To remind some, there is "The Curse" that makes it impossible for Newburyport to be known on the national and international scene. Even when the New York Times does an expose on our City, it seems to last for a blip and then we are forgotten again. Other seacoast ports from Portland to Portsmouth to Gloucester to Salem to Marblehead all have their reknown, not us. And some of these cities are just plain ugly yet tourists will spend large sums of money to get to these destinations!
I did an expose on "The Curse" in the Newburyport Liberator awhile back and explained then that I could find not a clue who could have put the evil eye on us. At least with the Red Sox, the culprit was Babe Ruth. Where is our source?
Well, I have stumbled on an interesting quote made by Samuel Sewell (1652-1730), an early settler in Newbury. (Newburyport was part of Newbury at that time. Being a prominent judge and scholar, it is most likely, he lived in what became the Waterside and later Newburyport. (1764))
Who’s he? you may ask. He was an early settler who went to Harvard and became a prominent member of the Commonwealth. It was he that became the first to stoke the abolitionist drive to end slavery in a famous book, The Selling of Joseph in which he gives religious arguments against slavery. He also was a member of the council that presided over the Salem Witch Trials. Later, he publicly apologized and dedicated himself yearly a time of fasting and penitence for his part in the hysteria.
This same man published a prophecy about his beloved home that could be inferred as a blessing and a curse. It states,
"As long as Plum Island shall faithfully keep the commanded Post,
Notwithstanding the hectoring words and hard blows of the proud and boisterous ocean;
As long as any Salmon or Sturgeon shall swim in the streams of Merrimack, or any Perch or Pickeril in Crane Pond;
As long as the Sea Fowl shall know the time of their coming, and not neglect seasonably to visit the places of their acquaintance;
As long as any Cattel shall be fed with the Grass growing in the meadows which does humbly bow themselves before Turkie Hill;
As long as any Sheep shall walk upon Old-town Hills, and shall from thence pleasantly look down upon the River Parker and the fruitful Marishes lying beneath;
As long as any free and harmless Doves shall find a White Oak or other Tree within the township to perch, or feed, or build a careless Nest upon, and shall voluntarily
present themselves to perform the office of Gleaners after Barley Harvest;
As long as Nature shall not grow old and dote, but shall constantly remember to give the rows of Indian Corn their education by Paris,
– So long shall Christians be born there; and being first made meet, shall from thence be translated to be made partakers of the Saints of Light."
Paris by the way was a mortal shepherd who was reknowned for choosing out fairly the most beautiful.
This mysterious prophesy can only mean that organizations like Citizens for Environmental Balance, Parker River Clean Water Association, the Plum Island Foundation and the Open Space Committee as well as other organizations that protect open space, conserve and protect our wildlife and trees; all these organizations are participating in the work of God. Can you imagine how decimated this blessing would be if housing developments covered the Common Pasture instead of cattle and sheep? How decimated migrating birds would be without the Parker River National Wildlife Preserve? Without the Great Marsh Coalition, the nurseries for fish and fowl would be developed. Without the drive to cleanup the Merrimack allowing for the Salmon and Sturgeion to return, where would this blessing be? Tom Kolterjahn was explaining the other day that the White Oak was no longer used in homes after 1800 because they had all been harvested. Only in the twentieth century have they returned. And it is amazing how few trees are seen in old photos of Newbury as much of the land was converted to pasture.
It says that Christians will be born here. As long as we have Christian churches, we shall have potentially young people born here who become believers. The second part that they will be satisifed or fulfilled which is what the word "meet" means. They certainly will if the water, the air, the animals and birds and trees are sustained and the agricultural use of the land preserved. The word, "Translated" is easy. That is the day of Rapture predicted in the Bible when at the Great Trump of God, the dead will rise first and then those who are still alive will be "translated" and rise to meet the Lord Jesus in the air.
Well, perhaps this does not explain "The Curse" but what a prophesy! It certainly underlines the importance of conservation groups for providing the "meet" of a high quality of life.