Nantucket 1874

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NANTUCKET. THE SLIT THE BELFRY THE TOWX ITS FUTURE. There is a south-wester blowing ont at sea, and tbe white mist, soft and mysterious, is cmnta? across from the water, ana setuing on the town, until sober old Nantucket looks as if it was neatlins in cotton. On one of the two piers Nantucket boasts of, (yon can sea vestiges of others, sow dissolrinf away in the water,) half dozen nsbiasT-ssnacka are moored. Thee smacks will ba in port bnt for a few hours, baring run in for a harbor until tne wina n.i.t, Aavk. Tha Mmva ara lounffins on the wharf, but now a aingle cart rattle along tbe dock and discharro it load or blue-nan. me fish are dumped on the ressel's deck and paid for by the skipper at about two cents a pouno. Then the excitement is over and the slip quiets down, and peace reigns once more. But stay, there is a sign of activity about tbat other craft, a ear old schooner of some fifty tons. I repeat, trav and old. thouzh these are rather anti thetical phrases. By her build that vessel mart have been launched fully forty years ago, out aim is aa fresh, with her snow-white hull, and streaks of yellow, red, aad green, as pain and brash can make her. A red-facea young man, one of the hands, is bringing on deck various boxes. There never was such a close connection as exists between the skipper of that craft and the vessel The Captain's face, though he is past sixty, has the ruddy hale of health ; his hair and beard, closely trimmed, are snow-white, and he sports a Jaunty yellow straw hat, with a blue streamer, and haa on his clean shore clothes. He is the representative of a class fast pasidnc away, for he is the prototype ot the Yankee trading skipper, an amphibious creation, half sailor, half peddler. On the deck are boxes of Malaga raisins, .trying to warm themselves once more in the colder Nantucket sun, for now God's glorious light is tre.tchinir out srolden beams, riddlinff and dis persing the fleecy white clouds. . Alongside of ( the boxes of raisins are barrels of wholesome but uopoetio beans and packages of soap. That skipper brings pine-apples, too, and lemons, and shoe-blacking and tin-ware. Some fishermen from the smacks board the trader, I join them, and we purchase Connecticut jwrros, which, as cigars, recall the odors of a burning brush heap. I am introduced first to the skipper's dog. Brave, (a representative member of the crew,) and afterward to the dog's master. Mr friend Davy, from Noank, mate of one of the smacks, has already told me about this wonderful dog. Knows just as much as any sailor, which haint nUowed, however, , to be much. Blowedif he an't steer, or at least help the old man, holding tight on to the tiller brace. What's most Christian like is that he chews fine cut. That dog knows the coast, and smells land, and makes out the lights, and whines when he sees 'em. Ask the old man about him t On foggy nights they put Brave forrard, and if a craft comes nigh he raises Jessie until the Captain wakes up. He is a fishing dog, too. The skipper don't fish as a business, but when be drifts over the shoals am't averse to catch a cod or so. Him and that dog both takes a line apiece, vnile M, tkl'i ita flfiTftopfld' W, mh Bnva ait the line in nis tooeb. mud tho minute he feels bits he aeaMnpera oroas the deck. and wakes the fish taut. Tou needn't lauh, Boss, it's so. I ain't fooling a bit Old man told sue once he foffrot aU about tbe dog. being busy bisaelf with a big fish. Wbeu he looked around, that dog was just a bringing in, hand over band, a thirty-pound eod, making a kind of living windlass or capstan of himself, and bad got, by winding hisself on tbe line, all tangled up, but he brought tbat fish over the rail'" Now, aa I had heard all about Frank Backhand's famous fishing cat, Puddles by name, I had no reason to doubt the present facts. Billy was put through some of his nautical acquirements, such as bringing tbe end of any particular strand to the Captain, and took in quite cleverly the slack of a rope. " Tbe business of trading by wesscl is done up," said to me the skipper. " I stick to it because fayther and grnfuyther did it before me. . Nantucket is baited"; so is the Vineyard. Got fooled awful on a passle of hymn-books for camp-meeting thar. Books wasn't the right denomination wrong stripe. Lots of them pious people boarded us for whisky, but I'm temperance, and would rather sink the craft than sell rum. That dog has private instructions from me to pitch overboard every bottle of spirits as comes on board, and he does it. Ef I wasn't so old Tde give the old schooner a regular overhauling and put for the west coast of this country. There might be a power of trading up in Oregon and along the timber coast. When I was a boy I went whaling thar, as my fayther and granfayther did before me." I had exhausted the wharf, and I wandered into the town. The main street opens handsomely leads one along to s kind of a modest public place, and then suddenly gives out. I have seen just such effects produced by scene painters for the stage, where, with a" great deal of skill, a street ia depicted which ends in some cut de toe. But Nantucket Is far removed from anything theatrical, yet is not prosaic. -The streets toddle ajong as tbey list, bisected by innumerable lanes, by-ways, and wynds. Inexperienced, when yon take one of the latter, you find that short cuts rather lengthen the distances. It strikes me that Nantucket wants much paint. Perhaps pigments and prosperity go hand in hand. But some houses are getting furbished, and dealers in oils (not whole) and colors seem thriving. I walk through narrow streets, crowded with little houses, all neat and trim, and band-box like, somewhat enlarged oopies of ships' cabins, bnt am more struck by an occasional weathercock than by the buildings. These weathercocks represent whales. Now I know there are styles and fashions in weathercocks, and that if you want one yon can procure a book of weathercock patterns, from whence a judicious selection can be made. The ornithological emblem (the cock) has gone out of favor, and a hippie one, ot a trotting horse now mostly replaces it. But in Nantucket a great big cetacean veers to the wind, like some agile flying fish. There are not, however, many of these queer fish soaring aloft. Critical in regard to such subjects, I cannot, after some hours ramble, find but six of them. Lake the winged horse on the column of St. Mark, these whales seemed to point, to some distant mythological period. Many time though have these old weather whales been watched with anxious, tearful eyes, for aa they turned and twisted, mothers, wives, daughters, and sweethearts have followed out far into unknown seas sons, husbands, fathers, and lovers. If I was the Nantucket Dry-as-Dust, I would watch over these poor old whales, care and tend them, and oil the vane so that that they might move glibly, and aome day when the tearing wintry blast bad done his worst, and hurled them all battered and splintered on tbe ground. I would pick np the fragments, and put them away, under lock and key, with a kind of .pious reverence, as mementoes of a brave old time long gone pasU As I wander along tha streets early in the morning, names familiar to me appear in door-fronts. Though I have- never been in Nantucket before, I should have been, disappointed had I not met a Coffin, a Macey, n Chase, or a Starbuck. A disposition there is on my part aa if I was an old shipmate to ring at tbe belL to walk in, and to make myself perfectly at borne. Of course, on thel parlor mantelpiece I would nave found shell aa roseate and as tender ia eolor as when they were first, east np rolling a mknffWB Indian base be years on years ago, and in the eornern of the room, there would have been tare and catties of rare eld crackled ehina, and on the centre-table I would have seen miniature pagoda, and elaborate oabiueta) of Japannan lacquer., with sperm whale a teeth, with a Bjcrmaid enzravei on one aide aad tho Lord's prayer on the other. Belike tbe host sp preeiatbrg my attention would nave invited me t dins with nim, and a jorum ot punch ( eostearf present laws and tbeir rigor.) would have been brewed in a silver bowl, which massive piece ef plate had been beaten out of the virgin ingot in Carthagena by some Spanish blacksmith a century and more ago, and the bowl would have been filled with Bqnors which bold grandfather Silas or brave Uncle Ephraun had carried round the world, until the wines wer ovor-ripuod a handred year sine. There ia a church-tower of moderate height in the town, and from it aU Naatncket ean be seen. Here ia Water a man with a jpy-gTaa keeps watch and ward for disabled vessels drifting on a lee shore. A Ml from Lisbon intones the hour with sweet yet grave ebtmes, for Portngsi make luseioo grape and harmonious broBse. On the belfry I found tbe tutelary genius ef Nantucket. Poor, gentle, Nantneket-loving, addle-pated fellow I with what seat be pointed out to me the beauties ef hia pretty isle, tbe slumbering town below us. ana the stretch of down and dune, and the gashes in tbe sand hills aa far away as Sankaty light, all fringed by tbe breaking blue sea. Great Caesar, from bis loftiest temple, with mighty Bom mapped out beneath bim, gazing on the magnificence ef his imperial city, could not have been prouder. M Farms f said he. "There they be; some ef the finest in tho country. There is a little just a little patch of sand here and there for contrast. But it's mostly rich, good soil, and makes fine cattle. Don t yon seel and that's a wood, and there, over there, away beyond, are doiejs blue-fishing. I even know the men's names. It is a fine place; good enough for me anyhow. Don't th town look grand this morning I 8ee that house there t Tbey are putting down brand new flagging on the sidewalk. People say I am crasv, but I ain't. I was born and bred here, aad never want to leave it, and everybody knows me and I know everybody. Such lots of strangers as are coming here. (Conn-dentially) Whaling is done gone ; but that don't make any odds now. Edgartown, and Wood's Hole, and Oak Bluff; and those loose two-penny places scattered promiscuous around, kin take to religion, atrying to make a place of themselves, but old Nantucket is just anchored solid here, and must outlive them all. Ihere ha been no less than aeven new icecream establishments started here this very Summer. What's tabernacles and praying-booths to thatt It's a real go-ahead phvee. Nobody knows it better than I do. I am town-crier, and do the bidding at the beef auctions.'' "Beef auctions," I inquired, "and pray what may be a beef auction V Why, the butchers couldn't have it all their own way ia Nantucket with their beef, aad we soil meat of evenings. You come on th street to-night and you will bear me. Yon can buy a pound of teak if yon want to at publio outcry.1 It was pleasant to listen to hi euthuainstie babble over the queer old town. Passing by a vender of old furniture, with brie-m-bro propensities, I spied out a squat old chair mounted on three legs. It wa elegantly stitf and wonderfully uncomfortable. Some vandal had painted it pea-green. It was undoubtedly the work of some joiner of Hull, or Bristol, or Plymouth,' and was ante-revolutionary. Jly knife soon scratched ott the verdant sour color, and the dark, close-grained, brave old mahogany came out. What prises must be packed away in Nantucket garrets! Strange old corner clocks, and desks, aud cabinets, and tiles, and china, and rubbish of the last century. Nantucket has but few shops, and their display is far from being ostentatious. In the harger Massachusetts towns, where the prohibitory liquor laws exist, 1 noticed the intense longing shop-keepers had to ornament their windows with bottles. Keenly appreciative of the people's cravings, in New-Bettiord. in the dry-goods establishments, conspicuous in tho store-iron ts were bottle. These were imply recipient for bay rum and t'lorida water. tation-ers excited the thirsty with bottle of Tbadeus David'a best copying ink. In tho restaurants those craving stimulants were satisfied . with fiiuffl taUles, flead- Wcfel mt with latins l&oei. When szwdiMd closely the concents. r M 1 i-.irt tba btbelav lftl z - Boat Laoes Oil," me .Fine JdaJt Vinegar." Ia face, I made np my mind tbat display of eome kind of bottle waa a necessity for the human race. The bibulous. however, both in New-Bedford aud Nantueket, inform su me tbat I eoukl get anything in tbe way ot strong drinks I wanted, which led me to suppose that flagons, noggins, and even casks, kegs, and rundieta replaced, in aome hocus pooua way, cruets of oil and phiala of vinegar. Living in Nantucket is absurdly reasonable. Houses ia good order . can be rented for the Summer at fabulously low prices, and yon can buy a house, land and all for one half of what the building cost to be put up twenty years ago. As to food, beef is fiftoen cents, mutton thirteen cents and there is no better mutton than Nantucket produeea. As to nah, five cents a pound ia what blue fisn or mackerel ean bo had for in season, or what eod hah can be had for all the year round. Vegetable such as are grown on the island are cheap, and exotics eome from the main land at less pricea bv a third than we pay for them in New-York. In tbe Fall, the grapes are abundant, for Martha's Vineyard ia not a mehning ess name. The climate from July to to OcU-bjr ia simply delkdou. If it be warm oocaiondly, midday, at night and morning the glorious-sea breeses cool the air. It ia true southerly winds sometimes bring in the fogs, but they are never of many hours' duration. Methods of locomotion are exceedingly easy. In less than twenty hours you can get here from New-York. There are three or four hotels, plain but comfortable, and excellent board can be obtained at private fiuuiliee. 1 "here is a eonAoinmie, a fund of easy, quiet, good nature about Nantucket wnich ia most winning. If Nantucket people are peculiar people,7' they are getting accustomed to the in-uux of strangers. Wonderful old men, octogenarians, walk hale and hearty about the streets, and crack jokes which have a certain fresh-salty flavor. It delighted me to hear, "About 141&, when I went ont humpbacking, and ended by privateering ;" or, " How when I was nrst mate in 180 I was master in '21 we struck a sperm whale tn the Sea of Okosh, and by George, Sir, (I think it was George,) we took a lump of amber-grease from out of her that went to London, and was sold for a thousand pounds.'' Grand old fellows are they, who love to bask in the sun, end gossip and spin wondrous yarns. Of course, tbere is a dearth of tbe younger male element. An adolescent Nantucket man tears up his anchor, and drifts off into the world. Some of tha men never eome back ; still many whose life cruises are over float back be wrecked, with empty hatches, and others wbo sail homeward in argosies, freighted gunnel deep with gold, make once more old Nantucket their last port and haven. It was the bark Oak which, in 186D, made the last whaling cruise out of Nantucket, When she steered boldly from Sankaty light, her keel wrote on the lapping wave finis, to the Nantucket whaling business. Since her tune no more whaling ventures have been made, or, perhaps, ever will be made. A new light no dawned in Nantucket. We needs must not smile at it- It may be a flickering ray aa ret. but still it glimmers. The wharveta lent with oil. where bustled throngs of sailors, and Kanakas coming from and going on a forty-four months' cruise, are now trodden bv tourists, and jaunty young men and dainty young women take their tarings on tbe slips. Genteel Nantucket may have had n bitter mil to swallow, but at last she has, nolens aWeMs, guliied down her r title, for now it ia almost cer tain that in time to eome she will be a famous watering-place. if I had only the material ready for my Sanscrit tragedy, i should want to go to Nantucket and elaborate ail the five act of it there, so sure would I be of beoominir fresher and ban. pier in mind, and growing younger and stronger in body. ' j . TBS SriSSOUSI RBPVBLIOAXS. Hon. Henry T. Blow and three others have called a moating of ta Republican State Committee of aOaaoori, ia St Leuia, on Tuesday, Sta inat, to take such final action as may b deemed beet for th interest of the Stat of Mi-unmri and the Bepubli- Varty. They say W earnestly iaaiat that ovary member of th committee bo personally pre. ent, aa the vital Interest of good government la th Stat and of the Republican Party demand a full representation at taia meeUar ef ovary CengTeaaioaal ti tat net by ita regubuiy chosen ropreseatauvea.'' The Boston Trmaerint aava thai nlt.. . tf i - - iimi j fana that ffraw wi M Brl .1.-. - . w - - mm. wwum j ma oo taken home, and in th late Autuma. exposed to th fVeaL. nafiar Ka 'fmui AA j .j. . . uw um a lew weeks of rest in this eonditaon may bo gradually thawed out, followinc the coarse of natnre as lar as poaaible. Then, pleated in ferneries, the roots soon sprout aad the leaf develDn. uii , i produced in all ita perfection. Thia i not theory saerely. but th result ef observation by a lady who ' ovideutlv know t. - w ma t brain. 7' TBS HOOSAO TVXXRZ, COXWSSZOS. Gov. Talbot, oi If i etwwcueu at hMt ia filling np th Cfeaaaaiaaion on th Uoaaa , wwib .an aa now organised son. slate ef Ben. William B. Washburn, Chairman r fWl'il'u College. Hon.,hen Jf. Crs-oy, of!, an.l Aia,a s.,10tBon V ftobbu,. ,,. ilr. fctehbm tuVewi . to-morrow, AH lair yet from a -nary a be face open paying as coal, The fine soil to tions our south bands, -seen ally a their giou lor which age, our the sion have tion. world, By in Ulttf. treaty give train them -know while and with tribe -to the ever, from for dall 250 A fifteen tb the Utter when the being related the the fldent seme A never no without aa their parent flower says by S tonio ders, are vad -fere war Wallace has era to be law Wnen law. aot As they In little f portion the Bin under -rioria -within The prevailing attacked ara Th fazi'rv-rag fiua attack. catj

Clipped from
  1. The New York Times,
  2. 07 Sep 1874, Mon,
  3. Page 2

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