Imágenes de página
[blocks in formation]

The end-paper maps are (1) a modern map of Cape Cod and
(2) a facsimile of a part of Captain Cyprian Southack's
map (see page 192)



I CAPE COD had its Age of Romance in a half-century best placed, perhaps, in the years between 1790 and 1840. Then certainly the picture of it was charming: a picture unblemished by the paper-box architecture of a later period, or the alien hotels, the villas, bungalows, and portable-houses of to-day. Then roads, with no necessity laid upon them to be the servants of speed, were honest native sand, and, gleaming like yellow ribbons across hills and meadows, linked farm to farm and went trailing on to the next township where houses nestled behind their lilacs in a sheltered hollow, or stood four-square on the village street. As if by instinct, the early settlers from Saugus and Scituate and Plymouth, accustomed as their youth had been to the harmonies of Old England, hit upon a style of building best suited to the genius of the country. And if, consciously, they only planned for comfort and used the materials at hand, the result, inevitably, bears the test of fitness to environment. Their low slant-roof wooden houses were set with backs to the north wind and a singularly wide-awake

aspect to the south. The watershed of the roof sometimes ran with an equal slope to the eaves of the ground floor; but as frequently, yielding barely room for pantry and storeroom at the north, it lifted in front to a second story. And in either case the “upper chambers,” with irregular ceilings and windows looking to the sunrise and sunset, were packed tautly into the apex of the roof. Ornament centred in the front door — a symbol, one might think, of the determination to preserve, in the enforced privations of pioneer life, the gentle ceremonials of their past; and however small or remote, there is not such a house to be recalled that does not thus offer its dignified best for the occasions of hospitality. The doors are often beautiful in themselves: their panels of true proportions framed in delicately moulded pilasters with a line of glazing to light the tiny hall; frequently a pediment above protects the whole from the dripping of eaves. And before paint was used to mask the wood, the whole structure, played upon by sun and storm, wore to a tone of silver-gray that made a house as familiar to the soil as a lichen-covered rock. The square Georgian mansions came later, with the prosperity of reviving trade after the Revolution. They were built to a smaller scale than those of Newburyport or Salem or Portsmouth; and the Cape Cod aristocrat seems to have been content with two stories to live in and a vast garret above to store superfluous treasure. There was not a jarring note in the scene; and the old houses, set in neighborly fashion on the village street or approached by a winding cart-track “across the fields,"

« AnteriorContinuar »