Story type: Essay
Strolling through the Public Garden and the famous Boston Common, the untutored savage from the raw and unpolished West is awed and his wild spirit tamed by the magnificent harmony of nature and art. Everywhere the eye rests upon all that is beautiful in nature, while art has heightened the pleasing effect without having introduced the artistic jim-jams of a lost and undone world.
It is a delightful place through which to stroll in the gray morning while the early worm is getting his just desserts. There, in the midst of a great city, with the hum of industry and the low rumble of the throbbing Boston brain dimly heard in the distance, nature asserts herself, and the weary, sad-eyed stranger may ramble for hours and keep off the grass to his heart’s content.
Nearly every foot of Boston Common is hallowed by some historical incident. It is filled with reminiscences of a time when liberty was not overdone in this new world, and the tyrant’s heel was resting calmly on the neck of our forefathers.
In the winter of 1775-6, over 110 years ago, as the ready mathematician will perceive, 1,700 redcoats swarmed over Boston Common. Later on the local antipathy to these tourists became so great that they went away. They are still fled. A few of their descendants were there when I visited the Common, but they seemed amicable and did not wear red coats. Their coats this season are made of a large check, with sleeves in it. Their wardrobe generally stands a larger check than their bank account.
The fountains in the Common and the Public Garden attract the eye of the stranger, some of them being very beautiful. The Brewer fountain on Flagstaff hill, presented to the city by the late Gardner Brewer, is very handsome. It was cast in Paris, and is a bronze copy of a fountain designed by Lienard of that city. At the base there are figures representing Neptune with his fabled pickerel stabber, life size; also Amphitrite, Acis and Galatea. Surviving relatives of these parties may well feel pleased and gratified over the life-like expression which, the sculptor has so faithfully reproduced.
But the Coggswell fountain is probably the most eccentric squirt, and one which at once rivets the eye of the beholder. I do not know who designed it, but am told that it was modeled by a young man who attended the codfish autopsy at the market daytimes and gave his nights to art.
The fountain proper consists of two metallic bullheads rampart. They stand on their bosoms, with their tails tied together at the top. Their mouths are abnormally distended, and the water gushes forth from their tonsils in a beautiful stream.
The pose of these classical codfish or bullheads is sublime. In the spirited Graeco-Roman tussle which they seem to be having, with their tails abnormally elevated in their artistic catch-as-catch-can or can-can scuffle, the designer has certainly hit upon a unique and beautiful impossibility.
Each bullhead also has a tin dipper chained to his gills, and through the live-long day, till far into the night, he invites the cosmopolitan tramp to come and quench his never-dying thirst.
The frog pond is another celebrated watering place. I saw it in the early part of May, and if there had been any water in it, it would have been a fine sight. Nothing contributes to the success of a pond like water.
I ventured to say to a Boston man that I was a little surprised to find a little frog pond containing neither frogs or pond, but he said I would find it all right if I would call around during office hours.
While sitting on one of the many seats which may be found on the Common one morning, I formed the acquaintance of a pale young man, who asked me if I resided in Boston. I told him that while I felt flattered to think that I could possibly fool anyone, I must admit that I was only a pilgrim and a stranger.
He said that he was an old resident, and he had often noticed that the people of the Hub always Spoke to a Felloe till he was tired. I afterward learned that he was not an actual resident of Boston, but had just completed his junior year at the State asylum for the insane. He was sent there, it seems, as a confirmed case of unjustifiable Punist. Therefore the governor had Punist him accordingly. This is a specimen of our capitalized joke with Queen Anne do-funny on the corners. We are shipping a great many of them to England this season, where they are greedily snapped up and devoured by the crowned heads. It is a good hot weather joke, devoid of mental strain, perfectly simple and may be laughed at or not without giving the slightest offense.