Here Hawthorne speaks to his reflection as if it were another person, one with access to the deepest of life's mysteries and suggests that, in the face of his longing to know more than he can, even that "unreal image" might smile at the vanity of the questions. Hawthorne suggests that our longing to understand the mysteries of human experience is not likely to be fulfilled and that "Divine Intelligence" has provided us with what we need to know.
Still, there he sits, and returns my gaze with as much of awe and curiosity, as if he, too, had spent a solitary evening in fantastic musings, and made me his theme. So inimitably does he counterfeit, that I could almost doubt which of us is the visionary form, or whether each be not the other's mystery, and both twin brethren of one fate, in mutually reflected spheres. Oh, friend, canst thou not hear and answer me? Break down the barrier between us! Grasp my hand! Speak! Listen! A few words, perhaps, might satisfy the feverish yearning of my soul for some master-thought, that should guide me through this labyrinth of life, teaching wherefore I was born, and how to do my task on earth, and what is death. Alas! Even that unreal image should forget to ape me, and smile at these vain questions.--Thus do mortals deify, as it were, a mere shadow of themselves, a spectre of human reason, and ask of that to unveil the mysteries, which Divine Intelligence has revealed so far as needful to our guidance, and hid the rest.