True Stories of History and Biography by Nathaniel Hawthorne


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Page 1

There is certainly no method, by which the shadowy outlines of departed
men and women can be made to assume the hues of life more effectually,
than by connecting their images with the substantial and homely reality
of a fireside chair. It causes us to feel at once, that these characters
of history had a private and familiar existence, and were not wholly
contained within that cold array of outward action, which we are
compelled to receive as the adequate representation of their lives. If
this impression can be given, much is accomplished.

Setting aside Grandfather and his auditors, and excepting the adventures
of the Chair, which form the machinery of the work, nothing in the
ensuing pages can be termed fictitious. The author, it is true, has
sometimes assumed the license of filling up the outline of history with
details, for which he has none but imaginative authority, but which, he
hopes, do not violate nor give a false coloring to the truth. He
believes that, in this respect, his narrative will not be found to
convey ideas and impressions, of which the reader may hereafter find it
necessary to purge his mind.

The author's great doubt is, whether he has succeeded in writing a book
which will be readable by the class for whom he intends it. To make a
lively and entertaining narrative for children, with such unmalleable
material as is presented by the sombre, stern, and rigid characteristics
of the Puritans and their descendants, is quite as difficult an attempt,
as to manufacture delicate playthings out of the granite rocks on which
New England is founded.







Grandfather had been sitting in his old arm-chair, all that pleasant
afternoon, while the children were pursuing their various sports, far
off or near at hand. Sometimes you would have said, "Grandfather is
asleep;" but still, even when his eyes were closed, his thoughts were
with the young people, playing among the flowers and shrubbery of the

He heard the voice of Laurence, who had taken possession of a heap of
decayed branches which the gardener had lopped from the fruit trees, and
was building a little hut for his cousin Clara and himself. He heard
Clara's gladsome voice, too, as she weeded and watered the flower-bed
which had been given her for her own. He could have counted every
footstep that Charley took, as he trundled his wheelbarrow along the
gravel walk. And though Grandfather was old and gray-haired, yet his
heart leaped with joy whenever little Alice came fluttering, like a
butterfly, into the room. She had made each of the children her playmate
in turn, and now made Grandfather her playmate too, and thought him the
merriest of them all.

At last the children grew weary of their sports; because a summer
afternoon is like a long lifetime to the young. So they came into the
room together, and clustered round Grandfather's great chair. Little
Alice, who was hardly five years old, took the privilege of the
youngest, and climbed his knee. It was a pleasant thing to behold that
fair and golden-haired child in the lap of the old man, and to think
that, different as they were, the hearts of both could be gladdened with
the same joys.

"Grandfather," said little Alice, laying her head back upon his arm, "I
am very tired now. You must tell me a story to make me go to sleep."

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 10th Jul 2020, 13:31