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MUCH to the author's surprise, and (if he may say
so without additional offence) considerably to his
amusement, he finds that his sketch of official life,
introductory to THE SCARLET LETTER, has created an un-
precedented excitement in the respectable community im-
mediately around him. It could hardly have been more vio-
lent, indeed, had he burned down the Custom-House, and
quenched its last smoking ember in the blood of a certain ven-
erable personage, against whom he is supposed to cherish a
peculiar malevolence. As the public disapprobation would
weigh very heavily on him, were he conscious of deserving it,
the author begs leave to say, that he has carefully read over
the introductory pages, with a purpose to alter or expunge
whatever might be found amiss, and to make the best repara-
tion in his power for the atrocities of which he bas been ad-
judges guilty. But it appears to him, that the only remarkable
features of the sketch are its frank and genuine good-humor,
and the general accuracy with which he has conveyed his sin-
cere impressions of the characters therein described. As to en-
mity, or ill-feeling of any kind, personal or political, he utterlv
disclaims such motives. The sketch might, perhaps, have been
wholly omitted, without loss to the public, or detriment to the
book; but, having undertaken to write it, he conceives that it

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