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much as when he writes with an eye to the enjoyment of little people."**
Possessed now of no little fame, and of a competence, as the results of his literary labors, Hawthorne buys himself a cottage in Concord, and here adds the Blithedale Romance to his already published works. This is pronounced "one of the most original and inventive of our author's productions;" being an account, largely romantic and dramatic, of his experience as a member, for a time, of a society of communists at Brook Farm.x Of the composition and occupation of this society the following passage from the romance will convey a vivid idea:
A MODERN ARCADIA. In the interval of my seclusion, there had been a number of recruits to our little army of saints and martyrs. . . . Thoughtful, strong-lined faces were among them; sombre brows, but
eyes that did not require spectacles, unless prematurely dimmed by the student's lamplight, and hair that seldom showed a thread of silver. .
We had very young people with us it is true_downy lads, rosy girls in their first teens, and children of all heights above one's knet--but these had chiefly been sent hither for education, which it was one of the objects and methods of our institution to supply. Then we had boarders, from town and elsewhere, who lived with, us in a familiar way, sympathized more or less in our theories, and sometimes shared our labors. On the whole, it was a society such as has seldom met together; nor, perhaps, could it reasonably be expected to hold together long.
Arcadians though we were, our costume bore no resemblance to the be-ribboned doublets, silk breeches and stockings, and slippers fastened with artificial roses, that distinguish the pastoral people of poetry and the stage. In outward show, I huinbly conceive, we looked rather like a gang of beggars, or banditti, than either a company of honest laboring men, or a conclave of philosophers. Whatever might be our points of difference, we all of us seemed to have come to Blithedale with the one thrifty and laudable idea of wearing out our old clothes.
* Atlantic Monthly, 1860.
Such garments as had an airing whenever we strode a-field Coats with high collars and with no collars, broad-skirted or swallow-tailed, and with the waist at every point between the hip and armpit; pantaloons of a dozen successive epochs, and greatly defaced at the knees by the humiliations of the wearer before his lady-love, in short, we were a living epitome of defunct fashions, and the very raggedest presentment of men who had seen better days. It was gentility in tatters. ...
We might have been sworn comrades to Falstaff's ragged regiment. Little skill as we boasted in other points of husbandry, every mother's son of us would have served admirably to stick up for a scarecrow. And the worst of the matter was, that ti13 first energetic movement essential to one downright stroke of real labor was sure to put a finish to these poor habiliments. So we gradually flung them all aside, and took to honest homespun and linsey-woolsey. .. After a reasonable training, the yeoman life throve well with
Our faces took the sunburn kindly; our chests gained in compass, and our shoulders in breadth and squareness; our great brown fists looked as if they had never been capable of kid gloves. The plough, the hoe, the scheint, and the hayfork, grew familiar to our grasp. The oxun responded our voices. .
To be sure, our next neighbors pretended to be incredulous is to our real proficiency in the business which we had taken in hand. They told slanderous fables about our inability to yoke our own oxen, or to drive them a-field when yoked, or to release the poor brutes from their conjugal bond at night-fall. They had the face to say, too, that the cows laughed at our awkwardness at milking-time, and invariably kicked over the pails; partly in consequence of our putting the stool on the wrong side, and partly because, taking offence at the whisking of their tails, we were in the habit of holding these natural fly-flappers with one hand, and milking with the other.
They further averred that we hoed up whole acres of Indian corn and other crops, and drew the earth carefully about the weeds; and that we raised five hundred tufts of burdock, mistaking them for cabbages; and that, by dint of unskillful planting, few of our seeds ever came up at all, or, if they did come up, it was stern-foremost; and that we spent the better piirt of the month of June in reversing a field of beans;
which had thrust themselves out of the ground in this unseemly way.
They quoted it as nothing more than an ordinary occurrence for one or other of us to crop off two or three fingers, of a morning, by our clumsy use of the hay-cutter. Finally, and as an ultimate catastrophe, these mendacious rogues circulated a report that we communitarians were exterminated to the last man, by severing ourselves asunder with the sweep of our own scythes !—and that the world had lost nothing by this littlo accident.
In 1853, on the accession of Franklin Pierce to the Presidency, Hawthorne was appointed Consul at Liverpool. His stay in Europe was productive of a volume of sketches of scenery, of national characteristics, and of historic spots, known as Our Old Home. ,
Shortly after, he is found rambling among the art-galleries, the standing and the prostrate glories of architecture, and the Etruscan hills of Italy. Like as a bee sips substance from many and diverse flowers, so Hawthorne, from magnificent St. Peter's, from tumultuous Corso del Popolo, from statue- and picture-decked Vatican, from hideous Catacomb, and from Arcadian Monte Beni, derives the ingredients of one of the most irresolvable compounds of romance ever originated, XThe Marble Faun, published in 1860. It is a poet's and psychologist's, not an ecclesiast's, essay at guessing the origin, portraying the growth, the transforming and humanizing energy, and determining the office of sin in the human heart and life...
Quoting the author: “ This romance was sketched out during a residence of considerable length in Italy, and has been re-written and prepared for the press in England. ... Italy, as the site of his romance, was chiefly valuable tu him as affording a sort of poetic or fairy precinct, where actualities would not be so terribly insisted upon as they are, and must needs be, in America. ... Romance and poetry, ivy, lichens, and wall-flowers, need ruin to make them grow.”
"It is justifiable for a romancer to sting the curiosity of his readers with a mystery, only on the implied obligation to explain it at last; but this story begins in mystery only to end in mist. The suggestive faculty is tormented rather than genially excited, and in the end is left a prey to doubts."*
The following is the most exciting and tragical crisis of the romance: it is composed of the fragments of two chapters, the first being narned,
ON THE EDGE OF A PRECIPICE.
MEANWHILE, Miriam had not noticed the departure of the rest of the company; she remained on the edge of the precipice, and Donatello along with her.
“It would be a fatal fall, still,” she said to herself, looking over the parapet, and shuddering as her eye measured the depth. “Yes; surely yes! Even without the weight of an overburdened heart, a human body would fall heavily enough upon those stones to shake all its joints asunder. How soon it would be over!”
Donatello, of whose presence she was possibly not aware, now pressed closur to her side; he, too, like Miriam, bent over the low parapet and trembled violently. Yet he seemed to feel that perilous fascination which haunts the brow of precipices, tempting the unwary one to fling himself over for the very horror the thing, for, after drawing hastily back, he again looked dow:-, thrusting himself out further than before. He then stood silent a brief space, struggling, perhaps, to make himself conscious of the historic associations of the scene.
“What are you thinking of, Donatello ?” asked Miriam.
“Who were they,” said he, looking earnestly in her face," who have been flung over here in days gone by?”
“Men that cumbered the world,” she replied. “Men whose 'ives were the bane of their fellow-creatures. Men who poisoned the air, which is the common breath of all, for their own selfish purposes. There was short work with such men in old Roman times. Just in the moment of their triumph a hand, as of an avenging giant, clutched them, and dashed the wretches down „his precipice.” “Was it well done?” asked the young man.
* Atlantic Monthly, 1860.
“It was well done,” answered Miriam ;
“innocent persons were saved by the destruction of a guilty one, who deserved his doom."
While this brief conversation passed, Donatello had once or twice glanced aside with a watchful air, just as a hound may often be seen to take sidelong note of some suspicious object, while he gives his more direct attention to something nearer at hand. Miriam seemed now first to become aware of the silence that had followed upon the cheerful talk and laughter of a few moments before. Looking round, she perceived that all her company
merry friends had retired, and Hilda, too, in whose soft and quiet presence she had always an indescribable feeling of security. All gone; and only herself and Donatello left hang. ing over the brow of the ominous precipice.
Not so, however; not entirely alone! In the basement wall of the palace, shaded from the moon, there was a deep, empty niche, that had probably once contained a statue; not empty, either; for a figure now came forth from it and approached Miriam.
She must have had cause to dread some unspeakable evil from this strange persecutor, and to know that this was the very crisis of her calamity; for, as he drew near, such a cold, sick despair crept over her, that it impeded her breath, and benumbed her natural promptitude of thought. Miriam seemed dreamily to remember falling on her knees; but, in her whole recollection of that wild moment, she beheld herself as in a dim show, and could not well distinguish what was done and suffered; no, not even whether she were really an actor and sufferer in the scene.
Hilda, meanwhile, had separated herself from the sculptor, and turned back to rejoin her friend. At a distance she still heard the mirth of her late companions, who were going down the cityward descent of the Capitoline Hill; they had set up a new stave of melody, in which her own soft voice, as well as the powerful sweetness of Miriam's, was sadly missed.
The door of the little courtyard had swung upon its hinges, and partly closed itself. Hilda (whose native gentleness pervaded all her movements) was quietly opening it, when she was startled, midway, by the noise of a struggle within, beginning and ending all in one breathless instant. Along with it, or closely succeeding it, was a loud, fearful cry, which quivereil mpward through the air, and sank quivering downward to the