Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide
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About This Site
invariably happiest elsewhere, there is within me a feeling for old Salem,
which . . . I must be content to call affection. The sentiment is probably
assignable to the deep and aged roots which my family has struck into the soil.
It is now nearly two centuries and a quarter since the original Briton, the
earliest emigrant of my name, made his appearance in the wild and forest-bordered
settlement, which has since become a city. And here his descendants have been
born and died, and have mingled their earthy substance with the soil; until
no small portion of it must necessarily be akin to the mortal frame wherewith,
for a little while, I walk the streets. In part, therefore, the attachment
which I speak of is the mere sensuous sympathy of dust for dust. . . . This
long connection of a family with one spot, as its place of birth and burial,
creates a kindred between the human being and the locality, quite independent
of any charm in the scenery or moral circumstances that surround him. It is
not love, but instinct. . . . It is no matter that the place is joyless for
him; that he is weary of the old wooden houses, the mud and dust, the dead
level of site and sentiment, the chill east wind, and the chillest of social
atmospheres;–all these, and whatever faults besides he may see or imagine,
are nothing to the purpose. The spell survives, and just as powerfully as if
the natal spot were an earthly paradise. So has it been in my case. I felt it
almost as a destiny to make Salem my home. . . ."
Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Custom-House"
Left: Statue of Nathaniel
Hawthorne, Salem, Massachusetts (photo by Lizzie Lowe).
As Mr. and Mrs. Traveler got off the ship at
Salem Harbor, their bags stashed with a map of Salem, a
biography of the great Nathaniel Hawthorne, and articles on all of
works, they breathed deeply the gray, misty air and
looked around the harbor in a sense of wonder and tried to take themselves back
to the past . . . back to the time of Hawthorne.
The two travelers had read
a carefully hyperlinked version of Hawthorne's
House" essay—the preface to his masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter.
They knew he had struggled with his family's legacy to the old Puritan
settlement. They'd looked at his
tree, and they'd thought about Hawthorne
and his relationship to Salem.
The couple stood for a moment
or two collecting themselves, closing their eyes and simply taking in their
surroundings when, all of a sudden, the couple heard faint whispers of hysterical
mobs shouting the words, "Witch! Witch!"
This startled the couple, but no sooner
had the whispers of shouted words left their ears than other more pleasant
sounds came by way of a southern breeze . . . the sounds of nature and the great
speeches of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
Above: Hawthorne's view from his desk
at the Custom House (photo by Catherine Hall).
|Two so very different parts of history were
enough to intrigue the couple. Therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Traveler took out their
map, hoping to come to terms with the ambiguities of Salem's life as well as
Have you been intrigued as well? Well then, follow
Mr. and Mrs. Traveler through Salem . . . .
Wanting to experience Hawthorne's
neighborhood, the travelers first ask Jim McAllister, veteran Salem
historian and tour guide, to join them for the day. They'd already
read many of Jim's "Salem
Tales," which had given them an excellent context for
understanding this important town.
Left: Salem tour guide
Jim McAllister talks with Shepherd
College student Lizzie Lowe (photo by Catherine Hall).
Jim and the travelers begin by visiting the House
of the Seven Gables on Turner Street (and they make sure to take the
secret staircase to the second floor!). Cyber tourists can explore a
movie of the house. This house was the setting of Hawthorne's novel,
The House of the Seven
Left: The House of the Seven Gables
(photo by Lizzie Lowe).
After leaving Turner Street, the travelers move on to Derby
Street. There, they make sure to stop at the
House, where Hawthorne worked
as a surveyor from 1847 to 1849 and where he claimed to have found the
"scarlet letter" that inspired his masterpiece. Cyber travelers can see Hawthorne's office and desk, explore
movie of his office, and can take a
tour of the Custom House.
Left: Salem Custom House (photo by Catherine Hall).
Above Left: Office in Custom House (photo by Catherine Hall). Above Right: Hawthorne's Desk in the Custom House (photo by Catherine
The travelers then move on to Union Street where Hawthorne's
birthplace is located. To see a video clip about Hawthorne's
birthplace, cyber tourists can visit
American Writers program on Hawthorne. The 2.5-hour program features a
good overview of this home and Hawthorne's early years there (minutes
Nearby the travelers find the home at 14 Mall Street where Hawthorne wrote
his masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter.
Left: 14 Mall Street, house where
Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter (photo by Linda Tate).
Leaving Mall St.,
Mr. and Mrs. Traveler move to Charter
Street, which is the location of the Old Burying Point and
the Peabody's Grimshawe House.
Here, Hawthorne's wife, Sophia Peabody, grew up with her sisters Mary
Peabody and Elizabeth Palmer
Peabody. Mary married education reformer
Horace Mann. Elizabeth was a key figure in the Transcendentalist movement.
She owned a bookstore and publishing company, both of which proved to be
very influential in the development of the movement.
Just behind the Grimshawe House lies the Salem Cemetery.
Here, the travelers find a unique monument to the
Salem Witchcraft Trials.
Each of the 17 victims who was executed during the trials is commemorated
with an engraved stone bench in the graveyard.
|Left: Grimshawe House (photo by Anna Hughes).
Near Right: Back of Grimshawe House, with Salem Cemetery (photo by Linda
Far right: Monument to Witchcraft Trial Victims, Salem Cemetery
(photo by Anna Hughes).
The couple next walk to Church St., which is home to
Hall. Such luminaries as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry
David Thoreau, and Frederick Douglass spoke here. Mr. and Mrs. Traveler's last journey is across
Essex St., which is the home of the Salem
Athenaeum and Witch
Left: Salem Lyceum (photo by Catherine Hall).
|As the tired couple leave Essex St., they are still
filled with an overwhelming sense of ambiguity that stems from the conflicted
ideals of Salem's Puritanical past and the Transcendentalism of Hawthorne's day.
Indeed, only Hawthorne would be able to tell whether or not he was able to bring
the two to a resolution.
|This page was created by Anna Hughes, an English major
at Shepherd College.
Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide" was produced by students in ENGL
446, American Transcendentalism, and ENGL 447, American Literature and the
Prominence of Place: A Travel Practicum. These courses were team-taught in the Department
of English at Shepherd College,
Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in Spring 2002 by Dr.
Patricia Dwyer and Dr. Linda
Tate. For more information on the course and the web project, visit "About
This Site." © 2003 Linda Tate.