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city of the following extract from the pre- The refinement and accuracy of his percepface to one of the volumes of Twice-Told tion, as shown there, are such as are found Tales. The insight and discrimination are only in the true artist and critic combined. only equalled by the exactness and adequa- His sympathetic recognition of the central cy of expression. So far as the review and — though often perhaps scarce congoes, we dare say every one will subscribe sciously to himself— the guiding idea and to the justness and happiness of every state- feeling of the old sculptor or painter, enament, taking exception to one point only - bles him to breathe new life and meaning which perhaps it would have been difficult into the time-stained, earth-eaten, mutilatfor him to deal with fairly — the under-ed marble, and to translate for us into arstatement of his own merits. After remark- ticulate speech the thoughts and feelings that ing that he rather wondered how the tales moved the brush of the “old master," should have gained what vogue they did, as real an achievement of genius as their than that it was so little and so gradual, he expression in a stone or colour medium, proceeds:
though not as their original conception. “They have the pale tint of flowers that blos- Free from technical jargon, he discourses somed in too retired a shade — the coolness of a
of the yellow, bruised block, or the timemeditative habit, which diffuses itself through mellowed canvas, till it becomes animated the feeling and observation of every sketch. În- with fresh beauty, again instinct with the stead of passion, there is sentiment; and even in significance with which its maker strove to what purport to be pictures of actual life, we inspire it. Witness his criticisms of the have allegory, not always so warmly dressed in Marble Faun, of the Dying Gladiator, of its habiliments of flesh and blood as to be Guido's Michael and the Dragon, of Fra taken into the reader's mind without a shiver. Angelico's faces and figures of sinless anWhether from lack of power, or an unconquera- gelic loveliness, of Sodoma's bound and ble reserve, the author's touches have often an bleeding Christ, and, above all, witness bis effect of tameness ; the merriest man can hardly deep insight into the subtle and elusive contrive to laugh at his broadest humour; the meanings, the profound sorrow and exprestenderest woman, one would suppose, will hardly sion of loneliness, of the marvellous porshed warm tears at his deepest pathos. The book, if you would see anything in it, requires to be read trait of Beatrice Cenci, glancing, as it does, in the clear, brown, twilight atmosphere in which at some of the most solemn and
awful truths it was written ; - if opened in the sunshine, it is of Christian faith. Some living artists also apt to look exceedingly like a volume of blank are helped to utter their best conceptions pages.
through his pen as well as through their own “With the foregoing characteristics, proper chisel. His interpretation of Mr. Story's to the productions of a person in retirement really admirable statue of Cleopatra is full (which happened to be the author's category at of fine perception and true feeling. the time), the book is devoid of others that we We have hitherto referred to his works should quite as naturally look for. The sketches only incidentally, to illustrate the characare not, it is hardly necessary to say, profound ; terístics we have remarked in their author. but it is rather more remarkable that they so We proceed now to notice the more imporseldom, if ever, show any design on the writer's tant of them, though it must be very shortly, part to make them so. They have none of the in succession. abstruseness of idea, or obscurity of expression, which marks the written communications of a
His earliest attempts, we believe, at ausolitary mind with itself
. They never need thorship, were a series of slight sketches translation. It is, in fact, the
style of a man of which appeared in some of the magazines society. Every sentence, so far as it embodies and annuals of the time, and were afterthought or sensibility, may be understood and wards collected - so many of them at least felt by anybody who will give himself the trouble as their author thought fit -- in the volumes to read it, and will take up the book in a proper entitled Twice-Told Tales and Mosses from mood.
an Old Manse. These present many of the “ This statement of apparently opposite pecu- distinctive features of his more elaborate liarities leads us to a perception of what the productions, and are full of promise of their sketches truly are. They are not the talk of a later fruits. Some of these short pieces, secluded man with his own mind and heart (had especially among the “Mosses,” are as more deeply and permanently valuable), but pregnant with power and beauty as anyhis attempts, and very imperfectly successful thing he has given to the world, though,
of ones, to open an intercourse with the world.”
course, presenting but limited scope for his
microscopic analysis and artistic elaboraHis real power as a critic, however, is tion. "Rappaccini's Daughter,” for exambetter seen in what he says in Transforma- ple, is full of subtle effects and “the lurid tion on the remains of ancient Art in Italy. I intermixture” of antagonistic emotions ; of
intimations of the hidden and undeveloped of the morbid heart of Dimmesdale, affinities of humanity with nature; of the rather the history; for it is not its condidanger of mere intellectualism unconse- tion at any one moment, so much as its procrated by affection and moral purpose; of gress, step by step, from refined purity and warnings of how forces appointed for pure almost saintly devotion, once wounded by and beautiful ends may be perverted into momentary indulgence of unholy passion, deadly poisons. Strange and subtle sym- through depths of beguiling self-knowledge pathies are shadowed forth, that are awak- and self-deception, of moral weakness and ened by a breath, a fragrance, the most self-abasement, of passionate penance and ethereal means, typifying spiritual agencies miserable evasion, till, enfeebled to the too elusive for sense to track. The same point of collapse both physically and spiritgenerating spirit is transfused into the ually, his fall is perfected in yielding for an earthly child as into the plant which, as the instant, under the stimulating sympathy and offspring of her father's science, germinates love of the stronger nature and more resat the bour of her birth, and establishes a olute will of his fellow-sinner, to a dream mysterious sisterhood between the maiden of unhallowed earthly life and passion, from and the flower. “Young Goodman Brown,” which he is soon roused by the grim, chill, again, is an allegorical rendering of a temp- but to him not unwelcome, hand of death, tation in the wilderness into which an im- to cleanse his conscience by confession. pure imagination can turn our hearts, and The constitution of the man is one of sinshows how all faith may be lost, and the gular fineness and weakness. Every hour very stays of the soul may be converted of his life he abhors himself in dust and into means of hurrying it into the abyss, if ashes; he struggles, in almost mortal agony, the tempter be not resisted while he may. to unburden himself of the concealed sin Again, the true inherent nature of false- that rankles and festers in his conscience, hood, as a very plague-spot in the soul, is till it eats out the whole pith of his being. brought out with terrible force in “ Roger In helpless cowardice and vanity he faints Malvin's Burial," where disingenuous “con in the attempt, rendered doubly difficult by cealment imparts to a justifiable act much the devotedness and worship of his flock, of the secret effect of guilt.” Once more, and drifts into wild self-accusations of merewhat would most writers make of the sim- ly general sinfulness and depravity, which ple fact of a man choosing to hide his coun- serve only to beighten their conception of tenance behind a fold of black crape ? Yet his character and of his standard of moral in The Minister's Black Veil," from so purity. The misery of his life is augmentsmall a root-fibre he rears a wondrous ed unspeakably by the fiendish process of growth. By dint of his cunning power of refined torture to which he is subjected by imagination he makes this simple fact teem the husband, who, living under the same with significance, and converts it into a roof with him, in the character of physician, source of thrilling awe or fear to all the be- seeks revenge, not in exposure, but in conholders; and retlects from their numerous stantly fretting with poisonous touch the hearts and faces on the reader, as on a fo- ever open wound. One cannot but regret cus, a perplexity of sentiment, till the creep- that a nature endowed with so many noble ing sense of mystery becomes intensified a qualities should not live more visibly to rethousand-fold. Sometimes, as in “ Wake- trieve its fall. Yet we cannot doubt the field,” by a reverse process he analyses reality of his late repentance, and that in backward, and from a single act of odd ec- his dying confession there was not only centricity he builds up the inner fabric of achieved the beginning of a higher life for the man, as Professor Owen reconstructs himself
, but a redeeming, influence exerted an extinct animal from a tooth.
for both mother and child. The Scarlet Letter was the first of his Hester's character is of a stronger mould. larger works, and is perhaps unsurpassed Without being unwomanly, she is of far in the concentrated power of one or two of less effeminate texture than the man she its scenes by anything he afterwards wrote. loved so truly, and for whom she suffered The interest is centred in two chief and so bravely. Under the hard Puritan treattwo subordinate characters, – the two na- ment she somewhat hardens. The blazing tures, originally so fine, marred by their brand upon her breast does not melt, but joint sin, the minister and Hester, and the indurates her heart. It is true that for two against whom they sinned, the husband seven long years she had never been false and the child There is nothing we know to the symbol, and it may be that it was of in literature at once so tender and so un- the talisman of a stern and severe, but yet flinching, so harrowingly painful, and yet a guardian spirit.” But an outcast from 50 irresistibly fascinating, as the dissection social intercourse and joy, her thoughts
break loose from conventional limitations, | kindness is dried up within him, and he lives and stray in bold and perilous speculation. only to keep his enemy on the rack, to Pitiless condemnation and scorn drive her prolong the wretched man's wasting life by to justify what she had better unfeignedly care and healing art, only that he may the repented. “What we did had a consecra- longer enjoy his devilish work. He misertion of its own. We felt it so. We said ably sinks out of the circle of human activ*so to each other.” Thrown out of her true ity and life when his patient's death leaves relations to society, she sees its whole fabric hím without a purpose more. in false perspective, awry. “For years The early manifestations of Pearl's nature past she had looked from an estranged point and disposition are deeply significant, full of view at human institutions, and whatever of reflex lights thrown on the modifying inpriests or legislators had established; criti- fluence, not only of parental character, cising all with hardly more reverence than though perhaps foreign to its general tone the Indian would feel for the clerical band, - of our progenitors; and that less by their the judicial robe, the pillory, the gallows, natural and generally recognised operation the fireside, or the church. The tendency in habitual life and intercourse, than by a of her fate and fortunes had been to set her sort of natural affection of blood, and nerve, free. The scarlet letter was her passport and spirit; - intimating to us in infinitely into regions where other women dared not varied speech the truth, that what is sown tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These must be reaped - the persistent cogency of had been, her teachers — stern and wild ones moral law, the indestructible cohesion of - and they had made her strong, but taught moral order, either in recognition and obher much amiss.” Divine law broken be- servance, or in vindication and retributian. comes to her human prejudice. She not " The child's nature had something wrong only seeks to justify the past; she would in it, which continually betokened that she vainly aim at a higher and truer life in re- had been born amiss the effluence of her newal and perpetuation of the sin; and in mother's lawless passion.” She was way, her wild daring she carries the poor be- ward, fitful, impulsive, never to be reckoned wildered soul of the minister with her. on, full of wild energy, gushing affection, For deliberate power and skilful handling and imperious self-will.* There was fire it might be difficult to find many passages in her, and throughout her; she seemed the equal to that in which she fans the dying unpremeditated off-shoot of a passionate moembers of hope and passion into a short- ment.” She was at once the sting and the lived glow before they expire for ever. solace of her mother's heart, and that not
Arrived, however, at the very summit of only by virtue of the natural relationship of his fame and influence, Dimmesdale is moved child and parent, as the constant memorial by a power and virtue beyond himself to of the crime in which she had been begotten, count these and all else as loss that he may and at the same time the blessing into which win truth; and in conquering himself he is God in his mercy converts for us even the “strangely triumphant" over more than fruits. of our sins; but far more in the pecuhimself. Stronger as Hester has all along liarity of her disposition, as a very "messhown herself, she “is impelled as if by in- senger of anguish," and a purger of her paevitable fate against her stronger will” by rent's conscience. Her first baby smile is the power of truth and right in his last mo- not in her mother's face, but at the scarlet ments. The child too is subdued : "the letter on her breast; its gold embroidery is spell is broken” that seemed all her life to the first plaything which her tiny fingers have inspired her with an elf-like nature that grasp at; it is the chief object of her later could not be bound by enduring human childish curiosity. She loves in imp-like sympathies. Even Roger Chillingworth, prank to associate it in her remarks with the become almost the incarnation of hate and habit the minister has of keeping his hand revenge, though unsoftened, is withered up over his heart. With malicious pertinacity into impotence for evil by this “death of she seeks ever and again to force his acknowl triumphant ignominy.” This character, in- edgment of herself and her mother on the deed, though at first apt to be thrown into most public occasions. It appeared to be shadow by the more intense interest that the very end of her life to probe and keep attaches to his wife and the minister, is ever open the hidden sores of both. truly the most painful in the narrative. The The salient features of the child's nature, laborious student, the benevolent recluse of as well as the tendency and power of evil to other days, has his whole nature poisoned, perpetuate and reproduce itself, are forcibly his learning and sage experience of human set forth in her mother's reflections on her nature turned into a curse, by the sin that character:had been sinned against him. All human “Her nature -- or else Hester's fears deceived
her - lacked reference and adaptation to the standing this defect, the conception of Clifworld into which she was born. The child could ford is apprehended by the author so vividly, not be made amenable to rules. In giving her so sharply, so thoroughly, and analysed and existence, a great law had been broken: and the described with such keenness, care, and result was a being whose elements were perhaps minuteness, that the effect is most impresbeautiful and brilliant, but all in disorder; or sive. Line upon line is added with an an order peculiar to themselves, amidst which elaboration that in the end is almost oppressthe point of variety and arrangement was difficult ive. Quietly and gently, touch by touch is or impossible to be discovered. Hester could only account for the child's character, and even then given, till it would seem artistic finish could most vaguely and imperfectly, by recalling what no further go. And it is as a marvel of artisshe herself had been, during that momentous tic finish and workmanship that the piece period wbile Pearl was imbibing her soul from is chiefly attractive. For Clifford, after all the spiritual world, and her bodily frame from the pains bestowed upon him, is far from a its material of earth. The mother's impassioned loveable person. " An.abortive lover of state had been the medium through which were the Beautiful” is but an abortion after all. transmitted to the unborn infant the rays of its It is both sad and instructive to see how the moral life; and however white and clear origi- mere artist-instinct, unsweetened, unprenally, they had taken the deep stains of crimson served by admixture of the more humaniand gold, the fiery lustre, the black shadow, and zing ingredients of heart and soul, corrupts the untempered light, of the intervening sub- the entire being, and crushes every more stance. Above all, the warfare of Hester's spirit, at that epoch, was perpetuated in Pearl. She generous impulse under the demands for could recognise the wild, desperate, defiant mood, ruling passion. May not his terrible trou
selfish gratification of what thus becomes a the flightiness of her temper, and even some of the very cloud-shapes of gloom and despondency
bles have been messengers of mercy in disthat had brooded in her heart. They were now guise, to save from utter extinction what illuminated by the morning radiance of a child's embers of human feeling were still capable disposition; but, later in the day of earthly ex- of emitting a transient glow? istence, might pe prolific of storm and whirl The intense all-absorbing devotion of wind.”
Hepzibah forms, it is true, pathetic con
trast and relief to Clifford's refined unconThe House of the Seven Gables is in some scious selfishness. But the seclusion in respects the most elaborate and finished, if which her pride and misfortunes have shut neither the most pleasing nor the most pro- her up, and her many years' brooding over found, of his writings. Its material is of the one engrossing affection, the one great the very slightest. The absence of incident, sorrow of her heart, have so dried up the which we have already remarked on, has well-spring of her nature, and narrowed her here reached its utmost; there is literally affinities with human life, that she appeals no action in the whole romance. The only to our pity, not unmixed with ridicule, event is the sudden death from apoplexy of rather than to any warmer sentiment of a worldly, hardened, outwardly respectable admiration or regard. old man, at the very time he is bent on ex Phæbe is, indeed, a cheery, refreshing ecuting the most wicked project of his life. spot in the dismal picture. We might have But there is more than mere want of inci- introduced her as an example of our audent to throw the work out of the ordinary thor's intense sympathy with the natural category of tales, and almost to class it with and sweet ways and aims of childhood. She other forms of composition: the descriptive is no doubt on the verge of woinanhood; nearly swallows up every other character- but she has so much of the child about her, istic. The dramatic element plays a com- at least of the child-heart in her, before the paratively insignificant part in any of Haw- woman is awakened by her contact with thorne's writings; but here its deficiency is Holgrave; she is so simple, so natural, so carried to excess. The portraiture of poor innocent, that we forget her years in her Clifford's life and character, on which the character. . But she also exemplifies anauthor's efforts have been mainly expended, other quality we have claimed for her histois produced by pages upon pages of unbro- rian, — his power to depict scenes of real ken description. With a wonderfully re- life. The homely little housewife, so pracvealing power, we are told, but Clifford had tical in all her thoughts and habits, so skillhardly ever, by deed or word, himself shown ful in all womanly handiwork, sheds a beam us, what he is. There is no self-manifest- of sunshine through all the gloomy house, ing quality in the characters. They have through all the gloomier lives of her kinsall to be introduced, taken to pieces and ex- folk, by her gentle grace, her apt and winplained, as much as if they were lay figures ning ways, and unflagging spirit of genial or psychological wax-models. But notwith- activity. Every touch is realistic. We LIVING AGE.
feel her sunny smile with gladdening warmth sues in a tragic catastrophe; for although the on our hearts. She is one of those bright murder of Miriam's model in Transformabut homely creatures, that seem sent to tion may at first appear to be an event of teach us the too-often-forgotten lesson, that such a nature, his character and circumcheerfulness is not only a personal charm, stances, save as they bear on Miriam, are but a social virtue.
too incidentally interwoven into the texture Artistically, Holgrave is the least satis- of the romance to concern the reader, more factory character. He seems to us less than in a secondary degree, in his fortunes. definitely and firmly conceived, less clearly His appearance is too episodical; and his brought out, perhaps less consistent, than al- fate is felt rather as the occasion of other most any other playing an equally promi- events of interest than of vital interest itnent part in Hawthorne's works.
self. But Zenobia is the prominent figure The pervading impression of the whole in Blithedale, and her end is undeniably narrative is one of something very like a tragic. She is, too, the only instance of fate, but really far more solemn and terri- Hawthorne's essaying to delineate a characble than any fate that ever brooded over ter of thoroughly passionate impulse. She Grecian tragedy, - the undying and illimit- has none of the pale tints and pensive asable consequences of human action and pect of his other creations. He would repcharacter, and the intimate ties that link the resent her as Oriental in character, and the generations of man into one organic whole. unfailing exotic that adorned her hair was a The Past hangs like a murky pall of judg- subtle expression of her own nature. This ment over the Present, teaching us that romance, moreover, is the only one in which what we are and what we do may affect he has chosen the development of the tenthose that come after us more critically, it der passion as his direct and primary theme. may be, than even ourselves.
For this, and the modifying influence it exThe lowest rank among his works of fic- erts, as well as the modified forms it astion we should be disposed to assign to The sumes, in minds so variously and characterBlithedale Romance. It has much of the istically constituted and disposed as Zenosame delicacy of handling, and play of the bia, Priscilla, Hollingsworth, and Coverimagination, and unimpassioned study of dale, form the real interest, although the mental phenomena; but it does not display more ostensible purpose and moral of the the same mastery and subtle fascination as the book may be to depict the perilous, often others. It may be that the subject is less ruinous, effects on the individual - whatfitted for his peculiar powers, or that he has ever they may be to society at large, – of undertaken it in an hour of less happy in- " what is called philanthrophy, when adopted spiration. The task he has set himself is as a profession." The House of the Seven not sufficiently composite fully to engage Gables, and Transformation, no doubt, deal and call forth his strength. The entangle- with the subject; but in each it appears ments and cross-purposes of the love-passa- only as an accessory, - like the side scenes ges between a strong, rude, masculine na- in a drama, or the costume to a portrait; ture, of noble impulse and herculean will, and while harmonizing with the general efbut narrow, uncultivated, and under the fect, and affording a setting to the central domination of one idea, and two women object, does not divert the interest to itself. nearly related, but of widely different metal The fundamental idea of Transformation and temper, and both equally within the is the awakening and education of a human range of his attraction, for the exercise of soul from a state of simple, unconscious inwhich the circumstances are in the highest nocence, through crime, to a higher life of degree favourable, is almost too simple and moral and spiritual struggle, in which it may commonplace a problem fully to charm his be trained, not to ignore, but to combat and fancy or stimulate the peculiar bent of his subdue evil. In this some will see an atgenius. The circumstances of the Blithe tempt, more or less successful, at an imagdale life were no doubt strange, but not inative rendering of a great truth, that has, strange enough. Besides, it is not strange- with varying distinctness, been the subject ness of outward circumstances Hawthorne of human contemplation and speculation needs, but of inward life, - the co-existence since the epoch of earliest written records of uncongenial emotions and irreconcilable of the race. Others may be disposed to tendencies. Still the study of the mental trace in it a pernicious application of the constitution and development of some of Goethean doctrine that experience is the the characters is fine, and the book has an mighty teacher, the sole condition of human interest of its own, from the fact of its development, even to the point that our breaking ground untouched in any of his perfeet and manifold culture demands perother works. It is his only tale which is-sonal acquaintance, through actual partici