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, the Pyncheons taking the place of the author's family, certain

distinguishing marks of the Hawthornes were assigned to the imaginary

Maule posterity.


There are one or two other points which indicate Hawthorne's method of

basing his compositions, the result in the main of pure invention, on

the solid ground of particular facts. Allusion is made, in the first

chapter of the "Seven Gables," to a grant of lands in Waldo County,

Maine, owned by the Pyncheon family. In the "American Note-Books"

there is an entry, dated August 12, 1837, which speaks of the

Revolutionary general, Knox, and his land-grant in Waldo County, by

virtue of which the owner had hoped to establish an estate on the

English plan, with a tenantry to make it profitable for him. An

incident of much greater importance in the story is the supposed murder

of one of the Pyncheons by his nephew, to whom we are introduced as

Clifford Pyncheon. In all probability Hawthorne connected with this,

in his mind, the murder of Mr. White, a wealthy gentleman of Salem,

killed by a man whom his nephew had hired. This took place a few years

after Hawthorne's graduation from college, and was one of the

celebrated cases of the day, Daniel Webster taking part prominently in

the trial. But it should be observed here that such resemblances as

these between sundry elements in the work of Hawthorne's fancy and

details of reality are only fragmentary, and are rearranged to suit the

author's purposes.

In the same way he has made his description of Hepzibah Pyncheon's

seven-gabled mansion conform so nearly to several old dwellings

formerly or still extant in Salem, that strenuous efforts have been

made to fix upon some one of them as the veritable edifice of the

romance. A paragraph in the opening chapter has perhaps assisted this

delusion that there must have been a single original House of the Seven

Gables, framed by flesh-and-blood carpenters; for it runs thus:-"Familiar as it stands in the writer's recollection--for it has been an

object of curiosity with him from boyhood, both as a specimen of the

best and stateliest architecture of a long-past epoch, and as the scene

of events more full of interest perhaps than those of a gray feudal

castle--familiar as it stands, in its rusty old age, it is therefore

only the more difficult to imagine the bright novelty with which it

first caught the sunshine."