“Doubtless, however, either of these stern and black-browed Puritans would have thought it quite a sufficient retribution for his sins, that, after so long a lapse of years, the old trunk of the family tree, with so much venerable moss upon it, should have borne, as its topmost bough, an idler like myself.  No aim, that I have ever cherished, would they recognize as laudable; no success of mine–if my life, beyond its domestic scope, had ever been brightened by success–would they deem other wise than worthless, if not positively disgraceful.  “What is he?” murmurs one gray shadow of my forefathers to the other.  “A writer of story-books!  What kind of a business in life, –what mode of glorifying God, or being serviceable to mankind in his day and generation, –may that be?  Why, the degenerate fellow might as well have been a fiddler!”  Such are the compliments bandied between my great-grandsires and myself, across the gulf of time!  And yet, let them scorn me as they will, strong traits of their nature have intertwined themselves with mine.” —from “The Custom House”, the introduction to The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

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