• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Introduction
 Cape Cod
 Miscellanies
 Index






Group Title: Writings of Henry David Thoreau
Title: The writings of Henry David Thoreau
ALL VOLUMES CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00050303/00003
 Material Information
Title: The writings of Henry David Thoreau
Physical Description: 20 v. : ; fronts. (ports., v.1, 6, 7) illus., plates, (1 fold.) fold. map.|20 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Thoreau, Henry David, 1817-1862
Torrey, Bradford, 1843-1912 ( ed )
Sanborn, F. B ( Franklin Benjamin ), 1831-1917 ( ed )
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Place of Publication: Boston
Publication Date: [c1906]
Edition: [Walden ed.]
 Subjects
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00050303
Volume ID: VID00003
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000593509
oclc - 01297983
notis - ADC2380

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Frontispiece
        Plate
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    List of Illustrations
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Introduction
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    Cape Cod
        Page 1
        Page 2
        The shipwreck
            Page 3
            Page 4
            Page 5
            Page 6
            Page 7
            Page 8
            Page 9
            Page 10
            Page 11
            Page 12
            Page 13
            Page 14
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Page 17
            Page 18
        Stage-coach views
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
            Page 22
            Page 23
            Page 24
            Page 25
            Page 26
            Page 26a
            Plate
            Page 27
            Page 28
            Page 29
            Page 30
        The plains of Nauset
            Page 31
            Page 32
            Page 33
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            Page 38
            Page 39
            Page 40
            Page 40a
            Plate
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
            Page 44
            Page 45
            Page 46
            Page 47
            Page 48
            Page 49
            Page 50
            Page 51
            Page 52
            Page 53
            Page 54
            Page 55
            Page 56
        The beach
            Page 57
            Page 58
            Page 59
            Page 60
            Page 61
            Page 62
            Page 62a
            Plate
            Page 63
            Page 64
            Page 65
            Page 66
            Page 67
            Page 68
            Page 69
            Page 70
            Page 71
            Page 72
            Page 73
            Page 74
            Page 75
            Page 76
            Page 77
            Page 78
        The Wellfleet oysterman
            Page 79
            Page 80
            Page 81
            Page 82
            Page 83
            Page 84
            Page 85
            Page 86
            Page 87
            Page 88
            Page 89
            Page 90
            Page 91
            Page 92
            Page 93
            Page 94
            Page 95
            Page 96
            Page 97
            Page 98
            Page 99
            Page 100
            Page 101
        The beach again
            Page 102
            Page 103
            Page 104
            Page 105
            Page 106
            Page 107
            Page 108
            Page 109
            Page 110
            Page 110a
            Plate
            Page 111
            Page 112
            Page 113
            Page 114
            Page 115
            Page 116
            Page 117
            Page 118
            Page 119
            Page 120
            Page 121
            Page 122
            Page 123
            Page 124
            Page 125
            Page 126
            Page 127
            Page 128
        Across the Cape
            Page 129
            Page 130
            Page 131
            Page 132
            Page 133
            Page 134
            Page 135
            Page 136
            Page 137
            Page 138
            Page 139
            Page 140
            Page 141
            Page 142
            Page 143
            Page 144
            Page 145
            Page 146
            Page 147
            Page 148
            Page 149
        The Highland Light
            Page 150
            Page 151
            Page 152
            Page 153
            Page 154
            Page 155
            Page 156
            Page 157
            Page 158
            Page 159
            Page 160
            Page 161
            Page 162
            Page 163
            Page 164
            Page 165
            Page 166
            Page 167
            Page 168
            Page 169
            Page 170
            Page 171
            Page 172
            Page 173
            Page 174
            Page 175
        The sea and the desert
            Page 176
            Page 177
            Page 178
            Page 179
            Page 180
            Page 181
            Page 182
            Page 183
            Page 184
            Page 185
            Page 186
            Page 187
            Page 188
            Page 189
            Page 190
            Page 191
            Page 192
            Page 193
            Page 194
            Page 195
            Page 196
            Page 197
            Page 198
            Page 199
            Page 200
            Page 201
            Page 202
            Page 203
            Page 204
            Page 205
            Page 206
            Page 207
            Page 208
            Page 209
            Page 210
            Page 211
        Provincetown
            Page 212
            Page 213
            Page 214
            Page 215
            Page 216
            Page 217
            Page 218
            Page 219
            Page 220
            Page 221
            Page 222
            Page 223
            Page 224
            Page 225
            Page 226
            Page 227
            Page 228
            Page 229
            Page 230
            Page 231
            Page 232
            Page 233
            Page 234
            Page 235
            Page 236
            Page 237
            Page 238
            Page 239
            Page 240
            Page 241
            Page 242
            Page 243
            Page 244
            Page 245
            Page 246
            Page 247
            Page 248
            Page 249
            Page 250
            Page 251
            Page 252
            Page 253
            Page 254
            Page 255
            Page 256
            Page 257
            Page 258
            Page 259
            Page 260
            Page 261
            Page 262
            Page 263
            Page 264
            Page 265
            Page 266
            Page 267
            Page 268
            Page 269
            Page 270
            Page 271
            Page 272
            Page 273
            Page 274
    Miscellanies
        Page 275
        Page 276
        The service: Qualities of the recruit
            Page 277
            Page 278
            Page 279
        Paradise (to be) regained
            Page 280
            Page 281
            Page 282
            Page 283
            Page 284
            Page 285
            Page 286
            Page 287
            Page 288
            Page 289
            Page 290
            Page 291
            Page 292
            Page 293
            Page 294
            Page 295
            Page 296
            Page 297
            Page 298
            Page 299
            Page 300
            Page 301
            Page 302
            Page 303
            Page 304
            Page 305
        Herald of freedom
            Page 306
            Page 307
            Page 308
            Page 309
            Page 310
        Wendell Phillips before the Concord Lyceum
            Page 311
            Page 312
            Page 313
            Page 314
            Page 315
        Thomas Carlyle and his works
            Page 316
            Page 317
            Page 318
            Page 319
            Page 320
            Page 321
            Page 322
            Page 323
            Page 324
            Page 325
            Page 326
            Page 327
            Page 328
            Page 329
            Page 330
            Page 331
            Page 332
            Page 333
            Page 334
            Page 335
            Page 336
            Page 337
            Page 338
            Page 339
            Page 340
            Page 341
            Page 342
            Page 343
            Page 344
            Page 345
            Page 346
            Page 347
            Page 348
            Page 349
            Page 350
            Page 351
            Page 352
            Page 353
            Page 354
            Page 355
        Civil disobedience
            Page 356
            Page 357
            Page 358
            Page 359
            Page 360
            Page 361
            Page 362
            Page 363
            Page 364
            Page 365
            Page 366
            Page 367
            Page 368
            Page 369
            Page 370
            Page 371
            Page 372
            Page 373
            Page 374
            Page 375
            Page 376
            Page 377
            Page 378
            Page 379
            Page 380
            Page 381
            Page 382
            Page 383
            Page 384
            Page 385
            Page 386
            Page 387
        Slavery in Massachusetts
            Page 388
            Page 389
            Page 390
            Page 391
            Page 392
            Page 393
            Page 394
            Page 395
            Page 396
            Page 397
            Page 398
            Page 399
            Page 400
            Page 401
            Page 402
            Page 403
            Page 404
            Page 405
            Page 406
            Page 407
            Page 408
        A plea for captain John Brown
            Page 409
            Page 410
            Page 411
            Page 412
            Page 413
            Page 414
            Page 415
            Page 416
            Page 417
            Page 418
            Page 419
            Page 420
            Page 421
            Page 422
            Page 423
            Page 424
            Page 425
            Page 426
            Page 427
            Page 428
            Page 429
            Page 430
            Page 431
            Page 432
            Page 433
            Page 434
            Page 435
            Page 436
            Page 437
            Page 438
            Page 439
            Page 440
        The last days of John Brown
            Page 441
            Page 442
            Page 443
            Page 444
            Page 445
            Page 446
            Page 447
            Page 448
            Page 449
            Page 450
        After the death of John Brown
            Page 451
            Page 452
            Page 453
            Page 454
        Life without principle
            Page 455
            Page 456
            Page 457
            Page 458
            Page 459
            Page 460
            Page 461
            Page 462
            Page 463
            Page 464
            Page 465
            Page 466
            Page 467
            Page 468
            Page 469
            Page 470
            Page 471
            Page 472
            Page 473
            Page 474
            Page 475
            Page 476
            Page 477
            Page 478
            Page 479
            Page 480
            Page 481
            Page 482
    Index
        Page 483
        Page 484
        Page 485
        Page 486
        Page 487
        Page 488
        Page 489
        Page 490
Full Text









walbten bjition

THE WRITINGS OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU







































A Windmill (page 84)






THE WRITINGS OF


HENRY DAVID THOREAU


IV
CAPE COD
AND


MISCELLANIES

















BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
E;be iibersite Preca, Cambrilge
1906





f/.3










COPYRIGHT 164 AND 1866 BY TICKNOR & FIELDS
COPYRIGHT 1893 AND 1906 BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
All rights reserved











CONTENTS


INTRODUCTORY NOTE ix


CAPE COD

I. THE SHIPWRECK 3

II. STAGE-COACH VIEWS 19

III. THE PLAINS OF NAUSET 31

IV. THE BEACH 57
V. THE WELLFLEET OYSTERMAN 79
VI. THE BEACH AGAIN 102
VII. ACROSS THE CAPE 129

VIII. THE HIGHLAND LIGHT 150

IX. THE SEA AND THE DESERT 176

X. PROVINCETOWN 212


MISCELLANIES

THE SERVICE: QUALITIES OF THE RECRUIT 277
PARADISE (TO BE) REGAINED 280

HERALD OF FREEDOM 306

WENDELL PHILLIPS BEFORE THE CONCORD

LYCEUM 311

THOMAS CARLYLE AND HIS WORKS 316
CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE 356







vi CONTENTS

SLAVERY IN MASSACHUSETTS 388

A PLEA FOR CAPTAIN JOHN BROWN 409
THE LAST DAYS OF JOHN BROWN 441

AFTER THE DEATH OF JOHN BROWN 451

LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE 455

INDEX 483

















ILLUSTRATIONS


A WINDMILL (page 34) Frontispiece
SUNSET, CHATHAM HARBOR 26
THE PLAINS OF NAUSET 40
BEACH BLUFFS, WELLFLEET SHORE 62
SHELLS ON THE BEACH 110










INTRODUCTORY NOTE


IN the same year as "The Maine Woods," but as a
Christmas book dated 1865, appeared Cape Cod,"
also edited by William Ellery Channing and published
by Ticknor & Fields. The first four chapters of the
book had already been printed by their author in Put-
nam's Magazine in 1855, and chapters v and viii were
printed, just in advance of publication in the book, in
The Atlantic Monthly in October and December, 1864.
Thoreau has recorded his adventures in this book,
and shows that he enjoyed the humor which attended
his intercourse with the independent, self-reliant folk
of what was then more than now a singularly isolated
arm of the State. Mr. Channing adds, in his book on
Thoreau, One of the old Cod could not believe that
Thoreau was not a pedler; but said, after explanations
failed, Well, it makes no odds what else it is you carry,
so long as you carry truth along with you.' "
It should be borne in mind by the reader that a
considerable part of this book never received its final
revision at the hands of its author.

The papers here grouped under the title Miscella-
nies" are the product of the somewhat less known
Thoreau, the student of human life, of literature and
religion, though the reader may easily have discovered
both sides of his nature in A Week," which blends
observation and reflection, and is a transcript from a






x INTRODUCTORY NOTE
diary which records the march of the "daughters of
Time," as
"To each they offer gifts after his will,
Bread, kingdoms, stars, and sky that holds them all."
The several papers are arranged substantially in the
order of their first appearance. One only, formerly
printed among Thoreau's writings, is omitted, for
" Prayers," as Mr. Edward W. Emerson shows,1 was
written by Mr. R. W. Emerson, and published by him
in The Dial. The verses included in it were alone by
Thoreau.
The earliest production of Thoreau which has found
its way into print appears to be an essay, dated July,
1840, and headed "The Service; Qualities of the Re-
cruit." Mr. Sanborn, who read extracts from this essay
before the Concord Summer School of Philosophy in
1882, states that it was the one offered to The Dial
which Miss Margaret Fuller rejected, accompanying
her rejection with criticism, as narrated by Mr. San-
born in his Life of Thoreau. These extracts are re-
printed here from the collection of Concord Lectures
in Philosophy," published by Moses King, Cambridge,
Massachusetts.
Paradise (to be) Regained" was in the form of a
review of a book by J. A. Etzler, and was published
in The Democratic Review, New York, for November,
1843. It was written during Thoreau's short residence
in Staten Island.
"Herald of Freedom" was printed in The Dial,
April, 1844, as a commendatory notice of the anti-
SEmerson in Concord, p. 133.






INTRODUCTORY NOTE


slavery paper of that name conducted by the fearless
Nathaniel P. Rogers.
Wendell Phillips before the Concord Lyceum was
a letter addressed to Mr. Garrison, the editor of The
Liberator, and published in that journal, March 28, 1845.
Thomas Carlyle and his Works" was printed first
in Graham's Magazine, March and April, 1847. It was
written during Thoreau's stay at Walden. The history
of his adventure in getting the article published is
amusingly told in the letters written by his faithful
friend Horace Greeley, who acted as his intermediary.
The letters will be found in Mr. Sanborn's Thoreau,"
pages 219-224.
Civil Disobedience," under the title "Resistance
to Civil Government," was printed in 1849 in the first
number of Esthetic Papers, edited by Miss Elizabeth
Peabody.
Slavery in Massachusetts" was an address deliv-
ered at the Antislavery Convention at Framingham,
Massachusetts, July 4, 1854, and was printed in The
Liberator for July 21 of the same year.
A Plea for Captain John Brown was read before
the citizens of Concord, Massachusetts, October 30,
1859. It was taken from his diary written during the
eventful period of Brown's expedition. When Captain
Brown lay in prison, Thoreau did not wait for a public
meeting, but went about among his neighbors, sum-
moning them to come together to hear what he had to
say. The Last Days of John Brown" was read for
the author at North Elba, July 4, 1860, and was printed
in The Liberator on the 27th of the same month. After


xi






xii INTRODUCTORY NOTE
the Death of John Brown" contains the remarks made
at Concord by Thoreau on the day of the execution.
It is reprinted from a volume entitled "Echoes from
Harper's Ferry."
Life without Principle is a posthumous paper first
published in The Atlantic Monthly, October, 1863.













CAPE COD










I


THE SHIPWRECK

W ISHING to get a better view than I had yet had of
the ocean, which, we are told, covers more than two
thirds of the globe, but of which a man who lives a
few miles inland may never see any trace, more than
of another world, I made a visit to Cape Cod in Octo-
ber, 1849, another the succeeding June, and another
to Truro in July, 1855; the first and last time with a
single companion, the second time alone. I have spent,
in all, about three weeks on the Cape; walked from
Eastham to Provincetown twice on the Atlantic side,
and once on the Bay side also, excepting four or five
miles, and crossed the Cape half a dozen times on my
way; but having come so fresh to the sea, I have got
but little salted. My readers must expect only so much
saltness as the land breeze acquires from blowing over
an arm of the sea, or is tasted on the windows and the
bark of trees twenty miles inland, after September
gales. I have been accustomed to make excursions to
the ponds within ten miles of Concord, but latterly I
have extended my excursions to the seashore.
I did not see why I might not make a book on Cape
Cod, as well as my neighbor on Human Culture."
It is but another name for the same thing, and hardly
a sandier phase of it. As for my title, I suppose that
the word Cape is from the French cap; which is from








the Latin caput, a head ; which is, perhaps, from the
verb capere, to take, -that being the part by which
we take hold of a thing : Take Time by the forelock.
It is also the safest part to take a serpent by. And as
for Cod, that was derived directly from that "great
store of cod-fish" which Captain Bartholomew Gos-
nold caught there in 1602 ; which fish appears to have
been so called from the Saxon word codde, a case in
which seeds are lodged," either from the form of the
fish, or the quantity of spawn it contains ; whence also,
perhaps, codling (" pomum coctile" ?) and coddle, -
to cook green like peas. (V. Dic.)
Cape Cod is the bared and bended arm of Massa-
chusetts: the shoulder is at Buzzard's Bay; the elbow,
or crazy-bone, at Cape Mallebarre; the wrist at Truro;
and the sandy fist at Provincetown,- behind which
the State stands on her guard, with her back to the
Green Mountains, and her. feet planted on the floor of
the ocean, like an athlete protecting her Bay, boxing
with northeast storms, and, ever and anon, heaving up
her Atlantic adversary from the lap of earth, ready
to thrust forward her other fist, which keeps guard the
while upon her breast at Cape Ann.
On studying the map, I saw that there must be an
uninterrupted beach on the east or outside of the fore-
arm of the Cape, more than thirty miles from the gen-
eral line of the coast, which would afford a good sea
view, but that, on account of an opening in the beach,
forming the entrance to Nauset Harbor, in Orleans, I
must strike it in Eastham, if I approached it by land,
and probably I could walk thence straight to Race


4


-CAPE COD






THE SHIPWRECK


Point, about twenty-eight miles, and not meet with
any obstruction.
We left Concord, Massachusetts, on Tuesday, Octo-
ber 9, 1849. On reaching Boston, we found that the
Provincetown steamer, which should have got in the
day before, had not yet arrived, on account of a vio-
lent storm; and, as we noticed in the streets a hand-
bill headed, "Death one hundred and forty-five lives
lost at Cohasset," we decided to go by way of Cohas-
set. We found many Irish in the cars, going to identify
bodies and to sympathize with the survivors, and also
to attend the funeral which was to take place in the
afternoon; apd when we arrived at Cohasset, it ap-
peared that nearly all the passengers were bound for
the beach, which was about a mile distant, and many
other persons were flocking in from the neighboring
country. There were several hundreds of them stream-
ing off over Cohasset Common in that direction, some
on foot and some in wagons; and among them were
some sportsmen in their hunting-jackets, with their
guns, and game-bags, and dogs. As we passed the
graveyard we saw a large hole, like a cellar, freshly
dug there, and, just before reaching the shore, by a
pleasantly winding and rocky road, we met several
hay-riggings and farm-wagons coming away toward
the meeting-house, each loaded with three large, rough
deal boxes. We did not need to ask what was in them.
The owners of the wagons were made the undertakers.
Many horses in carriages were fastened to the fences
near the shore, and, for a mile or more, up and down,
the beach was covered with people looking out for


5








bodies, and examining the fragments of the wreck.
There was a small island called Brook Island, with a
hut on it, lying just off the shore. This is said to be
the rockiest shore in Massachusetts, -from Nantasket
to Scituate, hard sienitic rocks, which the waves have
laid bare, but have not been able to crumble. It has
been the scene of many a shipwreck.
The brig St. John, from Galway, Ireland, laden
with emigrants, was wrecked on Sunday morning; it
was now Tuesday morning, and the sea was still break-
ing violently on the rocks. There were eighteen or
twenty of the same large boxes that I have mentioned,
lying on a green hillside, a few rods from the water,
and surrounded by a crowd. The bodies which had
been recovered, twenty-seven or eight in all, had been
collected there. Some were rapidly nailing down the
lids, others were carting the boxes away, and others
were lifting the lids, which were yet loose, and peeping
under the cloths, for each body, with such rags as
still adhered to it, was covered loosely with a white
sheet. I witnessed no signs of grief, but there was a
sober dispatch of business which was affecting. One
man was seeking to identify a particular body, and one
undertaker or carpenter was calling to another to know
in what box a certain child was put. I saw many mar-
ble feet and matted heads as the cloths were raised,
and one livid, swollen, and mangled body of a drowned
girl, -who probably had intended to go out to ser-
vice in some American family,- to which some rags
still adhered, with a string, half concealed by the
flesh, about its swollen neck; the coiled-up wreck of a


CAPE COD


6






THE SHIPWRECK


human hulk, gashed by the rocks or fishes, so that the
bone and muscle were exposed, but quite bloodless, -
merely red and white,- with wide-open and staring
eyes, yet lustreless, deadlights; or like the cabin win-
dows of a stranded vessel, filled with sand. Sometimes
there were two or more children, or a parent and child,
in the same box, and on the lid would, perhaps, be
written with red chalk, Bridget such-a-one, and sis-
ter's child." The surrounding sward was covered with
bits of sails and clothing. I have since heard, from
one who lives by this beach, that a woman who had
come over before, but had left her infant behind for
her sister to bring, came and looked into these boxes,
and saw in one probably the same whose super-
scription I have quoted -her child in her sister's
arms, as if the sister had meant to be found thus; and
within three days after, the mother died from the effect
of that sight.
We turned from this and walked along the rocky
shore. In the first cove were strewn what seemed the
fragments of a vessel, in small pieces mixed with sand
and seaweed, and great quantities of feathers; but it
looked so old and rusty, that I at first took it to be
some old wreck which had lain there many years. I
even thought of Captain Kidd, and that the feathers
were those which sea-fowl had cast there; and perhaps
there might be some tradition about it in the neighbor-
hood. I asked a sailor if that was the St. John. He
said it was. I asked him where she struck. He pointed
to a rock in front of us, a mile from the shore, called
the Grampus Rock, and added, -


7






CAPE COD


"You can see a part of her now sticking up; it looks
like a small boat."
I saw it. It was thought to be held by the chain-
cables and the anchors. I asked if the bodies which I
saw were all that were drowned.
Not a quarter of them," said he.
Where are the rest? "
Most of them right underneath that piece you
see."
It appeared to us that there was enough rubbish to
make the wreck of a large vessel in this cove alone,
and that it would take many days to cart it off. It was
several feet deep, and here and there was a bonnet or
a jacket on it. In the very midst of the crowd about
this wreck, there were men with carts busily collecting
the seaweed which the storm had cast up, and convey-
ing it beyond the reach of the tide, though they were
often obliged to separate fragments of clothing from
it, and they might at any moment have found a human
body under it. Drown who might, they did not forget
that this weed was a valuable manure. This shipwreck
had not produced a visible vibration in the fabric of
society.
About a mile south we could see, rising above the
rocks, the masts of the.British brig which the St. John
had endeavored to follow, which had slipped her cables,
and, by good luck, run into the mouth of Cohasset
Harbor. A little further along the shore we saw a man's
clothes on a rock; further, a woman's scarf, a gown, a
straw bonnet, the brig's caboose, and one of her masts
high and dry, broken into several pieces. In another


8






THE SHIPWRECK


rocky cove, several rods from the water, and behind
rocks twenty feet high, lay a part of one side of the
vessel, still hanging together. It was, perhaps, forty
feet long, by fourteen wide. I was even more surprised
at the power of the waves, exhibited on this shattered
fragment, than I had been at the sight of the smaller
fragments before. The largest timbers and iron braces
were broken superfluously, and I saw that no material
could withstand the power of the waves; that iron must
go to pieces in such a case, and an iron vessel would
be cracked up like an egg-shell on the rocks. Some
of these timbers, however, were so rotten that I could
almost thrust my umbrella through them. They told
us that some were saved on this piece, and also showed
where the sea had heaved it into this cove which was
now dry. When I saw where it had come in, and in
what condition, I wondered that any had been saved
on it. A little further on, a crowd of men was collected
around the mate of the St. John, who was telling his
story. He was a slim-looking youth, who spoke of the
captain as the master, and seemed a little excited. He
was saying that when they jumped into the boat, she
filled, and, the vessel lurching, the weight of the water in
the boat caused the painter to break, and so they were
separated. Whereat one man came away, saying, -
Well, I don't see but he tells a straight story enough.
You see, the weight of the water in the boat broke the
painter. A boat full of water is very heavy," and so
on, in a loud and impertinently earnest tone, as if he
had a bet depending on it, but had no humane inter-
est in the matter.


9






CAPE COD


Another, a large man, stood near by upon a rock,
gazing into the sea, and chewing large quids of tobacco,
as if that habit were forever confirmed with him.
"Come," says another to his companion, let's be
off. We've seen the whole of it. It's no use to stay to
the funeral."
Further, we saw one standing upon a rock, who, we
were told, was one that was saved. He was a sober-look-
ing man, dressed in a jacket and gray pantaloons, with
his hands in the pockets. I asked him a few questions,
which he answered; but he seemed unwilling to talk
about it, and soon walked away. By his side stood one
of the life-boat men, in an oilcloth jacket, who told us
how they went to the relief of the British brig, thinking
that the boat of the St. John, which they passed on
the way, held all her crew, for the waves prevented
their seeing those who were on the vessel, though they
might have saved some had they known there were any
there. A little further was the flag of the St. John,
spread on a rock to dry, and held down by stones at
the corners. This frail, but essential and significant
portion of the vessel, which had so long been the sport
of the winds, was sure to reach the shore. There were
one or two houses visible from these rocks, in which
were some of the survivors recovering from the shock
which their bodies and minds had sustained. One was
not expected to live.
We kept on down the shore as far as a promontory
called Whitehead, that we might see more of the Cohas-
set' Rocks. In a little cove, within half a mile, there
were an old man and his son collecting, with their team,


10






THE SHIPWRECK


the seaweed which that fatal storm had cast up, as se-
renely employed as if there had never been a wreck in
the world, though they were within sight of the Gram-
pus Rock, on which the St. John had struck. The old
man had heard that there was a wreck and knew most
of the particulars, but he said that he had not been up
there since it happened. It was the wrecked weed that
concerned him most, rockweed, kelp, and seaweed, as
he named them, which he carted to his barnyard; and
those bodies were to him but other weeds which the
tide cast up, but which were of no use to him. We
afterwards came to the life-boat in its harbor, waiting
for another emergency; and in the afternoon we saw
the funeral procession at a distance, at the head of
which walked the captain with the other survivors.
On the whole, it was not so impressive a scene as I
might have expected. If I had found one body cast
upon the beach in some lonely place, it would have
affected me more. I sympathized rather with the winds
and waves, as if to toss and mangle these poor human
bodies was the order of the day. If this was the law
of Nature, why waste any time in awe or pity? If the
last day were come, we should not think so much
about the separation of friends or the blighted pros-
pects of individuals. I saw that corpses might be
multiplied, as on the field of battle, till they no longer
affected us in any degree as exceptions to the common
lot of humanity. Take all the graveyards together,
they are always the majority. It is the individual and
private that demands our sympathy. A man can attend
but one funeral in the course of his life, can behold but


11








one corpse. Yet I saw that the inhabitants of the
shore would be not a little affected by this event. (They
would watch there many days and nights for the sea to
give up its dead, and their imaginations and sympa-
thies would supply the place of mourners far away,
who as yet knew not of the wreck. Many days after
this, something white was seen floating on the water
by one who was sauntering on the beach. It was ap-
proached in a boat, and found to be the body of
a woman, which had risen in an upright position,
whose white cap was blown back with the wind. I
saw that the beauty of the shore itself was wrecked
for many a lonely walker there, until he could perceive,
at last, how its beauty was enhanced by wrecks like
this, and it acquired thus a rarer and sublimer beauty
still.
Why care for these dead bodies ? They really have
no friends but the worms or fishes. Their owners were
coming to the New World, as Columbus and the Pil-
grims did; they were within a mile of its shores ; but,
before they could reach it, they emigrated to a newer
world than ever Columbus dreamed of, yet one of
whose existence we believe that there is far more uni-
versal and convincing evidence though it has not yet
been discovered by science -than Columbus had of
this: not merely mariners' tales and some paltry drift-
wood and seaweed, but a continual drift and instinct
to all our shores. I saw their empty hulks that came
to land; but they themselves, meanwhile, were cast
upon some shore yet further west, toward which we
are all tending, and which we shall reach at last, it


CAPE COD


12






THE SHIPWRECK


may be through storm and darkness, as they did. No
doubt, we have reason to thank God that they have not
been "shipwrecked into life again." The mariner who
makes the safest port in heaven, perchance, seems to
his friends on earth to be shipwrecked, for they deem
Boston Harbor the better place; though perhaps, in-
visible to them, a skillful pilot comes to meet him, and
the fairest and balmiest gales blow off that coast, his
good ship makes the land in halcyon days, and he
kisses the shore in rapture there, while his old hulk
tosses in the surf here. It is hard to part with one's
body, but, no doubt, it is easy enough to do without it
when once it is gone. All their plans and hopes burst
like a bubble! Infants by the score dashed on the
rocks by the enraged Atlantic Ocean! No, no! If the
St. John did not make her port here, she has been
telegraphed there. The strongest wind cannot stagger
a Spirit; it is a Spirit's breath. A just man's purpose
cannot be split on any Grampus or material rock, but
itself will split rocks till it succeeds.
The verses addressed to Columbus dying may, with
slight alterations, be applied to the passengers of the
St. John, -
"Soon with them will all be over,
Soon the voyage will be begun
That shall bear them to discover,
Far away, a land unknown.

"Land that each, alone, must visit,
But no tidings bring to men;
For no sailor, once departed,
Ever hath returned again.


13






14


CAPE COD


"No carved wood, no broken branches
Ever drift from that far wild;
He who on that ocean launches
Meets no corse of angel child.

"Undismayed, my noble sailors,
Spread, then spread your canvas out;
Spirits on a sea of ether
Soon shall ye serenely float!

"Where the deep no plummet soundeth,
Fear no hidden breakers there,
And the fanning wing of angels
Shall your bark right onward bear.

"Quit, now, full of heart and comfort,
These rude shores, they are of earth;
Where the rosy clouds are parting,
There the blessed isles loom forth."

One summer day, since this, I came this way, on
foot, along the shore from Boston. It was so warm
that some horses had climbed to the very top of the
ramparts of the old fort at Hull, where there was
hardly room to turn round, for the sake of the breeze.
The Datura Stramonium, or thorn-apple, was in full
bloom along the beach; and, at sight of this cosmopo-
lite, this Captain Cook among plants, carried in ballast
all over the world, I felt as if I were on the highway
of nations. Say, rather, this Viking, king of the Bays,
for it is not an innocent plant; it suggests not merely
commerce, but its attendant vices, as if its fibres were
the stuff of which pirates spin their yarns. I heard the
voices of men shouting aboard a vessel, half a mile
from the shore, which sounded as if they were in a






THE SHIPWRECK 15

barn in the country, they being between the sails. It
was a purely rural sound. As I looked over the water,
I saw the isles rapidly wasting away, the sea nibbling
voraciously at the* continent, the springing arch of a
hill suddenly interrupted, as at Point Allerton, what
botanists might call premorse, showing, by its curve
against the sky, how much space it must have occupied,
where now was water only. On the other hand, these
wrecks of isles were being fancifully arranged into new
shores, as at Hog Island, inside of Hull, where every-
thing seemed to be gently lapsing into futurity. This isle
had got the very form of a ripple, and I thought that
the inhabitants should bear a ripple for device on their
shields, a wave passing over them, with the datura, which
is said to produce mental alienation of long duration
without affecting the bodily health,1 springing from its
edge. The most interesting thing which I heard of, in

1 The Jamestown-weed, or thorn-apple. "This, being an early
plant, was gathered very young for a boiled salad, by some of the
soldiers sent thither [i. e., to Virginia] to quell the rebellion of Bacon;
and some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a very
pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several
days: one would blow up a feather in the air; another would dart
straws at it with much fury; and another, stark naked, was sitting
up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making mows at them; a
fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and sneer in their
faces, with a countenance more antic than any ih a Dutch droll. In
this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their
folly, destroy themselves, though it was observed that all their
actions were full of innocence and good nature. Indeed, they were
not very cleanly. A thousand such simple tricks they played, and
after eleven days returned to themselves again, not remembering any-
thing that had passed." Beverley's History of Virginia, p. 120.






CAPE COD


this township of Hull, was an unfailing spring, whose
locality was pointed out to me on the side of a distant
hill, as I was panting along the shore, though I did
not visit it. Perhaps, if I should go through Rome, it
would be some spring on the Capitoline Hill I should
remember the longest. It is true, I was somewhat
interested in the well at the old French fort, which was
said to be ninety feet deep, with a cannon at the bot-
tom of it. On Nantasket Beach I counted a dozen
chaises from the public house. From time to time the
riders turned their horses toward the sea, standing in
the water for the coolness; and I saw the value of
beaches to cities for the sea-breeze and the bath.
At Jerusalem Village, the inhabitants were collecting
in haste, before a thunder-shower now approaching, the
Irish moss which they had spread to dry. The shower
passed on one side, and gave me a few drops only,
which did not cool the air. I merely felt a puff upon
my cheek, though, within sight, a vessel was capsized in
the bay, and several others dragged their anchors, and
were near going ashore. The sea bathing at Cohasset
Rocks was perfect. The water was purer and more
transparent than any I had ever seen. There was not a
particle of mud or slime about it. The bottom being
sandy, I could see the sea perch swimming about. The
smooth and fantastically worn rocks, and the perfectly
clean and tress-like rockweeds falling over you, and
attached so firmly to the rocks that you could pull your-
self up by them, greatly enhanced the luxury of the
bath. The stripe of barnacles just above the weeds
reminded me of some vegetable growth,- the buds, and


16






THE SHIPWRECK


petals, and seed-vessels of flowers. They lay along the
seams of the rock like buttons on a waistcoat. It was
one of the hottest days in the year, yet I found the
water so icy cold that I could swim but a stroke or two,
and thought that, in case of shipwreck, there would
be more danger of being chilled to death than simply
drowned. One immersion was enough to make you for-
get the dog-days utterly. Though you were sweltering
before, it will take you half an hour now to remember
that it was ever warm. There were the tawny rocks,
like lions couchant, defying the ocean, whose waves
incessantly dashed against and scoured them with vast
quantities of gravel. The water held in their little hol-
lows on the receding of the tide was so crystalline that
I could not believe it salt, but wished to drink it; and
higher up were basins of fresh water left by the rain,
- all which, being also of different depths and tem-
perature, were convenient for different kinds of baths.
Also, the larger hollows in the smoothed rocks formed
the most convenient of seats and dressing-rooms. In
these respects it was the most perfect seashore that I
had seen.
I saw in Cohasset, separated from the sea only by a
narrow beach, a handsome but shallow lake of some
four hundred acres, which, I was told, the sea had
tossed over the beach in a great storm in the spring,
and, after the alewives had passed into it, it had stopped
up its outlet, and now the alewives were dying by
thousands, and the inhabitants were apprehending a
pestilence as the water evaporated. It had five rocky
islets in it.


17






18 CAPE COD
This rocky shore is called Pleasant Cove on some
maps; on the map of Cohasset, that name appears to
be confined to the particular cove where I saw the
wreck of the St. John. The ocean did not look, now, as
if any were ever shipwrecked in it; it was not grand
and sublime, but beautiful as a lake. Not a vestige of
a wreck was visible, nor could I believe that the bones
of many a shipwrecked man were buried in that pure
sand. But to go on with our first excursion.










II


STAGE-COACH VIEWS

AFTER spending the night in Bridgewater, and picking
up a few arrowheads there in the morning, we took the
cars for Sandwich, where we arrived before noon. This
was the terminus of the Cape Cod Railroad," though
it is but the beginning of the Cape. As it rained hard,
with driving mists, and there was no sign of its hold-
ing up, we here took that almost obsolete conveyance,
the stage, for as far as it went that day," as we told
the driver. We had forgotten how far a stage could
go in a day, but we were told that the Cape roads were
very "heavy," though they added that being of sand,
the rain would improve them. This coach was an ex-
ceedingly narrow one, but as there was a slight spheri-
cal excess over two on a seat, the driver waited till nine
passengers had got in, without taking the measure of
any of them, and then shut the door after two or three
ineffectual slams, as if the fault were all in the hinges
or the latch, -while we timed our inspirations and
expirations so as to assist him.
We were now fairly on the Cape, which extends from
Sandwich eastward thirty-five miles, and thence north
and northwest thirty more, in all sixty-five, and has
an average breadth of about five miles. In the interior
it rises to the height of two hundred, and sometimes
perhaps three hundred feet above the level of the sea.






CAPE COD


According to Hitchcock, the geologist of the State,
it is composed almost entirely of sand, even to the
depth of three hundred feet in some places, though
there is probably a concealed core of rock a little be-
neath the surface, and it is of diluvian origin, excepting
a small portion at the extremity and elsewhere along
the shores, which is alluvial. For the first half of the
Cape large blocks of stone are found, here and there,
mixed with the sand, but for the last thirty miles boul-
ders, or even gravel, are rarely met with. Hitchcock
conjectures that the ocean has, in course of time, eaten
out Boston Harbor and other bays in the mainland,
and that the minute fragments have been deposited
by the currents at a distance from the shore, and
formed this sand-bank. Above the sand, if the surface
is subjected to agricultural tests, there is found to be
a thin layer of soil gradually diminishing from Barn-
stable to Truro, where it'ceases; but there are many
holes and rents in this weather-beaten garment not
likely to be stitched in time, which reveal the naked
flesh of the Cape, and its extremity is completely bare.
I at once got out my book, the eighth volume of the
Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society,
printed in 1802, which contains some short notices of
the Cape towns, and began to read up to where I was,
for in the cars I could not read as fast as I traveled.
To those who came from the side of Plymouth, it
said, "After riding through a body of woods, twelve
miles in extent, interspersed with but few houses, the
settlement of Sandwich appears, with a more agreeable
effect, to the eye of the traveler." Another writer


20






STAGE-COACH VIEWS


speaks of this as a beautiful village. But I think that
our villages will bear to be contrasted only with one
another, not with nature. I have no great respect for
the writer's taste, who talks easily about beautiful vil-
lages, embellished, perchance, with a fulling-mill,"
"a handsome academy," or a meeting-house, and "a
number of shops for the different mechanic arts;"
where the green and white houses of the gentry, drawn
up in rows, front on a street of which it would be diffi-
cult to tell whether it is most like a desert or a long
stable-yard. Such spots can be beautiful only to the
weary traveler, or the returning native,- or, perchance,
the repentant misanthrope; not to him who, with un-
prejudiced senses, has just come out of the woods, and
approaches one of them, by a bare road, through a
succession of straggling homesteads where he cannot
tell which is the almshouse. However, as for Sand-
wich, I cannot speak particularly. Ours was but half
a Sandwich at most, and that must have fallen on the
buttered side some time. I only saw that it was a
closely-built town for a small one, with glass-works to
improve its sand, and narrow streets in which we turned
round and round till we could not tell which way we
were going, and the rain came in, first on this side and
then on that, and I saw that they in the houses were
more comfortable than we in the coach. My book also
said of this town, "The inhabitants, in general, are
substantial livers," that is, I suppose, they do not live
like philosophers; but, as the stage did not stop long
enough for us to dine, we had no opportunity to test the
truth of this statement. It may have referred, however,


21






CAPE COD


to the quantity "of oil they would yield." It further
said, The inhabitants of Sandwich generally manifest
a fond and steady adherence to the manners, employ-
ments and modes of living which characterized their
fathers," which made me think that they were, after all,
very much like all the rest of the world; and it added
that this was a resemblance, which, at this day, will
constitute no impeachment of either their virtue or
taste;" which remark proves to me that the writer was
one with the rest of them. No people ever lived by
cursing their fathers, however great a curse their fathers
might have been to them. But it must be confessed that
ours was old authority, and probably they have changed
all that now.
Our route was along the Bay side, through Barn-
stable, Yarmouth, Dennis, and Brewster, to Orleans,
with a range of low hills on our right, running down
the Cape. The weather was not favorable for wayside
views, but we made the most of such glimpses of land
and water as we could get through the rain. The coun-
try was, for the most part, bare, or with only a little
scrubby wood left on the hills. We noticed in Yar-
mouth and, if I do not mistake, in Dennis large
tracts where pitch pines were planted four or five years
before. They were in rows, as they appeared when we
were abreast of them, and, excepting that there were
extensive vacant spaces, seemed to be doing remark-
ably well. This, we were told, was the only use to
which such tracts could be profitably put. Every higher
eminence had a pole set up on it, with an old storm-coat
or sail tied to it, for a signal, that those on the south


22






STAGE-COACH VIEWS


side of the Cape, for instance, might know when the
Boston packets had arrived on the north. It appeared
as if this use must absorb the greater part of the old
clothes of the Cape, leaving but few rags for the ped-
dlers. The windmills on the hills, -large weather-
stained octagonal structures, and the salt-works scat-
tered all along the shore, with their long rows of vats
resting on piles driven into the marsh, their low, turtle-
like roofs, and their slighter windmills, were novel and
interesting objects to an inlander. The sand by the
roadside was partially covered with bunches of a moss-
like plant, Hudsonia tomentosa, which a woman in the
stage told us was called "poverty-grass," because it
grew where nothing else would.
I was struck by the pleasant equality which reigned
among the stage company, and their broad and invul-
nerable good humor. They were what is called free
and easy, and met one another to advantage, as men
who had, at length, learned how to live. They ap-
peared to know each other when they were strangers,
they were so simple and downright. They were well
met, in an unusual sense, that is, they met as well as
they could meet, and did not seem to be troubled with
any impediment. They were not afraid nor ashamed
of one another, but were contented to make just such
a company as the ingredients allowed. It was evident
that the same foolish respect was not here claimed for
mere wealth and station that is in many parts of New
England; yet some of them were the "first people,"
as they are called, of the various towns through which
we passed. Retired sea-captains, in easy circumstances,


23






CAPE COD


who talked of farming as sea-captains are wont; an
erect, respectable, and trustworthy-looking man, in his
wrapper, some of the salt of the earth, who had for-
merly been the salt of the sea; or a more courtly gen-
tleman, who, perchance, had been a representative to
the General Court in his day; or a broad, red-faced
Cape Cod man, who had seen too many storms to be
easily irritated; or a fisherman's wife, who had been
waiting a week for a coaster to leave Boston, and had
at length come by the cars.
A strict regard for truth obliges us to say, that the
few women whom we saw that day looked exceedingly
pinched up. They had prominent chins and noses,
having lost all their teeth, and a sharp W would re-
present their profile. They were not so well preserved
as their husbands; or perchance they were well pre-
served as dried specimens. (Their husbands, however,
were pickled.) But we respect them not the less for
all that; our own dental system is far from perfect.
Still we kept on in the rain, or, if we stopped, it
was commonly at a post-office, and we thought that
writing letters, and sorting them against our arrival,
must be -the principal employment of the inhabit-
ants of the Cape this rainy day. The post-office ap-
peared a singularly domestic institution here. Ever
and anon the stage stopped before some low shop or
dwelling, and a wheelwright or shoemaker appeared
in his shirt-sleeves and leather apron, with spectacles
newly donned, holding up Uncle Sam's bag, as if it
were a slice of home-made cake, for the travelers,
while he retailed some piece of gossip to the driver,


24






STAGE-COACH VIEWS


really as indifferent to the presence of the former as
if they were so much baggage. In one instance, we
understood that a woman was the post-mistress, and
they said that she made the best one on the road; but
we suspected that the letters must be subjected to a
very close scrutiny there. While we were stopping, for
this purpose, at Dennis, we ventured to put our heads out
of the windows, to see where we were going, and saw
rising before us, through the mist, singular barren hills,
all stricken with poverty-grass, looming up as if they
were in the horizon, though they were close to us, and
we seemed to have got to the end of the land on that
side, notwithstanding that the horses were still headed
that way. Indeed, that part of Dennis which we saw
was an exceedingly barren and desolate country, of a
character which I can find no name for; such a sur-
face, perhaps, as the bottom of the sea made dry land
day before yesterday. It was covered with poverty-
grass, and there was hardly a tree in sight, but here
and there a little weather-stained, one-storied house,
with a red roof, for often the roof was painted,
though the rest of the house was not, standing bleak
and cheerless, yet with a broad foundation to the land,
where the comfort must have been all inside. Yet we
read in the Gazetteer for we carried that too with
us -that, in 1837, one hundred and fifty masters of
vessels, belonging to this town, sailed from the various
ports of the Union. There must be many more houses
in the south part of the town, else we cannot imagine
where they all lodge when they are at home, if ever
they are there; but the truth is, their houses are float-


25








ing ones, and their home is on the ocean. There were
almost no trees at all in this part of Dennis, nor could
I learn that they talked of setting out any. It is true,
there was a meeting-house, set round with Lombardy
poplars, in a hollow square, the rows fully as straight
as the studs of a building, and the corners as square;
but, if I do not mistake, every one of them was dead.
I could not help thinking that they needed a revival
here. Our book said that, in 1795, there was erected
in Dennis, an elegant meeting-house, with a steeple."
Perhaps this was the one; though whether it had a
steeple, or had died down so far from sympathy with
the poplars, I do not remember. Another meeting-
house in this town was described as a "neat building;"
but of the meeting-house in Chatham, a neighboring
town, for there was then but one, nothing is said,
except that it is in good repair," both which re-
marks, I trust, may be understood as applying to the
churches spiritual as well as material. However, ele-
gant meeting-houses," from that Trinity one on Broad-
way, to this at Nobscusset, in my estimation, belong
to the same category with beautiful villages." I was
never in season to see one. Handsome is that hand-
some does. What they did for shade here, in warm
weather, we did not know, though we read that fogs
are more frequent in Chatham than in any other part
of the country; and they serve in summer, instead of
trees, to shelter the houses against the heat of the sun.
To those who delight in extensive vision," is it to
be inferred that the inhabitants of Chatham do not ?
-" they are unpleasant, but they are not found to be


26


CAPE COD












































Sunset, Chatham Harbor






STAGE-COACH VIEWS


unhealthful." Probably, also, the unobstructed sea-
breeze answers the purpose of a fan. The historian of
Chatham says further, that in many families there is
no difference between the breakfast and supper; cheese,
cakes, and pies being as common at the one as at the
other." But that leaves us still uncertain whether they
were really common at either.
The road, which was quite hilly, here ran near the
Bay-shore, having the Bay on one side, and the rough
hill of Scargo," said to be the highest land on the
Cape, on the other. Of the wide prospect of the Bay
afforded by the summit of this hill, our guide says,
" The view has not much of the beautiful in it, but it
communicates a strong emotion of the sublime." That
is the kind of communication which we love to have
made to us. We passed through the village of Suet, in
Dennis, on Suet and Quivet Necks, of which it is said,
" when compared with Nobscusset," we had a misty
recollection of having passed through, or near to, the
latter, -" it may be denominated a pleasant village;
but, in comparison with the village of Sandwich, there
is little or no beauty in it." However, we liked Dennis
well, better than any town we had seen on the Cape,
it was so novel, and, in that stormy day, so sublimely
dreary.
Captain John Sears, of Suet, was the first person in
this country who obtained pure marine salt by solar
evaporation alone; though it had long been made in a
similar way on the coast of France, and elsewhere.
This was in the year 1776, at which time, on account
of the war, salt was scarce and dear. The Historical


27






CAPE COD


Collections contain an interesting account of his ex-
periments, which we read when we first saw the roofs
of the salt-works. Barnstable County is the most favor-
able locality for these works on our northern coast, -
there is so little fresh water here emptying into ocean.
Quite recently there were about two millions of dollars
invested in this business here. But now the Cape is
unable to compete with the importers of salt and the
manufacturers of it at the West, and, accordingly, her
salt-works are fast going to decay. From making salt,
they turn to fishing more than ever. The Gazetteer
will uniformly tell you, under the head of each town,
how many go a-fishing, and the value of the fish and
oil taken, how much salt is made and used, how many
are engaged in the coasting trade, how many in manu-
facturing palm-leaf hats, leather, boots, shoes, and tin-
ware, and then it has done, and leaves you to imagine
the more truly domestic manufactures which are nearly
the same all the world over.
Late in the afternoon, we rode through Brewster, so
named after Elder Brewster, for fear he would be for-
gotten else. Who has not heard of Elder Brewster?
Who knows who he was ? This appeared to be the
modern-built town of the Cape, the favorite residence
of retired sea-captains. It is said that there are more
masters and mates of vessels which sail on foreign
voyages belonging to this place than to any other town
in the country." There were many of the modern
American houses here, such as they turn out at Cam-
bridgeport, standing on the sand; you could almost
swear that they had been floated down Charles River,


28






STAGE-COACH VIEWS


and drifted across the bay. I call them American, be-
cause they are paid for by Americans, and put up" by
American carpenters; but they are little removed from
lumber; only Eastern stuff disguised with white paint,
the least interesting kind of driftwood to me. Perhaps
we have reason to be proud of our naval architecture,
and need not go to the Greeks, or the Goths, or the
Italians, for the models of our vessels. Sea-captains do
not employ a Cambridgeport carpenter to build their
floating houses, and for their houses on shore, if they
must copy any, it would be more agreeable to the
imagination to see one of their vessels turned bottom
upward, in the Numidian fashion. We read that, at
certain seasons, the reflection of the sun upon the win-
dows of the houses in Wellfleet and Truro (across the
inner side of the elbow of the Cape) is discernible with
the naked eye, at a distance of eighteen miles and up-
ward, on the county road." This we were pleased to
imagine, as we had not seen the sun for twenty-four
hours.
The same author (the Rev. John Simpkins) said of
the inhabitants, a good while ago: No persons appear
to have a greater relish for the social circle and domes-
tic pleasures. They are not in the habit of frequenting
taverns, unless on public occasions. I know not of a
proper idler or tavern-haunter in the place." This is
more than can be said of my townsmen.
At length, we stopped for the night at Higgins's tav-
ern, in Orleans, feeling very much as if we were on
a sand-bar in the ocean, and not knowing whether we
should see land or water ahead when the mist cleared


29






30 CAPE COD
away. We here overtook two Italian boys, who had
waded thus far down the Cape through the sand, with
their organs on their backs, and were going on to
Provincetown. What a hard lot, we thought, if the
Provincetown people should shut their doors against
them! Whose yard would they go to next? Yet we
concluded that they had chosen wisely to come here,
where other music than that of the surf must be rare.
Thus the great civilizer sends out his emissaries, sooner
or later, to every sandy cape and lighthouse of the
New World which the census-taker visits, and sum-
mons the savage there to surrender.










III


THE PLAINS OF NAUSET

THE next morning, Thursday, October 11, it rained
as hard as ever; but we were determined to proceed on
foot, nevertheless. We first made some inquiries, with
regard to the practicability of walking up the shore on
the Atlantic side to Provincetown, whether we should
meet with any creeks or marshes to trouble us. Hig-
gins said that there was no obstruction, and that it
was not much farther than by the road, but he thought
that we should find it very "heavy" walking in the
sand; it was bad enough in the road, a horse would
sink in up to the fetlocks there. But there was one
man at the tavern who had walked it, and he said that
we could go very well, though it was sometimes incon-
venient and even dangerous walking under the bank,
when there was a great tide, with an easterly wind,
which caused the sand to cave. For the first four or
five miles we followed the road, which here turns to the
north on the elbow, -the narrowest part of the Cape,
- that we might clear an inlet from the ocean, a part of
Nauset Harbor, in Orleans, on our right. We found
the traveling good enough for walkers on the sides of
the roads, though it was "heavy" for horses in the
middle. We walked with our umbrellas behind us
since it blowed hard as well as rained, with driving
mists, as the day before, and the wind helped us over






CAPE COD


the sand at a rapid rate. Everything indicated that we
had reached a strange shore. The road was a mere
lane, winding over bare swells of bleak and barren-
looking land. The houses were few and far between,
besides being small and rusty, though they appeared
to be kept in good repair, and their door-yards, which
were the unfenced Cape, were tidy; or, rather, they
looked as if the ground around them was blown clean
by the wind. Perhaps the scarcity of wood here, and
the consequent absence of the wood-pile and other
wooden traps, had something to do with this appear-
ance. They seemed, like mariners ashore, to have sat
right down to enjoy the firmness of the land, without
studying their postures or habiliments. To them it
was merely terra firma and cognita, not yet fertilis and
jucunda. Every landscape which is dreary enough has
a certain beauty to my eyes, and in this instance its
permanent qualities were enhanced by the weather.
Everything told of the sea, even when we did not see
its waste or hear its roar. For birds there were gulls,
and for carts in the fields, boats turned bottom upward
against the houses, and sometimes the rib of a whale
was woven into the fence by the roadside. The trees
were, if possible, rarer than the houses, excepting apple
trees, of which there were a few small orchards in the
hollows. These were either narrow and high, with flat
tops, having lost their side branches, like huge plum
bushes growing in exposed situations, or else dwarfed
and branching immediately at the ground, like quince
bushes. They suggested that, under like circumstances,
all trees would at last acquire like habits of growth.


382






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


I afterward saw on the Cape many full-grown apple
trees not higher than a man's head; one whole orchard,
indeed, where all the fruit could have been gathered by
a man standing on the ground; but you could hardly
creep beneath the trees. Some, which the owners told
me were twenty years old, were only three and a half
feet high, spreading at six inches from the ground five
feet each way, and, being withal surrounded with boxes
of tar to catch the canker-worms, they looked like
plants in flower-pots, and as if they might be taken
into the house in the winter. In another place, I saw
some not much larger than currant bushes; yet the
owner told me that they had borne a barrel and a
half of apples that fall. If they had been placed close
together, I could have cleared them all at a jump. I
measured some near the Highland Light in Truro,
which had been taken from the shrubby woods there-
abouts when young, and grafted. One, which had been
set ten years, was on an average eighteen inches high,
and spread nine feet, with a flat top. It had borne one
bushel of apples two years before. Another, probably
twenty years old from the seed, was five feet high, and
spread eighteen feet, branching, as usual, at the ground,
so that you could not creep under it. This bore a bar-
rel of apples two years before. The owner of these
trees invariably used the personal pronoun in speak-
ing of them; as, I got him out of the woods, but he
does n't bear." The largest that I saw in that neigh-
borhood was nine feet high to the topmost leaf, and
spread thirty-three feet, branching at the ground five
ways.


33








In one yard I observed a single very healthy-looking
tree, while all.the rest were dead or dying. The occu-
pant said that his father had manured all but that one
with blackfish.
This habit of growth should, no doubt, be encour-
aged, and they should not be trimmed up, as some
traveling practitioners have advised. In 1802 there was
not a single fruit tree in Chatham, the next town to
Orleans, on the south; and the old account of Orleans
says: "Fruit trees cannot be made to grow within a
mile of the ocean. Even those which are placed at a
greater distance are injured by the east winds; and
after violent storms in the spring, a saltish taste is per-
ceptible on their bark." We noticed that they were
often covered with a yellow lichen like rust, the Par-
melia parietina.
The most foreign and picturesque structures on the
Cape, to an inlander, not excepting the salt-works, are
the windmills, gray-looking, octagonal towers, with
long timbers slanting to the ground in the rear, and
there resting on a cart-wheel, by which their fans are
turned round to face the wind. These appeared also to
serve in some measure for props against its force. A
great circular rut was worn around the building by the
wheel. The neighbors who assemble to turn the mill to
the wind are likely to know which way it blows, with-
out a weather-cock. They looked loose and slightly
locomotive, like huge wounded birds, trailing a wing or
a leg, and reminded one of pictures of the Netherlands.
Being on elevated ground, and high in themselves, they
serve as landmarks,--for there are no tall trees, or


CAPE COD


34






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


other objects commonly, which can be seen at a dis-
tance in the horizon; though the outline of the land
itself is so firm and distinct, that an insignificant cone,
or even precipice of sand, is visible at a great distance
from over the sea. Sailors making the land commonly
steer either by the windmills, or the meeting-houses.
In the country, we are obliged to steer by the meeting-
houses alone. Yet the meeting-house is a kind of wind-
mill, which runs one day in seven, turned either by the
winds of doctrine or public opinion, or more rarely by
the winds of Heaven, where another sort of grist is
ground, of which, if it be not all bran or musty, if it be
not plaster, we trust to make bread of life.
There were, here and there, heaps of shells in the
fields, where clams had been opened for bait; for
Orleans is famous for its shell-fish, especially clams, or,
as our author says, "to speak more properly, worms."
The shores are more fertile than the dry land. The
inhabitants measure their crops, not only by bushels
of corn, but by barrels of clams. A thousand barrels of
clam-bait are counted as equal in value to six or eight
thousand bushels of Indian corn, and once they were
procured without more labor or expense, and the supply
was thought to be inexhaustible. For," runs the his-
tory, after a portion of the shore has been dug over,
and almost all the clams taken up, at the end of two
years, it is said, they are as plenty there as ever. It is
even affirmed by many persons, that it is as necessary
to stir the clam ground frequently, as it is to hoe a field
of potatoes; because if this labor is omitted, the clams
will'be crowded too closely together, and will be pre-


35








vented from increasing in size." But we were told that
the small clam, Mya arenaria, was not so plenty here
as formerly. Probably the clam-ground has been stirred
too frequently, after all. Nevertheless, one man, who
complained that they fed pigs with them and so made
them scarce, told me that he dug and opened one hun-
dred and twenty-six dollars' worth in one winter, in
Truro.
We crossed a brook, not more than fourteen rods
long, between Orleans and Eastham called Jeremiah's
Gutter. The Atlantic is said sometimes to meet the Bay
here, and isolate the northern part of the Cape. The
streams of the Cape are necessarily formed on a minute
scale since there is no room for them to run, without
tumbling immediately into the sea; and beside, we
found it difficult to run ourselves in that sand, when
there was no want of room. Hence, the least channel
where water runs, or may run, is important, and is dig-
nified with a name. We read that there is no running
water in Chatham, which is the next town. The barren
aspect of the land would hardly be believed if described.
It was such soil, or rather land, as, to judge from
appearances, no farmer in the interior would think
of cultivating, or even fencing. Generally, the plowed
fields of the Cape look white and yellow, like a mixture
of salt and Indian meal. This is called soil. All an
inlander's notions of soil and fertility will be confounded
by a visit to these parts, and he will not be able, for
some time afterward, to distinguish soil from sand. The
historian of Chatham says of a part of that town, which
has been gained from the sea: "There is a doubtful


36


CAPE COD






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


appearance of a soil's beginning to be formed. It is
styled doubtful, because it would not be observed by
every eye, and perhaps not acknowledged by many."
We thought that this would not be a bad description
of the greater part of the Cape. There is a beach on
the west side of Eastham, which we crossed the next
summer, half a mile wide, and stretching across the
township, containing seventeen hundred acres, on which
there is not now a particle of vegetable mould, though
it formerly produced wheat. All sands are here called
" beaches," whether they are waves of water or of air
that dash against them, since they commonly have their
origin on the shore. "The sand in some places," says
the historian of Eastham, lodging against the beach
grass, has been raised into hills fifty feet high, where
twenty-five years ago no hills existed. In others it has
filled up small valleys and swamps. Where a strong-
rooted bush stood, the appearance is'singular: a mass
of earth and sand adheres to it, resembling a small
tower. In several places rocks, which were formerly
covered with soil, are disclosed; and being lashed by
the sand, driven against them by the wind, look as if
they were recently dug from a quarry."
We were surprised to hear of the great crops of corn
which are still raised in Eastham, notwithstanding the
real and apparent barrenness. Our landlord in Or-
leans had told us that he raised three or four hundred
bushels of corn annually, and also of the great number
of pigs which he fattened. In Champlain's Voyages,"
there is a plate representing' the Indian corn-fields here-
abouts, with their wigwams in the midst, as they ap-


37






CAPE COD


peared in 1605, and it was here that the Pilgrims, to
quote their own words, bought eight or ten hogsheads
of corn and beans of the Nauset Indians, in 1622, to
keep themselves from starving.1 "In 1667 the town
[of Eastham] voted that every housekeeper should kill
twelve blackbirds, or three crows, which did great damage
to the corn, and this vote was repeated for many years."
In 1695 an additional order was passed, namely, that
"every unmarried man in the township shall kill six
blackbirds, or three crows, while he remains single; as
a penalty for not doing it, shall not be married until
he obey this order." The blackbirds, .however, still
molest the corn. I saw them at it the next summer,
and there were many scarecrows, if not scare-blackbirds,
in the fields, which I often mistook for men. From
which I concluded, that either many men were not mar-
ried, or many blackbirds were. Yet they put but three
or four kernels in a hill, and let fewer plants remain
than we do. In the account of Eastham, in the His-
torical Collections," printed in 1802, it is said that
"more corn is produced than the inhabitants consume,
and above a thousand bushels are annually sent to mar-
1 They touched after this at a place called Mattachiest, where they
got more corn; but their shallop being cast away in a storm, the
Governor was obliged to return to Plymouth on foot, fifty miles
through the woods. According to Mourt's Relation, he came safely
home, though weary and surbaled," that is, foot-sore. (Ital. sobattere,
Lat. sub or solea battered, to bruise the soles of the feet; v. Die. Not
"from acerbatus, embittered or aggrieved," as one commentator on
this passage supposes.) This word is of very rare occurrence, being
applied only to governors and persons of like description, who are in
*that predicament; though such generally have considerable mileage
allowed them, and might save their soles if they cared.


38






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


ket. The soil being free from stones, a plough passes
through it speedily; and after the corn has come up, a
small Cape horse, somewhat larger than a goat, will,
with the assistance of two boys, easily hoe three or four
acres in a day. Several farmers are accustomed to pro-
duce five hundred bushels of grain annually, and not
long since one raised eight hundred bushels on sixty
acres." Similar accounts are given to-day; indeed, the
recent accounts are in some instances suspectable repe-
titions of the old, and I have no doubt that their state-
ments are as often founded on the exception as the rule,
and that by far the greater number of acres are as barren
as they appear to be. It is sufficiently remarkable that
any crops can be raised here, and it may be owing, as
others have suggested, to the amount of moisture in the
atmosphere, the warmth of the sand, and the rareness
of frosts. A miller, who was sharpening his stones, told
me that, forty years ago, he had been to a husking here,
where five hundred bushels were husked in one even-
ing, and the corn was piled six feet high or more, in
the midst, but now fifteen or eighteen bushels to an
acre were an average yield. I never saw fields of such
puny and unpromising-looking corn, as in this town.
Probably the inhabitants are contented with small crops
from a great surface easily cultivated. It is not al-
ways the most fertile land that is the most profitable,
and this sand may repay cultivation as well as the fertile
bottoms of the West. It is said, moreover, that the
vegetables raised in the sand, without manure, are
remarkably sweet, the pumpkins especially, though when
their seed is planted in the interior they soon degenerate.


30








I can testify that the vegetables here, when they succeed
at all, look remarkably green and healthy, though per-
haps it is partly by contrast with the sand. Yet the
inhabitants of the Cape towns, generally, do not raise
their own meal or pork. Their gardens are commonly
little patches that have been redeemed from the edges
of the marshes and swamps.
All the morning we had heard the sea roar on the
eastern shore, which was several miles distant; for it
still felt the effects of the storm in which the St. John
was wrecked, -though a school-boy, whom we over-
took, hardly knew what we meant, his ears were so
used to it. He would have more plainly heard the same
sound in a shell. It was a very inspiriting sound to
walk by, filling the whole air, that of the sea dashing
against the land, heard several miles inland. Instead
of having a dog to growl before your door, to have an
Atlantic Ocean to growl for a whole Cape! On the
whole, we were glad of the storm, which would show us
the ocean in its angriest mood. Charles Darwin was
assured that the roar of the surf on the coast of Chiloe,
after a heavy gale, could be heard at night a distance
of 21 sea miles across a hilly and wooded country." We
conversed with the boy we have mentioned, who might
.have been eight years old, making him walk the while
under the lee of our umbrella; for we thought it as im-
portant to know what was life on the Cape to a boy as
to a man. We learned from him where the best grapes
were to be found in that neighborhood. He was carry-
ing his dinner in a pail; and, without any impertinent
questions being put by us, -it did at length appear of


40


CAPE COD











































The Plains of Nauset






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


what it consisted. The homeliest facts are always the
most acceptable to an inquiring mind. At length, before
we got to Eastham meeting-house, we left the road and
struck across the country for the eastern shore at Nau-
set Lights, three lights close together, two or three
miles distant from us. They were so many that they
might be distinguished from others; but this seemed a
shiftless and costly way of accomplishing that object.
We found ourselves at once on an apparently boundless
plain, without a tree or a fence or, with one or two
exceptions, a house in sight. Instead of fences, the
earth was sometimes thrown up into a slight ridge. My
companion compared it to the rolling prairies of Illi-
nois. In the storm of wind and rain which raged when
we traversed it, it no doubt appeared more vast and deso-
late than it really is. As there were no hills, but only
here and there a dry hollow in the midst of the waste,
and the distant horizon was concealed by mist, we did
not know whether it was high or low. A solitary traveler
whom we saw perambulating in the distance loomed
like a giant. He appeared to walk slouchingly, as if
held up from above by straps under his shoulders, as
much as supported by the plain below. Men and boys
would have appeared alike at a little distance, there
being no object by which to measure them. Indeed, to
an inlander, the Cape landscape is a constant mirage.
This kind of country extended a mile or two each way.
These were the Plains of Nauset," once covered with
wood, where in winter the winds howl and the snow
blows right merrily in the face of the traveler. I was
glad to have got out of the towns, where I am wont to


41






CAPE COD


feel unspeakably mean and disgraced, -to have left
behind me for a season the bar-rooms of Massachu-
setts, where the full-grown are not weaned from savage
and filthy habits, still sucking a cigar. My spirits
rose in proportion to the outward dreariness. The
towns need to be ventilated. The gods would be
pleased to see some pure flames from their altars. They
are not to be appeased with cigar-smoke.
As we thus skirted the back side of the towns, for we
did not enter any village till we got to Provincetown, -
we read their histories under our umbrellas, rarely
meeting anybody. The old accounts are the richest in
topography, which was what we wanted most; and, in-
deed, in most things else, for I find that the readable
parts of the modern accounts of these towns consist, in a
great measure, of quotations, acknowledged and unac-
knowledged, from the older ones, without any additional
information of equal interest; -town histories, which
at length run into a history of the Church of that place,
that being the only story they have to tell, and conclude
by quoting the Latin epitaphs of the old pastors, hav-
ing been written in the good old days of Latin and of
Greek. They will go back to the ordination of every
minister, and tell you faithfully who made the intro-
ductory prayer, and who delivered the sermon; who
made the ordaining prayer, and who gave the charge;
who extended the right hand of fellowship, and who
pronounced the benediction; also how many ecclesias-
tical councils convened from time to time to inquire
into the orthodoxy of some minister, and the names of
all who composed them. As it will take us an hour to


42






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


get over this plain, and there is no variety in the pros-
pect, peculiar as it is, I will read a little in the history
of Eastham the while.
When the committee from Plymouth had purchased
the territory of Eastham of the Indians, it was de-
manded, who laid claim to Billingsgate ?" which was
understood to be all that part of the Cape north of what
they had purchased. The answer was, there was not
any who owned it. 'Then,' said the committee, 'that
land is ours.' The Indians answered, that it was." This
was a remarkable assertion and admission. The Pil-
grims appear to have regarded themselves as Not Any's
representatives. Perhaps this was the first instance of
that quiet way of speaking for a place not yet occu-
pied, or at least not improved as much as it may be,
which their descendants have practiced, and are still
practicing so extensively. Not Any seems to have been
the sole proprietor of all America before the Yankees.
But history says, that when the Pilgrims had held the
lands of Billingsgate many years, at length, "appeared
an Indian, who styled himself Lieutenant Anthony,"
who laid claim to'them, and of him they bought them.
Who knows but a Lieutenant Anthony may be knock-
ing at the door of the White House some day? At any
rate, I know that if you hold a thing unjustly, there will
surely be the devil to pay at last.
Thomas Prince, who was several times the governor
of the Plymouth colony, was the leader of the settle-
ment of Eastham. There was recently standing, on what
was once his farm, in this town, a pear tree which is
said to have been brought from England, and planted


43








there by him, about two hundred years ago. It was
blown down a few months before we were there. A late
account says that it was recently in a vigorous state;
the fruit small, but excellent; and it yielded on an
average fifteen bushels. Some appropriate lines have
been addressed to it, by a Mr. Heman Doane, from
which I will quote, partly because they are the only
specimen of Cape Cod verse which I remember to have
seen, and partly because they are not bad.
"Two hundred years have, on the wings of Time,
Passed with their joys and woes, since thou, Old Tree!
Put forth thy first leaves in this foreign clime,
Transplanted from the soil beyond the sea.

[These stars represent the more clerical lines, and
also those which have deceased.]
"That exiled band long since have passed away,
And still, old Tree! thou standest in the place
Where Prince's hand did plant thee in his day, -
An undesigned memorial of his race
And time; of those our honored fathers, when
They came from Plymouth o'er and settled here;
Doane, Higgins, Snow, and other worthy men,
Whose names their sons remember to revere.

"Old Time has thinned thy boughs, Old Pilgrim Tree!
And bowed thee with the weight of many years;
Yet, 'mid the frosts of age, thy bloom we see,
And yearly still thy mellow fruit appears."
There are some other lines which I might quote, if
they were not tied to unworthy companions, by the
rhyme. When one ox will lie down, the yoke bears hard
on him that stands up.


CAPE COD


44






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


One of the first settlers of Eastham was Deacon John
Doane, who died in 1707, aged one hundred and ten.
Tradition says that he was rocked in a cradle several
of his last years. That, certainly, was not an Achillean
life. His mother must have let him slip when she
dipped him into the liquor which was to make him in-
vulnerable, and he went in, heels and all. Some of the
stone bounds to his farm, which he set up, are standing
to-day, with his initials cut in them.
The ecclesiastical history of this town interested us
somewhat. It appears that they very early built a small
meeting-house, twenty feet square, with a thatched roof
through which they might fire their muskets," of
course, at the Devil. In 1662, the town agreed that
a part of every whale cast on shore be appropriated for
the support of the ministry." No doubt there seemed
to be some propriety in thus leaving the support of the
ministers to Providence, whose servants they are, and
who alone rules the storms; for, when few whales were
cast up, they might suspect that their worship was not
acceptable. The ministers must have sat upon the cliffs
in every storm, and watched the shore with anxiety.
And, for my part, if I were a minister, I would rather
trust to the bowels of the billows, on the back side of
Cape Cod, to cast up a whale for me, than to the gen-
erosity of many a country parish that I know. You
cannot say of a country minister's salary, commonly,
that it is very like a whale." Nevertheless, the minis-
ter who depended on whales cast up must have had a
trying time of it. I would rather have gone to the Falk-
land Isles with a harpoon, and done with it. Think of


45






CAPE COD


a whale having the breath of life beaten out of him by
a storm, and dragging in over the bars and guzzles, for
the support of the ministry! What a consolation it must
have been to him! I have heard of a minister, who had
been a fisherman, being settled in Bridgewater for as
long a time as he could tell a cod from a haddock.
Generous as it seems, this condition would empty most
country pulpits forthwith, for it is long since the fishers
of men were fishermen. Also, a duty was put on mack-
erel here to support a free school; in other words, the
mackerel school was taxed in order that the children's
school might be free. In 1665 the Court passed a law
to inflict corporal punishment on all persons, who re-
sided in the towns of this government, who denied the
Scriptures." Think of a man being whipped on a
spring morning, till he was constrained to confess that
the Scriptures were true! "It was also voted by the
town, that all persons who should stand out of the meet-
ing-house during the time of divine service should be
set in the stocks." It behooved such a town to see that
sitting in the meeting-house was nothing akin to sitting
in the stocks, lest the penalty of obedience to the law
might be greater than that of disobedience. This was
the Eastham famous of late years for its camp-meetings,
held in a grove near by, to which thousands flock from
all parts of the Bay. We conjectured that the reason
for the perhaps unusual, if not unhealthful development
of the religious sentiment here, was the fact that a large
portion of the population are women whose husbands
and sons are either abroad on the sea, or else drowned,
and there is nobody but they and the ministers left


46






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


behind. The old account says that "hysteric fits are
very common in Orleans, Eastham, and the towns
below, particularly on Sunday, in the time of divine
service. When one woman is affected, five or six others
generally sympathize with her; and the congregation is
thrown into the utmost confusion. Several old men
suppose, unphilosophically and uncharitably perhaps,
that the will is partly concerned, and that ridicule and
threats would have a tendency to prevent the evil." How
this is now we did not learn. We saw one singularly
masculine woman, however, in a house on this very
plain, who did not look as if she was ever troubled with
hysterics, or sympathized with those that were; or, per-
chance, life itself was to her a hysteric fit, a Nauset
woman, of a hardness and coarseness such as no man
ever possesses or suggests. It was enough to see the
vertebrae and sinews of her neck, and her set jaws of
iron, which would have bitten a board-nail in two in
their ordinary action, braced against the world, talk-
ing like a man-of-war's-man in petticoats, or as if
shouting to you through a breaker; who looked as if it
made her head ache to live; hard enough for any enor-
mity. I looked upon her as one who had committed
infanticide; who never had a brother, unless it were
some wee. thing that died in infancy, for what need
of him ? and whose father must have died before she
was born. This woman told us that the camp-meetings
were not held the previous summer for fear of intro-
ducing the cholera, and that they would have been held
earlier this summer, but the rye was so backward that
straw would not have been ready for them; for they lie


47






CAPE COD


in straw. There are sometimes one hundred and fifty
ministers (!) and five thousand hearers, assembled.
The ground, which is called Millennium Grove, is
owned by a company in Boston, and is the most suit-
able, or rather unsuitable, for this purpose of any that
I saw on the Cape. It is fenced, and the frames of the
tents are at all times to be seen interspersed among
the oaks. They have an oven and a pump, and keep
all their kitchen utensils and tent-coverings and furni-
ture in a permanent building on the spot. They select
a time for their meetings when the moon is full. A man
is appointed to clear out the pump a week beforehand,
while the ministers are clearing their throats; but
probably the latter do not always deliver as pure a
stream as the former. I saw the heaps of clamshells left
under the tables, where they had feasted in previous
summers, and supposed, of course, that that was the
work of the unconverted, or the backsliders and scoff-
ers. It looked as if a camp-meeting must be a singular
combination of a prayer-meeting and a picnic.
The first minister settled here was the Rev. Samuel
Treat, in 1672, a gentleman who is said to be entitled
to a distinguished rank among the evangelists of New
England." He converted many Indians, as well as
white men, in his day, and translated the Confession
of Faith into the Nauset language. These were the
Indians concerning whom their first teacher, Richard
Bourne, wrote to Gookin, in 1674, that he had been to
see one who was sick, and there came from him very
savory and heavenly expressions," but, with regard to
the mass of them, he says, the truth is, that many of


48






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


them are very loose in their course, to my heart-break-
ing sorrow." Mr. Treat is described as a Calvinist of
the strictest kind, not one of. those who, by giving up
or explaining away, become like a porcupine disarmed
of its quills, but a consistent Calvinist, who can dart
his quills to a distance and courageously defend him-
self. There exists a volume of his sermons in manu-
script, which, says a commentator, "appear to have been
designed for publication." I quote the following sen-
tences at second-hand, from a Discourse on Luke xvi.
23, addressed to sinners: -
Thou must ere long go to the bottomless pit. Hell
hath enlarged herself, and is ready to receive thee.
There is room enough for thy entertainment. .
Consider thou art going to a place prepared by
God on purpose to exalt his justice in; a place made
for no other employment but torments. Hell is God's
house of correction; and remember God doth all things
like himself: When God would show his justice, and
what is the weight of his wrath, he makes a hell, where
it shall indeed appear to purpose. Woe to thy
soul when thou shalt be set up as a butt for the arrows
of the Almighty. .
"Consider, God himself shall be the principal agent
in thy misery. .. His breath is the bellows which blows
up the flame of hell forever: and if he punish thee,
if he meet thee in his fury, he will not meet thee as
a man; he will give thee an omnipotent blow."
"Some think sinning ends with this life; but it is
a mistake. The creature is held under an everlasting
law; the damned increase in sin in hell. Possibly the


49








mention of this may please thee. But remember there
shall be no pleasant sins there; no eating, drinking,
singing, dancing, wanton dalliance, and drinking stolen
waters; but damned sins, bitter hellish sins, sins ex-
asperated by torments, cursing God, spite, rage, and
blasphemy. The guilt of all thy -sins shall be laid
upon thy soul, and be made so many heaps of fuel ....
Sinner, I beseech thee, realize the truth of these
things. Do not go about to dream that this is deroga-
tory to God's mercy, and nothing but a vain fable to
scare children out of their wits withal. God can be
merciful, though he make thee miserable. He shall
have monuments enough of that precious attribute,
shining like stars in the place of glory, and singing
eternal hallelujahs to the praise of Him that redeemed
them, though, to exalt the power of his justice, he
damn sinners heaps upon heaps."
"But," continues the same' writer, "with the ad-
vantage of proclaiming the doctrine of terror, which is
naturally productive of a sublime and impressive style
of eloquence (' Triumphat ventoso gloriae curru orator,
qui pectus angit, irritat, et implet terroribus.' Vid.
Burnet, De Stat. Mort., p. 809), he could not attain
the character of a popular preacher. His voice was so
loud, that ... it could be heard at a great distance from
the meeting-house, even amidst the shrieks of hysterical
women, and the winds that howled over the plains of
Nauset; but there was no more music in it than in the
discordant sounds with which it was mingled."
"The effect of his preaching," it is said, was
that his hearers were several times, in the course of


50


CAPE COD






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


his ministry, awakened and alarmed;" and on one
occasion a comparatively innocent young man was
frightened nearly out of his wits, and Mr. Treat had
to exert himself to make hell seem somewhat cooler to
him; yet we are assured that Treat's "manners were
cheerful, his conversation pleasant, and sometimes face-
tious, but always decent. He was fond of a stroke of
humor and a practical joke, and manifested his relish
for them by long and loud fits of laughter."
This was the man of whom a well-known anecdote is
told, which doubtless many of my readers have heard,
but which, nevertheless, I will venture to quote: -
After his marriage with the daughter of Mr. Wil-
lard [pastor of the South Church in Boston], he was
sometimes invited by that gentleman to preach in his
pulpit. Mr. Willard possessed a graceful delivery, a
masculine and harmonious voice; and, though he did
not gain much reputation by his 'Body of Divinity,'
which is frequently sneered at, particularly by those
who have not read it, yet in his sermons are strength of
thought and energy of language. The natural conse-
quence was that he was generally admired. Mr. Treat,
having preached one of his best discourses to the con-
gregation of his father-in-law, in his usual unhappy
manner, excited universal disgust; and several nice
judges waited on Mr. Willard, and begged that Mr.
Treat, who was a worthy, pious man, it was true, but
a wretched preacher, might never be invited into his
pulpit again. To this request Mr. Willard made no
reply; but he desired his son-in-law to lend him the
discourse; which being left with him, lie delivered it


51






CAPE COD


without alteration to his people a few weeks after. ...
They flew to Mr. Willard and requested a copy for the
press. 'See the difference,' they cried, 'between your-
self and your son-in-law; you have preached a sermon
on the same text as Mr. Treat's, but whilst his was
contemptible, yours is excellent.'" As is observed in a
note, Mr. Willard, after producing the sermon in the
handwriting of Mr. Treat, might have. addressed these
sage critics in the words of Phaedrus, -
'En hic declarat, quales sitis judices.'" 1

Mr. Treat died of a stroke of the palsy, just 'after
the memorable storm known as the Great Snow, which
left the ground around his house entirely bare, but
heaped up the snow in the road to an uncommon
height. Through this an arched way was dug, by
which the Indians bore his body to the grave.
The reader will imagine us, all the while, steadily
traversing that extensive plain in a direction a little
north of east toward Nauset Beach, and reading under
our umbrellas as we sailed, while it blowed hard with
mingled mist and rain, as if we were approaching a fit
anniversary of Mr. Treat's funeral. We fancied that
it was such a moor as that on which somebody per-
ished in the snow, as is related in the "Lights and
Shadows of Scottish Life."
The next minister settled here was the Rev. Sam-
uel Osborn, who was born in Ireland, and educated at
the University of Dublin." He is said to have been
a man of wisdom and virtue," and taught his people
1 Lib. v. Fab. 5.






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


the use of peat, and the art of drying and preparing it,
which, as they had scarcely any other fuel, was a great
blessing to them. He also introduced improvements in
agriculture. But, notwithstanding his many services,
as he embraced the religion of Arminius, some of his
flock became dissatisfied. At length, an ecclesiastical
council consisting of ten ministers with their churches
sat upon him, and they, naturally enough, spoiled his
usefulness. The council convened at the desire of two
divine philosophers, Joseph Doane and Nathaniel Free-
man.
In their report they say, It appears to the council
that the Rev. Mr. Osborn hath, in his preaching to
this people, said, that what Christ did and suffered
doth nothing abate or diminish our obligation to obey
the law of God, and that Christ's suffering and obedi-
ence were for himself; both parts of which, we think,
contain dangerous error."
"Also: 'It hath been said, and doth appear to this
council, that the Rev. Mr. Osborn, both in public and
in private, asserted that there are no promises in the
Bible but what are conditional, which we think, also,
to be an error, and do say that there are promises
which are absolute and without any condition, such
as the promise of a new heart, and that he will write
his law in our hearts.' "
"Also, they say, 'it hath been alleged, and doth ap-
pear to us, that Mr. Osborn hath declared, that obedi-
ence is a considerable cause of a person's justification,
which, we think, contains very dangerous error.' "
And many the like distinctions they made, such as


53






CAPE COD


some of my readers, probably, are more familiar with
than I am. So, far in the East, among the Yezidis,
or Worshipers of the Devil, so-called, the Chaldmeans,
and others, according to the testimony of travelers,
you may still hear these remarkable disputations on
doctrinal points going on. Osborn was, accordingly,
dismissed, and he removed to Boston, where he kept
school for many years. But he was fully justified, me-
thinks, by his works in the peat meadow; one proof of
which is, that he lived to be between ninety and one
hundred years old.
The next minister was the Rev. Benjamin Webb, of
whom, though a neighboring clergyman pronounced
him "the best man and the best minister whom he
ever knew," yet the historian says, that, -
As he spent his days in the uniform discharge of his
duty [it reminds one of a country muster] and there were
no shades to give relief to his character, not much can be
said of him. [Pity the Devil did not plant a few shade-
trees along his avenues.] His heart was as pure as
the new-fallen snow, which completely covers every dark
spot in a field; his mind was as serene as the sky in a
mild evening of June, when the full moon shines without
a cloud. Name any virtue, and that virtue he practiced;
name any vice, and that vice he shunned. But if pecu-
liar qualities marked his character, they were his hu-
mility, his gentleness, and his love of God. The people
had long been taught by a son of thunder [Mr. Treat];
in him they were instructed by a son of consolation,
who sweetly allured them to virtue by soft persuasion,
and by exhibiting the mercy of the Supreme Being ;


54






THE PLAINS OF NAUSET


for his thoughts were so much in heaven, that they
seldom descended to the dismal regions below; and
though of the same religious sentiments as Mr. Treat,
yet his attention was turned to those glad tidings of
great joy which a Saviour came to publish."
We were interested to hear that such a man had
trodden the plains of Nauset.
Turning over further in our book, our eyes fell on
the name of the Rev. Jonathan Bascom of Orleans :
"Senex emunctae naris, doctus, et auctor elegantium
verborum; facetus, et dulcis festique sermonis." And,
again, on that of the Rev. Nathan Stone, of Dennis:
Vir humilis, mitis, blandus, advenarum hospes; [there
was need of him there;] suis commodis in terra non
students, reconditis thesauris in coelo." An easy virtue
that, there, for methinks no inhabitant of Dennis could
be very studious about his earthly commodity, but must
regard the bulk of his treasures as in heaven. But
probably the most just and pertinent character of all is
that which appears to be given to the Rev. Ephraim
Briggs, of Chatham, in the language of the later Ro-
mans, "Seip, sepoese, sepoemese, wechekum," which
not being interpreted, we know not what it means,
though we have no doubt it occurs somewhere in the
Scriptures, probably in the Apostle Eliot's Epistle to
the Nipmucks.
Let no one think that I do not love the old ministers.
They were, probably, the best men of their generation,
and they deserve that their biographies should fill the
pages of the town histories. If I could but hear the
"glad tidings" of which they tell, and which, per-


55






56 CAPE COD
chance, they heard, I might write in a worthier strain
than this.
There was no better way to make the reader realize
how wide and peculiar that plain was, and how long it
took to traverse it, than by inserting these extracts in
the midst of my narrative.











IV


THE BEACH

AT length we reached the seemingly retreating bound-
ary of the plain, and entered what had appeared at a
distance an upland marsh, but proved to be dry sand
covered with beach grass, the bearberry, bayberry,
shrub oaks, and beach plum, slightly ascending as we
approached the shore; then, crossing over a belt of
sand on which nothing grew, though the roar of the
sea sounded scarcely louder than before, and we were
prepared to go half a mile farther, we suddenly stood
on the edge of a bluff overlooking the Atlantic. Far
below us was the beach, from half a dozen to a dozen
rods in width, with a long line of breakers rushing to
the strand. The sea was exceedingly dark and stormy,
the sky completely overcast, the clouds still dropping
rain, and the wind seemed to blow not so much as the
exciting cause, as from sympathy with the already agi-
tated ocean. The waves broke on the bars at some
distance from the shore, and curving green or yellow
as if over so many unseen dams, ten or twelve feet
high, like a thousand waterfalls, rolled in foam to the
sand. There was nothing but that savage ocean be-
tween us and Europe.
Having got down the bank, and as close to the water
as we could, where the sand was the hardest, leaving
the Nauset Lights behind us, we began to walk leisurely






CAPE COD


up the beach, in a northwest direction, toward Pro-
vincetown, which was about twenty-five miles distant,
still sailing under our umbrellas with a strong aft wind,
admiring in silence, as we walked, the great force of
the ocean stream,--
wroralAOo jeya arOQvos 'CKeavoto.

The white breakers were rushing to the shore; the
foam ran up the sand, and then ran back, as far as we
could see (and we imagined how much farther along
the Atlantic coast, before and behind us), as regularly,
to compare great things with small, as the master of a
choir beats time with his white wand ; and ever and
anon a higher wave caused us hastily to deviate from
our path, and we looked back on our tracks filled with
water and foam. The breakers looked like droves of a
thousand wild horses of Neptune, rushing to the shore,
with their white manes streaming far behind; and
when, at length, the ,sun shone for a moment, their
manes were rainbow-tinted. Also, the long kelp-weed
was tossed up from time to time, like the tails of sea-
cows sporting in the brine.
There was not a sail in sight, and we saw none that
day, for they had all sought harbors in the late storm,
and had not been able to get out again; and the only
human beings whom we saw on the beach for several
days were one or two wreckers looking for driftwood
and fragments of wrecked vessels. After an easterly
storm in the spring, this beach is sometimes strewn
with Eastern wood from one end to the other, which, as
it belongs to him who saves it, and the Cape is nearly


58






THE BEACH


destitute of wood, is a godsend to the inhabitants. We
soon met one of these wreckers, a regular Cape Cod
man, with whom we parleyed, with a bleached and
weather-beaten face, within whose wrinkles I distin-
guished no particular feature. It was like an old sail
endowed with life, a hanging-cliff of weather-beaten
flesh, like one of the clay boulders which occurred in
that sand-bank. He had on a hat which had seen salt
water, and a coat of many pieces and colors, though it
was mainly the color of the beach, as if it had been
sanded. His variegated back for his coat had many
patches, even between the shoulders was a rich study
to us when we had passed him and looked round. It
might have been dishonorable for him to have so many
scars behind, it is true, if he had not had many more
and more serious ones in front. He looked as if he
sometimes saw a doughnut, but never descended to com-
fort; too grave to laugh, too tough to cry; as indiffer-
ent as a clam, like a sea-clam with hat on and legs,
that was out walking the strand. He may have been
one of the Pilgrims, Peregrine White, at least, -
who has kept on the back side of the Cape, and let the
centuries go by. He was looking for wrecks, old logs,
water-logged and covered with barnacles, or bits of
boards and joists, even chips which he drew out of the
reach of the tide, and stacked up to dry. When the log
was too large to carry far, he cut it up where the last
wave had left it, or rolling it a few feet, appropriated it
by sticking two sticks into the ground crosswise above
it. Some rotten trunk, which in Maine cumbers the
ground, and is, perchance, thrown into the water on


59






CAPE COD


purpose, is here thus carefully picked up, split and dried,
and husbanded. Before winter the wrecker painfully
carries these things up the bank on his shoulders by a
long diagonal slanting path made with a hoe in the
sand, if there is no hollow at hand. You may see his
hooked pike-staff always lying on the bank, ready for
use. He is the true monarch of the beach, whose right
there is none to dispute," and he is as much identified
with it as a beach-bird.
Crantz, in his account of Greenland, quotes Dala-
gen's relation of the ways and usages of the Green-
landers, and says, "Whoever finds drift-wood, or the
spoils of a shipwreck on the strand, enjoys it as his own,
though he does not live there. But he must haul it
ashore and lay a stone upon it, as a token that some one
has taken possession of it, and this stone is the deed of
security, for no other Greenlander will offer to meddle
with it afterwards." Such is the instinctive law of
nations. We have also this account of driftwood in
Crantz: "As he (the Founder of Nature) has denied
this frigid rocky region the growth of trees, he has bid
the streams of the Ocean to convey to its shores a great
deal of wood, which accordingly comes floating thither,
part without ice, but the most part along with it, and
lodges itself between the islands. Were it not for this,
we Europeans should have no wood to burn there, and
the poor Greenlanders (who, it is true, do not use wood,
but train, for burning) would, however, have no wood
to roof their houses, to erect their tents, as also to build
their boats, and to shaft their arrows, (yet there grew
some small but crooked alders, etc.,) by which they


60






THE BEACH


must procure their maintenance, clothing and train for
warmth, light, and cooking. Among this wood are great
trees torn up by the roots, which, by driving up and
down for many years and rubbing on the ice, are quite
bare of branches and bark, and corroded with great
wood-worms. A small part of this drift-wood are wil-
lows, alder and birch trees, which come out of the bays
in the south (i. e., of Greenland); also large trunks of
aspen-trees, which must come from a greater distance;
but the greatest part is pine and fir. We find also a
good deal of a sort of wood finely veined, with few
branches; this I fancy is larch-wood, which likes to
decorate the sides of lofty, stony mountains. There is
also a solid, reddish wood, of a more agreeable fragrance
than the common fir, with visible cross-veins; which I
take to be the same species as the beautiful silver-firs,
or zirbel, that have the smell of cedar, and grow on the
high Grison hills, and the Switzers wainscot their rooms
with them." The wrecker directed us to a slight de-
pression, called Snow's Hollow, by which we ascended
the bank, for elsewhere, if not difficult, it was incon-
venient to climb it on account of the sliding sand
which filled our shoes.
This sand-bank the backbone of the Cape rose
directly from the beach to the height of a hundred feet
or more above the ocean. It was with singular emo-
tions that we first stood upon it and discovered what
a place we had chosen to walk on. On our right,
beneath us, was the beach of smooth and gently-slop-
ing sand, a dozen rods in width; next, the endless series
of white breakers; further still, the light green water


61






CAPE COD


over the bar, which runs the whole length of the fore-
arm of the Cape, and beyond this stretched the un-
wearied and illimitable ocean. On our left, extending
back from the very edge of the bank, was a perfect
desert of shining sand, from thirty to eighty rods in
width, skirted in the distance by small sand-hills fif-
teen or twenty feet high; between which, however, in
some places, the sand penetrated as much farther.
Next commenced the region of vegetation, a succes-
sion of small hills and valleys covered with shrubbery,
now glowing with the brightest imaginable autumnal
tints; and beyond this were seen, here and there, the
waters of the bay. Here, in Wellfleet, this pure sand
plateau, known to sailors as the Table-Lands of East-
ham, on account of its appearance, as seen from the
ocean, and because it once made a part of that town, -
full fifty rods in width, and in many places much more,
and sometimes full one hundred and fifty feet above
the ocean, stretched away northward from the south-
ern boundary of the town, without a particle of vege-
tation, as level almost as a table, for two and a
half or three miles, or as far as the eye could reach;
slightly rising towards the ocean, then stooping to the
beach, by as steep a slope as sand could lie on, and as
regular as a military engineer could desire. It was like
the escarped rampart of a stupendous fortress, whose
glacis was the beach, and whose champaign the ocean.
From its surface we overlooked the greater part of the
Cape. In short, we were traversing a desert, with the
view of an autumnal landscape of extraordinary bril-
liancy, a sort of Promised Land, on the one hand, and


62

















































Beach 1;:'. ri., a TV, Shore






THE BEACH


the ocean on the other. Yet, though the prospect was
so extensive, and the country for the most part desti-
tute of trees, a house was rarely visible, -we never
saw one from the beach, and the solitude was that
of the ocean and the desert combined. A thousand
men could not have seriously interrupted it, but would
have been lost in the vastness of the scenery as their
footsteps in the sand.
The whole coast is so free from rocks, that we saw
but one or two for more than twenty miles. The sand
was soft like the beach, and trying to the eyes when
the sun shone. A few piles of driftwood, which some
wreckers had painfully brought up the bank and stacked
up there to dry, being the only objects in the desert,
looked indefinitely large and distant, even like wigwams,
though, when we stood near them, they proved to be
insignificant little jags of wood.
For sixteen miles, commencing at the Nauset Lights,
the bank held its height, though farther north it was not
so level as here, but interrupted by slight hollows, and
the patches of beach-grass and bayberry frequently
crept into the sand to its edge. There are some pages
entitled "A Description of the Eastern Coast of the
County of Barnstable," printed in 1802, pointing out
the spots on which the Trustees of the Humane Society
have erected huts called Charity or Humane Houses,
"and other places where shipwrecked seamen may
look for shelter." Two thousand copies of this were
dispersed, that every vessel which frequented this coast
might be provided with one. I have read this Ship-
wrecked Seaman's Manual with a melancholy kind of


63






CAPE COD


interest, for the sound of the surf, or, you might say,
the moaning of the sea, is heard all through it, as if
its author were the sole survivor of a shipwreck him-
self. Of this part of the coast he says: "This highland
approaches the ocean with steep and lofty banks, which
it is extremely difficult to climb, especially in a storm.
In violent tempests, during very high tides, the sea
breaks against the foot of them, rendering it then unsafe
to walk on the strand which lies between them and
the ocean. Should the seaman succeed in his attempt
to ascend them, he must forbear to penetrate into the
country, as houses are generally so remote that they
would escape his research during the night; he must
pass on to the valleys by which the banks are inter-
sected. These valleys, which the inhabitants call Hol-
lows, run at right angles with the shore, and in the
middle or lowest part of them a road leads from the
dwelling-houses to the sea." By the word road must
not always be understood a visible cart-track.
There were these two roads for us, an upper and a
lower one, -the bank and the beach; both stretching
twenty-eight miles northwest, from Nauset Harbor to
Race Point, without a single opening into the beach,
and with hardly a serious interruption of the desert.
If you were to ford the narrow and shallow inlet at
Nauset Harbor, where there is not more than eight feet
of water on the bar at full sea, you might walk ten or
twelve miles farther, which would make a beach forty
miles long, and the bank and beach, on the east side
of Nantucket, are but a continuation of these. I was
comparatively satisfied. There I had got the Cape


64






THE BEACH


under me, as much as if I were riding it barebacked.
It was not as on the map, or seen from the stage-coach;
but there I found it all out of doors, huge and real,
Cape Cod! as it cannot be represented on a map, color
it as you will; the thing itself, than which there is no-
thing more like it, no truer picture or account; which
you cannot go farther and see. I cannot remember
what I thought before that it was. They commonly
celebrate those beaches only which have a hotel on
them, not those which have a humane house alone. But
I wished to see that seashore where man's works are
wrecks; to put up at the true Atlantic House, where
the ocean is land-lord as well as sea-lord, and comes
ashore without a wharf for the landing; where the
crumbling land is the only invalid, or at best is but dry
land, and that is all you can say of it.
We walked on quite at our leisure, now on the beach,
now on the bank, sitting from time to time on some
damp log, maple or yellow birch, which had long fol-
lowed the seas, but had now at last settled on land; or
under the lee of a sand-hill, on the bank, that we might
gaze steadily on the ocean. The bank was so steep,
that, where there was no danger of its caving, we sat
on its edge as on a bench. It was difficult for us lands-
men to look out over the ocean without imagining land
in the horizon; yet the clouds appeared to hang low
over it, and rest on the water as they never do on the
land, perhaps on account of the great distance to which
we saw. The sand was not without advantage, for,
though it was heavy walking in it, it was soft to
the feet; and, notwithstanding that it had been raining


65






CAPE COD


nearly two days, when it held up for half an hour, the
sides of the sand-hills, which were porous and sliding,
afforded a dry seat. All the aspects of this desert are
beautiful, whether you behold it in fair weather or foul,
or when the sun is just breaking out after a storm, and
shining on its moist surface in the distance, it is so
white, and pure, and level, and each slight inequality
and track is so distinctly revealed; and when your eyes
slide off this, they fall on the ocean. In summer the
mackerel gulls which here have their nests among
the neighboring sand-hills pursue the traveler anx-
iously, now and then diving close to his head with
a squeak, and he may see them, like swallows, chase
some crow which has been feeding on the beach, almost
across the Cape.
Though for some time I have not spoken of the
roaring of the breakers, and the ceaseless flux and re-
flux of the waves, yet they did not for a moment cease
to dash and roar, with such a tumult that, if you had
been there, you could scarcely have heard my voice
the while; and they are dashing and roaring this very
moment, though it may be with less din and violence,
for there the sea never rests. We were wholly ab-
sorbed by this spectacle and tumult, and like Chryses,
though in a different mood from him, we walked silent
along the shore of the resounding sea.
Bi) a,dev rap&h 0Oa 7roXAvUPAo(p3oo 60aAdrfs.1
1 We have no word in English to express the sound of many
waves dashing at once, whether gently or violently 7oAv0upoloJLos to
the ear, and, in the ocean's gentle moods, an avdipLB0ov yeAaor/a to
the eye.


66






THE BEACH


I put in a little Greek now and then, partly because
it sounds so much like the ocean, though I doubt if
Homer's Mediterranean Sea ever sounded so loud as
this.
The attention of those who frequent the camp-meet-
ings at Eastham is said to be divided between the
preaching of the Methodists and the preaching of the
billows on the back side of the Cape, for they all
stream over here in the course of their stay. I trust
that in this case the loudest voice carries it. With what
effect may we suppose the ocean to say," My hearers!"
to the multitude on the bank! On that side some John
N. Maffit; on this, the Reverend Poluphloisboios
Thalassa.
There was but little weed cast up here, and that
kelp chiefly, there being scarcely a rock for rockweed
to adhere to. Who has not had a vision from some
vessel's deck, when he had still his land legs on, of
this great brown apron, drifting half upright, and quite
submerged through the green water, clasping a stone
or a deep-sea mussel in its unearthly fingers ? I have
seen it carrying a stone half as large as my head. We
sometimes watched a mass of this cable-like weed, as
'it was tossed up on the crest of a breaker, waiting with
interest to see it come in, as if there was some treasure
buoyed up by it; but we were always surprised and
disappointed at the insignificance of the mass which
had attracted us. As we looked out over the water, the
smallest objects floating on it appeared indefinitely
large, we were so impressed by the vastness of the
ocean, and each one bore so large a proportion to the


67






CAPE COD


whole ocean, which we saw. We were so often disap-
pointed in the size of such things as came ashore, the
ridiculous bits of wood or weed with which the ocean
labored, that we began to doubt whether the Atlantic
itself would bear a still closer inspection, and would
not turn out to be but a small pond, if it should come
ashore to us. This kelp, oar-weed, tangle, devil's-
apron, sole-leather, or ribbon-weed,- as various spe-
cies are called, appeared to us a singularly marine
and fabulous product, a fit invention for Neptune to
adorn his car with, or a freak of Proteus. All that is
told of the sea has a fabulous sound to an inhabitant
of the land, and all ifs products have a certain fabu-
lous quality, as if they belonged to another planet,
from seaweed to a sailor's yarn, or a fish story. In this
element the animal and vegetable kingdoms meet and
are strangely mingled. One species of kelp, according
to Bory St. Vincent, has a stem fifteen hundred feet
long, and hence is the longest vegetable known, and a
brig's crew spent two days to no purpose collecting
the trunks of another kind cast ashore on the Falkland
Islands, mistaking it for driftwood.1 This species looked
almost edible; at least, I thought that if I were starv-
ing, I would try it. One sailor told me that the cows
ate it. It cut like cheese; for I took the earliest oppor-
tunity to sit down and deliberately whittle up a fathom
or two of it, that I might become more intimately ac-
quainted with it, see how it cut, and if it were hollow
all the way through. The blade looked like a broad
belt, whose edges had been quilled, or as if stretched
1 See Harvey on Alga.


68








by hammering, and it was also twisted spirally. The
extremity was generally worn and ragged from the
lashing of the waves. A piece of the stem which I
carried home shrunk to one quarter of its size a week
afterward, and was completely covered with crystals of
salt like frost. The reader will excuse my greenness, -
though it is not sea-greenness, like his, perchance, -for
I live by a river shore,. where this weed does not wash
up. When we consider in what meadows it grew, and
how it was raked, and in what kind of hay weather got
in or out, we may well be curious about it. One who
is weather-wise has given the following account of the
matter: -
"When descends on the Atlantic
The gigantic
Storm-wind of the equinox,
Landward in his wrath he scourges
The toiling surges,
Laden with seaweed from the rocks:
"From Bermuda's reefs; from edges
Of sunken ledges,
In some far-off, bright Azore;
From Bahama, and the dashing,
Silver-flashing
Surges of San Salvador;
"From the tumbling surf, that buries
The Orkneyan Skerries,
Answering the hoarse Hebrides;
And from wrecks of ships, and drifting
Spars, uplifting
On the desolate rainy seas; -
"Ever drifting, drifting, drifting
On the shifting
Currents of the restless main."


THE BEACH


69






CAPE COD


But he was not thinking of this shore, when he
added, -
"Till in sheltered coves, and reaches
Of sandy beaches,
All have found repose again."
These weeds were the symbols of those grotesque
and fabulous thoughts which have not yet got into the
sheltered coves of literature.
"Ever drifting, drifting, drifting
On the shifting
Currents of the restless heart;"
And not yet "in books recorded,
They, like hoarded
Household words, no more depart."

The beach was also strewn with beautiful sea-jellies,
which the wreckers called sun-squall, one of the lowest
forms of animal life, some white, some wine-colored,
and a foot in diameter. I at first thought that they
were a tender part of some marine monster, which the
storm or some other foe had mangled. What right has
the sea to bear in its bosom such tender things as sea-
jellies and mosses, when it has such a boisterous shore,
that the stoutest fabrics are wrecked against it ? Strange
that it should undertake to dandle such delicate chil-
dren in its arm. I did not at first recognize these for
the same which I had formerly seen in myriads in Bos-
ton Harbor, risifig, with a waving motion, to the sur-
face, as if to meet the sun, and discoloring the waters
far and wide, so that I seemed to be sailing through a
mere sun-fish soup. They say that when you endeavor
to take one up, it will spill out the other side of your


70






THE BEACH


hand like quicksilver. Before the land rose out of the
ocean, and became dry land, chaos reigned; and be-
tween high and low water mark, where she is partially
disrobed and rising, a sort of chaos reigns still, which
only anomalous creatures can inhabit. Mackerel gulls
were all the while flying over our heads and amid the
breakers, sometimes two white ones pursuing a black
one; quite at home in the storm, though they are as
delicate organizations as sea-jellies and mosses; and
we saw that they were adapted to their circumstances
rather by their spirits than their bodies. Theirs must
be an essentially wilder, that is, less human, nature,
than that of larks and robins. Their note was like the
sound of some vibrating metal, and harmonized well
with the scenery and the roar of the surf, as if one had
rudely touched the strings of the lyre, which ever lies
on the shore; a ragged shred of ocean music tossed
aloft on the spray. But if I were required to name a
sound the remembrance of which most perfectly re-
vives the impression which the beach has made, it
would be the dreary peep of the piping plover (Cha-
radrius melodus) which haunts there. Their voices, too,
are heard as a fugacious part in the dirge which is ever
played along the shore for those mariners who have
been lost in the deep since first it was created. But
through all this dreariness we seemed to have a pure
and unqualified strain of eternal melody, for always
the same strain which is a dirge to one household is a
morning song of rejoicing to another.
A remarkable method of catching gulls, derived
from the Indians, was practiced in Wellfleet in 1794.


71








"The Gull House," it, is said, is built with crotches,
fixed in the ground on the beach," poles being stretched
across for the top, and the sides made close with stakes
and seaweed. "The poles on the top [are] covered
with lean whale. The man, being placed within, is not
discovered by the fowls, and, while they are contend-
ing for and eating the flesh, he draws them in, one by
one, between the poles, until he has collected forty or
fifty." Hence, perchance, a man is said to be gulled,
when he is taken in. We read that one "sort of gulls
is called by the Dutch mallemucke, i. e., the foolish fly,
because they fall upon a whale as eagerly as a fly, and,
indeed, all gulls are foolishly bold and easy to be shot.
The Norwegians call this bird havhest, sea-horse (and
the English translator says, it is probably what we
call boobies). If they have eaten too much, they throw
it up, and eat it again till they are tired. It is this
habit in the gulls of parting with their property [dis-
gorging the contents of their stomachs to the skuas],
which has given rise to the terms gull, guller, and gull-
ing, among men." We also read that they used to kill
small birds which roosted on the beach at night, by
making a fire with hog's lard in a frying-pan. The
Indians probably used pine torches; the birds flocked
to the light, and were knocked down with a stick. We
noticed holes dug near the edge of the bank, where
gunners conceal themselves to shoot the large gulls
which coast up and down a-fishing, for these are con-
sidered good to eat.
We found some large clams, of the species Mactra
solidissima, which the storm had torn up from the bot-


CAPE COD


72







THE BEACH


tom, and cast ashore. I selected one of the largest,
about six inches in length, and carried it along, think-
ing to try an experiment on it. We soon after met a
wrecker, with a grapple and a rope, who said that he
was looking for tow cloth, which had made part of the
cargo of the ship Franklin, which was wrecked here in
the spring, at which time nine or ten lives were lost.
The reader may remember this wreck, from the cir-
cumstance that a letter was found in the captain's
valise, which washed ashore, directing him to wreck
the vessel before he got to America, and from the trial
which took place in consequence. The wrecker said
that tow cloth was still cast up in such storms as this.
He also told us that the clam which I had was the sea-
clam, or hen, and was good to eat. We took our noon-
ing under a sand-hill, covered with beach-grass, in a
dreary little hollow, on the top of the bank, while it
alternately rained and shined. There, having reduced
some damp driftwood, which I had picked up on the
shore, to shavings with my knife, I kindled a fire with
a match and some paper, and cooked my clam on the
embers for my dinner; for breakfast was commonly
the only meal which I took in a house on this excur-
sion. When the clam was done, one valve held the
meat, and the other the liquor. Though it was very
tough, I found it sweet and savory, and ate the whole
with a relish. Indeed, with the addition of a cracker
or two, it would have been a bountiful dinner. I no-
ticed that the shells were such as I had seen in the
sugar-kit at home. Tied to a stick, they formerly made
the Indian's hoe hereabouts.


73






CAPE COD


At length, by mid-afternoon, after we had had two
or three rainbows over the sea, the showers ceased, and
the heavens gradually cleared up, though the wind still
blowed as hard and the breakers ran as high as before.
Keeping on, we soon after came to a charity-house,
which we looked into to see how the shipwrecked mari-
ner might fare. Far away in some desolate hollow by
the seaside, just within the bank, stands a lonely build-
ing on piles driven into the sand, with a slight nail put
through the staple, which a freezing man can bend,
with some straw, perchance, on the floor on which he
may lie, or which he may burn in the fireplace to
keep him alive. Perhaps this hut has never been re-
quired to shelter a shipwrecked man, and the benevo-
lent person who promised to inspect it annually, to
see that the straw and matches are here, and that the
boards will keep off the wind, has grown remiss and
thinks that storms and shipwrecks are over; and this
very night a perishing crew may pry open its door with
their numbed fingers and leave half- their number dead
here by morning. When I thought what must be the
condition of the families which alone would ever oc-
cupy or had occupied them, what must have been the
tragedy of the winter evenings spent by human beings
around their hearths, these houses, though they were
meant for human dwellings, did not look cheerful to
me. They appeared but a stage to the grave. The
gulls flew around and screamed over them; the roar of
the ocean in storms, and the lapse of its waves in
calms, alone resounds through them, all dark and
empty within, year in, year out, except, perchance, on


74






THE BEACH


one memorable night. Houses of entertainment for
shipwrecked men! What kind of sailor's homes were
they?
"Each hut," says the author of the Description
of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable,"
" stands on piles, is eight feet long, eight feet wide,
and seven feet high; a sliding door is on the south, a
sliding shutter on the west, and a pole, rising fifteen
feet above the top of the building, on the east. Within,
it is supplied either with straw or hay; and is farther
accommodated with a bench." They have varied little
from this model now. There are similar huts at the
Isle of Sable and Anticosti, on the north, and how far
south along the coast I know not. It is pathetic to
read the minute and faithful directions which he gives
to seamen who may be wrecked on this coast, to guide
them to the nearest charity-house, or other shelter, for,
as is said of Eastham, though there are a few houses
within a mile of the shore, yet" in a snow storm, which
rages here with excessive fury, it would be almost
impossible to discover them either by night or by
day." You hear their imaginary guide thus marshal-
ling, cheering, directing the dripping, shivering, freez-
ing troop along: "At the entrance of this valley, the
sand has gathered; so that at present a little climbing
is necessary. Passing over several fences, and taking
heed not to enter the wood on the right hand, at the
distance of three quarters of a mile, a house is to be
found. This house stands on the south side of the
road; and not far from it, on the south, is Pamet River,
which runs from east to west through a body of salt


75






CAPE COD


marsh." To him cast ashore in Eastham, he says,
"The meeting house is without a steeple; but it may
be distinguished from the dwelling houses near it by
its situation, which is between two small groves of
locusts, one on the south, and one on the north, that
on the south being three times as long as the other.
About a mile and a quarter from the hut, west by
north, appear the top and arms of a windmill." And
so on for many pages.
We did not learn whether these houses had been the
means of saving any lives, though this writer says, of
one erected at the head of Stout's Creek, in Truro,
that it was built in an improper manner, having a
chimney in it; and was placed on a spot where no
beach grass grew. The strong winds blew the sand
from its foundation, and the weight of the chimney
brought it to the ground; so that in January of the
present year [1802] it was entirely demolished. This
event took place about six weeks before the Brutus
was cast away. If it had remained, it is probable that
the whole of the unfortunate crew of that ship would
have been saved, as they gained the shore a few rods
only from the spot where the hut had stood."
This charity-house," as the wrecker called it, this
"Humane house," as some call it, that is, the one to
which we first came, had neither window nor sliding
shutter, nor clapboards, nor paint. As we have said,
there was a rusty nail put through the staple. How-
ever, as we wished to get an idea of a Humane house,
and we hoped that we should never have a better op-
portunity, we put our eyes, by turns, to a knot-hole in


76






THE BEACH


the door, and, after long looking, without seeing, into
the dark, not knowing how many shipwrecked men's
bones we might see at last, looking with the eye of
faith, knowing that, though to him that knocketh it
may not always be opened, yet to him that looketh
long enough through a knot-hole the inside shall be
visible, for we had had some practice at looking in-
ward, -by steadily keeping our other ball covered from
the light meanwhile, putting the outward world behind
us, ocean and land, and the beach, till the pupil be-
came enlarged and collected the rays of light that were
wandering in that dark (for the pupil shall be enlarged
by looking; there never was so dark a night but a
faithful and patient eye, however small, might at last
prevail over it),- after all this, I say, things began to
take shape to our vision, -if we may use this expres-
sion where there was nothing but emptiness, -and
we obtained the long-wished-for insight. Though we
thought at first that it was a hopeless case, after sev-
eral minutes' steady exercise of the divine faculty, our
prospects began decidedly to brighten, and we were
ready to exclaim with the blind bard of Paradise Lost
and Regained," -
"Hail, holy Light! offspring of Heaven first-born,
Or of the Eternal coeternal beam
May I express thee unblamed ?"
A little longer, and a chimney rushed red on our
sight. In short, when our vision had grown familiar
with the darkness, we discovered that there were some
stones and some loose wads of wool on the floor, and
an empty fireplace-at the further end; but it was not


77






CAPE COD


supplied with matches, or straw, or hay, that we could
see, nor accommodated with a bench." Indeed, it was
the wreck of all cosmical beauty there within.
Turning our backs on the outward world, we thus
looked through the knot-hole into the Humane house,
into the very bowels of mercy; and for bread we found
a stone. It was literally a great cry (of sea-mews out-
side), and a little wool. However, we were glad to sit
outside, under the lee of the Humane house, to escape
the piercing wind; and there we thought how cold is
charity! how inhumane humanity! This, then, is what
charity hides! Virtues antique and far away, with ever
a rusty nail over the latch; and very difficult to keep
in repair, withal, it is so uncertain whether any will ever
gain the beach near you. So we shivered round about,
not being able to get into it, ever and anon looking
through the knot-hole into that night without a star,
until we concluded that it was not a humane house at
all, but a seaside box, now shut up, belonging to some
of the family of Night or Chaos, where they spent their
summers by the sea, for the sake of the sea-breeze, and
that it was not proper for us to be prying into their
concerns.
My companion.had declared before this that I had
not a particle of sentiment, in rather absolute terms,
to my astonishment; but I suspect he meant that my
legs did not ache just then, though I am not wholly a
stranger to that sentiment. But I did not intend this
for a sentimental journey.


78










V


THE WELLFLEET OYSTERMAN

HAVING walked about eight miles since we struck the
beach, and passed the boundary between Wellfleet
and Truro, a stone post in the sand, for even this
sand comes under the jurisdiction of one town or an-
other, we turned inland over barren hills and valleys,
whither the sea, for some reason, did not follow us, and,
tracing up a Hollow, discovered two or three sober-
looking houses within half a mile, uncommonly near
the eastern coast. Their garrets were apparently so full
of chambers, that their roofs could hardly lie down
straight, and we did not doubt that there was room for
us there. Houses near the sea are generally low and
broad. These were a story and a half high; but if you
merely counted the windows in their gable ends, you
would think that there were many stories more, or, at
any rate, that the half-story was the only one thought
worthy of being illustrated. The great number of win-
dows in the ends of the houses, and their irregularity
in size and position, here and elsewhere on the Cape,
struck us agreeably, as if each of the various occu-
pants who had their cunabula behind had punched a
hole where his necessities required it, and according to
his size and stature, without regard to outside effect.
There were windows for the grown folks, and windows
for the children, -three or four apiece; as a certain






CAPE COD


man had a large hole cut in his barn-door for the cat,
and another smaller one for the kitten. Sometimes they
were so low under the eaves that I thought they must
have perforated the plate beam for another apartment,
and I noticed some which were triangular, to fit that
part more exactly. The ends of the houses had thus as
many muzzles as a revolver, and, if the inhabitants
have the same habit of staring out the windows that
some of our neighbors have, a traveler must stand a
small chance with them.
Generally, the old-fashioned and unpainted houses
on the Cape looked more comfortable, as well as pictu-
resque, than the modern and more pretending ones,
which were less in harmony with the scenery, and less
firmly planted.
These houses were on the shores of a chain of ponds,
seven in number, the source of a small stream called
Herring River, which empties into the Bay. There are
many Herring Rivers on the Cape; they will, perhaps,
be more numerous than herrings soon. We knocked at
the door of the first house, but its inhabitants were all
gone away. In the meanwhile, we saw the occupants of
the next one looking out the window at us, and before
we reached it an old woman came out and fastened the
door of her bulkhead, and went in again. Neverthe-
less, we did not hesitate to knock at her door, when
a grizzly-looking man appeared, whom we took to be
sixty or seventy years old. He asked us, at first, suspi-
ciously, where we were from, and what our business
was; to which we returned plain answers.
How far is Concord from Boston? he inquired.


80






THE WELLFLEET OYSTERMAN


"Twenty miles by railroad."
"Twenty miles by railroad," he repeated.
"'Did n't you ever hear of Concord of Revolutionary
fame?"
"Didn't I ever hear of Concord? Why, I heard
guns fire at the battle of Bunker Hill. [They hear the
sound of heavy cannon across the Bay.] I am almost
ninety; I am eighty-eight year old. I was fourteen
year old at the time of Concord Fight, -and where
were you then? "
We were obliged to confess that we were not in the
fight.
Well, walk in, we '11 leave it to the women," said he.
So we walked in, surprised, and sat down, an old
woman taking our hats and bundles, and the old man
continued, drawing up to the large, old-fashioned fire-
place, -
"I am a poor, good-for-nothing crittur, as Isaiah
says; I am all broken down this year. I am under pet-
ticoat government here."
The family consisted of the old man, his wife, and
his daughter, who appeared nearly as old as her mother,
a fool, her son (a brutish-looking, middle-aged man,
with a prominent lower face, who was standing by the
hearth when we entered, but immediately went out),
and a little boy of ten.
While my companion talked with the women, I talked
with the old man. They said that he was old and fool-
ish, but he was eidently too knowing for them.
These women," said he to me, are both of them
poor good-for-nothing critturs. This one is my wife.


81




University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs