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19th century documents
posted October 2004










    The following papers, though never before published in a volume, have appeared in the Journal, of which the author is Editor. They were "editorials"—''articles" written, that is to say, at one sitting, and printed from ink scarce dry. This will justify the name under which they appear—hurry-graphs—for the invention of which much wanted word, the author begs pardon till it comes into general use.

    One other apologetic difference between this and books written at leisure :—the subjects have been chosen from nearness at hand, or from their occupancy of public attention at the moment, or from being apt to the interest or conversation of the passing hour. Some allowance should be made, perhaps, for the journalist who thus takes topics as they come, and writes without the advantage of prepared taste or previous attention.

    One extraneous value may attach to these sketches. They are copies from the kaleidoscope of the hour. They are one man's imprint from parts of the world's doings at one place and time. New York, and what interested it in the middle of the nineteenth

                                       PREFACE         iv

century, will be a chapter for History to which this volume will contribute. The author, long ago, made up his mind that the unreal world was overworked—that the Past and Future were overvalued—and that the Immediate and Present, and what one saw occurring, and could truthfully describe, were as well worth the care and pains of authorship as what one could only imagine or take from hearsay. He has written, therefore, upon topics as the Hour presented them ; and though his impressions and opinions might have been modified by keeping and re-considering, they have the value, as he hopes they will be allowed the apology, of hurry-graphs from life as it went by.

New York, March, 1851.


[excerpts from] CONTENTS.


Effect of Steamer Starting from the Wharf  —  Piece of Town afloat  —  The Phenixed Boat  —  Cost of Empire State  —  Vocation of Captain  —  Spectacle of Supper in a Cabin Two Hundred and Fifty Feet Long  —  Efffect on Manners  —  Sumpuous Entertainment for Fifty Cents  —  Excuse for Statistics  —  New Bedford and its Wealth  —  Climate and Industry  —  Geographic Peculiarities  —  "Placer" for Beauty  —  The Acushnet  —  Old Fashioned Prejudices and Modern Luxury  —  Statesmanlike Remedy for Decline of Local Trade and Industry  —  Proposed Visit to the Raised Leg of New England, etc., etc. . .



System and Monotony — Booted Leg of Massachusetts — First Step below the Garter — Yarmouth and its Vertebral Street — Sentiment on Cape Cod — Stage-driver's Plenipotentiary Vocation —Delicate Messages delivered in Public — More taste for Business than Rural Seclusion — Sameness and Plainness of Building — Republican Equality — 'Cute Lad  — Yanno the Handsome Chief — Cape Cod Poetess — Comparative Growth of Trees and Captains — Boxed Gardens — Misfortune of too Good Company — Centenarian Servant known as "The Old Gentleman" — Man One Hundred and Nine Years Old, who had never been out of Temper, etc., etc.


Down the Ankle of Cape Cod to Heel and Instep — Amputated Limb of a Town — Look of Thrift — Contentment on Barren Sand — Primitive part of the Cape, unreached by Steam and Rails — Ladies' Polkas — Statistics of Mackerel Fishery — Three Prominent Features of the Cape, Grave Yards, School Houses and One other — Praiseworthy Simplicity of Public Taste — Partial Defence of "Dandies" —  The "Blue Fish" — Class of Beauty on the Cape — Comparative Vegetation and Humanity, etc., etc.


Lagging Pen — Sketch of Cape Cod Landladies — Relative Consequence of Landlords — Luxury peculiar to Public Houses in this Part of the Country — Old friend of "Morris and Willis" — Strap of the Cape Spur — Land like " the Downs of England — Sea-farming and Land-farming — Solitary Inn — Double Sleep — Hollow of Everett's Cape "Arm" — Pear tree over two hundred years old — Native Accent and Emphasis — Overworked Women — Contrivance to Keep the Soil from blowing away — Bridge of Winds — Adaptability of Apple-trees — Features of this Line of Towns — Curious Attachment to Native Soil — The Venice of New England, etc., etc.

CONTENTS.      vii


Descriptive of the last few Miles of Cape Cod, and the Town at its Extremity.


Noteworthy peculiarity of Cape Cod — Effects of Sand on the Female Figure — Palm of the "Protecting Arm" — Pokerish Ride through Foliage — Atlanticity of unfenced Wilderness — Webster's Walk and Study of Music — Outside Man in Lat. 41° — Athletic Fishing — Good Eating at Gifford's Hotel — American "Turbot" — Wagon Passage over the Bottom of the Harbor — Why there are no Secrets in Provincetown — Physiognomy of the People — Steamer to Boston, etc., etc.

[The Table of Contents is continued after the articles on New Bedford and Cape Cod.]



Effect of Steamer Starting from the Wharf — Piece of a Town afloat — The Phenixed Boat — Cost of Empire State — Vocation of Captain — Spectacle of Supper in a Cabin Two Hundred and Fifty Feet Long — Effect on Manners — Sumptuous Entertainment for Fifty Cents — Excuse for Statistics  — New Bedford and its Wealth — Climate and Industry — Geographic Peculiarities — "Placer" for Beauty — The Acushnet — Old Fashioned Prejudices and Modern Luxury — Statesmanlike Remedy for Decline of Local Trade and Industry — Proposed Visit to the Raised Leg of New England, etc., etc.

    My Dear Morris : — If you have any recollection of what the boys call " running kittledys" — prying off and jumping upon cakes of ice and navigating them, when the frozen river is breaking up into floating islands, in the Spring — you can understand what I mean when I say that one of these vast steamboats, leaving the wharf, seems to me like a whole street cake-ing off into the river. I walked the length of the " Empire State," yesterday, before starting, and, when she glided away from the pier alongside of the Battery, it struck me like the lower end of the town going adrift — like "Ward No. 1" getting under weigh. And, really


this great flotilla comprises almost as much of a town as one wants — quite as much, at least, as one wishes to take into the country in August, — drawing-rooms, sleeping-rooms, and kitchens, stables and baggage-rooms, barber's shop and refectory, lounging places and promenades, ladies to wait upon and servants to wait on us, goods and merchandise of every description, supper, society and something to sec. If we could pack up a portion of the city, as we do a portion of our wardrobe, and take it travelling with us as "baggage," we should hardly want more.

    The " Empire State" is the boat that phenixed, last year — was burnt to the water's edge, that is to say, and rebuilt — and, superb as was the former boat, this is an improvement on her. The tremulous jar which we used to feel at cither end of the old boat, is remedied by extension of the bracing portions of this, and she goes through the water now, at eighteen miles an hour, as steadily as a swan. The cost of one of these floating palaces may help you to an idea of their magnitude and magnificence — one hundred and eighty thousand dollars ! The Fall River Company have another such boat, a little larger than this, and a smaller one ; and their outlay, altogether, I was told — for craft, warehouses, wharves, etc., — amounts to half a million! This, as the investment of capital in only one of several lines of conveyance in the same direction, shows the energy of Yankee enterprise very forcibly. The burnt upper works of the boat that was destroyed, I should mention, were replaced at a cost of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars.

    The captain of one of these boats exercises an office of very responsible control. The daily municipality, (subject to his mayoralty from wharf to wharf,) often comprises upwards of five hundred souls, including fifty or so of permanent subordinates; and


the demands on his tact, judgment, personal character and author ity, besides the life and property entrusted to his skill, are enough to entitle his office (and all offices should be graded by their power and responsibility) to the consideration and dignity of a prefect. We should be better off, if huge cities could be as well disciplined and governed as are these floating towns of temporary popula tion. The "Empire State" is a beautiful model of system, elegance and comfort. The quiet decision, and good-humored mas tership and authority of Comstock, her captain, who is a fine spe cimen of his class, form a controlling power that works like boat's rudder. It seems to affect even the manners at the supper-table, for, chance-met and promiscuous as is the company, never twice the same, it is as orderly a show, in its gcncral effect as any entertainment in the world. This sort of thing, mind you, is found in no other country, and when first seen, it is very im pressive to a stranger. The room in which it is saved, the lower cabin, is two hundrcd and fifty feet long, richly and continuously draped on both sides with curtains of costly material and brilliant colors; and the two immensely long tables are furnished in style of most sumptuous luxury. Vases of flowers, elegant china, bouquets at every third or fourth plate, and a profusion of chan doliers and candles, are the ornamental portion. The well-drilled negro waiters in their uniform white jackets are apparently select ed for their good looks as well as for their capability. The sup per consists of game, fish, oysters, steaks of all kinds, every vari ety of bread and sweetmeats, and tea and coffee, with an after course of ices and jellies — all well cooked and all served as quietly and expeditiously as it could be done in a palace — and, that this could be afforded at fifty cents a head, would astonish a European. Now, every-day matter as this is, it is a brilliant spectacle of gregarious

A RICH TOWN.     27

economy, worth travelling some distance to see, and as creditable to our country, as it is peculiarly American. Let us recognize good things as they go along, familiar though they be !

    New Bedford, (the place of my present writing,) is two hundred and twenty-five miles from New York — twenty-five miles by railroad from Fall River, to which these steamers ply. One gets here by a capital supper, a night's sleep on the water, and an hour's ride in the morning — cost (for feed and freight) four dollars ten cents. If I am a little dry, with my statistics, by the way, you will remember that it is easy to skip a fact, if you knew  it before — vexatious to miss one if you want and do not find it
How ignorant are you, on the whole, my dear General? It is not always safe, I have found, to presume on people's knowing everything, and, in the remainder of this letter, particularly, I shall address you as if you knew nothing.

    What do you think of a town, in which, if the property taxed in it were equally divided, every man, woman and child, in its population, would have over one thousand dollars ? This makes a rich town, (they would say in Ireland,) and, in fact, New Bedford is as rich, for its population, as any town in this country. The taxed property this year is $17,237,400, and the whole number of inhabitants is but about sixteen thousand. The use of capital by which the place is best known, is its whaling business — a hundred ships, averaging each thirty thousand dollars in value, belonging to this port alone. Twenty or thirty years ago, this was the engrossing interest of the town, and the arrival of a ship from sea drew everybody to the wharves; but now they come and go, unnoticed except by owners and the relatives of the crew. The sexagenarians tell how the railroad and the theatre have displaced the old excitements, and, with this history of change comes


a long chapter upon novelties in dress and religion, nearly the entire population having once been Quakers. Luxurious as the town is, now, however, and few and far between as are the lead-coloied bonnets and drab cut-away coats, there is a strong tincture of Quaker precision and simplicity in the manners of the wealthier class in New Bedford, and, among the nautical class, it mixes up very curiously with the tarpaulin carelessness and ease. The railroad, which has brought Boston within two hours distance, is fast cosmopolizing away the local peculiarities, and though at present, I think, I could detect the Now Bedford relish, in almost any constant inhabitant whom I might meet elsewhere, they will soon be undistinguishable, probably, from other New Englanders. As to the geography of the place, you may, if you please, imagine Massachusetts sitting down with her feet in the waters of the Acushnet, where that river opens upon Buzzard's Bay, and looking off towards the Gulf of Mexico — New Bedford occupying, meantime, the slope of her instep. The southern shore of the Granite State, is fringed with islands which break the ocean horizon ; but the warm and moist air of the gulf comes unchecked hither, with every continuous south wind, affecting very much, (and very delightfully, to my sense), the climate of the place. The eighty miles' stretch of land which extends back, between it and Massachusetts Bay, uses up, at the same time, the bilious acid of the Boston east winds; and, but for its greater clearness, the weather, here, would resemble, in most of its temperate seasons and phases, that of the south of England. The thermometer, on an average, is five degrees higher than in Boston, though the breezy exposure to the sea makes the extreme heat of summer more endurable here than there. A southern
propinquity to the ocean is very favorable to complexion, and this is a "placer" for bright lips and rosy cheeks accordingly.

    The Acushnet is more an arm of the sea than a river proper, and as the harbor is in the hollow of this arm, the old maritime town takes a very close hug from it — some of the best of the old houses being but a biscuit pitch from the vessels at the wharves. On the table-summit of the precipitous hill which rises immediately behind the town, stands one of the finest arrays of dwelling-houses in this country — an extensive neighborhood of costly villas, with each its ample surrounding of grounds and garden —  and this part of New Bedford reminds one of the Isle of Wight or English Clifton. One of the well-remembered events of the town's history  —  a matter of twenty or thirty years ago — is the opposition made to the introduction of sidewalks ; the influential and wealthy of that period insisting that they had walked comfortably enough over the round stones ; yet, in the beautiful houses where many of these easily suited persons are now glowing old, is to be found luxury in its most refined shapes and costliest superfluities  — so readily, in this mobile country of ours, do classes and customs undergo changes the most improbable.

    An idea has been liberally and successfully acted upon at New Bedford, which is somewhat analogous to Nature's provision for the supply of the Croton—(three or four lakes in reserve in case the principal one should fail,)— as it embodies a useful example, both of political economy and of practical philanthropy, I  will ballast my sketchy letter with its mention. Whaling, as every knows, has been the principal commerce and industry he town since its first settlement. The large fortunes possessed have been mostly made in this trade, and the majority of the inhabitants, even know , are mostly dependent on it, in one


shape or another. From various causes, the profits of this long lucrative resource have lessened within the last few years, or a, least the shipping enterprise has not increased with the population and its wants. A farther falling off, of this vital supply of prosperity, was foreseen to be possible, and recognized at once as a calamity which the wealthy might not feel, who could easily employ their capital elsewhere, but which would fall very heavily on the families of the maritime class. It was evident that some new industry must be grafted on the habits of the place, and that it must, if possible, be one of which the families of sailors and mechanics could avail themselves, independent of the precarious yield from "following the sea." The decline of many a town shows that the industry of communities is not, in itself, a very Protean or self-restoring principle, and, unless cared for and redirected by far-sighted and higher intelligence, will lose courage with the exhaustion of a particular vein. Enterprise, for individual gain alone, is slow to provide new branches of trade. It must be done from public spirit, and by a combination of the sagacity to contrive and the influence to induce and control capital. This is the moral history of the establishment of the Wamsutta Steam Cotton Factory, which has lately been put into operation at New Bedford, with a capital of three hundred thousand dollars, and in which a sailor's daughter, for example, (who else might be painfully dependent, or compelled to leave home and go out to service,) may earn four dollars a week by independent and undegrading labor. This is the average of the present earnings of two hundred operatives in this new factory ; and, as the investment is already proved to be a good one, other factories will doubtless be built, and the industry of New Bedford, turned into a now and more reliable and acceptable channel, will


be independent of the precarious resources of whaling. Towns are well furnished that have controlling minds among their inhabitants, capable of this sort of enlarged foresight and remedy, to provide new conduits against their natural or accidental depletion. New Bedford is indebted for this to its able Representative in Congress, Hon. Joseph Grinnell.

    Having never visited the renowned country, Cape Cod, I am making my will and otherwise preparing for an exploring expedition to that garden of 'cuteness. If you look at it upon the map, you will see that it resembles the lifted leg of Now England, in the act of giving the enemy a kick. Intending to venture out as far as Provincetown, which is the point of the belligerent toe, I shall probably date my next letter from that extremity — mean-time remaining, dear General,

Yours, &c.


System and Monotony — Booted Leg of Massachusetts — First Stop below the Garter — Yarmouth and its Vertebral Sheet — Sentiment on Cape CM  — Stage-driver's Plenipotentiary Vocation — Delicate Messages delivered in Public — More Taste for Business than Rural Seclusion — Sameness and Plainness of Building — Republican Equality — 'Cute Lad — Yanno the Handsome Chief — Cape Cod Poetess — Comparative Growth of Trees and Captains — Boxed Gardens — Misfortune of too Good Company — Centura nan Servant known as " The Old Gentleman" — Man One Hundred and Nine Years Old, who had never been out of Temper, etc., etc.

    You must leave the railroad to know anything of the character of New England. A wooden Station-house, with " Gentlemen's Room," "Ladies' Saloon," a clock, and a counter for pies and coffee, is the picture repeated with as little variety as a string of mile-posts, from one end of a route to the other. System and punctuality, such valuable and invariable characteristics as they are, of rail-roading in Yankee-land, are accompanied, as invariably, by stiff gravity and monotony — the excitement of curiosity which a stranger awakens as he goes, being the only gleam of

THE RAISED LEG.        33

animation upon the meeting-house physiognomy of the cars. With my getting round the head of Buzzard's Bay, therefore, my dear General — (three hours of rail-roading from New Bedford to Sandwich) — you would bo no more interested than in a history of a man's travels while changing his seat from the broad-aisle to the side-aisle to see more of the congregation.

    On the raised leg of New England, (which Cape Cod, or Barnstable county, looks to be, on the map,) the proposed ship canal from Buzzard's Bay to Massachusetts Bay, would be the well-placed garter. Mr. Everett, by-the-way, very felicitously called this peninsular Cape the outstretched arm which Providence held forth, to enclose, with protecting welcome, the Pilgrims of the Mayflower; but I insist, notwithstanding, that it resembles more a raised leg, clad with the spurred boot of a cavalier —  Falmouth, at the spacious opening of its top, the long island off Chatham forming the long rowel of its spur, and the Elizabeth cluster, from Naushon to Kutiyhunk, furnishing its appropriate edging of lace.

    The railroad, extending only to Sandwich, barely crosses the line of this proposed garter canal. My companion and guide intended to lodge ten miles father down, at Yarmouth. We found an old-fashioned stage, waiting for passengers "bound down," and, rejoicing in it as a long missed and pleasant friend I mounted to the top for one of the pleasantest summer-evening rides that I remember. With a full moon rising before us, a delicious southern breeze laden with the scent of sweet-briar and new hay, and a consequent mood rather sentimental than otherwise, I commenced acquaintance with Cape Cod —  a country, the mention of which does not (usually, at least) call up associations of so tender a complexion.


    We were fourteen passengers, but the carrying of us and our baggage seemed to be a secondary part of the driver's vocation. He was apparently the agent, parcel-carrier, commission-broker, apologist, and bearer of special intelligence for the whole population. His hat was the "way-mail," and, with his whip and the reins for four horses in his hands, he uncovered, and transacted business constantly and expeditiously. The presence of fourteen detained listeners was no barrier to the delivery of confidential messages. We pulled up before one of the most respectable-looking houses on the road, and a gentleman came out, evidently prepared to receive something he had expected.

    " Mr B — ," said the driver," " told me to tell yer he could'nt send yer that money to-day."

    "Why not?" said the expectant, clearly disappointed.

    " 'Cause he had to go to Court."

    "Wal!" said the gentleman, putting his hands in his pockets and giving the driver a sly look as he turned on his heel, "you hain't pocketed it yourself, have yer?"

    "Tluck, tluck !" and along we went again, pulling up, a mile further on, to receive a parcel from a man in an apron.

    "Seventy-five cents to be paid on that!" said the mechanic holding out his hand to receive from the driver what his customer was to pay on delivery — an advance, or loan on security, of course, which the driver handed over without objection.

    Presently we were stopped by a man with a letter in his hand. The driver was a minute or two decyphering the address, and, after some delay, to which none of the fourteen passengers made any objection, he discovered that it was directed to Boston, and he was to drop it into the office at Yarmouth.

    "Anything to pay on't?" asked the man.


    " No Tluck, tluck!" and away we went again.

    These, and slighter errands, made a difference of perhaps half an hour in our time of arrival — a tax upon transient passengers for the benefit of regular customers on the road, which is, no doubt, politic enough in the stage proprietor, but which, like most other arrangements of the Cape, was indicative of the primitive simplicity of old time.

    Barnstable and Yarmouth — once several miles apart — have built up to each other, and a stranger would have no idea where the two towns divide This is the result of a peculiar fashion which prevails all over the Cape, of building nowhere but on the stage-road, the houses and gardens of those populous villages being all strung, thus, upon one string. I inquired the length of the street, or extension of contiguous houses, through which we had come to Yarmouth, and was told it was five miles. So exclusively is it "the rage" to live on this main street, that the land upon it is worth, on an average, three or four dollars a foot while, a hundred rods back, it could be had for comparatively nothing. I may mention here, that, on our way to Hyannis the next morning, we came to a most lovely fresh water lake, set in a bowl of wooded hills, and offering the finest possible situations for elegant rural residence. Though only a mile or so from the village street, this beautiful neighborhood was as unfenced and wild as land on the prairies; and of no value for building lots, as the gentleman told me who was our kind conductor. In any other vicinity to a town, in a civilized world, it seems to me, such easy advantages for taste and charming surroundings would have been eagerly competed for, and seized upon and improved by the first winner of a competency.

    In the style of building, along through Yarmouth and


Barnstable, there is a most republican equality. Usually; in places of the same size, the inhabitants, as they grow wealthy make a corresponding show in their dwelling-houses. Here, there is scarce one which has any pretension, or could fairly be accused of any superiority which might awaken envy. They are mostly wooden farm-houses, of one unvarying inelegance of model, and such as could be built, I was told, for an average cost of somewhere within one thousand dollars. Yet many of the residents, in these simple structures, are very wealthy men. The equality, of which this is a typo, extends to everything. We stopped, example, (in our ride from Yarmouth,) at the village of Hyannis, and, leaving our two vehicles at the store, which served as stopping-place, went to a neighboring house to call on some old acquaintances of my fellow-traveller. As we sat in the drawing-room, conversing with the four or five ladies of the family, a lad of fifteen, who had been sent with us by the keeper of the livery stable to bring back his horse, walked in and took a chair, with the self-possession of the most honored guest. He was a boy, by-the-way, to whom I took a fancy — " a 'cute lad" worthy of Cape Cod — and I was indebted to him, as we rode along, for valuable information. Among other things, he pointed out to me the Indian burial-ground, where Y-anno, (an Indian chief whose remarkable personal beauty is still remembered, and after whom the village of Hyannis is named,) has his grave. A man was ploughing in the field of which it made a part. "Do you see that man ?" said the boy ; "well, he's got a daughter that wrote him a piece of poetry about givin' on her that lot that the Indians are buried in." He then showed me the house in which the poetess lived — all with the air, however, of one doubtful whether or not he had apprised me of a matter of any consequence. Like some


older people, he evidently had not made up his mind whether the writing of poetry was indicative of a fool or a prophet. As this was the only one of my trade whom I heard of as indigenous to the Cape, I was sorry, afterwards, that I had not called to pay the proper respects of professional "fraternization."

    We had left the ordinary stage route at Yarmouth, and kept along the south shore of the Cape for ten or fifteen miles—intending to take the stage again at Harwich. The small village of Hyannis, which is five miles south of the usual line of travel, is upon a bank of sand, which affords only a scanty hold to" vegetation, and it looks like a settlement of Socialists, or like the ideal of Pitcairn's island — so all alike are its houses, and so tidy, thrifty, homely, and after one pattern, are all the surroundings of each. There seems to be but one idea of the structure of a dwelling — to have nothing superfluous and to paint the remainder white. The garden fences are made of close boards, to keep out the sand in windy weather, and every house stands in a white box, accordingly. Those are, almost without exception, the residences of the families of seafaring men, and we were told that we should be safe in calling any man "Captain" whom we might meet in Hyannis They raise better Captains than trees, here. The stunted pine, with its bald roots, looks scrofulous and pinched, and the only shade-tree which seems to thrive is the silver-leaved poplar, of which we saw, here and there one, in the boxed up gardens. As in Yarmouth, the building-lots are valuable on the streot, —  the few feet, for a little cottage and flower garden, costing four or five hundred dollars, while the average cost of the houses in the town, (occupied many of them, by comparatively wealthy men) is but six or seven hundred.

     Unfortunately for the interest of my letter, I made this


excursion in company with a very distinguished man; and, as the inhabitants turned out, every where, to show him attention accompany him from town to town, I had little or no opportunity of seeing what some traveller calls "the unconscious natives." Wherever we chanced to be, at about the dinner hour, we were kept to dine — losing time for me, as our entertainers were of the class that is the same all over the world, and, delightful as was their hospitality, it furnished, of course, neither material nor liberty of description. Among the advantages of the attention to my friend, of which I thus, business-wise, complain, however I must mention an introduction to a centenarian, whom I noticed that every one called "the old gentleman," though he enjoys celebrity as having been servant to the father of James Otis the patriot. It was a curious confusion of dates, to hear a patriot who has gone down to history, spoken of, by a living person, as "young Jem" — the name by which the old man invariably designates James Otis. The "old gentleman" has a noble physiognomy, and is the wreck of a powerful frame. He was courteous and aristocratic enough, in his expression and bearing to have been an old Duke.

    I was sorry to hear, after we left Yarmouth, that I had missed seeing a centenarian of that place, who is certainly a curiosity. He is now a hundred and nine years of age, and, in his whole life was never known to be out of temper. He married young, and his wife died about twenty years ago, having been, all her life, a singularly irritable woman ! He did good service in the war of the Revolution, and has been pressed, at various times, to apply for the pension to which he is entitled. He refused always, on the ground that, as he served the time he agreed to, and received the pay they agreed to give him, the Government owes him


nothing. His children, living in the town, are well off, and wish him to end his days with them ; but he prefers his lodging in the Poor House, declining that he "can't bear to think of being a trouble to any body," and fairly earning his board by " doing chores" about the grounds and kitchen. He is still of a most playful turn of mind. A fellow pensioner of the Poor House, who is eighty years old, was sitting with him, but a few days since, upon a wooden bench in the yard — the skirts of his broad-skirted coat lying loose upon the seat, and the large empty pockets temptingly open. The old humorist quietly glided behind, during their talk, and, from a heap of loose stones near by, filled the open pockets, without disturbing the owner. He then patted him kindly on the shoulder, and, expressing some fear that he might take cold, asked him to walk into the house. At the vain efforts of his pinned down friend, to rise with the weight in his coat-tails, he laughed as heartily as a boy of sixteen. He is said to have a fine physiognomy, and to have been an active man and a good citizen, without displaying any particular talent. I must defer, to another letter, the remaining and more interesting portion of my trip down the Cape.

Yours, &c.


Down the Ankle of Cape Cod to Heel and Instep — Amputated Limb of a Town — Look of Thrift — Contentment on Barren Sand — Primitive part of the Cape, unreached by Steam and Rails — Ladies' Polkas — Statistics of Mackerel Fishery — Three Prominent Features of the Cape, Grave-Yards, School-Houses and One other — Praiseworthy Simplicity of Public Taste  — Partial Defence of "Dandies" — The "Blue-Fish" — Class of Beauty on the Cape — Comparative Vegetation and Humanity, etc., etc.

    At the close of my last letter, I believe, I was bound to take tea on the heel of Cape Cod, and, thence, to cross over and sleep on the instep. We stopped upon the way — between the two veins of Bass River and Herring River — to visit one of the "packing wharves," to which the mackerel fishermen bring in their cargoes for inspection and barrelling. These long projections of framework into the sea, of which there are several along the Southern beach of the Cape, have a strangely amputated look — a busy wharf having usually a busy city attached to it, and such a limb of a town on a desolate shore doing as much violence to association as to see an arm there without the remainder of the man.

    In the mackerel fishery is engaged a very large proportion of the inhabitants of Cape Cod, and this, and other navigation are


enriching that part of the country, at present, at an almost Californian rate — at least, if the usual indications of renewed prosperity are at all to be trusted. The little fleets of fishing vessels which are constantly visible in the distance, following the "schools" of their prey, are beautiful objects, looking like flocks of snow-white birds painted upon the blue tablet of the sea. They are, each, a small republic, composed of ten or twelve men, with proportionate shares in the enterprise, and their voyages last from two to six weeks The fish are assorted, at the packing wharves, into three qualities, inspected and sent to market. At the head of each of these landing-places is a "store" for sundries, where the fishermen may find the few goods and groceries that he requires, and, all around —  warehouses, pyramids of new barrels, workmen and all —  had a look (it struck me) of most especial thrift and contentment.

    And I must put in here, my dear song-writer, a paragraph which you poetical and un-practical people may skip if you like —  statistics of mackerel fishery which I took some pains to inquire out, and by which persons of other vocations can make that comparison of outlay and profit, so useful to a proper appreciation of human allotment.

    The small vessels in which fishing is most successfully pursued are from 50 to 100 tons burthen, and cost from $2000 to $4000. The expenses and fittings-out are divided into two classes of articles, which are technically called the "Great Generals" and the "Small Generals" —  the former consisting of salt, barrels, expense of packing, and Skipper's commission on the proceeds ; The latter consisting of provisions for the crew and fishing-tackle, owners furnish vessel, sails, rigging, etc., and draw 25 to 30 per cent. of the proceeds, after the "Great Generals" are

                            MACKEREL FISHERY      42

deducted. The crew receive the remainder, and divide among themselves, according to the quantity of fish caught by each. I forgot, by-the-way, to mention the Skipper's premium for commanding the vessel, which is 2½ per cent, on the proceeds. And another item: — whoever furnishes the "Great Generals" receives one-eighth of the gross proceeds, and it is sometimes done by the owner of the vessel, sometimes jointly by the crew.

    The average quantity of mackerel taken by single vessels in a season, is 600 barrels, and they usually bring $6 per barrel. Let us put it into a shapely business statement: —

    Gross proceeds,
Deduct " Great Generals:" —

   600 bushels of salt at 30 cents, $180
   600 empty barrels and re-packing, 600
   Skipper's commission, 90     $870,00


Owner of vessel's share, 25 per cent.



Crew of twelve men, average to each,

    Less share of " Small Generals,"
    About $20 per month,

    Sometimes (I must add), the crews are part owners of the vessels, and, according to their standard of wealth, when a man has acquired $4000, he has an independent fortune — the cost of living, for a fisherman's family on the Cape, not necessarily exceeding $200 per annum.

    There is bitter complaint of the Government, among those

COD FISHERY.        43

interested in the mackerel fishery — (a very formidable body of voters) — so palpably injured is this large and hardy class by the operation of the ad valorem duty on foreign mackerel. In the British provinces, where this fish is taken by a seine, instead of by hook and line as in this country, they can afford to put the value as low as two to three dollars per barrel, making the duty from forty to sixty cents. The American fisherman furnishes a better article, but to enable him to compete at all with his foreign competitor, there should be a specific duty of so much per barrel.

    The cod fishery, by which the tough sons of the Cape are best known, is so incomparable a school for such sailors as the country relies on in time of danger, that the Government gives a bounty to those who engage in it. This premium on an industry which is an education in skill and hardihood — the exposure to fogs, ice and difficult navigation being greater than in any other pursuit —  amounts to $300 given to the owners and crew of each vessel, three-eighths to the owners and five-eighths to the crew.

    The barren sand and starved vegetation of this whole line of coast naturally suggested a query as to the contentment of residense here, but, in answer to various inquiries, I found that a Cape man's proverbial ambition is to have a comfortable home where he was born; that the Cape girls have no wish to live any-where else ; and that increased means only confirm them in the fulfilment of these indigenous preferences. Just now, certainly, there are more new houses going up on the Cape roads than in any section of the country which I have travelled through, and, as to poverty, it seems unknown, from the Cape's toe to its knee-pan. In Provincetown, where the population is between two and three thousand, there are but two paupers and these are disabled and decrepid fishermen. If green and fertile Ireland,


(which is the first land eastward,) could only close up to the Cape, what a picture of double contrast would be presented, and what a neat Gordian knot it would offer — wealthy and intelligent bleakness, and ignorance and poverty-stricken fertility — for political economists to unravel!

    We left, at Harwich, the relays of kind friends who had passed us along in their vehicles on the Southern shore, and resumed the stage conveyance on the regular highway. From this point to Chatham (along the ankle of the leg), we saw, I presume, a fair segment of the primitive state of things — unaltered, I mean, by the new-fangleries of the march of improvement. The two ends of Barnstable County are in a state of transition — the upper end having a railroad running into it, and the lower end connected with Boston by a daily steamer — and, for old-fashioned Cape Cod manners and habits, the traveller will soon be obliged to confine his observations to this sandy betweenity. Trifles sometimes, show, like sea-weed, the reach of a resistless tide, and it amused me to notice that the article of lady's dress called a visite or polka, (a brown over-jacket that has been, of late, a popular rage,) was universal as far down as Yarmouth, scattering through Hyannis, unseen through Chatham, Eastham, Wellfleet and Truro, and suddenly universal again where the steamer touches — at Provincetown. How soon these two converging tides will polka the whole Cape, is a nice and suggestive question of progress.

    The houses in this intermediate region, are of a most curiously inelegant plainness — the roof all painted red, the sides of rusty white if painted at all, and the model invariably the same, and such as a carpenter would build who thought only of the cheapest shelter. Ornament of any kind seems as unknown as beggary. The portion of a house, which in every foreign country is decently

SCHOOL-HOUSES, &c.        45

concealed, — and unobserved access to which, is contrived, at the humblest cottage of Europe, in some way or other, — is here the most conspicuous and unsheltered of the appendages to a dwelling-house — an insensibility to delicacy, the more strange, as the females of this part of the country are proverbially and fastidiously modest. The two next most conspicuous things are the school-house and the grave-yard — life's beginning and its ending  — the latter a tree-less collection of white stones occupying, everywhere, the summit of the highest ground. In one instance where it stood over a family vault, the white stone, with its black fence, was the only object in the yard of a farm-house, and placed exactly between the front door and the public road. The absence of taste which accompanies the Cape Cod disrelish of superfluities, is a thing to be regretted, we think, though there are evils, of course, which follow close after refinement, as corruption after ripeness in most fruits of this wicked world. One of our ablest contemporaries, a Boston editor, writing a letter recently from the Cape, approaches the same quality of Cape character by a little different road. He says : —

"The amusements here must be few compared with other places which we have visited, or must be peculiar in their character. There is no opportunity for persons of a sentimental turn to take a promenade of a leisure on to some romantic glen or grove, or a stroll by moonlight through some secluded spot, and enjoy the beauties of nature.

The only promenade is the plank sidewalk which I have already mentioned as extending through the town by the water's edge, about which there is very little seclusion, poetry or romance. A ' pleasant ride,' for obvious reasons is an operation of still greater difficulty. And this may be one reason, why the Provincetown folks are generally a matter-of-fact people, possessing among them no crack-brained poets or dreaming philosophers."

The same writer alludes complimentarily, again, to the severe


simplicity of the Cape, and we must quote the passage to explain why our assent to his virtuous sentiments is with a slight reserve tion. He declares:

    "Loafers, dandies, and such like characters, are not tolerated on Cape Cod. And it is owing to this feeling that Provincetown, although situated on the most barren section of the Cape, notwithstanding the falling off in the salt business, once the mainstay of the place, continues in a flourishing condition, and is increasing in business, wealth, and population."

    Now, that dandies prevent the increase of business and wealth, is possible enough, and we admire, with our brother editor, the simplicity by which they are "not tolerated on Cape Cod ;" but the poor dandies have enough to bear, we think, without the additional charge with which our contemporary winds up his period  — that they prevent the increase of "population."

    I must make up for finding fault with my friend's logic, by quoting, from his letter, a passage of his valuable practical information:

"Cod, haddock, large flounders, stripped bass, mackerel, and a species of flat fish, called a turbot, may be taken in abundance but a short distance from the shore. The blue fish also is found in the bay this season, in greater number than has ever previously been known, much to the annoyance of the fishermen, as other kinds of fish eschew his company and seek less fierce and blustering companions elsewhere. Indeed I heard a similar complaint in other towns on the Cape, particularly Chatham, where they told me that the blue fish had driven all other fish off the coast. This fish, which is not so large as a middling sized cod, which it somewhat resembles in shape, is remarkably strong, fearless, active, and voracious — a veritable pirate of the seas — and cannot be conquered without a severe struggle. He is taken when the boat is under sail, with the line dragging astern — in the same way in which mackerel were formerly caught on the coast, and the king-fish, barracooter and other game fish are taken in the West Indies. When hooked he strives gallantly for life — and is apt to snap off an ordinary mackerel line


by his muscular efforts and sudden jerks, or cut it off with his sharp teeth. When caught in a seine — which is often the case — he makes sad work in the midst of his more quiet and philosophical companions in misfortune —  often attacking the net which imprisons him, in a truly savage manner — biting and tearing it to pieces, and escaping from durance vile through the woful rent which he has made. This fish is excellent eating if cooked soon after he is taken, but is of little comparative value to salt or pickle; it is therefore no wonder that he is seldom spoken of by fishermen in terms of affection or respect."

    There is one class of unusual personal beauty on Cape Cod, and I pointed out striking instances of it to my companion, from one end of our route to the other. There scarce seemed to be an individual, of the time of life I refer to, who was not a fine study for a painter — I mean, the man of seventy and upwards. I never saw so many handsome old men in any country in the world. And it is easily accounted for, in their descent and pursuits — the stern and manly Pilgrim type confirmed and perpetuated by their lives of peril and hardy exorcise, while the visits to foreign ports, and absence from village dwindlification, has kept the physiognomy liberal and open. One part of it is less easily accounted for — the largeness of frame in these old men — for they seem like a race of Anaks in comparison with modern New Yorkers, and yet sailors are usually small men. There is a chance, perhaps, to get rid of the difficulty by Professor Guyot's theory, that vegetable and human life are not permitted by Nature to be luxuriant together; for, by this law, in proportion as Cape were barren and untropical in its vegetation, its human product would necessarily be more luxuriant — smaller trees, larger Captains.

    The process of descent by which this rougher branch of the


Pilgrim family have preserved the strength of the paternal out, line, would be curious to trace through all its influences ; and some future Macaulay will give us the analysis of this and the other more refined and less massive handings down from the Mayflower. An admirable passage, bearing upon this matter, occurs to me while I write — a part of a Preface to "The Bigelow Papers" written by Russell Lowell — and I will take it out of that book, which was smothered in eccentricity, and preserve it, here, like a foie gras in an earthern pot: —

"New England was not so much the colony of a mother country, as a Hagar driven forth into the wilderness. The little self-exiled band which came hither in 1620, came, not to seek gold, but to found a democracy. They came that they might have the privilege to work and pray, to sit upon hard benches and listen to painful preachers as long as they would, yea, even unto thirty-seventhly, if the spirit so willed it. And surely if the Greek might boast his Thermopylζ, where three hundred fell in resisting the Persian, we may well be proud of our Plymouth Rock, where a handful of men, women and children not merely faced, but vanquished, winter, famine, the wilderness and the yet more invincible storge that drew them back to the green island far away. These found no lotus growing upon the surly shore, the taste of which could make them forget their little native Ithaca; nor were they so wanting to themselves in faith as to burn their ship, but could see the fair west wind belly the homeward sail, and then turn unrepining to grapple with the terrible Unknown.

"As Want was the prime foe these hardy exodists had to fortress themselves against, so it is little wonder if that traditional feud is long in wear-ing out of the stock. The wounds of the old warfare were long ahealing and an east wind of hard times puts a new ache in every one of them. Thrift was the first lesson in their horn-book, pointed out, letter after letter, by the lean finger of the hard school-master, Necessity. Neither were those plump, rosy-gilled Englishmen that came hither, but a hard-faced, atrabillious, earnest-eyed race, stiff from long wrestling with the Lord in prayer, and who had taught Satan to dread the new Puritan hug. Add two


hundred years' influence of soil, climate, and exposure, with its necessary result of idiosyncracies, and we have the present Yankee, full of expedients, hall-master of all trades, inventive in all but the beautiful, full of shifts, not yet capable of comfort, aimed at all points against the old enemy Hunger, longanimous, good at patching, not so careful for what is. best as for what will do, with a clasp to his purse and a button to his pocket, not skilled to build against Time, as in old countries, but against sore-pressing Need, accustomed to move the world with no pou sto but his own two feet, and no lever but his own long forecast. A strange hybrid, indeed, did circumstance beget, here in the New World, upon the old Puritan stock, and the earth never before saw such mystic-practicalism, such niggard-geniality, such calculating-fanaticism, such cast-iron-enthusiasm, such unwilling-humor, such close-fisted generosity. This new Grœculus  esuriens will make a living out of anything. He will invent new trades as well as tools. His brain is his capital, and he will get education at all risks. Put him on Juan Fernandez, and he would make a spelling-book first, and a salt-pan afterward. Yet, after all, thin, speculative Jonathan is more like the Englishman of two centuries ago than John Bull himself is. He has lost somewhat in solidity, has become fluent and adaptable, but more of the original ground-work of character remains. He feels more at home with Fulke Greville, Herbert of Cherbury, Quarles, George Herbert and Browne, than with his modern English cousins. He is nearer than John, by at least a hundred years, to Naseby, Marston Moor, Worcester, and the time when, if ever, there were true Englishmen. But John Bull has suffered the idea of the Invisible to be very much fattened out of him. Jonathan is conscious still that he lives in the world of the Unseen as well as of the Seen. To move John, you must make your fulcrum of solid beef and pudding; an abstract idea will do for Jonathan."

    My letter makes slow progress toward the "jumping-off place" at the end of the Cape, dear Morris, but, though a friend said to me at starting that I should "find nothing to write about on Cape Cod," you see how suggestive, after all, are its clam-shells and

ON THE HEEL.        50

sand. Consider me at Chatham for the present — on the heel of the hardy leg of Massachusetts — for here I must stop, short of my purpose when I began, but short of being tiresome, I hope, as well.

Yours, &c.


Lagging Pen — Sketch of Cape Cod Landladies — Relative Consequence of Landlords — Luxury peculiar to Public Houses in this Part of the Country  — Old friend of "Morris and Willis" — Strap of the Cape Spur — Land like "the Downs of England — Sea-farming and Land-farming — Solitary Inn —  Double Sleep — Hollow of Everett's Cape "Arm" — Pear tree over 200 years old — Native Accent and Emphasis — Overworked Women — Contrivance to Keep the Soil from blowing away — Bridge of Winds — Adaptability of Apple-trees — Features of this Line of Towns — Curious Attachment to Native Soil — The Venice of New England, etc., etc.

    As you see, dear Morris, my pen follows me on my journey like a tired dog, but it will overtake mo in time. Lag as it will, it is a rascal that sticks to its master — (I am sorry to say) — and I were to go bed in heaven, without it, I think, I should sec its tail wag with the first movement of my hand in the morning. "Love me, love my dog," however, for, like fairy drudges who treat their inevitables " like a dog," I prefer to have the abusing of him all to myself.

    In travelling on Cape Cod, one remembers where he takes tea, for the teapot and the landlady are inseparable, and the landladies are pretty women, from one end of the Cape to the other.


The landlord, I noticed, is only "first mate" in this maritime country, and his wife is the indisputable Captain. As is the case all over the surface of the globe, where woman has the whole responsibility, she acquits herself admirably, and I remember no country where the landlady's duties and powers are so judiciously allotted and so well discharged as on Cape Cod — a fact particularly noticeable in America, where everybody does much more and considerably less than he ought to. My companion (Member of Congress from this District), having the "best front chamm-ber" as a matter of course, I was generally lodged in the rear, within cognizance of all the machinery of housekeeping — the trade with the pedlar, the talk with the butcher, the petting of the child, the hurrying of "them gals," and the general supervisory orders, from the gridiron in the kitchen to the remotest pillow-case up stairs, coming within unavoidable earshot — and my admiration of the landladyhood of Barnstable County, I freely own, increased with my knowledge of it. But for the view out of the window, I should not always have been sure that the vigorous handler of tongue and broom whom I saw and heard the moment before the bell rang, was the same gentle proposer of "'green or black" whom I looked at over my shoulder the moment after ; but there she was — the same, save what changes were made, in manner and habiliment, somewhere between back-stoop and parlor. The hair, evidently was dressed in the morning for all day ; and, on some habitual nail, probably, hung the cover-all polka, slipped on with the other tone of the voice, "in no time ;" and, by either, the dullest stranger would know the mistress from her servant. To the former, you looked, only when your "cup was out," or for whortleberries and milk. To "pass the potatoes" you must turn to the girl with no collar on. It might have been only a curious


coincidence, or it may be a professional attitude, but, when not waiting on guests, the landladies, everywhere on the Cape, presented one picture — seated thoughtfully at the side-table with the cheek resting on the thumb and two fingers. In one or two cases I noticed that it seemed to be a favorite time, when new-comers were taking tea, to receive calls from the young ladies in the neighborhood — the visitors, whom I had seen radiating toward the house from various directions, coming in without their bonnets, like members of the family, and departing, bonneted, when the meal was over. With the gentlemen about, who were "regular boarders," I observed that the landlady was, (as they express excellence in Boston,) "A. No. 1," gay, social, and, in manner, something between a sister and a great belle ; and, by the way in which my companion's advances to conversation were met, I was satisfied that sociability with the landlady is an understood thing  — the public houses on the Cape being thus provided with a luxury, (a lady for a stranger to talk to) which would bo a desirable addition, even to the omni-dreamings-of at the incomparable Astor.

    In the stage proprietor who was to furnish us our vehicle to

* As Ireland is the next country eastward, perhaps it may be apposite to quote a passage from Thackeray's travels, descriptive of Irish innkeepers and their wives — the contrast very much in favor of the kind civility of the same class in Barnstable County, while at the same time, our own hold a much higher relative position in social rank. He says : " I saw only three landlords of inns in all Ireland. I believe these gentlemen commonly, and very naturally, prefer riding with the hounds, or other sports, to attendance on their guests; and the landladies prefer to play the piano, or have a game of cards in the parlor; for who can expect a lady to be troubling herself with vulgar chance customers, or looking after Molly in the bedrooms or Tim in the cellar!"

CAPE COD PLOUGH.        54

cross to Orleans, I found one of our old "Mirror'" parish, who "knew us both like a book" — all the apartments of his memory papered with the editorials of those days of quarto — and he very kindly took the place of his driver, and put us over the road with his own good whip and better company. We followed a line, that, on the booted log of the Cape, would be defined by the strap of the spur, and a beautiful evening drive it was, with half a dozen small lakes on the road and a constant alternation of hill and valley — though we were probably indebted to a glowing twilight, and Its train of stars and fragrance, for some modification of sand and barrenness. Over this ton miles of hill and water, scarce anyone had ever thought it worth while to put up a fence, and, like the open Downs of Sussex in England, more beautiful ground for a free gallop could scarcely bo found on the wild prairie. There are few or no farms, from Chatham across to Orleans. Here and there stands a dwelling-house, but its owner farms the more fertile Atlantic, where his plough runs easier even than through the sand, and his crops sow their own seed without troubling him.*

* The analogy between land-farming and sea-farming is hinted at by quaint old Fuller, who, in one of his sermons, thus delivers himself: — "Why doth not the water recover his right over the earth, being higher in Nature? Whence came the salt, and who first boiled it, which made so much brine ? When the winds are not only wild in a storm, but even stalk mad in a hurricane, who is it that restores them again to their wits and brings them asleep in a calm ? Who made the mighty whales, who swim in a sea of water, and have a sea of oil swimming in them ? Who first taught the water to imitate the creatures on land, so that the sea is the stable of horse-fishes, the stall of kine-fishes, the sty of hog-fishes, the kennel of dog-fishes, and in all things the sea the ape of the land? When grows the ambergrease in the sea, which is not so hard to be found where it is, as to know what it is ? Was not God the first Shipwright ? and all vessels on the water descended from the loins, or rather ribs, of Noah's ark ? or else who durst be so bold with a few crooked boards nailed together, a stick standing upright, and a rag tied to it, to adventure into the ocean ? What loadstone first touched the loadstone? or how first fell it in love with the north, rather affecting that cold climate than the pleasant east, or fruitful south or west ? How comes that stone to know more than men, and find the way to the land in a mist ?" [footnote on pages 54-55]

SOPORIFIC AIR.        55

    The Inn at Orleans reminded me of that solitary albergo half way over the Pontine Marshes — the inside of the house a refuge from the barren loneliness without — though the solidifying salt air of the Cape was different enough from the nervous drowsiness of the malaria. I shall remember Orleans by its dispensation of sleep, for it seemed to me as if two nights had been laid over me like two blankets. Cape air, indeed, day and night, struck me as having a touch of "poppy or mandragora," and, please lay it to the climate if my letter weighs on your eyelids.

    With a charming pair of horses and a most particularly native Cape driver, we started, after our breakfast at Orleans, to skirt the full petticoat which Massachusetts Bay drops southward from the projecting head of Cape Ann. The thirty miles to the point of the Cape was one day's work. An hour or so on car way we stopped to see the blown-down trunk of a pear-tree brought over from England by Governor Prince, which had borne fruit for two hundred and twenty years. It lay in an orchard, at the rear of a house as old as itself, and the present tenant sells its branches for relics. The direction of our driver, when we stopped before the door, may perhaps be usefully recorded as a guide to travellers, and I will try to spell it strictly after his unmitigated Cape pronunciation : — "Git r-a-ight a-out, and step r-a-ight r-a-ound ; it's the back p-a-irt of the h-a-ouse." The letter a, in the native dialect, seems to fill a place like the " bread at discretion" in a French bill of fare ; and I was struck also with an adroit way


they have, of giving point to a remark by emphasizing unexpected words. This same driver, for instance, when we commented upon the worn and overworked look of the middle-aged females whom we met upon the road, replied, (and his voice sounded as if it came up through his nose and out at his eyes,) "y-a-es ! they must work OR die!''

    Around most of the dwellings, along on this shore of the Cape, there is neither tree nor shrub, and this gives to their houses an out-of-doors look that is singularly cheerless. One ship on an ocean horizon could not look more lonely. Even the greenness of the poor grass around the cottage is partly lost to them, for they cover it thinly with dead brush, literally to keep the soil from blowing away — so light and thin is the surface of loam upon this peninsula of sand.

    Lying between the Atlantic and the stormy Bay so well known as the nose of the bellows of Newfoundland, it is probably but a bridge of wind, for the greater portion of the year. A few apple-trees, which we saw in one place, told the story — the branches all growing horizontally from near the root, and sticking so close to the ground that a sheep could scarcely pass under them.

    We ploughed sand, all along through Eastham, Wellfleet, and Truro, seeing but the same scanty herbage, houses few and far between, flat-chested and round-backed women and noble-looking old men, and wondering, (I, at least,) at the wisdom of Providence in furnishing the human heart with reasons for abiding in the earth's most unattractive regions. "All for the best," of course, but one marvels to remember, at the same time, that the most fertile and beautiful land in the world, on the Delaware and Susquehannah, equi-distant from New York and easier of access, can be bought for half the price of these acres of Sahara.

BREVITY.        57

    The remainder of the Cape, from Truro to Provincetown, is the Venice of New England — is unlike anything else as the city of gondolas is unlike the other capitals of Italy — and deserves the other end of a letter. In the brevity of this, too, I take a certain vacation liberty, which I need, on the venerable and time-worn principle, that

"All work and no play,
Makes Jack a dull boy "

Yours, &c.


Descriptive of the Last Few Miles of Cape Cod, and the Town at its Extremity.

    At the point where I resume my sketch, of Cape Cod, dear Morris, I could not properly date from "terra firma.'' The sand hills, which compose the last few miles of the way to Provincetown, are perpetually changing shape and place, and —  solid enough though they arc, to be represented in Congress — the ten-mile extremity of the Cape is subject to a " ground swell," for the sea-sickness of which oven Congress has thought it worth while to prescribe. I must define this to you more fully, for, literally true as it is., it Hounds very much like an attempt at being figurative.

    Whoever travels between Truro and Provincetown, though he goes up hill and down dale continually, runs his wheel over the virgin sand, for, even the stage-coach that plies daily backward and forward, leaves no track that lasts longer than an hour. The republican wind, though blowing ever so lightly, commences


the levelling of an inequality as soon as raised, and the obedient particles of light sand, by a granular progression scarcely perceptible, are pushed back into the hole they were lifted from, or distributed equally over the surrounding surface. Most of the way, you are out of sight of the sea, and with this, and the constant undulation, there is little or no resemblance to a beach. Indeed it is like nothing with which we are familiar ; for, down in the bottom of one of those sandy bowls, with not a blade of grass visible, no track or object except what you brought with you, a near and spotless horizon of glittering sand, and the blue sky in one unbroken vault above, it seems like being nested in one of the nebula; of a star — a mere cup of a world, an acre large, and still innocent of vegetation. The swell of a heavy sea, suddenly arrested and turned to sand, in a series of contiguous bowls and mountlets — before a blade of grass had found time to germinate, or the feather of a bird to drop and speck the smooth surface — would be like it, in shape and superficies. The form, of this sand-ocean, changes perpetually. Our driver had "driven stage" for a year, over the route between Truro and Provincetown, and, every day, he had picked a new trade, finding hills and hollows in new places, often losing his way with the blinding of the flying sand in a high wind, and often obliged to call on his passengers to " dig out" — a couple of shovels being part of his regular harness. It is difficult to believe, while putting down the foot in this apparently never trodden waste, that, but a few miles, either way, there is a town of two thousand inhabitants.

    Nature, that never made a face without somebody to love it, has provided "something green" to vegetate in every soil, and there is an herbage called the beach-grass which will grow


nowhere but in the sand — whore nothing else will. The alarming variations of shore, on the inner side of Cape Cod, with the drifting movements of the sand, aroused, not long since, an apprehension that the valuable bays and harbors within the " protecting arm," might gradually diminish. It is an important quality, in a coast or a Congressional District, that you should "know where to find it," and Congress was applied to, for an appropriation to make the "protecting arm" hold still. Three thousand dollars were given, and — pile-driving, wall-building and other expedients having been found, by experiment, both too expensive and ineffectual — it was suggested that the planting and sowing of beach-grass over these moveable hills, would best answer the purpose. Like love, which binds with spider's webs that grow into cables, the slender filament of this poorest and slightest of Nature's productions, holds imprisoned that which had defied walls and stockades, and, from the partial trials on the most exposed points, it is evident that Barnstable County can be made to permanently justify its name — offering, to storm-driven ships, a shelter as stable as a barn.

    At the first sight of Provincetown, over the sand-swells, one feels like crying out "land ho !" — but, with nearer approximation, the yielding element, over which one has been surging and sinking, acquires neither steadiness nor consistency. The first houses of the principal street stretch out to meet you, like the end of a wharf, with sand all around them, and sand still beyond, and, by a continuation of deep sand, you heave alongside of a plank side-walk, and warp up to the hotel — your horses, that have toiled at a dead pull, down hill as well as up, rejoicing at a " make-fast" in which there is no more motion.

    Provincetown is famous for importing its gardens — the box of


soil in the centre of which a house stands, like a cottage in one of the floating gardens of Holland, being brought over in sloop-loads from terra-firma. These little earths, of which each owner was in a manner, the maker, (who, by invoice, " saw that it was good,") are very neatly planted with shrubs and flowers, and, standing close together, in an irregular line, with the sand up to their close-board fences, they resemble a long raft which might bo unmoored and set adrift at any moment. This, to me, gave a sort of Venetian aspect to this town built upon loose sand — the same impression of a city afloat having been produced by those palaces of Venice, set in streets of water.

    At the hitherward end of Provincetown, which is exposed to the winds and drifts of the sand-ocean I have described, the inhabitants seemed to be prepared to "dig out" at very short warning, for, from every house there runs to the water-side an embankment, such as is laid for a railroad, and, on the top, is laid a line of planks with a wheel-barrow and shovels. The high sand ridge, which, like a long hill, backs up the town, is dug into, like caves, at the rear of each dwelling, but it looks as if it might all be set in motion by a "snorter." At the other end of the town, the houses spread into two or more streets, and, in here and there a corner, it approaches the look of an ordinary own. One plank sidewalk, (three miles long, if I remember rightly,) runs the whole extent of the place, and on this you are very sure to see everybody stirring, for, to walk anywhere else is to wade. I was told that the Cape people have a peculiar step for the sand, however, laying down the flat of the whole foot and bending the knee, and not the ankle, to advance. The utility of larger feet must of course make them a beauty in so practical a place as Provincetown ; but, as well as I could see, under the


petticoats I chanced to meet, the feet of the ladies were of the usual dimensions. As a careful and observant traveller, I must record, apropos of ladies, that, among those who were promenading "before tea," on the plank sidewalk, I noticed two who were remarkably pretty. There was an air of tastefulness and gayety among them which I had not observed on the other parts of the Cape, and I presume I saw a fair representation of the belles of the "jumping-off place" — the liveliness that was given to it by the evident general habit of promenading on this only trottoir, being a very pleasant opportunity of observation for the stranger.

    The time for closing the mail, at the place where I write, has overtaken me unexpectedly, and I will simply enclose to you one or two interesting extracts from another description of this place —  (by Mr. Sleeper of Boston) — and reserve what else I may have to say of Provincetown for the commencement of another letter.

Yours, &c.

    "Provincetown is about fifty miles from Boston by water, and one hundred and ten by land. The distance to Cape Ann, across the bay, is about fifty miles. Its appearance, on enticing the harbor, is particularly striking. Indeed, it resembles no other town I have seen ; and in this, as in some other respects, it may be regarded as unique. The town consists of some six or eight hundred wooden buildings, many of them neatly painted which are chiefly arranged on a street near the sea-shore, that extends in a slightly curved line, upwards of two miles. The sea-shore is lined with boats, hauled up to high-water mark, or lying on the flats; and many small vessels are at anchor in the harbor, or alongside the wharves. The towers and steeples of the several churches gracefully rise above the houses ; and in the rear of the houses are a chain of abrupt sand-hills extending the whole length of the town, occasionally broken by valleys, which reach some distance inland. Some of these hills are covered with vegetation in the shape of whortleberry and bayberry bushes, but the greatest portion of them

SAND SOIL, &c.        63

throw aside all deception, and honestly acknowledge that they are composed of sand-granules of light-colored quartz. The loftiest of these hills probably exceeds one hundred feet; and from the summit of one of them in the rear of the centre of the town, on which the remains of a fortification which must have commanded the harbor is still to be seen, a most picturesque panoramic view is obtained, which well compensates a person for a much more arduous task than ascending the height.

    "The principal street is narrow — inconveniently so — being not more than twenty-five feet in width, and this includes a sidewalk of plank, for pedestrians, extending the whole length of the town. On the north side, fronting the harbor, the dwelling-houses, comfortable-looking buildings, one or two stories high, are erected without much regard to order or regularity; while on the opposite side are stores, warehouses, and entrances to the wharves and the beach. In the construction of the houses more regard is manifested for comfort than for show.

    "The soil about Provincetown should not be regarded as altogether barren — as being composed entirely of sand. Some of the hills are covered with a loose coat of mould, and the low lands and valleys, off from the shore, are densely clothed with shrubs, and in some places dwarf pines and scrub oaks abound. Indeed it is an historical fact, that a considerable portion of this part of the Cape was formerly covered with trees, which have nearly all been cut down long since for fuel. Some of the bogs or swamps in the vicinity of the town have been "reclaimed," and this without any considerable labor; and the rich soil thus discovered — a sort of vegetable mould, five or six feet in depth — is found to produce heavy crops of grass, corn, potatoes, &c., which being always in demand, will richly compensate the enterprising cultivator for his extra labor and expense, in converting an unsightly bog-hole into a fertile field or flourishing garden. Many acres of land might in this way be made to produce good crops of corn, grass and vegetables, and as the good work is now fairly commenced, we hope in a few years to see a sufficient quantity of these agricultural productions raised in the vicinity of Provincetown, for the supply of the inhabitants, and a portion, at least, of the many fishing and other vessels which enter the harbor.

    "There being so few trees on this part of the Cape, of course fuel must be scarce. No peat has been found in this vicinity, and anthracite coal has not

POPULATION.        64

been yet introduced into general use. It doubtless will ere long become the principal material for fuel, as wood, which must be brought from abroad, and is chiefly imported from Maine, becomes more scarce and expensive.

"The number of inhabitants in Provincetown, according to the census in 1840. was 1740; it is now, probably, rising 2000, The business carried on here is principally fishing and manufacturing salt by solar evaporation. Cape Cod is famous for the salt business. It was commenced in many towns on the Cape some seventy or eighty years ago, and under the protecting care of the General Government, proved for many years a certain source of wealth. Investments in salt works were always considered safe, and the stock was always above par. It was never necessary to borrow money at two per cent. a month to keep them in operation. The reduction of the duty on salt, however, has in later years proved injurious to this business, which now yields but a slender profit. The works are in most cases still kept in operation, but it is not considered worth while to repair them, when injured by accident, or worn out by time. It will not be many years before the salt works, which now cover acres in every town on the Cape, will disappear. The appearance of the numerous windmills which are seen along the whole extent of the main street in Provincetown, pumping the water at high tide, for the supply of the salt works, is one of those objects which are likely to arrest the attention of a stranger to Cape Cod on visiting that place.

    In Provincetown there are two very good hotels, where strangers can be accommodated on reasonable terms — one is kept by Mr. Fuller, and the other, the Pilgrim House, by Mr Gifford, whom I found to be a very accommodating host, desirous of contributing to the comfort of his guests, and ready to comply with their wishes and gratify their requests in every particular —  providing they do not call for intoxicating drinks! Sailing packets ply between Provincetown and Boston three or four limes a week, and I trust that the arrangement of running a steamboat every other day will be persevered in, and meet with the success the enterprise deserves."


Noteworthy peculiarity of Cape Cod — Effects of Sand on the Female Figure  — Palm of the " Protecting Arm" — Pokerish Ride through Foliage — At-lanticity of unfenced Wilderness — Webster's Walk and Study of Music —  Outside Man in Lat. 41° — Athletic Fishing — Good Eating at Gifford's Hotel — American "Turbot" — Wagon Passage over the Bottom of the Harbor — Why there are no Secrets in Provincetown — Physiognomy of the People — Steamer to Boston, etc., etc.

    In one peculiarity, Cape Cod presents a direct contrast to any other portion of our country : — The houses and their surround-ings seem of an unsuitable inferiority of style, to those who live in them. In New York, as every body has remarked, there is nothing more common than a house by which the proprietor is dwarfed, if seen coming out of the door ; and, all over the United States, there is great chance of a feeling of disappointment on seeing a rich man, if you have, unluckily, put up your scaffolding for an idea of him, by first seeing his house. Few dwellings on the Cape cost over one thousand dollars, yet there are many wealthy men who live in houses of this cost — men, too, whose families are highly educated, and whose sons and daughters visit


and marry in the best circles of society in Boston and New York.

    Whether the sandy soil, which seems so unfavorable to ostentation, is also the enemy which the climate seems to contain, as well, for the proportions of the female bust, I can scarce venture to say ; but flatness of chest in the forms of the feminine population of Cape Cod, is curiously universal. Those to whom I spoke on the subject, attributed it partly to the fact that the mothers of most of them had been obliged, in the absence of husbands and sons at sea, to do much of the labor of the farm, and all superfluities had of course been worked into muscle. This is somewhat verified by the manly robustness of the well-limbed sons of these Spartan mothers, but still it is unfortunate that the daughters, (as far as I could judge by their arms and shoulders,) seem to have inherited the loss without the elsewhere equivalent. One notices the same falling off in the women of the deserts of Asia, however, and I am inclined to think that the arid sand, which denies juices to the rose and lily, is the niggard refuser of what nurture the atmosphere may contain for the completed outlines of beauty.

    The end of the Cape, which you see spread like a hand, upon the map, is hollowed like a palm. This concavity is about three miles across, and has one or two fresh-water ponds in it, and a growth of bushes and stunted trees. We drove across this, at sunrise on the day after our arrival, the broad wheels of our Provincetown wagon running noiselessly on the sand, and the only thing audible being the whirr of the bushes which swept the spokes and our shoulders as we went through. We had a fast tandem of black Narragansett ponies, and, as the foliage nearly met over the track before us, and we could see no road, and felt


none, the swift rush through the dividing bushes had, somehow, rather a pokerish effect. It was before breakfast, or I dare say, I should have thought of something it was like, in the post-breakfast world of imagination.

    This bushy waste, of three miles square, with a populous town on its border, is, strangely enough, unenclosed and unappropriated, though the law gives to any one the acres he is the first to fence in. On the street of Provincetown, they pay three dollars a foot for a building lot, and, an eighth of a mile back, they may have acres for only the cost of fencing, — yet no one cares for what might (with merely laying plank paths through the high bushes,) be turned into "grounds," that would at least be a relief from the bare beach. The local ideas of enclosure are probably formed from the deck of a vessel, and, if they can get thirty foot square for a house, they doubtless look on all the space around as a sandy continuation of the unfenceable Atlantic. For my own part, (agriculture aside,) I wish the rest of mankind wove as unappropriative, and the rest of the out-of-town world as common property.

    The object of our sunrise excursion was to see the beach at Race Point, the extremest end of the Cape, and three miles beyond Provincetown — a favorite resort of Webster's, we were told, and where, with his gun on his shoulder, he is very fond of a morning of sportsman idleness. The monotone of the measured surf is "thunderingly fine," on this noble floor of sand, and it would be easy to imagine that it was here the great statesman took the key-note of his tide-like diapasons of eloquence. It sounded as his eye looks and as his thoughts read. The lonely extremity of this far-out point is a fine place for a feeling of separation from crowds — the boundlessness of the ocean on one

A CAPE DISH.        68

hand, and the large-enoughness of Massachusetts Bay on the other — and I pleased myself with getting as far into the Atlantic as the "thus far and no farther" of the water-line, and calling up a "realizing sense," (at the expense of a wet foot,) that I was the outside man of you all, for the space of a minute. One likes a nibble at distinction, now and then.

    They have an athletic way of bass-catching, here, which would please me better than sitting on a low seat all day, as fishermen do, curled up like a seared earwig, and bobbing at a line. They stand on the beach and heave out the baited sinker as far as their strength will permit, and then haul in, dragging a powerful fish if the throw was a good one. This must be the best of exercise for chest and limbs, and the footing on the smooth sand is, of course, pleasanter than a seat on the wet thwart of a boat. I forget whether you are fond of fishing for anything smaller than subscribers, my dear Morris ?

    We came back at a round pace through the bayberry bushes, and found the best of Cape breakfasts awaiting us, a fried fish, which they call a turbot, commending itself to my friend's taste as a novelty of great delicacy and sweetness. This is not the English turbot, of course. It is a flat fish, taken with spearing, and seems to have something the relation to a flounder which a canvass-back has to a common duck. They are not sent away from the Cape, and you must go there to eat them.

    There is no wharf running to deep water at this place, and chancing upon low tide for our time of departure, we were obliged to drive over the muddy bottom of the harbor in a wagon, and, at horse-belly depth, take a row boat for the steamer. The tide, here, rises from twelve to sixteen feet, and Provincetown, this "gem of the sea," is of course, half the time, set in a broad


periphery of mud. The wind had boon blowing hard all night, and our small boat beginning gave one of the ladies a premonition of a sea-sick passage to Boston. I had rather a sprinkly seat in the bow, but, as we bobbed up and down, I had a good backward look at the town, which, with the ascent of mud in the foreground, looked almost set on a hill. I hope to see Provincetown again. It is that delightful thing — a peculiar place. The inhabitants looked hearty and honest, and the girls looked merry. They keep each other in order, I hear, by the aid of the plank sidewalk — for there can, of course, be no secrets, where there is but one accountable path in the whole neighborhood. Everybody at Provincetown knows every time everybody goes out, and every time anybody comes in. This might abridge freedom in towns of differently composed population, but men who are two-thirds of the time seeing the world elsewhere, are kept liberal and unprovincial, and the close quarters of the town only bind them into a family with their neighbors. I have chanced upon the following statistic, by-the-way, as to the dangers to life which those hardy people incur, and it is worth recording : —

''It is stated on the authority of a sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Vinton, that, from tables actually and carefully compiled, it is ascertained that three-fifths of those who follow the sea die by shipwreck! This is a large, and we should say, extravagant estimate : if correct, however, it shows a degree mortality among seamen, of which we had no previous conception. It is added that the average of deaths, annually, among this class, is eighteen thousand; and that in one winter alone, twenty-five hundred perished by shipwreck on the coast of New England."

    This, which I found in a very pleasant book called "Notes on Sea-shore," is followed by some valuable information, as to the preparation of the dishes for which Cape Cod is most famous. The author mentions that Daniel Webster is (in propria persona)

TO COOK A CHOWDER.        70

the allowed best cook of a chowder in all New England, and then proceeds with what I give you as a legitimate belonging to any faithful chronicle of the place I am describing : —

"A Fish Chowder is a simple thing to make. For a family of twelve to fifteen persons, all you have to do is this: — In the first place, catch your fish  — as Mrs. Glass would say — either with a silver or some other kind of a hook; a codfish, not a haddock, weighing ten or twelve pounds. There is more nutriment in the former than in the latter. Have it well cleaned by your fishmonger, (keeping the skin on,) and cut into slices of an inch and a half in thickness — preserving the head, which is the best part of it for a chowder. Take a pound and a half of clear or fat pork, and cut that into thin slices; do the same with ten or twelve middling-sized potatoes. Then make your chowder, thus: — Take the largest pot you have in the house, if it be not 'as large as all out-doors;' try out the pork first, and then take it out of the pot, leaving in the drippings. Put three pints of water with the drippings; then a layer of fish, so as to cover as much of the surface of the pot as possible ; next, a layer of potatoes; then put in two table-spoonsful of salt, and a tea-spoonful of pepper; then, again, the pork, another layer of fish, what potatoes may he left, and fill the pot up with water, so as to completely cover the whole. Put the pot over a good fire, and let the chowder boil twenty-five minutes. When this is done, put in a quart of sweet milk, if you have it handy, and ten or a dozen small hard crackers, split. Let the whole boil five minutes longer — your chowder is then ready for the table, and an excellent one it will be. Let this direction be strictly followed, and every man and even woman can make their own chowders. Long experience enables me to say this, without pretending to be a "cook's oracle." There is no mistake about it. An onion or two may be used, where people have a taste for that unsavory vegetable; but our New England ladies, those of Connecticut perhaps excepted, although extravagantly fond of onions, do not like to have their male friends approach them too closely, when they have been partaking of the "unclean root," and their breaths are irnpregnated with its flavor."

"With regard to clam chowders, the process is very different, but very simple. Procure a bucket of clams and have them opened: then have the skin

TO COOK EELS.        71

taken from them, the black part of their heads cut off, and put them into clean water. Next proceed to make your chowder. Take half a pound of fat pork cut it into small thin pieces, and try it out. Then put into the pot (leaving the pork and drippings in) about a dozen potatoes, sliced thin, some salt and pepper, and add half a gallon of water. Let the whole boil twenty minutes, and while boiling put in the clams, a pint of milk, and a dozen harl crackers, split. Then take off your pot, let it stand a few minutes, and your chowder is ready to put into the tureen. This is the way Mrs. Tower makes her excellent chowders. Clams should never be boiled in a chowder more than five minutes: three is enough, if you wish to have them tender. If they are boiled longer than five minutes they become tough and indigestible as a piece of India rubber. Let even an Irish lady-cook practise upon this direction for making chowders, and our country will be safe ! In seasoning chowders it is always best to err on the safe side — to come "tardy off," rather than overdo the matter. Too much seasoning is offensive to many people, the ladies especially.

"Eels — the way to cook them. — I have a great mind to enlarge upon this subject, but will not at this time. I will only remark that the eel is a much abused and much despised fish; and yet, when properly cooked, it is as sweet as any that swims. Many, from ignorance, cut eels up and put them into the frying-pan without parboiling them: of course they are rank and disagree with the stomach. They should be cut up, and then put into scalding hot water for five minutes, when the water should be poured off, and the eels remain at least half an hour — to reflect on what the cook intends to do next! They are then fit for cooking — the meat is white and sweet, and free from that strong rancid flavor which is peculiar to them before they go through this steaming process. They are commonly used as a pan fish; but they make a delicious pie, (with very little butter) or a good chowder."

Our passage to Boston was a matter of five hours, and we landed at the "T" in a heavy rain, dined at the Tremont at three, were at home in New Bedford at six, (per railroad,) having completed a circle of very agreeable travel in unmitigated Yankeedom.

Yours, &c.

Table of Contents,  in brief:

followed by the chapters above
CONTENTS        viii
CONTENTS      ix
CONTENTS.        x
                   "                 "