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Chapter III

III.

'Oh how I wish I was again with you, with nothing to do but go a-gunning ....Why was I not a girl that I might have been pinned all my life to my Mother's apron.''
--Hawthorne to his mother. ()

Nathaniel's thirteenth summer passed happily until a letter arrived for his mother from her sister, Priscilla. An energetic person, Priscilla enjoyed overseeing the household relationships. She had tried to help Robert make his mother feel less forgotten and she looked after the needs of her little nieces as well, writing to her brothers, "Elizabeth and Louisa are well, and appear to enjoy the pleasures, and advantages which are placed in their power, and which are so adapted to render their morn of life happy." Viewing life with a wider field of vision than the other Mannings, Priscilla was interested in religion and politics. She had asked Robert for his opinion of the proposed separation of Maine from Massachusetts and for the views of Portland people "who understand it." Nathaniel was probably very fond of his Aunt Priscilla; she was imaginative and enjoyed writing in a flowery style often graced with poetic imagery. Her desire to bridge the distance between Salem and Maine ignited his literary powers. She noted that she had written one letter not ''...by daylight, but by twilight." She advised Elizabeth to add more details to her letters so that the Mannings in Salem could more easily visit the Hathornes in Raymond "in imagination," becoming part of their family circle by means of vivid descriptions.

Her letter to Betsey, written on August 91 1816, began in Priscilla's emphatic tone, "How uncertain are all earthly expectations!--I can scarcely express how much Iwish to see you all, I think frequently if I could pass even one day with you it would afford me the highest satisfaction." She then exhorted her sister to instruct her children "...in the important truths of religion..." so that they might "...early resolve to devote themselves to His Service." Then,
Note that Robert Manning added to a letter his sister, Priscilla, wrote on August 9, 1816 to their sister, Hawthorne
Note that Robert Manning added to a letter his sister, Priscilla, wrote on August 9, 1816 to their sister, Hawthorne's mother. Robert and Priscilla were in Salem at the time, and Betsey Hathorne and her children were in Raymond, Maine. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 
before giving Betsey instructions for making raspberry jelly, Priscilla left room for Robert's addition to the letter, an imperious note commanding Betsey to send her son back to Salem for the fall: "Dear Sister, Send Nathaniel, he may bring his 2 suits of Mixt Cloths, & no more, Your Loving " " Robert Manning." ()

Robert had written several years earlier to his mother that the local children in Raymond "...are not subject to that order & subordination, which is so necessary to discourage bad habits, & confirm good ones, ours I hope will duly appreciate the advantages they enjoy and profit by them." Now Robert, and perhaps Priscilla, felt that Nathaniel should be back in Salem under his watchful eyes.

Betsey Hathorne, with her gentle manners and quiet reserve, naturally depended on her brothers and sisters for help in the otherwise lonely task of raising her three children. Because William Manning, her oldest brother, was content to manage the stage-coach business in Salem, and Richard, the second oldest, had happily moved to Raymond to live, Betsey's younger brother, Robert, only twenty-nine when his father died in 1813, had assumed the responsibilities and authority of the head of this large household. He had joked about how old he felt when he became aware of the importance of his role:

Nathaniel--O how I am bedar'd and beuncle'd by great Boys and girls. Why, when I read your letters, I went to the glass to see my white hairs, I felt as if I was 40 or 50 years old, but no matter for that, be good children, and the older 'Dear Uncle' grows, the more he will love you. Nat, you want to learn to swim, and so you shall when Uncle comes home, but you must study the hard lessons, learn all you can at school, mind your mother, dont look cross, hold up your head like a man, keep your cloths clean, and when Uncle comes home we shall enjoy ourselves as we did in good old times. ( ).
Louisa, especially, missed Robert whenever he was gone, and wished to know "every circumstance" relating to him.

Nathaniel knew that his Uncle Robert, an ambitious person, had greatly relished his project of subduing the Maine wilderness, writing from Raymond in 1814, "We progress slow but sure in the Settlement of the Business, much is yet to do...." A tense man who suffered from headaches, Uncle Robert was perhaps concerned too much for the "Business," sometimes forgetting the importance of human feelings. Richard, annoyed with his brother's failure to consider his needs, had written to him, "I saw that you had advertized a number of horses for Sale, I am in want of one that you can recommend as very steady and very good and a large strong Horse, not one of your old worn ones. Iam tired out with such creatures, and am determined to have a good one or none at all." Uncle Robert may have been in Hawthorne's mind when he wrote in The House of the Seven Gables about a Pyncheon who had inherited, "...hard, keen sense, and practical energy." Colonel Pyncheon, like Robert Manning, was endowed "...with common sense, as massive and hard as blocks of granite, fastened together by stern rigidity of purpose, as with iron clamps. He followed out his original design, probably without so much as imagining an objection to it. On the score of delicacy, or any scrupulousness which a finer sensibility might have taught him, the Colonel, like most of his breed and generation, was impenetrable."

Nathaniel's uncle was also intellectually curious and interested in the natural sciences, in an age when
Robert Manning, Hawthorne
Robert Manning, Hawthorne's maternal uncle (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 
men were beginning to realize that scientific knowledge might hold answers to mysteries in the world around them. He had written encouragingly, if overwhelmingly, to his very bright eleven-year old niece, Elizabeth, "A learned little lady, studying the stars, my dear when will the next Eclipse take place, can you tell how many stars is there, What is the moon made of, all these things you must learn before you will be a female Newton." Robert constantly bought books and would later channel his creative energies into establishing one of America's first pomological gardens, helping to found the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and writing a reference book on the horticulture of fruits. A man whose face had none of Nathaniel's handsome features, he was a perfectionist whose critical nature and lack of tact alienated him from others. Hawthorne later wrote of many artists-scientists whose attempts to create perfection result in their destruction of those who love then. He came to resent his demanding Uncle Robert and may have feared that his own artistic drives would likewise isolate him from others.

Nathaniel had always been the focus of Uncle Robert's attention. Aunt Priscilla, only twenty-four years old herelf and sounding like an experienced mother, had written to her brother, "Be so good Robert, as to favour him [Nathaniel] with your advice (which I think will not fail to be influential,) with regard to attending to writing, and some of his lessons, regularly. The benefit he will derive will amply repay him for the exertion it will require." She then expressed her wishes in a gardening image which Robert must have appreciated--"However rich the soil, we do not expect fruit, unless good seed is sown, and the plants carefully attended." In spite of their requests in August of 1816 to "send Nathaniel" back to Salem, Aunt Priscilla and Uncle Robert were no doubt disappointed when their older sister decided to remain in Maine, mentioning nothing of sending Nathaniel back to Salem. Perhaps showing the strength which Hawthorne remembered in her, Betsey may have preferred to stay near her gentler brother, Richard. She wrote apologetically, "I am very sorry to give you the trouble of packing up my goods. You will be glad on that account that there is so few of them whatever is not worth sending you will leave out." Then she added thoughtfully to Priscillia--"I left a straw bed in the back upper chamber. I wish you to have the straw."

Before Betsey could finish her letter, Nathaniel's Aunt Mary, iris uncle Samuel, and his Grandmother Manning had arrived in Raymond from Salem for a visit. Aunt Mary finished Betsey's letter, countermanding all her packing directions and heaving a sigh of relief at their safe arrival in Maine. "Through the blessing of Heaven we have all arived here well, and have the pleasure of finding our Friends here in good Health our dear Mother bore the journey extraordinary well, and this morning she ate a much hartier breakfast than she ever does at home."

Nathaniel's relatives in Salem (Priscilla, William, and Robert), waited anxiously for Mary's letter as Priscilla dramatically recounted:

Wednesday came, there was no letter; Robert said "Samuel must be coming or they would have written," he then in his usual decided manner, observed, "he will be here to night, and bring Nathaniel," the evening passed away and we enquired, can they in the joyful meeting, have forgotten those left at home; I told them the letter might come on thursday, he Said it is possible, but seemed not to expect it; William was quite anxious; in the morning, the letter came, we... were rejoiced to hear you arrived safely ...." ( )

In Raymond, Nathaniel helped Aunt Mary and his grandmother enjoy their visit. Aunt Miry wrote of taking "delightful walks" and of finding Raymond "much pleasanter" than she had expected to. She was impressed with Nathaniel's fishing skills, writing, "The river at this season abounds with salmon trout I could see them in the warter as I stood on the bank Nathaniel is very successful in catching them." Mary even thought she would, "on some accounts," prefer living in Raymond to Salem, if only she could regularly attend "Public Worship." In 1816, since Raymond had no settled minister, its families held religious meetings in their homes, frequently at Captain Dingley's, with such itinerant ministers as Rev. Paul Coffin of nearby Buxton, preaching. The Manning women had been active in their respective churches in Salem, and Nathaniel knew they viewed the events in their lives as moments in their eternal, spiritual lives. Mary Manning energetically reminded her family of their religious duties; she had admonished her brother Richard that as "...a first step to happiness, to pay a strict regard to the Sabbath." She was glad to hear of Richard's good humor but wanted to be sure that he nevertheless felt repentant--"All have something to repent of I have dayly." Even grief for a dead relative was to be borne with submission, "...knowing that, it is God, who giveth and who taketh away."

In Maine, Nathaniel's mother compensated for the lack of a resident minister by raving her children observe the Sabbath by reading religious books. Hawthorne remained a diligent reader of the Bible throughout his life, often quoting it to his publisher as his authority for his use of a word. As a boy, he knew that the Mannings perceived God as being the controlling force of their lives. When his uncles, William and Samuel, had disastrously incurred heavy financial debts in 1815, his mother had written to Richard telling of the lesson her brothers could learn, "[It] will show then the vanity and uncertainty of the riches of this world, and that we must not trust in such fleeting things for happiness." Aunt Priscilla also saw the didactic value of their heaven-sent suffering: "Our prayers and our endeavours should be, that this and every other trial, may make a suitable impression upon our minds, and have a good effect upon our lives, if this should be our case, we shall have no reason for sorrow, but shall on the contrary rejoice that we have been afflicted, and disappointed." Hawthorne, writing later about the early struggles at Bowdoin College of his friend, Franklin Pierce, echoed Priscilla's philosophy when he wrote, "But a failure of this kind serves an opposite purpose to a mind in which the strongest and richest qualities be deep ....It is indeed, one of the best nodes of discipline that experience can administer, and may reasonably be counted a fortunate event in the life of a young man vigorous enough 'to overcome the momentary depression." Hawthorne would develop the "Fortunate Fall" theory of the value of sin in The Marble Faun.

In October of 1816, before the cold Maine winter set in, Nathaniel was taken back to Salem with Aunt Mary and Grandmother Manning. Betsey Hathorne, left behind in Maine with her daughters and separated from her son, developed a cold and became extremely ill, requiring several doctors. She was diagnosed as being consumptive and wished that she had returned to Salem with the others. Her sympathetic brother, Richard, probably realized the real strain which contributed to her collapse, as he wrote to Robert, "I thought first that she was worried about Nath. as she was very loth to part with him." Having already lost her husband, she would certainly have been "lothe" to part with her twelve-year old son for a long period of time. Nathaniel must also have suffered from the separation, and by February, 1817, Betsey Hathorne and her daughters were back in Salem.

Meanwhile, Robert Manning worried about the family financial affairs. The summer of 1816 had been a cold one in New England, known as "1800-and-froze-to-death." In Maine, there had been frost every month of the year and the value of the Manning farms and land may have seemed less secure. Then, late in August of 1816, another threat to the Manning financial base appeared when a steamboat company was formed which could compete for passengers with the stage-coaches, with "incalculable effects." By June of 1817 a steamboat had arrived in Salem harbor attracting great crowds of curious people. It plied the waters off Salem Neck at eight miles an hour, but, fortunately for the Mannings, as the Reverend Bentley noted, although "...the public attention is excited towards this experiment ... at present it has but a small share of the public confidence." Nevertheless, Robert began the construction of a large house in Raymond so that all of the Mannings could eventually move from economically depressed Salem to their lands in Maine.

In the fall of 1817, Nathaniel and his family were probably present in Salem for the wedding of Priscilla Manning to John Dike, a widowed coal and wood merchant whose two children, John and Mary, were close to the ages of the Hathorne children. By the end of the following June, Nathaniel was happy to welcome his fun-loving Uncle Samuel back to Salem where he joined his brother, William, in the Manning stage coach offices. Samuel was tired of Maine, where he had been running Richard's general store. Sounding like Crevecoeur who described the men living on wild frontiers as "carnivorous animals," Samuel had written to Robert, "I...have been constantly employed in retailing out Rum, Molasses & Tobacco, to a set of drunken, noisy, quarilsome, ignorant people."

Aunt Mary granted her sister to bring organized religion to these people. She hoped Betsey would organize a Sabbath school, telling her that "...if we only make a beginning this Season it will be better than not doing any-thing and if we never begin we never shall have one. " Mary had subscribed to a religious publication and wanted Betsey to give the used issues as "rewards for the good schollors" in the Sabbath school. In Uncle Richard's library was a copy of The Panoplist, and Missionary Magazine United, for 1814, a journal which published articles by Rev. Samuel Worcester of the Tabernacle Church of Salem where a Sabbath school had been established in 1813. Nathaniel's family, like others in this period, with its great proliferation of religious sects, were interested in missionary work.

While the Hathornes visited Salem during tire summer of 1818, construction on their new house continued in Raymond, under Robert's direction. Built to be large enough to house all the Mannings and Hathornes, it was set on a knoll opposite the Mlanning house overlooking Dingley Brook. However, Nathaniel was enjoying being in Salem with his mother while Uncle Robert was in Maine. Now fourteen years old, he was ambivalent about returning to Raymond where he knew it was impossible for him to remain permanently because of its lack of a good school. He was finding beautiful areas near Salem which could rival even Sebago, as he wrote in an irritating tone to Robert:

All the family are well, and I hope you are the same....Ma'am [Grandmother Manning], Louisa, & I, Mr. and Mrs. Dike, Aunt Priscilla John, & Mary have been to Nehant, we had a very pleasant time, fish are very thick there. Is not the house almost finished? I think I had rather go to dancing school a little longer before I come to Raymond. Does the Pond look the same as it did when I was there? it is almost as pleasant at Nehant as at Raymond. I thought there was no place here that I should say so much of. I suppose you have a great many berries, We have very few. the garden I think looks as well as when you was here though there is not much done to it. I have written all I can think off. Good bye. ( )
However, Nathaniel's attachment to Salem would disappear by the next summer after he had finally moved into the new house where he lived very happily with his mother and sisters in their first real home.

By September, 1818, when the steamboat experiment in Salem had failed (only two passengers chose to ride it to Boston), and the stage-coach business must have seemed more secure, the new house was nearly completed. Louisa wanted to return to Maine, writing in her exuberant style to Uncle Robert, "...I love berries very much, have you many berries this year, I wish I was down there to eat some with you." Nathaniel and his family finally moved into their first house in November of 1818, after drying it out by keeping fires burning in the fireplaces for a week. Its cost had been $2407.10 according to
The Hawthorne house in Raymond, Maine, photographed in 1981
The Hawthorne house in Raymond, Maine, photographed in 1981 (courtesy of Dr. Melinda Ponder)
 
Richard's account books. Elizabeth wrote to Aunt Priscilla of their satisfaction-"The chimneys of the new house draw smoke very well, we are more pleased with it every day."

Nathaniel's enjoyment of the house was brief; by mid-December he had been sent by Uncle Robert thirty miles away with Jacob Dingley to Reverend Caleb Bradley's school in Stroudwater, near Portland. Hawthorne was later thankful of the brevity of his formal schooling, writing, ''One of the peculiarities of my boyhood was a grievous disinclination to go to schools and (Providence favouring me in this natural repugnance) I never did go half as much as other boys, partly because, much of the time, there were no schools within reach." Stroudwater was a rural crossroads with tanbark-paved streets; its houses sat high above the Fore and Stroudwater rivers.

Nathaniel's teacher, Reverend Bradley, was an unpleasant person--his autobiographical sketch reveals his stinginess. Although it was customary for a minister to repay the marriage fee to the first couple he married, Reverend Bradley "held fast" to what had been given to him refusing to honor the custom. He complained of his work--"the ministerial duties were many, and well might I exclaim, 'who is sufficient for these things'. He complained of insufficient compensation for his military services and of modern-day Sabbath schools, and, after he wed his second wife, the Widow Partridge, he joked, "I married this old Partridge myself."

Nathaniel did not enjoy his time at Reverend Bradley's but he may have felt satisfied later when he could use story material from his stay at Stroudwater. He immortalized the stinginess of the household by describing the cold parlor, around whose tan-bark fire the minister's family sat in the darkness in "A Vision of the Fountain," a story about a boy who is boarding with a minister's family.

Hawthorne also wrote a vivid account of the story of previously admired Hannah Duston, a revered ancestor of Reverend Bradley. He had begun his autobiographical sketch by announcing proudly, "I, the writer of these pages, am a great grandchild of two wonderful women, the noted Hannah Dustan, who scalped ten Indians and Mrs. Hannah Bradley who scalded two to death with boiling soap. Hawthorne, in his article on "The Dustin Family," would elicit sympathy only for Mr. Dustan who knew that his wife was a match for "a whole tribe of Indians." Hawthorne must have chuckled as he condemned Reverend Bradley's great grandmother, the "bloody tigress," and her murder of the Indian children:

Would that the bloody old hag had been drowned in crossing Contocook river, or that she had sunk over head and ears in a swamp, and been there buried, till summoned forth to confront her victims at the Day of Judgment; or that she had gone astray and been starved to death in the forests and nothing ever seen of her again, save her skeleton with the ten scalps twisted round it for a girdle!" ()

Lake Sebago, near Raymond, Maine, in March, still frozen; photographed in 1981
Lake Sebago, near Raymond, Maine, in March, still frozen; photographed in 1981 (courtesy of Dr. Melinda Ponder)
 
Nathaniel, very homesick in Stroudwater for his mother, returned to Raymond in mid-February, 1817, three weeks early, with "doeful complaints no momma to take care of him ..." He spent what was to be his last winter in Raymond skating and tracking bears on the great expanses of frozen Sebago Lake. Elizabeth later recalled their adventures on "one cold winter evening when the moon was at the full..." and they walked three miles out across the frozen lake. Hawthorne later told his son, how, armed with his fowling piece, he had followed the tracks of a black bear. He loved the exhilaration of skating for hours, just as he would later in Concord " perpetually darting [away] in long sweeping curves, and returning again--again to shoot away." His winter in Concord would also evoke memories of Raymond which Hawthorne shared with his wife, Sophia, who wrote of him to her mother, "This morning was very superb and the
The Icy Expanse of Lake Sebago, Maine
The Icy Expanse of Lake Sebago, Maine (courtesy of Dr. Melinda Ponder)
 
sunlight played upon the white earth like the glow of rubies upon pearls. My husband was entirely satisfied with the beauty of it ...He shoveled paths (heaps of snow being trifles to his might) and sawed and split wood, and brought me water from the well ....Then he read aloud part of "The Tempest" while I sewed. In the evening he told me about his early life in Raymond."

Nathaniel learned that the long Maine winters were deadly as well as beautiful. In March of 1817, a nine-day blizzard on Raymond Cape killed Samuel Tarbox and his wife, orphaning their five children. Mr. Tarbox had gone to get food for his family but could not make his way through the huge snow drifts to his house. He sank down exhausted in the snow, but his wife heard his calls for help and covered him with her shawl while she attempted to stagger through the howling winds with the food for her starving family. They were both frozen by their own front door. Nathaniel, horrified, watched their burial from Capt. Dingley's house and wrote to Robert Manning of the tragedy. Betsy Tarbox, only three and a half years old, was adopted by Aunt Susan and Uncle Richard who had no children of their own. Over the years the Hathornes and Mannings sent Betsy little gifts and their greetings. Hawthorne later would write such powerful stories as "The Gentle Boy" and "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" about boys who are cut off from their real families who go in search of their true heritage.

As the snows melted and the fireplaces were cleaned out for the summer, the Hathornes wrote of missing their relatives in Salem and expectantly awaited the arrival of a new and needed doctor, Winthrop Brown of Salem. Nathaniel's sister, Elizabeth, was especially sarcastic about the lack of compatible society in Raymond. She wrote, "People can talk about nothing tolerable but their neighbors' faults. That theme rouses them from the langour which otherwise overwhelms them & then no tongue is silent." She continued her attack: "I must not say what I think of the inhabitants of Raymond, because I believe they have agreed among themselves that they are the most polished and enlightened people in the world." She wanted Uncle Robert to know her feelings "...it is certainly much to be lamented that so pleasant a place should be inhabited by people so rude and uncultivated."

However, the lack of much social interchange in Maine gave Nathaniel the chance to grow up unrestricted by a demanding social atmosphere. Even in Salem, the Mannings did not entertain or spend a great deal of time paying calls to families outside their circle of relatives. Their home-centered life gave him time to develop a reliance on his own strengths and confidence in his own values.

Like Nathaniel, Louisa loved the simple peasures Raymond offered, writing in her charming style to Uncle Robert, "I wish you was down here now and then we could walk round the garden together we have got a great many trees and bushes that look very well I have got a small garden for flowers but I have not got many flowers seeds to plant I meant to have brought some down but I forgot it when we went away from Salem the trees are most leaved out...the cow has got a pretty calf."

Just three years after his arrival in the stage-coach with his mother and sisters for his first long visit, Nathaniel also wrote enthusiastically of how Maine looked in May of 1819, "The grass and some of the trees look very green and the roads are very good there is no snow on Lymington Mountains. The fences are all finished and the garden is laid out and planted. Two of the goats are on the island and we keep the other one for her milk .... I have shot a partridge and a hen hawke and caught 18 large trout out of our brooke." And then Nathaniel wrote wistfully to his uncle: "I am sorry you intend to send me to school again. Mother says she can hardly spare me." He would write later of another boy departing from his mother. Describing Theseus, who was leaving his home to go on a long journey in search of his father, Hawthorne wrote, "...and after affectionately embracing his mother, he set forth, with a good many of her tears glistening on his cheeks, and some, if the truth must be told, that had gushed out of his own eyes. But he let the sun and wind dry them, and walked stoutly on ...."

Nearly fifteen, Nathaniel was back on Herbert Street with the Mannings in Salem by June 23, 1819, having left his father's fowling-piece, his fishing rod, his sisters and mother far away in their new house in Edenic Maine. He did not know when he left that his Uncle Robert would keep him in Salem for two years before he would let Nathaniel return for one day on his way to enroll in Bowdoin College. Hawthorne shared his memories of Maine with an old friend shortly before his death --"Ah,...how well I recall the...woods of Maine. How sad middle life looks to people of erratic temperaments. Everything is beautiful in youth, for all things are allowed to it then." The "vivid pictures" of his boyhood worlds were etched deeply in Hawthorne's imagination.

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