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Nathaniel Hawthorne

(1804-1864 / the United States)

Quotations

  • ''Is it a fact—or have I dreamt it—that, by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time?''
    Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), U.S. author. Clifford Pyncheon, in The House of the Seven Gables, ch. 17 (1851).
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  • ''I shall never love England till she sues to us for help; and, in the meantime, the fewer triumphs she obtains, the better for all the parties. An Englishman in adversity is a very respectable character; he does not lose his dignity, but merely comes to a proper conceit of himself.... I seem to myself like a spy or a traitor, when I meet their eyes, and am conscious that I neither hope nor fear in sympathy with them, although (unless they detect me for an American by my aspect) they look at me in full confidence of sympathy.''
    Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), U.S. author. English Notebooks, entry for October 6, 1854 (1870, revised 1941).
  • ''Yesterday I went out at about twelve, and visited the British Museum; an exceedingly tiresome affair. It quite crushes a person to see so much at once; and I wandered from hall to hall with a weary and heavy heart, wishing (Heaven forgive me!) that the Elgin marbles and the frieze of the Parthenon were all burnt into lime, and that the granite Egyptian statues were hewn and squared into building stones, and that the mummies had all turned to dust, two thousand years ago; and, in fine, that all the material relics of so many successive ages had disappeared with the generations that produced them. The present is burthened too much with the past.''
    Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), U.S. author. English Notebooks, entry for March 27, 1856 (1870, rev. 1941).
  • ''A woman's chastity consists, like an onion, of a series of coats.''
    Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), U.S. author. English Notebooks, journal entry, March 16, 1854 (1870, revised 1941).
  • ''We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.''
    Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), U.S. author. Hester Prynne, in The Scarlet Letter, ch. 22 (1850).
  • ''We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.''
    Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), U.S. author. Hester Prynne, in The Scarlet Letter, ch. 22 (1850).
  • ''Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed. Their highest merit is suggestiveness.''
    Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), U.S. author. Hilda, in The Marble Faun, ch. 41 (1860).
  • ''When a writer calls his work a Romance, it need hardly be observed that he wishes to claim a certain latitude, both as to its fashion and material, which he would not have felt himself entitled to assume had he professed to be writing a Novel. The latter form of composition is presumed to aim at a very minute fidelity, not merely to the probable and ordinary course of man's experience. The former—while, as a work of art, it must rigidly subject itself to laws, and while it sins unpardonably so far as it may swerve aside from the truth of the human heart—has fairly a right to present that truth under circumstances, to a great extent, of the writer's own choosing or creation. If he thinks fit, also, he may so manage his atmospherical medium as to bring out or mellow the lights and deepen and enrich the shadows of the picture.''
    Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), U.S. novelist. House of the Seven Gables, preface (1851).
  • ''I wonder that we Americans love our country at all, it having no limits and no oneness; and when you try to make it a matter of the heart, everything falls away except one's native State;Mneither can you seize hold of that, unless you tear it out of the Union, bleeding and quivering.''
    Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), U.S. author. Italian Notebook, vol. 14, October 11, 1858, Works, ed. Thomas Woodson (1980). "Yet," Hawthorne added, "unquestionably we do stand by our national flag as stoutly as any people in the world; and I myself have felt the heart-throb at sight of it, as sensibly as other men."
  • ''Beyond all question, I might have had a wiser friend than he. The atmosphere in which alone he breathed was dense; his awful dread of death showed how much muddy imperfection was to be cleansed out of him, before he could be capable of spiritual existence; he meddled only with the surface of life, and never cared to penetrate further than to ploughshare depth; his very sense and sagacity were but a one-eyed clear-sightedness.... Dr. Johnson's morality was as English an article as a beefsteak.''
    Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), U.S. author. "Lichfield and Uttoxeter," Our Old Home (1863). Henry James said that this formed part of a graceful tribute to Johnson who "certainly has nowhere else been more tenderly spoken of."

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My Low And Humble Home

I left my low and humble home,
Far from my Father's fields to roam.
My peaceful cot no more had charms,
My only joy was War's alarms.
I panted for the field of fight,
I gaz'd upon the deathless light,
Which o'er the Hero's grave is shed,
The glorious memory of the dead.
Ambition show'd a distant star,

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