University of New Hampshire Art Gallery
Literature, Science, Statesmanship, History
Appropriately, through the height of the artists' period, the literary associations at Dublin continued. If Monadnock had less symbolism and significance for poets and writers at the turn of the century than for those of the early years, the rise of an American literature based on regional characters and customs had taken its place. For visiting Englishman Rudyard Kipling, however, the symbolism remained "In Sight of Monadnock" describes his winter visit to a Vermont village With a view of the mountain, "Monadnock came to mean everything that was helpful, healing, and full of quiet, and when I saw him half across New Hampshire he did not fail."
Most of these later writers were attracted to Dublin more by the presence of empathetic people and peaceful working conditions than by the Monadnock mystique that had commanded the attention of the earlier writers. Mark Twain arranged a rental for the summer of 1905 by contacting the second Mrs. Thayer, whom he is supposed to have courted on a cruise years before. Once there he wrote to a friend, "We like it here in the mountains, in the shadow of Monadnock. It is a woodsy solitude. We have no near neighbors." A frequenter of summer colonies, Twain already knew not only the Thayers, but Colonel Higginson and others in Dublin, so he quickly became involved in the social life. He gave a talk to the Ladies' Sewing Circle, read parts of unpublished manuscripts to another group, and was much in demand for all sorts of social functions. In spite of having written Eve's Diary and A Horse's Tale that summer, he complained that the Dublin social life kept him from doing much work and that he needed a more remote house for his next summer in Dublin. Yet he told a reporter, "It is claimed that the atmosphere of the New Hampshire highlands is exceptionally bracing and stimulating, and a fine aid to hard and continuous work. It is a just claim. .. I came in May, and wrote thirty-five successive days without a break. . . I am ashamed to confess what an intolerable pile of manuscript I ground out in the thirty-five days."
Amy Lowell first came to Dublin in 1893 as a guest of one of the Cabot families. Seven years later, the May 30 issue of the Transcript reported, "The Crowninshield country home was sold this week to Miss Amy Lowell . . . who will take immediate possession." Lowell, who was very much in her social milieu at Dublin, especially liked theatricals and often had parts in Joseph Smith pageants. Several of her poems are about aspects of Dublin, "Teatro Bambino" and "Trades" among them. Willard Pierce, who did carpentry for Lowell and posed for Alexander James, was the inspiration for "Trades."
The novelist Winston Churchill spent most summers at Cornish, visiting Dublin for the horse show and Smith's pageants. For the summer of 1906, however, he came to Dublin, where he wrote Mr. Crewe's Career. He returned the summer of 1916.
Of all the figures associated with Dublin, the most touching is Alan Seeger. Despite the brevity of his stay, his presence there at this relatively late date and the deep involvement of his relationship with the Brushes and the Pearmains evokes anew the special interweaving of art and literature that made Dublin unique.
Viewed today, the mysterious quality about him is enhanced by the random way he arrived and the chance that led him to the people who took him in with complete understanding and formed a lasting bond with him. The author of "1 Have a Rendezvous with Death" came to Dublin on foot, seeking a friend who had already moved on. Needing a place to stay and a job, he was brought to the Thayers by a farmer who thought he "looked like one of you'n." Mrs. Thayer sent him to the Brushes, who needed a tutor for their younger children. He lived with Nancy Brush Pearmain (later Bowditch) and her husband, Robert, whom Seeger helped to build a little cottage. Mrs. Brush, trained as a sculptor before her marriage. was moved by his sensitive face to make a small bust of him. George Brush spent time walking and talking with him and later tried to have his poems published.
Seeger went to France and joined the Foreign Legion when World War I broke out, not, as he put it, "out of any hatred against Germany or the Germans, but purely out of love for France. It was only that the France, and especially the Paris, that I love should not cease to be the glory and the beauty that they are that I engage." He fulfilled the prophesy of his own verse and died in battle July 4, 1916. His last letter to Brush reads, in part, "Your long letters describing all the little incidents of your life reach me and give me the greatest pleasure. Do you really walk in the old places where we used to stroll together and think of me? 1 remember the way I used to wander about there and look always into the eastern sky. And then that last walk over the Peterboro hills into the rising moon! It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life." Albert Bushnell Hart had been a student of Henry Adams (author of the famous Education of ...) at Harvard. But when Adams spent the summer of 1915 in Dublin, there were other summer people he knew. Henry White was there and, of course, Raphael Pumpelly and also Wayne Mac Veagh, brother of Franklin Mac Veagh, President Taft's secretary of the treasury. Adams wrote to a friend that the cold storms of that May left him "feeling like an Esquimaux spearing whales... It is a curious sense, this solitude of mountain and forest, where we always hope to meet a bear out walking."
Adams had lived in Washington for years by the time he came to Dublin, which had become a summer haven for both American and foreign Washingtonians. In April 1907 "Baron Von Sternberg, the German ambassador, was in town the past week .. . He was much pleased with the town and was looking about for the purpose of securing a place where he could make his home for the coming summer. In 1910 Sternberg (probably, in fact, a count) was followed by Viscount Bryce, the British ambassador (and another friend of Henry Adams). Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, a wartime ambassador from England, spent the summer and even gave a talk at the Dublin Lake Club. Ethan Allan Hitchcock, minister to Russia and secretary to the interior under Theodore Roosevelt, had built a house there in 1896. In 1910 Franklin Mac Veagh entertained President Taft who delighted the townspeople by attending local church services. For several years Senator Albert Beveridge rented different houses, in 1915 he spent his Dublin summer in William C. Cabot's house dictating his Life of John Marshall. Mrs. Beveridge was a niece of Mrs. Marshall Field, who also summered in Dublin.
Admiral Richard Byrd rented the AIdrich house in 1931, the year after his South Pole expedition Although he worked constantly and accepted no invitations, his secretary, Lieutenant Charles Laughlin, made several local speaking appearances, the first at Dublin Town Hall.
Robert Treat Paine, the Boston philanthropist, spent at least one summer at Dublin with his family. This may have been when Daisy Pumpelly Smyth did the charming portrait of his grandson, George Lyman Paine, now in the Massachusetts Historical Society. In 1908 Jane Hunt, sister of William Morris Hunt, spent the summer in one of Dublin's hotels.
The widened network (and improved transportation, which did so much to change American vacation patterns and gradually the nature of her art colonies) brought visitors to town for shorter stays often as house guests. Isabella Stewart Gardner, Boston's high priestess of art patronage, visited at the homes of both Joseph Lindon Smith and Franklin Mac Veagh. John Singer Sargent counted among his Dublin friends both Smith and Alexander James, whose Dublin chicken house Sargent is supposed to have considered the only thing in town worth painting! In a single summer George Harvey, editor of Harper's Weekly, visited Mark Twain, Sir Gilbert Carte was at W. B Cabot's, and Ethel Barrymore was Joseph Smith's guest. The Smiths also entertained, at different times, General Pershing and Amelia Earhart, wife of Mrs. Smith's cousin, publisher George Putnam. Another publisher, Henry Holt, summered on Pumpelly Hill. In the same period composer Percy MacKaye came down from his usual haunts in Cornish and rented a house near Thayer.
Poetry and prose, painting, music, and theater have made more than one summer place special. At Dublin these were supplemented by ministry and politics, finance and science. The density of the Dublin network was probably unique for a summer art colony. What had started as a tight little circle of Boston people who all knew each other had, by the turn of the century, expanded to a position at the forefront of learning and literature across a broad spectrum, fortified by social dominance. Mark Twain put it well in a letter to a friend:. "The New Hampshire highlands was a good place. . . . Any place that is good for an artist in paint is good for an artist in morals and ink. . . . Paint, literature, science, statesmanship, history, professorship, law, morals--these are all represented here...."
Today the Peterborough - Dublin - Keene area is home to descendants of artists and others who were part of the summer colony. Some of these people still summer there, some are year-round residents. Many use houses built or restored by predecessors who first came there in the nineteenth century. Houses are still tucked away down lanes and driveways, very little will be seen by the casual Sunday driver. Social life still revolves around the Dublin Lake Club, but membership in it is not for summer folk only.
Dublin is not a name that draws instant recognition, the
way Woodstock, Taos, and Easthampton do. Some, both residents and nonresidents,
reject the term "art colony" entirely. Certainly there were fewer
artists than at some of the other, better-known country summer places. The
artists of Dublin, despite similarities in training, background, and independent
spirit, were solitary from each other in style, subjects, and inclination.
They shared, however, a tenacious love of Monadnock and the surrounding
land. Dublin's special quality was, and remains, its association with the
much-loved Monadnock, which symbolized so much in the minds and hearts of
the earliest shapers of: an American aesthetic.
Endnotes which were included in the original essay will be included in this reprinting when they are received.
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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 5/28/11
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