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MOSSES FROM AN OLD MANSE.
AFTER his marriage, in 1842, Hawthorne established himself at the Manse, the ancient residence of the parish minister at Concord, Massachusetts. It is still owned, as it was then, by descendants of Dr. Ripley, one of the early pastors of the place, and an ancestor of Ralph Waldo Emerson ; having been built in 1765, for the Rev. William Emerson, whose widow Dr. Ezra Ripley married. There, in a small back room on the second floor, commanding a view of the river, the old North Bridge, and the battle-field of 1775, Emerson had written his “ Nature,” six years before ; and in the same apartment Hawthorne prepared for the press his “ Mosses From an Old Manse.”' “ The study,” as he says in his account of the house, “ had three windows set with little, old-fashioned panes of glass, each with a crack across it;" and it does not require much imagination, nor perhaps any violation of history, to suppose that these are the self-same panes through which the sun shone at the time of Concord Fight. The cracks in them may have been caused by the concussions of musketry on that memorable April morning. On the glass of one of the two western windows, which, in Hawthorne's phrase, “ looked, or rather peeped, between the willow branches
down into the orchard," are several informal inscrip
1843 And, lower down:
Inscribed by my husband at
In the gold light S. A. H.
It is probable that the material for some of these tales had been matured in his mind previous to his going to Concord ; and they may have been in part committed to paper. A former acquaintance of his, at the date of this memorandum, still living in Salem, recalls Hawthorne's being occupied with the “Virtuoso's Collection” while still a bachelor and living in Salem ; yet that sketch was not incorporated in a volume until the “Mosses” were issued. It now fórms the closing member of the second series. This “Virtuoso's Col. lection” illustrates a taste which prevailed forty years ago or more, for imagining impossible curiosities of the kind described in it. The newspapers abounded in ingenuities ministering to this fancy, and Hawthorne amused himself by trying to outdo them and by afterwards bringing his inventions together in an artistic form. The members of his family and some of his
friends, knowing of his scheme, suggested articles for his-collection which he admitted or rejected, as he chose. One of these, which he included, is said to have been proposed by Miss Sophia Peabody, afterwards his wife. It was the item, “Some Egyptian darkness in a blacking jug." From another person came the following, which he did not use: spur of the moment, from the heel of time.” “A few of the words that burn,' in an old match-safe (very rare)," made still another article, concerning which the recollection is that he invented it; but it was not preserved in print. Of course, the sketch as it stands is his own conception ; but, as it was unlike his other productions, he talked it over with his friends - something which he scarcely ever permitted himself to do with regard to his fictions
and in one instance, as we have seen, adopted a clever hint. The Note-Books contain a detached memorandum, just before the date August 5, 1842: “In my museum, all the ducal rings that have been thrown into the Adriatic.” But this was not acted
In the same paper the hairy ears of Midas are described as being on exhibition; an early forerunner of the interest which he concentrated upon the mysterious ears of Donatello, in “The Marble Faun."
“ The New Adam and Eve" doubtless grew directly out of his humorous musings on the life he was leading at the Manse. They were recorded in his NoteBooks, August 5, 1842. 6. There have been three or four callers, who preposterously think that the courtesies of the lower world are to be responded to by people whose home is in Paradise . . . we have so far improved upon the custom of Adam and Eve, that we generally furnish forth our feasts with portions of