Some of the briefer articles, which contribute to make up the volume, have likewise been written since my involuntary withdrawal from the toils and honours 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. This warmer light mingles itself with the cold spirituality of the moonbeams, and communicates, as it were, a heart and sensibilities of human tenderness to the forms which fancy summons up. For upwards of twenty years before this epoch, the independent position of the Collector had kept the Salem Custom—House out of the whirlpool of political vicissitude, which makes the tenure of office generally so fragile. It was an offshoot of the Democratic Party and was originally called the Equal Rights Party. They seemed to have flung away all the golden grain of practical wisdom, which they had enjoyed so many opportunities of harvesting, and most carefully to have stored their memory with the husks. Most persons, owing to causes which I may not have space to hint at, suffer moral detriment from this peculiar mode of life.
As for the , his job was created by the man's father decades earlier, and he has held the position ever since. The closer you penetrated to the substance of his mind, the sounder it appeared. Nathaniel changed the spelling of his last name after he graduated from college, perhaps to make it correspond better with the pronunciation. An entire class of susceptibilities, and a gift connected with them,—of no great richness or value, but the best I had,—was gone from me. Hawthorne family background is imporant because it shows he feels that his anscetors were wrong for there religious judgement but also feels as if his not worthy enough to be apart such a noble family. It was the death of his job at the Custom-House, that enabled him to seriously pursue his desired career of being a writer.
The next moment, he was as ready for sport as any unbreeched infant; far readier than the Collector's junior clerk, who, at nineteen years, was much the elder and graver man of the two. It was not merely during the three hours and a half which Uncle Sam claimed as his share of my daily life, that this wretched numbness held possession of me. But now, should you go thither to seek him, you would inquire in vain for the Loco-foco Surveyor. They spoke with far more interest and unction of their morning's breakfast, or yesterday's, to-day's, or tomorrow's dinner, than of the shipwreck of forty or fifty years ago, and all the world's wonders which they had witnessed with their youthful eyes. They were documents, in short, not official, but of a private nature, or, at least, written in his private capacity, and apparently with his own hand. Romanticism can be explained as the movement in the arts and literature. It seemed to me,—the reader may smile, but must not doubt my word,—it seemed to me, then, that I experienced a sensation not altogether physical, yet almost so, as of burning heat; and as if the letter were not of red cloth, but red-hot iron.
In the way of furniture, there is a stove with a voluminous funnel; an old pine desk, with a three-legged stool beside it; two or three wooden-bottom chairs, exceedingly decrepit and infirm; and,—not to forget the library,—on some shelves, a score or two of volumes of the Acts of Congress, and a bulky Digest of the Revenue Laws. What is the purpose of this chapter? 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. My eyes fastened themselves upon the old scarlet letter, and would not be turned aside. Indeed, he cannot even remember his days of being at The Custom House, despite it being not too long ago. He was likewise a bitter persecutor; as witness the Quakers, who have remembered him in their histories, and relate an incident of his hard severity towards a woman of their sect, which will last longer, it is to be feared, than any record of his better deeds, although these were many. The first time was three or four years since, when I favored the reader—inexcusably, and for no earthly reason, that either the indulgent reader or the intrusive author could imagine—with a description of my way of life in the deep quietude of an Old Manse.
This suggests that perhaps the lessons learned and cautions given in the tale of Hester Prynne are not confined by history, but are ever applicable and worth our careful attention. The bits of 'The Custom House' which line up most precisely with Hawthorne's life are that the narrator has recently been fired from his position as surveyor at the Custom House. So, with lightsome hearts, and the happy consciousness of being usefully employed,—in their own behalf, at least, if not for our beloved country,—these good old gentlemen went through the various formalities of office. So, with lightsome hearts and the happy consciousness of being usefully employed—in their own behalf at least, if not for our beloved country—these good old gentlemen went through the various formalities of office. There, beside the fireplace, the brave old General used to sit; while the Surveyor—though seldom, when it could be avoided, taking upon himself the difficult task of engaging him in conversation—was fond of standing at a distance and watching his quiet and almost slumberous countenance. He had been the husband of three wives, all long since dead; the father of twenty children, most of whom, at every age of childhood or maturity, had likewise returned to dust. Longfellow met Hawthorne when the they were young and they became lifelong friends.
Why should he work for his living here, or go to dig gold in California, when he is so soon to be made happy, at monthly intervals, with a little pile of glittering coin out of his Uncle's pocket? Hawthorne had visited the area and written about it some 20 years earlier. He introduced fine arts, nature study, field trips, and physical education into his schools, and he abandoned traditional forms of physical punishment. 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. That is, Hawthorne is more concerned with feelings, thoughts, and emotions than with the unfolding of a real-time story, reflecting a romantic turn after the classical prose of the late eighteenth century. But, nevertheless, it is anything but agreeable to be haunted by a suspicion that one's intellect is dwindling away; or exhaling, without your consciousness, like ether out of a phial; so that, at every glance, you find a smaller and less volatile residuum. Hawthorne see as if his job wasn't for him and that he was isolated from everyone.
All sailors, sea captains, merchants, and sea traders are required to report directly to the Custom when they land to pay tax on their imported goods. The ancient Surveyor—being little molested, suppose, at that early day with business pertaining to his office—seems to have devoted some of his many leisure hours to researches as a local antiquarian, and other inquisitions of a similar nature. The original papers, together with the scarlet letter itself,—a most curious relic,—are still in my possession, and shall be freely exhibited to whomsoever, induced by the great interest of the narrative, may desire a sight of them. A dreary look—forward, this, for a man who felt it to be the best definition of happiness to live throughout the whole range of his faculties and sensibilities But, all this while, I was giving myself very unnecessary alarm. But she has no great tenderness, even in her best of moods, and, sooner or later,—oftener soon than late,—is apt to fling off her nestlings with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound from her barbed arrows. It also helps the reader get to understand and fully grasp the author's point of view. He was likewise a bitter persecutor; as witness the Quakers, who have remembered him in their histories, and relate an incident of his hard severity towards a woman of their sect, which will last longer, it is to be feared, than any record of his better deeds, although these were many.
It's the Truth, Or Is It? Thus, by an inevitable necessity, as a magnet attracts steel-filings, so did our man of business draw to himself the difficulties which everybody met with. The sentiment is probably assignable to the deep and aged roots which my family has stuck into the soil. It is sadly curious to observe how slight a taste of office suffices to infect a poor fellow with this singular disease. Suffice it here to say, that a Custom-House officer, of long continuance, can hardly be a very praiseworthy or respectable personage, for many reasons; one of them, the tenure by which he holds his situation, and another, the very nature of his business, which—though, I trust, an honest one—is of such a sort that he does not share in the united effort of mankind. The pavement round about the above—described edifice—which we may as well name at once as the Custom—House of the port—has grass enough growing in its chinks to show that it has not, of late days, been worn by any multitudinous resort of business. Neither the front nor the back entrance of the Custom-House opens on the road to Paradise. It would be too much in keeping with the scene to excite surprise, were we to look about us and discover a form, beloved, but gone hence, now sitting quietly in a streak of this magic moonshine, with an aspect that would make us doubt whether it had returned from afar, or had never once stirred from our fireside.