At last-the Wedding
The ordinary love story closes with the marriage bells. This one would be cut in half if one looked no further, for there lay before them a life which was itself a love story. It has been said that Sophia's accomplishments were many and varied, yet she was childlike in her modesty and simplicity. " She met her husband's meditative and theoretic needs with substantial and poetical gratification. She had no idea of the immense part she played in the success of her husband. She only felt what a privilege it was to love and minister to such a man, and be loved by him. For he returned no less than she gave. He never accepted her ministrations as a matter of course. His wife was to him a sort of mystery of goodness and helpfulness."
Her letters to her mother are a real history of happiness. "Was ever such a union of power and gentleness," she asks, " softness and spirit, passion and reason ? I think it must be partly smiles of angels that make the air so light and pleasant here. My dearest love waits upon God like a child"
A Homely Picture
"We had a most enchanting time during Mary the cook's holiday sojourn in Boston. We remained in our bower undisturbed by mortal creature. Mr. Hawthorne took the new phasis of housekeeper, and, with that marvellous power of adaptation to circumstances that he possesses, made everything go easily and well. He rose betimes in the mornings, and kindled fires in the kitchen and breakfast-room, and by the time I came down, the tea-kettle boiled, the potatoes were baked and rice cooked, and my lord sat with a book superintending. Just imagine that superb head peeping at the rice or examining the potatoes with the air and port of a monarch ! And that angelico riso on his face, lifting him clean out of culinary scenes into the are of the gods. It was a magnificent comedy to watch him, so ready and willing to do the things to save me an effort, and at the same time so superior to it all, and heroical in aspect." ..." Our breakfast was late, because we concluded to have only breakfast and dinner. After breakfast I put the beloved study into very nice order, and, after establishing him in it, proceeded to make smooth all things below. When I had come to the end of my labours, my dear lord insisted on my sitting with him; so I sat by him and sewed, while he wrote, with now and then a little discourse; and this was very enchanting. At about one, we walked to the village; after three we dined. On Christmas Day we had a truly paradisaical dinner of preserved quince and apples, dates, and bread and cheese, and milk. The washing of dishes took place in the mornings; so we had our beautiful long evenings from four o'clock to ten."
After a time three children came to complete their happiness. The journals kept by the husband and wife have been published in various volumes. They tell of hard work, of many worries, of everyday cares and everyday ups and downs, as well as of many joys, and of his increasing reputation as a great writer. But the whole picture is illuminated by the light that never was on land and sea, the light of such a love story as might convert the crustiest cynic. Mrs. Hawthorne, though never very robust, was never again an invalid, and her health was a constant reminder of the miracle which their love for each other wrought, so that everything she did in the house was something more than itself, was, in fact, a symbol of the miracle. When the children were small they even drew Madam Hawthorne and her recluse daughter into a healthier existence. This was another happiness for the parents. After some years Hawthorne was made Consul at Liverpool, and the whole family came over here, where they earned golden opinions.
When they were separated their letters are as much love letters as any written before their marriage. She calls him " My darling boy," and he writes to her in just the same tone as when they were engaged. One of his letters says : " My little wife is twin sister to the spring. I have married the spring. I am husband to the month of May."
For thirty-three years this love story lasted after marriage, and then it was closed, or, rather, entered on another chapter, with Hawthorne's death. He was buried in Concord, on a mild sunny afternoon, on the top of a little hill beneath the pines where he and his wife had often sat in bygone days. Mrs. . Hawthorne and her daughters were composed, for their grief lay too deep for tears. His wife's attitude is best expressed in that wonderful letter she wrote about him after his death :
" I will be glad that my darling has love suddenly escaped from the rude jars and hurts of this outer court, and when I was not aware that an angel gently drew him within the palace door that turned on noiseless golden hinges, drew him in because he was weary. . . . He was so beautiful here that he will not need much change to become a shining one'. How easily I shall know him when my children have done with me, and perhaps the angel will draw me gently also within the palace door, if I do not faint, but truly live."
At his funeral were present all the most distinguished of America's writers - Longfellow, Holmes, Whittier, Lowell, Pearce, Emerson, and many more. Mrs. Hawthorne's carriage was the last to leave the cemetery, after a long interval. But as it approached the gates it was seen that all these honoured men -of genius had ranged themselves on either side, of the path. They had come to do honour to Nathaniel Hawthorne's grave, and now, as the mourning carriage passed them, they uncovered in homage to the woman who had made Hawthorne's life, and her own, a poem and a love story which their own genius could never equal.