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Full text of "A home of the olden time"

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A HOMEOF THE OLDEN TIME. 



70 2^ 



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THOMAS C. AMOEY. 



BOSTON: 

PRINTED BY DAVID CLAPP & SON. 

18 7 2. 



Reprinted from tbe New-England Historical and Genealogical Register, 



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A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 



As Americans, we look with admiration and some degree of envy on sub- 
stantial structures of other days that delight \is abroad. We have indeed very 
few of our own. We know sometliing of our progenitors. Tradition tells 
us of their character and household virtues. Smybert and Blackburn, Cop- 
ley and Stuart reveal to us their personal appearance. History often 
records their public services. The institutions they planted, their works 
of utility need no other monument. But we should have been better pleased 
had they also left us more frequent memorials of their daily life. If their 
means and social Condition admitted of no costly abodes, many such as they 
had have perished, which might well have been preserved. A few remain, 
others are still remembered of which some account should be transmitted to 
coming generations. Some of these in their pristine condition were models 
of elegance and taste, and would compare favorably in comfort and con- 
venience with any of modern contrivance. 

It is a great and laudable achievement to erect a stately edifice or even 
a dwelling of more moderate pretensions, complete in detail and arrange- 
ment, faultless as a work of art yet precisely adapted to its use. Where 
the organ of construction has liberal development, to conjure up out of 
airy nothings or dim visions of the past, pleasant abodes such as Le Sage 
created for his hero, castles such as Spain has been ever famed for, affords 
diversion from graver thought. In the seemingly endless watches of the 
night, on weary pilgrimages or when the brain is quickened into fever, such 
indulgence soothes and tranquillizes beyond poppy or chloroform. It is an 
inexpensive pastime, modifications of plan entail no ruinous consequences, 



6 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

nor is it necessary to pull down in order to rebuild. But shotild attempt be 
made to transform our dream into substantial realities, what was fair enough 
to dwell upon reduced to possession proves extremely incommodioias. Great 
praise is justly due to the skill, that, without servile imitation, designs what 
is at the same time original and artistic, yet meets every want of the actual 
occupant. 

Visitors at Abbotsford may grieve over the load of embarrassment under 
which dear old Sir Walter bore up for years so bravely, that he might live 
like baron bold of the border, midst tower and battlement, wide spread fields 
and woods. Yet they cannot but be forcibly impressed with the exquisite 
beauty of the structure ; the good sense that planned the distribution of its 
apartments. Happier perhaps if his romance in stone and mortar had been 
transmitted through a long line of iron clad progenitors, and reached him 
imencumbered and with modern improvements. Had this been however 
the case, he would not have realized the enjoyment of its erection, or reared 
a far more enduring monument than Waljiole's at Strawberry, to give 
pleasure ages hence to his admirers. As time grows the lichen on its wall, 
will come and pass beneath its roof many a sadder proof that all is vanity ; 
and doubtless with vicissitudes, heir looms of our lot, a reasonable share 
of substantial happiness be experienced by its various inmates. 

In that old world beyond the sea, admirable relics' of antiquity, such as 
Ingelheim, where Charlemagne a thousand years ago first opened his eyes 
upon the world, Cluny, where seven hundred later the father of Mary Queen 
of Scots was married, Rheinstein and Stolzenfelz, Chillon and Dijon, 
Guy's Cliff and Haddon are precious mementoes of by-gone days. What 
we have here in New-England of any pretension to age, dates back at 
the farthest but two centuries and a third. The venerable brick mansion 
of Cradock, first governor under the charter, on a grant of thirty-five hun- 
dred acres in Medford, which parliamentary duties in troubled times prevent- 
ed his ever coming over to enjoy, is a fine specimen of eld. Near Portsmouth 
is another of the same period, material and description, which has come 
down to us in excellent preservation, and which has been uninterruptedly 
occupied by the same name and blood, eight generations of whom have been 
born within its walls. Nor is this last a solitary instance. The Woodman 
House in Durham, Fairbanks in Dedham, Curtis in what was Roxbury, now 
Boston, have passed from parent to child in the same families as long. 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 7 

Others exist or have recently existed, of which nearly the same may be stated, 
while numberless more somewhat modernized, and which have changed 
owners in other ways than by inheritance, still stand replete with valuable 
suggestion as to the mode of life of our ancestors. 

It is not pretended that the dwelling proposed to be recalled to the mind 
of many who cannot have quite forgotten its exquisite proportions possessed 
any very especial claim to notice from historical or romantic associations. 
It was simply a delightful home such as abounded about Boston, and else- 
where in New-England, a century ago, and j'et presenting as fair a picture 
as could then be foimd of domestic elegance and comfort. The mansion 
itself, the second and probably destined to be the last ever upon the spot, was 
ei-ected early in the last century, and was subsequently occupied but by two 
or three different proprietors, when it passed in 1800 into possession of the 
family who now own the estate. It was occupied by them as their abode 
down to the middle of this century, surviving the venerable church which 
with plain front and noble interior stood opposite and which gave place 
forty years ago to the present Trinity. The beautiful thoroughfare on 
which it stood long richly merited its name from its multitudinous and over- 
spreading branches and the vernal splendors that decked its gardens. 

It is worthy of note that the property, which was the site of this handsome 
edifice, has been neither enlarged nor diminished from the earliest days of 
the settlement. Its several bounds are the same now as when entered on the 
Book of Possessions.' It is not every one who has heard of that ancient volume. 
To compare small things with great, its resemblance in character to Domesday 
must have often occurred to conveyancers. Sixteen years after the conquest of 
the mother land, King "William had that inquest made of English tenures, and 
about as long after the Puritan Fathers settled in Boston the ownershi23 of 
estates was similarly defined and guarded. Bounds and measurements of 
grants, made under the pressifre of other cares and which had become 
matter of dispute, were ascertained by survey or by each owner bringing in 
the limits of his claim, and duly recorded. This record is the fountain head 
from which are derived the titles of property now occupied by a quarter of a 
million of people, and worth several hundred millions of dollars. 



• As these returns were made by order of the general court, similar volumes are found 
in one or two of the earlier settlements. 



8 . A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

On that record this estate i^ recognized as the garden of Gamaliel Wayte. 
Whether Gamaliel dwelt there is not mentioned, but he had in 1642 another 
lot on the south side of Mill street where he probably resided. His son John 
had a house upon the land when he sold it sixty years later, in 1694, 
to John Leavensworth. The father lived till his eighty-seventh year, and 
is mentioned by Judge Sewall in his diary as having had, not long before 
his death, several new teeth. He may, like the humpbacked Richard, have 
been born with some of those then renewed, for what alone is known of his 
history indicates that he was earlier by no means a negative character. 
He had come over with Edward Hutchinson, in all probability as his farmer, 
since he is described on the records as a planter. He joined the church 
in 1633, but participating in the antinomian heresies of Mrs. Hutchinson, 
placing his faith and hope in grace and not in works, he was amongst 
those who threatening violence were in 1 637 disarmed by the authorities. 
If he died Dec. 9, 1C85, as recorded, he must have been born in 1598. Two 
of his sons are mentioned by Farmer, as cited a7ite, vol. xxiv., p. 103 : 
Samuel born in 1661, and John who inherited and sold the Summer-street 
estate. John is supposed to be the same who was settled in Maiden, and sent 
thence from 1666 to 1684 to the general court, the latter year being speaker. 
He also served as juror in Boston, at the trials for witchcraft in 1680. Rich- 
ard, probably a brother of Gamaliel, as he died 1678, aged 82, held the 
office of marshal, and both Richard and Return were members of the now 
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. 

It should not be forgotten that the land is described in the BoQk of 
■Possessions, as Wayte's garden. From the superior excellence of its frilits 
there long prevailed an impression, of course unfounded, that it had belonged 
to one of the Huguenots, wlio came here when driven from France, and who 
were famous for their taste and skill in horticulture. This very spring 
1870, has blossomed within its limits a' tall and at the time still thrifty 
pear tree, which by antiquaries in horticulture may well have been deemed 
coeval with Gamaliel himself, as ancient as that of Governor Stuy vesant in 
New-Amsterdam. 

John Leavensworth, to whom John "Wayte conveyed the property, is not 
mentioned by Savage, nor is his name in the index of our probate re- 
cords. He did not hold it long, but mortgaged it the same year to Simeon 
Stoddard, a wealthy merchant, whose father Anthony married, for his first 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. » 

wife, the sister of Sir George Downing. Simeon, born in 1651, entered 
thrice into the bonds of wedlock: first with Mary in 1676, ags^in with the 
widow of Col. Samuel Shrimpton in 1709, and in 1715 with Mehitabel 
Minot, who had previously married Thomas Cooper and Peter Sergeant. 
At what time he foreclosed the mortgage is not known, nor does it appear 
that he himself ever occupied the estate for his own abode. He died Oct. 
18, 1730, having three years before sold it to Leonard Vassall. 

The name of Vassall is honorably connected with the Massachusetts 
colony from its earliest period. William and Samuel, sons of the gallant 
John, an alderman of London, who, in 1588, at his own expense, fitted out 
and commanded two ships of war with which he joined the royal navy to 
oppose the Spanish Ai'mada, were among the original patentees in 1628. 
William came over with Winthrop in 1630, settled in Scituate in 1634, 
Ijut provoked by the persecution of the Episcopalians returned to England 
in 1646, and died in Barbadoes in 1G55. He left daughters married in 
this country, and a son, Capt. John Vassall, who sold his estate in Scituate 
in 1661, and removed as is supposed also to England. 

Samuel never came over. He was a merchant of London, alderman, and 
in 1640-41 a member of parliament. The handsome monument in King's 
Chapel, Boston, erected ta his memory by Florentius, of Jamaica, his great- 
grandson, recites his public services. His son John purchased large tracts 
of land in Jamaica and settled there, having married Ann, the daughter of John 
Lewis, Esq., an English resident of Genoa. They had two sons. William, 
the eldest, was father of Florentius, and through his son Eichard, grandfather 
of Elizabeth, who married Sir Godfrey Webster, and in 1797 Henry 
Richard Fox, tliird Lord Holland, and died in London Nov. 17, 1845. She 
is described as possessed of remarkable talents, brilliant, witty and endowed 
with many personal graces. Holland House while she presided there main- 
tained its celebrity, as the favorite haunt of British authors and statesmen, 
and many from other countries and especially from America were among 
its frequent and valued guests. It is now yielding to the resistless growth 
of the great metropolis, and the excellent Lord Hollands have come to an end. 
But their generous hospitality in its spacious halls has been too often 
subject of comment to be speedily forgotten. 
Y Leonard Vassall, born in Jamaica in 1678, married there, Ruth Gale, 
born m 1785, and by her had seventeen children. His second wife was Mrs. 



10 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TDIE. 

Phebe Gross, danghter of Samuel Penliallow, by Mary daughter of Presi- 
dent John Cutt, of Portsmouth, New-Hampshire, by whom he had one 
daughter, Anna, born in 1 G35, married to John Borland, of Boston. The 
other children who survived him were four sons — Lewis, John, "William and 
Henry, all of whom but the youngest graduated at Harvard College re- 
spectively in 1728, 1732, and 1733 ; and four daughters. 

His property mainly consistfed of several large plantations in Jamaica, which 
are enumerated in his will. He was perhaps induced to take up his abode 
in New-England from the connection of his- progenitors with its settlement. 
It may have been, and it seems more likely, that he was influenced to do so 
by the wish to secure to his children the advantages of education — his sense 
of their value being distinctly exhibited in his will in providing for that 
of his youngest chUd. 

Leonard proceeded without delay to improve his purchase and erected the 
dwelling which proved so enduring. No evidence exists that it was at any 
subsequent time materially altered, and it is therefore described as recently 
existing. This will leave the imagination of the reader full sway to con- 
jecture any intermediate changes which probability may suggest to him. 

Along the line of Summer street stood a fence about seventy feet in 
length and ten in height, finished in panel work for a short space from the 
ground, the upper portion consisting of top rail and slats about an inch 
square, sufficiently apart to admit of an unobstructed view. In this was a 
large double gate, wide enough for carriages at the southerly end, and a 
smaller one near the house for foot passengers. The house extended along 
the north side of the plot with a main front of more than one hundred feet 
with nine windows and two doors in a line below and eleven windows above. 
It was of handsome elevation, with Lutheran windows in the roof, which was 
of the gambrel form, thus presenting at the end towards the street three stories. 
Between the house and the fence was space enough for a large chestnut tree 
overhanging the street. On the ground floor the windows opened on that 
side into a spacious drawing room, lighted also by two others towards the 
court. All the apartments were lofty, unusually so for the period, which 
may be explained by the fact that Mr. Vassall had long dwelt in a warmer 
climate than that of New-England. 

The drawing room communicated with the hall, from which ascended to 
the third floor a broad staircase, adorned to the top with raUs and balusters 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 11 

of richly wrought and highly polished mahogany. This material according 
to tradition was taken from the estate of Mr. Vassal! in Jamaica. At the 
landing was a large square window, and there stood the family clock, that 
last in use in the house still coimting the centuries and likely to for many to 
come. Beneath this lauding was a spacious well-lighted store-room for 
china and the garniture of the table on festal occasions, whence proceeded 
long lines of sweetmeats and preserves — such as the great-grandmothers of 
New-England delighted in, and among them in the days of the Vassalls 
doubtless whatever the tropics could produce. Beyond this hall, which 
opened by a door of hospitable dimensions under a portico and balcony into 
the front court, was the family parlor, or keeping room, thirty feet or more 
in length, with three windows in front on the court, two in recesses on either 
side of the fire-place looking towards the north. When Mr. Salisbury, the 
proprietor of the adjoining estate on that side, erected a stable so as to 
darken these windows, mirrors were substituted in their place. In the mid- 
dle of the court yard, opposite the centre window to the south, stood a large 
English walnut, bearing excellent fruit. 

It is probable that these principal apartments were finished originally in 
arras, tajjestry, or wainscoat, as was usual in the best houses of the day. 
Possibly the panels were of pine, red cedar, or even mahogany, as one room 
in a house built a little earlier by Leonard Vassall, now owned and occu- 
pied by the Hon. Charles Francis Adams in Quincy, was so constructed. 
But this is only matter of conjecture. In later days, as fashions changed, 
the walls were plastered and covered with the customary wall papers. 

"With their mjny windows opening towards the south, these rooms were 
especially bright and sunny. Prior to 1807 the grounds adjacent down the 
street were in gardens, or occujjied by buildings of little elevation. They 
had been conveyed in 1(380 to the First Church, and were improved by 
them for a parsonage. Here dwelt several of the eminent men who succes- 
sively occupied its pulpit. When the Church was removed from where 
later were built what have been known as Joy's Buildings on Washington 
street, its new edifice was placed on the rear of this lot on Chauncy Place, 
so called, from one of its most distinguished pastors. On the Summer street 
front at the same time was erected a block of fom--story brick buildings. 
Ample spaces were still left for light and air, and the northerly end of the 
block was draped to the chimney tops with woodbine, which in. autumn 



12 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

exchanged its summer verdure for more brilliant tints. These new edifices, 
impairing but little the cheerfulness of the mansion or its court yard, pro- 
tected both alike from the winter winds and public observation. 

Beyond the keeping room was a capacious entry, out of which mounted a 
second staircase sufficiently commodious, but less richly decorated than that 
in the principal haU. The kitchens, still farther along, were two in number. 
The first was lighted from the court by two windows, with a door opening 
between them. It had one of the old foshioned chimneys of vast dimensions, 
with a smoke-jack revolved by complicated machinery, high up within its 
mysterious recesses. In the corner formed by the projecting chimney was a 
room or lavatory, then used by younger members of the family, who slept 
for health's sake in cold rooms, where the water froze in winter, and who 
completed this part of their toUet below. Under its window was the horse 
tub, where the horses were led to drink. The second kitchen of the same 
size, used as a laundry, receded a little from the front line of the building. 
It contained, among other meritorious arrangements, one large tub in whicli 
was worked a dumb betty by one of the men, serving about the same pur- 
pose in kneading the clothes as that modern contrivance the patent washer. 

In continuation of these kitchens' towards the north line of the estate, was 
a small court surrounded by offices of different descriptions, and in front of 
them was a sitting room, or retreat, for the master of the house, with its 
ample grate and a large window looking into the garden, serving the pur- 
pose of an office or library. It projected a few feet from the general line of 
the front of the house, and about twenty feet away was the wall of the 
stable. In this, on the side toward the house, was a long fruit room with 
shelves for pears to ripen, a work or lathe room, and a staircase to a small 
apartment on the level of the hay-loft looking into the garden. 

The sleeping rooms occupied two floors of the mansion, the front one on 
the upper story being peculiarly cheerful, commanding extended views over 
the neighboring gardens. The house abounded in closets, garrets and cellars, 
and was a paradise for good house-keepers. 

From the front gate the vista extended about three hundred feet along 
the court paved with white and blue cobble stones, in fanciful patterns, 
along beds edged with box of roses, seringa, honey-suckle and snow-drops, 
between the stables and garden room, to an octagon summer-house at the 
farther Qnd of the garden. The court-yard, nearly fifty feet by a hundred, 



A HOJIE OF THE OLDEN TIME. 13 

■wliich one of our poets well caljecl baronial, was flanked on tlie side op- 
posite the house, by a series of six arcades, for the most part filled in with 
panel work to correspond with the fagade of the stable, which was a model 
of good proportion and decoration. "When the house, stable and sheds, 
as well as the fences, were all painted of a light straw color, in two tints, 
with flowers and vines, clustering everywhere around and about the build- 
ings, it presented a whole of extreme delicacy and beauty. 

The probate records afford an insight into the plenishing of both house 
and stable in the days of the Vassalls and its subsequent occupants. Horses 
and carriages, plate, pictures and books abounded ; nor does the family cow 
escape notice, which, driven daily up "Winter street to the Common, when 
the season served, returned at night with distended udders, not of less flavor 
from the charming scenes and grassy slopes of her pasture. 

Mr. "Vassall had his summer residence at Braintree now Quincy. Many 
other men of fortune passed a portion of the warmer months out of town. 
Boston was, however, not so densely peopled, but that there were spaces 
all about liim for orchard and for garden. The broad area covered by 
magnificent palaces of trade on either side of what is now Franklin street, 
has been known since the Revolution as Barrel's pasture. Close by to the 
south and west was the mansion of John Eowe, with enclosures extending 
towards Essex street. The gardens to the north, which belonged to Ed- 
mund Quiucy, and purchased on that account by Mr. Salisbury, whose wife was 
Edmimd's granddaughter, were as extensive as his own. Many who were well 
able to possess and enjoy country villas, preferred the town, or contented them- 
selves with expeditions into the interior, or along shore, of a few weeks at a 
time, in their own carriages. It was consequently customary to surround 
the dwelling, where space permitted, with gardens and pleasure grounds, and 
though the land attached to the house of the Vassalls was not large, the 
most was made of it. "Whoever has realized what can be accomplished in 
limited areas, as for example in the college gardens in England's Cam- 
bridge, or in some of our smaller cities, will easily believe that taste 
and wealth may have produced marvellous results in its cultivation and 
embellishment. 

It was laid out in four large square beds edged with box. That nearest 

the garden room was devoted to grapes of various descrijitions on trellises. 

In other parts of the garden were currants and raspberries, peaches and cher- 
3 



14 A HOME OF TEGE OLDEN TQIE. 

ries, and a great variety of pears then famous, but which are now, from 
some change of climate fatal to this sensitive fruit, almost unknown. The 
St. Jlichael, St. Germain, Vergouleuse and Brown Beurre, were all there in 
abundance, and one who has often partaken of them bears witness that no 
later variety has ever surpassed them in delicacy of flavor. He mentions 
an instrument in use in his day in the garden for picking the ripe pears 
from the tree without disturbing the rest. To the end of a long pole was 
attached a small net or pouch, into which the pear was dropped, after a knife 
at the rim of the pouch, sufficiently guarded not to damage the fruit, had 
severed the stem. He mentions also a mode adopted to cm-e the neighbor- 
ing boys of depredations, which was to send a basket of the fruit to their 
parents. Peaches too aboimded, clingstones and rareripes of the choicest 
sorts, a fruit which then came to greater perfection than at present. Plans 
have been preserved of the garden, with most of the fruit trees marked in 
theu' positions, forty-four being enumerated within its comparatively limited 
area. 

Will our readers pardon this minute description. It is a type of many a 
pleasant abode of those happy days when a rus in ttrhe was still a possibility. 
It is no creation of fancy, but once existed, and realizing its completeness 
as it proceeded fresh from the hands of its architect, and knowing of whom 
its family consisted, it is easy to believe that whatever human life permits of 
happiness was there experienced. Education and refinement, all that affluence 
could yield for healthy and instructive occupation, whatever well regulated 
minds, good dispositions and natural gaiety could contribute to social and 
domestic enjoyment, was there to be found. Three sons in college and 
one at school, in the hey-day of youth, went and came. As many young 
ladies, tenderly reared, who, we have reason to believe, possessed not 
merely accomplishment, but solid acquirements, made, no doubt, the best 
of companionship for each other and the guests of the house, \yhat is 
known of their subsequent career, of the religious sentiments of their 
parents, leads irresistibly to the conclusion that with the retreat atBraintree, 
recollections of tropical existence to soften the rigors of a New-England 
winter, abundant wealth and disposition to enjoy the blessings of Providence 
without asceticism or Puritan reserve, it was the happiest of homes. 

In 1737 Leonard Vassall died, leaving in his will his plantations among 
his sons, giving each of his daughters when of age or married a thousand 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 15 

pounds and a negro attendant fifteen years old, the money to be one fourth 
less in case of marriage without consent of their mother and guardian. He 
made ample provision for his widow while she continued a member of the 
English Church, and gives her certain books in which he had inscribed her 
name. He leaves John his riding horse, sword, watch and personal effects, 
and makes his devise to WUliam conditional that he make oath never to 
risk more than twenty shillings at any game at one sitting. He directs the 
Summer-street.estate to be sold, and its proceeds and that of other property 
to be invested for the benefit of his younger daughter. Like his great uncle 
William, who came over with Winthrop, he seems to have been much at- 
tached to the Episcopal Church. He was early connected with Christ 
Church ou Salem street, and was one of its wardens in 1727. He in- 
terested himself actively in the foundation of Trinity Church, which was 
erected about 1730, on Summer street, opposite his own dwelling. He re- 
ceived from William Speakman, later senior warden, a conveyance, in 1728, 
of the land on which the church was erected, entering the same year into 
an obligation to reconvey the same to the building committee upon payment 
of the purchase money and interest. The committee, Mr. Speakman and 
himself, in consideration of their services, were allowed to build tombs under 
the church free of charge. 

The sons emulated the father as builders of elegant mansions. Lewis, 
who lived in Quincy, died Sept. 15, 1743, having married Dorothy Macqueen, 
of Boston. His son Lewis, who graduated at Harvard College in 1760, died 
abroad before 1785. Col. John, the second sou, lived in Cambridge. He first 
purchased the pleasant and spacious abode now occupied by our honored octo- 
genarian, Mr. Batchelder, and which in 1720 belonged to the Belchers. It 
is sometimes said that he built that house, but this is not so received by its 
present proj^rietor. He certainly did erect one of our most magnificent 
residences, that ou the other side of the road, afterwards Gen. Washington's 
head-quarters during the siege of Boston, and subsequently owned by An- 
drew Craigie, Joseph L. Worcester, and now by our distinguished poet, 
Mr. Longfellow. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Lieut. Governor 
Spencer Phips, in 1734, and afterwards Lucy Barran, and died Nov. 27, 
1747. His son John, H. C. 1757, married Elizabeth Oliver, and died at 
Clifton in England, 1797, having had two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, 
and five sons — John, Col. Spencer Thomas, Mlled at Monte Video in 1807, 



16 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

Thomas Oliver, Robert Oliver and Leonard. The first John had three 
daughters— Ruth, who married Edward Davis, fi-om whom descends William 
Hayden, formerly city auditor of Boston ; Elizabeth, who married Thomas 
Oliver, last Lt. Governor of Massachusetts under the crown ; and Lucy, 
by the second wife, who married John Levicount, of Antigua, in 1768. 

William, the third son, resided at one period in the house opposite 
Cambridge common, afterwards occupied by Dr. Waterhouse. The limits 
of the estate extended to that of John. He was sheriff of Middlesex. In 
the year 17C0, he erected the superb mansion in Boston, afterwards Mr. 
Gardiner Greene's, taken down in 1835. He married Ann Davis, by whom 
he had eleven children, and after her death in 17 GO, Margaret Hubbard. 
At the outbreak of hostilities with the mother country, he . went with his 
family to England, where some of his descendants are honored and affluent. 

Henry married, in 174:1, Penelope Royall, of Medford. His brother con- 
veyed to him the Batchelder house in Cambridge, having built the Long- 
fellow mansion for himself. He had one daughter, Elizabeth, who married 
Dr. Charles Russell in 1775, a refugee, and died in Antigua in 1780. Col. 
Henry Vassall died in Cambridge, March 17, 17G9. 

The daughters of Leonard Vassall who grew up, were — Ruth, whose 
husband was Dr. Benjamin Stedman ; Elizabetli, who married John Miller, 
of Milton ; Mary, wife of Jonathan Prescott ; and Susanna, wife of George 
Ruggles. It would be out of place to enter more at large into the various 
ramifications of a family so widely distributed. The natural desire to know 
of whom consisted a race, which left such admirable monuments of their 
existence in the pleasant dwellings they erected, has already been met by Mr. 
Harris, New-England Historical & Genealogical Register, vol. xvii., page 
56, and also on a more comprehensive scale in his separate publication. 
Numerous descendants of Leonard Vassall by female lines remain among us 
distinguished by ancestral traits. But the name has for the most part 
perished, unless where perpetuated in the line of sable dependents who 
had assumed that of their masters, as was customary in days when one man 
could be bondsman to another. 

An anecdote is related of one of these, called Tonie Vassall, who, when 
Washington in 1775 took possession of the Longfellow mansion, was found 
swinging on the gate. Learning that Tonie belonged to the place, the Gen- 
eral, to set his mind at rest for his future, told him to go into the house and 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 17 

they would tell liiin what to do and give him something to eat. Feeling 
the value of his freedom, Tonie inquired vrhat would be the wages, at which 
Washington expressed surprise at his being so unreasonable at such a time as 
to expect to be paid. Tonie lived to a great age, and when on one occasion 
lie was asked what he remembered of Washington, said he was no gentle- 
man, he wanted boy to work without wage. Darby, a son of Tonie, had been 
promised that he should be buried in the tomb of the Vassalls under Christ 
Church, and one in whose employment he was a long time as coachman, and 
whose wife's uncle had married Henry Vassall's daughter, procured for him 
this coveted privilege. 

Thomas Hubbard was the next possessor of the jjroperty, and for nearly 
forty years to his death in 1773, made it his abode. Of his parentage, 
whether descended from the historian, we have not been able to discover, but 
Mr. Quincy in his history of Harvard College, Vol. ii. p. 158, says " that he 
was born in Boston in 1702, and that his early life being marked by dili- 
gence and fidelity, he had scarcely passed the threshold of manhood before 
he was placed by his fellow citizens in stations of trust and confidence. He 
became a member of the house of representatives, held for many years the 
speaker's chair, and finally was raised to a seat in the council of the pro- 
vince, wliich he resigned a short time before his death. Few men have 
passed through life with a higher reputation for integrity, usefulness and 
fidelity in all the relations of public and private life. He increased the 
funds of the college by his judicious and assiduous management, and to the 
oflice of treasurer united the character of benefactor. He contributed one 
hundred pounds, lawful money, to supply the loss occasioned by the destruc- 
tion of Harvard Hall, made donations towards replacing the philosophical 
apparatus, and bequeathed to it at his death an additional legacy of three 
hundred pounds, lawful money, the income to be disposed of according to 
their discretion for the advancement of learning." 

Mr. Hubbard also, in his will, gave the college all his books which his widow 
should not wish to retain, requesting Dr. Andrew Eliot and Dr. Samuel 
Cooper to select the best, most curious and suitable, and place them in the 
alcove in the library, over which his name was inscribed. He had been 
treasurer of the college for twenty-one years, in which office he was suc- 
ceeded by John Hancock. By inquiry and examination of the public re- 
cords many additional particulars might no doubt be collected to his credit. 



18 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

He was deacon of the Old South, and in his will bequeaths two hundred 
pounds to its fund for the poor. He was also commissioner for the Marshpee 
Indians. In 1755 he was associated by the general court with Hutchinson 
in charge of the correspondence of William Bollan, Massachusetts agent in 
London, who communicates a project started in parliament for governing the 
colonies in the same manner as Ireland. He was evidently a pi^itan of the 
strictest sect, fond of study, and a patron of learning, not go dead to the 
world as to allow himself discomfort in struggling with what he considered 
its temptations. If not so rich as his predecessor in the property, he left a 
good estate, inventoried at about four thousand pounds, to his widow, his 
daughter Mrs. Fayerweather, and his grandchildren Mary Boardman and 
Hubbard Townshend. His horses and carriages are valued at one hundred 
pounds, his plate at two hundred and forty, and he appears to have 
possessed more than seventy pictures, from the valuation not apparently of 
any great value. His portrait, by Copley, was presented to the college by his 
descendant, Mrs. Appleton. Plate seems to have abounded in the house. 
Leonard Vassall leaves one of his daughters a silver tankard, pair of candle- 
sticks and snuffers, and a two-eared caudle cup, to make her share of her 
grandmother's plate equal to the rest of her sisters and cousins. 

Upon the decease of Thomas Hubbard in 1773, and of his widow within 
a twelvemonth after, the estate, valued at one thousand pounds, passed 
through George Ruggles, son-in-law of Leonard Vassall, to Frederick W. 
Geyer. Susanna, the wife of Mr. Geyer, was daughter of Duncan, son 
of Timothy Ingraham, who married Sarah Cowell. Mr. Geyer, taking sides 
with the crown, left Boston after its evacuation by the British, and in 1778 
was exiled and his property sequestered. The Summer-street mansion, 
confiscated as an absentee estate, after the peace was, in 1787 and 1791, re- 
conveyed to him by Perez Morton, solicitor and later attorney general, the 
general court having in the interval restored him to citizenshii^. 

The house, in the days of Mr. Geyer, was famed for its social gaieties and 
elegant entertainments. Tradition tells us of the brilliant gatherings of wit 
and fashion around its sumptuous board, Mrs. Geyer being noted for the 
courtesy and grace with which she presided and put every one at ease. 
There could have been few pleasanter banqueting rooms in Boston. The 
family consisted of three sons, only one of whom, Frederick, who married 
Rebecca Frazier, left descendants ; and five daughters. Mary Ann became 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 19 

in 1792 the wife of Andrew Belcher, son of Jonathan, who was governor 
of Massachusetts and New-Jersey for twenty-seven years, and father of Sir 
Edward, who has in recent times gained distinction and a baronetcy by his 
scientific and other services in the British navy. Charlotte married Joseph 
Marryatt, fiither of the novelist, and Catherine II., Nathaniel Tucker of 
Bellows Falls. Susan died suigle in 1802, and Nancy W., Feb. 13, 1794, 
married Rufus G. Amory. When this last event took place, Prince Edward, 
afterwards Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria, was in Boston, on his 
way to Halifax, and was a guest at the wedding. 

In the Salisbury house to the north then resided Madam Amory, daughter 
of WiUiam Coffin, of the Nantucket branch of the family and grandfather 
of Sir Isaac, a Boston boy, who distinguished himself in the British navy. 
Her former abode at the corner of Harvard street, erected by Governor 
Belcher, had been swept away in the great conflagration of 1787 ; and while 
two houses in the centre of the north side of Franklin place, afterwards 
occupied by herself and her eldest son, the father of the well-known Col. 
Amory of the Fii-eman's Insurance office, were building, she dwelt for a few 
years in Summer street. Her family was numerous, and intimate with that 
of her neighbors. Separated by a high wall from their gardens on Summer 
street were the grounds fronting on Bedford street of Mr. Eowe, as already 
mentioned. It was the same John Rowe, who, after the peace, moved the 
restoration of the codfish, now in the representatives' chamber of the 
state house on Beacon Hill, and emblem of one important branch of 
Massachusetts prosperity, to the place it occupied before the war in the 
apartment used for a similar purpose in the old state house on State street. 
His nieces, the Inmans, whose home was the large rambling mansion stUl 
standing in Cambridge, head-quarters of Gen. Israel Putnam during the 
siege, were frequent inmates of his family, and when Susan married Capt. 
John Linzee, commander of the British naval force in our waters in 1775, his 
relative Lord Hood, the distinguished naval officer, attended the nuptials. 

Another generation had grown up, and Mr. Rowe still occupied in winter 
the same house which stood about on the site of Dr. Robbins's chm-ch, and 
which many well remember in later days as the abode of Judge Prescott, 
the eminent jurist, and of his son, even more widely known, William H. 
Prescott the Spanish historian. The wall already mentioned, there being no 
gate of communication, was provided on either side with ladders or steps, 



20 A HOME OF TIBS OLDEN TIME. 

and the young people of the three families were constantly together. Here 
officers attached to French fleets and cruisers that visited the port were fre- 
quent visitors. Here also on one occasion, according to family legend, in the 
summer house at the foot of the Geyer garden, the father-in-law of Mr. 
Prescott first made the acqiuiintance of his wife the daughter of Captain 
Linzee. This circumstance is not without interest in its connection with the 
two swords, one of Col. Prescott, grandfather of the historian, who com- 
manded the American forces at Bunker Hill, the other that of the grand- 
father of his wife, Captain Linzee, whose squadron flanking the fort took 
that day an active and important part in the contest. 

These two swords long held a conspicuous position in the library of the 
historian, and after his death were presented by his widow to the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society. They are now crossed over the door of en- 
trance to the Dowse Library in their rooms on Tremont street, with an ap- 
propriate inscription. The union that led to this long digression had another 
claim to be remembered, though not of such historical interest. One of the 
descendants in the second generation has recently intermarried with the 
daughter of the present proprietor of the estate. 

Those who in former days on their visits to London had the privi- 
lege of inspecting the gardens of Mrs. Marryatt, at Wimbledon, then cele- 
brated as among the finest in England for the great variety and beauty of 
the plants and flowers, may reasonably conjecture that the taste and skill 
that produced such marvels was nurtured and fostered in her earlier days 
among the flower beds of Summer street. An American traveller, who 
had himself been long an inmate of the Summer-street mansion, met, this 
very summer, one of her descendants in the south of Europe. She told 
him that Mrs. Marryatt often spoke of being as an infant passed out of the 
rear window of the house when it was assailed by the liberty boys. As she 
died in 1855, at the age of eighty-one, the dates would correspond. The 
lady alluded to, in speaking of the family called it Von Geier, indicating a 
German origin, geier being the word in that language for vulture or hawk. 

One other reminiscence of the place may be worthy of note in a pub- 
lication largely devoted to family matters, if not allowed to go any 
farther. Two young American ladies, who had married abroad gentlemen 
connected with the court of Sweden, not long since met for the first time at 
a festal entertainment in the palace at Stockholm. Among strangers, ua- 



A IIOJIE OF THE OLDEN TI5IE. 21 

tional ties, perhaps their own language, drew them into closer companionship, 
and tlie conversation naturally drifting to home snhjects-they soon discovered 
that the family of the Geyers and this old home of- theirs in Summer street 
were common and familiar topics to them both. One of them was a Marry- 
att, and the other, though not descended from the Geyers, had lived all her 
early days in intimate association with relatives that were. 

Another interesting association with this house of the Vassalls, is that it 
was the birth-place of the late "William Foster. The event occurred, it is 
presumed, as he was over ninety when he died, soon after Mr. Geyer quitted 
it for England. It may warrant the relation of an incident of his youth- 
ful career which ought not to -be lost. Sent out by his father, during the 
reign of terror in France, to Morlaiz, in Brittany, on commercial affairs, he 
made the acquaintance of his future wife in an humble garb assumed to 
escape persecutions, to which, at that time, all the wealthier classes of society 
were exposed. Her father, M. Perron, proprietor of valuable estates in the 
neighborhood, had fled from the fury of the '' red republicans," leaving his 
daughter in charge of one of his tenants, under whose roof he was en- 
couraged to believe she would escape observation. Mr. Foster, who at 
once penetrated he? disguise, was attracted by her beauty and loveliness of 
character, and the acquaintance thus accidentally formed ripened into recip- 
rocal regard. When . her guardian discovered the interest she betrayed in 
him, reposing entire trust in the integrity of his character, he revealed to 
him, in confidence, who she was, imploring him to desist fi-om attentions 
which if noticed might subject them all to unpleasant consequences. He 
of course felt bound to acquiesce in the prudence of this counsel. But not 
long afterwards,- her father returning, before the popular agitation had 
subsided, his chateau was attacked by the republicans. Mr. Foster ren- 
dered such efficient service in successfully defending it, that all farther 
objection to the match was removed, they were married, and Mr. Foster 
brought his wife to America. They had two daughters, one of whom riiar- 
ried and resides in France, and the other is now the widow of the late 
Henry Tudor. The sister of Mrs. Foster married a brother of the cele- 
brated General Moreau. Long after the death of his wife Mr. Foster 
erected a handsome stone- mansion, beautifully situated on the borders of 
Spot Pond, in the neighborhood of Boston, which he mentioned to the 

writer resembled, iu material and arrangement, as nearly as prevailing 
4 



22 A HOME OF TUE OLDEN TIME. 

modes of construction permitted, the chateau of his wife's parents in 
Brittany. 

Three years before his deatli in 1803, M. Geyer removed to the romantic 
residence afterwards occupied by his son-in-law Mr. Tucker at Bellows Falls, 
on Connecticut river, disposing of the Simimer-street estate to ]\Ir. Samuel 
P. Gardner. Mr. Gardner was of the Salem branch of the name, and mar- 
ried a daughter of Judge Lowell. As their near relatives were among the 
most gifted and eminent of the first half of this jiresent century, the house 
retained its social attraction and fame for generous hospitality until the pro- 
gress of improvement compelled an ajiijropriation of the estate to other 
purposes. Their second son, its present proprietor, erected upon it for tlie 
great commercial house of the Hoveys, one large mart for their extensive 
business, now by recent enlargement covering its whole area. 

As the Gardners have held the property for seventy years, it would lie 
an omission in a work of this kind not to present a cursory view of their 
several generations. Our limits forbid the extended details the subject de- 
mands, but it is to be hoped their family history will be perpetuated in a 
form, to render accessible to its numerous descendants and connections all 
the information they may vpish. The name is largely multiplied on both 
sides the ocean, several distinct branches bearing it in New-England, not 
known to be connected. That to which belonged the patriot treasurer of 
the revolution, progenitor of our recent governor, is believed to be from a 
different stem. 

1. Thomas Gardner, the first of the Salem stock, came over in 1G24 
from Dorsetshire, England, in which neighborhood the name had flourished 
for more than three centuries, and settled, under the auspices of the Dorches- 
ter Company and of the Rev. John ^Vliite, with thirteen others, at 
Gloucester, Cape Ann, upon the grant of Lord Sheffield to Robert Cushman 
and Edward Winslow made in January of that year. Mr. Gardner was 
overseer of the plantation, John Tylley of the fisheries, Roger Conant being 
soon after appointed governor. Not realizing the success they anticipated 
in founding a colony, they removed, in 1G2G, to Naumkeag, or Salem, which 
continued the home of Mr. Gardner and his descendants down to this pre- 
sent century. He died in 1 G35. 

2. Thomas, his son, an eminent merchant, was born 1592, and died 1674. 
He held several town offices, and was member of the general court in 

tOFC 



A HOME OF THE OLDEX TIME. 2S 

1G37. By liis wives Margaret Frier and Damaris Sliattuck lie had: 1. 
Tliomas. 2. George. 3. Kicliard. 4. Joliu. 5. Samuel. 6. Joseph. 7. 
Sarah, wife of Benjamin Balch ; 8. Miriam, of John Hill ; 9. Ruth, in 
1G38 of John Grafton. From these were many descendants. Joseph 
commanded the Salem company in King PhUip's war, and commended for 
his courage by its historians, was killed, with eight of his own men and six 
other captains, in an attack on an Lidiau fort, in the great battle in the 
Narraganset swamp, 10 Dec, 1675. His wife was daughter of Emanuel 
and sister of the celebrated Sir George Downing, after whom Downing 
street in London was named, and who was one of the earliest graduates 
of Harvard College. His widow, about 1686, married Governor Bradstreet. 
It is jirobable that through this connection the noble house erected by the 
governor, of which an engraving is to be found in Felt's Salem, came into 
the Gardner fomily. Richard with three of his children removed to Nan- 
tucket, where moi'e were born unto him. His eldest daughter, Sarah, be- 
came the wife of Eleazer Folger, brother of Dr. Franklin's inother. Some 
of his descendants intermarried with the Coffins, Macys, Starbucks and other 
well-known names of that sea-girt isle, greatly multiplying and continuing 
prosperous down to our own time. Bj-anches from this line have spread 
over the country, and descendants of Richard are found in many places. 
The impression that they derive their origin from some other parent source 
tlian Thomas of Cape Ann, is altogether erroneous, and the numerous 
offshoots from that sturdy stock may embrace many more about the land. 
Samuel was a merchant, deputy to the general court, and as one of its select- 
men, trustee of the Indian deed of the town of Salem, Oct. 11, 168G. 

3. George, the second sou of the second Thomas, was born before his 
father came to America, and died 1679. He engaged in business at Hart- 
ford, and there accumulated a large estate. His first wife was Elizabeth 
Orne, by whom he had seven children. 1. Hannah, wife of John Buttolph. 
2. Samuel. 3. Marj', wife of Habakkuk Turner. 4. George. 5. Ruth, 
wife of John Hathorue, one of the Judges in the trials for witchcraft. 6. 
Ebenezer, who married, in 1G81, Sarah Bartholomew, and died in 1G85, at 
the age of twenty-eight, bequeathed a considerable property by his will, as he 
had no children of his own, among his brothers, sisters and other kins- 
folk, from the mention of whom in that instrument much information 
as to the earlier generations of the name has been derived. 7. Mehitable. 



24 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

The second -wife of Mr. Gardner, was Mrs. Ruth Turner, a name which is 
-suggestive. His daughter Mary had married one of the same family, and this 
connection prohahly led to her father's selection in this second marriage. 

4. Samuel, born 1G48, died 1724 ; married, 1673, Elizabeth, daughter of 
John Brown, widow of Joscjih Grafton. lie was a merchant, and also culti- 
vated a farm. In the Indian wars he commanded a company. His cliildren 
were: 1. George. 2. Hannah, born 1076, married John Iligginson, 1695, 
by whom she had four children and died 1718. 3. George, born 1C79. 4. 
John, mentioned below. 

5. John, born 1G81 ; died before 1724 ; married Elizabeth, daughter of 
Dr. Daniel Weld. He commanded the Salem company in the battle, Aug. 

, 29, 1708, at Haverhill, wlien it was attacked by French and Indians, and 
slew with his own hands an Indian, some of whose arms and equipments 
are still in jiossession of his descendants. For several years he repre- 
sented Salem in the general court ; but his constitution not being very strong 
lie engaged in no active business. His children were: 1. Elizabeth, born, 
1705, wife of Jonathan Gardner, who had the title of Commodore. 2. John, 
of whom hereafter. 3. Ebenezer, born 1708, died young. 3. Daniel, 
born 1709, died 176G ; married Ann Putnam. 4. Hannah, born 1711, wife 
of Samuel Ilolton, and mother of Judge Holton, at one time President of 
Congress. 5. Samuel, born 1712, died 1769, graduate of Harvard, mar- 
ried Esther Orne, by whom he had serveral children. His second wife was 
Mrs. "Winslow, daughter of Richard Clarke, one of tlie consignees of the tea de- 
stroyed in Boston harbor in 1773, and sister of the wife of Copley the painter. 
He held manj^ town offices, represented Salem in the general court, and left 
an estate of one hundred thousand dollars. William Gray, the distinguished 
merchant and Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, had been two years in his 
counting-room at the time of his decease. His two sons George and Henry 
were graduates of Harvard, in the classes respectively of 1762 and 1765. 
The former left the college about five thousand dollars, the Marine Soci- 
ety for superannuated seamen over seven thousand, and to the poor 
of Salem nearly fifteen hundred. 6. Lydia. 7. Bethiah, born 1715, 
died 1773, married Nathaniel Ingersol. Their daughter Mary, by Habak- 
kuk Bowditch, was the mother of the celebrated mathematician Dr. Bow- 
ditch. 8. Ruth, married, 1st, Bartholomew Putnam ; 2d, Jonathan Goodhue, 
father by a former wife of Benjamin, in congress from Salem. 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 25 

G. Jolin, born in 1707, died 1784, in a house whicli stood on the present 
site of the Salem Museum. He married Elizabetli Putnam, widow of her cou- 
sin Wilham, brotlier of Gen. Israel Putnam of the revolution, by whom he had 

1. John, of whom hereafter. 2. Elizabeth, born 1731, died 1754, unmar- 
ried. Mrs. Gardner had two daughters by Mr. Putnam ; one, wife of Jona- 
than Onie, and the other of Jonathan Gardner. By his second wife Eliza- 
beth, widow of Capt. Benjamin Herbert, he had no child, but by his third, 
Mary Peal, bom 1733, died 182G, he had — Mary, wife of 1. Abel Kersey ; 

2. of William Lemon. He had no exclusive occupation, engaging a little in 
commerce, and being possessed of a farm and mill between Salem and Mar- 
b'.ehead. He commanded a troop of horse, and for some years was sent to 
the legislature from Salem. 

7. John, born 1731, died 1805. His first wife was Mary Gale, of Mar- 
blehead, born 1728, died 1755; his second, Elizabeth, sister of Col. Timothy 
Pickering of the revolution, and Secretary of State in the cabinets of Wash- 
ington and John Adams. By her he had three children : 1. Elizabeth, born 
1750, died 181 G; married, 1782, Samuel Blanehard, born 175G, died 1813, 
surgeon in the army of the revolution. She was the grandmother by her son 
Francis, born 178-1 and who married Mary Ann, daughter of Francis Cabot, 
widow of N. C. Lee, of the first Mrs. Robert C. Winthrop. 2. John, born 
17G0, died 1792, a successful merchant at Charleston, S. C. 3. Samuel P., 
mentioned below. Early in life • INIr. Gardner commanded a vessel to the 
West Indies, and during the revolution owned several privateers, all success- 
ful, but the Black Prince and Hector, in the Penobscot expedition of 1779, 
by which he was a loser. At the commencement of the war he purchased 
a farm of two hundred acres at AV^enham, and erected upon it a house in which 
he resided till liis death. 

8. Samuel P., born 1767, died 1843, graduated at Harvard College 
1786, engaged in mercantile business with his brother John, at Chai'leston, 
S. C. ; removed to Boston 1793, and married 19 Sept., 1797, at Roxbury, 
Rebecca Russell, born May 17, 1779, fourth daughter of Judge John Low- 
ell, by Rebecca, daughter of James Russell, born 1715, died 1798. He 
purchased as before stated the Summer-street estate iu 1800. His cliil- 
dren were : 1. Mrs. John C. Gray. 2. Mrs. Francis C. Lowell. 3. John 
L. 4. Mrs. Horace Gray. 5. George. 6. Francis L., born 1811, 
died 1812. 



26 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

It is not our purpose to enter more at large into tlie history of the fam- 
ily, in their two last generations and for nearly three quarters of a century 
proprietors of Gamaliel's garden. Enough has been said to indicate in how 
many interesting ways they have been connected with the aimals of New- 
England from its earliest settlement. Their several intermarriages with the 
Ornes, Browns, AVelds, Putnams, "SVingates, Pickerings, Lowells, Russells, 
and other names from public service and wide distribution among our existing 
community familiar as household words, would justify, if the occasion war- 
ranted, a mucli longer relation. We might obtain from it many entertaining 
and instructive glimpses of social life under the kings, and also in the stirring 
times that brought about our liberties. But our main subject is the old 
house in Summer street, and only incidentally the family pedigrees of its 
various inmates. ' Its occupation by its last proprietors, not less interesting 
tb.an any previous period of its history, is too recent for other reference in 
these present pages than the foregoing brief statement of their progeni- 
tors for family use. 

Possibly with livelier interest ourselves in the subject than will be shared 
by all our readers, we have ventured to place before thein some account of 
this ancient mansion. The public, reduced to its component parts, consists of 
indiviihials variously connected by ties of consanguinity or friendship, and 
among them not a few have special associations with this house or its inhabi- 
tants. But were its appeal to be rescued from oblivion exclusively antiqua- 
rian, little a]3ology seems called for. Every vestige of the past has been 
eXjiloreil for knowledge of remote generations of other lands and races, and 
we cei'taiidy should not begrudge an occasional thought to those so much 
nearer and dearer. Unless we preserve by pencil and pen some notice of 
their homes, we shall have allowed to perish an element in their existence, 
which, if secondary, still affords a very realizing sense of their existence. 

Suri'ounded by modern palaces, with all the embellishments the fine arts 
can create or ajjpliances for comfort the useful have invented, it may seem 
unreasonable to attach importance to these old abodes. The contrast in 
some respects is not much to their advantage. When we consider how many 
indisnensaiile contrivances for daily use are universal, wliich a centurj' ago 
no wealth could purchase, we fully appreciate the privilege of having our 
own lot cast in this nineteenth century. All we know however of other 
days and generations confirms the faith that content depends little on stir- 



A HOME OP THE OLDEN TIME. 27 

roundings. Blessings in common to our progenitors and ourselves surpass 
immeasurably in their capabilities of producing happiness, whatsoever has 
been added since by ingenuity or wisdom. 

But the claims of these old homes to be held in sacred remembrance is 
not their beauty of form or excellence of structure, or even the light they 
shed on modes and processes of days gone by. When in contemplative mood 
we gaze upon their venerable remains, or as in this instance recall from the 
dead past their ghostly presence, they seem alive with recollections. If in 
private life the incidents of a single career narrated without reserve prove 
often as striking as romance, the history of a dwelling embracing the chances 
aud changes of mortal existence for a host of successive occupants may oc- 
casionally possess an interest no less. Due regard must be paid to what 
even the over sensitive deem unsuitable for publication. But after full 
allowance for such considerations, enough may be revealed within the most 
scrupidous limits of decorum to bring before us in living reality admirable 
men and women of the past, with whom we feel almost as well acquainted 
as if we had lived with them in daily companionship. This old house of the 
Vassalls has a record we think our readers will admit too eventful to be lost. 
There are numerous others in our New-England corner of the earth, not in 
cities alone, but in country places, about which even more pleasant tales 
can be told. 



FEB IS 1908