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An Old Town By the Sea by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Produced by Susan L. Farley and David Widger

AN OLD TOWN BY THE SEA

by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

PISCATAQUA RIVER

Thou singest by the gleaming isles, By woods, and fields of corn, Thou singest, and the sunlight smiles Upon my birthday morn.

But I within a city, I, So full of vague unrest, Would almost give my life to lie An hour upon upon thy breast.

To let the wherry listless go, And, wrapt in dreamy joy, Dip, and surge idly to and fro, Like the red harbor-buoy;

To sit in happy indolence, To rest upon the oars, And catch the heavy earthy scents That blow from summer shores;

To see the rounded sun go down, And with its parting fires Light up the windows of the town And burn the tapering spires;

And then to hear the muffled tolls From steeples slim and white, And watch, among the Isles of Shoals, The Beacon's orange light.

O River! flowing to the main Through woods, and fields of corn, Hear thou my longing and my pain This sunny birthday morn;

And take this song which fancy shapes To music like thine own, And sing it to the cliffs and capes And crags where I am known!

CONTENTS

I. CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH II. ALONG THE WATER SIDE III. A STROLL ABOUT TOWN IV. A STROLL ABOUT TOWN (continued) V. OLD STRAWBERRY BANK VI. SOME OLD PORTSMOUTH PROFILES VII. PERSONAL REMINISCENCES

INDEX OF NAMES

AN OLD TOWN BY THE SEA

I. CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH

I CALL it an old town, but it is only relatively old. When one reflects on the countless centuries that have gone to the for-mation of this crust of earth on which we temporarily move, the most ancient cities on its surface seem merely things of the week before last. It was only the other day, then--that is to say, in the month of June, 1603--that one Martin Pring, in the ship Speedwell, an enormous ship of nearly fifty tons burden, from Bristol, England, sailed up the Piscataqua River. The Speedwell, numbering thirty men, officers and crew, had for consort the Discoverer, of twenty-six tons and thirteen men. After following the windings of "the brave river" for twelve miles or more, the two vessels turned back and put to sea again, having failed in the chief object of the expedition, which was to obtain a cargo of the medicinal sassafras-tree, from the bark of which, as well known to our ancestors, could be distilled the Elixir of Life.


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