Letters to Hawthorne Regarding His Position as Editor of the America Magazine
of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge.
HAVANNAH, Feb. 20, 1836.
DEAR HAWTHORNE,--It is now ten days since I received your letter in the country near Matanzas. Nothing has given me so much pleasure for many a day as the intelligence concerning your late engagement in active and responsible business. I have always known that whenever you should exert your self in earnest, that you could command respectability and independence and fame. As for your present situation, I do not regard it so much in itself--though it seems tolerably good to begin with--as I do for its being the introduction to other and better employment. Besides, it is no small point gained to get you out of Salem. Independently of the fact about "the prophet," etc., there is a peculiar dullness about Salem,--a heavy atmosphere which no literary man can breathe. You are now fairly embarked with the other literary men, and if you can't sail with any other, I'll be d----d. I hope you will write for the "New York Mirror." It has a great circulation, and its editor is a man of influence and standing in the literary world, although in my judgment he is not very deep. His good opinion will be of service to you. I am writing with my coat and hat off, doors and windows open, and mosquitoes biting my feet. My letter is neither long nor neat; such as it is, though, it is probably worth the postage.
With best wishes for your success and happiness, I am
Yours truly, HORACE BRIDGE.
WASHINGTON, March 5, 1836.
DEAR HAWTHORNE,--I could make a very tolerable apology for this long delay in answering your letter, but as they are usually unsatisfactory, as they sometimes are insincere, we will if you please dispense with them altogether. I was, as you supposed, trying to effect a negotiation with Blair at the time your letter was received; but I doubt whether I should have succeeded in accomplishing anything that would have been either agreeable or advantageous to you. And I congratulate you sincerely upon your installation in the editorial chair of the "American Magazine." I hope you will find your situation both pleasant and profitable. I wish you to enter my name as a subscriber to the magazine. Where do you board, and where is your office? I may be at Boston in three or four weeks, and I shall have no time to search out locations. If you do not write to me soon, Hath, I will never write a puff of the "American Magazine," or say a clever thing of its editor.
Ever and faithfully your friend,
AUGUSTA, May 14, 1836.
AM I not virtuous to-day? have I not refused an invitation to play cards with some friends, thereby compelling them to play each per se? This shows what a good effect your letter had upon my morals. But, after all, the worst accusation I can make against myself is that I have no settled plan of existence, even now, at the age of thirty. Meantime I keep my heart as warm and kindly as possible, and am happy enough in the friendship of a goodly number of warm and indulgent friends.
I have read the April number of your journal, and like it well. The other, which you say is best, has not come yet. There must be a great deal of labor necessary to conduct it, and I rejoice that you bear it so well. I fear that you may tire of your present situation too soon; but I think there is no danger of your wanting literary employment long in future. You are in for it, and are known. Goodrich has opened a heavy fire upon P. Benjamin, I see. I am glad that it is not you, and yet I should like to see you thoroughly angry and pouring it into that same fellow. I find that the Mill Dam is going on famously. From present appearances I shall be obliged to invest some twenty thousand dollars. You must publish an article descriptive of this work, when it is finished.
I shall try your advice with regard to the women some time when I am away from here, though I shall make a poor hand of it most certainly. I sometimes think seriously of matrimony for ten minutes together, and should perhaps perpetrate it if I did not like myself too well. My morals have improved exceedingly in the past year; your advice in a former letter was very efficient in this improvement, and Helen J-----'s fate has confirmed me. I take advice from you kindly. It seems divested of the presumption and intermeddling spirit with which advice is usually tinctured. I am a vain man, and a proud one; and I would spurn with scorn the interference of any one whom I suspected of giving me advice with any other than the most friendly feelings. But when I am sure of the purity and kindness of motive that dictates the advice of a real friend, I can and do feel grateful. But a little wickedness will not hurt one, especially if the sinner be of a retiring disposition. It stirs one up. and makes him like the rest of the world.
And now good-by to you till we meet, which I trust will be soon. By the way, I wish you would inquire of Earle, the tailor, if he has sent my clothes. I want them very much.
BOSTON, June 3, 1836.
DEAR Sir,--Yours of this date is at hand. In answer to your wish that the Company would pay you some money soon, I would say it is impossible to do so just now, as the Company have made an assignment of their property to Mr. Samuel Blake, Esq., for the benefit of their creditors. They were compelled to this course by the tightness of the money market, and losses which they had sustained. We would like to have you, when in the city, sign the assignment. We shall continue the magazine to the end of the volume. Your bills from the 27th May will be settled by the assignee promptly.
GEORGE A. CURTIS,
For Samuel Blake, assignee of B. Bewick Co.
Source: From Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife, Volume I, by Julian
Hawthorne, Chapter 4,
"Boyhood and Bachelorhood," (Part 2). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1884.