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THE SCARLET LETTER

which I am now bringing to a close, if too autobiographical for
a modest person to publish in his lifetime, will readily be ex-
cused in a gentleman who writes from beyond the grave.
Peace be with all the world! My blessing on my friends!
My forgiveness to my enemies! For I am in the realm of
quiet!

The life of the Custom-House lies like a dream behind me.
The old Inspector,–who, by the by, I regret to say, was over-
thrown and killed by a horse, some time ago; else he would
certainly have lived for ever,–he, and all those other vener-
able personages who sat with him at the receipt of custom,
are but shadows in my view; white-headed and wrinkled
images, which my fancy used to sport with, and has now
flung aside for ever. The merchants,–Pingree, Phillips,
Shepard, Upton, Kimball, Bertram, Hunt,–these, and many
other names, which had such a classic familiarity for my ear
six months ago,–these men of traffic, who seemed to occupy
so important a position in the world,–how little time has it
required to disconnect me from them all, not merely in act, but
recollection! It is with an effort that I recall the figures and
appellations of these few. Soon, likewise, my old native town
will loom upon me through the haze of memory, a mist brood-
ing over and around it; as if it were no portion of the real
earth, but an overgrown village in cloud- land, with only
imaginary inhabitants to people its wooden houses, and walk
its homely lanes, and the unpicturesque prolixity of its main
street. Henceforth, it ceases to be a reality of my life. I am a
citizen of somewhere else. My good townspeople will not
much regret me; for–though it has been as dear an object as
any, in my literary efforts, to be of some importance in their
eyes, and to win myself a pleasant memory in this abode and
burial-place of so many of my forefathers–there has never
been, for me, the genial atmosphere which a literary man re-
quires, in order to ripen the best harvest of his mind. I shall do

The Scarlet Letter > Page
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