Offerings for Hawthorne at Sleepy Hollow

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

I have to admit that I was surprised to find Hawthorne here. He did live at the Old Manse for a time (which was also once home to Emerson), as well as The Wayside (which was also home to Emerson and the Alcotts) but he’s more properly associated with Salem, both geographically and thematically. He seems hardly in tune with the Transcendentalism of Emerson, or the nature writing of Thoreau.

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The Old Manse, Concord
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House of the Seven Gables, Salem

Hawthorne’s grave doesn’t seem to be as inspirational as Thoreau’s or Alcott’s. There are only 5 pens, plus a handful of stones and a red ribbon. The most intriguing artifact, though, is that piece of yellow paper. It’s been neatly folded and the message is covered, not an inappropriate offering for an author who investigated the inner, secret workings of the human heart. As he wrote in his most famous novel, “[I]f truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom!”

And, no, I didn’t read the note.

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