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Hawthorne at Salem

Hawthorne in Salem

Thoreau

Introduction to Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne

Prepared by
Terri Whitney, Department of English
North Shore Community College, Danvers, MA

 

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (courtesy of The Thoreau Society)
 

After Hawthorne’s and Sophia’s wedding ceremony at the house of Sophia’s parents in Boston on July 9, 1842, Hawthorne and his bride moved into the Old Manse in Concord, rented from Emerson. Thoreau had planted a vegetable garden next to the house as a wedding present. At the Old Manse today is a re-creation of this garden based on the journals of Hawthorne and George Bradford. During the time Hawthorne and his family resided in Concord, he and Thoreau, a close neighbor, became good friends.

As Buford Jones explains in his article “’The Hall of Fantasy’ and the Early Hawthorne-Thoreau Relationship,” Hawthorne admired the literary work of his neighbor and praised him in print; moreover, as Jones points out, Thoreau’s “conversations with Hawthorne, as Frank Davidson has convincingly demonstrated, helped shape several of the tales and sketches in Mosses from an Old Manse (1846) including ‘Egotism; Or, The Bosom Serpent,’ ‘The Celestial Railroad,’ ‘Earth’s Holocaust,’ ‘Fire-Worship,’ and ‘Buds and Bird Voices” (1429). He also, Brenda Wineapple points out, praised Thoreau’s “scholarship; his good sense; the way he handled his skiff” (165).

Hawthorne’s appraisal of Thoreau’s physical appearance and social behavior, however, is unflattering. In his Sept. 1, 1842 entry in American Notebooks he describes his friend as “ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and somewhat rustic, although courteous manners” (www.eldritchpress.org ). In that same entry, however, he cites Thoreau as “a keen and delicate observer of nature,--a genuine observer,--which, I suspect, is almost as rare a character as even an original poet; and Nature, in return for his love, seems to adopt him as her especial child, and shows him secrets which few others are allowed to witness” (www.eldritchpress.org )

In Concord, Hawthorne and Thoreau both spent time with Margaret Fuller when she was a guest in the Emerson household. At that time Thoreau was living with the Emerson’s as a hired hand. On a later visit to Concord, John Matteson writes, Fuller “was stirred from sleep before sunrise by the hoarse voice of Thoreau, who stood beneath her window and proposed a boat ride on the river. They drifted for two lazy hours under the early morning sun” (254). Matteson adds that Fuller “was even more delighted to spend ten days at the Old Manse with Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne” though, as Matteson explains, Hawthorne “had wisely kept his less kindly opinions of Fuller to himself…” (254).

After word came to Concord on July 22, 1850 that Margaret Fuller had died in a shipwreck of the Elizabeth off Fire Island, along with her Italian husband and son, Emerson sent Thoreau to Fire Island to search for her body and for any sign of her manuscripts or personal effects. Thoreau arrived on Fire Island on July 24, but he found no traces of Fuller. Scavengers, who had arrived at the time of the wreck, had made off with the remains of cargo and personal property that had washed up on shore from the ship by the time Thoreau arrived. John Matteson explains that Thoreau did, however, find at some distance away, a jacket which belonged to Fuller’s husband, Giovanni Ossoli, and he “ripped a button from the garment and put it in his pocket,” later writing to a friend “that Ossoli’s button was ‘an actual button so called—And yet all the life it is connected with is less substantial to me than my faintest dreams.’ With acute melancholy, he added, ‘Our thoughts are the epochs in our lives: all else is but as a journal of the winds that blew while we were here’” (423). John Matteson adds that Charles Davis, an Englishman and first mate on the ship, told Thoreau, “’If it had been the coast of England, they could all have been saved.’ But the ragtag Americans [those at the lighthouse nearby and the men onshore] remained immovable” (421).

In 1847 Hawthorne moved his family from Concord back to Salem where they lived with his sisters and mother at 18 Chestnut Street; two months later they moved to larger quarters at 14 Mall Street. In 1848, Hawthorne became manager of the Lyceum of Salem and invited Emerson and Thoreau to lecture.

In May of 1864, Hawthorne travelled to New Hampshire with Franklin Pierce. It was on this trip on May 18/19 that Hawthorne died in his sleep. He is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA near Emerson and Thoreau along what is now known as Author's Ridge.

Works Cited

Literature Related to Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (courtesy of The Thoreau Society)
 

From "The Custom House Sketch" in The Scarlet Letter Excerpt in which Hawthorne refers to talks with Thoreau in his Walden cabin (courtesy of Eldritch Press)

Full text of The Custom House Sketch

From Mosses from an Old Manse, 1854, "The Old Manse" Excerpt in which Hawthorne refers to Thoreau as teaching him to search for Indian relics in Concord and about the pond-lily.

Full text of "The Old Manse"

Connection between Thoreau and Hawthorne in his letters and "The Hall of Fantasy"

 

Excerpt from an article in PMLA in 1968 in which Buford Jones discusses the early relationship of Hawthorne and Thoreau and a likely reference to Thoreau in "Hall of Fantasy"

Also see article "Three Unpublished Letters by Hawthorne to Epes Sargent" by Edward C. Sampson. American Literature Vol. 34, No. 1 (Mar., 1962), pp. 102-105 Published by: Duke University Press (Stable URL)

Full text of "The Hall of Fantasy"

Passages from The American Note-Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne [edited by Sophia Hawthorne, Copyright 1868 by Sophia Hawthorne, Copyright 1883 by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.Vol. IX of the Riverside Edition, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company,1883] (courtesy of Eldritch Press) These passages discuss Thoreau’s visits to the Old Manse, his knowledge of Indians, his knowledge of literature and his writing ability, and an outing on the Concord River.

See also:

Hawthorne on Thoreau: 1853-1857 Edward C. Peple Jr. The Thoreau Society Bulletin No. 119 (SPRING 1972), pp. 1-3 Published by: The Thoreau Society, Inc.
(Stable URL)

Works by Thoreau Related to Hawthorne

Text of H. D. Thoreau’s Retelling of the Hannah Dustin Story [From A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, "Thursday" section, 1849]

Text of Thoreau’s Reflections on the Indians and White Settlement [From A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, "Sunday" section, 1849]

Original Documents Related to Thoreau in Hawthorne's Circle

 

 

Image of a Letter from Henry David Thoreau to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Feb 2Oth 1849.
Image of a Letter from Henry David Thoreau to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Feb 2Oth 1849. 
Letter from Thoreau to Hawthorne, Feb. 20th, 1849, Peabody Essex Museum, Phillips Library. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Autograph of Henry David Thoreau from a Letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Feb 2Oth 1849.
Autograph of Henry David Thoreau from a Letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Feb 2Oth 1849. 
Autograph of Henry David Thoreau  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Title page from the original autograph manuscript of Henry David Thoreau's <I/>Walden.</I> ┬ęThe Huntington Library
Title page from the original autograph manuscript of Henry David Thoreau's Walden. ©The Huntington Library
The first page of Thoreau's Walden, published in August of 1854. Thoreau lived at Walden Pond between 1845 and 1847 in a cabin he built on land owned by Emerson.  (courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA)

Images Related to Thoreau


Portraits
Walden
The Old Manse
In Maine
Salem

Portraits

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
Daguerreotype taken of Henry David Thoreau at age 39 in 1856.  (courtesy of The Thoreau Society)

Walden

Walden Pond in 2006
Walden Pond in 2006
from A Journey Into the Transcendentalists' New England, 2006. (courtesy of Robert Todd Felton)
View from the site of Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond toward the pond
View from the site of Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond toward the pond
from A Journey Into the Transcendentalists' New England, 2006. (courtesy of Robert Todd Felton)
 Walden Pond Reservation, Concord, MA.
Walden Pond Reservation, Concord, MA.
Replica of Thoreau's Cabin, Walden Pond  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Walden Pond Seen from the Thoreau Cabinsite.
Walden Pond Seen from the Thoreau Cabinsite. 
View of Walden Pond, Concord, MA (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
The Shore of Walden Pond Near the Thoreau Cabinsite.
The Shore of Walden Pond Near the Thoreau Cabinsite. 
View of Walden Pond, Concord, MA (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Thoreau's Cabin Site, Walden Pond, Concord, MA
Thoreau's Cabin Site, Walden Pond, Concord, MA
Thoreau's Cabin Site, Walden Pond, Concord, MA  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Walden Pond, Concord, MA
Walden Pond, Concord, MA
from A Journey Into the Transcendentalists' New England by Robert Todd Felton (courtesy of Robert Todd Felton)

The Old Manse

The Old Manse in Concord
The Old Manse in Concord 
The Old Manse in Concord where Nathaniel and Sophia moved after they were married. Eventually they were unable to pay their rent and were asked to leave.  (photography by Terri Whitney)
Side View and Gardens of Emerson's \"Old Manse,\" Concord, MA
Side View and Gardens of Emerson's "Old Manse," Concord, MA
 (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Gardens at Emerson's \"Old Manse,\" Concord, MA
Gardens at Emerson's "Old Manse," Concord, MA
 (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Garden at the Old Manse, Concord, MA, which Henry David Thoreau planted as a wedding gift to Hawthorne and his bride, Sophia
Garden at the Old Manse, Concord, MA, which Henry David Thoreau planted as a wedding gift to Hawthorne and his bride, Sophia
from A Journey Into the Transcendentalists' New England by Robert Todd Felton (courtesy of Robert Todd Felton)
Old Manse Garden
Old Manse Garden
Before Nathaniel and Sophia arrived at the Old Manse to begin their life together as man and wife, Henry David Thoreau planted a garden for them as a wedding present. (courtesy of Terri Whitney)

In Maine

Joseph Aitteon, c. 1862
Joseph Aitteon, c. 1862
Aitteon was a Penobscot guide for Thoreau in Maine in 1853. 

Salem

The Salem Lyceum, 43 Church St., Salem
The Salem Lyceum, 43 Church St., Salem
In 1830 the Salem Lyceum was organized as a cultural institution which featured lectures on topics ranging from Salem witchcraft to phrenology. In 1831 a hall was built on Church Street, and Margaret Moore in The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne, says that according to the October 6, 1838 issue of the Observer, " the Lyceum was called 'the theatre of New England'" (155). Although Hawthorne never lectured here, he did serve as corresponding secretary in 1848-49 and invited speakers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Horace Mann. The building still stands on Church street, but today it houses a restaurant. (photography by Lou Procopio)

Critical Commentary Related to Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (courtesy of The Thoreau Society)
 
On Thoreau and Hawthorne in Concord from "Hawthorne in Concord," lecture by Philip McFarland, Teacher Emeritus, Concord Academy, delivered at The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site on April 6, 2005 (courtesy of the author)

Excerpt from Richard Slotkin’s Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 which discusses Thoreau’s account of the Hannah Duston story.

On Thoreau and Hawthorne in Concord from "Hawthorne in Concord," lecture by Philip McFarland, Teacher Emeritus, Concord Academy, delivered at The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site on April 6, 2005 (courtesy of the author)

Websites Related to Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (courtesy of The Thoreau Society)
 
  • Houghton Library site with images of Thoreau’s notes about his search on Fire Island for traces of Margaret Fuller’s belongings after the ship on which she and her young son were travelling from Italy



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  • Boston Globe article on the discovery of Thoreau’s notes and a transcription of the first page about his search on Fire Island