« PreviousContinue »
tonic. Saddle Mountain, the highest elevation, is near Williamstown, and is 3,580 feet above tide water at Albany. The principal rivers are the Connecticut, passing about 50 miles through the central part of the state, the Housatonic in the western section, and the Merrimac in the north-east.
Though the soil and climate of Massachusetts are not of the first order for agricultural purposes, yet the skill and industry of her people have made even her rocky soil yield rich rewards to the husbandman. By her skill, enterprise, and industry, in manufacturing pursuits, and by her wide extended commerce, she is able to support the densest population in the United States, in the greatest average amount of comfort. By the census returns, she stands first in the amount of her cotton and woolen manufactures; she has also passed the other states in industrial and mechanical improvement. In commerce, the state is second only to New York in absolute amount; but if we regard population, first in this respect in the Union.
Eastern View of Plymouth. [The view shows the central part of Plymouth, as it appears from the end of the Long Wharf. Burying Ground Hill is in the central part in the distance, near which is seen the Unitarian, Universalist, and Orthodox Churches : the Robinson Church is on the extreme left, and the court house on the right. The famous Plymouth Rock is on Hedge's Wharf, the wharf in the center of the picture.)
PLYMOUTH, the first permanent settlement by civilized man, in New England, is situated at the bottom of a harbor on the south-western part of Massachusetts Bay, 25 miles easterly from Taunton, and 37 south-easterly from Boston. Population about 6,000. The harbor is spacious, but not of sufficient depth for the largest vessels. A considerable number of vessels belong here, most of which are engaged in the fishing or coasting business. Ship building is carried on to some extent. There are several cotton and other factories in the place. Plymouth is compactly built upon the shore, upon an easy declivity, beneath the brow of an extensive pine plain. The declivity is about one fourth of a mile in breadth, and upward of a mile and a half in length.
Among the buildings worthy of note, there is the court house, the church of the First Society, a gothic structure, and the Pilgrim Hall. “Not a dwelling house of ancient date or antique form now remains in town.” The corner stone of the Pilgrim Hall was laid in 1824. In 1834, Col. Sargent, of Boston, presented to the Pilgrim Society his valuable painting, representing the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers from the Mayflower, in 1620. This decorates the wall of the Pilgrim Hall. There is also deposited here an antique chair, said to have belonged to Gov. Carver—the identical sword blade used by Capt. Standish—the identical cap worn by King Philip—and also a variety of Indian implements, etc. The following account of the first celebration of the landing of the Fathers, is from Thatcher's History of Plymouth:
“ Friday, Dec. 22 (1769). The Old Colony Club, agreeably to a vote passed the 18th inst, met, in commemoration of the landing of their worthy ancestors in this place. On the morning of the said day, after discharging a cannon, was hoisted upon the hall an elegant silk flag, with the following inscription, 'old Colony, 1620.'. At 11 o'clock, A. M., the members of the club appeared at the hall, and from thence proceeded to the house of Mr. Howland, innholder, which is erected upon the spot where the first licensed house in the Old Colony formerly stood. At half after two, a decent repast was served, which consisted of the following dishes, viz:
"], a large baked Indian whortleberry pudding; 2, a dish of sauquetach (succatch, corn and beans boiled together); 3, a dish of clams; 4, a dish of oysters and a dish of cod fish; 5, a haunch of venison, roasted by the first jack brought to the colony; 6, a dish of sea-fowl; 7, a dish of frost-fish and eels; 8, an apple pie; 9, a course of cranberry tarts, and cheese made in the Old Colony.
" These articles were dressed in the plainest manner, all appearance of luxury and extravagance being avoided, in imitation of our ancestors, whose memory we shall ever respect. At 4 o'clock, P. M., the members of our club, headed by the steward, carrying a folio volume of the laws of the Old Colony, hand in hand, marched in procession to the hall. Upon the appearance of the procession in front of the hall, a number of descendants, from the first settlers in the Old Colony, drew up in a regular file, and discharged a volley of small arms, succeeded by three cheers, which were returned by the club, and the gentlemen generously treated. After this, appeared at the private grammar school, opposite the hall, a number of young gentlemen, pupils of Mr. Wadsworth, who, to express their joy upon this occasion, and their respect for the memory of their ancestors, in the most agreeable manner, joined in singing a song very applicable to the day. At sun-setting a cannon was discharged, and the flag struck. In the evening the hall was illuminated, and the following gentlemen, being previously invited, joined the club, viz:
Col George Watson, Capt. Gideon White, Mr. Edward Clarke,
land, “ The president being seated in a large and venerable chair, which was formerly possessed by William Bradford, the second worthy governor of the Old Colony, and presented to the club by our friend Dr. Lazarus Le Baron of this town, delivered several appropriate toasts. After spending an evening in an agreeable manner, in recapitulating and conversing upon the many various advantages of our forefathers in the first settlement of this country, and the growth and increase of the same, at 11 o'clock in the evening a cannon was again fired, three cheers given, and the club and company withdrew."
In 1820, a society was instituted at Plymouth, called the Pilgrim Society, and
was incorporated by the legislature of the state. The design of this association is to commemorate the "great historical event" of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, "and to perpetuate the character and virtues of our ancestors to posterity.” The centennial celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims this year, was one of uncommon interest, and the concourse of people was far greater than on any former celebration. The Hon. Daniel Webster was selected as the orator on the occasion. "A procession was formed at 11 o'clock, soon after the business of the Pilgrim Society was transacted, and, escorted by the Standish Guards, a neat independent company, lately organized, and commanded by Capt. Coomer Weston, moved through the main street of the town to the meeting house, and, after the services of the sanctuary, were attended by the same corps to the new court house, where they sat down to an elegant though simple repast, provided in a style very proper for the occasion, where the company was served with the treasures both of the land and sea. Among other affecting memorials, calling to mind the distresses of the Pilgrims, were five kernels of parched corn placed on each plate, alluding to the time, in 1623, when that was the proportion allowed to each individual, on account of the scarcity. John Watson, Esq., respectable by his years, and dignified by his gentlemanly manners, and the only surviving member of the Old Colony Club, presided during the hours of dinner."
During the great mortality among the settlers the first winter, the dead were buried on the bank a short distance from the rock where the Fathers landed. Their graves were leveled and sown, to conceal from the Indians the extent of their loss. Immediately in the rear of Plymouth village is Burying Hill, formerly Fort Hill. It embraces about eight acres, and rises to the hight of 165 feet above the level of the sea. On the summit of the south-western side, the Pilgrims at first built some slight defenses; but in 1675, on the approach of Philip's war, they erected a fort 150 feet square, strongly palisaded, 103 feet high, and the whole circuit of this fortification is distinctly visible.
The view presented from this eminence is rarely excelled by any in the country. Beyond the points of land forming the harbor, the great Bay of Massachusetts opens to the view, bounded at the southern extremity by the peninsula of Cape Cod. On the north appears the village of Duxbury, and the handsome conical hill, once the property and residence of Capt. Standish, the military commander of the Plymouth colony. Burying Hill is so named from its being used as the burying place of the town; and it is a matter of some surprise that 60 years should have elapsed, before a grave-stone was erected to the memory of the dead at Plymouth. It is probably owing to their poverty and want of artists. A considerable number of the oldest are of English slate-stone. The oldest monument in the yard is for Edward Gray, a respectable merchant, whose name is often found in the old records. The inscription is, “Here lies the body of Edward Gray, Gent, aged about 52 years, and departed this life the last of June, 1681." The following are also copied from monuments standing on Burying Hill:
Here lyes ye body of ye Hon. William Bradford, who expired February ye 20, 1703-4, aged 79 years.
He lived long, but was still doing good,
Here lyeth buried ye body of that precious servant of God, Mr. Thomas Cushman, who, after he had served his generation according to the will of God, and particularly the church of Plymouth, for many years in the office of ruling elder, fell asleep in Jesus, December ye 10, 1691, and in the 84th year of his age.
The famous forefathers' rock on which the Pilgrims landed in 1620,
is still standing in its original position; but just now even wit hthe surface of the ground, the place around it having been filled in with soil to construct the wharf known as Hedges' Wharf. “Here for
scores of years it has remained, a part of the pavement of the street, trodden under foot of man and beast. Often and again when the mention of its name, in the eloquent speech of the orator, has been received with acclamations and thunders of applause, it has been lying here cov. ered with the mud and mire of this obscure street.” A fragment of the rock has been removed, and now stands in the yard of Pilgrim
Hall, where it is inclosed PLYMOUTH Rock. ?
by an elliptical iron rail
ing, composed of alternate harpoons and boat hooks, and inscribed with the names of the illustrious forty-one, who subscribed the compact on board the Mayflower at Cape Cod Harbor, Nov. 11, 1620. 'On the rock, a granite bowlder, is painted in huge figures, “1620.”
The annexed engraving is a view of the old Allyn House, on the site of which stands the Universalist Church. It was pulled down in 1826, being at the time the oldest dwelling in the town, having stood at least 150 years. It was the birth-place of the mother of the celebrated orator, James Otis. The outline of the harbor of Plymouth is shown, and the ship marks the spot where the Mayflower anchored in 1620.
The following extract upon Plymouth, from Dwight's Travels, is valuable for its history and reflections:
Plymouth was the first town built in New England by civilized men, and those by whom it was built, were inferior in worth to no body of men, whose names are recorded in history during the last 1700 years. The institutions, civil, literary, and religious, by which New England is distinguished on this side of the Atlantic, began here.
Here the manner of holding lands in fee simple, now universal in this country, commenced. Here the right of suffrage was imparted to every citizen, to every inhabitant, not disqualified by poverty or vice. Here was formod
the first establishment of towns; of the local legislature, which is callod a town meeting; and of the peculiar town executive, styled the Select Men. Here the first parish school was set up; and the system originated, for communicating to every child in the community the knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Here, also, the first building was erected for the worship of God; the first religious assembly gathered; and the first minister called, and settled, by the voice of the church and congregation. On these simple foundations has since been erected a structure of good order, peace, liberty, knowledge, morals, and religion, to which nothing, on this side of the Atlantic, can bear a remote comparison.
On Saturday morning, accompanied by I. L., Esq., and Mr. H., we visited the consecrated rock, on which the first Fathers of New England landed. We next proceeded to the common cemetery and examined the names on a great number of the monuments; many of which had already been rendered familiar to us by history,
Had the persons, anciently buried here, been distinguished for nothing but being the first planters of New England, they would, according to the dictates of my own mind, have been entitled to a consideration, in some respects peculiar; and could not have been blended by memory with the herd of those who are gone. But when I call to mind the history of their sufferings on both sides of the Atlantic; when I remember their pre-eminent patience, their unspotted piety, their immovable fortitude, their undaunted resolution, their love to each other, their jus. tice and humanity to the savages, and their freedom from all those stains, which elsewhere spotted the character even of their companions in affliction; I can not but view them as a singular band of illustrious brothers, claiming the veneration and applause of all their posterity. By me the names of Carver, Bradford, Cushman, and Standish, will never be forgotten, until I lose the power of recollection.
Bradford and Carver were the fathers of the colony, at a time, and in circumstances, when few of our race would have hazarded, or suffered, so much, even for the promotion of religion itself. Their patience and constancy were primitive; and their piety and benevolence would not have dishonored an apostle.
I could not but feel, with great force, the peculiar care of divine providence over these colonists, in conducting them to this spot. The savages in the neighborhood had, during the preceding year, been entirely destroyed by an epidemic; and the country was, therefore, become, throughout a considerable extent, entirely useless to its owners. Hence they were willing to sell it to the colonists. Besides, the disease had so much reduced their numbers, that they were endangered by the formidable power of their neighbors, the Narragansets. Instead of regarding the English, therefore, with that jealousy which is so universal, and so important, a characteristic of savages, they considered them as seasonable allies, by whom they might be secured from the hostilities of their neighbors. Hence they welcomed the English with kindness and hospitality. The friendship, begun between Massasoit and the colonists, continued through his life; and although at times, and in small degrees, weakened by the arts of his neighbors, was in full strength at his death.
The place, where they landed, was furnished with a safe harbor, of sufficient depth to admit their own commercial vessels, and yet too shallow to receive vessels of force. The soil on which they planted themselves, was, to an extent sufficient for all their purposes, excellent. This ground bordered the ocean, and on that side, therefore, was safe. On the land side it was easily, and entirely, defended by a single fort. The barrenness of the interior prevented them from wandering, to which almost all colonists have a strong propensity. Excursions into the country would have awakened the jealousy of their neighbors, and subjected the colonists to a most capricious hostility, from individuals at least, if not from the tribe; a hostility against which savage principles could furnish no security, and savage government no protection. The settlers of Plymouth were, by this fact. retained in a cluster; and were thus preserved from probable destruction. Here, also, they found water at their doors in springs, and in a fine millstream, of the best quality.
The climate, notwithstanding the mortality experienced the first year, was emi. nently healthy. The bay furnished them with fish in abundance for food and for