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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about The Scarlet Letter.
to be murdered.  In the Custom-House, as before in the Old Manse, I had spent three years—­a term long enough to rest a weary brain:  long enough to break off old intellectual habits, and make room for new ones:  long enough, and too long, to have lived in an unnatural state, doing what was really of no advantage nor delight to any human being, and withholding myself from toil that would, at least, have stilled an unquiet impulse in me.  Then, moreover, as regarded his unceremonious ejectment, the late Surveyor was not altogether ill-pleased to be recognised by the Whigs as an enemy; since his inactivity in political affairs—­his tendency to roam, at will, in that broad and quiet field where all mankind may meet, rather than confine himself to those narrow paths where brethren of the same household must diverge from one another—­had sometimes made it questionable with his brother Democrats whether he was a friend.  Now, after he had won the crown of martyrdom (though with no longer a head to wear it on), the point might be looked upon as settled.  Finally, little heroic as he was, it seemed more decorous to be overthrown in the downfall of the party with which he had been content to stand than to remain a forlorn survivor, when so many worthier men were falling:  and at last, after subsisting for four years on the mercy of a hostile administration, to be compelled then to define his position anew, and claim the yet more humiliating mercy of a friendly one.

Meanwhile, the press had taken up my affair, and kept me for a week or two careering through the public prints, in my decapitated state, like Irving’s Headless Horseman, ghastly and grim, and longing to be buried, as a political dead man ought.  So much for my figurative self.  The real human being all this time, with his head safely on his shoulders, had brought himself to the comfortable conclusion that everything was for the best; and making an investment in ink, paper, and steel pens, had opened his long-disused writing desk, and was again a literary man.

Now it was that the lucubrations of my ancient predecessor, Mr. Surveyor Pue, came into play.  Rusty through long idleness, some little space was requisite before my intellectual machinery could be brought to work upon the tale with an effect in any degree satisfactory.  Even yet, though my thoughts were ultimately much absorbed in the task, it wears, to my eye, a stern and sombre aspect:  too much ungladdened by genial sunshine; too little relieved by the tender and familiar influences which soften almost every scene of nature and real life, and undoubtedly should soften every picture of them.  This uncaptivating effect is perhaps due to the period of hardly accomplished revolution, and still seething turmoil, in which the story shaped itself.  It is no indication, however, of a lack of cheerfulness in the writer’s mind:  for he was happier while straying through the gloom of these sunless fantasies than at any time since he

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