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In A Brown Study, 21 B – Epilogue

November 20, 2016

Solitude and thought are the main ingredients of a brown study, no matter where the physical location may be. Indeed, visitors are excluded, except for those who read this blog. My visitors have been quiet and unobtrusive, but their opinions and remarks are accepted with gratitude. I hope to always find a “brown study.”

History is important to me, and all my stories are about “me, ” – my-story is a mystery, and what I think and believe today may be different tomorrow, for memoir goes on and on, and if someone different writes it, the story will be as different as biography is different from auto-biography, which is also opinionated.

This segment has been about the writers, their families, and their friends who live on in history from the early 19th century, but are seen by me as original. They are viewed through the lens of Nathaniel Hawthorne: his contemporary writers, his Bowdoin College friends, and his family. Hawthorne was a family man who looked on the past of his ancestors with jaundiced eyes. His strong desire was to make an impression while making a living, not an easy accomplishment for any writer.

Abolition and Women’s Rights were ideas that grew in the 19th century, and Hawthorne was on the wrong side of both, but I believe he was a good man in touch with the strong opinions of earlier generations, and loathe to depart from them. He did not understand the moral sin of slavery, for he never owned a slave. He was satisfied with the status of women, but he loved his dove, and treated his daughters with respect.

Our 19th century American writers showed the world that a man could do more at college than study for the ministry, and women need not be domestic drudges, but Hawthorne was not at the front of these movements. Hawthorne explores the “goodly apples” rotten at the core and the “book” that can’t be judged by its cover.

The 19th century was a time of expanding ideas and expansion of America. Melville tells of the dangers in the deep recesses of the ocean and in our obsessions. Pierce thought a civil war was not the way to end slavery, but couldn’t discover another solution before southern states seceded from the union, and Poe found beauty in a tormented life. Longfellow told American stories in the language of poetry.

Will American writers in this 21st century move the country forward? Will they explore possibilities evenly? Where is the “dead poets society?” Can we learn mistakes of the past in order not to repeat them? Can we “make our lives sublime, and in passing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.” (Longfellow)                    –stay tuned–

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