The Reverend Guy Roberts, a champion of efforts to preserve New Hampshire's Profile Rock, published a set of souvenir booklets in 1924 which contain this abridged retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "The Great Stone Face," first published in 1850. Rev. Roberts felt the need to shorten the tale for the limited free time of busy tourists, abbreviating much of Hawthorne's lengthy descriptions, but his refashioned story is a charming retelling, complete with the spelling conventions of the 1920s:
Hawthorne has immortalized in his own matchless way "The Old Man of the Mountain," in his charming story, "The Great Stone Face." This was first published January 24th, 1850, in Whittier's magazine, "The National Era," and has since been presented to the public in various ways. With no thot of attempting to improve this story either in matter or in diction, the author begs permission to retell it in other and in fewer words, thus bringing it within scope for the quick reading of the tourist, and the entertainment of any who may not care to read the complete story as given by this famous man of letters.
"THE GREAT STONE FACE"
Enshrined amidst towering mountains at the head of a valley where dwelt hundreds of inhabitants, The Great Stone Face had its home. Log huts in the forest and on steep hillsides; comfortable farm homes surrounded by rich fields in the valley; side by side in well populated villages busy in factories run by harnessed mountain torrents, the people of the region had their various modes of living. All, regardless of age, had a peculiar familiarity with The Great Stone Face, tho it meant much more to some than to others.
Nature in a mood of playfulness or possibly in reverential mien, formed The Great Stone Face from large rocks so grouped together as to produce the perfect profile of a majestic face, when seen from the proper view point near the lake below. Seemingly a Titan had chiseled his gigantic likeness there in the ledgy mountain side. The massive forehead; the long nose; the parted lips, mute, but capable of thunder accents thruout the valley, were awe inspiring indeed. To one who approached too near the mighty Visage, nought was seen but a chaotic ruin of ponderous rocks. Withdrawing again the face reappeared, divinely intact, until glorified by cloud and sun. The Great Stone Face seemed truly alive.
Fortunate the child who could grow to maturity under the benign influence of The Great Stone Face, absorbing its noble, grand, and sweet expressions. Even to look at it was an education. Many believed that much of the fertility of the valley was clue to the benign influence of the ever beaming Face of Stone.
One evening in the long ago a mother and her little son, Ernest, sat by their door-way talking about The Great Stone Face, as they watched it in its evening glow.
"Mother," said the child, "I wish the Visage could speak; it looks so kindly and pleasant. Should I ever see a man like it I would dearly love him."
"An old prophecy has it," said his mother, "that some time we will see a man with a face like that."
''O tell me about it, Mother clear," said Ernest.
And so she told him what her mother had told her in childhood days, a story murmured by the streams and whispered by the trees to the Indian forefathers, and then to the pale-faces. A story that sometime a child should be born who would become the greatest man of his times, and whose face in maturity would exactly resemble The Great Stone Face. Many had faith in the prophecy. Others, more worldly minded, were weary with fruitless waiting, and rated it an idle tale. Anyway, the great man did not appear.
''O mother clear," cried Ernest excitedly, "I hope I may live to see him!"
Not wishing to discourage her little son she imply said, "Possibly you may."
Ernest never forgot this mother told story. Whenever he saw The Great Stone Face he always thot of it. Ever loving and helpful to his mother he grew to youth's estate, tanned with labor and blessed with more intelligence than many display who are the product of the schools. Ernest's only teacher, aside from his mother, was The Great Stone Face. Often gazing at it by the hour as he rested from the day's toil, he felt himself recognized and encouraged in return for his veneration. The boy's confiding sincerity discerned what others did not see, and was love inspired in consequence.
And now comes the report thruout the valley that the prophesied one had finally appeared. Years ago a youth had left his valley home for a seaport town, going into business there. His reputed name,—real or not,—was Gathergold. Active, shrewd, and lucky, his riches increased until he owned a fleet of ships. Seemingly all countries contributed to his immense wealth. Furs from the Arctic; gold and ivory from Africa; spices, teas, and gems from the East, and whale oil from the oceans,—whatever the substance it was wealth to Mr. Gathergold. As with Midas, so with him, whatever he touched turned into sterling metal or heaps of coins. When riches increased beyond the counting point, Mr. Gathergold turned again to the valley of his nativity, there to end his days in a palace especially built for one of such great wealth.
As previously stated, rumor had it that this Mr. Gathergold was the prophesied one so long but vainly looked for, and whose visage was to prove a perfect likeness of The Great Stone Face. Beholding the newly built palace on the site of his native farm, people were inclined to believe the rumor as to the fulfillment of the prophecy. Of dazzling white marble his residence reminded one of the snow-houses of his youthful days, built by boyish hand. A highly ornamented portico finished in variegated woods from beyond the sea; immense windows of glass seemingly clearer than the mountain atmosphere even; interior rooms so gorgeous in silver and gold that but few outsiders ever saw them; a bed-chamber so glittering as to be all but blinding to any except one as inured to wealth as was Mr. Gathergold; with furniture most magnificent, and with both black and white servants,—such were some of the characteristics of the Gathergold palace. . .
Ernest was deeply moved in anticipation of finally beholding in his native valley, the long waited man of prophecy. He felt that there were many ways in which Mr. Gathergold might render a service to his fellows as beneficent as was the aspect of The Great Stone Face. With scarcely a doubt he now felt he was to see a living likeness of the wondrous features of the Face of Stone.
Just then the rumbling of wheels was heard, while a group of expectant people cried out,—"Here comes the man of prophecy!" .
Within a four horse equipage appeared the features of a yellow skinned old man, with a low forehead, with small eyes wrinkled beset, and with thin lips pressed close together. A beggar woman and her two children who happened along just then, piteously besought a gift, in response to which Mr. Gathergold dropped a few coppers at their feet, mutely suggesting that "Scattercopper" would have been quite as appropriate a name for himself as the one he did bear.
Ernest did not join in the shout that acclaimed one of such sordid looks and miserly action, the man of prophecy. Instead, as he glanced at The Great Stone Face again it seemed to say,—"Fear not; he will come."
Years pass. Ernest is now a young man, one of his outstanding traits being his fondness for meditation on The Great Stone Face. Little did his neighbors realize that from this habit would come a better wisdom and deeper sympathies, than could mere books afford. Living thus simply he wondered at the delay in the coming of the long expected human counterpart.
Mr. Gathergold having outlived his wealth, had died, wholly discredited as to his having been the man of prophecy. "Gone and forgotten" might well have been his epitaph.
"Old Blood And Thunder"
Another native of the valley having become an illustrious soldier was commonly known as Old Blood And Thunder. He now returns to the old home valley and is welcomed with a cannon salute and a public banquet, being acclaimed the long expected likeness to the Face of Stone. Some claimed that as a boy he had resembled The Great Stone Face, tho with but little thot as to it all. Great excitement prevailed on the day of his reception, with many coming from afar to participate in the festal occasion.
Old Blood And Thunder sat in a flag bedecked chair, especially arranged for the occasion, and many were the speeches and the toasts in his honor. Many thot his likeness to the Face of Stone was most remarkable. Feeling sure that at last the man of destiny had appeared, they loudly proclaimed the fact. As Old Blood And Thunder arose to address the company Ernest was busy comparing his face with The Great Stone Face, which appeared in the exalted background. Where the crowd ascribed resemblance was, Ernest could not see.
"No, the man of prophecy is not yet," sighed Ernest, as he left the throng and stopped to gaze again at the mountain Visage which seemed to say to him,—"Fear not; he will come."
Years pass again. Ernest still lives in his native valley, a man of middle years. Gradually he had become well and favorably known among his fellow citizens. A hard working, simple hearted man, who had thot and felt so much that something of an angelic calmness and beneficence characterized him. He lived to serve his fellow men, to bless and to be a blessing. The sublimity of his thot and life found expression in kind words and good deeds which favorably affected all who knew him. Unsuspected of being other than an ordinary man Ernest lived calmly on, an unconscious inspiration to all.
"Old Stony Phiz"
Popular thot having turned against Old Blood And Thunder as the long looked for Profile likeness, newspaper reports began to state that such was now to be realized in a native statesman whose tongue was mightier than Gathergold's wealth, or Old Blood And Thunder's sword. His speech, 'twas said, was such as to compel assent, wrong even appearing a right, under the magic of his oratory. Nominated for the presidency of his Country he was dubbed Old Stony Phiz, a significant cognomen, for as in Popedom so in the presidency, no one is selected without some name other than his own.
During the campaign Old Stony Phiz visited his native valley to greet his old friends. Great preparations were made to duly receive him, cavalry escort meeting him as he entered the State, with a holiday declared that all might see him pass by. Ernest again in great expectation was among the number hoping to at last realize his dreams. The dust of the approaching cavalcade obscured even The Great Stone Face. Men from the social, military, literary, political, and other walks of life were present, and gladly so. Banners with portraits of The Great Stone Face and of Old Stony Phiz were borne aloft, the resemblance being most striking. The echoed refrain sent back from the mountain cliff to the martial music of the band, seemed to declare that the man of prophecy was here.
As Ernest gazed at the great one smiling and bowing as he sat in his carriage drawn of four, he did feel that there was a most striking resemblance between the two faces, human and mountain formed. But the divine strength and sympathy that etherialized the Granite Face into spirit, were not to be seen in the present claimant. Something was missing.
"No," mused Ernest, turning sadly away, "I see here, after all, but little real likeness. And this disappointment is all the keener because here is a man who evidently might have fulfilled the prophetic hope, had he but willed to do so."
Again many years glide past. Ernest is now an old man, wrinkled and gray, evidences of time engraved wisdom. But he was not now unobscure. Unsought had come a fame, cles1recl by many in vain, that reached beyond the valley limits of his life. The learned of the land came to consult with him frequently, being greatly edified by the high ideals of this mountain reared husbandman. His gentle sincerity, his broad sympathies, his benign manner,—all this bespake the beneficent influence of The Great Stone Face that he had so long revered.
Contemporary with Ernest's advancing age was that of a poet a native of the mountain valley whose sweet verse had been given especially to bless the din of city life. Often the mountains of his childhood clearpeaked the thot of his verse. An ode had been dedicated to The Great Stone Face, while all his verse made more resplendent the mighty grandeur of the mountains, the peaceful quiet of the lakes, and the ceaseless roll of the tides of the sea. As to mankind his poetic thot glorified the commonest of honest toil, making one conscious of his place and work in the great plan of the All Wise Father. His verse made one who could not see grandeur
indescribable in nature, fee l that he must be made of stuff left over from the making of the swine.
Ernest read these poems as he rested from the toil of the day by his cottage door in sight of The Great Stone Face. As the thrill of the poet's thot moved him he exclaimed,
"O Friend Majestic, is not this the man of thy likeness?"
But no answer came that he was. Our poet, having never met tho long known of Ernest and his exceptional character, finally came to visit him and was most cordially welcomed to his humble cottage. Their conversation was of mutual benefit, each finding inspiration in the thot of the other. As to Ernest the natural grace and freedom of his utterance of great truths, quite justified his reputation as to being in league with the angels. And as to the poet, Ernest was deeply moved by the vivid thot and imagery with which he grandly peopled the scenes about them.
"The Great Stone Face."
Ernest studied the features of his guest in comparison to those of The Great Stone Face thinking that at last the prophesied man was before him, but still doubting, a noticeable trace of sadness swept over his face. The poet divining his thots made answer,—
"You hoped that I was to prove to be the likeness of The Great Stone Face. But instead I must be added to your list of disappointees, the reason being that while my verse may present something of the sublime, my life has not been such as to be worthy
of such a sublime symbol. My dreams have been but dreams, while I not infrequently have lacked faith in grandeur, beauty, and goodness."
Tears dimmed the eyes of both at this sad confession.
"The Man Of Prophecy"
A little later, at sunset, Ernest took his stand in a nearby branch festooned niche forming a natural pulpit,
from which he addressed his fellow townsmen while they sat or reclined round about on the rocks and
grass. The declining sun sent out it golden rays in a cloud painted canopy
over all below, the Great Stone Face being visible, meanwhile, to all.
The address of Ernest was from his heart as well as his mind, and was with power because of the sterling Christian character behind it all. His words were of life, most truly, with holy love infusing all. Our poet sat enraptured under this spell of nobler strain than he had ever written. Again in the golden light of setting day The Great Stone Face appeared in grand beneficence embracing all. Glancing from the Face of Stone to that of Ernest, the poet by irresistible impulse threw aloft his arms, exclaiming,—
"Behold! The likeness of The Great Stone Face is found at last in Ernest!"
The look and expression of the assembled people at once declared that this was true, and that their prophetic hopes were at last truly realized and rewarded!
Ernest modestly escorted his poet guest to his cottage, hoping that a wiser and better man would yet appear bearing a more perfect resemblance to The Great Stone Face.