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In 1828, three years after graduating from Bowdoin College, Hawthorne
published his first romance, "Fanshawe." It was issued at Boston by Marsh
& Capen, but made little or no impression on the public. The motto on the
title-page of the original was from Southey: "Wilt thou go on with me?"
Afterwards, when he had struck into the vein of fiction that came to be
known as distinctively his own, he attempted to suppress this youthful
work, and was so successful that he obtained and destroyed all but a few
of the copies then extant.
Some twelve years after his death it was resolved, in view of the interest
manifested in tracing the growth of his genius from the beginning of his
activity as an author, to revive this youthful romance; and the reissue of
"Fanshawe" was then made.
Little biographical interest attaches to it, beyond the fact that Mr.
Longfellow found in the descriptions and general atmosphere of the book a
decided suggestion of the situation of Bowdoin College, at Brunswick,
Maine, and the life there at the time when he and Hawthorne were both
undergraduates of that institution.
Professor Packard, of Bowdoin College, who was then in charge of the study
of English literature, and has survived both of his illustrious pupils,
recalls Hawthorne's exceptional excellence in the composition of English,
even at that date (1821-1825); and it is not impossible that Hawthorne
intended, through the character of Fanshawe, to present some faint
projection of what he then thought might be his own obscure history. Even
while he was in college, however, and meditating perhaps the slender
elements of this first romance, his fellow-student Horatio Bridge, whose
"Journal of an African Cruiser" he afterwards edited, recognized in him
the possibilities of a writer of fiction--a fact to which Hawthorne
alludes in the dedicatory Preface to "The Snow-Image."
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