“A lament for life’s wasted sunshine” (And Four Other Ideas from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Note-Books)

  1. Walking along the track of the railroad, I observed a place where the workmen had bored a hole through the solid rock, in order to blast it; but, striking a spring of water beneath the rock, it gushed up through the hole. It looked as if the water were contained within the rock.
  2. A Fancy Ball, in which the prominent American writers should appear, dressed in character.
  3. A lament for life’s wasted sunshine.
  4. A new classification of society to be instituted. Instead of rich and poor, high and low, they are to be classed,–First, by their sorrows: for instance, whenever there are any, whether in fair mansion or hovel, who are mourning the loss of relations and friends, and who wear black, whether the cloth be coarse or superfine, they are to make one class. Secondly, all who have the same maladies, whether they lie under damask canopies or on straw pallets or in the wards of hospitals, they are to form one class. Thirdly, all who are guilty of the same sins, whether the world knows them or not; whether they languish in prison, looking forward to the gallows, or walk honored among men, they also form a class. Then proceed to generalize and classify the whole world together, as none can claim utter exemption from either sorrow, sin, or disease; and if they could, yet Death, like a great parent, comes and sweeps them all through one darksome portal,–all his children.
  5. Fortune to come like a pedlar with his goods,–as wreaths of laurel, diamonds, crowns; selling them, but asking for them the sacrifice of health, of integrity, perhaps of life in the battle-field, and of the real pleasures of existence. Who would buy, if the price were to be paid down?

Notations from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s American Note-Books.

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