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the most part, who, after being tost on every sea, and standing
up sturdily against life's tempestuous blast, had finally
drifted into this quiet nook; where, with little to disturb them,
except the periodical terrors of a Presidential election, they
one and all acquired a new lease of existence. Though by
no means less liable than their fellow-men to age and infir-
mity, they had evidently some talisman or other that kept
death at bay. Two or three of their number, as I was assured,
being gouty and rheumatic, or perhaps bed-ridden, never
dreamed of making their appearance at the Custom-House,
during a large part of the year; but, after a torpid winter,
would creep out into the warm sunshine of May or June, go
lazily about what they termed duty, and, at their own leisure
and convenience, betake themselves to bed again. I must
plead guilty to the charge of abbreviating the official breath
of more than one of these venerable servants of the republic.
They were allowed, on my representation, to rest from their
arduous labors, and soon afterwards–as if their sole principle
of life had been zeal for their country's service; as I verily be-
lieve it was–withdrew to a better world. It is a pious consola-
tion to me, that, through my interference, a sufficient space
was allowed them for repentance of the evil and corrupt
practices, into which, as a matter of course, every Custom-
House officer must be supposed to fall. Neither the front nor
the back entrance of the Custom-House opens on the road to

The greater part of my officers were Whigs. It was well
for their venerable brotherhood, that the new Surveyor was
not a politician, and, though a faithful Democrat in principle,
neither received nor held his office with any reference to
political services. Had it been otherwise,–had an active
politician been put into this influential post, to assume the
easy task of making head against a Whig Collector, whose
infirmities withheld him from the personal administration of
his office,–hardly a man of the old corps would have drawn

The Scarlet Letter > Page
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