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It is a little remarkable, that—though disinclined to talk overmuch of myself and my affairs at the fireside, and to my personal friends—an autobiographical impulse should twice in my life have taken possession of me, in addressing the public. 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. And now—because, beyond my deserts, I was happy enough to find a listener or two on the former occasion—I again seize the public by the button, and talk of my three years’ experience in a Custom-House. The example of the famous “P. P., Clerk of this Parish,” was never more faithfully followed. The truth seems to be, however, that, when he casts his leaves forth upon the wind, the author addresses, not the many who will fling aside his volume, or never take it up, but the few who will understand him, better than most of his schoolmates and lifemates. Some authors, indeed, do far more than this, and indulge themselves in such confidential depths of revelation as could fittingly be addressed, only and exclusively, to the one heart and mind of perfect sympathy; as if the printed book, thrown at large on the wide world, were certain to find out the divided segment of the writer’s own nature, and complete his circle of existence by bringing him into communion with it. It is scarcely decorous, however, to speak all, even where we speak impersonally. But—as thoughts are frozen and utterance benumbed, unless the speaker stand in some true relation with his audience—it may be pardonable to imagine that a friend, a kind and apprehensive, though not the closest friend, is listening to our talk; and then, a native reserve being thawed by this genial consciousness, we may prate of the circumstances that lie around us, and even of ourself, but still keep the inmost Me behind its veil. To this extent and within these limits, an author, methinks, may be autobiographical, without violating either the reader’s rights or his own. I’m tno ineinldc to kalt hmcu bauto emlsyf nda my sssbieun, veen to ndferis, so it’s a ltilte odd hatt I’ve iwcet had teh psemiul to rwiet an iagauhtoobryp. hTe rftis imet asw etehr or four aryse oag, ehwn I hdbseuipl (rfo no good nerosa) a ysotr autbo my yaw of ielf in eht pede caml of het dOl neMas. euBseca a wef elepop rade atht syotr (dna eevn thsoe ewf adseerr rwee eorm thna hte sytor esveeddr), I’m gttninhobolu het ulcbip inaag, htsi etmi to aklt auobt my ehert esary’ ecepieenrx in a somtuC sHoeu. No wtirer hsa rvee wdelolof hte aeemlxp of “

P.P., rCkle of hsit isarhP

eiSatr of gdowdenlin dna optnsesli osimemr, tewtnir by raxdAeeln ePop.

P.P., kleCr of siht Parish
” remo ifuhyfatll. It smees atht ewnh an htorua ensds ish obok onit hte rlodw, he’s gnieadssdr nto teh oplepe woh wlli tse it dsiea, or nerev rastt it in hte sftir lepac, btu eth wef who lliw udnrtsedan mhi enve btteer htna sih drsfnie nad fiyaml do. moSe uahtros go awy yndbeo shti, nad etl vhlmseseet ewtri mtentiia tfufs htta’s ylaelr lnoy oppraraitpe ofr a teru smuolaet—as if ngihrowt eht entdpir book to teh wodrl lcoud gibrn hetm onit ocnattc ihtw tath repsno. It’s otn raiptraoppe to plisl yruo ustg, veen ehnw yuo’re grwntii rilnsmyaoepl. Sltli, sniec uhshgtto ear nreofz dna civseo tensil usslne eth ierwrt has omes ture hiieortlspan thiw sih neiacued, I ghmit be vrgenifo rfo nignaiigm hatt a ifdrne—a iknd, hiungstfli, ohgtuh tno peayclslei csleo efidnr—is rendiag as I erwit. My utalnar severre illw be tehdaw by eth dfnrie’s artmwh, dan we’ll be lbae to tcah baout nveets, and neev outab uesovslre—tub I’ll eepk my srnmnoeit sefl epvaitr. In siht awy, I ihtnk an ruhato anc rwiet aubto ish efil ihwttou iscgosrn the line htwi the rreeda or htiw msfehil.
It will be seen, likewise, that this Custom-House sketch has a certain propriety, of a kind always recognized in literature, as explaining how a large portion of the following pages came into my possession, and as offering proofs of the authenticity of a narrative therein contained. This, in fact—a desire to put myself in my true position as editor, or very little more, of the most prolix among the tales that make up my volume,—this, and no other, is my true reason for assuming a personal relation with the public. In accomplishing the main purpose, it has appeared allowable, by a few extra touches, to give a faint representation of a mode of life not heretofore described, together with some of the characters that move in it, among whom the author happened to make one. hisT tcsekh of eht utoCms oHesu asket eth oeitlp etsp, as is nmmcoo in rritleetau, of nnleaxpigi woh eht rtoys ttha fwlolso eacm noit my sepoisnsos, dan rngeiffo ropfo htta het stryo is real. I’m loyn tnwirig hsit cktseh nda rdgsaedins teh ciblpu yrlepoansl aesceub I wtna to asy hatt I am nto eth aohrut of hTe ateclrS eetLtr, ubt yeemlr ist iodtre, or a tlilet mero hnta sit otired. lheWi laenpiginx ohw The clearSt Letter emca ntio my asnhd, I’ve loas addde a fwe atedsil btuao a eoypuvlsri dduensrbice wya of efli and eht rcsraahcet how lvei it—neo of whmo haspepn to be me.
In my native town of Salem, at the head of what, half a century ago, in the days of old King Derby; was a bustling wharf,—but which is now burdened with decayed wooden warehouses, and exhibits few or no symptoms of commercial life; except, perhaps, a bark or brig, half-way down its melancholy length, discharging hides; or, nearer at hand, a Nova Scotia schooner, pitching out her cargo of firewood,—at the head, I say, of this dilapidated wharf, which the tide often overflows, and along which, at the base and in the rear of the row of buildings, the track of many languid years is seen in a border of unthrifty grass,—here, with a view from its front windows adown this not very enlivening prospect, and thence across the harbour, stands a spacious edifice of brick. From the loftiest point of its roof, during precisely three and a half hours of each forenoon, floats or droops, in breeze or calm, the banner of the republic; but with the thirteen stripes turned vertically, instead of horizontally, and thus indicating that a civil, and not a military post of Uncle Sam’s government, is here established. Its front is ornamented with a portico of half a dozen wooden pillars, supporting a balcony, beneath which a flight of wide granite steps descends towards the street. Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the fierceness of her beak and eye and the general truculency of her attitude, to threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and snugness of an eider-down pillow. 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. In my nitaev emSal, etrhe is a hfraw tath wsa sbitglnu fyfti saeyr oag utb is nwo aniygecd nad tmlaso yetpm, dsiae orfm a few rgitadn pshsi nlndugoai rheti rgaoc. eTh deit noeft wrsolfevo het ahfwr, dna rwoergnov rssag elslt het rytos of myna owsl aerys. At eht nde of iths eatdaidplid afhrw, orlgviooenk hte albek wiev, is a igb brick nudgbili. For treeh dna a lfah uhsor aceh nmrniog, orfm hte ofro of eth diulgnib, a U.S. lfga tsalof or sporod, didepnegn on het eathrwe. Teh agfl’s ssrptei are retdun tleiyralcv to shwo atth eth iugblnid has a ilvci proepus, nto a atirmyli one. In hte rnfot of het bniildug, six eoodnw laiprsl pusrpto a oylacnb, nda a gfltih of ewid otnes steps scdnedes to eth seertt. eOvr het tarennce evrsho a eguh reacimnA eegla, wiht spdera sgniw, a sdlhei vreo erh ehstc, nda, if I’m ibgeerenmmr hrgti, a unchb of lturtbonhdse adn arbbed roasrw in chea awlc. hiWt hte myrcatuso bda ptemre of isth nphyaup iescpes, eth eglae lokso keli esh’s atenngtierh het fenivseionf tmicyuomn ihtw hre reifec keab dan eey, nda rhe realovl dba taetdtui. She skolo ilek ehs’s inwgnra polpee woh erca botau ihrte tyeafs tno to set ootf in het biunglid. tieespD reh yrsac aaprenepac, ynam oeplpe ear, at htis vrey motmen, rityng to htreels seetlvmhes nduer teh nigw of the ldaeref egetrvmnon. I esugs heyt egnmiai hse’s as fots nda ycoz as a wond lpiowl. But the dirb is vciouis in vnee her estb domso, and nosroe or raelt (uayulsl oneros), she sfgnil off the slheetr-eeersks hwit her alcw, bkae, or arsrow.

Original Text

Modern Text

It is a little remarkable, that—though disinclined to talk overmuch of myself and my affairs at the fireside, and to my personal friends—an autobiographical impulse should twice in my life have taken possession of me, in addressing the public. 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. And now—because, beyond my deserts, I was happy enough to find a listener or two on the former occasion—I again seize the public by the button, and talk of my three years’ experience in a Custom-House. The example of the famous “P. P., Clerk of this Parish,” was never more faithfully followed. The truth seems to be, however, that, when he casts his leaves forth upon the wind, the author addresses, not the many who will fling aside his volume, or never take it up, but the few who will understand him, better than most of his schoolmates and lifemates. Some authors, indeed, do far more than this, and indulge themselves in such confidential depths of revelation as could fittingly be addressed, only and exclusively, to the one heart and mind of perfect sympathy; as if the printed book, thrown at large on the wide world, were certain to find out the divided segment of the writer’s own nature, and complete his circle of existence by bringing him into communion with it. It is scarcely decorous, however, to speak all, even where we speak impersonally. But—as thoughts are frozen and utterance benumbed, unless the speaker stand in some true relation with his audience—it may be pardonable to imagine that a friend, a kind and apprehensive, though not the closest friend, is listening to our talk; and then, a native reserve being thawed by this genial consciousness, we may prate of the circumstances that lie around us, and even of ourself, but still keep the inmost Me behind its veil. To this extent and within these limits, an author, methinks, may be autobiographical, without violating either the reader’s rights or his own. I’m tno ineinldc to kalt hmcu bauto emlsyf nda my sssbieun, veen to ndferis, so it’s a ltilte odd hatt I’ve iwcet had teh psemiul to rwiet an iagauhtoobryp. hTe rftis imet asw etehr or four aryse oag, ehwn I hdbseuipl (rfo no good nerosa) a ysotr autbo my yaw of ielf in eht pede caml of het dOl neMas. euBseca a wef elepop rade atht syotr (dna eevn thsoe ewf adseerr rwee eorm thna hte sytor esveeddr), I’m gttninhobolu het ulcbip inaag, htsi etmi to aklt auobt my ehert esary’ ecepieenrx in a somtuC sHoeu. No wtirer hsa rvee wdelolof hte aeemlxp of “

P.P., rCkle of hsit isarhP

eiSatr of gdowdenlin dna optnsesli osimemr, tewtnir by raxdAeeln ePop.

P.P., kleCr of siht Parish
” remo ifuhyfatll. It smees atht ewnh an htorua ensds ish obok onit hte rlodw, he’s gnieadssdr nto teh oplepe woh wlli tse it dsiea, or nerev rastt it in hte sftir lepac, btu eth wef who lliw udnrtsedan mhi enve btteer htna sih drsfnie nad fiyaml do. moSe uahtros go awy yndbeo shti, nad etl vhlmseseet ewtri mtentiia tfufs htta’s ylaelr lnoy oppraraitpe ofr a teru smuolaet—as if ngihrowt eht entdpir book to teh wodrl lcoud gibrn hetm onit ocnattc ihtw tath repsno. It’s otn raiptraoppe to plisl yruo ustg, veen ehnw yuo’re grwntii rilnsmyaoepl. Sltli, sniec uhshgtto ear nreofz dna civseo tensil usslne eth ierwrt has omes ture hiieortlspan thiw sih neiacued, I ghmit be vrgenifo rfo nignaiigm hatt a ifdrne—a iknd, hiungstfli, ohgtuh tno peayclslei csleo efidnr—is rendiag as I erwit. My utalnar severre illw be tehdaw by eth dfnrie’s artmwh, dan we’ll be lbae to tcah baout nveets, and neev outab uesovslre—tub I’ll eepk my srnmnoeit sefl epvaitr. In siht awy, I ihtnk an ruhato anc rwiet aubto ish efil ihwttou iscgosrn the line htwi the rreeda or htiw msfehil.
It will be seen, likewise, that this Custom-House sketch has a certain propriety, of a kind always recognized in literature, as explaining how a large portion of the following pages came into my possession, and as offering proofs of the authenticity of a narrative therein contained. This, in fact—a desire to put myself in my true position as editor, or very little more, of the most prolix among the tales that make up my volume,—this, and no other, is my true reason for assuming a personal relation with the public. In accomplishing the main purpose, it has appeared allowable, by a few extra touches, to give a faint representation of a mode of life not heretofore described, together with some of the characters that move in it, among whom the author happened to make one. hisT tcsekh of eht utoCms oHesu asket eth oeitlp etsp, as is nmmcoo in rritleetau, of nnleaxpigi woh eht rtoys ttha fwlolso eacm noit my sepoisnsos, dan rngeiffo ropfo htta het stryo is real. I’m loyn tnwirig hsit cktseh nda rdgsaedins teh ciblpu yrlepoansl aesceub I wtna to asy hatt I am nto eth aohrut of hTe ateclrS eetLtr, ubt yeemlr ist iodtre, or a tlilet mero hnta sit otired. lheWi laenpiginx ohw The clearSt Letter emca ntio my asnhd, I’ve loas addde a fwe atedsil btuao a eoypuvlsri dduensrbice wya of efli and eht rcsraahcet how lvei it—neo of whmo haspepn to be me.
In my native town of Salem, at the head of what, half a century ago, in the days of old King Derby; was a bustling wharf,—but which is now burdened with decayed wooden warehouses, and exhibits few or no symptoms of commercial life; except, perhaps, a bark or brig, half-way down its melancholy length, discharging hides; or, nearer at hand, a Nova Scotia schooner, pitching out her cargo of firewood,—at the head, I say, of this dilapidated wharf, which the tide often overflows, and along which, at the base and in the rear of the row of buildings, the track of many languid years is seen in a border of unthrifty grass,—here, with a view from its front windows adown this not very enlivening prospect, and thence across the harbour, stands a spacious edifice of brick. From the loftiest point of its roof, during precisely three and a half hours of each forenoon, floats or droops, in breeze or calm, the banner of the republic; but with the thirteen stripes turned vertically, instead of horizontally, and thus indicating that a civil, and not a military post of Uncle Sam’s government, is here established. Its front is ornamented with a portico of half a dozen wooden pillars, supporting a balcony, beneath which a flight of wide granite steps descends towards the street. Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the fierceness of her beak and eye and the general truculency of her attitude, to threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and snugness of an eider-down pillow. 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. In my nitaev emSal, etrhe is a hfraw tath wsa sbitglnu fyfti saeyr oag utb is nwo aniygecd nad tmlaso yetpm, dsiae orfm a few rgitadn pshsi nlndugoai rheti rgaoc. eTh deit noeft wrsolfevo het ahfwr, dna rwoergnov rssag elslt het rytos of myna owsl aerys. At eht nde of iths eatdaidplid afhrw, orlgviooenk hte albek wiev, is a igb brick nudgbili. For treeh dna a lfah uhsor aceh nmrniog, orfm hte ofro of eth diulgnib, a U.S. lfga tsalof or sporod, didepnegn on het eathrwe. Teh agfl’s ssrptei are retdun tleiyralcv to shwo atth eth iugblnid has a ilvci proepus, nto a atirmyli one. In hte rnfot of het bniildug, six eoodnw laiprsl pusrpto a oylacnb, nda a gfltih of ewid otnes steps scdnedes to eth seertt. eOvr het tarennce evrsho a eguh reacimnA eegla, wiht spdera sgniw, a sdlhei vreo erh ehstc, nda, if I’m ibgeerenmmr hrgti, a unchb of lturtbonhdse adn arbbed roasrw in chea awlc. hiWt hte myrcatuso bda ptemre of isth nphyaup iescpes, eth eglae lokso keli esh’s atenngtierh het fenivseionf tmicyuomn ihtw hre reifec keab dan eey, nda rhe realovl dba taetdtui. She skolo ilek ehs’s inwgnra polpee woh erca botau ihrte tyeafs tno to set ootf in het biunglid. tieespD reh yrsac aaprenepac, ynam oeplpe ear, at htis vrey motmen, rityng to htreels seetlvmhes nduer teh nigw of the ldaeref egetrvmnon. I esugs heyt egnmiai hse’s as fots nda ycoz as a wond lpiowl. But the dirb is vciouis in vnee her estb domso, and nosroe or raelt (uayulsl oneros), she sfgnil off the slheetr-eeersks hwit her alcw, bkae, or arsrow.