Friday, June 02, 2006

Speaks for Itself.

At long last, a Hawthorne family reunion

CONCORD, Mass. (AP) - Nathaniel Hawthorne will soon be reunited with his wife - more than 130 years after they were buried an ocean apart. The remains of Sophia Peabody Hawthorne and their daughter Una will be brought from England and reinterred June 26 in the Hawthorne family plot at Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord, where "The Scarlet Letter" author was buried in 1864, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.
Though Hawthorne was known for his Puritan-influenced moralism and melancholy tales, his relationship with Sophia was tender and passionate. They were rarely apart.
"I once thought that no power on earth should ever induce me to live without thee, and especially thought an ocean should never roll between us," Sophia once wrote to her husband.
But that's what happened after Hawthorne's death in Plymouth, N.H., in 1864. Sophia and their three children, Rose, Una and Julian, moved to England, where the family had lived when Hawthorne was in diplomatic service. Sophia died there in 1871 and Una died in 1877. Both were buried at Kensal Green cemetery in London.
Hawthorne's daughter, Rose, returned to the U.S. and started a Catholic order dedicated to caring for cancer patients that became the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, based in Hawthorne, N.Y.
For decades, the order has paid to maintain the Hawthorne graves in England. When cemetery keepers told the nuns the grave site needed major repair, the order proposed bringing them to the United States to the Hawthorne's descendants.
"We gave our consent gladly and thought it was an excellent idea," said Joan Deming Ensor, 93, of Redding, Conn., one of Hawthorne's four surviving great-grandchildren.
The order is paying for the transfer with the help of private donations. Grave markers for Sophia and Una have already been placed in the ground in the family plot, which is near the graves of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
A public ceremony will be held June 26 at The Old Manse in Concord, where the Hawthornes lived for a time.
Robert Derry, a park ranger who tends the house the family owned in Concord and is a member of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society, said reunification of the couple's remains is appropriate.
"At least on a romantic and philosophical level, it is nice that they are coming home," he said. "Hawthorne and Sophia were very much in love, and they stayed in love right to the end."

And how many meals, or how many blankets could have been purchased for the cost of transporting this debris?


At 9:29 AM, Blogger Darius said...

Didn't he write, "Last of the Mohicans?"

I read that in fifth or sixth grade, and cried for like three hours afterward! I think I was sort of shocked too. In TV land, the rule was: the hero doesn't get killed...

At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, that was James Fenimore Cooper. Hawthorne wrote "The Scarlet Letter" and other moralistic tales.

Hey BL, think of it this way, at least the money isn't going for war and other related insanities. They are doing something that can make somebody feel warm and fuzzy (even thought the moldering remains of human corpses are about the least romantic thing I can think of). Maybe it's spin control for the mass graves we have left all over the world. Maybe it's just over-optimistic PR. Maybe it's just bullshit.


At 12:35 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

Ah, James Fenimore Cooper. Another bombast. I absolutely adore Mark Twain's sendup "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" I must admit he did have a way with words and planting emotional hooks (harpoons? no, that was Melville). I was a bigger fan of Zane Gray though.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...


Spending money moving dead things around is a way of reinforcing the idea of "alive-dead". It serves a nefarious purpose of the church to keep people thinking that it matters to dead people where they are buried. Besides, my mom taught me never to play with dead animals that I found lying around, and I think that was practical advice. ;)

At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People are terrified of death and anything that has to do death or dead is very important and captivating for them. Hence, we have religions and complicated rituals for burying and caring for dead. Fear of the unknown rules it all.

At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I realize that. I was just being an asshole. Don't you recognize the signs by now? Dead is dead, no feelings, no emotions, no cares. Moving the remains is about as effective a means of bringing the family together as couples counseling for an unresuscitatibly dead marriage. Let it lay and rot where it is. All it serves to do is to let other people feel like something positive is being done. Freakin waste of resources.


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