An Old Town By the Sea eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 77 pages of information about An Old Town By the Sea.

“This first cemetery of the white man in New Hampshire,” writes Mr. Brewster, (1.  Mr. Charles W. Brewster, for nearly fifty years the editor of the Portsmouth Journal, and the author of two volumes of local sketches to which the writer of these pages here acknowledges his indebtedness.) “occupies a space of perhaps one hundred feet by ninety, and is well walled in.  The western side is now used as a burial-place for the family, but two thirds of it is filled with perhaps forty graves, indicated by rough head and foot stones.  Who there rest no one now living knows.  But the same care is taken of their quiet beds as if they were of the proprietor’s own family.  In 1631 Mason sent over about eighty emigrants many of whom died in a few years, and here they were probably buried.  Here too, doubtless, rest the remains of several of those whose names stand conspicuous in our early state records.”

IV.  A STROLL ABOUT TOWN (continued)

When Washington visited Portsmouth in 1789 he was not much impressed by the architecture of the little town that had stood by him so stoutly in the struggle for independence.  “There are some good houses,” he writes, in a diary kept that year during a tour through Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, “among which Colonel Langdon’s may be esteemed the first; but in general they are indifferent, and almost entirely of wood.  On wondering at this, as the country is full of stone and good clay for bricks, I was told that on account of the fogs and damp they deemed them wholesomer, and for that reason preferred wood buildings.”

The house of Colonel Langdon, on Pleasant Street, is an excellent sample of the solid and dignified abodes which our great-grandsires had the sense to build.  The art of their construction seems to have been a lost art these fifty years.  Here Governor John Langdon resided from 1782 until the time of his death in 1819—­a period during which many an illustrious man passed between those two white pillars that support the little balcony over the front door; among the rest Louis Philippe and his brothers, the Ducs de Montpensier and Beaujolais, and the Marquis de Chastellus, a major-general in the French army, serving under the Count de Rochambeau, whom he accompanied from France to the States in 1780.  The journal of the marquis contains this reference to his host:  “After dinner we went to drink tea with Mr. Langdon.  He is a handsome man, and of noble carriage; he has been a member of Congress, and is now one of the first people of the country; his house is elegant and well furnished, and the apartments admirably well wainscoted” (this reads like Mr. Samuel Pepys); “and he has a good manuscript chart of the harbor of Portsmouth.  Mrs. Langdon, his wife, is young, fair, and tolerably handsome, but I conversed less with her than her husband, in whose favor I was prejudiced from knowing that he had displayed great courage and patriotism at the time of Burgoynes’s expedition.”

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An Old Town By the Sea from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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