Main Street - (From: "The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales")

Main Street - (From: "The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales")


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Project Gutenberg EBook, Main Street, by Nathaniel Hawthorne From "The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales"
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Title: Main Street (From: "The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales")
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Release Date: Nov, 2005 [EBook #9236] [This file was first posted on September 18, 2003] [Last updated on February
6, 2007]
Edition: 10
Language: English
This eBook was produced by David Widger
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Respectable-looking individual makes his ...



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Project Gutenberg EBook, Main Street, byONtahthera nTiewli cHea-Twtohldo rTnael eFsr"o #m6 3" Tinh eo uSrn soewr iIems abgye andNathaniel HawthornesCuorpey triog hcth leacwk st haer ec cohpayrniggihnt gl aawll so fvoerr  ytohue r wcooruldn.t rByebefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.vTiheiws inhge atdhiesr  Psrhoojuelcdt  bGeu ttheen bfierrsgt  tfihlien. gP lseeaesne  wdhoe nnotremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts***C*oEmBpouotkesr sR, eSaidncaeb le1 9B7y1 *B*oth Humans and By*****These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****
Title: Main Street (From: "The Snow Image andOther Twice-Told Tales")Author: Nathaniel HawthorneRelease Date: Nov, 2005 [EBook #9236] [This filewas first posted on September 18, 2003] [Lastupdated on February 6, 2007]Edition: 10Language: English*E*B* OSTOAK,R TM AOIFN  TSHTER EPERTO *J*E*CT GUTENBERGThis eBook was produced by David WidgerTHE SNOW-IMAGEDNA
OTHER TWICE-TOLD TALESMAIN STREETyBNathaniel HawthorneRespectable-looking individual makes his bow andaddresses the public. In my daily walks along theprincipal street of my native town, it has oftenoccurred to me, that, if its growth from infancyupward, and the vicissitude of characteristicscenes that have passed along this thoroughfareduring the more than two centuries of its existence,could be presented to the eye in a shiftingpanorama, it would bean exceedingly effectivemethod of illustrating the march of time. Acting onthis idea, I have contrived a certain pictorialexhibition, somewhat in the nature of a puppet-show, by means of which I propose to call up themultiform and many-colored Past before thespectator, and show him the ghosts of hisforefathers, amid a succession of historic incidents,with no greater trouble than the turning of a crank.Be pleased, therefore, my indulgent patrons, towalk into the show-room, and take your seatsbefore yonder mysterious curtain. The little wheelsand springs of my machinery have been well oiled;a multitude of puppets are dressed in character,
representing all varieties of fashion, from thePuritan cloak and jerkin to the latest Oak Hall coat;the lamps are trimmed, and shall brighten intonoontide sunshine, or fade away in moonlight, ormuffle their brilliancy in a November cloud, as thenature of the scene may require; and, in short, theexhibition is just ready to commence. Unlesssomething should go wrong,—as, for instance, themisplacing of a picture, whereby the people andevents of one century might be thrust into themiddle of another; or the breaking of a wire, whichwould bring the course of time to a sudden period,—barring, I say, the casualties to which such acomplicated piece of mechanism is liable,—I flattermyself, ladies and gentlemen,—that theperformance will elicit your generous approbation.Tainndg -wae-t ibnegh-toilndg-!n goto, eisn dtheee db, etllh; et hMe acinu rtSatrine ertisesb;utthe track of leaf-strewn forest-land over which itsdusty pavement is hereafter to extend.You perceive, at a glance, that this is the ancientand primitive wood,— the ever-youthful andvenerably old,—verdant with new twigs, yet hoary,as it were, with the snowfall of innumerable years,that have accumulated upon its intermingledbranches. The white man's axe has never smittena single tree; his footstep has never crumpled asingle one of the withered leaves, which all theautumns since the flood have been harvestingbeneath. Yet, see! along through the vista ofimpending boughs, there is already a faintly tracedpath, running nearly east and west, as if a
prophecy or foreboding of the future street hadstolen into the heart of the solemn old wood.Onward goes this hardly perceptible track, nowascending over a natural swell of land, nowsubsiding gently into a hollow; traversed here by alittle streamlet, which glitters like a snake throughthe gleam of sunshine, and quickly hides itselfamong the underbrush, in its quest for theneighboring cove; and impeded there by the massycorpse of a giant of the forest, which had lived outits incalculable term of life, and been overthrown bymere old age, and lies buried in the new vegetationthat is born of its decay. What footsteps can haveworn this half-seen path? Hark! Do we not hearthem now rustling softly over the leaves? Wediscern an Indian woman,—a majestic and queenlywoman, or else her spectral image does notrepresent her truly,—for this is the great SquawSachem, whose rule, with that of her sons, extendsfrom Mystic to Agawam. That red chief, who stalksby her side, is Wappacowet, her second husband,the priest and magician, whose incantations shallhereafter affright the pale-faced settlers with grislyphantoms, dancing and shrieking in the woods, atmidnight. But greater would be the affright of theIndian necromancer, if, mirrored in the pool ofwater at his feet, he could catch a propheticglimpse of the noonday marvels which the whiteman is destined to achieve; if he could see, as in adream, the stone front of the stately hall, which willcast its shadow over this very spot; if he could beaware that the future edifice will contain a nobleMuseum, where, among countless curiosities ofearth and sea, a few Indian arrow-heads shall be
treasured up as memorials of a vanished race!No such forebodings disturb the Squaw Sachemand Wappacowet. They pass on, beneath thetangled shade, holding high talk on matters of stateand religion, and imagine, doubtless, that their ownsystem of affairs will endure forever. Meanwhile,how full of its own proper life is the scene that liesaround them! The gray squirrel runs up the trees,and rustles among the upper branches. Was notthat the leap of a deer? And there is the whirr of apartridge! Methinks, too, I catch the cruel andstealthy eye of a wolf, as he draws back intoyonder impervious density of underbrush. So,there, amid the murmur of boughs, go the Indianqueen and the Indian priest; while the gloom of thebroad wilderness impends over them, and itssombre mystery invests them as with somethingpreternatural; and only momentary streaks ofquivering sunlight, once in a great while, find theirway down, and glimmer among the feathers in theirdusky hair. Can it be that the thronged street of acity will ever pass into this twilight solitude,—overthose soft heaps of the decaying tree-trunks, andthrough the swampy places, green with water-moss, and penetrate that hopeless entanglementof great trees, which have been uprooted andtossed together by a whirlwind? It has been awilderness from the creation. Must it not be awilderness forever?Here an acidulous-looking gentleman in blueglasses, with bows of Berlin steel, who has taken aseat at the extremity of the front row, begins, at
this early stage of the exhibition, to criticise."The whole affair is a manifest catchpenny!"observes he, scarcely under his breath. "The treeslook more like weeds in a garden than a primitiveforest; the Squaw Sachem and Wappacowet arestiff in their pasteboard joints; and the squirrels, thedeer, and the wolf move with all the grace of achild's wooden monkey, sliding up and down astick.""I am obliged to you, sir, for the candor of yourremarks," replies the showman, with a bow."Perhaps they are just. Human art has its limits,and we must now and then ask a little aid from thespectator's imagination.""crYitoicu.  w"Ii ll mgaekt en iot  sa upcohi nati dt of rsoeme  tmhiinneg,s"  prreescpiosneldys  atshethey are. But come! go ahead! the stage iswaiting!"The showman proceeds.Casting our eyes again over the scene, weperceive that strangers have found their way intothe solitary place. In more than one spot, amongthe trees, an upheaved axe is glittering in thesunshine. Roger Conant, the first settler inNaumkeag, has built his dwelling, months ago, onthe border of the forest-path; and at this momenthe comes eastward through the vista of woods,with his gun over his shoulder, bringing home thechoice portions of a deer. His stalwart figure, cladin a leathern jerkin and breeches of the same,
in a leathern jerkin and breeches of the same,strides sturdily onward, with such an air of physicalforce and energy that we might almost expect thevery trees to stand aside, and give him room topass. And so, indeed, they must; for, humble as ishis name in history, Roger Conant still is of thatclass of men who do not merely find, but make,their place in the system of human affairs; a manof thoughtful strength, he has planted the germ ofa city. There stands his habitation, showing in itsrough architecture some features of the Indianwigwam, and some of the log- cabin, andsomewhat, too, of the straw-thatched cottage inOld England, where this good yeoman had his birthand breeding. The dwelling is surrounded by acleared space of a few acres, where Indian corngrows thrivingly among the stumps of the trees;while the dark forest hems it in, and scenes togaze silently and solemnly, as if wondering at thebreadth of sunshine which the white man spreadsaround him. An Indian, half hidden in the duskyshade, is gazing and wondering too.Within the door of the cottage you discern the wife,with her ruddy English cheek. She is singing,doubtless, a psalm tune, at her household work;or, perhaps she sighs at the remembrance of thecheerful gossip, and all the merry social life, of hernative village beyond the vast and melancholy sea.Yet the next moment she laughs, with sympatheticglee, at the sports of her little tribe of children; andsoon turns round, with the home-look in her face,as her husband's foot is heard approaching therough-hewn threshold. How sweet must it be forthose who have an Eden in their hearts, like Roger
Conant and his wife, to find a new world to projectit into, as they have, instead of dwelling among oldhaunts of men, where so many household fireshave been kindled and burnt out, that the very glowof happiness has something dreary in it! Not thatthis pair are alone in their wild Eden, for herecomes Goodwife Massey, the young spouse ofJeffrey Massey, from her home hard by, with aninfant at her breast. Dame Conant has another oflike age; and it shall hereafter be one of thedisputed points of history which of these twobabies was the first town-born child.But see! Roger Conant has other neighbors withinview. Peter Palfrey likewise has built himself ahouse, and so has Balch, and Norman, andWoodbury. Their dwellings, indeed,—such is theingenious contrivance of this piece of pictorialmechanism,—seem to have arisen, at variouspoints of the scene, even while we have beenlooking at it. The forest- track, trodden more andmore by the hobnailed shoes of these sturdy andponderous Englishmen, has now a distinctnesswhich it never could have acquired from the lighttread of a hundred times as many Indianmoccasins. It will be a street, anon! As we observeit now, it goes onward from one clearing toanother, here plunging into a shadowy strip ofwoods, there open to the sunshine, but everywhereshowing a decided line, along which humaninterests have begun to hold their career. Overyonder swampy spot, two trees have been felled,and laid side by side to make a causeway. Inanother place, the axe has cleared away a
confused intricacy of fallen trees and clusteredboughs, which had been tossed together by ahurricane. So now the little children, just beginningto run alone, may trip along the path, and not oftenstumble over an impediment, unless they strayfrom it to gather wood-berries beneath the trees.And, besides the feet of grown people andchildren, there are the cloven hoofs of a small herdof cows, who seek their subsistence from thenative grasses, and help to deepen the track of thefuture thoroughfare. Goats also browse along it,and nibble at the twigs that thrust themselvesacross the way. Not seldom, in its more secludedportions, where the black shadow of the foreststrives to hide the trace of human- footsteps,stalks a gaunt wolf, on the watch for a kid or ayoung calf; or fixes his hungry gaze on the groupof children gathering berries, and can hardlyforbear to rush upon them. And the Indians,coming from their distant wigwams to view thewhite man's settlement, marvel at the deep trackwhich he makes, and perhaps are saddened by aflitting presentiment that this heavy tread will findits way over all the land; and that the wild-woods,the wild wolf, and the wild Indian will alike betrampled beneath it. Even so shall it be. Thepavements of the Main Street must be laid overthe red man's grave.Behold! here is a spectacle which should beushered in by the peal of trumpets, if Naumkeaghad ever yet heard that cheery music, and by theroar of cannon, echoing among the woods. Aprocession,—for, by its dignity, as marking an