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Chapter 19

Burnt Sienna--The Aquila Nera--A grand, noble, gentle creature--The
most beautiful woman in the world--Better friends than ever--A shadow
brooded--Boys are whole-souled creatures--Franklin Pierce--Miriam,
Hilda, Kenyon, Donatello--The historian of the Netherlands--When New
England makes a man--The spell of Trevi--An accession of mishaps--My
father's mustache--Three steps of stone, the fourth, death--Havre,
Redcar, Bath, London, Liverpool.


Siena is distant from Florence, in a direct line, not more than fifty
miles, but the railway turns the western flank of the mountains, and
kept us full three hours on the trip. I had long been familiar with a
paint in my color-box called Burnt Sienna, and was now much interested
to learn that it was made of the yellow clay on which the city of
Siena stands; and when I discovered for myself that this clay, having
formed the bed of some antediluvian ocean, was full of fossil shells,
I thought that Siena was a place where I would do well to spend one of
my lifetimes. The odd, parti-colored architecture of the town did not
so much appeal to me, and certainly the streets and squares were less
attractive in themselves than either the Roman or the Florentine ones.
The shells were personally ugly, but they were shells, and fossils
into the bargain, and they sufficed for my happiness.

The Storys had a villa in Siena, and my father certainly had in the
back part of his mind an idea of settling there, or elsewhere in
Italy, now or later; but after ten days we were on our travels again.
There were no ruins to be seen, that I remember, but many churches and
frescoes and old oil-paintings, which I regarded with indifference.
Mediaeval remains did not attract me like classic ones. It was here
that Story drew the caricatures which I have already spoken of, and
from the windows of the room, as the twilight fell, we could see the
great comet, then in its apogee of brilliance. Where will the world be
when it comes again? We had rooms at the Aquila Nera, looking out on
the venerable, gray Palazzo Tolomei. The narrow streets were full of
people; the steepness and irregularity of the thoroughfares of the
city produced a feeling of energy and activity in the midst of the
ancient historic peace. Siena is, I believe, built about the crater of
an extinct volcano. The old brick wall of the city was still extant,
running up hill and down, and confining the rusty heaps of houses
within its belt. There were projecting balconies, crumbling with age,
and irregular arcades, resembling tunnels hewn out of the solid rock.
From the windows of our sitting-room in the hotel we commanded the
piazza, in front of the Palazzo Tolomei, with a pillar in the midst of
it, on which was a group of Romulus and Remus suckled by the wolf, the
tradition of the city being that it was founded during the epoch of
the Roman kings. My mother made a sketch of this monument in her
little sketch-book, and my father, according to a common custom of
his, sat for an hour at the window one day and made a note of every
person who passed through the little square, thus getting an idea of
the character of the local population not otherwise obtainable. I can
imagine that, were one born in Siena, one might conceive an ardent
affection for it; but, in spite of its picturesqueness, it never
touched my heart like Rome or Florence, or even London or Paris. I
left it without regret, but with specimens of its fossils in my

It often happens with miracles that they occur in doubles or trebles,
in order, I suppose, to suggest to us that they may be simply
instances of an undiscovered law. Gaetano was a miracle, and he was
followed by Constantino, who, though of an altogether different human
type, was of no less sweet and shining a nature than the other. He was
a grand, noble, gentle creature, and my mother soon dubbed him "The
Emperor," though it may be doubted whether the original emperor of
that name was as good a man as ours; he was certainly not nearly so
good-looking. He was only the driver of our _vettura_ from Siena to
Rome, but there was a princely munificence in his treatment of us that
made us feel his debtors in an indefinitely greater sum than that
which technically discharged our obligations. He was massive,
quiescent, oxlike, with great, slow-moving, black eyes. He had the air
of extending to us the hospitalities of Italy, and our journey assumed
the character of a royal progress. He was especially devoted to my
small sister Rose, and often, going up the hills, he would have her
beside him on foot, one of his great hands clasping hers, while with
the other he wielded the long whip that encouraged the horses. His
garments were of the humblest fashion, but he so wore them as to make
them seem imperial robes. My mother caught an excellent likeness of
him as he sat before her on the driver's seat. The second trip was as
enjoyable as the first, though it was two or three days shorter. The
route was west of our former one, passing through Radicofani,
incrusted round its hill-top; and Bolsena, climbing backward from the
poisonous shore of its beautiful lake; and Viterbo, ugly and
beggar-ridden, though famous forever on account of the war for Galiana
waged between Viterbo and Rome. In the front of an old church in the
town I saw the carved side of her sarcophagus, incorporate with the
wall. She was the most beautiful woman in the world in her day, and in
the fight for the possession of her her townsmen overcame the Romans,
but the latter were permitted, as a salve for their defeat, to have
one final glimpse of Galiana as they marched homeward without her.
From a window in a tower of one of the gates of the city, therefore,
her heavenly face looked forth and shed a farewell gleam over the
dusty, defeated ranks of Rome as they filed past, up-looking. The tale
is as old as the incident itself, but I always love to recall it;
there is in it something that touches the soul more inwardly than even
the legend of Grecian Helen.

By the middle of October we were back again in Rome, and though we
were now in new lodgings, the feeling was that of getting home after
travels. The weather was fine, and we revisited the familiar ruins
and gardens, and renewed our acquaintance with our favorite statues
and pictures with fresh enjoyment. Eddy Thompson and I found each
other better friends than ever--we had written each other laborious
but sincerely affectionate letters during our separation--and he and
I, with one or more favored companions sometimes, perambulated Rome
incessantly, and felt that the world had begun again. But by the ist
of November there came to pass an untoward change, and our rejoicing
was changed to lamentation. First, my father himself had a touch of
malaria, which clouded his view of all outward things; and then my
sister Una, disregarding the law which provides that all persons must
be in-doors in Rome by six o'clock in the evening, caught the
veritable Roman fever, and during four months thereafter a shadow
brooded over our snug little lodgings in the Piazza, Poli. "It is not
a severe attack," my father wrote at the beginning, "yet it is
attended by fits of exceeding discomfort, occasional comatoseness, and
even delirium to the extent of making the poor child talk in rhythmic
measure, like a tragic heroine--as if the fever lifted her feet off
the earth; the fever being seldom dangerous, but is liable to recur on
slight occasion hereafter." But, as it turned out, Una's attack was of
the worst kind, and she sank and sank, till it seemed at last as if
she must vanish from us altogether. Eddy and I held melancholy
consultations together, for Eddy, besides being my special crony and
confidant, had allowed himself to conceive a heroic and transcendental
passion for my sister--one of the antique, Spenserian sort--and his
concern for her condition was only less than mine. So we went about
with solemn faces, comforting each other as best we might. I remember,
when the crisis of the fever was reached, taking him into a room and
closing the door, and there imparting to him the news that Una might
not recover. We stared drearily into each other's faces, and felt that
the world would never again be bright for us. Boys are whole-souled
creatures; they feel one thing at a time, and feel it with their

However, Una safely passed her crisis, thanks mainly to the wonderful
nursing of her mother, and by carnival-time was able to be out again
and to get her share of sugar-plums and flowers. But my mother was
exhausted by her ceaseless vigils in the sick-room, and my father, as
I have before intimated, never recovered from the long-drawn fear;
it sapped his energies at the root, and the continued infirmity of
Una's health prevented what chance there might have been of his
recuperation. Yet for the moment he could find fun and pleasure in the
carnival, and he felt as never before the searching beauty of the
Borghese, the Pincian, and the galleries. He was also comforted by the
companionship of his friend Franklin Pierce, who, his Presidential
term over, had come to Europe to get the scent of Washington out of
his garments. There was a winning, irresistible magnetism in the
presence of this man. Except my father, there was no man in whose
company I liked to be so much as in his. I had little to say to him,
and demanded nothing more than a silent recognition from him; but
his voice, his look, his gestures, his gait, the spiritual sphere of
him, were delightful to me; and I suspect that his rise to the highest
office in our nation was due quite as much to this power or quality in
him as to any intellectual or even executive ability that he may have
possessed. He was a good, conscientious, patriotic, strong man, and
gentle and tender as a woman. He had the old-fashioned ways, the
courtesy, and the personal dignity which are not often seen nowadays.
His physical frame was immensely powerful and athletic; but life used
him hard, and he was far from considerate of himself, and he died at
sixty-five, when he might, under more favorable conditions, have
rounded out his century.

My father had written nothing, not even his journal, during the period
of Una's illness; but he began to work again now, being moved thereto
not only as a man whose nature is spontaneously impelled to express
itself on the imaginative side, but also in order to recoup himself
for some part of the loss of the ten thousand dollars which he had
loaned to John O'Sullivan, which, it was now evident, could never be
repaid. His first conception of the story of The Marble Faun had been
as a novelette; but he now decided to expand it so as to contain a
large amount of descriptive matter; and although the strict rules of
artistic construction may have been somewhat relaxed in order to admit
these passages, there is no doubt that the book gained thereby in
value as a permanent addition to literature, the plot, powerful though
it is, being of importance secondary to the creation of an atmosphere
which should soften the outlines and remove the whole theme into a
suitable remoteness from the domain of matter-of-fact. The Eternal
City is, after all, as vital a portion of the story as are the
adventures of Miriam, Hilda, Kenyon, and Donatello. They could not
have existed and played their parts in any other city of the world.

In selecting local habitations for the creatures of his imagination,
he strolled into the Via Portoghese, and there found the "Virgin's
Shrine," which, with minor modifications, was to become the home of
Hilda. I quote from his journal the description of the actual place as
he saw it. "The tower in the Via Portoghese," he says, "has
battlements and machicolations, and the upper half of it is covered
with gray, ancient-looking stucco. On the summit, at one corner, is
the shrine of the Virgin, rising quite above the battlements, and with
its lamp before it. Beneath the machicolations is a window, probably
belonging to the upper chamber; and there seems to be a level space on
the top of the tower. Close at hand is the facade of a church, the
highest pinnacle of which appears to be at about the same level as the
battlements of the tower, and there are two or more stone figures
(either angels or allegorical) ornamenting the top of the fagade, and,
I think, blowing trumpets. These personages are the nearest neighbors
of any person inhabiting the upper story of the tower, and the sound
of their angelic trumpets must needs be very loud in that close
vicinity: The lower story of the palace extends out and round the
lower part of the tower, and is surrounded by a stone balustrade. The
entrance from the street is through a long, arched doorway and
passage, giving admittance into a small, enclosed court; and deep
within the passage there is a very broad staircase, which branches
off, apparently, on one side, and leads to the height of the tower. At
the base of the tower, and along the front of the palace, the street
widens, so as to form something like a small piazza, in which there
are two or three bakers' shops, one or two shoe-shops, a
lottery-office, and, at one corner, the stand of a woman who sells, I
think, vegetables; a little further, a stand of oranges. Not so many
doors from the palace entrance there is a station of French soldiers
and a sentinel on duty. The palace, judging from the broad staircase,
the balustraded platform, the tower itself, and other tokens, may have
been a grand one centuries ago; but the locality is now a poor one,
and the edifice itself seems to have fallen to unaristocratic
occupants. A man was cleaning a carriage in the enclosed court-yard,
but I rather conceive it was a cab for hire, and not the equipage of a
dweller in the palace."

John Lothrop Motley, the historian of the Netherlands, had come to
Rome this winter and brought his family with him. I believe my father
had met Motley in America; at all events, we saw a good deal of him
now. He was an exceedingly handsome man, not only on account of the
beauty of physical features which marked him, but in the sensitiveness
and vividness of expression which constantly illuminated them. He was
at this time about five-and-forty years of age, and lacked a couple of
inches of six feet in height. His hair, a dark, chestnut brown, had
the hyacinthine wave through it, and was slightly streaked with gray;
his beard, which was full and rather short, was likewise wavy; he was
quietly and harmoniously dressed, but the artistic temperament
declared itself in a touch of color in his cravat. His voice was
melodious and finely modulated; his bearing gravely cheerful and very
courteous. No type of man finer than Motley's has existed in modern
times; all the elements of the best and purest society were
illustrated in him. He had the depth of the scholar, the breadth and
self-poise of the man of the world, the genial warmth of the human
fellow-creature, and, over all, the harmonizing, individualizing charm
of the artist. When New England gathers her resources to make a man
she achieves a result hardly to be surpassed.

The Storys were also in Rome during these last months of our stay, and
Miss Mitchell, I think, still lingered in her little lodgings in the
Via Bocca di Leone. Miss Cushman likewise reappeared for a time, with
all her former greatness and fascination, and many other friends, new
and old, made that spring season memorable. As the moment for our
departure drew near, the magical allurement of Rome laid upon us a
grasp more than ever potent; it was impossible to realize that we were
leaving it forever. On the last evening we walked in the moonlight to
the fountain of Trevi, near our lodgings, and drank of the water--a
ceremony which, according to tradition, insures the return of the
drinker. It was the 25th of May, forty-four years ago. None of us has
gone back since then, and, of the five who drank, three have passed to
the country whence no traveller returns. For my own part, as a
patriotic American nearly thirteen years old, I had no wish ever again
to see Rome, and declared myself glad to turn my back upon it, not
that I had any fault to find with it--I had always had a good time
there--but my imagination was full of my native land, with which
nothing else could be comparable. I did not learn of the fabled spell
of Trevi until afterwards; then I scoffed at and defied it, and
possibly Rome may have decided that it could do without me.

The railway to Civita Vecchia had just been completed, and we passed
swiftly over the route which had been so full of dangers and
discomforts eighteen months before. Embarking on the steamer for
Marseilles, we kept on thence to Avignon, where we spent about a week.
This venerable town had few attractions for me; I did not much care
for the fourteenth-century popes, nor for the eighteenth-century
silks, nor even for Petrarch and Laura; and the architecture of the
palace, after I had tried to sketch it, ceased to exhilarate me. My
father was in no mood for sight-seeing, either, but he went through it
all conscientiously. My mother, of course, enjoyed herself, but she
met with an accident. While sketching some figures of saints and
monsters that adorned the arch of the northern portal of the palace,
she made an incautious movement and sprained her ankle. The pain was
excessive for the moment, but it soon passed off, so as to enable her
to limp back to our hotel. But the next day the pain was worse; my
father had a headache, a rare affliction with him; I had caught a bad
cold from swimming in the arrowy Rhone, and Una and Miss Shepard were
both in a state of exhaustion from sight-seeing; and in this condition
the journey to Geneva had to be made. We had intended to remain there
but a day, but we stayed longer, breathing the pure air from the Alps,
and feeling better as we breathed. I stood on a bridge and looked down
at that wonderful azure water rushing into the lovely lake; I looked
up and beheld those glorious mountains soaring into the sky, and I
forgot Rome and Florence, and almost America, in my joy. Everything
that life needs for life seemed present there.

We got into a little steamer and made the trip up the lake, the
mountains all about us. Up to this time I had imagined that the
acclivities in the north of England and in Scotland were mountains. We
sat on deck, in the stern of the steamer, my father gazing out and up
from beneath the rim of his soft felt hat, with his dark cloak over
his shoulders. He looked revived and vigorous again. Shortly before we
left Rome he had ceased to shave his upper lip, for what reason I know
not; I think it was simply indisposition to take that trouble any
longer. My mother had at first gently protested; she did not want his
upper lip and mouth to be hidden. But as the brown mustache, thick and
soldier-like, appeared, she became reconciled, and he wore it to the
end of his life. "Field-Marshal Hawthorne" James T. Fields used to
call him after we got home. Owing to the preponderance of expression
of the upper part of his head, the addition did not change his look as
much as might have been expected; we soon got used to it, and,
inasmuch as all his photographs were taken after the mustache was
established, the world does not know him otherwise.

The view became more and more enchanting as we penetrated farther into
the depths of the embrace of the mountains, and at last, at its most
ravishing point, the lake ceased, and the lonely little pile of dingy
white masonry, which is Chillon, appeared. Few works of man have a
more romantic interest than this castle; but, seen from the lake, its
environment was too much for it. Had it plunged downward into the
smooth waters and vanished, its absence would not have been marked in
that stupendous landscape. But it improved greatly upon closer
acquaintance; and when we stood in its vaults, and saw the pillar to
which the prisoner was chained, and the hole in the floor, with its
three steps of stone, and the fourth of death, we felt that Chillon
was not unequal to its reputation.

After leaving Chillon and Geneva our faces were turned homeward, and
we hastened our steps. My father wrote to England to engage our
passage for the first of August. We were now at midsummer. We
returned to Paris, and after a few days there proceeded to Havre, in
order to see Ada Shepard safe on board her steamer for home; her
Wanderjahre was over, and she was now to be married to Henry Clay
Badger. We were sorry to say good-bye to her; she had been a faithful
and valuable element in our household, and she had become a dear
friend and comrade. She stood waving her handkerchief to us as her
steamer slipped away down the harbor. She, too, was sorry for the
parting. She once had said to me: "I think your father is the wisest
man I ever knew; he does not seem ever to say much, but what he does
say is always the truest and best thing that could be said."

From Havre we crossed the Channel to Southampton, and were soon in
London. Boston and Concord were only six weeks distant. Such, at any
rate, had been the original design. But after we reached London the
subject of the English copyright of The Marble Faun came up for
discussion. Henry Bright introduced Mr. Smith, of the firm of Smith,
Elder & Company, who made such proposals for the English publication
of the book as were not to be disregarded; but, in order to make them
available, it was necessary that the manuscript should be completed in
England. Nothing but the short sketch of it was as yet in existence;
it could not be written in much less than a year; either the English
offer must be rejected, or we must stay out that year in her Majesty's
dominions. My father decided, not altogether unwillingly, perhaps, to
stay. He had written in his journal a few weeks before: "Bennoch and
Henry Bright are the only two men in England to whom I shall be much
grieved to say farewell; but to the island itself I cannot bear to say
that word as a finality. I shall dreamily hope to come back again at
some indefinite time, rather foolishly, perhaps, for it will tend to
take the substance out of my life in my own land. But this, I suspect,
is apt to be the penalty of those who stay abroad and stay too long."

But my father could not write in London, and, casting about for a
fitting spot, he finally fixed upon the remote hamlet of Redcar, far
up on the bleak coast of Redcar, in Yorkshire. It was not far from
Whitby, where we had been two or three years before. The gray German
Ocean tumbled in there upon the desolate sands, and the contrast of
the scene with those which we had been of late familiar with made the
latter, no doubt, start forward intensely in the romancer's
imagination. So there he wrote and wrote; and he walked far along the
sands, with his boy dogging his steps and stopping for shells and
crabs; and at a certain point of the beach, where the waves ran over a
bar and formed a lake a few feet in depth, he would seat himself on a
tussock of sand-grass, and I would undress and run into the cold water
and continue my swimming-lessons, which had been begun in Stockbridge
Bowl, continued in Lake Leman, and were now brought to a satisfactory
conclusion. Both my feet were finally off the bottom, and I felt the
wonderful sensation of the first cousin to flying. While I floundered
there my father looked off towards the gray horizon, and saw the
visions of Hilda, Miriam, Kenyon, and Donatello which the world of
readers was presently to behold through his eyes. As we walked home in
the twilight, the dull-red glow of the sunset would throw the outlines
of the town into dark shadows, and shed a faint light on the surf
roaming in from the east. I found, in my old album, the black
silhouette of the scene which I made one day. The arms of an old mill
are flung appealingly upward, the highest object of the landscape,
above the irregular sky-line of the clustering houses. There is also,
on the next page, a water-color drawing of a sailor in a blue jersey
and a sou'wester, standing, with his hands in his pockets, on the
beach beside one of the boats of the region--a slender, clipper-built
craft, painted yellow below and black above, good for oars or sail.
Her bow rests on a shaft connecting two wheels, for convenience of
running her down into the water. There was a dozen or more of these
boats always ready on the beach in front of our lodgings. These
lodgings were just back of the esplanade, which, during our sojourn,
was treated to a coat of tar from end to end--a delightful
entertainment for us children--and I have loved the smell of tar ever
since. There is little else that I remember about Redcar, except that,
in the winter, there was skating on a part of the beach; but it was
"salt ice," and not to be compared with the skating I was to enjoy a
year or two later in Concord, which I shall describe if ever I come to
that epoch in my narrative.

From Redcar, with the romance more than half done, we went south to
our old Leamington, which seemed half like home; and there the
loveliness of an English spring at its best came to greet us, and
there the book was finished, and sent to the printer. We spent a
month or two at Bath, and found it very pleasant; my father rested
from his labors, except the proof-reading; and I was instructed in the
use of the broadsword by an old Peninsular officer, Major Johnstone,
who had fought at Waterloo, and had the bearing of such majors as
Thackeray puts into Vanity Fair. I once asked him whether he had ever
killed a man; it was on the day when he first allowed me to use a real
broadsword in our lesson. "Well," replied the major, hesitatingly, "I
was riding in a charge, and there came a fellow at me, with his sword
up, and made a swing for my head. I dodged, and his blade just grazed
me; but I let him have it, downright, at the same moment, and I caught
him where the neck joins the shoulder, and he went down, and I went
on, and what became of him I don't know; I hope nothing serious!" The
major sighed and looked serious himself. "And was this the sword?" I
demanded, balancing the heavy weapon in my hand. "No--no--it wasn't
that one," said the major, hastily. "I've never used the other since!
Now, then, sir, if you please, on guard!"

We went to London, and there were our old friends Bright and Bennoch,
and the Motleys appeared from Italy, and a book called (by the
publishers) Transformation came out in three volumes, being the latest
romance by the author of The Scarlet Letter. The title was not
bestowed with my father's consent. He had, at the publishers' request,
sent them a list of several titles, beginning with The Marble Faun,
and among others on the list was "The Faun's Transformation." The
publishers took the "Transformation," and left out "The Faun." My
father laughed, but let it go. The book was to come out under its
proper title in America, and he was indifferent as to what they called
it in England.

The end of our tarrying in the Old World was now at hand. Seven years
had we lived there, and we were eager and yet loath to go. My father's
friends gathered about him, men who had hardly so much as heard his
name a, little while ago, but who now loved him as a brother. For a
few days Mrs. Blodgett's hospitable face glowed upon us once more,
and pale Miss Williams, and trig little Miss Maria, and many of the
old captains whom we had known. It was the middle of June, and the sun
shone even in Liverpool. Our red-funnelled steamer lay at her moorings
in the yellow Mersey, with her steam up. It was not The Niagara, but
on her bridge stood our handsome little Captain Leitch, with his black
whiskers, smiling at us in friendly greeting. How much had passed
since we had seen him last! How much were we changed! What experiences
lay behind us! What memories would abide with us always! My father
leaned on the rail and looked across the river at the dingy, brick
building, near the wharves, where he had spent four wearisome but
pregnant years. The big, black steamer, with her little, puffing tug,
slipped her moorings, and slid slowly down the stream. After a few
miles the hue of the water became less turbid, the engines worked more
rapidly and regularly. Liverpool was now a smoky mass off our
starboard quarter. It sank and dwindled, till the smoke alone was
left; the blue channel spread around us; we were at sea, and home lay
yonder, across three thousand miles of tumbling waves. But my father
still leaned on the rail, and looked backward towards the old home
that he loved and would never see again. It was the hour for good-bye;
there would come another hour for the other home and for welcome.


Julian Hawthorne

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