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CAT. NO. 23233 



Cornell University Library 
F 735 S52 

Book of Boston, by Robert Shackleton... 



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THE PARK STREET CHURCH, FROM THE COMMON 




Cornell University 
Library 



The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924028818800 



THE BOOK OF 

BOSTON 

By 

ROBERT SHACKLETON 

Author of "The Book of New York," 
"Unvisited Places of Old Europe," etc. 





Illustrated with Photographs 
and with drawings by R. L. BoYKR 



THE PENN PUBLISHING 
COMPANY PHILADELPHIA 

1917 



COPYRIGHT 
i 9 r 6 BY 

THE PENN 
PUBLISHING 
C OMPANY 




First printing, October, 1916 
Second printing, February, 1917 



3y (p/ Co y& 
x 



The Book of Boston 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I Taking Stock op the City 1 

II Boston Common 5 

III Boston Preferred 20 

IV On the Prim, Decorous Hill 35 

V The City op Holmes 49 

VI A House Set on a Hill 62 

VII A Picturesque Bostonian 73 

VIII A Woman's City 84 

IX The Distinctive Park Street Corner . . 99 

X Two Famous Old Buildings 109 

XI To the Old State House 122 

XII Faneuil Hall and the Waterside . . . 133 

XIII The Streets op Boston 148 

XIV In the Old North End 163 

XV Down Wapping Street and Up Bunker Hill 177 

XVI The Back Bay and the Students' Quarter . 18.8 

XVII Heights Reached and Kept 208 

XVIII " College Red and Common Oreen " . . . 223 

XIX An Adventure in Pure Romance .... 239 

XX A Town That Washington Wanted to See . 255 

XXI The Famous Old Seaport op Salem . . . 269 

XXII The Most Important Road est America . . 285 

XXIII Plymouth and Provincetown 300 

XXIV "The Night Shall Be Filled with Music" . 319 
Index 327 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

The Park Street Church, from the Common . Frontispiece 
Doorway of the old house of the Harvard Presidents, 
Cambridge Title Page Decoration 

PAGE 

The Shaw Memorial (heading) 1 

Fountain on the Common (initial) 1 

Boston from the Charles (tail piece) 4 

The Long Path (initial) 5 

St. Paul's, facing the Common . . . (tail piece) 19 

A doorway on Beacon Hill (initial) 20 

Beautiful Mount Vernon Street . . . (facing) 22 

A Beacon Street mantel of 1818 . . . (tail piece) 34 

The high-shouldered end of Cedar Street (initial) 35 

Looking down old Pinckney Street . . (facing) 44 

Thomas Bailey Aldrich's doorway . . (tail piece) 48 

Quaint steps at end of Bosworth Street . (initial) 49 
The doorway of Prescott's home on Beacon Hill 

(facing) 52 

The Sunny Street that holds the Sifted Few (tail piece) 61 

Iron gateway at the State House . . . (initial) 62 

The Bostonian Hub of the Universe . . (facing) 66 

Looking across the Public Garden . . . (tail piece) 72 

The Mall, across from Hancock's house . (initial) 73 

John Hancock's sofa (tail piece) 83 

Entrance to the Women's City Club . . (initial) 84 
A spiral stairway, by Bulfinch, on Beacon Hill 

(facing) 92 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 



The Museum of Fine Arts, from the Fenway 

(tail piece) 98 

The gate of the Granary Burying-Ground (initial) 99 

Tremont Street along the Common . . (tail piece) 108 

Old King's Chapel (initial) 109 

Statue of Franklin at the City Hall . . (tail piece) 121 

A narrow byway (initial) 122 

The Old State House (tail piece) 132 

Old India Wharf (initial) 133 

Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market . . (facing) 134 

T Wharf (tail piece) 147 

Bridge on the Fenway (initial) 148 

On Commonwealth Avenue .... (tail piece) 162 

Old North Church . .' (initial) 163 

Interior of the Paul Revere house . . (tail piece) 176 

Bunker Hill Monument (initial) 177 

"Old Ironsides" (facing) 178 

Where the British landed : the Navy Yard, Charlestown 

(tail piece) 187 

The Boston Library (initial) 188 

A Venetian palace in the Fenlands . . (facing) 202 

Cloistered courtyard of Boston Library . (tail piece) 207 

Statue of Washington in Public Garden . (initial) 208 

Knox's cannon, on Cambridge Common . (tail piece) 222 

The Washington Elm, Cambridge . . . (initial) 223 

The Main Gateway of Harvard . . . (facing) 230 

At the Arnold Arboretum (tail piece) 238 

Birthplace of two Presidents, Quincy . . (initial) 239 
The Fairbanks house, Dedham; probably the oldest in 

New England (facing) 242 

Church at Quincy (tail piece) 254 

Stairway in the Lee mansion, Marblehead (initial) 255 



ILLUSTEATIONS 

PAGE 

The harbor of Marblehead .... (facing) 264 

The old Cradoek house on the Mystic . (tail piece) 268 

A Salem doorway (initial) 269 

Romantic Chestnut Street, in Salem . . (facing) 276 

Hawthorne's birthplace, Salem . . . (tail piece) 284 

The Old Manse, Concord (initial) 285 

"Here Once the Embattled Farmers Stood": Concord 
(facing) 294 

Emerson's library (tail piece) 299 

The Alden house, at Duxbury .... (initial) 300 

Plymouth, from the Graveyard on the Hill (facing) . 306 

Sand dunes of Provincetown .... (tail piece) 318 

Along Charlesbank (initial) 319 

Old Louisburg Square (facing) 322 

A Club hallway (tail piece) 325 







THE BOOK OF BOSTON 



CHAPTER I 



TAKING STOCK OP THE CITY 

SHALL write of Boston. I shall write 
of the Boston of to-day; of what Bos- 
ton has retained, and what it has be- 
come and what it has builded; and I 
shall write, to use the quaint old 
Shakespearean phrase, of the memo- 
rials and the works of art that do 
adorn the city. I shall write of the 
Boston to which thousands of Ameri- 
cans annually pilgrimage. And if, in writing of the 
Boston of to-day, there is mention of the past, it will 
be because in certain aspects, in certain phases, 
the past and the present are inextricably blended. 
Boston is dear to the hearts of Americans. 

1 




THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

A city of interest, this : a city with much of charm, 
with much of beauty, with much of dignity. A city 
of idols as well as of ideals, and with some of the 
idols clay. For, indeed, it is a very human city, with 
pleasantly piquant peculiarities. On the whole, in 
its development, a comfortable city. A city of tradi- 
tions that are fine and traditions that are not so fine. 
A city of beliefs and at the same time of prejudices. 
A city rich in associations, rich in its memories of 
great men and great deeds, rich in its possession of 
places connected with those men and deeds. No other 
American city so richly and delightfully summons up 
remembrance of things past. 

I shall write of the people as well as of their city, 
and of their character and peculiarities and ways. 
Boston, with its prosperous present and its fine, free 
relish of a history that is like romance, is a likable 
city, a pleasing city, a city to win the heart. 

And it still has the aspect of an American city. 
Hosts of foreigners have come in, but something in 
the spirit of the place tends finely to assimilation. 
Some portions of the city are altogether foreign, but 
on the whole the American atmosphere has persisted. 
There is constantly the impression that Americans 
are still the dominant and permeative force, and one 
comes to realize that by their influence, and by a 
splendid system of day schools and night schools, they 
are steadily making Americans of foreigners and even 
more so of the children of foreigners. The early 
Bostonians, by means of the forces of a thoughtful 
civilization, and constantly by earnest work and pro- 

2 



TAKING STOCK OF THE CITY 

found sacrifices, expended their energies in fitting 
their country for the citizens of the future. The 
Bostonians of to-day find it necessary to fit those 
citizens for our country! 

Boston is a mature city, a mellow city, a city of ex- 
perience and experiences, a city of amenities, a city 
of age. Never was there a greater fallacy than the 
still-continuing one that ours is a new country! It 
is generations since this was true. When one re- 
members that the Pilgrims came three centuries ago, 
and that the Bostonian settlers closely followed them, 
it is strange that there should still be an impression 
that this means youth. Clearly, undoubtedly, the city 
of Boston is old. If one should say that it is not old 
because it is younger than London, then neither is 
London old because it is younger than Borne. Age is 
necessarily a relative term, and three centuries of 
vivid, earnest, eager, glowing life give age to Boston. 

Yet it is not merely because of its age that Boston 
holds one. A city, like a building or like a person, 
must have much more than mere age to arouse in- 
terest. A city must have charm or beauty or grace, 
or brave associations with a long-past time ; and Bos- 
ton, with the soft twilight into which its more distant 
history vaguely merges and with its possessions of 
beauty and delightfulness and dignity, assuredly pos- 
sesses these requisites. History and buildings, great 
achievements, picturesque events — Boston may point 
to them all. 

But I shall not attempt to tell everything, or even 
every important thing, in Boston's present or Bos- 

3 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

ton's past. He who writes of Boston must, from 
necessities of time and space, leave much untold and 
undescribed ; but in selecting what seem the essential 
and most notable features one ought, at least, to pre- 
sent the piquant city in a fair and rounded way. 

And Boston ought not to be considered in a nar- 
row geographical sense. To write properly of Bos- 
ton is to write also of the neighboring towns that 
have come to be associated with her in common ac- 
ceptance and common thought ; the places over which 
the mantle of Boston has been flung and which stand 
hand in hand with her in the light of tradition and 
history. 



-? r 





:%jjjA' r^wT ^MlWWi* 1 ^^" ''■'■"■'''H i 



CHAPTEE II 



BOSTON COMMON 




OSTON COMMON has given to 
Boston individuality. Standing 
practically untouched and un- 
broken, in the very heart of the 
city, it represents the permanence 
of ideals. And it has always rep- 
resented liberty, breadth, unique- 
ness of standpoint. One gathers 
the impression that the people of 
Boston will retain their liberty so 
long as they retain their Common, and will sink into 
commonplaceness only if they give up their Com- 
mon. It is, in a double sense, a Common heritage. 

Utilitarianism would long ago have taken this great 
central space to make way for the natural develop- 
ment of business ; this great opening, in the ordinary 
course of city growth, would long ago have been cut 
by streets and covered with buildings. But Boston, 
has held loyally to her ideals : she has held the Com- 
mon ; from the first, she seems to have had a subcon- 
scious sense of its indispensability to her. 

One might begin, in writing of the Common, with 
naming the streets that bound it, and setting down the 

5 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

precise area — which, by the way, is not far from fifty 
acres — but the vital fact about it is that for almost 
three hundred years, almost from the beginning of 
Boston, the Common has been a common in fact as 
well as in name, held for public use throughout these 
centuries. No street has ever been put through it; 
no street car line has been allowed to cross. To some 
extent the subway has been permitted to burrow be- 
neath, but that has itself been for public use without 
affecting the surface. The long-ago law of 1640 de- 
clared that ' ' There shall be no land granted either for 
houseplott or garden, out of ye open ground or com- 
mon field," and this inhibition, broadly interpreted 
for the Common preservation, has held through the 
centuries. In 1646 — how long, long ago ! — a law was 
passed, further to strengthen the matter, declaring 
that the Common should forever be held unbroken 
until a vote of the majority of the people should per- 
mit it to be sliced or cut ; and this very year in which 
I write, the people, on account of this ancient law, 
voted on a proposition to reduce the Common in 
order to widen bordering streets, and by a big ma- 
jority voted it down. 

The ordinary American impression of a common is 
of a shadeless and cheerless expanse, a flat, bare 
space. But Boston Common is crowded thick with 
old trees, it is light and cheerful and alive with hap- 
piness ; instead of being flat it is delightfully diversi- 
fied, and instead of being bare it has, over all of its 
surface excepting the playground spaces, an excel- 
lent covering of grass — and this in spite of the fact 

6 



BOSTON COMMON 

that there are no keep-off-the-grass prohibitions. 
L The Common is a space to be freely used, but the peo- 
ple love it and do not ruin it with use. 

Those whom one ordinarily meets on the Common 
are of the busy, earnest, clean-cut types. Many of 
them, one sees at a glance, have grandmothers. All 
are well-dressed, alert, genially happy — and the fancy 
persistently comes that the very air of the Common 
diffuses a comfortable happiness. 

Among the pleasantest of the many pleasant asso- 
ciations with the Common is that of Ealph Waldo 
Emerson and of how, as a small boy, he used to tend 
his mother's cow here! There is a fine and simple 
breeziness in the very thought of it. What a picture 
— the serious, solemn little boy so solemnly and seri- 
ously doing his part to aid his widowed mother in the 
time of her straitened fortunes! I think it much 
more than a mere fancy that the influences of that 
time had much to do with making Emerson a patient 
and practical and kindly philosopher instead of 
merely a cold and theoretical one. And I associate 
with those early days a tale of his later years, a tale 
of his coming somewhere upon a young man who was 
vainly struggling to get a mild but exasperating calf 
through a gate : pushing would not do, pulling would 
not do, and, "Oh, don't beat her!" said a gentle 
voice, and the by-that-time famous Emerson tucked a 
finger into the corner of the calf's mouth and the lit- 
tle beast trotted quietly along, sucking hard ! I think 
that Emerson, personally lovable man that he was, 
owed to his experience with the cow on the Common 

7 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

the possession of so great a share of the milk of hu- 
man kindness, and to his living for a time at the very 
edge of the Common much of his open outlook on 
life. And there comes to mind a letter in which some 
one mentioned his writing, as a boy, a scholarly com- 
position on the stars, because of thoughts that came 
to him from looking up at the stars from the Com- 
mon. That is the sort of thing that represents Bos- 
ton Common. Perhaps "Hitch your wagon to a 
star !" came to Emerson from the inspiration of those 
early days. 

Cows were freely pastured on the Common until 
about 1830 ; and one thinks of the delightful story of 
Hancock, he of the mighty signature, who, having on 
hand a banquet for the officers of some French war- 
ships, at a time when the friendship of the French 
meant much to us, and learning that his own cows 
had not given milk enough, promptly sent out his 
servants to milk every cow on the Common regardless 
of ownership! And the very owners of the cows 
liked him the better for it. And the fact that Han- 
cock's splendid mansion looked out over the Common 
had, doubtless, much to do with giving him the cheer- 
fully likable qualities that he possessed, in spite of 
qualities not so likable. For this is such a human 
Common! You cannot help feeling it every time 
you cross it or walk beside it or look out over it. It 
is a place where people are natural, even though you 
no longer see cows there. And there is a building 
on fashionable Mount Vernon Street, close by, a low 
one-story studio building, which not only, though the 

8 



BOSTON COMMON 

inhibition is ancient indeed, is kept down to one-story 
height as an incorporeal hereditament of the houses 
opposite, which did not wish their view interfered 
with, but which also possesses, opening upon the 
street, a broad door which — so you are told, and you 
have no desire to risk the chances of disproval 
by unearthing old documents — must forever remain a 
broad door so as to let out the cows for the Common ! 

The Common is not all a level, nor is it all a hill, 
for it is freely diversified with levels and slopes. It 
is a pleasantly rolling acreage and possesses even a 
big pond. And there are a great many trees, in spite 
of the difficulties that trees face in their fight for ex- 
istence against city air and smoke, and in spite of 
the ravages of the gypsy moth, and in spite of serious 
lopping. The trees still cast a royal shade and give 
a fine, sweet air to it all. 

It is pleasant, too, to notice the system adopted 
here many years ago, and now in use in some other 
cities also, of marking carefully the different trees 
with both their popular and botanic names. For my 
own part, I remember that it was as a youth, on Boston 
Common, that I first learned to differentiate the Eng- 
lish elm from the American and the linden from the 
English elm. 

One may get somewhat of real beauty on the Com- 
mon too, as, the glorious yellow and green effect of 
the great gold dome of the State House seen through 
and beyond the trees. 

The paths, whether of asphalt or earth, are rather 
shabby, and the Common has nothing of the aspect 

9 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

of gardens or of trimmed lawns. There is an excel- 
lent Public Garden just beyond tbe Common, if that is 
what one is looking for. 

I know of no other open space in America so geni- 
ally and generally used. And no one, except once in 
a while for some special event or reason, ever goes 
to the Common — no one needs to — for it is simply 
right here at the center of things, and doesn't need 
going to ! It is crossed and passed and looked at in 
the daily routine of life. 

In its complete exclusion of vehicles, the Common 
is the pedestrian's paradise; and never were there 
paths that lead on such unexpected tangents. Never 
were there paths which so puzzlingly start you in 
apparent good faith for one destination only to make 
you find yourself most surprisingly headed in an- 
other. Yet these perplexing paths are all straight! 
The uneven and vari-angled sides which make the 
Common neither round nor oblong nor square nor 
anything at all, are responsible for leading even the 
oldest citizen away from his objective if he for a 
moment forgets what a lifetime of familiarity with 
these paths has taught him. 

Many of the Common walks, as winter approaches, 
are made to look amusingly like the sidewalks of 
some village, for interminable lengths of planking, 
full of slivers and holes, are dragged from their sum- 
mer's hiding places and laid down here, on crosspieces 
that raise them a few inches above the level of the 
walks. 

A prettily shaded path is the one known as the 

10 



BOSTON COMMON 

Long Path, leading far on under tall and overarching 
trees from the steps opposite Joy Street to the junc- 
tion of Boylston and Tremont, and this is the path 
followed by the Autocrat and the Schoolmistress in 
the charming love episode that was long ago so 
charmingly told. One may almost think that the hu- 
man touch of this pretty romance, with its simple 
glow of love and life, is the most delightful bit of 
humanity about the Common, and the fact that it 
was a love affair of fiction does not make the story 
the least particle unreal, for every one remembers it 
as if it was lovemaking of the real and actual kind. 

Although the Common has been held immune from 
homes or streets for these three centuries, a part of 
it was long ago given over to a graveyard. It is a 
large graveyard, too, and, although it is directly 
across from thronged sidewalks and sparkling shops 
and theaters, it is just as attractively gloomy in ap- 
pearance as a good old-fashioned graveyard ought to 
be ! Central as it is, and befitting its name of Central 
Burying-Ground, it has all the interest of aloofness. 
It is practically hidden, it is almost forgotten and 
overlooked; and this effect is really remarkable. 

One of the many who are buried here was the in- 
ventor of a soup that promises to keep his name in 
perpetual remembrance — of such varied possibilities 
does Fame make use to hold men's names alive! 
Many years ago a certain Julien was a cook and a 
caterer in Boston, an excellent cook and caterer whose 
finest achieved ambition was the making of a certain 
soup which so hugely tickled the palates of the elect 

11 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

that by general consent the name of Julien was lov- 
ingly attached to it. Well, he deserves his fame, as 
does any man who adds to the happiness and health 
of humanity. And here his body lies. 

And in this lonely and melancholy cemetery, with 
the brilliant shops and theaters so incongruously 
looking out over it, there is buried the artist admit- 
tedly honored as the greatest of early American por- 
trait painters; perhaps the greatest, even including 
the best of modern days; and of course I refer to 
Gilbert Stuart. This son of a snuff grinder was hon- 
ored abroad as well as at home, and gave up a tri- 
umphant career in England, in the course of which 
he painted King George the Third and the Prince of 
"Wales, who was to become George the Fourth, in 
order to satisfy his intense desire to return to Amer- 
ica to paint a greater George than either. 

It is fitting that he should be buried here in New 
England's greatest city, for he was New England 
born, and he lived in Boston throughout the last 
twenty years or so of his life, and Boston is the proud 
possessor of his best and finest Washington, one of 
the only two that he painted direct from his subject 
(the many others being copies or adaptations by him- 
self or by other artists), and with this George Wash- 
ington is also Stuart's altogether charming portrait 
of Martha Washington, the two being painted at the 
same time. Yet only the other day I noticed, in Bos- 
ton's best morning newspaper, a brief reference to 
Gilbert Stuart which twice spelled his name with a 
"w"! Temporal 

12 



BOSTON COMMON 

Some years after Stuart's death, it was arranged 
by some wealthy folk of Rhode Island to take his 
body back to his native State: for he was born at 
Narragansett, six miles from Pottawoone and four 
from Ponanicut, as he once explained to some Eng- 
lishmen who wondered where a man could possibly 
be born who spoke English, but said that he was not 
a native of England or Scotland or Ireland or Wales ; 
but after the preparations had been made it was 
learned that not only was the grave of Stuart un- 
marked but that it was unknown; Boston had care- 
lessly mislaid the body of this great American; so 
the best that could be done was to put a tablet on the 
outside of the cemetery fence. 

Not far from the burying ground is a monument in 
honor of the men who were killed in what has always 
been known as the Boston Massacre. And the list of 
killed is headed by the name of Crispus Attucks, the 
negro; not that he was more of a martyr than the 
others, but that this was a chance to set a negro's 
name first as a sort of defiance, on the part of this 
abolitionist city of Boston, to any who might deem 
negroes inferior. And by far the noblest monument 
in Boston, a monument positively thrilling as well as 
beautiful, a monument which, though standing unob- 
trusively, just recessed from the sidewalk, is aston- 
ishingly effective in its splendid setting between the 
two great trees that shade it, is a sculpture by St. 
Gaudens, which vividly presents, in deep relief, not 
only the figure of the gallant Colonel Shaw but fig- 
ures of the negroes who bravely followed him to a 

13 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

brave death. It is a memorial to the spirit, even 
more than it is a monument to men. This memorial 
— the most successfully placed monument in Amer- 
ica — stands at the highest point of the Common, close 
to the spot where the War Governor of Massachusetts 
stood to see Shaw and his regiment march by; and 
fittingly, here, these soldiers in bronze will forever 
go marching on. 

There is a great deal in a city's devotion to ideals ; 
but only a few evenings ago, in a big Boston theater 
that was packed to capacity, there were "movie" 
pictures of the sad Beconstruction days, pictures so 
utterly unfair in character as to be deplored even by 
the more earnest sympathizers with the South; and 
yet, that crowded house applauded tempestuously — 
the only applause of the evening — the pictures of 
masked Ku Klux riding down and killing negroes. 
But I suppose one ought not to forget that Boston 
must hold descendants of those who tried to mob Gar- 
rison, as well as descendants of those who stood for 
human liberty. 

Another of the Common monuments stands on an 
isolated little hillock, and is to the memory of the 
soldiers and sailors who died in the Bebellion. It is 
not much as a work of art; in fact, it is somewhat 
worse, because more pretentious, than a host of medi- 
ocre military memorials set up throughout the coun- 
try; but the situation is fine, and the inscription is 
fine, narrating as it does that the city has built the 
monument with the intent that it shall speak to future 
generations; and so, one sees that it is an excellent 

14 



BOSTON COMMON 

thing to stand here, elm-shaded on its eminence. 
More and more one feels that across this Common 
comes blowing the warm breath of a history that is 
alive. 

From the very earliest days the Common was a 
training ground for soldiers, and this use has not 
been entirely forgotten. The Bostonians are in- 
clined to resent the fact that their Common was used 
by the British in the Eevolutionary times as a train- 
ing ground and mustering place for the soldiers who 
went to Bunker Hill, and before that for the ones 
who marched to Lexington; it was taking quite a 
liberty, they still feel; but they find consolation in 
certain facts of history in regard to what happened 
to those men. 

It is still remembered, too, that a tall young Amer- 
ican, standing by, attracted the awed attention of the 
British soldiers here, for he was over seven feet high ; 
and he remarked to them, carelessly, that when they 
should get up into the interior of the country they 
would learn what Americans really were, for out 
there they looked on him, with his height of only 
seven feet, as a mere baby. 

And once, between the days of Lexington and 
Bunker Hill, an American stood by and laughed 
amusedly as a company of British were practising 
target shooting, which so annoyed their captain that 
he demanded an explanation, whereupon the Amer- 
ican said it amused him to see such bad shooting. 
"Can you do any better?" said the officer angrily. 
"Give me a gun," was the laconic reply. And with 

15 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

that the American proceeded to give an astonishing 
exhibition of center-spot hitting — and the British 
were to learn, to their cost, over on the hill in Charles- 
town, that Americans could hit live targets just as 
readily as they could hit any other kind. (That story 
of target hitting is curiously like Scott's story of 
Robin Hood hitting the target at the angry behest of 
King John ! If Scott had been an American he would 
have found a wealth of material in American annals.) 

The broad elm-arched mall along the Beacon Street 
side of the Common is an odd memento of our second 
war with England ; for money was raised by subscrip- 
tion in 1814 to defend the city against an expected at- 
tack, and as the attack was not made and peace was, 
the money was spent in constructing this mall. 

Very early, the Common was used as a place of 
execution, and in particular it was where Quakers 
and witches were unanswerably silenced: but in the 
good old times executions were looked upon in a much 
more matter-of-course light than they are in modern 
days. They were really public entertainments in a 
time when entertainments were few and when the 
Puritan public frowned on the frivolous. 

The mighty "Whitefield used to preach on the Com- 
mon, and it was the main place of refuge for goods 
and people from the great fire that less than half a 
century ago devastated the business section. 

Flocks of pudgy pigeons now hover about the Com- 
mon, and it is a pretty sight to see them come cir- 
cling and whirring, in graceful curves and full trust- 
fulness, to eat the crumbs so freely scattered for 

16 



BOSTON COMMON 

them. One need not go to Venice to find a city where 
citizens and visitors feed the pigeons! Countless 
gray squirrels dart safely about, and the Common is 
also a popular place for the airing of that fast-dis- 
appearing race, the dog — for dogs are indeed rapidly 
disappearing, not only on account of city conditions 
but in particular from the continuous and deadly at- 
tacks of the automobile ; and so the broad Common, 
without automobiles as it is, is a rallying place for 
dog owners and their dogs. They make a sort of 
last stand here ! But never do you hear a man whis- 
tle for his dog in Boston ; not even on the Common. 
It simply isn't done! And if a thing isn't done in 
Boston, you mustn't do it! 

The Common has from the first been a place for 
spectacles of one kind or another; not only such as 
the drilling of soldiers or the execution of people of 
unpopular opinions, but many and many other kinds. 
There comes pleasantly the thought of what a pretty 
picture it must have presented on that long-ago after- 
noon, far back before the Eevolution, when, under the 
auspices of a society for the promotion of industry 
and frugality (the Bostonians have always had a 
partiality for long titles!), some three hundred de- 
mure maidens, "young female spinsters, decently 
dressed," as the old-time phrasing has it, came out 
here on the Common with their spinning wheels, and 
sat here and spun, with busy demureness, prettily 
playing Priscilla to the admiring John Aldens among 
the watching throng. What a charming memory it 
makes for the Common! How one thinks of the 

17 



THE BOOK OP BOSTON 

Twelfth Night lines about the "spinsters and knitters 
in the sun," and the "free maids that weave their 
threads!" 

One notices that the Bostonian of those old days 
did not consider a spinster as necessarily a female; 
a city of spinsters would not need to be a city of 
women; and after all, the word spinster might 
properly be used as meaning merely spinner. But 
the explanatory words "decently dressed" would 
seem to deserve further light: could any young fe- 
male spinster of pre-Bevolutionary days ever have 
dressed otherwise! The very thought is incredible. 

The genial freedom for which the Common stands 
was well illustrated by a story told me by a Boston 
lady, of her last meeting with Louisa M. Alcott; for 
a little niece came running up, exclaiming excitedly, 
' ' Oh, Aunt Louisa ! I just feel that I want to scream ! ' ' 
Whereupon the creator of "Little Women" most 
placidly replied, "Very well, dear: just go out on the 
Common and scream." And that was both wise and 
illustrative. 

Old-time city that it is, Boston has an old-time 
fancy for observing holidays. Even on the last Col- 
umbus Day it seemed as if every store was closed and 
that every citizen was either at the ball game — some 
40,000 were there, with at least half as many more 
anxious to get in — or else walking on or beside the 
Common. And when night fell, it seemed as if every- 
body went to the Common, for there were fireworks 
given by the city, with lavishness of expense and su- 
perbness of effect. Mighty crowds were gathered 

18 



BOSTON COMMON 

and hundreds of motor cars were lined up around the 
Common's edge, and when, at the close, the American 
flag was flung to the night in colors of blazing fire, 
every motor horn honked joyously and every indi- 
vidual joyously cheered. For this was their own 
Common. 







v^-/V> "f - ' - *■ * '~- -— ~-Z W ^5^ 








CHAPTER III 

BOSTON PEBFEEBBD 

"" " ATTJRALLY enough, next to Bos- 
ton Common comes Boston Pre- 
ferred! For the term can very- 
well be used in referring to Bea- 
con Hill, which edges and over- 
looks the Common and is still the 
finest residence section of the city. 
And this Boston Preferred, this 
Beacon Hill, still stands for the 
exclusiveness, the permanence, the 
fixity, of Boston society; it stands 
for the social cohesion of the city. 

Beacon Hill is still of very considerable altitude, 
even though it was long ago lowered, by vigorous 
cutting-down, from the triple-peaked height that it 
was originally when it gave Boston its first and 
grandiose name of Tri-Mountain. The triple-peak 
disappeared and a single rounded top remained. The 
State House stands on the present summit of the 
hill, and the top of its great gold dome is at the same 
height as was the top of the hill itself originally. 
The hill is still so steep that in places there are 
lengths of iron handrails set into and against the 

20 



BOSTON PBEEEEEED 

buildings for the aid of pedestrians in icy weather, 
and there are notices at the foot of some of the hills 
to warn vehicles not to attempt them when the slopes 
are icy hut to take some roundabout course instead 
— with Bostonian attention to detail, the particular 
course being suggested. And at teas or receptions the 
waiting motor-cars are likely to be standing with 
their wheels turned rakishly against the curb for 
safety. And on the most slippery days the motors 
and carriages that have dared to venture upon the 
actual slopes go dangerously, for the horses slip in 
nervous helplessness, and now and then some motor 
skids and slides and whirls and either dashes against 
the curb or slides swift and uncontrolled to the foot 
of the hill. 

And as to the name of the hill, no one need think 
that beacons are but a picturesque figure of speech 
in regard to long-past American days, for beacons 
were a very real and at the same time an extremely 
romantic feature of early life in this country. Bar- 
oness Eiedesel, the wife of the Brunswick general 
captured with Burgoyne, tells that when she was with 
her captive husband in Cambridge there was an alarm 
which caused a rising of the entire countryside, that 
barrels of pitch blazed on the hilltops, and that for 
some days armed Americans came hurrying in, some 
of them even without shoes and stockings, but all 
eager and ready to fight. Historians have so ignored 
the romantic in America that they have almost suc- 
ceeded in giving Americans themselves the idea that 
the romantic never existed here. 

21 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

Beacon Hill is the part of Boston that is still full 
of fine old homes. They are not the earliest houses 
of the city, they are not even pre-Revolutionary, but 
they are of the fine period following shortly after the 
Eevolution. They are generous, comfortable, well 
proportioned, dignified houses, with their soft-toned 
brick and their typical bowed fronts and their general 
air of spaciousness and geniality — the bows in the 
fronts being gentle outward swells of the walls from 
top to bottom of the house, with two windows in each 
bow, one on each side and none in the middle ; some- 
thing entirely different from most modern bay-win- 
dows, of Boston and elsewhere, which are excres- 
cences with three windows. Quite English, old-fash- 
ioned English, are the Beacon Hill bow-fronts ; very 
much the kind of fronts that Barrie somewhere de- 
scribes as bringing to a stop the people driving 
through a little village. 

That this part of Boston is really on a hill is recog- 
nized as you climb it; and if, on some of the streets, 
you sit inside of one of the bowed windows and a 
man is walking down the hill, you are likely to see him 
from the waist up as he passes the upper window, and 
to see only the top of his hat when he passes the 
lower! But an even better way to realize just how 
much of a hill this still is, is to look back at it from 
one of the bridges over the Charles for, from such 
a viewpoint, this part of the city rises prominent and 
steep, with its congregated mass of buildings etched 
dim and dark against the sky, like an old-time engrav- 
ing darkened and at the same time beautified with 

22 



BOSTON PREFEEEED 

age. This Beacon Hill is so charming a part of the 
city as to be supreme among American perched places 
for delightfulness of homes and city living. 

Mount Vernon Street is the finest bit of this fine 
district. One of the old residents of the street said 
to me, with more than a touch of pride, that Henry 
James termed it the only respectable street in Amer- 
ica. "Well, Henry James liked Mount Vernon Street 
very much indeed, although he did not write pre- 
cisely what was quoted to me as being his. What 
he wrote was that this was the happiest street scene 
our country could show (perhaps I should remark 
that the context shows him to use "happy" in the 
general sense of felicitous), "and as pleasant, on 
those respectable lines, in a degree not surpassed even 
among outward pomps." After all, looking at his 
words again, there need be small wonder that he was 
misquoted, for who, except a devoted disciple of 
James, could be expected to understand precisely 
what this phrasing means ! But the general impres- 
sion is clear, and that is that Henry James, critically 
conversant as he was with the most beautiful streets 
of Europe, and idolizing Europe, still had high ad- 
miration for beautiful Mount Vernon Street. 

The street is one of serenity, and there is a certain 
benignancy of dignity which seems to make an at- 
mosphere of its own; there is a constant beauty of 
restraint, and of even a sort of retiring seclusion, 
even though the houses are built close together. It is 
indeed a felicitous street, and the more felicitous 
from a certain crookedness, or at least out-of-straight- 

23 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

ness, in its street lines, that comes from quite a num- 
ber of unexpected and unexplainable little bends, so 
slight as not at first to be noticed, but which add ma- 
terially to effectiveness. 

But it must not be thought that Mount Vernon 
Street is the only part of Beacon Hill that is full of 
charm, for there are other charming streets as well, 
notably Chestnut Street, rich in old-time atmosphere, 
and Beacon Street, fronting bravely out over the Com- 
mon, and that charming Louisburg Square about 
which all of Beacon Hill may be said to cluster : and it 
may be mentioned that the Beacon Hillers like to pro- 
nounce Louisburg with the "s" sounded. 

Louisburg Square is like Gramercy Park in New 
York, in that the people who own the abutting prop- 
erties possess certain ownership in it — the central 
portion being oval and not square, and the entire 
square being oblong. It is amusing that when the 
trees in the center are trimmed and lopped the wood 
is divided into bundles and parcels and evenly dis- 
tributed for fireplace burning among all of the ad- 
joining property holders. 

In any city, even in Europe, Louisburg Square 
would at once attract attention as a charming little 
bit. Its central oval is green, tree shaded, with grass 
within an iron fence, and all about it are fine old 
houses of old Boston type. It is really a bit of old 
London, and that this is no mere fancy is shown by 
the fact that when a country- wide search was made by 
a moving picture concern which was preparing for 
an elaborate presentation of Vanity Fair, the search 

24 



BOSTON PEEFEEEED 

resulted in fixing upon this little Louisburg Square, 
with its shading trees and old-fashioned house-fronts, 
to represent the Eussell Square of London and of 
Thackeray. A house was chosen — any one of a num- 
ber might have been chosen — for the Osborne home, 
and the street sign of "Louisburg Square" was taken 
down and "Eussell Square" was substituted, but no 
other alteration was needed. I went to see the pic- 
ture given, and had I not positively known that it 
was Louisburg Square I should never have doubted 
that it was really the familiar Eussell Square at 
which I was looking. That the house chosen was 
Number 20 adds a point of interest, for it is the house 
in which the wonderful singer, Jenny Lind, was mar- 
ried to her accompanist, Otto Goldschmidt, in the 
course of that remarkable American tour in which 
she was given $175,000 and all of her expenses, while 
her manager, P. T. Barnum, received as his share 
$500,000. 

There are two little statues, modestly pedes- 
taled, within the oval of green, one at either end, and 
each of them is a little smaller than life size. They 
are so quietly sedate, these smallish marble men, that 
they seem as if made with particular thought of the 
sedateness of this smallish square. One of the fig- 
ures, so one recognizes, is of Columbus, but the other 
is so unfamiliar, with a face so different from that of 
any well-known American, that one wonders in vain 
who it can possibly be — and then it is learned that it 
is Aristides ! One helplessly wonders why Aristides 
the Just stands here! And the matter seems still 

25 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

stranger when one learns that, so the residents tell 
you, these two marble monuments were the very first 
of all the Boston public monuments to individuals. 

Something approaching a century ago, so it ap- 
pears, a Greek merchant settled in Boston and made 
his home here on Louisburg Square, and he so loved 
the environment that he had these monuments sent 
over from Greece and presented them to the city to 
stand forever here ; choosing Columbus as his idea of 
the man most representative of all America, and Aris- 
tides because he personally loved the good old Greek, 
his own countryman. A story like that does add so 
much to the charm of a charming place. 

This old part of the city, and particularly Louis- 
burg Square, is a gathering place for cats ; not home- 
less cats that furtively creep away, but sleek, sedate, 
well-fed, lovable and likable cats; cats come here to 
meet each other or to hunt birds or just to take a 
stroll. They are of all races, sizes, and colors, from 
the big, glorious yellow to the shiny-coated jet black. 
Sometimes only one or two are in sight; at other 
times there may be several ; then, when these wander 
off, others will wander incidentally in, perhaps only 
one or two again or perhaps a group. When tired of 
walking or of hunting or of exchanging compliments 
with one another they are not unlikely to rest com- 
fortably on the bases of the monuments, generally 
choosing, for some obscure catlike reason, Columbus 
in preference to Aristides; indeed, a cat on Colum- 
bus is a familiar neighborhood sight. 

Here on Beacon Hill some of the houses have panes 

26 



BOSTON PREFERRED 

of purple glass in their windows, and one learns that 
this empurpling effect makes the house owners very 
proud indeed. It seems that quite a quantity of win- 
dow glass was made which contained some unexpected 
material, just when some of the best houses here- 
abouts were building, and that it was used in these 
houses, and that in course of time and the action of 
the sunlight, the glass containing the unexpected sub- 
stance turned purple and that purple it has ever since 
remained. Just why it should be a matter of special 
pride to have too much foreign substance in one's 
window glass it is hard for even the Bostonians to 
explain, for they realize that the houses are just as 
old, and would look just as old, without the purple 
panes; but none the less, to them it represents 
vitreous connection with a proud and precious past. 
As a matter of fact, a similar pride used to be felt by 
the owners of some old-time houses on Clinton Place 
and Irving Place in New York City, which also pos- 
sessed purple panes. One wonders if there is some 
subtle and subconscious connection between the ideas 
of purple glass and blue blood; at any rate, the 
owners have all the sense of living in the purple. 

Boston goes to sleep early, and Beacon Hill goes 
even earlier than does the rest of the city. And, the 
people once in bed, it takes a good deal to rouse them. 
At a few minutes before eleven one night I was walk- 
ing down Mount Vernon Street, with the houses all 
blank and black, when I saw an automobile fire-engine 
and hook-and-ladder start climbing up the hill. 
Never have I heard so terrific a street noise. For the 

27 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

heavy motors were on low gear, and each moment 
they were almost stalling, and they were grating, 
grinding and shrieking as they slowly fought their 
way, with noises that shattered the very air. One 
would have thought that every individual on the hill 
would be aroused. But no ! If any house on Beacon 
Hill must burn, it must be before eleven at night or 
else neighbors refuse to be interested. Two serv- 
ants opened a dormer window and looked out — and 
that was all! 

Beacon Hill, the height of exclusiveness, the cita- 
del of aristocracy, all this it has long been, as if 
its being a hill aided in giving it literal unapproach- 
ableness. It still retains its prideful poise, in its out- 
ward and visible signs of perfectly cared-for houses 
and correctness of dress and manners and equipage. 
But the gradual approach of changes is shown by shy 
little signs, frightened at their own temerity, that 
here and there on Beacon Street modestly print the 
names of this or that publisher, and by other little 
signs on Pinckney Street which set forth the single 
word "Booms." 

Some years ago there was something of a migration 
from this region to the Back Bay, and many wealthy 
folk of Boston now live over there, but the better 
families have always looked on the Back Bay as not 
to be compared with Beacon Hill. 

From the first a poorer and, from the standpoint 
of Beacon Hill, an undesirable, population has 
swarmed up against the barriers from the north side, 
the side farthest away from the Common, but for 

28 



BOSTON PEEFEEEED 

generation after generation the barriers have held 
firm against them, and now there are even signs of 
redeeming a little of this adjoining district. Just 
off one of these poorer streets, I noticed a courtyard, 
Bellingham Court (the old governor's name has an 
aristocratic sound!), running back for some two hun- 
dred feet to a high wall that once was blank, and not 
only is that wall now thick-covered with ivy, but on 
either side of the brick-paved courtyard the few 
modest little houses are flower-bedecked, and green 
with vines, and brass-knockered. The courtyard is 
not for vehicles, and down its center are arranged 
neatly painted boxes of flowers, with brilliant ger- 
aniums the most prominent, as a strong note is 
needed. It is a little sheltered nook where the com- 
monplace has been transformed into loveliness. 

Not all of the old houses have old Bostonians liv- 
ing in them, for some new Bostonians are here also, 
and one of these naively said to me that on first mov- 
ing in she was so disturbed by seeing people stop and 
look up at her windows that she nervously went from 
room to room to see if the curtains were wrong, only 
to find later that her house was attracting attention 
because it was one of the houses in which Louisa M. 
Alcott had lived. 

The residents of this region, though ultra-partic- 
ular in some respects, are not afraid to do the un- 
usual. Two dear old ladies of eminently correct fam- 
ily, living in an eminently correct house, keep a dish- 
pan chained to their front doorstep to offer water to 
dogs and cats ! It would take a lifetime to learn just 

29 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

how the people of this city differentiate the things 
that in themselves simply must not be done, and the 
things which, no matter how unusual or exceptional 
or odd, may be done with impunity. 

That Beacon Hill, with its long-maintained social 
prestige, is but a few minutes' walk from the stir and 
crowds and bustle of the busiest business streets, and 
that on its crest is the very center of the political 
activities of Massachusetts, the State House, makes 
its continued possession of these serried ranks of 
capable, comfortable, handsome homes the more sur- 
prising in these days of constant American change, 
and that it is so much of a hill as always to have 
been impracticable for street cars seems to be the 
great single reason for its being so long left prac- 
tically unaltered. The absence of street cars also 
adds very much to the general effect of serenity and 
peacefulness. 

Most of the houses are of brick, unpainted and soft 
red, agreeably mellowed and toned by the weathering 
of years. Indeed, the effect of the entire hill is an 
effect of brick, for not only are the houses brick but 
the typical ones are, in general, narrowly corniced 
with dentiled brick, and the brick walls drop down to 
the universal brick sidewalks of the district. Yet 
there is no wearisome likeness of design: continually 
there is the relief of the variant. 

The accessories of the hill charmingly befit the 
homes, and chief among these accessories is the 
greenery. For there are lines of trees on the streets, 
and groups or single trees in the square or in some 

30 



BOSTON PEEFEEEED 

of the gardens behind the homes, and here and there 
is a mighty spreading elm, and here and there is a 
flowering ailanthus, and in every direction, on the 
fronts or the sides of the houses, one sees wistarias 
in coils or convolutions or sinuous lengths, and some 
of the vines are of giant thickness, and some clamber 
over the iron balconies, twisting and crushing and 
knotting themselves python-like around the rails ; and 
one sees, too, the Boston ivy, the ampelopsis, sweetly 
massing its rich green against the soft red of brick. 
Innumerable window-boxes give color and fragrance 
and English-like touches of beauty. And on one of 
these streets I noticed a mighty, ancient rose vine, 
almost a ruin, which has annually spread its flowers 
there for decades. And all of this in the very heart 
of this old city ! 

And one of the most prominent of the large old 
houses, a mansion in very truth — the old-time rule 
in New England being that a mansion was a house 
with a servants' stair, but using the word here in its 
usual sense of meaning a large and stately home — 
has behind it, terraced above a side street, a high-set 
and level garden, with a garden-house of diamond- 
paned windows ; a garden rather melancholy now but 
so romantically high perched as to have all the effect 
of what the ancients meant by "hanging garden." 

That on all of these streets the houses are of vary- 
ing widths adds immensely to the general picturesque 
effect; in fact, the streets which show the greatest 
variety in width of houses are the most picturesque. 
None of the streets is what a Western man would 

31 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

call broad, and some are really narrow, the narrowest 
of all being little Acorn Street, so slender that you 
may shake hands across its width. An attractive lit- 
tle street, this, with its line of neat little houses and 
its brave array of prettily framed doorways and 
polished brass knockers; the houses being on one 
side only of the narrow way, facing the high walls, 
trellised on top and green with vines, of the gardens 
of Mount Vernon Street homes. 

Several of the streets of the hill climb straight and 
steep from the waters of the Back Bay, and there are 
positively beautiful views looking down the vistaed 
narrowness and out across the surface of the water. 
Stand well up on the steepness of Pinckney Street, and 
look down at the water sparkling under a sky of 
Italian blue, and across the sweeping stretch to the 
white classic temples gleaming in the sun on the 
farther edge of the Charles (and they look like 
temples, although in fact they are new buildings of the 
School of Technology), and you will see how striking 
and beautiful a city view may be. Or, stand well up 
on the steep of Mount Vernon Street in the late after- 
noon of an early autumn day, when the golden sun 
transmutes the water of the Charles into gold, and 
scatters showers of gold through the branches of the 
trees, and flings the gold in splotches and streaks and 
shimmerings on the pavement, and all is a glorious 
golden glamour, and again you will realize how beau- 
tiful a view it is possible for a city to offer. 

Beacon Hill is so delightfully mellow! And this 
mellowness of aspect comes not only from the fine- 

32 



BOSTON PEEFEEEED 

ness of the old houses in their age-weathering of 
brick, but also from such things as the old iron bal- 
conies that hang in front of the drawing-room win- 
dows (all this part of old Boston having its drawing- 
rooms one flight up so that the people, following the 
English tradition, may "go down to dinner"), and 
the brass knockers, and the doorknobs of brass or 
old glass, and the old frames of iron, leaded into brick 
or stone, like those of old Paris that used to hold 
the ancient lanterns that roused the a la lanterne cry- 
so terrible to the French aristocrats, and the old iron 
rails, with little brass urns on their posts, on the tops 
of big-stoned walls, and the fat cast-iron pineapples, 
ancient emblems of hospitality, and the good old foot- 
scrapers, of fine dignity in spite of their lowly use ; 
and one cannot pass along any of these old streets 
without seeing at windows, as if turning a cold shoul- 
der to the present day, fascinating chair-backs of 
Chippendale or Sheraton, or even of the rare Ja- 
cobean. 

On Beacon Hill one is always anticipating the un- 
usual. And one evening, just as dusk was softly 
creeping over Louisburg Square, strains of music 
softly sounded, with a sort of gentle pathos, and there 
came quiveringly the old-fashioned "When we think 
of the days that are gone, Maggie." It was played 
so very, very slowly, so very, very sweetly, by two 
quite oldish men, both of them American, that window 
after window softly opened and women looked out, 
and home-going men paused in mounting their door- 
steps, and a tenser silence, except for the quivering 

33 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

notes, fell over the twilight square, and all intently 
listened, all were moved. The two players, so un- 
expectedly American instead of German or Italian, 
seemed strange memories of the past, tremulously 
playing here their old-fashioned music in front of 
these old-fashioned houses that were, themselves, 
softly dimming like memories in the twilight. 




CHAPTEB IV 

ON THE PRIM, DBCOEOUS HILL 

i W I ^IHE streets of Boston are peopled 

|j ' lf,}„ « with shadows of the past; shad- 

\ , , M? ows of those connected with the 
Z|t7^ J |7fj!ij historical or literary Boston that 

'' ^ T l'A,yJM~ has gone. Nor are all the figures 



ipO|iPij"n( Bostonians. Here is Dickens, af- 

> i\~7.~*~^~"~~ i - ter a long winter day's tramp out 

,/y ; " into the country with James T. 

/ f Fields, hilariously swinging back 

» to the city in a wild snow storm; 

I but suddenly, near the junction of 

the Common and Charles Street, disappearing from 
view in the swirling snow clouds, only to be dis- 
covered on the other side of the road helping to his 
feet a blind man who had fallen helplessly in a drift. 
Here is Thackeray driving down Tremont Street to 
the lecture hall, with his extremely long legs hilar- 
iously stuck out of the carriage window in sheer joy- 
fulness that all the tickets for his first lecture had 
been sold! For it will be remembered that Thack- 
eray came over to give to the Americans all four 
Georges in return for the one George that we had 
concluded to do without. Can you imagine the feel- 
ings of the sedate Bostonians as they saw the great 

35 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

Englishman going to his own lecture in what with- 
out exaggeration could he called an informal way ! 

How full of life, of buoyancy, were those two won- 
derful Englishmen! How impossible to picture any 
Boston man so carried away by success unless in a 
condition to be carried away by the police ! But, so 
far as that is concerned, it is not likely that even 
Thackeray ever rode through a street of his own Eng- 
land in quite such exuberance of joy. 

Dickens liked Boston, and found what he termed 
a remarkable similarity of tone between this city and 
Edinburgh. Thackeray liked Boston, and used to 
say playfully that he always considered it his native 
city. Both men made Boston their landing-place on 
coming from England, and this could scarcely be 
looked upon as chance, or merely that Boston was the 
terminal point of a steamer line, but it was also, no 
doubt, because the two chose the city whose reputa- 
tion in England most appealed to them; for Boston 
used to be the center of American literary life. 

It was in Boston that Thackeray first tasted Amer- 
ican oysters; and enormous ones were purposely set 
before him at the now-vanished Tremont House, ad- 
joining the Old Granary Graveyard, on Tremont 
Street (with the ' ' e " in ' ' Trem' ' short if you would be 
thought a Bostonian!), and he rejected the largest 
because it looked like the High Priest's servant's ear 
that Peter cut off, and with difficulty swallowed the 
smallest, gasping out that he felt as if he had swal- 
lowed a baby. I think people were more natural, 
more frank, more full of spontaneity in those days, 

36 



ON THE PEIM, DECOROUS HILL 

less afraid of what other people might think; or at 
least our distinguished visitors from abroad gave ad- 
mirable object lessons along that line. 

And picture Thackeray— and isn't it a delightful 
picture! — dashing down the slope of Beacon Street 
toward the home of the historian Prescott, gleefully 
waving two volumes of "Esmond" that had just come 
to him from across the Atlantic and which he was tak- 
ing to Prescott because Prescott had given him his 
first dinner in America — picture him thus dashing 
down Beacon Street and joyously crying out to a 
friend whom he passed : ' ' This is the very best I can 
do ! I stand by this book, and am willing to leave it 
when I go as my card!" 

The Prescott house is still there, 55 Beacon Street, 
well down toward the very foot of the hill and facing 
out over the Common. It is a broad-fronted house, 
built in balanced symmetry, a house of buff-painted 
brick with rounded swells, with roof fronted with 
heavy white balusters, with window trimmings and 
door pilastered in white, with black iron balcony light 
and graceful in design ; it is a fine-looking house, a 
house with a distinguished air. And somehow it 
seems to suggest a portrait of the admirable Prescott 
himself. It is a house worth seeing on its own ac- 
count and also because it was there that Thackeray 
received the inspiration for the sequel to the story 
which we see him so gleefully carrying, the sequel to 
"Esmond," for it was in that house that he saw the 
two swords (now in the possession of the Massachu- 
setts Historical Society) that had been carried by 

37 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

relatives of Prescott in the Bevolutionary War, one of 
them having been gallantly drawn in the service of the 
King and the other with equal gallantry in the service 
of America. Here Thackeray pondered the romance 
in such a situation, and the result was "The Vir- 
ginians," with one Esmond to fight for the King and 
the other for Washington. 

Over and over one realizes what possibilities of fine 
romance lie about us here in America. Not merely 
romance good enough for minor writers, as some 
would have us believe, but romance good enough for 
the giants. For Scott made brave use of the brave 
old story of the Begicide and Hadley, and he took 
his most beloved of all characters, Bebecca, from 
Philadelphia and Washington Irving ; and Thackeray 
took his Virginians from Boston and Prescott ; — and 
I might refer to Dickens and "Chuzzlewit" were that 
not something far different from romance. 

Boston could never forgive Dickens; and that he 
patronizingly wrote, years afterwards, that America 
had so changed that he could now speak well of it, 
aggravated rather than mitigated the enormity of his 
literary offense, which was, not that he had found 
people in America to criticise, for he had found peo- 
ple to criticise in his own England, but that, judging 
from "Chuzzlewit," he had found no one to think 
highly of in America. He had been cordially re- 
ceived by fine gentlemen, cultivated and polished men, 
who would have been, and some of whom were, re- 
ceived as fine gentlemen in the very finest society in 
Europe, yet none the less he went home and wrote the 

38 



ON" THE PEIM, DECOROUS HILL 

book that he had planned in advance to write, follow- 
ing the advice that he had long before put in the 
mouth of Sam Weller, to be sure to make a book on 
America so abusive tbat it would be sure to sell; he 
had, with amazing baldness, followed the published 
prejudices of Mrs. Trollope, which he had absorbed 
before leaving England; he wrote of Americans as 
ignorant and boastful boors; and of course, in the 
new portions of our country, there had to be many- 
such. He wrote of America as being nothing but 
a nation of boors when he well knew us to be a nation 
possessing not only such men as Hawthorne and 
Longfellow and Webster and Motley and Prescott 
and Fields but many a cultured man of business and 
many a cultured family. 

Fields, with whom Dickens loved to take long 
tramps, lived on Charles Street, at 148, well on the 
way that the jogging horse-car used to take towards 
Cambridge. It is now a highly undesirable street, 
with infinite dirt and noise, and could at no time have 
been really attractive. And the Fields house was al- 
ways hopelessly commonplace, a house high-set and 
bare in a row of houses all high-set and bare, built in 
an era of architectural bad taste. It is a brick house 
with brown stone trimmings, and is empty as I write, 
for Fields long since died and now his widow is dead, 
and the untenanted house has been drearily splashed, 
across the narrow sidewalk, from the chronically 
muddy street; splashed with brown and yellow dabs 
to more than the tops of the front doors and win- 
dows, and remaining drearily uncleaned. 

39 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

I sometimes think of Fields as having been Bos- 
ton's most important literary man. I do not mean as 
a writer, although he did write one book that has 
endeared him to a host of readers, but what he really 
did for literature was as an intelligent and keenly 
appreciative critic and an inspirer of literary men. 
He won the devotion of a host of friends; he wel- 
comed distinguished foreign writers and gave them 
fine impressions of American society and literature ; 
he counseled and inspired American writers and held 
them up to their best ; it was even owing to him and 
his personal urgency that the "Scarlet Letter" saw 
the light. He was one of those rare men who could 
judge of the value of writing without having to wait 
to see it in print and without waiting to watch its 
reception by the public. He was an anticipatory 
critic of insight and judgment. And that he was at 
the same time a publisher and for years even a maga- 
zine editor also, was in every respect fortunate, for 
he could publish what he thought worth while to the 
mutual advantage of himself and the authors. 

It is to the lasting honor of Fields that, as Whipple 
wrote of him after a life-long friendship, he had de- 
liberately formed in his mind, from the start, the 
ideal of a publisher who should profit by men of let- 
ters while at the same time men of letters should 
profit by him, and that he consistently and success- 
fully lived up to this ideal. 

In the old days there was a serious effort to make 
Charles Street a fine home street. Thomas Bailey 
Aldrich came here for a time from the slope of Bea- 

40 



ON THE PEIM, DECOROUS HILL 

con Hill, making his home at 131, and Oliver Wendell 
Holmes came for a time to a house, since destroyed 
in the building of a hospital, at 164 ; but the street 
early showed its hopeless disadvantages, becoming, as 
it did long ago, a great teaming thoroughfare circling 
the foot of Beacon Hill from one part of the city to 
another. 

The advantages of Charles Street are on the water- 
side; for it is close to the great broadening of the 
Charles Eiver, which has always offered a beautiful 
view to the windows looking out over its sunset 
sweeps of water. Holmes made his home there, not 
only for the beauty of the water views but because 
he intensely loved rowing, and here he had precisely 
the opportunity he wanted, with the additional con- 
venience of keeping his boat at his back door. But 
the increasing disadvantages of Charles Street out- 
weighed even these advantages of water and view. 

The great rooms of the Fields house likewise looked 
out over the water, and it was deemed such a pleasure 
and such an honor to be a guest of James T. Fields 
that in the old days every literary man expected to 
be given an invitation as a hall-mark of success. 

Those were the days when Boston authors were fine 
gentlemen and when many a Boston fine gentleman 
was an author. Indeed, there has never been a Grub 
Street in Boston. Those who look up the homes of 
authors need not search in the poorer parts of the 
city but among the homes of the socially exclusive, 
and the few exceptions are close by in neighborhoods 
that were once just as exclusive. And this is the 

41 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

case not only in the city but also in those near-by sub- 
urbs which are themselves essentially part of Boston, 
for it was not poor or unattractive or commonplace 
towns in which Hawthorne and Longfellow and Emer- 
son lived, but places of such fine distinction and 
beauty as Cambridge and Concord. 

In this matter of the fine living of its authors Bos- 
ton stands almost unique among cities, the only one 
which has rivaled it being Edinburgh, where the 
group of writers who were so famous a century ago 
lived mostly in the best residential section. In no 
other particular is the resemblance between Edin- 
burgh and Boston so interesting as this. 

On Mount Vernon Street, at 59, in the very heart 
of conservative aristocracy, is the house that was the 
latest home of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, a real man- 
sion, broad of front, with classic pedimented doorway 
of white marble with fluted Doric pillars, and with 
entablatures of marble set between the second and 
third stories, and with a rounding swell, and a charm- 
ing iron balcony, and four stone wreaths along the 
cornice, and four dormer windows above ; and in front 
of the house there is even a generous grass-plot. 

Mount Vernon Street, that very citadel and center 
of the Brahmins, as the exclusive Boston folk of a 
past generation loved to call themselves, attracted 
also for a time the most distinguished of all the 
Boston writers of to-day, Margaret Deland, who lived 
for a time at 76, in an old house whose front wall has 
long horizontal sets of windows that were put in for 
the sake of giving an unusual amount of light and 

42 



ON THE PEIM, DECOKOUS HILL 

sun to the flower-loving author. On the curbstone 
near this house is the quaintest old lamppost in Bos- 
ton, a wrought iron frame set on a slim granite shaft. 
After her earlier successes Mrs. Deland left this home 
for one farther down the street, and then moved over 
to the Back Bay, still keeping up the Boston literary 
tradition of living among people of wealth. The 
other day I noticed in Boston's best morning news- 
paper a portrait of Mrs. Deland, with a review of her 
latest work, a new Old Chester book, and the review 
was amusing, because it described her as being a New 
England woman who writes with remarkable discern- 
ment of a New England village, when as a matter of 
fact she came here from "Western Pennsylvania, and 
her Old Chester is near Pittsburgh. It is the natural 
tendency of Boston to assume that an excellent thing 
is of Boston or at least New England origin. 

On Mount Vernon Street, 83, is the home of Wil- 
liam Ellery Channing, a fine, austere house of dig- 
nity befitting the high standing of the man; a house 
with a low embankment wall, and grass, and a balcony 
of a design that is like the backs of Chinese Chippen- 
dales. His is one of the few homes that show a 
tablet, and it is the quietest and most unobtrusive 
of tablets, set as it is in the ironwork of the gatepost. 
In Boston everybody knows the name of this Chan- 
ning, and he has been honored with a public monu- 
ment over beside the Public Garden, and Longfellow 
wrote a poem to him, and he is remembered as a great 
figure and as a leader in thought; yet the Channing 
that those who are not Bostonians most naturally 

43 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

recall is the William Ellery Channing, the relative 
and namesake of this Channing of Boston, whom 
Hawthorne so loved and wrote of so lovingly. 

On the difficult slope of the next street to steep Mt. 
Vernon, on Pinckney street, named in honor of that 
Pinckney who left us the heritage of that upstanding 
phrase, "Millions for defense but not one cent for 
tribute," on that Pinckney Street, at 84, is the home 
where Aldrich, early in his career, wrote his immortal 
juvenile, the "Story of a Bad Boy." It is a low-set 
and almost gloomy looking house, for it is without the 
usual high basement of the vicinity. Still it is a pleas- 
ant house after all, and one wonders why friends of 
Aldrich always referred to it as a "little" house, for 
it is four windows wide instead of the usual three of 
its immediate neighbors. The house has a peculiarly 
ugly over-hanging bay-window, misguidedly set by 
some would-be improver against what was once the 
attractive front of the house, and the first impulse is 
to say to oneself that of course this ugly bay could not 
have been there in the time of Aldrich ; but a lifelong 
resident of the street told me that she well remembers 
the time when he lived and wrote here and that he 
wrote his "Story of a Bad Boy" in this very bay-win- 
dow! 

Farther up the hill on Pinckney Street, at 54, is an 
attractive house which may really be called smallish ; 
one feels impelled to call it "neat" even in a district 
of neatness, and except for that quality little of the 
distinctive is noticed except that it has an eight- 
paneled front door with the characteristic door-knob 

44 



ON THE PEIM, DECOROUS HILL 

of silver-glass. This house has a most amusing con- 
nection with literature, for it was here, in July of 
1842, that Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote his note to 
James Freeman Clarke, asking him to perform the 
marriage ceremony between himself and Sophia Pea- 
body, "though personally a stranger to you," as he 
expressed it; and the amusing feature was that al- 
though Doctor Clarke was told that "it is our mutual 
desire that you should perform the ceremony" and 
that a carriage would call for him at half -past eleven 
o'clock in the forenoon, Hawthorne quite forgot to 
mention the date on which the expected marriage 
was to take place ! And the note itself was no guide, 
for it was merely dated "July," without the day! 
And Hawthorne also quite forgot to mention where 
he would like the ceremony to be performed! Still, 
as Hawthorne wrote the street number on his 
note, it was possible to straighten the matter out 
in time. 

Still farther up and on what has now become the 
level-top of Pinckney Street, at 20, is one of the houses 
where the Alcotts lived, a little, very narrow, high- 
perched building with its main floor reached by queer 
abrupt steps up to a front door deeply recessed in an 
almost tunnel-like approach. The house is of dingy 
brick and has little windows, and is immediately back 
of the very best of Mount Vernon Street and on a 
queerly narrowed part of Pinckney Street. And 
looking off toward the broadened Charles from this 
highest part of the street there comes an impression 
as if the hill has dropped suddenly away and the 

45 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

classic temple-like structures on the farther side of 
the water are close to the foot of a precipice. 

The work of Bronson Alcott has been absolutely for- 
gotten and his very name would be forgotten were it 
not that he was the father of Louisa M. Alcott ; yet he 
had some most unusual qualities. He wrote little and 
lectured much; he was not a success; he was rather 
tiresome ; and yet with his transcendentalism, with his 
entirely vague thoughts in regard to what we should 
now call the superman, the uplift, he seems to have 
been near to something very excellent, very modern. 

It was to this house on Pinckney Street that Alcott 
returned to his hard-pressed family, one cold winter's 
day, after a lecture tour, with his overcoat stolen and 
just one single dollar in his pocket! And this re- 
minds me of a story that I long ago heard out in 
Cleveland from an old resident there who told me 
that she remembered how, when a girl, Alcott came 
to lecture, and that as they had heard that he and 
his family were in actual need of money they actively 
sold tickets enough to hand him three hundred dol- 
lars, whereupon he said, quite beamingly, that in 
Buffalo he had seen a set of valuable books that he 
had very much wished for but had been unable to 
buy, and that now he would go back and get them and 
take them home with him. 

He was an impractical man, yet his friends liked 
him and smoothed the way for him, and in his later 
years the Alcott family were delightfully mainstayed 
by the immense success of the books of his wonderful 
and universally loved daughter. 

46 



ON THE PEIM, DECOKOUS HILL 

The house where Bronson Alcott died at the age 
of almost ninety, in 1888, is also on Beacon Hill; a 
decorous, mid-block, characteristic Louisburg Square 
home, at 10, on the southern side of the square ; it is 
a bow-fronted, white-doored house with a vestibule, 
with finely-paneled white inner door, hospitably show- 
ing to the street; it is a broad brick house set on a 
smooth granite foundation behind a little iron-railed 
space, with a plump pine-apple looking like a cheese 
at the terminal of the rail. 

His daughter, Louisa M. Alcott, who won the hearts 
of myriads and gave such unbounded and wholesome 
pleasure with her "Little Women" and "Little Men," 
was so ill, in another part of the city, at the time of 
his death, that she was not told of it, and on the day of 
his funeral she herself died in the belief that her aged 
father was still living. 

A few doors away, also facing out into the greenery 
of Louisburg Square, over in its southwest corner, at 
Number 4, lived for a time "William Dean Howells; 
his once-while home being a comfortable, dormered 
house of the customary brick, with long drawing-room 
windows on the second floor, next door to a larger 
corner house, now a fraternity house, out of and into 
which young men seem always to be dashing. 

Still lower on the slope of Beacon Hill, at 3 West 
Cedar Street, is a house that was for a time the home 
of the poet who figured among Longfellow's notables 
at the Wayside Inn; for those who were pictured as 
gathering there and telling their tales were all very 
real men, although some of them were fancifully de- 

47 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

scribed. The poet of the party was a certain Thomas 
Parsons who was thought of very highly by his famous 
literary contemporaries, although had it not been for 
Longfellow he would now be quite forgotten. He 
made his home for the better part of his best years on 
Beacon Hill Place, near the State House, but the wide- 
spreading State House extension has taken street and 
house, as it has taken many another ; but his home for 
a while was here on West Cedar Street, in a small 
cozy, plain house in an entire street of similar cozy 
little houses, all with flowers in window-boxes and box- 
bushes on the doorsteps, all with brass knockers and 
old door-knobs and arched doorways. "A poet, too, 
was there whose verse was tender, musical and terse," 
as Longfellow expressed it ; and it is pleasant to have 
this house mark a poet's memory, even though the 
memory is due to the greater poet who wrote about 
him. 




CHAPTEE V 



THE CITY OF HOLMES 




I HE authors of Boston seem to have 
been, in an altogether pleasant 
sense, nomads, even though they 
kept their nomadic activities within 
a very limited district. Although 
there is little in the life of Boston 
authors which in the ordinary sense 
could he termed moving, as they 
were a happy, fortunate, conven- 
tional folk, their lives were certainly moving in an- 
other sense, for moving is what they spent a great 
deal of time in doing. Three homes for Aldrich, at 
least three for Holmes — four, counting the beautiful 
early home now gone, in Cambridge, and five if the 
Berkshire home should be included ; several different 
homes in Boston for the Alcotts, who even had three 
homes out in Concord between times ; various homes 
for Parsons and for Palfrey, three for Motley, two for 
Parkman — thus the list goes on, and Prescott is al- 
most the only one I think of who did not go moving 
about, and probably even he did some moving that I 
have never heard of. Even Mrs. Deland, Bostonian 
by adoption, has so readily adapted herself to Bos- 

49 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

ton's literary way as already to have lived in at least 
three different Boston homes. It all reminds me of a 
most interesting little place that I came across in 
Europe, Neutral Moresnet, where the inhabitants 
make it almost a point of honor and certainly a point 
of duty to change their houses once a year. 

On Walnut Street, facing down Chestnut, was the 
boyhood home of Motley, the historian, a house that 
has since been torn down; the best part of his life 
was spent in Europe, but he also loved his Boston, 
and a Chestnut Street house is pointed out, at 16, with 
a brass-knockered, brass-handled door, with a wonder- 
ful fanlight, designed in flowing lines, as a place where 
he lived for a time. 

Chestnut Street is a neighborhood of very felicitous 
doorways and at 13, well up the slope of the street, 
is a charming house that was long ago one of the 
several successional homes of Julia Ward Howe. It 
has an unusually striking doorway, with four slim, 
prim white pillars, and is an individual sort of house 
as if to befit the strikingly individual woman who lived 
here. No one else, surely, in all literary history ever 
won acknowledged literary leadership through a long 
life by one single song plus personality ! Mrs. Howe 
died a few years ago, but when Henry James came 
over to take his final look at this country to see that 
it really wasn't worth while and to shake its dust 
forever from his feet, she was still alive, and the two 
met at a reception, and a story was told me, by one 
who heard and witnessed the scene, of what took place 
at their meeting. Mrs. Howe had known him from 

50 



THE CITY OF HOLMES 

his boyhood and he at once began to tell her with effu- 
sion of how he had thought and thought of her, so 
much and so often, while away, and of what a precious 
delight it now was to meet her again. Bat she must 
have had some donbt of his entire sincerity for, look- 
ing over her spectacles at him as she used to do when 
he was a boy, and speaking to him as if he were still 
a little boy, she melted his sugary pleasantries by say- 
ing, with gentle and very slow admonition and with 
an accented "me," "Don't lie to me, Henry." 

Far down at 50 Chestnut Street, in a section where 
the typical houses have three-part windows as the 
main windows in their front, is the house where the 
historian Parkman lived and worked for twenty years. 
It is a house with exceedingly tall chimneys and a 
door deeply recessed within an arch, and is almost di- 
rectly through from the house of the historian Prescott 
on the next street parallel, Beacon Street. And noth- 
ing could be more strange, than that both of these 
historians, whose homes were so near together, were 
so grievously troubled with their eyesight as to need 
specially made appliances, a sort of machine or frame, 
to enable them to read and write at all ; each gave a 
superb example of working under almost insuperably 
depressing difficulties; and that they were both his- 
torians, both Americans, both of them dwellers on 
Beacon Hill for many years adds to the strangeness 
of it. 

Out in front of the State House, at the corner of 
Beacon Street and Park Street, stood the beautiful 
home of the man who used so to represent Boston in 

51 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

the public eye that it was playfully suggested that the 
city be called Ticknorville. Here stood the home of 
George Ticknor. In a sense, the house still stands 
here, but it has been so altered in fitting it up for 
business and offices, for antique dealers and deco- 
rators and lawyers, that one 7 s first impression is that 
it has quite vanished and that another building stands 
in its place. But even yet one-half of the distin- 
guished horseshoe stair still remains, leading up to 
the front door, and although the fine original door 
has been replaced by a window, part of the old portico 
is still in place, surmounted by some exquisite old 
ironwork which is among the very finest bits of old 
ironwork in Boston. The marble hall of which Haw- 
thorne writes and in which so many distinguished 
visitors were received, has gone, and the stairs have 
been altered and new-banistered, and it is now hard 
to imagine the old-time glory of the place, although 
the great height of the ceilings gives an impression of 
spaciousness and dignity. 

For many years Ticknor lived here, pleasantly 
varying his life with lengthy trips to Europe for 
travel and study. He had married the daughter of 
an extremely wealthy merchant, and this made life 
sufficiently easy for him to spend years and years in 
producing an agreeable and scholarly history of 
Spanish literature. Even yet, a Bostonian writing 
or speaking of the old house and its old-time glory, is 
likely to refer to it as "her" house, and to mention 
"her" hospitality and even, incredible though it 
seems, "her" library! Ticknor must have been a 

52 




DOORWAY OF PRESCOTT' S HOME ON BEACON STREET 



THE CITY OF HOLMES 

most likable man, for so many likable men liked him so 
very much indeed, and be was deemed an immensely 
distinguished man, yet he stands as a striking ex- 
ample of great fame in one generation and practical 
oblivion in the next. 

And how impressively all of those old-time Amer- 
ican writers loomed ! And how neglected are most of 
their works to-day! And yet individual remem- 
brance or forgetfulness is not the only test. As a 
class, or group, they brilliantly made the beginnings 
of our national literature, they showed that American 
writers could mark out paths of beauty and learning, 
they made it clear that American writers could be 
men of imagination and poetical power. That most 
of them are now unread is neither discredit nor criti- 
cism. In England there has been the same forget- 
ting of men once famous, for of the English authors 
of the past only a few of the preeminent are read, and 
the many others who meant so very, very much in 
their day, are but names and vague memories. But 
that does not mean, either in England or in America, 
that the now forgotten writers of the past were not 
excellent and noteworthy writers, for numbers of 
them were very excellent and noteworthy indeed, and 
their combined influence is a powerful and still-con- 
tinuing force. 

It is pleasant to realize that this old section is not- 
able for its connection with other art as well as that 
of literature; in its architecture it is agreeably dis- 
tinguished, and it has a pleasant association with the 
best paintings, for I remember that in looking over a 

53 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

list of those who, a few years ago, were the owners 
of Gilbert Stuart's works, I noticed that quite a pro- 
portion were still in the possession of residents of 
Beacon Hill ; which is just as it ought to be. 

Not only is the entire hill, regarding it as a whole, 
a highly successful example of domestic architecture, 
whether the houses are considered singly or in mass, 
but there are individual houses notably worthy of at- 
tention. For example, at 85 Mount Vernon Street, 
is an especially attractive Bulfinch house of a design 
not usual with that unusual man, and he built it thus 
differently in order to match an unusually broad front- 
age of building space and to harmonize with an un- 
usual depth of long and high retaining wall in front. 
It is a big square-fronted house, one of the largest 
homes of the entire neighborhood, with its entrance 
door not on the front of the house at all but on one 
side, and with its front beautifully balanced with over- 
arched windows, with separate little balconies, with 
Corinthian pilasters; and it has a great octagonal 
lantern on the roof. In addition to all else of dignity 
and fineness there is the excellent feature of continu- 
ing back to the wall of the courtyard, completing a 
design that is architecturally an adjunct. But the 
house is now all gray, in one dull monotone, and it is 
really necessary to picture it in the beauty of its 
original design of red brick and white pilasters and 
black iron to see it as it ought to be seen. 

Of all the writers who by their combined influence 
gave the Boston of the past its high literary distinc- 
tion none was so important as Oliver Wendell 

54 



THE CITY OF HOLMES 

Holmes. Not that lie need necessarily be considered 
the greatest among them, although in his particular 
line he was supreme, but that he so stood for Boston, 
so represented Boston, so interpreted Boston, so 
gave the city definite form out of vaguely general 
imaginings, so placed it before the world, as to make 
himself its definite exemplar. 

Boston is the City of Holmes, and he himself was 
Boston epitomized. He was in himself a human 
abridgment of Boston, an abstract of the city that he 
so loved. He was the best of Boston concentrated 
into one human form, and he was a writer of whom 
any city in the world might be proud. To read his 
"Autocrat" is an intellectual aesthetic delight. Sel- 
dom has there been a man so clearsighted, and at the 
same time so cleverly able to put his clearsightedness 
into such delightful literary form. Montaigne would 
have loved him. Lamb, who died when the career of 
Holmes was just beginning, would have called him 
brother. 

Over in King's Chapel, where Holmes had a pew 
in the gallery during most of his long life, there is a 
tablet to his memory. He is not buried there, but 
his friends very properly wished him to be commemo- 
rated in that old-time building of Boston; only, the 
tablet is really entertaining, although that is the last 
word that would usually be thought of in regard to any 
cenotaph, for it begins its description of Holmes with 
the words "Teacher of Anatomy," letting "Essayist 
and Poet" follow! 

Curious, you see, the order of precedence. No ad- 

55 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

mirer of Holmes, outside of Boston, would ever have 
thought of his fame as an essayist being second to 
anything else, least of all as being second to his fame 
as an anatomical teacher. He was, doubtless, an ex- 
cellent surgeon, and being of an original bent of mind 
he put his originality into all he did, and long ago 
some of his surgical or medical opinions led some one 
of the Teutonic name of Neidhard to write a book at- 
tacking them, and another controversial anti-Holmes 
book came from the equally Teutonic-named Wes- 
selhoeft, but these men and their books are them- 
selves no more forgotten than is the fame of Holmes 
himself as a surgeon. 

And yet, at a dinner in honor of Holmes, on his 
seventieth birthday, when friends and admirers gath- 
ered from various cities, President Eliot of Harvard 
arose, after there had been general felicitation of 
Holmes as a man of letters, and said : "It seems to me 
my duty to remind all these poets, essayists and story- 
tellers that the main work of our friend's life has 
been of an altogether different nature. I know him 
as the professor of anatomy and physiology at Har- 
vard for the last thirty-two years. You think it is 
the pen with which Doctor Holmes is chiefly skillful. 
I assure you he is equally skillful with the scalpel." 

That is delightfully remindful of the meeting of 
Voltaire and Congreve, when Voltaire expressed his 
pleasure at meeting so distinguished a literary man, 
and Congreve stiffly replied that it was not as a liter- 
ary man but as a gentleman that he wished to be con- 
sidered, whereupon Voltaire promptly replied that he 

56 



THE CITY OF HOLMES 

did not need to come so far to find a gentleman. 
Holmes must have thought of that, though as guest 
of honor he could not speak of it! He knew per- 
fectly well that these admirers had not come there to 
find a surgeon. And he must have remembered, with 
glee that was tempered with chagrin, that although 
Harvard had long honored him as an M.D., Boston in 
general had refused to take him seriously, as a doc- 
tor, after he had jokingly let it be known that "fevers 
would be thankfully received." 

Of all Boston writers it would be expected that 
Oliver Wendell Holmes would choose the finest and 
most attractive house to live in, and this not alone 
because of his being a man of such ability but be- 
cause he so loved the fine things connected with the 
fine old times, and because his own life began in a 
house that was a most charming example of old archi- 
tecture. I well remember the house where he was 
born ; it was over in old Cambridge, close to the Com- 
mon, but it has been destroyed for some reason, and 
the spot stands empty; I well remember what a fine 
old pre-Eevolutionary house it was, picturesque in 
the highest degree, the kind of house that delights the 
imagination, low-set, homelike, yellow and gambrel- 
roof ed ; but he has written of it himself : 

"Born in a house with a gambrel-roof, — 
Standing still, if you must have proof. — 
'Gambrel? — Gambrel?' — Let me beg 
You'll look at a horse's hinder leg, — 
First great angle above the hoof, — 
That's the gambrel; hence gambrel-roof." 

57 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

The ideals of Holmes were all of the olden-time. 
He stood, as he frankly said, for the man who could 
show family portraits rather than twenty-five cent 
daguerreotypes, for the man who inherits family 
traditions and the cumulative humanities of at least 
four or five generations ; and among these cumulative 
humanities one would have expected Holmes, of all 
men, to rank high the possession of an old-time house, 
rich in the feelings and traditions of the past. But 
after living through his early years in a house that 
was a thing of beauty, Holmes did not find it a joy 
forever to continue to live in a fine house, but chose 
instead to live in commonplace houses! Nor, after 
writing as he did of the striking down of thousands of 
roots into one's own home, did he settle down in any 
one house for a lifetime! The trouble was that, all 
unconsciously, he was in this regard not living up 
to his own ideals. His ideals led him toward the old 
and beautiful, the things connected with ancestry and 
the past; but with old houses it seems to have been 
with him as it was with old furniture ; he writes apolo- 
getically, somewhere or other, of loving old-time fur- 
niture but of keeping it practically hidden in some 
out-of-the-way room, and he seems to have felt the 
same perverse desire to keep from showing any out- 
ward love for old houses. He chose a home for him- 
self, not even on Beacon Hill, although close beside 
it; he chose to live in Bosworth Street, then called 
Montgomery Place, a court leading off Tremont 
Street opposite the Old Granary Burying Ground, and 
ending in a few stone steps, arched with a wrought- 

58 



THE CITY OF HOLMES 

iron design, leading down to an alley which borders 
where once stood the ancient Province House and 
where antiquarians still point out what they say is 
a fragment of the Province House foundation wall. 
All this region was long ago given up to business, but 
where Holmes lived is still pointed out at the farthest 
left-hand, next to the corner of the court, and it was 
never an attractive place, and the next door house, 
still standing, is positively commonplace. Still, with 
a curious perversity, he lived here for almost twenty 
years, and here wrote almost all of his remarkable 
"Autocrat." It was a well-to-do neighborhood, and 
perhaps even wealthy, but it missed being distin- 
guished. 

But Holmes finally tired of the house and died out 
of it. I use his own words to express his moving 
away from it : for, as he writes, after referring to his 
having lived in this very house for years and years, 
and then leaving it, people die out of their houses 
just as they die out of their bodies. He and his fam- 
ily, he narrates, had no great sorrows or troubles 
there, such as came to their neighbors, but on the 
whole had a pleasant time, but "Men sicken of houses 
until at last they quit them," as he goes on to say. 

"Whereupon one feels sure that this splendid Auto- 
crat would surely, the next time, choose a home in 
which he could feel pride. But, no ! He went to the 
Charles Street house, which was a house as common- 
place as the one he left. Here, however, he had the 
water immediately behind the house, with its sunset 
glows and the distant hills. Still restless, he moved 

59 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

again, and this last time to the house in which at a 
mellow age he died, at 296 Beacon Street: not the 
Beacon Hill district, but in the Back Bay extension 
of Beacon Street. Again he had chosen a house with 
back- view on the waterfront, but, still perverse on this 
subject of homes, he had again chosen an undis- 
tinguished home and undistinguished environment, al- 
though it was a house and a neighborhood of well-to-do 
but monotonous comfort. 

One naturally wonders whether, had he chosen a 
home more fitting to his ideals, he would not have 
left behind him more than the single superlative book 
he did leave. But as that single book is really in the 
very first class, of its kind, perhaps it was all for 
the best, after all. 

One likes to think, and I am sure it is more than a 
mere fancy, that the influence of that beautiful house 
in Cambridge, the birthplace of Holmes, extended in 
at least a considerable degree over his entire life, and 
it assuredly had much to do with making him a finely 
patriotic man, devoted to the best Americanism. 
For there was much more to that house than age and 
gambrel-roof and beauty ; there was association with 
the most heroic deeds of our American past ; for that 
very house was headquarters of the Committee of 
Safety, and the American soldiers who were to fight 
at Bunker Hill lined up in front of that very house 
before making their night march to the battlefield, 
and stood with bared heads while the President of 
Harvard College, standing on the front steps of the 
house, prayed for the success of the American arms. 

60 



THE CITY OF HOLMES 

Those associations thrilled Holmes throughout his 
life, for even in the house where he died, far down 
among the houses of the Back Bay, one likes to re- 
member that, looking from his windows, the thing 
which most of all impressed him was (a fact of Bos- 
ton geography surprising even to many a well-in- 
formed Bostonian) that from those windows he was 
able to see Bunker Hill Monument. 



vjt 



'S, 






istvJi'P.*::- 












I 

'i - 
. * Use i.ti. w .id.rr ^z< i *— 




CHAPTEE VI 



A HOUSE SET ON A HILL 




T was Oliver "Wendell Holmes who 
remarked that the Boston State 
House is the hub of the solar sys- 
tem, and that you could not pry that 
out of a Boston man if you had the 
tire of all creation straightened out 
for a crowbar. And that is really 
the standpoint of Bostonians, 
Nothing else can possibly be so im- 
portant as is Boston; and, to the 
Bostonian, his city seems to be represented by the 
State House. There is excellent ancient authority 
for the statement that a house set upon a hill cannot 
be hid, but even without this ancient authority there 
would be no disputing the fact that the State House, 
set as it is upon Beacon Hill, is not hid, for its gold 
dome, which used to offer a glory of literal gold leaf 
but is now not quite so striking in its more recent 
covering of a kind of gold paint, is visible not only 
to all Boston but to many and many a town and vil- 
lage beyond the limits of the city. 

And somehow, when I look at this great dome, on 
its height, in Boston of New England, visible over 
miles and miles of the surrounding country and far 

62 



A HOUSE SET ON A HILL 

out over the water, I think of another Boston, a Bos- 
ton in Old England, with its splendid tower rising 
far into the air and visible for many, many miles 
across land and sea alike. And the name of this 
American Boston came straight from that English 
Boston, and hundreds of the English Boston people 
were the first of the settlers of this American Boston, 
driving out, as they did, by their presence, friendly 
though it was, the hermit Blaxton whom they found 
established here before them, with his thatched-roof ed 
cottage and his little rose garden and his spring on 
what was long afterwards to become Louisburg 
Square. What an interesting life story Blaxton 's 
must have been ! How it tantalizes the imagination ! 
And yet, as to so much of the romantic in New Eng- 
land, the New England mind is rather cold toward 
him, as is strikingly illustrated by no less a man than 
Henry Cabot Lodge who, after telling of the mystery 
of Blaxton and of the little that was ever known of 
him, except — and what an except! — that he was a 
Cambridge man who exiled himself, with his library, 
to the absolutely unbroken wilderness and mar- 
velously made a charming home here, with his flowers 
and books, in the early 1620 's, goes on to add, Boston- 
like, that although all this seems dimly mysterious 
and excites curiosity, the story would "no doubt 
prove commonplace enough" if we could know more 
about it! 

I have often thought, when looking at the dome on 
Beacon Hill, that the early settlers, looking at the 
early beacon that, on the then much higher hill, long 

63 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

preceded the State House here, must have been 
strongly reminded of their church-tower beacon of 
St. Botolph's at home, and that they would have been 
intensely pleased could they have known that this 
great dome was to stand here, and that, every night, 
it was to be a beacon superbly glowing with great 
rings of light that shine far out over the countryside. 
And remembering that English Boston, with its 
splendid, tall, truncated tower, that was in times of 
danger a beacon tower, and its veritable tide-water 
Back Bay (even though it may not have been given 
that name), and its comfortable old homes, and its 
air of centuries of solid comfort and prosperity, and 
its wonderful great open market still existing and 
probably looking much as it did three centuries ago 
(no wonder the American Bostonians, remembering 
that market-place in England, promptly established 
an open market here!), the thought comes, of what 
ease and happiness and comfort and fine living were 
sacrificed for the sake of coming to America ; for the 
Boston Puritans did not, as was the case with the 
Plymouth Pilgrims, come here from exile but from 
their native country and their comfortable homes. 
And yet there was another factor, after all ; for they 
still show, in the English Boston, the gloomy prison 
where were held in confinement, for mere matters of 
opinion, some of the very ones who on their release 
planned the migration to America and freedom. Those 
men deemed freedom in a wilderness preferable to 
the chance of further imprisonment even in a charm- 
ing old town, and preferable to living where their 

64 



A HOUSE SET ON A HILL 

minds, even if not their bodies, would be held in 
bondage. It is no wonder that America, settled in 
great degree, both Northern and Southern colonies 
alike, with people who came seeking freedom from 
one or another kind of duress, developed from the 
very first an intense movement toward permanent 
liberty on this side of the ocean ; instead of being mat- 
ter of surprise that our Eevolution came, it would 
have been surprising, considering all this, if it had 
not come. 

That Boston possesses its hub of the universe, its 
State House, is because, alone among the great cities 
of the country, it is not only a great city but the 
capital of a great State. One wonders just what 
would have been deemed the hub if it had not had its 
domed building set up here so prominently. No Bos- 
tonian ever thinks of it as the Massachusetts State 
House, but always as the Boston State House. Bos- 
ton, the capital of early days, was wise enough to 
retain the distinction when it grew large. New York 
was the capital of its State and for a time was even 
the national capital; Philadelphia was the capital of 
Pennsylvania and, like New York, was for a number 
of years the national capital ; but both these cities not 
only lost their headship of the nation but also re- 
linquished such leadership of their own States as 
comes from being the political center. But Boston, 
once given the distinction of being the seat of gov- 
ernment of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 
continued to hold it, thus adding greatly to its im- 
portance and consequence as a city — and thus secur- 

65 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

ing its most striking architectural ornament, the State 
House, the most beautiful feature of which is known, 
from the name of the architect, as the " Bulfinch 
front." Originally, however, it was a front of brick 
with pillars of white, and originally the dome was 
covered with plates of copper, rolled and made by 
Paul Bevere, but Eevere's copper has had many a 
patch and replacement and the entire front of the 
building itself, below the dome, has been painted; it 
was for many years painted yellow, but is now white. 

This high-set building, on its high elevation, un- 
doubtedly had its inspiration from some Greek tem- 
ple on a hill. Bulfinch, like the great English con- 
temporary architects whom he so much resembled, the 
Adams, gained his knowledge of beauty from an in- 
tense and loving study of the Greek in books and 
in travel in Europe. 

The building has all the advantage of a noble posi- 
tion of which noble use has been made. Its superb 
colonnade of pillars is symmetrically so spaced, with 
four pillars singly in the middle and four in doubles 
at either end, as to obtain the most admirable effect ; 
the effectiveness of thus using double pillars on the 
front of a building instead of single-spaced pillars 
only, being strangely overlooked by most architects. 
This noble colonnade is surmounted by a temple-like 
pediment over which rises the great dome, and below 
the colonnade is an admirable row of arched openings 
from which the steps sweep down to a broad grassy 
space which stretches off toward a terrace above the 
Beacon Street sidewalk and thus toward the trees 

66 



A HOUSE SET ON A HILL 

and grass of the Common, the iron archway at the 
sidewalk being a most effective bit, in its Greek detail. 

The work of Bulfinch is the more notable because 
there was no model anywhere of precisely the kind 
of public building which he wished to build. No leg- 
islative hall existed such as indicated the general idea 
of republicanism. France was exchanging its kingly 
government for the rule of the people, but the theater 
at Versailles and the tennis-court satisfied the peo- 
ple's representatives. Meanwhile, in England, the 
House of Commons was quite content with the mag- 
nificent Saint Stephen's at Westminster. But Bul- 
finch was a big man, an individual man, who not only 
utilized the best he saw but who worked along lines 
of his own originality. And that he was not only 
original but successful is shown not only by the fact 
that one State after another copied his general model 
but by the fact that he personally was chosen to com- 
plete the design and the building of the capitol at 
"Washington — the entire world knows with what su- 
preme success. 

The Boston State House is a distinctly American 
building, and everywhere within it there is a general 
air and atmosphere of courtesy towards strangers, 
and a readiness to show anything of interest, not only 
without the desire for tips but without the possibility 
of giving them. And not only has the American Bul- 
finch front been preserved, but also the original Bul- 
finch interiors. 

Here, with its windows looking out over the Com- 
mon, is the original Senate Chamber, with its fine 

67 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

barrel-roof ornamented with classic ornaments on 
the rectangular spaces of the ceiling. It is a small- 
galleried room with an air of quiet perfection. 

The beautiful room in the very center of the old 
front is the original Hall of the Bepresentatives. 
When built, this hall was large enough to hold only 
chairs without any desks, as there used to be so many 
members in proportion to the population of the State 
that the meetings were almost State meetings ! It is 
a large room, made octagonal by four niched corners ; 
these corners, now niches, having once held fireplaces 
where cordwood blazed cheerily for the very practical 
work of heating this great apartment. In addition 
to a large candelabrum hanging from the center of 
the ceiling, which was a candelabrum in fact, to be 
used for candles only, each member needed to have 
a candle at his own seat for use in the early darkness 
of winter afternoons, and each member was expected 
to buy his own candles for his own personal use; a 
state of affairs that would positively appall any pub- 
lic servant of to-day. 

The walls are of white pine, cut and painted to 
represent even-set blocks of marble, and there are 
felicitous balustraded galleries for the use of the pub- 
lic. The ceiling is domed above this entire room, but 
the dome is a long distance beneath the gold dome that 
tops the building, and is not its inner surface, as one 
might at first suppose on looking up from this floor. 

These old rooms are all in white, which admirably 
brings out the lovely classic perfection of detail, and 
there is beautiful relief given by a various use of 

68 



A HOUSE SET ON A HILL 

blue and buff in certain places and by the higb-placed 
"windows, rayed and oval. The great coat-of-arms, 
the old clock, the speaker's seat, the corridor along 
the front behind the pillars, each is an achievement 
in design and dignity. 

In these two old meeting-halls are preserved relics 
which, though few in number, are of profound in- 
terest. Here on the wall is an old musket; not a 
remarkable musket in itself, one would say, but just 
one of the old-fashioned flintlocks; but it is really 
one of the most remarkable muskets of history, for 
it was not only captured in the running pursuit from 
Concord, but was the very first gun to be captured 
from the British in the war of the Eevolution. Here, 
too, is the musket that fired the shot heard round the 
world, for it is the very musket used by Major John 
Buttrick, who commanded the embattled farmers at 
their stand at the bridge in Concord. Here, too, is a 
drum which rattled through the sound of the rifles 
on Bunker Hill. The intent has been to give place 
only to relics of special distinction. 

In the new part of the building there is a rounding 
room of yellow marble, richly ornate, which is a 
veritable shrine for Americans, for it nobly displays 
three hundred battle flags that were carried by Mass- 
achusetts soldiers in the War of the Bebellion. 

Also, in the new part of the building is the State 
Library, where is preserved the invaluable Bradford 
history, the story of the Plymouth Pilgrims, written 
by Governor Bradford himself. It is necessarily 
under glass, and is kept opened at one of the yel- 

69 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

lowed old pages, where, in plain old-fashioned hand- 
writing, still perfectly legible to-day, it is set down 
that "Haveing undertaken for ye glorie of god and 
advancements of ye Christian faith and honour of 
our king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie 
in ye northerne parts of Virginia," the company are 
about to frame certain laws and ordinances which he 
goes on to enumerate. The invaluable manuscript 
is carefully put into a fireproof safe at the close of 
every day. It is remarkable for the number of words 
on each page, for the average seems to be about four 
hundred. If any visitor wishes to read more than 
the single page which is shown him under glass, he is 
freely offered, for perusal, a large photographic copy 
in which he may, if he so desires, read every page as 
if in the very handwriting of the old governor. 

In the new portion of the building are seemingly 
endless corridored vistas, with a permeative impres- 
sion of new mahogany desks and a great deal of 
bronze and tawny marble. There are also the present- 
day meeting halls of Senators and Eepresentatives. 

In the new Hall of the Eepresentatives, in this new 
part of the building, hangs a wooden codfish "as a 
memorial of the importance of the Cod Fishery to the 
welfare of this Commonwealth," as the phrasing was 
of the resolution which ordered, in 1784, that a cod- 
fish be suspended "in the room where the House 
sat." That was in the old State House, still stand- 
ing down town, and it would also seem that the custom 
was older than that particular fish. It is almost cer- 
tain, too, that this very codfish of wood, now hanging 

70 



A HOUSE SET ON A HILL 

in the new room of the Bepresentatives — their sec- 
ond room in the new State House — is the very one 
which was suspended in the room in the old State 
House in pursuance of the resolution of 1784, for in 
1895, over a century afterward, it was ordered that 
the "removal of the ancient representation of a cod- 
fish" from the old hall to the new be carried out. 
"Whereupon, a committee of fifteen proceeded to the 
old room of the Bepresentatives, and, wrapping the 
symbolic wooden cod in an American flag, proudly 
bore it in state to the new room, which would seem 
to be the third room for this sacred codfish, as it is 
commonly called. 

But except for the codfish and the Bradford man- 
uscript, and the battle flags, it is the older part of the 
State House that is of interest to the visitor. And 
there is more than the old meeting halls of the Sen- 
ate and House of Bepresentatives. There is still the 
Governor's room, an apartment of unusual dignity, 
with its white pilasters and cornices and windows and 
fireplace, all curiously and perfectly balanced. I 
know of no other such room, precisely like this in 
proportions, for it is an exact cube in its dimensions 
of length, breadth and height. And it is a success, 
in that it looks like a room made for the use of one 
man rather than for the purposes of a board meeting 
or an assembly. Also, it is the kind of room which 
would be not only filled, but would have the appear- 
ance of being really furnished, with people standing, 
as at a governor's reception. Old-time architects 
had a way of thinking of such things as the purpose 

71 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

and the use, not only of houses but of particular 
rooms, and this is one great reason why so much of 
the work they did is called by us moderns felicitous. 

Eemembering that Bulfinch excelled in stair design, 
it is interesting to notice the wonderful little stair- 
cases in the old part of the building ; staircases that 
are lessons in good taste, as is also the grand stair- 
case itself, with its heavy four-sided balusters and 
its very effective mahogany rail. 

The entire building, as originally designed by Bul- 
finch and built under his direction, had a frontage of 
172 feet and a height of 155 feet, but, splendid old 
building that it was, it cost only $135,000. The land 
upon which it was built was two acres or so of what 
was "commonly called the Governor's pasture," be- 
cause it was land that was owned by the widow of 
Governor John Hancock, recently deceased, and al- 
though the State appropriated $40,000 for the land 
it had to pay in reality only $20,000. How times have 
changed ! 





CHAPTEE VII 

A PICTUEESQUB BOSTONIAU" 

|HE most prominent Bostonian 
of Bevolutionary days, the Bos- 
>■ | ton man who loomed the largest 

v mM''^f^i-M an< * s ^ looms most important, 

was the splendidly dressed John 
Hancock, and his home, up near 
the summit of Beacon Hill, was 
a radiant center of wealth and 
society. But that home, so typical of the finest and 
choicest old-time life and architecture, has gone: 
some half century ago, in spite of the entreative pro- 
tests of all lovers of the stately and beautiful, it was 
torn down for the sake of replacing it with a huge 
house that is hopelessly humdrum. Even the fine old 
furniture, so representative of the best old-time life, 
and which had the additional value of being so asso- 
ciated with the man of mighty signature and Dorothy 
Q., was lost or scattered. Out in "Worcester I saw a 
superb double-chair of Chippendale design, that had 
stood in the Hancock home ; in Pilgrim Hall in Ply- 
mouth is a noble settee that was of the Hancock fur- 
nishings; in Marblehead, in the Jeremiah Lee man- 
sion, I saw six mahogany chairs, Heppelwhites, beau- 

73 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

tiful in design and workmanship, which, so tradition 
tells, were purchased at a Hancock auction, and car- 
ried up to Marblehead on a sloop, after John Han- 
cock's death. The portraits, by Copley, of Hancock 
and his wife, are fittingly in the Boston Museum of 
Fine Arts. 

Hancock was such a big figure in his time, and 
filled such a space in the public eye, that here on 
Beacon Hill, where his house stood, near the State 
House that has since been built upon his cow pasture, 
his presence still seems to be felt. Yet not only was 
his fine home destroyed and his fine furniture scat- 
tered, but before these things happened his widow 
had changed the name of Hancock for that of one of 
his own ship captains, and forever left the house 
where, with the gorgeous John, she had welcomed so 
great a number of personal guests and guests of the 
State or the Nation. When Lafayette visited Boston 
in 1824, he was escorted, by a great procession, 
through the streets, and passing along Tremont 
Street, beside the Common, thoughts came to him of 
the noble hospitality that had long ago been extended 
to him in the Hancock mansion, which was then still 
standing, on the other side of the great open space 
beside him. Full of such thoughts he lifted his eyes 
to a window — and there sat Mrs. James Scott, once 
Mrs. Hancock! Many years had passed; but he 
recognized her, he stopped the carriage, he rose in 
his place and, hand on heart, bowed low ; and as the 
carriage resumed its way she sank back, overpowered 
by the rush of memories. And such things make the 

74 



A PICTURESQUE BOSTONIAN 

past seem but yesterday, for the past still lives when 
one can feel its very life and watch its pulsing heart- 
throbs. 

But Boston never really liked Hancock. That, as 
a rich merchant, he was placed in great public posi- 
tions of a kind usually given to lawyers, roused the 
jealousy of lawyers, and every effort was made to 
ignore or belittle him. And he was an aristocrat; 
and revolutions always dislike aristocrats. He was 
the one conspicuous aristocrat of Boston who sided 
against the King, the others refugeeing to Halifax, 
and when the war was over, and families came in 
from Salem and Quincy (Braintree) and other places 
to become the leading families of Boston and make 
themselves Boston ancestors, Hancock was the only 
prominent representative of the ancien regime. He 
was himself born in what is now Quincy, but had come 
into Boston long before the Bevolution to be asso- 
ciated with his wealthy uncle there. His position, 
his wealth, his fine mansion that stood so proudly on 
the hilltop, his lavish hospitality, with gayety and 
wines and dinners and music and dancing, made for 
jealousy among those who were invited, and for heart- 
burnings and backbiting among those who were not 
invited at all or not so often as they thought they 
ought to be. On the whole, he could not but make 
enemies, and the Boston of even to-day is still moved 
by their enmities. 

It was not until 1915 that this, his own city, would 
even put up a memorial to him — yet this belated me- 
morial, which is set just within the entrance of the 

75 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

State House, shows by a brief enumeration how great 
a man he was, for, beginning with the admirable 
phrasing, "John Hancock, a Patriot of the Bevolu- 
tion," it goes on to enumerate, with dignified brevity, 
that he was President of the Provincial Congress of 
1774, that he was President of the Continental Con- 
gress of 1775-1777, that he was the first signer of the 
Declaration of Independence, that he was the first 
Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 
and was again, afterwards, made governor, and that 
he was president of the Convention that adopted the 
Federal Constitution. An amazing list! A man 
who could occupy positions so dignified, so respon- 
sible, so honorable, not only among his own people 
but as a chosen leader of strong men gathered from 
all parts of America, must have possessed remarkable 
qualities of leadership. 

More than anything else, Hancock's clothes and his 
ideas of personal consequence made him enemies! 
He bought costly material. He wore his clothes with 
an air. He was a Beau Brummel of public life; he 
was more than that, for he also lived in state and with 
stateliness. All this was more noticeable in New 
England than it would have been farther south, and 
his colleagues either hated or disparaged him for it. 

In the old State House, now maintained as a mu- 
seum, not this new State House, there are preserved 
some of his clothes, and I noticed in particular a 
superb coat of crimson velvet and a splendid gold- 
embroidered waistcoat of blue silk: there are, too, 
some dainty slippers of white satin ar-d blue kid, 

76 



A PICTUKESQUE BOSTONIAN 

with roses of silk brocade, that his wife had worn. 
These things were, from their somewhat sober color- 
ing, belongings of advancing years, but I remember 
a description of Hancock as a leader of fashion when 
a young man, and even Solomon in all his glory was 
not arrayed more splendidly, for there was a coat of 
scarlet, lined with silk and embroidered with gold, 
and there was a waistcoat embroidered on white 
satin, and there were white satin smallclothes and 
white silk stockings and silver-buckled shoes and 
three-cornered gold-laced hat! He was often called 
"King Hancock" from the ostentation of his appear- 
ance and equipage, and a contemporary description 
declared that he appeared in public with "all the 
pageantry and state of an oriental prince," attended 
by servants in superb livery and escorted by half a 
hundred horsemen. And another account tells of his 
loving to drive in a great coach drawn by six blooded 
bays. Hancock's gorgeous clothes and gorgeous os- 
tentation were too much for Boston, and many years 
after his death even the genial Holmes took a hu- 
morous fling at him : 

"The Governor came, with his light-horse troop, 
And his mounted truckmen, all cock-a-hoop; 
Halberds glittered and colors flew, 
French horns whinnied and trumpets blew, 
The yellow fifes whistled between their teeth 
And the bumble-bee bass-drums boomed beneath. ' ' 

From all that one reads of Hancock's manner and 
appearance, and from the size of the signature that 
he so conspicuously and bravely set down, first of the 

77 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

Signers of the Declaration of Independence as he was, 
one would gather the impression of a big consequen- 
tial man, overbearing and pompous ; but fortunately 
there is Copley's portrait to be seen, and Copley did 
not thus picture him. 

Mrs. Hancock, "Dorothy Q.," Copley pictures as 
a slender lady in a pink silk gown with tight sleeves, 
and a tambour muslin apron, and a tiny black velvet 
band around the neck, and if her forehead is a trifle 
too high and bare and her lips a little too suggestive 
of selfishness, why, on the whole it is an attractive 
face ; and John Hancock himself is shown as a slight 
and slender man, without pomposity of expression or 
bearing: just a quiet, agreeable-looking man, hand- 
some and intelligent, dressed without ostentation and 
with extreme neatness, in a plain gold-braided coat, 
with simple white ruffles at the wrists, and white silk 
stockings, sitting at a desk, pen in hand, turning the 
pages of a ledger. There is no better way of coming 
to a judgment regarding the character of the old-time 
leaders than by studying their portraits, when they 
were painted by such masters as Copley, Trumbull 
and Stuart, and such paintings give at the same time 
a feeling of intimate personal acquaintance with the 
men portrayed. 

Hancock must have been a most unusual man, to 
win leadership as he did in the face of depreciation 
and criticism. His great conspicuous signature alone 
would mark him as unusual; and when he signed, it 
was with full knowledge that he was taking greater 
risks than most of the other signers, not only because 

78 



A PICTURESQUE BOSTONIAN 

of his prominence as the first of the list but because 
he knew from personal observation the strength of 
England, having been one of the few who in those 
early days had crossed the Atlantic. It is curious to 
know that Hancock, the First Signer, was present at 
the coronation of George the Third ! At the time of 
the Declaration, he had been proscribed for more than 
a year, on account of Revolutionary activities, and 
when he set down his bold signature he exclaimed: 
"There, John Bull can read that without spectacles! 
Now let him double his reward!" 

That he risked so great a stake as he did, that he 
risked great wealth and high social position as well 
as life — few in the North or the South risked so much 
— ought to have gone far toward endearing him to his 
contemporaries ; and, indeed, it was all this, combined 
with qualities of leadership, that gave him such suc- 
cessive posts of importance. But doubtless there 
was something in his personality to arouse dislike, 
more than can now be seen. That he was, in present- 
day phrase, his own press-agent, quite capable of 
writing ahead to announce the time of his intended 
arrival at some place, and deprecating the idea of 
popular enthusiasm being shown by taking the horses 
out of his carriage — his own idea, thus put into the 
heads of others! — gives some intimation of how he 
won disfavor. 

The tablet set into the fence in front of the house 
that has replaced his, seems in itself to bring his fig- 
ure to mind, with all his picturesqueness of dressing 
and dining and living and driving and posing; for 

79 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

he was certainly much of a poseur. But he was ro- 
mantic, too. He married Dorothy Quincy early in 
the war, at Fairfield, Connecticut, while he was still 
a proscrihed man, unable to return to Massachusetts 
under forfeiture of his life; and, the house being 
afterwards wantonly burned in one of the barbarous 
burning coast-wise raids of the British, he sent down 
material for a new house from Boston, when the 
war was over, for its rebuilding, with the understand- 
ing that it should be rebuilt as a copy of his own house 
in Boston. It is worth while adding to this romance 
in house-building, that the Fairfield house, rebuilt so 
largely at Hancock's expense in memory of the happy 
event there, was completely altered in appearance, 
by a new owner who did not care for beauty, about the 
same time that Hancock's house on Beacon Hill was 
torn down by an owner similarly iconoclastic. But 
the story of the romantic marriage at Thaddeus 
Burr's house in Fairfield is still remembered in the 
old Connecticut village, and the little Fairfield girls 
are still named Dorothy in a sort of romantic memory. 
One thing is hard to forgive him, and that is his 
flight from Lexington, though that is something that 
Boston itself seems not to question. He had left 
Boston with Samuel Adams, as the first clash of the 
Eevolution approached, they two being specifically 
cut off from mercy by the English Governor's procla- 
mation which was at the same time offering mercy 
to any others who should seek it. The two men had 
taken shelter at Lexington; they had been wakened by 
Paul Bevere at two o'clock in the morning of the great 

80 



A PICTUKESQUE BOSTONIAN 

19th of April; they thought that the British would 
like to capture them even more than to destroy the 
military supplies in Concord; and they deemed dis- 
cretion better than valor, and fled. It is true that they 
were proscribed, and it is possible that they did not 
expect actual deadly shooting to take place that morn- 
ing, but they also knew that British soldiers were out 
from Boston on grim duty and that the minute-men 
were gathering. As they fled they heard the bells of 
village after village solemnly sounding across the 
dark countryside. But they did not turn back and 
stand with the farmers whom their own leadership 
had taken into rebellion. What an opportunity they 
had! "What an opportunity they missed! How gal- 
lantly they would forever have figured in history had 
they even, after running away from Lexington, joined 
the minute-men at Concord or on the glorious running 
fight to Boston ! It was an opportunity such as comes 
to few — and instead of accepting it Hancock was 
sending word to his fiancee, Dorothy Quincy, who was 
at the home in Lexington where he had found shelter, 
telling her to what house he was fleeing and asking 
her to follow and to take the salmon ! — a particularly 
fine specimen that he had hoped to eat at breakfast. 
And Dorothy Quincy followed and actually took it, 
and it was cooked — and then came poetic justice, in 
the shape of a man wild with the this-time-mistaken 
news that the British again were near, whereupon 
Hancock and Adams once more fled, salmonless, and 
when breakfast was at length eaten there was only 
cold pork. No wonder, years afterward, Mrs. Han- 

81 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

cock wrote, "The Governor's hobby is his dinner- 
table, and I suppose it is mine." 

Neither Hancock nor Samuel Adams had the two 
o'clock in the morning courage that makes a man 
brave when confronted with swift physical emer- 
gency: but they both possessed in a high degree the 
courage that makes well-dressed men, when combined 
with other well-dressed men, risk resolutely their 
lives and property and honor. But the lack of phys- 
ical courage did not prevent either Hancock or Sam- 
uel Adams from being given lofty positions of trust 
and from being, in turn, governors of Massachusetts. 

In general, the site of a vanished building is not 
particularly interesting, but the simple tablet on the 
iron fence, showing where stood the picturesque house 
of the picturesque Hancock, and the belated memorial 
in the State House, which was built upon his own 
grounds — he had intended presenting the land to the 
State for the purpose, and the memorandum for the 
deed of gift was under his pillow when he died — sum- 
mon up, as of the moment, the remembrance of this 
man of the past. The land, the hill — the Bostonian 
disparagement! — all are still here, and here is the 
very Common across which he loved to look and along 
the side of which, in front of his mansion, he loved to 
pace, with stately dignity and in stately clothes ! 

But it was against the sternness of Puritan law for 
any one to stroll, no matter how sedately, on the Com- 
mon on Sundays, and the story is told that even Han- 
cock, at the height of his power, when taking the air 
one pleasant Sunday afternoon in front of his house 

82 



A PICTUEESQUE BOSTONIAN 

on the Common, which he doubtless looked upon al- 
most as his own front yard, was incontinently 
pounced upon by a constable and, in spite of his 
choleric protestations, triumphantly led away! The 
story may be apocryphal, but it bears all the marks 
of truth, in the desire to humble Hancock, and at the 
same time to stand for the sanctity of the Sabbath. 





CHAPTEE VIII 

a woman's city 

|HE Sunday observance law 
which John Hancock found, 
to his annoyance, could be in- 
voked even against a man of 
power, provided that "all 
persons profaning the Lord's 
Day by walking, standing in 
the streets, or any other way 
breaking the laws made for 
the due observance of the 
Lord's Day, may expect the 
execution of the law upon them for all disorders of 
this kind"; and the city still gives a general impres- 
sion of respect for the Sabbath. As long ago as 1711 
Increase Mather told the Bostonians that a great fire 
of that year had come as a punishment for not observ- 
ing the Sabbath with sufficient strictness, and his 
admonition was promptly heeded and, so it would seem 
from appearances, has been heeded ever since — al- 
though, one regrets to observe, without noticeable re- 
sults in the way of fire prevention. 

The city does not, however, give the impression of 
being particularly religious. It religiously cele- 

84 



A WOMAN'S CITY 

brates Sunday with fish-cakes and brown bread, but 
it is without the general tramp-tramp-tramp of 
church-going feet that is heard on the Sabbath day 
in that city with which it is most often compared, 
Edinburgh. There is considerable church-going: it 
should not be forgotten that Boston has long been the 
center of Unitarianism and that it has become the 
stronghold of Christian Science; but the general im- 
pression of the city and its streets on Sunday is of a 
sleepy quietude with comparatively few people stir- 
ring about. But not all Boston is at church or at 
home, for in pleasant weather the principal roads 
leading back into the city are, at night, aflame with 
motor lights. It used to be that the Sabbath began on 
Saturday at sunset, and "upon no pretense whatso- 
ever was any man on horseback or with a wagon to 
pass into or out of the town" till the time of Sabbath 
observance was over. Well, at least the horses had 
a day of rest. But on the entire subject of Puritan- 
ism, with its varied inhibitions, one cannot but think 
of that illustrative antithesis of Macaulay, perhaps 
quite unfair but at least quite unforgetable, that the 
Puritans hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain 
to the bear but because it gave pleasure to the spec- 
tators. 

The difficulty of even now getting food on Sunday 
in Boston is really amusing : of course, the hotels are 
open, but many restaurants, even such as cater to 
three-meals-a-day custom, close tight during all of 
Sunday! — and this, not merely in the business sec- 
tion, where closing would be justified, but in localities 

85 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

where hosts of people, students of the myriad educa- 
tional institutions, and temporary dwellers, without 
home ties or home facilities, are wholly dependent 
upon these local restaurants. Bestaurant-closing is 
a survival of Sunday observance; Boston, except as 
to its own individual appetite, would fain remember 
the Sabbath day to keep it hungry. 

Bestaurants, by the way, average better and 
cheaper in Boston than in other great American cities. 
In no respect, indeed, is the city more admirable than 
in being a place where people of limited means but 
excellent tastes and desires may live economically 
and at the same time with self-respect : and this comes 
largely from the influence of the innumerable army 
of students, and visitors of the student class, and un- 
married and self-supporting women. The general at- 
mosphere of Boston is one of a pleasant economy 
which need not at all be associated with poverty. 

The shopping districts have a number of attractive 
little restaurants and tea-rooms, managed by women 
or by philanthropic societies of women, where a type 
of food is offered which may, perhaps, be described as 
hygienic health food. There are also "laboratories" 
and "kitchens" and "food-shops"; not names that 
would attract one, I think, except in New England. 
Apparently, the next generation of New Englanders 
are not to be "sons of pie and daughters of dough- 
nut." 

Also, one notices that there are very few restau- 
rants open after the generally announced closing 
hour of eight, and one is inclined to say that the 

86 



A WOMAN'S CITY 

fingers of one hand, and perhaps even the thumbs 
alone, would number the places where after-theater 
suppers are openly offered. One restaurant freely 
advertises, without arousing comment or protest, that 
it is the "one bright spot in Boston" after theater 
closing. There are two or three hotels that cater to 
late comers, but there is little to attract those who 
would drop naturally into a cheerful restaurant but 
who balk at going formally to a hotel. As soon as 
the theater is over, the audiences scurry into the sub- 
way. Those who do not go to the theater are sup- 
posed to be in bed by ten o'clock or so. It gets late 
very early in Boston. 

A curious effect of Sabbath observance that lasted 
until far into the 1800 's was the omission by the thea- 
ters of Saturday night performances. The first 
breaking from the old ideals came in 1843, when the 
Tremont Theater of that time reluctantly gave a Sat- 
urday night performance to please the many visitors 
who had come to the city for the Webster oration at 
the dedication of Bunker Hill Monument. (It was 
in this theater, three years earlier, that Margaret Ful- 
ler and Ealph Waldo Emerson together watched the 
dancing of Fanny Ellsler, when, so the tale runs, Mar- 
garet whispered ecstatically, "Kalph, this is poetry!" 
to which came the philosopher's fervent response, 
"Margaret, it is religion!") 

It is curious, with Boston's theaters, to find that 
several of the best-constructed or most popular — the 
terms are not necessarily synonymous — are on streets 
that amaze the visitor with the impression of being 

87 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

shabby or narrow or hard to find, such as Eliot Street 
or Hollis Street, or Tremont Street in a section 
where it suddenly loses its excellent appearance ; nat- 
urally, this sort of thing does not strike a Bostonian, 
because he is used to it : it is like a man knowing his 
way familiarly about in his own backyard, although 
it would merely mean unattractive exploration for a 
stranger. The theater which, more than any other, 
appeals to the "best families" and for which it is the 
tradition, though by no means the general practice, 
to "dress," is on a narrow, back, out-of-the-way 
street. 

The venerable Boston Theater — soon, so it is under- 
stood, to be torn down, after a long, long existence — 
has its main entrance on Washington Street; but a 
secondary and highly interesting entrance, from the 
best part of Tremont Street, is through a long tun- 
nel-like foot-passage, and then an actual underground 
passage beneath a building; and another theater, 
close by, has an entrance even more interesting, this 
being a hundred yards or so of subterranean passage, 
lined with mirrors, not only under buildings but 
underneath a narrow street; although one is so apt 
to associate underground passages, at least in an 
old city, with sieges or escapes or romance. 

The old Boston Theater was opened in 1852, and 
the first words delivered from the stage were those 
of a poem written for the occasion, that had won a 
prize of one hundred dollars ; one of the actors read- 
ing the poem, and the author of the lines being Par- 
sons, Longfellow's Poet of the Wayside Inn. Even 

88 



A WOMAN'S CITY 

as late as that, the Saturday night closing tradition 
was still so generally adhered to that for quite a while 
no Saturday night performances were given in this 
theater; there were just five evening performances 
a week. 

This city was particularly associated with the life 
of Edwin Booth. His very first appearance on any 
stage was at the old Boston Museum (now destroyed), 
in 1849, when he played Tressel to the Richard the 
Third of his father, Junius Brutus Booth. In the 
good old days, although there was no rivalry with the 
busy "movies," the theaters had a way of giving 
satisfyingly crowded evenings, and that particular 
performance of "Richard the Third" was accom- 
panied by a farce of the decidedly un-Shakespearean 
name of "Slasher and Crasher." Another evening 
of two performances, "The Iron Chest" and "Don 
Cassar de Bazan," this time in 1865 and at the Boston 
Theater, was to Booth tragically notable, for it was 
on that evening that his brother shot President 
Lincoln. 

Those who, in the course of the many years of its 
1 existence, have come to know the Boston Theater, 
with its circling Auditorium and big steep galleries, 
and to love it on account of its boasted acoustic qual- 
ities, would have been incredibly amazed had they 
been told long ago, that the time was to come, in its 
theatrical career, when acoustics would not count : yet 
that time has really come, for it has been turned over 
to the "movies," pending destruction. 

Among the many memories associated with the 

89 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

theater is that of the great ball given here in honor 
of the Prince of Wales, afterwards Edward the 
Seventh, in 1860, when the wealth and fashion of Bos- 
ton came here to do him honor. I have somewhere 
seen it noted that some fifteen hundred tickets were 
subscribed for, for that literally princely ball at the 
Boston Theater; one thousand for couples and the 
other five hundred for additional ladies accompanying 
them, thus making two women for each man, which 
would seem to point out that even long ago Boston was 
a woman's city. 

At any rate, Boston is a woman's city now ; not that 
women are collectively of more importance than men, 
but that they are of much more than usual impor- 
tance : there is no other city in which women are rela- 
tively of such consequence. Yet it is not distinctively 
a suffragist city, and, surprisingly for a woman's 
stronghold, the women anti-suffragists are very active. 

More than in any other city, women go unescorted 
and without question to theaters and restaurants. 
So many women are independent, so many women 
are employed in stores and in offices, that, more than 
in other cities, respectable women alone on the streets 
at night are a common sight, and they attract neither 
comment nor attention. They have what Barrie calls 
the "twelve-pound look." They are well-set-up, well 
clad, carefully shod, precise, good-looking: they go 
quietly about their business in a way that makes other 
people go about theirs. And it has worked out with 
perfect naturalness, through the safeguarding of re- 
spectable women, that the city government and the 

90 



A WOMAN'S CITY 

police see to it that those of another class are very 
slightly in general evidence. This does not at all 
mean that Boston is any hetter than other cities, but 
that a different situation as regards women in general 
makes for a different treatment of the entire subject 
of women. I know of a lonely woman, not beyond 
middle age, and what Bostonians call well-born, who, 
all of her relatives being dead, and she being deaf and 
very sensitive, spends almost every evening in the 
summertime sitting, until eleven o'clock or so, on a 
bench in the Charles Biver Parkway, looking out over 
the water ; and I do not know of any other large city 
where a woman, not old, could sit on a bench in a 
public park, without attracting the slightest attention 
whatever. 

The fact that so many women are so eminently cap- 
able of taking care of themselves brings about the 
natural consequence that they are freely permitted to 
take care of themselves ; for example, in other cities 
one of the rarest sights is to see a woman carrying a 
heavy traveling-bag, but here in Boston it is a sight 
so common as to attract no notice whatever. In the 
daytime or at night-time you will frequently see 
a well-dressed woman, an independent feme sole, 
walking briskly along, heavy bag in hand; and I do 
not mean carrying the pleasant little Boston shop- 
ping bags but literal valises, and I have not infre- 
quently seen a woman carrying not only one big valise 
but one in each hand. 

On the average, too, this being a woman's city has 
had a not unnatural result upon woman's dressing, 

91 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

it being, on the average, not quite so merely attractive 
or charming as it is in most cities. There is a great 
deal of highly excellent dressing on the part of the 
women, but it is excellent and good in the sense in 
which a man's dressing would be deemed good: it is 
not quite so much a matter of following the fashion 
as of wearing good clothes of good material ; and, as 
with the men, the women are likely to keep their excel- 
lent clothes until they begin to show wear, instead of 
being quite so subject as are the women of other 
cities to what would be termed the whims of fashion. 
Boston has an extraordinary number of well-tailored 
women, but perhaps it may be said that it is mostly 
a matter of excellent grooming. There is a smaller 
proportion of women in Boston than in other cities 
who dress merely to flutter along a fashionable prom- 
enade to please the eyes of observers. 

I noticed at the street door of a fashionable shop 
where they sell nothing more intimate than hats and 
millinery, a sign such as I never saw in any other city, 
for it bluntly reads, "No admission for men" ! And 
it is not ah emergency sign, for a crowded season, but 
is permanently lettered on brass. Imagine such a 
sign on a hat shop on Bond Street or the Rue de la 
Paix, or in Berlin, let us say, where the Emperor 
William loves to go out and buy his wife's hats and 
surprise her with them, and then expects her to sim- 
ulate joy! 

A marked result of the unusual consequence of 
women here is the unusual importance, both relatively 
and in themselves, of women's clubs; and the women 

92 




A SPIRAL STAIRWAY BY BULFINCH, ON BEACON HILL 



A WOMAN'S CITY 

show that they can excellently equip and excellently 
manage their clubs. One, the Women's City Club, 
has had the excellent taste to acquire for its club-house 
a building that is one of the finest examples of Ameri- 
can town-house architecture; it is a house built by 
Bulfinch,'and is one of a pair of balanced mansions, 
each with the distinguished bow-front of Boston and 
each with a beautifully pillared and fan-lighted door- 
way. This club-house is at 40 Beacon Street, and 
looks down on the pool and the elms of the Common, 
and it is worth becoming familiar with not only to see 
how excellently the women chose a headquarters but 
also to see what was the kind of house that Bulfinch 
won his fame in building. 

The front hall is broad, with a small reception room 
at one side, and from it there starts upward, with a 
charming curl to the top of its newel-post, a most 
graceful, aerial, spiral stair which mounts up and up, 
a thing of ease and lightness and grace, toward the 
great round cupola or lantern that throws down its 
light from the roof for the entire stair. The rail is 
mahogany, the balusters are white, and the steps are 
white, with a crimson carpet. 

What was originally the dining-room is the large 
room at the front on the main floor, and it swells finely 
into the swell of the great window-bow. The rear wall 
of this room curves backward in exact balance with the 
curve of the front, and its two mahogany doors are 
set into the curve, thus producing the effect of an 
oval room even though the side-walls are straight. 
A fireplace, in staid setting of white and green marble, 

93 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

faces the door. The windows are large and mahogany- 
sashed, with dark heavy curtains hanging straight 
down from up above the window-tops and caught aside 
with rosetted holders of brass ; these club women aim- 
ing constantly to keep up, in adjuncts, with the excel- 
lent effect that Bulfinch with his architecture began. 
The doors, six-paneled and broad, are of mahogany, 
and those that are in the curve at the back of the room 
are themselves curved to fit it, such being the design- 
er's completeness of detail. The door in the hall 
opens in two flaps and is broad enough to permit the 
guests to walk in to dinner two by two, in the old-fash- 
ioned formal way. 

Behind the dining-room is the great old kitchen, 
with its open fire-place, its ovens, and its queerly 
built-in iron-domed concavities. Ascending the main 
stair, whose tread and rise are a delight, we enter an 
ante-room with a lovely, mellow marble mantel, and 
from this room pass through an opening with fluted 
pillars into what was the great drawing-room, this 
being an oval room, rich in fine Greek detail, with 
exquisite mantel, exquisitely molded cornice and ex- 
quisitely designed oval ceiling; a room by an Ameri- 
can architect of which an American may be proud ! 

The house was built to be heated by wood fires, and 
a niche in the hall marks where an iron urn originally 
stood, which received its heat from a fire in the cellar 
for the heating of the hall, such being the method in 
use before the days of modern furnaces and furnace 
pipes; and it is interesting to remember that almost 
all of the houses we now see on Beacon Hill were 

94 



A WOMAN'S CITY 

built back in the days of wood fires, when the wood was 
sawed on the sidewalk and stored in the cellars, or 
in woodhouses in the yards; and that not only were 
there primitive methods of heating, and also of light- 
ing, but that there was even no public water supply 
until less than three quarters of a century ago, and 
that almost all of these old houses still have wells in 
their cellars, even though the wells may in the course 
of time have been filled up. 

In a sense Bulfinch, the architect of the house of the 
Women's Club, made Boston. He gave the city a 
high standard of architectual distinction. He gave 
it architectual individuality. He gave it the type of 
dwelling of which this club-house is such an admirable 
example. And not only did he admirably design 
dwellings and set a high standard which other archi- 
tects were glad to follow, but he also gave to America 
its general type of State House. As the honored 
architect of the State House of Massachusetts he was 
called to Washington to take charge of the Capitol 
there, and his ideas as to public buildings have been 
followed throughout America. Any city would have 
the right to be proud of this great man, and so it is 
particularly pleasant to remember that not only was 
he an American but that he was so much so that as a 
small boy he watched the battle of Bunker Hill from 
the roof of his father's house. 

It is interesting that when, toward the close of his 
life, Bulfinch was asked if he would train any of his 
children in his own profession, he naively replied that 
he did not think there would really be enough left for 

95 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

any architect to do ! The different cities, he went on, 
and the principal States, were already supplied with 
their principal buildings, and he hardly thought there 
could be enough building to do in the future for a 
young man to make his living as an architect. 

Perhaps it was from remembering that Boston is 
a woman's city that I thought of its being the home 
of Alice Brown, and there came the further thought 
that not only are the homes of writers of the past 
worth noticing, but also the homes of writers of the 
present day, especially when, as in the case of Miss 
Brown, the present day writer is one whose work is 
of grace and distinction. Naturally, I did not much 
expect to find the name of Alice Brown in the tele- 
phone directory; there would be "John Brown" and 
"James Brown" and other Browns, but not likely 
the one as to whose home I had become interested. 
Still, the telephone book was handy, and I might as 
well look. — And I realized as never before that Bos- 
ton is a woman's city, for, each with her separate 
telephone number, there were nine Alice Browns look- 
ing up at me, so to speak, from the page! Nine 
Alices with name so Brown, as the old song almost 
has it ! Fascinated, my eyes wandered up and down 
the columns, and I noted telephones for women 
Browns innumerable: three Annas, three Berthas, 
four Lauras, no fewer than twelve Marys, and an 
ever-lengthening list leading to Katharine and Sarah 
and Alice and Inez and Corah and Daisy and Lillia 
and Lilliah, up to one hundred and nineteen in all, 
and many a Browne more with an "e" to follow! 

96 



A WOMAN'S CITY 

And as other names of the directory would be like 
Brown, I thought of how thin a telephone book would 
be Boston's if all the women's names were taken out! 
And even with the nine Alice Browns, the name of 
Alice Brown the writer is not to be found. But her 
house is on Beacon Hill, at 11 Pinckney Street; a 
brick house, prim, pleasant and precise, with iron- 
railed steps leading up to a curve-topped entrance- 
way. 

That Boston is a woman's city came to me, just a 
few days ago, in still another way, for a Bostonian 
friend handed me a letter, just received, and said that 
I really ought to use it because it was so typical of old 
Boston and she knew that the sender would not be 
displeased if she should ever know it had been pub- 
lished. The writer of the letter is one of two elderly 
maiden sisters, who always dress in heavy black silk, 
and whose hair is still done in the prim, old-fashioned 
way of Civil War times, and who still live in the old 
house, in its still aristocratic neighborhood, in which 
they were born. 

"I walked home," thus part of the typical letter 
runs, "doing several errands on the way, and most 
of the evening I was reading to my sister, and this 
morning I awoke early, lighted my candle and read 
until I had to get ready for breakfast!" She read 
by candlelight! What a picture in these modern 
days! "Then settled down comfortably to tackle 
a tableful of monthly bills waiting for the checks to 
pay them, stopping long enough to look over a list of 
kitchen furnishings that the cook had ordered and to 

97 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

write a Christmas poem which my sister had been 
composing, from her dictation!" What charming 
old-fashioned sisterly sympathy — and a Christmas 
poem! "Now it is one o'clock, and I haven't begun 
my bills, and there are the dinner chimes. We dine 
at one" (old-fashioned again!), "myself, my sister's 
attendant and her secretary, and sometimes" — what 
a touch! — "our stately black cat." 




CHAPTEE IX 



THE DISTINCTIVE PARK STEEET CORNER 




I HE unusual prominence of 
monuments to ministers in 
Boston might, at first thought, 
be ascribed by some to the fact 
of this being a woman's city; 
but of course, as any Boston- 
ian would at once tell you, it 
is really because of the unusual 
prominence of ministers in the 
development and life of the city. There is the me- 
morial to Phillips Brooks beside his church, at a busy 
edge of Copley Square, he being set within a canopied 
marble niche, garbed in his bishop's robes, with an 
angelic figure behind him: and not far away, at the 
nearest corner of the Public Garden, there is niched, 
like a cinque-cento saint, the long-gowned figure of 
William Ellery Channing. Entirely unlike both of 
these, in its exceedingly unsaintlike appearance, is 
the monument to another minister, Edward Everett 
Hale, at a Charles Street entrance to the Public Gar- 
den, for he stands in wait in the shrubs, just inside 
the gate, in every-day clothes and long loose overcoat, 
stooping, as if pausing for a moment in his walk, with 

99 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

his old-fashioned beaver hat in one hand and his cane 
in the other ; a man honorably known to all Americans 
for his "Man without a Country." 

To commemorate not only the clerical profession 
but the medical, there is within the Public Garden a 
monument that gave Holmes the inspiration for a 
brilliant bit of wit. The monument was designed to 
commemorate the discovery of Ether, the mastering 
of the whole problem of consciousness of pain in surg- 
ery, but while it was under construction a fierce and 
never-to-be-settled controversy arose as to which of 
two claimant physicians was really the discoverer, and 
so the monument was completed with the name of the 
man omitted, which led Holmes promptly to suggest, 
with that obviousness which marks all great wit, that 
it was not so much a monument to Ether as to Either. 

There is an exceedingly prominent monument, the 
big equestrian of General Hooker, set up in front of 
the State House, which is also interesting on account 
of what is left off, for there is nothing but the single 
word "Hooker"; as if, one may fairly suppose, when 
p they came to the matter of inscription, it was remem- 
bered that the only battle of consequence in which 
General Hooker commanded was the terrible defeat 
of Chancellorsville. It is sometimes delightfully wise 
to have brief inscriptions on statues. After all, New 
England was not fortunate in developing great mili- 
tary leaders in the Civil War, in spite of her promi- 
nence in the events and discussions preceding the 
struggle and in spite of the vast number of her men 
who gallantly went to the front; she developed no 

100 



THE DISTINCTIVE PARK STEEET CORNER 

Grant or Thomas or Sherman; and already she has 
practically hidden, off on one side of the State House, 
statues of the never-prominent General Banks and 
General Devens. But monumenting in haste and re- 
penting at leisure is something far older than Amer- 
ica. And it is a favorite Boston belief, long held and 
often expressed, that if she should set up statues to 
all her distinguished sons there would be no room left 
in which people could move about. 

Diagonally across from the Hooker monument, just 
away from the corner of Park and Beacon Streets, 
close to the altered Ticknor homestead, is a little 
house, tucked in among towering business buildings 
and faced by a great hotel: and this house, still a 
home, is filled with paintings collected years ago in Eu- 
rope. It stood before the Revolution (its front has 
been changed), and about 1830 was the home of 
Chester Harding, the New England-born, backwoods 
artist who, after making his success in Paris — but it 
was a Paris in Kentucky — painted the great ones of 
America and of England, including judges and sena- 
tors and some half dozen of the dukes, and then came 
back to Boston. For some time while in Boston he 
so eclipsed Gilbert Stuart that that great painter was 
wont to ask, looking at his own empty studio and 
knowing that Harding's was thronged, "How rages 
the Harding fever?" 

Close by is the Athenaeum, most charming and de- 
lightful of libraries, full of serenity and repose and 
rich in its great collection of books. Not only does it 
possess the workable and readable books of recent 

101 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

years, but precious prints and books and manuscripts 
of the past, and such treasure as the greater part of 
the library of George Washington, each book, with 
his signature and bookplate, deposited here after 
its purchase in 1849 by ' ' seventy gentlemen of Boston, 
Cambridge and Salem," who contributed fifty dollars 
each to obtain it. To the Bostonian of tradition, the 
Athenaeum still proudly represents the essence of the 
city ; the building is admirably impressive outwardly, 
it is attractive and full of atmosphere within, and it 
is rich in the very spirit of the best of Boston. Its 
main entrance has a replica of Houdon's life-size 
statue of Washington, a replica, modeled by Houdon 
himself, of the original, which was made for the State 
of Virginia and is preserved at Richmond; Houdon 
having come to America to make a statue of Washing- 
ton, at the request of Franklin, who knew him in Paris. 

The main reading-room, occupying the great upper 
floor, is of unusual architectural beauty, with its 
vaulted roof, its pillars and alcoves, its general fine- 
ness and comfort. The library is peculiarly fitted to 
the needs of the scholar, and membership in it, to be 
a "proprietor," as is the term, is highly esteemed. 

The great rear windows of the Athenaeum look down 
into the ancient deep-shaded Granary Burying- 
Ground, and off at one side, also looking down into the 
burying-ground, are the windows of that monthly, the 
Atlantic, which is itself another of the treasured be- 
longings of Boston: and especially is the bowed win- 
dow noticeable when one learns that it is the window 
of the oval room in which James Russell Lowell 

102 



THE DISTINCTIVE PAEK STEEET CORNER 

reigned as editor and where lie still looks down 
benignantly from the wall, like a patron saint: and 
although one may do full honor to his memory and to 
his fine influence, the profuse and double-pointed 
whiskers do rouse the recollection of the little girl who 
asked: "But what are the points for?" 

There are few more impressive burying-grounds 
in the world than the Granary, fronting out on busy 
Tremont Street and hemmed in on its other sides by 
towering business structures, by the phalanxed win- 
dows of the quiet Athenaeum, by the publishing build- 
ings, and by the old Park Street Church. The Gran- 
ary has impressiveness, it even has beauty, and it has 
an aloofness that comes from its being some three 
feet or so above the level of the thronging sidewalk 
that it adjoins. 

Anciently a granary actually stood here, but the 
place long since came to be a crowded human granary 
instead ; and what a roll of fascinating old-time names 
might be called here ! Hancock, Sewall, Bellingham, 
Faneuil, Samuel Adams, Franklin (the parents of 
Benjamin Franklin are buried here), Cushing, 
Phillips, Otis, Revere! There are royal governors, 
patriot governors, signers of the Declaration, orators, 
leaders among the citizens — it would be a long, long 
roll ! And there would be a strange unexpectedness if 
responses should come, for many of the stones in this 
graveyard were long ago indiscriminately changed 
about. At one time they were even tidied and set in 
rows to meet the landscape-gardening and grass-mow- 
ing proclivities of a city official! There was some 

103 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

mild objection to this, but nothing was done to check 
or correct the changing, and when, long afterwards, 
people began to speak strongly about it, it was too 
late, for records had not been kept. 

Although Boston thinks a great deal of the people 
of the past, they would seem to have acquired some- 
what careless habits of caring for their remains. Gil- 
bert Stuart was mislaid. Major Pitcairn was lost, 
and it was probably a substitute body that was sent 
back to England as his, to rest in Westminster. The 
stones on Copp's Hill were changed about or used 
for doorsteps. And here in the Granary the muni- 
cipal idiosyncrasy has been even more striking. It 
was Oliver Wendell Holmes who remarked of this 
graveyard, that the stones really tell the truth when 
they say "Here lies." 

But although this carelessness of the past needs to 
be known it does not affect the dignity, the solemnity, 
the impressiveness of the place. . It merely means that 
the visitor must be content to honor these worthies 
of the past in mass rather than in detail. They are 
all there. They all lie somewhere within the broad en- 
closure. Upon their confused resting-places the tall 
office buildings look down, and beside them the public 
go hurrying along the crowded sidewalk. They are 
somewhere here, beneath the shade of the thickly clus- 
tered horse-chestnuts and honey locusts, and it really 
is not worth while to try and pick out the still properly 
marked graves from the mistaken ones. 

One of the two young duellists of whom Holmes 
wrote, who fought to the death on the Common, is 

104 



THE DISTINCTIVE PARK STREET CORNER 

buried here, and it is curious that this seems to be 
better remembered, by most people, than does the 
fact that here were buried so many great and famous 
folk, although that young duellist has no claim to fame 
except that of dying in a duel which seized upon the 
imagination of the man whose personality permeates 
all Boston. 

A high, open, iron fence standing on a low, dark 
retaining wall, separates the burying-ground from the 
street, and the entrance is through a black and gloomy 
stone arch, with a suggestion of the Egyptian in style, 
flanked at either end of the wall by a black stone pillar. 

It is pleasant to notice that with such a great area 
of office buildings looking down into this resting place 
of American dead, there is scarcely a business sign 
to be seen, although the opportunity and temptation 
are so great. It is a fine example of business re- 
straint. Indeed, one at first thinks that there is ab- 
solutely no sign at all, for it is only by carefully look- 
ing for them that two or three very little ones are 
found. 

From the Athenaeum itself, from a little high- 
perched coign of vantage there, a little outside summer 
reading-place which fairly overhangs the back of the 
Granary graveyard, the most striking of all views of 
the inclosure may be had, for from this point one 
looks down through the treetops on curving lines of 
little dull-colored headstones, standing shoulder to 
shoulder on the green dark grass, under the gloomy 
trees, like gloomy spirits of New England consciences 
forever looking out, with drooping shoulders, through 

105 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

the great iron fence, upon the passing of their descend- 
ants and successors. 

The Granary burying-ground antedates the church 
beside it, the fine old building, with Christopher "Wren- 
like steeple, known as the Park Street Church. And 
one is tempted to think of this church as, on the whole, 
the most typically Bostonian building of Boston. On 
its prominent corner at the foot of the slope leading 
up to the State House, and with its windows looking 
out on one side over the Common, and on the other one 
the Granary ground, it seems as if it had grown there, 
so natural it is, so easy, so graceful, so felicitous, 
standing there in so sweet a pride. 

The delightful spire is notable, not only for the per- 
fection of its upper proportions but also in not rising 
from the building itself but, instead, forming the ex- 
tension of a tower that itself rises from the ground, 
church and tower being connected by pillared curves, 
quadrant-like, which architectually unite them into an 
indivisible whole, with no sign of separation. There 
could not be a more charmingly picturesque corner, 
for the Common, than is made by this so charming and 
picturesque a church. 

For many years the building was painted, and even 
in its dull drab was attractive, but it has recently been 
vastly improved, as a number of other old Boston 
buildings have similarly been improved, by the clean- 
ing of all the paint from the brick and by the painting 
anew of all the wood; thus restored to its original 
design the church now positively sparkles in its white 
paint and mellow red brick. 

106 



THE DISTINCTIVE PAEK STREET COENEE 

Park Street Church is not so old as are several 
others in Boston, for it dates back only to a little 
more than a century ago, but in its short life it has 
not been without claims to distinction ; the first public 
address of William Lloyd Garrison was delivered in 
this building, and here for the first time the hymn 
"America" was publicly sung. 

Beneath the church are a gay-looking flower-shop 
and picturesque tea-rooms, and they seem pleasantly 
Bostonian in their churchly location, for until recent 
years a bookstore was quartered in the basement of 
the Old South Church, and I have noticed a furniture- 
packing shop beneath a church at the foot of Beacon 
Hill, and it used to be, when the Hollis Street Church 
was standing, that its pastor, a powerful advocate of 
prohibition, used to deliver attacks on drink at the 
same time that the vaults beneath his feet were rented 
by three pillars of his church, distillers, for the stor- 
age of casks, giving rise to the still-remembered epi- 
gram: 

"Above, the spirit Divine, 
Below, the spirits of wine." 

The corner where stands so felicitously the alto- 
gether attractive Park Street Church has itself given 
rise to a flash of real wit, especially notable as show- 
ing that Holmes did not utter every witty Boston say- 
ing. For this came from a certain long-ago Apple- 
ton, brother-in-law of Longfellow, famed as a humor- 
ist and bon vivant, a man of wealth and family but 
whose humor, still remembered reiteratively, usually 

107 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

took some such form as sailing for Europe, without 
telling any one, on the very day that he was expected 
to be host or guest at a dinner. However, the corner 
beside Park Street Church really inspired him to one 
excellent jest. For it is a very windy corner, one of 
the windiest in all Boston, and Appleton dryly re- 
marked one day that there really ought to be a shorn 
lamb tethered there! 




CHAPTEE X 



TWO FAMOUS OLD BUILDINGS 




N a February night in 1688, a 
striking funeral pageant passed 
through the streets of Boston; 
the funeral procession of Lady 
Andros, the wife of Governor 
Andros. And how far away 
that seems! 1688 — that was the 
far-away year that marked the downfall of the second 
James. That year seems far away even when one is 
over in England, and therefore it seems curiously far 
away in this New England. Yet in 1688 Boston had 
for decades been settled. People had already begun 
to think of it as a long-established place. People had 
already begun to look with interest at those who could 
rightfully claim the title of "old inhabitants" ! 

That winter-night funeral of Lady Andros made a 
grimly striking scene. A hearse with six horses drew 
the body. Soldiers lined the way. Torches flickered 
and blazed to light the snowy streets. Candles and 
torches lighted the old church. Six "mourning 
women," as they were called, walked behind the body 
until it was set down before the pulpit and then they 
seated themselves beside it like dismal ghosts. The 

109 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

church was crowded. The minister, with the grim di- 
rectness of old times, preached frankly from the text, 
•'All flesh is grass." And when the ceremony was 
over the body was borne out of the little chapel, a 
building standing where now stands the Old South 
Church, on what is now Washington Street, and car- 
ried to the burying-ground now known as that of 
King's Chapel, on Tremont Street, King's Chapel 
itself having not then been built. That winter night 
funeral was dramatic indeed. 

What is supposed to be the grave of Lady Andros 
is still to be seen, here within this ancient inclosure 
of King's Chapel Burying-ground, and here too is 
many another of interest. The supposedly oldest 
remaining stone is that of a certain William Paddy, 
who died in 1658. Born in the year 1600, this man; 
born twenty years before the sailing of the May- 
flower; born while Elizabeth was still Queen; yet here 
in Boston is his grave, still marked. Here rest the 
remains of many a Leverett and Wendell and Mather 
and Cotton, and especially is it the last home of many 
a Winthrop, and in a Winthrop tomb lies that Mary 
Chilton Winthrop who not only was one of those who 
crossed in the first voyage of the Mayflower but who, 
so the delightful old story has it, was the first woman 
to land in America from that immortal ship. I do 
not know how one can come to a more practical and 
more vivid appreciation of the American past, than 
by stepping aside, from the busy, rushing street, into 
the down-sloping bit of burial-ground, hemmed in by 
street and chapel and business blocks and city hall, 

110 



TWO FAMOUS OLD BUILDINGS 

and standing beside the very tomb within which lie 
the remains of that May-flower passenger, the first 
woman to step upon the Rock. 

And modestly, very, very modestly, far over at one 
side of the graveyard, stands a stone which marks 
the resting-place of one Elizabeth Pain, and it simply 
records without any of the old-time reference to 
beauty of character or beauty of life or the grief of 
the remaining relatives,, that she departed this life in 
1704; and a sort of chill comes, a grim feeling of the 
severity of the past and of the present, when you 
know that this is understood to be the grave of the 
poor woman who gave to Hawthorne his idea of 
Hester Prynne : for it will, of course, be remembered 
that the scene of the "Scarlet Letter" was Boston 
and not Salem, although it was in Salem that the book 
was written. The poor Elizabeth with the suggestive 
surname was one of the earliest Americans to learn 
that the fatted calf is never killed for the prodigal 
daughter. 

Here in this really ancient graveyard is the tomb of 
Robert Keayne, who founded, half a century before 
the time of the Andros funeral, his Ancient and Hon- 
orable Artillery Company, which is still existent. 
Over at one side of the enclosure, I chanced upon the 
name of Tudor, a name mildly prominent in early 
New England history; and the thought comes of that 
New England Tudor — could this have been the very 
one! — who, when presented at the court of King 
George the Third, caused a look of pleased astonish- 
ment to come over the bored face of the monarch at 

111 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

the mention of his name: "Eh, eh, what! Tudor? 
One of us, eh, what?" 

The present King's Chapel, beside the old burying- 
ground, is a pillar-fronted, rather low, square-towered 
building, a building rather dark and dusky in effect, 
built not on the general lines of most of our early 
churches, but following the design of some of the old- 
fashioned little churches of London. And the pil- 
lars are not of stone, as they seem to be, but of wood. 
Taken by itself it would seem to be a veritable bit out 
of London. The very first King's Chapel was built 
here in the very year in which Lady Andros died, 
and although that first building was wood instead of 
stone, and although it was a little smaller than the 
present chapel, which is itself quite small, it must 
have been a church with a great deal of display and 
impressiveness, for along its walls were hung the 
escutcheons of the King of England and of the vari- 
ous Boyal Governors who had been sent out to Massa- 
chusetts. Even in those early days it was looked upon 
as rather an ostentatious building. 

The present chapel was built over a century and a 
half ago; services were first held here in 1754; and 
the interior is not without a certain richness of effect, 
simple though it is. It is really a cozily attractive 
little church, with its white walls and galleries and 
pillars and its square pews with dark mahogany top- 
rails and linings of red baize. The pairing of the 
pillars adds much to the excellent effect, as do also 
the Corinthian capitals. The ceiling is unusually 
low even for a small church and there is also the un- 

112 



TWO FAMOUS OLD BUILDINGS 

usual feature, for America, that the floor is made of 
small square stones. The comfortable, square, en- 
closed pews seem additionally quaint and comfortable 
from their being fitted with stands for canes and 
umbrellas, and little shelves for prayer-books and 
Bibles, and even with chairs in addition to the fixed 
benches of the pews. 

Tradition has not preserved the precise location of 
the pew in which Washington sat when they gave an 
oratorio in this building to entertain him in 1789, but 
one may fairly suppose that it was the pew known 
as the Governor's Pew, which was in early days sur- 
mounted by a canopy and in which sat in succession a 
line of pre-Revolutionary royal governors, beginning 
with Governor Shirley, who laid the cornerstone of 
the building. Here, too, sat General Gage and Sir 
William Howe, in the early part of the Bevolutionary 
War. Familiar as Washington was with the churches 
and the architecture of the entire country he must 
have looked with much interest at the high-set pulpit, 
the very pulpit which is still in place and used, for 
it is believed to be the oldest in New England and 
possibly in the United States ; it dates well back before 
the building of this present building, for it was trans- 
ferred from the earlier church to this, and is said to 
be at least as old as 1717 and perhaps to have been in 
the older church from its very beginning in 1688. 
It is certainly interesting, with its twisting stair 
charmingly enclosed with panels and pilasters, and 
its heavy suspended sounding-board. 

King's Chapel has a connection with what is often 

113 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

written about as one of the romances of early Amer- 
ican days, for one of those who united to build the 
present structure was that Sir Henry Frankland who, 
up at Marblehead, fell in love with the inn-keeper's 
pretty daughter, Agnes Surriage, and brought her 
to Boston ; his pew is still remembered and is the one 
now numbered 20; but Frankland played anything 
but a manly man's part, and the masters and lovers of 
real American romance, Longfellow and Hawthorne, 
did nothing, I think, to give the story its amazing 
vogue. 

The present organ of King's Chapel was sent out 
from England in 1756, and has from time to time been 
rebuilt and enlarged, and it is said to have been the per- 
sonal selection of the mighty Handel, who tested it 
and played upon it at the request of King George the 
Second, who counted him as a friend and asked this 
favor of him. 

There are various old monuments, inside this 
church, of worthies of the past, including a noticeable 
one, in the most florid Westminster Abbey funeral 
style, to the memory of Samuel Vassall, who belied 
his name by being very independent indeed, and who 
won fame and wealth as a patriotic merchant in the old 
days when loyalty meant loyalty to the King. 

The funeral of General "Warren, who was killed at 
Bunker Hill, was held in this chapel after the city 
came into the possession of the Americans. There, 
too, was held the funeral of Charles Sumner. And 
among the monuments within the building is one to 
men who were connected with this chapel and who 

114 



TWO FAMOUS OLD BUILDINGS 

died in the Civil War. Already our churches are com- 
ing to be like those of England, where there are me- 
morials to the men of war after war in never-ending 
succession. 

A cheerful memory of this chapel is that it was the 
regular place of worship of Oliver Wendell Holmes ' 
who, year after year, sat in pew 102 in the south 
gallery. One may fancy what a trial or what a re- 
ward it must often have been for the rector, after 
some argumentative or oratorical effort, to glance up 
and catch those keen eyes looking at him with ap- 
praisal in the glance ; it must have kept a succession 
of rectors well up to the mark to know that such an 
autocratic critic was watching them. 

The King's Chapel Burying-ground used to be 
known, long ago, as the Old South Church Burying- 
Ground, although the Old South Church is a few 
blocks away, and on Washington Street. 

On the front of the Old South is an inscription 
which tells that the church gathered in 1669 ; that the 
first church building was put up in 1670; that the 
present church building was erected in 1729 ; and that 
it was desecrated by the British troops in 1775-6. 
But this enumeration of facts and dates quite ignores 
an event which a great many people would deem the 
most interesting of all, and that is that Benjamin 
Franklin was baptised here in 1706. 

What a busy day that was in the house near by, 
now long since vanished, where the Franklins lived! 
The father Josiah, and Abiah his wife, attended 
service at the Old South Church in the morning. 

115 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

Little Benjamin was born at noon. And that very 
afternoon he was proudly carried to church to be 
christened ! 

One cannot but remember Benjamin's own sum- 
mary of the lives of his parents. ".Without any es- 
tate, or any gainful employment, by constant labor 
and industry, with God's blessing, they maintained a 
large family comfortably, and brought up thirteen 
children and seven grandchildren reputably." "He 
was a pious and prudent man," records Benjamin of 
his father, Josiah ; and of Abiah, his mother, he faith- 
fully records that she was "a discreet and virtuous 
woman." 

In the front of the church, beside the tablet of 
dates, is a placard which, although meant to express 
the standpoint of the old-time patriots as a lesson 
for future generations, is positively misleading, for 
it refers to winning victories for liberty and the peo- 
ple "under the law." But there could not be a 
greater misapprehension. The whole standpoint of 
the patriots of the Revolution is missed. The Revolu- 
tion stood for bravely acting against the law, for not 
heeding danger to life or estate when it seemed right 
to act against the constituted authorities. The tea 
ships, the fight at Lexington, the stand on Bunker Hill 
— what an absurdity to think of such things as "un- 
der the law"! It is a solemn thing for a people to 
stand against the law, but the glory of the Revolution 
was that the patriots did stand against the law. 
When Joseph Warren made his entry through a win- 
dow into the pulpit of this very church and there de- 

116 



TWO FAMOUS OLD BUILDINGS 

nounced in fiery words the British soldiers, the very 
officers and soldiers who crowded about the front of 
the pulpit while he spoke, he had no thought of acting 
under the law, nor did he dream of being under the 
law when, three months later, he bravely gave his life 
as the British came charging up the hill over in 
Charlestown. 

The Old South is a neat and attractive building of 
brick with a slender spire of wood. The spire is grace- 
ful, but the tower that supports it, and which itself 
projects a little. upon the busy sidewalk, is heavy in 
proportion. 

Entering the church through a vestibule beneath the 
tower we find that the interior has not been treated in 
the usual style of the Gothic nave, but is broader in 
proportion than would be expected in a church ; it has 
its pulpit, not at one end, but in the middle of one 
side; and, unexpectedly for such a small building, 
there are two galleries facing it. The pulpit is only 
in part the original pulpit, but the needful restoration 
was made along the original lines ; it is of admirable 
shape, with pillar supports and elaborate cornice, and 
it has a little rounding projection of mahogany on its 
front, a sort of pleasing bulge, for the standing place 
of the speaker. The window behind the pulpit is big 
and broad, a sort of Palladian window, flanked by 
reeded pillars ; and as one stands here it is impossible 
not to picture the thrilling scene when Warren made 
his way through this window, opened for his entrance, 
stepped to the little bulge in front of the pulpit, 
and with superb bravery delivered his thrilling ad- 

117, 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

dress to the people who packed the building itself and 
the very aisles and entrances. It was a brave day for 
America. 

The building long ago won the high-sounding name 
of the "Sanctuary of Freedom," because within it 
were held some of the most momentous of the town- 
meetings that preceded the Revolution; and during 
the Eevolutionary "War it was singled out by the Brit- 
ish for contemptuous treatment, and was turned into a 
riding-school for cavalry, and tons of earth were 
thrown upon the floor to give footing for the horses ; 
and in addition the pews were burned to keep the 
soldiers warm. One may regret the burning of the 
old pews, but it would not be in the least a regrettable 
act if the present cheap-looking wooden chairs, with 
cheap perforated seats and backs, could be given to the 
British or anybody else, and burned. It cost over 
$400,000 to save this church from being torn down for 
the erection of a big office building, and Boston people 
gladly raised the huge sum, and it does seem a pity 
that a very little of that sum was not utilized to put in 
fitting benches, if not pews. 

A few relics of Eevolutionary days are shown in 
this building, and there are photographs, to suit the 
taste of such as care for such a thing, of the skull of 
General Warren, showing the fatal bullet-hole : an ex- 
hibition which perhaps might have been spared. 

Not only were the old pews burned by the British, 
but many valuable books and manuscripts regarding 
early New England, that had been stored in the tower 
of the old church, were also brought down and thrown 

118 



TWO FAMOUS OLD BUILDINGS 

in the fire to help keep the soldiers comfortable in 
the cold winter days of the siege. 

And the most important manuscript in the world, 
as a leading New Englander, Senator Hoar, in his 
formal speech on the final recovery of the manuscript, 
called it, was seized upon with others of the treasures 
of the Old South tower, and was preserved by some 
strange and never to be explained chance, and long 
afterwards was discovered by another of the strang- 
est of chances, over in England, and at length was 
returned to America. This was the absolutely in- 
valuable holograph account of the Mayflower expedi- 
tion, and of the early days in Holland and in Plymouth, 
by the great Governor William Bradford himself ; and 
the story of this manuscript is the most extraordinary 
literary romance of the world. 

When the books and manuscripts were dragged 
down from the tower this manuscript, which after- 
wards came to be known mistakenly as the "Log of 
the Mayflower," was spared, though no one knows 
by whom; no one knows whether its value was even 
guessed at, but presumably it must have been, for it 
was carried to England, no one knows by whom, and 
when the Americans once more took possession of the 
city, it was not to be found and was supposed to have 
been burned and its records and data thus forever 
lost. 

More than half a century after its disappearance, 
an English bishop, the Bishop of Oxford, wrote a 
book, which attracted scarcely any attention, on the 
history of the church in America, and, quite a number 

119 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

of years after its publication, an American, turning 
over the leaves of the bishop's history, was startled by 
some references to a manuscript, undescribed except 
as being in the possession of the Bishop of London in 
the library of his palace at Fulham. The American 
— there is some question as to whether it was a man 
named Thornton or one named Barry — was fortu- 
nately one who knew early American history, and 
he knew that the facts quoted in that book on the 
church could have only one source, and that was the 
Bradford manuscript, which had been quoted to some 
extent by early American chroniclers and which every- 
body supposed had long ago been lost. At once 
definite inquiry was made, and it was learned that this 
was indeed the long lost work of Bradford, although 
neither the Bishop of Oxford nor the Bishop of Lon- 
don himself could throw light upon how or when it 
had come into English possession. 

Americans at once began a campaign to recover it, 
frankly taking the ground, when they met with delay 
and doubt, that the excuse of loot in war time had 
never been applied to the permanent retention of 
literary treasures. The English themselves were in- 
clined to agree with this, but things moved slowly, and 
it took about half a century before negotiations were 
fortunately concluded. They might have been going 
on even yet had it not been for another of the strangely 
fortunate chances in regard to the history of this 
manuscript, and this was that a new Bishop of Lon- 
don was appointed who felt cordial toward the United 
States and said frankly that he, for his part, would 

120 



TWO FAMOUS OLD BUILDINGS 

hand over the manuscript if he were given the author- 
ization of his superior, the Archbishop of Canterbury, 
and that soon after this he was himself appointed, by 
a whimsical chance, Archbishop of Canterbury! 
Whereupon, in 1897, the thing was done, and the in- 
valuable manuscript came back to Boston and was wel- 
comed with great ceremonies and public speeches after 
its strange absence of a century and a quarter. 

But it was not again deposited in the Old South 
steeple ! Instead, as the prized possession of the State 
of Massachusetts, and not of Boston alone, it is kept 
in the library of the State House, up on Beacon Hill, 
and is there shown freely to any one who cares to see 
it. 




CHAPTEE XI 



TO THE OLD STATE HOUSE 




'N early days Washington Street, upon 
which the Old South Church faces, was 
known in its successive sections as Corn- 
hill, Marlborough Street, Newbury Street 
and Orange Street; names not thrown 
away but frugally saved to be used in a 
new district ; and all were merged in the 
patriotic name of Washington because 
Washington himself entered the city 
along this route at the time of his visit 
in 1789 ; and perhaps the naming was partly in amends 
for having kept him waiting for two hours, mounted 
on his white horse, just outside of the town limits, 
while the State and town authorities debated on just 
how he was to be received. 

It was fortunate that Washington had drilled him- 
self to patience and at the same time that he well 
knew how to hold his dignity, for in the early days of 
the adoption of our Federal Constitution a burst of 
anger on his part, or even of impatience, no matter 
how well justified, might have had a disastrous na- 
tional effect, as might also any impairment of the 
President's proper position. Yet, though he looked 

122 



TO THE OLD STATE HOUSE 

upon a little waiting as too minor a thing to be taken 
notice of by a great man, he did not overlook Governor 
John Hancock's not coming to call upon him. Han- 
cock stayed at home, as if thinking a Massachusetts 
governor more important in Massachusetts than a 
President of the United States, and as if expecting 
Washington to make the first call ; but this, "Washing- 
ton absolutely refused to do ; not only his own dignity 
but the dignity of the nation was at stake; and on 
the next day Hancock, swathed in explanatory flannel 
wrappings, belatedly and formally called, offering an 
alleged attack of the gout as an excuse for not calling 
the day before. And perhaps the gout was real. Or, 
if Hancock had but tardily done honor to the first 
President, it was probably because John Adams, the 
first Vice-President, had entered Boston in the Presi- 
dent's company, and that Hancock and John Adams 
were far from being friends, Adams having even gone 
to such a length, in his jealousy, as to term Hancock an 
"empty barrel"; the resounding sound of which ap- 
pellation must have reached Hancock's ears. But 
there ought not to have been any real ill feeling on the 
part of Hancock toward "Washington, whatever may 
have been the case as to John Adams. Hancock had 
named his only son after himself and "Washington, 
John George "Washington Hancock, and that the little 
fellow had recently died would assuredly make even 
closer the personal tie between President and Gov- 
ernor. 

Other streets of old Boston have had their names 
changed, for reasons not so excellent as those which 

123 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

gave the city Washington Street, and on a few of the 
corners the old names are given as well as the new, but 
in the main the old ones are forgotten. The greater 
number of changes seem to have been made because, 
as the city grew bigger, it became more finical; and 
one realizes that Frog Lane would not be so excellent 
a business address as Boylston Street, that Pudding 
Lane and Black Jack Alley would seem less respect- 
able than Devonshire Street, that Black Horse Lane is 
more dignified, if that were all, as Prince Street ; but 
it is not clear why the delightful name of Boyal Ex- 
change Lane should have been altered, except actually 
during the time of the Bevolution, to Exchange Street, 
and it is hard to reconcile oneself to Broad Alley be- 
coming Hollis Street, to Turnaway Alley becoming 
Temple Place, and to Coventry Street becoming the 
prosaic Walnut; one may quite sympathize with 
changing Blott's Lane to Winter Street but feel that 
romance was lost in altering Seven Star Lane to Sum- 
mer Street ; and if it might be objected that Seven Star 
Lane does not sound citified enough there would really 
be no objection to calling it the Street of the Seven 
Stars. 

Washington Street, and especially that part which 
is directly through from the Common, has especial in- 
terest in the difference between its general aspect in 
the evening and its aspects during the day. In the 
morning the better part of it is crowded with the 
women of the socially elect doing their shopping, and 
in the afternoon with women whom the socially elect 
consider hoi polloi; and the men who thread their way 

124 



TO THE OLD STATE HOUSE 

along the narrow-sidewalked shopping sections in 
daytime are alert business men, not too intensely hur- 
ried ; the daytime is the time of Boston bags and pros- 
perity ; but in the evening, for a few hours — never un- 
til really late, for this is an early city — it is differently 
thronged and brilliantly lighted, and at this time it 
gives much the aspect of the main street of a busy 
English mill town, crowded as it is with the people 
who come for the "movies" and the cheaper theaters, 
or who are out simply for a stroll. 

Boston has not lost capacity for enthusiasms ; cities, 
like men, need that ; but Boston shows enthusiasm in a 
typically quiet way. I have seen "Washington Street, 
in the business center, jammed solid for several blocks 
with a crowd, estimated by the police as numbeiing 
from twenty-five to forty thousand, which absolutely 
stopped traffic, and all these people had gathered to 
watch the score-boards of several newspaper offices 
that are close together there ; for the Boston club was 
playing for the League championship in old Philadel- 
phia. The streets were packed to capacity for a long 
distance within sight of the boards, and the windows 
and roofs were crowded with decorous, neat, well- 
tailored, well-dressed, self -restrained men, every one 
with his shoes polished and his hat on straight. It 
was a very proper crowd. Many of the men were 
ready to yell if an announcement were extremely fav- 
orable, but even then they would not yell very loud. 
The business men and office clerks of the city had 
given up an entire business afternoon to follow in 
packed decorousness the record of a baseball game. 

125 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

A walk of less than five minutes on Washington 
Street, from the Old South Church, takes one to the 
corner of State Street, where once stood the book- 
shop which graduated that superb artillery officer, 
Henry Knox ; and here there opens out what is known 
as State House Square, out in the center of which 
stands the Old State House. 

Once in a while, in Boston, it is necessary to say, in 
differentiation, the New State House or the Old State 
House, for when the new one was put up the old one 
was preserved, and it stands among the new busi- 
ness buildings of the busiest district of the city. Ex- 
tremely strong efforts have from time to time been 
made to destroy this old building and use its site in 
important business development, and great financial 
temptation has been offered to the city, and the argu- 
ments for the needs of business were really so cogent 
that a few years ago it seemed as if the city would 
yield to them. It had already yielded, so far as giv- 
ing over the building to rental for offices and other 
business purposes was concerned, and there was dan- 
ger that the entire building would be given up. But 
while the city wavered, hesitant and doubting, the news 
went out through the country that perhaps the long- 
treasured building was doomed, whereupon a formal 
message came from the city of Chicago, offering to 
buy the old structure in order to tear it down and 
rebuild it, brick by brick, out there on the shore of 
Lake Michigan. The structure would thus be kept, 
so Chicago with earnest dignity expressed it, as an 
American monument for all America to revere. 

126 



TO THE OLD STATE HOUSE 

Of course that settled it. Perhaps the building 
would have been preserved in any event, but after that 
message, had Boston decided to tear the building 
down, it would have been quite impossible for her to 
throw away the bricks when Chicago was ready not 
only to pay for them but to build them up again and 
honor them, and it would have been altogether un- 
bearable for Boston to think of people going to 
Chicago to see this old State House ! — and so it still 
stands here. 

It will be remembered that Chicago won another 
victory for the world by offering to buy and set up 
within its own precincts the birthplace of Shake- 
speare, when that building was about to be lost to 
Stratford, and in that case, as in this, the offer by 
that broad-mindedly acquisitive city of the West was 
sufficient to secure the preservation of the old build- 
ing on its original site. It is interesting to speculate 
what buildings of the world, whether in America or 
Europe or Asia, will in time be pleasantly captured 
by Chicago in this way. 

The Old State House is a building of piquant in- 
dividuality; it would easily attract attention any- 
where ; without knowing anything about it one would 
be sure that it must be a building of interest, and it is. 

It stands at what was long the center of much that 
was important in old Boston. In the open space be- 
side it and beside the still earlier building that pre- 
ceded it was the early public market of the city; in 
fact, the public market was not only beside but un- 
der the earlier building, which, in the old English 

127 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

market-place way, was built upon pillars, leaving the 
level space beneath the building as an open arcade 
for the merchants. 

Even the present building has a history that goes 
back to 1713, and when, about forty years afterwards, 
it suffered a disastrous fire, at least the walls of 1713 
were saved, thus preserving the early felicitous shape 
and proportions of the building. 

Hereabouts went on much of the early Boston life. 
Here in the open square stood a cage, for the display, 
in restrained publicity, of such as had dared to violate 
the Sabbath; here were the stocks; here was the pil- 
lory — reminders, these, that all was not gentleness and 
moral suasion in the days of yore ! — and here stood, 
even into the nineteenth century, the whipping-post. 
It is not with any spirit of criticism of the past that 
these things are mentioned; it is proper to speak of 
them, that we may not forget that the past was not al- 
together perfect. 

Nobler and more tragic than such associations is 
the association with what has always been known as 
the Boston Massacre, of 1770 ; directly in front of this 
building is where the fatal shooting by the English 
soldiers took place, that roused a wild storm of in- 
dignation that even yet is remembered, and which in 
itself had much to do with intensifying and crystalliz- 
ing the sentiment in favor of an actual and final break 
with England. In the general excitement of that time 
and the feeling that at any moment, should the de- 
mands of the citizens for the removal of the soldiers 
from Boston not be heeded, there might be actual war- 

128 



TO THE OLD STATE HOUSE 

fare, most of the men of Boston were under arms, and 
even John Adams took his turn with others, as a 
soldier, at this very building, coming, as he has with 
his own hand recorded, "with my musket and bayonet, 
my broad sword and cartridge box." It is an inter- 
esting remembrance of the trial of the English 
soldiers, that followed, that two of them who were 
actually convicted of manslaughter escaped punish- 
ment by pleading the very ancient English plea of 
"benefit of clergy"! — which had nothing whatever to 
do with literal clergy, but only with the ability to 
write, which was anciently supposed to be an accom- 
plishment of the clergy alone, who as a class were im- 
mune from punishment. 

In outward appearance the Old State House sug- 
gests a memory of Holland. It elusively but charm- 
ingly indicates a bit of Dutch architecture. It has a 
long line of dormers on each side of its roof, and in 
the center rises a quaint tower, in square-sided sec- 
tions which go up in diminishing sequence to a little 
belfry. At either side of the gable lines on the high 
and almost corbel-like corners of the facade, the 
square-shouldered front that faces out toward the 
oncewhile market-place, stand the lion and unicorn, 
effective and highly decorative, breezy copies of the 
originals which were thrown down and destroyed in 
the Eevolution, gayly gilt like the originals, and look- 
ing almost royally rampant as they face each other 
across the central clock which points out that times 
have changed. 

In the center of this facade is a beautiful second- 

129 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

story balcony of stone, in front of a many-paned cen- 
tral window with curving pediment. From this bal- 
cony many a speech has been delivered and many a 
proclamation has been read, from the time of the early 
Colonial governors down, but the long succession of 
royal proclamations came finally to an end when, on a 
July day in 1776, to an exalted throng of Revolution- 
ary citizens gathered in this open space below, there 
was read the full text of the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, which had been relayed to Boston as fast as a 
galloping messenger could take it. "In the brave 
days of old ! ' ' — these fine old familiar lines may well 
be applied to Boston. 

From this very balcony, ten years before the read- 
ing of the Declaration, was proclaimed the repeal of 
the hated Stamp Act, and also from this balcony, at 
the close of the Revolution, the people were told that 
peace with Great Britain had been made and that full 
recognition of the rights of the American Republic 
had been yielded. 

This old building was successively the Town House 
of Boston, the Court House, the Province Court House 
and then the State House ; and after the State offices 
were moved into the big building on Beacon Hill it 
became for a time the City Hall. The building is now 
restored, but has not suffered the misfortune of be- 
ing over-restored, and it is given up to the accumula- 
tion and display of a collection, of fascinating inter- 
est, of a vast number of mementoes relating to early 
days ; and like the Museo Civico of Venice, and others 
of that admirable class, it sets forth, with its memen- 

130 



TO THE OLD STATE HOUSE 

toes, the things which represent the daily life of long 
ago. 

Among the individual relics is a beautiful silver 
tankard, that was made by Paul Eevere. It is a 
masterpiece of silver-smithing, and is so highly prized 
that it is held in place by a hidden lock and chain, in 
order to keep it should some thief break the glass case 
in an effort to snatch it away. Here, too, is preserved 
one of the original Eevere prints of the Boston 
Massacre, which took place under the windows of this 
building, and it is so valued that it is put into a fire- 
proof safe every night. The building also holds, in 
one of its corners, a little old organ, which rivals the 
old organ of the Park Street Church with its "Amer- 
ica," for this in the Old State House was one at 
which the stately old tune "Coronation" was com- 
posed and on which it was first played ; it is an organ 
with lead pipes and is still playable and of excellent 
tone. 

For a building which outwardly does not appear 
large, and which is really not large, there is in the in- 
terior an astonishing effect of amplitude. In this re- 
spect it is a marvel. 

There are various meeting rooms in the building, 
each of old-fashioned dignity, and in particular the 
fine big room, with its noble spaciousness, that is still 
known as the Council Room, as it was in the long ago 
time when the royal governors, richly appareled, sat 
here in formal state in conference with their coun- 
cilors. It is a room with twin fireplaces and big re- 
cessed windows and fine cornice and charming wain- 

131 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 



scoting, and it is pleasant to remember that John Han- 
cock was here inaugurated governor. 

It is astonishing what a degree of beauty, what an 
amount of dignity, the earliest American architects 
were able to secure in their public buildings, and this 
in Boston may compare honorably with the best. 
There is the old Maryland State House in Annapolis ; 
there is the one-time State House, Independence Hall, 
in Philadelphia ; and there is the Old State House here 
in Boston ; all of them pre-Revolutionary buildings of 
practically the same period, and all of immense dig- 
nity and distinction. The three are of very different 
appearance from each other but they are alike in 
continuing to be worthy points of pilgrimage for 
Americans and in having direct connection with im- 
portant events of the past. 




on in 



/ I 



CHAPTER XII 



FANEUH. HALL AND THE WATEBSIDE 




XEAR the Old State House and, 
like it, tucked in among big 
office buildings, you come unex- 
pectedly upon a broad, plump, 
portly, comfortable, restful 
building, with an aspect of age 
as well as this aspect of ease, 
and you search elusively for 
words to define its impression, 
and you know that the right phrase has come when 
you hear it called the Cradle of Liberty; for it is a 
building that gives a comfortable old-fashioned im- 
pression of a comfortable old-fashioned cradle — al- 
though this is not what gave it its cradle cognomen, 
but the fact that within its walls the fiery orators of 
pre-Revolutionary days made their most eloquent ap- 
peals for liberty. 

It is a distinguished looking building, with its dig- 
nified regularity of windows, and the good old-fash- 
ioned dignity of its long sides, and its interesting 
round-topped tower. It is twice as large as it used 
to be — as Boston has grown so this cradle has natu- 
rally grown — but in doubling its length and increasing 

133 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

its height it lost none of its good old-fashioned sym- 
metry, for the great Bulfinch undertook the work of 
enlargement and gave it his utmost care. 

The building was the gift, in 1742, of a public- 
spirited citizen named Peter Faneuil, who gave the 
money for it because he knew that Boston needed not 
only a good hall but a market-place to take the place 
of the earlier market, at the Old State House ; and a 
market-place was accordingly established in the lower 
floor. The building was burned a few years later, 
and promptly rebuilt, and the final enlargement that 
we now see was made a little more than a century ago. 

The hall itself, above the public market, is never 
rented, but is forever to be used freely by the people 
whenever they wish to meet together to discuss pub- 
lic affairs; and this alone would make the building 
proudly notable. And many a great man, and many 
a man who was deeply in earnest even if not great, 
has spoken in this hall. And it is still used freely 
for the public meetings of to-day. 

The meeting hall, almost square, has a right-angled 
arrangement of seats, and, with its rows of Doric 
columns, is quite distinguished. And one notices that 
a winding stairway leads down from the very floor 
of the speaker's platform and wonders if it is to facili- 
tate the entrance of popular speakers in case of a 
great crowd, or, on the other hand, to facilitate the 
hasty exit of the unpopular! One notices, too, that 
the balcony has peculiar effectiveness of proportion, 
adding much to the effectiveness of the entire hall, 
and further notices, as an additional point on the 

134 




FANEUIL HALL AND QUINCY MARKET 



FANEUIL HALL AND THE WATEESIDE 

part of Bulfinch, that this comes from his having made 
the space above the gallery a little higher than the 
space below, although the first impression is to the con- 
trary. It is the same idea, carried ont here in simple 
wood, in early America, on a small scale, that the great 
Giotto carried out so splendidly on a large scale in his 
tower at Florence. 

The great painting behind the speaker's platform 
is fittingly a painting of a great American oratorical 
scene, for it represents "Webster, in the United States 
Senate, delivering his celebrated reply to Hayne. 
Webster himself has spoken here in this hall just as 
all the famous orators of New England have spoken 
here, and here were held some most momentous early 
meetings, including that which, several years before 
Lexington and Bunker Hill, stated the rights of Amer- 
ica so plainly and imperatively as always to be held 
by the British to mark the real beginning of the 
Revolution. 

The paintings of notables that hang about the walls 
are to quite an extent copies, but what is believed to 
be an original Gilbert Stuart is the big painting of 
Washington, who is represented as about to mount his 
horse, at Dorchester Heights. This painting, how- 
ever, would not have been made by Stuart had it not 
been for a blacksmith ! For it seems that a wealthy 
citizen wished to pay for a painting of Washington, 
to be hung in this hall, and the town meeting was 
about to decide to give the commission to a certain 
Winstanley, when the blacksmith interposed his ob- 
jection. This Winstanley, a painter of no originality, 

135 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

had worked up quite a business in copying the Wash- 
ington of Stuart, getting the idea of doing so from 
the fact that Stuart's Washingtons had frankly been 
copied and adapted by Stuart himself — which was a 
very different matter. Washington himself, after sit- 
ting to Stuart, had freely and knowingly accepted a 
copy, by Stuart, of the painting that had been made 
from the sittings, and the original itself is now in the 
Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The only other Wash- 
ington that was painted by Stuart with his great sub- 
ject personally before him was what is known as the 
Lansdowne portrait, which journeyed long ago to 
England. Whenever, for years, Stuart needed money 
— which was often! — he painted a Washington for 
somebody, by copying or adapting from his own work. 
Winstanley knew of this, for there was no secrecy 
about it, and those who got these Washingtons from 
Stuart knew that they were copies or replicas, but that 
they were Stuart's own replicas; they were the re- 
sults of the great artist's personal study of his great 
model ; whereas the copies of Stuart that Winstanley 
made and sold, one of which made its way as a verita- 
ble Stuart to the White House, and was picturesquely 
taken out of its frame by Dolly Madison to save 
it on the approach of the British, were in no proper 
sense Stuarts. Yet when Faneuil Hall was to have its 
painting of Washington it was about to be decided to 
buy a copy from the ready Winstanley ! And it was 
at this point that the blacksmith, who is remembered 
only as a man of the North End, arose and vehe- 
mently opposed the idea, declaring that to procure a 

136 



FANEUIL HALL AND THE WATERSIDE 

copy of Gilbert Stuart made by some one else would 
be a lasting disgrace when Gilbert Stuart himself was 
actually living in the city. At that, Stuart was 
promptly commissioned to paint a Washington for 
Faneuil Hall. And it is a pleasant recollection that 
Edward Everett, in his eulogy of Lafayette, delivered 
in this hall, electrified his hearers by suddenly turning 
to this portrait of Washington and exclaiming: 
"Speak, glorious Washington! Break the long si- 
lence of that votive canvas !" 

From time to time, there have been gatherings here 
not only for political objects or to record grievances, 
but for social ends, and one such was a meeting at 
which General Gage, the royal governor, at a time 
when he knew that the Port Act was about to ruin the 
commerce and business of the town, rose and proposed 
a toast "To the prosperity of Boston"! And an- 
other was the ball given here, some three-quarters of 
a century ago, in honor of the Prince de Joinville, at 
which time Faneuil Hall and the adjoining Quincy 
Market, which was long ago built to meet the growing 
market needs of the city and whose gable faces the 
gable of Faneuil Hall, were connected by a temporary 
bridge and both buildings were aglow with light and 
thronged with guests. Quincy Market is itself 535 
feet long and covers 27,000 square feet of land. 

Another reminder of Faneuil Hall came to me in 
Windsor, England, recently, for in an out-of-the-way 
corner of that old town, near the foot of a picturesque 
and almost mysterious stairway which leads down 
from the huge castle on its height to a postern-door, 

137 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

I noticed a house with a tablet upon it. Something 
led me to cross the street to read, and I was interested 
to find that it was the home of Bobert Keayne, who 
left old Windsor for Boston and founded in this new 
world the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, 
the oldest military organization in America. And 
how old it makes this country seem ! For Keayne was 
born before the settlement of Boston, before even the 
settlement of Plymouth, and he founded the artillery 
company here in Boston in 1637, and the upper por- 
tion of Faneuil Hall is used as its armory. 

Keayne was only a tailor over in England, and it 
used to be an English saying that it takes several 
tailors to make a man, but Keayne, coming to America, 
showed that the English saying does not apply on this 
side of the ocean, for he certainly was a man of capac- 
ity and affairs, a man who did very much to establish 
the foundations of early Boston on a strong basis. 
That his will, written with his own hand, and dispos- 
ing of some four thousand pounds — quite a fortune 
for those days — covered 158 folio pages, and that it is 
said to be the longest will on record, at least in New 
England, is but one of the side-lights on an interest- 
ing personality ; but the most interesting thing he did 
was to found his artillery company, and he did this 
because he was a member of an old artillery company 
in London. Any man deserves to be remembered who 
puts in motion something that remains prominently 
in the public eye for almost three centuries ; and there 
seems to be no reason why his organization should not 
continue for centuries more. 

138 



FANETJIL HALL AND THE WATEKSIDE 

Down by the big and busy South Station which, 
when it was opened in 1899, was said to be the largest 
railway terminal in the world and which still claims 
to be first in the number of persons using it daily, one 
does not expect to find anything connected with the 
Boston of the past ; as you walk there, you think only 
of the rumble and thunder of present-day business, for 
the streets are thronged with trolley cars and heavy 
trucks and the sidewalks are crowded with busy busi- 
ness men, and elevated trains hurtle by on their spid- 
ery trestles. 

But you go on for a little beside the elevated, on At- 
lantic Avenue, and your attention is attracted by a 
bronze tablet, set into a building at one of the busiest 
corners, and something draws you to read it, and you 
find yourself deeply rewarded. Ordinarily, in these 
modern days, one does not stop to read tablets of the 
past on buildings of the present ; one likes to look at 
buildings of the past and to read of the actions of the 
past, and it is likely to be rather uninteresting to look 
at a place which is merely the site of a happening and 
which is now covered with something which has no re- 
lation to that happening. But this tablet is one of the 
exceedingly worth while exceptions. At the top is the 
figure of a full-rigged, old-time ship, and beneath the 
ship you read that this tablet marks the spot where 
formerly stood Griffin's Wharf; and lest you forget 
what Griffin's "Wharf was, the tablet goes on to explain 
that here lay moored, on December 16, 1773, three 
British ships with cargoes of tea, and that "to defeat 
King George's trivial but tyrannical tax of three pence 

139 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

a pound, ' ' about ninety citizens of Boston, partly dis- 
guised as Indians, boarded the ships and threw the 
cargoes — three hundred and forty-two chests in all — 
into the sea, "and made the world ring with the pa- 
triotic exploit of the Boston Tea Party." 

You cannot but feel stirred as you stand here, and 
the fact that where the wharf stood and ships lay is 
now all solid ground, built up with business blocks, 
does not take away from the sudden vision of the past 
which comes sweeping over you. For it was a right 
brave thing that those men did ; it was an achievement 
of tremendous daring in the face of the power of Eng- 
land ; and that the value of the tea was great added to 
the very real danger of most severe punishment: I 
have read, though it seems almost incredible, that the 
tea was valued at eighteen thousand pounds ! 

One should not, however, enter this district except 
on a Sunday. On Sundays all is quiet and deserted ; 
scarcely a single person is met ; it is almost a solitude, 
and it is an excellent time to continue to some of the 
nearby, old-time wharves which do still represent the 
old-time Boston waterside. 

It is but a short walk, continuing along Atlantic 
Avenue, to a big wharf which, although almost covered 
with modern cargo sheds, still retains its ancient name 
of India Wharf. And the wharf also retains the great 
old India Wharf building, standing detached from all 
the modern shipping sheds and towering up to its 
height of seven stories — really a towering height in 
early American days. A big, brick structure it is, 
built with a broad center and two broad wings, and 

140 



FANEUIL HALL AND THE WATERSIDE 

giving a striking effect of isolation— an isolation that 
is at the same time both shabby and proud. The big 
building faces out toward the water and gives a fine 
air of standing for the old shipping prosperity that 
meant so much in the early days of Boston ; and I can- 
not remember a more romantic looking business struc- 
ture in America. 

The brick, laid in English bond, has mellowed to a 
weathered yellowness. The fifty windows of the 
facade were originally shuttered, but the shutters re- 
main on only three, and beside the others tbe wrought- 
iron holders stick out like little black prongs. Some 
of the windows are arched with white stone ; here and 
there across the building's front are remains of white 
marble lines; a monster chimney stands above the 
towering top of the middle gable ; the two highest win- 
dows are fans, and a shelf between these two, now 
empty, up in the pediment, looks as though it was 
originally made to hold some figure, probably that of 
a ship ; and the lines of the sash of these two lofty fans 
are like the longitude lines of a globe. 

The pavement in front of the building is of enor- 
mous cobbles of granite, some of these blocks being as 
large as two feet by one, and they are just like ancient 
pavement blocks, such as one is accustomed to think 
of only in old Italian cities. 

India Wharf and the wharves adjoining are not par- 
allel with the shore line but project in long rectangles 
right out into the water of the harbor. Long Wharf, 
near by, was given its name because at the time it was 
built it was the longest wharf in the country; and be- 

141 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

cause it was so long, thus offering a point of military 
advantage, a battery used to stand out there on the 
very end of it. 

Central Wharf is also interesting, with its long row 
of old-fashioned stone warehouses. In fact, this en- 
tire region tells vividly of the picturesque early busi- 
ness years before the great changes that came with 
railroads. 

T Wharf — which, when you see it on the street sign, 
"TWf.," seems positively cryptic — is picturesque in 
a high degree, for old-time-looking, full-rigged fishing 
boats, with rattling yards and ropes, are tied up along- 
side, and on Sundays immense nets are spread out on 
the wharf, at great length, with their rows of cork 
floats. Sea-gulls whirl over the wharves and the 
water, and dart divingly for their food, and cry their 
harshly wailing note ; and on Sundays the fishermen 
and their friends, Americans and Italians, congregate 
about these boats and the wharf; and some of the 
fishermen — or perhaps they are dock hands or market 
porters — make their homes in the oddest of fleets, a 
covey of perhaps a score of little mastless boats, 
painted blue or green, and anchored close to shore in 
a space between two piers. And everywhere is the 
permeative smell of fish. And often the close-gath- 
ered fishing boats mass picturesquely against the sky 
a great tangle of masts and ropes and spars. 

Many of the buildings among these wharves stand 
on piling, and are partly over the water, and the 
wharves themselves are built of enormous blocks of 
stone, or of enormous timbers. In one place I noticed 

142 



FANEUIL HALL AND THE WATEESIDE 

a long stretch of black beach beneath overhanging 
flooring, and it led back in strange, long, tunnel-like 
spaces among the wooden supports, into the distant 
darkness; and all seemed whispering of romance or 
crime. 

Here one sees the long-forgotten sign of "Wharf- 
inger"; and there are little shops that sell all sorts 
of sailors' supplies: ferocious knives with blades a 
foot and a half long, fish forks with handles as long as 
hay forks but with only a single prong, fog horns, 
anchors, hooks, woolen "wristers," oil skin clothing, 
and "sou 'westers" that have come straight out of 
Winslow Homer's paintings. 

The sign, too, of "hake sounds" is remindful that 
this city of cod has also many another fish, for one 
finds there are the haddock, the mackerel and the her- 
ring; the scrod — which is really a little cod, although 
even Bostonians cannot always tell when the scrod be- 
comes a cod or when a cod is still a scrod. There are 
the swordfish and spikefish ; there are cusk and tinkers 
and eels; there are butterfish, flounders and perch; 
there are halibut and chicken-halibut; there are blue- 
fish, sea-trout, bass and scup; there are oysters, lob- 
sters, clams and the giant sea-clams so delectable in 
New England chowder ; there are sculpin, tautog and 
quahog. 

On Commercial Wharf is a row of uniform old 
buildings of dignified solidity, all broad gabled and of 
stone, with rows of little dormers like hencoops on 
their high slate roofs. When this wharf was built, 
about a century ago, it was by far the finest of the 

143 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

waterside blocks of buildings, and men whose ships 
traded to the Cape of Good Hope, the Spanish Main, 
to India and China, to the North of Europe, flocked to 
it to make it their headquarters. And old-timers love 
to tell that, in their boyhood, old-timers of that period 
loved to tell them, that in those early days of Ameri- 
can commerce the skillful captains of the ships would 
beat in under full sail, without assistance, up to these 
very wharves. 

The general district adjacent to these old-time 
wharves is mostly given over to the modern, but here 
and there are still to be seen quaint roof lines, and 
old-fashioned gables, and odd street-corner lines, rem- 
iniscent of the days that have gone. There is consid- 
erable, in fact, to remind one of old-time business 
London, including the many narrow passages and 
alley-ways that go diving here and there among the 
buildings. Not far away, too, is Fort Hill Park, a 
level space, grassed and sparsely-treed, in the heart 
of modern business buildings, and retaining the circu- 
lar shape remindful of its past : for here in early days 
rose a hill a hundred feet in height, and where it was 
cut partly down its slopes were covered with fashion- 
able homes — Gilbert Stuart chose his residence here — 
and at length it was entirely leveled into its present 
simple form. 

Up a little distance from the waterside, on Custom 
House Street, is the old Custom House of Boston, 
sadly altered in looks from its early days, shorn of all 
distinction, and now showing a front of extraordinary 
plainness, with a sign denoting that it is a "Boarding 

144 



FANEUIL HALL AND THE WATEKSIDE 

and Baiting Stable" — the "baiting" being itself a 
queer reminder of a vanished time. 

The old Custom House building is worth while mak- 
ing the few minutes' necessary pilgrimage to see, for 
here the collector of the port was Bancroft the histo- 
rian, and one of his assistants was a certain young man 
of the name of Hawthorne! Bancroft had been at- 
tracted by some of Hawthorne's early short stories, 
and for that reason had offered him a position here. 

Hawthorne was rather bored by the work; he was 
gauger and weigher, but does not seem to have given 
to the duties of these humble offices the hard work that 
a certain other writer, named Eobert Burns, devoted 
to similar duties. In fact, Hawthorne seems always 
to have considered public office a rather tiresome sort 
of thing to attend to, in spite of the fact that it gave 
certain financial advantages not to be scorned by nov- 
elists. I have somewhere read his own description of 
his work here in Boston, and he seemed to find the 
heat and the flies of the waterside most unpleasant; 
with nothing of offsetting pleasantness. Boston, at 
that time, had not discovered him — his recognition had 
been very slight. 

Somewhere I have read a brief description of him 
at this time, and it mentioned the delightful fact, 
which at once sets Hawthorne before us as a likable 
and very human man, that he loved to follow brass 
bands ! "Which amusing habit doubtless explains why, 
over in England, he notes in his journal that he had 
just seen march by the regiment of which George 
Washington was once enrolled as an officer ! 

145 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

Close by this old building — for one continually sees 
how near together are most of the important or inter- 
esting things in Boston — is the new Custom House, an 
extremely notable structure, towering up to the height 
of 498 feet above the sidewalk ; and the building does 
literally tower, for it may be said to be all tower! 
Years ago, a dignified structure, with pillared fronts, 
was built, in the form of a Creek cross, to replace the 
old building of Bancroft and Hawthorne, but the busi- 
ness of the city gradually outgrew it, and an appropri- 
ation was made by Congress for larger quarters. 
Beal estate, however, had so gone up in price in Bos- 
ton that the appropriation was not sufficient to buy 
land as well as to put up a building, and so the expedi- 
ent was hit upon of running up the building itself into 
the air! The pillared fronts, with their thirty-two 
great Doric columns, still remain, but the entire center 
has risen, splendidly dominating in its immense height, 
making a tower which, though not quite beautiful, can 
be seen for miles in all directions. The city of Boston 
forbids the erection of any building within its limits 
higher than 125 feet, but the United States, taking ad- 
vantage of the fact that it owns as a National Govern- 
ment the land upon which any of its public buildings 
stands, simply ignored the Boston restriction and went 
right ahead with this higher tower. And the people 
of Boston, themselves, are not displeased, although 
this was done in spite of them; in fact, they say that it 
gives a beacon-like effect to the city which rather 
matches the generally desired tone. At the same time, 
it fits in with the beacon idea of the early days, and 

146 



FANEUIL HALL AND THE "WATERSIDE 

the fact that old Boston of England is also dominated 
by a tower which can be plainly seen for miles and 
miles across the fenland does certainly add to the 
sense of appropriateness. And that the Custom 
House stands so supreme over everything else in Bos- 
ton, that it so dominates, is but natural after all — for 
in Boston it is natural for Custom to dominate ! 




CHAPTER XIII 



THE STBEETS OP BOSTON 




|VEN Boston, in spite of its 
being an intellectual city — 
and one need never prove 
that Boston is intellectual, 
for Bostonians stand pleas- 
antly ready to admit it — 
sufficiently succumbed to 
mid- Victorian standards of 
building as to put up a 
goodly number of architec- 
of the sad examples being 
was so highly thought of 
at the time of its construction as to draw such 
encomiums as the following from an intelligent 
observer of about 1880: "Its style of architecture 
is grand in the extreme. It is a building of elegant 
finish. Its roof is an elaboration of Louvre and Man- 
sard styles." Really, beyond this nothing need be 
said. Yet this building points out the irony of fate, 
for in its granite prodigiousness it did a vastly better 
thing for Boston than many a more beautiful building 
would have done, for it stood as an absolute barrier 
in the great fire of 1872, completely stopping the 

148 



tural ineptitudes, one 
the Post-Office, which 



THE STREETS OF BOSTON 

frightful rush of flames in its direction; without this 
unbeautiful building the terrible record of 767 build- 
ings burned, 67 acres swept over, and a money loss of 
seventy-five millions, would have been vastly worse. 

That fire destroyed many a picturesque landmark, 
but the city still retains the old-time interest that 
comes from narrow and crooked streets. "The street 
called Straight" was certainly not a Boston street. 
In its whimsical complexity, the city is still as notable 
as when the Marquis de Chastellux wrote that he 
thought this feature exemplified "la liberie." 

In the old section of the city there are still to be 
found not only crooked streets and unexpected angles 
but great numbers of narrow passages and blind ways, 
and there are little court-yards and streets that end in 
stone steps — all giving a highly satisfying sense of the 
olden days, for it is mainly on account of the olden 
days that one likes to come to Boston. One long slit 
of a passage, nearly six feet wide, running close be- 
tween business blocks, is an "avenue," and I know it 
is an avenue because there is a sign on it to that effect, 
although otherwise I should never have suspected it 
of bearing such a large title. One can burrow across 
much of the old city through narrow passages, and 
here and there it is not only the metaphorical burrow- 
ing of narrow ways, but the literal burrowing of some 
public passage through and under some pile of build- 
ings. One may even find extraordinarily narrow pas- 
sages in such a comparatively new section as between 
West and Temple Streets and Temple and Winter ; 
and one may follow narrow ways, one after another, 

149 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

from the Granary to Faneuil Hall, and in many an- 
other place. Of no other American city could one 
say, as Holmes said of Boston, that he used to "bore" 
through it, knowing it as the old inhabitant of a 
Cheshire knows his cheese; and "bore" is precisely 
the right word. Some of the passages are so narrow 
that, standing in the middle, one may put an elbow 
against each wall. And these network passages are 
not back-ways for refuse and ashes, but are steadily 
and freely used by men and women as public pathways 
and shortcuts. 

After all, as to Boston streets in general, one re- 
members that it has finely been said that, although 
the city is full of crooked little streets, it has opened 
and kept open more turnpikes that lead straight to 
free thought, free speech and free deeds than has any 
other city. 

The street pavements, one regrets to notice, are 
likely to be rough and the sidewalks narrow, and in 
muddy weather the result is what would naturally be 
expected from such a combination, for in no other city 
have I noticed such splashing of house fronts and store 
windows with mud as in some parts of Boston. In 
the medieval streets in old European cities conditions 
are the same except that there is little traffic to speak 
of. Had Macaulay ever been in America one would 
have taken it for granted that the inspiration of his 
lines, telling that to the highest turret tops was 
dashed the yellow foam, came right from Boston. 
And the motorist must know his Boston exceptionally 
well to be able to make his way about on streets whose 

150 



THE STREETS OF BOSTON 

pavement is even measurably smooth. The cobbles 
at the sides of the Beacon Hill streets are obviously 
excellent as checks to sliding in slippery weather, but 
the cobbles in other parts of the city are not so under- 
standable, and the holes and roughnesses that have 
nothing to do with cobbles are understandable even 
less. By "cobbles," it may be added, is meant not 
merely the rough Belgian blocks which are to be found 
here and there in Boston as in other cities, but round- 
top beach stones, little boulders, extremely uneven in 
surface and polished by the hoofs of many generations 
of horses. But there are splendid parkway roads in 
Boston, and some splendidly smooth roads leading out 
to some of the suburbs ; altogether, Boston has some of 
the very best and some of the very worst roads that 
I have ever seen in a city. And frequently, on account 
of inefficient street-cleaning, there is achieved an in- 
credible dustiness. 

The hand-organ is still a common survival in Bos- 
ton streets, and there are also survivals of street cries, 
in at least the older and still American parts of the 
city, of a kind that have nearly vanished from most 
other large cities; and these cries quite fulfill the 
requisite of being practically unintelligible except to 
the ear of custom. Some one wishing to rival the 
familiar prints of "Old London Cries" might still get 
out a series of "Boston Cries" and date it in the 
twentieth century. The humble soapgrease man still 
goes about with greasy cart and gives his humble soap- 
grease cry; the strident call of the eager fishman is a 
familiar possession of the city, though within my own 

151 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

memory the conch-shell of the mackerel man has van- 
ished ; the varied cries of the men with fruit still rend 
the air, and these men have usually carts, with horses, 
which they drive by at a perpetual quickened walk, 
and the insistent and urgent voices seem to declare 
that the fruit must be bought instantly ; perhaps the 
iceman is the best of all, for he wails and trails his 
words with a wonderful, lengthening "ee-ice," with a 
poignant accenting of the final note ; and, as I write, 
one seems even more interesting than the iceman, for 
I hear a cry that is not only a veritable survival of 
the past, but one which has quite disappeared, so far 
as I know, from other cities — the cry of the ragman, 
going along with his bag over his shoulder and his 
scale in his hand, with his quietly murmuring cry of 
"Bags, an' ol' clothes"! 

And in line with the street cries of Boston is a street 
sound that is curiously remarkable — the sound of 
bells that are strung on horses drawing the more 
primitive kinds of delivery wagon, or tied directly on 
the wagon thills. I do not remember any other Ameri- 
can city where horses or wagons are belled. Nor do 
I refer to sleighbells, which are a different matter alto- 
gether. I mean bells that go ringing or jangling as 
the four-wheeled vehicles move through the streets ; 
and it gives a most odd effect. The custom probably 
began as a measure of safety in approaching the fre- 
quent intersections of the narrow streets ; for the same 
reason that the gondola men of Venice utter their 
long-drawn-out warning cry as they approach the in- 
tersections of the narrow canals. 

152 



THE STREETS OF BOSTON 

Sleighbells in winter are common; indeed, Boston 
is very much of a winter city, as is shown by the swift 
appearance of sleighs and bob-sleds after a snow, the 
swift handling of the snow-shoveling problem, the 
myriad little avalanches from the sloping roofs when 
a thaw comes, the skating on the Charles and on the 
lake in the Public Garden and on the pond in the Com- 
mon, and the free and untrammeled coasting of boys 
and girls down the paths and the hill-slopes of the 
Common. And conservative ladies who still avoid 
limousines and pin their social faith to carriages — the 
"kerridges" of Holmes, with a "pole and a pair" — 
have the coupe top detached from the wheels and 
slung on an iron frame, with graceful runners, and, 
thus vehicularly equipped, sleigh forth in undis- 
turbed exclusiveness to make their afternoon calls. 

It so happens that I have rarely noticed a policeman 
upon the Common, though on inquiry I have learned 
that always there is supposedly a detail of two police- 
men there ; perhaps it is only a fancy, that the general 
sense of freedom as to the Common keeps it unwatched 
ground. It seems quite unwatched, even when there 
is skating on the big pond before it has frozen 
strongly, and when, after freezing and melting, there 
are holes in the ice and gaps of black water along the 
edges. I one day asked a policeman on Tremont 
Street about this, for I was accustomed to see in other 
cities the red ball and supervision, for skating,-but in- 
stead of saying that the water was not deep enough to 
be dangerous except for a cold wetting, he said 
thoughtfully: "Why, no — there ain't no rule about it 

153 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

— the boys go on when they want to." Then a slow 
smile crept over his face. "I suppose it ain't likely 
they will go near the holes," he said. It really seems 
as if this freedom on the Common has come down 
without question since that pre-Eevolutionary time 
when the boys of Boston went to the British General in 
command and complained of the spoiling of their 
slides and had their claim acknowledged. 

The street signs of Boston are explanatory, exposi- 
tory, admonitory, advisory. I have even seen, but 
rarely, the blunt "Keep off," but there is more likeli- 
hood of finding such a courteously suggestive sign as 
' ' Newly seeded ground. ' ' And as Boston takes it for 
granted that the people within its gates wish every- 
thing to be reasonably done, you will see "Uncheck 
your horses on going up the hill," or "Best your 
horses"; and you will notice such advice as "Do not 
walk more than two abreast," and "Do not stop in the 
middle of the sidewalk," and "Do not block the cross- 
ings." 

A kind of sign, rather exceptionally rhadamanthine, 
is seen at some of the street intersections and bluntly 
commands "Do not enter here"; and several visitors 
have told me that they have actually gone clear around 
such blocks so as to enter at the other end, to see why 
it was that admittance was forbidden, and that not un- 
til then did they realize that Bostonians merely meant 
to say that it was a one-way street for vehicles, with 
no intended reference to pedestrians. And a smile is 
admissible when you see a stairway, leading down 
from a sidewalk, marked ' ' To the Elevated " ! In any 

154 



THE STEEETS OF BOSTON 

other city Bostonians would see humor in calling a 
subway an elevated, even though it may chance after 
a while to lead to an elevated. Also, I have been 
directed in the suburbs to the "Subway," where there 
was only a stair to the elevated. And when you read, 
in a street car, that you are "forbidden to stand" on 
the front platform, and in the same car that you are 
"not allowed to stand" on the rear platform, you 
wonder just what fine distinction is implied. 

The custom in Boston at some corners is to give not 
only the street names, but the number of the ward as 
well, and a visitor to the city told me that, arriving at 
night and starting out to explore the city the next 
morning, he at once noticed Ward II, Ward III, and 
so on, near his hotel and thought he must be in the 
vicinity of a great Boston hospital with out-lying hos- 
pital buildings. And an old Bostonian assures me 
that it was not a joke, but a fact, that a Boston library 
had a sign reading "Only low talk permitted in this 
room" — till the newspapers learned of it! 

"Prepayment" cars are a feature of Boston, and 
you find yourself vaguely wondering about them until 
you see that they are but the "Pay as you enter" cars 
of other cities. 

And all this in a city whose very street railway men 
will calmly refer you to "the next articulated car, 
sir," and which preens itself on such things as say- 
ing that gloves are always "cleansed" and never 
"cleaned" ! which is remindful that the men of Boston 
do not wear gloves as freely as do the men of other 
large cities in the East; gloves are evidently looked 

155 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

upon, by them, as meant for cold weather, and not 
until cold weather are they donned generally. 

I have noticed that the police are a courteously 
helpful set of men, never too busy to answer questions. 
I have even smiled to see the traffic men at the busiest 
crossings stop to answer carefully and distinctly the 
questions of fluttered folk even while thronging motor 
cars come bearing down in threatening masses. 

In the best retail shopping district, which corre- 
sponds with what used to be the ' ' ladies ' mile ' ' in New 
York, there are many delightful specialty shops on 
streets just off the principal thoroughfares: little 
shops which make one think of London. There are 
lace-shops, linen-shops, hat-shops, tea-shops — the list 
might be extended indefinitely. The heavy percent- 
age of candy-shops, with their attractive windows, is 
noticeable, and one finds himself thinking that this 
must be due to the influence of women — until he dis- 
covers that there is also a striking number of candy- 
shops down in the heart of the business district ! 

Boston must, also, be an intensely flower-loving 
city, judging from the frequency of gorgeous window 
displays of flowers and the great number of shops that 
sell not only cut flowers but bulbs, seeds and house- 
plants. 

Ask a Philadelphian or a New Yorker to show you 
the nearest doctor and he looks at the nearest house ! 
For doctors ' signs are so common in those cities that 
you think it likely to see one at any window. But in 
Boston the doctors' signs are few and far between, 
and when found they are so small as to be not only 

156 



THE STREETS OF BOSTON 

inconspicuous but almost unreadable. It would seem 
as if tbe bigger a doctor's reputation the smaller his 
sign. And to a great extent doctors throng to office 
buildings. 

The pharmacists, in distinction from the candy 
and soda people who also sell drugs, are even rarer in 
proportion than in other American cities. 

Old-fashioned terms or phrases are preserved. 
The sign of "Lobsters and Musty Ale" is not infre- 
quent, and it is still far from impossible to find a 
"Tap"; and if one is so old-fashioned as to drive into 
town with a horse he may still have it "baited," as 
old-fashioned announcements still have it, at old- 
fashioned places. 

And there are still, in Boston, book-shops that look 
like book-shops, delightful book-shops that attract 
book-buyers and book-lovers; a type of shop that 
is passing, in some American cities, on account of 
the taking over of the book trade by department 
stores. 

So sensitive is the Boston mind, in some respects, 
that no employee of any shop, or, in fact, any 
employee of any kind, is ever treated so harshly as to 
be "discharged"; and to be "fired" would be shud- 
deringly impossible ; here in Boston a dismissed em- 
ployee has simply "got through." That is all. He 
has "got through." And with that delicate euphe- 
mism the incident and the conversation are delicately 
but finally closed. If, on the other hand, a man has 
resigned of his own free will, or has moved into a 
higher sphere of influence, that is another matter, and 

157 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

Bostonian pains are taken to make that fact clear. 
But in general, lie has just "got through." 

It is impossible to think of any street scene in Bos- 
ton without thinking of the most Bostonian feature of 
all, the Boston bag. A plain leather bag it is, not 
much over a foot long and about one foot in height; 
it has something of the quality of a valise and some- 
thing of the quality of a portfolio ; it has a flat bottom 
and two leather handles and never closes with a lock 
but with a strap. It is used by all the men and women 
and girls and boys, it is used by youth and age, it is 
used in walking the streets, in shopping, in going to 
school, in going to business offices, it is carried in 
street cars and automobiles, it is used for business and 
for pleasure, it holds books, purchases of all sorts, 
skates, lunches and anything; it may even at times be 
empty, but it is none the less carried. No visitor who 
becomes fully impregnated with the Boston feeling 
ever leaves the city without carrying one away with 
him. It has long been said that the requisite pos- 
sessions of every true Bostonian are a Boston bag, a 
subscription to the Transcript and a high moral 
purpose. 

There is so much of the pleasant in the weather in 
Boston that I do not quite see why it is so abused by 
the citizens themselves. It is not altogether so good 
as in some American cities, but it is quite as good as 
in some others, even of such as have a better name 
for their weather. Yet one must admit, however re- 
luctantly, that there is an east wind, which at times is 
highly disagreeable. It can have such fierce, ugly, 

158 



THE STKEETS OF BOSTON 

persistent, tearing qualities that you feel as if on the 
bridge of a liner with all the Atlantic pulling at you. 
And it can blow like a proof of perpetual motion. It 
can be as raw and chill and wet, too, as a wind blow- 
ing straight off the Banks ; and one begins to see that 
it is not necessarily blue blood that gives blue noses. 

Although James Bussell Lowell, Bostonian and 
Cambridgean that he was, gave Boston, with a 
subtlety that the city has never yet realized, its cruel- 
est weather tap by his declaration that it is in June 
that "if ever" come perfect days, the perfect days are 
many in the course of a year and the really excellent 
days are many more. It seems as if Bostonians love 
to find fault with their weather just as the people of 
Edinburgh like to find fault with theirs, as a sort of 
relief to wind-strained nerves, but without meaning to 
be taken too literally. And yet, I remember a recent 
September in which, for several days, some of the 
Boston public schools were closed on account of the 
oppressive heat, only to be closed for excessive cold 
the very week after. 

There are more drunken men to be met on Boston 
streets than one sees in other cities, and many of them 
are well dressed; and perhaps the frequency of the 
sight indicates that the police do not think it necessary 
to be too severe with men who are uncomfortably tack- 
ing and taking their way home. But at least it is clear 
that the law which takes away the screens from bars, 
and thus puts them in public view, so that the passing 
public, friends or relatives or employers, may see any 
man who takes a drink, does not act as a deterrent; 

159 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

indeed, the crowded condition of the bars in general 
throughout the city shows that the enforced publicity 
has not had any prohibitive effect. 

The parkways of Boston, and especially what may 
be called the incidental parkways, are thoroughly ad- 
mirable ; and by incidental parkways I mean the nar- 
row strips, boulevarded and parked for long distances, 
as along the Back Bay and out for miles through the 
Fenway and beyond, where the bordering land is used 
freely for homes, and just as much for the charming 
homes of people of moderate means as for those of the 
wealthy. 

There are superb roadways, running through beauti- 
ful park-land, far out into the country outside of Bos- 
ton, such roads being the result of the combined and 
coordinated plans of State and city and townships. 
I well remember such a road, leading out through 
Commonwealth Avenue and Brookline, and thence on 
to the westward toward Weston, through a lovely 
natural landscape, admirably beautified by art. 
There were groups of white birches beside the road, 
and there were glimpses of little lakes, and the trees 
were rich in the splendor of their autumn foliage, the 
yellow maples, the scarlet sumac, the oaks with their 
leaves of splendid bronze. Country clubs seemed to 
hover, here and there, along the border, and, almost 
hidden by trees, I noticed many a home. Other roads 
now and then led off enticingly, and there were open 
glades, tree foliaged, and splendid groups of massed 
oaks, and veritable old warriors of pines. It is a roll- 
ing country, part hills and part levels, and now and 

160 



THE STEEETS OF BOSTON 

then there were special bits of beauty where a stream 
was crossed and where one would catch glimpses of 
canoes and of pretty girls paddling in blazers of yellow 
or purple or green. 

And this road is only one of a number of perfectly 
oiled roads, tar-bound and hard, radiating away from 
the city's center. One such road leads to the admira- 
bly conceived Arnold Arboretum, established nearly 
half a century ago, through the bequest of one hun- 
dred thousand dollars, by James Arnold of New Bed- 
ford, for the growth and exhibition of every kind of 
tree that can be grown in the New England climate. 
The Arboretum occupies over two hundred acres, and 
is a beautiful and most interesting park, finely roaded 
and footpathed, and planted with a vast variety of 
trees and shrubs, all plainly marked. 

One of the finest excursions, by motor or train or 
trolley, is to "Wellesley; for the Elizabethan college 
buildings, newly erected since a fire, are positively 
beautiful in their setting of water and rolling land 
and ancient pines ; and the atmosphere is one of sweet 
and scholarly serenity. 

The parks of Boston, and the parkway boulevards, 
have not as yet been merged, as in Chicago, in a com- 
prehensively connected system, yet the results thus 
far are highly satisfactory. I remember, among other 
roads, the Eevere Beach Parkway, a superb boulevard 
that leads off towards Lynn and Salem; curving out 
from Charlestown, and running beside the broad blue 
bay and the wide white beach that are held within 
the protecting arm of Nahant. Eevere Beach, so 

161 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

thronged with myriad pleasure seekers in summer, I 
recently saw in the loneliness of October, with its long 
line of coastwise buildings closed, and only two human 
figures in sight in the entire length and breadth of 
the beach, two girls, one redcoated and the other red- 
capped, moving prettily about. 

And I went on through Lynn and Swampscott, along 
a rock-made road just a little higher than the sweep- 
ing sandy curve beside it, and there I saw myriad 
boats floating in the water, or lying on the sloping 
sand, and the water was all alive and glittering under 
a cloudless sky; and a man in yellow oilskins was 
leading a white horse that was drawing a green boat, 
mounted on low gray wheels, toward the blue water. 






F "/V. 











CHAPTEE XIV 

IN THE OLD NORTH END 

|ROM the old North End, the old- 
est part of the city, most of the 
vestiges of early American life 
have disappeared. There are two 
extremely interesting old build- 
ings, and there is Copp's Hill, but 
in regard to the rest of the locality 
it is not a jest, but a very practical 
fact, to say that the sights of the 
North End are mostly sites. 
Here and there, tucked away, are a doorway, a pil- 
lar, an ancient gable, but even such reminders are few. 
However, the part of the city maintains strikingly the 
old Boston characteristic of narrow streets, leading 
in odd lines, and the two ancient buildings that re- 
main are unusually ancient and of unusual interest. 
The North End has become Italian. It is true that 
Boston, on the whole, retains the general atmosphere 
of an American city, but the entire North End is 
foreign, and Salem Street might as well be called 
the Via Tribunali. 

It was many years ago that the descendants of the 
original Americans disappeared from the North End, 
but for a long time afterwards a great many of the 

163 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

old-time houses remained, and the entire district was 
so taken over by Hebrews that, until recent years, the 
typical resident was that college-song celebrity, sung 
into American fame, whose "name was Solomon Levy, 
with his store on Salem Street." Gradually the 
Italians have come into complete possession, and un- 
attractive tenements have been erected for them, to 
take the place of the houses of the past. 

The old church on Salem Street, the Chiesa del 
Cristo, is of fascinating interest. The name is not 
remindful of things American, and so it may be ex- 
plained that, although the Italian name has really 
been placed out in front of the church to attract the 
neighborhood dwellers, the good old American name 
is also there ; for it is the Church of Christ, the famous 
Old North Church, a bravely notable church, the old- 
est of all the churches of Boston. But it somewhat 
startles an American to find Christ Church translated 
into Chiesa del Cristo, with ' ' Servizio Divino," "Scu- 
ola Domenicati," and "Tutti sono invitata," added. 

But you enter the church and at once you are back 
I in the far-distant American past, for the church has 
stood here on the slope of Copp 's Hill since 1723, and 
its interior, so fair and white, so pilastered and pan- 
eled in beauty, is full of the very atmosphere of early 
days. So white, indeed, is the interior, that the 
only touches of color are in the rose silk about the 
altar and the organ gallery, and the color of rose in the 
lining of the pews, this diffused presence of rose giv- 
ing just tbe needed softening touch. But I ought not 
to forget another touch of color : an American flag, at 

164 



IN THE OLD NORTH END 

one end of the church — a pleasant thing to see in this 
old American and now Italian neighborhood. 

The square box pews, the high and isolated pulpit, 
reached by its bending stair, the double row of white 
columns, the great brass candelabra of such excellent 
simplicity in design — all is restful, complete, well 
cared for, in every respect satisfactory. 

The exceedingly sweet chimes are of eight bells, 
placed here in 1744, and upon one of them the proud 
statement is lettered : "We are the first ring of bells 
cast for the British Empire in North America. ' ' And 
when they ring out the old-time hymns familiar to the 
English-speaking races, here in the now foreign-speak- 
ing region, as they do on Sunday afternoons, one may 
fancy that it is with a sort of sweet pathos, as if hop- 
ing that some American will hear. 

There are many details of interest. The old clock 
in front of the organ has ticked there for almost a 
century and a half. Here is a pew set apart, so the 
old inscription has it, for the use of the "Gentlemen 
of the Bay of Honduras" — and one learns that this 
pew was long ago thus honorably set apart in recogni- 
tion of the building of the spire of the church by the 
Honduras merchants of 1740. The present spire, 
above the tower, is not the original one, which blew 
down over a hundred years ago, but the spire that we 
now see, delicate and strong and graceful as it is, was 
put up by the architect to whom Boston owes much, 
Bulfinch, who carefully reproduced it from the orig- 
inal drawings. In front of the organ are four charm- 
ing little figures of cherubim, carved figures of women 

165 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

perched prettily, with trumpets at their lips, stand- 
ing there as they have stood since the long-past pre- 
Eevolutionary days when they were captured by an 
English privateer from a French ship. 

It is a place to wander about in and notice one in- 
teresting thing after another. Here, for example, is 
a tablet in memory of Beverend Mather Byles, Jr., 
who was rector here from 1768 to 1775, one of the 
many Church of England clergymen who fled in the 
early days of the Bevolution to New Brunswick or 
Nova Scotia, which were still loyal British posses- 
sions. And there is a tablet to the memory of Major 
John Pitcairn, he who at Concord, according to the 
spirited tradition, stirred his rum with his finger and 
said that thus he would stir the blood of the Ameri- 
cans before night, but whose bravery could not save 
the English forces from their running defeat from 
Concord back to Boston. He was mortally wounded 
a few weeks later on Bunker Hill. Likely enough 
General Gage, witnessing the battle from the very 
tower of this old church, saw him carried by his son 
from the hillside down to the boats, where the young 
man kissed him a last farewell and returned to duty 
— one of the extremely dramatic touches in American 
* history, and one which so impressed General Bur- 
goyne that he spoke of what a wonderful scene it 
would make in a play. 

Grim old vaults extend beneath the entire church, 
but admittance is now forbidden to visitors. I went 
through, years ago, with a garrulous old sexton, now 
long since dead, who loved the old inscriptions and 

166 



IN THE OLD NOKTH END 

loved to talk of the happenings in the dark backward 
and abysm of time, and I remember how he pointed 
out, with curious pride, the vaults of the poor of the 
parish in the place of honor beneath the very altar, 
and he deciphered for me ancient, rusted inscriptions 
telling of lords and ladies who had lain beneath the 
church — inscriptions that were, to the imagination, 
veritable volumes of romance ! — and he showed me an 
open charnel vault, down in those black depths, where 
whitening bones lay in lidless coffins. 

Many of the New England rectors, fleeing from the 
Eevolution, carried the ecclesiastical silver of their 
churches with them, but Eector Byles did not follow 
that unfortunate example, and thus the Old North 
Church still owns its old silver, although it has de- 
posited it, for safe keeping and so that it may be seen 
under safe conditions, with the Museum of Fine Arts. 
And it is a proud possession, for the splendid tall 
flagons, the paten, the bowls, the plates, make in all 
the most notable collection of old ecclesiastical silver 
in New England, and have come down with memories 
of wealthy donors, of merchants, of Colonial rulers, 
even of royalty. 

The church still proudly holds its old vellum-covered 
books, one of the most picturesque collections in 
America ; and there is a very early bust of Washing- 
ton, believed to be the first monument to "Washington 
to be set up anywhere in America ; in recent years the 
famous name of Houdon has been attached to this, but 
it is not quite like Houdon 's work, and it was probably 
made by some forgotten artist who was momentarily 

167 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

inspired by such a mighty subject as Washington. 

There is a two-centuries-old, mahogany, bandy- 
legged armchair in the chancel, so fine in shape, so 
truly glorious a specimen of chairmaking, as fitly to 
be compared with the best old armchairs of America 
— William Penn's, the high-backed Chippendale of the 
first officer of Congress, the Jacobean armchair of 
Concord, the Elder's chair of Plymouth. One places 
this chair of Christ Church near the head of the list. 
The altar table is also contemporaneous with the 
church itself and is of solid, heavy oak. In a room 
behind the chancel there is also some extremely pleas- 
ing old furniture, for there are a desk of oak and a 
gate-legged table, and an ancient chair of Queen Anne 
design, fine and notable. 

You go forth again into Salem Street, and you have 
been so deeply impregnated with the spirit of the past 
that you can glance up, with a pleasure that is un- 
alloyed by the swarming foreign life, at the fine pro- 
portions of this old edifice, which has stood here so 
beautifully and so long. Then again comes the sense 
that this has become a Naples, but without the pic- 
turesqueness of Naples : without the color, the pleas- 
ant intimacies, the costumes, the flowers, the goats, 
of that massed and ancient city: and you feel angered 
that Italian boys crowd about you so vociferously, of- 
fering themselves as guides to the ancient American 
graves on Copp's Hill. 

Up on the front of the church is a tablet telling that 
from this tower were hung the signal lanterns of Paul 
Bevere ; and as one reads this the mind is filled with 

168 



IN THE OLD NORTH END 

a rush of romantic memories. For that ride of Paul 
Eevere's was so wonderful a thing! And it is not 
fiction, romantic though it sounds, but a veritable fact. 
Eevere did not, so it happened, see the lanterns him- 
self, but friends were on the lookout and told him 
that the lights showed, and off he went galloping on 
his splendid errand. Even the most sluggish blood 
must thrill at such a story. 

And the tale itself would be none the less inspiring 
even if, as some have believed, it was from the tower 
of another North Church that the lights were flashed, 
instead of from this, for it is the splendid story it- 
self that matters ; the story of how Paul Eevere was 
silently rowed to the Charlestown shore, past the 
Somerset, British man-of-war, and the other ships of 
the British fleet, the story of the flashing out of the 
lights, and of Eevere 's bravely galloping off through 
the Middlesex hamlets and farms and telling of the 
British march: "A voice in the darkness, a knock 
at the door, and a word that shall echo forevermore" 
— It is a fine thing for our country to possess a tale 
so splendidly romantic and so nobly true. 

The other North Church, for which some claim has 
been made, stood in North Square, not far from here, 
and was torn down by the British for firewood in the 
course of the siege of Boston. Paul Eevere himself, 
writing years after the close of the Eevolution, says 
the signals were shown on the "North Church." He 
does not say, "the North Church that was destroyed," 
and therefore should be taken to mean the church 
known by all as the North Church at the time he wrote 

169 



THE BOOK OE BOSTON 

— the church still standing to-day. The present 
church fits the description that the lanterned church 
"rose above the graves on the hill," and the situation 
is precisely such as would be chosen for signaling 
across the water ; so there is no good reason to doubt 
its being the very building, thus leaving to the noble 
story a noble existent setting. 

Copp's Hill Burying-Ground, near the Old North 
Church, the metaphorical "night encampment on the 
hill," was literally a camp, for British soldiers, dur- 
ing the siege, and its oldest portion became a ceme- 
tery at least as long ago as 1660. 

The hill is not so high as it originally was, having 
been greatly altered in appearance by the grading 
of adjacent streets and the building of embankments, 
and also by the erection of tenements that huddle 
against the cemetery ; and tenement dwellers actually 
string their clothes-lines, with their variegated bur- 
dens, not only beside the graveyard but actually 
across parts of it. And cats, mostly the big yellow 
ones, roam sedately about, yet somehow without the 
grim suggestiveness that Stevenson thought he dis- 
cerned in the cemetery cats of Edinburgh. 

Copp's Hill is particularly the burying-ground of 
the Mather family, including Cotton and Increase, and 
the Mather tomb is still preserved ; but as to the graves 
of most of the other early Americans buried here there 
is scarcely any certainty as to precise location or date, 
for many of the stones have been freely changed 
about, and many have had the dates chipped and even 
altered ; many were even carried away and, when re- 

170 



IN THE OLD NORTH END 

covered, were set back at random. And none of this 
vandalism can be charged to foreigners. It was done 
before the influx of either Hebrews or foreigners, by 
Americans who saw humor in changing dates and 
shifting stones, and others who utilitarianly recog- 
nized in these stones material for doorsteps, window- 
sills and chimneys. Still, this burying-ground stands 
notably, even though conglomeratedly, for early Bos- 
ton. 

I found it a quiet place in spite of the tenement sur- 
roundings, and with a marked effect of crowded mor- 
tality, which is doubtless owing, in some degree, to 
the effect of crowded life in the streets and tenements 
adjacent. The place is a grassy knoll, studded with 
stones and with smallish trees, and the ground is 
a-flutter with little American flags fastened on low 
upright iron rods, it being not precisely apparent 
which graves these flags mark, although one naturally 
supposes that they are offerings of Decoration Day. 

Down below, seen over rooftops and down narrow 
streets, is the harbor, and on the height beyond, over 
in Charlestown, towers the lofty monument of Bunker 
Hill. In the harbor, the other day, there lay at 
anchor, with felicity of position, several warships, 
just where the English warships were at anchor when 
Paul Eevere was rowed by. 

Always in this vicinity the mind goes back to Paul 
Revere. And it is pleasant to know that the little 
building on North Square which was his home for 
many years, not many blocks away from the Old 
North Church, has been preserved, although it is al- 

171 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

most lost among the Italian shops and tenements of 
the district. It is a small building with an over-hang- 
ing second story, a high sloping roof, and the hugest 
of chimneys. And if it has been somewhat over re- 
stored outside and in, with more of diamond panes 
than Bevere himself would have used, still, it is such 
a satisfaction to see it kept at all that one does not like 
to feel critical about it. It was a very old house when 
Bevere bought it, before the Eevolution, and, as a 
gauge of values in those days, it may be mentioned 
that he paid for it, in cash, 213 pounds 6 shillings and 
8 pence, and that he also gave a mortgage for 160 
pounds. It was from the very windows of this house, 
even though now over-diamonded, that he showed 
those transparencies of the Boston Massacre that 
brought all Boston here, aflame with excitement. 

The boldness of Paul Bevere, his bluntness, his dar- 
ing, his physical energy, ought to have won him high 
place in public affairs. He was one of the most 
trusted "Sons of Liberty," from as early as 1765; as 
confidential messenger he was entrusted with impor- 
tant communications from prominent leaders of Bos- 
ton, such as Adams and Hancock, to members of the 
Provincial Congress and the Continental Congress; 
several months before Lexington, in December of 
1774, he rode, for the Boston Committee of Safety, to 
the Committee of Safety at Portsmouth, notifying 
them that the English had prohibited importations of 
powder and munitions, and that a large garrison had 
been ordered to Fort William and Mary, whereupon, 
in consequence of this message, some four hundred 

172 



IN THE OLD NOETH END 

men were hurried by the Portsmouth Committee to 
the fort, where they temporarily made prisoners of 
the captain and his handful of soldiers, and went off 
with some ninety-seven kegs of powder and a quantity 
of small arms, which, thus captured, were afterwards 
used to vast advantage on Bunker Hill. 

As an artist, Eevere made prints, and copper-plate 
engravings, of pictures of ante-Revolutionary events, 
which were sent out broadcast and made wide and 
successful appeals to patriotism. He was forty years 
old when the Revolution began ; a man well tested and 
trusted; a man who had given hostages to fortune, 
too, for by his first wife he had eight children, and he 
had married a second, who in time was to offer him 
a like total of eight ! 

He was a silversmith of rare skill, and made, in 
solid silver, delicate ladles, exquisite teaspoons, 
stately flagons, rotund mugs, and salts, and braziers, 
and sugar-tongs — all with skill and beauty and pro- 
priety; not crude things, but exquisite things; silver 
as exquisite as was made in England in that period of 
distinctly fine taste. And examples of his art are 
still preserved, and vastly prized, in all the shapes 
named. 

Paul Revere was one of those men who can do any- 
thing and do it well. He even turned his attention to 
dentistry in the early days when dentistry was barely 
beginning to be a science, and there is still extant one 
of his advertisements of 1768, reading: 

"Whereas, many Persons are so unfortunate as to 
lose their Fore-Teeth by Accident, and otherways, to 

173 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

their great Detriment, not only in Looks, but speaking 
both in Public and Private: — This is to inform all 
such, that they may have them re-placed with artificial 
Ones, that looks as well as the Natural, and answers 
the End of Speaking to all Intents, by Paul Revere." 

When, quite a while after Bunker Hill, it was de- 
sired to remove the body of General Warren from its 
first resting-place, it was Paul Eevere who identified 
it by an artificial tooth and the wire he had used to 
fasten it in. 

Eevere also engraved much of the Revolutionary 
money. Nor does the list of his varied activities end 
here, for he also made the carved wood frames for 
many of Copley's paintings — and beautiful frames 
they are ! 

Paul Revere, bold and shrewd as he was, seems to 
have been the only man who distrusted that Bostonian 
who was the predecessor of Benedict Arnold, Doctor 
Benjamin Church. Church was in the confidence of 
the early patriots, and, after taking part in confer- 
ences, used to walk over to the British and betray all 
that was being planned. Church was lucky to escape 
with banishment when his treachery came to light. 

In spite of boldness and shrewdness and loyalty, 
Revere had no appreciative standing in Boston. He 
was always termed a mechanic, and was looked on 
rather patronizingly. When the Revolutionary War 
actually came, he expected opportunity for service, 
but practically no notice was taken of him. Although 
Washington knew him, it was slightly, as a local man 
who cleverly saw to the repair of some gun-wagons, 

174 



IN THE OLD NOETH END 

and so Eevere was not offered a post with the Conti- 
nental army, bnt was left to do duty for the local Mas- 
sachusetts authorities, which gave him an inactive life, 
for, after the early days, the War remained in the Cen- 
tral and Southern Colonies. We hear of him as head 
of a court-martial, dealing out minor sentences such as 
riding on the wooden horse as a punishment for play- 
ing cards on the Sabbath. We hear of him as gover- 
nor of Castle William (Castle Island) in Boston Har- 
bor, and see him mounting there the guns from the 
wrecked Somerset — what thoughts must have come to 
him as he remembered the night when he rowed past 
her dark sides! We read of him as a subordinate 
member of the poorly planned and more poorly exe- 
cuted Penobscot expedition. 

He has left on record that he felt, bitterly, that those 
who knew him best, those he thought his friends, took 
no notice of him. And, indeed, a word from Hancock 
or John Adams or Samuel Adams to either Washing- 
ton or Anthony Wayne, would have given them an 
admirable, capable soldier and would have given Ee- 
vere the chance he wanted; but Hancock and the 
Adamses, wise and patriotic though they were, were 
not themselves men of action, and were too quiet in 
personal tastes to appreciate the merits of vivid per- 
sonal courage. And so, toward the end of the war, 
Eevere went back to private life and work again, a 
disappointed man. 

After the war was over he asked to be Master of 
the Mint — and what honor and distinction he, with his 
skill and artistic feeling, would have given it! But 

175 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 



his Boston friends in power found it politically in- 
convenient to urge Ms claims and his ability upon 
Congress, and thus the Mint missed a superb master 
and Bevere continued a private citizen. He estab- 
lished a brass foundry and furnished the brass and 
copper work for the splendid Old Ironsides, and re- 
ceived for it, it is curious to know, the sum of $3,820.33. 
He rolled sheets of copper for the dome of the State 
House on Beacon Hill. And when Governor Samuel 
Adams, in 1795, laid the corner stone of the State 
House, his first assistant was "the Most Worshipful 
Paul Bevere, Grand Master"; and, as Grand Master 
of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, he signed the 
address from the Masons to George Washington, the 
Mason, when he left the Presidency. 

And so it is interesting to see preserved, here in 
this ancient quarter of Boston, the little ancient house 
that was for many years the home of that remarkable 
man. 




CHAPTEB XV: 



DOWN WAPPING STBEET AND UP BUNKER HILL 




VEE in that old part of Boston 
still known as Charlestown, 
there is a little quaint and wav- 
ering street, shabby and irregu- 
lar ; it is a street that arouses an 
odd sense of interest, and the in- 
terest is added to by the signs 
which you read in the windows 
of the shabby little shops. 
"Everything from a needle to 
an anchor"; "Why get wet when a raincoat is 
only $1.25?"; "Lockers to let"; and you see, also, 
that such simple joys are provided as white 
shoes, gum, tobacco, and candy, and that there 
are to be had not only "Yokahoma Eats" but also 
"Honolulu Lunch." I noticed, also, a sign "Don't 
risk your money ; buy a leg-belt" — a leg-belt ; so that's 
the way, is it, that sailors keep their money ! 

This wavering, savory little street is Wapping 
Street, and not only in its name is it delightfully 
reminiscent of waterside London, but in its aspect; 
and it is curiously fitting that this street should be 
reminiscent of something that is English, for it leads 
to the gate of the Charlestown Navy Yard, and where 

177 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

the Navy Yard is now the English landed for their 
attack on Bunker Hill. 

There are spaciousness and quiet inside of the 
grounds of the Navy Yard, and flowers and gardens 
and a pergola ; and a bugle sounds through the air, and 
in a little while a band is playing, and capable-looking 
officers and men walk spiritedly about, and there are 
long machine shops and quarters, and here and there 
is some old cannon or figurehead from some ship of the 
past, and there is the fine, old-fashioned home of the 
commandant, with its cream-colored brick ; in fact, all 
the brick hereabouts is cream-colored, and Uncle Sam 
is very generous with paint. 

At the piers, or out on the open water, warships, 
little or big, lie moored, and near the very heart of it 
all is the famous frigate Constitution, lovingly known 
as Old Ironsides. 

She is black and white, in her glory of masts and 
spars and myriad ropes. From her curving prow to 
the quaint-shaped cabin at the stern, her lines are of 
the handsomest. She is graceful and strong, she is 
trim and capable and proud, and her guns, in their 
long double lines, are close together, giving a realizing 
sense of the meaning of the old word "broadside." 
One is apt to forget that such a warship carried hun- 
dreds of fighters and scores of cannon. 

The ship is freely open to visitors, and one cannot 
but be a better American for going aboard and actually 
treading its decks; one cannot but feel a surge of 
patriotism when going about on this old ship that 
made such glorious history. 

178 




"old ironsides 



WAPPING STEEET AND BUNKER HILL 

It was well on toward a century ago, in 1830, that 
some Government official gave orders to have the ship 
broken up and sold for junk ; and the entire nation was 
shocked when the news was learned, for Old Iron- 
sides had won a place very close to all hearts. And 
a young man, burning with the indignation that all 
were feeling, put that fiery feeling into fiery words : 

"Ay, tear her tattered ensign down! 
Long has it waved on high, 
And many an eye has danced to see 
That banner in the sky ! ' ' 

Thus the lines began, and they went on gloriously 
to the demand that rather than break up and sell the 
splendid ship they 

"Nail to the mast her holy flag, 
Set every threadbare sail, 
And give her to the god of storms, 
The lightning and the gale!" 

After that there was no more talk of breaking 
up Old Ironsides. "With these lines, young Oliver 
"Wendell Holmes had done a proud service for his 
country, and the ship was repaired and painted, to be 
kept as a national possession, and the Government 
ever since then has continued to paint and furbish her, 
and she is still a national heritage. A few years ago, 
as she was said to be going to pieces at her pier, some 
navy officer proposed that she be towed out to sea, 
not to be given the glorious end that Holmes pictured 
as being better than tearing up for junk, but to be a 

179 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

floating target for battleships and sunk for gunners' 
practice ! But Congress was at once so overwhelmed 
with protests that it was decided still to keep the gal- 
lant old ship. 

The houses of Charlestown rise crowdedly behind 
the line of the Navy Yard, and above and beyond the 
confusion of roofs one sees the upper part of a tall 
stone shaft, bare and dignified in its fine simplicity. 
And no American can look at that monument and be 
entirely unmoved, for it marks the place where was 
fought the most representatively American of all bat- 
tles, that of Bunker Hill. 

And here, from the Navy Yard, where the British 
troops landed long before there was any Navy Yard, 
we follow up the hill ; only we do not go in a practically 
direct line, as the British soldiers did, but, after walk- 
ing back through queer little Wapping Street, go by 
trolley, zigzaggingly, through rather commonplace 
streets to the summit. There is nothing in Charles- 
town that offers interest except the Navy Yard and 
the monument; the town was set on fire and burned 
by the British at the time of the battle, — no doubt a 
military necessity — and the rebuilt portion, as well as 
the great spaces that were bare in Bevolutionary days 
and have since been built over, have never drawn 
either wealth or an interesting kind of architecture. 
But one thinks little of such considerations as these 
in the presence of Bunker Hill Monument. 

A strange battle, that of Bunker Hill! On the 
American side there were no uniforms and there was 
no flag ! There was really not even a leader, for no 

180 



WAPPING STEEET AND BUNKER HILL 

one general was absolutely in command. The Ameri- 
cans had come together in a sort of neighborly gather- 
ing, for the mutual good, and officers and men were all 
fully in accord with one another. But although it 
may be said to have been a neighborly New England 
gathering, there was no lack of military skill and no 
lack of discipline. And the British themselves ad- 
mitted afterwards that there was no lack of the best 
fighting qualities. 

And the spectators outnumbered the fighters ! That 
strange fact makes the battle unique among the great 
battles of the world. For not only did General Gage 
and other officers watch the fight from the tower of the 
old North Church, but every high point of land, every 
roof and window that had an outlook over the water, 
was crowded with the people of Boston, sympathizers 
with either Boyalty or Bepublicanism, watching the 
fight with intense or even frantic interest. They saw 
the Americans calmly walk about and calmly settle be- 
hind the hastily made breastwork, preparing for the 
assault. They saw the red-coats go steadily up the 
hill. They watched with straining interest as the 
breastwork was neared — Would the Americans run? 
— And then came the flash of rifles and the crackling 
roar of sound and the red-coats wavered and recoiled, 
and officers furiously tried to encourage and hold their 
men ; but in vain, for down the hill the red-coats ran, 
leaving the slope dotted thick with the dead and 
wounded. What a sight for the men and women and 
children who watched all this with terrified interest ! 
Then again the calm preparation, again a brave at- 

181 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

tack, again a withering fire and a huddled retreat 
down the hill. 

Well, we all know that at length the British won, 
and that, in full sight of the Boston spectators, almost 
all of whom had friends or kinsmen among the fighters, 
the Americans fell back with glory. "The defense 
was well conceived and obstinately maintained," 
writes tbe clear-eyed Burgoyne, one of the British 
major-generals in Boston, who had been given charge 
of some desultory cannonading. ' ' The retreat was no 
flight," he writes, English general though he was ; "it 
was even covered with bravery and military skill." 
(He was afterwards to learn, still more intimately, 
about American bravery and military skill !) And the 
first question of General Washington, not yet in New 
England, when he heard of Bunker Hill, was the eager 
inquiry as to whether or not the militia had stood firm, 
and when he was told how superbly they had acted, he 
exclaimed, "Then the liberties of the country are 
safe 1" And all this leads to the strangest considera- 
tion of all in regard to this battle, which is, that al- 
though it was an American defeat, it had all the essen- 
tial elements of an American victory. 

Charlestown is on a peninsula, and, from a strictly 
military point of view, there was nothing to be gained 
by the Americans in advancing to a position so un- 
tenable that the English, by so locating the warships 
as to cut off communication with the mainland, could 
have made their retreat impossible. Also, from a 
strictly military point of view, there was nothing to be 
gained by the British in making a direct attack upon 

182 



WAPPING STEEET AND BUNKER HILL 

the American position in front. But both sides were 
keyed for a test of strength, both sides knew that the 
test must come sooner or later, and on both sides was 
the intense feeling that the sooner the better. 

All the central part of the battle-field has been kept 
free from buildings, and they cluster modestly about 
the big, open, grass-covered space. And from the 
center of this space rises the monument, flawless in its 
stern dignity, massive in its strength. Without pre- 
liminary base, it rises from the ground ; it is of blocks 
of New England granite and has a monolithic effect, 
lofty and tall. And the most eloquent man that New 
England has ever produced, the mighty orator who 
spoke at the laying of the corner-stone and at the com- 
pletion of the monument, summed up its feeling and 
its influence with a massive simplicity equal to that of 
the monument itself : 

"It is a plain shaft. It bears no inscriptions. But 
it looks, it looks, it speaks, to the full comprehension 
of every American mind, and the awakening of glow- 
ing enthusiasm in every American heart." 

It was among the most interesting features of the 
celebration of the monument's completion, in 1843, 
that thirteen survivors, of Bunker Hill or Lexington 
or Concord, were present to listen to Webster's ora- 
tion, although that was sixty-eight years after those 
battles ! It had seemed almost wonderful that quite a 
number of Bunker Hill veterans were present at the 
laying of the corner-stone in 1825, when Webster 
thrilled the vast assemblage before him with the words 
addressed to the survivors — the best known of all his 

183 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

utterances — beginning "Venerable men, you bave 
come down to us from a former generation!" 

Anotber wbo was present in 1825 to listen to Web- 
ster was a certain Jean Paul Boch Ives Gilbert Motier, 
Marquis de Lafayette; and Boston still loves to tell 
tbat at a dinner given in tbe distinguished French- 
man's bonor at the time of this visit, he emotionally 
joined in cheering some words laudatory of himself, 
through not quite catching that he was the subject of 
the eulogy ; something, by the way, which would never 
have been noticed in France, and certainly not remem- 
bered for more than a minute, had some American 
general over there, from lack of full understanding 
of the language, joined in applause of himself. 

It is well to remember in regard to Bunker Hill, that 
the British forces engaged in the attack numbered 
some two thousand men, and that the defenders were 
fewer, being in all only some fifteen hundred ; and that 
the Americans lost about three hundred and fifty in 
killed, wounded and prisoners, whereas the English 
loss in killed and wounded was well over one thousand. 
I remember seeing, in some museum, a cotemporary 
pamphlet that was scattered throughout America, 
grimly itemizing that the English lost, in killed, 1 lieu- 
tenant-colonel, 4 majors, 11 captains, 13 lieuten- 
ants, 1 ensign, 102 sergeants and 100 corporals. No 
wonder Bunker Hill has been looked upon as the place 
where the British army faced the hottest fire of its 
history, considering the number engaged and the 
length of time that the actual firing lasted ; and it was 
especially noticeable that the officers suffered, propor- 

184 



WAPPING STREET AND BUNKER HILL 

tionately, even more than the men, because most of 
the Americans were sharp-shooters and picked them 
off. 

After the battle the British occupied the hill them- 
selves, and kept soldiers there throughout the contin- 
uation of the siege; and General "Washington never 
tried to take it away from them, knowing that its pos- 
session would have no particular bearing on the cap- 
ture of the city, and that it would naturally fall into 
American hands again in good time. 

The days of the siege were so tiresome to the British 
that they amused themselves by presenting plays of 
their own composition, in Faneuil Hall, and one of 
these plays was a farce which they called ' ' The Block- 
ade of Boston." The farce gave them huge enjoy- 
ment, for it caricatured Americans in general and 
American soldiers in particular, and presented a 
special caricature of General Washington himself, 
armed with a grotesque rusty sword and attended by 
a grotesque orderly. On a January night in 1776 the 
very building was rocking with the laughter of the men 
and their officers at this presentation, when a sergeant 
rushed into the hall; "The Yankees are attacking our 
works on Bunker Hill ! " he cried. For a few moments 
there was an amazed silence. The men thought it a 
joke, and yet the sergeant's tone had a grim earnest- 
ness that they did not like. Then there came the sharp 
command of their general, who was present : " To your 
posts, men ! " A cold chill seemed to fill the hall, and 
all the farce fell away from the idea of Washington 
and Americans, for although those English soldiers 

185 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

were not cowards it was anything but a farce to face 
Americans on Bunker Hill or anywhere else. It 
turned out that that particular alarm was a mistake 
and that no attack was in progress, but never after was 
there much hilarity at farces ridiculing the Americans. 

Close beside Bunker Hill Monument there was put 
up, a few years ago, a little building that was an entire 
departure from the fine simplicity of the original 
plans; a little classic stone temple, with six classic 
stone columns; an incongruous structure to find on 
Bunker Hill. It does not have even the excuse of be- 
ing a museum, except for a few not-notable paintings ; 
but it is a place where souvenirs and post-cards are 
sold. There ought to be nothing there but the monu- 
ment itself. A structure of any sort breaks the 
splendid austerity of effect. 

Not far from the monument is a statue in honor of 
the brave Prescott, showing him in his long and un- 
military coat just as he stood when giving the com- 
mand to fire, that had been withheld till the whites of 
the English eyes could be seen. The statue is by the 
American sculptor, Story, and one wonders why, in 
spite of its excellence, it is wanting in vigorous vital- 
ity, and seems even a trifle priggish; and then it is 
noticed that down on one corner is some incised letter- 
ing telling that it was made at "Boma" — not Boston, 
or even good plain Kome, but "Boma" ; and one won- 
ders no longer that vitality and Americanism were 
missed. 

But one need not trouble about such minor things as 
classic temples or Eoman- American sculpture, for the 

186 



WAPPING STEEET AND BUNKER HILL 

noble Bunker Hill Monument is here, telling forever 
its noble tale; and even the lines of the redoubts, so 
bravely held, have been remembered and carefully 
marked ; and the sense of American glory is here. 

In the Tower of London there is a cannon which, as 
the English claim, was captured at Bunker Hill ; and 
a few years ago, when this was vauntingly shown to a 
visiting American, he looked it all over very calmly 
and then, just as calmly, said : ' ' Oh, I see ; you have the 
cannon — and we have the hill ! ' ' 




_• _ "IUI'IIMI',ggj — 




CHAPTER XVI 

THE BACK BAY AND THE STUDENTS' QUAETEE 

[0 no Bostonian does the 
Back Bay mean water! The 
Charles, backed np by a dam 
to the dimensions of a bay, re- 
mains merely the Charles, and 
the Back Bay is the erstwhile 
swamp land beyond Beacon 
Hill and the Common. Even 
the Public Garden was, long ago, merely a marsh at 
the Common's end, and the great space beyond, now 
covered by endless streets and houses, is all made 
land. It is the Back Bay. 

The main artery of the Back Bay is Commonwealth 
Avenue, and it is so proudly boulevarded, in noble 
sweep and breadth, that one is almost ready to forget 
the brown-stone monotony of its houses. The avenue 
is two hundred and twenty feet in width, from house- 
front to house-front, and is free of street cars. Down 
its center is a great, generous, tree-lined, well-shaded 
parkway, with a path down the middle for pedestrians ; 
there are pleasantly placed benches by which the park- 
like character is increased; and this long central 

188 



THE BACK BAY 

greenery lias a series of admirably placed statues, with 
the equestrian Washington, excellently done by Ball, 
at the beginning of the line; although Bostonians 
themselves long ago pointed out that he has turned his 
back on the State House and is riding away! 

This avenue is so successful, so notable, as to have 
served as a model for other boulevards throughout the 
United States, and it has also given inspiration to Bos- 
ton for her recent development of home-bordered park- 
ways running out toward outlying suburbs. 

One of the statues is of John Glover of Marblehead, 
who commanded a thousand men of his town, whom he 
formed into a redoubtable Marine Regiment, ' ' soldiers 
and sailors too"; and this monument perpetuates his 
skill and bravery in getting "Washington's army across 
to New York after the defeat at Long Island, and his 
even more remarkable success in boating the army 
across the Delaware on a certain bitter winter's night 
at a place still called Washington's Crossing. He 
died in his beloved Marblehead; but Boston has placed 
his statue here, feeling that in this city such a valiant 
son of New England should be forever remembered. 
His hand firmly grasps his sword hilt — but the sword 
itself has gone ! Was it the act of some vandal, one 
wonders, some one with a degenerate idea of relic 
hunting? But at least nobody ever took his sword 
away from John Glover living. 

Another of the line of statues is that of Alexander 
Hamilton, and it looks odd because it is minus the 
familiar queue. On the lower part of this monument 
is a medallion, of three profiles, apparently of Ham- 

189 rS 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

ilton ; not quite understandable this, and one can think 
only of the two skulls of Saint Peter shown by the 
Roman guide, one of the saint in early manhood and 
the other in later life. This triple representation, if 
of Hamilton, does not have the reason for being of the 
wonderful triple portrait, by Gilbert Stuart, of 
Madame Bonaparte. 

The great expanse of water that is really the Back 
Bay, and which borders the section of land that Boston 
perversely calls the Back Bay, is one of the glories of 
Boston. Although broadened by a dam, it is not water 
that is lifeless and dull, but water that is cheerful, 
wimpling, sparkling, very much alive. And when a 
winter storm comes the water dashes over its broaden- 
ing embankment with all the appearance of a real sea. 
Along the waterside, and for a broad space back from 
the water, a parkway has been made that at any season 
of the year offers most admirable waterside walking. 
Surely, no other modern city is so thoughtful of its 
pedestrians, in these days of motor-cars, as is Boston. 
You may walk on Charles Bank for a long distance, on 
a broad concrete walk, with grass and shrubs on one 
side and the dancing water on the other. The long 
line of houses built on the Back Bay extension of Bea- 
con Street looks out over the water, and the people 
who live in these houses prize the view, with its sun- 
set glories ; but all along the water-front one sees only 
the backs of the houses — the back windows ! To the 
Bostonian, the proper fronting of a house is on a con- 
ventional two-sided street, and the architectural 
temptation of a fine front toward a fine water-view 

190 



THE BACK BAT 

does not alter propriety. "We have the view from 
our rear windows," they tell you; not even willing to 
adopt double-fronted houses, which would give archi- 
tectural finish toward the water as well as toward the 
street. 

Between Charles Bank and Beacon Hill, the city had 
become unattractive in development, whereupon, a 
few years ago, the property-owners banded together 
cooperatively and did a fine thing which would have 
been quite impossible to them acting as individual 
owners. They united in a comprehensive plan for 
improvement, and there has already been the most 
delightful success, for houses have been built that are 
mutually protected and protecting, notably on the 
cleverly arranged Charles Street Square, with its 
broad opening out toward the water, and its houses all 
balanced architecturally in the Colonial style. So 
successful has this been that there will shortly be an 
adjoining group of houses, which is to bear the name 
of Charles Street Circle. 

To people outside of Boston, the words ' ' Back Bay ' ' 
represent social domination, but Boston itself knows 
that social supremacy has remained with Beacon Hill. 
Although "the sunny street that holds the sifted few" 
stretches into the Back Bay, and although the author 
of that line, Holmes, moved off into the levels, on that 
extended street — his last home was the ordinary-look- 
ing house at 296 Beacon Street — and although Silas 
Lapham and many another have built or bought in the 
Back Bay, most of the "sifted few" remain on Beacon 
Hill. Even the wealth that went to the Back Bay 

191 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

found that it "cannot buy with gold the old associa- 
tions"; and the Back Bay is, after all, just street after 
street filled with houses, representative of comfortable 
living, which are too ordinary to praise and yet not 
bad enough to criticise. It is not altogether clear why 
one feels resentment toward the houses and streets of 
the Back Bay, for they seem innocent enough: but 
when Henry James impatiently wrote of their "per- 
spectives of security," he expressed, by this curious 
phrase, that the Back Bay somehow gets on the nerves. 

But this region does at least spread out with a 
luxury of space, as if the city, released from the 
cramping of its original bounds — hemmed in as it 
originally was by bay and river and swamp, and there- 
fore built with repression, with tightness, with narrow- 
ness of streets — rejoices in its new-found freedom. 

And here there is something typically and pleas- 
antly Bostonian. Beginning with the cross-streets of 
the Back Bay, the street names are in alphabetical se- 
quence, with two-syllabled names alternating with 
three ; or, I should say, being in Boston, dissyllables 
alternating with trisyllables ; and the Bostonians take 
a nice pride in it. There are Arlington, Berkeley, 
Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester — 
and it would seem that Boston, differing from the rest 
of America and from England, deems Gloucester a 
trisyllable and will have none of the elided "Gloster." 

That the present home of Margaret Deland is in the 
Back Bay is one of its pleasantest features, and the 
house, 35 Newbury Street, shows a great frontage of 
mullion-windowed glass, being even more marked in 

192 



THE BACK BAY 

respect to glass than her former home on Mt. Vernon 
Street. And this window frontage is for the sake of 
the jonquils and spring flowers that she loves and 
which she personally plants and watches. The crea- 
tor of Doctor Lavendar, the author who has filled Old 
Chester with fascinating life, is almost as notahle a 
flower-grower as she is a novelist, and once a year, 
in this comfortable, sunny home, she holds a winter 
sale of these jonquils that she has grown and gives 
the proceeds to a vacation home for girls, a project 
dear to her heart. 

A fine daylight view of the sky-line of the Back Bay 
may be had from the center of the Cambridge Bridge ; 
I do not remember any similar view in any other city ; 
and it possesses the additional peculiarity of being a 
view of levels : the level of the water, the level of the 
parkway, then the generally level line of house roofs. 
But the finest view that the Back Bay offers is of the 
water itself and not the land, and at night instead of 
in the daytime. For this view, stand far out on Har- 
vard Bridge, and the effect is beautiful in the extreme. 
You are hemmed in by the rows of city lights that sur- 
round the water on all sides ; a mile away the view is 
finely ended, in one direction, by the arching curve of 
lights that mark the Cambridge Bridge ; about as far 
in the other direction, the bordering lights converge 
as the water narrows ; down the long sides are the un- 
broken lines of lights ; you see nothing whatever but 
these lights, and the dark water dimly illumined by 
their gleam, and the restless reflections of the myriad 
lights struck waveringly down into the water, and the 

193 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

bands of light that royally make a diadem of the great 
dome on the height of Beacon Hill. 

The social rivalry of Beacon Hill and the Back Bay 
may be left to the Bostonians, just as the social rivalry 
of south and north of Market Street may be left to 
Philadelphians ; and Beacon Hill and the Back Bay 
are quite at one on the most Bostonian of all subjects, 
that of ''family." For in Boston, every one of the 
worth while is a descendant; no one who is only an 
ascendant is for a moment worthy of comparison with 
a descendant ! One of the cleverest Bostonians once 
remarked that although politically there should be 
equality, socially there should be "the" quality. As 
the verse of exclusiveness has it : 

"The good old city of Boston, 
The city of culture and cod, 
"Where the Cabots speak only to Lowells 
And the Lowells — speak only to God." 

And there are endless developments. A famous 
Bostonian, commenting on the great fire of 1872, 
clearly indicated that the important feature was, not 
that he had suffered by this fire, but that his grand- 
father had lost 40 buildings in the big fire of 1760! 
Boston conversation is apt to be sprinkled thick with 
Bible-like genealogy; I have heard, as typical din- 
ner-table conversation, such things as: "James was 
the son of John, you know, who was the son of Thomas, 
the cousin of William." Most Bostonians are not 
much interested in any conversation unless they can 
naturally put in an ancestor or so, and always, in 

194 



THE BACK BAY 

speaking of any happening of the past, Bostonians are 
bound to remember that some ancestor or connection 
was concerned. The traveler need not journey to 
China to find ancestor worship. 

One would no more have Boston without its naive 
flavor of family talk than have Maarken without its 
typical costumes: family belongs to Boston, as cos- 
tumes belong to Maarken : and it is not in the least a 
boastful pride in ancestors who have done great deeds : 
the important thing is to be descended from certain 
stocks and lines, arbitrarily decided upon in the course 
of generations, with no reference whatever to merit or 
achievement ; it is, indeed, no disadvantage for an an- 
cestor to have done distinguished deeds for the nation 
or to have written distinguished books, but on the 
other hand it is no disadvantage for the ancestor to 
be without distinction. And there is at the same time 
a fine breadth and liberality about it all ; when one of 
the oldest and finest families goes into the making of 
sausages, and makes them for many, many years and 
makes millions of dollars out of them, it does not hurt 
its social standing in the least, as it might in some 
more narrow city. 

The intense feeling for family also works out rather 
oddly in the frequent tying up of family property to 
be held undivided by quite a number of heirs ; and the 
fact that such cases often work hardship through the 
inability of the heirs either to dispose of the property 
or to receive incomes from it, does not at all tend to 
discourage the custom. A friend mentioned in casual 
conversation the other day that she was born on Mount 

195 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

Vernon Street and had only recently sold her one-ninth 
part of her old family home, and that she had done it 
with a keen wrench of feeling. You will not infre- 
quently see in the newspapers advertisements offering 
to lend money to heirs on their undivided estate or 
their future inheritance. 

Family is the common possession and talk of youth 
and age, of men and women and boys and girls. An- 
cestors are mulled over in all ordinary conversations. 
Only this evening, as I walked on Beacon Street beside 
the Common — literally this evening, and I quote liter- 
ally what I chanced to overhear; indeed, even if I 
wished to I could not invent anything that would so 
well illustrate what I am setting down — only this eve- 
ning, as two men passed me, one was saying: "His 
great-grandfather — "! That was all. It was but a 
few words caught in passing. But in no other city 
could such altogether delightful words have been 
heard. 

I was led one day by a Boston friend to a lecture ; 
it was a lecture on spiders ; and the very first words 
of the lecturer were : " The Lycosidae is the most prom- 
inent family we have in Boston." And there came to 
mind a verse I had somewhere heard, a verse excellent 
because so really illustrative : 

"Little Miss Beacon Street 
Sat on her window-seat, 
Eating her beans and brown bread ; 
There came a small spider 
And sat down beside her — 
'You're an Argyroneta,' she said." 
196 



THE BACK BAY 

Lectures are themselves the very essence of Boston, 
and this comes from the time when lecturers, mostly 
Bostonians, went forth throughout the country, up- 
lifting and instructing eager audiences. In those 
days, lecturers were held to be representative of the 
highest wisdom and lecturing was still deemed the 
most admirable way of delivering wisdom — and these 
two beliefs are still devoutly held in Boston. Where 
two or three are gathered together there is sure to be 
a lecturer in the midst of them; every Bostonian is a 
lecturer or a listener ; the excellent habit is unescapa- 
ble. Nothing else interests Bostonians as lectures do. 
The summer course, the fall course, the winter course, 
the spring course, the lectures of this, that and the 
other prophet, are always occupying their time. As a 
Bostonian said to me : "If you just sit down anywhere 
in Boston a lecture will be poured into your ears." 
There are lectures on astronomy and atavism and art; 
there are lectures on batrachians and Buddhism and 
butter-making ; there are cooking lectures, cosmos lec- 
tures, curtain lectures, culture lectures; there are 
lectures on duty and digestion, on philosophy and 
Plato, on how to eat and sleep and think and dream; 
there are lectures on everything practical and imprac- 
tical. In fact, the lectures and the lecturers are innu- 
merable, and the Bostonians have many local authori- 
ties to whom they listen as oracles. As winter comes 
on the true Bostonian gathers together his lecture 
cards and sorts them, and hoards them, and gloats 
over them, just as a squirrel gathers and hoards his 
winter nuts. Lectures are nuts to Bostonians. 

197 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

I remember an acquaintance saying one afternoon, 
and I mention it because it is simply typical: "Aren't 
you going to So-and-so's lecture at four o'clock?" and 
when I replied tbat I was not, he said promptly: 
"Then, of course, you are going to Thus-and-so's lec- 
ture this evening? ' ' It would take the last sting from 
death if a Bostonian could be assured of courses of 
lectures through futurity. 

Holmes loved to sit down and write a poem after 
any lecture that especially interested him. Turn the 
leaves of his volumes of verse and you will see quite 
a number of lengthy poems with titles declaring them 
to have been written on his return from lectures. 

The entire idea was amazingly helped on its way by 
the foundation of the Lowell lectures, three quarters 
of a century ago. A great sum was left by one of the 
Lowell family for the sole purpose of paying lecturers 
to talk to Bostonians, with the typically Bostonian re- 
quest that the manager should always, if possible, be 
a Lowell. Scores of free lectures are delivered, annu- 
ally, to Bostonians under the direction of the Lowell 
Institute, and the pace thus set is followed so enthusi- 
astically by all sorts of enthusiasts and associations 
that there are hundreds of lectures every year. 

Second only to lectures in popularity are concerts. 
Nothing, indeed, is so held to represent real culture, 
in Boston, as a devoted knowledge of music. There 
is an interest which amounts almost to a gentle pathos 
in a Boston musical night — any one of the many nights 
at which elect music is worshiped by the elect. The 
hall itself (there are many halls in Boston where music 

198 



THE BACK BAY 

may be heard, but there is only one that is " the " hall) , 
the hall itself is angular and rectangular, with an effect 
of the gaunt and the gray, and there is a gentle general 
effect of age, of gray-haired women and of men with 
domes as bare as that of their own State House, and an 
interspersing of eye-glassed students holding big black 
books in which they devotedly follow the score. 

If, as to the music itself, there is satisfaction with 
a high degree of technical correctness, without the co- 
incident loveliness of which the composers dreamed, it 
would simply indicate that this is the way in which 
Boston prefers music to be given; if the music is a 
shade or so more percussive than is deemed desirable 
elsewhere, and if the drum, played passionately, is 
permitted to stand most markedly for music, it is all 
as it should be, and the young students beam with 
critical joy, and there is a gentle nodding of elderly 
heads. And, after all, Boston comes naturally by a 
love of the percussive, for at her Peace Jubilee, at the 
close of the Civil "War, a mighty orchestra and a choir 
of ten thousand enthralled audiences of fifty thousand, 
while twelve cannon thundered in unison and fifty an- 
vils clanged as one. I should never think of criticis- 
ing Boston music any more than I should think of criti- 
cising Boston brown bread: each is something inter- 
estingly typical and loyally honored. I remember a 
French lady, a visitor, who, not quite getting the Bos- 
ton viewpoint, asked wonderingly, ' ' Why do they go 
to so much trouble to make it?" She was referring 
to the bread, but I notice, as I set it down, that the 
words seem equally to apply to the music. If Boston 

199 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

should ever lose her charming idiosyncrasies, her 
brown bread, her baked beans, her fish balls, her music, 
her lectures, she would cease to be Boston. 

Lectures and music are naturally included in the 
subject of the Back Bay because it is at the edge of the 
Back Bay that most of the halls for music and lectures 
are located, and especially along Huntington Avenue. 

At Copley Square, where Huntington Avenue be- 
gins, there begins also the most interesting develop- 
ment of modern Boston, present-day Boston, for, rang- 
ing and spreading out, through and beyond the Back 
Bay and into the adjoining Fenlands, is building after 
building, educational or institutional; hospital build- 
ings, philanthropic buildings, and, most notable of all, 
a wide range of school and college buildings ; and the 
average of architectural beauty is admirably high. 

Facing into Copley Square is the Boston Public 
Library, and, "Built by the people and dedicated to 
the advancement of learning" is the noble motto over 
the main entrance of this truly beautiful building. 
And it is a thoroughly good American library, ready to 
give due honor to the literature, the science, the art 
of America as well as of Europe. Set into the sides 
of the building are panels giving famous names in 
groups of similar kinds, and American names are 
honored with a quiet matter-of-factness. "With Titian 
and Velasquez and Hogarth, one sees the name of 
West. With Boyle is joined the name of Bumford. 
With Sterne and St. Pierre and Chateaubriand stands 
the name of Irving. Macaulay is between Prescott 
and Bancroft. Calvin and Wesley keep company with 

200 



THE BACK BAY 

the New England Mather. And with Palladio and 
Wren the name of the Bostonian architect Bnlfinch is 
conjoined. 

The building is not only admirable in proportions, 
but extremely fine in details, and one need not pay at- 
tention to such minor points as the confusion of 
Strozzi lanterns at the entrance or to the pedestaled 
marble lady who, as Bostonians like to point out, is 
offering you a marble grape-fruit. 

Even finer than the exterior is the interior, with its 
welcoming stairway with its splendor of tawny mar- 
ble, and as you mount the stairs you pass by those dig- 
nified memorials to the Civil War Volunteers of Mas- 
sachusetts, two great marble lions, one of them with 
a broken marble tail that has been so cleverly mended 
as in itself to represent positive art ! 

Mounting to the upper hallway you move past a 
series of exquisite mural panel paintings by Puvis de 
Chavannes; decorative figures in soft lavenders and 
greens, figures walking or floating against back- 
grounds of soft gray or in an ethereal blue that is only 
like the perfect blue of the clear sky of a wonderful 
morning; and all is so soft and easy and sweet and 
graceful as to make these murals an achievement in 
repression and beauty. Turning from the upper hall 
to the right, one comes to glorious pictures by Abbey, 
high-set, frieze-like, around all the upper part of a 
great room that is pilastered and paneled with dark 
oak, and ceilinged with dark oak beams picked out 
with gold. It is a shadowy room, a room intentionally 
dark, to give relief and foreground to the pictures, 

201 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

which, representing the Quest of the Holy Grail, are 
glories of vivid coloring; knights and ladies and 
churchmen in pomp of purple and gold and bright 
scarlet. And on the floor above this is Sargent's 
"Frieze of the Prophets." 

Within the quadrangle of the library is an inner 
court that is so reposeful, so charming, so delightful, 
with its arcaded space around its central fountain, as 
to make it an esthetic architectural triumph. 

Facing the library, at the opposite end of Copley 
Square (and like the squares of most cities this is not 
at all a square in shape), is a building which, some 
years ago, was looked upon as an architectural wonder. 
It is a huge church, a massive pile of yellows and 
browns, and, built in mid- Victorian times, was meant 
to follow some of the ancient churchly architecture of 
Europe. Until recent years, Bostonians dwelt with 
pride on every detail of this great Trinity Church, 
and would insist on pointing out to visitors every de- 
tail of design and workmanship. But a change of 
taste has gone over the entire country, including Bos- 
ton, and now it is quite realized that the church is not 
beautiful, in spite of the fact that its great central 
tower is tantalizingly remindful of that of Tewksbury 
and that its little outside stairway is tantalizingly re- 
mindful of a Norman stair of remarkable beauty at 
Canterbury — tantalizingly, but how different they 
are! 

The Back Bay and the Fenlands, one merging im- 
perceptibly into the other, are really one great flat 
region recovered from the swamps, the Fenlands pos- 

202 



THE BACK BAT 

sessing the great advantage of having a great part 
kept as parkways, with water and bridges. The resi- 
dences of the Fenland are of a more interesting aver- 
age than those of the Bay — and it is over here, in the 
Fen country, that Robert Grant the novelist lives, at 
211 Bay State Road. How delightfully the words 
"Fen" and "Fenlands" bring up memories of the 
Boston of Old England, set as it is in the great flat 
region of the English Fens ! 

Also in the Fen country, and not far from Hunting- 
ton Avenue, is Fenway Court, one of the most remark- 
able homes in America, built by Mrs. Isabella Gard- 
ner, who dreamt of erecting a Venetian palace on 
this level Brenta-like land, and realized her dream. 
It was a romantic plan romantically carried out. Mrs. 
Gardner brought across the ocean actual parts and 
fragments of old Italian buildings, that the basis 
should be actually Italian, and here she built her Vene- 
tian palace, and filled it with rare and costly examples 
of old-time European art. 

Not far from this are the buildings of the Museum of 
Fine Arts, impressive of front toward Huntington 
Avenue, and positively beautiful in the facade that 
looks out over the water of the Fenway, for this face 
is stately with a long colonnade of great pillars. 

The contents of the museum are of admirable aver- 
age ; much is of high interest, notably the paintings of 
distinguished Americans of the past by distinguished 
American painters of their time. Much of antique 
furniture is here, largely American, and it is displayed 
as if befitting the title of the museum, as if worthy, as 

203 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

it is, of place among other beautiful products of the 
fine arts. The rooms where the furniture is dis- 
played are arranged with wise harmony ; a table of a 
certain period is likely to be in the center, with furni- 
ture of the same period — sideboard, cupboard, chairs 
— around the sides; and portraits of the men and 
women of the period, by painters of the period, are on 
the walls. 

And there is here the most notable collection of old 
American silver in America, admirable examples, in- 
cluding much of the finest work of that admirable 
silversmith, Paul Revere. 

A great area, throughout this general region, is so 
thick-dotted with educational institutions that it has 
begun to be called the Students' Quarter, or, as some 
Bostonians love to call it, "our Latin Quarter." And 
all this has no reference to Cambridge, which is across 
the river and outside the city limits ; all this is actually 
within Boston, and Boston is very proud of it. 

In this great clump of Back Bay and Fenland 
schools there are already some twelve thousand stu- 
dents in addition to the Boston-born ; and the students 
and the buildings are constantly increasing in num- 
bers. It is fine, too, that most of these educational 
buildings are as noteworthy, architecturally, as are 
the numerous buildings that philanthropic and en- 
dowed organizations have built in this general 
quarter. 

With the influence of all these schools, added to the 
admitted culture of generations, one might expect a 
complete fastidiousness in general speech: and yet, 

204 



THE BACK BAT 

throughout all Boston there is a general and amusing 
treatment of "r's". In the first place, Bostonians 
eliminate this letter altogether from a host of words 
such as "Bunker," which is always given as if it were 
spelled "Bunkah." For this they will probably say, 
and rightly, that there is good authority. And I pre- 
sume that, after all, they can show excellent authority 
for their thriftiness with these discarded "r's," for 
they do not really throw them away or really mislay 
them, but use them on words that do not show the let- 
ter. It is fascinating to hear them add an "r" to the 
end of "area," or say that their dog "nors" a bone; 
it is fascinating to hear them speak of "standing in 
awr"; it is fascinating to hear a highly-cultured Bos- 
tonian, a Brahmin of Brahmins, call his wife "Bew- 
ler" for Beulah or say "Anner" for Anna. 

It was a Bostonian, who, having traveled and ob- 
served and realized, remarked quaintly, of the succes- 
sion of Quincys called Josiah — pronounced, of course, 
"Josiar" — that the line did not go on from sire to 
son but "from 'Siar to 'Siar'M 

Most notable of all the educational buildings of the 
Fenland are those of the School of Medicine of Har- 
vard University; for Harvard, instead of having all 
its buildings in Cambridge, came here to build its 
school for doctors. 

The buildings are of marble ; a group of five, fronted 
and united by terraces and balustrades, and all facing 
into a central plaza large enough to give stately archi- 
tectural relief. The pillared administration building 
is flanked on either side by laboratory buildings and 

205 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

the entire group forms a simple and beautiful whole, 
with an air of noble permanence. 

One Sunday afternoon I was walking near these 
buildings when I noticed people running; men well 
garbed and women well gowned were running ; a lim- 
ousine drew up at the curb and two men and a woman 
leaped from it and ran ; a street car stopped and men 
and women tumbled from it and ran ; it was not mere 
hurrying, but actual running, and all ran around the 
open end of the Medical School plaza. It was clear 
that there was either a terrible accident or a fire — 
most likely one of those noble buildings, apparently 
fireproof, was aflame ! — so I hurried with the others 
and rounded the corner, and all were rushing for a 
doorway — beside which was a notice declaring that 
there was to be a Free Public Lecture, that the doors 
were open at 3, and that they were absolutely to be 
closed at 4 :05 ! I looked at my watch — it was 4 :03y 2 
— and I understood the running. But I think I never 
shall be able to understand what they expected the 
people to do who should enter at 3, nor why the clos- 
ing time was so oddly fixed at precisely 4 :05 ! 

As I looked and read and turned away, men and 
women, but in diminishing number, were still running 
up, darting past me, and plunging through the door. 
I halted, for it came to me that the notice did not men- 
tion either the lecturer's name or his subject — and 
what a fascinating subject it must be to draw these 
prosperous men and women literally on the run ! 

I asked a man of well over sixty, as he flew by. He 
glanced at me reproachfully, he did not check his 

206 



THE BACK BAY 

speed, but he flung back over his shoulder as he 
plunged at the door some words that absurdly seemed 
to end in ' ' fat. ' ' Clearly, I must inquire further and 
must not, again, try to check any one near the door. 
It was 4 :04!/2- I saw a youth come bounding on. I 
hurried toward him and turned beside him and, falling 
into his stride, asked him what was to be the lecture. 
We strode together; and he gasped, "The Assimila- 
tion of Fats" ! "With that he dashed at the door — he 
was the last one in — instantly it was locked — the next 
comer, a moment too late, tried the handle in grieved 
futility — it was five minutes after four. 





CHAPTER XVII 

HEIGHTS REACHED AND KEPT 

N a forgotten and faded part of Boston, 
somewhat away from the center of the 
city, rises a hill whose top is green with 
grass and thick with elms and lin- 
dens, and on whose highest point stands 
a monument of exceptionally fine de- 
sign; and this monument marks the spot of a great 
victory, one of the victories of Washington. And al- 
though it was a military victory it was bloodless ; al- 
though it was a victory of immense importance to 
America it was won without loss. And the hill is still 
known as Dorchester Heights, just as it was when 
General "Washington made it famous at the time of the 
Evacuation of Boston. 

Before the Bevolution the height was a place of 
pleasant resort, and John Adams mentions in his diary 
that on one evening in 1769, fifty-nine toasts were 
drunk at a barbecue and feast here to which three hun- 
dred guests sat down, and he adds, evidently thinking 
that if fifty-nine toasts were drunk so would many of 
the people naturally be expected to be, that "not one 
person was intoxicated or near it." 

After the Bevolutionary days this general region 

208 



HEIGHTS REACHED AND KEPT 

was looked upon for a time as holding great possibili- 
ties of residence, and wealth and aristocracy were ex- 
pected to come, and a big hotel was even built here 
which, however, failed to succeed, for the district 
failed to attract the expected classes, whereupon the 
hotel building was taken over by the very opposite of a 
sparkling hotel, an asylum for the blind, an asylum 
that gradually became very famous under the name of 
Perkins — and it is most curious that the wife of the 
most distinguished of the successive heads of this 
blind asylum was the author of the stirring lines be- 
ginning, "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming 
of the Lord!" — for Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, early in 
her life, lived here, for Doctor Howe, her husband, 
was long the superintendent. But even the asylum 
has moved elsewhere, and just recently the building 
itself, a really good-looking structure, was torn down 
and its material all sold. It was a satisfaction, how- 
ever, to learn that a beautiful central stairway was 
bought by a Bostonian who wished to build it into a 
house of his own, for it is so sadly general that beauti- 
ful parts of fine old buildings are thrown away and 
burned when the buildings are taken down. 

The district at present has not much to attract a 
visitor, for the streets and buildings are almost all 
quite commonplace ; although even an otherwise com- 
monplace district deserves appreciation for such ef- 
forts to save its old trees as this district has made, 
even to the extent, in places, of encouraging them to 
live even when surrounded by sidewalk stones. 

It was early in the Eevolution that Dorchester 

209 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

Heights became famous. "When the British held Bos- 
ton they fortified every place that seemed important 
to the defense of the city, and then settled down to 
await developments. Meanwhile, with a large Ameri- 
can army so dispersed as to cover every possible line 
of approach, it was a difficult matter to get needed pro- 
visions into the city, and when ships were sent off on 
foraging expeditions it was not safe for them to make 
landings anywhere on the New England coast, for the 
entire countryside was in arms. All this caused much 
hardship and suffering, for garrison and townsfolk 
alike, and plan after plan was evolved by the British 
officers for advancing upon the Americans and de- 
feating and dispersing them; but always the officers 
remembered Bunker Hill, and put each plan aside in 
hopes of finding a better one or of receiving such 
powerful reinforcements as would give to an attack 
the probability of success. And as they waited and 
planned and hesitated, General "Washington was him- 
self constantly planning and waiting and watching, 
eager for a chance to drive the British away. Slowly 
advancing here, patiently strengthening a defense 
there, ceaselessly studying and watching, steadily put- 
ting into the troops the discipline and patience that 
they needed, he came to see where a possible oppor- 
tunity lay. And that opportunity was on Dorchester 
Heights, for from that vantage point he could com- 
mand the harbor and the city — if he had proper guns. 
And with incredible carelessness, the British had 
failed to fortify the spot; had failed even to place 
troops there. 

210 



HEIGHTS REACHED AND KEPT 

But although there was no British obstacle, there 
was the obstacle that lay in lack of equipment. The 
Americans had no cannon except some minor field- 
pieces. They had no siege guns of sufficient range and 
caliber to sweep the harbor even if the height were 
seized. And there was the further consideration that 
heavy guns would be needed even in holding the 
height, for the British could not be expected to make 
over again the mistake of Bunker Hill and send lines 
of practically unsupported troops against American 
entrenchments; the British would so combine heavy 
cannonading with assault that, unless the Americans 
should have proper artillery, the heights would be un- 
tenable and the Americans would be compelled to re- 
treat; the hill would then be thoroughly entrenched, 
by the British, against attack from the American side, 
and the capture of the city would be almost hopeless. 
So Washington knew that he must wait for big guns 
before he could dare to seize the heights, and mean- 
while he could only hope that the British would con- 
tinue to be so confident of his getting no big guns that 
they would not themselves take possession of that 
vantage point. It seems incredible, looking back at 
it, that this prominent hill, just at the edge of the 
city (it is now included within the city limits), should 
have escaped occupation by either side, when there 
were thousands of British soldiers within the city and 
thousands of Americans hemming the city in. 

From the first, even before the ultimate seizure of 
Dorchester Heights was decided upon, the possession 
of heavy guns had been recognized as of the highest 

211 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

importance to the besiegers. The guns were got ; and 
their getting was a remarkable achievement, one of the 
most remarkable of any war in history. 

The man to whom the task was entrusted was young 
Henry Knox, afterwards to become the famous Gen- 
eral Knox; and his fame and advancement, as the 
trusted artillery officer, the trusted friend and helper 
of Washington, began with his selection for this task. 

Not much of a soldier, one might in those early days 
have thought, for his occupation had been the peaceful 
one of bookseller! He had begun business for him- 
self in Boston, in the early 1770 's, with an initial im- 
portation of books to the value of three hundred and 
forty pounds, which total was steadily increased until 
it was over two thousand pounds, and his business 
became flourishing and his shop was known as a pop- 
ular meeting-place for the best men and women of 
the city. Then financial trouble came to him as it 
came to all the business men of Boston, through the 
threatened break with England, the closing of the port, 
and the general disorganization of trade. When the 
war actually began, Knox put his ruined business 
aside and promptly joined the American forces. 
Throughout the war he forgot all about his books — he 
was General Knox, the great master of artillery. And 
it is pleasant to know that when the war was at length 
over, and he might fairly have repudiated all of his 
debts to English publishers because his financial 
trouble had come altogether from the British Govern- 
ment and because his shop was robbed and looted by 
British soldiers, he did not like to hold the English 

212 



HEIGHTS BEACHED AND KEPT 

publishers responsible, and continued to make pay- 
ments on these pre-Eevolutionary debts long after the 
war was over. 

Knox was extremely handsome and likable as well 
as capable. In fact, bis capacity was recognized from 
the beginning. He had married the daughter of an 
aristocrat, in spite of the opposition of her family, and 
was so highly thought of that strong efforts were 
made to attach him to the English before he could join 
the Kevolutionists. That he was an active member of 
the handsomely uniformed local organization known 
as the Grenadier Guards, and second in command, 
made him of practical promise as a soldier ; and when 
it was learned that he would not fight for England, 
General Gage peremptorily forbade him to leave Bos- 
ton. But his wife quilted his sword into the lining 
of his cloak and he escaped from the city in disguise 
and reached the American lines. 

From the first, Washington liked him and he liked 
Washington. Washington needed a man who could 
be trusted to get cannon. Here was Henry Knox, 
than whom no man was more dependable. It was a 
supreme opportunity for both. Crown Point and 
Ticonderoga had been captured ("In the name of 
Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"), and there 
were many cannon, at those two adjacent forts, ready 
to be used ; and Knox was told to go and get them. 
And although it was a tremendous undertaking he 
started off without a doubt of success. 

On his way to Ticonderoga there was one of the 
curious meetings of history, for on a stormy winter 

213 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

night, on the border of Lake George, Knox met Major 
Andre, who was on his way as a prisoner to Lancaster, 
Pennsylvania — this being, of course, an earlier cap- 
ture than the later fatal one. The two young men 
spent a pleasant evening together, for they had tastes 
in common and were alike bright and agreeable, and 
in the morning they parted — only to meet again when 
Andre was once more a prisoner. And it was severe 
suffering for Knox, long afterward, remembering this 
pleasant winter meeting beside Lake George, to sit 
as a member of the court martial that found it in- 
evitable to condemn Andre to death. 

Knox reached Ticonderoga and Crown Point and 
found the cannon there. And we still may read his 
fascinating inventory. There were 14 mortars and 
cohorns, brass and iron, from 4%" to 13" diameter of 
bore; there were two iron howitzers; there were 43 
cannon, from 3-pounders to 18-pounders. There was 
thus the formidable number of 59 guns in all, with a 
total formidable weight of 119,900 pounds! And 
some of the 18-pounders weighed as high as 5000 
pounds each. 

This enormous weight of artillery Knox was to 
convey to Boston without the loss of a single unneces- 
sary hour. He was to take it through miles and miles 
of wild wilderness, by a rough road which was prac- 
tically no road at all, in mid- winter ; he was to go right 
across the Berkshires; and those who have motored 
over those splendid hills in summer on perfect roads, 
and know what heights and grades there are, will some- 

214 



HEIGHTS BEACHED AND KEPT 

what appreciate how gigantic was the task confront- 
ing Knox, of dragging one hundred and twenty thou- 
sand pounds of cannon over the mountain trails, 
through snow and ice and storm. And it would be 
hard to find words more brave and confident than 
those he wrote to Washington ; not over-confident, not 
boastful, for he merely "hoped"; but we may be sure 
that "Washington, reading the message, felt no doubts ; 
Knox wrote, telling of finding the guns, and said : "I 
hope in sixteen or seventeen days' time to be able to 
present to Your Excellency a noble train of artillery." 
And his use of the word "noble" — what a touch it 
gives! That word, alone, would show the bravely 
romantic strain in Knox. He did not say "big" or 
"heavy" or "important" or "much-needed," but in- 
stinctively used the delightful word "noble" — "a 
noble train of artillery!" 

Knox had been instructed by Washington as to how 
many horses to use, but there on the spot he gave up 
all idea of horses, being the kind of man who could as- 
sume the responsibility of altering instructions when 
it seemed advisable to do so, and he wrote to Wash- 
ington that he had procured eighty yoke of oxen in- 
stead. He wrote from Albany on January 5th, ea- 
gerly impatient of a delay through a "cruel thaw" 
which made it temporarily impossible to cross the 
Hudson — which, to our amazement, we find had to be 
crossed "four times from Lake George to this town!" 
And from the Hudson he at length struck across 
the country, and over the great heights, from Kinder- 

215 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

hook to Great Barrington and thence to Springfield, 
from which place he went triumphantly on to Boston. 
It was an amazing achievement. 

Day by day "Washington had feared that the British 
would seize the heights of Dorchester. All he could 
do, as he waited, was to put in readiness -bales of 
screwed hay and fascines of white birch, ready for the 
making of redoubts — the white birch that even now 
springs up so freely all over the untillable parts of 
eastern Massachusetts. The weather continued so 
cold, and the ground so deeply frozen, that there 
seemed no chance to intrench on Dorchester, and sur- 
face redoubts were therefore all that could be pre- 
pared for. And there was moral severity as well as 
the severity of winter, as shown by General Orders 
of a winter day early in 1776 positively forbidding not 
only the soldiers, but the officers as well, to play cards 
or other games of chance, for "At this time of public 
distress, men may find enough to do in the service of 
God and their country, without abandoning themselves 
to vice and immorality." 

With the arrival of Knox and the cannon the mili- 
tary situation was changed. It was now but a matter 
of bravely and cautiously making the final move. And 
on the night of March 4, the move was made. 

It was a moonlight night. The British were un- 
watchfully asleep, refusing to let more than their 
pickets and patrols be disturbed by a severe cannonad- 
ing which was kept up by the Americans from various 
points about the city to draw attention from the send- 
ing of a large number of men and wagons and guns 

216 



HEIGHTS BEACHED AND KEPT 

to Dorchester, where the steep height was mounted 
and defensive preparations instantly begun. It was 
a literal proving that "the heights by great men 
reached and kept are not attained by sudden flight, " 
but that they, while their opponents slept, were toil- 
ing upward in the night. Throughout the night the 
Americans worked with intense energy, and when 
morning came there was a redoubt-crowned hill, with 
soldiers and guns. The British gazed at it in amaze- 
ment and soon realized that Washington had deci- 
sively outwitted them, for they quickly discovered 
that his position commanded the harbor and the city. 
It has never, I think, been sufficiently understood, 
in regard to Washington's siege of Boston, that he 
came to the task, not as a stranger to that city but 
with a close knowledge of Boston localities. As a 
young officer, fresh from the campaign of Braddock, 
a great military movement with whose every detail 
he had been familiar, he had been sent to Boston, in 
1756, on military matters and to tell Governor Shirley 
the circumstances of the death of Shirley's son on 
the Monongahela. At that time, Washington stayed 
ten days in Boston, and not only mingled with 
the best society of the town, but made it a point, 
with his military experience and ambitions, to see 
Boston thoroughly, even to the extent of visiting 
Castle William, out in the harbor. He could not well 
have had any definite premonition, twenty years be- 
fore the Bevolution; but none the less, born soldier 
that he was, he acquired such local knowledge as made 
Boston and its defenses familiar ground. 

217 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

And, too, he came to the siege with full understand- 
ing of British officers and soldiers, of British methods 
and ways of thought, of a certain blundering and un- 
watchful bravery which marked their methods ; he had 
learned all this from his close association with Brad- 
dock and his officers, and the knowledge thus gained 
gave him such an insight into the workings of the 
English military mind as made it possible for him to 
plan with success for Dorchester; counting, first, on 
British inaction, and next on his own preparations to 
meet their belated activity. 

Washington fully expected an attack on his vital 
position at Dorchester. General Howe fully expected 
to make one, and Lord Percy was hurried toward Dor- 
chester with twenty-four hundred men. The assem- 
bling of this force was witnessed not only by the 
American army, but by the people of the city, who 
gathered in massed throngs on the neighboring hills. 

It was a steep ascent to the American position; 
it is steep even now, although much of the ground 
round about has been graded and leveled; it was too 
steep for the successful depression of artillery in 
those early days, and so the Americans made ready, 
not only with their rifles, but with barrels of stone and 
sand to roll down on Percy's men as they should come 
up the hill. But only a few of Percy's men reached 
even the foot of the hill, for a heavy rain and storm 
came on, with so high a wind and such rough water 
and dangerous surf that the landing of the English 
troops to make an attack became impossible. The 
storm continued all that day, and all the following 

218 



HEIGHTS BEACHED AND KEPT 

night and the next day, and when it ceased the Ameri- 
cans had made their position so strong that it was ab- 
solutely useless to attack it. And Washington could 
now at any moment cannonade Boston. 

Washington had been specifically authorized by 
Congress to attack Boston even though the town might 
thereby be destroyed. General Howe, appreciating 
to the full the new gravity of his position, frankly 
threatened to burn the town if an attack should be 
made. But Howe knew that his position had sud- 
denly become hopeless ; he was trapped and was ready 
for an accommodation ; and Washington, for his part, 
could not bear to have the loyal city destroyed. There 
was some difficulty in reaching an agreement between 
the two leaders, for, such being sometimes the ab- 
surdities of practical affairs, Howe would not ad- 
dress Washington in those early days as an acknowl- 
edged General, and Washington would not permit 
himself to be addressed in any other way. However, 
what may be called a gentlemen's agreement was 
unofficially arranged, by which Howe was promptly 
to evacuate the city and Washington was to refrain 
from using his guns. There was almost two weeks of 
preparation for the departure, with the Americans 
watchfully waiting, and on March 17th the British 
fleet sailed away, dropping out of the harbor in long 
procession, bearing eleven thousand troops and one 
thousand Boston refugees; going to Halifax, these 
refugees, self -condemned and unhappy exiles; and 
ever since has "Go to Halifax" been an opprobrious 
term in most of America, just as I have noticed the 

219 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

word ' ' Hessian" still used opprobriously down in Vir- 
ginia. 

What a spectacle must the sailing of the British 
fleet have been. There were as many as one hundred 
and seventy ships, so some of the descriptions have 
it, and soldiers and civilians, men and women and 
children, crowded every vantage point, every house- 
top and hill, to see the ships move sullenly away and 
watch the white sails disappear in the distance. 

And that was how "Washington won Boston ; won it 
with superbness of victory, completeness of success; 
won it without loss of life except such as now and 
then had come from the clashing of outposts ; won it, 
in the final analysis, through discerning the capacity 
of Henry Knox and the importance of Dorchester 
Heights. And that is why this hill, situated amid 
what are now commonplace surroundings, takes on 
the high aspect of romantic and vital history. But 
even as thoughts came to me of the contrast between 
the romantic past and the commonplace present, the 
picturesque appeared, for, as I walked about the hill, 
two Roman Catholic nuns suddenly appeared, passing 
slowly by, each wearing her headdress of white and 
her kirtle of blue, each with the great, plain, starched 
linen headdress pinned tightly about the lines of the 
face. It was as if they had serenely walked out of 
Normandy only to walk serenely around the corner 
into Normandy again, on this American hill. 

The height is topped by a shapely, impressive, fit- 
ting monument, of white marble, with a steeple-like 
marble top that in shape is like the steeple of some 

220 



HEIGHTS REACHED AND KEPT 

admirable old American meeting-house ; an admirable 
idea admirably executed. And this hill, with its 
space of greenery about the monument carefully pre- 
served, is in itself a noble monument to American 
genius and patriotism. It is seldom seen by Bosto- 
nians, although it can readily be reached in less than 
half an hour from the center of the city, and the 
reason for neglect is probably that the victory of 
Dorchester was won without the bloodshed that seems 
to be needed to make a picturesque appeal to most 
people. It was a victory of brains, not blood. 

There is a splendid portrait of Knox, by Gilbert 
Stuart, that is proudly preserved in Boston in the 
Museum of Fine Arts. Few things are better for a 
country than the possession of admirable paintings 
of those of its citizens who have done great deeds; 
and here is the real Knox. As you look at him you 
see at once that of course he would get those guns! 
Of course he would do whatever he set out to do. 
Here he stands, alive and alert, one hand on his hip 
and the other resting upon a cannon, and thus clev- 
erly, as Stuart meant it, concealing the absence of 
two fingers, lost not in battle, but in a gunning acci- 
dent before the war. Knox looks out of the canvas as 
if still alive ; masterful, capable, good-humored, firm, 
self-controlled, efficient; a handsome man, too, with 
high and heavy eyebrows and florid face; and he 
wears his uniform, of the mellowest of buff and the 
deepest of blue, with an air ! Boston is fortunate in- 
deed in her mementoes of Dorchester Heights, for 
not only has she the Heights themselves, but she has 

221 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

Gilbert Stuart's paintings of the two men to whom 
the victory was owing — she has his most famous 
Washington, and this superb portrait of Knox. 



■mi'L 







CHAPTER XVIII 



'COLLEGES RED AND COMMON GREEN' 



"^ 







|0 people in general, away from 
Boston, Harvard means Cam- 
bridge and Cambridge Harvard ; 
the names are used as if prac- 
tically interchangeable ; al- 
though, as a matter of fact, 
every one knows that there is 
at least something in Cambridge 
that is not included within the 
university — for is there not the 
home of Longfellow! Another 
general idea is that Cambridge is part of Boston, 
whereas in reality Cambridge is a separate city, al- 
though it is just on the other side of the Charles and 
ought, for various reasons, to be included within Bos- 
ton limits. To most intents and purposes it is really 
a part of Boston, and Bostonians so consider it. 

There is really a great deal of Cambridge outside 
of Harvard. There is Eadcliff e, that active and grow- 
ing college for young women ; and there is a thriving 
city besides, with numerous features of interest. It 
may be regretted that so much of the city is painted 
from the same pot of paint, a dingy drab, that has 
been used on the houses of most of Boston's suburbs, 

223 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

for dingy drab as a permeative color is not inspiring; 
but after all, that is a minor point. 

Cambridge is a busy city, with its student life and 
its active Harvard and Eadcliffe, but as I think of 
it there comes, for the moment, in place of the picture 
of its business and social and educational life, that of 
one of the most beautiful of cemeteries, in every re- 
spect restful, as a beautiful cemetery ought to be; 
that of Mount Auburn. For Mount Auburn repre- 
sents so much of the best history of Boston, holds so 
much of the dust of Boston genius. 

It occupies a great area of gently rolling land, on 
the farther edge of Cambridge; it is thickly dotted 
with trees, it is charming with birds and squirrels, 
there are fountains tossing their water high, and there 
are great beds of flowers ; and it is astonishing what 
a number of famous New Englanders have found their 
resting-place here. Here lies James Bussell Lowell, 
under a dark-colored stone, amid a group of other 
Lowells who are gathered about him, including sev- 
eral who died in the Civil "War. Not far away is the 
little headstone which marks the grave of Motley. 
Near Motley is the dignified tomb of Longfellow, and 
close at hand are the graves of Parkman and Holmes. 

It is amazing; for this notable group of men were 
practically neighbors and friends and contemporaries 
while living, and now they are neighbors in their 
final rest. So close-gathered are they within this 
great cemetery that they might almost be under one 
monument ! And, were it not for the Concord group, 
such a monument might almost stand to the memory 

224 



"COLLEGES EED AND COMMON GEEEN" 

of New England literature. Seldom, elsewhere, has 
there been such a close concentration of literary fame. 

On the way back into Cambridge, Elmwood is 
passed, the home of Lowell, the house where he was 
born, and where he lived his life of honored achieve- 
ment, and where he died; an attractive old Colonial 
house, with a fetching line, on either side of the door, 
of low box-bushes shaded by great elms which are 
fading away, like innumerable other beautiful elms 
here in Cambridge and elsewhere in New England, 
under the attacks of the destructive descendants of 
that imported moth that won dubious fame for the 
Harvard professor who carelessly allowed it to fly 
away after his experiments. Countless elms have 
already perished from the ravages of the gypsy moths, 
themselves of more than countless number; but at 
least every American member of that family of moths 
can unquestioningly, if there is any satisfaction in 
the fact, trace his descent from the moth who was 
bred at Harvard. 

Lowell was not the first famous inhabitant of his 
beautiful house, for it has the distinction of having 
been the home of the very last of the royal governors 
of Massachusetts, and, also before it became the 
Lowell home, it was that of Elbridge Gerry, the poli- 
tician whose ambition was to be known as a mighty 
statesman, and who really won high place, but who 
succeeded only in sending his name down to posterity 
linked with the notorious Gerrymander. 

In Lowell's time it was deemed a mere nothing to 
walk from Cambridge into Boston and back; Lowell 

225 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

himself often did it ; and even the ladies of Cambridge 
used frequently to walk into Boston to do their shop- 
ping and then would likewise return on foot. Some- 
how, the people of those days managed to accomplish 
a great deal without motor-cars or trolleys ; in these 
degenerate times it is considered very tiring to most 
people to walk, not from Boston — that would be im- 
possible! — but even the short distance from Cam- 
bridge Common to Lowell's house and back. 

A little farther toward the center of Cambridge 
is the house that was long the home of Longfellow, a 
beautiful old Colonial building, dignified in its buff 
and white, with its plain pilasters, its dormered and 
balustraded roof, its fine chimneys, its generous lines, 
its terraced front. The terrace wall is thick-greened 
with ivy, great elms shade the house and grounds, and 
along the sidewalk line is a high hedge of lilacs. Lilac 
hedges, indeed, are a delightful characteristic of Cam- 
bridge, and one which I do not remember having 
noticed as a feature in any other town. 

It has somewhat become the fashion among certain 
classes to deem Longfellow a poet of insignificance, 
which is as much of a mistake as to deem him among 
the very greatest. He put so much of beauty and 
sweetness and fine Americanism into his poetry as to 
deserve high place in the regard of the world and 
particularly in that of his own country. His excel- 
lent English is always so excellently simple that some 
think it is a sign of inferiority ! But even Browning 
thought no less of him on that account, but loved both 
his poetry and himself, and walked the London streets 

226 



"COLLEGES EED AND COMMON GREEN" 

with him in eager talk — the English poet literally arm 
in arm with the American ! 

Distinguished though any house would be by the 
long residence of Longfellow, this house of his has 
another and even greater fame ; for it was the head- 
quarters of General "Washington during most of the 
time that he was conducting his operations against 
Boston. The fine old house, loved and lived in by 
men of such diverse greatness, stands as if with a 
sort of sedate pride in such associations. 

For some years between the time of its occupation 
by Washington and that by Longfellow it was the 
home of a certain cunning Andrew Craigie who, it is 
worth remembering, as a warning not to apply the 
word "patriot" to everybody connected with early 
times, was an apothecary-general in the hospital serv- 
ice in the Eevolution and was believed to have made a 
fortune through using his special opportunities to 
buy medicines cheap and sell them to the army 
dear. "Graft," and unscrupulous holders of office, 
are evidently not products of modern days exclu- 
sively. 

Next door to the stately Longfellow house is one 
that is even finer and more stately; indeed, the en- 
tire neighborhood hereabouts is full of charming 
homes, mostly Colonial, or admirable copies of the 
Colonial style. Cambridge displays a great area of 
beautiful living, with beautiful houses, sloping lawns, 
and green trees, and it is a pleasure to notice that 
these trees are largely horse-chestnuts, after knowing 
what ravages are taking place among the elms. 

227 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

A few minutes' walk from the Longfellow house 
takes one to the site of one of the most thrilling events 
in the world, at least one of the most thrilling to any 
American, the spot on Cambridge Common where 
George Washington first took command of the Ameri- 
can army. Here, soldiers and officers stood in array 
before him, as he sat upon his horse under an elm that 
even then was old, and in a few simple words de- 
clared that he assumed command. And that old elm 
is still standing ! It is only a wreck, now, this ancient 
tree, only a fragment, a remnant, and trolley wires 
crisscross it and trolleys rumble close beside, but it is 
still there, still alive, a monument to that event of 
significance. It stands in the center of a tiny bit of 
green, at a street intersection at the edge of the Com- 
mon, and a tablet commemorates the event with a sim- 
ple dignity which befits the event itself. 

Under this Tree 

Washington 

First took Command 

of the 

American Army, 

July 3, 1775. 

On the Common itself stand several cannon, big, 
black, heavy, long-barreled things ; not only old can- 
non, but very distinguished old cannon, for at least 
two of them were among the very ones that General 
Knox brought down so marvelously from Ticonderoga 
when "Washington needed them to use in his siege 
operations against Boston. 

The ancient Washington elm, and these cannon, are 

228 



"COLLEGES RED AND COMMON GREEN" 

among the things that ought to be seen by every 
American. 

Off at the edge of the Common, close to where the 
Harvard buildings begin, is an open space where the 
American soldiers, some twelve hundred of them, lined 
up for their march to Bunker Hill, on the night before 
the battle; a brave and solemn thing to do, for all 
knew that they were not only about to risk death in 
battle, but that they were to take the even more seri- 
ous risk of death as traitors should they fail. The 
President of Harvard stood on the steps of a gam- 
brel-roofed, elm-shaded, altogether delightful old 
house, to pray for the soldiers as they stood solemnly 
before him. The fine old house has disappeared; 
within my own memory it has been torn down, appar- 
ently without reason, for no other house has taken its 
place ; but although the beautiful old house has been 
demolished, and although that Harvard president be- 
came long since dust, the bravely impressive scene 
has not been forgotten — and ought never to be for- 
gotten. 

And it also need not be forgotten that this was the 
house in which, some quarter of a century after the 
Revolution, Oliver "Wendell Holmes was born. 

Another old house, now known as the Wadsworth 
house, was until recent years the home of the Harvard 
presidents, in honored sequence ; in fact, it was built, 
in 1726, for the very purpose of being the home of the 
presidents. Its back is toward the university grounds 
and buildings, but it faces out on busy Massachusetts 
Avenue, and its porticoed door is directly on the side- 

229 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

walk. The narrow portico would just keep the rain 
off a president as he stood while putting the key in 
the lock. Two plain wooden columns support a pedi- 
ment with severe triglyphs, and there are such plain, 
simple, good ornaments as to make it a delight among 
porticoed doorways. The door itself is eight-paneled, 
with a high-set knoh and with four lights of glass 
above to light the entry. And it is the door through 
which Ealph Waldo Emerson used to pop in and out ! 
For he was "President's messenger" when working 
his way through Harvard. 

Harvard University was founded almost three cen- 
turies ago ; it was founded as far back as 1636 ! And 
what those early Americans determined upon was ex- 
pressed in words that are perpetuated in an inscrip- 
tion at the principal gateway to the Harvard grounds : 

"After God had carried vs safe to New England, and wee 
had bvilded ovr hovses, provided necessaries for ovr liveli- 
hood, reard convenient places for Gods worship, and setled 
the civill government, one of the next things we longed for 
and looked after was to advance learning and perpetvate 
it to posterity." 

It was in 1636 that the General Court of Massachu- 
setts Bay agreed to give four hundred pounds towards 
a "schoale or colledge," half to be paid the next year 
and half when the building should be finished, and it 
was ordered that the school be established at Newe- 
towne, and that Newetowne should thenceforth be 
called Cambridge, and later it was ordered that the 
college "shall bee called Harvard Colledge": which 
directions were duly followed. 

230 



"COLLEGES EED AND COMMON OEEEN" 

Harvard dislikes outside criticism, but enjoys hu- 
morous flings if it flings the humor itself; as when 
Harvard men some years ago flung paint humorously 
upon John Harvard's statue — only to find, in that 
case, that it did not seem so very humorous after all ! 
And as to that statue, with its inscription, "John 
Harvard, Founder, 1638," even dignitaries of the uni- 
versity are prone to refer to it as the "statue of the 
three lies"; for John Harvard was not the founder; 
and it was not even in the year of the founding, but 
two years afterwards, that he made the bequest, of all 
his library, some three hundred books, and half of his 
fortune of some fifteen hundred pounds, which actu- 
ally acted as the needed impulse to carry out the initial 
inspiration; and, finally, the figure does not really 
represent John Harvard, for it is made from the 
sculptor's imagination of what he ought to look like! 
And it does not, it may be added, give precisely the 
impression of what John Harvard really was — a cul- 
tured, earnest minister, of only thirty-one years of 
age. And few men dying at thirty-one have been able 
to link their names with a movement or institution so 
famous. 

Another of the flings from within Harvard came 
from the beloved Lampoon, which, referring to a not- 
so-very-long-ago president, noticeably cold in general 
mien, suggested that a monument be raised to him on 
a certain spot, with an inscription declaring that there 
he actually spoke to a freshman. 

The fine gateways to the Harvard grounds, all of 
them memorials or gifts, add materially, in connection 

231 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

with the wall which surrounds a great part of the 
grounds, in giving an effect of harmonizing and bind- 
ing together college buildings which are really a con- 
glomeration of architecture ; wall and gateways almost 
give character and distinction to the entire group of 
buildings ; although some of the buildings, considered 
individually, cannot be deemed either distinguished 
or attractive. 

It is pleasant to note that, although many a modern 
college or university is not content without the am- 
bitious name of "campus," old Harvard is quite satis- 
fied in honoring its great, reposeful, tree-shaded, 
grassy rectangle, surrounded as it is by college build- 
ings, with the name of "yard." 

The most interesting and at the same time the oldest 
of all the Harvard buildings is Massachusetts Hall, an 
attractive old structure of time-dulled brick, standing 
just inside the main entrance. It was built two cen- 
turies ago and is an admirable example of its fine 
period, with twin-chimneyed gable at either end, with 
shingled gambrel-roof, with its long row of dormers, 
its long wooden balustrade, its small-paned windows, 
and the lines of slightly projecting brick which mark 
the floor-lines and give special distinctiveness. 

The finest of all the buildings is the great modern 
structure, built in memory of one of those drowned on 
the Titanic, known as the Widener Memorial Library, 
a magnificent structure that represents lavishness of 
wealth and a deep sense of classical beauty. The 
splendid front looks out on charming greenery, on 
grass and elms, with here and there a maple or pine or 

232 



"COLLEGES RED AND COMMON GREEN" 

chestnut. The entrance door is approached by a broad 
flight of granite steps, and at the top of the steps is 
a long colonnade of mighty pillars of stone, fronting 
the fagade in splendid dignity. The interior of the 
building is temple-like in beauty, in its soft glory of 
smooth but unpolished stone. There is a curious and 
impressive vista when one enters ; for ahead, at a sort 
of vanishing point of sight, through and beyond the 
superb hall, is the effectively placed portrait of 
Widener himself, as if looking pleasantly at each man 
who enters. 

The other day. I saw a full-page description of this 
building in one of the Boston dailies, and quite a part 
of the reading matter — twenty-four lines of it and a 
subhead, to be precise — was devoted to what was 
termed the "most curious book" in the library that 
the great building holds. "It is curious, not because 
the book is rare or splendid or has the most remarka- 
ble associations or represents the highest flights of 
an immortal author." You see, it is not notable for 
any of the reasons which would arrest attention in 
Chicago or San Francisco or New York or Paris or 
London. But the newspaper, after tantalizingly go- 
ing on about non-existent reasons, at length works up 
to the climax, the real cause of the book's being singled 
out for distinction. It seems that it is a presentation 
copy, with a personal inscription to the man whose 
name gives name to the library, and that the inscrip- 
tion spells the word "guild" without the "u"! — just 
"gild"! That is absolutely all. A great Boston 
newspaper accepts the contribution of some one of its 

233 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

staff who is so little conversant with English as not to 
know that the word in question may properly and with 
authority be spelled "gild" ; no editor, no copyreader, 
checks it or looks it up ; and the splendid library and 
the remarkably beautiful building are held up to Bos- 
ton scorn because of the newspaper's own deficiency 
in orthographic knowledge; and, according to the 
newspaper, as the supposed error is noted, "your face 
wears a smile of amused wonder." I tell of this, be- 
cause it is so typical of Boston's absolute certainty 
that nothing can be right which is not done precisely 
as a Boston man would do it. 

It is a natural transition from the most beautiful of 
the buildings of Harvard to that which is furthest 
from beauty — the great Memorial Hall, which was put 
up some half a century ago as if to be a notable exam- 
ple of that bad period when scarcely anything of 
beauty was built. But although this building itself is 
unbeautiful, the idea that caused it to be built was 
nobly beautiful; for it was erected as a memorial to 
the men of Harvard who gave their lives for their 
country in the Civil War. And much of the interior is 
of striking effect. Down the lofty and impressive 
main corridor there are tablets to one after another of 
the many who thus died — a thrilling list. One sees 
such old New England names as Peabody, Wadsworth, 
and Bowditch ; one sees the name of Fletcher "Webster ; 
one sees that an Edward Bevere died at Antietam and 
a Paul Bevere at Gettysburg. 

One end of the building is given over to a great col- 
lege dining-hall, imposing and lofty-roofed, and so 

234 



"COLLEGES BED AND COMMON GKEEN" 

remindful of the dining-hall of Christ Church at Ox- 
ford as clearly to show that it must have been inspired 
by that noble hall, although it is without the wealth of 
finished beauty that the Oxford hall presents. Still, 
this Harvard hall is very impressive ; in spite of the 
mistake of ill-placed rows of hat-racks, and in spite of 
the heaviness of the crockery on the long rows of long 
tables, and in spite of an Ethiopian and his water- 
pitcher at the end of each row. 

But what is most notable here are the portraits, 
which extend around the great hall in lines of grave 
dignity; most of the paintings are by the best of the 
early American artists, and are priceless in that they 
bring down to posterity the appearance of the great 
men of the past, while at the same time the greater 
number are notable achievements of art as well. 

Here is Thomas Hancock, worthy uncle of the patri- 
otic and famous John ; a painting by Copley, made in 
1766. Hancock is standing on a floor of tessellated 
marble, and is gorgeous in showy clothing, and coat 
of bottle-green velvet, with ruffles at his wrists and 
ornate buckles on his shoes. And here is a fine Wash- 
ington, by Trumbull, a portrait given to Harvard, 
while Washington was still alive, by that Craigie 
whom we have seen making money out of army medi- 
cines. And here is a John Adams by Copley; an 
Adams quite unknown to Boston — for he is repre- 
sented in full court dress ; a costume that in the early 
anti-English days he would scarcely have dared to 
wear. And here, too, is a painting understood to be a 
Benjamin Franklin, sent from England by Franklin 

235 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

himself as a gift for Ms brother ; but it does not at all 
meet the usual ideas of Franklin's appearance, as it 
shows him quite a youngish man with curly hair and 
bishop-like sleeves ; it is with some difficulty that one 
realizes that Franklin was ever a youngish man, there 
being but two general impressions of him, one as a 
boy with a bun and the other as an aged philosopher. 
Here, too, is an excellent portrait by Chester Harding 
of that many-titled man, the Earl of Aberdeen, Vis- 
count Gordon, Ambassador to Vienna, Prime Minister, 
and so on ; one of the many notable paintings that this 
American artist from the backwoods made in Eng- 
land. 

That the hall is rather dark adds materially to the 
general impressiveness, but does not make it a better 
medium for the display of old-time paintings ; and be- 
sides, most of these paintings are skied on the lofty 
wall. 

The social life of the university, at least from the 
standpoint of some of the newer members of the 
faculty, possesses a certain frigidness not incompati- 
ble with Boston and Cambridge social life in general. 
"The winter climate of Boston is distinctly arctic, 
and society life, from sympathy, perhaps, seems to 
pass through a long period of cold storage"; thus, 
toward the close of his long life, wrote the late Charles 
Francis Adams, who knew all that was to be known of 
the best of Boston and Cambridge society; and I 
thought of this when I was told, recently, of a call 
made upon the wife of a new professor by the wife of 
a professor of long standing. She found the younger 

236 



''COLLEGES BED AND COMMON GREEN" 

woman in tears. "Oh, I am so glad you came!" she 
sobbed. "Now — now — somebody knows me! I've 
been so lonely and I've been crying, for I thought that 
nobody knew me and — if I should die — there 'd be no- 
body in Cambridge to come to my funeral!" 

A happier story of social life was related to me, of 
an absent-minded professor who, at a dinner, was 
offered an ice served on a doily of exquisite work- 
manship, and taking it, but continuing his conversa- 
tion, he absent-mindedly twisted the doily with his 
fork, round and round in the ice — and then swallowed 
it ; to the amazed distress of his hostess ! 

Even from early days Cambridge has always 
seemed a part of Boston, and it is now, by means of 
rapid subway trains, really only a few minutes from 
Boston Common, and therefore seems more than ever 
a part of the big city. But the Cambridge people like 
to remain under a government of their own ; only, it 
may not be amiss to suggest, altogether charming 
though that part of Cambridge is where stand the 
homes of Longfellow and Lowell, there is, in the cen- 
ter of the town and in its approaches from Boston, a 
little too much of shabbiness, a shabby and drab aspect 
associated with the old reputation of Cambridge for 
dust. 

And yet, there is so much of charm about the place, 
there is so much of thrilling interest about it, in ad- 
dition to its collegiate associations, that one wishes 
only to think of that summary of the place made 
long ago by one of the most distinguished of Ameri- 
cans: 

237 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

"Nicest place that ever was seen, 
Colleges red and Common green, 
Sidewalks brownish with trees between." 

And the university itself remains a pleasant mem- 
ory, with its throngs of Harvard men in the making; 
of whom I think it was a Bostonian who said, that you 
can always tell a Harvard man — but you can't tell him 
much! 




•«*v ' wVV^,/iL,< 






CHAPTER XIX 



AN ADVENTURE IN PUKE KOMANCE 




"ATHANIEL HAW- 
THORNE, master of the im- 
aginatively romantic, tried 
to make his very life one of 
actual romance, and never 
more so than when, with the 
fire as if of romantic youth, 
although he was then well on 
toward forty, he flung him- 
self and his little fortune into 
the adventure of Brook Farm. 

Throughout his life he was eager to find the ro- 
mance of actual living. His ideal days at the Old 
Manse, rambling in the woods and floating on the Con- 
cord or Assabeth, his life in romantic Italy, his love 
for the romantic countryside of England, his return, 
toward the close of his life, to the romantic surround- 
ings of his beloved Concord — always he sought for the 
finest possible in life : he aimed for rugged independ- 
ence but tried to achieve independence romantically. 
And the most romantic feature of his life was his 
connection with Brook Farm. 

He did not start that remarkable movement. He 
had nothing to do with its inception. But in its possi- 

239 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

bilities it so appealed to him that he went into it with 
enthusiastic buoyancy. Those who think of Haw- 
thorne only as a cold and uncordial recluse miss alto- 
gether the Hawthorne who rowed and camped and 
talked with Ellery Channing ; they miss altogether the 
Hawthorne who threw himself with unreserve into the 
experiment of Brook Farm. 

George Bipley, a man of high ideals who had found ' 
it due to his own conscience to leave the ministry, was 
the founder. He dreamed of a community in which 
mental advancement and physical well-being would go 
hand in hand; he dreamt of a society of intelligent, 
cultured, cultivated people, who were to live together, 
with each one improving himself and all the others, 
and each one doing his share of the mental and physi- 
cal toil which would be necessary to keep up the ex- 
penses of living. Life was to be simplified and made 
glorious. There was to be a school, and there were to 
be mechanical industries, and fruit and vegetables and 
milk were to be the product of their own farm. Each 
one, man or woman, was to do his share of work, physi- 
cal and mental, and all were to participate in the mu- 
tual intellectual benefits of association. After the 
founding, by a little group of friends, no one was to 
be admitted without probation and a vote, and, thus 
safeguarded against undesirables and impracticables, 
the community was to represent the mental activity of 
a wide variety of thinkers in conjunction with the plain 
good sense of chosen farmers and mechanics. Each 
thinker was at the same time to be a worker, and each 
worker a thinker. 

240 



AN ADVENTUEE IN PUEE EOMANCE 

The venture was begun in the spring of 1841. The 
shares were five hundred dollars each, and twenty-four 
were taken by the first group, the founders. And 
Hawthorne did not wait coldly to see if it were to be a 
success. He was eagerly ready to devote himself to 
the work and to associate with other chosen souls. 
Nor was his enthusiasm merely of the spirit; he 
showed it practically, with a pathetic earnestness. 
He had saved — he, the master of American fiction — he 
had saved one thousand dollars from his salary in the 
Boston Custom House, and this sum he paid in for two 
of the Brook Farm shares. There could be no deeper 
proof of his sincerity. 

Hawthorne was even made chairman of the finance 
committee — the last position in the world, one would 
think, for so unworldly a man ; and it is vastly interest- 
ing to know that, after paying $10,500 for the property 
the committee promptly negotiated a mortgage loan 
of $11,000 for the purpose of expenses and new build- 
ings. A mortgage for more than the purchase price ! 

The Brook Farmers were to fleet the time carelessly, 
as they did in the golden world, but they were also to 
work. Charles A. Dana, then a young man, joined. 
George William Curtis joined. The man who was 
to achieve fame as Father Hecker, founder of the Paul- 
ists, joined. Eipley was the guiding spirit. Emer- 
son looked on with sympathy and encouragement, even 
though Brook Farm did not draw him from his be- 
loved Concord. Margaret Fuller did not join, but she 
lent to the community the frequent gleam of her per- 
sonality. That Hawthorne daily milked a cow is one 

241 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

of the joyful memories of the Farm, and that he play- 
fully christened the cow Margaret Fuller, because 
of its intelligent face and reflective character, is an- 
other. 

But Brook Farm was not a practical success. The 
land that Bipley had picked out was wretchedly poor 
for farming, nor were the mechanic industries, such as 
sash-making, at all prosperous. But for a while the 
effort went on nobly. There was wholesome life and 
companionship. Scholars and gentlemen hoed and 
plowed and milked; well-bred ladies washed clothes 
and scrubbed floors. The nights were filled with talk 
and music and cheerfulness. Some new buildings 
were erected, which seem, from descriptions, to have 
been more astonishingly ugly than could fairly have 
been expected of romantic philosophers, and perhaps 
it is well that they burned down, as they did, either 
while the Brook Farmers were there or in the years 
after their departure. 

I think the fact that there were more men than 
women militated against success; and it seems sur- 
prising that more women did not join; with such men 
as Hawthorne and Dana and Bipley and Curtis there, 
it would seem that women would joyously have en- 
tered into the enthusiasm of it all. In this twentieth 
century they doubtless would, but in the 1840 's women 
were still cabined, cribbed, confined. 

It is interesting, and it is striking, that not one of 
the Brook Farmers ever admitted that Brook Farm 
was a failure. Of course, they admitted that the com- 
munity broke up, and with financial loss, but all of 

242 



AN ADVENTURE IN TTJEE ROMANCE 

the people connected with it, both men and women, al- 
ways believed that there had, for all of them, been 
more of profit than of loss ; each was sure that every 
one was benefited. It was really a glorious thing to 
do, a glorious effort to make. 

Hawthorne himself, when at length he saw that the 
movement was doomed to failure, was wise enough to 
leave. He seems to be picturing himself when, in the 
novel that was one of the fruits of Brook Farm, the 
"Blithedale Romance," he represents Miles Cover- 
dale, on the eve of his departure, thus setting down 
his thoughts of the people he was to meet out in the 
world, away from his companions at the Farm: "It 
was now time for me to go and hold a little talk with 
the conservatives, the writers of the North American 
Review, the merchants, the politicians, the Cambridge 
men, and all those respectable old blockheads who still 
kept a death-grip on one or two ideas which had not 
come into vogue since yesterday morning." 

He left, and married the woman of his choice, and 
continued on his career of fame, winning more and 
more the reputation of being cold and repellent — 
which his associates at Brook Farm knew so well that 
he was not ! And he wrote his novel of the place — 
the name of Blithedale itself declaring what charm 
and poetry he had found there — and he incorporated 
in that story the feeling of what Brook Farm had 
meant to him. 

Brook Farm itself is still largely, in appearance, 
what it was when it knew the wonderful community. 
The spot is but ten or eleven miles from Boston Com- 

243 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

mon, yet urban and suburban development have alike 
missed it, except as to a gathering of cemeteries in the 
region close by. It is easily reachable, by train to 
West Roxbury, or even more conveniently by trolley. 
And there are still the traces of the main entrance and 
gateway ; there is still the same general aspect, of walls 
trailed over with the scarlet barberry, of rolling mead- 
ows and woodland, of dips and hollows alternating 
with little heights, of pine trees, scattered or thickly 
massed. 

A Lutheran Home stands on the spot where the main 
building of the farmers stood, and, such having been 
the fiery devastation, the only house standing that 
stood when they were there is a little place which 
somehow gained the name of "Margaret Fuller's cot- 
tage"; for the reason, as it was long ago quaintly said, 
that it was the only building there with which Mar- 
garet Fuller had nothing to do ! But it was a building 
with which, undoubtedly, Hawthorne and Dana had to 
do, and probably all of them. 

It stands on a still lonely spot ; a small house, steep- 
roofed, four-gabled, of broad and unplaned clap- 
boards, and with windows of so oddly unusual a size 
as to lead to the impression that the sash are probably 
some of the very sash that the Brook Farmers made 
and unsuccessfully tried to market. 

Pictorial pudding-stones of enormous size dot the 
landscape — one marvels that with such outward and 
visible signs of an unkindly soil Eipley could ever have 
deceived himself and the others into faith that the 
land had possibilities ! — and immediately in front of 

244 



AN ADVENTURE IN PURE ROMANCE 

this cottage is such a stone, over six feet in height and 
of twice that length. All about stretches away a land 
without levels, with little pools in the hollows, with 
trees in clumps and singles and masses, with rocky- 
rolling swells, and with the Charles flowing quietly by. 
And the breeze blowing across the meadows blows 
fresh from a land of pure romance. 

About the same distance from the center of Boston 
as is Brook Farm, but off to the eastward, near the 
coast, are two small homes which also are important 
in New England history and which also stand for ro- 
mance, though here the romance is of a different char- 
acter, for it is the typically American romance of suc- 
cess, the romance of rising from humble surroundings 
to lofty place. 

It is in Quincy that these two small homes stand, 
the little homes in which were born two men of Ameri- 
can romance. And I do not mean John Hancock, al- 
though he was born in Quincy, for he was not of finan- 
cially straitened ancestry; I mean those two Quincy- 
born men, John Adams and his son John Quincy 
Adams. And the town of Quincy is the only place that 
enjoys the honorable distinction of being the birth- 
place of two Presidents of the United States. 

The houses in which these two Presidents that were 
to be, were born, are of rather humble type, but sweet 
and cheerful and comfortable, with an air, as it were, 
of self-respect. The two stand close to each other, al- 
most touching shoulders. One looks first at the house 
in which John Adams was born, small and unimpres- 
sive as it is, and then at the house to which he took his 

245 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

wife, a home just as simple, where their son John 
Quincy was born. It is amazing and it is inspiring to 
realize that from such homes men could rise to the 
highest places of leadership and to the very Presi- 
dency, and the close conjunction of the two houses 
adds much to the dramatic effect. 

John Adams fell in love with a connection of the 
Quincys, a powerful and wealthy family, and they 
from the first discerned his unusual qualities and did 
not oppose the match, and the marriage was of great 
practical aid in his advancement. And his wife, Abi- 
gail Smith, instead of being one who was always urg- 
ing him to extravagance or pretentiousness, as a 
daughter of the wealthy Quincys might so easily have 
been, was a woman of much good sense and of modera- 
tion. It is delightful to find her writing to him, when 
she learns that he is likely to be sent as ambassador 
abroad, and when it would be expected that she would 
eagerly urge such brilliant advancement, that "this 
little cottage has more heart-felt satisfaction for you 
than the most brilliant court can afford." And that 
this Abigail of the aristocrats was really a finely 
sturdy American was further shown in many ways, as 
by her answer to an Englishman, on the ship on which 
she herself crossed the ocean ; for when he asked, over 
and over, what was the family of this or that Ameri- 
can, she told him "that merit, not title, gave a man 
preeminence in our country; that I did not doubt it 
was a mortifying circumstance to the British nobility 
to find themselves so often defeated by mechanics and 

246 



AN ADVENTURE IN PUEE ROMANCE 

mere husbandmen ; but that we esteemed it our glory- 
to draw such characters not only into the field but into 
the senate." 

Adams, from such a humble birthplace and such a 
humble home, was quite equal to upholding his dignity 
and that of his country abroad, and to hold with honor 
the office of President of the United States. But it is 
rather amusing, and it is highly interesting, looking at 
these plain and little homes, to remember that, in a 
letter to his wife, in 1797, after his election to the 
Presidency, he wrote, addressing his wife as "My 
dearest friend," a form in use at that period between 
married folk, and signing himself "Tenderly yours," 
a form even yet not entirely gone out of fashion: 

"I hope you will not communicate to anybody the 
hints I give you about our prospects ; but they appear 
every day worse and worse. House rent at twenty- 
seven hundred dollars a year, fifteen hundred dollars 
for a carriage, one thousand for one pair of horses, all 
the glasses, ornaments, kitchen furniture, the best 
chairs, settees, plateaus, &c, all to purchase, and not 
a farthing probably will the House of Representatives 
allow, though the Senate have voted a small addition. 
All the linen besides. I shall not pretend to keep more 
than one pair of horses for a carriage, and one for a 
saddle. Secretaries, servants, wood, charities which 
are demanded as a right, and the million dittoes pre- 
sent such a prospect as is enough to disgust any one. 
Yet not one word must we say. We must stand our 
ground as long as we can." 

247 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

John Adams was very much of a man; and it should 
be remembered that it was he who, New Englander 
though he was, was broad enough to nominate, in the 
Continental Congress, George Washington to be com- 
mander-in-chief of the American forces. Jefferson 
said of John Adams that he was "our Colossus on the 
floor ; not graceful, not elegant, not always fluent, but 
with power both of thought and of expression." 

Adams and Jefferson, it will be remembered, both 
lived until the fiftieth anniversary of the event with 
which both had so much to do, the making of the Dec- 
laration ; and both, by one of the most remarkable co- 
incidences in history, died not only in 1826, the fiftieth 
year, but actually on July the Fourth. 

The two Adamses, the two Presidents, father and 
son, were not only born in adjoining houses, but sleep 
their last sleep in adjoining tombs; for both lie in 
granite chambers beneath the portico of the Stone 
Temple, that fine-looking church, solid and of excellent 
proportions, with round-topped tower, which faces 
into Quincy Square. 

There are at least three homes of the Quincy family 
in Quincy, but it is one in particular that is meant 
when the "Quincy homestead" is referred to by any 
one of the neighborhood. (The Massachusetts way 
of pronouncing "Quincy" is as if the family suffer 
from a well-known affection of the throat.) 

The homestead is away from the thick-settled part 
of the city of Quincy, and is set nestlingly beside a 
stream, now little, which in the long ago was navigable 

248 



AN ADVENTUKE IN PUKE EOMANCE 

for smallish, boats. It is a great dormer-windowed 
mansion, quaint, rambling and romantic, with attrac- 
tive roof lines, and is now in the possession of a patri- 
otic society, and filled with its own furniture of the 
past. It is a house of innumerable spacious and low- 
ceilinged rooms; it was always an aristocrat's house, 
and presumably it was deemed none the less aristo- 
cratic from its owner being a bit of a buccaneer. It 
is a house of one romantic room after another ; a house 
unusually full of charm, even compared with other 
ancient houses; a house dating back, as to its main 
portion, for over two centuries ; that main part having 
incorporated within it a still earlier portion dating 
back into the sixteen hundreds. And it contains what 
seems surely the most elaborate and most cleverly 
constructed secret hiding space, between floors, in 
America, this space being an entire false room, en- 
tered by a secret entrance, and of quite unsuspected 
existence through any outward appearance, the room 
above it and the room below being reached separately 
from each other from another part of the house. 

This building, so extremely interesting in appear- 
ance and age, possesses a definite interest in that it 
was the home of the two Dorothy Q.'s, those delight- 
fully cognomened young women who float with that 
romantic designation through New England history 
and reminiscences. And the adherents of either one 
of the Dorothy Q.'s are always ready to do battle for 
her as being of more prominence than the other Doro- 
thy Q. Perhaps none but New Englanders would be 

249 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

interested in following out the precise genealogical 
lines, but at least one may say that the Dorothy Q. 
who is remembered because she figures pleasantly in 
American poetry, was born here in 1709, and that the 
other Dorothy Q. was born here some forty years 
later and became the wife of John Hancock. 

A pleasant tradition still keeps in mind that it was 
in a room with a beautiful wallpaper newly imported 
from Paris that Hancock proposed to his Dorothy Q. 
and was accepted, and the very room is remembered 
and the very wallpaper is still on the walls ; an oddly 
striking paper, with much of queer red in its composi- 
tion and with little Cupids and Venuses often recur- 
ring. 

A little farther along the coast, to the southward 
from Quincy, is Marshfield, long the beloved home of 
Daniel Webster, and where he died. To some extent 
the mighty "Webster has already been forgotten; his 
immense and overshadowing fame has to quite a de- 
gree vanished ; and this is largely owing to his having 
disappointed all New England by his ill-fated "Icha- 
bod" speech on the subject of compromise with slav- 
ery. And that Whittier, a poet far from first-rate, 
could by his tremendous "Ichabod" lines be conqueror 
of one of the mighty orators of all history, shows curi- 
ously the essential strength of literature as compared 
with oratory. The people of New England could not 
forget that they had honored and trusted Webster 
absolutely, they could not but see that he acted against 
their prof oundest principles ; they might in time have 

250 



AN ADVENTUKE IN PUBE EOMANCE 

forgiven, through realizing that Webster discerned, 
what they could not discern, how dreadful would be the 
impending conflict, and that it was because of this that 
he was willing to temporize. But Whittier wrote 
"Ichabod," and the proud crest of "Webster sank. 

Webster owned two thousand acres of land, border- 
ing on the sea. Much was woodland ; much was given 
over to fruit trees ; he was an enthusiastic farmer and 
tree grower. Planted under his personal direction 
were fully a hundred thousand trees, and he had a 
great stock of pedigreed cattle, with many horses and 
even some llamas ; he had poultry of the finest breeds, 
and even peacocks. He saw to the making of paths 
and pools and walls. He lived like a princely farmer, 
spending money with lavishness. But always first in 
his affection was the ocean, with its might and mys- 
tery. 

His house was burned, some years after his death, 
and all the barns and outbuildings but a single tiny 
little one-story structure, really but a hut, which he 
sometimes used as an office or study, in accordance 
with the practice of the old-time New England law- 
yers. Another house has been built, but there is a 
general sense of something lost and wanting. 

It is pleasant to know that Webster's own neigh- 
bors, his immediate friends, in Marshfield and Boston, 
were loyal to him at the last ; it is pleasant to know 
that after his final speech, in Boston, in 1852, the year 
in which he died, a huge crowd followed him to his 
hotel in that city and that he was escorted by a thou- 

251 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

sand horsemen ; it is pleasant to know that, going down 
to Marshfield, thousands and thousands met him, men 
and women and children, and that many of them ac- 
companied him throughout the ten miles from the sta- 
tion to his home — there was then no nearer station — 
and that for all that distance the way was lined with 
his admirers, strewing garlands. 

When he knew he was dying, he loved to look off 
toward the beloved ocean, and at night he loved to see 
the light that swung at the masthead of his yacht; 
and as Death crept nearer, he one day had himself 
placed at his door, while his cattle and horses were 
led by in a long procession. 

On the very last of his days he was heard to mur- 
mur, "On the 24th of October all that is mortal of 
Daniel "Webster will be no more." He was buried in 
his favorite costume, with blue coat with gilt buttons, 
with white cravat, with silk stockings, waistcoat, 
trousers, patent-leather shoes and gloves. And more 
than eight thousand people solemnly followed his body 
to the grave. 

It is a lonely place, a spot of peculiar desolateness, 
where "Webster lies buried. It is a long distance from 
any house; a little tablet by the roadside, near the 
house that has been built where his own home once 
stood, points the traveler down a pathway that winds 
far off to a distant burying-ground, upon a little bit 
of low-rising land, in the midst of a great salt-marsh 
meadow. It is desolate, it is lonely. Once an ancient 
little church stood beside this burying-ground, but it 

252 



AN ADVENTUEE IN PURE EOMANCE 

long ago vanished, leaving no sign of why the few 
graves are here, although among them are some of 
very early Pilgrim stock. But the lonely graveyard 
is not neglected, and it is impressive in its barrenness, 
its desolation. In all, it is even beautiful here, with a 
strange and somber beauty. 

One thinks of his triumphant oratory, his splendid- 
ness, of the power he possessed, of the idolatry he in- 
spired. And what superb poise the man possessed, 
whether one trusts to humorous stories or to grave! 
He could thrill immense audiences with a word, a 
gesture, even with his moments of stately silence. It 
might have been of the Orator instead of the Bellman 
that the poet wrote when he said: "They all praised 
to the skies — such a carriage, such ease and such 
grace ! Such solemnity, too ! One could see he was 
wise the moment one looked on his face!" That is 
just it: Webster not only was a great man, but he 
looked the part as much as any man ever did. 

But there was also a cheerfully human side to him; 
with his friends, he was a delightful dinner companion 
and story-teller, cheerful and gay; yet even at dinner 
he did not forget his stately poise ; I suppose he could 
not put it away even if he would ; and one remembers 
the perhaps apocryphal tale of his carving, at dinner, 
and unfortunately letting the bird slip into his neigh- 
bor 's lap, and of the booming intonation of his calm 
request, ' ' May I trouble you for the turkey, madame ? ' ' 
And one remembers the immensely illustrative tale, 
not apocryphal, of Webster at the Jenny Lind con- 

253 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

cert in Boston, when the Swedish singer, aglow with 
happiness, came out and bowed to the great audience 
in response to tumultuous acclaim and the mighty 
Daniel arose in his place in the audience and returned 
the bow! 




y- if ".;. .<w 



mm % 






CHAPTEE XX 



A TOWN THAT WASHINGTON WANTED TO SEE 




ful verse. 



|HE ancient Wayside Inn, at 
Sudbury, dates from the latter 
years of the 1600 's; it is be- 
lieved that at least a good part 
of it was built in 1688; and 
it was a well-known stopping 
place for generations before 
Longfellow put it into delight- 
It stands on one of the main roads leading 
from the west to Boston, and Washington went past 
here, and probably halted for a little, and Knox and 
his Ticonderoga cannon went by these doors. It is 
distant from any town; it has always been notable 
among inns for its isolation; and, when railroads 
came, the nearest one, as if respecting decades of 
seclusion, remained a mile or more away, and thus 
the ancient inn is as isolated as ever it was, and has 
kept on adding to its aspect of mellow romance. And 
it is really so very romantic! It is stately fronted 
and very large ; I feel sure that I have never seen an 
old gambrel-roof ed house as large as this ; it is peace- 
ful, it is full of atmosphere, and its ancient rooms, its 
taproom and sitting-rooms and huge dining-room, are 
furnished with things of antique time. 

255 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

"As ancient is this hostelry as any in the land may 
be ; built in the old Colonial day, when men lived in a 
grander way, with ampler hospitality": Longfellow 
wrote of it with glowing appreciation, in those "Tales 
of a Wayside Inn" in which he fancied one after an- 
other of a group of friends telling stories there. But, 
although the plan of the many poems was fanciful, the 
friends to whom he imaginatively ascribed them were 
really friends of his. The poet was Parsons, the mu- 
sician was Ole Bull, the Sicilian was Luigi Monti, the 
theologian, Professor Treadwell, the student, Henry 
Wales, the merchant, Israel Edrehi — an interesting 
group of friends, for a Cambridge poet! — and the 
landlord was Howe, one of a line of Howes who for 
many years were landlords in succession. 

Longfellow, well as he knew the surroundings of 
Boston, knew nothing of the famous inn until told of it 
by that good angel of the Boston authors, James T. 
Fields ! And yet, it is barely thirty miles from Bos- 
ton. The old inn instantly appealed to Longfellow's 
fancy, and without ever seeing it he began his tales, 
giving them the inn setting. Some time after that, on 
a day in 1862, Fields drove Longfellow out to the inn ; 
had it not been for that, Longfellow would have been 
like most Bostonians, of his own day and of the pres- 
ent time, in never seeing the fine old place at all. It 
would not have checked Longfellow's Wayside poems, 
however, not to have seen the Wayside ! For it was 
an idiosyncrasy of his, frequently indulged, not to see 
places about which he wrote. It was in 1839 that he 
wrote of the "Beef of Norman's Woe," yet as long 

256 



A TOWN WASHINGTON WANTED TO SEE 

after as 1878 he wrote to Elizabeth Stuart Phelps that 
he had ' ' never seen those fatal rocks, ' ' though they are 
right at Boston's door ! Longfellow was a great trav- 
eler, too ; it was not that he was a stay-at-home. Yet 
I have seen it stated that he never saw Acadia, to 
which so many thousands pilgrimage to do him honor ! 
One does not quite like to inquire whether or not he 
ever saw the definite localities of Miles Standish and 
John Alden. 

It is not alone the houses and places definitely con- 
nected with great events of the past, or with great 
authors, that are of interest. The spirit of the past is 
often finely represented by old houses which are with- 
out great associations, but are fascinatingly mellowed 
by the salt and savor of time. The ancient Wayside 
Inn, rich in its associations with Longfellow's admira- 
bly told tales, would have had great fascination even 
without them. 

New England still possesses a number of very old 
houses, delightful in their general presentation of the 
past, without needing much of definitely great asso^ 
ciations. There is the Eoyall house at Medford, one 
of the oldest houses still standing in this old country 
of ours, built, the greater part of it, in the early 1700 's, 
but with part of it probably dating back into the 
previous century. Nothing is more difficult, in most 
cases, than to fix upon the precise building date of an 
old house, and the difficulty is greater if the house has 
passed through the hands of various families, and in 
addition has been altered or enlarged. In most cases, 
when a house, now old, was built, no one was thinking 

257 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

of far-distant future interest in the precise date of 
construction. Sometimes, when a house was built, the 
date was set up in a corner of the gable; sometimes 
the date seen in a gable represents the date of an addi- 
tion or is a modern guess at the date of the original 
building. Most often there was no marking whatever, 
and ancient deeds of real-estate seldom throw light on 
the subject, because they mention the land alone or 
may refer to an earlier house. 

The Boyall house is one of the most interesting in 
appearance of old New England houses. Although it 
is a village house, not a house on an isolated estate, it 
is more retired and exclusive in its situation than was 
the case with New England village or town houses in 
general, which were mostly set near a main street or 
road. A great open space is still retained about this 
Boyall house, with great old trees, with shrubs, with 
part of an ancient lilac hedge with white and pur- 
ple flowers, with the marks of ancient paths and drive- 
ways, with even the ghost of a garden still retained 
within the fragmentary boundary of an ancient wall 
of brick. 

Near the old house there is a little ancient build- 
ing which it is well to look at, for it represents a 
feature of early New England life; for this little 
building, believed to be the only one of its kind still 
standing in Massachusetts, was the quarters of the 
slaves ! — of whom, so records tell, twenty-seven were 
owned by the master of this Boyall house, in 1732. 

The Boyall house is a house with two fronts : either 
back or front may almost be termed the front; and 

258 



A TOWN WASHINGTON WANTED TO SEE 

it is a big house, with fine doorways and windows. 
And that there is record of twenty-one weddings 
known to have been solemnized within this ancient 
home is quite as important as if it had been a rendez- 
vous for soldiers or had sheltered some fleeing patriot 
or Eoyalist. As a matter of fact, the owner, when the 
Eevolution came, was a Eoyalist who fled to Halifax 
and England; he yearned deeply to return to the 
stately house, set in its stately environment of trees 
and garden and grass, but he died an exile, before the 
war came to an end. 

The house is maintained by one of the patriotic 
societies and is furnished throughout with the furni- 
ture of the past: and in a corner stands a chest, of 
greenish Chinese lacquer, an odd-looking, unex- 
pected thing to be there: and you learn that it is 
reputed to be one of the very chests thrown into 
the harbor at the Boston Tea Party, and picked up, 
afterwards, floating in the water. 

There is a staircase of delightfulness, with newel- 
post and balusters exquisitely fine ; there are notably 
beautiful interior pilasters in the upper hall; there 
are paneling and window seats and fireplaces and 
cornicing and a secret stair: there is abundance of 
rambling roominess and everywhere are the belong- 
ings and the very atmosphere of the past. For such 
houses are in themselves the very past. 

It is near the Mystic: a quiet stream, sedate and 
solemn, slowly winding its way in sweeping bends 
through marshy levels to the sea. In this house Gen- 
eral Stark early made his headquarters ; and his wife, 

259 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

pleasantly remembered as "Molly Stark," watched 
from the roof the topmasts of the British ships, in 
the distance, as they moved out of the harbor at the 
evacuation of Boston. 

Also on the Mystic, and not more than two miles 
or so from this house of the Eoyalls, is a house still 
older, the Cradock house. On the way to this house 
one passes an ancient-looking little shipyard, whose 
little ships poke their bowsprits out over the very 
sidewalk. 

From the foreground of the Cradock house and of 
several oldish houses that neighbor it, the salt 
marshes of the Mystic stretch away into the distance, 
and far off, above them, rises the city of Boston, on 
its hill. A mist was gently falling, as I looked, and it 
dimmed the stream and the marshes with mystery — 
all was becoming literally Mystic! — and the mist 
came sweeping softly toward the ancient Cradock 
house, and wrapped it as in the mist that comes with 
the centuries. 

The house is of red brick, and stands on a low knoll, 
and is admirable in shape, with its gambrel-end of 
felicitousness, and its many-paned windows, and the 
little oval windows at the side. Vines clamber 
thickly upon it, and although it is somewhat spoiled 
by inferior immediate surroundings, it is itself fine 
and sweet, it is itself a notable survival, standing so 
happily on its knoll and looking off toward Boston. 

This Cradock house, in Medford — easily reachable 
by trolley — is remindful of another and still more 
fascinating house, of about the same date; a house 

260 



A TOWN WASHINGTON WANTED TO SEE 

which, indeed, looks the older of the two, and prob- 
ably is: the Fairbanks house at Dedham: and this 
also may be readily reached by trolley. And I men- 
tion this because train service is often inconvenient, 
to many a point, and because not every tourist goes 
about with a motor car. 

The Fairbanks house is of three periods, all of 
them, so it is believed, in the 1600 's ! The middle and 
oldest portion of the building dates back to before 
1650, and it very likely deserves the honor of being 
the oldest house in New England, although, as has 
been mentioned, the precise dating of ancient homes 
is a doubtful matter. 

The first impression is of an entrancing medley of 
roof lines : literally of roofs ; there seems to be noth- 
ing but roofs! — for the roofs of the center and the 
wings come, alike, almost to the very ground. The 
general aspect of the house is positively fascinating : 
it is so rambling, so long, so romantic, so fetching, 
as it stands on its slight rise of land, shaded and shel- 
tered by giant hoary trees. There is no other house 
in New England which more satisfactorily represents 
very early America. It is not the grandest of early 
houses, but it is thoroughly homelike, thoroughly at- 
tractive, a Puritan homestead. It stands at the junc- 
tion of two highways, and its approach, from Boston, 
is through an avenue of giant willows that archingly 
intermingle their branches above the road. And the 
house is forever protected, by having been purchased 
by the Fairbanks Family of the United States, incor- 
porated for the purpose. 

261 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

The ancient town of Marblehead possesses the 
house, the Lee mansion, the home of Colonel Jere- 
miah Lee, which in costliness of interior finish of a 
home stands first among the pre-Revolutionary man- 
sions of New England. It was built less than ten 
years before the beginning of the Eevolution, and is 
said to have cost the sum, at that time deemed enor- 
mous for a house, of ten thousand pounds. That 
Washington was received here as an honored guest, 
that subsequently Lafayette was received here, that 
at a still later date Andrew Jackson was a guest, are 
but casual claims to fame ; the chief claim is the house 
itself, in its stately beauty and dignity. 

But in the first place one notices that it stands near 
the sidewalk, with distinctionless houses close on 
either hand, and that ordinary houses face it from 
across the narrow way. Costly as was this mansion, 
the home of a merchant who owned a hundred ships 
and was of high social standing, there was never the 
slightest attempt at aristocratic exclusiveness, or to 
have it one of a number of houses in joint aristocratic 
environment, as with the superb houses of Chestnut 
Street in nearby Salem. A few other rich houses 
are in the neighborhood, but they, like the Lee man- 
sion, are closely surrounded by the homes of the 
butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. 

It should be remembered that the wealthy colonel, 
the owner of this house, gave his life for his country. 
He was searched for by the British, at the very be- 
ginning of the B evolutionary struggle, as he was one 
of an active committee of safety. The British, on 

262 



A TOWN WASHINGTON WANTED TO SEE 

their night march to Lexington, passed near a house 
where the committeemen were gathered, and Lee, 
with one or two others, lay in a field, in hiding, for 
some hours, and he shortly afterwards died from that 
exposure. Well, he gave his life for his country. 
But what an opportunity he missed! He was a 
colonel, a man of affairs, a leader; he could have won 
immortal renown had he headed the farmers against 
the British, instead of fleeing and getting his death 
from the chill of a night in early spring; and he let 
the farmers win immortality without any leader 
of prominence. Like John Hancock and Samuel 
Adams, Colonel Lee, after getting other men to fight, 
fled from the actual conflict ; even though, also as with 
Adams and Hancock, on that night before Lexington 
and Concord, the British soldiers were so close upon 
him that it was with difficulty he got away. Had he 
accepted the opportunity that Fate was trying to 
force upon him he might not only have won splendid 
fame, but might have lived after the war, for years, 
in his splendid home. 

The mansion, now maintained by the Marblehead 
Historical Society, is entered through a superb por- 
tico and a superb ten-paneled door. The hall is noble 
in proportions and size, being forty-two feet long and 
sixteen feet in width. The stairway is of the noble 
width of six feet and eleven inches, and rises in 
stately ease, with beautifully twirled banisters of 
mahogany. The stair turns, at a landing, where 
there is a wonderful beehive window and a felicitous 
windowseat, with a pair of beautiful pilasters at 

263 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

either side. I do not remember any staircase and 
landing to equal the beauty, the serenity, the nobility 
of this, in any, even of the grandest, of other Colonial 
houses, South or North. The house is rich in panel- 
ing, and one of the finest rooms is paneled in solid 
mahogany. And a strikingly distinguished feature 
is the wallpaper of the hall ; huge pictured paper, still 
in perfect preservation, showing great classical land- 
scapes, in black on cream-colored ground, with tem- 
ples and arches and streams. This magnificent paper 
antedates the Bevolution and is supposed to have 
been made by an Italian in London. 

Within sight of the Lee mansion is that of Lee's 
brother-in-law, "King" Hooper, as he was called 
from his wealth and magnificence; he was another 
merchant prince, and the house is especially notable 
from the fine banquet hall, still preserved, in the 
upper story of the big building. And not far away 
is another Lee mansion, the home of a brother of Col- 
onel Lee. 

Marblehead is a town of old houses, although most 
of them are of a far more modest kind than these 
great mansions. And it is an interesting town in its 
general aspect of the olden-time. ' ' The strange, old- 
fashioned, silent town — the wooden houses, quaint 
and brown"; and indeed it is a study in browns! 
And in its older portion, beside the shore, it is still 
little more than a maze of paths and byways, of nar- 
row streets incredibly twisting. Houses are set down 
at all sorts of angles, shouldering one another into 
or away from the roadways. Many of these houses 

264 



A TOWN WASHINGTON WANTED TO SEE 

are ancient, and there is still in use a fascinating, 
ancient-looking shipyard, with high-perched ships 
under construction, directly on the line of one of the 
streets, as with the one at Medford; it is a yard full 
of ships and chips. And there are black rocks, with 
black pools among them, and a rocky shore ; and there 
is a broad stretch of harbor, thick-dotted with fishing 
boats. The people who live in this most old- 
fashioned portion of the town are still full of old- 
fashioned ways and beliefs, and many of them have 
actually heard the shrieking woman: the ghost of a 
woman who was put to death by Spanish pirates at 
what is now called Oakum Bay, and who shrilly 
shrieks on the yearly night of her murder, just as she 
shrieked in actuality, dismally rousing the town from 
its slumber, so long ago. 

George Washington was especially desirous of see- 
ing Marblehead, on the journey that he made to Mas- 
sachusetts in 1789; I say "especially," not that he 
gave any reason, but because in his diary he singled 
the place out for mention as one to which he wished 
to go ; and it was an extremely unusual thing for him 
thus to write of any place. Going to Salem, he de- 
toured to Marblehead, "which is four miles out 
of the way, but I wanted to see it." It is rather 
tantalizing that, after so writing, he kept his impres- 
sions of the place to himself ! 

Perhaps he went to Marblehead because it was the 
home town of the gallant General Glover, who did so 
much at Long Island and the Delaware. And the 
home of Glover is still preserved. It is up one of the 

265 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

crookedest and narrowest of the lanes, a stone's throw 
from the water's edge, in the heart of an ancient nau- 
tical neighborhood ; it is a white house, with fine door- 
way and gambrel roof, and has a fine aspect of 
dignity. 

Here in Marblehead still stands the house in which 
lived Captain Blackler, one of General Glover's men, 
who was intrusted by Glover with the command of 
the very boat in which Washington crossed the Dela- 
ware! And compared with such a memory, how lit- 
tle does it matter that this house of Blackler 's was 
also the birthplace of Elbridge Gerry! 

Marblehead is mainly known, to many people, from 
the stirring lines depicting Skipper Ireson, Whittier 
having lived in the town for a time and having be- 
come saturated with the legends and spirit of the 
place. But Marblehead does not relish the lines, 
picturing, as they do, the supposed cowardice of one 
of its captains, and has striven hard to throw off the 
odium by claiming that it was not Skipper Ireson 's 
wish to desert the ship that asked for aid, but that he 
followed the united demand of his crew; an amusing 
defense of the honor of the town, to put the blame on 
many rather than on one ! It has seemed to me that 
the endeavor to reject the story has really been more 
on account of the desire to throw aside the odium 
of Marblehead 's women engaging in the pastime of 
tarring and feathering, a sport supposed to have been 
left to men. But New England women did early do 
tarring and feathering on occasion, as in a case men- 
tioned by Baroness Eiedesel, in her memoirs, as hav- 

266 



A TOWN WASHINGTON WANTED TO SEE 

ing occurred in Boston, a case in which a party of 
Boston women seized the wife and daughter of a self- 
exiled loyalist and tarred and feathered them and led 
them through the city. I am afraid that a good many 
things that were not very pretty took place in the 
good old days. 

So far as bravery is concerned, Marblehead needs 
no defender; Ireson was an exception — or his men 
were exceptions, if the town prefers to put it that 
way. Marblehead is said to have given more men to 
the Bevolutionary army, in proportion to the popula- 
tion, than any other town in America ; and it was not 
only quantity of men but quality; Marblehead men 
were famed for bravery. It was to a Marblehead 
man, in his armed schooner, that, in 1775, the first 
British flag was struck. And some Marblehead men 
sailed into the St. Lawrence, also before 1775 was over, 
and not only captured English boats, but actually 
landed on Prince Edward's Island and made the 
governor a prisoner. But the list of the Marblehead 
brave is too long to name. 

The old Town House of Marblehead still stands, 
full of years and memories. And there still stands 
the home of a certain Moses Pickett who, reputed a 
miser and dying in 1853, left his house and his entire 
little fortune for the poor widows of the town, thus 
with his thirteen thousand dollars doing far more 
good in the world than many a wealthy man has done 
by blindly throwing away millions. And here is still 
standing the home of that Captain Creesy who, with 
the Flying Cloud, won the reputation of being the 

267 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

best skipper, with the fleetest sailing ship, in the 
world. And here is the house in which the famous 
jurist, Judge Story, was born. 

A church is still standing, St. Michael's, which is 
over two hundred years old, but it has been consider- 
ably altered from its original appearance. And there 
is a delightful association connected with it. For an 
early rector of this church left it to take, instead, a 
church in Virginia, and while in Virginia he was called 
upon to marry two people who came to be a very 
prominent couple in the eyes of the world — for they 
were George Washington and the Widow Custis ! 



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CHAPTEE XXI 



THE FAMOUS OLD SEAPOBT OF SALEM 




'N the minds of many, Salem is 
chiefly notable on account of Haw- 
thorne ; in the minds of others the 
city is equally notable on account 
of the witches; yet most of the 
Salem people themselves do not 
relish any talk of witches ; in their 
treatment of which unfortunates, 
after all, this city only followed 
the example set by Boston; and 
as to Hawthorne, he for his part frankly disliked 
pretty much everything connected with the place even 
though he was born in Salem and achieved his greatest 
triumph while he lived there. 

The ancient house where Hawthorne was born on 
the patriotic day of July 4th, 1804, at 27 Union Street, 
is still preserved, and it is a house that could never 
have been very attractive, and is situated in a faded 
quarter of the town which was never of the best. 

Salem was settled at about the same time as Boston, 
but a little earlier than the big neighbor that was to 
outgrow it; it was settled almost ten years after the 
landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth ; and among the 
various and notable things in the long history of Salem 

269 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

there has been nothing finer than its standing undaunt- 
edly by Boston when Boston's port was closed in pun- 
ishment for unrest and outspokenness shortly before 
the beginning of the Revolution; Salem might have 
profited by a rival's misfortune, but would not, and 
nobly set forth, in formally phrased declaration, that 
"We must be dead to every idea of justice, lost to all 
feelings of humanity, could we indulge a thought to 
raise our fortunes on the ruin of our suffering neigh- 
bors." 

Hawthorne lived in Salem in several different 
houses in turn, and in one of these houses, the house 
on Herbert Street where he lived as a boy and as a 
young man, and twice at different periods afterwards, 
he wrote, in 1840, "If ever I should have a biographer 
he ought to make great mention of this chamber in my 
memoirs, because here my mind and character were 
formed. By and by, the world found me out in my 
lonely chamber"; and it was of this Herbert Street 
house that he wrote, "In this dismal chamber Fame 
was won." Future fame, in the person of another, 
had certainly found him out as far back as when he 
was a boy, when he lived in this Herbert Street house, 
for at one time, when he was kept from school through 
having hurt his foot, his kindly school-teacher came 
here to call upon him, this quiet school-teacher being 
a man of the name of Worcester, himself to be famous 
as the author of a dictionary honored on both sides of 
the Atlantic ! 

In his earlier years and well into middle life Haw- 
thorne had no doubt of his claims to high literary fame, 

270 



THE FAMOUS OLD SEAPOET OF SALEM 

but, as with, many another author, doubts came to him 
with lack of financial returns, and when, at the age of 
forty-five, he wrote his masterpiece, he was so afraid 
that it was a failure that he actually feared to show it ; 
he had had so little of practical success that he could 
not believe that he had really written a book that was 
even worth looking at; he was utterly downhearted; 
and this brought about the most interesting happening 
in the entire history of this town of Salem, the dis- 
covery of the "Scarlet Letter." And I do not mean 
the supposititious discovery, by the author, of the let- 
ter itself, but the actual discovery of the novel by the 
publisher. 

James T. Fields came out here to Salem to see Haw- 
thorne one day in 1849, when Hawthorne was living at 
14 Mall Street, and encouragingly asked for material 
for a book, to which Hawthorne only replied, gloomily, 
that he had been doing nothing. ' ' And who would pub- 
lish a book by such an unpopular author as I am?" he 
demanded. Whereupon, "I would," promptly re- 
sponded Fields. His publishing instinct told him that 
Hawthorne had really been at work and had something 
ready. "You have a book already completed," he in- 
sisted, in spite of the author's demurs; and at length 
Hawthorne reluctantly admitted that he had really 
been writing something and that it was enough for a 
book. And he reluctantly took from a drawer the 
manuscript of the greatest of all American stories. 

Fields took it with joy, hurried with it back to Bos- 
ton, sat up that night to read it, realized its greatness, 
and hurried back next day, aglow with enthusiasm. 

271 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

He found Hawthorne still discouraged, awaiting his 
report on the story, but the discouragement swiftly 
vanished when he found that Fields was bubbling over 
with energy and happiness, and eager to make a con- 
tract for the book's publication. And that was how 
the "Scarlet Letter" saw the light. 

Previous to this inspiration and encouragement on 
the part of Hawthorne's publisher there had been the 
encouragement and inspiration of Hawthorne's wife. 
For when, downhearted, thinking that without a salary 
he could not live, he had gone home to her with the 
news that he had lost the place in the Salem Custom 
House that had come to him from the friendship of his 
old-time college-mate, President Pierce, his wife 
neither joined him in repining nor urged him to seek 
some other salaried place, but, instead, put down be- 
fore him money that she had been saving, unknown to 
him, from the domestic allowance, and said cheerfully, 
' ' Now, you can write your novel. ' ' It was under that 
inspiration that he wrote it, and when, the work done, 
fear came upon him that it was not good, it was from 
his publisher's inspiration that it saw the light. In 
all, a strange story of literature and of Salem ! 

Near the waterside, in the older part of the city, 
looking out at a lovely view across the water of the 
harbor and off toward the broad Atlantic, is an 
ancient, nestled, low-set house, with ancient stack- 
chimney of brick ; a house overhung by great trees and 
pleasantly surrounded with grass, and reached by a 
little private-looking lane known as Turner Street, 
which leads down from a main thoroughfare. Haw- 

272 



THE FAMOUS OLD SEAPOET OF SALEM 

thorne wrote of this house, which even when he wrote 
was about a century and three quarters old, and he 
gave it fame as the "House of the Seven Gables." 

Within my own memory this house had only five ga- 
bles, in spite of its fame-given seven and its actual 
present seven, for it has not only been restored and 
kept in repair on account of its association with Haw- 
thorne, but an architect discovered, or thought he dis- 
covered, that it originally had seven gables, just as 
Hawthorne described it, and so the necessary two were 
built out again ! And a wonderful roof -line the house 
has, with its clustered gables and that old central 
chimney, "stacked" like those of Tudor days. Per- 
haps it was not altogether desirable to put on the two 
gables; Hawthorne had no desire to have the house 
precisely match his description ; he pictured it in his 
imagination and that was quite enough. Hepzibah's 
"cent shop" has also been given to the building, and 
its interesting old rooms are open to the public for a 
small fee. 

Hawthorne began to write the "Scarlet Letter" at 
a high desk in the Custom House, a satisfactory, good- 
looking, old square building down near the waterfront, 
while he held the appointment of surveyor for the port 
of Salem, and it was after he lost that official position 
that he finished the story. 

Hawthorne felt very critical toward the people of 
Salem, not having found precisely congenial surround- 
ings there, even though it was in Salem that fame came 
to him, with some of his early work, and even though 
his wife was a young woman of Salem. He kept very 

273 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

much to himself while he lived in that town, at least in 
his maturer years, and his attitude is expressed by a 
letter in which he comments on an invitation which he 
has just received, for his unsocial expression is, "Why 
will not people let poor persecuted me alone?" It 
need not be thought that he was a recluse, but at no 
time in his life did he care to spend time with people 
who did not interest him. 

Hawthorne has somehow managed to offer for fu- 
ture generations such an atmosphere and detail of the 
past of old Salem, and thereby of all of old New Eng- 
land, as shows us the very life and feeling of the an- 
cient time. He could see and feel the fine old romance 
of the past, the charm of it, the beauty of it, and he 
could also see the vivid human nature of it. And 
Salem could never quite forgive him that he recog- 
nized also the impermanence of much that was so good 
in it, and that in that very town he discerned what he 
termed ' ' worm-eaten aristocracy. ' ' It was his ability 
to see and to feel the past not only in its romantic 
colors but in its entirety that made it possible for him 
to write his greatest works, "The Scarlet Letter" and 
"The House of the Seven Gables." 

One's first impression of Salem is that it is rather 
an uninteresting place, for the entire central district 
near the railway station has been made unattrac- 
tively brick-red and modern; but by getting away 
from this central region, one finds that there is still 
left very much of the interesting. 

Gallows Hill, on which the witches were hanged, is 
a hill that seems to be a solid rock, at the edge of the 

274 



THE FAMOUS OLD SEAPOET OF SALEM 

town, bare of trees but covered with grass and dwarf 
sumac. The actual place where the gallows stood has 
been forgotten, but the general position is remembered 
and avoided, and the city itself owns the land. Not 
far away, however, quite a settlement has grown up 
and the people who live there have formed themselves, 
with cheerful bravado, into a Gallows Hill Association, 
and when the children of Salem not long ago paraded 
in a pageant, those from this part of the city dressed 
themselves proudly as little witches. 

At the court house in Salem, some ancient witch- 
craft mementoes are preserved, including some of the 
"witch pins" that figured in the evidence, and the 
curious death warrant that directed the sheriff to hang 
one of the witches until "dead and buried" — which 
was an unintentional order to carry vengeance beyond 
the grave. 

Under the old English Common Law, which was in 
force in America until modified by local laws, convic- 
tion for felony involved confiscation of property, but 
there was no provision for procuring conviction in 
case the accused refused to plead. Nowadays, in case 
of such refusal the court enters "Not Guilty," but for- 
merly there was nothing to do but try to force a plea 
by the frightfully painful method known as peine forte 
et dure, which was the heaping of stones and weights 
upon a man's chest until he yielded or died. If a man 
was brave enough to bear the torture to the bitter end, 
he could not be convicted, and there could be no for- 
feiture, whereupon his heirs inherited his property; 
and now and then a man actually bore the pain to win 

275 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

that result. In all American history there has been 
but one example of peine forte et dure. Giles Corey, 
accused at Salem of witchcraft, and knowing that if he 
stood trial he was certain, in those days of blind ex- 
citement, to be convicted, refused to plead and hero- 
ically bore the punishment of pressing to death. 

There can be no possible appreciation of Salem with- 
out going from end to end of Chestnut Street. Yet 
even a mention of this street is likely to be omitted in 
Salem guide-books, merely because no incident ever 
happened there. But no greater mistake can be made 
by any one who wishes to understand the past than to 
look only at places connected with definite occurrences, 
for the history of the past and the interest of the past 
often lie even more deeply in houses and localities 
that only represent the past with indirectness. And 
Chestnut Street is in itself a remarkable American 
street. 

Among the most interesting streets in America are 
Chestnut Street of Salem, Chestnut Street of Boston, 
and Chestnut Street of Philadelphia, and each of these 
has justly been deemed a street with much of the old 
American charm of architecture, each has been a 
stronghold of aristocratic living, each has still much of 
the flavor of the past, each is a street of houses of 
beauty and good taste, and all these three Chestnut 
Streets still preserve a great degree of their original 
felicitousness, even though the greater part of the 
Chestnut Street of Philadelphia has lapsed into busi- 
ness. 

Salem is proud in the belief that of the three Chest- 

276 




ROMANTIC CHESTNUT STREET, IN SALEM 



THE FAMOUS OLD SEAPOET OF SALEM 

nut Streets its own has always been the best ; and it 
really has been, and that is a great deal to say of even 
the best street of a little city like Salem. These Salem 
houses on Chestnut Street were built in the first quar- 
ter of the 1800 's by the rich merchants of that period, 
and there is not only a superb line of mansions, well 
kept up, but also even more superb lines of huge trees, 
glorious trees, trees that splendidly overarch the en- 
tire length of the street, the houses themselves being 
just far enough back from the sidewalk line to permit 
of the complete rounding of the shapes of the trees. 
One cannot well be too enthusiastic, too appreciative, 
of this street of mansions, fine American in style as 
they are, and designed, most of them, by the Salem 
architect, Mclntire, or at least built under his influ- 
ence. It is the finest street, taken in all, of any of the 
streets of old-time mansions in America, and the 
double line of old mansions is remarkably unbroken. 

Toward the other end of the city, with staid old 
homes built about it, is "Washington Square, with its 
iron-railed and elm-bordered training-green. The 
houses of wealth and dignity that front this green are 
of the same general period as those of Chestnut Street, 
and both of these sections show the fine and even mag- 
nificent living of the period of Salem's highest pros- 
perity, when her great shipping fortunes were made ; 
and, indeed, by far the greater part of the fortunes of 
New England had their origin in the glorious days of 
American shipping. 

As one goes about Salem, the first impression that 
there is little of interest here entirely disappears ; one 

277 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

forgets entirely the portions that at first jarred ex- 
pectation ; and there comes the full understanding that 
the city is remarkably rich in interesting houses of the 
past. And it is one of the chief charms of the place 
that upon these houses of the past the hand of the re- 
storer has been but lightly laid, and that they remain 
as their builders intended them to remain. 

One of the most interesting of the many old houses 
is the Pickering house on Broad Street, a particularly 
attractive home that has stood there for two and a half 
centuries ; it has actually stood, right here in Salem, 
since the later years of the time of Cromwell, or at 
least since 1660, the year of the restoration of the 
Stuarts ! How unexpectedly far away this seems, for 
America, even after one has come to a realization that 
this is not a new country! For it is hard to realize 
that actual living was so fixed and comfortable here so 
long, long ago. This Pickering house is still pre- 
served and cared for by Pickering descendants, and 
the building serves to keep in mind not only the gen- 
eral charm and interest of the charming and interest- 
ing past, but the career of a particular Pickering who 
was born in this house and who won unique honors — 
that Timothy Pickering who, as a right brave fighter, 
was an officer at the battles of Germantown and Bran- 
dywine, who, as a legislator, was successively repre- 
sentative and senator, and who, in Washington's Cab- 
inet, was given the successively high distinctions of be- 
ing postmaster-general, secretary of war and secre- 
tary of state. 

The best parts of Salem are interesting not only be- 

278 



THE FAMOUS OLD SEAPOET OF SALEM 

cause of the admirable buildings but because of the 
not infrequent fine and planned harmony of mansion 
and carriage-house and garden, arranged and de- 
signed as a complete whole. There is a house at 80 
Federal Street which, with its surroundings, is a par- 
ticularly good example, a house built in 1782, a house 
which ought to be seen by any visitor ; it is of fine New 
England architecture, and I remember its doorway as 
a work of special beauty, and it has carved urns of 
most admirable classic design on its gateposts, show- 
ing how very beautiful may be a plain gateway with 
posts and ornaments of wood ; and this house, with its 
garden and adjuncts, is one of the excellent examples 
of harmonized planning. 

More than most other Eastern cities Salem offers 
direct inspiration for visitors from the West, because 
from the first it has been built with detached homes, 
each with grass plot and garden, instead of with 
houses ranged closely, shoulder to shoulder, as in 
Boston, New York and Philadelphia. 

One of the most famous of naval fights, that between 
the Chesapeake and Shannon, the gallant "Don't give 
up the ship!" action, was fought so near Salem, just 
off its harbor, that the heights along the shore were 
thronged with Salem people who watched the progress 
of the battle with eager suspense. Always a brave 
city, this ; a city ready to encourage others in bravery 
and to do brave things itself. It is said that in the 
War of 1812 forty armored vessels of the two hundred 
and fifty furnished by the entire country were from 
Salem. And the mettle of Salem was shown in the 

279 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

brave way in which it faced the devastation of the fire 
of 1914, that swept away hundreds of houses ; for in- 
stead of helplessly yielding to what might well have 
seemed an irreparable disaster, the city began at once, 
and on a broad scale, the task of rebuilding. 

A fortunate thing with that fire was that with few 
exceptions it did not take away the old-time buildings 
of the city. They still remain. In fact, there is no 
better place, and there is probably no place even as 
good except a remote town like Guilford in Connecti- 
cut,- where the various styles and periods of American 
buildings may be seen. Salem still has houses of the 
1600 's, with their overhanging stories and stack chim- 
neys; it has houses of the 1700 's, with their gambrel 
roofs or roofs of double pitch ; it has the great square- 
fronted stately houses of the period from 1790 to 1825. 
Those who would study the old houses of America 
should go to Salem. 

And there is many a little detail here, too, that is 
noticeable, as well as the houses themselves; for ex- 
ample, all over Salem there is the opportunity to see 
excellent designs in old-time door-knockers. 

The Bopes mansion, a house of the 1700 's, is inter- 
esting both in itself and in the way in which it has been 
preserved, for it is an endowed memorial of the past, 
left by its late owner to be kept, with all of its old fur- 
niture and with its garden planned as an old-fashioned 
garden of finest type, not as a museum held by one of 
the patriotic societies, but as a possession of the public 
into which the public may freely go. The house, with 
its belongings, is forever to be shown to one generation 

280 



THE FAMOUS OLD SEAPOET OF SALEM 

after another, with no chance of being sold or torn 
down at the whim of some tasteless heir. 

Yet, if all these old houses, with their wealth of old 
belongings, should be destroyed, the Salem of the past 
would still be represented if it should still retain the 
treasures of its Essex Institute. The building that 
holds these treasures is a three-story structure of gen- 
erous proportions, standing near the center of the city, 
on Essex Street ; and that where this house now stands 
there once stood the house of a man named Downing, 
is remindful of one of the romantic facts in regard to 
early America. For the son of this Downing went 
over from here to London and became so strong a 
friend of Cromwell as to be made Minister to The 
Hague, and then by a swift transfer of allegiance, in 
order to retain his ambassadorship, he swung over to 
the cause of Charles the Second; and eventually he 
gave name to Downing Street ; that street of all streets 
that is most typical of the English, the street whose 
name typifies the English government itself ! 

The Essex Institute holds, in itself, Old Salem. 
Enter the door — and the building is freely open to en- 
trance by any one who is interested — and instantly you 
are generations away from the present, for there is 
nothing that does not tell Of the past, and the past is 
shown with infinite picturesqueness and particularity. 
There is a great central portion, and there are little 
alcoved rooms full-furnished as rooms of the olden 
time, all in immaculate ship-shape order. There are 
paintings of the men and women of the past ; there are 
the very costumes that they wore, the gowns, the bon- 

281 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

nets, the coats, the waistcoats; there are wedding 
gowns and there are uniforms and there are the very 
looking-glasses in which those old-timers saw the re- 
flection of their faces. Here are the very glasses from 
which they drank and the very dishes from which they 
ate ; and these are preserved in amazingly great quan- 
tity and in amazingly good condition; and glass col- 
lectors would like to know that one item alone is of 
some one hundred and fifty cup-plates of glass of 
Sandwich make ! 

Here in Essex Institute is the furniture of our fore- 
fathers, tables and sideboards and chairs, and among 
them is a black, heavy three-slat chair with high- 
turned posts which was the favorite chair of that be- 
loved Mary English, who, with her husband, the rich- 
est shipowner of Salem, had to flee from Massachu- 
setts for very life under the shadow of witchcraft ac- 
cusation ; and this excellent old chair seems to stand as 
a reminder that neither wealth nor high character nor 
charm of manner nor social position can be relied 
upon to check a popular delusion. 

On the whole, the relics are remindful of a cheerful 
past, a happy, bright, refreshing, pleasant past ; and 
the surprising number of spinets that have been pre- 
served would alone show that the early days were far 
from being days of mere gloom and severity. 

But not only the personal belongings of the past, 
and the furnishings of the old buildings, are preserved, 
here at the Essex Institute, and not only is there a de- 
lightful old house of the seventeenth century, with 
overhanging second-story and peaked roof-windows, 

282 



THE FAMOUS OLD SEAPOET OF SALEM 

actually within the grounds of the Institute, but fas- 
cinatingly among the possessions of the museum are 
portions of old houses that have been destroyed: for 
here are pilasters and balusters, pillars and window- 
tops, here are the very cornices of rooms, here are the 
essential fragments of buildings that have gone. It 
would seem as if not only in cases of demolition of old 
houses, but in the fewer cases of restoration and "im- 
provement," the Institute has been on the watch for 
treasure. Some time ago the old house in which Haw- 
thorne was born had some of its window sash replaced 
by larger panes — and the little window through which 
the eyes of Hawthorne first looked forth to the sky and 
the great world is preserved at the Essex Institute. 

A few miles from Salem, out beyond Danvers, is the 
old Putnam homestead ; a sturdy old house, gambrel- 
roofed, and built around a great central chimney. 
Spacious rooms, great fireplaces, old sideboard, sofa 
and chairs, old-time portraits and silhouettes, all tell 
of the long-past time. Here many a Putnam was born, 
including the famous General Israel Putnam, "Old 
Put," who so bravely galloped down the stone steps 
in Connecticut and who left a general impression of 
going gallantly galloping through the entire Eevolu- 
tion. Putnams still live in the old house, and the pres- 
ent small-boy Putnam has the big, frank, blue eyes of 
the distinguished Israel. 

There is an inclosing tall thorn hedge, and the house 
is shaded by great elms and by a monster willow tree 
that was anciently planted by a Putnam slave. The 
house is away from the center of Danvers, in a charm- 

283 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 



ing region of hills and dales and stone walls and apple 
orchards ; it is a countryside not greatly changed since 
the Eevolution — except that the State has set a mon- 
strous ugly asylum on a hilltop near by; a poor re- 
turn for the loyalty of the Putnams. 

And what a wonderful family these New England 
Putnams — who changed their name from the English 
form of Puttenham — were! It is believed that they 
gave more men to the Union army, in the Civil War, 
than did any other single family; it seems even more 
sure that they gave more men to the Eevolutionary 
army than did any other family; and on the great day 
of Lexington and Concord there were more Putnams 
than men of any other name who eagerly hurried to 
take part in the conflict. Seventy-five Putnams, all 
supposed to be connections, from various Putnam 
homes, responded to the call that day; the more dis- 
tant could not come up till the British were back 
within the Boston lines, but many arrived before that 
— and the family toll for that very first day was one 
wounded and two killed. 

B 




CHAPTEE XXII 



THE MOST IMPORTANT ROAD IN AMERICA 




(HE road between Boston and 
Concord is the most important 
in America, for it was on this 
road that America was made. 
The halt of the British troops 
at Lexington long enough to 
fire the first fatal shots, their 
advance to Concord, the brief 
contest there and the beginning of the flight, their sec- 
ond arrival at Lexington, where they cast themselves 
down with their tongues hanging out like those of dogs 
after a chase, as a British account had it, then the 
flight on to Boston, with the British constantly drop- 
ping under the fire of the sharpshooters — that day and 
that road marked not only the beginning of the war, 
but foretold its close. The clear-sighted Burgoyne 
wrote of the fight at Lexington that, although it was 
but a skirmish, in its consequences it was as decisive 
as the battle of Pharsalia. 

As if to make the day in every respect typical, the 
most prominent of the English was the gallant Percy, 
later to be Duke of Northumberland and master of 
countless miles of countryside and of Alnwick, one of 
the greatest castles in the world. But the English sol- 

285 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

diers, though thus led by one of the proudest of the 
English peerage, fell back in rout; neither English 
peerage nor English soldiers were to be masters in 
America. 

That day, the 19th of April, 1775, was curiously the 
day of the white horse. It was a white horse that the 
future Duke of Northumberland rode, as he galloped 
here and there along the frightened line, exposing 
himself freely to the fire of the farmers. And most 
marked among the Americans was a gray-haired 
farmer on a white horse; Wyman of Woburn — how 
Scott would have loved such a man and such a name ! 
And during the miles of retreat, and to the very edge 
of Boston, Wyman of Woburn seemed like a pursuing 
fate, as safe from English shot, on his white horse, as 
was Percy from American shot on his, but galloping 
across fields and over the low slopes, setting his horse 
at the stone walls, time and again firing with such un- 
erring aim that an appalling cry of dread of him went 
through the British ranks. 

It is difficult, at this day, to realize what bravery was 
required to stand up against the British troops. It 
was not only resistance to apparently overwhelming 
authority, not only resistance to the British govern- 
ment, but resistance to the King, at a time when the 
brief episode of Cromwellianism had been long de- 
plored and forgotten, and when to oppose the King 
seemed not so very different from opposing Heaven 
itself. 

Unrest had been growing. The British officers, in 
Boston, were told that the men of New England were 

286 



THE MOST IMPORTANT EOAD IN AMEEICA 

about to rise and that warlike supplies had been gath- 
ered at Concord. So eight hundred soldiers were sent 
out, under Lieutenant-Colonel Smith and Major Pit- 
cairn, to destroy the supplies there and to capture, if 
possible, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who were 
reported to be in hiding at Lexington. 

It was on the night of the 18th that Paul Revere was 
sent out to warn the countryside. He reached little 
Lexington in the darkness, and the minutemen of the 
village were aroused and toward daybreak they gath- 
ered on the triangular village green. The green was 
then, as it is now, a place of quiet beauty, of charm, 
edged with huge elms and ash trees and faced by 
homes of dignity. The gras3 grows very, very green, 
as is curiously usual with the grass on battlefields. 

Lexington is still a village of such charm as befits a 
great national happening, in spite of the coming in, 
with the passage of years, of somewhat of the unpic- 
turesque. There are cedars set pictorially on the 
stony slopes; there are oaks by the roadside; there 
are grounds of sweet spaciousness and elms in lovely 
vistas. And the village, although it has been a point 
of pilgrimage for a hundred and fifty years, is still 
entirely without tourist characteristics. A beautiful 
white-pillared meeting-house looks out over the green, 
but the meeting-house which stood at the very point 
of the green, in 1775, has vanished. A few of the old 
houses still remain, such as the fine square Harring- 
ton homestead, facing the green with its prim little 
low-setting eaves. An old monument stands on a lit- 
tle mound on the green, with the bodies of the men 

287 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

slain on that great day buried around it, and on this 
monument and on tablets throughout the village are 
descriptions that must thrill the heart of every Amer- 
ican, particularly impressive being the simple mark- 
ing of the line where a few men made the first actual 
stand against England. 

It was a lovely April morning; from two o'clock the 
minutemen had been ready ; and as the early dawn was 
beginning to appear they gathered once more, for 
news had come that the British were actually at hand. 
It was now about half -past four. 

In all some fifty or sixty Americans formed, in two 
narrow parallel rows. The British came in sight, 
their arms glinting and their red coats glowing in the 
soft spring light. Catching sight of the Americans, 
they broke into double-quick, but, "Stand your 
ground; don't fire unless fired upon; but if they want 
to have a war let it begin right here," said Captain 
John Parker; and the bravely solemn words are en- 
graved for all time upon a boulder that has been 
placed where he stood. Major Pitcairn rode forward 
and sternly ordered the minutemen to disperse; but 
they stood firm, and swiftly there came a volley against 
them and a number fell. Several were killed ; others 
were wounded. There were a few scattering shots in 
reply. The Americans dispersed. And the British 
hastily resumed their march toward Concord. That 
was all — all, except that from Lexington came freedom. 

Never was there greater capriciousness of happen- 
ing than in the different fates of two Jonathan Har- 
ringtons who stood with the line at Lexington : for one 

288 



THE MOST IMPOETANT ROAD IN AMERICA 

Jonathan Harrington, mortally wounded, dragged 
himself to the door of his own house, fronting the 
green, and died at the feet of his young wife, whereas 
the other Jonathan Harrington lived longest of any 
of the company, not dying until seventy-nine years 
afterwards, and at the great age of ninety-eight. 

The road from Lexington to Concord, along which 
the British continued and back over which they were 
to hurry in disastrous retreat, is still a sweet and a 
charming road, a road of wildness, with rarely a house 
to be seen in the six miles of its length, and thereby a 
road that gives a deep impression of its lovely loneli- 
ness in early days. 

Bordered for a short distance by trees that arch 
over the entire width of road — thus it begins. It 
climbs a rolling sweep, lush with greenery, and then, 
passing beyond a little group of modern houses, be- 
comes a narrow lane with widely sweeping views. It 
goes twistingly on, bordered by ancient stone walls. 
Continuously there is loneliness. Purple hills billow 
into the distances. The road goes up and down over 
little sloping rises ; it is rarely straight, but goes con- 
stantly bending. There are pine trees, there are 
ponds and pools, there are thick masses of piney wood- 
land, there are groves of little white birches, there are 
fall asters and the scarlet sumac. There is much of 
rock and ruggedness, and, rounding a rocky bluff, 
the road bends with the bending hill away, and you 
come to one of the spots where the British, retreating, 
tried in vain to rally; and here all is as wild as on that 
April day of so long ago, and perhaps even wilder; 

289 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

there were likely enough a few more houses in this 
region then than there are now ; indeed, a glow of red 
in a lonely spot on the farther side of a bleak swamp 
turns out to be the fruit of an ancient orchard, where 
no longer is there either house or barn. Always there 
is a foreground of forest or the distant sweep of tree- 
covered hills ; it is astonishing, the continued loneliness 
of effect, and this but a few miles out from Boston. 

And thus, past lines of birch that overhang the road, 
and gracious elms that dot the open glades, and walls 
of stone that fence the rocky fields, we go on into sweet 
and charming Concord — a place that, once known 
to the full of its attractiveness, remains a wistful 
memory. 

A trolley leads from Boston to Lexington, following 
for much of the distance the route taken by the British, 
but from Lexington to Concord it follows another 
road, leaving this part untouched and unspoiled. 

Concord is felicitously named, for it has an atmos- 
phere of peace ; but it was far from being a place of 
concord with the British ! When the British reached 
Concord they were separated into several parties, 
which searched houses and destroyed gun-carriages 
and powder, and at the old Wright Tavern, still stand- 
ing, Pitcairn stirred his brandy and vaingloriously de- 
clared that thus should the blood of the patriots be 
stirred. And it was stirred ! — but not precisely as he 
meant it. 

A party of perhaps a hundred went through the vil- 
lage to the bridge over the Concord River, following 
what was then a public road, though afterwards the 

290 



THE MOST IMPOETANT KOAD IN AMEEICA 

line of road was changed, leaving this a cut-off at the 
bridge, and it is now a quiet spot beside the water, 
among the trees, away from traffic. 

The Americans, outnumbered by the main body of 
the British, had retreated to this bridge, and with the 
passing of the hours hundreds and hundreds more 
came hurrying in. 

The Continentals stood at one side of the "rude 
bridge that arched the flood" — how perfectly Emerson 
phrased the entire scene, in the first stanza of his 
Concord lines ! The bridge that literally arched the 
river long since disappeared, but the new structure 
reproduces it in shape and size ; and the stream that 
now moves on with such full gentleness moved on with 
sweet, full gentleness on that long-ago April day. 

The Americans were under the command, in a sort of 
informal way, of Captain Buttrick ; they had not heard 
of what had occurred at Lexington ; they felt that the 
solemn responsibility lay upon them of war or peace. 

The British came to the other side of the bridge. 
Captain Laurie was in command. And what thoughts 
the name of a Laurie evokes ! For the home of Annie 
Laurie actually exists in Maxwellton in Scotland, and 
what is deemed her portrait is there shown, and por- 
traits of several military Lauries are upon the walls. 
It would be curious indeed if this Laurie at Concord 
was a kinsman of the beloved Annie. 

The British halted; there was angry parley, then 
the British fired and two Americans fell dead and sev- 
eral were wounded ; instantly the Americans fired and 
two Englishmen were killed and nine were wounded. 

291 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

There was no thought of retreat on the part of the 
Americans. Captain Laurie drew off his force and 
retreated toward the main body of the British at the 
center of the village, The Americans cut across the 
hills to intercept all of them at Merriam's Corners. 
And it is a curious fact that another party of a hun- 
dred or so of British, returning over this very bridge 
from a search for munitions, a little after the conflict 
there, saw no combatants, alive, of either side. 

The British knew now that the entire countryside 
was roused, and they decided upon a retreat. They 
started doggedly back to Lexington, fired at by sharp- 
shooters hidden behind barns and houses and stone 
walls, but before they reached Lexington the retreat 
became a frantic rout and they were in direst straits. 

At Lexington there was a brief respite, for at this 
point they were met by a reenf orcement of a thousand 
men who had been hurried out from Boston, under 
Earl Percy, at the first news of real trouble. 

Percy did all that bravery and ability could do. He 
placed field cannon so as to sweep the road and ridge 
and hold the Americans briefly in check. He had quite 
a number of the wounded men treated. He made his 
headquarters at the Monroe Tavern, a square-fronted 
old building, still existent, on the main road ; and the 
farthest point of his advance has in recent years been 
marked by a stone cannon set at the roadside. 

Earl Percy, Duke of Northumberland as he was to 
become, seems to stand in a special degree for the re- 
gime of the aristocracy that the Bevolution overthrew. 
And personally he won the reputation of being a most 

292 



THE MOST IMPORTANT EOAD IN AMERICA 

brave and likable man. I remember, a portrait of 
him, in the office of the president of Harvard, and it 
shows him with full eyes, arched brows, and extremely 
long Roman nose, and a pleasant expression, dressed 
in a uniform with facings and epaulets and with lace 
at the breast and at the cuffs. He was idolized by his 
soldiers, for he was always doing some thoughtful 
kindliness, such as sending home to England, at his 
own expense, the widows of those of his regiment who 
were killed at Lexington and Bunker Hill. His pic- 
turesque presence seemed to mark the futility of the 
greatest of the English nobility in the face of our Rev- 
olution. 

The retreat of Percy and Smith and Pitcairn from 
Lexington to Boston was galling and disastrous. 
Tablets along the roadside tell much of the tale, but 
they do not tell of the burning of houses by the British 
soldiers and they tell little of their killing of unarmed 
men; the British were maddened by the incessant 
shooting from right and left, and got quite beyond the 
control of their harassed officers. A party of sol- 
diers set upon an old farmer of over eighty, after he 
had slain 4;wo of them, and they clubbed and shot and 
stabbed him into unconsciousness. Besides general 
bruises he had seventeen bayonet wounds ! But, octo- 
genarian of enviable stamina that he was, he recovered 
and lived to nearly the century point ! 

It was a sultry day, a day of early and intense spring 
heat, which made the carrying of gun and accouter- 
ments for twenty miles of deadly retreat after twenty 
miles of night advance, a heavy task. 

293 * 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

It was almost eight o'clock when the soldiers came 
to the edge of Boston and found safety under the guns 
of their battleships in the harbor. Not till then did 
the pursuit cease. On that day the British loss was 
almost three hundred men, to less than a hundred of 
the Americans ; the British lost more in this defeat by 
farmers than they had lost to capture Quebec ! 

Here at Concord the scene may still be visualized. 
Here is the famous road, leading into the heart of the 
village, with the low ridge bordering it at one side and 
level meadows sweeping off at the other; here are 
bullet-marked houses standing that witnessed the 
gathering and the flight. Here is a beautiful old 
church, not indeed the one that stood here in 1775, but 
one needfully following that design and giving com- 
pletion to the general effect, with its beauty of detail 
and proportion. And at the bridge, the brimming 
river calmly flows, and close beside the battlefield still 
stands the sweet Old Manse, weather-worn, dun-col- 
ored, almost gloomy, shaded by great pines and 
fronted by an avenue of ancient ash trees ; and at the 
side of the house is the old road to the bridge, lined by 
a mighty double line of gloomy firs, and in their shade 
is the grave of the first two of the British to be killed, 
who, as the inscription has it, came three thousand 
miles to die. 

The minister's wife watched the skirmish from the 
Old Manse, from the window of a room afterwards to 
be the study, in turn, of Balph Waldo Emerson and 
Nathaniel Hawthorne. For this ancient Manse has 
associations even better known than those that connect 

294 



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D 




THE MOST IMPOETANT EOAD IN AMERICA 

it with the battle. In fact, when. Concord is men- 
tioned, it is probable that more people think of its 
literary associations than of its connection with our 
warlike history. And probably no house was ever 
given a more charming description than was given by 
Hawthorne to this romantic Old Manse, to which he 
and his wife came to make the first home of their mar- 
ried life. But both Emerson and Hawthorne moved, 
in turn, to other homes in the village. 

The house which was the home of Emerson for the 
best part of his lifetime, a square-front building of 
much dignity, is but a few minutes' walk from the cen- 
ter of the village, on the road along which the British 
advanced and retreated. Emerson was dearly loved 
by the entire village ; he seems to have been the benefi- 
cent deity of the place, though ever far from being a 
rich man. When, returning from a visit to Europe, 
he found that the townsfolk had repaired his house, 
which had been injured by fire, and that they had gath- 
ered to give him a loving welcome home, he was too 
much overcome to speak, and could only bow his head 
and move silently toward his door, only to force him- 
self to turn, for a moment, to show his heartfelt appre- 
ciation, and to say that he was sure this was not a trib- 
ute to him, an old man, returning home, but to the 
"common blood of us all, one family, in Concord." 
The best of the world were his friends, in person or 
by correspondence, but he none the less loved to meet 
his humble neighbors, and to take his part in town- 
meetings — and he even joined the fire company ! He 
had come to Concord after forever giving up the 

295 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

ministry; he had driven over, in a chaise, from Ply- 
mouth, with his bride — the drive being his wedding 
journey — and he had lovingly made his home in the 
lovely town. 

The house is owned by descendants of Emerson, and 
his library is maintained just as he quitted it ; there is 
the same reddish carpet with its great roses, there are 
the same chairs, the same Boston rocker, the same 
table, the same row of book-shelves, ceiling-high and 
crowded with mellow books; and every evening his 
lamp is lighted just as if he were expected to come in. 

Emerson and Hawthorne liked and respected each 
other, but there was little personal communion be- 
tween them, for Hawthorne was everything that Emer- 
son was not, and Emerson was everything that Haw- 
thorne was not. The solemn Hawthorne, easily bored, 
would never put himself out to interest or be inter- 
ested by those whose companionship he did not enjoy, 
and he kept from intercourse with the townsfolk 
whom Emerson treated in such neighborly fashion. 
Naturally Hawthorne often grew as tired of himself 
as of others. Once, when his wife went away on an 
absence of some days, he determined, so he wrote in 
his journal, to speak not a word to any human being 
during the entire time of her absence; only to find 
Thoreau come to his door, whereupon he grudgingly 
admits him, and reluctantly confesses to his journal 
that to hear Thoreau talk is like hearing the wind 
among the boughs of a forest tree. 

Thoreau, that other man of Concord, must have been 
intensely interesting; that both Emerson and Haw- 

296 



THE MOST IMPOKTANT ROAD IN AMERICA 

thorne admired him would alone be tribute sufficient ; 
he was manly, he was a marvelous observer of trees 
and plants and animals ; he would sit so silently, to 
watch some forest animal, that, as Emerson records, 
the animal would itself go toward him, in fearless curi- 
osity, to watch the watcher ! 

It was here, in Concord, that the peripatetic Alcotts 
found their home ; more even than in Boston. They 
had three successive homes in Concord, and that which 
is particularly associated with their life, the house in 
which Louisa M. Alcott wrote her "Little Women," 
has remained practically unchanged since their time. 
It stands charmingly at the foot of the wooded ridge, 
not far from the Emerson house, but on the opposite 
side of the road. Beside it is the little building once 
famous as the School of Philosophy; and surely there 
was never any other American place where such an 
undertaking could have seriously and successfully 
been carried on ! Bronson Alcott, forgotten as he is, 
was the kind of man of whom Emerson could say, in 
all seriousness, that he had the finest mind since Plato ; 
and before taking this statement with a critical smile, 
perhaps we ought to reflect that few ever knew as 
much of both Plato and Alcott as did Emerson ! 

The home of the later years of Hawthorne — Ha- 
thorne, the novelist's ancestors spelled it, but he 
changed it by adding the "w" — is next to the "Little 
Women" home of the Alcotts — whose name, by the 
way, was changed by the philosopher from Alcox. 
The house, which Hawthorne, on acquiring it, pleas- 
antly named the "Wayside," had itself been one of 

297 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

the earlier homes of the Alcotts, and such unphilosoph- 
ical things were done to it as quite destroyed its pre- 
Eevolutionary aspect. It was never among the finest 
of the old-time homes; the general type, hereabouts, 
largely from the absence of dormer windows, was not 
nearly so attractive as in much of old New England. 
Hawthorne made further alterations to please his own 
taste, and developed the place into a pleasing home, 
quiet and attractive. It is hemmed in by solemn ever- 
greens, and from its place at the foot of the ridge looks 
out across the sweeping meadows. 

On the low hills behind the center of the village is 
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and here lie buried Louisa 
May Alcott and her father, and the nature lover 
Thoreau, and Balph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel 
Hawthorne ; "there in seclusion and remote from men, 
the wizard hand lies cold. ' ' 

At the very center of the village, on the ridge-side, 
stands a more ancient graveyard, where lie the early 
pioneers; and among the ancient headstones, flaking 
and blackening with time, I noticed one that was par- 
ticularly black and flaked: with difficulty the inscrip- 
tion was deciphered, and it is to the effect that the 
stone was designed by its durability to perpetuate the 
memory, and by its color — its color! — to "signify the 
moral character," of a certain Abigail Dudley, on 
whom Time has played so ungallant a jest. 

One of the very oldest houses of Concord is main- 
tained as a local museum, and within it are fascinat- 
ing relics of the past : old china, old furniture — notably 
some Jacobean chairs and a court cupboard, dear to 

298 



THE MOST IMPORTANT EOAD IN AMERICA 



any collector's heart — with things remindful of the 
writers of Concord; and also there are memorials of 
the great day at Concord, the day of the fight at the 
bridge — and that is something that, with its lessons, 
should never be overlooked or belittled or forgotten. 
As one of the wisest of American humorists long ago 
paraphrasingly said — and every really great humorist 
has wisdom as the basis of his humor — "In the brite 
Lexington of youth thar aint no sich word as fale." 

It is odd, that a little place like Concord should have 
won such a mingled reputation for loveliness, fearless- 
ness and literature. I remember meeting a scholarly 
Englishman, on a St. Lawrence steamer, who had 
landed at Quebec, as he told me, in order to see Canada 
first, but who would soon cross the boundary. "Most 
of all, ' ' he said, ' ' I wish to see Concord, for it is classic 
ground." And that is it. Concord is classic ground. 




CHAPTER XXin 



PLYMOUTH AND PBOVINCETOWN 




LOSE behind Plymouth, 
close beside this home of 
the Pilgrims, close to this 
spot where three hundred 
years ago began the cam- 
Is J&. paign against the wilder- 
J ness, there is still an im- 
mense tract of wild and 
lonely woodland, there are miles and miles of wild- 
ness almost unbroken except by roads ; there are seem- 
ingly endless stretches of oak trees intermingled with 
lovely pines and sentineled by cedars, and underneath 
is a tangle of huckleberries and sweet fern and 
bracken, with frequently the white sand gleaming 
through the darker soil that has tried to accumulate. 
In the very heart of this wilderness one may come 
with almost startling unexpectedness upon some old 
house aflame with trumpet-vine or white with flower- 
ing masses of paniculata, but the few homes are widely 
isolated. The region is even now wild enough for one 
to imagine the presence of the prowling bear and the 
prowling Indian of early days ; and, in fact and with- 
out imagination, the deer and the fox are frequently 

300 



PLYMOUTH AND PROVINCETOWN 

to be met. "Ye whole countrie, full of woodes & 
thickets, presented a wilde & savage heiw," as Brad- 
ford himself, leader among the Pilgrims, wrote. 
Much of Massachusetts has reverted to wilderness; 
immense tracts that once were a succession of farms 
have gone back to scrub woodland ; but nowhere is it 
more noticeable than here. 

The ancient town of Plymouth still has much of an 
old-fashioned aspect in spite of the inroad of modern 
buildings; it is still a comely American town, sitting 
decorously beside the sea, with its older portion close 
to the water-front, where a few old houses still stand, 
in shingle-sided irregularity, beneath the low-round- 
ing rise where the first burials were made in graves 
that were left unmarked from fear of the Indians 
creeping in and counting the deaths ; away from this 
there sweeps a little stretch where the greater part of 
the town was built and where still is much of an aspect 
of staid dignity; and behind all this is the watch-hill 
that became the principal graveyard of the settlement. 

Little fishing boats lie at their moorings, and fisher- 
men in yellow oil-skins lean, gregariously gossiping, 
against the buildings beside the piers, and nets are 
stretched out to dry, and sea-gulls go curving and dip- 
ping and flying, and across the water are barrier spits 
of sand, greened with grass, and along the shore are 
scattered a few attractive homes, with greenery close 
about them, and far out at the left of the bay and far 
out at the right, are jutting promontories, tree-clad. 

But it is not a stern and rock-bound coast; it is a 
sandy coast ; and it is seldom that the breaking waves 

301 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

dash high in this sheltered nook; and yet they were 
inspired lines that Felicia Hemans wrote, for they 
represented the bravery and the loneliness of it all, 
the unbreakable, undaunted spirit that moved those 
early Pilgrims ; and the lines ought never to be for- 
gotten by Americans : 

"Not as the flying come, 
In silence and in fear — 
They shook the depths of the desert's gloom 
With their hymns of lofty cheer." 

It is curious that this British woman so felt and ex- 
pressed the spirit of the band of exiles who moored 
their bark on this wild New England shore ; and it is 
curious that she, who could so perfectly express the 
feeling of early America, has better than any other 
poet expressed the sense of the beauty and finish of 
England, in her lines beginning ' ' The stately homes of 
England, how beautiful they stand!" 

On this sandy shore it must have been difficult for 
the Pilgrims to find a boulder big enough to land upon, 
but, as if recognizing that posterity would really need 
a Plymouth Bock, they managed to find one, and here 
it is, carefully preserved, at the waterside, after hav- 
ing wandered about the town, from one stopping-place 
to another, in the course of the centuries, and even 
having suffered in its travels a fracture which was 
carefully repaired. It now has the protection of a 
stone canopy and a gated iron fence, but the gates 
are usually kept open, for there is such a general and 
profound respect for this stone that no one thinks of 

302 



PLYMOUTH AND PEOVINCETOWN 

treating it carelessly, and I have seen even little chil- 
dren who have run under the canopy in a sudden 
shower rub their hands gently over the stone as if in 
reverence. It has not been chipped or spoiled, as 
stone monuments open to the opportunities of vandal- 
ism are so likely to be. Bound about the memorial 
is a little grassy spot that has been made charming 
with roses and barberries. 

The low rise that was originally the burial-hill is 
still surprisingly steep, for it has never been graded 
away; a little back from it stand a hotel and some 
homes, but at the very edge a little landslide a few 
years ago uncovered some of the bones of the very 
earliest settlers. Away from this low rise there runs 
the little stream beside which the Pilgrim leaders 
first met Massasoit, and the garden plots that lie be- 
hind the backs of the houses mark the original "meer- 
steads" or homestead limits of the original allotment. 

Old records have been kept, and among them is one 
narrating how, seven years after the landing, the Pil- 
grims divided by lot, with meticulous particularity, 
the few cattle and goats into thirteen portions each : 
"the Greate Black cow came in the Ann" as it is set 
down; "the red Cow and the Heyfers," so it is writ- 
ten, with freedom of spelling and capitalization, 
"came in the Jacob"; and there are various details 
in regard to "the greate white backt cow" and the 
other stock. 

Plymouth possesses a great deal of attractiveness, 
and indeed real beauty. The deep blue of the water, 
edged by the promontoried greenery of trees, makes a 

303 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

charming frontage, and within the town itself there 
are many huge trees, some of them carefully marked 
with records of their planting ; there are great elms, 
and there are lindens of giant size. In any direction 
one may see masses of dahlias, or the flowering honey- 
suckle, and there are ancient gardens charmingly in- 
closed within the greenery of ancient box. 

There are houses of red brick and there are houses 
of white-painted frame ; there are houses with gambrel 
roofs and great old chimneys and pillared porticoes. 
There is still many a dignified old front, broad and 
generous with doorway of loveliness; there are still 
some of the old-time fan-windows over the entrance- 
ways; there are reeded pilasters; there is still much 
of the bulgy old-time window-glass. 

On the way up the low slope from the water is an 
interesting looking old gambrel-roofed house with 
wooden front and brick ends, and somehow it pleased 
me to hear a little girl who was sitting on the steps 
called " Barbara" by her father, for the name seemed 
to fit the old-time house as did also the ancient looking 
pussy-cat sitting there in dignified sedateness. And 
a tablet upon this old house shows that it stands on 
the spot where an even more interesting house once 
stood for it was "erected by the Commonwealth of 
Massachusetts to mark the site of the first house built 
by the Pilgrims. In that house on the 27th of Feb- 
ruary, 1621, the right of popular suffrage was exer- 
cised and Miles Standish was chosen captain by a 
majority vote." 

Just up the slope and but a short distance from the 

304 



PLYMOUTH AND PEOVINCETOWN 

Bock, stands an old mansion of interest as a survival 
of early architecture, although of a time much more 
recent than that of the Pilgrims; it is a house of 
unusually noble beauty and spaciousness and about 
it is a garden of flowered charm. 

The modern and unattractive that have come into 
the town may easily be disregarded by those who 
desire to see old Plymouth. Much of the old, much 
that has made the atmosphere of the past and which 
rouses memories of the brave old times, is still here. 

A streak of meticulousness must have become im- 
planted by the early itemizing of the thirteen shares 
of cattle, for in what other town would one find a 
notice to motorists warning them of a dangerous 
corner fifty-eight feet away ! And as to other public 
notices — well, stop to gaze at some interesting-looking 
tablet and you will probably find it a warning that 
there will be a fine of twenty dollars if you spit on 
the sidewalk. 

The First Church in Plymouth — although it is 
really the fifth first church — is tableted as a "meeting 
house," although in reality it is a solid stone building, 
early Norman in design. It faces the little town 
square, where three veteran elms shade the yellow 
sand that covers the open space. Diagonally across 
from this structure, and also looking out upon the 
little square, is a much older church, a highly attrac- 
tive building in white painted wood, with white pillars, 
and attractive pillared tower. This church is called 
the Church of the Pilgrimage. 

Burial Hill, the height that rises from these two 

305 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

churches, is dotted thick with gravestones, and among 
them are noted the boundary spots of the early fortifi- 
cations. This hill was beacon hill and fort hill and 
burial hill in one, as if to show very materially that 
life and death depended upon watchfulness and fight- 
ing. On the highest part is a stone that marks the 
grave of doughty old Bradford, the several times gov- 
ernor. Looking down upon the town from this hill- 
top one sees a broad massing of the greenery of trees, 
with here and there the white or red of the houses 
peeping through and with three lovely belfries rising 
in variant charm, one being covered with copper, 
another being all white, and the third showing a top 
of gold. 

Standing on top of this hill the memory came to me 
of the top of that hill on Hope Bay, in Bhode Island, 
where King Philip made his last stand against the 
white man; and I thought of it not only because the 
two hills are in a general way alike in looking over an 
expanse of land and water along a generally level 
coast line, but because the head of King Philip, that 
noble Indian who had been given his name by the 
white men from King Philip of Macedon, was brought 
here to Plymouth and placed publicly on a spike, 
where it remained a memento of ignoble triumph for 
many years. Webster, in an oration at Plymouth, 
said, "like the dove from the Ark, the Mayflower put 
forth only to find rest"; but the people who came in 
the Mayflower were certainly not all doves. The 
barrel of the very gun that belonged to King Philip 
has been preserved, not as a matter of shame but of 

306 



PLYMOUTH AND PEOVINCETOWN 

pride, and it is shown in the museum of Plymouth in 
Pilgrim Hall. 

It is pleasant to notice on the stones above the 
graves the frequency of the name of Priscilla, and the 
dates show that it was a common name, even before 
the time when Longfellow made it so famous, thus 
showing that from early days the history of this sweet 
young Pilgrim girl fascinated the general imagina- 
tion ; or, as Longfellow himself would have expressed 
it, that the region was "full of the name and the fame 
of the Puritan maiden Priscilla." 

Priscilla was a very real girl, and her last name was 
Mullines; not the "Mullins" into which the name has 
been rather commonized. But the name was spelled 
with some variety even by Governor Bradford, who 
mentioned it three times in his history and each time 
differently, the most important entry being that "Mr. 
Molines, and his wife, his sone, and his servant, dyed 
the first winter. Only his dougter Priscila survied, 
and maried with John Alden, who are both living, 
and have 11. children. And their eldest daughter is 
married, & hath five children." 

Bradford himself did not stand much for romance, 
and it is from other sources that there comes the 
story of the courtship of John Alden. It seems, so 
the old story has it, that Alden first presented the pro- 
posal of Standish, not to Priscilla, but to Priscilla 's 
father, who promptly called Priscilla into the confer- 
ence, with the result that she made the forever-to-be- 
remembered query of the bashful John as to speaking 
for himself. What her father said or thought is not 

307 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

on record, but it was very shortly after the proposal 
that John and Priscilla were married ; and the tradi- 
tion is, not as Longfellow gives it, that Standish and 
Alden again became friends, but that Alden was never 
forgiven by Standish. John Alden 's daughter Sarah, 
however, did afterwards marry Standish 's son Alex- 
ander. 

Courtships and marriages went very quickly in 
those early days, when children were a decided asset 
to any family in aiding to clear the wilderness, and 
when loneliness was a great disadvantage. As an ex- 
ample, the wife of Winslow died in March of 1621, the 
husband of Susanna White died in February of the 
same year, and in May of that year the short-time 
widower Winslow and the short-time widow White 
married. Miles Standish, in his courtship of Pris- 
cilla, was similarly hasty, for his wife, whom he had 
married in England, died late in January, 1621, and 
as Alden and Priscilla were married early in that year 
it may be seen how swift was the courtship of Stan- 
dish, and also that Alden was not at all slow in follow- 
ing up his own desires. After this refusal Standish 
waited three years before he married for the second 
time, but it is possible that some other woman refused 
him meanwhile. 

There is a collection at Plymouth, in Pilgrim Hall, 
which is rich in mementoes of the very early days. 
There is the great circular gate-legged table, almost 
six feet across, rigid and strong and plain and under- 
braced, which was the council table when Winslow 
was governor. There is the very chair of the first 

308 



PLYMOUTH AND PKOVINCETOWN 

governor, John Carver, who died in the first winter, 
a plain, massive turned chair, which seems as severe 
as the popular idea of the most severe belongings. 
There is the veritable sword of Miles Standish, a 
Damascus blade. There is a dear little wicker cradle, 
a Dutch cradle, in shape like a basket with a hood to 
keep off the draft, carried with the Mayflower for 
little Peregrine White, named from the peregrinations 
of his parents, and the first white child born on the 
soil of New England. Little Oceanus Hopkins might 
have taken away the title of precedence from Pere- 
grine had Oceanus not been born, as his name implies, 
before the Mayflower reached the promised land. 
Many other things, little and big, are preserved. 
There are early spoons and early needle work. 
There is some superb ecclesiastical silver designed for 
the early churches and preserved with record of 
where it was made. 

Standing anywhere along the shore at Plymouth, 
or on the hill, one cannot but notice a monument that 
rises, lofty and striking, far out beyond the leftward 
stretch of the bay ; and this is the monument to Miles 
Standish. Although he was not a Puritan, and not 
really a Pilgrim, for he was a soldier of fortune, who 
had been fighting for the Dutch against the Spanish 
and then as a soldier of Queen Elizabeth, a Dalgetty, 
who was out of employment as a fighter when the 
Pilgrims sailed and was engaged as an excellent man 
to meet the savages, he has been given a far more 
prominent monument than has any other of those 
early men ; and so nobly did he develop, at Plymouth, 

309 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

in bravery, in self-sacrifice, in the finest qualities of 
manhood that he well deserves prominent remem- 
brance. The old chronicle has it Captain Standish 
and Elder Brewster, more than any others, "to 
their great comendations be it spoken, spared no 
pains night nor day, but with abundance of toyle 
and hazard of their own strength helped others in 
sickness and death, a rare example worthy to be re- 
membred"; and in addition Standish was a man of 
absolute bravery. 

The monument is reached by a roundabout way, of 
several miles, from Plymouth. The figure of Stan- 
dish tops the structure; and by some unexplainable 
freak he is made to face away from the town that 
honored him and for which he did so much. The 
monument is on the summit of a considerable hill and 
there is in view a long, long line of shore ; and looking 
toward the sea one may see, as I have seen, the water 
dotted with the mackerel fleet, setting homeward ; and 
a thin gray vagueness on the horizon marks the 
distant line of Cape Cod. Looking landward, one 
sees endless miles of bluish pine woods through which 
the white spire of a meeting house rises with effective 
unexpectedness, and looking across the bay toward 
Plymouth there is a wonderful effect as if the city 
is still a place crowded against the waterside at the 
edge of a vast wilderness. 

A rather small old house, a story and a half high, 
sleeping under the shelter of this hill, a house with 
a sort of distinction in spite of its smallness, and 

310 



PLYMOUTH AND PROVINCETOWN 

with a great lilac bush at its front, a house that must 
always have been rather solitary, is the house in which 
some have believed that Standish lived for the last 
years of his life ; but in reality it would seem that his 
own house, long vanished, stood close beside where 
this house stands and that this was put up by an im- 
mediate descendant. 

That Standish was a short man, sinewy and robust, 
and that his little library actually contained, just as the 
poet has described it, the Commentaries of Csssar, are 
among the rather slender facts known in regard to 
his personality, but an inventory of the property left 
by him at his death itemizes that in his possession, 
among other things, were 4 bedsteads and 1 settle 
bed, 5 feather beds with blankets and sheets, 1 table- 
cloth and 4 napkins, 4 iron pots, 3 brass kettles and 
one dozen wooden plates — with no plates of any bet- 
ter material mentioned. There were muskets and 
sword ; and, as if in defiance of the spinning-wheel of 
Priscilla which, after all, was more a matter of con- 
cern to Alden than to him, there were two spinning- 
wheels. Horses and cattle must have increased in 
the colony since the earliest days for he left at his 
death 2 mares, 2 colts and 1 young horse, 4 oxen, 6 
cows, 3 heifers, 1 calf, 8 sheep, 2 rams, 1 wether and 
14 swine. 

At quite a distance, naturally, from this spot, is 
where John Alden and Priscilla lived, but, like this, 
within the limits of Duxbury. It is a pleasant drive 
across country, from one place to the other, through 

311 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

a region of blue inlets setting in from the blue, blue 
sea, with much of pine woods, and of the little bushes 
that bear beach plums. 

The house built here by John Alden has dis- 
appeared, but the present building stands on its site 
and, it is believed, was built by a grandson. But it 
looks old enough to have been built toward the end of 
John Alden 's long life, and it is possible, though not 
probable, that he actually lived in it. Often, it is im- 
possible to fix the precise date of construction of an 
ancient house, as the only definite records are likely 
to be of land alone and not the buildings. 

This Alden house stands on the top of a low mound ; 
it is shingled-sided ; and the present occupant confided 
to me that if he did not keep a close eye on visitors 
every silvery old shingle would soon be stripped off 
as a souvenir! The entire front of the house is 
massed in a luxurious greenery of grapevines, en- 
twined with scarlet dotted trumpet- vines ; a peach tree 
is espaliered on the side and a great trumpet-vine 
has clambered upon the roof; and nearby is a field 
that, when I saw it, was a great yellow splendor of 
golden-rod, bordered empurplingly with asters. 

How strange it must all have seemed to Alden ! He 
never intended to be a Pilgrim. He was a cooper, 
hired at Southampton when the Mayflower touched 
there, and it was expected that he would return in 
the ship from America. But he was ' ' a hopf ull young 
man," and the leaders quietly hoped that he would 
remain — and Priscilla did the rest. It is so pleasant , 
to think of the poetic wedding journey with the bride^ 

312 



PLYMOUTH AND PKOVINCETOWN 

mounted on the white bull, that it is needlessly 
iconoclastic to point out that the very first cattle, 
three heifers and a bull, did not reach Plymouth until 
1624. 

It is sometimes forgotten that the first landing of 
the Pilgrims in the New "World was not made at Ply- 
mouth but at the inside of the tip of Cape Cod; where, 
not long after their visit, the settlement of Province- 
town was made. 

Cape Cod, at the time of their visit, was a desolate 
region, but had earlier been visited by others. First, 
the Norsemen; afterwards, Bartholomew Gosnold, 
who gave the cape its fishy name ; even the picturesque 
Champlain made a brief stop here, as did the equally 
picturesque Captain John Smith, who described the 
fields of corn and "salvage gardens." So many peo- 
ple were here before the Pilgrims as to give almost 
an effect of crowded life ! But it was lonely enough 
when the Pilgrims actually came, though they did 
finally see some Indians, who, although they ran off, 
did so, "whistling to their dogge" ! 

Sand is the principal product of Provincetown. The 
whole Cape is shifting sand, that changes with every 
wind, and that makes hills into valleys and valleys 
into hills, and that threatens to destroy the little town 
itself. 

Many have been the wrecks on Cape Cod; and most 
interesting was that of the Somerset, on the outer 
edge of the narrow cape. This was the big man-of- 
war, of from forty to sixty cannon and a crew of al- 
most five hundred men, under whose lee, when it 

313 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

was in Boston harbor, Paul Revere was rowed when 
starting with the message to Lexington. It aided in 
the bombardment of the Americans on the day of 
Bunker Hill, and afterwards won a cruel reputation 
for its seizures of American shipping. In a great 
storm in 1778 it was driven ashore here, and the tra- 
dition of the Cape has it that, most of the men being 
absent on military duty, the women took an active 
share in holding captive the men from the wreck and 
in getting the guns to land to save them for the use 
of the American army. The wreck was completely 
dismantled; gradually it was covered with sand and 
the very place was forgotten. Years afterwards, a 
storm uncovered it, and then the sands covered it 
again, and many years later it was again uncovered 
and fully identified by details of its structure from 
official records furnished by the Admiralty in Lon- 
don. Before the sands covered it again I saw it my- 
self, with its grim and blackened vertebrae; and it 
was fascinating to find such a memento of the Revolu- 
tion lying on this lonely outward shore, so near little 
Provincetown. 

Growing wild in hollows among the dunes, with 
scrub pines and oaks, is the marvelously fragrant bay- 
berry from which the early settlers made their can- 
dles and from which a later generation made bay rum. 
And in these hollows wild roses grow in luxurious- 
ness, and innumerable red beach-plums. 

Provincetown is distinctly a sailor's town; there 
are sailors here who have been all over the world ; but 
it will be noticed that "barges" are not boats but 

314 



PLYMOUTH AND PKOVINCETOWN 

wagons ! A figurehead from some old ship leans for- 
ward from a post; fish-shaped weather-vanes turn 
with the varying winds ; you naturally see a seamen's 
bank; a profusion of binoculars pervades the place; 
you may even catch sight of the backbone of a whale 
in a captain's yard ; wreckage is stacked for fire-wood ; 
and in some of the old pilastered or porticoed houses 
there are preserved the original logs of whaling trips, 
showing whales, pictured in ink that long since yel- 
lowed, to mark the days of fortunate catches. 

Every sailor seems to have the title of captain; 
most, in fact, have a right to the title, for each has 
been in charge of at least a fishing-boat; and these 
captains are men of individual interest. One is a 
gatherer of ambergris (romantic name!), and he also 
sells watch-makers' oil, which he poetically procures 
from porpoise heads. Another of the captains, a 
gentle soul, is a story-teller who, unfortunately, has 
so out-told himself that the same narratives are given 
over and over. "Have I ever told this before?" I 
heard him interrupt himself to ask one day ; and when 
the goaded interlocutor, another captain, replied that 
he had, the first captain responded, gently tolerant, 
"Oh, well, I'll tell it again then." Another captain, 
confiding to me that he had been married fifty-five 
years, gravely added, as he pointed to his old dog 
lying beside him, "And that is all I've got left to show 
for it." Another told of a life-time sea-friend who 
had recently died at the age of ninety-two. "Did he 
leave any family?" "No," said the captain. "His 
father and mother were both dead. ' ' When, speaking 

315 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

with another, I commented on the roses growing in 
profuse loveliness in the gardens of the town, in spite 
of the difficulties of sand, he replied, from some pessi- 
mistic association of ideas : "Yes, but if there is ever 
a year when the rose-bugs don't get after the roses the 
dogfish are sure to get after the mackerel." But op- 
timism is the prevailing note, as with a captain, an 
ancient, earnest citizen, who exclaimed to me: "Why, 
the man who would complain of this Cape Cod climate 
would complain if he were going to be hung!" 
Another still tells the story of a sea-serpent ;that he 
saw many years ago ; and I was told that when his 
townsmen ridiculed him and frankly told him, from 
knowledge of his idiosyncrasies, that he must have 
been drinking, he went before a notary and made 
affidavit that ' 'I was not drinking on the day I saw the 
sea-serpent" — and he still fails to see why everybody 
laughs. Another, speaking of the general truthful- 
ness of the place, deemed it measurably referable to 
ancient strictness of law, giving as an example that in 
the good old formative days "a captain was fined five 
dollars for lying about a whale." 

The Portuguese, always locally referred to as "Por- 
tygees," have come in so freely from the Azores and 
the Cape de Verde Islands, that they give a markedly 
alien touch, with their distinctive language, religion, 
dress and costumes. The town is permeated by them. 
They are active rivals, on the sea, of the descendants 
of the early Americans, and I remember that a sail- 
ing race, open to all, was won by a boat whose captain 
and crew were all Portuguese ; but none the less did 

316 



PLYMOUTH AND PEOVINCETOWN 

Provincetown royally welcome the victors, and deck 
its streets with brooms and buckets. A still further 
alien touch is given by a lofty monument, set up a 
few years ago as a memorial to the landing here of the 
Pilgrims, and which, from some odd reason, is of dis- 
tinctly Italian style. 

A town-crier still busies himself with the crier's 
ancient duties, and the townsfolk claim that the cus- 
tom has kept on undisturbed from early times. 

The talk and interests of Provincetown are of cod 
and mackerel and haddock, and when a boat comes 
in with a catch the event is eagerly discussed along 
the entire three miles of far-flung water front. The 
town is principally one long and sinuous and atten- 
uated street, but there are also little lanes twisting 
away from it. A few old-time houses still remain 
with silver-gray shingles on their roofs and sides. 
Everywhere is an aspect of scrupulous neatness, as if 
on shipboard, and the houses in general have a snug- 
gled and tucked-in look as if triced down for a storm. 
Many are shaded by big trees ; and it is curious that 
there are so many great elms and enormous swamp- 
willows in spite of the discouraging environment. 

"When the tide sweeps out, great flats of green and 
yellow and gray stretch off in front of the town, and 
amphibious horses, half submerged, draw far out, in 
the track of the receding tides, little carts, likewise 
half-submerged, into which to unload such fishing- 
boats as return at a time when they cannot reach the 
piers. 

But sand is the prevailing feature. Surely, round 

317 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

about Provincetown is where the "Walrus and the Car- 
penter walked together. You remember the lines? 

"The sea was wet as wet could be, 
The sands were dry as dry. 
You could not see a cloud, because 
No cloud was in the sky: 
The Walrus and the Carpenter 
Were walking close at hand; 
They wept like anything to see 
Such quantities of sand : 
'If this were only cleared away,' 
They said, 'it would be grand!' " 








CHAPTER XXIV 

'the night shall be filled with music" 

SAIL from Liverpool on Saturday for 
Boston," writes Thackeray to "My 
dearest old friend," Edward Fitzger- 
ald, and lie says he is "very grave and 
solemn," and he writes with gravity 
and solemnity of what may. happen to 
"**? his wife and daughters if anything 

should happen to him ! 

It seems odd that a journey to Boston, whether by 
an American or an Englishman, should ever have 
aroused such tragic forebodings. Equally curious is 
the description, by William Dean Howells, of his own 
first visit there, for he went, as he set it down, "as 
the passionate pilgrim from the West approached his 
Holy Land in Boston. ' ' And Boston still likes people 
to come in this spirit ! 

One is tempted to wonder if Boston does not spend 
too much time looking at her intellectual features in 
the mirror ; after all, she is pretty old for that — she is 
almost at her three hundredth birthday. But, if it 
should really be that the city displays a little too much 
self-consciousness, a little too much readiness to re- 
sent anything that even slightly savors of criticism, 

319 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

there is much of gratification in being not only a city 
of famous places and famous deeds but at the same 
time one of character and of individuality. Little 
things may mark individuality, quite as well as great 
or even better; and it has always interested me 
that Boston once had an ordinance forbidding any 
person to keep a dog over ten inches in height, and 
that even now rump-steak is gladly paid for by most 
Bostonians as the most expensive of cuts! In all 
seriousness, the city has a very real individuality. 
And with a city of individuality almost anything can 
be overlooked. 

And there is so much of the picturesque in Boston ; 
the old houses and their old environment, the sea- 
gulls on a sunny winter's day circling and crying over 
Beacon Hill; the fine old tales and traditions. The 
very "twilight that surrounds the border-land of old 
romance" is in Boston. 

And one does not need to enumerate the list of 
statesmen and writers who have aided to make Boston 
glorious and who have shone in the glory that they 
helped to create. And yet, the attitude of Boston to- 
ward Hawthorne and Poe, perhaps the two most dis- 
tinctive geniuses of American literature, ought also 
to be remembered. 

Boston did not recognize Hawthorne when he was 
struggling for literary foothold, even though for a 
time he lived here. And Poe, though few Bostonians 
know it and none boasts of it, was Boston-born ! Poe 
was the child of a pair of poor traveling actors; it 
would seem, though there is no precise certainty, that 

320 



"THE NIGHT FILLED WITH MUSIC" 

the house where he was born was in the vicinity of 
where afterwards was built the Hollis Street Theater. 
Poe's associations with Boston were not happy; he 
was here later in his life, as a young man, poor and 
disappointed, and enlisted here under an assumed 
name, as a private soldier. He called Boston "Frog- 
pondium," meaning the same as the late Charles 
Francis Adams, Bostonian of Bostonians, who frankly 
wrote, as his last word, that "it is provincial; it tends 
to stagnate." As to Poe, I think that the severe re- 
spectability of Boston has caused him to be ignored : 
he was the son of poor players, not Bostonians ; and 
he was a man who sometimes drank too much! 

Howells, who knew the city well, has somewhere set 
down that "Boston would rather perish by fire and 
sword than to be suspected of vulgarity; a critical, 
fastidious, reluctant Boston, dissatisfied with the rest 
of the hemisphere. ' ' But, he might well have added, 
a brave Boston, a vastly interesting Boston, a Boston 
that every American should see and know. 

Of all my memories of Boston I think that the most 
fascinating is that of the Christmas Eve observance 
on Beacon Hill, an affair of extraordinary beauty. 

The sun sets on a Beacon Hill immaculately swept 
and garnished. Every window has been washed until 
it glistens. Every knocker and doorknob has been 
polished. And at the windows of almost every house 
are set rows and rows of candles, along the sills, along 
the middle sash, in straight lines, in curves, in tri- 
angles. Frequently there are as many as twenty 
candles to a row, or forty to a window, or even more 

321 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

where the rows are banked. Nor are the candles little 
Christmas-tree things, but the stout, white candles of 
use, and in some cases there are even the great church- 
altar candles, and some houses show the rare old silver 
candlesticks of the past. 

Nor is it only the principal windows of a few houses ; 
it is practically every window of almost every house ; 
and some even put candles in the queer Bostonian 
octagon cupola or lantern that stands upon the very 
roof above the central halls and stairs. 

Shortly after seven o 'clock the illumination begins. 
One by one, window by window, house by house, the 
lights flare softly up. And such a wonderful illumi- 
nation as is made! From basement to garret the 
lights shine softly out into the night. 

With the first lighting, visitors have begun to come ; 
not foreign-born visitors, but visitors distinctly Amer- 
ican ; it is an American observance among these fine 
old American homes. The people go pacing quietly 
about on Chestnut Street, Mount Vernon, Pinckney, 
Cedar and Walnut Streets, and Louisburg Square — 
and the fine old district is finely aglow, for hundreds 
of houses are illumined. 

Enchanting glimpses may be had into paneled and 
pilastered rooms, rich in their white and mahogany; 
glimpses of decorous and beautiful living; glimpses 
of chairs of stately strength, of sideboards of delect- 
able curves, of family portraits by Stuart or Copley. 
And every doorknocker has its holly or wreath. 
Each of these old streets is a soft blaze of candle-light 

322 



"THE NIGHT FILLED WITH MUSIC" 

with, myriad reciprocating reflections from the lighted 
windows of one side to the windows opposite ; and the 
soft light brings into newer beauty the curved lines 
of the house-fronts and the fine old distinguished 
shapes. The crowds increase; the streets gradually 
become thronged ; all are thrilled with quiet, expectant 
interest. 

And at length comes the distant sound of music, the 
sound of voices singing an ancient carol of Christmas- 
time. Nearer and nearer come the singers, caroling 
as they come, and they pause in front of one of the 
houses to sing, while all about them are hushed and 
quiet. Perhaps some of them will carry old-time 
watchman-lanterns, in their hands or aloft on poles, 
ancient lanterns of perforated tin with candles burn- 
ing inside. 

On the caroling company slowly goes, and after a 
while you hear another company come singing, and the 
people, massing the streets, are all absorbed, earnest, 
impressed, for it is all so beautiful, this sweet caroling 
in the candle-lighted streets. In all, in the course of 
the evening, there are probably four or five different 
companies, and one group in particular are the singers 
from the Church of the Advent, at the foot of the 
Hill, and these generally come later than the others, 
each group choosing its own hour for starting. "When 
the carolers pause in front of a house a few people are 
likely to come and stand at the windows ; but, if any, 
it is only a few; no welcoming is expected, no greeting 
or thanks. The singers do not sing as in any sense 

323 



THE BOOK OF BOSTON 

a personal tribute. They carol because it is Christ- 
mas. They go about on Beacon Hill because it is Old 
Boston. 

They stop in front of a pair of old houses used as 
a Protestant Episcopal nunnery ; the houses are ablaze 
with candles, like the other houses all about, and a few 
Sisters come quietly to the windows, making a posi- 
tively mediaeval scene in this American setting, with 
their gentle faces within the broad white lines of 
coiffe and collar, contrasting with the somber black 
of their robes. 

Not all the singers are old nor are all young; they 
are of varied ages, young men and young women, 
older men and older women. And most of the carols 
that are sung are the old-time carols that have come 
down through the centuries, and one or two are even 
sung in the old Latin. The last of the singers finish 
their rounds about ten o 'clock and until that time the 
crowd still lingers. But ten o 'clock is late in Boston, 
for this is an early city; and at ten o'clock one hears 
the final singing of these fine old tunes, echoing and re- 
echoing between these fine old-fashioned houses. 

The night 's candles are almost burned out. Shorter 
and shorter they have been getting, but none the less 
bravely have they continued to blaze. And now, 
house by house, window by window, candle by candle, 
the lights are extinguished and the streets go grad- 
ually to darkness. Almost suddenly, now, they are 
deserted. Almost suddenly the last of the people 
have gone. The houses are dark, whole streets are 

324 



"THE NIGHT FILLED WITH MUSIC" 

dark. The entire hill is in darkness. The hill is in 
silence. It all seems like an unreal memory — Christ- 
mas Eve in Boston. 




INDEX 



A 

Abbey, mural decorations by, 

201. 
Acorn Street, 32. 
Adams, Abigail, 246, 247. 
Adams, Charles Francis, 236; 

his estimate of Boston, 321. 
Adams, John : birthplace of, 245 ; 

at feast at Dorchester, 208; 

grave of, 248; portrait by 

Copley, 235; relations with 

Hancock, 123. 
Adams, John Quincy: birthplace 

of, 245; grave of, 248. 
Alcott, Bronson: characteristics, 

46; Emerson's opinion of, 

297; homes of, 45, 47, 297. 
Alcott, Louisa M.: on Boston 

Common, 18; in Concord, 

297; homes of, 45, 47, 49, 297; 

death of, 47; grave of, 298; 

"Little Women," 297. 
Alden, John, 307, 308; home of, 

in Duxbury, 311, 312. 
Aldrich, homes of, 40, 42, 44; 

"Story of a Bad Boy," 44. 
"America," first sung, 107. 
Ancient and Honorable Artillery 

Company, 111, 138. 
Andr6 and General Knox, 214. 
Andros, Lady, funeral of, 109. 
Appleton, the wit, 107. 
Arnold Arboretum, 161. 
Athenavum, the, 101-103. 
Authors, nomadic, 49. 
"Autocrat of the Breakfast 

Table," 59. 

B 
Back Bay, 188-194; its extent, 



327 



188; its statues, 189; opinion 
of, by Henry James, 192; with 
the Fenlands, 202. 

Bancroft, 145. 

Beacon Hill, 20-34; Christmas 
Eve observance on, 321-325; 
greenery of, 30, 31; houses of, 
22, 30, 33, 35-48; steepness of, 
20-22; Thackeray and "Es- 
mond," 37. 

Beacon Street, 24, 37, 191. 

Beacons in early days, 21. 

Bellingham Court, 29. 

Blaxton, the hermit, 63. 

Bookshops of Boston, 157. 

Booth, Edwin, 89. 

Boston Bags, 158. 

Boston Massacre, 13, 128, 131. 

Boston Tea Party, 139, 140. 

Bradford Manuscript, 69, 119— 
121. 

Brook Farm, 239-245. 

Brooks, Phillips, 99. 

Brown, Alice, home of, 96. 

Buildings, height of, 146. 

Bulfinch, 66, 67, 72, 93, 95, 134, 
135. 

Bunker Hill, 180-187; battle 
watched by Gage, 166 ; soldiers 
reviewed for, 229; monument, 
seen from Charlestown, 180, 
from Copp's Hill, 171; Web- 
ster's oration, 183. 

Burgoyne, General: his opinion 
of Bunker Hill, 182, of Lexing- 
ton, 285; watching Bunker 
Hill battle, 166. 

Burying-Grounds : Cambridge, 
224; Central, 11-13; Concord, 
298; Copp's Hill, 170, 171; 
King's Chapel, 110, 111, 115; 
Old Granary, 102-106; Old 



INDEX 



South Church, 115; Plymouth, 
303, 305; Webster's, 252. 

C 

Cambridge, 223-238. 

Cambridge Elm, 228. 

Candles, in windows, 321, 322. 

Carols, on Beacon Hill, 322-324. 

Cats, in Louisburg Square, 26. 

Central Burying-Ground, 11-13. 

Channing, 43, 99. 

Charles, the, 32, 188, 190. 

Charles Street, 39, 40, 41. 

Charles Street Square, 191. 

Chavannes, mural decorations 
by, 201. 

Chesapeake and Shannon, 279. 

Chestnut Street, Boston, 24, 50, 
51. 

Chestnut Street, Salem, 276-277. 

Christmas Eve on Beacon Hill, 
321-325. 

Churches: Hollis Street, 107; 
King's Chapel, 112-115; at 
Marblehead, 268; Old North, 
164-170; Old South, 115-121; 
Park Street, 106-108; at 
Quincy, 248; at Plymouth, 
305; Trinity, 202. 

Cod Fish, the Sacred, 70-71. 

Columbus and Aristides, statues 
of, 25. 

Common, the, 5-19; British sol- 
diers on, 15; cows on, 8; 
Emerson, 7, 8; trees of, 9; no 
streets through, 6; the spin- 
ning maidens, 17. 

Commonwealth Avenue, 188-190. 

Concord, 285, 287, 290-292; the 
bridge, 291; Concord Fight, 
relics of, 69; literary associa- 
tions, 295-299; present aspect 
of, 294. 

Copley, portraits by: John 
Adams, 235; Hancock and 
Dorothy Q., 78; Thomas Han- 
cock, 235; his frames made by 
Revere, 174. 

Copley Square, 200, 202. 



328 



Copp's Hill Burying-Ground, 170, 

171. 
"Coronation," 131. 
Cows on the Common, 7, 8. 
Cradock homestead, 260. 
Craigie, Andrew, 227. 
Custom House, the old, 144, 145. 
Custom House, the new, 146. 

D 

Danvers, 283. 

Dedham, 261. 

Deland, Mrs., homes of, 42, 43, 
49, 192; "Old Chester," 43. 

Dickens, and the blind man, 35; 
liking for Boston, 36; "Mar- 
tin Chuzzlewit," 38. 

Dogs, in Boston, 17, 320. 

Dorchester Heights, 208-222. 

"Dorothy Q.'s," the, 78, 80, 81, 
249, 250. 

Downing of Downing Street, 281. 

Duxbury, 311. 

E 

Emerson: on Boston Common, 7, 
8; at Concord, 295, 296; his 
grave, 298; and Margaret Ful- 
ler, 87; "President's messen- 
ger," 230. 

Enthusiasms, in Boston, 18, 125. 

"Esmond"; Thackeray's gift to 
Prescott, 37. 

Essex Institute, 281-283. 

Evacuation of Boston, 219, 220, 
260. 

Executions, on Boston Common, 
16; in Salem, 275. 



F 



Fairbanks homestead, 261. 

Family, importance of, in Bos- 
ton, 194-196. 

Faneuil Hall, 133-138; farce 
given at, 185. 

Fenlands, the, 202-204. 

Fenway Court, 203. 



INDEX 



Melds, James T.: with Dickens, 
35; home of, 39; as a host, 
41; position in Boston, 40; 
"The Scarlet Letter," 271; the 
Wayside Inn, 256. 

Fish, kinds of, in Boston, 143. 

Fort Hill Park, 144. 

Frankland, Sir Henry, 114. 

Franklin: his birth and bap- 
tism, 115, 116; his parents, 
103, 116; his portrait in Cam- 
bridge, 235. 

Fuller, Margaret; at Brook 
Farm, 241, 244; with Emer- 
son, 87. 

Furniture, Old: on Beacon Hill, 
33, 322; in Concord, 299; at 
Essex Institute, 282; John 
Hancock's, 73; in Museum of 
Fine Arts, 203, 204; at Ply- 
mouth, 308, 309. 

G 

Gallows Hill, 274. 

Gardner, Mrs., home of, 203. 

Gerry, Elbridge, homes of, 225, 

266. 
Glass, purple, in windows, 27. 
Glover, General, 189, 265. 
Granary Burying-Ground, 102- 

106. 
Grant, Robert, home of, 203. 

H 

Hale, Edward Everett, 99. 

Hamilton, Alexander, statue of, 
189. 

Hancock, John, 73-83; his 
clothes, 76, 77; his cows on 
the Common, 8; the "empty 
barrel," 123; furniture of, 73 
home of, 73; marriage of, 80 
portrait of, 78; grave of, 103 
his pasture for the State 
House, 72; where he proposed, 
250; his widow, 74; relations 
with Washington, 123. 

Hancock, Thomas, portrait of, by 
Copley, 235. 



329 



Harding, Chester, 101, 236. 

Harvard, John, statue of, 231. 

Harvard University, 223, 230- 
238; School of Medicine, 205. 

Hawthorne: in Boston, 145; at 
Brook Farm, 239-243; at 
Concord, 295, 296, 297; his 
marriage note, 45; grave of, 
298; "House of the Seven 
Gables," 272, 273; in Salem, 
269-270, 273, 274; "Scarlet 
Letter," 271; original of 
Hester Prynne, 111; visited 
by Worcester, 270. 

Holmes: birthplace of, 229; 
homes of, 41, 49, 57, 58, 59, 
60, 61, 191; grave of, 224; the 
"Long Path," 11; the "Auto- 
crat," 59; "Old Ironsides," 
179; his importance to Bos- 
ton, 55; at King's Chapel, 
115; teacher of anatomy, 
55-57; "boring" through nar- 
row streets, 150; poems about 
lectures, 198; wit of, 57, 100, 
104. 

Hooper, "King," home of, 264. 

Houdon; his Washington, 102. 

"House of the Seven Gables," 
272, 273. 

Howe, Julia Ward: home' of, 50; 
meeting with Henry James, 50. 

Howells: his estimate of Bos- 
ton, 321; feelings, approach- 
ing Boston, 319; home of, 47. 

Huntington Avenue, 200. 



"Ichabod," 250. 
India Wharf, 140-141. 
Ironwork, Old, 33, 37, 52, 59, 67. 
Italians in Boston, 163, 164, 168, 
172. 

J 

James, Henry: the Back Bay, 
192; Julia Ward Howe, 50; 
Mount Vernon Street, 23. 

Julien, and his soup, 11. 



INDEX 



Keayne, Eobert, 111, 137, 138. 

King Philip, 306. 

King's Chapel, 112-115. 

King's Chapel Burying-Ground, 
110-111, 115. 

Knox, General: bookshop of, 126, 
212; getting cannon for Dor- 
chester Heights, 212-217; his 
cannon in Cambridge, 228; 
meeting Andre, 214; portrait 
of, 221. 



Lafayette: at Bunker Hill cele- 
bration, 184; greeting Han- 
cock's widow, 74. 

Lectures, in Boston, 197-198, 
206. 

Lee mansion, 262-264. 

Lexington, 285, 287-289. 

Lexington and Concord, road be- 
tween, 285, 289, 290. 

Libraries: Athenseum, 101-103; 
Boston Public, 200-202 ; 
Emerson's, 296; Widener Me- 
morial, 232-234; Washing- 
ton's, 102. 

Lind, Jenny, 25, 253. 

"Little Women," 297. 

"Long Path," the, 11. 

Longfellow: home of, 226; grave 
of, 224; with Browning, 226; 
"Reef of Norman's Woe," 256; 
the Wayside Inn and its char- 
acters, 47, 48, 255, 256. 

Louisburg Square, 24-26, 33, 47, 
63, 322. 

Lowell, James Russell, 102, 224, 
225. 

Lowell Lectures, 198. 

M 

Mall, Beacon Street, 16. 
Marblehead, 262-268. 
Marshfleld, 250. 
Massachusetts Hall, 232. 



Mayflower, the: babies of the 
309; grave of first woman 
who landed from, 110; "Log" 
of, 119. 

Medford, 257, 260. 

Memorial Hall, 234-236. 

Monuments: Banks and Devens, 
101; Boston Massacre, 13; 
Phillips Brooks, 99; Bunker 
Hill, 183, 186; Channing, 99; 
Dorchester Heights, 220; 
Ether, 100; Glover, 189; Hale, 
99; Hamilton, 189; John 
Harvard, 231; Hooker, 100; 
Lexington, 288 ; Louisburg 
Square, 25; Prescott, 186; 
Provincetown, 317; Shaw, 13; 
Soldiers and Sailors', 14; 
Standish, 309 ; Washington, 
189. 

Moth, the gypsy, 225. 

Motley, 50, 224. 

Mt. Auburn Cemetery, 224. 

Mt. Vernon Street, 23, 24, 32, 
54, 322. 

Museum of Fine Arts, 203, 204; 
Stuart portraits in, 221. 

Music, in Boston, 198-200. 

Musicians, street, 33. 

N 

Navy Yard, Charlestown, 177- 

180. 
North Church, Old, 164-170. 
North Square, 172. 



O 



Old Granary Burying-Ground, 

102-106. 
"Old Ironsides," 176, 178, 179. 
Old Manse, 295. 
Old North Church, 164-170. 
Old South Church, 115-121. 



330 



Parkman, 51, 224. 

Park Street Church, 106-108. 



INDEX 



Parkways, 160-162. 

Parsons, Thomas, 48. 

Percy, Lord: at Dorchester, 218; 

at Lexington, 285, 286, 292, 

293; portrait of, 293. 
Pickering, Timothy, home of, 

278. 
Pigeons, on the Common, 16. 
Pinckney Street, 32, 44, 45, 46, 

322. 
Pitcairn, Major, 104, 166, 287, 

288, 290. 
Plymouth, 300-311; Emerson's 

wedding trip from, 296. 
Plymouth Rock, 302. 
Poe: birthplace of, 321; attitude 

of Boston toward, 320; his 

estimate of Boston, 321. 
Portuguese at Provincetown, 

316. 
Post-Office, 148. 
Prescott, General, monument to, 

186. 
Prescott, the historian, home of, 

37. 
Priscilla and John Alden, 307, 

308, 311-313. 
Provincetown, 313-318. 
Putnam homestead, 283, 284. 

Q 
Quincy homestead, 248-250. 
Quincy Market, 137. 
Quincy, town of, 245, 248. 



Radcliffe College, 223. 

"Reef of Norman's Woe," 256. 

Restaurants, 86, 157. 

Revere Beach, 161. 

Revere, Paul: character and 
achievements, 172-176; copper 
for State House, 66; as a den- 
tist, 174; home of, 172; grave 
of, 103; his lanterns, 169, 170; 
at Lexington, 287; his prints, 
131; his midnight ride, 169- 
170; his silversmithing, 131, 
173, 204. 



Riedesel, Baroness, 21, 266. 
Royall house, 257-260. 

S 

Salem, 269-284. 

Salem Street, 163, 168. 

"Scarlet Letter," 111, 271, 272, 
273. 

Shaw Memorial, 13. 

Silver, Old: at Museum of Fine 
Arts, 204; of the Old North 
Church, 167; made by Paul 
Revere, 131, 173, 204. 

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, 298. 

Social life in Boston; opinion of 
Charles Francis Adams, 236. 

Somerset, the: at Boston, 169; 
guns from, 175; existent wreck 
of, 313. 

Spinning Maidens, 17. 

Standish, Miles, 309-311; hasty 
courtship of, 308; his sword, 
309; site of home, 310. 

Stark, "Molly," 259, 260. 

State House, New, 9, 20, 62; 
Bulfinch front, 66; interior, 
67-72. 

State House, Old, 126-132. 

Steepness of Beacon Hill, 20, 22. 

Street cries, old, 151, 152. 

Street signs, 154, 155. 

Streets: names, in Back Bay, 
192; complexity and narrow- 
ness of, 149, 150; names 
changed, 122, 124; pavements 
of, 150, 151. 

Stuart, Gilbert: home of, 144; 
grave of, 12, 13; Chester 
Harding, 101 ; his portraits on 
Beacon Hill, 53, of Knox, 221, 
of Washington, 12, 135, 137. 

Students' Quarter, 204, 205. 

Sunday laws, 82, 84. 

Sunday observance, 85, 87. 

Surriage, Agnes, 114. 



331 



Tablets: Boston Tea Party, 139; 



INDEX 



British retreat, 293; British 
soldiers, 294; Charming, 43; 
Hancock, 76, 79; Holmes, 55; 
Lexington, 288; Old North 
Church, 169; Old South 
Church, 115; Pitcairn, 166; 
Plymouth, 304, 305; Gilbert 
Stuart, 13. 

Thackeray: sailing for Boston, 
319; with "Esmond" on Bea- 
con Hill, 37; eating American 
oysters, 36; going to lecture, 
35; inspiration for "Virgin- 
ians," 38. 

Theaters: locations, 87, 88; no 
Saturday night performances, 

87, 89; the Boston Theater, 

88, 89, 90. 

Thoreau, 297, 298; visiting Haw- 
thorne, 296. 

Ticknor, George, home of, 52. 

Trees, on Boston Common, 9; at 
Plymouth, 304, 305; at Salem, 
277. 

Trinity Church, 202. 



Views : of the Back Bay, 193 ; of 
Bunker Hill Monument, 171 ; 
of the Charles, 32; of the 
Granary Burying-Ground, 105; 
of the State House, 9; from 
the State House, 62. 

"Virginians, The"; Boston in- 
spiration for, 38. 



W 

Wadsworth house, 229. 
Wapping Street, 177. 



Warren, General, 114, 118, 174. 

Washington: visit to Boston in 
1756, 217; in 1789, 122; in 
British farce, 185; opinion of 
Bunker Hill, 182; in Cam- 
bridge, 227; taking command, 
228; at Dorchester Heights, 
208-222; relations with Han- 
cock, 123; at King's Chapel, 
113; his library, 102; at Mar- 
blehead, 265; married by 
clergyman from Marblehead, 
268; portraits of, 12, 135- 
137, 235; acquaintance with 
Paul Kevere, 175; first statue 
of, 167; Houdon's statue, 102; 
equestrian statue, 189. 

Washington Street, 122, 124, 
125. 

Wayside Inn, 47, 48, 255, 256. 

Weather, of Boston, 158, 159; 
winter observances, 153. 

Webster: Bunker Hill oration, 
183; Jenny Lind concert, 253; 
"Ichabod," 250; home of, 250, 
251; death of, 252; grave of, 
252. 

Wellesley College, 161. 

West Cedar Street, 47. 

Weston, beautiful road to, 160. 

Wharves, 140-144. 

Whittier: "Ichabod," 250 ; "Skip- 
per Ireson's Bide," 266. 

Widener Memorial Library, 232- 
234. 

Winstanley, 135-137. 

Women, importance of, in Bos- 
ton, 90-92; in telephone direc- 
tory, 96. 

Women's City Club, 93. 

Wyman of Woburn, 286. 



332 



A