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AROUND AND ABOUT BOSTON
THE Fenway drives of Boston present many fine stretches, chiefly beautiful for the meandering lines of the waterways. These are all together on the south side of the city. Boston approached from the west also escapes unpleasant driving features, as one enters at once into the better part of the city. To approach Boston from the north with any degree of agreeableness one must swing around through Cambridge and, even so, there is much that one could spare. From the northwest the approach is rather agreeable along Massachusetts Avenue.
MIDSUMMER GLORY - STOCKBRIDGE
BALCH HOUSE - BEVERLY, BEFORE RESTORATION
ELIZABETH IN HER GARDEN - FRAMINGHAM
THE WINSLOW HOUSE, MARSHFIELD
There are large marshlands to the north and northwest of Boston and it is probable that they will never be redeemed to beauty as there are so many obstacles. At Medford, however, and in Cambridge tidal dams and systematic dredging have obliterated the mud flats and the formerly offensive conditions at low tide, and have made the Charles and the Mystic real sources of beauty rather than of ugliness. This is a highly satisfactory piece of work and redounds to the everlasting honor of those who toiled for it so long and so faithfully.
The Charles, itself, between Boston and Cambridge has also been redeemed by filling and holding it to its course, and the bridge work so far undertaken and that which has been projected is of such a character as to give the city a distinctive and noble setting as viewed from Cambridge. In fact, we do not know of an American city that can compete with Boston in these respects.
New York is frankly constructed of pyramids of masonry and the writer is so averse to such Babel structures that the work of an etcher like Pennell cannot lure him to believe in their beauty.
Within Boston very little remains of the earliest days. The Paul Revere House has been rescued but such was its condition and such is its setting that it loses much of the nameless charm afforded by mellowed age and freedom from encroaching modern edifices. The Old North and the Old South churches and the Park Street church, eloquent each of various periods of teeming history, are with us yet. But these and the various other structures, old and new, which go to make up the notable architectural features of the city are so well known on picture cards that we have here paid them little attention. The State House is, in its way, a true center, all humor apart, of American history at its best. Opposite its entrance is what is properly regarded as a most distinguished sculptural delineation, the uplifting and satisfying Shaw Memorial,
The tower of the Perkins Institute and the more recent tower of Boston College, each noble and well set, afford an atmosphere of strength and beauty redolent of the finest traditions of Europe, It is not in vain and not without reason that Boston is felt to be in America the radiating point of the better earlier aspects of art, of literature and of human liberty. While the low aims and wilful lack of knowledge of the multitude are ever seeking, and often with success, to dominate in Boston as in all the other great cities of the world in all periods of history, we should not lose heart. There is an undying spirit of beauty. Eternity is hidden in the heart of man. Touched by nobler forces, men awake out of the low levels of selfishness and prove themselves capable of high desert from their country. The triumphs of the bruiser in municipal government by shaming the great mass of well-meaning men, finally shame himself. Out of crudity and brutality have arisen in the past the finer effects of civilization called out by the spirit of evolution which we are just discerning is no other than the spirit of God.
Much that is alien seethes in modern American life but perhaps there is in it a vitality and drive lost out from the old stock. Let every man be estimated at what he is and not in reference to his ancestry. This is not the first age of the world to manifest the fact that those who dwell most in the deeds of their ancestors often show least that is commendable in their own.
A MAY DRIVE - WELLESLEY
THE BRYANT MAPLES - CUMMINGTON
THE LIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD - LENOX
PILGRIM AND PURITAN ICONOCLASTS
IT has so long been a habit of conceited, modern Americans to think of our ancestors as stern and hating beauty, that they have fairly persuaded themselves and most unread persons that their viewpoint is correct.
In the history of the town of Sudbury there is a quotation from the town meeting records well back toward the middle of the Seventeenth Century wherein "it is also ordered that the backside of the meeting house be made hansom." We have here the instance of the average man of the Pilgrim generation giving his judgment that beauty belonged in his life and that it was appropriate in the edifice where he worshiped. We have no reason to suppose that this instance is unusual. We have every reason to believe that it was the rule rather than the exception.
Interest and ignorance have reasoned that image breaking meant lack of appreciation of beauty. It would startle some who so think could they see a piece of furniture owned by Cromwell as exquisite in all its lines, as dainty, as delicate in its fancy as one could hope to find in any age. And we now, who have in our generation lambasted our ancestors for their lack of artistic appreciation, are going back and copying with the most faithful care the edifices which they erected because we have no modern styles, good or bad, and we are obliged to hark back to the Pilgrim century for the best inspiration in art and architecture. The most important pieces of American Seventeenth Century furniture are eloquent of the Renaissance. They are, indeed, degraded from its finest features. That beginning of degradation is a part of the inscrutable decline of taste which culminated not only in America but in Europe in the nineteenth century.
There were religious reasons which seemed sufficiently cogent in the seventeenth century for hating statuary, especially if it had any suggestion of ecclesiasticism connected with it. We do, however, find maintained a reminiscence of the Gothic in the domestic architecture of that day, and a degree of taste in carrying out home decoration that may shame our recent generations.
The character of the Pilgrim fathers, at least, was mild and kindly, as anyone who reads what is left us by Bradford and Winslow must conclude. The distorted religious views exemplified by Cotton Mather in pushing on the prosecution of witches was not in any respect peculiar to him or to America. One has only to run lightly through English history of the same period to find that amid all classes, prelatical and ultra-protestant, there was a universal superstition against witchcraft. The fact that this persecution was localized in America goes far to prove the greater breadth and sweeter humanity of the immigrant as compared with the dweller in the old world.
One would think, to read the partial and distorted references of many of the "humanists" in the nineteenth century, that witchcraft persecution arose out of the "orthodoxy" of the Pilgrim generation. This dark aspect of history had no more to do with the reformed faith than with the moon's phases. People of every creed and no creed at all took up the hue and cry against witches. Many did it from conviction, many from the universal tendency of the mob to side with leaders, but mostly they did it because they were the children of their age and took for granted what is abhorrent to us.
Religious conviction is always respectable even when it is horrible. Thus viewed, the people engaged in that persecution were white saints in comparison with the wholly diabolic Herrin mob, by which more perished than in all our witchcraft craze. Every age has its special sins and our age is certainly second to none in this regard.
The settlers of Massachusetts were simple men, no more brilliant than those they left behind them in England. They did, however, rise to a better embodiment of the Christian spirit at Plymouth than was commonly found in that day, The sound common sense of the people of Holland with whom their leaders had dwelt influenced them. The Pilgrims have also suffered from the bitterly unjust saying of Holmes about their falling first on their knees and then on the aborigines. His spirit should have been too large, and as the writer believes, was too large, to have uttered this libel seriously. Nevertheless, as in the famous case of Doctor Osler, he was taken seriously.
A SUNBURST BED - QUINCY HOMESTEAD
BLOSSOMING WAYSIDE - FRAMINGHAM
THE GOOSE CHASE QUILT - QUINCY HOMESTEAD
A BACK COUNTRY BROOK - WORCESTER COUNTY
There perhaps has never in human history been a case of more notable forbearance and patience in dwelling with a savage people than was manifested by the Pilgrims toward the Indians. The march of Winslow through the forest and his unselfish treatment of Massasoit when that chief was rescued by him from an otherwise fatal illness is a chapter in heroism and an exhibition of human nobility such as is seldom found on the pages of history. It was the swashbuckler, deep-drinking colony of Merrymount that brought on the notable instance of trouble with the Indians. Superficial writers would have us believe that the pure simplicity of the life of the Pilgrims made them especially bloodthirsty. Had it not been for Morton and his ribald crew the fierce and terrible flash of Miles Standish's wrath would have been unnecessary. Standish, by his alert boldness, saved the colony. It was the desire, the prayer and the practice of the Pilgrims for a great many years to live in utmost peace with their neighbors. Perhaps no colony settling under similar circumstances has ever been more free from violence. These are the simple facts and a decent regard for truth compels their reiteration.
THE NORTH SHORE
THIS district is preeminently the fashionable shore resort of America Desert or Newport. It is fully as accessible from the South and West as is Newport and far more accessible than Mount Desert, whose beauties and incomparable excellencies are a thing apart, reserved only for those who seek the best irrespective of its location.
Before one leaves Lynn he has a fine experience passing over the natural causeway to Nahant, This is an important side trip if one loves the sea. Several of our pictures are on the bold shores of Nahant, so long the residence of Senator Lodge.
The wonderful drive along the north shore beginning from the vicinity of Lynn and continuing into New Hampshire and indeed into Maine, is a joy of a very distinguished sort awaiting those who have never passed over it. The great improvements of late years have supplied a safe road and stalwart bulwarks against the sea. The beaches have been redeemed from shoddy features. Dwellings of high character have sprung up in the more fashionable districts. The country just back of the waterfront which has been given the name of Middlesex Fells is an amazing mass of boulders. The improved Newburyport Turnpike which passes through a portion of this district, though uniquely straight right and left, is far from a straight line up and down, Hence its monotony is broken by fine sightly crests over which it marches.
The traveler going directly to Newburyport misses the fine features which render Cape Ann a locality perhaps not second in interest to any in the country.
As Salem is the point of divergence for this journey and also is itself a town unique, we glance at it first. Its great fire did not destroy much of its ancient architecture. Its delightful old streets are still redolent of the early eighteenth century. It is true the Witch House is disfigured by the wart of a modern shop added to its front. The proprietors are possibly unable otherwise to retain the edifice but it had almost as well be obliterated as to be in its present form. In the autobiography of Joseph H. Choate the house is shown as it was in the earlier part of the nineteenth century. It is also shown in other aspects in the January 1923 number of "Old Time New England." One may hope that a dwelling so flavored by a vital and characteristic though awful period of history may sometime be restored to its early condition. The supposedly first brick house of the town, at last accounts was still neglected. The highest praise is due to Miss Emmerton for her efforts, so largely successful, in restoring the House of the Seven Gables for the romantic and literary tourist. She has also done distinguished work in connection with other dwellings.
THE STREAM - MOHAWK TRAIL
THE SEVEN BRIDGE ROAD - LANCASTER
A FALMOUTH WATERSIDE
THE DINING ROOM - QUINCY HOMESTEAD
THE CRADDOCK MANSION, MEDFORD
Lately also the more recent but quite typical Nichols-Pierce mansion has come into the hands of the Essex Institute, at whose headquarters so much that is important in early American history is preserved.
All in all, Salem is perhaps the finest center to study the old town life of America with the possible exception of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Salem, being older than Boston and happily not so large, has been able to retain much of its earlier flavor.
Just before reaching Salem one is called off by the lure of Marblehead. Wonderful old houses remain here, there being at least three or four of great distinction which are all available for examination. Perhaps the Lee mansion has a parlor as interesting as any in the North, or, if its prestige is challenged, that can be only by the parlor of the house in Danvers, perhaps not open to the public, which was built as a summer place by "King" Hooper.
The bay of Marblehead is a gem of beauty and one who loves at once natural scenery and old America finds them both in this town at their best. One is here away from the bustle of the city, yet by no means distant from the attractive features of American outdoor life. Marblehead is a yachting center; its harbor gay with snowy winged craft; its streets uneven, winding, full of surprises, and its back country appealing from its variety of roadsides.
We lightly pass over most of those features which properly belong in the guide books and holding to our quest for natural beauty chiefly, go on our way.
Through Beverly to Manchester and Gloucester the semi-urban condition prevails. Here and there in quaint nooks one may ferret out an early and picturesque dwelling. Largely, however, the commonplace or the grand modern house predominates.
Gloucester, the north shore center for deep sea fishing, impresses the sensitive traveler with the tragedy of that calling. The fact that men are still found to undertake fisheries off the Banks is one more instance to prove that humanity follows its bent, irrespective of the dangers along the way. An occasional salt like "Fishin' Jimmy" may still be found about the littoral, overhauling his nets. Gloucester is divided between its fishing for cod and for tourists, and more and more it is succeeding in the latter quest. The splendid bold shores about Bass Rock and Magnolia where, whenever the floods lift up their waves, the eternal conflict is resumed between cliff and sea, give the wanderer the sense of unlimited powers still at work and allow him to take up into his wearied person the strength of the sea.
Rockport, the last land on Cape Ann, is also the last mainland resort to compete for marine conditions in summer similar to those on Cape Cod. Rockport is a smaller and less sophisticated Gloucester.
HONEYMOON WINDINGS - WESTMINSTER
PIERCE-LITTLE PORCH - OLD NEWBURY
ABERJONA WATERS - WINCHESTER
UP THE LANE - NORTH ANDOVER
Following the Newburyport Turnpike from Boston one finds at Lynnfield that curious institution in America — a district lying back from the town that gave it its name and was originally portioned out by the people of such a town for farm lands. This is more like the continental scheme whereby people leave their village dwellings and spend their days on their more or less remote lands. Just back of Lynn, Salem and probably other towns there were areas owned by city dwellers who were perhaps engaged in other activities than farming but who, nevertheless, depended in part on farm lands to which they went in summer or from which they drew their supplies. At Danvers there is a notable instance to which we have referred in the "King" Hooper house, a wonderful mansion erected as a summer home by the merchant of Marblehead who was so successful and so ready to expend his substance in a lordly way that he got his epithet. In Danvers, also, there are fine outlooks and in the valleys remarkable old dwellings which we have pictured and others which are perhaps worthy of closer attention, as the Rebecca Nourse House, the Danvers Historical Society House and various others which invite a pause.
Much that is interesting is found on the cross roads leading off the Pike; for curiously the Pike itself has no villages of any considerable size upon it. At Topsfield village is a unique house, that of Parson Capen, having the gable and front overhang, a combination probably not well matched elsewhere in America. Approaching Newburyport, some of the Dummer Academy edifices fascinate us.
In Newburyport itself there are perhaps more three-story houses of the period of 1780 to 1800 than in any other similar area. The stately High street and many other streets are filled with such houses. While the style of architecture is not of the best period, the dwellings were, nevertheless, built with the greatest care and the hallways are very attractive, many having the divided stair which turns both ways from the landing. This town and many others in Massachusetts have historical societies housed in quaint dwellings affording no end of interest.
As one goes north from Salem through Beverly and Ipswich to Newburyport there are innumerable calls to the eye in the ancient homes. The Ipswich Historical Society which has its headquarters in the Whipple House, sometimes called the Saltonstall House, near the station, has what is perhaps the most remarkable room in America. We refer to the great fire room with its cross summer beam and its wonderful paneled gunstock posts supporting the cross summer. Whoever wishes to see the earliest American life at its best should examine these great beams and posts and get the fine effect of solidity which they afford.
At old Newbury the Pierce-Nichols House, off the road, supplies us with a marvellous porch which is not equalled elsewhere in this country, Its beginning in stone and terminating in brick, its niche over the door for a lantern, sundial or saint as you may choose to decide; its thick wall, quaint windows and tile floor give a suggestion of Old England in New England. The heavy walls, the deep window embrasures of the stone house show an English effect and the remarkable buttressed chimney built in part on the exterior of the rear, is only rivalled by the stone house of Guilford, Connecticut. The dwelling we describe is not shown except by the courtesy of the owners. It is set amid broad acres of the original great domain and for a manor house in New England presents more features true to the ancient life than we shall find elsewhere.
PATCHWORK QUILTING - NEWBURYPORT
A HYANNIS COTTAGE
TEA IN THE STATE CHAMBER - LEE MANSION
THE HOPE OF THE YEAR - HARVARD
On the main road is the remarkable dwelling now used as an inn, belonging to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities; the Short house on the opposite side, and not a few others have very early and rare features. And so we come again into Newburyport by this second route. On the river here is what, in its day, attracted much attention, being the first suspension bridge in the region. The drives by the river, mostly cross roads, introduce us to alluring glimpses. Going from Newburyport through West Newbury to Haverhill one passes a great many very early houses and mounts the crest of lofty ridges and crosses fine water reaches, so that all together this drive may be commended as among the best in the country.