“Ipswich Town” by James Appleton Morgan

“Ipswich Town”

I love to think of old Ipswich town
Old Ipswich town in the east countree,
Whence on the tide, you can float down
Through long salt grass to the wailing sea.
Where the Mayflower drifted off the bar,
Sea-worn and weary, long years ago,
And dared not enter, but sailed away
Till she landed her boats in Plymouth Bay.

I love to think of old Ipswich town,
Where Whitefield preached in the church on the hill,
Driving out the Devil till he leaped down
From the steeple’s top, where they show you still,
Imbedded deep in the solid rock,
The indellible print of his cloven hoof,
And tell you the devil has never shown
Face or hoof since that day in the honest town.

I love to think of old Ipswich town,
Where they shut up the witches until the day
When they should be roasted so thoroughly brown
In Salem village twelve miles away;
They’ve moved it off for a stable now,
But there are the holes where the stout jail stood,
And at night, they say, that over the holes
You can see the ghost of Goody Coles.

I love to think of old Ipswich town;
That house to your right, a rod or more,
Where the stern old elm trees seem to frown
If you peer too hard through the open door,
Sheltered the regicide judges three,
When the royal Sheriffs were after them,
And a queer old villager once I met
Who says in the cellar they’re living yet.

I love to think of old Ipswich town
There, Harry Main –you have heard the tale — lived there;
He blasphemed God, so they put him down
With an iron shovel at Ipswich Bar;
They chained him there for a thousand years,
As the sea rolls up to shovel it back;
So when the sea cries, the good wives say,
“Harry Main growls at his work today.”

I love to think of old Ipswich town;
There’s a grave yard up on the old High street.
Where ten generations are looking down
On the one that is toiling at their feet;
Where the stones stand shoulder to shoulder like troops,
Drawn up to receive a cavalry charge,
And graves have been dug in graves till the sod
Is the mould of good men gone to God.

I love to think of old Ipswich town;
Old Ipswich town in the east countree.
Whence, on the tide, you can float down
Through the long salt grass to the wailing sea,
And lie all day on the glassy beach,
And learn the lesson the green waves teach,
Till at sunset, from surf and seaweed brown,
You are pulling back to Ipswich town.

by James Appleton Morgan (1845–1928)


6 thoughts on ““Ipswich Town” by James Appleton Morgan”

    1. Excellent question. There was an old belief that the Appleton house at the foot of North Main Street had sheltered three of the Regicides in a tunnel from the basement that burrowed under Town Hill. It’s all nonsense of course. Of the 59 Regicides, three—Edward Whalley, William Goffe and John Dixwell—fled to New Haven after finding refuge briefly in Boston. And as far as the tunnel goes…that’s nonsense too. There is no way they could have blasted or dug a tunnel through that granite hill.

  1. Thank you for your reply re the regicide judges.
    Your comment re the tunnel hill reminded me of a story from the past that there was
    a tunnel of sorts from under a house on the other side of the hill that ran down to the river which
    was used as part of an underground railroad.
    Anyone with knowledge of that?

    1. That’s another old Ipswich legend. The “Old Parsonage” also known as the Thomas Manning house was said to be a stop on the Underground Railroad. Local people saw the former slaves enter but not leaving and assumed that there must be a tunnel.. There is indeed a secret room in the basement under a trap door in a floor. I found no evidence of a tunnel. It makes no sense that the escaped slaves would arrive at the house by other means and then leave by a tunnel to the river, which is immediately behind the house. https://historicipswich.org/old-parsonage19-north-main-street/

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