“The world’s youth”

I just started reading The House of the Seven Gables about a week ago. I hadn’t read any Hawthorne since I was fifteen, and it seems I was well overdue. The book is lovely, and I find myself putting my bookmark in the evening not at the place where I stopped, but at the part I most want to re-read. This is what I bookmarked last night:

Man’s own youth is the world’s youth; at least, he feels as if it were, and imagine’s that the earth’s granite substance is something not yet hardened, and which he can mold into whatever shape he likes.  So it was with Holgrave.  He could talk sagely about the world’s old age, but never actually believed what he said; he was a young man still, and therefore looked upon the world – that gray-bearded and wrinkled profligate, decrepit without being vulnerable – as a tender stripling, capable of being improved into all that it ought to be, but scarcely yet had shown the remotest promise of becoming.  He had that sense, or inward prophesy – which a young man had better never have been born than not to have, and a mature man had better die at once than utterly to relinquish – that we are not doomed to creep on forever in the old bad way, but that, this very now, there are the harbingers abroad of a golden era, to be accomplished in his own lifetime…

… And when, with the years settling down more weightily upon him, his early faith should be modified by inevitable experience, it would be with no harsh and sudden revolution of his sentiments.  He would still have faith in man’s brightening destiny, and perhaps love him all the better, as he should recognize his helplessness in his own behalf;and the haughty faith, with which he began life, would be well bartered for a far humbler one at its close, in discerning that man’s best-directed effort accomplishes a kind of dream, while God is the sole worker of realities.

It may well be that the next book I read after The House of the Seven Gables will be The House of the Seven Gables.  It is as dense as a poem in places!

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