"There was one man, especially, the observation of whose character gave me a new idea of talent"

This man is Zachariah Burchmore, the son of a custom house inspector who nominally held the post of clerk but in practice served as chief officer. A conservative Democrat, he was dismissed from his post at the same time as Hawthorne and the two remained life-long friends. Despite Hawthorne’s description of him as an astute businessman, he was nevertheless a rather rough character whose post-custom house years were marked chiefly by alcoholism. Hawthorne's wife, Sophia, disapproved heartily of their association. 

Read a facsimile of one of Hawthorne’s letters to Burchmore here.