Samuel Adams Drake.

Historic fields and mansions of Middlesex online

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was the Eev. Winwood Serjeant, rector of Christ Church.

Dr. Waterhouse is best remembered through his labors to
introduce in this country vaccination, the discovery of Jenner,
which encountered as large a share of ridicule and opposition as
inoculation had formerly experienced. Several persons are
still living who were vaccinated by Dr. Waterhouse.



CAMBRIDGE COMMON AND LANDMARKS. 265

At one time the old barracks at Sewall's Point (Brookline)
were used as a small-pox hospital. This was in the day of
inoculation, Avhen it was the fashion to send to a friend such,
missives as the following : —

" I wish Lucy was here to have the small-pox. I Avish you would
persuade her to come here and have it. You can't think how light
they have it."

The visitor will find some relics of the siege, at the State
Arsenal on Garden Street, in several pieces of artillery mounted
on sea-coast carriages and arranged within the enclosure. These
guns were left in Boston by Sir William Howe, and, thanks to
the care of General Stone, when that gentleman was adjutant-
general of the State, were preserved from the sale of a number
of similar trophies as old iron. As the disappearance of the
arsenal may soon be expected, it is to be hoped that the State
of Massachusetts can afford to keep these old war-dogs which
bear the crest and cipher of Queen Anne and the Second
George. The largest of the cannon is a 32-pounder. All
have the broad arrow, but rust and weather have nearly
obliterated the inscriptions impressed at the royal foundry.
The oldest legible date is 1687. Besides these, are two di-
minutive mortars or cohorns. Within one of the houses ftre
two beautiful brass field-pieces, bearing the crown and lilies of
France. Each has its name on the muzzle, — one being the
Venus and the other Le Faucon, — and on the breech the
imprint of the royal arsenal of Strasburg, with the dates
respectively of 1760 and 1761. A further search revealed,
hidden away in an obscure corner and covered with lumber,
a Spanish piece, which, when brought to light by the aid of
some workmen, was found literally covered with engraviug,
beautifully executed, delineating the Spanish Crown and the
monogram of Carlos III. It is inscribed, —

"El Uenado.

Barcelona JSDE

Deceiiubre De J767."

Inquiry of the proper officials having failed to enlighten us
12



2GC HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

as to the possession of these cannon by the State, we condude
them to be a remnant of the fiekl artillery sent us by France
during the Revolution. The Spaniard, when struck with a
piece of metal, gave out a beautifully clear, melodious ring, as
if it contained an alloy of silver, and brought to our mind those
old slumberers on the ramparts of Panama, into whose yet molten
mass the common people flung their silver reals, and the old
dons their pieces of Eight, while the priest blessed the union
with the baser metal aud consecrated the whole to victory.

Whitefield's Elm, under which that remarkable man preached
in 1744, formerly stood on a line with its illustrious fellow the
Washington Elm, and not far from the' turn as Ave pass from
the northerly side of the Common into Garden Street. It ob-
structed the way, and the axe of the spoiler was laid at its root
two years ago.

Dr. Chauncy and Whitefield Avere not the best friends
imaginable. They had mutually written at and j^reached
against each other, and reciprocally soured naturally amiable
tempers. The twain accidentally met. " How do you do.
Brother Chauncy," says the itinerant laborer. " I am sorry to
see you," replies Dr. C. " And so is the devil," retorted
Wliitefield.

*In the early part of his life this gentleman happened to be
preaching in the open fields, Avhen a drummer Avas present,
Avho Avas determined to interrupt the services, and beat his
drum in a violent manner in order to drown the preacher's
voice. Mr. Whitefield spoke very loud, but the din of the
instrument overpoAvered his voice. He therefore called out to
the drummer in these Avords : —

" Friend, you and I serve the two greatest masters existing, but
ill different callings. You may beat up volunteers for King George,
I for the Lord Jesus Christ. In God's name, then, don't let us in-
terrupt each other ; the Avorld is wide enough for us both, and Ave
may get recruits in abundance."

This speech had such effect that the drummer Avent aAvay in
great gooddiumor, and left the preacher in full possession of
the field.



CAMBKIDGE COMMON AND LANDMAllKS. 267




THE WASHINGTON ELII.

]\Iany a pilgrim daily Aveuds his way to the sjiot Avhere

"Washington placed liiiuself at the head of the army. Above

him towers

" A goodly elm, of iiohle girth,
That, thrice the human span —
While on their variegated course

Tlie constant seasons ran —
Tlirough gale, and hail, and fiery holt,
Had stood erect as man."

He surveys its crippled branches, swathed in bandages ; marks
the scars, where, after holding aloft for a century their out-
stretched arms, limb after limb has fallen nerveless and de-
cayed ; he pauses to read the inscription lodged at the base of
the august flibric, and departs the place in meditative mood,
as he Avould leave a churchyard or an altar.

Apart from its association with a great event, there is some-
thing impressive about this elm. It is a king among trees ; a



268 HISTOEIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

monarch, native to the soil, wliose subjects, once scattered
abroad upon the plain before us, have all vanished and left it
alone in solitary state. The masses of foliage which hide in a
measure its mutilated members, droop gracefully athwart the
old highway, and still beckon the traveller, as of old, to halt
and breathe awhile beneath their shade. It is not pleasant to
view the decay of one of these Titans of primeval growth. It
is too suggestive of the waning forces of man, and of that

" Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history."

As a shrine of tlie Kevolution, a temple not made with, hands,
we trust the old elm will long survive, a sacred memorial to
generations yet to come. "\Ve need such monitors in our public
places to arrest our headlong race, and bid us calmly count the
cost of the empire we jwssess. We shall not feel the worse for
such introspection, nor could we have a more impressive coun-
sellor. The memory of the great is with it and around it ;
it is indeed on consecrated ground.

When the camp was here Washington caused a platform to
be built among the branches of this tree, where he was accus-
tomed to sit and survey with his glass the country round. On
the granite tablet A^'e read that

Under this tree

Washington

First took command

OF THE

American Army,
July Sd, 1775.

On the spot where the stone church is erected once stood an
old gambrel-roofed house, long the habitat of the INIoore family.
It was a dwelling of two stories, with a single chimney stand-
ing in the midst, like a tower, to support the weaker fabric.
In front were three of those shapely Lombard poplars, erect
and prim, like trees on parade. A flower-garden railed it in
from the road ; a porch in front, and another at the northerly
end, gave ingress according as the condition of the visitor might
warrant.



CAMBRIDGE COMMON AND LANDMARKS. 2G9

The Moores occupied the house in the memorable year '75,
and saw from the Avindows tlie cavalcade conducting Washing-
ton to his quarters, — this being, as before stated, the high-road
from Watertown to Cambridge Common. On the following
day the family might have witnessed the ceremonial of formal
assumption of command by the cliief, on whom all eyes were
fixed and in whom all hopes were centred.

Deacon j\loore — does he at length rest in peace 1 — was,
while in the flesh, much given to patching and repairing his
fences, outbuildings, and the wooden belongings of his domain
in general. He bore the character of an upright, downright,
conscientious deacon, walking in the odor of sanctity, and was
regarded with childish awe by the urchins of the grammar-
school whenever he chose to appear abroad. The deacon's house
had its inevitable best room, into which heaven's sunshine was
never allowed to penetrate, and which was rarely opened except
to admit a stranger or hold a funeral service. There are yet
such rooms in Xew England, with their stiff, black hair-cloth
furniture, their ghostly pictures, and dank, mouldy odors. The
carefully varnished mahogany has a smell of the undertaker ;
every sense is oppressed, and the soul pleads for release from
the funereal chamber. "\Ve repeat, there are still such " best
rooms " in Xew England.

Upon the decease of Deacon Moore it was discovered that
some peculations had been made from the treasury of Dr.
Holmes's church. These were laid at the door of the departed
deacon. Xow comes the startling revelation. Night after
night the ghost of Deacon ^loore revisited his earthly abode,
and made night hideous witli audible pounding, as if in the act
of mending the fence, as was the deacon's Avont in life. The
affrighted neighbors, suddenly roused from slumber, fearfully
drew- their curtains aside, and peered forth into the night in
quest of the spectre ; but still invisible the wraith pursued its
midnight labors.

The Jennisons succeeded the Moores, and at length the shade
came no more. Xot many years ago the old house was demol-
ished. A vault was discovered underneath the kitchen, walled



270 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

up with rough stone, and in this receptacle were two human
skeletons.

"What tale of horrer was here concealed, what deed of blood
had caused the disappearance of two human beings from the
face of the earth, was never revealed. For an unknown time
they had remained sealed up in the manner related, and the
later dwellers in the house were totally unconscious of their
horrid tenants. A family servant had long slept immediately
above these bones, and we marked, even after years had passed
away, a strange glitter in his eye as he recalled his couch upon
a tomb.

The remains were of adult persons, one a female. What
motive had consigned them to this mysterious hiding-place is
left to conjecture. AVas it domestic vengeance, too deadly for
the public ear 1 We answer that two indi\'iduals could not
have been suddenly taken out of the little community without
question. Were they some iinwary, tired wayfarers Avho had
sought hospitable entertainment, and found graves instead 1

"But Echo never mocked the human tongue ;
Some weighty crime that Heaven could not pardon,
A secret curse on that old building hung,
And its deserted garden."

We have lived to have grave doubts whether, as the old
adage says, " Murder will out." Inspect, if you have the
stomach for it, our calendar of crime, and mark the array of
names which belonged to those whose fate is unknown, and
who are there set down like the missing of an army after the
battle. The record is startling ; only at the final muster will
the victims answer to the fatal list, and speak

" Of graves, perchance, untimely scooped
At midnight dark and dank."

In Spain an ancient custom constrains each passer-by to cast
a stone upon the heap raised on the scene of wayside murder,
until at length a monument arises to warn against assassination.
The peasant always pauses to repeat an ave to the souls of the
slain. On this spot a church has reared its huge bulk, piling



CAMBRIDGE COMMON AND LzVNDMARKS. 271

stone upon stone until its steeple, overtopping the Old Elm,
stands a mightier monument to the manes of the unknown dead.

The events in the life of Washington .which have most im-
pressed us are, the day when he unsheathed his sword beneath
the Old Elm ; the morn of the battle of Trenton ; the address
to his despairing, mutinous officers at Newburg ; and the fare-
well to his generals at Xew York. As he was mounting his
horse before Trenton, an officer presented him with a despatch.
His remark, "What a time to bring me a letter ! " is the sequel
of his thoughts, — all had been staked on the issue. When he
rose from his bed early in the morning of the meeting at New-
burg, he told Colonel HumiDlireys that anxiety had prevented
him from sleeping one moment the preceding night. Unwill-
ing to trust to his powers of extempore speaking, Washington
reduced what he meant to say to writing, and commenced read-
ing it without spectacles, which at that time he used only occa-
sionally. He found, however, that he could not proceed with-
out them. He stopped, took them out, and as he prepared to
place them, exclaimed, " I have grown blind as well as gray in
the service of my country." In these instances we see the
patriot ; in the adieu to his lieutenants, we see the man.

When Washington rode into town after the evacuation of
Boston, he was accompanied by Mrs. Washington, who, in
accordance with our old-time elegant manners, was styled
" Lady " Washington. Upon reaching the Old South, the
General wished to enter the building. Shubael Hewes, Avho at
this time kept the keys, lived opposite, and the General there-
fore drew up at his door.

With his usual courtesy the General inquired after the health
of the family, and was told that Mrs. H. had, the day before,
been delivered of a fine child. At this Mrs. Washington in-
sisted upon seeing the infant, born on an occasion so auspicious
as the repossession of Boston by our troops, and it was accord-
ingly brought out to the carriage and placed in her lap.

The General, alighting, went into the meeting-house, and,
ascending to the gallery, where he could fully observe the
havoc made by Burgoyne's Light Horse, remarked to the per-



272 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

son Avlio accompanied him that he was surprised that tlie Eng-
hsli, who so reverenced their oAvn places of worship, should
have shown such a vandal disposition here.

Washington died at sixty-seven ; Knox, by an accident, at
fifty-six ; Sullivan, at tifty-five ; Gates, at seventy-eight ; Greene,
at forty- four ; Heath, at seventy-seven ; Arnold, at sixty ; and
Lee, at fifty-one. Putnam lived to he seventy-two, and Stark
to be ninety-three, so that it was commonly said of him, that he
was first in the field and last out of it.

But other scenes await us, and though we feel that it is good
for us to be here, we must reverently bid adieu to the Old Elm. It
could perchance tell, were it, like the Dryads of old, loquacious,
of the settlers' cabins, when it was a sapling, of the building
of the old wooden seminary, and of the multitudes that have
passed and repassed under its verdant arch. The smoke from
a hundred rebel camp-fires drifted through its branches and
wreathed around its royal dome in the day of maturity, while
the drum-beat at the waking of the camp frighted the feathered
songsters from their leafy retreats and silenced their matin
lays. The huzzas that went up when our great leader bared
the weapon he at length sheathed Avitli all honor made every
leaf tremulous with joy, and every brown and sturdy limb
to wave their green banners in triumph on high. "VVe salute
thy patriarchal trunk, thy withered branches, and thy scanty
tresses, venerable and yet lordly Elm ! Vale f

It is much more a matter of regret than surprise that we
have not in all Xew England a specimen of antique church
architecture worthy of the name. Eigid economy dictated the
barn-like structures which were the first Puritan houses of wor-
ship. Quaint they certainly were, and not destitute of a cer-
tain sombre picturesqueness, with their queer little towers and
wonderful weather-vanes ; and even their blackening rafters of
prodigious thickness, their long aisles, and carved balustrades,
gave modest glimpses of a Eembrandt-like interior. But the
beautiful forms of Jones and of Wren were left behind when
the Mayflower sailed, and not a single type of Old England's
pride of architecture stands on American soil. Simplicity in



CAMBKIDGE COMMON AND LANDMARKS. 273

building, in manners, and in dress, as well as in religion, were
tlie base on which our Puritan fathers builded. Had the
means not been wanting, it may be doubted whether they
would have been applied to the erection of splendid public edi-
fices. The motives which enforced the adherence of the first
settlers to the gaunt and unoesthetic structures of their time
ceased, in a great measure, to exist a hundred years later, but
no revival of taste appeared, and even the Episcopalians, witli
the memories of their glorious Old World temples, fell in
with the prevailing lethargy which characterized the reign of
ugliness.

Christ Church stands confronting the Common much as it
looked in colonial times. The subscription was originally
formed in Boston, the subscribers being either resident or en-
gaged in business there. The lot included part of the Common
and part of the estate of James Eeed. The building was at
hrst only sixty-five feet in length by forty-five in width, exclu-
sive of chancel and tower, but has been much enlarged, to
accommodate an increasing parish, — a work which its original
plan, and the material of which it is constructed, rendered
easy. Peter Harrison, the architect of King's Chapel in Bos-
tun, was also the designer of this edifice, and seems to have
followed the same plan as for that now venerable structure.
Service was first held here on October 15, 1761, the Eev. East
Apthorp, whom Ave have already visited, officiating. Of Dr.
Apthorp's father it is written that he studied to mind his
own business, — a circumstance so rare as to wellnigh deserve
.canonization.

In the alterations which have been called for the primitive
appearance of the building has been, in a great measure, pre-
served. The exterior is exceedingly simple, but harmonious,
the tower, placed in the centre of the front, giving en-
trances on three of its sides. The old bell-tower appeared
rather smaller than its successor, and had a pointed roof, sur-
mounted, as at present, by a gilded ball. The symbolic cross,
which the Puritans hated with superstitious antipathy, did not
appear on the pinnacle, out of deference perhaps to the feeling
12* K



274 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

which abominated a paiuted window, a Gothic arch, or chancel
rail, as the concomitants of that Episcopacy against v/hicli. the
Cromwellian iconoclasts had waged unrelenting war in every
cathedral from Chester to Canterbury.

Upon the Declaration of Independence by the Colonies, all
the taverns and shops were despoiled of their kingly emblems.
A Boston letter of that date says : —

" In consequence of Independence being declared here, all the
signs which had crowns on them even the Mitre and Crown in the
organ loft of the chappell were taken down, and Mr. Parker, (who
is the Episcopal minister in towi^) left off praying for the king."

The interior of Christ' Church is quiet and tasteful, with

"Storied windows richly diglit.
Casting a dim religions light."

The Corinthian pillars of solid wood and the original choir are
still remaining. And, very like, the stiff, straight-backed pews
are a relic of ancient discomfort. The tablets bearing the Ten
Commandments are mementos of Old Trinity in Boston when
the wooden edifice was taken down, and have by this means
survived their mother church, which the great fire of 1872 left
a magnificent ruin. A silver flagon and cup, now in use to
celebrate the Holy Communion, were presented by Governor
Hutchinson in 1772. These vessels Avere the property of
King's Chapel, Boston, which then received a new service in
exchange for the old. They are inscribed as

The Gift of

K. William and Q Mary

To y« Rev* Sandl. Myles

For y° use of

Theire Majesties' Chappell in N. England.

MDCXCIV.

Dr. Apthorp was succeeded by Eev. Winwood Serjeant, in
whose time, the Revolution having converted his wealthy and
influential parishioners into refugees and driven him to seek an
asylum elsewhere, the church became a barrack, in which Cap-
tain Chester's company, of Wethersfield, Connecticut, was quar-



CAMBRIDGE COMMON AND LANDxMARKS. 275

tered at the time of Bunker Hill, and after them one of the
companies of Southern riflemen. It appears also to have been
some time occupied as a guard-house by our forces, rivalling in
this respect the wanton usage of the Boston churches by the
king's troops. But was not Westminster Abbey occupied by
soldiery in 1G43? General Washington, himself a churchman,
attended a service here, held at the request of Mrs. Washing-
ton, on Sunday, the last day of 1775. The religious rite was
performed by Colonel William Palfrey, one of the General's
aids. Mrs. Gates and Mrs. Custis were also present. There
is a tradition that Washington continued to attend service
here, but the General was probably too politic to have adopted
a course so little in accord with the views of the army in gen-
eral. He attended Dr. Appleton's church at times, and always
showed himself possessed of true Christian liberality. On at
least one occasion he partook of the Sacrament at the Presby-
terian table. His generals were, in this respect, mindful of his
example. At the baptism of a son of General Knox, in Boston,
Lafayette, a Catholic, and Greene, a Quaker, stood godfathers to
the child, Knox himself being a Presbyterian.

From 1775 until 1790 Christ Church remained in the con-
dition in which the war had involved it. During that time it
had neither parish nor rector, but in the latter year it was re-
opened, the Bev. Dr. Parker of Trinity, Boston, officiating for
the occasion. A chime of thirteen bells was placed in the
belfry in 1860. For many interesting particulars of the history
of this church the reader is referred to the historical discourse
of Rev. Nicholas Hoppin, the present rector.

The remains of the unfortunate Bichard BroAvn, a lieutenant
of the Convention troops, were deposited under this church.
We liave briefly referred to the shooting of this officer on
Prospect Hill, as he was riding out with two women. It gave
rise to a paper war between General Phillips and General
Heath, in which, every advantage being on the side of the
latter, he may be said to have come off victorious. An inquest
pronounced the shooting justifiable, but the British officers,
exasperated to the highest degree by this melancholy aflair.



276 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.



affected to believe themselves the objects of indiscriminate
slaughter.

It was at the time the church was opened for the interment
of Lieutenant Brown, according to the rite of the Church of
England, that the damage to the interior took place. Ensign
Anbury asserts that the Americans then seized the opportunity
" to plunder, ransack, and deface everything they could lay
their hands on, destroying the pulpit, reading-desk, and com-
munion table, and, ascending the organ-loft, destroyed the bel-
lows and broke all the pipes of a very handsome instrument."
This organ was made by Snetzler.

The burial-place which lies between the churches has re-
ceived from the earliest
times of our history the
ashes of freeman andslave,
squire and rustic. In its
repose mingle the dust of
college presidents, soldiers
of forgotten wars, and
ministers of wellnigh for-
gotten doctrines. The ear-
liest inscription is in 1653,
but the interments antecedent to this date were made, in many
cases doubtless, without any graven tablet or other stone than
some heavy mass selected at hazard, to protect the remains from
beasts of prey. In still other instances the lines traced on the
stones have been effaced by natural causes, and even the rude
monuments themselves have disappeared beneath the mould.

" The slumberer's mound grows fresh and'green,
Then slowly disappears ;
The mosses creep, the gray stones lean,
Earth hides his date and years "

Among the earlier tenants of God's Acre, as Longfellow has
reverently distinguished it, are Andrew Belcher, the innkeeper,
Stephen Day, the printer, and Samuel Green, his successor,
Elijah Corlet, master of the " faire Grammar Schoole," Dunster,
first President of the College, and Thomas Shepard, minister




^\' \ W;



CAMBRIDGE COMMON AND LANDMARKS. 277

of the church in Cambridge, who succeeded Hooker when he
departed to plant the Colony of Connecticut. In their various
callings, these were the forefathers of the hamlet ; Old Cam-
bridge is really concentrated within this narrow space.

The consideration which attached to the position of governor
of tlie College is indicated by the long, pompous Latin inscrip-



Online LibrarySamuel Adams DrakeHistoric fields and mansions of Middlesex → online text (page 24 of 39)