Nathaniel Hawthorne


American Novelist, Short-Story Writer best known for novels The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables

Author Quotes

What are the haughtiest of us but ephemeral aristocrats of a summer's day?

When we have left Rome, we are astonished by the discovery, by-and-by, that our heart-strings have mysteriously attached themselves to the Eternal City, and are drawing us thitherward again, as if it were more familiar, more intimately our home, than even the spot where we were born!

You are partly crazy, and partly imbecile; a ruin, a failure, as almost everybody is,--though some in less degree, or less perceptibly, than their fellows.

What is the Unpardonable Sin? asked the lime-burner; and then he shrank farther from his companion, trembling lest his question should be answered. It is a sin that grew within my own breast, replied Ethan Brand, standing erect with a pride that distinguishes all enthusiasts of his stamp. A sin that grew nowhere else! The sin of an intellect that triumphed over the sense of brotherhood with man and reverence for God, and sacrificed everything to its own mighty claims!

Wherever there is a heart and an intellect, the diseases of the physical frame are tinged with the peculiarities of these.

You can get assent to almost any proposition so long as you are not going to do anything about it.

What is the voice of song, when the world lacks the ear to taste?

While we fancy ourselves going straight forward, and attaining, at every step, an entirely new position of affairs, we do actually return to something long ago tried and abandoned, but which we now find etherealized, refined, and perfected to its ideal. The past is but a coarse and sensual prophecy of the present and the future.

You speculate on the luxury of wearing out a whole existence in bed, like an oyster in its shell, content with the sluggish ecstasy of inaction.

What we call real estate--the solid ground to build a house on--is the broad foundation on which nearly all the guilt of this world rests.

Who can say in fact that hate and love are not at the bottom if not two aspects of the same human passion? So much hate as love, if they reach a certain intensity, presuppose a mutual understanding of two hearts so deep that a human being is at the mercy of another for the life of his spirit, and it is for this that both the ' passionate lover as the relentless enemy of the reasons you feel faint if life is taken away from them the object of love or hatred.

Zealots have an idol, to which they consecrate themselves high priests, and deem it holy work to offer sacrifices of whatever is most precious.

What would a man do if he were compelled to live always in the sultry heat of society, and could never better himself in cool solitude?

Who can tell where happiness may come, or where, though an expected guest, it may never show its face?

Unable to penetrate to the secret place of his soul where his motives lay hidden, he believed that a supernatural voice had called him onward, and that a supernatural power had obstructed his retreat.

What, in the name of common-sense, had I to do with any better society than I had always lived in? It had satisfied me well enough. My pleasant bachelor-parlor, sunny and shadowy, curtained and carpeted, with the bedchamber adjoining... my evening at the billiard club, the concert, the theatre, or at somebody's party, if I pleased - what could be better than all this? Was it better to hoe, to mow, to toil and moil amidst the accumulations of a barnyard; to be the chambermaid of two yoke of oxen and a dozen cows; to eat salt beef, and earn it with the sweat of my brow, and thereby take the tough morsel out of some wretch's mouth, into whose vocation I had thrust myself?

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? Because, probably, at his highest elevation, the poet needs no human intercourse; but he finds it dreary to descend, and be a stranger.

Unfathomable to mere mortals is the lore of fiends.

What's that you mutter to yourself, Matthew Maule? asked Scicpio. And what for do you look so black at me? No matter, darky, said the carpenter. Do you think nobody is to look black but yourself?

Within the antique frame, which so recently had inclosed a sable waste of canvas, now appeared a visible picture, still dark, indeed, in its hues and shadings, but thrown forward in strong relief.

We dream in our waking moments, and walk in our sleep.

When an author gives their advertising pages, addresses, not the crowd throw aside the book, or ever will take it in hand, but the very few who understood better than most of their classmates college or his contemporaries. And not missing at this point authors go even further in certain sensitive details that may interest only and exclusively to a single heart and a mind in perfect sympathy with it, as if the printed book was launched with the vast world certainty to be stumbling to be forming the complement of the nature of the writer completing the circle of his existence and put them in the mutual communication.

Without any effort of his will, or power to restrain himself, he shrieked aloud; an outcry that went pealing through the night, and was beaten back from one house to another, and reverberated from the hills in the background; as if a company of devils, detecting so much misery and terror in it, had made a plaything of the sound and were bandying it to and fro.

We had pleased ourselves with the delectable visions of the spiritualization of labor....Each stroke of the hoe was to uncover some aromatic root of wisdom... But... the clods of earth, which we constantly belabored and turned over and over, were never etherealized into thought. Our thoughts, on the contrary, were fast becoming cloddish. Our labor symbolized nothing and left us mentally sluggish in the dusk of the evening.

When an uninstructed multitude attempts to see with its eyes, it is exceedingly apt to be deceived. When, however, it forms its judgment, as it usually does, on the intuitions of its great and warm heart, the conclusions thus attained are often so profound and so unerring as to possess the character of truth supernaturally revealed.

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American Novelist, Short-Story Writer best known for novels The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables