Rusticators sought romance on rocky coast



PHOTO COURTESY OF ISLANDPORT PRESS

PHOTO COURTESY OF ISLANDPORT PRESS

BAR HARBOR — John and Kathryn Meuther visit Mount Desert Island often. Both librarians, they became fascinated with the literary history of the place. In 2008, they released a book of excerpts from Bar Harbor novels, short stories and other works that celebrate romantic summer nights of the Gilded Age, “Love on the Rocks: Stories of Rusticators and Romance on Mount Desert Island.”

In their introduction, the Muethers wrote, “Mount Desert Island has long captured the American literary imagination, and it may be fairly said that writers, just as much as artists, have “invented Acadia.” It has been as fertile a place for the pen as it has for the brush … .

“ ‘Love on the Rocks’ aims to present the mystery and romance of the island’s bygone era for modern readers. It includes 11 samples written over the span of three decades in the latter half of the 19th century … . Each is steeped in the intoxication of the Gilded Age pilgrims as they discovered the beauty of the island and the gaiety of its social scene.”

In the following excerpt from “Oxygen! A Mount Desert Pastoral” by Robert Grant, leading lady Miss Alice Bunting bids goodnight to her companion at the door of her Rodick House room at 1:15 a.m.

The play originally appeared in the “Harvard Lampoon” in 1879, just a few years after that publication was founded.

 

All right, I shall be ready,

and we shall spend the day again together,

as usual to our mutual satisfaction.

We’ll climb, read poetry, drive, row, loaf, and ramble

from morn to dewy eye, and I will teach you

the latest dodge in scientific flirting;

giving you points, and Heaven knows you need them!

You’ll be adept by this time next summer,

if you don’t let such stuffs as that you uttered

tonight destroy the fruits of my good teaching.

But when, in future days, you are distinguished

for being able with your little finger

to set the heart of any girl a beating,

and not care a rush, say that I taught you.

Say, “Alice Bunting, a sweet Philadelphian,

a maiden unaffected and spontaneous,

who always did exactly what she wanted

and went from principle without a matron,

found me a callow youth, a perfect chicken,

and made me what I am. Be hers the glory.”

Good night, good night! Remember, nine tomorrow.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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