Henry Greenwood Peabody.

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Copyright, 1908, by H. G. Pkabody, Pasadena, Cal.

OUR Atlantic seacoast, from Florida north to Massachusetts, is
generally low and sandy, and presents few interesting points to
the traveler in search of the picturesque. But when we round the
highlands of Cape Cod, and leave its shifting sands behind us, we
begin to skirt the shores of a coast which, from the rocky reefs of
Cohasset to the extreme eastern point of Maine, is unsurpassed in
beauty and variety by any seashore in the world.

The historic and legendary features of the northern New England
coast are no less interesting than its scenic attractions, as there is scarcely
an island, rocky cape or sandy beach that was not associated with the
early struggles of white settlers with the Indian tribes, or that did not
form a battleground for the English adventurers and titled Frenchmen
who here contended for the mastery.

Let us then, beginning at the northern side of Massachusetts Bay,
follow the picturesque windings of this sinuous shore, which, if ex-
tended in a straight line, would reach from the Bay of Fundy to the
Gulf of Mexico.

On the northern side of Boston Bay lies the island-like town of
Nahant. Its rocky shores are fully exposed to the open Atlantic, which
may here be studied in all its various moods. Our view was taken
from its outer point on the day following a great March storm, which
strewed our New England coast, from Cape Cod to Quoddy Head,
with the wrecks of many unfortunate vessels. The storm had cleared
away. The sun was brightening the waters of the bay which stretched
on either side, but the sight as the great waves rolled in and towered
above the outlying ledges was appalling in its grandeur.

Forming the northern side of Nahant Bay is the rocky promontory
of Marblehead, which is thrown out like a bastion from the easterly
sweep of Cape Ann, and is girded by many rocky islets and dangerous
sunken ledges. Its harbor, one of the deepest on the coast, is enclosed

between the town itself and the " Neck," which is connected with the
mainland by a narrow causeway. The ocean side of this peninsula,
which forms the subject of our picture, is bordered by bold, rocky
bluffs, crowned with picturesque, red-roofed summer cottages, and
indented by many caverns, worn by the perpetual action of the sea.

One of these caverns, called the Churn, is a deep and narrow fissure
in the cliff, with vertical and parallel walls from thirty to forty feet
high. At certain stages of the tide the waves enter this cleft with a
noise like thunder, and strike violently against its narrowing end, to
be broken into spray and thrown high in the air like the spouting of an
enormous whale. Many of these flumes exist along our New England
coast, being formed by the wearing away of the narrow veins of trap
rock by the action of the sea, which makes no impression on the harder
rock on either side.

Rounding the outer point of the peninsula we enter the harbor of
Marblehead, and see before us

" The strange, old-fashioned, silent town,
The lighthouse, the dismantled fort,
The wooden houses quaint and brown."

No town on our New England coast has such a distinctly nautical flavor
as Marblehead. For generations her sons have followed the sea, and
even the children become imbued with a salty spirit, which finds ex-
pression in their daily talk almost as soon as they can walk. On one
occasion a young urchin had incurred the maternal displeasure, and
taken to his heels to escape chastisement. The wrathful parent, with
an ample spread of skirts extended to the favoring breeze, was rapidly
gaining on the youngster, when one of his companions, who was watch-
ing the race with a critical eye, called out, " Try her to windward, Bill !
Try her to windward! "

Landing at Tucker's Wharf we may stroll through the labyrinth of
of ancient streets, bordered with antiquated buildings, nearly every
one of which antedates the Revolution. In that crisis Marblehead was
heard in no uncertain voice. Before the echoes of the shots at Concord
Bridge had died away, a regiment of her hardy sons forsook their boats
and fishing lines to follow John Glover at their country's call. Before
the Revolution Marblehead was our principal fishing port, a fleet of
120 vessels being employed in the industry.

But the trim and jaunty yachts have taken the place of the departed
fishing vessels, and Marblehead has become the great yachting centre of
New England. On the Neck, in the midst of the summer colony, are
the commodious houses of two of New England's leading yacht clubs,
the Eastern and the Corinthian. Enrolled in the fleet of the former are

some of the largest and swiftest yachts in America. During three
successive years the America cup was successfully defended, under the
banner of the Eastern Yacht Club, by the famous Burgess trio, " Puri-
tan," " Mayflower " and " Volunteer." The fleet of the Corinthian club,
however, is mainly composed of the smaller classes of yachts.

7 Amateur seamanship is the feature of the Corinthian regattas, and
the boats as a rule are handled exclusively by the owners and their
friends. The races being sailed over open ocean courses, where high
winds and heavy seas are frequently encountered, seaworthiness is the
first quality necessary to be considered. The advent of the Scotch cut-
ter "Minerva," which pluckily sailed across the ocean in 1888, caused
the building of a whole fleet of forty-footers, of which she remained
for nearly two years the undisputed queen. But the building of the
Burgess forty-footer "Gossoon," the champion of the Corinthian fleet,
finally checked the " Minerva's " victorious career.

8 Adjoining Marblehead is the ancient town of Salem, rich in antique
memorials and still haunted by the ghostly traditions of 1692. Turn-
ing into Union Street the visitor is usually waylaid by a crowd of
children eager to point out the Hawthorne house. As we look upon
this humble dwelling, the birthplace, and for many years the home, of
Nathaniel Hawthorne, we recall these words of his : " If ever I should
have a biographer he ought to make great mention of this place in my
memoirs, because so much of my lonely youth was wasted here, and
here my mind and character were formed. And here I have been glad
and hopeful, and here I have been despondent, and here I sat a long,
long time, waiting for the world to know me, and sometimes wonder-
ing why it did not know me sooner, or whether it would ever know
me at all."

9 Leaving the Hawthorne house we turn toward the oldest house in
Salem, the Roger Williams, or "Old Witch House," erected prior to
1635. The veil of mystery, woven by 200 years, still enshrouds the
origin of Salem witchcraft. Not that witchcraft originated in Salem,
by any means, for, nearly 1 500 years before Christ, the Scriptures set
forth the maxim: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Saul in-
curred the anger of the Almighty by consulting the Witch of Endor.
Half a century before the discovery of this continent Joan of Arc was
burned as a witch. To tell the story of Salem witchcraft would require
an entire lecture.

10 One illustration must suffice, a memorial of the most revolting of

these sacrifices to superstition. This old house, one of the oldest now
standing in America, was the home of Rebecca Nourse, an aged and
harmless woman, beloved and respected by the entire community. She

was accused by irresponsible persons of being a witch. The jury,
moved by her evident innocence, brought in a verdict of "not guilty,"
but the court sent them out again with instructions to find her guilty.
She died a martyr to superstition, but her children lived to see her
memory vindicated and her enemies confounded.

1 J Not far from the home of Rebecca Nourse stands an old farmhouse

in which was born Israel Putnam, the "Old Put" of the Revolution.
His courage and fearlessness were an honest inheritance from his father,
Joseph Putnam. The latter was one of the very few who dared to
protest openly against the cruel methods of the witchcraft accusers.
To defy these fanatical bigots required a greater moral courage than to
face the British regulars on Bunker Hill. To incur their resentment
was to court accusation, and accusation invariably meant conviction
and death. So for six months Putnam's horse stood saddled, night
and day, ready for instant flight, and his trusty flintlock was in con-
stant readiness. At the trial of Rebecca Nourse Putnam was one of
that noble band of forty, who, openly defying the clergy and judges,
dared to sign the paper testifying to the good character and innocence
of the accused.

12 The section in which is located the Putnam house and Witch Hill

was taken from Salem a hundred years ago or more, and is now in-
cluded within the limits of the more modern town of Danvers. Close
by is Oak Knoll, the home of Whittier in his later years, and the old
farm and pear tree of Gov. Endicott. No lecture on New England
would be complete without an illustration of her typical tree, the elm.
Go where you will throughout her borders, and the spreading branches
of her graceful elms will shade your pathway. Salem is noted, far
and near, for the beauty and symmetry of her streets of elms, but the
subject of our illustration is the largest and finest specimen in Massa-
chusetts, the great elm at Lancaster.

1 1 Embarking again at Salem Harbor we skirt the southern shore of

Cape Ann, a stretch of coast which in sylvan beauty and picturesque
variety is unsurpassed in America, if indeed in the world. Handsome
villas dot the shore from Beverly Harbor to Eastern Point, and about
midway between is the Singing Beach, a view of which is now before
us. Its musical sands give forth a melody, soft and sweet, as they are
struck by each advancing wave, but shrill and harsh when pressed by
passing feet, a rare phenomenon which is only known to exist else-
where in a few places on the coast of Scotland.

14 A few miles beyond we reach the entrance to Gloucester Harbor, the

further side of which is formed by the long peninsula of Eastern Point.
Lying between the open ocean and the calm waters of the harbor, the


Point forms an ideal spot for summer habitation, and has been laid
out in park-like system. On the extremity of the Point stands the
lighthouse, the intermittent flashing of whose ruddy glow is a welcome
greeting to the homebound iisher from the distant banks. On the
western side of the harbor entrance lies the reef of Norman's Woe,
whose tragical association with the wreck of the " Hesperus " the author
of Evangeline has told in verse.

15 In the sheltered arm of the sea lying between Norman's Woe and
Eastern Point we meet one of the staunch representatives of Glouces-
ter's fishing industry, which employs nearly 6000 men in the most
perilous profession known. The average career of a fisherman on the
Banks is less than ten years, and there is scarcely a home in Gloucester
but mourns some missing member, or looks anxiously toward the
harbor entrance for the ship that never comes. The cruel rocks of the
ironbound coast of Nova Scotia, the hazard incident to gales on the
Banks, and the constant peril of the anchorage on the fog-bound fishing
grounds, directly in the path of the transatlantic liners, are dangers which
the Gloucester wives and mothers know too well. The last glimmer
of the white sail rounding Eastern Point is too often the last farewell
to the loved ones it bears away, never to return.

16 A few miles beyond the city of Gloucester we reach Land's End,
and stand upon the extreme eastern point of Cape Ann. In front of
us, a short distance from shore, lies Thatcher's Island, with its two lofty
granite towers standing like sentinels to guard the northern entrance to
Massachusetts Bay. Forty -two miles away, on the highlands of Cape
Cod, is fixed the great white eye of the Highland Light. In ordinary
weather the incoming vessel can scarcely fail to sight one or the other
of these brilliant beacons as she enters the waters of the bay, and on
very clear nights the lights of both capes may be seen at once.

17 Twenty miles directly north from Thatcher's Island the Isles of
Shoals lie low on the horizon, nine miles distant from the nearest point
on the mainland. They are seven in number, four lying in Maine and
three in New Hampshire. The two largest, Appledore and Star, con-
tain commodious hotels, and are the headquarters of the summer colony.
On the west is White Island, the most picturesque of the group, whose
rocky cliffs are crowned with the snowy tower of a lighthouse. To
effect a landing on this island, except in the calmest weather, requires
able seamanship. The slip consists of two parallel wooden beams, on
which the boat is hauled up, and to land with precision between these
guides, with a cross sea running, is a feat which calls for a cool head
and steady hand, and which sometimes results in a spilled cargo and
involuntary bath for the most experienced.

18 This lonely spot, isolated from the rest of the world, and visited
only by the sea birds during the greater portion of the year, was the
childhood home of Celia Thaxter. Her father was for many years the
keeper of the light, and she has told in charming verse the recollections
of her early life.

" I lit the lamps in the lighthouse tower,
For the sun dropped down and the day was dead,
They shone like a glorious clustered flower, —
Ten golden and five red.

" O warning lights ! burn bright and clear
Hither the storm comes ! Leagues away
It moans and thunders low and drear, —
Burn till the break of day !

jq " Looking across, where the line of coast

Stretched darkly, shrinking away from the sea,
The lights sprang out at its edge, — almost
They seemed to answer me t "

One of these answering lights is the "beacon which glimmered from
Portsmouth Bar, as the White Isle kindled its great red star," and
which stands on Whale's Back Ledge, at the Piscataqua's mouth.

20 Borne onward by the rushing current of the incoming tide, which
seldom flows with greater swiftness than along the shores of Portsmouth
and Kittery, we soon see before us the huge, barn-like structures of
the Navy Yard. Although our picture was taken during the most
exciting period of the Spanish War, the place looks as peaceful and
quiet as a country churchyard. But, although so quiet now, in former
years this was the centre of bustle and activity, where were built and
launched many of our old-time men-of-war.

21 One of the most famous vessels which ever left these stocks was
the renowned " Kearsarge," a New Hampshire vessel in name, material
and construction. From the slopes of Kearsarge Mountain, whose name
the vessel bore, were brought the oaken timbers which formed her
frame. Her brilliant exploit in sinking the Confederate privateer
" Alabama," off the coast of France, near the close of our Civil War,
won for her an enduring affection in the hearts of the people. Her
loss on Roncador Reef, in the Caribbean Sea, in the winter of 1 894,
was mourned by all. Almost a century before the launching of the
" Kearsarge," the " Ranger," flying the first flag of the United States
to be saluted by a foreign power, sailed hence under the command of
John Paul Jones.

22 For nearly twenty years after the close of the Civil War we had
no navy worthy of the name. But within little more than half a score

of years we built and launched the armada which so successfully upheld
our cause upon the sea in 1898. In 188} Congress authorized the
construction of the first vessels of our modern navy. These composed
the famous Squadron of Evolution, popularly known as the " White
Squadron." It comprised the flagship "Chicago," shown in the centre
of the group ; the sister cruisers " Atlanta " and " Boston," in the upper
left hand corner; the "Newark," flagship of our Eastern Squadron,
in the upper right hand corner ; and the twin gunboats, " Concord " and
"Yorktown," below on the right. Under the command of Admiral
Walker this fleet spent several years in foreign cruising, squadron evo-
lutions, and in that constant drill and practice which laid the foundation
for the efficiency of our present naval force.

23 At anchor in Portsmouth Harbor on July 1 1, 1898, lay the great
ocean liner " St. Louis," having on board the Spanish prisoners from
Admiral Cervera's captured fleet, brought from Santiago. For the
first time in our history prisoners, speaking a foreign tongue, represent-
ing a different type of civilization, were to be landed on American soil.
The sight was one which will never be forgotten by those who witnessed
it. As the tug, with barge in tow, approached and made fast to the
side of the great steamer, hundreds of curious and interested spectators
came out in rowboats from the shores of Kittery and Newcastle. The
gangway was lowered to the barge's deck, and down it marched a guard
of marines who were stationed at intervals along the rail.

24 Then came the prisoners, a dilapidated looking lot, clad for the
most part in cast-off suits of duck which had once been white, but
which were now, like Joseph's coat, of many colors. They were a
good-natured lot, made no trouble, and seemed happy and contented.
And well they might be. As prisoners of war they received kind treat-
ment, better far, in all probability, than they expected or had been
accustomed to. On the upper deck of the steamer stood their admiral
and former captains, to witness their departure. The captain of the
" Colon," Cervera's flagship, stood by the gangway with roster in hand
and checked off the names of the 600 prisoners as they left the steamer.

25 When the barge could hold no more, lines were cast off, farewells
were waved from their officers, and the first installment of Spanish
prisoners steamed away to be landed on Seavey's Island. How fortu-
nate the lot of these Spanish prisoners, with clean, healthy quarters,
situated on a seacoast island, within gunshot of one of our most fash-
ionable summer hotels, and with plenty of good, wholesome food !
How different from the unfortunate lot of our own Union soldiers,
who suffered and died in the stockade at Andersonville ! Truly, in the
kind and humane treatment of its prisoners, our government maintained


the broad principles of humanity which led it to espouse the cause of
the oppressed and downtrodden in the Spanish War.

26 Portsmouth is rich in Colonial relics and time-honored traditions.
Longfellow, in his " Tales of a Wayside Inn," has given us the charm-
ing romance of " Lady Wentworth." He draws a striking pen-picture
of Mistress Stavers in her furbelows as she courtesied low to Governor
Wentworth, driving down —

" To Little Harbor, just beyond the town,
Where his great house stood looking out to sea,
A goodly place, where it was good to be.

" It was a pleasant mansion, an abode
Near and yet hidden from the great high road,
Sequestered among trees, a noble pile,
Baronial and colonial in its style;
Gables and dormer windows everywhere,
And stacks of chimneys rising high in air."

27 As we cross the ferry from Newcastle, and set foot upon the soil of
Maine at Kittery Point, we are confronted by another relic of Colonial
days, the old Pepperell Mansion. Here lived Sir William Pepperell, a
self-made man, who, by native genius and thrift, accumulated one of
the most colossal fortunes of Colonial New England. It used to be
said that Sir William might ride to the Saco without going off his own
possessions. The lawn, now overgrown with weeds, stretches down to
the water side, where may still be seen the rotting timbers of the wharf
where the Pepperells carried on their extensive trade.

28 Adjoining Kittery on the east is the old town of York, first settled
in 1624 under the name of Agamenticus. Later, in 1642, as Gorgeana,
it became the first incorporated city in America, although in reality it
was but a seacoast fishing village. In 1653 its charter was revoked and
the name changed to York, since which time its history has been full
of interesting incidents. Today its principal historic relic is the old jail,
which stands on a rocky ledge by the roadside in the centre of the
village. In former times, when York was the county seat, its dismal
cells and dungeons held many culprits, but now, as the tablet indicates,
it is used as a museum of Colonial relics, and, in this instance, it costs
fifteen cents to get into jail.

29 Stretching inland several miles from York Harbor is a winding arm
of the sea known as York River, which we cross upon an ancient bridge,
built in 1761. This bridge rests upon piles driven into the bed of the
river. It was the first instance of such construction, serving as a model
for later bridges over the Charles and Mystic at Boston. The fertile
region through which York River flows is picturesque in the extreme,

with its shady, overhanging foliage, its quaint wooden bridges, its cosy
farmhouses and sumptous summer homes. On the extreme right is
seen the commodious house of the York Country Club, with tennis
courts and extensive golf links adjoining. But, while the calm, pastoral
beauty of the river banks is one of the chief attractions of the town to
many, the majority of summer visitors seek the bold and rugged region
where Cape Neddick thrusts its long, narrow peninsula far out into the
sea toward the distant shaft of Boon Island Light.

30 At the extremity of the Cape lies a bold and rugged headland,
called the Nubble, which, islanded by the rising tide, was for many
years frequented only by the sea fowl, and a few adventurous hunters
who went in search of them. At low tide a narrow isthmus connects
it with the mainland, and frequently an adventurous tourist, forgetting
the flight of time in the eager exploration of its scenic grandeur, found
his retreat cut off by the rising waters, and was confined for twelve
hours, an unwilling prisoner. But since the establishment of Cape
Neddick Light, the dory ferry of the keeper carries daily scores of
visitors to roam at will over its wild and rugged rocks.

3 1 The shores of Cape Neddick, extending more than a mile from the
Nubble to the Beach, present a continual succession of ever-changing
forms. Midway is the Flume, a deep and narrow fissure in the cliff,
which the rising tide fills with the never-ceasing murmur of the waves.
At the lowest point of the ebbing tide one may clamber far down
among the moss-covered rocks which line its entrance, where, in the
deep, quiet pools left by the receding waters, lies a wealth of beauty
such as no aquarium can furnish. The brilliant-colored star-fish, the
chestnut-like burrs of the sea urchins, with the purple mussels under
the edges of the rocks, and perhaps an imprisoned lobster, are revealed
so clearly by the transparent water that one is often deceived, and on
attempting to gain possession of the treasures, finds they are beyond
his reach.

32 Following along the rocky shore, after leaving the Flume, we pres-
ently reach the point at the junction of the cape with the mainland
where the eastward trending line of the coast forms the crescent of
York Beach. This is the central spot about which cluster the hotels
and most of the summer cottages. Here, at high tide, an animated
scene displays itself. Bathers, of varying degrees of timidity, are
splashing about near the water's edge, while further out the bolder
ones bob up and down like corks as the succeeding waves roll shore-
ward. The heaped-up ridge of dry sand, above high water mark, is
gay with the bright colored costumes of those who prefer a sun bath
to a dip in the somewhat chilly waters of the Maine coast.


33 When the tide recedes a hard and firm expanse of sand is left
uncovered. Its broad and level floor is the children's paradise. The
following anonymous lines, which appeared in a volume of poems on
" Sea and Shore," seem to have been written expressly for this charac-
teristic group.

" We are building little homes on the sands,
We are making little rooms very gay,
We are busy with our hearts and our hands,
We are sorry that the time flits away.

" Perhaps if we hurry very much,
And dont lose an instant of the day,
There'll be time for the last lovely touch,
Before the sea sweeps it all away.

34 " We do not mind the tide coming in,

We can dig it a cunning little bed,

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Online LibraryHenry Greenwood PeabodySeashore of New England; → online text (page 1 of 3)