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THE CHAMBER UNDER THE EAVES
was almost alarmed by Hawthorne's depression, and endeavoring in thoughtful ways to reassure him, as well as to bring him forward in public. "I have just received your last," he writes, October 22, 1836, "and do not like its tone at all. There is a kind of desperate coolness about it that seems dangerous. I fear you are too good a subject for suicide, and that some day you will end your mortal woes on your own responsibility." The prospect of the book, even, was not wholly an undoubted blessing to Hawthorne, now he had come to its realization, and in December, on Christmas Day, the work being then in proofs, Bridge writes to him again:—
"Whether your book will sell extensively may be doubtful; but that is of small importance in the first one you publish. At all events, keep up your spirits till the result is ascertained; and, my word for it, there is more honor and emolument in store for you, from your writings, than you imagine. The bane of your life has been self-distrust. This has kept you back for many years; which, if you had improved by publishing, would long ago have given you what you must now wait a short time for. It may be for the best, but I doubt it.
"I have been trying to think what you are so miserable for. Although you have not much property, you have good health and powers of writing, which have made, and can still make, you independent.