Footnotes for: "A Red-hot 'A' and a Lusting Divine: Sources For The Scarlet Letter"

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By Frederick Newberry

The New England Quarterly - 1987 - Pages 256-264

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1 Edward Dawson, Hawthorne's Knowledge and Use of New England History: A Study in Sources (Nashville: Vanderbilt University; 1939), p. 19, first proposed that Hawthorne discovered this source in Joseph Felt, The Annals of Salem, from Its First Settlement (Salem, 1827), p. 317, Hawthorne consulted Felt in 1833, 1834, and 1849. See Marion L. Kesselring, Hawthorne's Reading, 1828-1850: A Transcription and Identification of Titles Recorded in the Charge-Books of the Salem Athenaeum (1949; reprinted, Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Library Editions, 1975), p. 50

2 The time frame of The Scarlet Letter is well established. See Charles Ryskamp, "he New England Sources of The Scarlet Letter," in the Norton Critical Edition of The Scarlet Letter, 2d ed., ed. Sculley Bradley et al. (New York: Norton, 1975), pp. 207-10, and H. Bruce Franklin's introduction to "The Scarlet Letter" and Other Writings (Philadelphia: Lippincott. 1967), pp. 13-14.

Austin Warren first mentioned the case of Goodwife Mendame's adultery with an Indian in his introduction to The Scarlet Letter (New York: Holt, 1947). p. vii. Charles Bowie and Murray G. Murphy, "Hester Prynne in History," American Literature 32 (1960): 202-4, unconvincingly argue for Hawthorne's potential knowledge of this undated case, based upon the undocumented account in George Wilkinson Saints and Strangers (New York: Regnal and Hitchcock, 1945), p. 324. Goodwife Mendame was sentenced under a Plymouth law passed in 1636, first noticed and reproduced by Randall Stewart in his edition of Hawthorne's The American Notebooks (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1932), p. 229.

Neither the Plymouth law nor the case of Goodwife Mendame appears in the histories of Plymouth colony familiar to Hawthorne: Edward Johnson's The Wonder Working Providence of S ions Savior in New England, which appeared in the Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 2d ser., vols. 2-1 (1814-16), and vols. 7-8 (1818-19); William Hubbard's General History of New England, which also appeared in MHSC, 2nd ser., vols. 5-6 (1815); William Prince's Annals of New-England, which appeared in MHSC, 2d ser., vol. 7 (1819) and which concludes its coverage in 1633; and Nathaniel Morton's New-England's Memorial (Boston, 1826). For Hawthorne's repeated reading of the MHSC and his reading of Morton, see Kesselring, Hawthorne's Reading, pp. 56,57.

3 Cited from The Scarlet Letter, in The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, ed. William Charvat et al., 16 vols. (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1962-), 1:32, 86. Subsequent references are from this edition and cited parenthetically in the text.

4 In his introduction to The Scarlet Letter, Charvat says, "No historical equivalents of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth are known, but there are records of scandals in seventeenth-century Massachusetts similar to Dimmesdale's case" (p.xxvii). As far as I am aware, no one has specified any of these similarities except Michael Colacurcio, who anticipated my independent discovery of the Reverend Stephen Batchellor in Winthrop's History of New England. See "'The Woman's Own Choice': Sex, Metaphor, and the Puritan 'Sources' of The Scarlet Letter," in New Essays on "The Scarlet Letter". Ed. Michael J. Colacurcio. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985.

5 From a microfilm copy of York County Court Records (1636-1671), roll no. 1, pp. 173-74, located at the County Court House, Alfred, Maine. The original records are deposited in the Maine State Archives. Although I have not located evidence to prove that Hawthorne ever saw these early county records, the possibility does exist. In 1820, soon after Maine was admitted to the Union, the records were moved from York, the crossroads of southern Maine, to the new county seat of Alfred. Using the road map of H. S. Tanner, Map of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island (n.p., 1820), we can see that Hawthorne probably traveled the coastal route from York to Brunswick when he first set out from Salem to attend Bowdoin College in 1821, and thus did not pass through Alfred. The same route would have been the quickest way to read Augusta in 1837, when he visited his friend Horatio Bridge. It seems unlikely that Hawthorne ventured south to Alfred during college vacations spent with his Manning relations in Raymond. But in 1826, on a trip from Salem to Raymond and back, he may very well have taken the inland route from York to Alfred, and, because it was the largest town in southernmost Maine, he could well have laid over there. For the details of Hawthorne's trips to Maine, see Arlin Turner, Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), pp. 92-94, 46.

6 Charles Edward Banks, History of York, Maine, 3 vol. (Boston: n.p., 1935), 2:241. The Batchellor name is spelled in various ways in historical records. Except in a quotation, I use the spelling as it appears in Winthrop's History.

7 Collections of the Maine Historical Society, 1st ser., vol. 1 (1831), p. 276.

8 For the Hawthorne land claims in Maine, see Vernon Loggins, The Hawthornes (New York: Columbia University Press, 1951), pp.109, 155,169-70. For Hawthorne's maternal connection to Maine, see Turner Nathaniel Hawthorne, pp. 13-30. We know, of course, that Hawthorne was familiar with James Sullivan, The History of the District of Maine, 2 vols. (Boston: I. Thomas & E. T. Andrews, 1795, because he refers to the work in a footnote to "The Great Carbuncle" -- see the Century Edition, 9:149. And in Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay, ed. Lawrence Shaw Mayo, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936), 1:150-52, Hawthorne would have read that his first American ancestor, William Hawthorne, had been one of the commissioners sent to York in 1651 to resolve a boundary dispute, which eventually brought Kittery and York under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts Bay. For Hawthorne's reading in Hutchinson, see Kesselring, Hawthorne's Reading, p. 53. Hawthorne may have known the fuller details of his ancestor's role in this boundary dispute from William D. Williamson, The History of the State of Maine, 2 vols. (Hallowell, Maine: Glazier, Masters, 1832), 1:334-48.

9 Alonzo Lewis, The History of Lynn, Including Nahant (Boston: n.p., 1844), pp. 93-97.

10 See Alonzo Lewis, The History of Lynn (Boston: J. H. Eastburn, 1829), pp. 54-57. Hawthorne consulted this edition in 1833. See Kesselring, Hawthorne's Reading, p. 55.

11 See Dictionary of American Biography; see also the biographical sketch of Lewis written by James R. Newhall (son-in-law of Lewis) in his updated version of The History of Lynn (Boston: John L. Shorey, 1865), pp. 544-45. An anonymous broadside attaching Lewis on several counts can be found among the unnumbered Alonzo Lewis folders at the Lynn Historical Society.

12 See Alonzo Lewis, Poetical Works, ed. Ion Lewis (Boston: n.p., 1883), p. xxi.

13 John Winthrop, The History of New England from 1630 to 1649, ed. James Savage, 2 vol. in 1 (1825); reprinted, New York: Arno Press, 1972), 2:157-59. For Hawthorne's reading in Winthrop, see Kesselring, Hawthorne's Reading, p. 64.

14 Winthrop, History of New England, , 1:78n.

15 Winthrop, History of New England, , 2:44-45.

16 Lewis, History of Lynn(1844), p.94.

17 Lewis, History of Lynn(1829), p.55.

18 Lewis, History of Lynn(1829), p.55-56.

19 Lewis, History of Lynn(1829), p.56. In 1656, Mary petitioned the Court to be free of her marriage to Batchellor in order to remarry for the sake of her children (pp. 56-57). Earlier, however, she had demonstrated that the branding and stripes did not change her behavior, for in March 1652 (1651 old style), she was again sentenced to be whipped for adultery. See York County Court Records, p. 188. Both her first and second punishments are recorded in Province and Court Records of Maine (Portland: Maine Historical Society, 1925), 1:164, 176.

20 For the necessity of public confession inn Puritan Massachusetts Bay, see Ernest W. Baughman, "Public Confession and The Scarlet Letter," New England Quarterly 40 (1967): 532-50.

21 Winthrop replaced Bellingham on 18 May -- see Winthrop, History of New England, 2:63.

22 Without mentioning his source. Franklin, "The Scarlet Letter" and Other Writings,, p. 13, mentions these details.

23 The full case and the quotations come from Winthrop, History of New England, 2:43. In connection to Hawthorne's likely appreciation of the irony involved in Bellingham's case, it seems worth recording Winthrop's preface to the account: "Query, whether the following be fit to be published."

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