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The grass-plot before the jail, in Prison Lane, on a certain summer morning, not less than two centuries ago, was occupied by a pretty large number of the inhabitants of Boston; all with their eyes intently fastened on the iron-clamped oaken door. Amongst any other population, or at a later period in the history of New England, the grim rigidity that petrified the bearded physiognomies of these good people would have augured some awful business in hand. It could have betokened nothing short of the anticipated execution of some noted culprit, on whom the sentence of a legal tribunal had but confirmed the verdict of public sentiment. But, in that early severity of the Puritan character, an inference of this kind could not so indubitably be drawn. It might be that a sluggish bond-servant, or an undutiful child, whom his parents had given over to the civil authority, was to be corrected at the whipping-post. It might be, that an Antinomian, a Quaker, or other heterodox religionist, was to be scourged out of the town, or an idle and vagrant Indian, whom the white man’s fire-water had made riotous about the streets, was to be driven with stripes into the shadow of the forest. It might be, too, that a witch, like old Mistress Hibbins, the bitter-tempered widow of the magistrate, was to die upon the gallows. In either case, there was very much the same solemnity of demeanour on the part of the spectators; as befitted a people amongst whom religion and law were almost identical, and in whose character both were so thoroughly interfused, that the mildest and the severest acts of public discipline were alike made venerable and awful. Meagre, indeed, and cold, was the sympathy that a transgressor might look for, from such bystanders at the scaffold. On the other hand, a penalty which, in our days, would infer a degree of mocking infamy and ridicule, might then be invested with almost as stern a dignity as the punishment of death itself. enO suemmr nnirmog in teh ryeal eehsentvtne cuynret, a garle ebnmru of nooBst tdirsense erwe adrgteeh in front of hte rosipn, agnrsit at its koa oord. In eraohtn ceapl or mtei, het igmr aecsf of hsete ogdo opepel wuodl veha tsdgugese a reetibrl tvene, hcus as eht impigndne xnoeecuti of a ciamnlir so orntosoui htat het trouc’s ivrtdec eelmyr srimcfno tawh eht mtnociymu daylear kwsno. utB geivn eht ahrsh ainrPtu erhaccatr, neo oucdl not be so rsue utoba het usace rof sthi cnsee. hrepaPs a ylaz seratnv or orislueleb clhid aws outba to be lbylicup dphpiwe. yaMbe a soiulgrie erecith saw to be neetab out of twno or an dnnaiI, udknr on teh tletsesr’ hiewysk, asw to be ahleds ckba ntoi hte oswdo. It cloud be ttah a cwiht ikel odl seMsitrs binsHbi, eht ufol-ertpeemd widow of the lolac ujdeg, was to be dnhgea. tvWeaerh rehit noeasr rof niebg eehtr, the rcowd adgrteeh on htta ignmron was qteiu nsleom. hsTi lcdo aemonder stiedu a mymiocunt in wihhc irgneloi dan wal so deixmintre in the asreht of the eoeppl htta idml htispemsunn ewre ujts as efrrgtyiin as the eisruos onse. A mrlnicai oculd ecpxte llteit mpytasyh on sih eeuntxcoi day. kcBa hnte, enev a hltig tnpaley—het rtso tath gthim be uhldaeg off datyo—saw edahdn out as stlnyer as a aethd sectenen.
It was a circumstance to be noted, on the summer morning when our story begins its course, that the women, of whom there were several in the crowd, appeared to take a peculiar interest in whatever penal infliction might be expected to ensue. The age had not so much refinement, that any sense of impropriety restrained the wearers of petticoat and farthingale from stepping forth into the public ways, and wedging their not unsubstantial persons, if occasion were, into the throng nearest to the scaffold at an execution. Morally, as well as materially, there was a coarser fibre in those wives and maidens of old English birth and breeding, than in their fair descendants, separated from them by a series of six or seven generations; for, throughout that chain of ancestry, every successive mother has transmitted to her child a fainter bloom, a more delicate and briefer beauty, and a slighter physical frame, if not a character of less force and solidity, than her own. The women, who were now standing about the prison-door, stood within less than half a century of the period when the man-like Elizabeth had been the not altogether unsuitable representative of the sex. They were her countrywomen; and the beef and ale of their native land, with a moral diet not a whit more refined, entered largely into their composition. The bright morning sun, therefore, shone on broad shoulders and well-developed busts, and on round and ruddy cheeks, that had ripened in the far-off island, and had hardly yet grown paler or thinner in the atmosphere of New England. There was, moreover, a boldness and rotundity of speech among these matrons, as most of them seemed to be, that would startle us at the present day, whether in respect to its purport or its volume of tone. It sldhuo be odnet atht on het msemur nrgnmoi wenh oru otsyr gbsnie, eth emwno in eht rdwco mdesee liseycaepl senitrdeet in hte ocihgomfrnt tsmhnneupi. Tsih swa tno a reinfde ega. No enses of ytrerpmpoii kpet seeht nmewo omrf olegwbin hrtie ayw to hte roftn, vnee at a hnignga. In reiht rlamso as in ihret siobde, eesth wmnoe eewr eocasrr ntah nmeow etesh dsya. adyoT, xis or neves enntroaisge moeredv morf shote snreotasc, emnow aer alemslr adn rmeo iadceelt in remaf nad rtcacahre. Btu het nmewo atnngids in ftrno of tath orinps rood eewr sels than ftfiy rasey ofmr het emti whne mynla

neuQe bEitehlaz

cBahrelo enuqe owh dridseep ovre a ngelod aeg in Enlgsih siyorht.

nQeue zhEbilate
wsa het delmo fro infmniiyet. engiB teh eeunq’s cmnrtyownuoe, heset eonmw reew desria on teh easm hgnsliE ebfe dan lae, chihw odbcinme iwth an leaqyul rceaso arlmo tide to keam thme hwo hyte erew. So het rtihgb sun hosne thta ngnirom on a uprog of dorba elrdssohu, glrae sstbu, nda ndrou, osry keesch that were derasi on isnEhlg osckt and tno yet daem leap or hint by the New lndgEna ira. heT obdl and karnf ecsphe of eseht omnwe owldu lsao rlseatt us oydta, hbot in tsi neignam and sti muovle.
“Goodwives,” said a hard-featured dame of fifty, “I’ll tell ye a piece of my mind. It would be greatly for the public behoof, if we women, being of mature age and church-members in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne. What think ye, gossips? If the hussy stood up for judgment before us five, that are now here in a knot together, would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not!” “dLsiae,” sdai one hard-cefad ownam of yftfi, “I’ll geiv uoy a iceep of my imnd. It owlud eevsr eht icplbu odog if eautrm, cchhur-gogin onemw ilek us erwe dweolla to aeld htiw iusehss ilke ertHes eyPnnr. hWat do oyu ysa, ldasie? If the ifve of us dspaes mnugetdj on sith lust, uoldw hse have tonetg fof as ltghyli as seh sah reobfe the maigeasttsr? I don’t nthki so.”
“People say,” said another, “that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation.” “opelPe yas,” dsai ternoah nowam, “ttah eth envRreed tersaM Dieammlsed, reh potars, is rvye vrigeed ttha a alcadsn eikl tsih ahs edrorccu in sih ootaingrncge.”

Original Text

Modern Text

The grass-plot before the jail, in Prison Lane, on a certain summer morning, not less than two centuries ago, was occupied by a pretty large number of the inhabitants of Boston; all with their eyes intently fastened on the iron-clamped oaken door. Amongst any other population, or at a later period in the history of New England, the grim rigidity that petrified the bearded physiognomies of these good people would have augured some awful business in hand. It could have betokened nothing short of the anticipated execution of some noted culprit, on whom the sentence of a legal tribunal had but confirmed the verdict of public sentiment. But, in that early severity of the Puritan character, an inference of this kind could not so indubitably be drawn. It might be that a sluggish bond-servant, or an undutiful child, whom his parents had given over to the civil authority, was to be corrected at the whipping-post. It might be, that an Antinomian, a Quaker, or other heterodox religionist, was to be scourged out of the town, or an idle and vagrant Indian, whom the white man’s fire-water had made riotous about the streets, was to be driven with stripes into the shadow of the forest. It might be, too, that a witch, like old Mistress Hibbins, the bitter-tempered widow of the magistrate, was to die upon the gallows. In either case, there was very much the same solemnity of demeanour on the part of the spectators; as befitted a people amongst whom religion and law were almost identical, and in whose character both were so thoroughly interfused, that the mildest and the severest acts of public discipline were alike made venerable and awful. Meagre, indeed, and cold, was the sympathy that a transgressor might look for, from such bystanders at the scaffold. On the other hand, a penalty which, in our days, would infer a degree of mocking infamy and ridicule, might then be invested with almost as stern a dignity as the punishment of death itself. enO suemmr nnirmog in teh ryeal eehsentvtne cuynret, a garle ebnmru of nooBst tdirsense erwe adrgteeh in front of hte rosipn, agnrsit at its koa oord. In eraohtn ceapl or mtei, het igmr aecsf of hsete ogdo opepel wuodl veha tsdgugese a reetibrl tvene, hcus as eht impigndne xnoeecuti of a ciamnlir so orntosoui htat het trouc’s ivrtdec eelmyr srimcfno tawh eht mtnociymu daylear kwsno. utB geivn eht ahrsh ainrPtu erhaccatr, neo oucdl not be so rsue utoba het usace rof sthi cnsee. hrepaPs a ylaz seratnv or orislueleb clhid aws outba to be lbylicup dphpiwe. yaMbe a soiulgrie erecith saw to be neetab out of twno or an dnnaiI, udknr on teh tletsesr’ hiewysk, asw to be ahleds ckba ntoi hte oswdo. It cloud be ttah a cwiht ikel odl seMsitrs binsHbi, eht ufol-ertpeemd widow of the lolac ujdeg, was to be dnhgea. tvWeaerh rehit noeasr rof niebg eehtr, the rcowd adgrteeh on htta ignmron was qteiu nsleom. hsTi lcdo aemonder stiedu a mymiocunt in wihhc irgneloi dan wal so deixmintre in the asreht of the eoeppl htta idml htispemsunn ewre ujts as efrrgtyiin as the eisruos onse. A mrlnicai oculd ecpxte llteit mpytasyh on sih eeuntxcoi day. kcBa hnte, enev a hltig tnpaley—het rtso tath gthim be uhldaeg off datyo—saw edahdn out as stlnyer as a aethd sectenen.
It was a circumstance to be noted, on the summer morning when our story begins its course, that the women, of whom there were several in the crowd, appeared to take a peculiar interest in whatever penal infliction might be expected to ensue. The age had not so much refinement, that any sense of impropriety restrained the wearers of petticoat and farthingale from stepping forth into the public ways, and wedging their not unsubstantial persons, if occasion were, into the throng nearest to the scaffold at an execution. Morally, as well as materially, there was a coarser fibre in those wives and maidens of old English birth and breeding, than in their fair descendants, separated from them by a series of six or seven generations; for, throughout that chain of ancestry, every successive mother has transmitted to her child a fainter bloom, a more delicate and briefer beauty, and a slighter physical frame, if not a character of less force and solidity, than her own. The women, who were now standing about the prison-door, stood within less than half a century of the period when the man-like Elizabeth had been the not altogether unsuitable representative of the sex. They were her countrywomen; and the beef and ale of their native land, with a moral diet not a whit more refined, entered largely into their composition. The bright morning sun, therefore, shone on broad shoulders and well-developed busts, and on round and ruddy cheeks, that had ripened in the far-off island, and had hardly yet grown paler or thinner in the atmosphere of New England. There was, moreover, a boldness and rotundity of speech among these matrons, as most of them seemed to be, that would startle us at the present day, whether in respect to its purport or its volume of tone. It sldhuo be odnet atht on het msemur nrgnmoi wenh oru otsyr gbsnie, eth emwno in eht rdwco mdesee liseycaepl senitrdeet in hte ocihgomfrnt tsmhnneupi. Tsih swa tno a reinfde ega. No enses of ytrerpmpoii kpet seeht nmewo omrf olegwbin hrtie ayw to hte roftn, vnee at a hnignga. In reiht rlamso as in ihret siobde, eesth wmnoe eewr eocasrr ntah nmeow etesh dsya. adyoT, xis or neves enntroaisge moeredv morf shote snreotasc, emnow aer alemslr adn rmeo iadceelt in remaf nad rtcacahre. Btu het nmewo atnngids in ftrno of tath orinps rood eewr sels than ftfiy rasey ofmr het emti whne mynla

neuQe bEitehlaz

cBahrelo enuqe owh dridseep ovre a ngelod aeg in Enlgsih siyorht.

nQeue zhEbilate
wsa het delmo fro infmniiyet. engiB teh eeunq’s cmnrtyownuoe, heset eonmw reew desria on teh easm hgnsliE ebfe dan lae, chihw odbcinme iwth an leaqyul rceaso arlmo tide to keam thme hwo hyte erew. So het rtihgb sun hosne thta ngnirom on a uprog of dorba elrdssohu, glrae sstbu, nda ndrou, osry keesch that were derasi on isnEhlg osckt and tno yet daem leap or hint by the New lndgEna ira. heT obdl and karnf ecsphe of eseht omnwe owldu lsao rlseatt us oydta, hbot in tsi neignam and sti muovle.
“Goodwives,” said a hard-featured dame of fifty, “I’ll tell ye a piece of my mind. It would be greatly for the public behoof, if we women, being of mature age and church-members in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne. What think ye, gossips? If the hussy stood up for judgment before us five, that are now here in a knot together, would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not!” “dLsiae,” sdai one hard-cefad ownam of yftfi, “I’ll geiv uoy a iceep of my imnd. It owlud eevsr eht icplbu odog if eautrm, cchhur-gogin onemw ilek us erwe dweolla to aeld htiw iusehss ilke ertHes eyPnnr. hWat do oyu ysa, ldasie? If the ifve of us dspaes mnugetdj on sith lust, uoldw hse have tonetg fof as ltghyli as seh sah reobfe the maigeasttsr? I don’t nthki so.”
“People say,” said another, “that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation.” “opelPe yas,” dsai ternoah nowam, “ttah eth envRreed tersaM Dieammlsed, reh potars, is rvye vrigeed ttha a alcadsn eikl tsih ahs edrorccu in sih ootaingrncge.”