Excerpt from The House of the Seven Gables, Chapter XV, "The Scowl
and the Smile," relating to Robert Manning
In Judge Pyncheon, Hawthorne attacks Rev. Charles W. Upham, the Salem Whig largely
responsible for Hawthorne's firing from his position at the Salem Custom House,
but in her book The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Moore
observes that Claudia Johnson "indicates that the vengeance may be against many
of the patriarchs in Hawthorne's Salem" (196) including Hawthorne's uncle Robert
Manning. This conclusion seems likely in light of this passage from Chapter XV,
"The Scowl and the Smile," in which Hawthorne refers to Judge Pyncheon's "benefits
to horticulture, by producing two much-esteemed varieties of the pear," an obvious
reference to his uncle, Robert Manning, a noted pomologist who had over 1,000
varieties of the pear in his gardens in Salem.
To apply this train of remark somewhat more closely to Judge Pyncheon.--We might say (without in the least imputing crime to a personage of his eminent respectability) that there was enough of splendid rubbish in his life to cover up and paralyze a more active and subtile conscience than the judge was ever troubled with. The purity of his judicial character, while on the bench; the faithfulness of his public service in subsequent capacities; his devotedness to his party, and the rigid consistency with which he had adhered to its principles, or, at all events, kept pace with its organized movements; his remarkable zeal as president of a Bible society; his unimpeachable integrity as treasurer of a widow's and orphan's fund; his benefits to horticulture, by producing two much-esteemed varieties of the pear, and to agriculture, through the agency of the famous Pyncheon-bull; the cleanliness of his moral deportment, for a great many years past; the severity with which he had frowned upon, and finally cast off, an expensive and dissipated son, delaying forgiveness until within the final quarter of an hour of the young man's life; his prayers at morning and eventide, and graces at meal-time; his efforts in furtherance of the temperance cause; his confining himself, since the last attack of the gout, to five diurnal glasses of old sherry wine; the snowy whiteness of his linen, the polish of his boots, the handsomeness of his gold-headed cane, the square and roomy fashion of his coat, and the fineness of its material, and, in general, the studied propriety of his dress and equipment; the scrupulousness with which he paid public notice, in the street, by a bow, a lifting of the hat, a nod, or a motion of the hand, to all and sundry his acquaintances, rich or poor; the smile of broad benevolence wherewith he made it a point to gladden the whole world;--what room could possibly be found for darker traits, in a portrait made up of lineaments like these? This proper face was what he beheld in the looking-glass. This admirably arranged life was what he was conscious of, in the progress of every day. Then, might not he claim to be its result and sum, and say to himself and the community,--"Behold Judge Pyncheon there"?