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.

With this side glance at one of the curious humors of the time, we resume our peregrinations.

Turning down a lane on your left, a few rods beyond Liberty Bridge, you reach a spot known as the Point of Graves, chiefly interesting as showing what a graveyard may come to if it last long enough.  In 1671 one Captain John Pickering, of whom we shall have more to say, ceded to the town a piece of ground on this neck for burial purposes.  It is an odd-shaped lot, comprising about half an acre, inclosed by a crumbling red brick wall two or three feet high, with wood capping.  The place is overgrown with thistles, rank grass, and fungi; the black slate headstones have mostly fallen over; those that still make a pretense of standing slant to every point of the compass, and look as if they were being blown this way and that by a mysterious gale which leaves everything else untouched; the mounds have sunk to the common level, and the old underground tombs have collapsed.  Here and there the moss and weeds you can pick out some name that shines in the history of the early settlement; hundreds of the flower of the colony lie here, but the known and the unknown, gentle and simple, mingle their dust on a perfect equality now.  The marble that once bore a haughty coat of arms is as smooth as the humblest slate stone guiltless of heraldry.  The lion and the unicorn, wherever they appear on some cracked slab, are very much tamed by time.  The once fat-faced cherubs, with wing at either cheek, are the merest skeletons now.  Pride, pomp, grief, and remembrance are all at end.  No reverent feet come here, no tears fall here; the old graveyard itself is dead!  A more dismal, uncanny spot than this at twilight would be hard to find.  It is noticed that when the boys pass it after nightfall, they always go by whistling with a gayety that is perfectly hollow.

Let us get into some cheerfuler neighborhood!


As you leave the river front behind you, and pass “up town,” the streets grow wider, and the architecture becomes more ambitious—­streets fringed with beautiful old trees and lined with commodious private dwellings, mostly square white houses, with spacious halls running through the centre.  Previous to the Revolution, white paint was seldom used on houses, and the diamond-shaped window pane was almost universal.  Many of the residences stand back from the brick or flagstone sidewalk, and have pretty gardens at the side or in the rear, made bright with dahlias and sweet with cinnamon roses.  If you chance to live in a town where the authorities cannot rest until they have destroyed every precious tree within their blighting reach, you will be especially charmed by the beauty of the streets of Portsmouth.  In some parts of the town, when the chestnuts are in blossom, you would fancy yourself in a garden in fairyland.  In spring, summer, and autumn the foliage

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