Arthur Jerome Eddy.

Two Thousand Miles on an Automobile Being a Desultory Narrative of a Trip Through New England, New York, Canada, and the West, By Chauffeur online

. (page 11 of 19)
Online LibraryArthur Jerome EddyTwo Thousand Miles on an Automobile Being a Desultory Narrative of a Trip Through New England, New York, Canada, and the West, By Chauffeur → online text (page 11 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


through Brookline to the Newtons, where it becomes plain Worcester
Street and bears that name westward through Wellesley and Natick.

The trolley line out of Worcester is through Shrewsbury and
Northborough to Marlborough, then a turn almost due south to
Southborough, then east to Framingham, southeast to South
Framingham, east through Natick to Wellesley, northeast through
Wellesley Hills to Newton, then direct through Brookline into
Boston.

The road, it will be noted, is far from straight, and it is at the
numerous forks and turns one is apt to go astray unless constant
inquiries are made.

At Marlborough we kept on to the east towards Waltham instead of
turning to the south for Southborough. It is but a few miles out
of the way from Marlborough to Concord and into Boston by way of
Lexington; or, if the road through Wellesley and Newton is
followed, it is worth while to turn from Wellesley Hills to
Norembega Park for the sake of stopping a few moments on the spot
where Norembega Tower confidently proclaims the discovery of
America and the founding of a fortified place by the Norsemen
nearly five hundred years before Columbus sailed out of the harbor
of Palos.

Having wandered from the old turnpike, we thought we would go by
Concord and Lexington, but did not. The truth is the automobile is
altogether too fast a conveyance for the suburbs of Boston, which
were laid out by cows for the use of pedestrians. There are an
infinite number of forks, angles, and turnings, and by a native on
foot short cuts can be made to any objective point, but the
automobile passes a byway before it is seen. Directions are given
but not followed, because turns and obscure cross-roads are passed
at high speed and unobserved.

Every one is most obliging in giving directions, but the
directions run about like this:

"To Concord? - yes, - let me see; - do you know the Old Sudbury
road? - No! - strangers? - ah! that's too bad, for if you don't know
the roads it will be hard telling you - but let me see; - if you
follow this road about a mile, you will come to a brick store and
a watering trough, - take the turn to the left there; - I think that
is the best road, or you can take a turn this side, but if I were
you I would take the road at the watering trough; - from there it
is about eight miles, and I think you make three turns, - but you
better inquire, for if you don't know the roads it is pretty hard
to direct you."

"We follow this road straight ahead to the brick store and trough,
that's easy."

"Well, the road is not exactly straight, but if you bear to the
right, then take the second left hand fork, you'll be all right."

All of which things we most faithfully performed, and yet we got
no nearer that day than "about eight miles farther to Concord."

In circling about we came quite unexpectedly upon the old "Red
Horse" tavern, now the "Wayside Inn." We brought the machine to a
stop and gazed long and lovingly at the ancient hostelry which had
given shelter to famous men for nearly two hundred years, and
where congenial spirits gathered in Longfellow's days and the
imaginary "Tales of a Wayside Inn" were exchanged.

The mellow light of the setting sun warmed the time-worn structure
with a friendly glow. The sign of the red horse rampant creaked
mournfully as it swung slowly to and fro in the gentle breeze;
with palsied arms and in cracked tones the old inn seemed to bid
us stay and rest beneath its sheltering eaves. Washington and
Hamilton and Lafayette, Emerson and Hawthorne and Longfellow had
entered that door, eaten and drunk within those humble walls, - the
great in war, statecraft, and literature had been its guests; like
an old man it lives with its memories, recalls the associations of
its youth and prime, but slumbers oblivious to the present.

The old inn was so fascinating that we determined to come back in
a few days and spend at least a night beneath its roof. The
shadows were so rapidly lengthening that we had to hurry on.

Crossing the Charles River near Auburndale a sight of such
bewitching beauty met our astonished gaze that we stopped to make
inquiries. Above and below the bridge the river was covered with
gayly decorated canoes which were being paddled about by laughing
and singing young people. The brilliant colors of the decorations,
the pretty costumes, the background of dark water, the shores
lined with people and equipages, the bridge so crowded we could
hardly get through, made a never-to-be-forgotten picture. It was
just a holiday canoe-meet, and hundreds of the small, frail craft
were darting about upon the surface of the water like so many
pretty dragon-flies. The automobile seemed such an intrusion, a
drone of prose in a burst of poetry, the discord of machinery in a
sylvan symphony.

We stopped a few moments at Lasell Seminary in Auburndale, where
old associations were revived by my Companion over a cup of tea. A
girl's school is a mysterious place; there is an atmosphere of
suppressed mischief, of things threatened but never quite
committed, of latent possibilities, and still more latent
impossibilities. In a boy's school mischief is evident and
rampant; desks, benches, and walls are whittled and defaced with
all the wanton destructiveness of youth; buildings and fences show
marks of contact with budding manhood; but boys are so openly and
notoriously mischievous that no apprehension is felt, for the
worst is ever realized; but those in command of a school of demure
and saintly girls must feel like men handling dynamite, uncertain
what will happen next; the stolen pie, the hidden sweets, the
furtive note are indications of the infinite subtlety of the
female mind.

From Auburndale the boulevard leads into Commonwealth Avenue and
the run is fine.

It was about seven o'clock when we reached the Hotel Touraine, and
a little later when the machine was safely housed in an automobile
station, - a part of an old railway depot.

A few days in Boston and on the North Shore afforded a welcome
change.

Through Beverly and Manchester the signs "Automobiles not allowed"
at private roadways are numerous; they are the rule rather than
the exception. One young man had a machine up there, but found
himself so ostracized he shipped it away. No machines are allowed
on the grounds of the Essex Country Club.

No man with the slightest consideration for the comfort and
pleasure of others would care to keep and use a machine in places
where so many women and children are riding and driving. The charm
of the North Shore and the Berkshires lies largely in the
opportunities afforded for children to be out with their ponies,
girls with their carts, and women with horses too spirited to
stand unusual sights and sounds. One automobile may terrorize the
entire little community; in fact, one machine will spread terror
where many would not.

It is quite difficult enough to drive a machine carefully through
such resorts, without driving about day after day to the
discomfort of every resident.

In a year or two all will be changed; the people owning summer
homes will themselves own and use automobiles; the horses will see
so many that little notice will be taken, but the pioneers of the
sport will have an unenviable time.

A good half-day's work was required on the machine before starting
again.

The tire that had been plugged with rubber bands weeks before in
Indiana was now leaking, the air creeping through the fabric and
oozing out at several places. The leak was not bad, just about
enough to require pumping every day.

The extra tire that had been following along was taken out of the
express office and put on. It was a tire that had been punctured
and repaired at the factory. It looked all right, but as it turned
out the repair was poorly made, and it would have been better to
leave on the old tire, inflating it each day.

A small needle-valve was worn so that it leaked; that was
replaced. A stiffer spring was inserted in the intake-valve so it
would not open quite so easily. A number of minor things were
done, and every nut and bolt tried and tightened.




CHAPTER FOURTEEN LEXINGTON AND CONCORD
"THE WAYSIDE INN"

Saturday morning, September 7, at eleven o'clock, we left the
Touraine for Auburndale, where we lunched, then to Waltham, and
from there due north by what is known as Waltham Street to
Lexington, striking Massachusetts Avenue just opposite the town
hall.

Along this historic highway rode Paul Revere; at his heels
followed the regulars of King George. Tablets, stones, and
monuments mark every known point of interest from East Lexington
to Concord.

In Boston, at the head of Hull Street, Christ Church, the oldest
church in the city, still stands, and bears a tablet claiming for
its steeple the credit of the signals for Paul Revere; but the Old
North Church in North Square, near which Revere lived and where he
attended service, and from the belfry of which the lanterns were
really hung, disappeared in the conflict it initiated. In the
winter of the siege of Boston the old meeting-house was pulled
down by the British soldiers and used for firewood. Fit ending of
the ancient edifice which had stood for almost exactly one hundred
years, and in which the three Mathers, Increase, Cotton, and
Samuel, - father, son, and grandson, - had preached the unctuous
doctrine of hell-fire and damnation; teaching so incendiary was
bound sooner or later to consume its own habitation.

Revere was not the only messenger of warning. For days the
patriots had been anxious concerning the stores of arms and
ammunition at Concord, and three days before the night of the 18th
Revere himself had warned Hancock and Adams at the Clarke home in
Lexington that plans were on foot in the enemies' camp to destroy
the stores, whereupon a portion was removed to Sudbury and Groton.
Before Revere started on his ride, other messengers had been
despatched to alarm the country, but at ten o'clock on the
memorable night of the 18th he was sent for and bidden to get
ready. He got his riding-boots and surtout from his house in North
Square, was ferried across the river, landing on the Charlestown
side about eleven o'clock, where he was told the signal-lights had
already been displayed in the belfry. The moon was rising as he
put spurs to his horse and started for Lexington.

The troops were ahead of him by an hour.

He rode up what is now Main Street as far as the "Neck," then took
the old Cambridge road for Somerville.

To escape two British officers who barred his way, he dashed
across lots to the main road again and took what is now Broadway.
On he went over the hill to Medford, where he aroused the Medford
minute-men. Then through West Medford and over the Mystic Bridge
to Menotomy, - now Arlington, - where he struck the highway, - now
Massachusetts Avenue, - to Lexington. Galloping up to the old
Clarke house where Hancock and Adams were sleeping, the patriot on
guard cautioned him not to make so much noise.

"Noise! you'll have enough of it here before long. The Regulars
are coming."

Awakened by the voice, Hancock put his head out of the window and
said, -

"Come in, Revere; we're not afraid of you."

Soon the old house was alight. Revere entered the "living room" by
the side door and delivered his message to the startled occupants.
Soon they were joined by Dawes, another messenger by another road.
After refreshing themselves, Revere and Dawes set off for Concord.
On the road Samuel Prescott joined them. When about half-way, four
British officers, mounted and fully armed, stopped them. Prescott
jumped over the low stone wall, made his escape and alarmed
Concord. Dawes was chased by two of the officers until, with rare
shrewdness, he dashed up in front of a deserted farm-house and
shouted, "Hello, boys! I've got two of them," frightening off his
pursuers.

Revere was captured. Without fear or humiliation he told his name
and his mission. Frightened by the sound of firing at Lexington,
the officers released their prisoner, and he made his way back to
Hancock and Adams and accompanied them to what is now the town of
Burlington. Hastening back to Lexington for a trunk containing
valuable papers, he was present at the battle, - the fulfillment of
his warning, the red afterglow of the lights from the belfry of
Old North Church.

He lived for forty-odd years to tell the story of his midnight
ride, and now he sleeps with Hancock and Adams, the parents of
Franklin, Peter Faneuil, and a host of worthy men in the
"Granary."

The good people of Massachusetts have done what they could to
commemorate the events and obliterate the localities of those
great days; they have erected monuments and put up tablets in
great numbers; but while marking the spots where events occurred,
they have changed the old names of roads and places until
contemporary accounts require a glossary for interpretation.

Who would recognize classic Menotomy in the tinsel ring of
Arlington? The good old Indian name, the very speaking of which is
a pleasure, has given place to the first-class apartments,
- steam-heated, electric-lights, hot and cold water, all improvements
- in appellations of Arlington and Arlington Heights. A tablet marks
the spot where on April 19 "the old men of Menotomy" captured a
convoy of British soldiers. Poor old men, once the boast and glory
of the place that knew you; but now the passing traveller
curiously reads the inscription and wonders "Why were they called
the old men 'of Menotomy'?" for there is now no such place.

Massachusetts Avenue - Massachusetts Avenue! there's a name, a
great, big, luscious name, a name that savors of brown stone
fronts and plush rockers: a name which goes well with the
commercial prosperity of Boston. Massachusetts Avenue extends from
Dorchester in Boston to Lexington Green; it has absorbed the old
Cambridge and the old Lexington roads; the old Long Bridge lives
in history, but, rechristened Brighton Bridge, the reader fails to
identify it.

Concord remains and Lexington remains, simply because no real
estate boom has yet reached them but Bunker Hill, there is a
feeling that apartments would rent better if the musty
associations of the spot were obliterated by some such name as
"Buckingham Heights," or "Commonwealth Crest;" "The Acropolis" has
been prayerfully considered by the freemen of the modern Athens; -
whatever the decision may be, certain it is the name Bunker Hill
is a heavy load for choice corners in the vicinity.

There are a few old names still left in Massachusetts, -
Jingleberry Hill and Chillyshally** Brook sound as if they once
meant something; Spot Pond, named by Governor Winthrop, has not
lost its birthright; Powder-Horn Hill records its purchase from
the Indians for a hornful of powder - probably damp; Drinkwater
River is a good name, - Strong Water Brook by many is considered
better. It is well to record these names before they are effaced
by the commercialism rampant in the suburbs of Boston.

At the Town Hall in Lexington we turned to the right for East
Lexington, and made straight for Follen Church, and the home of
Dr. Follen close by, where Emerson preached in 1836 and 1837.

The church was not built until 1839. In January, 1840, the
congregation had assembled in their new edifice for the dedication
services. They waited for their pastor, who was expected home from
a visit to New York, but the Long Island Sound steamer - Lexington,
by strange coincidence it was called - had burned and Dr. Follen
was among the lost. His home is now the East Lexington Branch of
the Public Library.

We climbed the stairs that led to the small upper room where
Emerson filled his last regular charge. Small as was the room, it
probably more than sufficed for the few people who were
sufficiently advanced for his notions of a preacher's mission. He
did not believe in the rites the church clung to as indispensable;
he did not believe in the use of bread and wine in the Lord's
Supper; he did not believe in prayers from the pulpit unless the
preacher felt impelled to pray; he did not believe in ritualism or
formalism of any kind, - in short, he did not believe in a church,
for a church, however broad and liberal, is, after all, an
institution, and no one man, however great, can support an
institution. A very great soul - and Emerson was a great soul - may
carry a following through life and long after death, but that
following is not a church, not an institution, not a living
organized body, until forms, conventions, and traditions make it
so; its vitalizing element may be the soul of its founder, but the
framework of the structure, the skeleton, is made up of the more
or less rigid conventions which are the results of natural and
logical selection.

The ritual of Rome, the service of England, the dry formalism of
Calvinism, the slender structure of Unitarianism were all equally
repugnant to Emerson; he could not stretch himself in their
fetters; he was not at ease in any priestly garment. Born a
prophet, he could not become a priest. By nature a teacher and
preacher, he never could submit to those restrictions which go so
far to make preaching effective. He taught the lesson of the ages,
but he mistook it for his own. He belonged to humanity, but he
detached himself. He was a leader, but would acknowledge no
discipline. Men cried out to him, but he wandered apart. He was an
intellectual anarchist of rare and lovely type; few sweeter souls
ever lived, but he defied order.

Not that Emerson would have been any better if he had submitted to
the discipline of some church; he did what he felt impelled to do,
and left the world a precious legacy of ideas, of brilliant,
beautiful thoughts; but thoughts which are brilliant and beautiful
as the stars are, scattered jewels against the background of night
with no visible connection. Is it not possible that the gracious
discipline of an environment more conventional might have reduced
these thoughts to some sort of order, brought the stars into
constellations, and left suggestions for the ordering of life that
would be of greater force and more permanent value?

His wife relates that one day he was reading an old sermon in the
little room in the Follen mansion, when he stopped, and said,
"The passage which I have just read I do not believe, but it was
wrongly placed."

The circumstance illustrates the openness and frankness of his
mind, but it is also a commentary on the want of system in his
intellectual processes. His habit through life was to jot down
thoughts as they came to him; he kept note-books and journals all
his life; he dreamed in the pine woods by day and walked beneath
the stars by night; he sat by the still waters and wandered in the
green fields; and the dreams and the visions and the fancies of
the moment he faithfully recorded. These disjointed musings and
disconnected thoughts formed the raw material of all he ever said
and wrote. From the accumulated stores of years he would draw
whatever was necessary to meet the needs of the hour; and it did
not matter to him if thought did not dovetail into thought with
all the precision of good intellectual carpentry. His edifices
were filled with chinks and unfinished apartments.

He saw things in a big way, but did not always see them as through
crystal, clearly; nor did he always take his staff in hand and
courageously go about to see all sides of things. He never thought
to a finish. His philosophy never acquired form and substance. His
thoughts are not linked in chain, but are just so many precious
pearls lightly strung on a silken thread.

In 1852 he wrote in his journal, "I waked last night and bemoaned
myself because I had not thrown myself into this deplorable
question of slavery, which seems to want nothing so much as a few
assured voices. But then in hours of sanity I recover myself, and
say, 'God must govern his own world, and knows his way out of this
pit without my desertion of my post, which has none to guard it
but me. I have quite other slaves to free than those negroes, to
wit, imprisoned spirits, imprisoned thoughts, far back in the
brain of man, far retired in the heaven of invention, and which,
important to the republic of man, have no watchman or lover or
defender but me,'" thereby naively leaving to God the lesser task.

But he wrongs himself in his own journal, for he did bestir
himself and he did speak, and he did not leave the black men to
God while he looked after the white; he helped God all he could in
his own peculiar, irresolute way. At the same time no passage from
the journals throws more light on the pure soul of the great
dreamer. He was opposed to slavery and he felt for the negroes,
but their physical degradation did not appeal to him so much as
the intellectual degradation of those about him. To him it was a
loftier mission to release the minds of men than free their
bodies. With the naive and at the same time superb egoism which is
characteristic of great souls, he consoles himself with the
thought that God can probably take care of the slavery question
without troubling him; he will stick to his post and look after
more important matters.

What a treat it must have been to those assembled in the Follen
house to hear week after week the very noblest considerations and
suggestions concerning life poured forth in tones so musical, so
penetrating, that to-day they ring in the ears of those who had
the great good fortune to hear. There was probably very little
said about death. Emerson never pretended to a vision beyond the
grave. In his essay on "Immortality" he says, "Sixty years ago,
the books read, the services and prayers heard, the habits of
thought of religious persons, were all directed on death. All were
under the shadow of Calvinism and of the Roman Catholic purgatory,
and death was dreadful. The emphasis of all the good books given
to young people was on death. We were all taught that we were born
to die; and over that, all the terrors that theology could gather
from savage nations were added to increase the gloom, A great
change has occurred. Death is seen as a natural event, and is met
with firmness. A wise man in our time caused to be written on his
tomb, 'Think on Living.' That inscription describes a progress in
opinion. Cease from this antedating of your experience. Sufficient
to to-day are the duties of to-day. Don't waste life in doubts and
fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that
the right performance of the hour's duties will be the best
preparation for the hours or ages that follow it."

Such was the burden of Emerson's message: make the very best of
life; let not the present be palsied by fears for the future. A
healthy, sane message, a loud clear voice in the wilderness of
doubt and fears, the very loudest and clearest voice in matters
spiritual and intellectual which America has yet produced.

It was during the days of his service in East Lexington that he
went to Providence to deliver a course of lectures; while there he
was invited to conduct the services in the Second (Unitarian)
Church. The pastor afterwards said, "He selected from Greenwood's
collection hymns of a purely meditative character, without any
distinctively Christian expression. For the Scripture lesson he
read a fine passage from Ecclesiasticus**, from which he also took
his text. The sermon was precisely like one of his lectures in
style; the prayers, or what took their place, were wholly without
supplication, confession, or praise, but only sweet meditations on
nature, beauty, order, goodness, love. After returning home I
found Emerson with his head bowed on his hands, which were resting
on his knees. He looked up to me and said, 'Now, tell me honestly,
plainly, just what you think of that service.' I replied that
before he was half through I had made up my mind that it was the
last time he should have that pulpit. 'You are right,' he
rejoined, 'and I thank you. On my part, before I was half through,
I felt out of place. The doubt is solved.'"

He dwelt with time and eternity on a footing of familiar equality.
He did not shrink or cringe. His prayers were sweet meditations
and his sermon a lecture. He was the apostle of beauty, goodness,
and truth.

Lexington Road from East Lexington to the Centre is a succession
of historic spots marked by stones and tablets.

The old home of Harrington, the last survivor of the battle of
Lexington, still stands close to the roadside, shaded by a row of
fine big trees. Harrington died in 1854 at the great age of
ninety-eight; he was a fifer-boy in Captain Parker's company. In


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryArthur Jerome EddyTwo Thousand Miles on an Automobile Being a Desultory Narrative of a Trip Through New England, New York, Canada, and the West, By Chauffeur → online text (page 11 of 19)