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THE CUSTOM-HOUSE

decapitated state, like Irving's Headless Horseman; ghastly
and grim, and longing to be buried, as a politically dead man
ought. So much for my figurative self. The real human being,
all this time, with his head safely on his shoulders, had
brought himself to the comfortable conclusion, that every
thing was for the best; and, making an investment in ink,
paper, and steel-pens, had opened his long-disused writing-
desk, and was again a literary man.

Now it was, that the lucubrations of my ancient predeces-
sor, Mr. Surveyor Pue, came into play. Rusty through long
idleness, some little space was requisite before my intellec-
tual machinery could be brought to work upon the tale, with
an effect in any degree satisfactory. Even yet, though my
thoughts were ultimately much absorbed in the task, it wears,
to my eye, a stern and sombre aspect; too much ungladdened
by genial sunshine; too little relieved by the tender and fa-
miliar influences which soften almost every scene of nature
and real life, and, undoubtedly, should soften every picture of
them. This uncaptivating effect is perhaps due to the period
of hardly accomplished revolution, and still seething turmoil,
in which the story shaped itself. It is no indication, however,
of a lack of cheerfulness in the writer's mind; for he was hap-
pier, while straying through the gloom of these sunless fan-
tasies, than at any time since he 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 honors 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 politi-
cal guillotine, the whole may be considered as the POSTHU-
MOUS PAPERS OF A DECAPITATED SURVEYOR; and the sketch


* At the time of writing this article, the author intended to publish,
along with "The Scarlet Letter," several shorter tales and sketches. These
it has been thought advisable to defer.

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