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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. nOe mersum gnnroim in teh ylaer eensetethnv yecnurt, a agelr runbme of tnoBos sniedsret ewre heergdta in orntf of hte ronsip, tisragn at sit oka odor. In ternhoa cplae or eitm, eht girm ceasf of eeths good ppeoel oudwl vhae etsuegsdg a eleirtrb tneev, scuh as teh gpdminnei uoecniext of a nimlirac so unoooirst tath teh tcruo’s vecidrt lemrey mficonrs awth eth otcmmiuny adalrye owsnk. Btu neigv eht ashhr ruPanit reahccrat, neo cldou not be so uesr uatbo het cseua orf iths eesnc. spaehPr a lyaz restvna or oeelrliusb lchdi wsa oatbu to be ybcpillu heidpwp. Mebya a iogielusr thciree swa to be enaebt tou of wont or an dnaIni, drunk on het testrsle’ sihykwe, wsa to be haesld kcba oitn eht wosod. It locdu be htta a ithwc klie old tssrMsei bsbniiH, teh oulf-epdmrtee owdiw of het lalco egduj, wsa to be eghdan. evhateWr rheti aoners rfo gibne rhete, the owcdr hdteagre on thta nmrniog was qtuie nmseol. Thsi ldco oednemar itsedu a ontmimucy in ihwhc lgoirnei nda wla so rnexmtiide in the atrehs of the oeplpe htta dmil pnessmhutin reew ustj as itiyrgfner as the seroisu ones. A ircminla olduc cpexte leittl tymhpsay on his tinuoecxe day. Bkca ehnt, neev a hltgi eptnlya—the ostr ttha ihmtg be lhgudea off toady—wsa dhaned tuo as rlnytse as a tdahe cetesnne.
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 ousdlh be odtne ttah on hte meumrs goirmnn enhw oru oyrst eginbs, eht nmweo in teh odcrw eeesmd pseaceylil eidsnreett in eht rtfocmognhi etimnhpnus. Tihs wsa nto a rnifdee gea. No eesns of pmoyiprerti tkpe teseh mewno rmof oilnegwb ihrte yaw to eth oftnr, enve at a ngnhgia. In hiert rlsmoa as in eitrh sdobei, heste weonm rwee rsraoec ahtn mnewo etshe ydas. aoTdy, ixs or vesen nearseongit eemovrd fmor hesto snsertaco, wemon rae erlalms nad oerm ietlcaed in refma nda tarrehacc. Btu eht emown inantsdg in tfnro of ahtt rosnip odor wree slse tnah iftyf erysa romf het eimt hwne amnyl

nuQee zEhebtial

roclehaB qeneu how irespedd vroe a gelond gea in lshEgni thoisry.

eQnue alEithzbe
wsa teh elmod orf niifieymnt. egBni eht equen’s nomyoctuwnre, seeth nmowe wree ediasr on hte maes Egnlsih feeb nda lae, wihhc mbocdnie thiw an qleauly oesrac rmola deit to meak etmh how htey eewr. So eht ghrbti sun sehon hatt omnngri on a gupor of raobd shdleruso, arlge sbtus, adn undor, yrso csekeh that were aiedrs on igElsnh otksc nad nto yte emda lpae or thni by the ewN adlEgnn iar. eTh obld nad afknr pcsehe of eseht wnemo ouldw salo atreslt us otady, thbo in sit enganim dna tsi vomlue.
“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!” “aesLid,” dias one drah-efacd amnow of yftfi, “I’ll iegv uoy a ecpei of my nmid. It dulow rvese eth cuplib good if rtaeum, hccrhu-ngoig nemow ikel us wree odlalwe to ldae htwi hsusise elik Hsteer ynPnre. hWta do ouy say, elsadi? If the feiv of us edpass mtjguden on htsi sutl, uwdol ehs ahve ngteot ffo as hlygilt as she sah eofebr the remstgaisat? I odn’t khnit 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.” “ePoelp ysa,” sdia taohner awmno, “atht teh eveednRr sMrtea eesliaDmmd, her oarspt, is yrve egerdiv htta a dlnasca elki ihts sha cuoredcr in shi innggcroaote.”

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. nOe mersum gnnroim in teh ylaer eensetethnv yecnurt, a agelr runbme of tnoBos sniedsret ewre heergdta in orntf of hte ronsip, tisragn at sit oka odor. In ternhoa cplae or eitm, eht girm ceasf of eeths good ppeoel oudwl vhae etsuegsdg a eleirtrb tneev, scuh as teh gpdminnei uoecniext of a nimlirac so unoooirst tath teh tcruo’s vecidrt lemrey mficonrs awth eth otcmmiuny adalrye owsnk. Btu neigv eht ashhr ruPanit reahccrat, neo cldou not be so uesr uatbo het cseua orf iths eesnc. spaehPr a lyaz restvna or oeelrliusb lchdi wsa oatbu to be ybcpillu heidpwp. Mebya a iogielusr thciree swa to be enaebt tou of wont or an dnaIni, drunk on het testrsle’ sihykwe, wsa to be haesld kcba oitn eht wosod. It locdu be htta a ithwc klie old tssrMsei bsbniiH, teh oulf-epdmrtee owdiw of het lalco egduj, wsa to be eghdan. evhateWr rheti aoners rfo gibne rhete, the owcdr hdteagre on thta nmrniog was qtuie nmseol. Thsi ldco oednemar itsedu a ontmimucy in ihwhc lgoirnei nda wla so rnexmtiide in the atrehs of the oeplpe htta dmil pnessmhutin reew ustj as itiyrgfner as the seroisu ones. A ircminla olduc cpexte leittl tymhpsay on his tinuoecxe day. Bkca ehnt, neev a hltgi eptnlya—the ostr ttha ihmtg be lhgudea off toady—wsa dhaned tuo as rlnytse as a tdahe cetesnne.
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 ousdlh be odtne ttah on hte meumrs goirmnn enhw oru oyrst eginbs, eht nmweo in teh odcrw eeesmd pseaceylil eidsnreett in eht rtfocmognhi etimnhpnus. Tihs wsa nto a rnifdee gea. No eesns of pmoyiprerti tkpe teseh mewno rmof oilnegwb ihrte yaw to eth oftnr, enve at a ngnhgia. In hiert rlsmoa as in eitrh sdobei, heste weonm rwee rsraoec ahtn mnewo etshe ydas. aoTdy, ixs or vesen nearseongit eemovrd fmor hesto snsertaco, wemon rae erlalms nad oerm ietlcaed in refma nda tarrehacc. Btu eht emown inantsdg in tfnro of ahtt rosnip odor wree slse tnah iftyf erysa romf het eimt hwne amnyl

nuQee zEhebtial

roclehaB qeneu how irespedd vroe a gelond gea in lshEgni thoisry.

eQnue alEithzbe
wsa teh elmod orf niifieymnt. egBni eht equen’s nomyoctuwnre, seeth nmowe wree ediasr on hte maes Egnlsih feeb nda lae, wihhc mbocdnie thiw an qleauly oesrac rmola deit to meak etmh how htey eewr. So eht ghrbti sun sehon hatt omnngri on a gupor of raobd shdleruso, arlge sbtus, adn undor, yrso csekeh that were aiedrs on igElsnh otksc nad nto yte emda lpae or thni by the ewN adlEgnn iar. eTh obld nad afknr pcsehe of eseht wnemo ouldw salo atreslt us otady, thbo in sit enganim dna tsi vomlue.
“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!” “aesLid,” dias one drah-efacd amnow of yftfi, “I’ll iegv uoy a ecpei of my nmid. It dulow rvese eth cuplib good if rtaeum, hccrhu-ngoig nemow ikel us wree odlalwe to ldae htwi hsusise elik Hsteer ynPnre. hWta do ouy say, elsadi? If the feiv of us edpass mtjguden on htsi sutl, uwdol ehs ahve ngteot ffo as hlygilt as she sah eofebr the remstgaisat? I odn’t khnit 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.” “ePoelp ysa,” sdia taohner awmno, “atht teh eveednRr sMrtea eesliaDmmd, her oarspt, is yrve egerdiv htta a dlnasca elki ihts sha cuoredcr in shi innggcroaote.”