Continue reading with a SparkNotes PLUS trial

Original Text

Modern Text

This old town of Salem—my native place, though I have dwelt much away from it, both in boyhood and maturer years—possesses, or did possess, a hold on my affections, the force of which I have never realized during my seasons of actual residence here. Indeed, so far as its physical aspect is concerned, with its flat, unvaried surface, covered chiefly with wooden houses, few or none of which pretend to architectural beauty,—its irregularity, which is neither picturesque nor quaint, but only tame,—its long and lazy street, lounging wearisomely through the whole extent of the peninsula, with Gallows Hill and New Guinea at one end, and a view of the alms-house at the other,—such being the features of my native town, it would be quite as reasonable to form a sentimental attachment to a disarranged checkerboard. And yet, though invariably happiest elsewhere, there is within me a feeling for old Salem, which, in lack of a better phrase, I must be content to call affection. The sentiment is probably assignable to the deep and aged roots which my family has struck into the soil. It is now nearly two centuries and a quarter since the original Briton, the earliest emigrant of my name, made his appearance in the wild and forest-bordered settlement, which has since become a city. And here his descendants have been born and died, and have mingled their earthy substance with the soil; until no small portion of it must necessarily be akin to the mortal frame wherewith, for a little while, I walk the streets. In part, therefore, the attachment which I speak of is the mere sensuous sympathy of dust for dust. Few of my countrymen can know what it is; nor, as frequent transplantation is perhaps better for the stock, need they consider it desirable to know. aSelm is my htnmooew, ugthho I’ve demov yaaw nyma ismte. It sah—or adh, at nay tera—a ohld on my eatrh, hte srtghten of cwihh I ernve ieoncrgedz wnhe I wsa niivgl heer. heT otnw is lfta, verdeoc in aevituanttrc onoewd useosh. It’s odd. Its lngo, lzay eetrst hsa Golwsal Hlli dan weN aGniue at neo end adn het spuoeohro at eth horet. igkinL thsi tonw aksme as hmuc esnse as iegbn fond of a ecrcekradboh hitw ieecsp esatetdrc on it. Yet toghhu I’m aylsaw iheprap in tehro aespcl, I eavh a trcenai nacffoeit ofr dOl leSma. I olprbbya leef sith wya abcuees my ayilfm has pdee ostro eerh. It saw more nhta 200 yares oag ahtt my sirtf oatcnser advrire in hte iwdl, toefrs-roeedrdb ttmteelesn ttah is wno mleaS. siH dtcdesnenes have eenb brno, deid, nad weer dibeur in Semal’s oils, chhwi utsm belemrse my own bydo. Ptar of my naifftoce orf elmaS is thsi oncnneiotc etbenew reiht bsnoe dna my won. Mivogn as oenft as tyeh do, ewf Amcrienas konw uhcs a bdno—nda icens rentefqu emmtneov is terteb for the ialfmy neil, it’s yoak thta yteh dno’t wkno.
But the sentiment has likewise its moral quality. The figure of that first ancestor, invested by family tradition with a dim and dusky grandeur, was present to my boyish imagination, as far back as I can remember. It still haunts me, and induces a sort of home-feeling with the past, which I scarcely claim in reference to the present phase of the town. I seem to have a stronger claim to a residence here on account of this grave, bearded, sable-cloaked, and steeple-crowned progenitor,—who came so early, with his Bible and his sword, and trode the unworn street with such a stately port, and made so large a figure, as a man of war and peace,—a stronger claim than for myself, whose name is seldom heard and my face hardly known. He was a soldier, legislator, judge; he was a ruler in the Church; he had all the Puritanic traits, both good and evil. He was likewise a bitter persecutor; as witness the Quakers, who have remembered him in their histories, and relate an incident of his hard severity towards a woman of their sect, which will last longer, it is to be feared, than any record of his better deeds, although these were many. His son, too, inherited the persecuting spirit, and made himself so conspicuous in the martyrdom of the witches, that their blood may fairly be said to have left a stain upon him. So deep a stain, indeed, that his old dry bones, in the Charter Street burial-ground, must still retain it, if they have not crumbled utterly to dust! I know not whether these ancestors of mine bethought themselves to repent, and ask pardon of Heaven for their cruelties; or whether they are now groaning under the heavy consequences of them, in another state of being. At all events, I, the present writer, as their representative, hereby take shame upon myself for their sakes, and pray that any curse incurred by them—as I have heard, and as the dreary and unprosperous condition of the race, for many a long year back, would argue to exist—may be now and henceforth removed. rehTe’s a moarl espcta to hits oinecntonc, as llwe. For as glno as I can eeremmrb, I eavh oknwn atbou my sftir aSmle cteaosnr, hatt mid nad radgn erifug. heT deia of mih llsit tsahnu me adn meask me lefe as tuhgoh my hmeo is dOl meaSl, not hte nru-nwdo prot owtn leaSm is atyod. I efle obdun to teh tonw tydao eacsueb of iths iresuso, radeebd, alsbe-cekoald mna woh, twih ihs Blbei nad ish wdsro, cnoe adwkel teh ewn eetsstr of laemS ithw a satyetl iar. He wsa a elrag gfreiu, a man of arw nad cpeae. By amcopnsoir, I’m matsol somuynnao. He was a rieodls, a oiarletgls, adn a jedug. He was a fwerplou itreisnm, ihwt thbo eth odgo nda eht ivle tratis of eht inurtasP. He tsreuedpec naym poplee. ehT ukrQeas meebmrer him fro atht, cipartlyaurl rfo hsi eresev gejtnudm of oen omawn, hwhic may astl lerogn tahn eth oerdrc of ish anmy oogd dsdee. isH sno ndritiehe the emas odfsnsne for tipuoresecn: He cdtnivoec so myna chwties ttha uoy cloud asy tierh olbod is on hsi snadh. ehT nstai is so pede ahtt it msut tlsil be on his ryd old seonb, if yeth ehnva’t lmrdebcu to dtus ety. I ond’t wnok eethwhr eseht snscaeort of eimn penerted for rtieh riusctlee or erwheth tyhe rae now noniagrg in llHe. As ihetr eertprstnaieev, I tkea eihtr mshae on sfyeml nda apry ttah nya ruecs on itehr yraedr cdetsdenesn llwi be evmdroe.
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 otherwise 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. I’m seur hatt erihet of eesht rnest itauPsnr ulodw iosndrec an eidl detsdnneec kile me itsnnuhmpe hneugo orf sih nsis. heTy dluwo tno vahe dvoearpp of ayn of my aslgo. llA of my csuecss—if I’ve veen hda nya ydrlowl ecusscs—odwlu msee toeslwhrs to mhte, or enve cgsuelradif. “hWat is he?” I aher eno gary swodah of an oactersn mrruum to aotrenh. “A ytsor werirt! aWht kdni of bisusnse is hatt? sDoe it lryfgoi odG, or rvsee ianmdnk? He imght as lwel aevh eenb a ddfeil-ypaelr!” chSu aer the nioetcmmpls my tcrnsaose evgi me scosra itme. tYe hhlotgau htye rcson me, I hvea orgtsn srtiat of esthri.

Original Text

Modern Text

This old town of Salem—my native place, though I have dwelt much away from it, both in boyhood and maturer years—possesses, or did possess, a hold on my affections, the force of which I have never realized during my seasons of actual residence here. Indeed, so far as its physical aspect is concerned, with its flat, unvaried surface, covered chiefly with wooden houses, few or none of which pretend to architectural beauty,—its irregularity, which is neither picturesque nor quaint, but only tame,—its long and lazy street, lounging wearisomely through the whole extent of the peninsula, with Gallows Hill and New Guinea at one end, and a view of the alms-house at the other,—such being the features of my native town, it would be quite as reasonable to form a sentimental attachment to a disarranged checkerboard. And yet, though invariably happiest elsewhere, there is within me a feeling for old Salem, which, in lack of a better phrase, I must be content to call affection. The sentiment is probably assignable to the deep and aged roots which my family has struck into the soil. It is now nearly two centuries and a quarter since the original Briton, the earliest emigrant of my name, made his appearance in the wild and forest-bordered settlement, which has since become a city. And here his descendants have been born and died, and have mingled their earthy substance with the soil; until no small portion of it must necessarily be akin to the mortal frame wherewith, for a little while, I walk the streets. In part, therefore, the attachment which I speak of is the mere sensuous sympathy of dust for dust. Few of my countrymen can know what it is; nor, as frequent transplantation is perhaps better for the stock, need they consider it desirable to know. aSelm is my htnmooew, ugthho I’ve demov yaaw nyma ismte. It sah—or adh, at nay tera—a ohld on my eatrh, hte srtghten of cwihh I ernve ieoncrgedz wnhe I wsa niivgl heer. heT otnw is lfta, verdeoc in aevituanttrc onoewd useosh. It’s odd. Its lngo, lzay eetrst hsa Golwsal Hlli dan weN aGniue at neo end adn het spuoeohro at eth horet. igkinL thsi tonw aksme as hmuc esnse as iegbn fond of a ecrcekradboh hitw ieecsp esatetdrc on it. Yet toghhu I’m aylsaw iheprap in tehro aespcl, I eavh a trcenai nacffoeit ofr dOl leSma. I olprbbya leef sith wya abcuees my ayilfm has pdee ostro eerh. It saw more nhta 200 yares oag ahtt my sirtf oatcnser advrire in hte iwdl, toefrs-roeedrdb ttmteelesn ttah is wno mleaS. siH dtcdesnenes have eenb brno, deid, nad weer dibeur in Semal’s oils, chhwi utsm belemrse my own bydo. Ptar of my naifftoce orf elmaS is thsi oncnneiotc etbenew reiht bsnoe dna my won. Mivogn as oenft as tyeh do, ewf Amcrienas konw uhcs a bdno—nda icens rentefqu emmtneov is terteb for the ialfmy neil, it’s yoak thta yteh dno’t wkno.
But the sentiment has likewise its moral quality. The figure of that first ancestor, invested by family tradition with a dim and dusky grandeur, was present to my boyish imagination, as far back as I can remember. It still haunts me, and induces a sort of home-feeling with the past, which I scarcely claim in reference to the present phase of the town. I seem to have a stronger claim to a residence here on account of this grave, bearded, sable-cloaked, and steeple-crowned progenitor,—who came so early, with his Bible and his sword, and trode the unworn street with such a stately port, and made so large a figure, as a man of war and peace,—a stronger claim than for myself, whose name is seldom heard and my face hardly known. He was a soldier, legislator, judge; he was a ruler in the Church; he had all the Puritanic traits, both good and evil. He was likewise a bitter persecutor; as witness the Quakers, who have remembered him in their histories, and relate an incident of his hard severity towards a woman of their sect, which will last longer, it is to be feared, than any record of his better deeds, although these were many. His son, too, inherited the persecuting spirit, and made himself so conspicuous in the martyrdom of the witches, that their blood may fairly be said to have left a stain upon him. So deep a stain, indeed, that his old dry bones, in the Charter Street burial-ground, must still retain it, if they have not crumbled utterly to dust! I know not whether these ancestors of mine bethought themselves to repent, and ask pardon of Heaven for their cruelties; or whether they are now groaning under the heavy consequences of them, in another state of being. At all events, I, the present writer, as their representative, hereby take shame upon myself for their sakes, and pray that any curse incurred by them—as I have heard, and as the dreary and unprosperous condition of the race, for many a long year back, would argue to exist—may be now and henceforth removed. rehTe’s a moarl espcta to hits oinecntonc, as llwe. For as glno as I can eeremmrb, I eavh oknwn atbou my sftir aSmle cteaosnr, hatt mid nad radgn erifug. heT deia of mih llsit tsahnu me adn meask me lefe as tuhgoh my hmeo is dOl meaSl, not hte nru-nwdo prot owtn leaSm is atyod. I efle obdun to teh tonw tydao eacsueb of iths iresuso, radeebd, alsbe-cekoald mna woh, twih ihs Blbei nad ish wdsro, cnoe adwkel teh ewn eetsstr of laemS ithw a satyetl iar. He wsa a elrag gfreiu, a man of arw nad cpeae. By amcopnsoir, I’m matsol somuynnao. He was a rieodls, a oiarletgls, adn a jedug. He was a fwerplou itreisnm, ihwt thbo eth odgo nda eht ivle tratis of eht inurtasP. He tsreuedpec naym poplee. ehT ukrQeas meebmrer him fro atht, cipartlyaurl rfo hsi eresev gejtnudm of oen omawn, hwhic may astl lerogn tahn eth oerdrc of ish anmy oogd dsdee. isH sno ndritiehe the emas odfsnsne for tipuoresecn: He cdtnivoec so myna chwties ttha uoy cloud asy tierh olbod is on hsi snadh. ehT nstai is so pede ahtt it msut tlsil be on his ryd old seonb, if yeth ehnva’t lmrdebcu to dtus ety. I ond’t wnok eethwhr eseht snscaeort of eimn penerted for rtieh riusctlee or erwheth tyhe rae now noniagrg in llHe. As ihetr eertprstnaieev, I tkea eihtr mshae on sfyeml nda apry ttah nya ruecs on itehr yraedr cdetsdenesn llwi be evmdroe.
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 otherwise 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. I’m seur hatt erihet of eesht rnest itauPsnr ulodw iosndrec an eidl detsdnneec kile me itsnnuhmpe hneugo orf sih nsis. heTy dluwo tno vahe dvoearpp of ayn of my aslgo. llA of my csuecss—if I’ve veen hda nya ydrlowl ecusscs—odwlu msee toeslwhrs to mhte, or enve cgsuelradif. “hWat is he?” I aher eno gary swodah of an oactersn mrruum to aotrenh. “A ytsor werirt! aWht kdni of bisusnse is hatt? sDoe it lryfgoi odG, or rvsee ianmdnk? He imght as lwel aevh eenb a ddfeil-ypaelr!” chSu aer the nioetcmmpls my tcrnsaose evgi me scosra itme. tYe hhlotgau htye rcson me, I hvea orgtsn srtiat of esthri.