The Scarlet Letter Book PDF By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The Scarlet Letter

But the sentiment has likewise its moral quality.

The figure of that first ancestor, invested by family tradition with a dim and dusky grandeur, was present to my boyish imagination, as far back as I can remember.

It still haunts me and induces a sort of home-feeling with the past, which I scarcely claim in reference to the present phase of the town.

I seem to have a stronger claim to a residence here on account of this grave, bearded, sable-cloaked, and steeple-crowned progenitor,—who came so early.

With his Bible and his sword, and strode the unworn street with such a stately port, and made so large a figure, as a man of war and peace,—a stronger claim than for myself.

Whose name is seldom heard and my face is hardly known? He was a soldier, legislator, judge; he was a ruler in the Church; he had all the Puritanic traits, both good and evil.

He was likewise a bitter persecutor, as witness the Quakers, who have remembered him in their histories.

And relate an incident of his hard severity towards a woman of their sect, which will last longer, it is to be feared, than any record of his better deeds, although these were many.

His son, too, inherited the persecuting spirit, and made himself so conspicuous in the martyrdom of the witches, that their blood may fairly be said to have left a stain upon him.

So deep a stain, indeed, that his old[9] dry bones, in the Charter Street burial-ground, must still retain it, if they have not crumbled utterly to dust!

I know not whether these ancestors of mine bethought themselves to repent and ask pardon of Heaven for their cruelties; or whether they are now groaning under the heavy consequences of them, in another state of being.

T is a little remarkable, that —though disin- V clined to talk overmuch of myself and my affairs tl^ at the fireside, and to my personal friends —an ^ autobiographical impulse should twice in my life have taken possession of me, in addressing the public. Tlie first time was three or four years since, when I favored the reader —inexcusably, and for no
earthly reason, that either the indulgent reader or the intrusive author could imagine —with a description of my way of life in the deep quietude of an Old Manse. And now —because, be- yond my deserts, I was happy enough to find a listener or two on the former occasion —I again seize the public by the button, and talk of my three years’ experience in a Custom-House.


example of the famous “P. P., Clerk of this Parish/-‘ was nevermore faithfully followed.

The truth seems to be, however, that, when he casts his leaves forth upon the wind, the author addresses, not the many who will fling aside his volume, or never take it up, but the few who will understand him, better than most of his schoolmates or climates.

Some authors, indeed, do far more than this, and indulge themselves in such confidential depths of revelation as could fittingly be addressed, only and exclusively, to the one heart and mind of perfect sympathy; as if the printed book, thrown at large on the Avide world, were certain to find out the divided segment of the writer’s own nature, and complete his circle of existence by bringing him into communion with it.

It is scarcely decorous, however, to speak all, even where we speak impersonally.

But, as thoughts frozen and utterance benumbed, unless the speaker stands in some true relation Avith his audience, it may be pardonable to imagine that a friend, a kind and apprehensive, though not the closest friend is listening to our talk; and then, a native re- serve being thawed by this genial consciousness, we may prate of the circumstances that lie around us, and even of ourself, but still keep the inmost Me behind its veil.

To this extent, and within these limits, an author, mcthinks, may be autobiographical, without violating either the reader’s rights or his own

AuthorNathaniel Hawthorne
Language English
No. of Pages348
PDF Size18.5 MB

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