By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: An Old Town By the Sea
Author: Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, 1836-1907
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Old Town By the Sea" ***


by Thomas Bailey Aldrich


     Thou singest by the gleaming isles,
     By woods, and fields of corn,
     Thou singest, and the sunlight smiles
     Upon my birthday morn.

     But I within a city, I,
     So full of vague unrest,
     Would almost give my life to lie
     An hour upon upon thy breast.

     To let the wherry listless go,
     And, wrapt in dreamy joy,
     Dip, and surge idly to and fro,
     Like the red harbor-buoy;

     To sit in happy indolence,
     To rest upon the oars,
     And catch the heavy earthy scents
     That blow from summer shores;

     To see the rounded sun go down,
     And with its parting fires
     Light up the windows of the town
     And burn the tapering spires;

     And then to hear the muffled tolls
     From steeples slim and white,
     And watch, among the Isles of Shoals,
     The Beacon's orange light.

     O River! flowing to the main
     Through woods, and fields of corn,
     Hear thou my longing and my pain
     This sunny birthday morn;

     And take this song which fancy shapes
     To music like thine own,
     And sing it to the cliffs and capes
     And crags where I am known!


     IV.  A STROLL ABOUT TOWN (continued)




I CALL it an old town, but it is only relatively old. When one reflects
on the countless centuries that have gone to the for-mation of this
crust of earth on which we temporarily move, the most ancient cities on
its surface seem merely things of the week before last. It was only the
other day, then--that is to say, in the month of June, 1603--that one
Martin Pring, in the ship Speedwell, an enormous ship of nearly fifty
tons burden, from Bristol, England, sailed up the Piscataqua River. The
Speedwell, numbering thirty men, officers and crew, had for consort the
Discoverer, of twenty-six tons and thirteen men. After following the
windings of "the brave river" for twelve miles or more, the two vessels
turned back and put to sea again, having failed in the chief object
of the expedition, which was to obtain a cargo of the medicinal
sassafras-tree, from the bark of which, as well known to our ancestors,
could be distilled the Elixir of Life.

It was at some point on the left bank of the Piscataqua, three or four
miles from the mouth of the river, that worthy Master Pring probably
effected one of his several landings. The beautiful stream widens
suddenly at this place, and the green banks, then covered with a network
of strawberry vines, and sloping invitingly to the lip of the crystal
water, must have won the tired mariners.

The explorers found themselves on the edge of a vast forest of oak,
hemlock, maple, and pine; but they saw no sassafras-trees to speak of,
nor did they encounter--what would have been infinitely less to their
taste--and red-men. Here and there were discoverable the scattered ashes
of fires where the Indians had encamped earlier in the spring; they
were absent now, at the silvery falls, higher up the stream, where fish
abounded at that season. The soft June breeze, laden with the delicate
breath of wild-flowers and the pungent odors of spruce and pine, ruffled
the duplicate sky in the water; the new leaves lisped pleasantly in the
tree tops, and the birds were singing as if they had gone mad. No ruder
sound or movement of life disturbed the primeval solitude. Master Pring
would scarcely recognize the spot were he to land there to-day.

Eleven years afterwards a much cleverer man than the commander of the
Speedwell dropped anchor in the Piscataqua--Captain John Smith of famous
memory. After slaying Turks in hand-to-hand combats, and doing all sorts
of doughty deeds wherever he chanced to decorate the globe with his
presence, he had come with two vessels to the fisheries on the rocky
selvage of Maine, when curiosity, or perhaps a deeper motive, led him
to examine the neighboring shore lines. With eight of his men in a small
boat, a ship's yawl, he skirted the coast from Penobscot Bay to Cape
Cod, keeping his eye open. This keeping his eye open was a peculiarity
of the little captain; possibly a family trait. It was Smith who really
discovered the Isles of Shoals, exploring in person those masses of
bleached rock--those "isles assez hautes," of which the French navigator
Pierre de Guast, Sieur de Monts, had caught a bird's-eye glimpse through
the twilight in 1605. Captain Smith christened the group Smith's Isles,
a title which posterity, with singular persistence of ingratitude, has
ignored. It was a tardy sense of justice that expressed itself a few
years ago in erecting on Star Island a simple marble shaft to the memory
of JOHN SMITH--the multitudinous! Perhaps this long delay is explained
by a natural hesitation to label a monument so ambiguously.

The modern Jason, meanwhile, was not without honor in his own country,
whatever may have happened to him in his own house, for the poet George
Wither addressed a copy of pompous verses "To his Friend Captain Smith,
upon his Description of New England." "Sir," he says--

     "Sir: your Relations I haue read: which shew
     Ther's reason I should honor them and you:
     And if their meaning I have vnderstood,
     I dare to censure thus: Your Project's good;
     And may (if follow'd) doubtlesse quit the paine
     With honour, pleasure and a trebble gaine;
     Beside the benefit that shall arise
     To make more happy our Posterities."

The earliest map of this portion of our seaboard was prepared by Smith
and laid before Prince Charles, who asked to give the country a name. He
christened it New England. In that remarkable map the site of Portsmouth
is call Hull, and Kittery and York are known as Boston.

It was doubtless owing to Captain John Smith's representation on his
return to England that the Laconia Company selected the banks of the
Piscataqua for their plantation. Smith was on an intimate footing
with Sir Ferinand Gorges, who, five years subsequently, made a tour of
inspection along the New England coast, in company with John Mason, then
Governor of Newfoundland. One of the results of this summer cruise is
the town of Portsmouth, among whose leafy ways, and into some of whose
old-fashioned houses, I purpose to take the reader, if he have an idle
hour on his hands. Should we meet the flitting ghost of some old-time
worthy, on the staircase or at a lonely street corner, the reader must
be prepared for it.


IT is not supposable that the early settlers selected the site of their
plantation on account of its picturesqueness. They were influenced
entirely by the lay of the land, its nearness and easy access to the
sea, and the secure harbor it offered to their fishing-vessels; yet they
could not have chosen a more beautiful spot had beauty been the sole
consideration. The first settlement was made at Odiorne's Point--the
Pilgrims' Rock of New Hampshire; there the Manor, or Mason's Hall, was
built by the Laconia Company in 1623. It was not until 1631 that the
Great House was erected by Humphrey Chadborn on Strawberry Bank. Mr.
Chadborn, consciously or unconsciously, sowed a seed from which a city
has sprung.

The town of Portsmouth stretches along the south bank of the Piscataqua,
about two miles from the sea as the crow flies--three miles following
the serpentine course of the river. The stream broadens suddenly at this
point, and at flood tide, lying without a ripple in a basin formed by
the interlocked islands and the mainland, it looks more like an island
lake than a river. To the unaccustomed eye there is no visible outlet.
Standing on one of the wharves at the foot of State Street or Court
Street, a stranger would at first scarcely suspect the contiguity of the
ocean. A little observation, however, would show him that he was in a
seaport. The rich red rust on the gables and roofs of ancient buildings
looking seaward would tell him that. There is a fitful saline flavor in
the air, and if while he gazed a dense white fog should come rolling in,
like a line of phantom breakers, he would no longer have any doubts.

It is of course the oldest part of the town that skirts the river,
though few of the notable houses that remain are to be found there. Like
all New England settlements, Portsmouth was built of wood, and has been
subjected to extensive conflagrations. You rarely come across a brick
building that is not shockingly modern. The first house of the kind was
erected by Richard Wibird towards the close of the seventeenth century.

Though many of the old landmarks have been swept away by the fateful
hand of time and fire, the town impresses you as a very old town,
especially as you saunter along the streets down by the river. The
worm-eaten wharves, some of them covered by a sparse, unhealthy beard of
grass, and the weather-stained, unoccupied warehouses are sufficient
to satisfy a moderate appetite for antiquity. These deserted piers
and these long rows of empty barracks, with their sarcastic cranes
projecting from the eaves, rather puzzle the stranger. Why this great
preparation for a commercial activity that does not exist, and evidently
had not for years existed? There are no ships lying at the pier-heads;
there are no gangs of stevedores staggering under the heavy cases of
merchandise; here and there is a barge laden down to the bulwarks with
coal, and here and there a square-rigged schooner from Maine smothered
with fragrant planks and clapboards; an imported citizen is fishing at
the end of the wharf, a ruminative freckled son of Drogheda, in perfect
sympathy with the indolent sunshine that seems to be sole proprietor
of these crumbling piles and ridiculous warehouses, from which even the
ghost of prosperity has flown.

Once upon a time, however, Portsmouth carried on an extensive trade with
the West Indies, threatening as a maritime port to eclipse both Boston
and New York. At the windows of these musty counting-rooms which
overlook the river near Spring Market used to stand portly merchants,
in knee breeches and silver shoe-buckles and plum-colored coats with
ruffles at the wrist, waiting for their ships to come up the Narrows;
the cries of stevedores and the chants of sailors at the windlass used
to echo along the shore where all is silence now. For reasons not worth
setting forth, the trade with the Indies abruptly closed, having ruined
as well as enriched many a Portsmouth adventurer. This explains
the empty warehouses and the unused wharves. Portsmouth remains the
interesting widow of a once very lively commerce. I fancy that few
fortunes are either made or lost in Portsmouth nowadays. Formerly it
turned out the best ships, as it did the ablest ship captains, in the
world. There were families in which the love for blue water was
in immemorial trait. The boys were always sailors; "a grey-headed
shipmaster, in each generation, retiring from the quarter-deck to the
homestead, while a boy of fourteen took the hereditary place before the
mast, confronting the salt spray and the gale, which had blasted against
his sire and grandsire." (1. Hawthorne in his introduction to The
Scarlet Letter.) With thousands of miles of sea-line and a score or two
of the finest harbors on the globe, we have adroitly turned over our
carrying trade to foreign nations.

In other days, as I have said, a high maritime spirit was characteristic
of Portsmouth. The town did a profitable business in the war of 1812,
sending out a large fleet of the sauciest small craft on record. A
pleasant story is told of one of these little privateers--the Harlequin,
owned and commanded by Captain Elihu Brown. The Harlequin one day gave
chase to a large ship, which did not seem to have much fight aboard,
and had got it into close quarters, when suddenly the shy stranger threw
open her ports, and proved to be His Majesty's Ship-of-War Bulwark,
seventy-four guns. Poor Captain Brown!

Portsmouth has several large cotton factories and one or two corpulent
breweries; it is a wealthy old town, with a liking for first mortgage
bonds; but its warmest lover will not claim for it the distinction
of being a great mercantile centre. The majority of her young men are
forced to seek other fields to reap, and almost every city in the Union,
and many a city across the sea, can point to some eminent merchant,
lawyer, or what not, as "a Portsmouth boy." Portsmouth even furnished
the late king of the Sandwich Islands, Kekuanaoa, with a prime minister,
and his nankeen Majesty never had a better. The affection which all
these exiles cherish for their birthplace is worthy of remark. On two
occasions--in 1852 and 1873, the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of
the settlement of Strawberry Bank--the transplanted sons of Portsmouth
were seized with an impulse to return home. Simultaneously and almost
without concerted action, the lines of pilgrims took up their march from
every quarter of the globe, and swept down with music and banners on the
motherly old town.

To come back to the wharves. I do not know of any spot with such a
fascinating air of dreams and idleness about it as the old wharf at the
end of Court Street. The very fact that it was once a noisy, busy place,
crowded with sailors and soldiers--in the war of 1812--gives an emphasis
to the quiet that broods over it to-day. The lounger who sits of a
summer afternoon on a rusty anchor fluke in the shadow of one of the
silent warehouses, and look on the lonely river as it goes murmuring
past the town, cannot be too grateful to the India trade for having
taken itself off elsewhere.

What a slumberous, delightful, lazy place it is! The sunshine seems to
lie a foot deep on the planks of the dusty wharf, which yields up to the
warmth a vague perfume of the cargoes of rum, molasses, and spice
that used to be piled upon it. The river is as blue as the inside of a
harebell. The opposite shore, in the strangely shifting magic lights
of sky and water, stretches along like the silvery coast of fairyland.
Directly opposite you is the navy yard, and its neat officers' quarters
and workshops and arsenals, and its vast shiphouses, in which the keel
of many a famous frigate has been laid. Those monster buildings on the
water's edge, with their roofs pierced with innumerable little windows,
which blink like eyes in the sunlight, and the shiphouses. On your
right lies a cluster of small islands,--there are a dozen or more in the
harbor--on the most extensive of which you see the fading-away remains
of some earthworks thrown up in 1812. Between this--Trefethren's
Island--and Peirce's Island lie the Narrows. Perhaps a bark or a
sloop-of-war is making up to town; the hulk is hidden amoung the
islands, and the topmasts have the effect of sweeping across the dry
land. On your left is a long bridge, more than a quarter of a mile in
length, set upon piles where the water is twenty or thirty feet deep,
leading to the navy yard and Kittery--the Kittery so often the theme of
Whittier's verse.

This is a mere outline of the landscape that spreads before you. Its
changeful beauty of form and color, with the summer clouds floating
over it, is not to be painted in words. I know of many a place where the
scenery is more varied and striking; but there is a mandragora quality
in the atmosphere here that holds you to the spot, and makes the
half-hours seem like minutes. I could fancy a man sitting on the end
of that old wharf very contentedly for two or three years, provided it
could be always in June.

Perhaps, too, one would desire it to be always high water. The tide
falls from eight to twelve feet, and when the water makes out between
the wharves some of the picturesqueness makes out also. A corroded
section of stovepipe mailed in barnacles, or the skeleton of a hoopskirt
protruding from the tide mud like the remains of some old-time wreck, is
apt to break the enchantment.

I fear I have given the reader an exaggerated idea of the solitude
that reigns along the river-side. Sometimes there is society here of
an unconventional kind, if you care to seek it. Aside from the foreign
gentleman before mentioned, you are likely to encounter, farther down
the shore toward the Point of Graves (a burial-place of the colonial
period), a battered and aged native fisherman boiling lobsters on a
little gravelly bench, where the river whispers and lisps among the
pebbles as the tide creeps in. It is a weather-beaten ex-skipper or
ex-pilot, with strands of coarse hair, like seaweed, falling about a
face that has the expression of a half-open clam. He is always ready
to talk with you, this amphibious person; and if he is not the most
entertaining of gossips--more weather-wise that Old Probabilities,
and as full of moving incident as Othello himself--then he is not the
wintery-haired shipman I used to see a few years ago on the strip of
beach just beyond Liberty Bridge, building his drift-wood fire under a
great tin boiler, and making it lively for a lot of reluctant lobsters.

I imagine that very little change has taken place in this immediate
locality, known prosaically as Puddle Dock, during the past fifty or
sixty years. The view you get looking across Liberty Bridge, Water
Street, is probably the same in every respect that presented itself to
the eyes of the town folk a century ago. The flagstaff, on the right,
is the representative of the old "standard of liberty" which the Sons
planted on this spot in January, 1766, signalizing their opposition
to the enforcement of the Stamp Act. On the same occasion the patriots
called at the house of Mr. George Meserve, the agent for distributing
the stamps in New Hampshire, and relieved him of his stamp-master's
commission, which document they carried on the point of a sword through
the town to Liberty Bridge (the Swing Bridge), where they erected the
staff, with the motto, "Liberty, Property, and no Stamp!"

The Stamp Act was to go into operation on the first day of November. On
the previous morning the "New Hampshire Gazette" appeared with a deep
black border and all the typographical emblems of affliction, for was
not Liberty dead? At all events, the "Gazette" itself was as good as
dead, since the printer could no longer publish it if he were to be
handicapped by a heavy tax. "The day was ushered in by the tolling
of all the bells in town, the vessels in the harbor had their colors
hoisted half-mast high; about three o'clock a funeral procession was
formed, having a coffin with this inscription, LIBERTY, AGED 145,
STAMPT. It moved from the state house, with two unbraced drums, through
the principal streets. As it passed the Parade, minute-guns were fired;
at the place of interment a speech was delivered on the occasion,
stating the many advantages we had received and the melancholy prospect
before us, at the seeming departure of our invaluable liberties. But
some sign of life appearing, Liberty was not deposited in the grave;
it was rescued by a number of her sons, the motto changed to Liberty
revived, and carried off in triumph. The detestable Act was buried in
its stead, and the clods of the valley were laid upon it; the bells
changed their melancholy sound to a more joyful tone." (1. Annals of
Portsmouth, by Nathaniel Adams, 1825.)

With this side glance at one of the curious humors of the time, we
resume our peregrinations.

Turning down a lane on your left, a few rods beyond Liberty Bridge,
you reach a spot known as the Point of Graves, chiefly interesting as
showing what a graveyard may come to if it last long enough. In 1671 one
Captain John Pickering, of whom we shall have more to say, ceded to
the town a piece of ground on this neck for burial purposes. It is an
odd-shaped lot, comprising about half an acre, inclosed by a crumbling
red brick wall two or three feet high, with wood capping. The place
is overgrown with thistles, rank grass, and fungi; the black slate
headstones have mostly fallen over; those that still make a pretense of
standing slant to every point of the compass, and look as if they
were being blown this way and that by a mysterious gale which leaves
everything else untouched; the mounds have sunk to the common level, and
the old underground tombs have collapsed. Here and there the moss and
weeds you can pick out some name that shines in the history of the early
settlement; hundreds of the flower of the colony lie here, but the
known and the unknown, gentle and simple, mingle their dust on a perfect
equality now. The marble that once bore a haughty coat of arms is as
smooth as the humblest slate stone guiltless of heraldry. The lion and
the unicorn, wherever they appear on some cracked slab, are very much
tamed by time. The once fat-faced cherubs, with wing at either cheek,
are the merest skeletons now. Pride, pomp, grief, and remembrance are
all at end. No reverent feet come here, no tears fall here; the old
graveyard itself is dead! A more dismal, uncanny spot than this at
twilight would be hard to find. It is noticed that when the boys pass
it after nightfall, they always go by whistling with a gayety that is
perfectly hollow.

Let us get into some cheerfuler neighborhood!


AS you leave the river front behind you, and pass "up town," the streets
grow wider, and the architecture becomes more ambitious--streets fringed
with beautiful old trees and lined with commodious private dwellings,
mostly square white houses, with spacious halls running through the
centre. Previous to the Revolution, white paint was seldom used on
houses, and the diamond-shaped window pane was almost universal. Many of
the residences stand back from the brick or flagstone sidewalk, and have
pretty gardens at the side or in the rear, made bright with dahlias and
sweet with cinnamon roses. If you chance to live in a town where the
authorities cannot rest until they have destroyed every precious tree
within their blighting reach, you will be especially charmed by the
beauty of the streets of Portsmouth. In some parts of the town, when
the chestnuts are in blossom, you would fancy yourself in a garden in
fairyland. In spring, summer, and autumn the foliage is the glory of the
fair town--her luxuriant green and golden treeses! Nothing could seem
more like the work of enchantment than the spectacle which certain
streets in Portsmouth present in the midwinter after a heavy snowstorm.
You may walk for miles under wonderful silvery arches formed by the
overhanging and interlaced boughs of the trees, festooned with a drapery
even more graceful and dazzling than springtime gives them. The numerous
elms and maples which shade the principal thoroughfares are not the
result of chance, but the ample reward of the loving care that is taken
to preserve the trees. There is a society in Portsmouth devoted to
arboriculture. It is not unusual there for persons to leave legacies
to be expended in setting out shade and ornamental trees along some
favorite walk. Richards Avenue, a long, unbuilt thoroughfare leading
from Middle Street to the South Burying-Ground, perpetuates the name of
a citizen who gave the labor of his own hands to the beautifying of that
windswept and barren road the cemetery. This fondness and care for trees
seems to be a matter of heredity. So far back as 1660 the selectmen
instituted a fine of five shillings for the cutting of timber or any
other wood from off the town common, excepting under special conditions.

In the business section of the town trees are few. The chief business
streets are Congress and Market. Market Street is the stronghold of
the dry-goods shops. There are seasons, I suppose, when these shops are
crowded, but I have never happened to be in Portsmouth at the time. I
seldom pass through the narrow cobble-paved street without wondering
where the customers are that must keep all these flourishing little
establishments going. Congress Street--a more elegant thoroughfare
than Market--is the Nevski Prospekt of Portsmouth. Among the prominent
buildings is the Athenaeum, containing a reading-room and library.
From the high roof of this building the stroller will do well to take
a glance at the surrounding country. He will naturally turn seaward
for the more picturesque aspects. If the day is clear, he will see the
famous Isle of Shoals, lying nine miles away--Appledore, Smutty-Nose,
Star Island, White Island, etc.; there are nine of them in all. On
Appledore is Laighton's Hotel, and near it the summer cottage of Celia
Thaxter, the poet of the Isles. On the northern end of Star Island is
the quaint town of Gosport, with a tiny stone church perched like a
sea-gull on its highest rock. A mile southwest form Star Island lies
White Island, on which is a lighthouse. Mrs. Thaxter calls this the most
picturesque of the group. Perilous neighbors, O mariner! in any but
the serenest weather, these wrinkled, scarred, are storm-smitten rocks,
flanked by wicked sunken ledges that grow white at the lip with rage
when the great winds blow!

How peaceful it all looks off there, on the smooth emerald sea! and how
softly the waves seem to break on yonder point where the unfinished
fort is! That is the ancient town of Newcastle, to reach which from
Portsmouth you have to cross three bridges with the most enchanting
scenery in New Hampshire lying on either hand. At Newcastle the poet
Stedman has built for his summerings an enviable little stone chateau--a
seashell into which I fancy the sirens creep to warm themselves during
the winter months. So it is never without its singer.

Opposite Newcastle is Kittery Point, a romantic spot, where Sir William
Pepperell, the first American baronet, once lived, and where his tomb
now is, in his orchard across the road, a few hundred yards from the
"goodly mansion" he built. The knight's tomb and the old Pepperell
House, which has been somewhat curtailed of it fair proportions, are the
objects of frequent pilgrimages to Kittery Point.

From the elevation (the roof of the Athenaeun) the navy yard, the
river with its bridges and islands, the clustered gables of Kittery and
Newcastle, the illimitable ocean beyond make a picture worth climbing
four or five flights of stairs to gaze upon. Glancing down on the town
nestled in the foliage, it seems like a town dropped by chance in the
midst of a forest. Among the prominent objects which lift themselves
above the tree tops are the belfries of the various churches, the
white façade of the custom house, and the mansard and chimneys of the
Rockingham, the principal hotel. The pilgrim will be surprised to find
in Portsmouth one of the most completely appointed hotels in the United
States. The antiquarian may lament the demolition of the old Bell
Tavern, and think regretfully of the good cheer once furnished the
wayfarer by Master Stavers at the sign of the Earl of Halifax, and by
Master Stoodley at his inn on Daniel Street; but the ordinary traveler
will thank his stars, and confess that his lines have fallen in pleasant
places, when he finds himself among the frescoes of the Rockingham.

Obliquely opposite the doorstep of the Athenaeum--we are supposed to be
on terra firma again--stands the Old North Church, a substantial wooden
building, handsomely set on what is called The Parade, a large open
space formed by the junction of Congress, Market, Daniel, and Pleasant
streets. Here in days innocent of water-works stood the town pump, which
on more than one occasion served as whipping-post.

The churches of Portsmouth are more remarkable for their number than
their architecture. With the exception of the Stone Church they are
constructed of wood or plain brick in the simplest style. St. John's
Church is the only one likely to attract the eye of a stranger. It
is finely situated on the crest of Church Hill, overlooking the
ever-beautiful river. The present edifice was built in 1808 on the site
of what was known as Queen's Chapel, erected in 1732, and destroyed by
fire December 24, 1806. The chapel was named in honor of Queen Caroline,
who furnished the books for the altar and pulpit, the plate, and two
solid mahogany chairs, which are still in use in St. John's. Within the
chancel rail is a curious font of porphyry, taken by Colonel John Tufton
Mason at the capture of Senegal from the French in 1758, and presented
to the Episcopal Society on 1761. The peculiarly sweet-toned bell
which calls the parishioners of St. John's together every Sabbath is,
I believe, the same that formerly hung in the belfry of the old Queen's
Chapel. If so, the bell has a history of its own. It was brought from
Louisburg at the time of the reduction of that place in 1745, and given
to the church by the officers of the New Hampshire troops.

The Old South Meeting-House is not to be passed without mention. It is
among the most aged survivals of pre-revolutionary days. Neither its
architecture not its age, however, is its chief warrant for our notice.
The absurd number of windows in this battered old structure is what
strikes the passer-by. The church was erected by subscription, and
these closely set large windows are due to Henry Sherburne, one of the
wealthiest citizens of the period, who agreed to pay for whatever glass
was used. If the building could have been composed entirely of glass it
would have been done by the thrifty parishioners.

Portsmouth is rich in graveyards--they seem to be a New England
specialty--ancient and modern. Among the old burial-places the one
attached to St. John's Church is perhaps the most interesting. It has
not been permitted to fall into ruin, like the old cemetery at the Point
of Graves. When a headstone here topples over it is kindly lifted up
and set on its pins again, and encouraged to do its duty. If it utterly
refuses, and is not shamming decrepitude, it has its face sponged, and
is allowed to rest and sun itself against the wall of the church with a
row of other exempts. The trees are kept pruned, the grass trimmed,
and here and there is a rosebush drooping with a weight of pensive pale
roses, as becomes a rosebush in a churchyard.

The place has about it an indescribable soothing atmosphere of
respectability and comfort. Here rest the remains of the principal and
loftiest in rank in their generation of the citizens of Portsmouth prior
to the Revolution--stanch, royalty-loving governors, counselors, and
secretaries of the Providence of New Hampshire, all snugly gathered
under the motherly wing of the Church of England. It is almost
impossible to walk anywhere without stepping on a governor. You grow
haughty in spirit after a while, and scorn to tread on anything less
than one of His Majesty's colonels or secretary under the Crown. Here
are the tombs of the Atkinsons, the Jaffreys, the Sherburnes, the
Sheafes, the Marshes, the Mannings, the Gardners, and others of the
quality. All around you underfoot are tumbled-in coffins, with here and
there a rusty sword atop, and faded escutcheons, and crumbling armorial
devices. You are moving in the very best society.

This, however, is not the earliest cemetery in Portsmouth. An hour's
walk from the Episcopal yard will bring you to the spot, already
mentioned, where the first house was built and the first grave made,
at Odiorne's Point. The exact site of the Manor is not known, but it is
supposed to be a few rods north of an old well of still-flowing water,
at which the Tomsons and the Hiltons and their comrades slaked their
thirst more than two hundred and sixty years ago. Oriorne's Point is
owned by Mr. Eben L. Odiorne, a lineal descendant of the worthy who held
the property in 1657. Not far from the old spring is the resting-place
of the earliest pioneers.

"This first cemetery of the white man in New Hampshire," writes Mr.
Brewster, (1. Mr. Charles W. Brewster, for nearly fifty years the
editor of the Portsmouth Journal, and the author of two volumes of
local sketches to which the writer of these pages here acknowledges his
indebtedness.) "occupies a space of perhaps one hundred feet by ninety,
and is well walled in. The western side is now used as a burial-place
for the family, but two thirds of it is filled with perhaps forty
graves, indicated by rough head and foot stones. Who there rest no one
now living knows. But the same care is taken of their quiet beds as if
they were of the proprietor's own family. In 1631 Mason sent over about
eighty emigrants many of whom died in a few years, and here they were
probably buried. Here too, doubtless, rest the remains of several of
those whose names stand conspicuous in our early state records."


WHEN Washington visited Portsmouth in 1789 he was not much impressed by
the architecture of the little town that had stood by him so stoutly in
the struggle for independence. "There are some good houses," he
writes, in a diary kept that year during a tour through Connecticut,
Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, "among which Colonel Langdon's may
be esteemed the first; but in general they are indifferent, and almost
entirely of wood. On wondering at this, as the country is full of stone
and good clay for bricks, I was told that on account of the fogs and
damp they deemed them wholesomer, and for that reason preferred wood

The house of Colonel Langdon, on Pleasant Street, is an excellent sample
of the solid and dignified abodes which our great-grandsires had the
sense to build. The art of their construction seems to have been a lost
art these fifty years. Here Governor John Langdon resided from 1782
until the time of his death in 1819--a period during which many an
illustrious man passed between those two white pillars that support the
little balcony over the front door; among the rest Louis Philippe and
his brothers, the Ducs de Montpensier and Beaujolais, and the Marquis de
Chastellus, a major-general in the French army, serving under the Count
de Rochambeau, whom he accompanied from France to the States in 1780.
The journal of the marquis contains this reference to his host: "After
dinner we went to drink tea with Mr. Langdon. He is a handsome man, and
of noble carriage; he has been a member of Congress, and is now one
of the first people of the country; his house is elegant and well
furnished, and the apartments admirably well wainscoted" (this reads
like Mr. Samuel Pepys); "and he has a good manuscript chart of the
harbor of Portsmouth. Mrs. Langdon, his wife, is young, fair, and
tolerably handsome, but I conversed less with her than her husband, in
whose favor I was prejudiced from knowing that he had displayed great
courage and patriotism at the time of Burgoynes's expedition."

It was at the height of the French Revolution that the three sons of the
Due d'Orleans were entertained at the Langdon mansion. Years afterward,
when Louis Philippe was on the throne of France, he inquired of a
Portsmouth lady presented at his court if the mansion of ce brave
Gouverneur Langdon was still in existence.

The house stands back a decorous distance from the street, under
the shadows of some gigantic oaks or elms, and presents an imposing
appearance as you approach it over the tessellated marble walk. A
hundred or two feet on either side of the gate, and abutting on
the street, is a small square building of brick, one story in
height--probably the porter's lodge and tool-house of former days. There
is a large fruit garden attached to the house, which is in excellent
condition, taking life comfortably, and having the complacent air of a
well-preserved beau of the ancien regime. The Langdon mansion was
owned and long occupied by the late Rev. Dr. Burroughs, for a period of
forty-seven years the esteemed rector or St. John's Church.

At the other end of Pleasant Street is another notable house, to which
we shall come by and by. Though President Washington found Portsmouth
but moderately attractive from an architectural point of view, the
visitor of to-day, if he have an antiquarian taste, will find himself
embarrassed by the number of localities and buildings that appeal to his
interest. Many of these buildings were new and undoubtedly commonplace
enough at the date of Washington's visit; time and association have
given them a quaintness and a significance which now make their
architecture a question of secondary importance.

One might spend a fortnight in Portsmouth exploring the nooks and
corners over which history has thrown a charm, and by no means exhaust
the list. I cannot do more than attempt to describe--and that very
briefly--a few of the typical old houses. On this same Pleasant Street
there are several which we must leave unnoted, with their spacious
halls and carven staircases, their antiquated furniture and old silver
tankards and choice Copleys. Numerous examples of this artist's best
manner are to be found here. To live in Portsmouth without possessing a
family portrait done by Copley is like living in Boston without having
an ancestor in the old Granary Burying-Ground. You can exist, but you
cannot be said to flourish. To make this statement smooth, I will remark
that every one in Portsmouth has a Copley--or would have if a fair
division were made.

In the better sections of the town the houses are kept in such excellent
repair, and have so smart an appearance with their bright green blinds
and freshly painted woodwork, that you are likely to pass many an old
landmark without suspecting it. Whenever you see a house with a gambrel
roof, you may be almost positive that the house is at least a
hundred years old, for the gambrel roof went out of fashion after the

On the corner of Daniel and Chapel streets stands the oldest brick
building in Portsmouth--the Warner House. It was built in 1718 by
Captain Archibald Macpheadris, a Scotchman, as his name indicates, a
wealthy merchant, and a member of the King's Council. He was the chief
projector of one of the earliest iron-works established in America.
Captain Macpheadris married Sarah Wentworth, one of the sixteen children
of Governor John Wentworth, and died in 1729, leaving a daughter, Mary,
whose portrait, with that of her mother, painted by the ubiquitous
Copley, still hangs in the parlor of this house, which is not known by
the name of Captain Macpheadris, but by that of his son-in-law, Hon.
Jonathan Warner, a member of the King's Council until the revolt of the
colonies. "We well recollect Mr. Warner," says Mr. Brewster, writing in
1858, "as one of the last of the cocked hats. As in a vision of early
childhood he is still before us, in all the dignity of the aristocratic
crown officers. That broad-backed, long-skirted brown coat, those
small-clothes and silk stockings, those silver buckles, and that
cane--we see them still, although the life that filled and moved them
ceased half a century ago."

The Warner House, a three-story building with gambrel roof and luthern
windows, is as fine and substantial an exponent of the architecture of
the period as you are likely to meet with anywhere in New England. The
eighteen-inch walls are of brick brought from Holland, as were also many
of the materials used in the building--the hearth-stones, tiles,
etc. Hewn-stone underpinnings were seldom adopted in those days; the
brick-work rests directly upon the solid walls of the cellar. The
interior is rich in paneling and wood carvings about the mantel-shelves,
the deep-set windows, and along the cornices. The halls are wide and
long, after a by-gone fashion, with handsome staircases, set at an easy
angle, and not standing nearly upright, like those ladders by which one
reaches the upper chambers of a modern house. The principal rooms are
paneled to the ceiling, and have large open chimney-places, adorned with
the quaintest of Dutch files. In one of the parlors of the Warner House
there is a choice store of family relics--china, silver-plate, costumes,
old clocks, and the like. There are some interesting paintings, too--not
by Copley this time. On a broad space each side of the hall windows, at
the head of the staircase, are pictures of two Indians, life size. They
are probably portraits of some of the numerous chiefs with whom Captain
Macphaedris had dealings, for the captain was engaged in the fur as
well as in the iron business. Some enormous elk antlers, presented to
Macpheadris by his red friends, are hanging in the lower hall.

By mere chance, thirty or forty years ago, some long-hidden paintings
on the walls of this lower hall were brought to light. In repairing the
front entry it became necessary to remove the paper, of which four or
five layers had accumulated. A one place, where several coats had peeled
off cleanly, a horse's hoof was observed by a little girl of the family.
The workman then began removing the paper carefully; first the legs,
then the body of a horse with a rider were revealed, and the astonished
paper-hanger presently stood before a life-size representation of
Governor Phipps on his charger. The workman called other persons to
his assistance, and the remaining portions of the wall were speedily
stripped, laying bare four or five hundred square feet covered with
sketches in color, landscapes, views of unknown cities, Biblical scenes,
and modern figure-pieces, among which was a lady at a spinning-wheel.
Until then no person in the land of the living had had any knowledge
of those hidden pictures. An old dame of eighty, who had visited at the
house intimately ever since her childhood, all but refused to believe
her spectacles (though Supply Ham made them(1.)) when brought face to
face with the frescoes. (1. In the early part of this century, Supply
Ham was the leading optician and watchmaker of Portsmouth.)

The place is rich in bricabrac, but there is nothing more curious that
these incongruous printings, clearly the work of a practiced hand.
Even the outside of the old edifice is not without its interest for an
antiquarian. The lightening-rod which protects the Warner House to-day
was put up under Benjamin Franklin's own supervision in 1762--such at
all events is the credited tradition--and is supposed to be the first
rod put up in New Hampshire. A lightening-rod "personally conducted"
by Benjamin Franklin ought to be an attractive object to even the least
susceptible electricity. The Warner House has another imperative claim
on the good-will of the visitor--it is not positively known that George
Washington ever slept there.

The same assertion cannot be made on connection with the old yellow
barracks situated in the southwest corner of Court and Atkinson streets.
Famous old houses seem to have an intuitive perception of the value of
corner lots. If it is a possible thing, they always set themselves down
on the most desirable spots. It is beyond a doubt that Washington slept
not only one night, but several nights, under this roof; for this was
a celebrated tavern previous and subsequent to the War of Independence,
and Washington made it his headquarters during his visit to Portsmouth
in 1797. When I was a boy I knew an old lady--not one of the
preposterous old ladies in the newspapers, who have all their faculties
unimpaired, but a real old lady, whose ninety-nine years were beginning
to tell on her--who had known Washington very well. She was a girl in
her teens when he came to Portsmouth. The President was the staple of
her conversation during the last ten years of her life, which she passed
in the Stavers House, bedridden; and I think those ten years were in a
manner rendered short and pleasant to the old gentlewoman by the memory
of a compliment to her complexion which Washington probably never paid
to it.

The old hotel--now a very unsavory tenement-house--was built by John
Tavers, innkeeper, in 1770, who planted in front of the door a tall
post, from which swung the sign of the Earl of Halifax. Stavers had
previously kept an inn of the same name on Queen, now State Street.

It is a square three-story building, shabby and dejected, giving no hint
of the really important historical associations that cluster about it.
At the time of its erection it was no doubt considered a rather grand
structure, for buildings of three stories were rare in Portsmouth. Even
in 1798, of the six hundred and twenty-six dwelling houses of which the
town boasted, eighty-six were of one story, five hundred and twenty-four
were of two stories, and only sixteen of three stories. The Stavers inn
has the regulation gambrel roof, but is lacking in those wood ornaments
which are usually seen over the doors and windows of the more prominent
houses of that epoch. It was, however, the hotel of the period.

That same worn doorstep upon which Mr. O'Shaughnessy now stretches
himself of a summer afternoon, with a short clay pipe stuck between
his lips, and his hat crushed down on his brows, revolving the sad
vicissitude of things--that same doorstep has been pressed by the feet
of generals and marquises and grave dignitaries upon whom depended the
destiny of the States--officers in gold lace and scarlet cloth, and
high-heeled belles in patch, powder, and paduasoy. At this door the
Flying Stage Coach, which crept from Boston, once a week set down its
load of passengers--and distinguished passengers they often were. Most
of the chief celebrities of the land, before and after the secession of
the colonies, were the guests of Master Stavers, at the sign of the Earl
of Halifax.

While the storm was brewing between the colonies and the mother country,
it was in a back room of the tavern that the adherents of the crown met
to discuss matters. The landlord himself was a amateur loyalist,
and when the full cloud was on the eve of breaking he had an early
intimation of the coming tornado. The Sons of Liberty had long watched
with sullen eyes the secret sessions of the Tories in Master Stavers's
tavern, and one morning the patriots quietly began cutting down the post
which supported the obnoxious emblem. Mr. Stavers, who seems not to have
been belligerent himself, but the cause of belligerence in others, sent
out his black slave with orders to stop proceedings. The negro, who was
armed with an axe, struck but a single blow and disappeared. This blow
fell upon the head of Mark Noble; it did not kill him, but left him an
insane man till the day of his death, forty years afterward. A furious
mob at once collected, and made an attack on the tavern, bursting in
the doors and shattering every pane of glass in the windows. It was only
through the intervention of Captain John Langdon, a warm and popular
patriot, that the hotel was saved from destruction.

In the mean while Master Stavers had escaped through the stables in
the rear. He fled to Stratham, where he was given refuge by his friend
William Pottle, a most appropriately named gentleman, who had supplied
the hotel with ale. The excitement blew over after a time, and Stavers
was induced to return to Portsmouth. He was seized by the Committee of
Safety, and lodged in Exeter jail, when his loyalty, which had really
never been very high, went down below zero; he took the oath of
allegiance, and shortly after his released reopened the hotel. The
honest face of William Pitt appeared on the repentant sign, vice Earl
of Halifax, ignominiously removed, and Stavers was himself again. In the
state records is the following letter from poor Noble begging for the
enlargement of John Stavers:--

PORTSMOUTH, February 3, 1777. To the Committee of Safety of the Town of
Exeter: GENTLEMEN,--As I am informed that Mr. Stivers is in confinement
in gaol upon my account contrary to my desire, for when I was at Mr.
Stivers a fast day I had no ill nor ment none against the Gentleman but
by bad luck or misfortune I have received a bad Blow but it is so well
that I hope to go out in a day or two. So by this gentlemen of the
Committee I hope you will release the gentleman upon my account. I am
yours to serve. MARK NOBLE, A friend to my country.

From that period until I know not what year the Stavers House prospered.
It was at the sign of the William Pitt that the officers of the French
fleet boarded in 1782, and hither came the Marquis Lafayette, all
the way from Providence, to visit them. John Hancock, Elbridge Gerry,
Rutledge, and other signers of the Declaration sojourned here at various
times. It was here General Knox--"that stalwart man, two officers
in size and three in lungs"--was wont to order his dinner, and in a
stentorian voice compliment Master Stavers on the excellence of his
larder. One day--it was at the time of the French Revolution--Louis
Philippe and his two brothers applied at the door of the William Pitt
for lodgings; but the tavern was full, and the future king, with his
companions, found comfortable quarters under the hospitable roof of
Governor Langdon in Pleasant Street.

A record of the scenes, tragic and humorous, that have been enacted
within this old yellow house on the corner would fill a volume. A vivid
picture of the social and public life of the old time might be painted
by a skillful hand, using the two Earl of Halifax inns for a background.
The painter would find gay and sombre pigments ready mixed for his
palette, and a hundred romantic incidents waiting for his canvas. One
of these romantic episodes has been turned to very pretty account
by Longfellow in the last series of The Tales of a Wayside Inn--the
marriage of Governor Benning Wentworth with Martha Hilton, a sort of
second edition of King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid.

Martha Hilton was a poor girl, whose bare feet and ankles and scant
drapery when she was a child, and even after she was well in the bloom
of her teens, used to scandalize good Dame Stavers, the innkeeper's
wife. Standing one afternoon in the doorway of the Earl of Halifax, (1.
The first of the two hotels bearing that title. Mr. Brewster commits
a slight anachronism in locating the scene of this incident in Jaffrey
Street, now Court. The Stavers House was not built until the year of
Governor Benning Wentworth's death. Mr. Longfellow, in the poem, does
not fall into the same error.

     "One hundred years ago, and something more,
     In Queen Street, Portsmouth, at her tavern door,
     Neat as a pin, and blooming as a rose,
     Stood Mistress Stavers in her furbelows.")

Dame Stavers took occasion to remonstrate with the sleek-limbed and
lightly draped Martha, who chanced to be passing the tavern, carrying a
pail of water, in which, as the poet neatly says, "the shifting sunbeam

"You Pat! you Pat!" cried Mrs. Stavers severely; "why do you go looking
so? You should be ashamed to be seen in the street."

"Never mind how I look," says Miss Martha, with a merry laugh, letting
slip a saucy brown shoulder out of her dress; "I shall ride in my
chariot yet, ma'am."

Fortunate prophecy! Martha went to live as servant with Governor
Wentworth at his mansion at Little Harbor, looking out to sea. Seven
years passed, and the "thin slip of a girl," who promised to be no great
beauty, had flowered into the loveliest of women, with a lip like a
cherry and a cheek like a tea-rose--a lady by instinct, one of Nature's
own ladies. The governor, a lonely widower, and not too young, fell in
love with his fair handmaid. Without stating his purpose to any one,
Governor Wentworth invited a number of friends (among others the Rev.
Arthur Brown) to dine with him at Little Harbor on his birthday. After
the dinner, which was a very elaborate one, was at an end, and the
guests were discussing their tobacco-pipes, Martha Hilton glided into
the room, and stood blushing in front of the chimney-place. She was
exquisitely dressed, as you may conceive, and wore her hair three
stories high. The guests stared at each other, and particularly at her,
and wondered. Then the governor, rising from his seat,

     "Played slightly with his ruffles, then looked down,
     And said unto the Reverend Arthur Brown:
     'This is my birthday; it shall likewise be
     My wedding-day; and you shall marry me!'"

The rector was dumfounded, knowing the humble footing Martha had held
in the house, and could think of nothing cleverer to say than, "To whom,
your excellency?" which was not cleaver at all.

"To this lady," replied the governor, taking Martha Hilton by the
hand. The Rev. Arthur Brown hesitated. "As the Chief Magistrate of New
Hampshire I command you to marry me!" cried the choleric old governor.

And so it was done; and the pretty kitchen-maid became Lady Wentworth,
and did ride in her own chariot. She would not have been a woman if she
had not taken an early opportunity to drive by Staver's hotel!

Lady Wentworth had a keen appreciation of the dignity of her new
station, and became a grand lady at once. A few days after her marriage,
dropping her ring on the floor, she languidly ordered her servant to
pick it up. The servant, who appears to have had a fair sense of humor,
grew suddenly near-sighted, and was unable to the ring until Lady
Wentworth stooped and placed her ladyship's finger upon it. She turned
out a faultless wife, however; and Governor Wentworth at his death,
which occurred in 1770, signified his approval of her by leaving her his
entire estate. She married again without changing name, accepting the
hand, and what there was of the heart, of Michael Wentworth, a retired
colonel of the British army, who came to this country in 1767. Colonel
Wentworth (not connected, I think, with the Portsmouth branch of
Wentworths) seems to have been of a convivial turn of mind. He shortly
dissipated his wife's fortune in high living, and died abruptly in New
York--it was supposed by his own hand. His last words--a quite unique
contribution to the literature of last words--were, "I have had my
cake, and ate it," which showed that the colonel within his own modest
limitations was a philosopher.

The seat of Governor Wentworth at Little Harbor--a pleasant walk from
Market Square--is well worth a visit. Time and change have laid their
hands more lightly on this rambling old pile than on any other of the
old homes in Portsmouth. When you cross the threshold of the door
you step into the colonial period. Here the Past seems to have halted
courteously, waiting for you to catch up with it. Inside and outside the
Wentworth mansion remains nearly as the old governor left it; and though
it is no longer in the possession of the family, the present owners, in
their willingness to gratify the decent curiosity of strangers, show a
hospitality which has always characterized the place.

The house is an architectural freak. The main building--if it is the
main building--is generally two stories in height, with irregular wings
forming three sides of a square which opens in the water. It is, in
brief, a cluster of whimsical extensions that look as if they had
been built at different periods, which I believe was not the case. The
mansion was completed in 1750. It originally contained fifty-two rooms;
a portion of the structure was removed about half a century ago, leaving
forty-five apartments. The chambers were connected in the oddest manner,
by unexpected steps leading up or down, and capricious little passages
that seem to have been the unhappy afterthoughts of the architect. But
it is a mansion on a grand scale, and with a grand air. The cellar was
arranged for the stabling of a troop of thirty horse in times of
danger. The council-chamber, where for many years all questions of vital
importance to the State were discussed, is a spacious, high-studded
room, finished in the richest style of the last century. It is said that
the ornamentation of the huge mantel, carved with knife and chisel,
cost the workman a year's constant labor. At the entrance to the
council-chamber are still the racks for the twelve muskets of the
governor's guard--so long ago dismissed!

Some valuable family portraits adorn the walls here, among which is a
fine painting-yes, by our friend Copley--of the lovely Dorothy Quincy,
who married John Hancock, and afterward became Madam Scott. This lady
was a niece of Dr. Holme's "Dorothy Q." Opening on the council-chamber
is a large billiard-room; the billiard-table is gone, but an ancient
spinnet, with the prim air of an ancient maiden lady, and of a wheezy
voice, is there; and in one corner stands a claw-footed buffet, near
which the imaginative nostril may still detect a faint and tantalizing
odor of colonial punch. Opening also on the council-chamber are several
tiny apartments, empty and silent now, in which many a close rubber has
been played by illustrious hands. The stillness and loneliness of the
old house seem saddest here. The jeweled fingers are dust, the merry
laughs have turned themselves into silent, sorrowful phantoms, stealing
from chamber to chamber. It is easy to believe in the traditional ghost
that haunts the place--

     "A jolly place in times of old,
     But something ails it now!"

The mansion at Little Harbor is not the only historic house that bears
the name of Wentworth. On Pleasant Street, at the head of Washington
Street, stands the abode of another colonial worthy, Governor John
Wentworth, who held office from 1767 down to the moment when the
colonies dropped the British yoke as if it had been the letter H. For
the moment the good gentleman's occupation was gone. He was a royalist
of the most florid complexion. In 1775, a man named John Fenton, and
ex-captain in the British army, who had managed to offend the Sons of
Liberty, was given sanctuary in this house by the governor, who refused
to deliver the fugitive to the people. The mob planted a small cannon
(unloaded) in front of the doorstep and threatened to open fire if
Fenton were not forthcoming. He forth-with came. The family vacated
the premises via the back-yard, and the mob entered, doing considerable
damage. The broken marble chimney-place still remains, mutely protesting
against the uncalled-for violence. Shortly after this event the governor
made his way to England, where his loyalty was rewarded first with a
governorship and then with a pension of L500. He was governor of Nova
Scotia from 1792 to 1800, and died in Halifax in 1820. This house is
one of the handsomest old dwellings in the town, and promises to
outlive many of its newest neighbors. The parlor has undergone no change
whatever since the populace rushed into it over a century ago. The
furniture and adornments occupy their original positions and the plush
on the walls has not been replaced by other hangings. In the hall--deep
enough for the traditional duel of baronial romance--are full-length
portraits of the several governors and sundry of their kinsfolk.

There is yet a third Wentworth house, also decorated with the shade of
a colonial governor--there were three Governors Wentworth--but we shall
pass it by, though out of no lack of respect for that high official
personage whose commission was signed by Joseph Addison, Esq., Secretary
of State under George I.


THESE old houses have perhaps detained us too long. They are merely the
crumbling shells of things dead and gone, of persons and manners and
customs that have left no very distinct record of themselves, excepting
here and there in some sallow manuscript which has luckily escaped the
withering breath of fire, for the old town, as I have remarked, has
managed, from the earliest moment of its existence, to burn itself up
periodically. It is only through the scattered memoranda of ancient town
clerks, and in the files of worm-eaten and forgotten newspapers, that
we are enabled to get glimpses of that life which was once so real and
positive and has now become a shadow. I am of course speaking of the
early days of the settlement on Strawberry Bank. They were stormy and
eventful days. The dense forest which surrounded the clearing was alive
with hostile red-men. The sturdy pilgrim went to sleep with his firelock
at his bedside, not knowing at what moment he might be awakened by
the glare of his burning hayricks and the piercing war-whoops of the
Womponoags. Year after year he saw his harvest reaped by a sickle of
flames, as he peered through the loop-holes of the blockhouse, whither
he had flown in hot haste with goodwife and little ones. The blockhouse
at Strawberry Bank appears to have been on an extensive scale, with
stockades for the shelter of cattle. It held large supplies of stores,
and was amply furnished with arquebuses, sakers, and murtherers, a
species of naval ordnance which probably did not belie its name. It also
boasted, we are told, of two drums for training-days, and no fewer
than fifteen hautboys and soft-voiced recorders--all which suggests a
mediaeval castle, or a grim fortress in the time of Queen Elizabeth.
To the younger members of the community glass or crockery ware was an
unknown substance; to the elders it was a memory. An iron pot was the
pot-of-all-work, and their table utensils were of beaten pewter. The
diet was also of the simplest--pea-porridge and corn-cake, with a mug of
ale or a flagon of Spanish wine, when they could get it.

John Mason, who never resided in this country, but delegated the
management of his plantation at Ricataqua and Newichewannock to
stewards, died before realizing any appreciable return from his
enterprise. He spared no endeavor meanwhile to further its prosperity.
In 1632, three years before his death, Mason sent over from Denmark a
number of neat cattle, "of a large breed and yellow colour." The herd
thrived, and it is said that some of the stock is still extant on farms
in the vicinity of Portsmouth. Those old first families had a kind of
staying quality!

In May, 1653, the inhabitants of the settlement petitioned the General
Court at Boston to grant them a definite township--for the boundaries
were doubtful--and the right to give it a proper name. "Whereas the name
of this plantation att present being Strabery Banke, accidentlly soe
called, by reason of a banke where strawberries was found in this place,
now we humbly desire to have it called Portsmouth, being a name most
suitable for this place, it being the river's mouth, and good as any in
this land, and your petit'rs shall humbly pray," etc.

Throughout that formative period, and during the intermittent French
wars, Portsmouth and the outlying districts were the scenes of bloody
Indian massacres. No portion of the New England colony suffered more.
Famine, fire, pestilence, and war, each in turn, and sometimes in
conjunction, beleaguered the little stronghold, and threatened to wipe
it out. But that was not to be.

The settlement flourished and increased in spite of all, and as soon as
it had leisure to draw breath, it bethought itself of the school-house
and the jail--two incontestable signs of budding civilization. At a
town meeting in 1662, it was ordered "that a cage be made or some
other meanes invented by the selectmen to punish such as sleepe or take
tobacco on the Lord's day out of the meetinge in the time of publique
service." This salutary measure was not, for some reason, carried into
effect until nine years later, when Captain John Pickering, who seems to
have had as many professions as Michelangelo, undertook to construct a
cage twelve feet square and seven feet high, with a pillory on top; "the
said Pickering to make a good strong dore and make a substantiale payre
of stocks and places the same in said cage." A spot conveniently near
the west end on the meeting-house was selected as the site for this
ingenious device. It is more than probable that "the said Pickering"
indirectly furnished an occasional bird for his cage, for in 1672 we
find him and one Edward Westwere authorized by the selectmen to "keepe
houses of publique entertainment." He was a versatile individual, this
John Pickering--soldier, miller, moderator, carpenter, lawyer, and
innkeeper. Michelangelo need not blush to be bracketed with him. In the
course of a long and variegated career he never failed to act according
to his lights, which he always kept well trimmed. That Captain Pickering
subsequently became the grandfather, at several removes, of the present
writer was no fault of the Captain's, and should not be laid up against

Down to 1696, the education of the young appears to have been a rather
desultory and tentative matter; "the young idea" seems to have been
allowed to "shoot" at whatever it wanted to; but in that year it was
voted "that care be taken that an abell scollmaster [skullmaster!] be
provided for the towen as the law directs, not visious in conversation."
That was perhaps demanding too much; for it was not until "May ye 7" of
the following year that the selectmen were fortunate enough to put their
finger on this rara avis in the person of Mr. Tho. Phippes, who agreed
"to be scollmaster for the the towen this yr insewing for teaching the
inhabitants children in such manner as other schollmasters yously doe
throughout the countrie: for his soe doinge we the sellectt men in
behalfe of ower towen doe ingage to pay him by way of rate twenty pounds
and yt he shall and may reserve from every father or master that sends
theyer children to school this yeare after ye rate of 16s. for readers,
writers and cypherers 20s., Lattiners 24s."

Modern advocates of phonetic spelling need not plume themselves on
their originality. The town clerk who wrote that delicious "yously doe"
settles the question. It is to be hoped that Mr. Tho. Phippes was not
only "not visious in conversation," but was more conventional in his
orthography. He evidently gave satisfaction, and clearly exerted an
influence on the town clerk, Mr. Samuel Keais, who ever after shows a
marked improvement in his own methods. In 1704 the town empowered the
selectmen "to call and settell a gramer scoll according to ye best of
yower judgement and for ye advantag [Keais is obviously dead now] of ye
youth of ower town to learn them to read from ye primer, to wright and
sypher and to learne ym the tongues and good-manners." On this occasion
it was Mr. William Allen, of Salisbury, who engaged "dilligently to
attend ye school for ye present yeare, and tech all childern yt can
read in thaire psallters and upward." From such humble beginnings were
evolved some of the best public high schools at present in New England.

Portsmouth did not escape the witchcraft delusion, though I believe that
no hangings took place within the boundaries of the township. Dwellers
by the sea are generally superstitious; sailors always are. There is
something in the illimitable expanse of sky and water that dilates the
imagination. The folk who live along the coast live on the edge of a
perpetual mystery; only a strip of yellow sand or gray rock separates
them from the unknown; they hear strange voices in the winds at
midnight, they are haunted by the spectres of the mirage. Their minds
quickly take the impress of uncanny things. The witches therefore
found a sympathetic atmosphere in Newscastle, at the mouth of the
Piscataqua--that slender paw of land which reaches out into the ocean
and terminates in a spread of sharp, flat rocks, lie the claws of an
amorous cat. What happened to the good folk of that picturesque little
fishing-hamlet is worth retelling in brief. In order properly to retell
it, a contemporary witness shall be called upon to testify in the case
of the Stone-Throwing Devils of Newcastle. It is the Rev. Cotton Mather
who addresses you--"On June 11, 1682, showers of stones were thrown
by an invisible hand upon the house of George Walton at Portsmouth
[Newcastle was then a part of the town]. Whereupon the people going out
found the gate wrung off the hinges, and stones flying and falling
thick about them, and striking of them seemingly with a great force, but
really affecting 'em no more than if a soft touch were given them. The
glass windows were broken by the stones that came not from without, but
from within; and other instruments were in a like manner hurled about.
Nine of the stones they took up, whereof some were as hot as if they
came out of the fire; and marking them they laid them on the table; but
in a little while they found some of them again flying about. The spit
was carried up the chimney, and coming down with the point forward,
stuck in the back log, from whence one of the company removing it, it
was by an invisible hand thrown out at the window. This disturbance
continued from day to day; and sometimes a dismal hollow whistling
would be heard, and sometimes the trotting and snorting of a horse, but
nothing to be seen. The man went up the Great Bay in a boat on to a farm
which he had there; but the stones found him out, and carrying from
the house to the boat a stirrup iron the iron came jingling after him
through the woods as far as his house; and at last went away and was
heard no more. The anchor leaped overboard several times and stopt the
boat. A cheese was taken out of the press, and crumbled all over the
floor; a piece of iron stuck into the wall, and a kettle hung thereon.
Several cocks of hay, mow'd near the house, were taken up and hung upon
the trees, and others made into small whisps, and scattered about the
house. A man was much hurt by some of the stones. He was a Quaker, and
suspected that a woman, who charged him with injustice in detaining
some land from here, did, by witchcraft, occasion these preternatural
occurrences. However, at last they came to an end."

Now I have done with thee, O credulous and sour Cotton Mather! so get
thee back again to thy tomb in the old burying-ground on Copp's
Hill, where, unless thy nature is radically changed, thou makest it
uncomfortable for those about thee.

Nearly a hundred years afterwards, Portsmouth had another witch--a
tangible witch in this instance--one Molly Bridget, who cast her malign
spell on the eleemosynary pigs at the Almshouse, where she chanced
to reside at the moment. The pigs were manifestly bewitched, and Mr.
Clement March, the superintendent of the institution, saw only one
remedy at hand, and that was to cut off and burn the tips of their
tales. But when the tips were cut off they disappeared, and it was
in consequence quite impracticable to burn them. Mr. March, who was a
gentleman of expedients, ordered that all the chips and underbrush in
the yard should be made into heaps and consumed, hoping thus to catch
and do away with the mysterious and provoking extremities. The fires
were no sooner lighted than Molly Bridget rushed from room to room in
a state of frenzy. With the dying flames her own vitality subsided, and
she was dead before the ash-piles were cool. I say it seriously when I
say that these are facts of which there is authentic proof.

If the woman had recovered, she would have fared badly, even at that
late period, had she been in Salem; but the death-penalty has never
been hastily inflicted in Portsmouth. The first execution that ever took
place there was that of Sarah Simpson and Penelope Kenny, for the murder
of an infant in 1739. The sheriff was Thomas Packer, the same official
who, twenty-nine years later, won unenviable notoriety at the hanging of
Ruth Blay. The circumstances are set forth by the late Albert Laighton
in a spirited ballad, which is too long to quote in full. The following
stanzas, however, give the pith of the story--

     "And a voice among them shouted,
             "Pause before the deed is done;
     We have asked reprieve and pardon
             For the poor misguided one.'

     "But these words of Sheriff Packer
             Rang above the swelling noise:
     'Must I wait and lose my dinner?
            Draw away the cart, my boys!'

     "Nearer came the sound and louder,
             Till a steed with panting breath,
     From its sides the white foam dripping,
            Halted at the scene of death;

     "And a messenger alighted,
             Crying to the crowd, 'Make way!
     This I bear to Sheriff Packer;
             'Tis a pardon for Ruth Blay!'"

But of course he arrived too late--the Law led Mercy about twenty
minutes. The crowd dispersed, horror-stricken; but it assembled again
that night before the sheriff's domicile and expressed its indignation
in groans. His effigy, hanged on a miniature gallows, was afterwards
paraded through the streets.

     "Be the name of Thomas Packer
          A reproach forevermore!"

Laighton's ballad reminds me of that Portsmouth has been prolific in
poets, one of whom, at least, has left a mouthful of perennial rhyme for
orators--Jonathan Sewell with his

     "No pent-up Utica contracts your powers,
     But the whole boundless continent is yours."

I have somewhere seen a volume with the alliterative title of "Poets of
Portsmouth," in which are embalmed no fewer than sixty immortals!

But to drop into prose again, and have done with this iliad of odds and
ends. Portsmouth has the honor, I believe, of establishing the first
recorded pauper workhouse--though not in connection with her poets, as
might naturally be supposed. The building was completed and tenanted in
1716. Seven years later, an act was passed in England authorizing the
establishment of parish workhouses there. The first and only keeper of
the Portsmouth almshouse up to 1750 was a woman--Rebecca Austin.

Speaking of first things, we are told by Mr. Nathaniel Adams, in his
"Annals of Portsmouth," that on the 20th of April, 1761, Mr. John
Stavers began running a stage from that town to Boston. The carriage was
a two-horse curricle, wide enough to accommodate three passengers. The
fare was thirteen shillings and sixpence sterling per head. The curricle
was presently superseded by a series of fat yellow coaches, one of
which--nearly a century later, and long after that pleasant mode of
travel had fallen obsolete--was the cause of much mental tribulation (1.
Some idle reader here and there may possibly recall the burning of
the old stage-coach in The Story of a Bad Boy.) to the writer of this

The mail and the newspaper are closely associated factors in
civilization, so I mention them together, though in this case the
newspaper antedated the mail-coach about five years. On October 7, 1756,
the first number of "The New Hampshire Gazette and Historical Chronicle"
was issued in Portsmouth from the press of Daniel Fowle, who in the
previous July had removed from Boston, where he had undergone a brief
but uncongenial imprisonment on suspicion of having printed a pamphlet
entitled "The Monster of Monsters, by Tom Thumb, Esq.," an essay
that contained some uncomplimentary reflections on several official
personages. The "Gazette" was the pioneer journal of the province. It
was followed at the close of the same year by "The Mercury and Weekly
Advertiser," published by a former apprentice of Fowle, a certain
Thomas Furber, backed by a number of restless Whigs, who considered the
"Gazette" not sufficiently outspoken in the cause of liberty. Mr. Fowle,
however, contrived to hold his own until the day of his death. Fowle
had for pressman a faithful negro named Primus, a full-blooded African.
Whether Primus was a freeman or a slave I am unable to state. He lived
to a great age, and was a prominent figure among the people of his own

Negro slavery was common in New England at that period. In 1767,
Portsmouth numbered in its population a hundred and eighty-eight slaves,
male and female. Their bondage, happily, was nearly always of a light
sort, if any bondage can be light. They were allowed to have a kind
of government of their own; indeed, were encouraged to do so, and no
unreasonable restrictions were placed on their social enjoyment. They
annually elected a king and counselors, and celebrated the event with a
procession. The aristocratic feeling was highly developed in them. The
rank of the master was the slave's rank. There was a great deal of ebony
standing around on its dignity in those days. For example, Governor
Langdon's manservant, Cyrus Bruce, was a person who insisted on his
distinction, and it was recognized. His massive gold chain and seals,
his cherry-colored small-clothes and silk stockings, his ruffles and
silver shoe-buckles, were a tradition long after Cyrus himself was

In cases of minor misdemeanor among them, the negros themselves were
permitted to be judge and jury. Their administration of justice was
often characteristically naive. Mr. Brewster gives an amusing sketch of
one of their sessions. King Nero is on the bench, and one Cato--we are
nothing if not classical--is the prosecuting attorney. The name of the
prisoner and the nature of his offense are not disclosed to posterity.
In the midst of the proceedings the hour of noon is clanged from the
neighboring belfry of the Old North Church. "The evidence was not gone
through with, but the servants could stay no longer from their home
duties. They all wanted to see the whipping, but could not conveniently
be present again after dinner. Cato ventured to address the King: Please
you Honor, best let the fellow have his whipping now, and finish the
trial after dinner. The request seemed to be the general wish of the
company: so Nero ordered ten lashes, for justice so far as the trial
went, and ten more at the close of the trial, should he be found

Slavery in New Hampshire was never legally abolished, unless
Abraham Lincoln did it. The State itself has not ever pronounced
any emancipation edict. During the Revolutionary War the slaves were
generally emancipated by their masters. That many of the negros, who had
grown gray in service, refused their freedom, and elected to spend the
rest of their lives as pensioners in the families of their late owners,
is a circumstance that illustrates the kindly ties which held between
slave and master in the old colonial days in New England.

The institution was accidental and superficial, and never had any real
root in the Granite State. If the Puritans could have found in the
Scriptures any direct sanction of slavery, perhaps it would have
continued awhile longer, for the Puritan carried his religion into the
business affairs of life; he was not even able to keep it out of his
bills of lading. I cannot close this rambling chapter more appropriately
and solemnly than by quoting from one of those same pious bills of
landing. It is dated June, 1726, and reads: "Shipped by the grace of God
in good order and well conditioned, by Wm. Pepperills on there own acct.
and risque, in and upon the good Briga called the William, whereof is
master under God for this present voyage George King, now riding at
anchor in the river Piscataqua and by God's grace bound to Barbadoes."
Here follows a catalogue of the miscellaneous cargo, rounded off with:
"And so God send the good Briga to her desired port in safety. Amen."


I DOUBT if any New England town ever turned out so many eccentric
characters as Portsmouth. From 1640 down to about 1848 there must have
been something in the air of the place that generated eccentricity.
In another chapter I shall explain why the conditions have not been
favorable to the development of individual singularity during the latter
half of the present century. It is easier to do that than fully to
account for the numerous queer human types which have existed from time
to time previous to that period.

In recently turning over the pages of Mr. Brewster's entertaining
collection of Portsmouth sketches, I have been struck by the number and
variety of the odd men and women who appear incidentally on the scene.
They are, in the author's intention, secondary figures in the background
of his landscape, but they stand very much in the foreground of one's
memory after the book is laid aside. One finds one's self thinking quite
as often of that squalid old hut-dweller up by Sagamore Creek as of
General Washington, who visited the town in 1789. Conservatism
and respectability have their values, certainly; but has not the
unconventional its values also? If we render unto that old hut-dweller
the things which are that old hut-dweller's, we must concede him his
picturesqueness. He was dirty, and he was not respectable; but he is
picturesque--now that he is dead.

If the reader has five or ten minutes to waste, I invite him to glance
at a few old profiles of persons who, however substantial they once
were, are now leading a life of mere outlines. I would like to give
them a less faded expression, but the past is very chary of yielding up
anything more than its shadows.

The first who presents himself is the ruminative hermit already
mentioned--a species of uninspired Thoreau. His name was Benjamin Lear.
So far as his craziness went, he might have been a lineal descendant of
that ancient king of Britain who figures on Shakespeare's page. Family
dissensions made a recluse of King Lear; but in the case of Benjamin
there were no mitigating circumstances. He had no family to trouble
him, and his realm remained undivided. He owned an excellent farm on the
south side of Sagamore Creek, a little to the west of the bridge, and
might have lived at ease, if personal comfort had not been distasteful
to him. Personal comfort entered into no part of Lear's. To be alone
filled the little pint-measure of his desire. He ensconced himself in
a wretched shanty, and barred the door, figuratively, against all the
world. Wealth--what would have been wealth to him--lay within his reach,
but he thrust it aside; he disdained luxury as he disdained idleness,
and made no compromise with convention. When a man cuts himself
absolutely adrift from custom, what an astonishingly light spar
floats him! How few his wants are, after all! Lear was of a cheerful
disposition, and seems to have been wholly inoffensive--at a distance.
He fabricated his own clothes, and subsisted chiefly on milk and
potatoes, the product of his realm. He needed nothing but an island to
be a Robinson Crusoe. At rare intervals he flitted like a frost-bitten
apparition through the main street of Portsmouth, which he always
designated as "the Bank," a name that had become obsolete fifty or a
hundred years before. Thus, for nearly a quarter of a century, Benjamin
Lear stood aloof from human intercourse. In his old age some of the
neighbors offered him shelter during the tempestuous winter months; but
he would have none of it--he defied wind and weather. There he lay in
his dilapidated hovel in his last illness, refusing to allow any one to
remain with him overnight--and the mercury four degrees below zero. Lear
was born in 1720, and vegetated eighty-two years.

I take it that Timothy Winn, of whom we have only a glimpse, would like
to have more, was a person better worth knowing. His name reads like the
title of some old-fashioned novel--"Timothy Winn, or the Memoirs of a
Bashful Gentleman." He came to Portsmouth from Woburn at the close of
the last century, and set up in the old museum-building on Mulberry
Street what was called "a piece goods store." He was the third Timothy
in his monotonous family, and in order to differentiate himself he
inscribed on the sign over his shop door, "Timothy Winn, 3d," and was
ever after called "Three-Penny Winn." That he enjoyed the pleasantry,
and clung to his sign, goes to show that he was a person who would ripen
on further acquaintance, were further acquaintance now practicable.
His next-door neighbor, Mr. Leonard Serat, who kept a modest tailoring
establishment, also tantalizes us a little with a dim intimation of
originality. He plainly was without literary prejudices, for on one
face of his swinging sign was painted the word Taylor, and on the other
Tailor. This may have been a delicate concession to that part of the
community--the greater part, probably--which would have spelled it with
a y.

The building in which Messrs. Winn and Serat had their shops was the
property of Nicholas Rousselet, a French gentleman of Demerara, the
story of whose unconventional courtship of Miss Catherine Moffatt is
pretty enough to bear retelling, and entitles him to a place in our
limited collection of etchings. M. Rousselet had doubtless already mad
excursions into the pays de tendre, and given Miss Catherine previous
notice of the state of his heart, but it was not until one day during
the hour of service at the Episcopal church that he brought matters to
a crisis by handing to Miss Moffatt a small Bible, on the fly-leaf of
which he had penciled the fifth verse of the Second Epistle of John--

     "And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I
     wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that
     which we had from the beginning, that we love one another."

This was not to be resisted, at lease not by Miss Catherine, who
demurely handed the volume back to him with a page turned down at the
sixteenth verse in the first chapter of Ruth--

     "Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I
     will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my
     God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be
     buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but
     death part thee and me."

Aside from this quaint touch of romance, what attaches me to the
happy pair--for the marriage was a fortunate one--is the fact that the
Rousselets made their home in the old Atkinson mansion, which stood
directly opposite my grandfather's house on Court Street and was torn
down in my childhood, to my great consternation. The building had been
unoccupied for a quarter of a century, and was fast falling into decay
with all its rich wood-carvings at cornice and lintel; but was it not
full of ghosts, and if the old barracks were demolished, would not these
ghosts, or some of them at least, take refuge in my grandfather's
house just across the way? Where else could they bestow themselves so
conveniently? While the ancient mansion was in process of destruction, I
used to peep round the corner of our barn at the workmen, and watch the
indignant phantoms go soaring upward in spiral clouds of colonial dust.

A lady differing in many ways from Catherine Moffatt was the Mary
Atkinson (once an inmate of this same manor house) who fell to the lot
of the Rev. William Shurtleff, pastor of the South Church between 1733
and 1747. From the worldly standpoint, it was a fine match for the
Newcastle clergyman--beauty, of the eagle-beaked kind; wealth, her share
of the family plate; high birth, a sister to the Hon. Theodore Atkinson.
But if the exemplary man had cast his eyes lower, peradventure he had
found more happiness, though ill-bred persons without family plate are
not necessarily amiable. Like Socrates, this long-suffering divine had
always with him an object on which to cultivate heavenly patience, and
patience, says the Eastern proverb, is the key to content. The spirit
of Xantippe seems to have taken possession of Mrs. Shurtleff immediately
after her marriage. The freakish disrespect with which she used her
meek consort was a heavy cross to bear at a period in New England when
clerical dignity was at its highest sensitive point. Her devices for
torturing the poor gentleman were inexhaustible. Now she lets his
Sabbath ruffs go unstarched; now she scandalizes him by some unseemly
and frivolous color in her attire; now she leaves him to cook his own
dinner at the kitchen coals; and now she locks him in his study, whither
he has retired for a moment or two of prayer, previous to setting forth
to perform the morning service. The congregation has assembled; the
sexton has tolled the bell twice as long as is custom, and is beginning
a third carillon, full of wonder that his reverence does not appear;
and there sits Mistress Shurtleff in the family pew with a face as
complacent as that of the cat that has eaten the canary. Presently the
deacons appeal to her for information touching the good doctor. Mistress
Shurtleff sweetly tells them that the good doctor was in his study when
she left home. There he is found, indeed, and released from durance,
begging the deacons to keep his mortification secret, to "give it an
understanding, but no tongue." Such was the discipline undergone by
the worthy Dr. Shurtleff on his earthly pilgrimage. A portrait of
this patient man--now a saint somewhere--hangs in the rooms of the New
England Historical and Genealogical Society in Boston. There he can be
seen in surplice and bands, with his lamblike, apostolic face looking
down upon the heavy antiquarian labors of his busy descendants.

Whether or not a man is to be classed as eccentric who vanishes without
rhyme or reason on his wedding-night is a query left to the reader's
decision. We seem to have struck a matrimonial vein, and must work
it out. In 1768, Mr. James McDonough was one of the wealthiest men in
Portsmouth, and the fortunate suitor for the hand of a daughter of Jacob
Sheafe, a town magnate. The home of the bride was decked and lighted
for the nuptials, the banquet-table was spread, and the guests were
gathered. The minister in his robe stood by the carven mantelpiece,
book in hand, and waited. Then followed an awkward interval--there was
a hitch somewhere. A strange silence fell upon the laughing groups; the
air grew tense with expectation; in the pantry, Amos Boggs, the butler,
in his agitation split a bottle of port over his new cinnamon-colored
small-clothes. Then a whisper--a whisper suppressed these twenty
minutes--ran through the apartments,--"The bridegroom has not come!". He
never came. The mystery of that night remains a mystery after the lapse
of a century and a quarter.

What had become of James McDonough? The assassination of so notable a
person in a community where every strange face was challenged, where
every man's antecedents were known, could not have been accomplished
without leaving some slight traces. Not a shadow of foul play was
discovered. That McDonough had been murdered or had committed suicide
were theories accepted at first by a few, and then by no one. On the
other hand, he was in love with his fiancee, he had wealth, power,
position--why had he fled? He was seen a moment on the public street,
and then never seen again. It was as if he turned into air. Meanwhile
the bewilderment of the bride was dramatically painful. If McDonough
had been waylaid and killed, she could mourn for him. If he had deserted
her, she could wrap herself in her pride. But neither course lay open to
her, then or afterward. In one of the Twice Told Tales Hawthorne deals
with a man named Wakefield, who disappears with like suddenness,
and lives unrecognized for twenty years in a street not far from his
abandoned hearthside. Such expunging of one's self was not possible in
Portsmouth; but I never think of McDonough without recalling Wakefield.
I have an inexplicable conviction that for many a year James McDonough,
in some snug ambush, studied and analyzed the effect of his own
startling disappearance.

Some time in the year 1758, there dawned upon Portsmouth a personage
bearing the ponderous title of King's Attorney, and carrying much
gold lace about him. This gilded gentleman was Mr. Wyseman Clagett, of
Bristol, England, where his father dwelt on the manor of Broad Oaks,
in a mansion with twelve chimneys, and kept a coach and eight or ten
servants. Up to the moment of his advent in the colonies, Mr. Wyseman
Clagett had evidently not been able to keep anything but himself. His
wealth consisted of his personal decorations, the golden frogs on his
lapels, and the tinsel at his throat; other charms he had none. Yet with
these he contrived to dazzle the eyes of Lettice Mitchel, one of the
young beauties of the province, and to cause her to forget that she had
plighted troth with a Mr. Warner, then in Europe, and destined to return
home with a disturbed heart. Mr. Clagett was a man of violent temper and
ingenious vindictiveness, and proved more than a sufficient punishment
for Lettice's infidelity. The trifling fact that Warner was dead--he
died shortly after his return--did not interfere with the course of
Mr. Clagett's jealousy; he was haunted by the suspicion that Lettice
regretted her first love, having left nothing undone to make her do so.
"This is to pay Warner's debts," remarked Mr. Clagett, as he twitched
off the table-cloth and wrecked the tea-things.

In his official capacity he was a relentless prosecutor. The noun
Clagett speedily turned itself into a verb; "to Clagett" meant "to
prosecute;" they were convertible terms. In spite of his industrious
severity, and his royal emoluments, if such existed, the exchequer of
the King's Attorney showed a perpetual deficit. The stratagems to
which he resorted from time to time in order to raise unimportant sums
reminded one of certain scenes in Moliere's comedies.

Mr. Clagett had for his ame damnee a constable of the town. They were
made for each other; they were two flowers with but a single stem, and
this was their method of procedure: Mr. Clagett dispatched one of his
servants to pick a quarrel with some countryman on the street, or some
sailor drinking at an inn: the constable arrested the sailor or the
countryman, as the case might be, and hauled the culprit before Mr.
Clagett; Mr. Clagett read the culprit a moral lesson, and fined him
five dollars and costs. The plunder was then divided between the
conspirators--two hearts that beat as one--Clagett, of course, getting
the lion's share. Justice was never administered in a simpler manner in
any country. This eminent legal light was extinguished in 1784, and the
wick laid away in the little churchyard in Litchfield, New Hampshire. It
is a satisfaction, even after such a lapse of time, to know that Lettice
survived the King's Attorney sufficiently long to be very happy with
somebody else. Lettice Mitchel was scarcely eighteen when she married
Wyseman Clagett.

About eighty years ago, a witless fellow named Tilton seems to have been
a familiar figure on the streets of the old town. Mr. Brewster speaks of
him as "the well-known idiot, Johnny Tilton," as if one should say, "the
well-known statesman, Daniel Webster." It is curious to observe how any
sort of individuality gets magnified in this parochial atmosphere, where
everything lacks perspective, and nothing is trivial. Johnny Tilton does
not appear to have had much individuality to start with; it was only
after his head was cracked that he showed any shrewdness whatever. That
happened early in his unobtrusive boyhood. He had frequently watched the
hens flying out of the loft window in his father's stable, which stood
in the rear of the Old Bell Tavern. It occurred to Johnny, one day, that
though he might not be as bright as other lads, he certainly was in
no respect inferior to a hen. So he placed himself on the sill of the
window in the loft, flapped his arms, and took flight. The New England
Icarus alighted head downward, lay insensible for a while, and was
henceforth looked upon as a mortal who had lost his wits. Yet at odd
moments his cloudiness was illumined by a gleam of intelligence such as
had not been detected in him previous to his mischance. As Polonius said
of Hamlet--another unstrung mortal--Tilton's replies had "a happiness
that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so
prosperously be delivered of." One morning, he appeared at the
flour-mill with a sack of corn to be ground for the almshouse, and was
asked what he knew. "Some things I know," replied poor Tilton, "and some
things I don't know. I know the miller's hogs grow fat, but I don't know
whose corn they fat on." To borrow another word from Polonius, though
this be madness, yet there was method in it. Tilton finally brought up
in the almshouse, where he was allowed the liberty of roaming at will
through the town. He loved the water-side as if he had had all his
senses. Often he was seen to stand for hours with a sunny, torpid smile
on his lips, gazing out upon the river where its azure ruffles itself
into silver against the islands. He always wore stuck in his hat a
few hen's feathers, perhaps with some vague idea of still associating
himself with the birds of the air, if hens can come into that category.

George Jaffrey, third of the name, was a character of another
complexion, a gentleman born, a graduate of Harvard in 1730, and one of
His Majesty's Council in 1766--a man with the blood of the lion and
the unicorn in every vein. He remained to the bitter end, and beyond,
a devout royalist, prizing his shoe-buckles, not because they were of
chased silver, but because they bore the tower mark and crown stamp. He
stoutly objected to oral prayer, on the ground that it gave rogues and
hypocrites an opportunity to impose on honest folk. He was punctilious
in his attendance at church, and unfailing in his responses, though not
of a particularly devotional temperament. On one occasion, at least, his
sincerity is not to be questioned. He had been deeply irritated by some
encroachments on the boundaries of certain estates, and had gone to
church that forenoon with his mind full of the matter. When the minister
in the course of reading the service came to the apostrophe, "Cursed be
he who removeth his neighbor's landmark," Mr. Jeffrey's feelings were
too many for him, and he cried out "Amen!" in a tone of voice that
brought smiles to the adjoining pews.

Mr. Jaffrey's last will and testament was a whimsical document, in spite
of the Hon. Jeremiah Mason, who drew up the paper. It had originally
been Mr. Jaffrey's plan to leave his possessions to his beloved friend,
Colonel Joshua Wentworth; but the colonel by some maladroitness managed
to turn the current of Pactolus in another direction. The vast property
was bequeathed to George Jaffrey Jeffries, the testator's grandnephew,
on condition that the heir, then a lad of thirteen, should drop the name
of Jeffries, reside permanently in Portsmouth, and adopt no profession
excepting that of gentleman. There is an immense amount of Portsmouth
as well as George Jaffrey in that final clause. George the fourth
handsomely complied with the requirements, and dying at the age of
sixty-six, without issue or assets, was the last of that particular line
of Georges. I say that he handsomely complied with the requirements of
the will; but my statement appears to be subject to qualification,
for on the day of his obsequies it was remarked of him by a caustic
contemporary: "Well, yes, Mr. Jaffrey was a gentleman by profession, but
not eminent in his profession."

This modest exhibition of profiles, in which I have attempted to
preserve no chronological sequence, ends with the silhouette of Dr.
Joseph Moses.

If Boston in the colonial days had her Mather Byles, Portsmouth had her
Dr. Joseph Moses. In their quality as humorists, the outlines of both
these gentlemen have become rather broken and indistinct. "A jest's
prosperity lies in the ear that hears it." Decanted wit inevitably loses
its bouquet. A clever repartee belongs to the precious moment in
which it is broached, and is of a vintage that does not usually bear
transportation. Dr. Moses--he received his diploma not from the College
of Physicians, but from the circumstance of his having once drugged
his private demijohn of rum, and so nailed an inquisitive negro named
Sambo--Dr. Moses, as he was always called, had been handed down to us by
tradition as a fellow of infinite jest and of most excellent fancy; but
I must confess that I find his high spirits very much evaporated.
His humor expended itself, for the greater part, in practical
pleasantries--like that practiced on the minion Sambo--but these
diversions, however facetious to the parties concerned, lack magnetism
for outsiders. I discover nothing about him so amusing as the fact that
he lived in a tan-colored little tenement, which was neither clapboarded
nor shingled, and finally got an epidermis from the discarded shingles
of the Old South Church when the roof of that edifice was repaired.

Dr. Moses, like many persons of his time and class, was a man of protean
employment--joiner, barber, and what not. No doubt he had much pithy and
fluent conversation, all of which escapes us. He certainly impressed the
Hon. Theodore Atkinson as a person of uncommon parts, for the Honorable
Secretary of the Province, like a second Haroun Al Raschid, often
summoned the barber to entertain him with his company. One evening--and
this is the only reproducible instance of the doctor's readiness--Mr.
Atkinson regaled his guest with a diminutive glass of choice Madeira.
The doctor regarded it against the light with the half-closed eye of
the connoisseur, and after sipping the molten topaz with satisfaction,
inquired how old it was. "Of the vintage of about sixty years ago," was
the answer. "Well," said the doctor reflectively, "I never in my life
saw so small a thing of such an age." There are other mots of his on
record, but their faces are suspiciously familiar. In fact, all the
witty things were said aeons ago. If one nowadays perpetrates an
original joke, one immediately afterward finds it in the Sanskirt. I
am afraid that Dr. Joseph Moses has no very solid claims on us. I have
given him place here because he has long had the reputation of a wit,
which is almost as good as to be one.


THE running of the first train over the Eastern Road from Boston to
Portsmouth--it took place somewhat more than forty years ago--was
attended by a serious accident. The accident occurred in the crowded
station at the Portsmouth terminus, and was unobserved at the time. The
catastrophe was followed, though not immediately, by death, and that
also, curiously enough, was unobserved. Nevertheless, this initial
train, freighted with so many hopes and the Directors of the Road, ran
over and killed--LOCAL CHARACTER.

Up to that day Portsmouth had been a very secluded little community, and
had had the courage of its seclusion. From time to time it had calmly
produced an individual built on plans and specifications of its own,
without regard to the prejudices and conventionalities of outlying
districts. This individual was purely indigenous. He was born in the
town, he lived to a good old age in the town, and never went out of the
place, until he was finally laid under it. To him, Boston, though only
fifty-six miles away, was virtually an unknown quantity--only fifty-six
miles by brutal geographical measurement, but thousands of miles distant
in effect. In those days, in order to reach Boston you were obliged
to take a great yellow, clumsy stage-coach, resembling a three-story
mud-turtle--if zoologist will, for the sake of the simile, tolerate
so daring an invention; you were obliged to take it very early in the
morning, you dined at noon at Ipswich, and clattered into the great city
with the golden dome just as the twilight was falling, provided always
the coach had not shed a wheel by the roadside or one of the leaders had
not gone lame. To many worthy and well-to-do persons in Portsmouth, this
journey was an event which occurred only twice or thrice during life. To
the typical individual with whom I am for the moment dealing, it never
occurred at all. The town was his entire world; he was a parochial as
a Parisian; Market Street was his Boulevard des Italiens, and the North
End his Bois de Boulogne.

Of course there were varieties of local characters without his
limitations; venerable merchants retired from the East India trade;
elderly gentlewomen, with family jewels and personal peculiarities; one
or two scholarly recluses in by-gone cut of coat, haunting the Athenaeum
reading-room; ex-sea captains, with rings on their fingers, like Simon
Danz's visitors in Longfellow's poem--men who had played busy parts in
the bustling world, and had drifted back to Old Strawberry Bank in the
tranquil sunset of their careers. I may say, in passing, that these
ancient mariners, after battling with terrific hurricanes and typhoons
on every known sea, not infrequently drowned themselves in pleasant
weather in small sail-boats on the Piscataqua River. Old sea-dogs who
had commanded ships of four or five hundred tons had naturally slight
respect for the potentialities of sail-boats twelve feet long. But there
was to be no further increase of these odd sticks--if I may call them
so, in no irreverent mood--after those innocent-looking parallel bars
indissolubly linked Portsmouth with the capital of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts. All the conditions were to be changed, the old angles
to be pared off, new horizons to be regarded. The individual, as an
eccentric individual, was to undergo great modifications. If he were not
to become extinct--a thing little likely--he was at least to lose his

However, as I said, local character, in the sense in which the term
is here used, was not instantly killed; it died a lingering death, and
passed away so peacefully and silently as not to attract general, or
perhaps any, notice. This period of gradual dissolution fell during my
boyhood. The last of the cocked hats had gone out, and the railway had
come in, long before my time; but certain bits of color, certain half
obsolete customs and scraps of the past, were still left over. I was
not too late, for example, to catch the last town crier--one Nicholas
Newman, whom I used to contemplate with awe, and now recall with a sort
of affection.

Nicholas Newman--Nicholas was a sobriquet, his real name being
Edward--was a most estimable person, very short, cross-eyed, somewhat
bow-legged, and with a bell out of all proportion to his stature. I have
never since seen a bell of that size disconnected with a church steeple.
The only thing about him that matched the instrument of his office was
his voice. His "Hear All!" still deafens memory's ear. I remember that
he had a queer way of sidling up to one, as if nature in shaping him
had originally intended a crab, but thought better of it, and made a
town-crier. Of the crustacean intention only a moist thumb remained,
which served Mr. Newman in good stead in the delivery of the Boston
evening papers, for he was incidentally newsdealer. His authentic duties
were to cry auctions, funerals, mislaid children, traveling theatricals,
public meetings, and articles lost or found. He was especially strong in
announcing the loss of reticules, usually the property of elderly maiden
ladies. The unction with which he detailed the several contents, when
fully confided to him, would have seemed satirical in another person,
but on his part was pure conscientiousness. He would not let so much as
a thimble, or a piece of wax, or a portable tooth, or any amiable vanity
in the way of tonsorial device, escape him. I have heard Mr. Newman
spoken of as "that horrid man." He was a picturesque figure.

Possibly it is because of his bell that I connect the town crier with
those dolorous sounds which I used to hear rolling out of the steeple
of the Old North every night at nine o'clock--the vocal remains of
the colonial curfew. Nicholas Newman has passed on, perhaps crying his
losses elsewhere, but this nightly tolling is still a custom. I can
more satisfactorily explain why I associate with it a vastly different
personality, that of Sol Holmes, the barber, for every night at nine
o'clock his little shop on Congress Street was in full blast. Many a
time at that hour I have flattened my nose on his window-glass. It was a
gay little shop (he called it "an Emporium"), as barber shops generally
are, decorated with circus bills, tinted prints, and gaudy fly-catchers
of tissue and gold paper. Sol Holmes--whose antecedents to us boys were
wrapped in thrilling mystery, we imagined him to have been a prince in
his native land--was a colored man, not too dark "for human nature's
daily food," and enjoyed marked distinction as one of the few exotics
in town. At this juncture the foreign element was at its minimum; every
official, from selectman down to the Dogberry of the watch, bore a
name that had been familiar to the town for a hundred years or so.
The situation is greatly changed. I expect to live to see a Chinese
policeman, with a sandal-wood club and a rice-paper pocket handkerchief,
patrolling Congress Street.

Holmes was a handsome man, six feet or more in height, and as straight
as a pine. He possessed his race's sweet temper, simplicity, and vanity.
His martial bearing was a positive factor in the effectiveness of the
Portsmouth Greys, whenever those bloodless warriors paraded. As he
brought up the rear of the last platoon, with his infantry cap stuck
jauntily on the left side of his head and a bright silver cup slung on
a belt at his hip, he seemed to youthful eyes one of the most imposing
things in the display. To himself he was pretty much "all the company."
He used to say, with a drollness which did not strike me until years
afterwards, "Boys, I and Cap'n Towle is goin' to trot out 'the Greys'
to-morroh." Though strictly honest in all business dealings, his
tropical imagination, whenever he strayed into the fenceless fields of
autobiography, left much to be desired in the way of accuracy. Compared
with Sol Holmes on such occasions, Ananias was a person of morbid
integrity. Sol Holmes's tragic end was in singular contrast with his
sunny temperament. One night, long ago, he threw himself from the deck
of a Sound steamer, somewhere between Stonington and New York. What led
or drove him to the act never transpired.

There are few men who were boys in Portsmouth at the period of which I
write but will remember Wibird Penhallow and his sky-blue wheelbarrow.
I find it difficult to describe him other than vaguely, possibly because
Wilbird had no expression whatever in his countenance. With his vacant
white face lifted to the clouds, seemingly oblivious of everything, yet
going with a sort of heaven-given instinct straight to his destination,
he trundled that rattling wheelbarrow for many a year over Portsmouth
cobblestones. He was so unconscious of his environment that sometimes a
small boy would pop into the empty wheelbarrow and secure a ride without
Wibird arriving at any very clear knowledge of the fact. His employment
in life was to deliver groceries and other merchandise to purchasers.
This he did in a dreamy, impersonal kind of way. It was as if a spirit
had somehow go hold of an earthly wheelbarrow and was trundling it quite
unconsciously, with no sense of responsibility. One day he appeared at
a kitchen door with a two-gallon molasses jug, the top of which was
wanting. It was not longer a jug, but a tureen. When the recipient of
the damaged article remonstrated with "Goodness gracious, Wibird! You
have broken the jug," his features lighted up, and he seemed immensely
relieved. "I thought," He remarked, "I heerd somethink crack!"

Wibird Penhallow's heaviest patron was the keeper of a variety store,
and the first specimen of a pessimist I ever encountered. He was an
excellent specimen. He took exception to everything. He objected to the
telegraph, to the railway, to steam in all its applications. Some of his
arguments, I recollect, made a deep impression on my mind. "Nowadays,"
he once observed to me, "if your son or your grandfather drops dead at
the other end of creation, you know of it in ten minutes. What's the
use? Unless you are anxious to know he's dead, you've got just two or
three weeks more to be miserable in." He scorned the whole business, and
was faithful to his scorn. When he received a telegram, which was rare,
he made a point of keeping it awhile unopened. Through the exercise of
this whim he once missed an opportunity of buying certain goods to great
advantage. "There!" he exclaimed, "if the telegraph hadn't been invented
the idiot would have written to me, and I'd have sent a letter by return
coach, and got the goods before he found out prices had gone up in
Chicago. If that boy brings me another of those tapeworm telegraphs,
I'll throw an axe-handle at him." His pessimism extended up, or down, to
generally recognized canons of orthography. They were all iniquitous. If
k-n-i-f-e spelled knife, then, he contended, k-n-i-f-e-s was the plural.
Diverting tags, written by his own hand in conformity with this theory,
were always attached to articles in his shop window. He is long since
ded, as he himself would have put it, but his phonetic theory appears to
have survived him in crankish brains here and there. As my discouraging
old friend was not exactly a public character, like the town crier or
Wibird Penhallow, I have intentionally thrown a veil over his identity.
I have, so to speak, dropped into his pouch a grain or two of that
magical fern-seed which was supposed by our English ancestors, in
Elizabeth's reign, to possess the quality of rendering a man invisible.

Another person who singularly interested me at this epoch was a person
with whom I had never exchanged a word, whose voice I had never heard,
but whose face was as familiar to me as every day could make it. For
each morning as I went to school, and each afternoon as I returned, I
saw this face peering out of a window in the second story of a shambling
yellow house situated in Washington Street, not far from the corner of
State. Whether some malign disease had fixed him to the chair he sat on,
or whether he had lost the use of his legs, or, possible, had none (the
upper part of him was that of a man in admirable health), presented a
problem which, with that curious insouciance of youth I made no attempt
to solve. It was an established fact, however, that he never went out of
that house. I cannot vouch so confidently for the cobwebby legend which
wove itself about him. It was to this effect: He had formerly been the
master of a large merchantman running between New York and Calcutta;
while still in his prime he had abruptly retired from the quarter-deck,
and seated himself at that window--where the outlook must have been the
reverse of exhilarating, for not ten persons passed in the course of the
day, and the hurried jingle of the bells on Parry's bakery-cart was the
only sound that ever shattered the silence. Whether it was an amatory
or a financial disappointment that turned him into a hermit was left to
ingenious conjecture. But there he sat, year in and year out, with his
cheek so close to the window that the nearest pane became permanently
blurred with his breath; for after his demise the blurr remained.

In this Arcadian era it was possible, in provincial places, for an
undertaker to assume the dimensions of a personage. There was a sexton
in Portsmouth--his name escapes me, but his attributes do not--whose
impressiveness made him own brother to the massive architecture of the
Stone Church. On every solemn occasion he was the striking figure,
even to the eclipsing of the involuntary object of the ceremony. His
occasions, happily, were not exclusively solemn; he added to his other
public services that of furnishing ice-cream for the evening parties.
I always thought--perhaps it was the working of an unchastened
imagination--that he managed to throw into his ice-creams a peculiar
chill not attained by either Dunyon or Peduzzi--arcades ambo--the rival

Perhaps I should not say rival, for Mr. Dunyon kept a species
of restaurant, while Mr. Peduzzi restricted himself to preparing
confections to be discussed elsewhere than on his premises. Both
gentlemen achieved great popularity in their respective lines, but
neither offered to the juvenile population quite the charm of those
prim, white-capped old ladies who presided over certain snuffy little
shops, occurring unexpectedly in silent side-streets where the football
of commerce seemed an incongruous thing. These shops were never intended
in nature. They had an impromptu and abnormal air about them. I do not
recall one that was not located in a private residence, and was not
evidently the despairing expedient of some pathetic financial crisis,
similar to that which overtook Miss Hepzibah Pyrcheon in The House
of the Seven Gables. The horizontally divided street door--the upper
section left open in summer--ushered you, with a sudden jangle of bell
that turned your heart over, into a strictly private hall, haunted
by the delayed aroma of thousands of family dinners. Thence, through
another door, you passed into what had formerly been the front parlor,
but was now a shop, with a narrow, brown, wooden counter, and several
rows of little drawers built up against the picture-papered wall behind
it. Through much use the paint on these drawers was worn off in circles
round the polished brass knobs. Here was stored almost every small
article required by humanity, from an inflamed emery cushion to a
peppermint Gibraltar--the latter a kind of adamantine confectionery
which, when I reflect upon it, raises in me the wonder that any
Portsmouth boy or girl ever reached the age of fifteen with a single
tooth left unbroken. The proprietors of these little knick-knack
establishments were the nicest creatures, somehow suggesting venerable
doves. They were always aged ladies, sometimes spinsters, sometimes
relicts of daring mariners, beached long before. They always wore crisp
muslin caps and steel-rimmed spectacles; they were not always amiable,
and no wonder, for even doves may have their rheumatism; but such as
they were, they were cherished in young hearts, and are, I take it,
impossible to-day.

When I look back to Portsmouth as I knew it, it occurs to me that it
must have been in some respects unique among New England towns. There
were, for instance, no really poor persons in the place; every one had
some sufficient calling or an income to render it unnecessary; vagrants
and paupers were instantly snapped up and provided for at "the Farm."
There was, however, in a gambrel-roofed house here and there, a
decayed old gentlewoman, occupying a scrupulously neat room with just a
suspicion of maccaboy snuff in the air, who had her meals sent in to her
by the neighborhood--as a matter of course, and involving no sense of
dependency on her side. It is wonderful what an extension of vitality is
given to an old gentlewoman in this condition!

I would like to write about several of those ancient Dames, as they were
affectionately called, and to materialize others of the shadows that
stir in my recollection; but this would be to go outside the lines of my
purpose, which is simply to indicate one of the various sorts of changes
that have come over the vie intime of formerly secluded places like
Portsmouth--the obliteration of odd personalities, or, if not the
obliteration, the general disregard of them. Everywhere in New England
the impress of the past is fading out. The few old-fashioned men and
women--quaint, shrewd, and racy of the soil--who linger in little,
silvery-gray old homesteads strung along the New England roads and
by-ways will shortly cease to exist as a class, save in the record of
some such charming chronicler as Sarah Jewett, or Mary Wilkins, on whose
sympathetic page they have already taken to themselves a remote air, an
atmosphere of long-kept lavender and pennyroyal.

Peculiarity in any kind requires encouragement in order to reach flower.
The increased facilities of communication between points once isolated,
the interchange of customs and modes of thought, make this encouragement
more and more difficult each decade. The naturally inclined eccentric
finds his sharp outlines rubbed off by unavoidable attrition with a
larger world than owns him. Insensibly he lends himself to the shaping
hand of new ideas. He gets his reversible cuffs and paper collars from
Cambridge, Massachusetts, the scarabaeus in his scarf-pin from Mexico,
and his ulster from everywhere. He has passed out of the chrysalis state
of Odd Stick; he has ceased to be parochial; he is no longer distinct;
he is simply the Average Man.



*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Old Town By the Sea" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.