The House of the Seven Gables: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. Of their legal tenure [in the House] there could be no question; but old Matthew Maule, it is to be feared, trode downward from his own age to a far later one, planting a heavy footstep, all the way, on the conscience of a Pyncheon. If so, we are left to dispose of the awful query, whether each inheritor of the property-conscious of wrong, and failing to rectify it-id not commit anew the great guilt of his ancestor, and incur all its original responsibilities. -Chapter 1
  2. In this republican country, amid the fluctuating waves of our social life, somebody is always at the drowning-point. -Chapter 2
  3. Life is made up of marble and mud. -Chapter 2
  4. It is very queer, but not the less true, that people are generally quite as vain, or even more so, of their deficiencies than of their available gifts. -Chapter 5
  5. [T]he 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. -Chapter 8
  6. It seemed to Holgrave-as doubtless it has seemed to the hopeful of every century, since the epoch of Adam's grandchildren-that in this age, more than ever before, the moss-grown and rotten Past is to be torn down, and lifeless institutions to be thrust out of the way, and their dead corpses buried, and everything to begin anew. -Chapter 12
  7. "Shall we never get rid of this Past!. It lies upon the Present like a giant's dead body!" -Chapter 12
  8. Here, then, we are to seek the true emblem of the man's character, and of the deed that gives whatever reality it possesses, to his life. And, beneath the show of a marble palace, that pool of stagnant water, foul with many impurities, and perhaps tinged with blood-that secret abomination, above which, possibly, he may say his prayers, without remembering it-is this man's miserable soul! -Chapter 15
  9. What is there so ponderous in evil, that a thumb's bigness of it should outweigh the mass of things not evil, which were heaped into the other scale! This scale and balance system is a favorite one with people of Judge Pyncheon's brotherhood. -Chapter 15
  10. It is a truth (and it would be a very sad one, but for the higher hopes which it suggests) that no great mistake, whether acted or endured, in our mortal sphere, is ever really set right -Chapter 21

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