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but restricting his benevolence exclusively to one channel, and having nothing to spare for other great manifestations of love to man, nor scarcely for the nutriment of individual attachments, unless they minister, in some way, to the terrible egotism which he mistakes for an angel of God:-with something of the woman moulded into his great stalwart frame, and a spirit of prayer abiding and working in his heart;-but himself grown to be the bond-slave of his philanthropic theory, which has become to him in effect a cold spectral monster of his own conjuring; persuading himself that the importance of his public ends renders it allowable to throw aside his private conscience; embodying himself in a project, which the disenchanted Zenobia reprobates with hissing defiance self, self, self!" Priscilla, again: a weakly bud that blossoms into health and hope under the fostering clime of Blithedale, where she seems a butterfly at play in a flickering bit of sunshine, and mistaking it for a broad and eternal summer-though her gaiety reveals at times how delicate an instrument she is, and what fragile harp-strings are her nervesa being of slender and shadowy grace, whose mysterious qualities make her seem diaphanous with spiritual light. Silas Foster, too: "lank, stalwart, uncouth, and grisly-bearded;" the prose element, and very dense prose, too, in the poetry of the Communists; with his palm of sole-leather and his joints of rusty iron, and his brain (as Zenobia pronounces it) of Savoy cabbage. And old Moodie, or Fauntleroy-that finished picture of a skulking outcast-shy and serpentine-with a queer appearance of hiding himself behind the patch on his left eye-a deplorable grey shadow-mysterious, but not mad; his mind only needing to be screwed up, like an instrument long out of tune, the strings of which have ceased to vibrate smartly and sharply-"a subdued, undemonstrative old man, who would doubtless drink a glass of liquor, now and then, and probably more than was good for him; not, however, with a purpose of undue exhilaration, but in the hope of bringing his spirits up to the ordinary level of the world's cheerfulness."* Miles Coverdale himself is no lay figure in
our virtues, when we have any, are merely impulsive and intuitive), passionate, too, and pursuing my foolish and unattainable ends by indirect and cunning, though absurdly chosen means, as an hereditary bond-slave must; false, moreover, to the whole circle of good, in my reckless truth to the little good I saw before me-but still a woman!" And oh the bitter, almost blasphemous, yet o'ermastering pathos of her following words-the sobbing protest of a broken, bankrupt heart-"A creature whom only a little change of earthly fortune, a little kinder smile of Him who sent me hither, and one true heart to encourage and direct me, might have made me all that a woman can be!" Words worthy of thee, Zenobia, queenly struggler against the bars of thy prison-house!-words spoken not wisely, but too well.
*It is fine to see how the old man does "come out" under the spell of claret, when Coverdale beguiles him into telling the story of his blighted life-to recognise the connoisseur in the seedy greybeard's way of handling the glass, in his preliminary snuff at the aroma, in his curious glance at the label of the bottle, as if to learn the brand, in the gustatory skill with which he prolonged the first cautious sip of the wine, to give his palate the full advantage of it. And the transforming efficacy of the flavour and perfume, recalling old associations; so that "instead of the mean, slouching, furtive, painfully depressed air of the old cityvagabond, more like a grey kennel-rat than any other living thing, he began to take the aspect of a decayed gentleman." Even his garments began to look less shabby to his entertainer-but then Coverdale himself had quaffed a glass or two when this phase of the transfiguration opened.
the group of actors. His character is replete with interest, whether as a partial presentment of the author's own person, or as a type of no uncommon individuality in this age of "yeast." We have in him a strange but most true "coincidence" of warm feeling and freezing reflection, of the kind deep heart and the vexed and vacillating brain, of a natural tendency to faith and a constitutional taint of scepticism, of the sensuous, indolent epicurean and the habitual cynic, of the idealist-all hope, and the realist-all disappointment. It is this fusion of opposite, not contradictory qualities, which gives so much piquancy and flavour to Coverdale's character, and his author's writings in general.
To become a member of the Blithedale socialistic institute, at which the world laughed as it will laugh at castles in the air-and all the while, evidently all the while, to be convinced at heart that the scheme is impracticable-this is quite au naturel with the Blithedale romancer. When he retires, and former acquaintance show themselves inclined to ridicule his heroic devotion to the cause of human welfare, he sanctions the jest, and explains that really he had but been experimentalising, and with no valuable amount of hope or fear at stake, and that the thing had enabled him to pass the summer in a novel and agreeable way, had afforded him some grotesque specimens of artificial simplicity, and could not, therefore, quoad himself, be reckoned a failure. Miles gives us the best insight into his mind in its distinctive features, by such a passing reflection as this— where he is recording the invigorating tone of Blithedale air to the new converts from faded conventional life: "We had thrown off that sweet, bewitching, enervating indolence, which is better, after all, than most of the enjoyments within mortal grasp." His deficiency in the excelsior aspiration of the sanguine temperament stands revealed in every chapter. A little exaggerated, but that not much, in his language to Priscilla : "My past life has been a tiresome one enough; yet I would rather look backward ten times than forward once. For, little as we know of our life to come, we may be very sure, for one thing, that the good we aim at will not be attained. People never do get just the good they seek. If it come at all, it is something else, which they never dreamed of, and did not particularly want." And the conflicting influences of which we have spoken are notably illustrated when he describes his antipathy to, heightened by his very sympathy with, the odious Westervelt: The professor's tone represented that of worldly society at large, where a cold scepticism smothers what it can of our spiritual aspirations, and makes the rest ridiculous. I detested this kind of man; and all the more because a part of my own nature showed itself responsive to him." An admirable bit of psychology, and eminently like Nathaniel Hawthorne.
But for our restricted limits, fain would we string together a few of those pithy reflections with which the romance abounds-many of them, indeed, questionable, but nearly all worth transcription, and stamped with the quaint die of the romancer's esprit. Differ from him as you may, you are all along interested in him, and are apt to find more in his crotchets than in a dullard's "exquisite reasons."
Of "The Scarlet Letter," "The House of the Seven Gables," the "Mosses from an Old Manse," &c., we have entered our verdict, such as it is, in a previous "fly-leaf." The "Life of Franklin Pierce," a confessedly time-serving palaver, is in no way worthy of that "statue of
night and silence"* which Mr. Hawthorne has been called. It is meagre, hasty, and without distinctive merit of any kind. Prejudiced in his favour, we read it with full purpose of heart to like it exceedingly, and to find an immense deal in it; but it baffled us outright, and we could only conclude that, like bonus Homerus, this our bonus Albaspinus may be caught quandoque dormitans.
A word or two, however, ere we leave him, upon his more genial and satisfactory contributions to the Literature of Childhood. The "Wonder-Book," like most true books for children, has a charm for their grave and reverend seniors. These old-world myths of Pandora and Midas, and Baucis and Philemon, are related with the poetical simplicity and good faith which is their due, and the due of all child-auditors. Mr. Hawthorne loves and understands, and is loved and understood by, what Wordsworth calls
-Real children: not too wise,
Do you remember "Little Annie's Ramble" in "Twice-told Tales?" -where he tells us that if he prides himself on anything, it is because he has a smile that children love-and that few are the grown ladies that could entice him from the side of such as little Annie, so deep is his delight in letting his mind go hand in hand with the mind of a sinless child. For he wisely holds and sweetly teaches that, as the pure breath of children revives the life of aged men, so is our moral nature revived by their free and simple thoughts, their native feeling, their airy mirth, for little cause or none, their grief, soon roused and soon allayed. And he maintains, with a fervour and an experto crede decision that would have won him Jean Paul's benison, that the influence of these little ones upon us is at least reciprocal with ours on them-and that when life settles darkly down upon us, and we doubt whether to call ourselves young any more, then it is good to steal away from the society of bearded men, and even of gentler woman, and spend an hour or two with children. Here is the genuine man for inditing a "Wonder-Book" for small people. Woe worth the " once upon a time" when, says the collector of "YuleTide Stories," there were no Popular Tales-adding, "and a sad time it was for children."‡ And a sad time it promised to be for children * An American visitor at Emerson's Monday soirées, at which a Congress of Oracles" held séances to the admiration of "curious listeners," and all ate russet apples in perfect good fellowship, describes Miles Coverdale as sitting, a little removed, under a portrait of Dante-"a statue of night and silence," gazing imperceptibly upon the parliamentary group; "and as he sat in the shadow, his dark hair and eyes made him, in that society, the black thread of mystery which he weaves into his stories." Such was his contribution to the conversazione. But a Liverpool consulate will surely test his taciturnity.
† "Prelude." Book V.
See the "Birth of the Popular Tale," forming the introduction to Mr. Thorpe's "Yule-Tide Stories," a collection of tales and traditions of the north of Europe (Bohn, 1853). In which story we are pleasantly taught how two royal children, representing human beings in general, while inhabiting a magnificent domain, are ill at ease, with a vague sense of longing; which is at length relieved by their mother's inwardly wishing for some miraculous antidote to their complaint. This comes in the shape of a beautiful bird, from whose "golden green and golden blue" egg is hatched "the parti-coloured, winged, glittering delight of childhood, itself a child, the wondrous bird Imagination, the Popular Tale." And now the mother (Nature) saw her children no longer sad. They contracted an ardent love
some few years since, when the present reaction in favour of such literary purveyors as the Brothers Grimm had not yet set in, and childhood seemed in post-haste to be turned into a Useful Knowledge Society-a corporation without imagination, fancy, poetry, faith, soul, or spirit-a joint-stock company of old heads on young shoulders, and tiny bosoms without hearts in them. Then it was that Charles Lamb piteously said, in one of his nonpareil letters, "Goody Two Shoes is almost out of print. Mrs. Barbauld's stuff has banished all the old classics of the nursery; and the shopman at Newbery's hardly deigned to reach them off an old exploded corner of a shelf, when Mary asked for them.† Mrs. B.'s and Mrs. Trimmer's nonsense lay in piles about. Knowledge insignificant and vapid as Mrs. B.'s books convey, it seems, must come to a child in the shape of knowledge, and his empty noddle must be turned with conceit of his own powers when he has learnt that a horse is an animal, and Billy is better than a horse, and such like; instead of that beautiful interest in wild tales, which made the child a man, while all the time he suspected himself to be no bigger than a child." And there follows Lamb's argumentum ad hominem S. T. C., which, remembering what manner of man S. T. C. was, we read "Think of what feelingly: very you would have been now, if instead of being fed with tales and old wives' fables in childhood, you had been crammed with geography and natural history!" Ach Himmel! what had then become of the "Ancient Mariner," and "Christabel," and all the others, best reliques of the noticeable man with large grey eyes!
Why, sir, it may be retorted, he might then have become a cosy, comfortable, substantial, practical man; and S. T. C. might have been as well known and respected on 'Change as £ s. d. itself. That pampered imagination was the ruin of him.
Yes, comfortable and well-to-do-man of business! in your sense it was. But in another sense, for which he is dear, and by which only
for the tale. And the result was, that it "sweetened their early days, delighted them with its thousand varying forms and metamorphoses, and flew over every house and hut, over every castle and palace." But furthermore, the tale was not limited, in its mission, to the children. "Its nature was such, that even those of maturer age found pleasure in it, provided only that in their riper years they possessed something which they had brought with them from the garden of childhood-a child-like simplicity of heart." Without which, we recommend no one to read Messrs. Hawthorne and Benjamin Thorpe.
* Whither Charles and "Bridget❞ had just wended their way, to buy some nursery classics for little Hartley Coleridge. He, we hope, retained, as he certainly prized and loved them, to the last.
† Had Charles asked for them, we presume this shopman would have construed his stutter into an inability, for very shame, to make inquiries for anything so frivolous and out of date.
Says Wordsworth to Coleridge (just as Lamb said, ut suprà),
"Where had we been, we two, beloved friend!" &c.,
if reared on the modern mannikin system? Wordsworth "pours out thanks with uplifted heart, that he was reared safe from an evil which these days have laid upon the children of the land, a pest that might have dried him up, body and soul." See, in extenso, the noble Fifth Book of the "Prelude"-on the text:
"Oh! give us once again the wishing cap
Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat
The child whose love is here, at least doth reap
he is known, to his familiars, it went far towards the making of him.
A wonderful digression, by the way; but one for which the "WonderBook" is radically responsible, and into which we should not have been ensnared, but that the Goody-books, and encyclopædic horn-books, and pantechnic primers, have still their advocates in the midst of us. Well:
They may talk as they will, but the fairy times
When up from their dwellings, a few dark rhymes
Oh, from our heart, how we'd pray and vow,
And therefore grateful and glad is our welcome of one who revivifies dormant feelings, and freshens sere hearts with the dew of the morning, and to whom we can say, with full assurance of faith, "Historian of our infancy! bide with us-do not yet depart-dead times revive in thee :"
We'll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days, when we were young;
ADVENTURES OF A LETTER BETWEEN CASTELAMARE AND NAPLES.
I was born one morning in August. Scarcely, however, was I brought into the world, when, contrary to all the usual ways of parents, mine sent me out into it to make my way as well as I could. My birth had something classical in it, as, like Minerva from the brain of Jupiter, I leaped full-grown from the brain of my parent. Like Minerva, too, I had no mother. The next step of my life was less godlike, for I was committed to the pocket of a servant. My father gave me one look of kindness, as if I had something about or in me which pleased him-as if he had done a good action in producing me, so beaming with benevolence was his eye-and then gave directions that I was to be sent off immediately.
Thus, in pure kindness, was I banished the paternal mansion. I was hurried to a strange house in a narrow street, and thrust into a hole in the wall. Here I found many companions. Some had a well-born and an educated appearance, while others had a dirty, low-bred air, and were most offensive to me, coming, as I had, fresh from a perfumed chamber. One vulgar fellow-a thick, shapeless mass, full of everything odious, like a rotten water-melon-tumbled plump in on me, giving me a mark in my face I shall never lose; and when I uttered a slight expression of sensation-for I have much sensibility-he burst into such invectives