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as an ideal portrait-painter. He does not, | mances." His personages do not generally like Thackeray, sketch so many representa- come before us with that force and air of tive characters, illustrative at once of the actuality that form the charm of our more specialties of the age and of the general realistic writers of fiction. They and their human types to which they belong, and con- doings are shadowy, remote, and beyond nect them by a narrative so slight, a train the sphere of habitual experience. Yet all of events so uneventful, that the story seems is fest to be profoundly true — not only little else than a thread to string such pic- what might be, but what in its essential nature-beads on. He neither gives a detailed ture is, within the heart and conscience. and many-sided portraiture, setting forth, The embodying forms may be intangible as fully as that may be done, the complete shades, phantasmagoria, but the inner life individuality; nor, as is more the special they express finds within us the unhesitating power and practice of the great satirist we responsive recognition of kindred. They have named, a representation of one or two are veritable human souls, though dwelling broad and distinctive traits, that form, as it in a far-off world of cloud-land and moonwere, the key-note to the character, - a shine. dominating phase that gives tone and colour With all this strongly ideal character conto all the rest, but still a partial and one-sists a power, not unfrequently exercised, sided view, which, as it is left stand for of most faithful and minute realistic painting. the whole, is in truth but a caricature. His For example, the delightful picture of the forte rather is to delineate the most oppos- old “Custom House” at Salem, which ining and contradictory sides of a man, in all troduces The Scarlet Letter. How vividly their contrasting struggling action and re- reproduced are the old inspector and colaction. He displays, with the skill, and lector! One cannot read it without being almost with the coolness, of an anatomist, affected by the sleepy, gossiping, superanthe most intricate and conflicting passions nuated character of the whole place. The and tendencies, as these are called forth by very atmosphere seems somniferous. Or, some critical event and its consequences. again, in the chapter of Transformation enThe characters presented to us by most of titled "Scenes by the Way,” his exquisite the novelists who aim chiefly at portraiture description of rural scenes and manners in are for the most part stereotyped. They Tuscany, and of the villages and small anare shown in numerous combinations and cient walled towns of northern Italy. Still, surroundings, both to impress the leading even his most telling and minutely detailed qualities on the reader's attention, and to pictures of real life, with the truthfulness of exhibit these qualities forcibly and fully in a photograph, and the life-likeness of a varied manifestation. But they are always portrait, are seen, as it were, through an the same; the quality may be displayed ideal atmosphere. He sees everything under altered circumstances, and again through the halo of a poetic medium. All with more ramified operation, but is in it is real, but it is an old-world realness, self to the end unmodified, and the closing quaint and mellow with age. The present manifestation, so far as it forms an element is too hard, rigid, and unplastic for him. of the portrait, might as well have been the True American as he is, he finds himself first. There is no progress, no growth. straitened and out of his element amid The task Hawthorne selects for himself is the newness, the clearness of outline, the rather the development of the effects on resistance to the modifying and moulding character of some great absorbing interest. power of the imagination, of everything in Not only does he subordinate the external the New World. There is no hoary tradiconditions to the inner movements of life, tion, no twilight history, no fabled antiquity, as we have already pointed out; he repre- nothing picturesque or romantic. He has sents the play of the mental mechanismeless no play for his peculiar power. We trace in the typal forms of definite classes, epochs, this in his choice of subjects, as well as in and localities, than in peculiar and strongly his mode of dealing with them. He has a individualized cases unfolding under the predilection for the farthest back times of influence of special, and often critical cir- New England life, the days of the Puritans, cumstances.

of trial for witchcraft; for old nooks crumbly An effect of those characteristics of his and moss-grown, rusty parchments, a mouldproductions to which we have been refer- ering rag with traces of embroidery, of ring, is the withdrawal of the whole scene which “ the stitch gives evidence of a now from the atmosphere of actual life. Thus forgotten art, not to be recovered even by one of the most pervading and conspicuous the process of picking out the threads ; qualities of his works is their highly ideal for relics of a bygone age, antiquated habcharacter. They are rightly named “Ro-lits, old-fashioned styles of character and

modes of thought and feeling. He oftener brain, where the light of consciousness falls than once openly complains of the stern in- but rarely, and then only casts strange, unflexibility of modern realities and American known, and ghastly shadows; of possible civilisation :

properties in Nature, in wondrous accord

and harmony with these dark forms within “ In the old countries with which fiction has

our own constitution, which so seldom flit long been conversant, a certain conventional privilege seems to be awarded to the romancer ; lie latent all around us, imperceptible to

across mortal vision, — properties that may his work is not put exactly side by side with nature ; and he is allowed a license with regard to our ordinary senses, yet exerting, or ready every-day probability, in view of the improved to exert, their influence on us every hour effects which he is bound to produce thereby. of our lives. Every object, every power Among ourselves, on the contrary, there is as presents itself to him as striking its roots yet no Fairy Land so like the real world that, deep into a subsoil of mystery. The presin a suitable remoteness, one cannot well tell the ent and visible ever spring from the past difference, but with an atmosphere of strange and unseen. Too sharp demarcations enchantment, beheld through which, the inhab- would obstruct the transition from the itants have a propriety of their own. This at- sphere of immediate obtrusive action, into mosphere is what the American romancer wants. that of agencies that have long passed from In its absence, the beings of imagination are view, or have never been clearly brought compelled to show themselves in the same cate- within the range of mortal ken. gory as actually living mortals, — necessity

The introduction of these occult and prethat renders the paint and pasteboard of their composition but too painfully discernible.”

ternatural powers produces no jar; they

are not felt to be inconsistent with the rest In reference to the locality in which the of the narrative; they gain for themselves scene is laid, he says in the preface to an acceptance as not only possible, but Transformation:

true, and in harmony with time, place, and “Italy, as the site of his romance, was chiefly irresistible suggestion of the false and su

circumstance. They bring with them no valuable to the author as affording him a sort of poetic or fairy precinct, where actualities perstitious; nothing of what Hawthorne would not be so terribly insisted upon as they himself styles “ the stage effect of what is are, and must needs be, in America. No author, called miraculous interposition.” The same without a trial, can conceive of the difficulty of character of essential trueness that we conwriting a romance about a country where there tended for in his most ideal pictures obtains is no shadow, no antiquity, no mystery, no here. This result is partly due to their picturesque and gloomy wrong, nor anything own nature, partly to the manner in which but commonplace prosperity, in broad and sim- these agencies are introduced and emple daylight, as is happily the case with my dear ployed. We do not feel that it is the ordinative land. It will be very long, I trust, before nary supernatural that is presented to us. romance-writers may find congenial and easily. That, however skilfully managed, would handled themes either in the annals of our stal- hardly recommend itself to either the judgwart republic, or in any characteristic and ment or the taste of the present day. Not probable events of our individual lives. Romance and poetry, ivy, lichens, and wall-flow- only is the improbability, not to say impossiers, need ruin to make them grow.”

bility, too great; it is out of harmony with

our modes of thought and feeling, even The absence of hard outline and broad could it be made apparently possible. It light is especially demanded by another is no unnatural creature that obtrudes itself well-marked tendency of our author's mind, suddenly, inexplicably, into the circle of more or less displayed in almost all his our lives; no ghostly apparition revisiting works. His pages are replete with mys- the glimpses of the moon; no uncanny lery, hintings of an eerie presence, tokens dwarf or vulgar necromancer that is brought of a power preternatural yet strangely in before us, but beings and influences conaffinity with human life, repeated and re- nected with us by intimate and inseverable peated till a sense of unspeakable awe takes bonds, not coming and going, but ever possession of the mind. But this mystery is there, whether recognised or not. They never revealed; it is a presence without a seem the shadowy but immortal offspring form, an inarticulate voice, an impalpable of our own actions, thoughts and feelings, agency. We are kept in remembrance that of ourselves; or the inalienable heritage there is more in heaven and earth than is that has come down to us from the characdreamt of in our philosophy. We are ters and lives of our progenitors. The brought face to face with the portals into same absence of incident that we have the unseen and inscrutable. We are made found characterizing the more material aware of recesses in the human heart and agents in the scene prevails with respect to

these ; they do not come as a deus ex ma- if worn on a younger and happier breast.” china' to achieve striking results, or to "The very contiguity of his enemy, beneath overcome difficulties insuperable to mere whatever mask the latter might conceal mortal agency. They are, indeed, rarely himself, was enough to disturb the magnetic committed to definite action. We are sphere of a being so sensitive as Arthur made to feel vaguely their power; what Dimmesdale:" "Pearl's inevitable tenthey may have done is hinted at as possi- dency to hover about the enigma of the bilities, but they are never caught in the scarlet letter seemed an innate quality of act; we are never even assured of their ber being. From the earliest epoch of her positive interference. A haunting presence, conscious life, she had entered upon this as they exercise their influence on us morally her appointed mission.” The moral relarather than by any sensible means. tions arising from hidden actions reveal

It is perhaps a phase of this power and themselves in a sort of quasi-physical way tendency that guides him to so constant and through the subtle, untraceable, interpeneemphatic a recognition of those secret sym- trating affinities of mind and matter. pathies between individuals connected by When Hester Prynne's husband demands no tie patent to sense, between our nature of her the name of the man who had so and even inanimate objects; of the subtle deeply wronged them both, and demands in powers upon our minds of time and place; vain, he replies, “Never know him! ... of the awful and overwhelming perplexity Thou mayest cover up thy secret from the of our inherited tendencies and relation- prying multitude. Thou mayest conceal it, ships ; of the transmission, through genera- too, from the ministers and magistrates, tions, of the effects of human action and even as thou didst this day, when they character, now slumbering though vital, sought to wrench the name out of thy heart, again — on occasions the most inopportune, and give thee a partner on thy pedestal. or opportune, according as we regard the But as for me, I come to the inquest with question from the personal and selfish. point other senses than they possess. of view, or from that of universal and moral There is a sympathy that will make me congovernment — breaking out into activity, scious of him. I shall see him tremble. I like the course of the electric fluid, appar- shall feel myself shudder, suddenly and unently ever fitful, defying prediction, yet awares." * Phæbe's physical organization, ever in strict obedience to eternal law and moreover, being at once delicate and varying circumstance, - here peaceful and healthy, gave her a perception operating ineffective, there subduing with irresistible with almost the effect of a spiritual medium, force whatever it meets. There is in us a that somebody was near at hand." We are * mere sensuous sympathy of dust for taught again that not in the garden of Eden dust," in our relations with the spot where alone, but all the world over, forbidden our forefathers have for centuries “ been fruit grows on a tree of the knowledge of born and died, and have mingled their good and evil, and that we cannot eat earthly substance with the soil, until no thereof without having our eyes opened to small portion of it must necessarily be akin the dark secrets both of our own heart and to our mortal frames.” The embroidered that of others :rag that life-long branded her shame on Hester Prynne's bosom, when musingly steps, in the little world with which she was out

“Walking to and fro, with those lonely footplaced on its historian's breast, while yet wardly connected, it now and then appeared to he, ignorant alike of her name and life, was Hester, - if altogether fancy, it was nevertheless idly speculating on its purpose, seemed to too potent to be resisted, - she felt or fancied, causes a sensation not altogether physical, then, that the scarlet letter had endowed her yet almost so, as of burning heat, and as if with a new sense. She shuddered to believe, yet the letter were not of red cloth, but red- could not help believing, that it gave her a symhot iron." The sympathy or magnetism pathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in other among human beings is more subtle and hearts. She was terror-stricken by the revelauniversal than we think; it exists, indeed, tions that were thus made. What were they? among different classes of organized life, Could they be other than the insidious whispers and vibrates from

of the bad angel, who would fain have persuaded one to another. A flower, for instance, as Phæbe herself ob- the struggling woman, as yet only half his vicserved, always began to droop sooner in tim, that the outward guise of purity was but a

lie, and that, if truth were everywhere to be Clifford's hand, or Hepzibah's, than in her shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on own; and by the same law, converting her many a bosom besides Hester Prynne's, or daily life into a flower-fragrance for these must she receive these intimations--so obscure, two sickly spirits, the blooming girl must yet so distinct -- as truth? In all her miserable inevitably droop and fade much sooner than experience, there was nothing else so awful and

loathsome as this sense. It perplexed, as well | “ She wondered what sort of herbs they were as shocked her, by the irreverent inopportune- which the old man was so sedulous to gather. ness of the occasions that brought it into vivid Would not the earth, quickened to an evil puraction. Sometimes the red infamy upon her pose by the sympathy of his eye, greet him with breast would give a sympathetic throb, as she poisonous shrubs, of species hitherto unknown, passed near a venerable minister or magistrate, that would start up under his fingers ? Or the model of piety and justice, to whom that age might it suffice him, that every wholesome growth of antique reverence looked up, as to a mortal should be converted into something deleterious man in fellowship with angels. •What evil and malignant at his touch? Did the sun, which thing is at hand ? would Hester say to herself. shone so brightly everywhere else, really fall upLifting her reluctant eyes, there would be noth- on him? Or was there, as it rather seemed, a ing human within the scope of view, save the circle of ominous shadow moving along with his form of this earthly saint! Again, a mystic deformity, whichever way he turned himself? sisterhood would contumaciously assert itself, as And whither was he now going? Would he not she met the sanctified frown of some matron, suddenly sink into the earth, leaving a barren who, according to the rumour of all tongues, and blasted spot, where, in due course of time, had kept cold snow within her bosom throughout would be seen deadly nightshade, dogwood, henlife. That unsunned snow in the matron's bane, and whatever else of vegetable wickedness bosom, and the burning shame on Hester the climate could produce, all flourishing with Prynne's, - what had the two in common? hideous luxuriance? Or would he spread bats' Or, once more, the electric thrill would give her wings and flee away, looking so much the uglier warning, • Behold, Hester, here is a compan- the higher he rose towards heaven ?” ion !' – and, looking up, she would detect the eyes of a young maiden glancing at the scarlet

Sometimes what is at first insinuated as a letter, shyly and aside, and quickly averted, fanciful possibility is afterwards slipped in with a faint, chill crimson in her cheeks, as if as an affirmed fact. Thus “dark flabby her purity were somewhat sullied by that mo- leaves," unknown to men of science, were mentary glance. O Fiend, whose talisman was found “growing on a grave which bore no that fatal symbol, wouldst thou leave nothing, tombstone nor other memorial of the dead whether in youth or age, for this poor sinner to man, save these ugly weeds that have taken revere? - such loss of faith is ever one of the upon themselves to keep him in rememsaddest results of sin. Be it accepted as a proof brance. They grew out of his heart, and that all was not corrupt in this poor victim of typify, it may be, some hideous secret that her own frailty, and man's hard law, that Hes- was buried with him, and which he had ter Prynne yet struggled to believe that no fel- done better to confess during his lifetime.” low-mortal was guilty like herself.”

All the powers of nature call Several of these instances are no doubt so earnestly for the confession of sin, that susceptible of being resolved into figures of these black weeds have sprung up out of a speech, expressing forcibly a truth that buried heart to make manifest an unspoken might have been hard to render in more crime.” literal terms; and some of them perhaps We must not omit to notice another feawere intended for no more. But it is dif- ture, which, though perhaps less conspicuficult to suppose they are all so meant. ous, yet, like small patches of vivid colour Many of them seem to point to something in a picture, contributes not less effectively far deeper than would be left as a residuum to produce the general result. This is a of bare statement, if we abstract as figure peculiar vein of humour, always fanciful, all that is capable of such treatment. The often grotesque, sometimes grim and grisly. conviction that there really is some such Poor Hepzibah Pyncheon's aristocratic hens profounder meaning wished to be conveyed laid now and then an egg and hatched a is greatly increased by a thorough perusal chicken, not for any pleasure of their own, of the works together. Many of the ex- but that the world might not absolutely lose pressions lose much of their force and sig- what had once been so admirable a breed nificance by severance from the context; of fowls." So excessive was the warmth of and there are many slighter indications of her brother the judge's affected and hypoa similar kind which are altogether unsus- critical aspect of overflowing benevolence ceptible of extract. The cumulative effect, one particular forenoon, “that (such at indeed, of such expressions in the course of least was the rumour about town) an extra consecutive reading is very great ; and it is to passage of the water-carts was found essensuch a reading we must appeal if we should tial, in order to lay the dust occasioned by seem to have made more of the point than so much extra sunshine!” The Puritan our quotations justify: Sometimes the ministers, grim prints of whom adorned the pregnant meaning we refer to is not as- walls of “the old manse” study, " looked serted, but suggested as a probability, or strangely like bad angels, or, at least, like in a query, or as a scintillation of fancy: men who had wrestled so continually and


so sternly with the devil that somewhat of personality. The products of his imaginahis sooty fierceness had been imparted to tion are always contemplated objectively; their own visages." How true a Yankee he regards them habitually in a scrutinizing, touch is this! When one little fellow warns deliberative, questioning attitude. He is a poor Italian boy that he had better move ever inquisitive and judicial. It would thus on, for that nobody lives in the house under almost appear as if in him the creative faca window of which he is grinding his hurdy- ulty, though not inferior either in strength gurdy that will be likely to care for his mu- or activity or fineness of temper, were exsic, -- . You fool, you, why do you tell him?' ercised in subserviency to the critical, whispered another shrewd little Yankee, if he peopled the world of his imagination caring nothing for the music, but a good only that he might become the witness and deal for the cheap rate at which it was had. judge of the characters and lives, powers • Let him play as long as he likes! If there and tendencies, of his own creations. In is nobody to pay him, that's his own look- one respect his writings are detrimentally out!"" The cemetery of the Cappuccini at affected either by this habit or by a weakRome is a small portion of holy soil from ness of constructive talent, to which the Jerusalem; and, as the whole space has. habit itself may be partly due. His indilong ago been occupied, there obtains the cu- vidual characters, indeed, are delineated rious and ghastly practice among the monks with wonderful minuteness, accuracy, and of taking the longest buried skeleton out of power. We seem to read into their very the oldest grave, when one of the brotherhood core — so far at least as the personality of dies, to make room for the new corpse, and of any one human being can become the object building the disinterred bones into architec-of comprehension to another. But his tural devices, or of placing the unbroken works, considered each as a whole, espeframe-work of bone, sometimes still covered cially those that aim at full development, or with mummied skin and hair, and dressed in at being something more than sketches, are cloak and cowl, in niches all around the deficient in what may be called architectural vaults. “ Thus," quaintly comments our structure. There is a want of the convergauthor, “ each of the good friars, in his turn, ing unity which is the condition of every enjoys the luxury of a consecrated bed, at- perfect work of art. This may be the retended with the slight drawback of being sult, as we have said, of a defect in conforced to get up long before daybreak, as structive power. His imagination, instead it were, and make room for another lodger." of embracing in one grasp the scene, charVery often this faculty of humour expresses acters, circumstances, and their develop itself in a piquant little touch, as a kind of ments, as combining to form one system, as aside, or passing comment, or half respon- all members of one body, elements gravitatsive turn with which a line of reflection is ing round one centre, seizes upon them too quietly but emphatically closed — like a sin- much in detail, each as a distinct unit, regle bright floweret at the end of a slender lated to the others only by the ideal bond stem. But there is one remarkable instance of moral and spiritual iniluence which he in which it is extended through a long chap- has created for them. Or it may be, in ter. It is that in which the defunct Gover- some measure, due to his habit of yielding nor Pyncheon is a whole night long left un- too much to what he describes in one of his discovered, the object of the gibes and ap- characters as “that cold tendency between peals, the scorn and taunts, of the author's instinct and intellect, which makes one pry fantasy, which gambols round the senseless with a speculative interest into people's pasclay like a jeering spirit from the abyss. sions and impulses.” It is also, no doubt, The presentation, face to face, of the tran- increased by the want of a strong framesient and trifling occupations and interests work or mould of external circumstance and of this life, with the mystery and solemnities connected events, which, however it may of death and the unseen realities that lie be- subserve some of his other aims or tendenyond it, the grave reflections and unearthly cies, leaves him more dependent for the mockery, the sustained power, the eerie compact unification of his tales on a power subject and weird-like effects, are positively of internal integration, which he either does terrible.

not possess, or does not use in sufficient Some of the qualities we have traced in force. Hawthorne's works belong rather to the We are not aware whether he ever atcritical than to the constructive faculty. tempted the work of a professed literary One effect of this is that the author is never critic, but he has favoured us with a piece felt to identify himself with his characters. of self-criticism, which shows what his qual They are not subjects into which his own ifications in this direction were. Every life is transfused; he never loses his own reader must be struck with the singular feli

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