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Browne's Folly - (From: "The Doliver Romance and Other Pieces: Tales and Sketches")

20 pages
Project Gutenberg EBook, Browne's Folly, by Nathaniel Hawthorne From "The Doliver Romance and Other Pieces:Tales and Sketches" #80 in our series by Nathaniel HawthorneCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: Browne's Folly (From: "The Doliver Romance and Other Pieces: Tales and Sketches")Author: Nathaniel HawthorneRelease Date: Nov, 2005 [EBook #9253] [This file was first posted on September 25, 2003] [Last updated on February6, 2007]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, BROWNE'S FOLLY ***This eBook was produced by David WidgerTHE DOLIVER ROMANCE AND OTHER PIECESTALES AND SKETCHESBy Nathaniel ...
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Title: Browne's Folly (From: "The Doliver Romanceand Other Pieces: Tales and Sketches")Author: Nathaniel HawthorneRelease Date: Nov, 2005 [EBook #9253] [This filewas first posted on September 25, 2003] [Lastupdated on February 6, 2007]Edition: 10Language: English*E*B* OSTOAK,R TB ROOF WTNHEE' SP RFOOJLELCY T* **GUTENBERGThis eBook was produced by David WidgerTRHOEM DAONLCIEV EARND OTHER
PIECESTALES AND SKETCHESBy Nathaniel Hawthorne"BROWNE'S FOLLY."The Wayside, August 28, 1860.MY DEAR COUSIN:—I should be very glad to writea story, as you request, for the benefit of theEssex Institute, or for any other purpose that mightbe deemed desirable by my native townspeople.But it is now many years since the epoch of the"Twice-Told Tales," and the "Mosses from an OldManse"; and my mind seems to have lost the planand measure of those little narratives, in which itwas once so unprofitably fertile. I can write nostory, therefore; but (rather than be entirelywanting to the occasion) I will endeavor to describea spot near Salem, on which it was once mypurpose to locate such a dreamy fiction as younow demand of me.It is no other than that conspicuous hill (I reallyknow not whether it lies in Salem, Danvers, orBeverly) which used in my younger days to beknown by the name of "Brown's Folly." Thiseminence is a long ridge rising out of the level
country around, like a whale's back out of a calmsea, with the head and tail beneath the surface.Along its base ran a green and seldom-troddenlane, with which I was very familiar in my boyhood;and there was a little brook, which I remember tohave dammed up till its overflow made a mimicocean. When I last looked for this tiny streamlet,which was still rippling freshly through my memory,I found it strangely shrunken; a mere ditch indeed,and almost a dry one. But the green lane was stillthere, precisely as I remembered it; two wheel-tracks, and the beaten path of the horses' feet,and grassy strips between; the wholeovershadowed by tall locust-trees, and theprevalent barberry-bushes, which are rooted sofondly into the recollections of every Essex man.From this lane there is a steep ascent up the sideof the hill, the ridge of which affords two views ofvery wide extent and variety. On one side is theocean, and Salem and Beverly on its shores; onthe other a rural scene, almost perfectly level, sothat each man's metes and bounds can be tracedout as on a map. The beholder takes in at a glancethe estates on which different families have longbeen situated, and the houses where they havedwelt, and cherished their various interests,intermarrying, agreeing together, or quarrelling,going to live, annexing little bits of real estate,acting out their petty parts in life, and sleepingquietly under the sod at last. A man's individualaffairs look not so very important, when we canclimb high enough to get the idea of a complicatedneighborhood.
But what made the hill particularly interesting tome, were the traces of an old and long-vanishededifice, midway on the curving ridge, and at itshighest point. A pre-revolutionary magnate, therepresentative of a famous old Salem family, hadhere built himself a pleasure house, on a scale ofmagnificence, which, combined with its airy siteand difficult approach, obtained for it and for theentire hill on which it stood, the traditionary title of"Browne's Folly." Whether a folly or no, the housewas certainly an unfortunate one. While still in itsglory, it was so tremendously shaken by theearthquake of 1755 that the owner dared no longerreside in it; and practically acknowledging that itsambitious site rendered it indeed a Folly, heproceeded to locate it on —humbler ground. Thegreat house actually took up its march along thedeclining ridge of the bill, and came safely to thebottom, where it stood till within the memory ofmen now alive.The proprietor, meanwhile, had adhered to theRoyalist side, and fled to England during theRevolution. The mansion was left under the care ofRichard Derby (an ancestor of the present Derbyfamily), who had a claim to the Browne propertythrough his wife, but seems to have held thepremises precisely as the refugee left them, for along term of years, in the expectation of hiseventual return. The house remained, with all itsfurniture in its spacious rooms and chambers,ready for the exile's occupancy, as soon as heshould reappear. As time went on, however, itbegan to be neglected, and was accessible to
whatever vagrant, or idle school-boy, or berryingparty might choose to enter through its ill- securedwindows.But there was one closet in the house, whicheverybody was afraid to enter, it being supposedthat an evil spirit—perhaps a domestic Demon ofthe Browne family—was confined in it. One day,three or four score years ago, some school-boyshappened to be playing in the deserted chambers,and took it into their heads to develop the secretsof this mysterious closet. With great difficulty andtremor they succeeded in forcing the door. As itflew open, there was a vision of people in garmentsof antique magnificence,—gentlemen in curled wigsand tarnished gold-lace, and ladies in brocade andquaint head-dresses, rushing tumultuously forthand tumbling upon the floor. The urchins took totheir heels, in huge dismay, but crept back, after awhile, and discovered that the apparition wascomposed of a mighty pile of family portraits. I hadthe story, the better part of a hundred yearsafterwards, from the very school-boy who priedopen the closet door.tAhfte ehr osutasne diwnags  magaaniyn  yreeamros vaet dt hine  tfhoroet e ofp otrhteio hnilsl,,and was fashioned into three separate dwellings,which, for aught I know, are yet extant in Danvers.tTrhace eadn (coier nct osuiltde  hofa vthei sb epreon utde nm yaenasriso na gmoa) yu sptoilln bethe summit of the hill. It consisted of two spaciouswings, connected by an intermediate hall of
entrance, which fronted lengthwise upon the ridge.Two shallow and grass-grown cavities remain, ofwhat were once the deep and richly stored cellarsunder the two wings; and between them is theoutline of the connecting hall, about as deep as aplough furrow, and somewhat greener than thesurrounding sod. The two cellars are still deepenough to shelter a visitor from the fresh breezesthat haunt the summit of the hill; and barberry-hushes clustering within them offer the harshacidity of their fruits, instead of the rich wineswhich the colonial magnate was wont to store therefor his guests. There I have sometimes sat andtried to rebuild, in my imagination, the statelyhouse, or to fancy what a splendid show it musthave made even so far off as in the streets ofSalem, when the old proprietor illuminated hismany windows to celebrate the King's birthday.I have quite forgotten what story I once purposedwriting about "Brown's Folly," and I freely offer thetheme and site to any of my young townsmen, whomay be addicted with the same tendency towardsfanciful narratives which haunted me in my youthand long afterwards.Truly yours,NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.
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