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their venerable persons, coats, periwigs, and cravats, which all suffered in the struggle. I suppose those depositions were taken, as many others were, about the same time, to be sent to England as evidence of the mutinous and rebellious temper of the people; whereby it appears that the enemies of this country have been playing at the same game from the beginning; viz., first, to provoke the people to acts of violence, and then make those acts of violence a pretext for further violences upon them; for Mason in his freaks would threaten them with frigates to stop their trade, and soldiers to be quartered upon them to eat up their substance, and Cranfield once wrote for a ship of war to enforce his orders. It is to be observed that the two men complained of had been sued at law, among other landholders, for trespass upon lands which Mason claimed, and been ejected (as far as law could do it) from their inheritances.
If I had time, I should like to put all these particular incidents together, something in the form of Prince's Chronology: they would give a just picture of the temper and manners of the times. But, in such a work as mine, a general mention of such transactions is sufficient.
I find among my papers a geographical remark, extracted from Burnaby's Travels through North America in 1759, which perhaps may be worth your notice in your intended Geography, page 127: "The soil of New Jersey is a kind of red slate, and is so exceedingly rich that in a short time after it has been turned up, and exposed to the air and moisture, it is converted into a species of marie."
"Since my return from North America, I have met with a gentleman, Edward Wortley Montague, Esq., who had visited the Holy Land. He described the soil of that country to be similar in almost every circumstance to this of the Jerseys. He said it appeared to be of a red, slaty substance, sterile, and incapable of producing any thing worth the cultivation; but that being broken up, and exposed to the air, it became exceedingly mellow, and was fertile in the highest degree." This remark, by the way, may serve to obviate the objection which has sometimes been made by infidels against the truth of the Scripture History. They have alleged the apparent barrenness of the Holy Land, at this day, as an argument against its being able to maintain so many people, and such vast armies as are said to have lived in it in the days of the kings of Israel. But they consider not the difference between the laborious husbandman of Israel and the indolent Turk; and that the same soil which enabled the former to support armies may, by neglect, scarce produce for the latter his beloved opium and coffee. But this is not the only instance of inattention which the half-reasoning adversaries of religion are chargeable with.
I intend to get that book again, and if I can pick out any thing else worth your notice will communicate it. Mr. Elliot, when here, copied one or two things out of an old newspaper, which, I imagine, will get into your miscel. curiosa. I am sorry you and he played hide-and-seek so between here and Boston. I was in hopes you would have been here again the Saturday after you left us: we should then have been an happy triumvirate.
As to the Egg, its perambulation round the country was unfavourable to its fecundity, for at the last sitting of the Hen it proved rotten, having been rejected by 1700 and odd against 1100 and odd; so that now the ingenious Mr. Hazard is the sole proprietor of it, as it will exist nowhere except he gives it a place in his Museum. The same Hen has laid another JEgg, viz., a Regulation Act, which, I suppose, like the others, will have an operation for a little while favourable, and afterwards become a trap for the honest to fall into, and a ladder for rogues to climb to gain and greatness. What a jumble of metaphors! Were Pope and Swift alive, this paragraph would certainly be admitted into the Art of Sinking. I am ashamed of it, but cannot copy the whole letter again for the sake of leaving it,out, so you must be as candid in reading as I am careless in writing.
I beg you would not make any more apologies for the length of your letters: were they as long as Caryl on Job, they would need none.
Should you have any more Philadelphia or other Southern papers that you do not want to keep, I should be glad to see them, as there are often some things in them worth knowing, which do not find their way into our New England papers.
Pray let me know when you shall go to Plymouth. I have one or two questions to ask old Mr. Cotton, which I should be glad to send by you. Perhaps I may see you this fall again. Mr. Elliot tells me he expects to be ordained soon, and, if my circumstances will any way permit, I shall be present at the solemnity.
Mrs. Belknap joins her salutations to mine, which are the dictates of sincerity, when I assure you that I am, with much esteem, your affectionate friend and Obliged humble servant,
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
Jamaica Plain, Oct. 20, 1779.
Keverend And Dear Sir, — I was favoured by yours of 5th inst. by last post; but, as I did not receive it before night, and live five miles from town, I could not answer it by his return. My situation here often subjects me to this inconvenience; and therefore, should I appear, as in this instance, to neglect you in future, I must beg you to apologize for it as I now do, for you may be assured that nothing but necessity shall ever prevent my treating your letters with due respect. I thank you for the depositions: they are worthy a place in the museum of every virtuoso. I am much mistaken, if it will not be found, upon enquiry, that the game you mention has been played, not only in New England, but in all the Colonies. Though England infamously neglected them at the first, yet, when she found that, through the smiles of Heaven, they were rising fast into importance, her jealousy was excited, and that led her to shew them favour apparently; but it was that she might the more easily shackle them, and this she has constantly kept in view. Our present troubles are a convincing proof that her intentions are still the same. The red slate, in New Jersey, which Burnaby mentions, had not escaped my notice, and I have often puzzled myself in attempting to account for its fertility. That it is very rich, the fine crops of wheat, rye, oats, &c, abundantly evince; but I doubt its being "converted into a species of marie" by being exposed to the air and moisture. However, in consequence of the hint, I will either make experiments myself to prove the truth of the assertion, or get others to do it, if I cannot meet with those who have done it already. I have observed a vein of red earth in many places slaty, in several of the States, and have frequently mentioned it in conversation; and I remember that one gentleman, to whom I spoke of it, remarked that there is a vein of that kind of earth, which extends from one end of the continent to the other. I think it probable. The circumstance of the soil of the Holy Land being similar to that of New Jersey is worth attending to, not for the conviction of those whose faith is not more extensive than their sight, but for the confirmation of the faith of such as can believe the Word of God, even in things which reason itself cannot comprehend. I never could conceive why fuller and clearer evidence should be required to prove the truth of Scripture than of any other history; nor is it easy to account for infidels withholding their assent, even when this evidence is afforded. Though they pretend to honour Reason, they degrade it by their infidelity; for she certainly would be satisfied either by the internal marks of authenticity contained in Scripture, or by the fulfilment of the Prophecies, or by the miracles which we daily see. The dispersion of the Jews, their being kept distinct from all the nations of the earth even to this day, and their being proverbially infamous and despised, are enough, were there nothing more, to satisfy any man, who is not either a fool or a knave, — one of which I charitably suppose every infidel to be. I have not had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Elliot since his return from Dover, which has been occasioned by my going but once a week to Boston, and then haying so little time, and so much business there. Our playing hide-and-seek upon the road was really curious. Had I tarried at Portsmouth, I should, in all probability, have paid you another visit; but some circumstances occurred which, upon my arrival there, made me think it adviseable to come directly home. That seems to be a very prolific Hen of yours; but, from the infecundity of her Eggs, I suspect her stamina are bad. We have just such another here. She lays plentifully, but seldom hatches; almost all her eggs are essentially defective, and I believe she is of the same breed with yours. There is a large Hen to lay soon at Hartford: she is speckled too. It is expected she will produce a Regulation for this State, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. I wish it may answer the end proposed, but doubt it very much. There are too many amongst us whose interest it is to oppose it, and men will ever be governed by their interest; besides, such regulations are directly contrary to the very nature of trade, which will never, like Christianity, flourish most when most oppressed, but must be left perfectly free.