Imagens das páginas


city of the following extract from the preface to one of the volumes of Twice-Told Tales. The insight and discrimination are only equalled by the exactness and adequacy of expression. So far as the review goes, we dare say every one will subscribe to the justness and happiness of every statement, taking exception to one point only which perhaps it would have been difficult for him to deal with fairly statement of his own merits. After remarking that he rather wondered how the tales should have gained what vogue they did, than that it was so little and so gradual, he proceeds: "They have the pale tint of flowers that blos-Free from technical jargon, he discourses of the yellow, bruised block, or the timemellowed canvas, till it becomes animated the feeling and observation of every sketch. In- with fresh beauty, again instinct with the stead of passion, there is sentiment; and even in significance with which its maker strove to what purport to be pictures of actual life, we inspire it. Witness his criticisms of the have allegory, not always so warmly dressed in Marble Faun, of the Dying Gladiator, of its habiliments of flesh and blood as to be Guido's Michael and the Dragon, of Fra taken into the reader's mind without a shiver. Angelico's faces and figures of sinless anWhether from lack of power, or an unconquera-gelic loveliness, of Sodoma's bound and ble reserve, the author's touches have often an bleeding Christ, and, above all, witness his effect of tameness; the merriest man can hardly deep insight into the subtle and elusive contrive to laugh at his broadest humour; the tenderest woman, one would suppose, will hardly shed warm tears at his deepest pathos. The book, if you would see anything in it, requires to be read in the clear, brown, twilight atmosphere in which it was written; -if opened in the sunshine, it is apt to look exceedingly like a volume of blank

The refinement and accuracy of his perception, as shown there, are such as are found only in the true artist and critic combined. His sympathetic recognition of the central and though often perhaps scarce sciously to himself- the guiding idea and feeling of the old sculptor or painter, enables him to breathe new life and meaning into the time-stained, earth-eaten, mutilatthe under-ed marble, and to translate for us into articulate speech the thoughts and feelings that moved the brush of the "old master," as real an achievement of genius as their expression in a stone or colour medium, though not as their original conception.

somed in too retired a shade- the coolness of a

meditative habit, which diffuses itself through


With the foregoing characteristics, proper to the productions of a person in retirement (which happened to be the author's category at the time), the book is devoid of others that we should quite as naturally look for. The sketches are not, it is hardly necessary to say, profound; but it is rather more remarkable that they so seldom, if ever, show any design on the writer's part to make them so. They have none of the abstruseness of idea, or obscurity of expression, which marks the written communications of a

solitary mind with itself. They never need translation. It is, in fact, the style of a man of society. Every sentence, so far as it embodies thought or sensibility, may be understood and felt by anybody who will give himself the trouble to read it, and will take up the book in a proper


"This statement of apparently opposite peculiarities leads us to a perception of what the sketches truly are. They are not the talk of a secluded man with his own mind and heart (had it been so, they could hardly have failed to be more deeply and permanently valuable), but his attempts, and very imperfectly successful

ones, to open an intercourse with the world.”

His real power as a critic, however, is better seen in what he says in Transformation on the remains of ancient Art in Italy.

sion of loneliness, of the marvellous pormeanings, the profound sorrow and exprestrait of Beatrice Cenci, glancing, as it does, at some of the most solemn and awful truths of Christian faith. Some living artists also are helped to utter their best conceptions through his pen as well as through their own chisel. His interpretation of Mr. Story's really admirable statue of Cleopatra is full of fine perception and true feeling.

We have hitherto referred to his works only incidentally, to illustrate the characteristics we have remarked in their author. We proceed now to notice the more important of them, though it must be very shortly,

in succession.

His earliest attempts, we believe, at authorship, were a series of slight sketches which appeared in some of the magazines and annuals of the time, and were afterwards collected—so many of them at least as their author thought fit in the volumes entitled Twice-Told Tales and Mosses from an Old Manse. These present many of the distinctive features of his more elaborate productions, and are full of promise of their later fruits. Some of these short pieces, especially among the 66 Mosses," are as pregnant with power and beauty as anything he has given to the world, though, of course, presenting but limited scope for his microscopic analysis and artistic elaboration. Rappaccini's Daughter," for example, is full of subtle effects and "the lurid intermixture" of antagonistic emotions; of



intimations of the hidden and undeveloped of the morbid heart of Dimmesdale, affinities of humanity with nature; of the rather the history; for it is not its condidanger of mere intellectualism unconse- tion at any one moment, so much as its procrated by affection and moral purpose; of gress, step by step, from refined purity and warnings of how forces appointed for pure almost saintly devotion, once wounded by and beautiful ends may be perverted into momentary indulgence of unholy passion, deadly poisons. Strange and subtle sym- through depths of beguiling self-knowledge pathies are shadowed forth, that are awak- and self-deception, of moral weakness and ened by a breath, a fragrance, the most self-abasement, of passionate penance and ethereal means, typifying spiritual agencies miserable evasion, till, enfeebled to the too elusive for sense to track. The same point of collapse both physically and spiritgenerating spirit is transfused into the ually, his fall is perfected in yielding for an earthly child as into the plant which, as the instant, under the stimulating sympathy and offspring of her father's science, germinates love of the stronger nature and more resat the hour of her birth, and establishes a olute will of his fellow-sinner, to a dream mysterious sisterhood between the maiden of unhallowed earthly life and passion, from and the flower. "Young Goodman Brown," which he is soon roused by the grim, chill, again, is an allegorical rendering of a temp- but to him not unwelcome, hand of death, tation in the wilderness into which an im- to cleanse his conscience by confession. pure imagination can turn our hearts, and The constitution of the man is one of sinshows how all faith may be lost, and the gular fineness and weakness. Every hour very stays of the soul may be converted of his life he abhors himself in dust and into means of hurrying it into the abyss, if ashes; he struggles, in almost mortal agony, the tempter be not resisted while he may. to unburden himself of the concealed sin Again, the true inherent nature of false- that rankles and festers in his conscience, hood, as a very plague-spot in the soul, is till it eats out the whole pith of his being. brought out with terrible force in "Roger In helpless cowardice and vanity he faints Malvin's Burial," where disingenuous con- in the attempt, rendered doubly difficult by cealment imparts to a justifiable act much the devotedness and worship of his flock, of the secret effect of guilt." Once more, and drifts into wild self-accusations of merewhat would most writers make of the sim-ly general sinfulness and depravity, which ple fact of a man choosing to hide his coun- serve only to heighten their conception of tenance behind a fold of black crape? Yet his character and of his standard of moral in "The Minister's Black Veil," from so purity. The misery of his life is augmentsmall a root-fibre he rears a wondrous ed unspeakably by the fiendish process of growth. By dint of his cunning power of refined torture to which he is subjected by imagination he makes this simple fact teem the husband, who, living under the same with significance, and converts it into a roof with him, in the character of physician, source of thrilling awe or fear to all the be- seeks revenge, not in exposure, but in conholders; and reflects from their numerous stantly fretting with poisonous touch the hearts and faces on the reader, as on a fo- ever open wound. One cannot but regret cus, a perplexity of sentiment, till the creep- that a nature endowed with so many noble ing sense of mystery becomes intensified a qualities should not live more visibly to rethousand-fold. Sometimes, as in " Wake-trieve its fall. Yet we cannot doubt the field," by a reverse process he analyses backward, and from a single act of odd eccentricity he builds up the inner fabric of the man, as Professor Owen reconstructs an extinct animal from a tooth.


reality of his late repentance, and that in his dying confession there was not only achieved the beginning of a higher life for himself, but a redeeming influence exerted for both mother and child.

The Scarlet Letter was the first of his Hester's character is of a stronger mould. larger works, and is perhaps unsurpassed Without being unwomanly, she is of far in the concentrated power of one or two of less effeminate texture than the man she its scenes by anything he afterwards wrote. loved so truly, and for whom she suffered The interest is centred in two chief and so bravely. Under the hard Puritan treattwo subordinate characters, - the two na- ment she somewhat hardens. The blazing tures, originally so fine, marred by their brand upon her breast does not melt, but joint sin, the minister and Hester, and the indurates her heart. It is true that for two against whom they sinned, the husband seven long years she had never been false and the child There is nothing we know to the symbol, and "it may be that it was of in literature at once so tender and so un- the talisman of a stern and severe, but yet flinching, so harrowingly painful, and yet a guardian spirit." But an outcast from so irresistibly fascinating, as the dissection social intercourse and joy, her thoughts


break loose from conventional limitations, | kindness is dried up within him, and he lives and stray in bold and perilous speculation. only to keep his enemy on the rack, to Pitiless condemnation and scorn drive her prolong the wretched man's wasting life by to justify what she had better unfeignedly care and healing art, only that he may the repented. "What we did had a consecra- longer enjoy his devilish work. He misertion of its own. We felt it so. We said ably sinks out of the circle of human activ'so to each other." Thrown out of her true ity and life when his patient's death leaves relations to society, she sees its whole fabric him without a purpose more. in false perspective, awry. "For years past she had looked from an estranged point of view at human institutions, and whatever priests or legislators had established; criticising all with hardly more reverence than the Indian would feel for the clerical band, the judicial robe, the pillory, the gallows, the fireside, or the church. The tendency of her fate and fortunes had been to set her free. The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been, her teachers- stern and wild ones and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss." Divine law broken becomes to her human prejudice. She not only seeks to justify the past; she would vainly aim at a higher and truer life in renewal and perpetuation of the sin; and in her wild daring she carries the poor bewildered soul of the minister with her. For deliberate power and skilful handling it might be difficult to find many passages equal to that in which she fans the dying embers of hope and passion into a shortlived glow before they expire for ever.


Arrived, however, at the very summit of his fame and influence, Dimmesdale is moved by a power and virtue beyond himself to count these and all else as loss that he may win truth; and in conquering himself he is "strangely triumphant over more than himself. Stronger as Hester has all along shown herself, she " is impelled as if by inevitable fate against her stronger will" by the power of truth and right in his last moments. The child too is subdued: "the spell is broken" that seemed all her life to have inspired her with an elf-like nature that could not be bound by enduring human sympathies. Even Roger Chillingworth, become almost the incarnation of hate and revenge, though unsoftened, is withered up into impotence for evil by this "death of triumphant ignominy." This character, indeed, though at first apt to be thrown into shadow by the more intense interest that attaches to his wife and the minister, is truly the most painful in the narrative. The laborious student, the benevolent recluse of other days, has his whole nature poisoned, his learning and sage experience of human nature turned into a curse, by the sin that had been sinned against him. All human


The early manifestations of Pearl's nature and disposition are deeply significant, full of reflex lights thrown on the modifying influence, not only of parental character, though perhaps foreign to its general tone of our progenitors; and that less by their natural and generally recognised operation in habitual life and intercourse, than by a sort of natural affection of blood, and nerve, and spirit; intimating to us in infinitely varied speech the truth, that what is sown must be reaped-the persistent cogency of moral law, the indestructible cohesion of moral order, either in recognition and observance, or in vindication and retribution. "The child's nature had something wrong in it, which continually betokened that she had been born amiss the effluence of her mother's lawless passion." She was wayward, fitful, impulsive, never to be reckoned on, full of wild energy, gushing affection, and imperious self-will. There was fire in her, and throughout her; she seemed the unpremeditated off-shoot of a passionate moment." She was at once the sting and the solace of her mother's heart, and that not only by virtue of the natural relationship of child and parent, as the constant memorial of the crime in which she had been begotten, and at the same time the blessing into which God in his mercy converts for us even the fruits of our sins; but far more in the peculiarity of her disposition, as a very senger of anguish," and a purger of her parent's conscience. Her first baby smile is not in her mother's face, but at the scarlet letter on her breast; its gold embroidery is the first plaything which her tiny fingers grasp at; it is the chief object of her later childish curiosity. She loves in imp-like prank to associate it in her remarks with the habit the minister has of keeping his hand over his heart. With malicious pertinacity she seeks ever and again to force his acknowledgment of herself and her mother on the most public occasions. It appeared to be the very end of her life to probe and keep ever open the hidden sores of both.

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The salient features of the child's nature, as well as the tendency and power of evil to perpetuate and reproduce itself, are forcibly set forth in her mother's reflections on her character:

"Her nature-or else Hester's fears deceived

her-lacked reference and adaptation to the world into which she was born. The child could not be made amenable to rules. In giving her existence, a great law had been broken: and the result was a being whose elements were perhaps beautiful and brilliant, but all in disorder; or an order peculiar to themselves, amidst which the point of variety and arrangement was difficult or impossible to be discovered. Hester could only account for the child's character, and even then most vaguely and imperfectly, by recalling what she herself had been, during that momentous period while Pearl was imbibing her soul from the spiritual world, and her bodily frame from its material of earth. The mother's impassioned state had been the medium through which were transmitted to the unborn infant the rays of its moral life; and however white and clear originally, they had taken the deep stains of crimson and gold, the fiery lustre, the black shadow, and the untempered light, of the intervening substance. Above all, the warfare of Hester's spirit, at that epoch, was perpetuated in Pearl. She could recognise the wild, desperate, defiant mood,

the flightiness of her temper, and even some of the very cloud-shapes of gloom and despondency that had brooded in her heart. They were now illuminated by the morning radiance of a child's disposition; but, later in the day of earthly existence, might pe prolific of storm and whirlwind."

standing this defect, the conception of Clifford is apprehended by the author so vividly, so sharply, so thoroughly, and analysed and described with such keenness, care, and minuteness, that the effect is most impressive. Line upon line is added with an elaboration that in the end is almost oppressive. Quietly and gently, touch by touch is given, till it would seem artistic finish could no further go. And it is as a marvel of artistic finish and workmanship that the piece is chiefly attractive. For Clifford, after all the pains bestowed upon him, is far from a loveable person. "An. abortive lover of the Beautiful" is but an abortion after all. It is both sad and instructive to see how the mere artist-instinct, unsweetened, unpreserved by admixture of the more humanizing ingredients of heart and soul, corrupts the entire being, and crushes every more generous impulse under the demands for selfish gratification of what thus becomes a ruling passion. May not his terrible troubles have been messengers of mercy in disguise, to save from utter extinction what embers of human feeling were still capable of emitting a transient glow?

The intense all-absorbing devotion of Hepzibah forms, it is true, a pathetic contrast and relief to Clifford's refined unconscious selfishness. But the seclusion in which her pride and misfortunes have shut her up, and her many years' brooding over the one engrossing affection, the one great sorrow of her heart, have so dried up the well-spring of her nature, and narrowed her affinities with human life, that she appeals to our pity, not unmixed with ridicule, rather than to any warmer sentiment of admiration or regard.

The House of the Seven Gables is in some respects the most elaborate and finished, if neither the most pleasing nor the most profound, of his writings. Its material is of the very slightest. The absence of incident, which we have already remarked on, has here reached its utmost; there is literally no action in the whole romance. The only event is the sudden death from apoplexy of a worldly, hardened, outwardly respectable old man, at the very time he is bent on ex- Phoebe is, indeed, a cheery, refreshing ecuting the most wicked project of his life. spot in the dismal picture. We might have But there is more than mere want of inci- introduced her as an example of our audent to throw the work out of the ordinary thor's intense sympathy with the natural category of tales, and almost to class it with and sweet ways and aims of childhood. She other forms of composition: the descriptive is no doubt on the verge of womanhood; nearly swallows up every other character- but she has so much of the child about her, istic. The dramatic element plays a com- at least of the child-heart in her, before the paratively insignificant part in any of Haw-woman is awakened by her contact with thorne's writings; but here its deficiency is carried to excess. The portraiture of poor Clifford's life and character, on which the author's efforts have been mainly expended, is produced by pages upon pages of unbroken description. With a wonderfully revealing power, we are told, but Clifford had hardly ever, by deed or word, himself shown us, what he is. There is no self-manifesting quality in the characters. They have all to be introduced, taken to pieces and explained, as much as if they were lay figures or psychological wax-models. But notwith


VOL. XI. 426

Holgrave; she is so simple, so natural, so innocent, that we forget her years in her character. But she also exemplifies another quality we have claimed for her historian, his power to depict scenes of real life. The homely little housewife, so practical in all her thoughts and habits, so skillful in all womanly handiwork, sheds a beam of sunshine through all the gloomy house, through all the gloomier lives of her kinsfolk, by her gentle grace, her apt and winning ways, and unflagging spirit of genial activity. Every touch is realistic.


Artistically, Holgrave is the least satisfactory character. He seems to us less definitely and firmly conceived, less clearly brought out, perhaps less consistent, than almost any other playing an equally prominent part in Hawthorne's works.

feel her sunny smile with gladdening warmth | sues in a tragic catastrophe; for although the on our hearts. She is one of those bright murder of Miriam's model in Transformabut homely creatures, that seem sent to tion may at first appear to be an event of teach us the too-often-forgotten lesson, that such a nature, his character and circumcheerfulness is not only a personal charm, stances, save as they bear on Miriam, are but a social virtue. too incidentally interwoven into the texture of the romance to concern the reader, more than in a secondary degree, in his fortunes. His appearance is too episodical; and his fate is felt rather as the occasion of other events of interest than of vital interest itself. But Zenobia is the prominent figure in Blithedale, and her end is undeniably tragic. She is, too, the only instance of Hawthorne's essaying to delineate a character of thoroughly passionate impulse. She has none of the pale tints and pensive aspect of his other creations. He would represent her as Oriental in character, and the unfailing exotic that adorned her hair was a subtle expression of her own nature. This romance, moreover, is the only one in which he has chosen the development of the tender passion as his direct and primary theme. For this, and the modifying influence it ex

The pervading impression of the whole narrative is one of something very like a fate, but really far more solemn and terrible than any fate that ever brooded over Grecian tragedy, - the undying and illimitable consequences of human action and character, and the intimate ties that link the generations of man into one organic whole. The Past hangs like a murky pall of judgment over the Present, teaching us that what we are and what we do may affect those that come after us more critically, it may be, than even ourselves. The lowest rank among his works of fic-erts, as well as the modified forms it astion we should be disposed to assign to The sumes, in minds so variously and characterBlithedale Romance. It has much of the istically constituted and disposed as Zenosame delicacy of handling, and play of the bia, Priscilla, Hollingsworth, and Coverimagination, and unimpassioned study of dale, form the real interest, although the mental phenomena; but it does not display more ostensible purpose and moral of the the same mastery and subtle fascination as the book may be to depict the perilous, often others. It may be that the subject is less ruinous, effects on the individual-whatfitted for his peculiar powers, or that he has ever they may be to society at large, of undertaken it in an hour of less happy in- "what is called philanthrophy, when adopted spiration. The task he has set himself is as a profession." The House of the Seven not sufficiently composite fully to engage Gables, and Transformation, no doubt, deal and call forth his strength. The entangle-with the subject; but in each it appears ments and cross-purposes of the love-passa- only as an accessory, like the side scenes ges between a strong, rude, masculine na- in a drama, or the costume to a portrait; ture, of noble impulse and herculean will, and while harmonizing with the general efbut narrow, uncultivated, and under the fect, and affording a setting to the central domination of one idea, and two women object, does not divert the interest to itself. nearly related, but of widely different metal The fundamental idea of Transformation and temper, and both equally within the is the awakening and education of a human range of his attraction, for the exercise of soul from a state of simple, unconscious inwhich the circumstances are in the highest nocence, through crime, to a higher life of degree favourable, is almost too simple and moral and spiritual struggle, in which it may commonplace a problem fully to charm his be trained, not to ignore, but to combat and fancy or stimulate the peculiar bent of his subdue evil. In this some will see an atgenius. The circumstances of the Blithe- tempt, more or less successful, at an imagdale life were no doubt strange, but not inative rendering of a great truth, that has, strange enough. Besides, it is not strange- with varying distinctness, been the subject ness of outward circumstances Hawthorne of human contemplation and speculation needs, but of inward life, - the co-existence since the epoch of earliest written records of uncongenial emotions and irreconcilable of the race. Others may be disposed to tendencies. Still the study of the mental trace in it a pernicious application of the constitution and development of some of Goethean doctrine that experience is the the characters is fine, and the book has an mighty teacher, the sole condition of human interest of its own, from the fact of its development, even to the point that our breaking ground untouched in any of his perfect and manifold culture demands perother works. It is his only tale which is-sonal acquaintance, through actual partici

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