
"recapture that first, fine, careless rapture." But the man of letters
has an advantage over the man of paint and canvas in the matter of
being able to preserve the original spirit in the later, finished
design.

Towards the close of this first season in Rome the Bryants came to
town, and the old poet, old in aspect even then, called on us; but he
was not a childly man, and we youngsters stood aloof and contemplated
with awe his white, Merlin beard and tranquil but chilly eyes. Near
the end of May William Story invited us to breakfast with him; the
Bryants and Miss Hosmer and some English people were there; and I
understood nothing of what passed except the breakfast, which was
good, until, at the end of the session, my father and Story began to
talk about the superstition as to Friday, and they agreed that, of
course, it was nonsense, but that, nevertheless, it did have an
influence on both of them. It probably has an influence on everybody
who has ever heard of it. Many of us protest indignantly that we don't
believe in it, but the protest itself implies something not unlike
believing.

Finally, on the 24th of May, we left our Pincian palace, and got into
and on the huge _vettura_ which was to carry us to Florence, a week's
journey. It was to be one of the most delightful and blessed of our
foreign experiences; my father often said that he had enjoyed nothing
else so much, the vetturino (who happened to be one of the honestest
and sweetest-tempered old fellows in Italy) taking upon himself the
entire management of everything, down to ordering the meals and paying
the tolls, thus leaving us wholly unembarrassed and free from
responsibility while traversing a route always historically and
generally scenically charming. But we were destined, on the threshold
of the adventure, to undergo one of those evil quarters of an hour
which often usher in a period of special sunshine; for we were forced
into a desperate conflict with our servant-girl, Lalla, and her mother
over a question of wages. The girl had done chores for us during our
residence at the Palazzo Larazani, and had seemed to be a very amiable
little personage; she was small, slim, and smiling, and, though dirty
and inefficient, was no worse, so far as we could discover, than any
other Roman servant-girl. When we had fixed on the date of our
departure, Lalla had been asked how much warning she wanted; she
replied, a fortnight; which, accordingly, was given her, with a few
days thrown in for good measure. But when the day arrived she claimed
a week's more pay, and her old mother had a bill of her own for
fetching water.  According to my observation, travelling Americans
have little or no conscience; to avoid trouble they will submit to
imposition, not to mention their habit of spoiling tradesmen, waiters,
and other foreign attendants by excessive tips and payments.  But my
father and mother, though apt enough to make liberal bargains, were
absolutely incorruptible and immovable when anything like barefaced
robbery was attempted upon them; and they refused to present Lalla and
her mother with a single baioccho more than was their due. Moreover,
the patrone, or proprietor, of the Palazzo had mulcted them some six
scudi for Lalla's profuse breakages of glass and crockery during our
stay.

It was early morning when we set out, and only the faithful Thompsons
were there to bid us farewell.  Lalla and her tribe, however, were on
hand, and violently demanded the satisfaction of their iniquitous
claims. "No!" said my father, and "No!" said my mother, like the
judges of the Medes and Persians. Thereupon the whole House of Lalla,
but Lalla and her mother especially, gave us an example of what an
Italian can do in the way of cursing an enemy. Ancient forms of
malediction, which had been current in the days of the early Roman
kings, were mingled with every damning invention that had been devised
during the Middle Ages, and ever since then; and they were all hurled
at us in shrill, screaming tones, accompanied by fell and ominous
gestures and inarticulate yells of superheated frenzy. Nothing could
surpass the volubility of this cursing, unless it were the animosity
which prompted it; no crime that anybody, since Cain slew Abel, had or
could have committed deserved a tenth part of the calamities and evil
haps which this preposterous family called down upon our heads, who
had committed no crime at all, but quite the contrary. When, in
after-years, I heard Booth, as Richelieu, threaten "the curse of Rome"
upon his opponents, I shuddered, wondering whether he had any notion
what the threat meant.  Through it all my mother's ordinarily lovely
and peaceful countenance expressed a sad but unalterable
determination; and my father kept smiling in a certain dangerous way
that he sometimes had in moments of great peril or stress, but said
nothing; while Mr. Thompson indignantly called upon the cursers to
cease and to beware, and my dear friend Eddy looked distressed to the
verge of tears. He squeezed my hand as I got into the _vettura_, and
told me not to mind--the Lalla people were wicked, and their
ill-wishes would return upon their own heads.  A handful of ten-cent
pieces, or their Roman equivalent, would have stopped the whole outcry
and changed it into blessings; but I think my father would not have
yielded had the salvation of Rome and of all Italy depended upon it.
His eyes gleamed, as I have seen them do on one or two other occasions
only, as we drove away, with the screams pursuing us, and that smile
still hovered about his mouth. But we drove on; Gaetano cracked his
long whip, our four steeds picked up their feet and rattled our
vehicle over the Roman cobble-stones; we passed the Porta del Popolo,
and were stretching along, under the summer sunshine, upon the white
road that led to Florence. It was a divine morning; the turmoil and
the strife were soon forgotten, and for a week thenceforward there was
only unalloyed felicity before us. Poor, evil-invoking Lalla had
passed forever out of our sphere.




XVIII


In Othello's predicament--Gaetano--Crystals and snail-shells--Broad,
flagstone pavements--Fishing-rods and blow-pipes--Ghostly
yarns--Conservative effects of genius--An ideal bust and a living
one--The enigma of spiritualism--A difficult combination to
overthrow--The dream-child and the Philistine--Dashing and plunging
this way and that--Teresa screamed for mercy--Grapes and figs and
ghostly voices--My father would have settled there--Kirkup the
necromancer--A miraculous birth--A four-year-old medium--The
mysterious touch--An indescribable horror--Not even a bone of her was
left--Providence takes very long views.

The railroad which now unites Rome with Florence defrauds travellers
of some of the most agreeable scenery in Italy, and one of the most
time-honored experiences; and as for the beggars who infested the
route, they must long since have perished of inanition--not that they
needed what travellers gave them in the way of alms, but that, like
Othello, their occupation being gone, they must cease to exist.  Never
again could they look forward to pestering a tourist; never exhibit a
withered arm or an artistic ulcer; never mutter anathemas against the
obdurate, or call down blessings upon the profuse.  What was left them
in life? And what has become of the wayside inns, and what of the
vetturinos? A man like Gaetano, by himself, was enough to modify
radically one's conception of the possibilities of the Italian
character. In appearance he was a strong-bodied Yankee farmer, with
the sun-burned, homely, kindly, shrewd visage, the blue jumper, the
slow, canny ways, the silent perception and enjoyment of humorous
things, the infrequent but timely speech. It was astonishing to hear
him speaking Italian out of a mouth which seemed formed only to emit a
Down-East drawl and to chew tobacco.  In disposition and character
this son of old Rome was, so far as we, during our week of constant
and intimate association with him, could judge, absolutely without
fault; he was mild, incorruptible, and placid, as careful of us as a
father of his children, and he grew as fond of us as we were of him,
so that the final parting, after the journey was done, was really a
moving scene. I have found the tribe of cabbies, in all countries, to
be, as a rule, somewhat cantankerous and sinister; but Gaetano
compensated for all his horse-driving brethren. To be sure, _vettura_
driving is not like cabbing, and Gaetano was in the habit of getting
out often and walking up the hills, thus exercising his liver. But he
must have been born with a strong predisposition to goodness, which he
never outgrew.

Save for a few showers, it was fine weather all the way, and a good
part of the way was covered on foot by my father and me; for the hills
were many, and the winding ascents long, and we would alight and leave
the slow-moving vehicle, with its ponderous freight, behind us, to be
overtaken perhaps an hour or two later on the levels or declivities.
Gaetano was a consummate whip, and he carried his team down the
descents and round the exciting turns at a thrilling pace, while the
yards of whiplash cracked and detonated overhead like a liliputian
thunder-storm. On the mountain-tops were romantic villages,
surrounding rock-built castles which had been robber strongholds
centuries before, and we traversed peaceful plains which had been the
scenes of famous Roman battles, and whose brooks had run red with
blood before England's history began. We paused a day in Perugia, and
received the Bronze Pontiff's benediction; the silent voices of
history were everywhere speaking to the spiritual ear. Meanwhile I
regarded the trip as being, primarily, an opportunity to collect
unusual snail-shells; and we passed through a region full of natural
crystals, some of them of such size as to prompt my father to forbid
their being added to our luggage. I could not understand his
insensibility.  Could I have had my way, I would have loaded a wain
with them. I liked the villages and castles, too, and the good dinners
at the inns, and the sound sleeps in mediaeval beds at night; but the
crystals and the snail-shells were the true aim and sustenance of my
life. My mother and sister sketched continually, and Miss Shepard was
always ready to tell us the story of the historical features which we
encountered; it astounded me to note how much she knew about things
which she had never before seen.  One afternoon we drove down from
surrounding heights to Florence, which lay in a golden haze
characteristic of Italian Junes in this latitude. Powers, the
sculptor, had promised to engage lodgings for us, but he had not
expected us so soon, and meanwhile we put up at a hotel near by, and
walked out a little in the long evening, admiring the broad, flagstone
pavements and all the minor features which made Florence so unlike
Rome. The next day began our acquaintance with the Powers family, who,
with the Brownings, constituted most of the social element of our
sojourn.  Powers had an agreeable wife, two lovely daughters, and a
tall son, a few years older than I, and a pleasant companion, though
he could not take the place of Eddy Thompson in my heart. He was
clever with his hands, and soon began to make fishing-rods for me,
having learned of my predilection for the sport. There were no
opportunities to fish in Florence; but the rods which Bob Powers
produced were works of art, straight and tapering, and made in
lengths, which fitted into one another--a refinement which was new to
me, who had hitherto imagined nothing better than a bamboo pole. Bob
finally confided to me that he straightened his rods by softening the
wood in steam; but I found that they did not long retain their
straightness; and, there being no use for them, except the delight of
the eye, I presently lost interest in them. Then Bob showed me how to
make blow-pipes by pushing out the pith from the stems of some species
of bushy shrub that grew outside the walls. He made pellets of clay
from his father's studio; and I was deeply affected by the long range
and accuracy of these weapons. We used to ensconce ourselves behind
the blinds of the front windows of Powers's house, and practise
through the slats at the passers-by in the street. They would feel a
smart hit and look here and there, indignant; but, after a while,
seeing nothing but the innocent fronts of sleepy houses, would resume
their way. Bob inherited his handiness from his father, who seemed a
master of all crafts, a true Yankee genius. He might have made his
fortune as an inventor had he not happened to turn the main stream of
his energy in the direction of sculpture. I believe that the literary
art was the only one in which he did not claim proficiency, and that
was a pity, because Powers's autobiography would have been a book of
books. He was a Swedenborgian by faith, but he also dabbled somewhat
in spiritualism, which was having a vogue at that time, owing partly
to the exploits of the American medium Home. Marvellous, indeed, were
the ghostly yarns Powers used to spin, and they lost nothing by the
physical appearance of the narrator, with his tall figure, square
brow, great, black eyes, and impressive gestures; his voice, too, was
deep and flexible, and could sink into the most blood-curdling tones.
My recollection is that Powers was always clad in a long, linen
pinafore, reaching from his chin to his feet, and daubed with clay,
and on his head a cap made either of paper, like a baker's, or, for
dress occasions, of black velvet.  His homely ways and speech, which
smacked of the Vermont farm as strongly as if he had just come thence,
whereas in truth he had lived in Florence, at this time, about twenty
years, and had won high fame as a sculptor, tempted one to suspect him
of affectation--of a pose; and there is no doubt that Powers was aware
of the contrast between his physical presentment and his artistic
reputation, and felt a sort of dramatic pleasure in it. Nevertheless,
it would be unjust to call him affected; he was a big man, in all
senses of the term, and his instinct of independence led him to
repudiate all external polish and ear-marks of social culture, and to
say, as it were, "You see, a plain Vermont countryman can live half a
lifetime in the centre of artificial refinement and rival by the works
of his native genius the foremost living artists, and yet remain the
same simple, honest old sixpence that he was at home!" It was
certainly a more manly and wholesome attitude than that of the
ordinary American foreign resident, who makes a point of forgetting
his native ways and point of view, and aping the habits and traits of
his alien associates. And, besides, Powers had such an immense
temperament and individuality that very likely he could not have
modified them successfully even had he been disposed to do so.

[IMAGE: HIRAM POWERS]

His daughters, as I have said, were lovely creatures.  Powers was at
this time modelling an ideal bust of a woman, and one day I went into
his studio expecting to find Bob there, but the studio was empty but
for the bust, which I now had an opportunity to contemplate at my ease
for the first time. I thought it very beautiful, and there was
something about the face which reminded me of somebody, I could not
decide who. Just then a portiere in the doorway parted, and in came a
living bust, a reality in warm flesh and blood, compared with which
the ideal seemed second-rate. It belonged to one of Powers's
daughters, who had come for a sitting; she was serving as her father's
model.  Upon seeing the unexpected boy, fixed there in speechless
admiration, the young lady uttered a scream and vanished. I now knew
whom the face of the clay effigy reminded me of, and afterwards when I
saw beautiful statues I thought of her, and shook my head.

My father and Powers took a strong fancy to each other, and met and
talked a great deal. As I just said now, spiritualism was a fad at
that time, and Powers was pregnant with marvels which he had either
seen or heard of, and which he was always ready to attempt to explain
on philosophical grounds. My father would listen to it all, and both
believe it and not believe it. He felt, I suppose, that Powers was
telling the truth, but he was not persuaded that all the truth was in
Powers's possession, or in any one else's. Powers also had a great
deal to say concerning the exoteric and esoteric truths of sculpture;
his racy individuality marked it all. He would not admit that there
was any limit to what might be done with marble; and when my father
asked him one day whether he could model a blush on a woman's cheek,
he said, stoutly, that the thing was possible. My father, as his
manner was with people, went with the sculptor as far as he chose to
carry him, accepting all his opinions and judgments, and becoming
Powers, so far as he might, for the time being, in order the better to
get to the root of his position. And then, afterwards, he would return
to his own self, and quietly examine Powers's assertions and theories
in the dry light. My father was two men, one sympathetic and
intuitional, the other critical and logical; together they formed a
combination which could not be thrown off its feet.

We had already met the Brownings in London; but at this period they
belonged in Italy more than anywhere else, and Florence formed the
best setting for the authors both of Aurora Leigh and of Sordello.
They lived in a villa called Casa Guidi, and with them was their son,
a boy younger than myself, whom they called Pennini, though his real
name was something much less fastidious. Penni, I believe, used to be
an assistant of Raphael early in the sixteenth century, and Pennini
may have been nicknamed after him. His mother, who was an extravagant
woman on the emotional and spiritual plane, made the poor little boy
wear his hair curled in long ringlets down his back, and clad him in a
fancy costume of black velvet, with knickerbockers and black silk
stockings; he was homely of face, and looked "soft," as normal boys
would say. But his parents were determined to make an ideal
dream-child of him, and, of course, he had to submit. I had the
contempt for him which a philistine boy feels for a creature whom he
knows he can lick with one hand tied behind his back, and I had
nothing whatever to say to him. But Pennini was not such a mollycoddle
and ass as he looked, and when he grew up he gave evidence enough of
having a mind and a way of his own. My mother took him at his mother's
valuation, and both she and my father have expressed admiration of the
whole Browning tribe in their published journals. Mrs. Browning seemed
to me a sort of miniature monstrosity; there was no body to her, only
a mass of dark curls and queer, dark eyes, and an enormous mouth with
thick lips; no portrait of her has dared to show the half of it. Her
hand was like a bird's claw. Browning was a lusty, active, energetic
person, dashing and plunging this way and that with wonderful impetus
and suddenness; he was never still a moment, and he talked with
extraordinary velocity and zeal. There was a mass of wild hair on his
head, and he wore bushy whiskers. He appeared very different twenty
years later, when I met him in London, after his wife's death; he was
quiet and sedate, with close-cut silvery hair and pointed beard, and
the rather stout, well-dressed figure of a British gentleman of the
sober middle class. It is difficult to harmonize either of these
outsides with the poet within--that remarkable imagination, intellect,
and analytical faculty which have made him one of the men of the
century. There was a genial charm in Browning, emphasized, in this
earlier time, with a bewildering vivacity and an affluence of
courtesy. In his mature phase he was still courteous and agreeable
when he chose to be so, but was also occasionally supercilious and
repellent, and assiduously cultivated smart society. I once asked him,
in 1879, why he made his poetry so often obscure, and he replied,
frankly, that he did so because he couldn't help it; the inability to
put his thoughts in clear phrases had always been a grief to him. This
statement was, to me, unexpected, and it has a certain importance.

After a few weeks in Casa Bella, opposite Powers's house, Florence
grew so hot that we were glad of an opportunity to rent the Villa
Montauto, up on the hill of Bellosguardo, less than a mile beyond the
city gate. The villa, with two stories and an attic, must have been
nearly two hundred feet long, and was two or three rooms deep; at the
hither end rose a tower evidently much older than the house attached
to it. Near the foot of the tower grew an ancient tree, on a
projecting branch of which we soon had a swing suspended, and all of
us children did some very tall swinging. There was a little girl of
ten belonging to the estate, named Teresa, an amiable, brown-haired,
homely little personage. We admitted her to our intimacy, and swung
her in the swing till she screamed for mercy. The road from Florence,
after passing our big iron gate on the east, continued on westward,
beneath the tower and the parapet of the grounds; beyond extended the
wide valley of the Arno, with mountains hemming it in, and to the left
of the mountains, every evening, Donati's comet shone, with a golden
sweep of tail subtending twenty degrees along the horizon. The peasant
folk regarded it with foreboding; and I remember seeing in the
book-shops of Rome, before we left, pamphlets in both Italian and
English, with such titles as "Will the great comet, now rapidly
approaching, strike the earth?" It did not strike the earth, but it
afforded us a magnificent spectacle during our stay in Montauto, and
the next year it was followed by war between Austria and France and
the evacuation of Venice.

The elevation of Bellosguardo sloped from the villa north and east,
and this declivity was occupied by a podere of some dozen acres, on
which grew grape-vines, olive and fig trees. Every morning, about ten
o'clock, the peasants on the estate would come in loaded with grapes,
which they piled up on a large table in the reception-hall on the
ground floor. We ate them by handfuls, but were never able to finish
them. Between times we would go out among the fruit trees and devour
fresh figs, luscious with purple pulp. I had three or four rooms to
myself at the western extremity of the house; they were always cool on
the hottest days. There I was wont to retire to pursue my literary
labors; I was still writing works on conchology. My sister Una had
rooms on the ground floor, adjoining the chapel.  They were haunted by
the ghost of a nun, and several times the candle which she took in
there at night was moved by invisible hands from its place and set
down elsewhere. Ghostly voices called to us, and various unaccountable
noises were heard now and then, both within and without the house; but
we children did not mind them, not having been bred in the fear of
spirits. Indeed, at the instance of Mrs. Browning, who was often with
us, we held spirit seances, Miss Shepard being the medium, though she
mildly protested. Long communications were written down, but the
sceptics were not converted, nor were the believers discouraged. "I
discern in the alleged communications from my wife's mother," wrote my
father, "much of her own beautiful fancy and many of her preconceived
ideas, although thinner and weaker than at first hand.  They are the
echoes of her own voice, returning out of the lovely chambers of her
heart, and mistaken by her for the tones of her mother."

Almost every day some of us made an incursion into Florence. The town
itself seemed to me more agreeable than Rome; but the Boboli Gardens
could not rival the Borghese, and the Pitti and Uffizi galleries were
not so captivating as the Vatican and the Capitol. However, the
Cascine and the Lung' Arno were delightful, and the Arno, shallow and
placid, flowing through the midst of the city, was a fairer object
than the muddy and turbulent Tiber. Men and boys bathed along the
banks in the afternoons and evenings; and the Ponte Vecchio, crowded
with grotesque little houses, was a favorite promenade of mine. There
was also a large marketplace, where the peasant women sold the produce
of their farms. My insatiable appetite for such things prompted me
often to go thither and eat everything I had money to buy. One day I
consumed so many fresh tomatoes that I had a giddiness in the back of
my head, and ate no more tomatoes for some years.  But the place I
best liked was the great open square of the Palazzo Vecchio, with the
statues of David and of Perseus under the Loggia dei Lanzi, a retreat
from sun and rain; and the Duomo and Giotto's Campanile, hard by. The
pavements of Florence, smooth as the surface of stone canals, were
most soothing and comfortable after the relentless, sharp
cobble-stones of Rome; the low houses that bordered them seemed to
slumber in the hot, still sunshine.  What a sunshine was that! Not
fierce and feverish, as in the tropics, but soft and intense and
white. Who would not live in Florence if he could? I think my father
would have settled there but for his children, to whom he wished to
give an American education. The thought was often in his mind; and he
perhaps cherished some hope of returning thither later in life, and
letting old age steal gently upon him and his wife in the delicious
city. But the Celestial City was nearer to him than he suspected.

There was a magical old man in Florence named Kirkup, an Englishman,
though he had dwelt abroad so many years that he seemed more
Florentine than the Florentines themselves. He had known, in his
youth, Byron, Shelley, Hunt, and Edward Trelawney. After that famous
group was disparted, Kirkup, having an income sufficient for his
needs, came to Florence and settled there. He took to antiquarianism,
which is a sort of philtre, driving its votaries mildly insane, and
filling them with emotions which, on the whole, are probably more
often happy than grievous. But Kirkup, in the course of his researches
into the past, came upon the books of the necromancers, and bought and
studied them, and began to practise their spells and conjurations; and
by-and-by, being a great admirer and student of Dante, that poet
manifested himself to him in his lonely vigils and told him many
unknown facts about his career on earth, and incidentally revealed to
him the whereabouts of the now-familiar fresco of Dante on the wall of
the Bargello Chapel, where it had been hidden for ages beneath a coat
of whitewash. In these occult researches, Kirkup, of course, had need
of a medium, and he found among the Florentine peasants a young girl,
radiantly beautiful, who possessed an extraordinary susceptibility to
spiritual influences.  Through her means he conversed with the
renowned dead men of the past times. But one day Regina (such was the
girl's name), much to the old man's surprise, gave birth to a child.
She herself died, in Kirkup's house, soon after, and on her death-bed
she swore a solemn oath on the crucifix that the baby's father was
none other than Kirkup himself.  The poor old gentleman had grown so
accustomed to believing in miracles that he made little ado about
accepting this one also; he received the child as his daughter, and
made provision for her in his will. No one had the heart or thought it
worth while to enlighten him as to certain facts which might have
altered his attitude; but it was well known that Regina had a lover, a
handsome young Italian peasant, much more capable of begetting
children than of taking care of them afterwards.

These interesting circumstances I did not learn until long after
Florence had receded into the distance in my memory. But one
afternoon, with my father and mother, I entered the door of a queer
old house close to the Ponte Vecchio; I was told that it had formerly
been a palace of the Knights Templars.  We ascended a very darksome
flight of stairs, and a door was opened by a strange little man. He
may have been, at that time, some seventy years my senior, but he was
little above my height; he had long, soft, white hair and a flowing
white beard; his features bore a resemblance to those of Bulwer
Lytton, only Bulwer never lived to anything like Mr. Kirkup's age. Old
as he was, our host was very brisk and polite, and did the honors of
his suite of large rooms with much grace and fantastic hospitality.
Dancing about him, and making friends freely with us all meanwhile,
was the little girl, Imogen by name, who was accredited as the
octogenarian's offspring.  She was some four or five years of age, but
intellectually precocious, though a complete child, too. Mr. Kirkup
said that she, like her beautiful mother, was a powerful medium, and
that he often used to communicate through her with her mother, who
would seem to have kept her secret even after death. The house was
stuffed full of curiosities, but was very dirty and cobwebby; the
pictures and the books looked much in need of a caretaker. The little
child frolicked and flitted about the dusky apartments, or seated
herself like a butterfly on the great tomes of magic that were piled
in corners.  Nothing could be stronger or stranger than the contrast
between her and this environment. My father wrote it all down in his
journal, and it evidently impressed his imagination; and she and
Kirkup himself--_mutatis mutandis_--appear in Dr. Grimshawe's Secret,
and again, in a somewhat different form, in The Dolliver Romance.
There was even a Persian kitten, too, to bear little Imogen company.
But no fiction could surpass the singularity of this withered old
magician living with the pale, tiny sprite of a child of mysterious
birth in the ghost-haunted rooms of the ancient palace.

It seemed as if the world of the occult were making a determined
attack upon us during this Florentine sojourn; whichever way we turned
we came in contact with something mysterious. In one of my father's
unpublished diaries he writes, in reference to the stories with which
he was being regaled by Powers, the Brownings, and others, that he was
reminded "of an incident that took place at the old manse, in the
first summer of our marriage. One night, about eleven o'clock, before
either my wife or I had fallen asleep (we had been talking together
just before), she suddenly asked me why I had touched her shoulder?
The next instant she had a sense that the touch was not mine, but that
of some third presence in the chamber. She clung to me in great
affright, but I got out of bed and searched the chamber and adjacent
entry, and, finding nothing, concluded that the touch was a fancied
one.  My wife, however, has never varied in her belief that the
incident was supernatural and connected with the apparition of old Dr.
Harris, who used to show himself to me daily in the reading-room of
the Boston Athenaeum. I am still incredulous both as to the doctor's
identity and as to the reality of the mysterious touch. That same
summer of our honeymoon, too, George Hillard and his wife were sitting
with us in our parlor, when a rustling as of a silken robe passed from
corner to corner of the room, right among my wife and the two guests,
and was heard, I think, by all three. Mrs. Hillard, I remember, was
greatly startled. As for myself, I was reclining on the sofa at a
little distance, and neither heard the rustle nor believed it."

Nevertheless, such things affect one in a degree.  Here is a straw to
show which way the wind of doctrine was blowing with my father: We
were in Siena immediately after the date of our Florentine residence,
and he and I, leaving the rest of the family at our hotel, sallied
forth in quest of adventures.  "We went to the cathedral," he writes,
"and while standing near the entrance, or about midway in the nave, we
saw a female figure approaching through the dimness and distance, far
away in the region of the high altar; as it drew nearer its air
reminded me of Una, whom we had left at home. Finally, it came close
to us, and proved to be Una herself; she had come, immediately after
we left the hotel, with Miss Shepard, and was looking for objects to
sketch.  It is an empty thing to write down, but the surprise made the
incident stand out very vividly." Una was to pass near the gates of
the next world a little while later, and doubtless my father often
during that dark period pictured her to himself as a spirit.  To make
an end of this subject, I will quote here my father's account of a
story told him by Mrs.  Story when we were living in Rome for the
second time. The incident of the woman's face at the carriage window
reappears in The Marble Faun. "She told it," he says, "on the authority
of Mrs. Gaskell, to whom the personages were known. A lady, recently
married, was observed to be in a melancholy frame of mind, and fell
into a bad state of health.  She told her husband that she was haunted
with the constant vision of a certain face, which affected her with an
indescribable horror, and was the cause of her melancholy and illness.
The physician prescribed travel, and they went first to Paris, where
the lady's spirits grew somewhat better, and the vision haunted her
less constantly. They purposed going to Italy, and before their
departure from Paris a letter of introduction was given them by a
friend, directed to a person in Rome. On their arrival in Rome the
letter was delivered; the person called, and in his face the lady
recognized the precise reality of her vision. By-the-bye, I think the
lady saw this face in the streets of Rome before the introduction took
place. The end of the story is that the husband was almost immediately
recalled to England by an urgent summons; the wife disappeared that
very night, and was recognized driving out of Rome, in a carriage, in
tears, and accompanied by the visionary unknown. It is a very foolish
story, but told as truth. Mrs. Story also said that in an Etruscan
tomb, on the Barberini estate, the form and impression, in dust, of a
female figure were discovered. Not even a bone of her was left; but
where her neck had been there lay a magnificent necklace, all of gold
and of the richest workmanship. The necklace, just as it was found
(except, I suppose, for a little furbishing), is now worn by the
Princess Barberini as her richest adornment.  Mrs. Story herself had
on a bracelet composed, I think, of seven ancient Etruscan scorabei in
carnelian, every one of which has been taken from a separate tomb, and
on one side of each was engraved the signet of the person to whom it
had belonged and who had carried it to the grave with him. This
bracelet would make a good connecting link for a series of Etruscan
tales, the more fantastic the better!"

On the first day of October, 1859, we left Florence by railway for
Siena on our way back to Rome.  There had been no drawbacks to our
enjoyment of the city and of our villa and of the people we had met.
We departed with regret; had we stayed on there, instead, and not
again attempted the fatal air of the Seven Hills, our after chronicles
might have been very different. But we walk over precipices with our
eyes open, or pass safely along their verge in the dark, and only the
Power who made us knows why. Providence takes very long views.




XIX


Burnt Sienna--The Aquila Nera--A grand, noble, gentle creature--The
most beautiful woman in the world--Better friends than ever--A shadow
brooded--Boys are whole-souled creatures--Franklin Pierce--Miriam,
Hilda, Kenyon, Donatello--The historian of the Netherlands--When New
England makes a man--The spell of Trevi--An accession of mishaps--My
father's mustache--Three steps of stone, the fourth, death--Havre,
Redcar, Bath, London, Liverpool.

Siena is distant from Florence, in a direct line, not more than fifty
miles, but the railway turns the western flank of the mountains, and
kept us full three hours on the trip. I had long been familiar with a
paint in my color-box called Burnt Sienna, and was now much interested
to learn that it was made of the yellow clay on which the city of
Siena stands; and when I discovered for myself that this clay, having
formed the bed of some antediluvian ocean, was full of fossil shells,
I thought that Siena was a place where I would do well to spend one of
my lifetimes. The odd, parti-colored architecture of the town did not
so much appeal to me, and certainly the streets and squares were less
attractive in themselves than either the Roman or the Florentine ones.
The shells were personally ugly, but they were shells, and fossils
into the bargain, and they sufficed for my happiness.

The Storys had a villa in Siena, and my father certainly had in the
back part of his mind an idea of settling there, or elsewhere in
Italy, now or later; but after ten days we were on our travels again.
There were no ruins to be seen, that I remember, but many churches and
frescoes and old oil-paintings, which I regarded with indifference.
Mediaeval remains did not attract me like classic ones. It was here
that Story drew the caricatures which I have already spoken of, and
from the windows of the room, as the twilight fell, we could see the
great comet, then in its apogee of brilliance. Where will the world be
when it comes again? We had rooms at the Aquila Nera, looking out on
the venerable, gray Palazzo Tolomei. The narrow streets were full of
people; the steepness and irregularity of the thoroughfares of the
city produced a feeling of energy and activity in the midst of the
ancient historic peace. Siena is, I believe, built about the crater of
an extinct volcano. The old brick wall of the city was still extant,
running up hill and down, and confining the rusty heaps of houses
within its belt. There were projecting balconies, crumbling with age,
and irregular arcades, resembling tunnels hewn out of the solid rock.
From the windows of our sitting-room in the hotel we commanded the
piazza, in front of the Palazzo Tolomei, with a pillar in the midst of
it, on which was a group of Romulus and Remus suckled by the wolf, the
tradition of the city being that it was founded during the epoch of
the Roman kings. My mother made a sketch of this monument in her
little sketch-book, and my father, according to a common custom of
his, sat for an hour at the window one day and made a note of every
person who passed through the little square, thus getting an idea of
the character of the local population not otherwise obtainable. I can
imagine that, were one born in Siena, one might conceive an ardent
affection for it; but, in spite of its picturesqueness, it never
touched my heart like Rome or Florence, or even London or Paris. I
left it without regret, but with specimens of its fossils in my
pockets.

It often happens with miracles that they occur in doubles or trebles,
in order, I suppose, to suggest to us that they may be simply
instances of an undiscovered law. Gaetano was a miracle, and he was
followed by Constantino, who, though of an altogether different human
type, was of no less sweet and shining a nature than the other. He was
a grand, noble, gentle creature, and my mother soon dubbed him "The
Emperor," though it may be doubted whether the original emperor of
that name was as good a man as ours; he was certainly not nearly so
good-looking. He was only the driver of our _vettura_ from Siena to
Rome, but there was a princely munificence in his treatment of us that
made us feel his debtors in an indefinitely greater sum than that
which technically discharged our obligations.  He was massive,
quiescent, oxlike, with great, slow-moving, black eyes. He had the air
of extending to us the hospitalities of Italy, and our journey assumed
the character of a royal progress.  He was especially devoted to my
small sister Rose, and often, going up the hills, he would have her
beside him on foot, one of his great hands clasping hers, while with
the other he wielded the long whip that encouraged the horses. His
garments were of the humblest fashion, but he so wore them as to make
them seem imperial robes. My mother caught an excellent likeness of
him as he sat before her on the driver's seat. The second trip was as
enjoyable as the first, though it was two or three days shorter.  The
route was west of our former one, passing through Radicofani,
incrusted round its hill-top; and Bolsena, climbing backward from the
poisonous shore of its beautiful lake; and Viterbo, ugly and
beggar-ridden, though famous forever on account of the war for Galiana
waged between Viterbo and Rome. In the front of an old church in the
town I saw the carved side of her sarcophagus, incorporate with the
wall. She was the most beautiful woman in the world in her day, and in
the fight for the possession of her her townsmen overcame the Romans,
but the latter were permitted, as a salve for their defeat, to have
one final glimpse of Galiana as they marched homeward without her.
From a window in a tower of one of the gates of the city, therefore,
her heavenly face looked forth and shed a farewell gleam over the
dusty, defeated ranks of Rome as they filed past, up-looking. The tale
is as old as the incident itself, but I always love to recall it;
there is in it something that touches the soul more inwardly than even
the legend of Grecian Helen.

By the middle of October we were back again in Rome, and though we
were now in new lodgings, the feeling was that of getting home after
travels.  The weather was fine, and we revisited the familiar ruins
and gardens, and renewed our acquaintance with our favorite statues
and pictures with fresh enjoyment. Eddy Thompson and I found each
other better friends than ever--we had written each other laborious
but sincerely affectionate letters during our separation--and he and
I, with one or more favored companions sometimes, perambulated Rome
incessantly, and felt that the world had begun again. But by the ist
of November there came to pass an untoward change, and our rejoicing
was changed to lamentation. First, my father himself had a touch of
malaria, which clouded his view of all outward things; and then my
sister Una, disregarding the law which provides that all persons must
be in-doors in Rome by six o'clock in the evening, caught the
veritable Roman fever, and during four months thereafter a shadow
brooded over our snug little lodgings in the Piazza, Poli. "It is not
a severe attack," my father wrote at the beginning, "yet it is
attended by fits of exceeding discomfort, occasional comatoseness, and
even delirium to the extent of making the poor child talk in rhythmic
measure, like a tragic heroine--as if the fever lifted her feet off
the earth; the fever being seldom dangerous, but is liable to recur on
slight occasion hereafter." But, as it turned out, Una's attack was of
the worst kind, and she sank and sank, till it seemed at last as if
she must vanish from us altogether. Eddy and I held melancholy
consultations together, for Eddy, besides being my special crony and
confidant, had allowed himself to conceive a heroic and transcendental
passion for my sister--one of the antique, Spenserian sort--and his
concern for her condition was only less than mine.  So we went about
with solemn faces, comforting each other as best we might. I remember,
when the crisis of the fever was reached, taking him into a room and
closing the door, and there imparting to him the news that Una might
not recover. We stared drearily into each other's faces, and felt that
the world would never again be bright for us. Boys are whole-souled
creatures; they feel one thing at a time, and feel it with their
might.

However, Una safely passed her crisis, thanks mainly to the wonderful
nursing of her mother, and by carnival-time was able to be out again
and to get her share of sugar-plums and flowers. But my mother was
exhausted by her ceaseless vigils in the sick-room, and my father, as
I have before intimated, never recovered from the long-drawn fear;
it sapped his energies at the root, and the continued infirmity of
Una's health prevented what chance there might have been of his
recuperation. Yet for the moment he could find fun and pleasure in the
carnival, and he felt as never before the searching beauty of the
Borghese, the Pincian, and the galleries. He was also comforted by the
companionship of his friend Franklin Pierce, who, his Presidential
term over, had come to Europe to get the scent of Washington out of
his garments. There was a winning, irresistible magnetism in the
presence of this man. Except my father, there was no man in whose
company I liked to be so much as in his. I had little to say to him,
and demanded nothing more than a silent recognition from him; but
his voice, his look, his gestures, his gait, the spiritual sphere of
him, were delightful to me; and I suspect that his rise to the highest
office in our nation was due quite as much to this power or quality in
him as to any intellectual or even executive ability that he may have
possessed. He was a good, conscientious, patriotic, strong man, and
gentle and tender as a woman. He had the old-fashioned ways, the
courtesy, and the personal dignity which are not often seen nowadays.
His physical frame was immensely powerful and athletic; but life used
him hard, and he was far from considerate of himself, and he died at
sixty-five, when he might, under more favorable conditions, have
rounded out his century.

My father had written nothing, not even his journal, during the period
of Una's illness; but he began to work again now, being moved thereto
not only as a man whose nature is spontaneously impelled to express
itself on the imaginative side, but also in order to recoup himself
for some part of the loss of the ten thousand dollars which he had
loaned to John O'Sullivan, which, it was now evident, could never be
repaid. His first conception of the story of The Marble Faun had been
as a novelette; but he now decided to expand it so as to contain a
large amount of descriptive matter; and although the strict rules of
artistic construction may have been somewhat relaxed in order to admit
these passages, there is no doubt that the book gained thereby in
value as a permanent addition to literature, the plot, powerful though
it is, being of importance secondary to the creation of an atmosphere
which should soften the outlines and remove the whole theme into a
suitable remoteness from the domain of matter-of-fact. The Eternal
City is, after all, as vital a portion of the story as are the
adventures of Miriam, Hilda, Kenyon, and Donatello. They could not
have existed and played their parts in any other city of the world.

In selecting local habitations for the creatures of his imagination,
he strolled into the Via Portoghese, and there found the "Virgin's
Shrine," which, with minor modifications, was to become the home of
Hilda. I quote from his journal the description of the actual place as
he saw it. "The tower in the Via Portoghese," he says, "has
battlements and machicolations, and the upper half of it is covered
with gray, ancient-looking stucco. On the summit, at one corner, is
the shrine of the Virgin, rising quite above the battlements, and with
its lamp before it.  Beneath the machicolations is a window, probably
belonging to the upper chamber; and there seems to be a level space on
the top of the tower. Close at hand is the facade of a church, the
highest pinnacle of which appears to be at about the same level as the
battlements of the tower, and there are two or more stone figures
(either angels or allegorical) ornamenting the top of the fagade, and,
I think, blowing trumpets. These personages are the nearest neighbors
of any person inhabiting the upper story of the tower, and the sound
of their angelic trumpets must needs be very loud in that close
vicinity: The lower story of the palace extends out and round the
lower part of the tower, and is surrounded by a stone balustrade. The
entrance from the street is through a long, arched doorway and
passage, giving admittance into a small, enclosed court; and deep
within the passage there is a very broad staircase, which branches
off, apparently, on one side, and leads to the height of the tower. At
the base of the tower, and along the front of the palace, the street
widens, so as to form something like a small piazza, in which there
are two or three bakers' shops, one or two shoe-shops, a
lottery-office, and, at one corner, the stand of a woman who sells, I
think, vegetables; a little further, a stand of oranges. Not so many
doors from the palace entrance there is a station of French soldiers
and a sentinel on duty.  The palace, judging from the broad staircase,
the balustraded platform, the tower itself, and other tokens, may have
been a grand one centuries ago; but the locality is now a poor one,
and the edifice itself seems to have fallen to unaristocratic
occupants.  A man was cleaning a carriage in the enclosed court-yard,
but I rather conceive it was a cab for hire, and not the equipage of a
dweller in the palace."

John Lothrop Motley, the historian of the Netherlands, had come to
Rome this winter and brought his family with him. I believe my father
had met Motley in America; at all events, we saw a good deal of him
now. He was an exceedingly handsome man, not only on account of the
beauty of physical features which marked him, but in the sensitiveness
and vividness of expression which constantly illuminated them. He was
at this time about five-and-forty years of age, and lacked a couple of
inches of six feet in height. His hair, a dark, chestnut brown, had
the hyacinthine wave through it, and was slightly streaked with gray;
his beard, which was full and rather short, was likewise wavy; he was
quietly and harmoniously dressed, but the artistic temperament
declared itself in a touch of color in his cravat. His voice was
melodious and finely modulated; his bearing gravely cheerful and very
courteous. No type of man finer than Motley's has existed in modern
times; all the elements of the best and purest society were
illustrated in him. He had the depth of the scholar, the breadth and
self-poise of the man of the world, the genial warmth of the human
fellow-creature, and, over all, the harmonizing, individualizing charm
of the artist. When New England gathers her resources to make a man
she achieves a result hardly to be surpassed.

The Storys were also in Rome during these last months of our stay, and
Miss Mitchell, I think, still lingered in her little lodgings in the
Via Bocca di Leone. Miss Cushman likewise reappeared for a time, with
all her former greatness and fascination, and many other friends, new
and old, made that spring season memorable. As the moment for our
departure drew near, the magical allurement of Rome laid upon us a
grasp more than ever potent; it was impossible to realize that we were
leaving it forever. On the last evening we walked in the moonlight to
the fountain of Trevi, near our lodgings, and drank of the water--a
ceremony which, according to tradition, insures the return of the
drinker. It was the 25th of May, forty-four years ago. None of us has
gone back since then, and, of the five who drank, three have passed to
the country whence no traveller returns. For my own part, as a
patriotic American nearly thirteen years old, I had no wish ever again
to see Rome, and declared myself glad to turn my back upon it, not
that I had any fault to find with it--I had always had a good time
there--but my imagination was full of my native land, with which
nothing else could be comparable. I did not learn of the fabled spell
of Trevi until afterwards; then I scoffed at and defied it, and
possibly Rome may have decided that it could do without me.

The railway to Civita Vecchia had just been completed, and we passed
swiftly over the route which had been so full of dangers and
discomforts eighteen months before. Embarking on the steamer for
Marseilles, we kept on thence to Avignon, where we spent about a week.
This venerable town had few attractions for me; I did not much care
for the fourteenth-century popes, nor for the eighteenth-century
silks, nor even for Petrarch and Laura; and the architecture of the
palace, after I had tried to sketch it, ceased to exhilarate me. My
father was in no mood for sight-seeing, either, but he went through it
all conscientiously. My mother, of course, enjoyed herself, but she
met with an accident.  While sketching some figures of saints and
monsters that adorned the arch of the northern portal of the palace,
she made an incautious movement and sprained her ankle. The pain was
excessive for the moment, but it soon passed off, so as to enable her
to limp back to our hotel. But the next day the pain was worse; my
father had a headache, a rare affliction with him; I had caught a bad
cold from swimming in the arrowy Rhone, and Una and Miss Shepard were
both in a state of exhaustion from sight-seeing; and in this condition
the journey to Geneva had to be made. We had intended to remain there
but a day, but we stayed longer, breathing the pure air from the Alps,
and feeling better as we breathed. I stood on a bridge and looked down
at that wonderful azure water rushing into the lovely lake; I looked
up and beheld those glorious mountains soaring into the sky, and I
forgot Rome and Florence, and almost America, in my joy. Everything
that life needs for life seemed present there.

We got into a little steamer and made the trip up the lake, the
mountains all about us. Up to this time I had imagined that the
acclivities in the north of England and in Scotland were mountains. We
sat on deck, in the stern of the steamer, my father gazing out and up
from beneath the rim of his soft felt hat, with his dark cloak over
his shoulders. He looked revived and vigorous again. Shortly before we
left Rome he had ceased to shave his upper lip, for what reason I know
not; I think it was simply indisposition to take that trouble any
longer. My mother had at first gently protested; she did not want his
upper lip and mouth to be hidden. But as the brown mustache, thick and
soldier-like, appeared, she became reconciled, and he wore it to the
end of his life. "Field-Marshal Hawthorne" James T. Fields used to
call him after we got home.  Owing to the preponderance of expression
of the upper part of his head, the addition did not change his look as
much as might have been expected; we soon got used to it, and,
inasmuch as all his photographs were taken after the mustache was
established, the world does not know him otherwise.

The view became more and more enchanting as we penetrated farther into
the depths of the embrace of the mountains, and at last, at its most
ravishing point, the lake ceased, and the lonely little pile of dingy
white masonry, which is Chillon, appeared.  Few works of man have a
more romantic interest than this castle; but, seen from the lake, its
environment was too much for it. Had it plunged downward into the
smooth waters and vanished, its absence would not have been marked in
that stupendous landscape. But it improved greatly upon closer
acquaintance; and when we stood in its vaults, and saw the pillar to
which the prisoner was chained, and the hole in the floor, with its
three steps of stone, and the fourth of death, we felt that Chillon
was not unequal to its reputation.

After leaving Chillon and Geneva our faces were turned homeward, and
we hastened our steps. My father wrote to England to engage our
passage for the first of August. We were now at midsummer.  We
returned to Paris, and after a few days there proceeded to Havre, in
order to see Ada Shepard safe on board her steamer for home; her
Wanderjahre was over, and she was now to be married to Henry Clay
Badger. We were sorry to say good-bye to her; she had been a faithful
and valuable element in our household, and she had become a dear
friend and comrade. She stood waving her handkerchief to us as her
steamer slipped away down the harbor.  She, too, was sorry for the
parting. She once had said to me: "I think your father is the wisest
man I ever knew; he does not seem ever to say much, but what he does
say is always the truest and best thing that could be said."

From Havre we crossed the Channel to Southampton, and were soon in
London. Boston and Concord were only six weeks distant. Such, at any
rate, had been the original design. But after we reached London the
subject of the English copyright of The Marble Faun came up for
discussion.  Henry Bright introduced Mr. Smith, of the firm of Smith,
Elder & Company, who made such proposals for the English publication
of the book as were not to be disregarded; but, in order to make them
available, it was necessary that the manuscript should be completed in
England. Nothing but the short sketch of it was as yet in existence;
it could not be written in much less than a year; either the English
offer must be rejected, or we must stay out that year in her Majesty's
dominions. My father decided, not altogether unwillingly, perhaps, to
stay. He had written in his journal a few weeks before: "Bennoch and
Henry Bright are the only two men in England to whom I shall be much
grieved to say farewell; but to the island itself I cannot bear to say
that word as a finality. I shall dreamily hope to come back again at
some indefinite time, rather foolishly, perhaps, for it will tend to
take the substance out of my life in my own land. But this, I suspect,
is apt to be the penalty of those who stay abroad and stay too long."

But my father could not write in London, and, casting about for a
fitting spot, he finally fixed upon the remote hamlet of Redcar, far
up on the bleak coast of Redcar, in Yorkshire. It was not far from
Whitby, where we had been two or three years before.  The gray German
Ocean tumbled in there upon the desolate sands, and the contrast of
the scene with those which we had been of late familiar with made the
latter, no doubt, start forward intensely in the romancer's
imagination. So there he wrote and wrote; and he walked far along the
sands, with his boy dogging his steps and stopping for shells and
crabs; and at a certain point of the beach, where the waves ran over a
bar and formed a lake a few feet in depth, he would seat himself on a
tussock of sand-grass, and I would undress and run into the cold water
and continue my swimming-lessons, which had been begun in Stockbridge
Bowl, continued in Lake Leman, and were now brought to a satisfactory
conclusion. Both my feet were finally off the bottom, and I felt the
wonderful sensation of the first cousin to flying. While I floundered
there my father looked off towards the gray horizon, and saw the
visions of Hilda, Miriam, Kenyon, and Donatello which the world of
readers was presently to behold through his eyes. As we walked home in
the twilight, the dull-red glow of the sunset would throw the outlines
of the town into dark shadows, and shed a faint light on the surf
roaming in from the east. I found, in my old album, the black
silhouette of the scene which I made one day. The arms of an old mill
are flung appealingly upward, the highest object of the landscape,
above the irregular sky-line of the clustering houses.  There is also,
on the next page, a water-color drawing of a sailor in a blue jersey
and a sou'wester, standing, with his hands in his pockets, on the
beach beside one of the boats of the region--a slender, clipper-built
craft, painted yellow below and black above, good for oars or sail.
Her bow rests on a shaft connecting two wheels, for convenience of
running her down into the water. There was a dozen or more of these
boats always ready on the beach in front of our lodgings. These
lodgings were just back of the esplanade, which, during our sojourn,
was treated to a coat of tar from end to end--a delightful
entertainment for us children--and I have loved the smell of tar ever
since. There is little else that I remember about Redcar, except that,
in the winter, there was skating on a part of the beach; but it was
"salt ice," and not to be compared with the skating I was to enjoy a
year or two later in Concord, which I shall describe if ever I come to
that epoch in my narrative.


From Redcar, with the romance more than half done, we went south to
our old Leamington, which seemed half like home; and there the
loveliness of an English spring at its best came to greet us, and
there the book was finished, and sent to the printer.  We spent a
month or two at Bath, and found it very pleasant; my father rested
from his labors, except the proof-reading; and I was instructed in the
use of the broadsword by an old Peninsular officer, Major Johnstone,
who had fought at Waterloo, and had the bearing of such majors as
Thackeray puts into Vanity Fair. I once asked him whether he had ever
killed a man; it was on the day when he first allowed me to use a real
broadsword in our lesson.  "Well," replied the major, hesitatingly, "I
was riding in a charge, and there came a fellow at me, with his sword
up, and made a swing for my head. I dodged, and his blade just grazed
me; but I let him have it, downright, at the same moment, and I caught
him where the neck joins the shoulder, and he went down, and I went
on, and what became of him I don't know; I hope nothing serious!" The
major sighed and looked serious himself. "And was this the sword?" I
demanded, balancing the heavy weapon in my hand. "No--no--it wasn't
that one," said the major, hastily. "I've never used the other since!
Now, then, sir, if you please, on guard!"

We went to London, and there were our old friends Bright and Bennoch,
and the Motleys appeared from Italy, and a book called (by the
publishers) Transformation came out in three volumes, being the latest
romance by the author of The Scarlet Letter. The title was not
bestowed with my father's consent. He had, at the publishers' request,
sent them a list of several titles, beginning with The Marble Faun,
and among others on the list was "The Faun's Transformation." The
publishers took the "Transformation," and left out "The Faun." My
father laughed, but let it go. The book was to come out under its
proper title in America, and he was indifferent as to what they called
it in England.

The end of our tarrying in the Old World was now at hand. Seven years
had we lived there, and we were eager and yet loath to go. My father's
friends gathered about him, men who had hardly so much as heard his
name a, little while ago, but who now loved him as a brother. For a
few days Mrs.  Blodgett's hospitable face glowed upon us once more,
and pale Miss Williams, and trig little Miss Maria, and many of the
old captains whom we had known. It was the middle of June, and the sun
shone even in Liverpool. Our red-funnelled steamer lay at her moorings
in the yellow Mersey, with her steam up. It was not The Niagara, but
on her bridge stood our handsome little Captain Leitch, with his black
whiskers, smiling at us in friendly greeting. How much had passed
since we had seen him last! How much were we changed! What experiences
lay behind us! What memories would abide with us always! My father
leaned on the rail and looked across the river at the dingy, brick
building, near the wharves, where he had spent four wearisome but
pregnant years. The big, black steamer, with her little, puffing tug,
slipped her moorings, and slid slowly down the stream. After a few
miles the hue of the water became less turbid, the engines worked more
rapidly and regularly.  Liverpool was now a smoky mass off our
starboard quarter. It sank and dwindled, till the smoke alone was
left; the blue channel spread around us; we were at sea, and home lay
yonder, across three thousand miles of tumbling waves. But my father
still leaned on the rail, and looked backward towards the old home
that he loved and would never see again. It was the hour for good-bye;
there would come another hour for the other home and for welcome.

THE END





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