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interstices so as to resemble the surface of a dry pasture or
When the moss is broken, you see gravel at the bottom between the stones, and in some places springs of water. The area of this plain is an irregular figure, supposed about a mile from its eastern edge, [from] which they ascended to the pinnacle, or sugar loaf. The western side they could not see the extent of, by reason of a cloud, which covered the Mountain almost the whole time of their being on it; but the plain is said to extend farther on that side. The pinnacle is composed of loose, dark gray rocks, with specks of yellowish moss, not so difficult of ascent as the precipice below the plains. 'Tis judged more than 100 feet perpendicular height.
On the topmost rock of this pinnacle they engraved N. H., and left a plate of lead with their names and the date under a stone. Their exercise had so heated them, that when Mr. Cutler took the thermometer out of his bosom it stood at fever heat; but, before they had done engraving the letters N. H., they shivered and their teeth chattered, and Mr. Little was forced to give up the chizzel to Mr. Whipple, who finished the H. They had fair weather but about three minutes, when they discerned the ocean on the E., and the settlements on Connecticut River N.W., at the Upper Cohoss. The clouds rolled above, below, and in every direction around them; and, being thus involved as they were descending from the plain, they were got into one of those long, deep gullies, not being able to see to the bottom, and were descending by fixing their heels in the prominent points of the rock, when their pilot slipped, and was gone out of sight, though happily without any other damage than tearing his breeches and loosing his buckle. They then had to reascend, and come down another way. When they turned their eyes upward, they were astonished at the height and steepness of the place they had come down, and found it impossible to return. The same prominences which bore them by the heels were not deep enough to fix their toes so as to bear their weight. In this awful dilemma, one of them espied a cross gully, which had a more gradual ascent; and in this they got up to the plain, and then came down on the E. side, where they went up at first. The valley was on the S.E. side. At their re-entrance into the bushes, they met the pilot. It rained and grew late when they entered the wood. At 8 h., evening, they got a fire, and by the side of it stood or lay during the night, parboiled and smoke-dried.
The next morning, i.e. Sunday, 25, after breakfast, we set off for Mr. Whipple's plantation, which was the nearest human habitation on the way we wished to go; and this was distant, as we were then led to understand, about 24 miles, and I believe was really not more than 26. But the way to it was to make one third, at least, of the circuit of the mountains, as the road went; and the road was worse than what we had travelled on Friday. The greatest expedition we could make was two miles in an hour, and in some parts not so much. We kept one man before, with an ax, to cut away windfalls, or limbs of windfalls, over many of which we leaped our horses, and under many crawled, and went round the tops or roots of many more, and over many broken or rotten bridges, and through many deep sloughs; and, to aid the difficulty, we met with an heavy shower, of two hours' continuance, which wet us every one to the skin, and after all were obliged, by the approach of night, to stop eight miles short of our object, and encamp on the wet ground under a bark tent hastily constructed by the side of a large fire made to windward of our tabernacle, so that, if we raised our heads a foot from the ground, we were suffocated. Our horses were turned loose into the woods, to brouze the bushes; and it rained all night.
In these circumstances, I could not help calling to mind the situation of poor Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim, at
the seige of Limerick, when the radical moisture prevailed over the radical heat, and they supplied the latter by burnt brandy. We had a tolerable share of refreshments with us, and such utensils as supplied the place of better; and, by the aid of chocolate, which I think was the best viand, I preserved such a share of warmth as kept me alive, I will not say in spirits.
Monday, July 26. By 10 o'clock we had got through these dismal roads, and arrived at Mr. Whipple's plantation, on the N.W. side of the Mountains, but not without being again thoroughly “wet with the showers of the mountains.” However, a dry house, a good fire (ay, a good fire in the middle of July), and a change of linen, which I had preserved dry in my saddle-bags, was a grand refreshment. It is surprizing that none of us got any cold by these manoeuvres.
One of our company was a delicate, hyp'd gentleman, who, when at home, cannot go into his garden till the dew is off, and was projecting a shower-bath before he came from home, for the benefit of his nerves. This thorough soaking proved beneficial to him, and he was amazed at himself when he found he got through it alive. We did not forget to rally him on his shower-bath.
I cannot help mentioning one more circumstance relating to this good gentleman. He told me that it was the common opinion among his friends that he was hyp’d, but there was nothing in it. He had every symptom of a pulmonic consumption; but there was one thing which he could not account for, and that was his growing fat! *
By this note you may judge that I am very far gone in the same way. Ilow is it with you and Mrs. Hazard ?
* The same gentleman was alive and well, and pretty fat, in September, 1789. Belknap's Note.
The foregoing has been written by piecemeal; and it is now called for to go to Portsmouth early in the morning. I have not time to finish it; so you must excuse the rest till another week. Our love to Mrs. Hazard and yourself. Your friend,
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
Dover, August 19, 1784.
MY DEAR SIR, - Since I sent off the first part of my account of my late tour, your favor of the 31st ult. arrived. I did as earnestly wish for your company as you wished to be of the party; and I often wish that the distance between us was not so great; but what signifies wishing, 'tis the most ineffectual work a man can do, and often an excuse for the omission of work and neglect of duty ?
Our friend Aitken, according to your account, is a man of true ambition. If he has printed the sheet over again to remedy the want of a few words, he certainly deserves praise; and, as far as my ability extends, he shall have it. I suppose Clarke has told that some people censure me for having the book printed so far from home. I have heard much said about it, and I believe some brethren of the type in Boston are offended at it. I applied to some of them before you made me the offer which determined my choice; but I could get either no answer at all, or such as shewed that they consulted only their own interest. But I won't spend words about them. They are,
They are, in general, a set of clumsy, selfish fellows.
I did not think of sending a copy to the Society, but am glad you did, and will write them a letter, and have some thoughts of reducing my observations made in the late tour to a memoir for their inspection ; but that cannot be done yet. I must first give you the whole, just as it
rises in my mind, from an inspection of my journal, and my own recollection.
I hope your Society will not expose the spotted negroes to the view of any pregnant ladies, lest we should have a breed of children similar to Jacob's cattle.
I am sorry I made the correction averse to instead of from: it was done too suddenly. I acquiesce in what you say about titles, but I do not wish for any more. I rejoice that your son is better. Mrs. B. would be as much pleased to see Mrs. H. as Mrs. H. to see her; but I fear it will not happen very soon.
[Continuation of White Mountain Tour.]
In my last, I continued my account till our arrival at Mr. Whipple's plantation, in Dartmouth, on the N.W. side of the White Mountains, and within ten miles of Connecticut River, at the Upper Cohoss. We soon found ourselves in open ground, in the midst of a vast amphitheatre, surrounded on all sides but the N.W. by cloudcapt mountains. The view was grand. The vapours were rising in innumerable columns from the sides of the mountains, and converging toward their summits, forming into clouds, and then descending in showers, after a while reascending as before, and thus keeping up a constant circulation. No one who has visited this mountainous country need be at any loss about the origin and formation of springs. The clouds convey water in abundance to the Mountains, the vast beds of moss with which they are covered imbibe it and deposit it in the crevices of the rocks, from whence it descends to the hard stratum, commonly called the pan, and is guided downward till it finds vent in larger or smaller quantities. It was our design to have made a geometrical mensuration of the height of the Mountains from this place; but, during our whole stay here, we could not see the Mountains free of clouds