Nathaniel Hawthorne, H. L. Mencken, and the Uplift

Odd, that two men as different as Nathaniel Hawthorne, the New England Puritan, and H. L. Mencken, the infidel sage of Baltimore, were such kindred spirits when it came to what Mencken called the “Uplift.” Mencken’s loathing for the professional saviors of the world is well known. Here’s what Hawthorne had to say about the type, represented by Hollingsworth in “The Blithedale Romance.”
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“…Hollingsworth had a closer friend than ever you could be. And this friend was the cold, spectral monster which he had himself conjured up, and on which he was wasting all the warmth of his heart, and of which, at last-as these men of a mighty purpose so invariably do-he had grown to be the bond-slave. It was his philanthropic theory!”
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“He knew absolutely nothing, except in a single direction, where he had thought so energetically, and felt to such a depth, that, no doubt, the entire reason and justice of the universe appeared to be concentrated thitherward.”
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“…They have no heart, no sympathy, no reason, no conscience. They will keep no friend, unless he make himself the mirror of their purpose.”
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“They have an idol, to which they consecrate themselves high-priest, and deem it holy work to offer sacrifices of whatever is most precious, and never once seem to suspect-so cunning has the Devil been with them-that this false deity, in whose iron features, immitigable to all the rest of mankind they see only benignity and love, is but a spectrum of the very priest himself, projected upon the surrounding darkness.”
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…so Hawthorne, the novelist and prophet.
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Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

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