If you can't make it to the "Hawthorne & Melville Annual Hike" up Monument Mountain this Sunday (Aug. 7), you can browse a commemorative road-trip here. I drove out to western Massachusetts two days ago for a quick snapshot safari, but found that every answer led to more questions.
|View from Melville's "piazza"|
|Pontoosuc Lake, Pittsfield|
The four went to the Field "cottage" in Stockbridge, then set out for Sacrifice Mount as a "rehearsal, for the grand climb." I could find no location for Sacrifice Mount or the Field home. Parker mentions that the cottage is (was?) "on the village green ... [a] square, red-brick house later known as the Old Parsonage." Note that the well-to-do referred to their Berkshire homes as "cottages" in the same way that the Vanderbilts and the Astors referred to their palaces in Newport.
Returning to the Field cottage, the four were joined by James T. Fields (publisher of The Scarlet Letter) and his wife, Henry Sedgwick ("of the famous Stockbridge family" [Parker]), and Mister Nathaniel Hawthorne. (So, Melville and Hawthorne actually first met at Field's house in Stockbridge!)
|From Monument Mountain|
The mountain is now owned by The Trustees of Reservations. (Download a trail map here.) I hiked up the west side. The trail followed an old dirt road until it became steep, so I imagine this was their route. On a humid August day, this was a good workout — not a hike I'd enjoy in long woolen trousers, no matter how much champagne was on offer. Some photos from the trail are in this album.
|In the Ice Glen|
The party returned again to the Field house, and at 10 P.M. the three from Pittsfield took the train home. The brakeman consented to pause the train near the Holmes Road crossing, saving them a two-mile walk back from the Pittsfield station. Duyckinck and Matthews stayed at the Melvill farm that night.
So ended the Big Day. It led to the birth of Moby-Dick as we know (and love) it. And it was all orchestrated by David Dudley Field. More about him in a subsequent post.