Nathaniel Hawthorne Quotes (110 Quotes)


    It came to pass, not long after the scene above recorded, that the Reverend Mr Dimmesdale, at noonday, and entirely unawares, fell into a deep, deep slumber, sitting in his chair, with a large black-letter volume open before him on the table. It must have been a work of vast ability in the somniferous school of literature.

    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.

    It is remarkable, that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society. The thoughts alone suffice them, without investing itself in the flesh and blood of action.


    It was one of those moments-which sometimes occur only at the interval of years-when a man's moral aspect is faithfully revealed to his mind's eye. Not improbably, he had never before viewed himself as he did now.


    Just where she had paused, the brook chanced to form a pool so smooth and quiet that it reflected a perfect image of her little figure, with all the brilliant picturesqueness of her beauty, in its adornment of flowers and wreathed foliage.... It was strange, the way in which Pearl stood, looking so steadfastly at them through the dim medium of the forest gloom, herself, meanwhile, all glorified with a ray of sunshine....




    Sometimes a light glimmered out of the physician's eyes, burning blue and ominous, like the reflection of a furnace, or, let us say, like one of those gleams of ghastly fire that darted from Bunyan's awful doorway in the hill-side, and quivered on the pilgrim's face.

    The child probably overheard their voices; for, looking up to the window, with a bright, but naughty smile of mirth and intelligence, she threw one of the prickly burrs at the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale. The sensitive clergyman shrunk, with nervous dread, from the light missile.

    The great scene of grief, in which the wild infant bore a part, had developed all her sympathies; and as her tears fell upon her father's cheek, they were the pledge that she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow, nor for ever do battle with the world, but be a woman in it. Towards her mother, too, Pearl's errand as a messenger of anguish was all fulfilled.





    But, all this while, I was giving myself very unnecessary alarm. Providence had mediated better things for me than I could possibly imagine for myself.

    To the untrue man, the whole universe is false- it is impalpable- it shrinks to nothing within his grasp. And he himself is in so far as he shows himself in a false light, becomes a shadow, or, indeed, ceases to exist.


    To-morrow would bring its own trial with it; so would the next day, and so would the next; each its own trial, and yet the very same that was now so unutterably grievous to be borne. The days of the far-off future would toil onward, still with the same burden for her to take up, and bear along with her, but never to fling down; for the accumulating days, and added years, would pile up their misery upon the heap of shame.

    Finding it so directly on the threshold of our narrative, which is now about to issue from that inauspicious portal, we could hardly do otherwise than pluck one of its flowers and present it to the reader. It may serve, let us hope, to symbolize some sweet moral blossom, that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow.




    A grave, wherever found, preaches a short and pithy sermon to the soul.

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

    Work is the curse of the world, and nobody can meddle with it without becoming proportionately brutalized.

    Some maladies are rich and precious and only to be Acquired by the right of inheritance or purchased with gold.

    The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one's self a fool; the truest heroism is to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when it be obeyed.

    Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not.

    Most people are so constituted that they can only be virtuous in a certain routine an irregular course of life demoralizes them.

    Shame, Depair, Soltude These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones,- and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.

    Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.

    The only sensible ends of literature are, first, the pleasurable toil of writing; second, the gratification of one's family and friends; and lastly, the solid cash.

    Shall we never, never get rid of this Past cried he, keeping up the earnest tone of his preceding conversation. It lies upon the Present like a giant's dead body.

    So she poured out the liquid music of her voice to quench the thirst of his spirit.

    My heart was a habitation large enough for many guests, but lonely and chill, and without a household fire. I longed to kindle one It seemed not so wild a dream . . .

    Nobody has any conscience about adding to the improbabilities of a marvelous tale.

    The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.

    Great men have to be lifted upon the shoulders of the whole world, in order to conceive their great ideas, or perform their great deeds.


    The Pyncheon Elm, throughout its great circumference, was all alive, and full of the morning sunand a sweet-tempered little breeze, which lingered within this verdant sphere, and set a thousand leaftytongues a-whispering all at once. This ages tree appeared to have suffered nothing from the gale. It has kept its boughs unshattered, and its full complement of leaves, and the whole in perfect verdure, except a single branch, that, by the earlier change with which the elm-tree sometimes prophesies the autumn, had been transmuted to bright gold.

    The best of us being unfit to die, what an unexpressible absurdity to put the worst to death.

    Happiness, in this world, if it comes at all, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us on a wild-goose chase, and it is never attained.

    It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates. Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility. from The Scarlet Letter


    Our most intimate friend is not he to whom we show the worst, but the best of our nature.

    'What is the Unpardonable Sin' asked the lime-burner.... 'It is a sin that grew within my own breast,' replied Ethan Brand.... 'The sin of an intellect that triumphed over the sense of brotherhood with man and reverence for God.'

    There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October

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


    More Nathaniel Hawthorne Quotations (Based on Topics)


    World - Mind - Education - Love - Life - Happiness - Nature - Writing - Man - Light - Society & Civilization - Death & Dying - Literature - Medicine & Medical - Sadness - Religions & Spirituality - Night - Thought & Thinking - Dreams - View All Nathaniel Hawthorne Quotations

    More Nathaniel Hawthorne Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - The Scarlet Letter

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