The Cliffs at Nahant, North Shore, Massachusetts, 1892.

Cliffs, Nahant, Massachusetts, Smedley, american, painter, artist
The Cliffs at Nahant, by William Thomas Smedley.

The Cliffs at Nahant

by William Thomas Smedley.

(Belle Époque)

This place was famous in the olden time as one of the favorite haunts of the great sea-serpent. As early as 1638, soon after the settlement of Boston, John Josselyn Gent—we must believe him, because he signed himself “Gent”—used to see the serpent “quoiled up on a rock” at Cape Ann, “a sunning of hisself,” he might have added. But he was more often seen in this neighborhood, where he disported his sinuosity as late as 1817, since which time he appears to have been a homeless wanderer, and to have carried his “shaggy head and glittering eye” to other parts.

Looking north, we see the whole sweep of Swampscott Bay, with Egg Rock and its light-house, and the fishing-smacks dotting the horizon beyond, and the towns of Lynn and Swampscott; to the south we have Boston, and Boston harbor, with its islands, and a view of Blue Hills in the distance; and to the east, the open Atlantic.

The peninsula is beautiful in every respect, with its fine trees, beaches, and cliffs, and “Spouting Rock,” “Pulpit Rock,” “Castle Rock,” and others, about which the waves are ever dashing picturesquely.

This place would afford Mr. Laurence Hutton an opportunity for a “Literary Landmark” booklet, for here it was that Prescott worked on his “Ferdinand and Isabella” and the “Conquest of Mexico,” Motley began his “Dutch Republic,” and Longfellow wrote a good part of “Hiawatha.” Here, also, lived Alexander Agassiz in the summer months, and it is only natural to suppose that much of his finest work was done where he could be alone with nature and his thoughts. And in a little house near the cliffs Mrs. Annie Johnson, although not much known to fame, used to sing her local lyrics.

Note:  Chevalier Charles d'Éon de Beaumont.

Published as: “On the Coast of Nahant” in Harper’s bazaar, (Nov. 20, 1897).

Source: Life and character; by William Thomas Smedley (1858-1920). With accompanying text by Andrew Varick Stout Anthony (1835-1906). New York, London, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1899.

Related


Support and Seduction: The History of Corsets and Bras (Abradale Books) by Beatrice Fontanel.

Thoughout the ages, women's breasts have been subjected to the endless whims of fashion.

From the ancient Greeks to Mae West and Madonna, this light-hearted book charts the changing shapes of female beauty. The elegant and amusing images - including fashion drawings, paintings, photographs, and film stills - illustrate the often surprising history of the garments women have worn for support - and seduction.


Leave a Reply

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World Paperback – December 7, 2021
by Virginia Postrel (Author)

From Neanderthal string to 3D knitting, an “expansive” global history that highlights “how textiles truly changed the world” (Wall Street Journal)

Literature

Couture: then and now Clothes define people. A person's clothing, whether it's a sari, kimono, or business suit, is an essential key to his or her culture, class, personality, or even religion. The Kyoto Costume Institute recognizes the importance of understanding clothing sociologically, historically, and artistically.