by Nathaniel Hawthorne
originally published 1851
The wrong-doing of one generation lives into the successive ones, and, divesting itself of every temporary advantage, becomes a pure and uncontrollable mischief.
The act of the passing generation is the germ which must produce good or evil fruit, in a far distant time.
Stories of this kind sometimes prolong themselves for ages afterwards, like the toadstools that indicate where the fallen and buried trunk of a tree has long since mouldered into the earth.
Tradition is responsible for all contrary averments.
The ghost of a dead progenitor is often doomed to become the Evil Genius of his family.
There is no one thing which men so rarely do, as to bequeath patrimonial property away from their own blood.
There is something so massive, stable, and almost irresistibly imposing, in the exterior presentment of established rank and great possessions, that their very existence seems to give them a right to exist.
In this republican country,, amid the fluctuating waves of our social life, somebody is always at the drowning-point.
Life is made up of marble and mud.
Everything appears to lose its substance, the instant one actually grapples with it.
So wholesome is effort! So miraculous the strength that we do not know of.
Providence seldom vouchsafes to mortals any more than just that degree of encouragement, which suffices to keep them at a reasonably full exertion of their powers.
Individuals, whose affairs have reached an utterly desperate crisis, almost invariably keep themselves alive with hopes, so much the more airily magnificent, as they have the less of solid matter within their grasp, whereof to mould any judicious and moderate expectation of good.
There is sad confusion, indeed, when the spirit thus flits away into the past.
It is a kind of natural magic, that enables these favored ones to bring out the hidden capabilities of things around them; and particularly to give a look of comfort and habitableness to any place which, for however brief a period, may happen to be their home.
People are generally quite as vain, or even more so, of their deficiencies, than of their available gifts.
It is a very genuine admiration, that with which persons, too shy, or too awkward, to take a due part in the bustling world, regard the real actors in life's stirring scenes;--so genuine, in fact, that the former are usually fain to make it palatable to their self-love, by assuming that these active and forcible qualities are incompatible with others, which they choose to deem higher and more important.
It should be woman's office to move in the midst of practical affairs, and to gild them all--the very homeliest, were it even the scouring of pots and kettles--with an atmosphere of loveliness and joy.
There is a wonderful insight in heaven's broad and simple sunshine. While we give it credit only for depicting the merest surface, it actually brings out the secret character with a truth that no painter would ever venture upon, even could he detect it.
Life within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast-table.
An individual of his temper can always be pricked more acutely through his sense of the beautiful and harmonious, than through his heart.
It is often instructive to take the woman's, the private and domestic view, of a public man.
Ancient superstitions become imbued with an effect of homely truth.
In both sexes, occasionally, this life-long croak, accompanying each word of joy or sorrow, is one of the symptoms of a settled melancholy; and wherever it occurs, the whole history of misfortune is conveyed in its slightest accent.
Why are poets so apt to choose their mates, not for any similarity of poetic endowment, but for qualities which might make the happiness of the rudest handicraftsman, as well as that of the ideal craftsman of the spirit?
The sick in mind, and perhaps in body, are rendered more darkly and hopelessly so, by the manifold reflection of their disease, mirrored back from all quarters, in the deportment of those about them; they are compelled to inhale the poison of their own breath, in infinite repetition.
Is not the world sad enough, in genuine earnest, without making a pastime of mock-sorrows?
Affection and sympathy for flowers is almost exclusively a woman's trait. Men, if endowed with it by nature, soon lose, forget, and learn to despise it, in their contact with coarser things than flowers.
Infinity is big enough for us all--and Eternity long enough!
Nothing gives a sadder sense of decay, than loss of the power to deal with unaccustomed things and to keep up with the swiftness of the passing moment.
As a mere object of sight, nothing is more deficient in picturesque features than a procession, seen in its passage through narrow streets.
Strength is incomprehensible by weakness, and therefore the more terrible. There is no greater bugbear than a strong-willed relative, in the circle of his own connection.
This is such an odd and incomprehensible world!
Man's own youth is the world's youth.
We are not doomed to creep on forever in the old, bad way.
Man's best-directed effort accomplishes a kind of dream, while God is the sole worker of realities.
The effervescence of youth and passion, and the fresh gloss of the intellect and imagination, endow young men with a false brilliancy, which makes fools of themselves and other people.
Transparent natures are often deceptive in their depth.
We must be dead ourselves, before we can begin to have our proper influence on our own world.
We shall live to see the day when no man shall build his house for posterity.
To plant a family! This idea is at the bottom of most of the wrong and mischief which men do.
Our first youth is of no value; for we are never conscious of it, until after it is gone.
It is pleasant to live where one is much desired, and very useful.
What is there so ponderous in evil, that a thumb's bigness of it should outweigh the mass of things not evil, which were heaped into the other scale!
Such calmness is a mightier effort than the violence of weaker men.
Next to the lightest heart, the heaviest is apt to be most playful.
Might and wrong combined, like iron magnetized, are endowed with irresistible attraction.
Just as there comes a warm sunbeam into every cottage-window, so comes a love-beam of God's care and pity, for every separate need.
Transition being so facile, what can be any man's inducement to tarry in one spot?
There is no such unwholesome atmosphere as that of an old home, rendered poisonous by one's defunct forefathers and relatives!
Real estate is the broad foundation on which nearly all the guilt of this world rests.
A cautious man is proverbially said to sleep with one eye open. That may be wisdom. But not with both; for this were heedlessness!
Women are apt to make many words where a few would do much better.
Ambition is a talisman more powerful than witchcraft.
Persons of large sensual endowments must claim indulgence, at their feeding-time.
The world owes all its onward impulse to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.
At such a crisis, there is no Death; for Immortality is revealed anew, and embraces everything in its hallowed atmosphere.
Of all the events which constitute a person's biography, there is scarcely one to which the world so easily reconciles itself, as to his death.
Death is so genuine a fact that it excludes falsehood.
No great mistake, whether acted or endured, in our mortal sphere, is every really set right. Time, the continual vicissitude of circumstances, and the invariable inopportunity of death, render it impossible.