Page:Nathaniel Hawthorne (Woodbury).djvu/170

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NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

sity. "God keep me," he writes to Hillard before this time, "from ever being really a writer for bread!" The only alternative for him was office-holding.

The election of Polk to the Presidency gave his friends the opening, and the campaign to secure an appointment was begun. Bridge, then living in bachelor quarters at Portsmouth Navy Yard, conceived the rather daring idea of a sailor house-party with Hawthorne as its centre, for the purpose of making him acquainted with the political group in whose hands influence lay; and, if it be remembered that the Hawthornes had not spent an evening out for years, and still continued their seclusive life, the proposition may well seem a bold stroke. The party, however, gathered in the summer of 1845; Franklin Pierce and his wife, Senator Atherton and his wife, of New Hampshire, and Senator Fairfield of Maine, to mention the notables, were the principal guests, and there were several others, making a greater company than Hawthorne had been thrown with since he lodged at Brook Farm. It was an informal naval picnic, apparently, of two or three weeks, and Bridge thought that its main object of popularizing Hawthorne with the Senators was attained. The point of attack was the Salem Post Office, but this proved impracticable, and attention was turned to the Custom House, where either the surveyorship or the naval office might be got. Meanwhile Bancroft offered him a clerk-