Former President Franklin Pierce Describes His Discovery of Lifelong Friend, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dead in the Middle of the Night
May 19, 1864
I sent a letter to you, dearest Sister, from South Harbor yesterday in which my apprehensions for dear Hawthorne were partially expressed.
I said would perhaps prepare you to some extent for the intelligence which may reach you by telegraph before you receive this. We came here yesterday afternoon. At about 9 o'clock Hawthorne retired, & soon fell into a quiet slumber. He changed his position in about half an hour, but continued to sleep. I retired before 11 thinking that he would have a quiet night, I awoke between 1 & 2 o[']clock and went to his bed side. (There was a light in my room & a door between it and that of H, which was left open[,] our beds were near each other) He had again changed his position but was lying naturally upon his side with his face toward me and I supposed was in quiet repose. I returned to my bed, but waking between 3 & 4 o'clock I was surprised to observe that his position was unchanged[,] and placing my hand upon his temple found that life was extinct. I sent immediately for a Physician & called [...] B[...], Thom. Hillard who are here at a [...] of the Court and occupying rooms near our's. When [...] the disposition of the limbs so perfectly natural, the repose of that noble face with the eyes closed, it was evident that he had passed away without the slightest movement and without suffering - One could hardly realize that he had passed from natural sleep to that sleep which knows no waking.
Mr. Hillard[,] who knows dear Hawthorne[,] had gone to Boston this morning. Poor Mrs. Hawthorne & the children. I am full of sorrow of course, but my heart literally aches for them.
Love to all
Yr affectionate Brother