Old St. Andrews

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The Jester at the Argyll

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Pilot
July 28/1881
As Others See Us
A “Hawkeye” View of St. Andrews
Roaming Robert
Under the banner of Her Gracious Majesty
Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, July 6
“The winter is over and gone,” the Jester said, “the time of the singing of the birds is come, and the voice of the turtle was heard in the land. And I am the turtle; old Turtle, of Turtleville, Turtle County, this state. I am at peace with all mankind. I sail with Captain Wren, and I drive with Mallory, I sit beneath my own vine and fig tree, with no one to molest or make me afraid, and Captain Herbert feeds me, and the man in all your blasted howling Yankeeland who says he is having a better time this summer than I am is a howling liar and my address is the Argyll hotel, St. Andrews. That’s the kind of a man I am.”
            We braved the dangers of the briny deep in the good ship City of Portland, whereof Captain Pike, Major Martin’s old time friend, is master and on the way much we talked of Martin of Burlington and his old home in Lubec. We did not experience the “hardest storm the Captain had ever passed through,” but no matter, we can say we did. And it is just as easy to tell one lie as the other. I is the customary thing for people who go down to the sea in ships to encounter the “severest storm the captain ever passed through,” and my family shall not fall one pace behind the times if I can ascertain what society expects.
            And we are now settled for the summer. We came back to New Brunswick because New Brunswick air, New Brunswick woods and New Brunswick waters are found, by practical experience, to be more beneficial to “her little serene highness” than any other place, inland or on the coast we have ever tried. And if St. Andrews will only deal as lovingly and with the same touches of healing as did St. John two year ago, we will give a candle to every saint in much sainted New Brunswick.
            “there goes a whole ship load of candles,” says her little serene highness, who is better booked on the saints of New Brunswick than the jester. “Well, never mind,” he said. There is nothing mean about me, and candles are away down now, anyhow. If the saints do their part, they can draw on me for candles at ten days’ sight.
            Saint Andrews, who is the patron saint of the wanderers for this summer, is the Shiretown of Charlotte county, and is old enough to be bigger than New York. It is really about the size of Danville, but it is plenty large enough for a summer resort. Its situation is beautiful, almost beyond description. Around us the blue waters of the bay dimple and smile under skies that are radiant with sunshine whenever Vennor gives them half a chance. And encircling the bay, the mountains, crowned with cedar and pines and hemlock, outline themselves in ranging shades and graceful curves against the sky. Old Chamcook, king of the mountains bald as the front seats at a Lydia Thompson benefit and bold as a man asking for a free pass, lifts his rocky head toward the clouds and overlooks all this part of the world, from Eastport to Saint Stephen. The sails of white winged sloops and schooners dot the smooth waters of the bay, the brisk little steamer makes regular diurnal trips between Eastport and St. Stephen, New Brunswick, and Calais, Maine, and the New Brunswick and Canada Railway adds variety to the scene with its flying trains. We look across the bay and see the thrifty farms of Yankee land—the slopes of the hill are covered with them; we go down to the block house and bathe, just after the tide has come in over an iceberg, and we find it very exhilarating—champagne isn’t a circumstance alongside of a bath in Saint Andrews bay, early in the season. Or we drive, you remember the old Nantucket proverb, that Nantucket was “Heaven for men, purgatory for women and hell for horses.” Well, a Nantucket horse, if he could only see a mile of the worst road in Charlotte county, New Brunswick, would lie down and die of sheer delight. Really, the best roads on this continent must be in New Brunswick. When they are in bad order, they are somewhat better than the best roads in Iowa. And when they are in perfect repair, you couldn’t make them much smoother with a jack plane and spot of varnish. And when we have a fancy for the water, we sail with Captain Wren. The bay affords the most delightful yachting, and you have old sons of Neptune who know the bay and the sky by heart to go out with you.
            St. Andrews used to be a maritime town of no small importance. And there is good fishing in the bay. You can catch the codfish—the poor man’s turkey—in all his native unadornedness, before he puts on the flavor and perfume that makes him so omnipresent in a house of only ten rooms. He looks like a respectable, well conducted fish when you pull him out of the water, and as you look at him in all his natural purity, you wouldn’t think it of him. Indeed, you really wouldn’t.
            And everywhere about us, are the pine woods. Everywhere the odor of cedar and hemlock and spruce and tamarack mingle with the ‘odor of brine from the ocean’. The woods grow right up to the doors of the Argyll hotel; you can hide yourself away in the shady canopies and nooks of the evergreens that cluster in the enclosed grounds of the hotel, and then down through the woods outside a delightful path, an old, disused, grass-grown road, leads you to the bay shore, down to the target and the firing range, down where you can take quite a dip in the early morning, when no one can hear you shriek; down where the restless tides rises and falls about twenty feet, for we are up in the Fundy region again you see. Oh, you’ll like St. Andrews if you’ll just come and look at it and live in it awhile.
            “The most prominent building in the town is the Argyll hotel, a landmark that catches the eye from every direction, flying the flags of three great nations, Great Britain, the United States and the Argyll hotel from its turreted roof, and the greatest of these three is the Argyll. Captain William H. Herbert is a son of the sea; a native of Maine, who followed the sea long, long years until he had sailed into every port any Christian man every wanted to see or hear about, and then, having learned how to make everybody else as comfortable as himself, he opened the Grand Falls hotel, up at Grand Falls, this province, where we sojourned two years ago, and having managed that house into a big business and good reputation, he has this year taken the Argyll at St. Andrews a newly furnished house, the largest in the maritime provinces, within a stone’s throw of the steamboat landing and with a railway station of its own, with beach and woods at its doors, good living, good table, billiard room and all appurtenances thereunto appertaining, good fishing in the bay and the brooks, and good shooting in the hills and the marshes, good society in the town, good company at the house, and a good cook in the kitchen, good place to read, good place to thin good place to do everything, good place to do nothing, good St. Andrews. We haven’t found the inevitable Burlington man here yet—yes but we have too—Mr. Charles D. Corry, now of St. John, a relative of our Hendries; Mr. Corry lived formerly in council Bluffs, then he was in Peoria, for a year,--we were just talking of Charlie Allaire yesterday,--you can always ask for a Burlington man, no matter where you go. If you can’t find any one else, you can almost usually find—R. J. B.