It is thus not difficult to understand that, | can they be found to differ from the realities

with all his power, he is hardly what can be termed a popular author. In the present day, indeed, the popular taste has become so vitiated by unhealthy stimulus and coarse sensational excitement, that anything so refined as his flavour must be felt by all who indulge in such debauchery (we can use no milder term) to be cold, lifeless, vapid. He has nothing rough enough in the grain to affect senses so exhausted and debased, and if he had, he is too true an Epicurean to use it. He is dainty in his tastes, and by the dainty reader alone will he be relished. Not only, therefore, in these days of demoralizing fiction and over-wrought incident, will he be generally found to be too reflective and deficient in excitement to be attractive; at any time his fame is not likely to be that of the well-thumbed and dog-eared page. But even now he is, and one day we believe will be still more, generally regarded by competent readers as one of the most refined, tender, powerful, and highly imaginative writers in the English language.

seen when the glass is withdrawn, and yet with a subtle ethereal character and air of unreality. It is a style admirably adapted to his genius and proclivities, and seems with snake-like ease and grace to curve itself round the quaintest forms, and to insinuate itself into the most tortuous convolutions of thought and sentiment. So far as mere language is concerned, there are few writers that can produce effects of awe and terror and weird-like mystery with so simple means. He builds his magic edifice with small and plain materials, but disposed with such cunning art, that others more imposing and gorgeous would be felt to be vulgar and ostentatious in comparison.

There are, however, many minds deeply thoughtful and full of generous sympathy, who find in his works neither the charm nor the high tone we would ascribe to them. His immense power-and that always exercised in the most temperate and unstrained manner -can hardly, we think, be denied; but he manifests a fondness for dealing with sides of our nature where assuredly the strength and cheerfulness of humanity do not lie, which by some is felt to be morbid. And we would admit at once that he often chooses subjects that are dangerous themes, and unfolds with curious scrutiny the working of emotions, the treatment of which in almost any other hands than his would degenerate into sickly sentimentalism or repulsive ugliness. In truth, he not only shows a certain preference for handling such subjects, he sometimes almost seems to play with them. He turns them over and over as if loth to dismiss them or to leave a single point unexamined; he never wearies trying on them the effect of various positions and points of view. But we maintain that his apparent toying with such topics is only apparent. It is the mode in which minds like his question and investigate, and the more cautious and thorough the research the more protracted the seeming dalliance. It is, in fact, after a certain fashion, an application to Ethics of the Baconian experimental method of inquiry. He does not reason out his questions: he simply verifies them; and the experimental survey must be thorough and exhaustive to secure the inclusion of all possible contingencies.

His employment of that language in perfect adaptation to his purpose, is one of the most prominent charms of this author. We have said, he is dainty in his tastes. In nothing is he more dainty than in his use of words. He is a purist in style. It may, perhaps, be possible that scrutinizing eyes may detect here and there an expression that serves to mark his nationality. But his vocabulary is singularly choice and appropriate, and his style is a model of elegance. It is free from exaggeration or straining, and if it is generally unimpassioned, it is still more devoid of stiffness and dry ungeniality. It flows in a placid, gentle rill, always sweet and pellucid; sometimes in its clearness and purity, in its unobtrusive operation and quiet movement, it may rather be said to distil over upon its subject, and there to crystallize with curious refracting power, which reveals the image undimmed, but deflected from the direct line of vision. Optics supply a parallel to another of its qualities. It often acts like a reversed telescope, throwing objects back into the distance, and imparting to them a fineness and delicacy and fairy-like aspect, so true and life-like that in no particular

natural beauty have a charm for him, not less than the most intricate and complex tissue of strange and conflicting elements. Every reader must remember "The Old Manse," with its rich orchard, bounded by the sluggish waters of the Concord; its cobwebby library; the fishing excursion with Ellery Channing; the peaceful rest of its "near retirement and accessible seclusion;" its gentle joys "in those genial days

Moral and psychological problems which by the abstract thinker would be analysed and acutely discussed, are by him- we shall not say solved, for positive solution is what he rarely ventures to commit himself tobut, in anatomical phrase, demonstrated, by exhibiting the bearings, the workings, and consequences of the data, in concrete and . living forms in many and various aspects. Given combinations of moral and spiritual forces are not judged of speculatively. He of autumn, when Mother Nature, having reduces them to experiment and illustration. He embodies them in the creatures of his imagination, in their character and circum-do, overflows with a blessed superfluity of stances, and with the unerring sympathy and instinct of genius he inspires them with life and evolves the results, leaving these to speak for themselves.

That in the prosecution of such experimental Ethics through the instrumentality of the imagination, he evinces somewhat the spirit and tendency of a casuist, must perhaps be granted, in the sense that he generally selects cases which are out of the ordinary run of daily life, which are delicate, fine, and intricate in the complexity and often in the contradictoriness of their elements, and which cannot be decided which he at least is too judicial, too conscientious to decide- in the rough-and-ready style, and by the sound, but not always nicely discriminating rules that prevail with salutary result in practical and busy life. The questions he raises are for the most part too complicated and difficult to be dealt with by so coarse though effective an instrument as the so-called strong common sense of the upright man of the world. Such a man would misjudge them, or if his conclusions were right, they would be so on false premisses, and irrespective of considerations that ought to obtain recognition. Hawthorne rests satisfied with no such haphazard and superficial treatment. He manipulates his combinations with the utmost care and precision, to make sure the good there is may not be lost sight of, or to impress on us with haunting iteration the baneful effects

on it of that with which it is associated.

An evidence of the general healthiness of his nature may be found in the scenes of sweet innocence and natural simplicity that abound in his works. The freshness of childhood and pictures of genial life and

perfected her harvests and accomplished every needful thing that was given her to

love, and has leisure to caress her chil-
dren." How fresh and touching in its ex-
treme simplicity, mixed with one or two
touches of quiet humour, and relieved here
and there at the close of a paragraph by a
sudden turn of pleasantly quaint moralizing
is "Little Annie's Ramble." What a gen-
uine eye for, and unaffected love of, what
is purest, fairest in human nature, it re-
veals! How charming a half-dozen pages!
and all about the commonest objects,
some would say, the veriest trifles of daily
life. Little Pearl in The Scarlet Letter in
one of her more natural moods, playing by
the sea-shore, while her mother converses
with her outraged husband, is hardly less
beautiful, if, in its connexion and collateral
bearings, not quite so simple a picture of

"At first, as already told, she had flirted fancifully with her own image in a pool of water, beckoning the phantom forth, and as it declined to venture-seeking a passage for herself into its sphere of impalpable earth and unattainable sky. Soon finding, however, that either she or the image was unreal, she turned elsewhere for better pastime. She made little boats out of birch-bark, and freighted them with snail-shells, and sent out more ventures on the mighty deep than any merchant in New England; but the larger part of them foundered near the shore. She seized a live horse-shoe by and laid out a jelly-fish to melt in the warm sun. the tail, and made prize of several five-fingers, Then she took up the white foam, that streaked the line of the advancing tide, and threw it upon the breeze, scampering after it, with winged footsteps, to catch the great snow-flakes ere they fell. Perceiving a flock of beach-birds, that fed and fluttered along the shore, the naughty child picked up her apron full of pebbles, and, creep

- never

ing from rock to rock after these small sea-fowl, | ments in the Chemistry of Ethics; but if he displayed remarkable dexterity in pelting them. deals with poisons, it is to make their real One little grey bird, with a white breast, Pearl nature and effects known, even when they was almost sure had been hit by a pebble, and mingle with fair and good things, fluttered away with a broken wing. But then to trifle with and disguise them. the elf-child sighed, and gave up her sport, because it grieved her to have done harm to a little being that was as wild as the sea-breeze, or as wild as Pearl herself.

"Her final employment was to gather seaweeds of various kinds, and make herself a scarf or mantle, and a head-dress, and thus assume the aspect of a little mermaid. She inherited her mother's gift for devising drapery and costume. As the last touch to her mermaid's garb, Pearl took some eel-grass, and imitated, as best she could, on her own bosom, the decoration with which she was so familiar on her mother's, a letter the letter A- but freshly green instead of scarlet! The child bent her chin upon her breast, and contemplated this device with strange interest, even as if the one only thing for which she had been sent into the world was to make out its hidden import."

To the general soundness as well as fineness of moral feeling and judgment displayed in his works, we must admit, at least, one grave exception. His Life of Pierce might perhaps be disposed of as an ephem-. eral production, which, if it served its more immediate purpose, was never meant to do more; as unworthy, it may be, of his reputation and powers, but never put forth with the intention or hope of its surviving its temporary aims, and therefore to count for nothing in an estimate of his literary capacity and character. Were it merely worthless, this course might be followed. It were hard could one not help his friend to the Presidency by an electioneering pamphlet, without it being subjected to the same criticism as his more earnest and professedly The heart that so sings in harmony with artistic works. Such plea may be sustained childhood's sweetest music can hardly be for an innocent squib or jeu d'esprit. But suspected of choosing and enjoying the de- how slight soever its proportions, how oclineation of horror or evil for its own sake. casional soever its ostensible purpose, his Even in his tales of darker shade and lurid Life of Pierce seeks to achieve that purpose light, these qualities are relieved, and their by a treatment, neither apparently frivolous real character attested, by the bright sun-nor uncandid, of a question of the deepest shine and winning beauty that form the import; and it would seem difficult to esbroader features of the picture. In this cape the dilemma, that either the opinions lies the contrast and moral superiority of it sets forth are seriously entertained and his tales, even of most thrilling awe, to advocated by the author, or the success of those of his wild, erratic countryman, Ed- General Pierce was more to him than truth gar Allan Poe, whose productions derive or falsehood in regard to a question as satheir chief fascination from the depth of un- cred as it is momentous. When General redeemed and unnatural horror they reveal. Pierce offered himself as a candidate for the It may be, that what is strange and unusual Presidency, the repeal or the maintenance in humanity has for Hawthorne rather more of the Fugitive Slave Act was the question than a due share of attractiveness, but he of the day. Pierce was a declared pronever chooses evil for his study from a love slavery man; and it is with extreme pain of it; and delicate themes he always treats that we find Hawthorne advocating his with the utmost delicacy. Nothing could claims as those of a man who dared to exceed the purity, tenderness, and, at the love that great and grand reality—his same time, harrowing truthfulness, with whole united native country-better than which the sin of the Scarlet Letter" and the mistiness of a philanthropic theory." its fruits are portrayed. We regret we can Still we are reluctant to allow ourselves to extract no passage for illustration. Quota- think that he was, in defiance of nobler tion here is of no avail. It is a delicacy, convictions, basely prostituting his pen for not of any one scene, but pervading the electioneering purposes. We are rather entire story, with a sustained tone that could disposed to believe that he distrusted the be achieved only by a mind in which the wisdom and ability as well as the moderahighest delicacy of feeling is native and in- tion of the extreme Abolition party, - that herent. Very different results would such he doubted whether violent effort to achieve materials have yielded in the hands of a promptly great social changes might not reGeorge Sand, or of a Victor Hugo. Even sult in worse disaster. The gradual proin those of not a few of our popular Eng- gress, the natural growth of the body social lish novelists we should have seen over all and politic, was one of the soundest les"the trail of the serpent." It may be that sons our own great statesman Burke taught. Hawthorne exhibits too great a predilection It may be easy for us now, with the result for what may be considered curious experi- so far accomplished, to read the past in a

different light. But we should not forget | of the universe in general, on the other. how little, at one stage of the great strug- It were assuredly unjust to assume that the gle, many even of the most generous and opinions expressed by any of his characters, philanthropic among ourselves sympathized even those that by any preference or with or had faith in the professions or the general approval or other token seem to cause of the North. The heroic is born of lie nearest the personality of the author,intensity rather than of breadth and com- represent the author's own sentiments; and prehension, and a man may see things on full account must be taken of the fact, that too many sides, unless he sees them all in what we now quote, the speaker is repfully and in their just relations. With lim-resented as undergoing a process of gradited faculties activity may be paralysed by ual but thorough deterioration alike moralincreased knowledge and breadth of view,-ly and intellectually. Still, as that speaker not by the calls to action appearing less, is also portrayed as a man of indomitable but by the objections to any particular ac- will and self-reliance, and therefore presents tion appearing greater. Some spirits are no special appropriateness at least no clear call or apology


Too subtly pondering for mastery,"

or, indeed, for any independent action at all. The following reads less like a wise and humble distrust of human foresight and scheming, than a renunciation of enlightened moral agency and of free human aim and effort,-less like a submission to Providence than an acquiescence in Fate: —

"One view, and probably a wise one, looks upon slavery as one of those evils which Divine Providence does not leave to be remedied by human contrivances, but which, in its own good time, by some means impossible to be anticipated, but by the simplest and easiest operation, when all its uses shall have been fulfilled, shall vanish like a dream. There is no instance in all history of the human will and intellect having perfected any great moral reform by methods which it adapted to that end; but the progress of the world at every step leaves some evil or wrong on the path behind it, which the wisest of mankind, of their own set purpose, could never have found the way to rectify."*

While, however, we recognise a source of weakness and timidity in this scrupulous anxiety to discriminate and to balance, a shrinking from responsibility that tends to issue in a system almost of indifferentism, in forgetfulness of the fact that the responsibility of laissez-faire decision is quite as great as that of one of interference, it is well we should not confound this with deliberate pandering of clear and honest convictions to lower motives.

An inclination to a fatalistic view of the world and human affairs crops out in other parts of his writings, and perhaps it might form an interesting question how far this tendency may be due to his training in a school of mystic idealism, on the one hand, and to his experience of an attempt to realize a specious but unsound communism and social scheme for the amelioration

* Life of Franklin Pierce, pp. 113, 114.

for such views as he is made to utter, the expression of opinion, especially taken in connexion with the deliverance above given by the author in propria persona, is not without significance


Peace, Hester, peace!' replied the old man, with gloomy sternness, it is not granted me to pardon. I have no such power as thou tellest me of. My old faith, long forgotten, comes back to me, and explains all that we do, and all we suffer. By thy first step awry, thou didst plant the germ of evil; but since that moment it has all been a dark necessity. Ye that have wronged sion; neither am I fiend-like, who have snatched me are not sinful, save in a kind of typical illu

Let the black flower blossom as it may! Now go thy ways, and deal as thou wilt with yonder

a fiend's office from his hands. It is our fate.



So again in that terrible interview by the brook-side in the forest, when Hester Prynne, in obedience to the requirement of her child, again fastens on her breast the stigma of her sin and shame, with the removal of which she had felt as if the burden of her life and its anguish had departed' from her spirit, we read:

"Hopefully, but a moment ago, as Hester had spoken of drowning it in the deep sea, there was a sense of inevitable doom upon her, as she thus received back the deadly symbol from the hand of fate. She had flung it into infinite space! She had drawn an hour's free breath! and here again was the scarlet misery glittering on the old spot! So it ever is, whether thus typified or no, that an evil deed invests itself with the character of doom."†

A reflection made by the author in his own name at the end of The Scarlet Letter, in taking leave of two of the principal char

acters, affords less doubtful evidence of the transcendental influence of Emerson. As usual, his strongly undogmatic tendency restrains him from any positive assertion;

The Scarlet Letter, p. 161. ↑ Ibid. p. 198.


but the negation of any fundamental and ineradicable distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, is more than nibbled



more striking instance could be found of how little he depends on the interest of to be overcome, than is presented in the suspense, of doubt to be solved, of difficulty chapter of Transformation entitled "The Spectre of the Catacomb." The separation of one from the other members of a party seem to afford an occasion for a most natuvisiting the Catacombs of Rome would ral, almost unavoidable scene of highpitched interest and excitement. The reality of the danger; its magnitude and horror; the confusion of the searchers, themselves ignorant of the labyrinth, and each in imminent risk of being lost in the gloom and enravelment of the intersecting narrow their proneness to rush hither passages; and thither without plan; their eagerness and anxiety only multiplying the difficulties and the hazard; their hasty movements, now extinguishing their tapers, now carryall ing them past marks that are important for retracing their own steps; their flashing hopes and crushing disappointments;the details of such an event are what many writers of fiction would make a considerable digression to introduce what hardly one would spurn. Yet Hawthorne, when Miriam is separated from her companions in the dismal corridors of St. Calixtus, after mentioning that the guide assured them that there was no possibility of rendering Accordingly they all began assistance unless by shouting at the top of their voices, quietly disposes of the crisis in to shriek, halloo, and bellow, with the utmost the reader's suspense (for we do not particforce of their lungs. And, not to prolong ularly seek to interest him in this scene, telling it only on account of the trouble and strange entanglement which followed), they soon heard a responsive call in a female He dwells chiefly on the developThe view we have taken of his writings, voice." as aiming before all else to be an embodiment of the results of the inner life of such ment of the operation and results of strange, events as are narrated-or implied; for often involved, and conflicting combinations of the event is already passed, and only inferred, moral and spiritual data, is quite in keep- or its circumstantial details, and not unfreSometimes even so little is ing with the very sparing use he makes of quently its actual nature, left vague and uneventful incident. Perhaps no novelist so defined. little depends on plot, or on the interest of made of mere outward actualities—a sugoutward circumstance. If the crucial merit gestion is offered of several possible cases, of such a form of literary composition be, and the reader invited to make his choice. as some are disposed to hold, the continu- The actual facts of outward life, considered ous movement of a well-told story, few claims can be made in his favour. There merely as facts, are held quite subordinate is no romantic adventure; no gathering which they are charged; and these he sets complications disentangled by sudden un- forth with a patient minuteness and lingerdreamt-of disclosures; no development of ing scrutiny as if he suspected they might events in strict causal sequence, leading yet present some new aspect, or were afraid ultimately to startling unsuspected results, to close the record uncompleted. not even stirring movement of life. No *The Scarlet Letter, pp. 248, 249.

a sentence:


to the intellectual and moral influences with

It must not, however, be understood that we would imply that he is to be described


the sun.

more remarkable than the Nothing was change which took place, almost immediately after Mr. Dimmesdale's death, in the appearance and all his demeanour of the old man known as Roger Chillingworth. All his strength and energyvital and intellectual force-seemed at once to desert him; insomuch that he positively withered up, shrivelled away, and almost vanished from mortal sight, like an uprooted weed that lies wilting in This unhappy man had made the very principle of his life to consist in the pursuit and systematic exercise of revenge; and when by its completest triumph and consummation, that evil principle was left with no further material to support it, when, in short, there was no more Devil's work on earth for him to do, it only remained for the unhumanized mortal to betake himself whither his Master would find him tasks enough, and pay him his wages duly. But to all these shadowy beings, so long our near acquaintances, as well Roger Chillingworth as -we would fain be merciful. his companions, It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each in its utmost development supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his subject. Philosophically considered, therefore, the two passions seem essentially the same, except that one happens to be seen in a celestial radiance, and the other in a dusky and lurid glow. In the spiritual world, the old physician and the minister may unamutual victims as they have been wares have found their earthly stock of hatred and antipathy transmuted into golden love." *

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