September 5th.–I took a walk of three miles from the village, which brought me into Vermont. The line runs athwart a bridge,–a rude bridge, which crosses a mountain stream. The stream runs deep at the bottom of a gorge, plashing downward, with rapids and pools, and bestrewn with large rocks, deep and shady, not to be reached by the sun except in its meridian, as well on account of the depth of the gorgeas of the arch of wilderness trees above it. There was a stumpy clearing beyond the bridge, where some men were building a house. I went to them, and inquired if I were in Massachusetts or Vermont, and asked for some water. Whereupon they showed great hospitality, and the master-workman went to the spring, and brought delicious water in a tin basin, and produced another jug containing “new rum, and very good; and rum does nobody any harm if they make a good use of it,” quoth he. I invited them to call on me at the hotel, if they should come to the village within two or three days. Then I took my way back through the forest, for this is a by-road, and is, much of its course, a sequestrated and wild one, with an unseen torrent roaring at an unseen depth, along the roadside.
My walk forth had been an almost continued ascent, and, returning, I had an excellent view of Graylock and the adjacent mountains, at such a distance that they were all brought into one group, and comprehended at one view, as belonging to the same company,–all mighty, with a mightier chief. As I drew nearer home, they separated, and the unity of effect was lost. The more distant then disappeared behind the nearer ones, and finally Graylock itself was lost behind the hill which immediately shuts in the village. There was a warm, autumnal haze, which, I think, seemed to throw the mountains farther off, and both to enlarge and soften them.
To imagine the gorges and deep hollows in among the group of mountains,–their huge shoulders and protrusions.
“They were just beginning to pitch over the mountains, as I came along,”–stage-driver’s expression about the caravan.
A fantastic figure of a village coxcomb, striding through the bar-room, and standing with folded arms to survey the caravan men. There is much exaggeration and rattle-brain about this fellow.
A mad girl leaped from the top of a tremendous precipice in Pownall, hundreds of feet high, if the tale be true, and, being buoyed up by her clothes, came safely to the bottom.
Inquiries about the coming of the caravan, and whether the elephant had got to town, and reports that he had.
A smart, plump, crimson-faced gentleman, with a travelling-portmanteau of peculiar neatness and convenience. He criticises the road over the mountain, having come in the Greenfleld stage; perhaps an engineer.
Bears still inhabit Saddleback and the neighboring mountains and forests. Six were taken in Pownall last year, and two hundred foxes. Sometimes they appear on the hills, in close proximity to this village.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s journal entry of September 5th, 1838.
2 thoughts on “Nathaniel Hawthorne’s journal entry for September 5th, 1838”
Sounds like he was staying in Williamstown.
In September 1838 Emil du Bois-Reymond was walking around the Low Countries after a summer studying in Bonn. Here’s advice on the value of exercise from his father Félix: ““Mais je te le répètes: Prends tes décisions définitives suivant qu’elles te paraîtront les plus conformes à ton propre bien, au moral, à l’intellectuel et au physique, lequel a toujours une si grande influence sur les deux autres.” —To EdBR, 20 July 1838.