Study Guide

Nathaniel Hawthorne Custom House

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Custom House

Eventually Hawthorne realized that he was too broke to stay in his cocoon. In 1839, he was hired at the Boston Custom House to weigh and measure goods. In the diary he kept during this period, it's clear that Hawthorne worked hard to keep his spirits from collapsing into the soul-sucking tediousness of his work. On good days, particularly those when he was allowed out of the office to weigh or inspect cargo on a ship, he exulted in the labor: "Late in the afternoon there was a sunny shower, which came down so like a benediction, that it seemed ungrateful to take shelter in the cabin or to put up an umbrella."

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