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An Old Town By The Sea
by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
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Mark Twain, Speech, 1908
Was the inspiration for Tom Sawyer.
Illustrated. Thomas Bailey Aldrich attracted a lot of attention in his day with his writing style. An Old Town by the Sea captures the spirit of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, region at the end of the 19th century, and the illustrations add to the mixture.
I CALL it an old town, but it is only relatively old. When one reflects on the countless centuries that have gone to the for-mation of this crust of earth on which we temporarily move, the most ancient cities on its surface seem merely things of the week before last. It was only the other day, then - that is to say, in the month of June, 1603 - that one Martin Pring, in the ship Speedwell, an enormous ship of nearly fifty tons burden, from Bristol, England, sailed up the Piscataqua River. The Speedwell, numbering thirty men, officers and crew, had for consort the Discoverer, of twenty-six tons and thirteen men. After following the windings of ""the brave river"" for twelve miles or more, the two vessels turned back and put to sea again, having failed in the chief object of the expedition, which was to obtain a cargo of the medicinal sassafras-tree, from the bark of which, as well known to our ancestors, could be distilled the Elixir of Life.
About the Author
Thomas Aldrich was a literary lion of the nineteenth century in the United States. His masterpieces inspired countless others, including Mark Twain who based some of his Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer adventures on ideas put forth by Aldrich. Aldrich wrote a number of books, mainly fiction, but also notable poetry and history.
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