HAWTHORNE, previous to entering college, lived in great seclusion with his mother and two sisters at their home in Salem. In two or three flying visits, made him by invitation after our graduation, I saw no evidence of narrow circumstances in their environment. I was charmed with the quiet and refined manners of Mrs. Hawthorne and with the pleasant and lady-like bearing of her younger daughter. The elder daughter--who Hawthorne often said had more genius than himself--I never saw until after his death.
The family occupied the old home of Mrs. Hawthorne's father, their moderate income being sufficient for their comfortable support, but not for the son's college expenses. These had been defrayed by his maternal uncle, Robert Manning, who supplied him with means to spend as liberally as any of his companions.
In these days of more costly education it may interest some readers to know the simpler college expenses of sixty or seventy years ago. A
term bill of my own, yellow with age, dated May 23, 1823, is before me, and contains these itemsFor tuition $8.00 Chamber rent 3.34 Damages .45 Average damages .15 Sweeping and bed-making 1.11 Library .50 Monitor .05 Catalogues .08 Bell .11 Reciting-room .25 Chemical lectures .25 Fines .20 _____ Total $14 .49
The fines were probably for absence from recitations; but a later term bill shows a fine of twenty-five cents for "unnecessary walking on the Sabbath," a charge that would astonish the father of any collegian of the present day. Could Hawthorne's term bill of corresponding date be found, it would doubtless show that he, too, was convicted of the misdemeanor of taking a stroll after our compulsory attendance at morning and afternoon services.
In a corner of the present campus stood "Ward's tavern" when I first went to
Brunswick. Its owner had recently died, and was succeeded in his vocation by his daughter, a maiden of perhaps thirty years--affable, good-looking, and always ready to give moderate credit for the little suppers and other comforts that students might desire. Her house was the scene of many social gatherings; but at some later period it disappeared, and the grass of the college grounds now conceals the site of that once most convenient inn. There, oftener than elsewhere, Hawthorne indulged in the usual convivialities of the period; but his sedate aspect and quiet manners prevented the appearance of any excess, even within the limited circle of his intimate associates. The customary pastimes included card-playing and wine-drinking, in which he joined his friends through good fellowship; but he rarely exceeded the bounds of moderation--never losing more money than he could readily pay, and never imbibing enough to expose himself to remark. He could drink a great deal of wine without, apparently, being affected by it. Neither in his college days nor afterwards did I ever know him to be perceptibly under the influence of stimulants, though we were associated in many convivial scenes. I will add that, from the first moment of our acquaintance, I never knew him to utter an unmanly sentiment or to do a mean or unkind act.
In our last term, after the parts for the Commencement exercises had been assigned, it appeared that fourteen of the thirty-eight graduates of the year were not to have the privilege of "speaking in public on the stage," though their degree of A.B. was nevertheless to be conferred. This rear-guard rallied and formed "The Navy Club," so called for some occult reason. It comprised among its members a future Congressman, another who in the course of time became a reverend D.D., Hawthorne, and, of course, the writer.
Of the officers elected, the D.D. was made Commodore, Hawthorne was Commander, myself Boatswain, and the most fun-loving of the party was designated Chaplain. Every one had a title, from Commodore to Cook.
The weekly suppers at Miss Ward's were very jolly; and some of the class, who, by reason of superior standing as scholars, were not entitled to membership would fain have joined in the merry sessions of the club, but they were not admitted.
The nightly meetings of Commencement week ended this drama, as well as many others of more grave import.
The river near by gave its name to a loo club of five members. One died early, but not until he had achieved political fame of a high order;
another was afterwards a wealthy and respected merchant; a third became a physician and settled in the West, where he was held in high regard until he died, thirty years ago. Hawthorne and the writer were the other members of the Androscoggin Club, which existed about two years. The stakes played for were, of course, small, but the golden hours then lost were not included in the account.
That Hawthorne was somewhat addicted to card-playing quite early in his college life appears from a letter of President Allen to Mrs. Hawthorne, May 29, 1822 (see "Study," p. 117), announcing the fact that her son had that day been "fined fifty cents for playing cards for money last term."
That dignitary adds, "Perhaps he might not have gamed, were it not for the influence of a student whom we have dismissed from college."
The next day Hawthorne himself writes his mother, "All the card-players in college have been found out--my unfortunate self among the number. One has been dismissed from college, two suspended, and the rest, with myself, fined fifty cents each."
By good fortune I was not caught in that grand raid, but several men who afterwards attained eminence--e. g. a U. S. Senator, a grave
judge, and a leading physician--were included, with Hawthorne, in the "catch."
It may be interesting to Bowdoin men to know where Hawthorne lived while in college.
At first he and Mason boarded at Professor Newman's, and had their room in Maine Hall, where they remained until the building was burned in March, 1822. Fortunately they were upon the lower floor, so they easily saved their furniture and other effects.
Soon afterwards Hawthorne wrote his sister, "I sustained no damage by the fire except having my coat torn. Luckily it happened to be my old one."
After this enforced removal the two room-mates took up their quarters in the large house of Mrs. Adams, opposite the president's house. This most estimable lady--the widow of a leading physician--had been left with two charming daughters and only moderate means of support. Hence it was convenient, as it was in accordance with the custom of the place, to utilize three or four rooms in her large house by renting them to students.
A year or two later I occupied a room in the same house, and we incidentally noticed, with mild interest, the attentions a young medical
student was paying to the elder daughter of the house. Soon afterwards they married and went West.
The sequel to the story came fifty-five years later, when I found myself at table, in a Washington hotel, with a dignified Western Representative and his lady-like wife and pretty daughter. Their name had a familiar sound, and soon the fact dawned upon me that I was talking with the son of my old Brunswick friends, in the person of the prominent and able Colonel Hatch, of Missouri.
The college youth (now a gray-haired veteran) and the young maiden (now a venerable widow) who had bidden good-by in 1825 were able, in 1880, to exchange messages of regard across half a continent.
Returning from this digression, it remains only to be added that, after Maine Hall had been rebuilt Hawthorne and Mason returned to it, and occupied room No. 19 in the sophomore year.
For the last two years in college, Hawthorne roomed alone at Mrs. Dunning's, directly opposite Professor Cleveland's house, where also we both boarded. The cost of board was moderate, and we fared satisfactorily for a sum that would now seem inadequate, and even mean. Two dollars a week was the highest charge for table-board, and most of the students paid but a dollar and a half.
Hawthorne and the writer usually lived at the same boarding-house and were quite contented with the fare. The incidental expenses of college were small, but even such of the rooms as were uncarpeted and uncurtained were not cheerless, for wood was abundant at a dollar a cord. The one comparatively large item of expense (excepting books and stationery) was that of the "midnight oil," which was brought from a village "store" and burned in brass or japanned lamps. After so long an interval--especially as gas and electric light have come into use--no harm can follow from divulging the secret that certain students had extra lamp-fillers that had never known oil. And these were carried in broad daylight across the campus, full of some other liquid more quickly and pleasantly consumed.
Maine had not then enacted the laws which have given her such creditable prominence as the pioneer in the cause of temperance. At that time, too, it was the universal custom for country stores to sell "wines and liquors" as well as "dry-goods and groceries."
Hawthorne engaged in the usual college sports, but with no great zest. Base-ball and foot-ball interested him little, though he occasionally joined
in the rough-and-tumble games. He did not like running or jumping, but walking was his favorite exercise; in that he was untiring. Sometimes he went out shooting, though he did not claim to be a crack shot. I never saw him on horseback, but frequently of a Saturday we drove in the "chaise" or in the wagon of that day, he never wishing to hold the reins.