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Letter to William “Tick” Ticknor from Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1854

Date: 1854

Type: Letter

Categories: , ,


This letter, written by Hawthorne to his published William Ticknor, comes from one of the few financially stable times in Hawthorne’s life. At the time, Hawthorne was the Consul of the United States in Liverpool – a position that he owes to his friend then-president Franklin Pierce. Note the mention of authorship at the end of the letter. From his time in England, Hawthorne would write Our Old Home, though it would come almost a decade after writing to “Tick”.


Letter to William “Tick” Ticknor from Nathaniel Hawthorne, December 1854
Transcribed by W.H. Demick

[Page One]

Liverpool, Dec 8th ’54

Dear Tick,

Here is another bad specu-
lation of mine in becoming responsible
for people’s passages. Capt. Gibson (the
Dutch claimant) writes me that he
is unable to pay a draft which he
gave the Cunard agents; so they
will come upon me. It is for £30,
and I suppose the draft is in
the hands of the agent in New York.
Please to pay it (unless it be al-
ready sent over to Liverpool) and
write to Captain J.W. Gibson, Wash-
ington, D.C., informing him of the fact.
He is a man of honorable
intentions, but is now in great diffi-
culties; and I always have a pre-
sentiment that I might be left in the
I have determined to buy some real
estate in New York; not that I want
it, but because I must either buy
this property, or lend $3000 to

[Page Two]

O’Sullivan, who never would be
able to pay me. He says this prop-
erty will be a very good investment,
and pays much more than the in-
terest of the money. Half of the
amount I shall be able to pay
here; and, for the other half (£300)
I must draw on you. If business
had not been so very bad, I could
have paid the whole on this side
of the water. I shall not draw
before the first of January, and will
give the bill as long a date as may
be found practicable. It is mar-
vellous what a difficulty a man
finds in keeping his money, the
instant he is known to have any.
Friends and strangers settle on
my poor little pile of gold, like
flies on a lump of sugar. You
must save what you can for me.
I want you to send the “Boy
Hunters,” for Julian. Mrs. Hawthorne
wants a version of the Psalms, separate
from the rest of the Bible. There is
no such edition to be found in England,

[Page Three]

except as altered and amended for
use of the English Church. Mrs.
Hawthorne wants the Psalms pure
and unadulterated. If not to be
found separate, one of the American
Bible Society’s editions of the New
Testament may be sent, with the
Psalms annexed.

I send the cheese by this Stea-
mer, and hope that (like General
Washington) it is as good as it is
great. Mrs. Hawthorne insists on
your considering it as her Christmas
present; so you must accept it
without a word. I meant to have
sent you some special good ale, as
mild as milk and strong as brandy,
which is never found on the market,
but has to be brewed purposely for
the purchaser; but the sea-captain,
who made me acquainted with this
ale, is not in port, and I don’t
know where nor how to get any.
So you must wait till some other

Be good enough to put American

[Page Four]

postage-stamps on the letters which
I have marked paid, for I have
left the key of my drawer at home,
and cannot get at my postage-stamps.

I shall look with great interest
for the action of Congress as regards
the Consular bill. It will settle the
point whether I am to remain here
six months or nearly three years,
and whether I am to have a com-
fortable property, or to content my-
self with the little which you have
now in charge. Anyhow, it will
not break my heart to be released
from this office; and I am almost
ready to begin authorship again.

Truly Yours,
Nath Hawthorne