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THE CUSTOMHOUSE

turkey under one's very nostrils. There were flavors on his
palate, that had lingered there not less than sixty or seventy
years, and were still apparently as fresh as that of the mutton-
chop which he had just devoured for his breakfast. I have
heard him smack his lips over dinners, every guest at which,
except himself, had long been food for worms. It was marvel-
lous to observe how the ghosts of bygone meals were continual-
ly rising up before him; not in anger or retribution, but as if
grateful for his former appreciation, and seeking to reduplicate
an endless series of enjoyment, at once shadowy and sensual.
A tenderloin of beef, a hind-quarter of veal, a spare-rib of
pork, a particular chicken, or a remarkably praiseworthy
turkey, which had perhaps adorned his board in the days of
the elder Adams, would be remembered; while all the subse-
quent experience of our race, and all the events that bright-
ened or darkened his individual career, had gone over him
with as little permanent effect as the passing breeze. The chief
tragic event of the old man's life, so far as I could judge, was
his mishap with a certain goose, which lived and died some
twenty or forty years ago; a goose of most promising figure,
but which, at table, proved so inveterately tough that the
carving-knife would make no impression on its carcass; and it
could only be divided with an axe and handsaw.

But it is time to quit this sketch; on which, however,
I should be glad to dwell at considerably more length,
because, of all men whom I have ever known, this individual
was fittest to be a Custom-House officer. Most persons, owing
to causes which I may not have space to hint at, suffer moral
detriment from this peculiar mode of life. The old Inspector
was incapable of it, and, were he to continue in office to the
end of time, would be just as good as he was then, and sit
down to dinner with just as good an appetite.

There is one likeness, without which my gallery of
Custom-House portraits would be strangely incomplete; but
which my comparatively few opportunities for observation

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