PUBLICATION OF THE BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
1903, NO. 2.
RECOLLECTIONS OF BROOKLINE1
By MRS. MARY W. POOR (Daughter of Rev. John Pierce)
Having been requested to write some of my recollections of Brookline in the eighteen hundred and twenties, I begin with the attempt to do justice to its great beauty in those days. Everyone spoke of it as "Beautiful Brookline." This was partly due to the rolling and well wooded surface and to the splendid elms of uncommon size and picturesque shape that fairly embowered the village and a great part of the town. The queen of these noble trees was the "Aspinwall elm," which stood at the southwest corner of the old "Aspinwall house" very near the site of the Episcopal church. An immense tree stood in front of the old Punch Bowl Tavern, and noble specimens at the entrance of Walnut street, then called the "Sherburne Road," or more frequently the "Old Road." It seemed poor judgment on the part of the Selectmen to change this time-honored name to "Walnut street," and it showed a sad lack of originality on their part, since almost every town in New England has a "Walnut street," while few can have a "Sherburne Road." Dr. T. E. Francis wonders that no one has written of the immense locust trees that were then common in Brookline. These vied with the elms in size, if not in gracefulness. Two such trees stood in front of the parsonage of the First Church. Staples were driven into their trunks, to which horses were "hitched" while their owners were visiting the minister.
Cypress street, then called" The New Lane, " (all the streets were lanes in those days,) was a dream of beauty. At the upper corner of what are now Boylston and Cypress streets was a pretty wood, and shrubs and many wild flowers grew down the hill. The brook, which was one of the beauties of old Brookline, here widened into a lovely little pond shaped like the shell named Pinna. It was shaded by a fine oak and was an ideal spot for children to play in when they ought to have been hurrying to school. From the brook nearly to the spot where the Bethany Sunday School now stands the New Lane was a bower. Locust trees on both sides of the way met, making the road such an attraction for pedestrians that it was often called" Lovers' Lane." The roadsides of Brookline, without the aid of landscape gardeners, were in those days closely fringed with shrubs of native growth, barbery, privet, sumach, sweetbriar, and the like. Blackberries, thimbleberries and raspberries were trained over these bushes by nature gracefully, as her work is always done when she has her own way. The path of the truant schoolboy or girl was beset with snares. There were no sidewalks, and these lovely shrubberies were full of attractions for youthful feet where delicious fruit was to be had, without money and without price. What child, however a satisfactory breakfast he might have eaten at home, could resist the temptation to pick his own dessert as he went "creeping like a snail unwillingly to school"? The wonder is, that he ever arrived there at all. One of the loveliest of these lanes extended from the Meeting House on Walnut street up Warren street and through Clyde. It seemed a wicked act of desecration to change it into a vulgar "street," but villages will grow to towns, and wider thoroughfares are needed when a neighboring city begins to drive, for business or pleasure, through these suburban roadways.
The woods were filled with wild flowers many of which have been trampled out of existence by the march of civilization. In Trull's woods, afterwards Pierce's, now Codman's, were the loveliest anemones, and gayest of columbines, and the tallest blue violets I ever saw. There was one species of asclepias that I have never found elsewhere. That was destroyed in Mr. Silas Pierce's day by fires that ran through the woods to "destroy the underbrush." Alas for that fire! What treasures, dear to the heart of the botanist, were consumed by its devouring flames! We may see places as beautiful in the" sweet fields beyond the swelling flood," but never again shall we find in Brookline such hepaticas, such wild honeysuckles, and such mayflowers as every country child could gather for itself in those woods and swamps. Coming up Walnut street from the village were fine rocks by the roadside, covered with moss and columbines, just such as children love to play on. There is only one other person in Brookline who can recall the delights of those rocks. A charming walk began on the other side of a stone wall, near where Cypress street now offers on open roadway. There we found cinnamon roses, "where once a garden smiled," and a path led through woods to an open ground where tradition said soldiers once maneuvered, thence up the hill where a gate in Mr. Thomas Lee's rustic fence gave an entrance to his beautiful grounds. Through these all quiet and harmless children were allowed to walk on their way to Jamaica Pond. If Mr. Lee happened to see them and to find that they were fond of flowers, he was wont to cut for them little bouquets of his precious specimens, and even to allow them to walk through his greenhouse. His" lawn " was our first realization of the meaning of that word, so common even then in English books. Blessed be his memory!
Longwood was another most attractive place. One went through the farm belonging to the old Aspinwall house and came to a long and delightful wooded hill from which the place derived it name. There were few flowers, but there was something fascinating even to a child in that long winding hill top, shaded by splendid trees, sloping on the side towards Boston to impassable swamps, and on the other side to cultivated fields.
The brooks of Brookline were most attractive. The one in the valley running south of Tappan street was not then shut in by stony walls, but rambled about in its own sweet way, singing as it went. At one spot it parted, making a little mossy island. We crossed on stepping-stones to this fairy islet, which was shaded by large trees and was a favorite resort and play-place for children. In the village, this brook again widened into a pond, a delicious foot bath for droves of cows and oxen on their way from Brighton to their tragic end, and was a play-place for village boys and girls.
Another brook, which rose just beyond the present Boston Reservoir and is now turned out of its course and restrained from having its own way, ran under Boylston street, then called "the Turnpike," through the grounds of Mr. Benjamin Goddard, where was an artificial waterfall, my first ideal of Niagara. Then it went under the road again, and ran gracefully through land belonging to Mr. Sumner, thence to the estate of Mr. Thomas Walley, where it was encouraged to be as beautiful as art assisting nature could make it. It passed by an ideal wood, where Mr. Walley built a large summer house and many a rustic seat. Having a fine taste, great love of nature, ample means and no business cares, he made it an object lesson for the town. After the place passed out of Mr. Walley's hands these fine trees were cut down for firewood. Colonel Thomas H. Perkins was at that time abroad, and when he came home and saw that this wood was gone, he greatly lamented that he had been absent when the deed was done, and said that he would have bought that wood for the sake of the pleasure of seeing it as he drove to Boston.
We were so accustomed to hearing our town called "beautiful Brookline," that we almost fancied the adjective to be a part of its real name. I will add two tributes from poets (sic) which are sincere if not sublime. One is from William B. Tappan, author of several volumes of verses, of which but two are likely to live -" Wake, isles of the South!" and " There is an hour of peaceful rest."
"I have revisited thy silvan scenes,
Brookline! in this the summer of my day.
Again have reveled in thy lovely vales,
And feasted vision on thy glorious hills;
As once I reveled, feasted, in the spring
Of careless, happy boyhood.
The same thy hills and dells, those skies the same
Of rich October; such as only bend
Over New England; and the same gray walls,
Reared in New England's infancy, are those,
Which charmed imagination. Thou art fair,
And beautiful as ever. Fancy deems
Thy sweet retreat excused the common doom
Caused by the fall; as if the Architect
Were willing, by such specimen to show
What Eden in its primal beauty was."
The other poem is by Mr. B. B. Thacher, a young lawyer from Maine, who gave fair promise of success in periodical literature, but died young. It begins:-
"Sweet refuge in the shadow of green trees
Is this and fair to gaze on; he that sees
It lingers, and looks backward with a sigh
For beauty ne'er to be forgotten, so shall 1."
On the lattice work of the summer house in Walley's grove were many impromptu verses and many names of visitors in pencil. If we had known that it was to be removed to Bradley Hill and turned into a dwelling house for laborers, we would have copied those of interest, which were many. That dear old Brookline has gone, never to return.
As Brookline has changed outwardly, so have its manners and customs. In those old days there was no attention paid to Christmas beyond saying, "I wish you a merry Christmas! " to the members of the family when we first met them in the morning. We never dreamed of its being made merrier than any other day. The schools went on as usual and no one expected a Christmas gift. We had New Year's presents instead. I never heard of Santa Claus till I was sixteen and then he was mentioned by a lady from New York. We knew that Catholic and Episcopal churches were dressed with evergreens at Christmas, and sometimes went to Boston to see them on that day. There were then one Catholic and three Episcopal churches in Boston. There was but one Irishman in Brookline. The few of the richer families in town who possessed greenhouses employed Scotch gardeners. We were all proud of Colonel Thomas H. Perkins' gardens and of him personally, as a prince among men. He invited all distinguished foreigners who came to this country, and many of our own men of note, to his house, where they were hospitably entertained. I dimly remember the excitement when General Lafayette came. All Brookline was on the qui vive. Parties of ladies and children -with offerings of flowers stood in the street to do homage to him as he passed in an open barouch to dine with Colonel Perkins. I was not one of these favored ones, being only three or four years old, but some of those to whom he spoke celebrated the anniversary of that rare event annually all the rest of their lives, especially one young girl whom he kissed in acknowledgment of the flowers she gave to him. I also remember my father's great enjoyment, in dining at Colonel Perkins' house, to meet Audubon and other distinguished men. There were then few public libraries, even in Boston, and those were not supplied with the most valuable books. Colonel Perkins was supposed to buy all that were worth reading and was most kind in lending them to his acquaintances. Many of them found their way to the Parsonage. I remember that the moment a borrowed book came into that house it was carefully covered and placed on a shelf which children could not reach.
Captain Cook's place was a favorite haunt. He lived in the large house now occupied by Mr. Little, and built the picturesque cottage next to it on Cottage street for his ~on. He had between these houses a marble fountain surrounded by a small pond well stocked with gold and silver fishes, the first I had ever seen. He planted many fine trees and laid out the path which now runs some distance into the present Sargent place.
The only meeting house of Brookline was that of the First Parish, till a Baptist place of worship was built in 1828. It was a large building, with a spire like the one on the First Unitarian Church in Roxbury, which could be seen for a great distance in all directions and was near the geographical center of the town: It stood where Dr. Lyon's church now does, facing Walnut street, but a little further back. There was only room for a narrow path between it and the rocks. The meeting house was built on a foundation of long granite blocks such as are called "underpinning" in the country, leaving an open space or cellar under it. On the north and south sides were square air-holes, two on each side, directly opposite to each other. We thought it great fun to run to these holes and see each other's faces. which looked as if they were set in frames and very far off. I do not think they were large enough for us to crawl through and the great dark space looked scarcely inviting enough to induce us to make the attempt. We shouted to each other and our voices had a weird, unnatural sound.
In front of the meeting house was a graveled terrace surrounded by granite posts with two rows of iron chains hanging in loops between them. It had three front doors, the central one opened into a large porch which led to the broad or central aisle and was so high that it presented quite a grand appearance to a child. The other doors opened into smaller and lower porches and thence into the side aisles. In these porches were flights of stairs going up to the galleries, in which were three long rows of seats for the singers, and many pews. The house was warmed by two stoves which stood between the broad and the two side aisles. Iron pipes ran from the whole length of the building to the windows in the back of the church. I recall the beauty of the smoke curling up from these pipes. As the minister read from the Psalms "Fire and hail, snow and vapor," I thought, "That is vapor praising the Lord!" Young hearts beat quick on the Sunday before Thanksgiving day when the minister unrolled the great proclamation and read it through to the end" Levi Lincoln, Governor; Edward D. Bangs, Secretary. God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." Levi Lincoln's name always stood in my recollection associated with unlimited turkey, goose, chicken pie, and every imaginable dinner delicacy known in those days.
A small flight of stairs from the northeastern side porch led to the third story of the meeting house, where was a long pew for colored people, raised as far above the singers' gallery as that was above the auditorium. When a little child, I used to amuse myself by looking at "Black Susie," who was stout and had such a round face that I fancied she resembled a full moon! She was for a long time the only specimen of the colored race in the town.
Above the stairs to the negro seats were rough steps leading to the belfry and thence to a charming room with windows on eight sides, whence were splendid views of Brookline, Boston, surrounding towns, and the Harbor. Comfortable seats under these windows provided a rest for feet weary with climbing so long a flight of stairs, and also standing places for children too little to see the prospect from the floor. They were forbidden to ascend to these heights without the escort of some older person, as the stairs had no side rails and were unsafe for careless climbers. If there was a steeple as high as that old one now on the same site, so different an outlook would be spread before the eye of an observer that there would be little likeness between the two pictures. As I lately looked from the third story of the Parsonage I saw but two familiar objects in the entire panorama, the dome of the State House and the spire of Park Street Church, and even the dome was greatly changed in consequence of being gilded. Not a trace remained of old Brookline. In 1844, some twenty years later than the time I have in mind as I write, there were but eighty-eight houses in the whole township of Brookline. I could not even guess how many that area now contains.
It was the custom when there was a funeral in town to send a boy to the highest open space in the steeple to watch for the funeral procession leaving the house of mourning. When it began to move the bell ringer would toll the bell till it reached the church. The memory of that dismal tolling haunts me still. It was called the" passing bell." I wondered when it would ring for me.
The pulpit was a high one approached by circular stairs on each side. The boots of ascending ministers had left marks on the uprights of these stairs which to a childish imagination, wearied by lengthy sermons that seemed interminable, represented pictures to be carefully studied. One resembled a group of people, another a woodside with trees and bushes, another fairies dancing, another a schoolmistress surrounded by her pupils, and so on. How little ones who sat too far from the pulpit to see these pictures endured the tedium of long services I could not imagine.
Everybody went to meeting in those days, both to morning and afternoon services. As I look back so many years I recall nothing whatever of the sermons, but every face in the audience is in my memory still, particularly that of the dear old lady who invariably repeated as she passed the Parsonage pew on going out, no matter who preached, "Truly a most excellent discourse." Among the leading figures was Deacon Goddard, then a tall, handsome young man, in the singing seats; the Miss Gardiners, who dressed in brighter colors than any other worshipers; in General Dearborn's pew, his daughter, Miss Julia, who seemed to me a perfect beauty; Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Clark, with their pew full of pretty children; old Captain Goddard, sometimes standing up to keep himself awake; and my uncle Charles Tappan, shaking his head at me when I was restless; the kind old ladies who had footstoves, which were filled with hot coals, of walnut wood, I suppose, which they passed over the tops of their pews to neighbors, after they had sufficiently warmed their own feet. It was a relief from the tedium of a long sermon to watch them.
One seat half way down the broad aisle was never vacant. Summer and winter, forenoon and afternoon, Mr. Thomas Aspinwall was always there. He had been deaf and dumb since an attack of scarlet fever in his early childhood, but there were no more fervent worshipers than he. He would have been a fine subject for a poem by Whittier. As he was a frequent visitor at the Parsonage and very fond of children, I early learned to talk with him by signs after his own system of language, so that we understood one another well. I have still a set a mahogany bobbins he made for my mother, and a toy set he made for me. Talking in his sign language, when he had occasion to refer to me he held up his little finger to designate my small self, the youngest child in the Parsonage. Near his was the Hyslop pew with elegant upholstery and its hymn books bound in scarlet morocco, having book plates bearing the family coat of arms, and the legend, By the name of Hyslop. Mr. Hyslop died either before I was born or soon after, so I have no recollection of him personally, but his hymn books left a strong impression of earthly grandeur in my youthful mind.
Well I remember how on stinging cold winter mornings the people who had, walked to meeting through the snow stamped their feet in the porches to rid themselves of it.
Miss Emily Marshall once came to meeting and sat in the Parsonage pew. I was too young to appreciate her beauty, which was as universally acknowledged by my elders as that of Sirius among the stars. She had, I believe, engaging manners and a perfect freedom from affectation, and well-deserved the admiration she received.
It was my custom as soon as I saw Dr. Lowell in the pulpit, to find the hymn, "While Thee I seek, Protecting Power," and pass it to my mother, because I knew he would be sure to read it. I since learned that it was one of his favorite hymns but was not in the book used in his parish, so he always chose it when preaching in pulpits where he could find it. I am sorry I was too young to appreciate Dr. Channing's sermons when he exchanged with my father. I wish I could remember them as well as I do his face.
The Walnut street cemetery was the only burying ground in the town. It was much smaller than it now is, one acre having been set apart by the townspeople for the last resting place of their dead. A simple stone wall surrounded it. The entrance gate was below the brick tomb still remaining on Walnut street. The southwestern corner was a lovely spot. It was on the rising ground just beyond the unsightly row of brick tombs now remaining. It was shaded by a fine walnut tree which spread its branches on all sides like a tent. Outside of this wall were barberry bushes and a sweet-briar bush of remarkable size and beauty. Looking over it on the south side one could see a beautiful little pond surrounded by lofty trees. This pond was large enough for boys to bathe in during the summer months and skate over in the winter· Beyond it were fine rocks. In 1826 Captain Oxnard, who then lived on Walnut street, having lost a little b0Y, greatly beloved and mourned, fixed upon this spot as the most appropriate that could be found for his darling to rest in, and little George was laid there and a white marble monument was set up to mark the spot. N ear it the beloved teacher, George B. Emerson, had chosen a lot in which his young wife was laid. She was one who was spoken of by all who knew her as surpassingly lovely in person and character. Her monument still remains with the touching tribute to her excellence:
Placuit omnibus cui satis uni placuisse.
Alas! that no picture of that secluded mossy corner exists except in the memory of one or two who still remain. Mr. Emerson now rests by the side of the wife of his youth, which still endears the spot to those who loved him. The corner itself has been sacrificed to the enlargement of the cemetery on three sides. It was doomed to as short a space of existence as that of the dear little boy who was its first tenant. The owner of the adjacent farm cut down the beautiful tree for firewood. The town frowned upon his action, on the ground that he had no right to the tree, which, standing in the wall, partly belonged to the public. But it was gone and no steps that could be taken would replace it and so nothing was done about it. Captain Oxnard was so grieved at its loss that he removed the remains of his little son and the monument, to Mount Auburn. The pond disappeared in consequence of the drainage of the low ground where Chestnut street now runs. The picturesque rocks were removed to make room for buildings and all the fine trees around the pond were cut down.
"Pierce Hall," a short distance east of the church, was built in 1824. The second floor was used as the Town Hall of the town. Meetings of various kinds were held in it and subsequently lyceum lectures. The first floor was a public school room used only in the summer. It was an ill-lighted and gloomy room and its curriculum was of the simplest, including only" reading, writing and arithmetic." Some of the more public-spirited of Brookline's citizens aspired to have an elegant and attractive school in which their sons could be fitted for college. I believe Mr. Richard Sullivan was one of the most active in carrying out this scheme. A structure worthy of beautiful Brookline was the result. It was built in 1820 and was modeled from a Greek temple, with Doric pillars, and was considered perfect as a work of art. It was commonly called the "Classical School." Well do I remember going to an exhibition in that school when a very young child and can even now hear Mr. William Atkinson recite, "When I am dead no pageant train shall waste their sorrows o'er my bier," and my brother William follow with Rob Roy's" You speak like a boy ... who thinks the auld gnarled oak can be twisted as easily as the young sapling," into which speech he was said to have put a great deal of sarcasm for so young a boy and was much applauded. Also I went to an exhibition of the effects of exhilarating gas which was administered to the pupils by their master with various ludicrous effects. Most of the boys were pugnacious and wildly attacked the master or anyone who happened to be near. One, named John Randall, lay down on the platform and spouted, "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll," in a sentimental manner. Ellery Channing, afterwards a poet, leaped in the most extraordinary manner like a grasshopper over the heads of the boys on the platform and frightened me sadly lest he should come down on me.
The surroundings of this classic hall were lovely. Just behind it was the sweet spot since called "Brignal Banks," on the shore of the brook already described as the" New Lane" brook. Some time after, a Mr. Hubbard bought this schoolhouse and built directly behind it a boarding house and in front of it a wooden gymnasium, the first ever heard of in these regions. Years after, Dr. Shurtleff bought the house and used the gymnasium, which had been moved to the south of the house, for a stable. The dear old classical school became his drawing room. The change greatly detracted from the beauty of this gem of architecture as viewed from the street, but it was a fine drawing room. The delightful social gatherings in those early days of the nineteenth century were different from anything now prevailing in any place known to me. Families met together, old and young. The circle comprising the Goddards, Heaths, Howes, Pennimans, Sumners, Searles, Dr. Wild's and other congenial families, were often invited to each other's houses, to spend evenings in music, dancing and friendly conversation. As the Heaths were an especially musical family and the sons, Charles and Frederick, had fine voices, a musical treat was always expected at their house. The brothers often invited young men from Boston who were in the habit of singing in quartets, or single voices of especial excellence, to assist in the entertainment. The dancing was simple, consisting chiefly of what were called "cotillions" and contradances. Round dances had not then arrived on this side of the Atlantic. We had never heard of the waltz except as it was mentioned in Miss Edgeworth's novel, "Patronage." The hero, Godfrey Percy, who was fascinated by a beautiful girl, sees her engage in this new dance and immediately decides to steel his heart against so dangerous a syren and actually succeeds in his attempt. The first time I ever saw waltzing was at a dancing class mostly consisting of Miss Lucy Searle's scholars taught by the elder Papanti. The great charm of the parties in those days was their perfect simplicity. The elders enjoyed seeing the younger people dance and joined in the sport when they felt so inclined. Dr. Wild's dancing was with his whole soul. He flew around like a joyous boy, the steps being after his own fashion, but nobody criticized, each being intent on enjoying him or herself and having a good time. These festivities closed by half past nine or ten~ and the younger participants were as fresh and wide-awake at school the next day as if nothing out of the usual routine had happened the evening before.
Miss Lydia Greene was an acknowledged leader in society. Her opinion as to all the elegancies and proprieties of life was consulted by her circle of friends. I find in Miss Susan Heath's journal that she and her sisters went on one occasion to ask Miss Greene what they were to "think" about something they had seen in the papers. By position and example she was worthy of the consideration she received. She and her brother Simon lived in the house opposite the Heath mansion, with their uncle; General Elliot, who was a brother of Mrs. Colonel Perkins. She was fond of young people and took great interest in the development of their minds and manners. We were all anxious to be approved by Miss Greene. .
Madam Babcock was an object lesson in real old-fashioned gentility. She lived in the house now occupied by Miss Julia Goddard. The place was exquisitely kept. A walk having beds of lovely flowers on each side went quite round the place and there were beautiful trees and shrubs near the house. Madam Babcock always drove to meeting in a coach, with her footman, John Green, standing on a shelf behind, holding tassels ' which came from the top to keep himself steady. He sprang down the moment the coach stopped in front of the church, opened the door, let down the steps with solemn gravity and assisted his mistress to alight. When I was sent with a message to her house I always saw her sitting in the bow chamber in state. After I had delivered it she would tap upon a panel in the wall near her chair and John Green would immediately enter, so quickly that I fancied he always stood with his ear close to that panel. His mistress would then send him to fetch a piece of delicious hard gingerbread for my refreshment, and John was always despatched for a paper and string, and all that I had not eaten was put up for me to carry away for future use.
A rare house for children's parties was Captain Glover's in Cottage street, where Mr. and Mrs. Shepley now live. A Saturday afternoon spent there was something worth remembering all these years. Captain Glover and his wife were fond of children and knew how to entertain them. There was generally a gentle horse that we could ride on round the walks, and a small flat-bottomed boat we could row in around a very diminutive pond, also a barn well filled with hay over which we were allowed to frolic as much as we pleased. Captain Glover presented our brothers with a small fire-engine which had been used on board one of his vessels. The boys formed a fire brigade and were accustomed to parade on Saturday afternoons, clad in simple uniforms, their clothes being ornamented with scarlet flannel, offering to wash any windows needing their services, and feeling very grand and grown up.
May Day was always observed by the pupils of Miss Lucy Searle. It was a holiday and the scholars assembled on the Searle piazza provided with baskets containing their luncheon and together walked to some wood to spend the day. The favorite spot seemed to be a rocky pasture in Jamaica Plain then called Switzerland, but I remember one day spent in a summer house on the south shore of Jamaica Pond, and one, perhaps two, in Longwood. No grown person went with us and we were free to amuse ourselves as we liked. We wove a crown of flowers for our queen, who was voted into office as soon as we arrived on the spot chosen for our celebration. We picked great quantities of wild flowers, composed verses, such as they were, in honor of the queen, played simple games and never found the day too long. The fairy queen seemed to smile upon our pleasures. As I look back I remember but one rainy May Day.
The Walley family were popular neighbors. They lived on the spot where Mr. Stephen D. Bennett now resides. The place extended all over the land bounded by Cypress and Boylston streets, running behind the parsonage to the Sumner estate on the west. A beautiful brook ran through it. It had on Boylston street the charming grove before mentioned and on Walnut street a large garden with a summer house and seats. The house was a picturesque object with evergreen trees so close to the piazza as to make it always cool and shady in summer. On the first landing of the principal staircase was a round window that overlooked a large hall which was the theatre of festivities of all kinds. Mr. Walley married a beautiful heiress from Martinique named Feroline Lalong. They had six sons and six daughters; several of the latter inherited their mother's beauty and all were gay and pleasing. As Mrs. Walley was a Roman Catholic they were an important family in the church in Boston, the clergy of which were their constant guests. Bishop, afterwards Cardinal, Cheverus was there frequently. A small room or closet was fitted up for an oratory for his use, where candles were burning day and night. That closet was a dream of my childhood. I am not positive that I ever saw the inside of it with my bodily eyes, but it stands in my remembrance as clear a picture as any other in that old gallery. My father was very fond of Bishop Cheverus and learned
French in order to read many books recommended by him. When quite young I used to read Massillon to my father, learning to enjoy the charming style and spirit of his writings. Mr. Walley built a small schoolhouse on the corner of Boylston and Cypress streets for the benefit of his children and those of his neighbors. Miss Elizabeth Peabody taught there, among others. Perfect health reigned in the Walley family and no doctor ever entered the house. Mr. Walley used to say that the way to treat children was to throw them into snow banks and let them frolic in them as much as they pleased. In those simple days microbes were unknown. I doubt whether they existed. They probably developed late in crowded and dirty city tenements, and their best exterminators are certainly fresh air, pure water and cleanliness.
The Sullivan family lived on the spot since then and for a long time occupied by Mrs. Nathaniel Bowditch, and now covered with houses, thirteen in number, I believe, and Walnut street passes through it, ending at Dudley street. The Sullivans were a charming family. Mrs. Sullivan was one of the most beautiful and lovely human beings I ever saw, and her daughters were like her. Their great beauty and exquisite refinement could not be otherwise than a pride to the town ' so fortunate as to be their home. Mothers told their daughters to observe and copy their manners, but they might as well have asked them to imitate a rose or a violet. I have heard that one of them was the subject of Longfellow's lines in his poem" A Gleam of Sunshine:"
"Thy dress was like the lilies,
And thy heart as pure as they;
One of God's holy messengers
Did walk with me that day."
Mary, the youngest was the idol of my childhood. She died when I was seven years old. We both went to a little school taught by Miss Alice Sumner, where she was always sweet and kind to me. Though so many years have passed, I can see her standing at her gate to be sure that I was going safely home.
I must confess that there is one spot in Brookline quite as beautiful as it was in Auld Lang Syne, and that is Jamaica Pond and its surroundings. The charming walks and drives around it, the removal of commonplace houses, and the taste displayed in the planting of trees and shrubs, which will be finer every successive year, show what art can do to heighten the charms of nature. All this is due in a great measure to the genius of Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted and that of his pupil Mr. Charles Eliot, whose excellent taste and skill could make even a wilderness blossom.
MARY W. POOR.