Saturday, May 13, 2023

the last book I ever read (The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, excerpt eleven)

from The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“How you hate everything old!” said Phoebe in dismay.—“ It makes me dizzy to think of such a shifting world!”

“I certainly love nothing mouldy,” answered Holgrave. “Now this old Pyncheon-house! Is it a wholesome place to live in, with its black shingles, and the green moss that shows how damp they are?—its dark, low-studded rooms?—its grime and sordidness, which are the crystallization on its walls of the human breath, that has been drawn and exhaled here, in discontent and anguish? The house ought to be purified with fire—purified till only its ashes remain!”

“Then why do you live in it?” asked Phoebe, a little piqued.

“Oh, I am pursuing my studies here; not in books, however!” replied Holgrave. “The house, in my view, is expressive of that odious and abominable Past, with all its bad influences, against which I have just been declaiming. I dwell in it for awhile, that I may know the better how to hate it. By-the-by, did you ever hear the story of Maule, the wizard, and what happened between him and your immeasurably great-grandfather?”

“Yes indeed!” said Phoebe. “I heard it long ago from my father, and two or three times from my Cousin Hepzibah, in the month that I have been here. She seems to think that all the calamities of the Pyncheons began from that quarrel with the wizard, as you call him. And you, Mr. Holgrave, look as if you thought so too! How singular, that you should believe what is so very absurd, when you reject many things that are a great deal worthier of credit!”

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