The Scarlet Letter eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about The Scarlet Letter.
had quitted the Old Manse.  Some of the briefer articles, which contribute to make up the volume, have likewise been written since my involuntary withdrawal from the toils and honours of public life, and the remainder are gleaned from annuals and magazines, of such antique date, that they have gone round the circle, and come back to novelty again.  Keeping up the metaphor of the political guillotine, the whole may be considered as the posthumous papers of A decapitated Surveyor:  and the sketch which I am now bringing to a close, if too autobiographical for a modest person to publish in his lifetime, will readily be excused in a gentleman who writes from beyond the grave.  Peace be with all the world!  My blessing on my friends!  My forgiveness to my enemies!  For I am in the realm of quiet!

The life of the Custom-House lies like a dream behind me.  The old Inspector—­who, by-the-bye, I regret to say, was overthrown and killed by a horse some time ago, else he would certainly have lived for ever—­he, and all those other venerable personages who sat with him at the receipt of custom, are but shadows in my view:  white-headed and wrinkled images, which my fancy used to sport with, and has now flung aside for ever.  The merchants—­Pingree, Phillips, Shepard, Upton, Kimball, Bertram, Hunt—­these and many other names, which had such classic familiarity for my ear six months ago,—­these men of traffic, who seemed to occupy so important a position in the world—­how little time has it required to disconnect me from them all, not merely in act, but recollection!  It is with an effort that I recall the figures and appellations of these few.  Soon, likewise, my old native town will loom upon me through the haze of memory, a mist brooding over and around it; as if it were no portion of the real earth, but an overgrown village in cloud-land, with only imaginary inhabitants to people its wooden houses and walk its homely lanes, and the unpicturesque prolixity of its main street.  Henceforth it ceases to be a reality of my life; I am a citizen of somewhere else.  My good townspeople will not much regret me, for—­though it has been as dear an object as any, in my literary efforts, to be of some importance in their eyes, and to win myself a pleasant memory in this abode and burial-place of so many of my forefathers—­there has never been, for me, the genial atmosphere which a literary man requires in order to ripen the best harvest of his mind.  I shall do better amongst other faces; and these familiar ones, it need hardly be said, will do just as well without me.

It may be, however—­oh, transporting and triumphant thought—­that the great-grandchildren of the present race may sometimes think kindly of the scribbler of bygone days, when the antiquary of days to come, among the sites memorable in the town’s history, shall point out the locality of the town pump.


Project Gutenberg
The Scarlet Letter from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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