Ten Ideas from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Note-Books

  1. A tree, tall and venerable, to be said by tradition to have been the staff of some famous man, who happened to thrust it into the ground, where it took root.
  2. A fellow without money, having a hundred and seventy miles to go, fastened a chain and padlock to his legs, and lay down to sleep in a field. He was apprehended, and carried gratis to a jail in the town whither he desired to go.
  3. An old volume in a large library,–every one to be afraid to unclasp and open it, because it was said to be a book of magic.
  4. A ghost seen by moonlight; when the moon was out, it would shine and melt through the airy substance of the ghost, as through a cloud.
  5. A scold and a blockhead,–brimstone and wood,–a good match.
  6. To make one’s own reflection in a mirror the subject of a story.
  7. In a dream to wander to some place where may be heard the complaints of all the miserable on earth.
  8. Some common quality or circumstance that should bring together people the most unlike in all other respects, and make a brotherhood and sisterhood of them,–the rich and the proud finding themselves in the same category with the mean and the despised.
  9. A person to consider himself as the prime mover of certain remarkable events, but to discover that his actions have not contributed in the least thereto. Another person to be the cause, without suspecting it.
  10. A person or family long desires some particular good. At last it comes in such profusion as to be the great pest of their lives.

—Notations from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s American Note-Books. (See also: Twenty ideas from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Note-Books)

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