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THE CUSTOM-HOUSE

To observe and define his character, however, under such
disadvantages, was as difficult a task as to trace out and build
up anew, in imagination, an old fortress, like Ticonderoga,
from a view of its gray and broken ruins. Here and there,
perchance, the walls may remain almost complete; but else-
where may be only a shapeless mound, cumbrous with its
very strength, and overgrown, through long years of peace
and neglect, with grass and alien weeds.

Nevertheless, looking at the old warrior with affection,–
for, slight as was the communication between us, my
feeling towards him, like that of all bipeds and quadrupeds
who knew him, might not improperly be termed so,–I could
discern the main points of his portrait. It was marked with the
noble and heroic qualities which showed it to be not by a
mere accident, but of good right, that he had won a distin-
guished name. His spirit could never, I conceive, have been
characterized by an uneasy activity; it must, at any period of
his life, have required an impulse to set him in motion;
but, once stirred up, with obstacles to overcome, and an
adequate object to be attained, it was not in the man to give
out or fail. The heat that had formerly pervaded his nature,
and which was not yet extinct, was never of the kind that
flashes and flickers in a blaze, but, rather, a deep, red glow, as
of iron in a furnace. Weight, solidity, firmness; this was the
expression of his repose, even in such decay as had crept
untimely over him, at the period of which I speak. But I
could imagine, even then, that, under some excitement which
should go deeply into his consciousness,–roused by a trum-
pet-peal, loud enough to awaken all of his energies that were
not dead, but only slumbering,–he was yet capable of flin-
ging off his infirmities like a sick man's gown, dropping the
staff of age to seize a battle-sword, and starting up once more
a warrior. And, in so intense a moment, his
demeanour would have still been calm. Such an exhibition, however, was

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