Historic Mansions and Highways around Boston - Samuel Adams Drake - ebook

This volume contains a vast fund of information and anecdotes about old Boston, its notable buildings, markets, streets, and most memorable characters. The book is a perfect storehouse of information and one can only be amazed at the extent and accuracy of the information. The plan of grouping the most interesting neighborhoods, so as to embrace nearly the whole peninsula of Boston, is original.

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Historical Mansions and Highways around Boston








Historical Mansions and Highways around Boston, S. Adams Drake

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849651046



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"I stand by the old thought, the old thing, the old place, and the old friend." — Lowell.

I TAKE it that we, of this generation, can form little conception of the value which every visible token of our ancestors, however humble, will have for those who shall come after us. And that simple statement carries its own moral. In the broadest and most enlightened sense, we, of to-day, are but the passing custodians of all those visible and authentic memorials which Time and Progress have yet spared to us. They belong not to us, but to History. We can tear down, hut who shall build up again?

It was, in the main, this thought which first prompted the writing of this book. And it is true that, within comparatively few years, something has been realized in that direction — thanks to the praiseworthy efforts of our patriotic societies; but Old Father Time is a relentless iconoclast, even of our most cherished idols, and much more remains to be done if we are to stand fully acquitted of our obligations, not only to ourselves, but to what may mean so much to posterity.

I have long been convinced that nothing so healthfully stimulates the study of history, especially to young people, as a visit to scenes made memorable by the lives of great men or the march of great events. Seeing is believing, the world over. Unless one is wholly wanting in imagination, it is hardly possible to visit such places without feeling something of the living presence of the actors themselves, or fail to carry away far more vivid and lasting impressions than could be received from the most graphic descriptions alone. At all events, there is a vast deal of satisfaction in being able to say that we have stood on the very spot where our national life began.

Since you and I, most kind reader, went over the ground together, covered in these pages, the changes, I had almost said the havoc, wrought on every side by the steady outreaching of a great and growing city have rendered a thorough revision of the whole work indispensable to a correct reading.

To this end, every place mentioned therein has been revisited, in order that present conditions might be established. Attention is especially called to the illustrations, which do not appear in earlier editions, but which form so attractive a feature of this present volume In having so many places of the highest interest, situated at our own doors, so to speak, we are indeed a favored community, since at almost every corner one may turn some page of history. Every old house we shall visit is a voice speaking to us from out of the Past.

At parting, I shall hope you may have no reason to regret our companionship.

May, 1899




"A sup of New England's Aire is better than a whole draught of Old England's Ale."

THE charming belt of country around Boston is full of interest to Americans. It is diversified with every feature that can make a landscape attractive. Town clasps hands with town until the girdle is complete where Nahant and Nantasket sit with their feet in the Atlantic. The whole region may he compared to one vast park, where nature has wrought in savage grandeur what art has subdued into a series of delightful pictures. No one portion of the zone may claim precedence.

There is the same shifting panorama visible from every rugged height that never fails to delight soul and sense. We can liken these suburban abodes to nothing but a string of precious gems flung around the neck of Old Boston.

Nor is this all. Whoever cherishes the memory of brave deeds — and who does not? — will find here the arena in which the colonial stripling suddenly sprang erect, and planted a blow full in the front of the old insular gladiator, — a blow that made him reel with the shock to his very center. It was here the people of the "Old Thirteen" first acted together as one nation, and here the separate streams of their existence united in one mighty flood. The girdle is not the less interesting that it rests on the ramparts of the Revolution. It is in a great measure true that what is nearest to us we know the least about, and that we ignorantly pass over scenes every day, not a whit less interesting than those by which we are attracted to countries beyond the seas. An invitation to a pilgrimage among the familiar objects which may be viewed from the city steeples, while it may not be comparable to a tour in the environs of London or of Paris, will not, our word for it, fail to supply us with materials for reflection and entertainment. Let us beguile the way with glances at the interior home life of our English ancestors, while inspecting the memorials they have left behind. Their habitations yet stand by the wayside, and if dumb to others, will not altogether refuse their secrets to such as seek them in the light of historic truth. We shall not fill these old halls with lamentations for a greatness that is departed never to return, but remember always that there is a living present into which our lives are framed, and by which the civilization of what we may call the old regime may be tested. Where we have advanced, we need not fear the ordeal; where we have not advanced, we need not fear to avow it.

We suppose ourselves at the water-side, a wayfarer by the old bridge leading to Charlestown, with the tide rippling against the wooden piers beneath our feet, and the blue sky above calling us afield. The shores are bristling with masts which gleam like so many polished conductors and cast their long wavy shadows aslant the watery mirror. Behind these, houses rise, tier over tier, mass against mass, from which, as if disdainful of such company, the granite obelisk springs out, and higher yet, a landmark on the sea, a Pharos of liberty on the shore.

The Charles, to which Longfellow has dedicated some charming lines, though not actually seen by Smith, retained the name with which he christened it. It was a shrewd guess in the hold navigator, that the numerous islands he saw in the bay indicated the estuary of a great river penetrating the interior.

It is a curious feature of the map which Smith made of the coast of New England in 1614, that the names of Plymouth, Boston, Cambridge, and many other towns not settled until long afterwards, should be there laid down. Smith's map was the first on which the name of New England appeared.

In the pavement of St. Sepulchre, London, is Smith's tombstone. The inscription, except the three Turk's heads, is totally effaced, but the church authorities have promised to have it renewed as given by Stow.

The subject of bridging the river from the old ferry-way at Hudson's Point to the opposite shore — which is hero of about the same breadth as the Thames at London Bridge — was agitated as early as 1712, or more than seventy years before its final accomplishment. In 1720 the attempt was renewed, but while the utility of a bridge was conceded, it was not considered a practicable undertaking. After the Revolution the project was again revived, and a man was found equal to the occasion. An ingenious shipwright, named Lemuel Cox, was then living at Medford, who insisted that the enterprise was feasible. Some alleged that the channel of the river was too deep, that the ice would destroy the structure, and that it would obstruct navigation; while by far the greater number rejected the idea altogether as chimerical. But Cox persevered.

He brought the influential and enterprising to his views; a charter was obtained, and this energetic and skillful mechanic saw the bridge he had so dexterously planned in his brain become a reality. Captain John Stone, of Concord, Mass., was the architect of this bridge. His epitaph in the old burying ground there says he was a man of good natural abilities, which seemed to be adorned with modern virtues and Christian graces.

He died in 1791.

The opening of the structure upon the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill, and only eleven years after that event, attracted upwards of twenty thousand spectators. The day was ushered in by a discharge of thirteen cannon from the opposite heights of Breed's Hill, Charlestown, and Copp's Hill, Boston, accompanied by repeated peals from the bells of Christ Church. At one o'clock, P. M., the proprietors assembled in the State House for the purpose of conducting the several branches of the Legislature over the bridge. The procession, which included not only the public officials, but almost every individual of prominence in the community, moved from State Street, amid a salute from the Castle, and upon its arrival at the bridge the attendant companies of artillery formed two lines to the right and left, through which the cortege passed on to the middle of the bridge, where it halted. The President of the Corporation, Thomas Russell, then advanced alone, and directed Mr. Cox to fix the draw for the passage of the company, which was immediately done. The procession continued its march to Breed's Hill, where two tables, each three hundred and twenty feet long, had been laid, at which eight hundred guests sat down and prolonged the festivities until evening.

When built, this was the longest bridge in the world, and, except the abutments, was entirely of wood. Until West Boston Bridge was constructed, in 1793, it yielded a splendid return to the proprietors; but the latter surpassed it not only in length, but in beauty of architecture, and, with the causeway on the Cambridge side, formed a beautiful drive or promenade of about two miles in extent. It also lessened the distance from Cambridge to Boston more than a mile. In 1828 Warren Bridge was opened, but not without serious opposition from the proprietors of the old avenue; and the two bridges might not inaptly have served some native poet for a colloquy as famous as that of the rival "Brigs of Ayr."


"Nae langer thrifty citizens an' douce

Meet owre a pint, or in the Council-house;

But staumrel, corky-headed, graceless Gentry,

The herryment and ruin of the country;

Men three-parts made by Tailors and by Barbers,

Wha' waste your well hain'd gear on d—d new Brigs and Harbours!"


The ferry, which was the original mode of transit between the two peninsulas, was established in 1635, and five years later was granted to Harvard College. To compensate for the loss of the income from this source when Charles River Bridge was built, the proprietors were required to pay £ 200 per annum to the University, and in 1792 the same sum was imposed on the West Boston Bridge Corporation.

Two handbills, each embellished with a rude woodcut of the bridge, were printed on the occasion of the opening, in 1786. One was from the "Charlestown Press "; the other was printed by "E. Russell, Boston, next door to Dr. Haskins', near Liberty Pole." From the broadside (as it was then called), published at the request and for the benefit of the directors and friends of this "grand and almost unparalleled undertaking," we present the following extract: — "This elegant work was begun on the First of June 1785, (a day remarkable in the Annals of America as the Ports of Boston and Charlestown were unjustly shut up by an arbitrary British Administration) and was finished on the seventeenth of the same month 1786, the ever memorable day on which was fought the famous and bloody Battle of Bunker-Hill, where was shewn the Valour of the undisciplined New England Militia under the magnanimous Warren who gloriously fell in his Country's Cause! Blessed Be His Memory!! And All the People— Say Amen!!!

The building committee were Hon. Nathaniel Gorham, Richard Devens, David Wood, Jr., Captain Joseph Cordis, Andrew Symmes, Jr., and John Larkin.

Lemuel Cox, the artisan, was born in Boston in 1736, and died in Charlestown in 1806. In 1787 he built the bridge to Maiden, which was finished in six months; and in the following year (1788), the Essex Bridge, at Salem, was constructed by him. In 1789 he was living in Prince Street, in Boston, and styled himself a millwright. In 1790, accompanied by a Mr. Thompson, Cox went to Ireland, where he was invited to estimate for the building of a bridge over the Foyle at Londonderry. His proposals being accepted, the two Americans purchased a ship, which they loaded at Sheepscot, Maine, with lumber, and having secured about twenty of their countrymen, skilled in shaping timber, set sail for Ireland.

The bridge, which connected the city and county, consisted of fifty-eight arches, all of American oak, and was completed in five months. The Foyle was here about nine hundred feet wide and forty feet deep at high water. What made Cox's achievement the more important was the fact that Milne, an English engineer, had surveyed the river and pronounced the scheme impracticable.

Our pioneer in bridge-building on a great scale in America has received but scanty recompense at the hands of biographers.

Dr. Ure has neither noticed his great works in Ireland nor in this country. Before he left Europe, Mr. Cox was applied to by the Corporation of London to take down Wren's monument, which was supposed to threaten a fall; but, as they would not give him his price, he declined. Massachusetts granted him, in 1796, a thousand acres of land in Maine, for being the first inventor of a machine to cut card-wire, the first projector of a powder-mill in the State, and the first to suggest the employment of prisoners on Castle Island to make nails. The rude woodcut which adorned the head of the broadside circulated at the opening of Charles River Bridge was executed, as the printer says, by "that masterpiece of ingenuity, Mr. Lemuel Cox." It shows a detachment of artillery with cannon ready for firing, and a coach with four horses, and a footman behind, driving at full speed over the bridge.

In 1786 no ceremony would have been considered complete without the aid of the Muses, and the Nine were energetically invoked in forty stanzas, of which we submit a fair specimen: —


"The smiling morn now peeps in view,

Bright with peculiar charms,

See, Boston Nymphs and Charlestown too

Each linked arm in arm.


2. "I sing the day in which the BRIDGE

Is finished and done,

Boston and Charlestown lads rejoice,

And fire your cannon guns.


3. "The BRIDGE is finished now I say,

Each other bridge outvies,

For London Bridge, compar'd with ours

Appears in dim disguise.


23. "Now Boston, Charlestown nobly join

And roast a fatted Ox On noted

Bunker Hill combine,

To toast our patriot COX.


38. "May North and South and Charlestown all

Agree with one consent,

To love each one like Indian's rum,

On publick good be sent."


Chelsea Bridge was built in 1803, and the direct avenue to Salem opened by means of a turnpike, by which the distance from Boston was greatly diminished. The bridge was to revert to the Commonwealth in seventy years.

In 1643 the colony of Massachusetts Bay was divided into four shires, of which Middlesex, named after that county in Old England which includes London, was one. It is the most populous of all the counties of the Old Bay State, and embraces within its limits the earliest battle-fields of the Revolution, the first seat of learning in the English colonies, and the manufactures which have made American industry known in every quarter of the globe.

Charlestown, the mother of Boston, resembled in its superficial features its more powerful offspring. It was a peninsula, connected with the mainland by a narrow neck; it had three principal hills also, but the mutations which have swept over the one have not left the other untouched. To remove a mountain is now only a question of time; and were Mahomet to live again, he would see that his celebrated reply has become void of significance.

Like Shawmut, Mishawum had its solitary settler in Thomas Walford, the sturdy smith, who was found living here in 1628, when some of Endicott's company made their way through the wilderness from Salem. The next year the settlement received some accessions, and was named Charles Towne by Governor Endicott, in honor of the reigning prince. Winthrop's company arrived at Charlestown in June and July 1630; but, owing to the mortality that prevailed and the want of water, the settlers soon began to disperse, the larger part removing with the governor to Shawmut. A second dispersion took place on account of the destruction of the town during the battle of 1775, leaving nothing but the hills, the ancient burial-place, and a few old houses that escaped the conflagration in the victors' hands.

After nearly two centuries and a half of separate existence, Charlestown has at length become part of Boston. The people simply ratified what History had already decreed. Now Bunker Hill and Dorchester Heights lie, as they ought to lie, within a common municipal government.

The old ferry, besides serving the primitive settlers, is deserving of recognition as the place where the first exchange of prisoners took place after hostilities began between America and Great Britain. This event occurred on the 6th of June following the battle of Lexington, and was conducted by Dr. Warren and General Putnam for the colony, and by Major Moncrieff on behalf of General Gage. The contending parties concerned themselves little at that time about what has sincebeen known as "belligerent rights," each being ready to get rid of some troublesome visitors by the easiest and most natural method. Warren and Putnam rode to the ferry in a phaeton, followed by a cavalcade of prisoners, some mounted and others riding in chaises. Arrived at the shore, the Doctor and 'Old Put' signaled the Lively, man-of-war, and Major Moncrieff come off as related. After the performance of their public business, the parties to the exchange adjourned to Mr. Foster's, and had what was then and since known as "a good time."

A much worse fate happened to the Bunker Hill prisoners, and it is quite evident that both parties looked upon the collision at Lexington as premature, — the King's commander with misgiving as to whether his conduct would be sustained in England; the colonists as to whether their resistance had not closed the door against that reconciliation with the throne they professed so ardently to desire.

The great square around which clustered the humble habitations of the settlers; the "great house," inhabited for a time by the governor, and in which the settlement of Boston was probably planned; the thatched meeting-house, and even the first tavern of old Samuel Long, — afterwards the sign of the Two Cranes and situated on the City Hall site, — were what met the eye of Josselyn as he ascended the beach into the market-place in 1638. He describes the rattlesnake he saw while walking out there, and his visit to Long's ordinary.

Eventually, the town stretched itself along the street leading to the mainland.

In these times of degeneracy, when man requires the most repressive measures to compel him to abstain from the vice of intemperance, we can but look back with longing eyes upon those halcyon days when a traveler entering a public inn was immediately followed by an officer, who, with the utmost sang froid, placed himself near the guest, and when, in his opinion, his charge had partaken of enough strong waters, by a wave of his hand forbade the host to fetch another stoup of liquor. What a companion for a midnight wassail of good fellows! With his gaze riveted upon the countenances of the revelers, he marks each stage of transition from sobriety to that point which we may call the perfect equipoise, where the law steps in. With a rap of his staff upon the floor, or a thwack of his fist on the table, he checks the song or silences the jest. We hardly know how to sufficiently admire such parental care in our forefathers; we hesitate to compare it with the present system. The night-watch, too, was an institution. With their greatcoats, dark lanterns, and iron-shod staffs, they went their rounds to warn all wayfarers to their beds, admonish the loiterers who might chance to be abroad, or arrest evil-doers. Whether they were marshalled nightly by their officer we know not, but we doubt not they would have diligently executed their commission.


Dogb. Well, you are to call at all the alehouses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.

2 Watch. How if they will not?

Dogb. Why, let them alone till they are sober.


The watchman had an ancient custom of crying " All's well!"

and the hour of the night, as he went his rounds, at the same time striking his bill upon the pavement. This was to banish sleep altogether from the bed of sickness, or divide it into periods of semi-consciousness for the more robust. Well can we imagine the drowsy guardian, lurking in some dark passage or narrow lane, shouting with stentorian lungs his sleep-destroying watch-cry under the stars, and startling a whole neighborhood from its slumbers. Like the Scot, he murdered sleep; like him, he should have been condemned to sleep no more.

Dr. Bentley, of Salem, who perhaps had a watchman nightly posted under his window, pertinently inquired through a newspaper if it would not be better to cry out when all was not well, and let well enough alone.

Charlestown has given to the world some eminent public characters. Earliest among these is John Harvard, the patron of the college that bears his name. He was admitted a freeman "with promise of such accommodations as we best can,"

in 1637, but died the following year, leaving half his estate for the use of the infant school of learning. He also left his library of more than three hundred volumes to the College, and has a simple granite shaft, erected to his memory on Burial Hill, in Charlestown, by the graduates of the University he aided to found.

Edward Everett delivered the address on the occasion of the dedication. The eastern face of the monument, besides the name of John Harvard, bears the following inscription.

"On the 26th of September, A. D. 1828, this stone was erected by the graduates of the University at Cambridge, in honor of its founder, who died at Charlestown on the 26th of September, 1638."

The western front bears a Latin inscription, recognizing that one who had laid the corner-stone of letters in America should no longer be without a monument, however humble. This memorial, which was raised nearly two hundred years after the decease of Harvard, rests on a suppositive site, his burial-place having been forgotten or obliterated. Unfortunately, less is known of Harvard than of most of his contemporaries, but that little is treasured as a precious legacy to the Alumni of the University. The old graveyard, one of the most interesting in New England, as having received the ashes of many of Winthrop's band, suffered mutilation while the town was held by the British in 1775-6. It is stated that the gravestones were in some cases used by the soldiers for thresholds to their barracks.

Charlestown may also lay claim to having given two brave soldiers to Old Noll's army when that hard-hitting Puritan was cracking the crowns of loyal Scot, Briton, or Celt, and sending the ringleted cavaliers over-seas to escape his long arm.

Principal of these was William Rainsborrow who lived here in 1639, and was, with Robert Sedgwick and Israel Stoughton, a member of the Honorable Artillery Company of Boston.

Rainsborrow had risen to be colonel of a regiment in the Parliamentary army, in which Stoughton (of Dorchester) was lieutenant-colonel, Nehemiah Bourne, a Boston shipwright, major, and John Leverett, afterwards governor, a captain; William Hudson, supposed to be of Boston, also, was ensign.

In the year 1648, the Yorkshire royalists, who had been living in quiet since the first war, were again excited by intelligence of Duke Hamilton's intended invasion. A plan was laid and successfully carried out to surprise Pomfret Castle, (sometimes called Pontefract) the greatest and strongest castle in all England, and then held by Colonel Cotterel as governor for the Parliament. The castle was soon besieged by Sir Edward Rhodes and Sir Henry Cholmondly with five thousand regular troops, but the royal garrison made good their conquest. It being likely to prove a tedious affair, General Rainsborrow was sent from London by the Parliament to put a speedy end to it. He was esteemed a general of great skill and courage, exceedingly zealous in the Protector's service, with a reputation gained both by land and sea, — he having been, for a time, Admiral of Cromwell's fleet. Rainsborrow pitched his headquarters, for the present, at Doncaster, twelve miles from Pomfret, with twelve hundred foot and two regiments of horse.

The castle garrison having learned of Hamilton's defeat at Preston, and that Sir Marmaduke Langdale, who commanded the English in that battle, was a prisoner, formed the bold design of seizing General Rainsborrow in his camp, and holding him a hostage for Sir Marmaduke. The design seemed the more feasible, because the general and his men were in no apprehension of any surprise; the castle being twelve miles distant, closely besieged, and the only garrison for the King in England.

The plan was shrewdly laid, favored by circumstances, and was completely successful except that instead of bringing the general off they were obliged to kill him. With only twenty-two picked men, well mounted, Captain William Paulden penetrated into Doncaster undiscovered. The guards were forced and dispersed, while a party of four made for the general's lodgings. At the door they were met by his lieutenant, who, on their announcing that they had come with dispatches from General Cromwell, conducted them to the general's chamber, where he was in bed. While the general was opening the dispatch, in which was nothing but blank paper, the king's men told him he was their prisoner, but that not a hair of his head should be touched, if he went quietly along with them.

They then disarmed his lieutenant, who had so innocently facilitated their design, and brought them both out of the house. A horse was prepared for the general, and he was directed to mount, which he at first seemed willing to do, and put his foot in the stirrup, but looking about him and seeing only four enemies, while his lieutenant and sentinel (whom they had not disarmed) were standing by him, he pulled his foot out of the stirrup, and cried Arms! Arms!

Upon this, one of his enemies, letting fall his sword and pistol, — for he did not wish to kill the general, — caught hold of Rainsborrow, who grappled with him, and both fell to the ground. The general's lieutenant then picked up the trooper's pistol, but was instantly run through the body by Paulden's lieutenant, while in the act of cocking it. A third stabbed Rainsborrow in the neck; yet the general gained his feet with the trooper's sword, with whom he had been struggling, in his hand. The lieutenant of the party then passed his sword through his body, when the brave but ill-fated Rainsborrow fell dead upon the pavement.

Another of Charlestown's worthies whom we cite was Robert Sedgwick, who became a major-general under the Protector, and is mentioned by Carlyle. Sedgwick was a favorite with the "Usurper" as he was called by the King's party, who sent him with a well-appointed fleet to Jamaica, to replace D'Oyley, a cavalier, who, notwithstanding his success in the West Indies, was disliked by Cromwell. Cromwell had, with his usual astuteness, encouraged the cavaliers to embark in the conquest of Jamaica, where rich booty was expected and whence few of them returned. Sedgwick, unaccustomed to the climate and mode of life, died before he had an opportunity of accomplishing anything.

An original portrait of Leverett in his military garb shows him to be every inch a soldier. He is painted in a buff surcoat fastened with steel frogs, and has a stout blade with steel hilt and guard suspended by an embroidered shoulder-belt, at his thigh.

"His waistcoat was of stubborn Buff,

Some say Fuizee and Ponyard proof";

his head is uncovered, and his curling black locks and beard set off a bronzed and martial countenance. Plumed hat, high jack-boots, and gauntlets complete a military attire of the time by no means unbecoming.

Nathaniel Gorham, a resident of Town Hill, whose name appears among the projectors of Charles River Bridge, was a man eminent in the councils of the State and the nation. He was a member of both the First and Second Provincial Congress; of the General Court, the Board of War, and of the State Constitutional Convention. A delegate to the Continental Congress in 1782-83, and president of that body in 1786; he was also a member of Governor Hancock's council in 1789, at the time of Washington's visit. His account of the difference which arose between the President and the Governor, as to which should pay the first visit, and which it is believed is now for the first time in print, sheds some new light on that affair which at the time convulsed all circles of the Massachusetts capital. In regard to the assertion that the Governor expected the first call, Mr. Gorham says: —

"There is nothing further from the truth than this idea; and I do not speak from uncertainties, for the Council was sitting every day for a week before the President's arrival, and met almost every day at the Governor's house to concert proper measures for his reception.

I was apprehensive something like what has happened might take place, and proposed that the address which the Governor and Council had agreed to make should be delivered at Cambridge, where the Lieutenant-Governor and Council first saw the President, with a letter from the Governor, or an authorized message, that his indisposition prevented his attending with the Council: but this idea was not supported. The Governor did not oppose it, but on the contrary declared in the most explicit terms that he had no doubt in his mind of the propriety of his making the first visit. This was on Friday. On Saturday the President arrived, and not choosing to come up to the Governor's to dine, the Lieutenant Governor and two of his Council went down to his lodgings in the evening, authorized by the Governor to make the most explicit declaration as to the point in question. This brought some explanation from the President by which it appeared that he had been misinformed as to the state of the Governor's health; for he had been led to believe that the Governor had dined out some days before, and had rode out every day the preceding week, when to my knowledge he had not been out of his chamber. But the explanation made by the Council on Saturday evening and the Governor's visit on Sunday soon removed every difficulty."

It was during this visit that an incident occurred illustrating Washington's rigid punctuality. He had appointed eight o'clock in the morning as the hour in which he should set out for Salem; and while the Old South clock was striking eight, he was mounting his horse. The company of cavalry which was to escort him, not anticipating this strict punctuality, were parading in Tremont Street after his departure; and it was not until the President had reached Charles River Bridge, where he stopped a few minutes, that the troop overtook him. On passing the corps, the President with perfect good-nature said, "Major Gibbs, I thought you had been too long in my family, not to know when it was eight o'clock." Charlestown was the first town in Massachusetts to institute public funeral honors on the death of this great man.

What was particularly remarkable in Mr. Gorham was his perspicacity with regard to the destiny of the great West. This led him, at a time when there was neither public nor private credit, to purchase, in connection with Oliver Phelps, an immense tract of land then belonging to Massachusetts, lying on the Genesee, in New York. The area of the purchase comprises ten or twelve counties and includes hundreds of flourishing towns.

Jedediah Morse, the father of American geography, and minister of the first church in Charlestown from 1789 to 1820, describes Charlestown in his Gazetteer of 1797 as containing two hundred and fifty houses and twenty-five hundred inhabitants, with no other public buildings of note than the Congregational meeting-house and almshouse. A traveler who visited the place in 1750 says it then had two hundred houses, and was a pleasant little town "where the Bostoneers build many vessels." The destruction of the town and dispersion of the inhabitants caused the exemption of that part lying within the Neck, that is to say the peninsula, from furnishing troops for the Continental army in 1776. In 1784 Nathaniel Gorham was sent to England on a singular mission by the sufferers from the burning of the town in 1775, —it being for no other purpose than to solicit aid for the consequences of an act of war. The mission resulted in failure, as it deserved, and was condemned by the thinking portion of the community, who did not believe we could afford to ask alms of those whom we had just forced to acknowledge our independence.

Dr. Morse's first work on geography for the use of schools was prepared at New Haven in 1784. This was soon followed by larger works on the same subject and by gazetteers, compiled from the historical and descriptive works of the time, and aided by travel and correspondence. We cannot withhold our astonishment when we look into one of these early volumes; for it is only by this means we realize the immense strides our country has been taking since the Revolution, or that a vast extent of territory, then a wilderness, has now become the seat of political power for these states and the granary from whence half Europe is fed. What was then laid down as a desert is now seamed by railways and covered with cities and villages. The early volumes of the Massachusetts Historical Society contained many valuable topographical and descriptive papers contributed by Drs. Belknap, Holmes, Bentley, and others, and of which Dr. Morse, an influential member of the society, in all probability availed himself in his later works.

Geography was an original passion with Dr. Morse, which it is said rendered him so absent-minded that once, being asked by his teacher at a Greek recitation where a certain verb was found, he replied, "On the coast of Africa." While he was a tutor at Yale, the want of geographies there induced him to prepare notes for his pupils, to serve as text books, which he eventually printed. Such was the origin of his labors in this field of learning.

The clergy have always been our historians, and New England annals would be indeed meagre, but for the efforts of Hubbard, Prince, the Mathers, Belknap, Gordon, Morse, Holmes, and others. As Hutchinson drew on Hubbard, so all the writers on the Revolution derive much of their material from Gordon, whose work, if it did not satisfy the intense American feeling of his day, seems at this time remarkable for fairness and truth. The meridian of London, where Dr. Gordon's work first appeared, was freely said to have impaired his narrative and to have caused the revision of his manuscript to the suppression of whatever might wound the susceptibilities of his English patrons.

Dr. Morse engaged much in controversy, Unitarianism having begun publicly to assert itself in his time, and in some instances to obtain control of the old Orthodox houses of worship. The struggle of Dr. Holmes to maintain himself against the wave of new ideas forms a curious chapter in religious controversial history. The energy with which Jedediah Morse engaged in the conflict seriously affected his health, but he kept his church true to its original, time-honored doctrines.

Dr. Morse, who was the townsman and classmate of Dr. Holmes, is understood to have introduced the latter at Cambridge.

On some occasion, Dr. Gardiner of Trinity Church, Boston, who, by the way, was a pupil of the celebrated Dr. Parr, went to preach in the church at Cambridge, and, as a matter of course, many of the professors went to hear him. Unitarianism had appeared in the Episcopal, as well as the Congregational Church.

Dr. Gardiner began his discourse somewhat in this wise: "My brethren, there is a new science discovered; it is called Biblical criticism. Do you want to know what Biblical criticism is? I will tell you.

'Off with his head! So much for Buckingham.' Cooke.

'Off with his head! So much for Buckingham.' Kemble.

Mr. Cooper says neither are right, but that it should be rendered, 'Off with his head! so much for Buckingham!' My friends that is Biblical criticism." We leave the reader to imagine the effect upon the grave and reverend professors of the College.

Dr. Morse was sole editor of the Panoplist from 1806 to 1811, and was prominent in establishing the Andover Theological Seminary. He engaged at times in missionary work, the records of marriages performed by him at the Isles of Shoals being still in existence there. One of his last labors was a visit to the Indian tribes of the Northwest, under the direction of the government, a report of which he published in 1832.

At the time of the excitement in New England against secret societies, when the most direful apprehensions existed that religion itself was to be overthrown by Free-Masonry, the Illuminati, or bugbears of a similar character, Dr. Morse was one of the overseers of Harvard College and a distinguished alarmist. As such, he opposed with all his might the proposal of the Phi Beta Kappa Society to publish "The Literary Miscellany," which afterwards appeared under their auspices. It was conjectured that this literary association, with its then unrevealed Greek initials, was an off-shoot of some order of Masonry, and hence the Doctor's vigilance to prevent the entrance of any corrupting influences within the walls of the seminary.

The old parsonage which was the residence of Dr. Morse was situated in what is now Harvard Street, between the City Hall and Church, the house standing quite near the latter, while the garden extended down the hill on the ground now occupied by Harvard Row, quite to the City Hall. It was a two-story wooden house, removed many years since from its historic site on the ancient Town Hill.

Dr. Morse's more distinguished son, Samuel Finley Breese, known to all the world for making electricity the instantaneous messenger of his will, first saw the light under the shadow of Hunker Hill. His eulogy, thanks to his own invention, was pronounced simultaneously from St. Petersburg to California; his memory received the homage of crowned heads, as well as of our own republican court, such as has rarely, if ever, been accorded to any explorer in the pathways of science. As the moans of the Old World have in times past bowed before a Franklin, a Rumford, and a Bowditch, they have once more been called upon to inscribe in their high places of honor the name of an American.

Samuel F. B. Morse was not born at the parsonage, but in the house of Thomas Edes, on Main Street, to which Dr. Morse had removed while his own roof was undergoing some repairs. The house, which is also noted as the first erected in Charlestown after its destruction in 1775, stands at the corner of Main Street Court at a little distance from the Unitarian Church, is of wood, and has three stories.

Young Morse seconded his father's passion for geography by one as strongly marked for drawing, and the blank margin of his Virgil occupied far more of his thoughts than the text.

His penchant for art, exhibited in much the same manner as Allston's, his future master, did not meet with the same encouragement. A caricature, founded upon some fracas among the students at Yale, and in which the faculty were burlesqued, was seized, handed to President Dwight, and the author, who was no other than our friend Morse, called up. The delinquent received a severe lecture upon his waste of time, violation of college laws, and filial disobedience, without exhibiting any signs of contrition; but when at length Dr. Dwight said to him, "Morse you are no painter; this is a rude attempt, a complete failure," he was touched to the quick, and could not keep back the tears. On being questioned by his fellow-students as to what Dr. Dwight had said or done, "He says I am no painter!" roared Morse, cut to the heart through his darling passion.

A canvas, executed by Morse at the age of nineteen, of the Landing of the Pilgrim's may be seen at the Charlestown City Hall. He accompanied Allston to Europe, where he became a pupil of West, and, it is said, also, of Copley, though the latter died two years after Morse reached England. He exhibited his "Dying Hercules" at the Royal Academy in 1813, receiving subsequently from the London Adelphi a prize gold medal for a model of the same in plaster. In 1815 he returned to America and pursued portrait painting, his price being fifteen dollars for a picture. Morse became a resident of New York about 1822, and painted Lafayette when the latter visited this country shortly after.

Various accounts have been given of the manner in which Morse first imbibed the idea of making electricity the means of conveying intelligence, the one usually accepted being that, while returning from Europe in 1832, on board the packet ship Sully, a fellow-passenger related some experiments he had witnessed in Paris with the electro-magnet, which made such an impression upon one of his auditors that he walked the deck the whole night. Professor Morse's own account was that he gained his knowledge of the working of the electro-magnet while attending the lectures of Dr. J. Freeman Dana, then professor of chemistry in the University of New York, delivered before the New York Athenaeum. "I witnessed," says Morse, "the effects of the conjunctive wires in the different forms described by him in his lectures, and exhibited to his audience.

The electro-magnet was put in action by an intensity battery; it was made to sustain the weight of its armature, when the conjunctive wire was connected with the poles of the battery, or the circuit was closed; and it was made 'to drop its load' upon opening the circuit."

Morse's application to the Twenty-Seventh Congress for aid to put his invention to the test of practical illustration was only carried by a vote of eighty-nine to eighty-seven. The inventor went to Washington with exhausted means and heartsick with despondency. Two votes saved, perhaps, this wonderful discovery to American invention. With the thirty thousand dollars he obtained, Morse stretched his first wires from Washington to Baltimore, — we say wires, because the principle of the ground circuit was not then known, and only discovered, we believe, by accident, so that a wire to go and another to return between the cities was deemed necessary by Morse to complete his first circuit. The first wire was of copper.

The first message, now in the custody of the Connecticut Historical Society, was dictated by Miss Annie G. Ellsworth.

With trembling hand Morse must have spelled out the words, — "What Hath God Wrought!"

With an intensity of feeling he must have waited for the "aye, aye" of his distant correspondent. It was done; and the iron thread, freighted with joy or woe to men or nations, now throbs responsive to the delicate touch of a child. It now springs up from the desert in advance of civilization; its spark o'erleaps the ocean and well-nigh spans the globe itself. No man can say that its destiny is accomplished; but we have lived to grasp the lightning and play with the thunderbolt.

The telegraph was at first regarded with a superstitious dread in some sections of the country. Will it be credited that in a Southern State a drouth was attributed to its occult influences, and the people, infatuated with the idea, levelled the wires with the ground? The savages of the plains have been known to lie in ambush watching the mysterious agent of the white man, and listening to the humming of the wires, which they vaguely associated with evil augury to themselves. So common was it for the Indians to knock off the insulators with their rifles, in order to gratify their curiosity in regard to the "singing cord," that it was, at first, extremely difficult to keep the lines in repair along the Pacific railway.

As you go towards Charlestown Neck, when about half-way from the point where Main and Warren Streets unite, you see at your right hand the old-fashioned two-story wooden house in which Charlotte Cushman passed some of her early life.

She was born in Boston, in that part of the town ycleped the North End, and in an old house that stood within the present enclosure of the Hancock School yard. It should not be forgotten that that sterling actor, John Gilbert, was born in the next house. Here young John spoke his first piece and here the great curtain was rung up for little Charlotte. When the lights shall be at last turned off, and darkness envelop the stage, there will be two wreaths of immortelles to be added to the tributes which that famed old quarter already claims for its long roll of celebrated names.

It is related that, when a child, Charlotte was one day incautiously playing on Long Wharf, where her father kept a store, and there fell into the water. She was rescued and taken home dripping wet, but instead of an ecstatic burst of joy at the safety of her darling, her mother gave her a sound whipping. Perhaps this was only one of those sudden revulsions which Tom Hood exemplifies in his "Lost Heir."

After her removal to Charlestown Charlotte went to Miss Austin's school. This lady was a relative of William Austin, the author of "Peter Rugg." Charlotte was a good scholar, and almost always had the badge of excellence suspended from her neck. She was very strong physically, as some of her schoolmates bear witness to this day. Although she displayed considerable aptitude as a reader, her predilection was, at this time, altogether in favor of a musical career, and she cultivated her voice assiduously to that end.

Her first appearance in public was at a social concert given at the hall No. 1 Franklin Avenue, in Boston, March 25th, 1830, where she was assisted by Mr. Farmer, Mr. John F. Pray, Messrs. Stedman, Morris, and others. She also sang at one of Mrs. Wood's Concerts, and that lady, pleased with her fine contralto voice, advised her to turn her attention to the lyric drama. Mr. Maeder, the husband of Clara Fisher, brought her out as the Countess, in Les Noces de Figaro, in April, 1835, at the Tremont Theatre.

Her voice failing, she determined to adopt the acting branch of the profession, and studied under the direction of W. E. Burton, the celebrated comedian. Having mastered the part of Lady Macbeth, she appeared with complete success at the New York theatres in this and other leading characters. At this time she brought out her youngest sister, Susan, herself assuming male parts. She was manageress of one of the Philadelphia theatres until Mr. Macready, in 1844, invited her to accompany him in a professional tour of the Northern States, which gave her an opportunity of displaying her tragic powers to advantage.

During her tour with Macready, she played in Boston at the Old Melodeon, with scarcely a single voice of the press raised in her favor. Her benefit, at which the tragedian, with characteristic littleness, refused to appear, was a pecuniary loss to her.

But it was during this trip that Macready said to her one day, in his brusque, pompous way, "Girl, you would do well in London." This remark was not lost on the quick-witted Yankee maiden.

The next year found her in London, but she had kept her own counsel, and even Mr. Macready did not know her intention. In vain, however, she solicited an engagement, for she had neither fame nor beauty to recommend her. But at last, when she had spent almost her last farthing, — except the little sum at her banker's, laid aside to take her back home in case all else should fail, —a ray of hope appeared. Maddocks, the manager of the Princess's Theatre, proposed to her to appear in company with Mr. Forrest, who was then, like herself, seeking an opening at the London theatres. The shrewd manager thought that perhaps two American Stars might fill his house.

Charlotte's reply was characteristic of her acuteness. "Give me," she said to the manager, "a chance first. If I succeed, I can well afford to play with Mr. Forrest; if I fail, I shall be only too glad to do so." She made her debut as Bianca in Fazio. The first act, in which the dialogue is tame, passed off ominously. The audience were attentive, but undemonstrative.

The actress retired to her dressing-room much depressed with the fear of failure. "This will never do, Sally," she remarked to her negro waiting-maid, then and aftei her affectionate attendant.

"No, indeed, it won't, miss; but you 'll fetch um bimeby,"said the faithful creature. The play quietly proceeded until Bianca spoke the lines, — "Fazio, thou hast seen Aldabella!"

Those words, in which love, anger, and jealousy were all struggling for the mastery, uttered with indescribable accent and energy, startled the audience out of its well-bred, coldblooded propriety; cheers filled the house, and Miss Cushman remained mistress of the situation.

She afterwards appeared in conjunction with Mr. Forrest; but that gentleman, who had then for the nonce put a curb upon his fashion of tearing a passion to tatters, was overshadowed by her. Forrest resented the preference of the public by extreme rudeness to Charlotte on the stage, and by various unfriendly acts, which caused a rupture that was never healed. Forrest played Othello on the occasion above mentioned, Miss Cushman sustaining the part of Emilia. Her performance was throughout intelligent, impressive, natural, without any straining after effect; while her energy, at times, completely carried the audience along with her.

By the friendship of Charles Kemble and of Mr. Phelps of Sadler's Wells she attracted the favorable notice of royalty.

It is a fact as singular as it is true, that, on her return from England, Boston, the city of her birth, was the only place in which she did not at once meet a cordial reception; but her talents compelled their own recognition and buried the few paltry detractors out of sight. She appeared at the Federal Street Theatre and won an enthusiastic verdict of popular favor within that old temple of histrionic art.

The part in which Miss Cushman has achieved her greatest reputation in this country is that of Meg Merrilies in "Guy Mannering," a creation peculiarly her own. The character, notwithstanding its repulsive features, becomes in her hands weird, terrible, and fascinating. Her somewhat masculine physique and angular physiognomy have given more character to the assumption of such male parts as Ion and Romeo than is usually the case with her sex. But Miss Cushman was a real artiste, limited to no narrow sphere of her calling. She could play Queen Catharine and Mrs. Simpson in the same evening with equal success, and retained in no small degree, when verging on threescore, the energy and dramatic force of her palmy days.

At the opening of the Cushman School in Boston, Charlotte made an extempore address to the scholars, in which she explained to them her grand principle of action and the secret of her success. "Whatever you have to do," she said, "do it with all your might."




"There, where your argosies with portly sail, — Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood, Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea, — Do over-peer the petty traffickers." Merchant of Venice.

THERE is a singular fascination in viewing objects created expressly for our destruction. The wounded soldier will make the most convulsive efforts to see the place where he has been struck, and if the leaden bullet which has so nearly threatened his life be placed in his hand, he regards it thereafter with a strange, unaccountable affection. So, when we find ourselves within the government dockyard we cannot pass by the rows of cannon gleaming in the sunshine, or the pyramids of shot and shell, without wondering how many they are destined to destroy. We have not yet learned to dispense with war, and the problem "How to kill" yet taxes the busiest brain, the most inventive genius.

Somehow, too, there is a certain consciousness the moment you set foot within any little strip of territory over which Uncle Sam exercises exclusive authority. The trig, pipe-clayed marine paces stiffly up and down before the entrance, hugging his shining musket as if it were a piece of himself, and looking straight before him, though you would feel yourself more at ease if he would look at you. The officer you see coming, in the laced cap, and to whom you would fain address yourself, never allows your eye to meet his own, but marches straight on, as he would do if he were going to storm a battery. The workmen, even, pursue their labor without the cheerful cries and chaffing which enliven the toil of their brethren outside. The cankers' mallets seem to click in unison, the carpenters chip thoughtfully away on the live-oak frame. Everything is systematic, orderly, and precise, but rather oppressive withal.

In the first years of the nation's existence the government was obliged to make use of private yards, and that of Edmund Hartt, in Boston, may be considered the progenitor of this.

Several vessels of the old navy, among them the famed Constitution, were built there, under supervision of officers appointed by the government. Henry Jackson, formerly colonel of the Sixteenth Continental Regiment, was appointed naval agent by his bosom friend, General Knox, when the latter was Secretary of War, and Caleb Gibbs, first commander of Washington's famous body-guard, was made naval storekeeper, with an office in Batterymarch Street, Boston. The yard at the bottom of Milk Street was also used for naval purposes by the government.

When Admiral Montague of the royal navy was stationed in our waters, he caused a survey of the harbor to be made, and is reported on good authority to have then said, "The devil got into the government for placing the naval depot at Halifax. God Almighty made Noddle's Island on purpose for a dockyard."

In 1799 the government dispatched Mr. Joshua Humphries, the eminent naval architect, to Boston, to examine the proposed sites. The report was favorable to Charlestown, much to the chagrin of the proprietors of Noddle's Island, now East Boston, who had reckoned on a different decision. As Mr. John Harris, the principal owner of the tract selected, and Dr. Putnam, the government agent, were unable to agree upon terms, the affair was decided by a decree of the Middlesex Court of Sessions. The purchase made by the United States was originally called Moulton's Point, from Robert Moulton, the ship-carpenter; it has also been indifferently styled Moreton's and Morton's Point, in connection with accounts of the battle of Bunker Hill, it being the place where Howe's main body landed on that day. The site also embraced what was known in old times as Dirty Marsh. The point was quite early selected for a fortification, and a small battery, or, as it was then called, a sconce, was thrown up, and armed with light pieces. The guns were secretly removed by the patriots in the autumn of 1774, without exciting the least suspicion of what was taking place on board the British vessels of war in the stream. Upon the evacuation of Boston this was one of the points which Washington directed his chief of artillery to fortify.

That part of the town in the neighborhood of the yard was long ago called Wapping, a circumstance which it has been thought proper to distinguish by a street of that name. In the days of the Great Rebellion this now unsavory locality could not have been much inferior to its prototype by the Thames, and poor Jack, in making his exit from the yard after a long cruise, had to run the gauntlet of all the merciless land-sharks that infested the place. At one time, however, the neighborhood was of quite a different cast, and some of the artisans of the yard found a convenient residence here; among others, Josiah Barker, for thirty-four years the distinguished naval constructor at this station, lived in Wapping Street, in a house still standing on the north side of the street as you approach the yard from Chelsea Street.

The first records of this station begin in 1815, when an aggregate of forty-four officers and men was borne on the rolls, while it is said as many as six thousand were employed here during the Rebellion. In the beginning of the year mentioned, which was just at the conclusion of war with Great Britain, there was but a single wharf in the yard. The frigates Congress, Macedonian, Constitution, the seventy-fours Washington and Independence, and the brig Chippewa were then lying here.

A lady who visited the yard in 1824, and recorded her impressions, gives a somewhat humorous account of the difficulties she encountered. She says: — "The United States Navy-Yard is likewise located in Charlestown. A few marines are also stationed here; the most trifling, abandoned-looking men, from their appearance, to be found. I applied to the Commandant, Major W —, for liberty to inspect the interior of the yard, but this haughty bashaw sent word 'he was engaged, and that I must report my business to the lieutenant,' — rather a reproach to Uncle Sam. As in duty bound, I obeyed his highness, and called on the lieutenant, whom I found unqualified to give the information I wished to obtain; and, after undergoing sundry indignities from these mighty men of war, I had to give up the design."

Commodore Samuel Nicholson was the first commandant of the yard, and the somewhat peculiar architecture of the house used as a residence by the commodores is a specimen of his taste, —


'' The brave old commodore,

The rum old commodore."


When the Constitution was building, Nicholson, who was to have her, exercised a general supervision over her construction; though, notwithstanding anything that has been said, Colonel George Claghorn was the principal and authorized constructor.

In consequence of the narrow limits of Hartt's Yard, it had been agreed that no spectators should be admitted on the day previous to that fixed for the launch, without the permission of Captain Nicholson, Colonel Claghorn, or General Jackson.

While the workmen were at breakfast Colonel Claghorn had admitted some ladies and gentlemen to view the ship, but when they attempted to go on board Nicholson forbade their entering. This was communicated to Colonel Claghorn. In the afternoon of the same day some visitors who had been denied an entrance to the ship by Nicholson were admitted by Claghorn, who, however, was not aware that they had been previously refused permission. The captain, who was furious when he saw the men he had just turned away approaching, exclaimed to Claghorn, " D—n it! do you know whom you have admitted, and that I have just refused them?" The latter replied that he did not know that circumstance, but, having passed his word, they might go on board. The whole party being assembled on the Constitution's deck, Colonel Claghorn went up to the captain and desired, with some heat, that he might not treat these visitors as he had done the ladies in the morning; to which Nicholson replied that he should say no more to them, but that he had a right to command on board his own ship.

To this Claghorn rejoined that he commanded on board the ship, and that if Captain Nicholson did not like the regulations, he might go out of her. Upon this the parties immediately collared each other, and Nicholson, who carried a cane, attempted to strike his adversary, but the bystanders interfered and separated the belligerents. The affair was settled by mutual apologies. Nicholson died in Charlestown in 1811, and was buried under Christ Church, in Boston. It was said that Preble, who was appointed to the Constitution under Nicholson, declined serving with him, and expressed doubts of his courage. General Knox's son, Henry Jackson Knox, was a midshipman on board Old Ironsides on her first cruise.

Hull was one of the early commanders of the yard. The receiving-ship Ohio, now at this station, carried his flag in the Mediterranean in 1839. Bainbridge was commandant at the time of Lafayette's visit in 1824. These two men, famous in the annals of the American Navy, could conquer their invincible adversaries yard-arm to yard-arm, and afterwards gain their hearts by the most kindly offices to them while prisoners.

Dacres, whom Hull captured in the Guerriere, became his friend in after time. We may here relate an episode of Bainbridge and the Java.

Early in 1845 the Constitution, then commanded by Mad Jack Percival, cast anchor in the roadstead of Singapore. She had on her way taken out Henry A. Wise, our minister to Brazil, and was on special service in the East Indies and Pacific. The vertical rays of a tropic sun and the deadly breezes of the African coast had made a hospital of the ship; her gun-deck on the starboard side was hung with cots and hammocks. The captain had given up the forward cabin to the sick. The exterior of the old invincible responded mournfully to the interior. Her hull had been painted a dull lead color at Rio, faintly enlivened by a red streak; but a long passage across the Indian Ocean had brought her old sable color here and there into view, while the streaks of iron-rust down her sides told her condition but too plainly.