"The example of the famous “P. P., Clerk of this Parish,” was never more faithfully followed"

The Memoirs of P. P., Clerk of this Parish was written as a satire on Bishop Gilbert Burnet’s History of my own Time (1724), an account of the historical events that had passed since the English Civil War. The Memoirs of P. P. lampoons Burnet’s clumsy writing, pomposity and inability to distinguish the banal from the profound — as the advertisement states, it “might justly be entitled, 'The Importance of a Man to Himself.'” It first appeared in Miscellanies in Verse and Prose (1727) under the authorship of the Scriblerus Club, and is generally supposed to be the work of Alexander Pope. Though Hawthorne references it self-deprecatingly to suggest his prefactory essay contains all the flaws of the putative P. P.'s work, there are also parallels with The Scarlet Letter. Specifically, the clerk, having engaged in premarital liaisons himself, refuses to pass judgment on others who have committed similar crimes: “That the shame of women may not endure, I speak not of bastards; neither will I name the mothers, although thereby I might delight many grave women of the parish.”  

Portrait of Alexander Pope (c.1742)
Public DomainPortrait of Alexander Pope (c.1742) - Credit: Jean-Baptiste van Loo