Page:Nathaniel Hawthorne (Woodbury).djvu/169

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V.


THE SCARLET LETTER.


Amid the hard conditions of his life at Concord Hawthorne had decided to place himself again under the aegis of his political friends to earn his living as a public officer. He had no confidence in his literary capacity as a means of livelihood. He found himself, he says, unable to write more than a third of the time, and he composed slowly and with difficulty; he refers more than once to that hatred of the pen which belongs to a tired writer, and he was frequently indisposed to composition for long periods; and, in any event, he thought that what he wrote must appeal necessarily to so small an audience that, should he continue to devote himself exclusively to a literary career, he must do so as a professional hack-writer of children's books, translations, newspaper essays, and such miscellaneous drudgery. His habits, formed in his years at Salem, included an element of large leisure, an indulgence of one's self in times and seasons of mental activity, a certain lethargy of life; and he had not shown any power of sustained production in the monotony of daily work for bread. He felt a dread of such neces-