Maria Mitchell began her travels through Europe as a young woman’s chaperone. Later, due to the bankruptcy of her father, the young woman was called home but Maria continued her trip through Europe, at one point traveling with Nathaniel Hawthorne and his family whom she had met with earlier in her trip. This entry in Maria Mitchell’s journal comes from her first meeting with Nathaniel Hawthorne. And it is dated just four days after her August 1st birthday, a day she shares with Hawthorne’s good friend, Herman Melville (1819 – 1891), whom she met on Nantucket in 1852. Happy 194th, Maria!
August 5, 1857
He was more chatty than I had expected, not any more diffident and not any less awkward. He remained about five minutes, during which time he took his hat from the table and put it back once a minute, brushing it each time. The engravings in the books are much like him. He is not handsome, but he looks as the author of his works should look; a little strange and odd, as if not quite of the earth. He has large bluish gray eyes; his hair stands out on each side, so much, that one’s thoughts naturally turn to combs and hair brushes and toilette ceremonies as one looks at him.