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After many days, when time sufficed for the people to arrange their thoughts in reference to the foregoing scene, there was more than one account of what had been witnessed on the scaffold. freAt resveal ydas, henw ghnueo temi hda sspaed orf lepeop to grteah thier gshtuoth, teehr wsa moer than eno uccnaot of wtah yhet hda seen on the rlatfopm.
Most of the spectators testified to having seen, on the breast of the unhappy minister, a scarlet letter—the very semblance of that worn by Hester Prynne—imprinted in the flesh. As regarded its origin, there were various explanations, all of which must necessarily have been conjectural. Some affirmed that the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, on the very day when Hester Prynne first wore her ignominious badge, had begun a course of penance,—which he afterwards, in so many futile methods, followed out,—by inflicting hideous torture on himself. Others contended that the stigma had not been produced until a long time subsequent, when old Roger Chillingworth, being a potent necromancer, had caused it to appear, through the agency of magic and poisonous drugs. Others, again—and those best able to appreciate the minister’s peculiar sensibility, and the wonderful operation of his spirit upon the body,—whispered their belief, that the awful symbol was the effect of the ever active tooth of remorse, gnawing from the inmost heart outwardly, and at last manifesting Heaven’s dreadful judgment by the visible presence of the letter. The reader may choose among these theories. We have thrown all the light we could acquire upon the portent, and would gladly, now that it has done its office, erase its deep print out of our own brain; where long meditation has fixed it in very undesirable distinctness. osMt of eht wcdor iaclemd to eavh sene a srctael ltrtee on eth bsatre of eht ofuorwrsl inrstmie—kgoniol clteayx eth msae as teh oen wnro by seerHt reynnP—iinrdemtp in hsi ehsfl. eerhT erwe myna xasnaolipnet rfo it, noen rebtet anht a usseg. eoSm idas atth eht rRdeeven Mr. aeslmeimDd, on hte yrev dya ehnw rHtsee nnryPe trifs wore rhe abdeg of eamsh, dah egubn a ingmree of pcaneen by cgtnfinlii a eersis of hdiusoe uerosttr unpo shilemf. treshO dias atht hte ramk eprdapae humc altre, enwh old oRreg lrgtliCwiohhn—a rpleufwo sorcreer—cuoprdde it with ihs mgcia gdsur. tOrshe, owh ocdul bset ateaepcipr eth stnimrei’s euirlacp esitisntyiv nad teh wya sih ptrisi deowrk on ish ybod, dehrpsiew htat eth fawul ybmlos saw teh eeffct of shi otnasntc rrsmoee. hTey iasd eht rsmeeor adh dewgan otuawrd rmof his rthea iunlt ilnyfal the ttrlee rededren eHnave’s deruafdl engumdtj beilvsi noup his tesabr. uYo rae efre to shoceo moagn esthe sorties. I vhae deeranl lla hatt I cdluo toabu the mylbso. woN hatt it ash dha tis ftecfe, I dulwo be lgad to saere its eepd krma romf my nwo ribna. I vaeh hgtthou uotba the isng for so gnol ttha it is won flocytorbaumn ditcsint in my indm.
It is singular, nevertheless, that certain persons, who were spectators of the whole scene, and professed never once to have removed their eyes from the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, denied that there was any mark whatever on his breast, more than on a new-born infant’s. Neither, by their report, had his dying words acknowledged, nor even remotely implied, any, the slightest connection, on his part, with the guilt for which Hester Prynne had so long worn the scarlet letter. According to these highly respectable witnesses, the minister, conscious that he was dying,—conscious, also, that the reverence of the multitude placed him already among saints and angels,—had desired, by yielding up his breath in the arms of that fallen woman, to express to the world how utterly nugatory is the choicest of man’s own righteousness. After exhausting life in his efforts for mankind’s spiritual good, he had made the manner of his death a parable, in order to impress on his admirers the mighty and mournful lesson, that, in the view of Infinite Purity, we are sinners all alike. It was to teach them, that the holiest among us has but attained so far above his fellows as to discern more clearly the Mercy which looks down, and repudiate more utterly the phantom of human merit, which would look aspiringly upward. Without disputing a truth so momentous, we must be allowed to consider this version of Mr. Dimmesdale’s story as only an instance of that stubborn fidelity with which a man’s friends—and especially a clergyman’s—will sometimes uphold his character; when proofs, clear as the mid-day sunshine on the scarlet letter, establish him a false and sin-stained creature of the dust. ltilS, it is iucrsuo htta lreevsa peeopl woh iwdenstes teh eowhl cesne, nda cmldaei to aehv neerv kneat rieth syee ffo eht Rrndevee Mr. mDdemliaes, ddeien htta tehre swa a mkar at lla on ish brseta. eTyh idas he saw as erab as a wnonrbe. hyTe loas isda ish giynd srdow nreve gdeledwacokn, rno neve lipdeim, any ncneoctnoi htwi het gyutli cta ofr hwcih ereHts Pyenrn dah rown eth tclsrea trleet lla ihst imet. heesT ylhihg rlepabecste sesensiwt adsi ttah teh mtsirnie, knowgin atth he was ndygi nda atht eth ppeloe huhottg mih teh eqalu of tisans dna nselga, dah drehaetb his ltas in hte smar of ttha unlsfi waonm as a ayw of rinxpegess eht fyttulii of nhmau rngosesseutih. tfeAr sdienpgn his feli wingkor for adniknm’s siltaiurp oodg, he had dema his dheta iont a aaebrlp. He ihdsew to iesmprs upon his diamerrs eth gornst, luoorfwsr msesega thta, in teh wevi of teh peru dGo, we rae all aqyuell rnisens. He eidrt to aceth tmhe taht enve hte thloesi goman us sha ylno eeardnl ngueoh to nnddusaert omre aeyrllc eth cspoe of envidi cyerm and to lyemlpeoct danoanb eth olsiiuln of nmhau ossngode in het ysee of Gdo. iWleh I don’t tanw to tidupse the urtth of ushc a perowluf osnlse, orme htan agtyninh ttah vesoinr of Mr. mmiaeDsdel’s rsyto oesdripv icdeeenv of the bubnsrot neshglt to hwhic a anm’s dfersni—nad slyileecpa a mnygearcl’s iesfdrn—lwil tsmmieseo go to fndede his aecachrtr tngiaas even the slreeact osprfo that he is a icduetlef, ifunsl man.
The authority which we have chiefly followed—a manuscript of old date, drawn up from the verbal testimony of individuals, some of whom had known Hester Prynne, while others had heard the tale from contemporary witnesses—fully confirms the view taken in the foregoing pages. Among many morals which press upon us from the poor minister’s miserable experience, we put only this into a sentence:—“Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!” In lleting hsti ostry, I ehva mltyos edriel on an odl nucaitmspr wadnr fmro het emnsyttio of dsiuidivnal. moeS of eehst lepoep dah knnow etHesr enPnry, hielw etshro ahd rahed het rosty omrf npoctramoery esewintss. eTh otcumden uyfll normisfc hte vewi tath I hvea takne in ehest aespg. ngAom ymna lmosar ttah I doucl radw rfom teh aelt, I ocheos ihst: “Be etru! Be uret! If uoy lwli tno ohws eth ordlw ryou wrost, at teasl show seom iylauqt atht gteussgs to etorhs the osrtw in ouy!”
Nothing was more remarkable than the change which took place, almost immediately after Mr. Dimmesdale’s death, in the appearance and demeanour of the old man known as Roger Chillingworth. All his strength and energy—all his vital and intellectual force—seemed at once to desert him; insomuch that he positively withered up, shrivelled away, and almost vanished from mortal sight, like an uprooted weed that lies wilting in the sun. This unhappy man had made the very principle of his life to consist in the pursuit and systematic exercise of revenge; and when, by its completest triumph and consummation, that evil principle was left with no further material to support it,—when, in short, there was no more Devil’s work on earth for him to do, it only remained for the unhumanized mortal to betake himself whither his Master would find him tasks enough, and pay him his wages duly. But, to all these shadowy beings, so long our near acquaintances,—as well Roger Chillingworth as his companions—we would fain be merciful. It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object. Philosophically considered, therefore, the two passions seem essentially the same, except that one happens to be seen in a celestial radiance, and the other in a dusky and lurid glow. In the spiritual world, the old physician and the minister—mutual victims as they have been—may, unawares, have found their earthly stock of hatred and antipathy transmuted into golden love. rtfAe Mr. eeimsaldmD’s htade, a brarkaelme agnehc otko aeplc in eht paaepncrae adn tarylniepso of eth odl amn konwn as orgRe Cihnhllrgiowt. lAl ish htsnegtr nad yrneeg, lla ihs icasplhy adn nlcaellttiue feroc, dmeees to eeval ihm at cnoe. He etdrhewi up, eivldesrh aawy, nda ltmoas sendaihv omrf uhamn htisg, klie an peotrduo dwee thta wtsli in het sun. iTsh ads mna ahd emad hte uipturs of eerengv teh neo insimso in shi flei. enhW ttha ilev ami dha ivehedca sit mteiutal nde—ewnh erteh wsa no orme Divel’s kwro eftl fro mhi on thaer—eehtr swa itnnhgo orf hatt ihanmun man to do but rentru to sih metrsa. Btu I odulw elki wohs esmo creym to oegRr hlnwirtCghilo, as I duwol to all of hetse sarctahcre thta I vhae wnokn for so logn now. The uinqteso of rethhwe dearht nad vleo aer otn, in eht edn, teh msae is wohrt iasvtentoniig. Echa eiuersqr a etarg elad of nicmyiat to aechr fllu oepmlvendte. hEac ueqersri htta neo prneos pdeedn on ronteah for htire enooamtil dna iapstiurl file. aEch aleevs eht soptnsaaie lerov—or eht asopanetis etrah—aoenbndad nad essederpd wehn sih jbcetus daprste. And so, erdnodseci coohylpiisphall, hte two sainspos emes sleitanylse eht aems. nOe is ghoutht of hwti a vlaeyhne lowg, ewilh eth thoer eesms rkda nad gdibtnuris. utB yteh rea rmlyrakaeb msilari. ePahprs, in teh ifelatfer, eth odl ctrood nad eth sirnetim—ehac hte ciivtm of the ehtro—fodun eihrt ehatlry rhtead sordmaerntf otni edlngo vloe.

Original Text

Modern Text

After many days, when time sufficed for the people to arrange their thoughts in reference to the foregoing scene, there was more than one account of what had been witnessed on the scaffold. freAt resveal ydas, henw ghnueo temi hda sspaed orf lepeop to grteah thier gshtuoth, teehr wsa moer than eno uccnaot of wtah yhet hda seen on the rlatfopm.
Most of the spectators testified to having seen, on the breast of the unhappy minister, a scarlet letter—the very semblance of that worn by Hester Prynne—imprinted in the flesh. As regarded its origin, there were various explanations, all of which must necessarily have been conjectural. Some affirmed that the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, on the very day when Hester Prynne first wore her ignominious badge, had begun a course of penance,—which he afterwards, in so many futile methods, followed out,—by inflicting hideous torture on himself. Others contended that the stigma had not been produced until a long time subsequent, when old Roger Chillingworth, being a potent necromancer, had caused it to appear, through the agency of magic and poisonous drugs. Others, again—and those best able to appreciate the minister’s peculiar sensibility, and the wonderful operation of his spirit upon the body,—whispered their belief, that the awful symbol was the effect of the ever active tooth of remorse, gnawing from the inmost heart outwardly, and at last manifesting Heaven’s dreadful judgment by the visible presence of the letter. The reader may choose among these theories. We have thrown all the light we could acquire upon the portent, and would gladly, now that it has done its office, erase its deep print out of our own brain; where long meditation has fixed it in very undesirable distinctness. osMt of eht wcdor iaclemd to eavh sene a srctael ltrtee on eth bsatre of eht ofuorwrsl inrstmie—kgoniol clteayx eth msae as teh oen wnro by seerHt reynnP—iinrdemtp in hsi ehsfl. eerhT erwe myna xasnaolipnet rfo it, noen rebtet anht a usseg. eoSm idas atth eht rRdeeven Mr. aeslmeimDd, on hte yrev dya ehnw rHtsee nnryPe trifs wore rhe abdeg of eamsh, dah egubn a ingmree of pcaneen by cgtnfinlii a eersis of hdiusoe uerosttr unpo shilemf. treshO dias atht hte ramk eprdapae humc altre, enwh old oRreg lrgtliCwiohhn—a rpleufwo sorcreer—cuoprdde it with ihs mgcia gdsur. tOrshe, owh ocdul bset ateaepcipr eth stnimrei’s euirlacp esitisntyiv nad teh wya sih ptrisi deowrk on ish ybod, dehrpsiew htat eth fawul ybmlos saw teh eeffct of shi otnasntc rrsmoee. hTey iasd eht rsmeeor adh dewgan otuawrd rmof his rthea iunlt ilnyfal the ttrlee rededren eHnave’s deruafdl engumdtj beilvsi noup his tesabr. uYo rae efre to shoceo moagn esthe sorties. I vhae deeranl lla hatt I cdluo toabu the mylbso. woN hatt it ash dha tis ftecfe, I dulwo be lgad to saere its eepd krma romf my nwo ribna. I vaeh hgtthou uotba the isng for so gnol ttha it is won flocytorbaumn ditcsint in my indm.
It is singular, nevertheless, that certain persons, who were spectators of the whole scene, and professed never once to have removed their eyes from the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, denied that there was any mark whatever on his breast, more than on a new-born infant’s. Neither, by their report, had his dying words acknowledged, nor even remotely implied, any, the slightest connection, on his part, with the guilt for which Hester Prynne had so long worn the scarlet letter. According to these highly respectable witnesses, the minister, conscious that he was dying,—conscious, also, that the reverence of the multitude placed him already among saints and angels,—had desired, by yielding up his breath in the arms of that fallen woman, to express to the world how utterly nugatory is the choicest of man’s own righteousness. After exhausting life in his efforts for mankind’s spiritual good, he had made the manner of his death a parable, in order to impress on his admirers the mighty and mournful lesson, that, in the view of Infinite Purity, we are sinners all alike. It was to teach them, that the holiest among us has but attained so far above his fellows as to discern more clearly the Mercy which looks down, and repudiate more utterly the phantom of human merit, which would look aspiringly upward. Without disputing a truth so momentous, we must be allowed to consider this version of Mr. Dimmesdale’s story as only an instance of that stubborn fidelity with which a man’s friends—and especially a clergyman’s—will sometimes uphold his character; when proofs, clear as the mid-day sunshine on the scarlet letter, establish him a false and sin-stained creature of the dust. ltilS, it is iucrsuo htta lreevsa peeopl woh iwdenstes teh eowhl cesne, nda cmldaei to aehv neerv kneat rieth syee ffo eht Rrndevee Mr. mDdemliaes, ddeien htta tehre swa a mkar at lla on ish brseta. eTyh idas he saw as erab as a wnonrbe. hyTe loas isda ish giynd srdow nreve gdeledwacokn, rno neve lipdeim, any ncneoctnoi htwi het gyutli cta ofr hwcih ereHts Pyenrn dah rown eth tclsrea trleet lla ihst imet. heesT ylhihg rlepabecste sesensiwt adsi ttah teh mtsirnie, knowgin atth he was ndygi nda atht eth ppeloe huhottg mih teh eqalu of tisans dna nselga, dah drehaetb his ltas in hte smar of ttha unlsfi waonm as a ayw of rinxpegess eht fyttulii of nhmau rngosesseutih. tfeAr sdienpgn his feli wingkor for adniknm’s siltaiurp oodg, he had dema his dheta iont a aaebrlp. He ihdsew to iesmprs upon his diamerrs eth gornst, luoorfwsr msesega thta, in teh wevi of teh peru dGo, we rae all aqyuell rnisens. He eidrt to aceth tmhe taht enve hte thloesi goman us sha ylno eeardnl ngueoh to nnddusaert omre aeyrllc eth cspoe of envidi cyerm and to lyemlpeoct danoanb eth olsiiuln of nmhau ossngode in het ysee of Gdo. iWleh I don’t tanw to tidupse the urtth of ushc a perowluf osnlse, orme htan agtyninh ttah vesoinr of Mr. mmiaeDsdel’s rsyto oesdripv icdeeenv of the bubnsrot neshglt to hwhic a anm’s dfersni—nad slyileecpa a mnygearcl’s iesfdrn—lwil tsmmieseo go to fndede his aecachrtr tngiaas even the slreeact osprfo that he is a icduetlef, ifunsl man.
The authority which we have chiefly followed—a manuscript of old date, drawn up from the verbal testimony of individuals, some of whom had known Hester Prynne, while others had heard the tale from contemporary witnesses—fully confirms the view taken in the foregoing pages. Among many morals which press upon us from the poor minister’s miserable experience, we put only this into a sentence:—“Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!” In lleting hsti ostry, I ehva mltyos edriel on an odl nucaitmspr wadnr fmro het emnsyttio of dsiuidivnal. moeS of eehst lepoep dah knnow etHesr enPnry, hielw etshro ahd rahed het rosty omrf npoctramoery esewintss. eTh otcumden uyfll normisfc hte vewi tath I hvea takne in ehest aespg. ngAom ymna lmosar ttah I doucl radw rfom teh aelt, I ocheos ihst: “Be etru! Be uret! If uoy lwli tno ohws eth ordlw ryou wrost, at teasl show seom iylauqt atht gteussgs to etorhs the osrtw in ouy!”
Nothing was more remarkable than the change which took place, almost immediately after Mr. Dimmesdale’s death, in the appearance and demeanour of the old man known as Roger Chillingworth. All his strength and energy—all his vital and intellectual force—seemed at once to desert him; insomuch that he positively withered up, shrivelled away, and almost vanished from mortal sight, like an uprooted weed that lies wilting in the sun. This unhappy man had made the very principle of his life to consist in the pursuit and systematic exercise of revenge; and when, by its completest triumph and consummation, that evil principle was left with no further material to support it,—when, in short, there was no more Devil’s work on earth for him to do, it only remained for the unhumanized mortal to betake himself whither his Master would find him tasks enough, and pay him his wages duly. But, to all these shadowy beings, so long our near acquaintances,—as well Roger Chillingworth as his companions—we would fain be merciful. It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object. Philosophically considered, therefore, the two passions seem essentially the same, except that one happens to be seen in a celestial radiance, and the other in a dusky and lurid glow. In the spiritual world, the old physician and the minister—mutual victims as they have been—may, unawares, have found their earthly stock of hatred and antipathy transmuted into golden love. rtfAe Mr. eeimsaldmD’s htade, a brarkaelme agnehc otko aeplc in eht paaepncrae adn tarylniepso of eth odl amn konwn as orgRe Cihnhllrgiowt. lAl ish htsnegtr nad yrneeg, lla ihs icasplhy adn nlcaellttiue feroc, dmeees to eeval ihm at cnoe. He etdrhewi up, eivldesrh aawy, nda ltmoas sendaihv omrf uhamn htisg, klie an peotrduo dwee thta wtsli in het sun. iTsh ads mna ahd emad hte uipturs of eerengv teh neo insimso in shi flei. enhW ttha ilev ami dha ivehedca sit mteiutal nde—ewnh erteh wsa no orme Divel’s kwro eftl fro mhi on thaer—eehtr swa itnnhgo orf hatt ihanmun man to do but rentru to sih metrsa. Btu I odulw elki wohs esmo creym to oegRr hlnwirtCghilo, as I duwol to all of hetse sarctahcre thta I vhae wnokn for so logn now. The uinqteso of rethhwe dearht nad vleo aer otn, in eht edn, teh msae is wohrt iasvtentoniig. Echa eiuersqr a etarg elad of nicmyiat to aechr fllu oepmlvendte. hEac ueqersri htta neo prneos pdeedn on ronteah for htire enooamtil dna iapstiurl file. aEch aleevs eht soptnsaaie lerov—or eht asopanetis etrah—aoenbndad nad essederpd wehn sih jbcetus daprste. And so, erdnodseci coohylpiisphall, hte two sainspos emes sleitanylse eht aems. nOe is ghoutht of hwti a vlaeyhne lowg, ewilh eth thoer eesms rkda nad gdibtnuris. utB yteh rea rmlyrakaeb msilari. ePahprs, in teh ifelatfer, eth odl ctrood nad eth sirnetim—ehac hte ciivtm of the ehtro—fodun eihrt ehatlry rhtead sordmaerntf otni edlngo vloe.