17th-19th Century documents
Old Seaport Towns
By Hildegarde Hawthorne
Author of "The Lure of the Garden," Etc.,
with drawings by
John Albert Seaford
Dodd, Mead & Company
HIS informal and personal account of a trip through a group of towns with whose story the brave beginnings of our history are linked, seems to ask for a prefatory word because of this very informality. The book is more in the nature of an afternoon tea chat than any serious presentment of fact; and I feel, therefore, like establishing at the threshold an easy and friendly note with such readers as may decide to drop in and share with me the impressions of a spring outing whose keynote was the spirit of vacation.
Here, where the long Pacific roller breaks its majesty on the shores of California, I look back with a deep feeling of affection to that Atlantic coastline where my forefathers began their great American job. There is a masculine fibre to that rocky and winter-bitten coast lacking on this Western shorecomplemented, rather, by a softer a feminine, quality, that has its own charm. As for beauty, who shall say? Beauty is everywhere, with its thousand aspects. Oddly enough, history reaches back in Monterey or Santa Barbara, al-
most as far as in Plymouth or Newburyport; here, too, old houses shame the present with their more exquisite sense of fitness and artistic excellence, standing serene, lovely evidences of a finished story.
Somewhere Kipling intimated that a happy state of existence would be his who might contrive to pursue spring on her flight around the earth, living everlastingly in that divine season. I feel sure, were that possible, that nowhere else would spring show herself more adorable than in her New England incarnation, following on a grim season of storm and biting cold, incredible, save for her actual presence, a shimmer of colour, a wonder of fragrance, a creature of unbelievable light and youth and grace, playing over the ancient rock and hardy vegetation of that northern land.
If the record that follows serves to urge some one else to find the lilac charm of Maine or Massachusetts as it was found by my sister and myself in this past spring, I am sure of at least one heartfelt thank you for a book it has been a pleasure to write, whatever it may prove to read.
PORTSMOUTH 33 III
NEWBURYPORT 59 IV
SALEM 91 V
BEVERLY AND THE ROCKY COAST 113 VI
GLOUCESTER 133 VII
MARBLEHEAD 161 VIII
PLYMOUTH AND NEW BEDFORD 189 IX
PROVINCETOWN 217 X
NEW LONDON 265 XII
NEW HAVEN 289
CUSTOM HOUSE WHARF, PORTLAND Frontispiece
FACING PAGE OLD STRAWBERRY BANK, PORTSMOUTH 36
OLD WAREHOUSE AND FERRY, PORTSMOUTH 50
CLAM SHACKS, NEWBURYPORT 70
CHESTNUT STREET, SALEM 98
BEVERLY BRIDGE, SALEM SIDE 116
BEVERLY COVE 124
GLOUCESTER TOWERS PROM HARBOUR COVE 142
OLD MANSIONS AND ABBOTT HALL, MARBLEHEAD 166
ORNE STREET, MARBLEHEAD 180
"THE WHALEMAN," NEW BEDFORD 200
OLD WHARVES AND COLONIAL TOWER, PROVINCETOWN 220
IN THE PORTUGUESE QUARTERS, PROVINCETOWN 232
OLD TRINITY CHURCH, NEWPORT 250
A BIT OF THE WATER FRONT, NEW LONDON 272
THE WHITMAN GATE, YALE 300
Custom House Wharf
OVELY lies the country between Portland and Portsmouth, with a shore that varies from broad flats of white sand to grey and weatherbeaten rock piled high and frowning. Pines and birches crowd each other in the long stretches of woodland, and summer sees a gathering of artists and idlers in the villages that are strung along irregularly, sometimes two of them rubbing elbows while between others several miles intervene.
Sister and I sat each at a window, and open windows they were, looking forth upon the blue and green of sea and land in great content. The train was undistinguished by a Pullman, but it was comfortable and not crowded. The joy of visiting any place in the world before the season is incapable of being overestimated.
Suddenly, as I realised that Portland really lay behind us, I remembered that we had neglected to do something we particularly wanted to do.
"We never hunted up Mosher!" I exclaimed. "And now it's too late!"
The Mosher books had naturally always been a delight of ours, and though we had heard that a fire had destroyed part at least of Mr. Mosher's plant, we had looked forward to seeing him and whatever he chose to show us.
"Portland is altogether too reserved about its many charms," Sister thought. " Calm, serene, busy with its present-day work, it leaves the tourist to tour by himself. Of course we forgot things; we were having too good a time with those we found. All the more reason for going back the next chance we have."
And the further we went on our journey along the seacoast with its old towns, the more and better reasons for returning whenever the chance came we found. They are all places to stay in, not to go away from. Take Portsmouth. . . .
We decided that Portsmouth was about hardest place to get away from anywhere on Any excuse is good enough to hold you for just one more day, while the most imperative reason for departure seems unconvincing.
Portsmouth is like a fine old man who has done his hard work and brought up his sons and daughters, and is now content to sit quietly in the sun and spin yarns of the good old days and the mighty deeds they saw. Grey-haired and with a skin all ivory and pale brown, a flash of blue
in his bright old eyes, his voice is melodious as the sea, and there is a salt smell to him, and hints of past adventure. You love to sit beside him and look out to sea and listen and question. Like the famed Scheherazade, he ends one story only to begin another, so that you must stay to hear the ending of that one, too.
You never lose this sense of a personality to the old town, an individuality that is human. There is nothing mechanical, planned, or ordered about it. Its streets wind whither they choose, turning abruptly, ceasing to be, peremptory and whimsical as a stout old sea-captain. It has grown by degrees till it reached maturity, and then it ripened, without changing much in aspect or character, though the days of labour were over.
When we reached it, on that soft May morning, it was lounging at ease, pipe in its mouth and hands in its pockets. No visitors were looked for, and though a few passengers got off at the station with Sister and me, they were evidently coming home, for they climbed into waiting buggies or Fords, or walked off with the assurance of familiarity, while we were left at the deserted station, we and our suitcases.
"Where do you suppose the Rockingham is, and how shall we get to it with these white elephants? "
We secured some rather incoherent directions from the ticket agent, and prepared to exhibit ourselves as strong women.
But at that identical moment a small boy, surely not yet in his teens, hove into sight, whistling. He stopped his youthful music at once, and hastened toward us.
"Carry your bags, lady, carry your bags," he shrilled.
"Go to it, son," we responded. "If you can carry those things to the Rockingham you have not only our respect and admiration quarter."
"I'll take a chanst," he replied, and forthwith tackled the job. It was a real labour of Hercules. Ahead of us he tottered, a gallant little figure in a ragged red sweater, faded knee pants, and bare feet. His arms strained downward, and now and again he set down the bags and grinned back at us. But he refused our proffered help.
"I'll carry 'em till me hands git pulled off, anyways," was what he said.
Maybe it wasn't long to the hotel; he had said that the way was short. But by the time we reached the foot of the flight of stone steps that led up to its red immensity, arbitrary measure of space had ceased to exist for any of us.
I added a nickel to the agreed upon price, and the boy walked soberly off to the corner, when I perceived him to spring suddenly upward into the air and make off with astonishing speed, emitting new and shriller whistles as he faded out of sight.
The Rockingham is a fatal mistake as far as appearances go, an alien and ugly splotch on the fair beauty of the town, but it is comfortable and well run, with a good table of the typical American plan sort. Also, from its upper windows you get a wonderful outlook all over the town, with its pale buff and grey and cream-coloured houses bowered in great trees; you see pretty Langdon Park and the South Mill Pond, in front, with the flashing Piscataqua River, on which the town lies, to the left, and North Mill Pond behind. It is a goodly view, and an inviting.
"Let's unpack our demon suitcases, and get out," Sister urged, as we turned away from the window.
Upon which I discovered that I had left my key behind in Portland. I could see it plainly, In my mind's eye, where it lay, right on the corner of one of the several bureaus in that enormous room, a tiny thing in the immensity. The suitcase leered at me.
"Give me your hair-curler," I said. And when
it was over, the curler was a hopeless, mangled thing, and the case gaped a bit in the middle, but it was open.
I had reached the point where I had to assert myself, and a locksmith would not have satisfied me.
Then, free and happy, we went out into the sunshine and the lilac-scented air of the old town.
There is one writer who is especially connected with Portsmouth, Thomas Bailey Aldrich. And, because we had had the good fortune to know him in his charming old age, that was so full of youth, we wanted to see the place where so much of his early life was spent. Aldrich loved Portsmouth, loved the great river on which it lay, and of which he wrote in longing:
"But I within a city, I,
So full of vague unrest,
Would almost give my life to he
An hour upon your breast!"
Court Street holds the Aldrich house, which is known as the Bailey House, and if ever a street was fit for a poet's birth it is this curving, wandering street, with a high white wooden fence topped with white railings at one side, and old houses, gardens, greenery, on the other. Its broad stone
flagging is good to walk upon, and over the high wall bend lilac, apple, and wistaria, purple and pink and mauve and very sweet. The pretty grey house is kept up by the Historical Society, but it was not open to the visitor as yet. However, we did not care. We leaned over the gate, looking into the enchanting garden, and then idled on down the street, as so often the young Thomas must have idled, moving to the wharves he loved so much. Over here is the older part of the old town, the old Strawberry Bank where the first settlers built their homes, and where the wild strawberries made a red and luscious carpet in Junes long gone. Now the silent old streets and empty wharves, with the tumbledown warehouses that speak of a crowded and busy existence in Portsmouth's heyday, back in 1812, when the town beat Boston and New York as a port of entry and departure for West Indian trading, sleep away in the sun, lulled by the laughter of the youngsters who ride their bicycles and play their games where merchant and whaler used to foregather.
It is hard to get away from the wharves. No such busy life as that of Portland disturbs them. Out at the end of one of them you can look along the whole line, jutting out into the river, which is here so broad and calm that it is more like a
lake than a river, and the salt sea seems farther away by many a mile than it is. Each long wharf appeared to be the peculiar property of a single old man, who sat or stood at its extremity, patiently fishing; we saw no sign of a caught fish, but hope and faith were there, with the wonderful patience of age and the fishing instinct. It reminded me of rivers in France, lined with the same type of humanity, peaceful souls, intent, unsuccessful, happy. I remembered one old fellow, who was a sojourner with us in a quaint hostelry at Grez-sur-Loing. Morning after morning he went to his spot on the river bank, evening after evening returned, content and serene, with never a fish to show. One day I was rowing past his stand when he called to me; he seemed disturbed, uneasy. I drew near, and he held up two small and shining victims.
"Voyez, Madame!" he cried. And there was trouble in his eyes. I felicitated him, I burst out into terms of admiration at this unlooked for success.
But he shook his head.
"Pauvres petits," he murmured. " C'est un peu triste, n'est-ce pas? "
So far as we could see, however, no such sad incident marred the fishing from the old wharves at Strawberry Bank. In the slips were several
of the long, slatted lobster floats that had been so crammed with lively crustaceans in Portland. There were lobsters for the taking, out there in the blue, too, but the town caught only what it needed for home consumption. N'York was not served from here, and no one worked, packing or scooping, for the palaces along Broadway.
Opposite, across the water, the Navy Yard, modern and efficient, and looking at the moment to be thronged with battleships, was accessible by ferry. There was work enough in progress here! One huge man-of-war was being painted from stern to stern, and presented a vermilion glare to the dazzled eyes. We sat at the end of our wharf, beside the particular old man who was fishing there, and looked, but felt no urge to go. Navy yards exist in other places, with their guns and their Jackies and their ships in process of being overhauled. Some other day, we decided, we would take the ferry; but just now to leave Portsmouth for even so short a trip would be the height of foolishness.
And we never did get to the Navy Yard. In fact, we became shameless about it. The peaceful town had us in its friendly grip; when we wandered, it was along the shores or under the pines that surround it, or across to Kittery Point, a fas-
cinating walk, and not among cannon and the engines of war.
The business section of Portsmouth is concentrated on Market and Congress streets and Market Square, which used to be known as the Parade. Cobble-paved and with brick sidewalks, these streets are hedged by one old building after another, among them the Atheneum, of red brick with white stone facings, an exquisite faηade of pure Colonial type. Almost opposite is the old North Church, the most beautiful in the town, with its slender white spire, and a sweet-toned bell. Sunday morning is alert with swinging bells in Portsmouth. They come from every side, crossing each other, a tangle of clanging melody, with the deep note of the bell on St. John's upon Church Hill, which was built in 1808, dominating the rest. This plain old church, a fine structure, was built on the site of Queen's Chapel, destroyed by fire in 1806, on Christmas Eve, and dating from 1732. The bell is said to be the same that rang from Queen's, and which was saved from destruction. It has the mellowness of time in its old throat Other relics from the chapel still used in the church are two doors of solid mahogany, given by Queen Caroline, in whose honour the chapel was named, and a font of porphyry, which
was a gift to the Episcopal Society from Colonel John Tufton Mason, who had captured it from the French in 1758.
You cannot walk three paces in Portsmouth without stumbling on a historical fact or seeing an ancient doorway through which have passed great personages of our country's life. Washington of course slept in the town as frequently as elsewhere in New England, where the sea air makes sleeping both a charm and a necessity. It was at what he called "Colonel Brewster's Tavern " that he was entertained in Portsmouth, a house of great memories, but swept away by fire in 1813, like so many wooden buildings of New England.
There was one house we wanted to see, both for its romantic associations and because it was situate, to use the old phrase, on Little Harbour, a lovely walk from the heart of town past the South Cemetery and through pine woods. On a golden morning we set out, undisturbed by the agitated hotel clerk, who told us it "was more than two miles walk out there."
The Benning-Wentworth House has for its heroine the Martha Hilton of Longfellow's "Tales of a Wayside Inn." Martha was maid at the first of the Earl of Halifax inns, in Queen, now State
Street, and was chidden by Dame Stavers for the baring of her brown shoulders and the scantiness of her skirts.
"I shall ride in my chariot yet," the girl asserted, laughing and entirely unabashed.
And presently she was servant to Governor Wentworth, who lived in
" . . .a Great House, looking out to sea,
A goodly place, where it was good to be . . ."
and there she remained for seven years, until, on his birthday, the Governor took her to wife. So Martha went on living there, a grand lady, and took many a drive past the inn, that Dame Stavers might have the pleasure of looking upon her more fitly clothed than when she roused the disapprobation of her former mistress.
The sea-wind was making music in the pines as we walked under them, and presently under their glancing sun and shade we saw a charming little chapel, now closed and silent, though it was Sunday morning. Probably when the summer is in full swing its doors are opened, and people enter, together with the breath of the pines, which grow close to door and windows, and the song of the birds, that were flitting all about. It is of the simplest construction, of stucco and wood, merg-
ing with the nature about it in the most harmonious manner. Chapel of the New Jerusalem it is called, and a stone bears this inscription:
This Chapel is dedicated to the teaching of Christ and to His Universal Church of Faithful Souls Who have chosen the Freedom of His Kingdom rather than the bondage of Self and of the World. All are Welcome.
It would be difficult to think of a better inscription for a place of worship in such surroundings. The mere reading of it made a sermon, and we walked on over the brown pine needles that gave so soft a treading with a feeling of peace and well-being.
A little while more, and we reached the old house we were looking for, which was completed in 1750. In it Parkman, the historian, often stayed, writing several of his books there. It was indeed a "goodly place to be." The building is the fulfilment of a man's fancy, a quaint structure, oddly shaped, with high gables and unexpected wings and extensions, some of it two stories, the rest but one. It is singularly attractive, and lying
as it does in one of the most bewitching of old-time gardens, it becomes adorable.
Never had we seen such lilacs!
They must have been as old as the house, so immensely thick were their trunks, so high they grew. They bowered the house, and stretched down to the water in clump after clump of vigorous growth, a wealth of fragrance and colour. Butterflies floated above them in a dance of drunken joy. Here indeed was a heaven for them.
A fence surrounded this garden, whose posts were surmounted by carved frogs, turtles, hares, and doves. Daffodils bloomed thick in the grass, which sloped down to the harbour. We knew that this house had some splendid rooms, for there is a fine description in Thomas Bailey Aldrich's little book, "An Old Town by the Sea." But we did not disturb the dwellers therein, who might or might not have been willing to allow us en trance. We walked past the lilacs to the shore, where a large boathouse and wharf were built. At one side of the boathouse lay a fine old sloop painted a sea green, and with a stout mast, but no other rigging. The tide was low and rocks showed brown heads, shaggy with seaweed, above the placid water. On one of the largest of these a queer old shack of wood, with a tower, looking like an amateur and ruined lighthouse, but ap-
parently still habitable, faced the weather. A man was rowing about idly, under the protection of a huge straw hat.
"I'm sure I'd rather be a servant girl here than a leader of society in New York," said Sister, as we sat down on the astoundingly green grass and looked at Little Harbour, and tried to get as much of the mingled smell of sea and pine and lilac into our lungs as they could possibly contain. " Yes, I distinctly envy Martha, either as maid or mistress."
There is another Wentworth house in Portsmouth, also the seat of a Governor, for there were three Governors of that name in Portsmouth, each with a fine house, though we saw only two. The third has perhaps vanished, by fire or progress, for occasionally even here a new house takes the place of an old one. The second house is on Pleasant Street, where most of the finest of the old houses still stand, shaded by the great horse-chestnuts and elms that grace so many of the streets. It was built in 1769 and is one of the handsomest in the city, spacious, full of dignity as of years.
A walk along this same Pleasant Street will make you to subscribe to its name with the utmost heartiness. Near the Wentworth house is the Governor Langdon House, of which Washington wrote in his diary: "There are many good houses,
among which Colonel Langdon's may be esteemed the first." It may still so be esteemed.
Standing back from the street in a spacious garden, solid, calm, of perfect proportion, and tinted that particular tone of pale yellow that we call Colonial, with its flat-topped roof, decked and railed for a promenade, like so many seacoast houses, there is a sense of the imposing to the house. The pillared entrance, a curved portico, the handsome pilasters at each corner, the tessellated marble pavement that leads from the gate to the front steps, all contribute their part. Here Louis Philippe, afterward on the throne of France, came with his two brothers, the Dukes of Montpensier and Beaujolais, and here too the Marquis of Chastellux was entertained. The Marquis speaks of his host, Governor Wentworth, as a "handsome man, of noble carriage," and his house as "elegant and well-furnished." Surely it is so still, for it has never been suffered to fall into despair or feel neglect.
One might spend days in hunting down the old houses of Portsmouth, and happy days. But I will speak of only three more, each too interesting to leave unmentioned. One of these is the old Warner House, the first brick house to be built in the town, dating from 1718. It was built by a Scotch merchant, who was also the projector of
one of the earliest ironworks to be set up in America. The bricks were imported from Holland, the walls being eighteen inches thick.
Pale yellow, shaded by fine trees, three stories high, with a gambrel roof and beautiful luthern windows, the house is one of the best extant. It was closed when we saw it, and seemed to be unlived in, though possibly this is not the case, and later in the season it may open its doors. The house gets its name from the son-in-law of the builder, Jonathan Warner, who was said to be the last wearer of a cocked hat in Portsmouth. There is a most delightful description of this house in Aldrich's book, for he was thoroughly familiar with it. He tells how, thirty or forty years before his writing, a series of long-hidden paintings on the walls of the lower hall were unexpectedly brought to light when it became necessary to remove the papering. "At one place, where two or three coats had peeled off cleanly, a horse's hoof was observed by a little girl of the family. The workman then began to remove the paper carefully . . . and the astonished paper-hanger presently stood before a life-size representation of Governor Phipps on his charger. . . . The remaining portions of the wall were speedily stripped, laying bare four or five hundred square feet covered with sketches in colour, landscapes, views of unknown
cities, Biblical scenes, and modern figure-pieces, among which was a lady at a spinning-wheel . . . clearly, the work of a practised hand."
There is another item well worth remarking to this old house. The lightning rod, still in place, was placed there under the personal supervision of Benjamin Franklin, in 1762.
Close to the water's edge, on Gardner Street, stands the Wentworth-Gardner House, one of the chain of Colonial houses bought and put into complete order, furnishings and all, by Mr. Wallace Nutting. There are four of these houses, each a notable example of its type, one at Lynn, one at Haverhill, and one at Newburyport, besides this at Portsmouth. The work of furnishing and restoring has been accomplished with the keenest pleasure and no end of trouble, and a visit to any one of these houses is a complete education in Colonial home expression.
A huge and beautiful linden tree stands beside the house, said to be the largest in the state. We paid our quarter for the privilege of walking through the fine old rooms. The hall is a thing of pure joy, the stairs wide and with a low tread, the carving of cornices and mantels and panelling throughout the house the work of a master. Why is it that America has lost the art of making these perfect homes? There they stand, throughout
New England, the peace of their beautiful proportions satisfying the spirit of you, their colour a harmony, every detail an artistic accomplishment, simple, adequate. And slowly, one by one, they give way before the commonplace and the crude. Men like Mr. Nutting and others who are at work saving these places will get a vote of thanks from posterity, if nothing more tangible.
In the western room of this particular house Sister and I found an artist at work painting the walls with a sea scene. At one side the wharves and piers of old Strawberry Bank, the sunset behind them, jutted out into the river, with a forest of slender masts and a sail or two, one of these a splendid red. Further along the Bon Homme Richard, which put out from this port, was sailing the high seas with all sails set. Other famous frigates cleft the wave, and the whole was a fascinating mingling of blue and green and purple shot with gold. The artist, a small and smiling man, was enjoying himself greatly.
"There's something about those frigates," he said. " No other ship ever touched them for beauty. I paint here all day long, and I'll be sorry when it's done."
We too were sorry when we had to leave. The little room, with its walls of sea and sky and flying ships and sunset calm, was of a magic quality.
What a place to tell old sea tales before the flickering woodfire of winter nights, and to dream of far adventure!
There was one more house we wanted to see, the oldest left in the town, known as the Jackson House, built in 1664. To get to it we walked along picturesque Water Street and Bow and Market, and crossed into Vaughan Street to take a look at the unpretentious little place where Daniel Webster brought his bride. A shop is being constructed in the lower story of this house, called the Meserve House, and evidently no attempt is being made to keep this interesting relic of past history uninjured.
From there we crossed the bridge that leads over the North Mill Pond. It was a singing, shining day, with bobolinks doing the most of the former, and the country road was enticing.
Everywhere out of Portsmouth the fields and woods beckon and invite. It takes only a short while to find yourself far from the little town, but it is good to know that it lies there back of you, waiting your return.
"It's marvellous to a New Yorker," I told Sister, "this realisation that things aren't going to be different when you get back. Those old streets, those quiet houses, those strong and tall trees, the little shops ... all there! Year in and year
out. When I get back to my place in New York I shall find a whole row of houses, that were there when I left, goneand where there was nothing but a hole in the ground there will be a great crossing and towering of iron girders ..."
The Jackson house seems to have sunk into the ground with advancing years till at one side, where the road runs, the roof rests right on it. A long slope of silver-grey shingles, this high-peaked roof. There is a lean-to, but even so the house is small, and tucked cornerwise into a pretty garden full of lilacs and chickens. The house itself is empty, however, the windows broken, and a battered look is coming over it. Some artist ought to come along and rescue it, for its outlook is charming and its possibilities fine.
It was one of the many places where we felt that we wanted to stay. The New England sea-coast is dotted with such places.
In the Public Library, that occupies an old house with one of the finest doorways I ever saw, on Islington Street, we saw what we found nowhere else: a shelf with the sign over it "Ship's Books." In it were the histories of famous ships, sea stories, technical works, tales of cruises and whaling voyages, well-worn volumes.
"I suppose many a seafaring man has turned these pages," Sister remarked. And she declared
the book she held had a salty fragrance. It was a dissertation on fore and aft rigging, with fascinating diagrams.
Kittery Point is almost part of Portsmouth, connected to it by a long bridge and a delightful pine-shadowed road. We liked that walk about as much as anything can be liked. Pine and sea smell go well together, and make a wonderful music out of such vagrant air currents as sail past. Out that way, too, is Newcastle, where a white and everlastingly large hotel makes a sort of fairy palace effect on what is almost an island. Hither hurry the rich and the idle of summer to spend long days of enchantment. Near here the poet Stedman used to have his summer home, and Howells too has stayed here. Sarah Orne Jewett's name is linked to Kittery, and often she must have walked those three bridges to old Newcastle town that step from island to island, and have, as Aldrich claimed, the loveliest scenery of New Hampshire on either side.
The first American baronet, Sir William Pepperill, lived at Kittery Point, and now lies buried there. His was known as a "goodly mansion," and can yet be seen, though far smaller and less imposing than once it was, for portions have been pulled down by ensuing generations.
The cruel but exquisite Isles of Shoals lie out
this way, connected to Portsmouth by steamera nine-mile trip out. What names they have, these isles! Smutty-Nose, Star, White, Appledore are some of them. It was on Appledore that Celia Thaxter had her home, and there is a hotel there too. White has a lighthouse, and Star a picturesque and tiny town called Gosport, with a white church and heaven-pointing steeple. Happy isles they seem these summer days, but when the fierce storms sweep from the eastern horizon they snarl and roar like hungry lions and many a brave ship have they ground to pieces.
As the time drew on and we realised that if we were to see any more of the seaport towns we must take ourselves and our suitcases away from the red stone comfortableness of the Rockingham, we remembered that we had decided that we should stay in each place that particularly appealed to us "as long as we wanted to."
"Idiots! " exclaimed Sister, as we leaned on the bridge rail and looked out at beauty and breathed delight. "One could string summer to summer endlessly here, and still not want to go. Winter toohow splendid it must be here in the season of storm, and when the snow buries all those trees in white magic! Let's come back."
Did any one ever leave Portsmouth without that determination, I wonder?
Plymouth and New Bedford
E felt it to be a matter of honour to go and gaze upon the famous rock with which our history as a nation begins.
"You, with your passion for rocks, could hardly let Plymouth Rock pass without homage," Sister stated. But I knew that she was quite as eager as I to stand on that small spot of ground where first the Pilgrims settled. Perhaps It is because in all of us there lives a feeling that we are heirs of all the ages, and that our true business has far more to do with eternity than with time, that we derive a pleasure in linking up our own minute of worldly existence with those of our forerunners. To stand and say "Here stood the beginning of what is now " brings the past very close to the present, and so the future too. We are a portion of all three, and such bits of proof are welcome.
So, leaving our baggage to proceed on to New Bedford, where we were to spend the night, we reached Plymouth early of a lovely summer day, and proceeded to do our American duty.
Plymouth is old and quiet and sleepy. It lies on a bay with the same name, and of the same character. Green trees have been growing in it for a great many years, and old houses standing calmly under them. Children play along the streets rather sedately, it seemed to us.
"It must bewell, something or otherto be born in Plymouth," Sister thought.
"Somewhat the same sort of thing as one imagines to burn in the breast of the only heir to some vast and ancient estate that has come down in an unbroken line from the days of William the Conqueror? "
"Yes. A kind of noblesse oblige."
It was only a turn or two until we reached Pilgrim Hall, a large stone building which we left for later observation, our motto being "On to the Rock!"
The canopy that has been built over the historic, cracked fragment on which, according to one version, John Alden was the first to put foot, and according to another, just as reliable, Mary Chilton, who became, later on, the wife of John Winslow, is familiar to every one who ever read a word about Plymouth, for the picture of the solid and not beautiful structure has been scattered broadcast on postcards and in school readers all over our land. In the upper part of this canopy
is a chamber where repose a number of human bones dug up on Cole's Hill, which rises close beside the rock. Here the Pilgrims buried about half their number during the bitter and terrible months that followed their establishment on American soil. And as they buried them they levelled the mounds and in spring sowed wheat over the place that the watchful Indians might not know how busy death had been.
The story of the rock, like that of the landing, has two versions. The actual stepping-out spot is said, by some earnest folk, to be now hidden under the wharf that pushes out into the quiet water in front of the canopy. The portion beneath this having been broken off and placed where it now lies.
The other story is to this effect.
In 1774, when the land was burning at a white heat with the fire of patriotism, an unknown poetic soul suggested that the Forefathers' Rock should be consecrated anew, to form a new starting place for freedom.
A day for this ceremony being appointed, every one who could by any means make his or her way to Plymouth came to the settlement. It was the fifth of October, when all the forests about were splendid with autumn colour, when the marshes were a field of cloth of gold, and the wild ducks
gathered in the countless pools and lakes that lie about Plymouth, reflecting heaven with unabating constancy and making a beautiful land more beautiful by their presence.
Through this sunny splendour came the people, each bearing his own flame of dedication and of enthusiasm. They gathered round the rock, and proceeded to lift it from its bed, that they might place it in the centre of the village green, as they intended that what it stood for should stand in the centre of each heart.
Suddenly, as the stalwart crew struggled to drag the huge stone from its position, it burst in two.
A thrill of terror ran through the throng. This must be some evil omen. Many were for stopping the whole demonstration, even for seeing here a sign that the matter which had brought them on this errand, the revolt against oppression that had urged them on, was itself doomed and shattered before it was well started.
But at this instant some one, either more quickwitted or of a higher faith than his companions, sprang up and declared that here was a fortunate promise, a presage that the Colonies should break from the parent empire and stand on their own base. Shouts of joy greeted this bold declaration, the upper half of the rock was dragged with tri-
umphant pageantry to the spot that had been selected, a tall liberty pole was erected behind it, and a flag on which were the words "Liberty or Death " was run up into the clear air.
And there for many years it rested. But in 1881 it was taken back and placed again on the portion that lay under the canopy. And there it now is.
Inside Pilgrim Hall we looked upon the sword of Miles Standish.
There is a great deal else to be seen there, especially interesting being Eliot's Indian Bible. But this sword, with its power to evoke the vision of the stout soldier who carried it, and all the romance of the two young people so closely associated with himthat was something to linger over.
Standish's house is in Duxbury, lying only a little way to the north, where too is Captain's Hill, named for the same stalwart gentleman, and easy to see that clear day from Burial Hill, which we climbed, as much for the view as for a look at the old stones dating back at least as early as 1627, for under that date lies Mr. Thomas Clark, who had reached the age of 98. A fine spirit the old man must have harboured that would lead him to take the journey across the Atlantic when most people of his advanced age would have thought
that a few steps to the sunny seat in the park was enough and to spare!
Governor Bradford is buried here, he who wrote what people call the Log of the Mayflower, but which was really the "History of Plimoth Plantation," writ in the very hand of Bradford himself.
The long blue reaches of the bay, with slender strips of sandy beach and low green islands beautifully marking it; the dim outline of Cape Cod beyond; the charming town, which looks busy enough from this elevation, and is in truth a manufacturing place of importance; the slender monument to Standish at Duxbury with green country in between and miles of orchards and fields and forest land, with ponds agleam and a river glancing here and there among the sheltering trees; close by the National Monument to the Pilgrims, with its figure of Faith on top and four other figures seated about her, representing various virtues; of course there is a lighthouse, the Gurnet light, marking the safe entrance to the harbour, and equally of course a fragrant growth of lilacs in the old gardens around the old houses.
"What was the reason that the Pilgrims and the Puritans chose the dead of winter to come here? " Sister wanted to know, as we lay on our backs in the green soft grass and looked at the
master commingling of green and blue in the view. "If they had come at this time of the year things would have been far more pleasant."
"I'm sure I don't know. Perhaps they thought the hostile Indians would be too frozen to trouble them while they were getting settled and building that stout fort which stood on this very hill. What a splendid set they were; and here they lie, long since mingled with this soil under us, real pioneers, not one of them going back when they had the chance on the Mayflower, though only half that came on her were left alive."
Yet, though we knew of their hardships, it was difficult to believe, as we looked out on that serene landscape, that sleeping bay, that any mortal could have suffered privation in such a spot.
We began to move among the graves, stepping carefully. Dandelions rioted, and pale star flowers lifted their green and white faces in clusters. We found one stone consecrated to the memory of a preacher, the Rev'd Chandler Robbins. He it was who once was requested by the town selectmen not to have more horses grazing on Burial Hill than should be really necessary.
How many horses are necessary in such a place?
Emerson was married in one of the old houses here in Plymouth, known as the Winslow House, built 1754, whose stout frame was made in Eng-
land. And the gambrel-roofed house on Maine Street saw the birth of Warren, President of the Provincial Congress.
"You ought to go to Morton's Park," we were told by an interested waiter at the little place where we stopped for lunch. "It's fine out there, right along the shore of Billington's Sea, and the place is full of flowers."
It sounded good to us, but Plymouth had been a sudden inspiration, not part of our plan, and we must follow out suitcases to New Bedford, for, fool ourselves as we might, we were after all but the slaves of time, and not much of our vacation was left us. The train had to be taken.
We said so. But Sister, ever on the search for information, wanted to know why the name was Billington, and why sea.
They know their history in Plymouth, scorning such ignorance as we ran up against in Newburyport.
"They say that it was a man called Billington who climbed a big tree when the Mayflower party was exploring round about here," said our distinguished waiter. "He saw that big lake and thought it was the sea, and so that's what they've called it to this day."
Sometimes it is as immortalizing to make a mistake as to be right. Here shines Billington from196
generation to generation, because of his skill in climbing, and his confusion as to the points of the compass.
"Of course it's interesting to see the Rock and the points generally round the town," concluded the waiter, as we prepared to depart, "but it's the country round Plymouth that makes it worth staying here. If you ask me, there isn't any prettier country in the state."
"We'll come back another season and see it," said Sister, firmly. "Do you know Massachusetts well? "
He refused to commit himself. "I've come from Boston," he said, vaguely.
The train we took was almost empty, and we were able to look out at both sides and to keep the windows open. And as we looked we agreed with the waiter that there was no lovelier country, either in that state or any other.
"Things can be as charming, but they can't be more charming than perfection," we decided. The bold and grim glory further north was not here, but there was another glory, tender, dreaming, full of soft contours and mingling colour. It was a gracious land, this old home of the Pilgrims.
There was one lone carriage at the station in New Bedford, one of those dark and shut-in af-
fairs that are reserved for funerals and these briefer transits from railroad to hotel. We asked the driver what was the best hotel.
He appeared to ponder awhile.
"The best hotel ain't finished yet," he said, finally. " They're buildin' it, and it's to be real up-to-date, but it ain't anywhere near done yet."
"How about the second best hotel? "
"I guess it's the Parker House," he ventured.
The Parker House became our haven. There is certainly nothing up-to-date about it, but it had an old and musty quality that is not disagreeable. It seems to belong with the old days of New Bedford's past, forever gone. It too, we felt will soon go. The new hotel will surely empty its antique halls and chambers, its vasty dining halls where a frantic group of coloured musicians endeavour to make you believe you are in the whirl of modern existence by banging away at ragtime melodies or just ragtime without the melody. It is a doomed place, and therefore it has its sad attraction.
"We aren't much in the hotel line now," said a young lady whom we met later, "but when we get the new place that's being built, New Bedford won't need to be ashamed of its accommodations any longer."
New Bedford is getting to be so very modern
and efficient, and is building so many new structures of stone and brick, that this hotel question is evidently a sore one. It will give a self-satisfied "thank goodness " when it is properly answered by the new hotel, which will doubtless be of the latest and best pattern.
As we walked up to register we passed a small room on one side of the lobby in which, upon a large sofa, was seated the largest and stoutest man I ever looked upon.
A great head was supported upon a neck that swept outward to tremendous shoulders, and beneath these the whole body broadened out on a superb scale. A benign expression on his face, the air that hung about him of something regal and unanswerable, a huge fact not to be gainsaid, all produced the impression that must have been given by Doctor Johnson in his prime. Collected about this magnificent human creature, solid as a mountain and as awe-inspiring, was a circle of lesser men, who were listening in various attitudes of supreme attention. His voice, deep and sonorous, boomed out as he conversed, making slight but telling gestures with one hand. We could not hear of what he spoke, but to see was enough. Profoundly convinced, we moved slowly on, to put our names into the book and have our rooms assigned us.
"That man will never move to the new hotel," I declared, as we followed a bellboy to the rooms, facing on the main business street of the town. There was no bath, only a strange contraption with a tin container on top from which water, of a slightly dingy aspect, dripped, when you released a spigot, into a small handbasin below. The hotel was certainly ancient.
"The King of the Coffee House," murmured Sister. "Did you notice the huge chair standing out on the street, against the wall, as we came in? I wondered what it was for. From it, I suppose, he dispenses justice to the populace at large."
And we were glad that the new hotel was still unfinished. For though there was nothing of the whaler in the appearance of our Doctor Johnson, there was much of an age that is gone and a type that is lost. He gave New Bedford a flavour.
When we went down supper was in progress, and a cafe beside the dining room was crowded with travelling men. The dining room itself was entirely empty, and we were waved on deep into its mighty spaciousness by an irreproachable major domo, who appeared to think us more numerous than we were, since we were motioned to a table long enough to contain at least eight, past modest little boards laid for two.
The food was abundant but characterless, and
"The Whaleman" New Bedford
we ate the clammy banana fritter that appeared in the middle, the flavourless soup at one end, and the oversweet dessert at the other with that resignation with which all Americans eat a poor meal in flamboyant surroundings, especially when under the menace of a noisy and energetic orchestra. Then we wandered out to take a look at the whaling town by night.
Nothing lovelier than New Bedford's situation on the Acushnet River could be imagined. Our first walk took us straight to the fine bridge that crosses over to Fairhaven, from which you get a view of the wharves, of the lighthouses and islands, the curve of the river mouth, the green banks and picturesque old water-front buildings. There was plenty of shipping to be seen, and we were told that even to-day whalers still put out from the city, and that whalebone is one of its products. Cotton is an import, and the great white fluffy bales were heaped high on many a dock, so that you get quite a southern effect, and are somewhat surprised not to see a hurrying row of negroes trotting back and forth with burdens on their heads, loading and unloading the lighters.
New Bedford still keeps in touch with far and foreign places by way of the sea, for there is, delightful fact, a sailing packet service to the Cape
Verde Islands, and passenger and freight steamers to Lisbon and the Azores.
It was Joseph Rotch, back in 1765, who started the whaling business for New Bedford. He bought a tract of land along the river where the city now stands, built some docks, and began to send out ships. Before the industry ceased, or practically ceased, New Bedford led the world at whaling. Now it pretty nearly leads America in making cotton goods of the finer grade, with quantities of other manufactories, one item being blackfish oil, of which it makes about all that is used in the world. This oil is valuable for clock and watch works, we were told by a postcard seller who had a picture of a blackfish that was impressive, the creature being as large as a dolphin.
In spite of all this traffic with the sea New Bedford has less the appearance of a seaport town to-day than any other of the towns we had yet visited.
It looks perhaps more like a city of the Middle West than a New England town. Most of the following morning Sister and I spent in walking through its charming residence quarters and the many lovely parks that help to make it a perfect wealth of greenery. All these broad and quiet streets are lined with magnificent trees, while care-
fully tended gardens sweep back from the sidewalk to houses set in their midst, houses square and comfortable, with lots of room in them. These beautiful streets go on mile after mile up and down the river, and there are many cross streets that are just as attractive. But walk on one of these and very soon you touch the country beyond, stretching out into woodlands, where already the city is laying out new parks. Wherever we went in New Bedford we were struck by the civic pride and enterprise that are evidently its strongest characteristic. It wants the best, and it is getting more of it year by year.
"Don't miss the drive along the shore and round by Clark's Point," our friends in Marblehead had told us, so we decided that we were about due for an automobile. The chauffeur's idea evidently was to get the thing done with, for he began running at a lively clip just as we struck the broad road that swings out into the open, with a wonderful outlook on the bayBuzzards Bay and a fresh sea breeze that contended triumphantly with hats and hair.
"Are we in this machine for the purpose of hanging on to our head covering and wiping the salt tear from our eye, or to see one of the prettiest drives in the country? "
We put it to him.
He gave a sort of amazed stare at the water, on which millions of white caps appeared and disappeared, keeping time to the measure of the wind. It was not difficult to see the thought labouring in his mind. What sort of freight was he carrying? Why had we taken a car when what we wanted was a Shetland pony? He scorned us, but he brought down the pace to what we wanted.
There is a stone fort, called Ford Rodman, at Clark's Point, and here the business of being a soldier is still carried on. This fort is one of the twenty-six places reported on in 1909 by the U. S. Chief of Engineers as being a "permanent coast defence." Of course, the ideas of the Chief may have altered since the happenings on the other side of the Atlantic. Forts nowadays look like curious survivals of faith rather than real defences. But the lay mind is incapable of judgment in such matters, and a seacoast fort has more than itself to depend on. Anyhow, this one looked efficient and low and strong enough to make the biggest ships behave.
We came back through Brooklawn and Buttonwood Parks. In the latter there is a little Zoo very well arranged, also a ball park where boys were running and shouting, pouring their whole soul into both occupations with that entire abandon demanded by the national game. A fine statue
in this park has been raised to "The Whalers and their Successors, the Manufacturers," to both of whom New Bedford owes its healthy prosperity. The work is by Zolnay, and the figures of the whaler and his wife at the base and the mechanic at the summit are really superb pieces of sculpture.
The buildings that you are expected to see in this thriving city are not the old ones but the new ones. There is, of course, the old town hall, but it has been so done over and refitted that it looks extremely new. It is now the library, one of the first free libraries in the country. A splendid one it is, with an excellent collection relating to the whaling industry and other items of New Bedford's previous incarnation. The rooms are large, sunny, airy. The halls wide and decorated with some fine pictures and statues, each bearing on the sea story that made the city known around the world. Outside, near the entrance, is Belah Pratt's well-known "Whaleman." It is finely conceived, showing the prow of a boat dashing through waves, while a young man stands poised, harpoon in hand, watching his chance to send the iron home. A quotation cut on the pedestal from Herman Melville's great whaling story, "Moby Dick," summarises the whaleman's life: "A dead whale or a stove boat."
Up in one of the rooms of the library we found a young woman who was willing to take any amount of trouble in showing us old prints and books relating to the history of her city. Away back it was known as Dartmouth. The Acushnet was an Indian name, of course, but it used to be spelled Acoosnet.
We asked her what we ought to see, and she told us that the Marine Historical Society, or the Dartmouth as it is called, was well worth a visit.
"But it is in such a bad part of town," she said, apprehensively. "I don't believe you had better go there unless you go right away, while it is bright daylight. And do please not ask any question of any one there, man or woman. If you want to find out anything, wait till you see a policeman, or ask a car conductor, for you can trust them. You know, anything might happen in one of those streets down by the water. Why, I've never been to the place alone in my life and I'm a native here."
She looked at us with intense warning in her eyes, and we regarded her with a deep thanks in ours. But we refrained from telling her that only the night before we had wandered cheerfully along Water Street, and in other spots very near the water, and that we had seen men going in and out of the saloons that are somewhat frequent in
that neighbourhood. After all, there is a lot of solid satisfaction in believing that the perils of unbelievable wickedness lurk on the street corners of any but the "best" parts of your city. It provides some of that sense of adventure, that feeling of helplessness, that necessity to turn to the stronger sex for protection, which is so inherent in every woman's breast. So why should we tell her that we had passed in security through darkest New Bedford, and that we had even been courteously directed by one of its inhabitants?
Among other things in the Dartmouth building we discovered that New Bedford got its name from one Joseph Russell, who came from the family of the Dukes of Bedford. The city is not one of the earliest, for it was not till 1760 that there was anything that could be called even a village on its site. It reached its top mark as a whaling centre in 1857, when its ships were engaged in the Arctic seas as well as in more southern waters. The Civil War spent a good deal of energy in smashing up the great adventure of this tremendous hunting, many of New Bedford's ships being sunk or captured by the Confederates, and most of the rest being taken by the Federal Government, loaded with rock, and sunk off southern harbours to prevent blockade running. Later there were terrible losses in the Arctic seas, scores of vessels
and hundreds of men going down. Certainly the whales have had their revenge on New Bedford!
A touching thing in regard to these losses is what is called the Sailors' Bethel, which was built in 1831, and is full of memorial stones to men lost at sea. New Bedford may not be so picturesque now that she makes cotton goods instead of harpooning whales, but her children are far less apt to be fatherless and her wives widows than in that glorious era of her existence.
Quakers have always been numerous in the city, and they seem never to have met with any hard feelings here, in which New Bedford is distinguished from most other New England towns. There is a beautiful building, The Friends' Meeting House, on the corner of Seventh and Spring Streets, that we were glad not to miss. It is of brick, plain and delicate in colour, severe in its lines, yet eminently noteworthy.
We bought a copy of the "Mercury " at a stand close to the office where it is published on Union Street. This is the oldest continuously published paper in the country, the first copy having been printed in 1807. It is a good lively sheet, well-written and with a local flavour that gives it proper value. We stopped to see if we couldn't have a moment's chat with the editor, Mr. Pease, but he was away at the time. After all, no editor
knows how much he escapes in a life he doubtless considers hard, the mere fact that his paper is almost a decade over a century old probably laying Mr. Pease open to many such attacks.
Every one who goes to New Bedford also goes to clean, bright, model Fairhaven with its handsome modern public buildings and well laid out park and wide streets and general air of neat, charming propriety, like a well washed school child in her Sunday clothes. All this or most of it is due to H. H. Rogers, who was born in the town, and retained a filial interest in her that expressed itself in high schools and libraries and town halls and churches of the best pattern and various types of architecture. It is probably an eminently satisfactory place to live in, though it lacks interest to the tourist seeking character and originality, that thing called personality which belongs to towns quite as much as to people.
"I suppose you can't do too much for a town without the risk of imposing yourself on it, any more than you can for a man or a woman," Sister put it, as we walked idly through the decidedly pretty town. " Like most good things, the business of giving can be vastly overdone. It's dangerous. Let's walk back across the bridge to New Bedford and go to a moving picture."
But we only got part way across the bridge, be-
cause once again the beauty of that harbour view held us. Along the docks were several square-rigged ships, and for anything we knew to the contrary they might be whalers refitting for deep-sea hunting. Such things still are. The bark "Canton," the oldest whaler in existence, still attends to her business, we were told. But of course most of the staunch old vessels have yielded to time. A thrifty touch in this is notable here. When it came to breaking up a whaler no longer fit for the sea, one company thought of packing the timbers into barrels, ready to burn in open fireplaces, and created a demand that was met by the shipment of hundreds of barrels of firewood, that burned with a green and blue light from long contact with salt water. Sitting before such a fire of a wild autumn evening the fancy might be bewitched to strange adventures.
"The first ship that ever flew the American flag in an English port sailed from New Bedford," our friend in the library had told us, " and was called after the town, 'Bedford.' " And the first ship ever built here, the "Dartmouth," 1767, was one of the famous Tea Fleet in Boston harbour.
It was our last evening here, and we wandered up through Hawthorne Street for the association of the name, and to enjoy the wonderful elms that make a complete arch of green overhead and
stretch onward in a fine vista. Then through County Street, with its porticoed houses, looking like Southern Colonial homes, and the County Court House, with its Greek pillars and pediment. City Hall Square is a dignified centre, every new building being planned to harmonize with what has been done before. The spirit of progress is vitally alive in New Bedford, and whatever it is doing in the line of improvement seems to be accomplished with taste and discretion. It is a city that is evidently beloved by its citizens, and beloved with intelligence.
New Bedford is within easy reach of over a hundred summer resorts, all along Buzzards Bay and up the charming Acushnet River. The islands in the bay have their own attractions, and there are beautiful beaches within a few minutes' reach of the city. The westernmost of these islands, Cuttyhunk, was the place where Bartholomew Gosnold, the discoverer of all this section, tried to establish a colony in 1602. A monument erected by the Dartmouth Historical Society commemorates this effort, and stands on a small island inside a lagoon that runs up into Cuttyhunk.
Since we were going up to Provincetown we were to take the ferry to Fairhaven and connect with the train there early next morning.
The ferry is but a few blocks from the hotel.
"Let's get a man to carry our suitcases for us, and walk down to the boat," Sister proposed, so I left directions for a man to be ready for us right after breakfast.
The boat goes early, and we had a nip and tuck business of breakfast, but came out to the desk with time enough, if none to spare. Instead of a man a small messenger boy with a bicycle stood at the curb. He had spent some ingenious minutes in binding those solid cubes of weight to his wheel with leagues of twine, and started blithely off as we came out. Bang went the wheel and down tumbled the suitcases, dragging the twine after them in a tangled mass. And the moments that were left us were very few!
At this instant two very small and ragged boys, hauling a little express cart of a toy kind behind them, came cantering round the corner. I hailed them and they responded instantly. We cut loose our baggage and piled it into the new vehicle, while the messenger boy stood gaping. Then we ran, the small boys ahead dragging their wagon, over the cobblestones of Water Street, past delighted inhabitants of that wild and rough neighbourhood, on, on, on!
"It ain't much farther, Ma'am," gasped the galloping boys, as we turned corners and rushed down hillsfortunately the way to the water is
down in this world. We struck the pier at the wrong side and had to make a mad detour to reach the entrance, but we did it, and the boat still waited, with two minutes to spare. We sank upon a seat, while the two small boys bit upon the coins we had given them. Then, riding his wheel with speed, the messenger boy charged down and leaped toward us.
"You gotter pay me," he cried. "The Company says so."
"Go back," we told him, gently, "and say anything you like to the Company, and tell them we said it. But not one cent for tribute."
And so we left New Bedford, wondering whether the messenger boy rifled the two smaller boys of the coin we had given them, or whether they had already made good their escape.
"Anyhow, I think, though they were small, that they looked like fighters," Sister remarked hopefully. "I don't believe it would be possible to take that money from them living."
HERE is nothing wild and dashing about the train that takes you to Provincetown. It stops at every station and looks about, while passengers get slowly on and off, chat with the brakemen, and swap news among themselves. Perhaps, in the season, it gets more brisk and businesslike, but in the early days of June it makes you think of the progress of a rural mail delivery wagon up a Maine country road where the farms are rather sparse, and the farmers apt to be at the box ready to get their bulletins from the Agricultural Department and their mail-order goods, and to pass the time of day with the driver.
After the conductor had decided which car was to go to Provincetown and we had carted our baggage and ourselves into it, and found separated seats, since the place was filled up, and cussed the stupidity of the management as usual, we turned to look at the passing landscape, which is attractive enough to make you forget far bitterer travel woes.
At the broad base of the Cape farms spread out, and huge trees crowd close to white houses and march beside the winding roads in splendid processions. Lovely little lakes and rushing brooks lend their variety, and where these fail the blue sea takes up the charming story.
Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Harwich, the names of old towns awaken memories of English trips. They are as picturesque and as interesting too, though very different. These old places date back to 1639 and keep all the racy flavour of their seagoing past. Nothing of spick and span modernity here, but ship-folk's neatness and individuality, old houses sturdily remaining where the centuries have met and passed them, and old retired seamen crammed with marvellous stories dominating the village life.
On the south side thunders the ocean, on the north sleep the wide reaches of the bay. Summer folk choose one side or the other, and become fanatical in upholding the rival claims of either. The ocean side has its wild splendour and more rugged character to recommend it, and all the fresh tang of Atlantic winds. It has also a succession of fogs throughout the summer, and there is where the north shore triumphs. Old Maushope, as the Indians had it, smokes his pipe less often on the bay than facing the inrolling surf.
As we got on toward the centre of the Cape the landscape changed. More and more sand, and great stretches of dwarfed pine with tawny bark and dark needles, and a general appearance of being the veterans of an unending warfare. The little hills roll up and down, and between them are wide cranberry bogs, carefully drained, with narrow ditches full of water that remind you of irrigating projects in the West. Cape Cod grows most of the cranberries that are marketed, and in the picking season her bogs take on a populous look that is like that of the English hopfields at harvest. The pickers come in hundreds, some depending on their hands, others using various machines that have been the fruit of Yankee ingenuity. Some of the pickers make as much as four or five dollars a day at the work, though a six-quart measure only brings a few cents.
As we drew on to the narrower part of the Cape, where it makes the elbow bend, the sand grew in power, the little pines more desperate in their struggle against it and against the wind, that lifts and tosses these sand-hills almost at will. The unbelievably blue water came closer. Earlier in the day we passed along the edge of the canal for a few miles, and saw a steamer going through. Only one can go through at a time, since the passage is
too narrow for ship to pass ship, and signals set at either end determine the right of way.
There are fine roads now on the Cape, roads where motors fly easily along, but turn off these into the original tracks that lead from farm to farm or through the scrubby woods from village to village, and your horse sinks fetlock deep at every step. Nothing more different than the formation here from that of Cape Ann could have been achieved. Here the land is in greater flux than the water, and at Truro the harbour has been practically swallowed up by sand, in spite of great sums spent to keep it open.
" ' If twenty maids with twenty brooms swept it
for half a year,
Do you suppose,' the Walrus asked, ' that they
could sweep it clear?'
' I doubt it,' said the Carpenter, and shed a bitter
"A navy man told me lately," I informed Sister, as she quoted the above, "that since the canal was built Provincetown stands a like danger. These places will probably be inland towns one of these days, with only vague memories of the sea stirring feebly in the mind of the Oldest Inhabitant."
"But aren't these sand-hills wonderfully beautiful?" Sister demanded.
Old Wharves and Colonial Tower
So they are. Their colour, their long curves and abrupt cliffs, the vegetation that clings to them, dwarf pine and oak, slender birch, close-growing berry bushes and bayberry, the coarse grass that shines in the sun, each with its own soft hue contrasting with the pale yellow sand in a thousand shades of green and tawny and brown and red, and framed by blue sea and blue skyit is a shout of joy, and your spirits rise to it.
Back in 1690 the fisher folk in these parts used to fish for whale from shore and make their killings too. They would row out and bag a whale before breakfast, and think nothing of it. But the whales were more disturbed, even to the extent of moving away from close contact with Truro or Provincetown or Eastham. Upon which the fishermen built boats and followed, passing the Atlantic and Pacific and going into the Arctic and Antarctic Seas after the flying monsters. The country must have its whales.
Thoreau tells us that it was decided to give the pastors a share of every whale cast up by the sea, and exercises his dry humour on the picture evoked "of the old parsons sitting on the sandhills," watching for the Jonah fishes that were to eke out their scant salaries.
And now we pulled toward Provincetown, seeing for a good half hour the long curve of the
point of the Cape on which the town lies, and the dominating monument to the Pilgrims that stands on its highest hill, called High Pole Hill, from which you can not only see the whole of Provincetown, but apparently most of the world besides, though it is but seventy feet in altitude.
At the station stood a delightfully ramshackle bus drawn by two horses, into which we mounted and were taken, in a turn or two, to the Central Hotel, which, like all the rest of the buildings on the sea side of Commercial Street, is built out into the water behind. Provincetown has, properly speaking, only two streets, which used to be called most appropriately Front and Back. Now these names have been superseded by Commercial and Bradford. This is the only mistake the adorable town has committed.
Early as our start from New Bedford had been it was a long way past high noon before we got to the Central Hotel, and we wasted no time in getting into the dining room.
And oh, the delectable seafood, chowders, and broiled fish and fish cooked every other way, and good roast meats and marvellous pies of that room! Throughout our stay, and how we wished that it might have been prolonged for a whole summer, we went with joyful anticipations to those meals in the dining room that hung right
over the harbour, and always those anticipations were beaten by the reality.
A homey, unpretentious place is the Central Hotel, a place you like from the minute you enter it and to which your thoughts return with longing after you have left it.
Our room was big and full of sea wind. It looked down into the water, and beneath its windows old boats and seagulls lay rocking on the wave. We were awakened next morning by the eerie, sad callings of these birds, supported by the minor diapason of lapping water. "Magic casements opening on the foam" could not have provided a sweeter reveille.
Just beyond our chamber an upper veranda with great rocking chairs and a view that took in all the harbour tempted us to long, sweet hours of doing nothing. An occasional grunt of contentment, a slight shifting of positionhow simple a thing is happiness!
You can see New York or San Francisco or Chicago. It may take some time, but it can be done. But you can never see Provincetown.
Of course, you can go all over it in an hour. Walk up and down its two long streets and weave back and forth through its fascinating lanes. What of that? Walk them again and again, till
every foot is familiar; go down on every old wharf head and climb the changing sand-hills. Keep it up a lifetime, and then, if some one asked you if you'd seen Provincetown, you, being truth-loving, would hesitate to say yes. After all there was a to-morrow, and doubtless Provincetown held something fresh for that morrow, as it had for all the yesterdays.
We stepped out from the hotel to be confronted by a man ringing a large bell. He wore a somewhat large and very round hat and a coat that, I think, used once to be called a roundabout. Anyway, the word describes it.
"It's the Town Crier," exclaimed Sister with delight.
It was, and when he had finished ringing he made an announcement that a small power boat belonging to a certain resident was to be sold the following day. Then he moved farther on down the street. People stopped to listen for a moment and then went on about their business. Town criers were nothing more to them than an extra is to New York.
The name of this stout-voiced gentleman is Walter L. Smith, and he earns a tidy little sum every season by his work. Probably in winter he has little to do, but when there is news of a shipwreck, a fire, or even something from the war front that
seems particularly important, Mr. Smith sees that it is cried for the benefit of the villagers.
The last time I had heard a town crier was the year before the war, in the little French town of Grez, close to the line where the German peril was broken and flung back along the Marne. He had been crying a lost cow, I remember.
"Thank goodness the brutes didn't get there," I exclaimed, and Sister stared astonished.
So I explained the workings of my mind, and we set out to explore Provincetown.
"Are we going to be faithful to our old loves? " Sister asked, as we walked along the water side of Front Street, which is about as straight as a trout brook through a rocky pasture, following as it does the irregularities of the shore line. "Don't forget how we regretted having to leave Portsmouth, for example, or Gloucester. And are we now to forget those ancient stone places for this village built on the sands? "
"Maybe," I admitted. For already the strong charm of the little town had gripped me. There was something about the way it comes crowding down to the water, sticking its feet right into the harbour, pushing its houses right between its boats, the way it tucked itself close together, little house by little house, as protection against the sea wind, the beckoning charm of those narrow,
flower-edged lanes that were so short, and which nevertheless managed to curve mysteriously, as all lanes should, that caught and held you from the very first instant.
A high gable to the one or one and one-half story houses, sharp pointed and steep, that is the Provincetown pattern. There are little oblong houses too, without a gable, and a few that rise to all the dignity of three stories, but they are not so characteristic.
A few steps from our hotel is the old Town Hall with the bronze relief before it commemorating the signing of the famous compact aboard the Mayflower, which remained in the harbour for close upon a month, while the little shallop looked for some place where a home could be established, finally fixing on Plymouth. It was a difficult month, marked by Indian attacks and bitter cold, death, and illness. It was here that little Peregrine White was born. The landing was made at the end of the harbour close to the present mile-long breakwater leading to the Woodsend Light, and here another tablet is set up. There were many explorations of the land inward from the shore, but the sandy hills were not likely to appeal to an agricultural group such as arrived on the Mayflower. A few wanted to stay and fish for cod, but they were overruled, particularly after the Indians had let
fly some scores of arrows at a party led by Miles Standish.
The Pilgrims were not the first visitors from Europe to visit Provincetown, but they made more of a stay. The first authenticated visitor appears to have been Gosnold, on that voyage of his in 1602. He landed here and declared himself "so pestered with cod fish " that he gave the Cape the name it has borne ever since.
A beautiful old church is another charm of Front Street, its spire making one more of that gracious, slender sisterhood piercing the New England skies from Maine to Connecticut. Both these old buildings face the harbour, and back up against the slope of the hill behind, as though the builders wished to put them in as safe a spot as could be found.
We walked round the Town Hall and took the path leading up High Pole Hill to the Pilgrim Monument, a lofty tower of granite that is modelled upon the tower in the Public Place of Siena. An old sailor lives in a small, neat caretaker's cottage beside the shaft of stone, and sees that no blade of grass grows awry on the greensward surrounding the monument. He told us that if the day had not been a trifle hazy we could have seen Cape Ann and much of the shore. As it was we overlooked a very great deal of water and land and distant
towns and white lighthouses, while the charming town beneath us was visible to its last Portuguese cottage.
For in addition to its other fascinations Provincetown is largely populated by these dark-eyed, vivid children of the sun, who run much of its business and supply an element of human colour and beauty that is almost startling. You are prepared to meet bearded captains with the roll of blue water in their gait, or tanned youths whose shoulders are broad and strong from the pull of an oar and the weight of a seine. You expect slim maids with a Quaker demureness, and patient old women who have looked in vain for the return of their man from his calling. But you are not prepared to catch, at some lilac shrouded corner, the low laughter and soft tongue of the Cape Verde or Azores Islands, to see the silhouette of a keen dark face, the glint of blue-black hair under a brilliant shawl, and a round soft brown throat decorated with coral beads. Yet here they are! Men with dark, drooping mustachios wearing loose white shirts and trousers that were never made for the legs of an American take you out in a motor boat in the harbour, or run the big motor buses that dawdle the length of Front Street, stopping to talk with any one who has information to give or to collect, while the passengers sit comfortably
waiting, watching the moving, changing life of the lively little street.
The shops that have probably impelled the inhabitants to change the name Front to Commercial, a change to which both Sister and I refused to submit, are divided between those that frankly appeal to the wandering tourist and those that supply the needs of boat and ship and fisherman. There are cold storage plants too, where fish bait can be procured, but we saw no flakes, and perhaps Provincetown has entirely ceased to dry any cod or halibut. It used to be second only to Gloucester in the work. But there is plenty of fishing going on, for half the talk we overheard in the street between man and man was concerned with it.
"Can we get a boat for a couple of hours? " was one of our frequent inquiries.
"Well, now, let me see. There's old Sylva, he might be able to let you have one. I don't know of any one elseyou see, they're all out fishin'."
And Mr. Sylva, Portuguese, a big, soft-voiced man with flashing black eyes, was greatly distressed, but could not get us a boat:
"Maybe, to-morrowwe see."
But it doesn't matter. It is just as pleasant, perhaps even more so, to make your way, somewhat gingerly, out to the end of one of the old wharves, there to sit and watch an enthusiastic artist, palette
on thumb, sketching the clustering town, with its red roofs climbing one above the other so steeply from the water's edge. Each wharf has its artist, as well as its small, adventurous boys, who appear to be partly amphibian, from the careless way in which they tumble in and out of the water or grub about waist-high after hidden treasure when the tide is low.
The wharves are most dilapidated, with huge gaping holes and whole boards missing, and bearing old signs that warn the passer of peril if he tread upon them. They are about equal in risk to the wooden sidewalks of a western mining camp whose boom is over, only here you drop into the sea instead of a dry gully or arroyo.
We found it great fun to get on one of the buses in the evening, while the sunset still flushed the sky and echoed in the water, and go trundling up and down the street from the Truro line at one end to the junction of Front and Back at the other. Beyond this point the street still continues, but it is narrower, and is known here as Way Up Along. You go on afoot here, if you choose, to the Breakwater, and then on that to the beach opposite where the surf breaks, and Woodsend Light is set to guide the mariner, one of the five that are necessary along this dangerous shore.
Of course, one morning, we did choose. As we
reached the point where the stone is set that marks the landing of the Pilgrims we met a Ford containing a couple with the honeymooner look. They stopped.
"Can you tell us where the rest of Provincetown is? " the young man asked us.
"How much have you seen? "
"We've just come right along the road here from Truro."
"Well, when you go back, take the road to the left, keep on past the railway station and as far as Allerton Lane. That will take you back into the Truro Road, and there you have the whole of Provincetown unless you want to walk."
They looked at each other, smiling.
"Can you beat it! We thought this place was a big town. But it's been a good run, anyhow, if there ain't much at the end of it." And nodding to us, they bustled away, on the search, I suppose, for a nice crowded city. There was a country freshness about them, and it was the whirl of life they wanted, not village peace nor nature's solitudes.
Walking on the breakwater, made as it is of huge blocks and slabs of Cape Ann granite, with the water running through beneath your feet with all manner of little gurgles and tinklings, with the gulls crying overhead and a breeze playing round
you, is distinctly good fun. It revives the joys of childhood, when you tripped along the top of any flat wall that came in your way, or sprang from stone to stone up the rushing brook when spring had filled it. There is a full mile of this walking, and then the beach of golden sand, the Life Saving Station, the Lighthouse, snow white and attractive. A bit of garden braved the sea, some men were at work painting a boat. We sat at the edge of the surf while little sandpipers dashed curiously toward us and off again with squeaks of excitement.
Just as the Chinese date their history from the dynasties of their emperors, so Provincetown dates hers from the great storms that have proved particularly destructive and terrible. They still speak of the "Magee storm," when a government ship went down in 1778, of the "Great October Gale " of 1842, and it is said that the only ship that was ever got off Peaked Hill Bar, once she went aground, was the San Francisco, in a bad storm during the Spanish War of 1898, who was safely brought into port.
The keepers of the string of lighthouses along this treacherous arm of sand have an anxious life of it. Now that the canal is cut through the Cape a great amount of coastwise travel will no longer have to take this roundabout and dangerous course,
In the Portuguese Quarters Provincetown
but the seagoers and the fishing fleets still watch for those far-reaching beams as anxiously as ever.
A huge bell hangs before the Woodsend house, lending its aid in the fogs that are even more dreaded than the tempests. Man and the elements play a close game from end to end of the New England coast.
One strange case was that of the "Somerset," an English man-of-war chased by the French fleet during the Revolution, and striking on Peaked Hill Bar. A gang of wreckers from Provincetown took everything from her that was worth the work of removing, and left her high and dry on the sands. Gradually she was buried from sight, and as the years went on she was forgotten. Then, in 1886, a series of high tides and furious seas tore away the shrouding sand, and the skeleton frigate was once again exposed to the enemy, this time to be picked over by summer tourists and relic hunters. Then again the sands mounted and hid her, the grass grew, and to-day no sign of the great ship is left.
Provincetown folk had plenty of the New England cantankerousness, at least in the past. Front Street has in parts superseded its long plank walk with concrete, but this walk was once the subject of bitter controversy in the town. For, when An-
drew Jackson gave the seaport its share of the Surplus Revenue, this money was devoted to building "a wooden footway " that would save the townsfolk from the necessity of struggling through ankle-deep sand as soon as they stepped out of doors.
The element opposed to this use of the money was so enraged at being beaten that it refused ever to use the walk, and plodded in the middle of the road with its shoes full of sand and its heart of bitterness till its dying day.
The Portuguese part of the town is particularly fascinating. Here the little lanes are no more than foot tracks, and go twining in and out between lovely, brilliant bits of gardens and small cottages, some weatherbeaten grey, others white as the stones that are set about the flower beds. Soft-eyed children play on the doorsteps, wearing cotton dresses of orange, blue, scarlet, anything gay that comes to hand. From the cottages come snatches of foreign song as the mothers go about their household tasks, getting dinner ready for the olive-skinned men working in the little farms that only a Portuguese could bring to harvest there among the sand-hills, or fishing out in the harbour for bait that will be used in deep-sea work.
Many a charming walk lured us out among those same hills. Desolate old graveyards lie here, the
sand tossing over the bones below as the sea tosses over those that found their last bed in the water. There are the cemeteries of the Methodists and the Quakers, where some attempt at decoration has been made, and the Catholic burying ground where stark crosses give the spot a look of the battlefield.
Leaving these behind the wandering paths take you on between fragrant pines to the shores of clear ponds. In one of these the Pilgrims washed their accumulation of soiled linen while they awaited the reports of the exploring party. Now they harbour wild fowl, and are left as solitary as though there was never a home or a house within fifty miles.
On Way Up Along there is a Red Inn that is a delectable hostelry run by a New York woman who has had the old house altered and enlarged for her purpose with the most careful consideration of its original form and aspect. It is perhaps the oldest house in Provincetown, and was known for years as the Old Red House. Inside it has the narrowest staircase that ever allowed a family to get from one story to another. New England fisherfolk do not run to fat, and certainly no one who lived in this house could ever have approached stoutness. There is another stairway to-day, in the new portion of the building, but the old one, and
the old rooms, with their low ceilings and charming proportions, remain as they were.
The view is one of the best in town, and you can slip on a bathing suit in the early morning and drop right off the veranda into the silver water, warm as new milk. Each room has its charming colour scheme, its private bath, its quaint and comfortable furnishings.
The place was like an old story beautifully told rather than a real thing. To any one seeking luxury and unerring taste in the picturesque seclusion of this old town, the Old Red Inn is a counsel of perfection.
The artist, Charles Hawthorne, has a school in Provincetown that is rapidly becoming famous. Since we determinedly claim a remote cousinship with this painter we tried to find him, but he had not yet arrived at his summer studio, though signs of life about the place spoke of his imminence. Every now and then on the street a palpable art student swung by, in smock and futurist colouring if a woman, and sometimes if a man. Provincetown does not turn her head as they pass, though New York would probably block her traffic for a better view. The seaport considers them as useful in their way as the now vanished cod and mackerel were to its past. It sells them its goods and poses for them in oils and sou'westers, and rents them its
cottages, as well as rambling rooms in the empty store garrets of its tumbing wharves for studios.
Provincetown, more than any other of the seaports we had seen, gives a sense of unchangedness. There are little new cottages with little new names, "Grace Darling," "Celia," "Wind-Rest," to be sure, but they are not noticeable. Its character is too absolute, too marked, to be affected by the slight inroad to-day has made on yesterday. There it lies among its wild sand-hills beside its wonderful harbour, quaint, lovable, unique, full of stories of the sea as it is of sea wind, murmuring like a shell and restful beyond any words.
"It seems to have learned the lesson of immortality from the sea and the sand," Sister said. "It will endure as they endure, with immaterial changes and telling constancy. I want to put on a purple smock and rent a studio on an old wharf and stay here forever, don't you? "
Alas! It is the simple wishes of the human heart that are the most difficult of achievement. In the old fairy stories it is the third daughter, who only asks her father to bring back a white rose, while her sisters demand pearl necklaces and diamond tiaras, that puts him to real trouble and danger. Our path led back along the length of the Cape to
the palaces of Newport, and the red roofs of Provincetown might shelter us no longer.
"This is the last of the small places," I moaned, as we packed for departure. "The more I see of them, and the more I see of cities, the surer I am that the latter are no fit dwelling place for a human being. It is the little places that we love. Home, in other words, should be where the heart is."
We looked up the street that went so leisurely on its way, depositing its houses at greater and greater intervals in the direction of Truro, giving room to the boats that prodded its very sidewalk, reaching out its long wooden arms into the harbour, edging close to its gardens, and hospitably receiving its little green lanes that ran to it in search of the sea. Yes, it hadn't taken long to learn to love it.
"You may jest, but your heart is breaking, like my own," declared Sister. "But, thank goodness, we have one more dinner coming to us at the Central. Let us go and eat it."
EING in New London was an old habit for us. Back in the days when we wore short dressesthough to-day that has no relation to the 'teenswe used to spend delightful days, even weeks, in that old seaport, which is now so much more of a manufacturing town than a seagoing one. When the races were held, there we would be, in a mad state of excitement, trundled along in a flat-car on which a bank of seats allowed every occupant a perfect view. We always rooted for Harvard, rejoicing to delirium when she won, suffering beyond expression when she lost.
What a scene it is! The river so crowded up to the edges of the course, with yachts of every calibre, each decorated with every shred of bunting in the owner's possession. Rowboats loaded to the gunwales, canoes rocking on the slight swell of the tide, the Judge's launch bustling importantly back and forth. A ship or two belonging to the Navy looking on in calm dignity. Every inch of the shore occupied by young girls in brilliant
dresses or in white ones, with men in flannels and ducks, the cars with streamers of bunting, and not a hand in all the assembly but it waves a crimson or blue flag. Volleys of cheers rose and fell, bands played in an irregular sort of manner, starting and stopping abruptly, people hurried, boat whistles and car whistles tooted shrilly.
Then the start, the long, hard desperation of the race, the tense thrill of a close struggle, the satisfaction or despair of a walk-over. Slowly the cars moved along, keeping in line with those slender shells, with the bending, straining bodies. We yelled and yelled, waving our flags, glancing contemptuously at the opposing colours and those who yelled and waved on the other side. And then the finish, the outburst of whistles and cheers rising to a mighty crescendo, and the crowd breaking up, streaming away, the yachts bobbing, the launches setting off in a hundred directions at top speedwonderful! Each year the crowds gather, turning New London into a cross between a county fair and a college commencement, the rival shells flash down or up the course, crimson or blue triumphs, and all, even the losers, have a perfectly gorgeous time. For a whole day the old town plays like a child in the sun, youth fills its streets and camps on its verandas, while even the oldest inhabitant acts as though the most important thing
in the world was just that possible inch or two between the leading and the beaten boat. Nothing of this sort is known to any other town in New England.
In those days we used to come to New London from Sag Harbour, on the other side of Long Island Sound, a fine sail. The New London boat was a little, top-heavy, important sort of a craft, making various stops on its way, each interesting because of the glimpse of wharf life, the rapid loading and unloading by sprightly porters of boxes and barrels and sacks, the arrival of new passengers and the departure of those who had reached their destination. As for the harbour on which New London lies, it is full of enchantment. Up from the Sound the boat puffs its way some two or three miles maybe through the Thames River. Little coves reach into the land, trees grow along the shores, the Groton Monument looms high on the opposite bank, and then the city with its crowded roofs and the long wharves that stand so close together, and are so lined with ships and schooners and sloops and barges and other passenger steamers. A gay, jolly approach to which that by rail cannot hold a candle.
But it was by rail we came now. As we drove along State Street we nudged each other at remembered sights.
There was the Civil War Monument, still looking like a long thin segment of layer-cake stood endwise, just as we had always seen it. This appearance being caused by a mingling of fancy and the fact that the monument is composed of alternate blocks of light and dark stone, the dark about half the thickness of the light. On top a female figure stands rather forlornly, and other figures, of stalwart soldiers and sailors, appear lower down.
There too was the First Church, built of stone with a white spire of wood. It dates only from 1851, but there are no very old churches in the town, new ones having been built on the old sites as the city grew beyond the old ones.
New London does not present the appearance of an old town, though you run across many a fine old house still surviving. As soon as you leave the water's edge it looks more like a prosperous but somewhat sleepy inland home city than anything else. Its wide streets are lined with comfortable suburban houses standing in their grounds and shaded by elms and chestnuts. There has been no attempt to follow the Colonial pattern in these new buildings. They are of every shape and type.
There are parks and squares where fountains spring up, where statues are put to commemorate
historic happenings or famous sons of the town. The parks too seem to have been created as memorials, for there are the Hempstead and the Williams Memorial parks, both charming and charmingly kept up.
Width, space, leisure, these are the New London characteristics that strike you, after the green wealth of trees and gardens and squares. The city climbs up steeply from the water, so that there is often an unexpected view of the harbour or the river that brings you suddenly back to the realisation that after all it is a sea town. And cars are running to Ocean Beach crowded with people going there for the day or living there In the extremely pretty summer cottages that have been built along the water edge, as well as on the road leading to it.
Many a happy day we used to spend on Ocean Beach, playing in the sand and on the rocks and in and out of the water. The bath houses are sumptuous affairs, real little bungalows, with verandas to them.
We had been shown the little wooden house, somewhat disfigured by the window that had bulged out in front since the days when It was first built, where Nathan Hale taught school. New London is identified not only with this young hero, but with the villain of the Revolution, Benedict
Arnold. Go up to the Ancient Burial Ground, where, in one corner, Jonathan Brooks lies in a sepulchre. Many old stones are here, stones that tell plainly enough of the town's early battle with the seas, for here you will find a shaft set up for a father and all his sons, whose bodies are lying in Martinique or Barbadoes or at the bottom of the ocean. Go up, and look abroad over New London. Right here once stood Benedict Arnold, directing his soldiers to the sacking of the town and the plundering of the homes of his old friends. Here in truth he played traitor to the very limit.
A few Huguenots came to New London at the time when they were driven out of France, and made a mark in the town, for they built several of its finest old houses, some of which still stand. One is the fine Shaw-Perkins mansion, with a distinctly French effect, and another is what is called Huguenot House, an ivy-bowered, one-and-a-half-story oblong structure with hip roof and end chimneys, a beautiful place.
Then there is another old house that is, I believe, still in the same family, after centuries of life. This is the Hempstead House, built by Sir Robert Hempstead some time after 1643. This gentleman was the founder of the village bearing his name on Long Island.
"Let's go and see the Old Town Mill," Sister
proposed, after we had settled down at the comfortable Crocker House.
The Old Town Mill used to be a favourite walk, and an object of great interest. It stands on a part of the old Governor Winthrop estate, where Jordan Brook comes rushing and shouting to tumble over the mill wheel and into the Mill Cove. It was built as far ago as 1712 by a Richard Manwaring, and ground wheat for over a hundred and fifty years. But now it rests in dreamy idleness, with the water murmuring past it, the trees crowding it close, flowers shining in the grass that grows so thickly.
"It is just as beautiful and just as romantic as I remembered it," I said, somewhat surprised. For you can't always trust these old places. They have a way of shrinking from the fair picture we carry along with us, losing out in one fashion or another, and leaving you feeling rather flat at having remembered them at all. But the Old Mill was safely and soundly perfect. It has been carefully tended by the present owner, put into repair, swept and garnished, machinery and all, and not one whit spoiled. There are many new mills in New London to-day, turning out all sorts of merchandise. But one is willing to bet that they will be wrecked and superseded when interested folk of ages to come are still visiting the Old Mill, studying its
stout machinery, admiring its harmonious proportions, and wishing, it may be, that it were still possible to get such flour as once was ground here.
In the days when the mill was new New London was really a seaport and she was much more than merely a fishing town. Her ships were traders and far voyagers, and though she came late to the whaling business, not till 1819, for some unfathomed reason, she made up for being slow once she got to work. What is more, she still goes whaling and sealing, though with diminished splendour. Her harbour is the best on the coast, there being no reason at all for the town's standing where it does unless it turned to the sea for its work. Mare Liberum is the legend inscribed on the city's seal, and though manufactures are to-day the real industry of New London it has by no means given up its ocean life.
It was in 1646 that New London was founded, by John Winthrop. For six years the settlement retained its Indian name of Nameaug, while the river was known as the Monhegin. But the homesick settlers wanted to create at least an illusion of home, so they petitioned the Connecticut General Court to allow them to name the place after the city in the old country from which many of them had come, and to make the stream conform to the new name.
A Bit of the Water Front
There was no manner of use trying to raise anything in the harsh and sterile soil, so the early fathers turned at once to the sea, building big and little boats, with which they began immediately to trade, taking the skins and furs the Indians brought them to the towns up and down the coast from Maine to the Virginias, and bringing back household goods, stuffs, ammunition, as well as money.
It was the Coits, father and sons, who started the shipbuilding industry in New London. At the close of the sixteenth century, the father having died, the sons decided to tackle a bigger job than any yet attempted, and built three fine big barks. One of these, captained by Samuel Chester, loaded up with cured pork and beef and several strong little horses, with other odds and ends, sailing away without making much talk on the matter to Barbadoes.
Among harmless articles like sugar and molasses, the doughty captain also shipped, for the return journey, a cask of rum, fancying that his neighbours would take kindly to the new drink. But somehow the magistrates of the state had got wind of the trip to the West Indies, and had heard that rum was to be found there. They also knew that other colonies had had cause to regret the importation of the heady fluid.
"You can't land any of that stuff here." was their decision.
So the cask was delivered into the hands of the authorities, after which all traces seem to be lost. But it was not long before Connecticut reversed the magisterial degree, rum becoming one of the greatest assets of the swiftly growing New London-West Indian trade.
There wasn't a busier town in all New England from early in 1700 on to the Revolution. Another big shipyard was built opposite the first, over in Groton, and both turned out stout barks and ships as fast as ever they could. The merchants on the water front bought these up and sent them on their way. For miles back the country brought all it had to trade to New London's docks, and took away what came to them from the sea and the tropic isles. The long village street was the scene of a tremendous energy in those days. Great wains drawn by four and six horses or as many oxen toiled in and out of town, the shouts of the drivers, the cracks of the long whiplashes, the creakings of the wheels, all adding to the noise and excitement. What was more, droves of cattle, hogs, and horses also came down to the wharves along the same road, concentering from towns and villages inland over a wide area. Wild men some of these drivers and drovers, with a tavern of their own
down on the water front where they put in glorious hours while the wagons were unloading and loading once more, scattering through the town in gangs whose horseplay affrighted the sober citizens, but did little real harm.
Then came the Revolution. New London turned practically all her ships into privateers, and fought bravely through the whole war. At its close her trading days were over, not to return. The huge warehouses stood empty, ships rotted at the wharf-side, the shipyards lay unused and silent.
The story of the ups and downs of American shipping is surely one of the strangest in the world!
Then came the whaling years, beginning in 1819. Two men started this industry, Thomas N. Williams and Daniel Deslon sending out three ships. The first voyage was mildly successful, but on her second, having been at sea over a year, the "Mary " came into port with 2,000 barrels of oil on board. With the high prices then obtained, this was a tremendous haul, and instantly all New London rushed to the business of catching whales. Once again the shipyards worked building vessels from morning till night. The ships sailed in and out, the mariners congregated in the lower town, the merchants opened once more the huge warehouses, to be filled now with whalebone in bales, with barrels of oil, with the pure white spermaceti. Once
again the country roundabout poured its provisions into the port, and all went humming.
This whaling business was far healthier than the earlier trade, since it was carried on largely on a co-operative basis, the whole town benefiting instead of a few traders. New London soared to the top of comfortable affluence.
Practically every man either went to sea, to the shipbuilding work, or to the busy wharves. The eyes of the town turned seaward. No storm swept in from the east or tore out from land, but faces turned white and anxious women climbed the hill to stare out for possible sails. Every returning ship was greeted with frantic scenes of joy. As soon as her bow rounded the headlands of Fisher's Island her signal flags told who she was, and the town streamed down to her wharf. Sometimes a heavy tale was brought for the hearing, for the long hard voyages, enduring for years, had much of tragedy and loss. But at least some had come safe to home and wife, and their share of the gold-bringing oil in the hold.
But the whaling days followed the West India trade, and New London fell asleep again. She has never waked up to the old-time picturesque life of the harbour after that last collapse, though she still counts herself a seaport town. But she is a prosperous, hardworking, home-keeping city
to-day, with fine public buildings and attractive streets, busy factories, growing environs. As a summer resort she is getting more popular with every season, and more and more do those who come to spend a few weeks or months decide to remain for keeps. As a place to build a home it is difficult to see how New London could be beaten.
A telephone call from an old friend bid us to the Pequot Casino, on Pequot Avenue, a fashionable and delightful place, right on the water, with a long bridge connecting with an island. The Casino is wide-spreading, verandas continuing the tale begun by the house. Yachts almost climb up on this veranda, and every one who comes in and goes out has a sea tang to him or her. Of course there are all the other things to do that are done at Casinos, but the sea call is the strongest. New London, in her play, is entirely faithful to her old history of work.
No one can go to New London without also seeing Groton, the town across the river where occurred the massacre of Fort Griswold on the occasion of Benedict Arnold's attack. Here the garrison of the fort was basely slaughtered after its surrender, the brave commander, Colonel William Ledyard, who had resisted against tremendous odds, dying as the result of the treachery of a man who had once called him friend.
We took the little ferry on a clear morning, for we meant once again to climb the long spiral of the stairway that leads you up the 135 feet to the top of the monument raised to the memory of this massacre of brave men. The stone obelisk is as simple as can be wished, built of the granite underfoot, in whose defence the little band had given up their lives.
Up we clumped, round and round with steadfast tread. Going up one of those twisty flights into dizzy distances always has a hypnotising effect, I find. You get awfully tired, of course, but you feel, at the same time, as though you were capable of keeping on at it forever. Round and round and up and up.
"I wonder who invented stairs," mused Sister, "and where the first ones were built? "
"I don't know, but this I do know, that they have been found in Egypt's oldest relics of buildings," I answered, sitting down the better to impress Sister, who also sat down the better to hear. "And they say that the best types of circular stairways were made in the spacious times"
"Of great Elizabeth," interrupted Sister. " So, all these countless centuries people have been walking upstairs, just as we are doing now." And she resumed the work of getting to the top.
The view is worth it, after you have got up, if
not while you are doing so. All New London lies before you, with the sweep of the broad, slumbering river, the wide arch of the bay, the little coves, Fisher's Island, humped and green, the various lighthouses, the pale blue Sound beyond. Close below lies Fort Griswold, only a relic now, with ancient cannon guarding ancient ramparts against ghosts. The Navy Yard, full of modern ships, lies up the river a bit, so do the boathouses of several clubs and colleges, Harvard's red building conspicuous among them. The harbour front, with the many wharves and the closely crowded tall warehouses built long ago and just as fit and stout to-day as when their timbers were hewn and knit, looks extremely imposing.
Inland the prospect spreads on and on over villages and farmlands and rolling hills. Connecticut has a soft and welcoming aspect, a home look.
When again we stood on grass at the foot of the tower we felt more as though we had been travelling in an aeroplane than simply looking off the top of the stone obelisk before us. The rise on which it stands giving it a far greater sweep of horizon than seems possible from its base.
The Monument House near by is a place that must be looked into, since it is full of Revolutionary salvage of many kinds. Weapons, shot, uniforms, old letters, personal belongings of Colonel
Ledyard, everything arranged most happily. There is, however, no shred of Mother Bailey's flannel petticoat, and this for the very excellent reason that its title to fame consists in the fact that it was entirely sacrificed. This is the story.
When Admiral Decatur was locked up in New London harbour there was reason to fear an attack by land. Soldiers and marines undertook to guard the approaches, but ammunition was somewhat low. They set to work to make more out of whatever could be got for the purpose. A shortage of wads was one serious item. Patriotic persons brought rags and scraps of woollen goods, but Mother Bailey did better. For when it came to her ears that even with all that was brought to help out the material was still insufficient, she gave all her blankets to the cause, and, these even not being sufficient, she surrendered her flannel petticoat.
"How useless women would be nowadays compared with the heroic past," I remarked to Sister, as we listened to the story of Mother Bailey. "What one among us all owns such a thing as a flannel petticoat to-day? "
"Yes, but to-day they don't use flannel petticoats to make cartridges," Sister retorted.
It all works out, after all.
That evening we went sailing in the harbour, as we came idling homeward on the failing
wind we were told an old legend, the legend of The Hunt for Treasure, which is part of New London's story.
It seems that back at least a score of years before the Revolution, when New London was at the height of her trading epoch, a Spanish galleon loaded with a rich treasure put into the harbour, having encountered heavy weather. She was somewhat the worse for wear, and her crew, fearing her to be sinking, rushed her up on land, to be sure of saving her cargo, which was then taken off and housed for safe-keeping in charge of a certain Joseph Hill.
Throughout the winter the ship's company remained in the town, but when April came the supercargo bought a new ship, and was ready to load his riches once again and set sail for Cadiz. But the cargo was not to be found. No one knew anything of it. The boxes of doubloons, for it was whispered that the ship had been piled with Spanish-American gold, the ingots and bars of precious metal, all had disappeared.
Desperately as months went by the owner tried to recover that fortune. The galleon had long since gone to pieces on the shore, and now his treasure had grown wings and flown. He appealed to the Governor, but the Governor looked blank. He cried out that he had been robbed, accusing Hill,
but this gentleman disclaimed any knowledge of silver or gold or any other sort of treasure.
Yet there were not wanting those who whispered that there had been shadowy figures digging at night where the long wharf touched the land. What they were doing could not be ascertained. But it was strange; strange too that the Spaniard was so precise in his accusations.
Gradually the feeling that he had been treacherously used grew high in the little town. Was this a way to treat a stranger, driven through stress of weather on their shores?
Such wrath was engendered that the Governor lost the next election, Hill was shunned, and any who might have a knowledge of the Spaniard's wealth were watched. Should so much as one doubloon be offered for exchange, people would know what to do.
The Spaniard finally sailed home with empty hull and a full heart. But, if any one knew where that gold of his lay hid, they dared not touch it till the fury had abated.
Few had the secret, if secret there was, and in one way or another death took these one by one. The war came, to distract men from all other thoughts. The treasure was forgotten.
Many years later an old witch living in Vermont told two of her clients, stout young men
feared neither God nor the Devil, just where this buried treasure lay. It would make all three rich beyond any dreaming. They were to dig for it according to directions, at the stroke of midnight on All Hallowe'en.
Here was a chance indeed! So on the proper night and at the perfect hour, two sturdy men with pickaxe and shovel and bucket, for the water as well as the sand lay over the gold, came down to dig.
To be sure, before long the iron struck wood. Feverishly the two flung themselves at the work. But fast as they dug, the cask sunk faster. All night they worked, groaning with fatigue and cupidity. But at dawn they were no nearer success than when they began. And, as the sun rose, sand and water rushed into the gaping hole where they had struggled all night, so that it was only by a miracle that both were not swallowed up.
Since which time no one has attempted to retrieve that Spaniard's lost wealth.
These old stories, and the old buildings and sea-edge of New London seem to belong together and apart from the rest of the town. Like New Bedford it is more modern than ancient, and yet these two cities are more closely identified with the past era of trading and whaling and privateering and
generally keeping things lively on the ocean than almost any other part of New England. But where, in Portsmouth, Gloucester, Provincetown, the past broods tenderly about the present, quite as real, quite as visible, here it is more like a story told by a fireside to pass the time; half fanciful, half true, but completely gone. The antiquarian can hunt up much of the deepest interest in the Historic Museum in town, or over at Groton. He can find relics on Burial Hill and in out of the way corners, can even find an old man here or there who has played his share in the vanished past. But so far as the casual visitor goes New London is simply a charming place for the summer, with its fine beaches and good clubs, its handsome public library and other buildings, its well-kept streets and excellent houses.
Yet, for all its modern trimness and efficiency, there is a veil of quaintness and the fashion of an older day spread over the town, something that flees and haunts you, and that gives New London a fascination that a really new town can never have. It is ripe. It has had many experiences, it has suffered, much that it loved has died. It makes you feel this.
"Is it because we used to visit here when we were children that we love the town?" Sister wondered.
"Partly that, perhaps, and partlyI don't know but it seems to mean so much." For the old seaport, in its various stages of loss and gain, adventure and sleep, in its sacrifices and its glories, is so thoroughly American, perhaps most so in the way it has met modern conditions and set itself to a new pattern.
S you set foot on the platform of the station at New Haven the inhabitants do not rush up to you with glad proud cries telling you that it is the largest city in the State, as they would if the city were west of the Rockies instead of considerably east of the Hudson. That is not the New Haven way.
Yet, as you traverse the New Haven streets, so broad, so serene, so shaded with overarching elms, as you linger on the Green or stroll through the college campus, as you pause in admiration before noble architecture or sit at ease in charming parks, you gather that the city is proud of itself, that it is fully conscious of both its size and its importance, not to speak of its beauty, and that its lack of self-advertising flows from a profound conviction that it is totally unnecessary.
"Here I am. And mighty fortunate you are in that fact," is the thought it conveys. A thought to which even the most casual visitor within its limits must heartily subscribe.
Sister and I had begun our journey along the
New England coast in the Forest City; we were to end it in the City of Elms, for that is New Haven's pet name. The Maine town has lost many of the trees that gave it its name, but New Haven has almost as good a reason to-day as yesterday for the description. So many and such magnificent trees we had found nowhere else.
We mentioned them with words of praise to a seller of postcards in a drug store a little distance from the Green.
"You ought to see these streets after a fall of fresh snow or an ice storm," he answered. "I guess there isn't such a sight anywhere else in America." It was the only superlative we heard during our stay.
"I wonder if we could dash out here next time there's a snowstorm," I interrogated Sister, as we strolled away under the leafy canopy. And she replied that she was game.
Everything in New Haven began at the Green, and naturally we began there too. The whole city centres there, and radiates from it in beautiful streets, stopping every five or ten minutes to make a tree-encircled square, a little or big park, a flower-packed garden. Spread out on the level plain that slopes slightly upward from the shores of the bay to the ridge of hills behind, New Haven has plenty of room, and takes it. Practically every house has 290
grounds about it, not a mere yard, but lawns and shrubbery and trees, tennis grounds, shady places sweet with bloom.
But to get back to the Green, on which our hotel faced. A reason, if there were no other, to put up there. But the Taft Hotel has plenty of good reasons for getting you to stay there, and keeping you after you get there. It stands on the site of the old New Haven House, a hostelry of many years and much history, closely identified with Yale, but increasingly old-fashioned and inconvenient The Taft is everything of the contrary.
A star-like pattern of paths leads away in every direction on the surface of the green from the liberty pole in the centre of the upper portion, the white lines in the green grass very attractive. We walked over to the three churches first, all of them built in 1814. They stretch across the centre of the green, along Temple Street, the North, or United, as it is called now, the Centre, and Trinity, one of if not the oldest Episcopal society in Connecticut. This church is built of a dark brown-stone with a square tower ending in corner finials. The other two are true New England architecture, Centre, with its severe simplicity, its blunt topped spire and the fine pilasters that adorn its faηade being possibly the handsomer of the two.
Undoubtedly it is the more interesting. It stands
on the site of the first meeting house, as the following inscription tells us:
A.D. 1638, A Company of English Christians led by John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton were the Founders of this city. Here Their Earliest House of Worship was Built A.D. 1639.
Underneath the church the crypt contains the remains and tombstones of the early Puritan fathers and their families, while in the rear is the monument to John Dixwell, one of the regicides who stirred New Haven to its depths in 1661. The Colonel, to be sure, arrived after the excitement was over by a few years, and incognito, announcing himself to be a Mr. James Davids, retired merchant. He was wealthy, and he settled down for the rest of his life in the town, and it was not till some time after his death that the truth came out. He was one of those who had a share in condemning Charles I. to the scaffold, and who had to flee England when Charles II. came to the throne. The monument was raised much later by his descendants.
But there is a more interesting reminder of the link between New Haven and that tragedy of the
English Court. It is some way from the Green, but Sister and I walked out to itThe Judges' Cave, on West Rock. It is more of a pile of huge boulders that make a chamber large enough to enter than a cave, but it is all the more striking in appearance. Here the two regicides, Major-Generals Edward Whalley and his son-in-law William Goffe, spent many weary weeks. The two had been high in Cromwell's service and confidence; there had even been some talk of making Goffe the great Commoner's successor. But things befel otherwise ; the two gentlemen were obliged to flee for their lives, and sailed for Boston, where at first they lived openly, but finally Charles sent over an order for their arrest, and Governor Endicott set about capturing them.
The Reverend John Davenport, one of the founders of New Haven, had been a friend of Cromwell's, so that it was to him the fugitives turned for help. They reached New Haven on horseback on March 7, 1661, and for three weeks lay hidden in the house of Davenport or of a friend of his, William Jones, whose father had been executed in England for the same crime.
Officers armed with the royal warrant came from Boston, upon which there followed a game of hide-and-seek in which the regicides, assisted by many New Haven folk, wore out the patience
of the officers, who at last went home. But before they went they posted a large reward. That set thrifty souls to the work of hunting themselves, and for two years the two "wanted " men dodged about from one friend to another, hid in a ruined mill outside the city, and made their home in the cave we sat before, as well as in another lower down the side of West Rock. Finally the two went to Hadley, and are lost to the sight of history, as they were to that of those who looked for them so earnestly and ferociously.
Our old friend Whitefield, whose tomb we had seen in Newburyport, had his day on the Green, where he preached, in the open air, to a vast crowd of people on one of his later visits to America.
In the old days when New Haven was a separate Colony and later when she shared the honours of being the capital city with Hartford, she had a State House, indeed, more than one, for it got to be a habit with her to pull down the old and build the new every few years. They all stood on various sites about the Green, the first being erected in 1717, and the last pulled down in 1889.
The pulling down of this final State House, built, it is said, on the general plan of a Doric temple, was the occasion of a good deal of interest. A newspaper in Boston got much worked up on the subject, and printed words to the effect that 294
it would be a shameful thing to destroy this "priceless memento of a glorious past, a perpetual reminder that New Haven was originally an independent colony and for nearly two and a half centuries a sharer of the capital honours. Tens of thousands of men and women throughout the land," continued this moving recital, "who are now in middle or advanced age, remember, with all the pleasure that attaches to youthful impressions, the picture of the Capitol Building at New Haven, which was in so many school books forty or fifty years ago. To tear down that building would be to obliterate a chief milestone on the path of time."
To this a New Haven paper replied with the following stern rebuke:
"It will be news to most New Haveners that the State House is 'a priceless memento of a glorious past.' It is not. It is a memento of New Haven's folly in allowing Hartford to gobble the capital . . . neither is it a 'chief milestone on the path of time.' Rather, it is an encumbrance, a public nuisance, a bone of contention, an eyesore, a laughing stock, a hideous pile of bricks and mortar, a blot on the fair surface of the Green. The Boston paper doesn't know what it's talking about."
So there! Anyway, it is pretty certain that, to-
day, the town is perfectly willing to have Hartford bear the burdens and the honour of being the capital. New Haven has quite enough to attend to without that.
The old town pump once stood in the corner of the Green near the college, and there was also a whipping post, last used in 1831, but who was whipped then and why is no longer remembered. And here the County Fair used to be held. One of the old chroniclers gives a picture of this event that Sister discovered and showed me with delight.
"There have been years when, on the Green, large wagons from Bethany and the towns near New Haven made a very attractive appearance trimmed with evergreens and adorned inside and outside with specimens of golden corn, big squashes, and strings of red peppers and other vegetables, the most charming exhibit of all being the healthy and lively daughters of the people, who rode in the wagons wearing holiday attire. And there were few finer sights of a big fair than the long line of famous red cattle from the Woodbridge hills, the sweet breath of morning in pearly shimmer on their broad, cool noses. What large, intelligent, and lustrous eyes had those cattle of the Connecticut hillsides."
On this same Green slept the invading British
force that had come to burn the town on July 5, 1779. They had landed at old Lighthouse Point, and joined with another attacking force, sweeping the Americans before them. The only thing that saved the place from destruction was that many Tories held property here, and it was impossible not to destroy the goods of the faithful with those of the rebel. Four years later the Green was the scene of a great jubilation in thankfulness for the ending of the Revolution and the triumph of the Americans. New Haven had given her best to the cause, both in men and treasure.
"What a pity that every town or city doesn't have a fine, convenient, central place like this beautiful Green where all historical events of importance can take place," Sister said. "Here we sit, on this comparatively comfortable bench, and watch the centuries whirl before our eyes. And, where the Green ends, the college begins. Shall we make for Phelps and enter the campus? "
"Let's stick to the town awhile yet. There's the old Grove Street Burial Ground, and some old houses and fine streets, Hillhouse Avenue among them. Come along, it's walk and not sit the rest of the morning."
Hillhouse was near, to the northward, a short but broad and stately street, with grass-plots on either side of the driveway, great trees, and at the
end a vista of columns. This end used to be known as Sachem Woods, a real forest not so many years ago. It has been bought by the University, except one part that is laid out in a park. Sheffield Scientific makes a fine effect along one side of Hill-house and there are charming houses. Here the sense of grave spaciousness that makes so much of New Haven's charm is at its noblest.
"Living on a street like this ought to do something for you," was my thought, as we walked slowly up and back again to Grove Street. "All the advantages of a city and all the attractiveness of an ancestral estate. And just listen to the orioles!"
There must have been a nest to every tree, judging from the flash of brilliant wings along the green avenues of the boughs, while the clear wild notes rang sweetly down upon us. Wise birds to choose a home so lovely and so secure.
"In many ways," said Sister, "this big city is less like a city than the little ones we have been seeing. There ought to be a new and special name invented for it."
We soon found our way to the old graveyard, where so many men of mark are buried. Yale Presidents, inventors, writers, governors. Here Timothy Dwight lies, he who wrote deprecating the presence of the dead on the Green, saying that
death was too solemn a thing to have graves lying close to the life of the town. Most of those who in his time, lay there are now with him in Grove. Another President of Yale, her first titular president, is remembered by a large red sandstone on which this is cut:
"The Reverend and Learned Mr. Thomas Clap, near 27 Years Laborious and Painfull President of the College."
Noah Webster, whose house still stands, and Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin which did so much for America, Theodore Winthrop, Jedediah Morse, Admirals and Generals, many other famous sons of New Haven lie here under their headstones, well in the heart of the city. In spite of President Dwight's objection to this close and familiarising presence of the dead in the very midst of the city's life, there is a charm, a tenderness, a friendliness about these old burial grounds in New England towns that the modern cemetery neither attempts nor achieves.
When Noah Webster was a lieutenant commanding a company of Yale students General Washington paid the town a visit. The young man was appointed as escort, and "on the day and time of it " he noted in his diary that the General gave him a compliment for the manner in which he performed the service.
There is of course a tremendous lot of New Haven that is just homes. Lovely homes, in fine grounds, street after street of them. And then there is the waterside. For New Haven was a seaport, though she was never identified with the sea to the extent of the other New England sea cities. Her most famous contact with it was when the steamer Fulton sailed into her harbour from New York, in 1815. She has, however, her own particular legend, the Phantom Ship, sung by Bryant:
"A ship sailed from New Haven;
And the keen and frosty airs,
That filled her sails at parting,
Were heavy with good men's prayers."
It was in 1647 that a ship, with Lamberton, Master, set sail in December for England, with a large company on board, among whom were many distinguished citizens of New Haven. Lamberton did not like his new command, for new she was. He remarked of her that she was " walty," and that he did not doubt but that she would end by being the grave of some ship's company. The friends of the departing company followed them to the end of the wharf and watched them draw away, while the pastor, no other than the Reverend John Davenport, bade them godspeed with these cheerful words: "Lord, if it be thy pleasure to bury
The Whitman Gate
these our friends in the bottom of the sea, take them; they are thine."
And that, so far as any word came, was the last heard of the ship and all her company. But one June evening some watchers on the shore descried a ship full sail coming into port, which was the more remarkable as a stiff offshore breeze was blowing. But in she swept, the sunset on her towering canvas. The town gathered, awed and disturbed. On came the ship, until she was recognised for the one which had sailed away in the dead of the winter, on until friend descried the face of friend on her deck. Then, suddenly, her topmasts went by the board, the rest of her rigging followed, the hull reeled, quivered, sank. A slight mist hung over the sea for a brief space, cleared, and nothing of the vision remained.
We walked along Water Street to Waterside Park, lying between the docks and reaching right out into the bay, with trees, or it wouldn't belong to New Haven, planted thickly. There were plenty of townsfolk enjoying the fresh wind and the fresher prospect. Boats were busily going in and out, launches chugging. White sails were visible clear down the bay. Along further, where Mill River joins the bay, is the Yale Boathouse. The waterfront is used by the citizens in this wise and happy town, not given up, as in so many of
our Americans cities, to dirty tracks and freight yards.
For all its appreciation of beauty, space, and nature New Haven is no sleepy college town with nothing to keep it occupied from Commencement to the Fall opening of the big gates of the campus. It is, next to Bridgeport, the most important manufacturing town in Connecticut. Its docks and wharves are as busy as its streets are broad and green, and probably if some one who was as interested in New Haven's business energy as I was in its outward charm were to write of the city, there would be an astonishing array of figures, stirring descriptions of first-class factories, heartening records of great accomplishings.
But Sister and I, turning our backs on New Haven's sources of wealth, engaged an automobile and went whirling through its parks and gardens and shady avenues and up in long loops to the top of East Rock. The hills backing the broad plain on which the city is built, end at either extremity with a bold pile of rock, splendidly precipitous on the sea side, with fine trees clambering up wherever there is a hold. The road up East Point, which is a public park, gives view after view of town and harbour, broad meadows, shining, twisting rivers, the old Light House on the Point, the church spires and the great spread of the Univer-
sity buildings. No one can say he has "seen " New Haven unless he has climbed East Rock and looked down upon her. The Rock is crowned with a monument to the sailors and soldiers of the Civil War.
"No wonder those old Puritan fathers were glad to go no farther when looking for a home," said Sister, as we sat on top of the Rock and let our eyes range the prospect. Quinnipiac it was called then, the Indian name, that still clings to the valley behind. The town was planned during the summer that followed the landing, in April, 1638, by a civil engineer, who had given up a fine career in England for love of a Puritan maid, and followed her into exile. The Green, or Market Square as it was then called, was laid out, with the squares that still exist round about it, perhaps the first rectangularly planned city on the Continent. Houses were built, some mere huts, others almost mansions. Of course the first public building was the church. It was used for other purposes too, being a town-hall, a voting booth, and a place where the grave seniors of the new Colony dispensed the Puritan law. New Haven has inherited a name for extreme blueness. The whipping post was set up as soon as the church, and there was an immense amount of interference in the personal concerns and home behaviour of the
villagers. The Reverend Samuel Peters, in his history of the settlement, quotes forty-five "blue" laws as being enforced, but there is a good deal of doubt as to the accuracy of this little history.
"Married people must live together or be imprisoned," was really in force. "No woman shall kiss her child on the Sabbath or fasting day" is not so certainly proved.
Perhaps it was because it had been so enforcedly good in its extreme youth that later it developed into one of the worst smuggling and illicit trading ports on the coast. It carried on a fairly large trade with the West Indies, and built a good many ships at this time, following 1750. But most of these ships had a way of stealing up the river after sundown, mighty dark and mysterious, and of unloading with a good deal less noise and commotion than is customary with jolly tars and stevedores.
We had been told that it was an excellent plan to see the sunset from the Rock if that were to be managed, and found the counsel wise. As the sun drew down after it the last waves of rose and gold and lavender, and the woods showed dark, lights began to spring up in the plain below, rows and groups of them, a fairy pattern of sharp silver. The water also held its illuminations, and chains of pale light marked the streets and roads.
"I wish I were a boy and coming here for four
years of college life," Sister murmured, as we began to whirl softly back to the hotel. "But it's good-bye for us to-morrow evening."
We found that the ideal way to spend the evening in New Haven was to sit out on the Green. There were other things to do, of course, and we noted that moving pictures appeared to be patronised here as elsewhere. But it was the Green for us, and for many more. The fragrant June night had collected a few early fireflies, and was tossing them idly about over the grass, as an Egyptian queen might play with diamonds. The chimes from Trinity sounded, very sweet. Young lovers passed, arm linked close in arm, head to head. A buzzing of motor cars gave the emphasis of a city to the country vision of shadowy trees and open grassy spaces.
The story of how New Haven got the college that is so integral a part of it has a spice of adventure. It is told in these words by that same Reverend Sam. Peters whose remarks on the blue laws Sister and I had read in the library, and which I have quoted. His history was written in 1781.
A slight introduction before we allow the parson to speak. In 1701 it was proposed to establish a Collegiate School in Saybrook, Connecticut, for the proper training of the youth of the land. Har-
vard was already an actuality in Massachusetts, but it seemed bad policy to let Connecticut send all her sons to another Colony for their education.
A number of Conne:ticut parsons met, therefore, in Branford, each giving some of his cherished books as a nucleus for a college library, making forty volumes in all, the beginning of the University library of to-day. At the same time a citizen of Saybrook, on the mouth of the Connecticut River, donated to the service of the college a house and lot. It was a very small house, but as for the first six months the President and a single student divided it between them it was sufficient For fifteen years, during which time 55 students were graduated, the future Yale remained at Saybrook. Then fate began to act.
"A vote," says our historian, "was passed at Hartford, to remove the college to Weathersfield; and another at Newhaven, that it should be removed to that town. Hartford prepared teams, boats, and a mob, and privately set off for Saybrook and seized upon the College apparatus, library, and students and carried all to Weathersfield. This redoubled the jealousy of the saints of Newhaven, who accordingly collected a mob sufficient for the enterprise, and set out for Weathersfield. There they seized upon the students, library, etc., etc. But on the road to Newhaven they were overtaken
by the Hartford mob, who, however, after an unhappy battle, were obliged to retire with only a part of the library and part of the students."
The war for the college raged bitterly for some time, and it was only when Massachusetts entered as a mediator that peace arrived. As the parson historian bitterly says, she was, " as ever," looking out for her own advantage, and desired that a rival college should be as far from her own as might be. Weathersfield, but a few miles south of Hartford, was far too close for comfort. So New Haven beat Hartford in this contest, at least. Though the rage of the Hartford and Weathersfield saints was such that they sent all their young men to Harvard for many years.
Two years later the college was given the name of Yale, after its greatest benefactor, Elihu Yale.
The picture of that struggling mob, with the poor distraught students being snatched back and forth, brother torn from brother, first and second volumes of important works separated by the frantic fighters, who cared not what sorrow or confusion they wrought so long as the other fellow didn't get the college, this picture is so little like the usual conception of the founding of a seat of learning that it has a special appeal. Possibly the well-known pugnacious spirit of the University had its birth at the same moment.
Phelps Hall is the gate by which you enter the college campus from the Green. It is a square tower, heavy and solid, built over an archway, very deep and finely curved, looking through which you see iron gates and beyond the greenery of the campus. Gone are most of the fine elms that used to stand here, the elm beetle and other causes working against them. At one time the trees within the college walls were as fine as those outside. Now they are young and small in comparison. But the great quandrangle is a magnificent and effective sight. Yale has an old and grave look, for all that so many of her buildings are comparatively new. The Old Brick Row has gone, leaving Connecticut Hall to the left, built in 1750, Old South as it used to be called, as the oldest portion of the University. This has been restored to its original pure Colonial style, from which it had lapsed.
Vanderbilt Hall lies just behind, and we were told that it was the best college dormitory anywhere on earth. On one side the ivy-covered Art School, on the other handsome Osborne Hall. Opposite were the Library, Dwight Hallr and Alumni Hall. Beyond these High Street, and beyond that other buildings, Peabody Hall Museum among them. Behind us, as we stood after entering through Phelps, one building adjoined another,
making a great parapet between the college and the town.
There is a superb quality to a fine University that no other group of buildings can ever equal. Dedicated to the mind of man, they touch the imagination with particular force. There is a certain compactness about Yale that heightens the effect. Wherever we looked, one splendid building belonging to the college touched or almost touched another. Behind these lay more, so that we seemed to be in a town given up to learning and to beauty.
We walked its streets with joy, passing through the exquisite Whitman Gate, taking turns that gave unexpected and thrillingly lovely vistas, watching the hurrying students and the more stately progress of a professor as they went about their business. The shadows of trees fell on stone walls and grassy places, towers rose, arched and battlemented gates opened in the walls or accentuated the strength of the iron fence.
We saw many of the fraternity houses, and famous Skull and Bones; we passed the Gym and swung around by White Hall and the Lyceum, where the college plays are given. It was all a long enchantment, as it should be.
"Don't let's miss the Yale Bowl," Sister urged.
We didn't, in its empty serenity. But the time to see that is when the football battles are on, every
tier a solid row of excited humanity aflutter with flags, the air shaken by yells and cheers, the contesting teams swaying below there. Yet, in its calmness, it gained beauty.
"Being a college boy has many desirable aspects," we decided, as we came out on the Green again. "But being a professor, and settling down here for keeps"
"Incomparably more delightful than the job of being President," was our conclusion, as we returned to the Taft Hotel.
We still had a perfectly good afternoon, and planned to use it in seeing Donald G. Mitchell's old place, the Edgewood Farm, two miles to the west of the city, where Ik Marvel had lived more than fifty years, devoted to the enduring pleasures of gardening and authorship. "My Farm at Edge-wood " is a book that can be reread just about as often as haymaking comes round, while the whimsical sentiments of " Dream Life " and "Reveries of a Bachelor " lose nothing of their fresh appeal as the years pile up on them.
We asked permission to wander about the grounds, which are beautifully laid out. Mitchell was an artist with trees and shrubs, curving paths and bosky slopes, quite as much as with words. His writing, indeed, was simply an avocation. It was agriculture and gardening that were the
passion and the labour of his life. The comfortable but rather fussy house was full of large windows that looked out on every side. Little did Ik Marvel care as to the architecture of the house that sheltered him, so long as he might be permitted to see every change in the seasons, to study the coming and going of summer and winter, from those broad verandas and those commanding windows, what time the severity of the weather kept him from going out.
Oddly enough, Mitchell appears to be the only distinctively literary man who has made New Haven his home. And he was more amateur than professional.
We drove back to the station, where our bags were waiting to be checked to New York. We dreaded them no longer. Even here, in the large purlieus of the Union Station, they held no peril, for porters were to be had without the asking.
We settled ourselves comfortably, but sadly, for the short return trip. Our little holiday was over.
"It will all seem like a dream to-morrow," I said. " New York grabs you again so quickly, swamps you, stifles anything but itself out of you. The lilacs over the rocks above the sea, the murmuring pines, the little, twisted, up and down streets, the old, old houses, the distant prospects, the bells of Sunday morning, the drying fish, the
lobster boats and ancient wharves, all that was yesterday and is to-day, all will seem the insubstantial fabric of a dream."
"Cease those complaints," Sister retorted. "It doesn't do any harm to have things seem a dream, quite the contrary. And we'll never forget our New England spring, not a jot of it. What's more, you know, we're going back."
"Of course we are! That's settled."
And the train rolled swiftly onward to the immensities of New York from the immensities of rock-bound coast and sea and sky. Nor did any brakeman or conductor come through, shouting that we must move out of the car we were in and into some other if we wished to get to the metropolis. There are some things in which New York does not insist that you shall step lively.
The train, as though definitely closing our coast town journey, swung away from the seaboard far enough to close the view. Having nothing better to do, we went forward to the dining car.