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Chapter 1

Chapter I

"Then we talked about...the experiences of early childhood, whose influence remains upon the character after the collection of them has passed away ......
    Hawthorne to Margaret Fuller ( )

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a boy of eleven when he could walk on Union Street in the seaport of Salem, Massachusetts to the Manning stage-coach office. He was about to travel to Maine with his sisters, Elizabeth. and Louisa, and his widowed mother, who had been thinking for some tine of moving permanently to Maine where her family, the Mannings, owned extensive property. From the top of Union Street, where he waited to board the stage-coach, Hawthorne could have seen the houses, the long harbor and the little gardens which had been his childhood world.

Directly down Union Street was his grandparents' house in which he had been born. A squarish, snug, clapboard house whose huge center chimney provided heat for the low-cellinged rooms, it had been Nathaniel's hone for the first four years of his life.

Hawthorne's prominent Hathorne ancestors, "stern and black-browed Puritans," had held high administrative and judicial posts in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He would later feel that the image of an early ancestor connected him to past generations of his family, writing in "The Custom House" section of The Scarlet Letter, "The figure of that first ancestor, invested by family tradition with a dim and dusky grandeur, was present to my boyish imagination, as far back as I can remember. It still haunts me, and induces a sort of home-feeling with the past ...." Hawthorne's paternal grandfather, "Bold Daniel" Hathorne, who had died long before Nathaniel was born, was a "maritime personage." He knew that his grandfather's bravery was the subject of a ballad recorded later in Griswold's "Curiosities of American Literature."

Hawthorne's father, Capt. Nathaniel Hathorne, had courted his beautiful neighbor, Elizabeth Clarke Manning, the third of nine children. Twenty-one year old Betsey Manning, with "remarkable eyes" and "a clear and luminous complexion," had inspired Capt. Hathorne to write poetry in his ship's log-books. "In the Midst of all these dire allarms/ I'll think dear Betsey on thy Charms...." They were married on August 2, 1801, and their first child, Elizabeth, was born only seven months and five days later, on March 7, 1802. As a child, Nathaniel would not have known these details, but he would have seen his mother lead a very secluded life, especially in Salem where she would have been sensitive to the inevitable gossip about the short duration of her first pregnancy. It is probably significant that The Scarlet Letter, written while Hawthorne was suffering intense grief from his mother's death, is concerned with the effects of isolation imposed on a woman and her child.

Two years after Elizabeth's birth, Nathaniel had been born "in the chamber over the little parlor" in his grandparents' Union Street house on the Fourth of July. In her travail, his mother would have heard the roar of cannons and the clanging of church bells as Salem's patriotic citizens celebrated Independence Day. Early in the morning of July 4, 1804, a procession had formed at the nearby court house, "...with the Cadets & Band in front, then the Orator, & Committee, & the Citizens, two a two, till they reached the East Meeting House. 500 were in the procession & 1300 upon the Seats ....The Canon roared till Sundown, & the Evening was illumined with Rockets, & the Band gave great pleasure to the Company collected on Washington Square."

Nathaniel was a beautiful child, with blond curls. Unfortunately, he saw little of his father who was on voyages for months at a time. Capt. Hathorne was at sea on January 9, 1808, when Hawthorne's second sister, Maria Louisa, was born, and he was never to see her. In April of 1808, Mrs. Hathorne called her three-and-a-half year old son into her room next to the one where he slept with Elizabeth, to tell him his father was dead. Capt. Hathorne had died of yellow fever in Surinam while on a voyage to the East Indies. As a small boy, Nathaniel perhaps looked with awe at the few visible symbols of his father-- a tea-service which Capt. Hathorne had brought from China, an India punch bowl and pitcher which had been made to order for him in Calcutta, a set of china dishes decorated with his monograms, a little oval tray, his gold watch and chain, his books (valued at ten dollars) his spyglass, and a pair of pistols. Capt. Hathorne's pipes, usually filled with "yards" of tobacco, sat empty. He had been "a reticent man, warm-hearted fond of children and a great reader." Hawthorne, reticent himself, apparently never wrote of his father and rarely spoke of him. Nevertheless, he would come to treasure the few objects which had belonged to his father as he passed them down to his own children.

When her husband died, Betsey Manning had moved her little family from the widow-filled Hathorne household, dependent upon the Forrester money for help, across the Union Street Garden to her parents' home on Herbert Street. Nathaniel and his sisters were the only children in this large household, where they were surrounded by two grandparents, three aunts, four uncles, and several cats. The Manning aunts and uncles were "as fond" of their small nephew and "as careful of his welfare as if he had been their own child." As he grew older Hawthorne came to resent their control over him.

Always sensitive to architectural beauty, Hawthorne later described the Manning house as "a tall, ugly, old, grayish building." It sat with its side towards Herbert Street, which, like Union Street, ran down to busy Derby street, opposite the wharves of Salem harbor. Across from the wharves stood the imposing houses of Salem's merchants, many of whom, like Elias Hasket Derby, had accumulated great fortunes partly by their privateering activities in the Revolution.

Nathaniel and his sisters could venture down Herbert Street to the wharves which were fascinating with their sounds of sails luffing in the wind, of heavy lines creaking, and of the shouts of the ships' crews unloading cargo from deep within the hold of the ship. Occasionally a loud thudding splash announced that a ship's ballast of blue and white common china carried from the other side of the world, was being thrown overboard into the mud of shallow Salem harbor--its usefulness as ballast over. The Hathorne children knew, too, that their father had sailed from these waters, never to return to them.

However, Nathaniel's Manning grandparents, unlike his father's side of the family, were not involved in the Salem maritime trade. His grandfather, Richard Manning, had been born in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1775 and later moved to Salem to work as a blacksmith. Many of his Manning ancestors had been blacksmiths, then highly respected artisans who crafted mechanical items including clocks, and who were first known as gunsmiths because of the importance of guns in a frontier society. Richard Manning's business enterprise had enabled him to move beyond the blacksmith profession to become the manager of the stagecoach line which ran between Salem and Boston. Such roads as the turnpike from Andover to Salem were slowly being built by subscription funds, often under the patronage of a wealthy citizen, and the need for reliable transportation between the expanding New England towns caused Grandfather Manning's energetic management of the vital stage-coach line to be quite lucrative.

As a boy, Nathaniel could have watched the bustling activity of the stage-coach office where the drivers swapped their stories and the passengers vanished on their journeys, each with a tale to tell. He played in the livery stables, imagining the adventures of the interesting people who had ridden in the carriages. Hawthorne's lifelong fascination with the limitless possibilities of journeys and the moral education possible for the traveler is apparent in many of his tales and sketches written later. For instance, in "Mrs. Bullfrog,'' the capsize of the stage-coach, "with the wheels in the air and our heels where our heads should have been," leads the narrator to learn the truth about "the journey of the day and the journey of life" with his new bride.

Hawthorne could very well have been describing his own love of travel in the opening passages of "The Toll Gatherer's Day: A Sketch of Transitory Life," when he wrote, "In youth perhaps, it is good far the observer to run about the earth -- to leave the track of his footsteps far and wide--to mingle himself with the action of numberless vicissitudes." He may have remembered the hours he had spent around the Manning stage-coaches when he later took great delight in travelling to New England villages. His journal entry for July 27, 1838 (written when he was thirty-four), records his still intense enjoyment of travel and the unique view of the rest of the world from a stage-coach window:

The highest point of our journey was at Windsor, where we could see leagues around over the mountain-- a terrible bare, bleak spot, fit for nothing but sheep and without shelter of woods. We rattled downward into a warmer region beholding as we went, the sun shining on portions of the landscape miles ahead of use while we were yet in chillness and gloom, It is probable that, during part of the stage, the mists around us looked like sky-clouds to those in the lower regions. Think of riding in a stage-coach through the clouds!( )

Hawthorne's Grandfather Manning eventually left the management of the stage-coach company to his sons in Salem -- William, Robert and Samuel -- and invested his profits in the land of Raymond, Maine, a "township" in the wilderness which bordered on the great Sebago Lake. Raymond (then known as Raymondtown with the present town of South Casco included within its generous boundaries), was a township of fifty-nine square miles amounting to roughly 31,377 acres of lands which had been given in payment to men of Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts who had fought against the French and Indians in the 1690 Expedition to Quebec. Captain William Rayment, of Beverly, who had shown great bravery and skill in fighting the Indians in "The Great Swamp Fight" of King Phillip's War in 1675 was chosen to lead a company of men who agreed to represent their town in the Essex regiment as part of the huge effort to drive out the English colonists from Massachusetts. The entire Expedition of 1690 was led by Sir William Phips, later a governor of Massachusetts, whose fascinating life provided Hawthorne with material for two interesting biographical sketches.

The expedition failed but in 1736 land was finally granted to the descendants of the men who had fought for the English, in lieu of money as payment for their military service. The town of Raymond was laid out in an area that is now Weare, New Hampshire, because, at that time, Massachusetts claimed much of the land that is now New Hampshire. After a bitter dispute over the location of the Massachusetts boundary, the king ruled in 1704 that it did not include the area where Salem and Beverly frontiersmen had already begun to build their new settlement. Finally, in 1765, they were granted land again, this time near Sebago Lake in Maine, territory still owned by Massachusetts. The owners of these landgrants, called proprietors began selling hundred- acre farmlots to families of Beverly and Salem, and it was this land that Grandfather Manning began buying in 1795 when he purchased several hundred acres from Samuel Symonds of Danvers. He was seeking a secure financial investment in a distant wilderness just as other Salem families had invested their financial hopes in the exotic fast-India. trade.

During Hawthorne's childhood the thriving maritime economy of Salem had begun to decline, and he was fortunate that his grandfather had, with foresight, invested in land, rather than in ships. As early as 1805, the minister of Salem's East Church, William Bentley, had recorded in his diary that, "Everything respecting Commerce aggravated by report & a stagnation of business." The Embargo Act of 1807-1809, which forbade any American vessel to leave an American port bound for a foreign port, had greatly crippled Salem's maritime activity, and had caused politics in the winter of 1808 to become "more sour." "Why the Embargo? say all." A second act then forbade the importation of any of the British goods which had come through the port of Salem which never recovered its former prosperity after 1809.

Nathaniel, of course, had few memories of the Embargo years, but at 1812 at the age of eight, he was old enough to recognize the excitement and losses which the War of 1812 brought to his life. He could watch the militia drill on nearby Salem Common as the men prepared for battle. The port became busier than it had been "for months" and privateers arrived, "fitted for sea" and waited only for commissions, fearful, as Dr. Franklin had reminded them, of having Canada fall into the hands of a foreign nation. They agreed with Rev. Bentley that, "Liberty once lost is lost forever."

Nathaniel had said goodbye to his twenty-four year old uncle, John Manning, who left to be a sailor in the war. He never returned. Having lost his own father to the sea, Hawthorne must have felt keenly the loss of his young uncle. Hs wrote forty years later that he never saw his name "without thinking that this may be the lost uncle ...as long as his mother lived, as many as twenty years, she never gave up the hope of his return, and was constantly hearing stories of persons whose description answered to his ...Thus, so far as her belief was concerned, he still walked the earth." Even in the deeds to the land in Maine, a place was left for John Manning's signature, should he return. Hawthorne later created the character of Hepzibah Pyncheon's uncle who was never heard from after he went to sea, and Wakefield, a man who mysteriously leaves his own household to live unrecognized nearby. These characters may have had their genesis in John Manning, who, like Hawthorne's father, vanished from a family who never ceased to grieve for him.

Shortly before Nathaniel's ninth birthday in 1813, the war became a visible reality to the people of Salem when a British ship, the "Shannon," sailed within sight of the shore and an American frigate from Boston, the "Chesapeake," went in chase of her. The Reverend Bentley reported that, "The notice of the fight deeply interested our inhabitants who went in throngs to Legge's Hill [the hill near the Salem Marblehead town line] & the heights ....Leggs's hill...was black like the swarm of bees....The Am. Frigate hove too & fired a gun, but the English Frigate suffered herself to be chased till she was out of sight."

In the Manning household, Nathaniel heard his Aunt Maria worry about the war's effect on the availability of firewood as the Mannings realized that their land in Maine could be a source of precious goods. Maria wrote to her brother, Robert then visiting his brother, Richard, who resided permanently in Maine. "This cold weather, we almost envy Richard his good fire, tho we have not suffer'd yet for want of one, but wood is very dear & so is everything that we most want." The price of wool and cloth had tripled, causing many Salem residents to begin weaving their own cloth. The Reverend Bentley remarked that he had never seen a loom in his part of the town until then. But soon the scarcity of cloth "... produced from the labour of private families good cloathing of all sorts, sheeting, & blanketing, the cloathing which has been done at home by the knitting needle [was] worthy of the best directed industry."

Nathaniel's Uncle Robert wrote to his nieces and nephews telling them about the sheep in Maine, but Hawthorne's mother, in her reply, after noting her children's imaginative response to his letters, wrote of her mother's more practical interest in the sheep: "The children were delighted with the account of the sheep and have already, in ideas, large flocks and wool enough to clothe them ....Mother [Mrs. Miriam Manning] desires you would not sell that bottom wool it is very high here and if you have a good opportunity she wishes you to send it and she will pay the freight." (Indeed the sheep in Raymond, Maine provided an enormous amount of wool for the home industry of weaving. The 1810 census recorded that there were ninety-two looms in 131 Raymond homes which produced 6,650 yards of woolen cloth per year.

The tension from the War of 1812 continued to grow in Salem when in the neighboring town of Marblehead, harboring an American frigate, the "Constitution," expected to be attacked by the British in the spring of 1814. Nathaniel's uncles, William, Robert and Samuel, had helped ready their livery horses (which were enjoying their Sabbath day rest) to draw cannon to Marblehead. The expected bombardment never occurred but Hawthorne's uncles were commended in the Salem Gazette for their aid.

Nathaniel knew of his Aunt Priscilla's feelings of fear as she learned of the British military advances. She wrote to her brothers in Maine, "I have the satisfaction of informing you that we ...yet possess our habitations in peace .... The report that our capital is in the possession of the British has reached us! how painful." She then reminded her brothers of her faith in God's power to intervene in their lives, writing, "What shall we do? but in the courageous and conscientious use of all our means of resistance such help from that God who hath hitherto been our Deliveror, from our enemies, and who can as easily give victory 'by a few as by many.' May we individually and as a nation, become the object of his Guardian ....We need fear no evil."

A few weeks later all of Salem's citizens in a, "frenzy shook with fear at an alarm brought up from Halifax of the intended invasion of the town by the British and the Hawthorne and Manning aunts prepared to flee to Ipswich. They sent several truckloads of valuable items including books, out Salem for safe-keeping. Nathaniel, then ten years old, had wanted to remain in Salem so that he could "see the English," but because he was "one of three children," he was sent to Ipswich with his sisters. In Raymond forty-six men had been drafted and prepared to march to Portland because the coast of Maine had been attacked by the British. Meanwhile, Robert Manning sent the bounty of Raymond, some "wheat rye butter & cheese," to the beleagured Hathornes and Mannings in Salem. Hawthorne himself, writing nearly forty years later, probably remembered the drama of those war years when he described the influence of the "military spirit" on his boyhood friends Franklin Pierce: "He became early imbued, too with the military spirit which the old soldier [Pierce's father] had retained from his long services and which was kept active by the constant alarms and warlike preparations of the first twelve years of the present century."

During these years, Nathaniel had listened to his mother talk to her older sister, Mary, about the possibility of moving with her to a farm in Bridgton, Maine, an area even more remote than Raymond. The threat of the British invasion accelerated their plans, and Mary persuasively wrote to her brother Richard, "It will be very trying far us to leave our Dear Mother [Grandmother Manning] ....Should the war continue we may be under the necessity of leaveing Salem in such a case. It may be very convenient for them [the Mannings who would remain in Salem] to have us there." But the plan to move was postponed because the Bridgton farm was "much out of repair."

Hawthorne's childhood days were filled with the reality of war as well as the trauma of losing more relatives. On April 19, 1813, Grandfather Manning died en route to Raymond at the Carr Island Bridge in Newbury, Massachusetts. Reverend Bentley noted that he had gone to bed "well" but "...was found in an Apoplexy in the morning at sunrise & expired on Monday noon... Three days earlier, Rachel Hathorne, Nathaniel's grandmother, had died in the Union Street house where he had been born. It was in her home that Nathaniel had first enjoyed Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in a large chair "in a corner of the room near a window" where he had read "by the hour, without once speaking." Hawthorne would continue to read Bunyan throughout his life, fascinated by his brilliant use of allegory.

Nathaniel had watched the grief and tension mount in the household, now presided over by Grandmother Manning. The following list of Reverend Bentley's prayers suggests her suffering: "October 31, 1813, Miriam Manning & children,.. p[rayers] for two sons absent. One at sea, [John Manning] the other infirm in Maine [Richard Manning]. Mrs. Manning lost her brother in law by a fall from a house & since the d[eath] of her husband in six months her sister in law, & two sons, & one d[aughter] of the same sister, besides three d[aughters] recovered from the same fever of which the above four in one family have died in so short a time."

Nathaniel saw death next take his Aunt Maria, who died at only twenty-seven years of a severe sore throat. A lively, intelligent woman, her letter in 1806 to her older sister, Mary, away on a visit to Portland, suggests her sense of humor. She wrote, "I hope you will not have the misfortune to meet with any other than the best of people ... But I had forgot to notice your injunction "keep peace at home" indeed and so we shall did you suppose peace vanished when your Ladyship left us? You would not think so if you could be with us, so much love so much condescension, you would certainly be edifyed by the sight ...."

An emotional woman, Maria had become deeply depressed before her death, and turned to her religion, and minister, Joseph Worcester of the Tabernacle Church, for consolation. Aunt Priscilla vividly described her sister's death to her brother in Maine, "The mournful task devolves on me, to tell you, we have lost a beloved sister. Maria has left this world, we doubt not for a better she breathed her last in the arms of her friends this after-noon, and was enabled to give evidence to the truth of religion, and that God is the support of those who put their trust in him her dying words were, it is the will of God. let God be praised. My Redeemer, his precious Blood, is the foundation of my hope. My every wish is satisfied, God is good and I am his own child. The world is nothing, nothing to me. she kissed us and bade us Live to the Glory of God."

While Nathaniel was recovering emotionally from the shock of the loss of five members of his family, he had been recovering as well from an injury to his foot which prevented him from walking. Then nine years old, he had written the following letter to his Uncle Robert in Maine:

I hope you are well and I hope Richard is too. My foot is no better ....it is know 4 weeks yesterday since I have been to school and I dont know but [?but?] it will be 4 weeks longer before I go again .I have been out in the office two or three times and have set down on the step of the door and once I hopped out into the street. Yesterday I went out in the office and had 4 cakes Hannah carried me out once but not then .... " I hope you will write to me soon but I have nothing more to write so good bye dear Uncle ()

During this long period of psychological stress, Nathaniel was happy to remain at home where his teacher, Joseph Worcester, came to listen to his lessons. Especially during his lameness, Nathaniel read constantly. He added his own literary thoughts to the books he read, as his sister recalled, "When my brother was young he covered the margins and the fly leaves of every book in the house with lines of poetry and other quotations, and with his own names and other names. Nothing brings him back to me so vividly as looking at those old books."

Fortunately for Nathaniel, the Mannings owned books that he could enjoy. Books were valuable, and even acquiring then was difficult. Reverend Bentley carefully watched for sales of books so that he could enlarge his collection. He threw up his hands in dismay at the dearth of educated men who understood the importance of reading when he observed, "The professional men have their Libraries but more for their immediate use than great taste. I was asked by a rich merchant whether Books were not a bad stock to calculate upon & whether they must not sell again below the prime cost?" The Salem Athenaeum, whose members could borrow its books, was begun in 1810, but even in that venture, Bentley noted that there "...was too much of the Merchant to be seen in this Literary enterprise.''

A child in a household of busy adults, Nathaniel had naturally turned for enjoyment to the worlds waiting for him in the books he read. He loved Spenser's The Faerie Queen and read Grandfather Manning's copy of Dr. Johnson. He later wrote that Dr. Johnson, a "heavy-foot traveller," had balanced his own propensities towards "Fairy Land."

Finally, in December of 1811, Nathaniel was able to walk, as his mother gratefully reported to her brother, Richard, "We are very carefull to send you all the bad news, but I think I have been very negligent as to what is pleasing. Nathaniel has entirely recovered the use of his feet and walks, as well as he did before he was lame, his joy was great, when he found he could walk without crutches."

Hawthorne was very glad to be rid of his crutches when he left for Maine in May of 1816. Shortly before his recovery, his Uncle Richard, lame himself, had written to Robert, ''Tell... Nathaniel ...when he comes down here I shall give him a nice Fowling piece that once belonged to his Father." And so, as he left Salem behind, with its painful memories of separations, wars and death, Nathaniel could dream of happier days ahead in Maine.

to Chapter 2





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