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for more than half an hour. During this half-hour, I took a sketch of them. They appear in seven summits, four of which are a western range, and three an eastern. The latter are the most distant from this station, and I believe the highest. Four of the summits are bald. The others have a shrubby growth. The snow does not lie so long on the N.W. as on the south side. It had been gone from the N.W. side about four or five weeks. We found here great plenty of raspberries, which afforded us an agreeable refreshment.
Tuesday, July 27. Cloudy morning. Cloudy morning. Clear between 10 and 11, then cloudy, and P.M. a thunder-shower, after which we met the people of this place, who mustered to the number of 38, and heard a sermon from 1 Cor. 6. 19, 20, the first that ever was preached here. Eight of their children were baptized.
Great quantities of maple sugar are made here. Mr. W. has a set of vats to contain the sap, and a boilinghouse. They commonly make enough for a year's store. No oak grows here. Their wheels are made, the naves of elm, the spokes ash, and the rimms of maple. The intervals are excellent, and the uplands very good. This plantation is situated on Israel River, which runs into Connecticut at the Upper Cohoss.
Two miles from hence is a pond, in which the moose bathe at this season, to rid themselves of the flies. They are sometimes shot in the water. Mr. W. has a pair of moose-horns which extend 4 feet, and weigh 34 lbs. They are not of the largest size. Our bill of fare this day was ham, tongues, dried beef, trouts, and a sauce composed of raspberries, cream, and maple sugar.
Wednesday, July 28. At 6 h., morning, we took our leave of this place, set out southward on our return, passed up Israel River, over part of a mountain called Pondicherry, crossed Amonoosuck River, which is a branch of Connecticut, and about 11 arrived at the Western
Notch, as it is called, — a narrow defile between the Mountains, which rise perpendicularly on the eastern side, and on the other sides in an angle of 45°, forming a bason, in which is an open meadow, a most sublimely picturesque and romantic scene! This is the only practicable passage through the White Mountains. It was known to the Indians, who formerly led their captives this way to Canada, it being their nearest path; but it had been unknown to the English settlers till about 1771. Two hunters passed through it, and, from their report, the proprietors of lands in the upper parts of N.H. formed the plan of a road through it to the Upper Cohoss, from whence it is distant but 25 miles; and by the way, my friend, as you are at the head of the post-office, it may not be amiss to remind you that, if ever there is to be a post-road from New Hampshire to Canada, this will be the shortest rout.
I once sent you a copy of a survey, made in 1773, of the country between Connecticut and St. Francis R., for this very purpose. But to return.
The direction of the defile is N. and S. The narrowest part, between two perpendicular rocks, 22 feet, but grows wider as you descend toward the S. The meadow on this height of land was once a beaver pond, and the damm yet remains. It is the head of Saco River, from which a branch of Amonoosuck, on the other side, is distant not more than a mile, if so much. Along the eastern side of
* This distance I had from Mr. Whipple. I suspect it is too short. — Belknap's Note.
the meadow, under the perpendicular rock, is a causeway, built of large logs, on which they propose to lay rocks, so as to sink the logs into the mud, and form a durable road. On the same side of the defile there is a road built entirely of blown rocks. The western side is left for a water-' course. Much labour has been done here, and lately the proceeds of a confiscated estate have been applied to this purpose, £400. Into this defile descend from the east two beautiful cascades, one of which is called the Flume, it being not more than two feet wide. These run under bridges, and wind away down the western side of the defile, auginenting the waters of Saco River. These beauties of Nature gave me inexpressible delight. The most romantic imagination here finds itself surprized and stagnated! Every thing which it had formed an idea of as sublime and beautiful is here realized. Stupendous mountains, hanging rocks, chrystal streams, verdant woods, the cascade above, the torrent below, all conspire to amaze, to delight, to soothe, to enrapture; in short, to fill the mind with such ideas as every lover of Nature, and every devout worshipper of its Author, would wish to have.
At the meadow, the weather being clear, Mr. Cutler took an observation to determine the latitude, which he could not do on the summit when he was there, by reason. of the clouds.
It was with regret that I left this place and descended toward the south. As we came down, the Mountains continued on each side of us for eight or ten miles, Saco River running between them; and our road lay by the side of it, and sometimes across it and various branches of it. This stream is rapid, and full of falls. As it rises in the Mountains, the freshets are uncommonly sudden, and subside as suddenly, seldom continuing longer than the rain which causes them. On the sides of these mountains, at immense heights, and in places perfectly inaccessible, project rocks, some of a whitish and some of a reddish hue,
their sides polished by the continual trickling of water over them. These, when incrusted with ice, being open toward the S. and W., reflect the moon and starbeams in the night, and are sufficient to give rise to the fiction of carbuncles, which the Indians and their captives used to report, and which have swelled into marvellous and incredible stories among the vulgar. The Indians always supposed that the tops of these mountains were possessed by genii, or invisible beings, and therefore never ventured to ascend them. The same superstition is common among the people of the towns through which we passed. Our number was larger than any company who had travelled that way before, and our appearance formidable. We had three guns with us, and the barometers were hung over a man's shoulders, and the sextant was carried in a large bag. The good women were glad there were three clergymen in the company, because they hoped we should "lay the spirits" (this was their own expression). Our pilot, who was a man of humour, assured them, at our return, that we had done it. So, my good friend, you see I have arrived at the reputation of a conjuror. I have been asked, since I came home, whether I did not hear terrible noises among the mountains. O the power of nonsense, superstition, and folly! When will mankind make use of their senses and be wise!
On the side of one mountain was a projection resembling a shelf, on which appeared four large square rocks, set up edgeways, like four huge folio volumes. We passed under one huge rock, between which and the river was a passage not more than six feet wide. Down this rock, last summer, a moose fell, being started by two travellers, and got entangled among the bushes and trees, till one of the men, with a pocket-knife, cut his hamstrings, and afterward his throat. They had no other weapon with them.
At night, we got into the road which we left on Friday,
having encompassed the whole cluster of mountains which go by the name of White. In performing which circuit, we had travelled about seventy miles, sometimes right under them, at other times distant four, six, eight, or ten miles. Making full allowance for this, we judged the base of the White Mountains to occupy an area not less than fifty miles in circumference. In which area the number of summits must exceed ten; but it is impossible to tell the exact number, unless we should make an aerial voyage, in a balloon. Within this area several large rivers have their source; viz., two branches of Connecticut, two of Amariscogin, and almost the whole of Saco. The distance between the heads of these rivers, which pursue such very different courses, and fall into the sea so many hundred miles apart, is but small. If the roads were clear on the back of the Mountains, you might in the same day drink of waters of Saco, Amariscogin, and Connecticut. The sources of the two former and the two latter are as nearly contiguous as possible. These Mountains, then, are the grand reservoir of water for many parts of New England. Pemigewasset River, which runs into Merrimack, takes its rise from a mountain which is but a continuation of the same range to the S.W. The form of the base of these Mountains seems to be nearly that of an isosceles triangle, whose longest extremity is a little to the westward of south. The ranges of mountains decreasing in altitude extend both N.E. and S.W. to an unknown distance. Some of the company lodged this night at Conway. Mr. Little and I, with our pilot, stopped four miles short. Our host told us that he had made six hundred of sugar in one season, with the labor of only two men.
Thursday, July 29, I parted with most of the company, who were for returning by the way we came, while I had a mind to go down by Saco River, in company with Mr. Little. In the afternoon, I visited Lovel's pond within the township of Fryeburg, the memorable scene of a