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.
It was Smith who really discovered the Isles of Shoals, exploring in person those masses of bleached rock—­those “isles assez hautes,” of which the French navigator Pierre de Guast, Sieur de Monts, had caught a bird’s-eye glimpse through the twilight in 1605.  Captain Smith christened the group Smith’s Isles, a title which posterity, with singular persistence of ingratitude, has ignored.  It was a tardy sense of justice that expressed itself a few years ago in erecting on Star Island a simple marble shaft to the memory of John Smith—­the multitudinous!  Perhaps this long delay is explained by a natural hesitation to label a monument so ambiguously.

The modern Jason, meanwhile, was not without honor in his own country, whatever may have happened to him in his own house, for the poet George Wither addressed a copy of pompous verses “To his Friend Captain Smith, upon his Description of New England.”  “Sir,” he says—­

     “Sir:  your Relations I haue read:  which shew
     Ther’s reason I should honor them and you: 
     And if their meaning I have vnderstood,
     I dare to censure thus:  Your Project’s good;
     And may (if follow’d) doubtlesse quit the paine
     With honour, pleasure and a trebble gaine;
     Beside the benefit that shall arise
     To make more happy our Posterities.”

The earliest map of this portion of our seaboard was prepared by Smith and laid before Prince Charles, who asked to give the country a name.  He christened it New England.  In that remarkable map the site of Portsmouth is call Hull, and Kittery and York are known as Boston.

It was doubtless owing to Captain John Smith’s representation on his return to England that the Laconia Company selected the banks of the Piscataqua for their plantation.  Smith was on an intimate footing with Sir Ferinand Gorges, who, five years subsequently, made a tour of inspection along the New England coast, in company with John Mason, then Governor of Newfoundland.  One of the results of this summer cruise is the town of Portsmouth, among whose leafy ways, and into some of whose old-fashioned houses, I purpose to take the reader, if he have an idle hour on his hands.  Should we meet the flitting ghost of some old-time worthy, on the staircase or at a lonely street corner, the reader must be prepared for it.


It is not supposable that the early settlers selected the site of their plantation on account of its picturesqueness.  They were influenced entirely by the lay of the land, its nearness and easy access to the sea, and the secure harbor it offered to their fishing-vessels; yet they could not have chosen a more beautiful spot had beauty been the sole consideration.  The first settlement was made at Odiorne’s Point—­the Pilgrims’ Rock of New Hampshire; there the Manor, or Mason’s Hall, was built by the Laconia Company in 1623.  It was not until 1631 that the Great House was erected by Humphrey Chadborn on Strawberry Bank.  Mr. Chadborn, consciously or unconsciously, sowed a seed from which a city has sprung.

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