By Ross C. Murfin (eds.)
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Extra info for Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
It is a good lesson- though it may often be a hard one - for a man who has dreamed of literary fame, and of making for himself a rank among the world's dignitaries by such means, to step aside out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognized, and to find how utterly devoid of significance, beyond that circle, is all that he achieves, and all he aims at. I know not that I especially needed the lesson, either in the way of warning or rebuke; but, at any rate, I learned it thoroughly; nor, it gives me pleasure to reflect, did the truth, as it came home to my perception, ever cost me a pang, or require to be thrown off in a sigh.
On the transfer of the archives to Halifax, this package, proving to be of no public concern, was left behind, and had remained ever since unopened. The ancient Surveyor - being little molested, I 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. These supplied material for petty activity to a mind that would otherwise have been eaten up with rust.
On the contrary, I have allowed myself, as to such points, nearly or altogether as much license as if the facts had been entirely of my own invention. What I contend for is the authenticity of the outline. This incident recalled my mind, in some degree, to its old track. There seemed to be here the groundwork of a tale. It impressed me as if the ancient Surveyor, in his garb of a hundred years gone by, and wearing his immortal wig, - which was buried with him, but did not perish in the grave, - had met me in the deserted chamber of the Custom-House.