Emerson at Home and Abroad

By Moncure Daniel Conway | Go to book overview
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XXIV. NATHANIEL AND SOPHIA HAWTHORNE.

ON a day in Concord I saw the two men whom Michael Angelo might have chosen as emblems of Morning and Twilight, to be carved over the gates of the New World. Emerson emerged from his modern home, and the shade of well-trimmed evergreens in front, with "shining morning face," his eye beaming with its newest vision of the golden year. Hawthorne, at the other extreme of the village, came softly out of his earlier home, the Old Manse -- the grey-gabled mansion, where dwelt in the past men and women who have gained new lease of existence through his genius -- and stepped along the avenue of ancient ash- trees, which made a fit frame around him. A superb man he was! His erect, full, and shapely figure might have belonged to an athlete, were it not for the grace and reserve which rendered the strength of frame unobtrusive. The massive forehead and brow, with dark locks on either side, the strong nose and mouth, with another soul beneath them, might be the physiognomy of a military man or political leader -- some man impelled by powerful public passions; but with this man there came through the large soft eyes a gentle glow which suffused the face and spiritualised the form.

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