"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 a while, that I may know the better

how to hate it. By the bye, did you ever hear the story of Maule, the

wizard, and what happened between him and your immeasurably


"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!"

"I do believe it," said the artist seriously; "not as a superstition,

however, but as proved by unquestionable facts, and as exemplifying a

theory. Now, see: under those seven gables, at which we now look

up,--and which old Colonel Pyncheon meant to be the house of his

descendants, in prosperity and happiness, down to an epoch far beyond

the present,--under that roof, through a portion of three centuries,

there has been perpetual remorse of conscience, a constantly defeated

hope, strife amongst kindred, various misery, a strange form of death,

dark suspicion, unspeakable disgrace,--all, or most of which calamity I

have the means of tracing to the old Puritan's inordinate desire to

plant and endow a family. To plant a family! This idea is at the

bottom of most of the wrong and mischief which men do. The truth is,

that, once in every half-century, at longest, a family should be merged

into the great, obscure mass of humanity, and forget all about its

ancestors. Human blood, in order to keep its freshness, should run in

hidden streams, as the water of an aqueduct is conveyed in subterranean

pipes. In the family existence of these Pyncheons, for

instance,--forgive me Phoebe, but I cannot think of you as one of

them,--in their brief New England pedigree, there has been time enough

to infect them all with one kind of lunacy or another."