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Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Gray Champion".


The narrator relates that before the Revolution, there were other wrongs already. That was James II, a Popish tyrant, who oppressed the descendants of the Puritans. There was a rumour that the Prince of Orange should save New England.

In April 1689, the Governor's Guard made its appearance in the streets of Boston. A crowd of people gathered on the King Street. The Bostonians were descendants of the Puritans and still bore their old spirit. It was a picture of the condition of New England: on one side the religious multitude, on the other the group of despotic rulers. A voice cried: "provide a Champion for thy people!"

Suddenly an ancient man appeared, a grey patriarch clothed in a fashion at least fifty years old, dignified, and authoritative. No one knew him and everyone wondered that such an authority remained unknown to them. The man walked towards the army, grasped his staff by the middle and cried: "Stand!" And the army did retreat. The man prophesied the abdication of James II and imprisonment of the proud oppressors next day.

The leader and the saint at the same time is said to be disturbed by the cry of an oppressed people in his secret place. He is said to appear again on similar occasions and after the peace is restored, he always seems to dissolve in the twilight and disappear.



(from Portable Hawthorne)

- written in as if it was a report for a paper, in the newspaper style

- this patriotic legend is embroidered by Hawthorne on the pattern of an older legend about an aged man, living in seclusion, and appearing suddenly to save his neighbours from the Indians

- used to fire New England nationalism during the Civil War


  • Author

    Hawthorne, Nathaniel. (1804 - 1864).
  • Full Title

    "The Gray Champion".
  • First Published

    In: New England Magazine. Boston: 1835.
  • Form

    Short story.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Gray Champion". (1835). In: The Portable Hawthorne. Ed. Malcolm Cowley. New York: The Viking Press, 1974.

Cowley, Malcolm, ed. The Portable Hawthorne. New York: The Viking Press, 1974.


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