"But did your reverence hear of the portent that was seen last night?"

Ornamental A surrounded by angels (1685)
GNU Free Documentation LicenseOrnamental A surrounded by angels (1685) - Credit: Rochefort
Hawthorne seems to have purloined the idea of a heavenly portent accompanying the passing of one of Boston’s most revered members from Caleb Snow’s History of Boston (1825). According to this work, “Strange and alarming signs appeared in the heavens” (p. 133) when Boston’s preeminent minister John Cotton died on the 23rd of December, 1652.