The writer called this retreat "Moving their household gods from Salem," an allusion to Virgil's Aeneid, in which the Roman hero Aeneas follows an ancient custom, moving his household gods from the sacked and burning Troy, bearing his father, Anchises, on his back.
The Pyncheon of To-day PHOEBE, on entering the shop, beheld there the already familiar face of the little devourer--if we can reckon his mighty deeds aright--of Jim Crow, the elephant, the camel, the dromedaries, and Phoebe pyncheon locomotive.
These articles Phoebe accordingly supplied, and, as a mark of gratitude for his previous patronage, and a slight super-added morsel after breakfast, put likewise into his hand a whale! The great fish, reversing his experience with the prophet of Nineveh, Phoebe pyncheon began his progress down the same red pathway of fate whither so varied a caravan had preceded him.
This remarkable urchin, in truth, was the very emblem of old Father Time, both in respect of his all-devouring appetite for men and things, and because he, as well as Time, after ingulfing thus much of creation, looked almost as youthful as if he had been just that moment made.
After partly closing the door, the child turned back, and mumbled something to Phoebe, which, as the whale was but half disposed of, she could not perfectly understand. Folks say he has got home. And where can he have been? As the child went down the steps, a gentleman ascended them, and made his entrance into the shop.
It was the portly, and, had it possessed the advantage of a little more height, would have been the stately figure of a man considerably in the decline of life, dressed in a black suit of some thin stuff, resembling broadcloth as closely as possible.
A gold-headed cane, of rare Oriental wood, added materially to the high respectability of his aspect, as did also a neckcloth of the utmost snowy purity, and the conscientious polish of his boots.
His dark, square countenance, with its almost shaggy depth of eyebrows, was naturally impressive, and would, perhaps, have been rather stern, had not the gentleman considerately taken upon himself to mitigate the harsh effect by a look of exceeding good-humor and benevolence.
Owing, however, to a somewhat massive accumulation of animal substance about the lower region of his face, the look was, perhaps, unctuous rather than spiritual, and had, so to speak, a kind of fleshly effulgence, not altogether so satisfactory as he doubtless intended it to be.
A susceptible observer, at any rate, might have regarded it as affording very little evidence of the general benignity of soul whereof it purported to be the outward reflection. As the stranger entered the little shop, where the projection of the second story and the thick foliage of the elm-tree, as well as the commodities at the window, created a sort of gray medium, his smile grew as intense as if he had set his heart on counteracting the whole gloom of the atmosphere besides any moral gloom pertaining to Hepzibah and her inmates by the unassisted light of his countenance.
On perceiving a young rose-bud of a girl, instead of the gaunt presence of the old maid, a look of surprise was manifest. He at first knit his brows; then smiled with more unctuous benignity than ever. You are her assistant, I suppose? Pray pardon me, then," said the gentleman, bowing and smiling, as Phoebe never had been bowed to nor smiled on before; "in that case, we must be better acquainted; for, unless I am sadly mistaken, you are my own little kinswoman likewise!
Is it possible that you are Phoebe Pyncheon, only child of my dear cousin and classmate, Arthur? Ah, I see your father now, about your mouth! I am your kinsman, my dear.
Surely you must have heard of Judge Pyncheon? Unfortunately without design, or only with such instinctive design as gives no account of itself to the intellect Phoebe, just at the critical moment, drew back; so that her highly respectable kinsman, with his body bent over the counter and his lips protruded, was betrayed into the rather absurd predicament of kissing the empty air.
It was a modern parallel to the case of Ixion embracing a cloud, and was so much the more ridiculous as the Judge prided himself on eschewing all airy matter, and never mistaking a shadow for a substance.
Yet she had been kissed before, and without any particular squeamishness, by perhaps half a dozen different cousins, younger as well as older than this dark-browned, grisly-bearded, white-neck-clothed, and unctuously-benevolent Judge!
Then, why not by him? It was quite as striking, allowing for the difference of scale, as that betwixt a landscape under a broad sunshine and just before a thunder-storm; not that it had the passionate intensity of the latter aspect, but was cold, hard, immitigable, like a day-long brooding cloud.
I meant no harm! Since he is really my cousin, I would have let him kiss me, if I could! Was it, therefore, no momentary mood, but, however skilfully concealed, the settled temper of his life? And not merely so, but was it hereditary in him, and transmitted down, as a precious heirloom, from that bearded ancestor, in whose picture both the expression and, to a singular degree, the features of the modern Judge were shown as by a kind of prophecy?
A deeper philosopher than Phoebe might have found something very terrible in this idea. It implied that the weaknesses and defects, the bad passions, the mean tendencies, and the moral diseases which lead to crime are handed down from one generation to another, by a far surer process of transmission than human law has been able to establish in respect to the riches and honors which it seeks to entail upon posterity.
You are a good child, and know how to take care of yourself. A young girl--especially if she be a very pretty one--can never be too chary of her lips. The fantasy would not quit her, that the original Puritan, of whom she had heard so many sombre traditions, --the progenitor of the whole race of New England Pyncheons, the founder of the House of the Seven Gables, and who had died so strangely in it,--had now stept into the shop.
In these days of off-hand equipment, the matter was easily enough arranged. Of course, Phoebe was far too sensible a girl to entertain this idea in any other way than as matter for a smile. Possibly, also, could the two personages have stood together before her eye, many points of difference would have been perceptible, and perhaps only a general resemblance.
The long lapse of intervening years, in a climate so unlike that which had fostered the ancestral Englishman, must inevitably have wrought important changes in the physical system of his descendant.
Though looked upon as a weighty man among his contemporaries in respect of animal substance, and as favored with a remarkable degree of fundamental development, well adapting him for the judicial bench, we conceive that the modern Judge Pyncheon, if weighed in the same balance with his ancestor, would have required at least an old-fashioned fifty-six to keep the scale in equilibrio.
If we mistake not, moreover, a certain quality of nervousness had become more or less manifest, even in so solid a specimen of Puritan descent as the gentleman now under discussion. This process, for aught we know, may belong to the great system of human progress, which, with every ascending footstep, as it diminishes the necessity for animal force, may be destined gradually to spiritualize us, by refining away our grosser attributes of body.
If so, Judge Pyncheon could endure a century or two more of such refinement as well as most other men.The House of the Seven Gables begins with a preface that identifies the work as a romance, not a novel. As such, Hawthorne prepares readers for the fluid mixture of realism and fantasy that the romance genre allows.
The preface also conveys the major theme of the book, which Hawthorne refers to as a. Audible book Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible book with Whispersync for Voice.
Add the Audible book for a . The House of the Seven Gables, published in , explores issues of class and the pursuit of wealth against the backdrop of decaying residences.
Source: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. (). The house of the Seven Gables. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields. Colonel Pyncheon helps convict the owner of a.
House of the Seven Gables and millions of other books are available for instant alphabetnyc.com | Audible. Phoebe is the Latin form of the Greek name Phoibē from the Greek word “phoibos” meaning ‘bright’. In mythology, Phoebe was the Titan daughter of Uranus (god of the sky) and Gaia (goddess of the earth) and one of the first rulers of the heavens until being overthrown by Zeus and his Olympian gods.
The Hawthorne family took the train on Thursday, May 23, , from the Castle station in Salem to Lenox in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.