What canonical American author penned the following lines, and what is the story called?
The other day, having a leisure hour at my disposal, I stept into a new museum, to which my notice was casually drawn by a small and unobtrusive sign: “TO BE SEEN HERE, A VIRTUOSO’S COLLECTION.” Such was the simple, yet not altogether unpromising announcement, that turned my steps aside, for a little while, from the sunny sidewalk of our principal thoroughfare. Mounting a somber stair-case, I pushed open a door at its summit, and found myself in the presence of a person, who mentioned the moderate sum that would entitle me to admittance:
“Three shillings, Massachusetts tenor,” said he; “no, I mean, half a dollar, as you reckon in these days.”
While searching in my pocket for the coin, I glanced at the door-keeper, the marked character and individuality of whose aspect encouraged me to expect something not quite in the ordinary way. He wore an old-fashioned great coat, much faded, within which his meager person was so completely enveloped that the rest of his attire was undistinguishable. But his visage was remarkably wind-flushed, sun-burnt, and weather-worn, and had a most unquiet, nervous, and apprehensive expression. It seemed as if this man had some all-important object in view, some point of deepest interest to be decided, some momentous question to ask, might he but hope for a reply. As it was evident, however, that I could have nothing to do with his private affairs, I passed through an open door-way, which admitted me into the extensive hall of the Museum.
Some additional clues:
- You can read the whole thing in the Boston Miscellany of Literature and Fashion, where it was first published.
- You can also read it in book form at the George Peabody Library; its diverse collection contains a lot of American literature. The book’s title page is pictured above, although of course the incriminating information has been masked.
Please send your entries to Gabrielle Dean. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, October 5 at noon. The answer will be announced in the comments section of this post the following day!