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House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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seventeenth century, and officiated at the famous trials for
witchcraft held there. It is of record that he used peculiar
severity towards a certain woman who was among the accused;
and the husband of this woman prophesied that God would take
revenge upon his wife's persecutors. This circumstance doubtless
furnished a hint for that piece of tradition in the book which
represents a Pyncheon of a former generation as having persecuted
one Maule, who declared that God would give his enemy "blood to drink."
It became a conviction with The Hawthorne family that a curse had been
pronounced upon its members, which continued in force in the time of
The romancer; a conviction perhaps derived from the recorded prophecy
of The injured woman's husband, just mentioned; and, here again,
we have a correspondence with Maule's malediction in The story.
Furthermore, there occurs in The "American Note-Books" (August 27,
1837), a reminiscence of The author's family, to the following effect.
Philip English, a character well-known in early Salem annals, was among
those who suffered from John Hathorne's magisterial harshness, and he
maintained in consequence a lasting feud with the old Puritan official.
But at his death English left daughters, one of whom is said to have
married the son of Justice John Hathorne, whom English had declared
he would never forgive. It is scarcely necessary to point out how
clearly this foreshadows the final union of those hereditary foes,
the Pyncheons and Maules, through the marriage of Phoebe and Holgrave.
The romance, however, describes the Maules as possessing some of the
traits known to have been characteristic of the Hawthornes: for example,
"so long as any of the race were to be found, they had been marked out
from other men--not strikingly, nor as with a sharp line, but with an
effect that was felt rather than spoken of--by an hereditary
characteristic of reserve." Thus, while the general suggestion
of the Hawthorne line and its fortunes was followed in the romance,