A notice of the mines and other subterraneous riches; its trees, plants, fruits, &c.
1. Minerals Gold I knew a single instance of gold found in this state. It was interspersed in small specks through a lump of ore, of about four pounds weight, which yielded seventeen pennyweight of gold, of extraordinary ductility. This ore was found on the North side of Rappahanoc, about four miles below the falls. I never heard of any other indication of gold in its neighbourhood.
Lead On the Great Kanhaway, opposite to the mouth of Cripple creek, and about twenty-five miles from our southern boundary, in the county of Montgomery, are mines of lead. The metal is mixed, sometimes with earth, and sometimes with rock, which requires the force of gunpowder to open it; and is accompanied with a portion of silver, too small to be worth separation under any process hitherto attempted there. The proportion yielded is from 50 to 80 lb. of pure metal from 100 lb. of washed ore. The most common is that of 60 to the 100 lb. The veins are at sometimes most flattering; at others they disappear suddenly and totally. They enter the side of the hill, and proceed horizontally. Two of them are wrought at present by the public, the best of which is 100 yards under the hill. These would employ about 50 labourers to advantage. We have not, however, more than 30 generally, and these cultivate their own corn. They have produced 60 tons of lead in the year; but the general quantity is from 20 to 25 tons. The present furnace is a mile from the ore-bank, and on the opposite side of the river. The ore is first waggoned to the river, a quarter of a mile, then laden on board of canoes and carried across the river, which is there about 200 yards wide, and then again taken into waggons and carried to the furnace. This mode was originally adopted, that they might avail themselves of a good situation on a creek, for a pounding mill: but it would be easy to have the furnace and pounding mill on the same side of the river, which would yield water, without any dam, by a canal of about half a mile in length. From the furnace the lead is transported 130 miles along a good road, leading through the peaks of Otter to Lynch's ferry, or Winston's, on James river, from whence it is carried by water about the same distance to Westham. This land carriage may be greatly shortened, by delivering the lead on James river, above the blue ridge, from whence a ton weight has been brought on two canoes. The Great Kanhaway has considerable falls in the neighbourhood of the mines. About seven miles below are three falls, of three or four feet perpendicular each; and three miles above is a rapid of three miles continuance, which has been compared in its descent to the great fall of James river. Yet it is the opinion, that they may be laid open for useful navigation, so as to reduce very much the portage between the Kanhaway and James river.
A valuable lead mine is said to have been lately discovered in Cumberland, below the mouth of Red river. The greatest, however, known in the western country, are on the Missisipi, extending from the mouth of Rock river 150 miles upwards. These are not wrought, the lead used in that country being from the banks on the Spanish side of the Missisipi, opposite to Kaskaskia.
Copper A mine of copper was once opened in the county of Amherst, on the North side of James river, and another in the opposite country, on the South side. However, either from bad management or the poverty of the veins, they were discontinued. We are told of a rich mine of native copper on the Ouabache, below the upper Wiaw.
Iron The mines of iron worked at present are Callaway's, Ross's, and Ballendine's, on the South side of James river; Old's on the North side, in Albemarle; Miller's in Augusta, and Zane's in Frederic. These two last are in the valley between the Blue ridge and North mountain. Callaway's, Ross's, Millar's, and Zane's, make about 150 tons of bar iron each, in the year. Ross's makes also about 1600 tons of pig iron annually; Ballendine's 1000; Callaway's, Millar's, and Zane's, about 600 each. Besides these, a forge of Mr. Hunter's, at Fredericksburgh, makes about 300 tons a year of bar iron, from pigs imported from Maryland; and Taylor's forge on Neapsco of Patowmac, works in the same way, but to what extent I am not informed. The indications of iron in other places are numerous, and dispersed through all the middle country. The toughness of the cast iron of Ross's and Zane's furnaces is very remarkable. Pots and other utensils, cast thinner than usual, of this iron, may be safely thrown into, or out of the waggons in which they are transported. Salt-pans made of the same, and no longer wanted for that purpose, cannot be broken up, in order to be melted again, unless previously drilled in many parts.
In the western country, we are told of iron mines between the Muskingum and Ohio; of others on Kentucky, between the Cumberland and Barren rivers, between Cumberland and Tannissee, on Reedy creek, near the Long island, and on Chesnut creek, a branch of the Great Kanhaway, near where it crosses the Carolina line. What are called the iron banks, on the Missisipi, are believed, by a good judge, to have no iron in them. In general, from what is hitherto known of that country, it seems to want iron.
Black lead Considerable quantities of black lead are taken occasionally for use from Winterham, in the county of Amelia. I am not able, however, to give a particular state of the mine. There is no work established at it, those who want, going and procuring it for themselves.
Pit coal The country on James river, from 15 to 20 miles above Richmond, and for several miles northward and southward, is replete with mineral coal of a very excellent quality. Being in the hands of many proprietors, pits have been opened, and before the interruption of our commerce were worked to an extent equal to the demand.
In the western country coal is known to be in so many places, as to have induced an opinion, that the whole tract between the Laurel mountain, Missisipi, and Ohio, yields coal. It is also known in many places on the North side of the Ohio. The coal at Pittsburg is of very superior quality. A bed of it at that place has been a-fire since the year 1765. Another coal-hill on the Pike-run of Monongahela has been a-fire ten years; yet it has burnt away about twenty yards only.
Precious stones I have known one instance of an Emerald found in this country. Amethysts have been frequent, and chrystals common; yet not in such numbers any of them as to be worth seeking.
There is very good marble, and in very great abundance, on James river, at the mouth of Rockfish. The samples
Marble I have seen, were some of them of a white as pure as one might expect to find on the surface of the earth: but most of them were variegated with red, blue, and purple. None of it has been ever worked. It forms a very large precipice, which hangs over a navigable part of the river. It is said there is marble at Kentucky.
Limestone But one vein of lime-stone is known below the Blue ridge. Its first appearance, in our country, is in Prince William, two miles below the Pignut ridge of mountains; thence it passes on nearly parallel with that, and crosses the Rivanna about five miles below it, where it is called the South-west ridge. It then crosses Hardware, above the mouth of Hudson's creek, James river at the mouth of Rockfish, at the marble quarry before spoken of, probably runs up that river to where it appears again at Ross's iron-works, and so passes off south-westwardly by Flat creek of Otter river. It is never more than one hundred yards wide. From the Blue ridge westwardly the whole country seems to be founded on a rock of lime-stone, besides infinite quantities on the surface, both loose and fixed. This is cut into beds, which range, as the mountains and sea-coast do, from south-west to north-east, the lamina of each bed declining from the horizon towards a parallelism with the axis of the earth. Being struck with this observation, I made, with a quadrant, a great number of trials on the angles of their declination, and found them to vary from 22 degrees to 60 degrees but averaging all my trials, the result was within one-third of a degree of the elevation of the pole or latitude of the place, and much the greatest part of them taken separately were little different from that: by which it appears, that these lamina are, in the main, parallel with the axis of the earth. In some instances, indeed, I found them perpendicular, and even reclining the other way: but these were extremely rare, and always attended with signs of convulsion, or other circumstances of singularity, which admitted a possibility of removal from their original position. These trials were made between Madison's cave and the Patowmac. We hear of lime-stone on the Missisipi and Ohio, and in all the mountainous country between the eastern and western waters, not on the mountains themselves, but occupying the vallies between them.
Near the eastern foot of the North mountain are immense bodies of _Schist_, containing impressions of shells in a variety of forms. I have received petrified shells of very different kinds from the first sources of the Kentucky, which bear no resemblance to any I have ever seen on the tide-waters. It is said that shells are found in the Andes, in South-America, fifteen thousand feet above the level of the ocean. This is considered by many, both of the learned and unlearned, as a proof of an universal deluge. To the many considerations opposing this opinion, the following may be added. The atmosphere, and all its contents, whether of water, air, or other matters, gravitate to the earth; that is to say, they have weight. Experience tells us, that the weight of all these together never exceeds that of a column of mercury of 31 inches height, which is equal to one of rain-water of 35 feet high. If the whole contents of the atmosphere then were water, instead of what they are, it would cover the globe but 35 feet deep; but as these waters, as they fell, would run into the seas, the superficial measure of which is to that of the dry parts of the globe as two to one, the seas would be raised only 52 1/2 feet above their present level, and of course would overflow the lands to that height only. In Virginia this would be a very small proportion even of the champaign country, the banks of our tide-waters being frequently, if not generally, of a greater height. Deluges beyond this extent then, as for instance, to the North mountain or to Kentucky, seem out of the laws of nature. But within it they may have taken place to a greater or less degree, in proportion to the combination of natural causes which may be supposed to have produced them. History renders probable some instances of a partial deluge in the country lying round the Mediterranean sea. It has been often (* 1) supposed, and is not unlikely, that that sea was once a lake. While such, let us admit an extraordinary collection of the waters of the atmosphere from the other parts of the globe to have been discharged over that and the countries whose waters run into it. Or without supposing it a lake, admit such an extraordinary collection of the waters of the atmosphere, and an influx of waters from the Atlantic ocean, forced by long continued Western winds. That lake, or that sea, may thus have been so raised as to overflow the low lands adjacent to it, as those of Egypt and Armenia, which, according to a tradition of the Egyptians and Hebrews, were overflowed about 2300 years before the Christian aera; those of Attica, said to have been overflowed in the time of Ogyges, about 500 years later; and those of Thessaly, in the time of Deucalion, still 300 years posterior. But such deluges as these will not account for the shells found in the higher lands. A second opinion has been entertained, which is, that, in times anterior to the records either of history or tradition, the bed of the ocean, the principal residence of the shelled tribe, has, by some great convulsion of nature, been heaved to the heights at which we now find shells and other remains of marine animals. The favourers of this opinion do well to suppose the great events on which it rests to have taken place beyond all the aeras of history; for within these, certainly none such are to be found: and we may venture to say further, that no fact has taken place, either in our own days, or in the thousands of years recorded in history, which proves the existence of any natural agents, within or without the bowels of the earth, of force sufficient to heave, to the height of 15,000 feet, such masses as the Andes. The difference between the power necessary to produce such an effect, and that which shuffled together the different parts of Calabria in our days, is so immense, that, from the existence of the latter we are not authorised to infer that of the former.
M. de Voltaire has suggested a third solution of this difficulty (Quest. encycl. Coquilles). He cites an instance in Touraine, where, in the space of 80 years, a particular spot of earth had been twice metamorphosed into soft stone, which had become hard when employed in building. In this stone shells of various kinds were produced, discoverable at first only with the microscope, but afterwards growing with the stone. From this fact, I suppose, he would have us infer, that, besides the usual process for generating shells by the elaboration of earth and water in animal vessels, nature may have provided an equivalent operation, by passing the same materials through the pores of calcareous earths and stones: as we see calcareous dropstones generating every day by the percolation of water through lime-stone, and new marble forming in the quarries from which the old has been taken out; and it might be asked, whether it is more difficult for nature to shoot the calcareous juice into the form of a shell, than other juices into the forms of chrystals, plants, animals, according to the construction of the vessels through which they pass? There is a wonder somewhere. Is it greatest on this branch of the dilemma; on that which supposes the existence of a power, of which we have no evidence in any other case; or on the first, which requires us to believe the creation of a body of water, and its subsequent annihilation? The establishment of the instance, cited by M. de Voltaire, of the growth of shells unattached to animal bodies, would have been that of his theory. But he has not established it. He has not even left it on ground so respectable as to have rendered it an object of enquiry to the literati of his own country. Abandoning this fact, therefore, the three hypotheses are equally unsatisfactory; and we must be contented to acknowledge, that this great phaenomenon is as yet unsolved. Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, then he who believes what is wrong.
Stone There is great abundance (more especially when you approach the mountains) of stone, white, blue, brown, &c. fit for the chissel, good mill-stone, such also as stands the fire, and slate-stone. We are told of flint, fit for gun-flints, on the Meherrin in Brunswic, on the Missisipi between the mouth of Ohio and Kaskaskia, and on others of the western waters. Isinglass or mica is in several places; load-stone also, and an Asbestos of a ligneous texture, is sometimes to be met with.
Earths Marle abounds generally. A clay, of which, like the Sturbridge in England, bricks are made, which will resist long the violent action of fire, has been found on Tuckahoe creek of James river, and no doubt will be found in other places. Chalk is said to be in Botetourt and Bedford. In the latter county is some earth, believed to be Gypseous. Ochres are found in various parts.
Nitre In the lime-stone country are many caves, the earthy floors of which are impregnated with nitre. On Rich creek, a branch of the Great Kanhaway, about 60 miles below the lead mines, is a very large one, about 20 yards wide, and entering a hill a quarter or half a mile. The vault is of rock, from 9 to 15 or 20 feet above the floor. A Mr. Lynch, who gives me this account, undertook to extract the nitre. Besides a coat of the salt which had formed on the vault and floor, he found the earth highly impregnated to the depth of seven feet in some places, and generally of three, every bushel yielding on an average three pounds of nitre. Mr. Lynch having made about 1000 lb. of the salt from it, consigned it to some others, who have since made 10,000 lb. They have done this by pursuing the cave into the hill, never trying a second time the earth they have once exhausted, to see how far or soon it receives another impregnation. At least fifty of these caves are worked on the Greenbriar. There are many of them known on Cumberland river.
Salt The country westward of the Alleghaney abounds with springs of common salt. The most remarkable we have heard of are at Bullet's lick, the Big bones, the Blue licks, and on the North fork of Holston. The area of Bullet's lick is of many acres. Digging the earth to the depth of three feet, the water begins to boil up, and the deeper you go, and the drier the weather, the stronger is the brine. A thousand gallons of water yield from a bushel to a bushel and a half of salt, which is about 80 lb. of water to one lb. of salt; but of sea-water 25 lb. yield one lb. of salt. So that sea-water is more than three times as strong as that of these springs. A salt spring has been lately discovered at the Turkey foot on Yohogany, by which river it is overflowed, except at very low water. Its merit is not yet known. Duning's lick is also as yet untried, but it is supposed to be the best on this side the Ohio. The salt springs on the margin of the Onondago lake are said to give a saline taste to the waters of the lake.
Medicinal springs There are several Medicinal springs, some of which are indubitably efficacious, while others seem to owe their reputation as much to fancy, and change of air and regimen, as to their real virtues. None of them having undergone a chemical analysis in skilful hands, nor been so far the subject of observations as to have produced a reduction into classes of the disorders which they relieve, it is in my power to give little more than an enumeration of them.
The most efficacious of these are two springs in Augusta, near the first sources of James river, where it is called Jackson's river. They rise near the foot of the ridge of mountains, generally called the Warm spring mountain, but in the maps Jackson's mountains. The one is distinguished by the name of the Warm spring, and the other of the Hot spring. The Warm spring issues with a very bold stream, sufficient to work a grist-mill, and to keep the waters of its bason, which is 30 feet in diameter, at the vital warmth, viz. 96 degrees of Farenheit's thermometer. The matter with which these waters is allied is very volatile; its smell indicates it to be sulphureous, as also does the circumstance of its turning silver black. They relieve rheumatisms. Other complaints also of very different natures have been removed or lessened by them. It rains here four or five days in every week.
The Hot spring is about six miles from the Warm, is much smaller, and has been so hot as to have boiled an egg. Some believe its degree of heat to be lessened. It raises the mercury in Farenheit's thermometer to 112 degrees, which is fever heat. It sometimes relieves where the Warm spring fails. A fountain of common water, issuing within a few inches of its margin, gives it a singular appearance. Comparing the temperature of these with that of the Hot springs of Kamschatka, of which Krachininnikow gives an account, the difference is very great, the latter raising the mercury to 200 degrees which is within 12 degrees of boiling water. These springs are very much resorted to in spite of a total want of accommodation for the sick. Their waters are strongest in the hottest months, which occasions their being visited in July and August principally.
The Sweet springs are in the county of Botetourt, at the eastern foot of the Alleghaney, about 42 miles from the Warm springs. They are still less known. Having been found to relieve cases in which the others had been ineffectually tried, it is probable their composition is different. They are different also in their temperature, being as cold as common water: which is not mentioned, however, as a proof of a distinct impregnation. This is among the first sources of James river.
On Patowmac river, in Berkeley county, above the North mountain, are Medicinal springs, much more frequented than those of Augusta. Their powers, however, are less, the waters weakly mineralized, and scarcely warm. They are more visited, because situated in a fertile, plentiful, and populous country, better provided with accommodations, always safe from the Indians, and nearest to the more populous states.
In Louisa county, on the head waters of the South Anna branch of York river, are springs of some medicinal virtue. They are not much used however. There is a weak chalybeate at Richmond; and many others in various parts of the country, which are of too little worth, or too little note, to be enumerated after those before-mentioned.
We are told of a Sulphur spring on Howard's creek of Greenbriar, and another at Boonsborough on Kentuckey.
Burning spring In the low grounds of the Great Kanhaway, 7 miles above the mouth of Elk river, and 67 above that of the Kanhaway itself, is a hole in the earth of the capacity of 30 or 40 gallons, from which issues constantly a bituminous vapour in so strong a current, as to give to the sand about its orifice the motion which it has in a boiling spring. On presenting a lighted candle or torch within 18 inches of the hole, it flames up in a column of 18 inches diameter, and four or five feet height, which sometimes burns out within 20 minutes, and at other times has been known to continue three days, and then has been left still burning. The flame is unsteady, of the density of that of burning spirits, and smells like burning pit coal. Water sometimes collects in the bason, which is remarkably cold, and is kept in ebullition by the vapour issuing through it. If the vapour be fired in that state, the water soon becomes so warm that the hand cannot bear it, and evaporates wholly in a short time. This, with the circumjacent lands, is the property of his Excellency General Washington and of General Lewis.
There is a similar one on Sandy river, the flame of which is a column of about 12 inches diameter, and 3 feet high. General Clarke, who informs me of it, kindled the vapour, staid about an hour, and left it burning.
Syphon fountains The mention of uncommon springs leads me to that of Syphon fountains. There is one of these near the intersection of the Lord Fairfax's boundary with the North mountain, not far from Brock's gap, on the stream of which is a grist-mill, which grinds two bushel of grain at every flood of the spring. Another, near the Cow-pasture river, a mile and a half below its confluence with the Bull-pasture river, and 16 or 17 miles from the Hot springs, which intermits once in every twelve hours. One also near the mouth of the North Holston.
After these may be mentioned the _Natural Well_, on the lands of a Mr. Lewis in Frederick county. It is somewhat larger than a common well: the water rises in it as near the surface of the earth as in the neighbouring artificial wells, and is of a depth as yet unknown. It is said there is a current in it tending sensibly downwards. If this be true, it probably feeds some fountain, of which it is the natural reservoir, distinguished from others, like that of Madison's cave, by being accessible. It is used with a bucket and windlass as an ordinary well.
A complete catalogue of the trees, plants, fruits, &c. is probably
not desired. I will sketch out those which would principally attract
notice, as being 1. Medicinal, 2. Esculent, 3. Ornamental, or 4. Useful
for fabrication; adding the Linnaean to the popular names, as the latter
might not convey precise information to a foreigner. I shall confine
myself too to native plants.
The following were found in Virginia when first visited by the English; but it is not said whether of spontaneous growth, or by cultivation only. Most probably they were natives of more southern climates, and handed along the continent from one nation to another of the savages.
There is an infinitude of other plants and flowers, for an enumeration and scientific description of which I must refer to the Flora Virginica of our great botanist Dr. Clayton, published by Gronovius at Leyden, in 1762. This accurate observer was a native and resident of this state, passed a long life in exploring and describing its plants, and is supposed to have enlarged the botanical catalogue as much as almost any man who has lived.
Besides these plants, which are native, our Farms produce wheat, rye, barley, oats, buck wheat, broom corn, and Indian corn. The climate suits rice well enough wherever the lands do. Tobacco, hemp, flax, and cotton, are staple commodities. Indico yields two cuttings. The silk-worm is a native, and the mulberry, proper for its food, grows kindly.
We cultivate also potatoes, both the long and the round, turnips, carrots, parsneps, pumpkins, and ground nuts (Arachis.) Our grasses are Lucerne, St. Foin, Burnet, Timothy, ray and orchard grass; red, white, and yellow clover; greenswerd, blue grass, and crab grass.
The gardens yield musk melons, water melons, tomatas, okra, pomegranates, figs, and the esculent plants of Europe.
The orchards produce apples, pears, cherries, quinces, peaches, nectarines, apricots, almonds, and plumbs.
Our quadrupeds have been mostly described by Linnaeus and Mons. de Buffon.
Of these the Mammoth, or big buffalo, as called by the Indians, must
certainly have been the largest. Their tradition is, that he was
carnivorous, and still exists in the northern parts of America.
A delegation of warriors from the Delaware tribe having visited the
governor of Virginia, during the present revolution, on matters of business,
after these had been discussed and settled in council, the governor
asked them some questions relative to their country, and, among others,
what they knew or had heard of the animal whose bones were found at
the Saltlicks, on the Ohio. Their chief speaker immediately put
himself into an attitude of oratory, and with a pomp suited to what
he conceived the elevation of his subject, informed him that it was
a tradition handed down from their fathers, `That in antient times a
herd of these tremendous animals came to the Big-bone licks, and began
an universal destruction of the bear, deer, elks, buffaloes, and other
animals, which had been created for the use of the Indians: that the
Great Man above, looking down and seeing this, was so enraged that he
seized his lightning, descended on the earth, seated himself on a neighbouring
mountain, on a rock, of which his seat and the print of his feet are
still to be seen, and hurled his bolts among them till the whole were
slaughtered, except the big bull, who presenting his forehead to the
shafts, shook them off as they fell; but missing one at length, it wounded
him in the side; whereon, springing round, he bounded over the Ohio,
over the Wabash, the Illinois, and finally over the great lakes, where
he is living at this day.' It is well known that on the Ohio, and in
many parts of America further north, tusks, grinders, and skeletons
of unparalleled magnitude, are found in great numbers, some lying on
the surface of the earth, and some a little below it. A Mr. Stanley,
taken prisoner by the Indians near the mouth of the Tanissee, relates,
that, after being transferred through several tribes, from one to another,
he was at length carried over the mountains west of the Missouri to
a river which runs westwardly; that these bones abounded there; and
that the natives described to him the animal to which they belonged
as still existing in the northern parts of their country; from which
description he judged it to be an elephant. Bones of the same
kind have been lately found, some feet below the surface of the earth,
in salines opened on the North Holston, a branch of the Tanissee, about
the latitude of 36 1/2 degrees North. From the accounts published
in Europe, I suppose it to be decided, that these are of the same kind
with those found in Siberia. Instances are mentioned of like animal
remains found in the more southern climates of both hemispheres; but
they are either so loosely mentioned as to leave a doubt of the fact,
so inaccurately described as not to authorize the classing them with
the great northern bones, or so rare as to found a suspicion that they
have been carried thither as curiosities from more northern regions.
So that on the whole there seem to be no certain vestiges of the existence
of this animal further south than the salines last mentioned.
It is remarkable that the tusks and skeletons have been ascribed by
the naturalists of Europe to the elephant, while the grinders have been
given to the hippopotamus, or river-horse. Yet it is acknowledged,
that the tusks and skeletons are much larger than those of the elephant,
and the grinders many times greater than those of the hippopotamus,
and essentially different in form. Wherever these grinders are
found, there also we find the tusks and skeleton; but no skeleton of
the hippopotamus nor grinders of the elephant. It will not be
said that the hippopotamus and elephant came always to the same spot,
the former to deposit his grinders, and the latter his tusks and skeleton.
For what became of the parts not deposited there? We must agree
then that these remains belong to each other, that they are of one and
the same animal, that this was not a hippopotamus, because the hippopotamus
had no tusks nor such a frame, and because the grinders differ in their
size as well as in the number and form of their points. That it
was not an elephant, I think ascertained by proofs equally decisive.
I will not avail myself of the authority of the celebrated (* 2) anatomist,
who, from an examination of the form and structure of the tusks, has
declared they were essentially different from those of the elephant;
because another (* 3) anatomist, equally celebrated, has declared, on
a like examination, that they are precisely the same. Between
two such authorities I will suppose this circumstance equivocal.
But, 1. The skeleton of the mammoth (for so the incognitum has been
called) bespeaks an animal of five or six times the cubic volume of
the elephant, as Mons. de Buffon has admitted. 2. The grinders
are five times as large, are square, and the grinding surface studded
with four or five rows of blunt points: whereas those of the elephant
are broad and thin, and their grinding surface flat. 3. I have
never heard an instance, and suppose there has been none, of the grinder
of an elephant being found in America. 4. From the known temperature
and constitution of the elephant he could never have existed in those
regions where the remains of the mammoth have been found. The
elephant is a native only of the torrid zone and its vicinities: if,
with the assistance of warm apartments and warm clothing, he has been
preserved in life in the temperate climates of Europe, it has only been
for a small portion of what would have been his natural period, and
no instance of his multiplication in them has ever been known. But no
bones of the mammoth, as I have before observed, have been ever found
further south than the salines of the Holston, and they have been found
as far north as the Arctic circle. Those, therefore, who are of
opinion that the elephant and mammoth are the same, must believe, 1.
That the elephant known to us can exist and multiply in the frozen zone;
or, 2. That an internal fire may once have warmed those regions, and
since abandoned them, of which, however, the globe exhibits no unequivocal
indications; or, 3. That the obliquity of the ecliptic, when these
elephants lived, was so great as to include within the tropics all those
regions in which the bones are found; the tropics being, as is before
observed, the natural limits of habitation for the elephant. But
if it be admitted that this obliquity has really decreased, and we adopt
the highest rate of decrease yet pretended, that is, of one minute in
a century, to transfer the northern tropic to the Arctic circle, would
carry the existence of these supposed elephants 250,000 years back;
a period far beyond our conception of the duration of animal bones left
exposed to the open air, as these are in many instances. Besides,
though these regions would then be supposed within the tropics, yet
their winters would have been too severe for the sensibility of the
elephant. They would have had too but one day and one night in
the year, a circumstance to which we have no reason to suppose the nature
of the elephant fitted. However, it has been demonstrated, that,
if a variation of obliquity in the ecliptic takes place at all, it is
vibratory, and never exceeds the limits of 9 degrees, which is not sufficient
to bring these bones within the tropics. One of these hypotheses,
or some other equally voluntary and inadmissible to cautious philosophy,
must be adopted to support the opinion that these are the bones of the
elephant. For my own part, I find it easier to believe that an
animal may have existed, resembling the elephant in his tusks, and general
anatomy, while his nature was in other respects extremely different.
From the 30th degree of South latitude to the 30th of North, are nearly
the limits which nature has fixed for the existence and multiplication
of the elephant known to us. Proceeding thence northwardly to
36 1/2 degrees, we enter those assigned to the mammoth. The further
we advance North, the more their vestiges multiply as far as the earth
has been explored in that direction; and it is as probable as otherwise,
that this progression continues to the pole itself, if land extends
so far. The center of the Frozen zone then may be the Achme of
their vigour, as that of the Torrid is of the elephant. Thus nature
seems to have drawn a belt of separation between these two tremendous
animals, whose breadth indeed is not precisely known, though at present
we may suppose it about 6 1/2 degrees of latitude; to have assigned
to the elephant the regions South of these confines, and those North
to the mammoth, founding the constitution of the one in her extreme
of heat, and that of the other in the extreme of cold. When the
Creator has therefore separated their nature as far as the extent of
the scale of animal life allowed to this planet would permit, it seems
perverse to declare it the same, from a partial resemblance of their
tusks and bones. But to whatever animal we ascribe these remains,
it is certain such a one has existed in America, and that it has been
the largest of all terrestrial beings. It should have sufficed
to have rescued the earth it inhabited, and the atmosphere it breathed,
from the imputation of impotence in the conception and nourishment of
animal life on a large scale: to have stifled, in its birth, the opinion
of a writer, the most learned too of all others in the science of animal
history, that in the new world,
Buffon. xviii. 122. ed. Paris. 1764.
`La nature vivante est beaucoup moins agissante, beaucoup moins forte:'
that nature is less active, less energetic on one side of the globe
than she is on the other. As if both sides were not warmed by
the same genial sun; as if a soil of the same chemical composition,
was less capable of elaboration into animal nutriment; as if the fruits
and grains from that soil and sun, yielded a less rich chyle, gave less
extension to the solids and fluids of the body, or produced sooner in
the cartilages, membranes, and fibres, that rigidity which restrains
all further extension, and terminates animal growth. The truth
is, that a Pigmy and a Patagonian, a Mouse and a Mammoth, derive their
dimensions from the same nutritive juices. The difference of increment
depends on circumstances unsearchable to beings with our capacities.
Every race of animals seems to have received from their Maker certain
laws of extension at the time of their formation. Their elaborative
organs were formed to produce this, while proper obstacles were opposed
to its further progress. Below these limits they cannot fall, nor rise
above them. What intermediate station they shall take may depend
on soil, on climate, on food, on a careful choice of breeders.
But all the manna of heaven would never raise the Mouse to the bulk
of the Mammoth.
xviii. 100-156. The
opinion advanced by the Count de Buffon, is 1. That the animals common
both to the old and new world, are smaller in the latter. 2. That
those peculiar to the new, are on a smaller scale. 3. That those which
have been domesticated in both, have degenerated in America: and 4.
That on the whole it exhibits fewer species. And the reason he
thinks is, that the heats of America are less; that more waters are
spread over its surface by nature, and fewer of these drained off by
the hand of man. In other words, that heat is friendly,
and moisture adverse to the production and developement of large
quadrupeds. I will not meet this hypothesis on its first doubtful
ground, whether the climate of America be comparatively more humid?
Because we are not furnished with observations sufficient to decide
this question. And though, till it be decided, we are as free
to deny, as others are to affirm the fact, yet for a moment let it be
supposed. The hypothesis, after this supposition, proceeds to
another; that moisture is unfriendly to animal growth.
The truth of this is inscrutable to us by reasonings a priori.
Nature has hidden from us her modus agendi. Our only appeal on
such questions is to experience; and I think that experience is against
the supposition. It is by the assistance of heat and moisture
that vegetables are elaborated from the elements of earth, air, water,
and fire. We accordingly see the more humid climates produce the
greater quantity of vegetables. Vegetables are mediately or immediately
the food of every animal: and in proportion to the quantity of food,
we see animals not only multiplied in their numbers, but improved in
their bulk, as far as the laws of their nature will admit. Of
this opinion is the Count de Buffon himself in another part of his work:
viii. 134. `en
general il paroit que les pays un peu froids conviennent mieux
a nos boeufs que les pays chauds, et qu'ils sont d'autant plus gros
et plus grands que le climat est plus humide et plus abondans
en paturages. Les boeufs de Danemarck, de la Podolie, de l'Ukraine
et de la Tartarie qu'habitent les Calmouques sont les plus grands de
tous.' Here then a race of animals, and one of the largest too, has
been increased in its dimensions by cold and moisture,
in direct opposition to the hypothesis, which supposes that these two
circumstances diminish animal bulk, and that it is their contraries
heat and dryness which enlarge it. But when we appeal
to experience, we are not to rest satisfied with a single fact.
Let us therefore try our question on more general ground. Let
us take two portions of the earth, Europe and America for instance,
sufficiently extensive to give operation to general causes; let us consider
the circumstances peculiar to each, and observe their effect on animal
nature. America, running through the torrid as well as temperate
zone, has more heat, collectively taken, than Europe. But Europe,
according to our hypothesis, is the dryest. They are equally
adapted then to animal productions; each being endowed with one of those
causes which befriend animal growth, and with one which opposes it.
If it be thought unequal to compare Europe with America, which is so
much larger, I answer, not more so than to compare America with the
whole world. Besides, the purpose of the comparison is to try
an hypothesis, which makes the size of animals depend on the heat
and moisture of climate. If therefore we take a region,
so extensive as to comprehend a sensible distinction of climate, and
so extensive too as that local accidents, or the intercourse of animals
on its borders, may not materially affect the size of those in its interior
parts, we shall comply with those conditions which the hypothesis may
reasonably demand. The objection would be the weaker in the present
case, because any intercourse of animals which may take place on the
confines of Europe and Asia, is to the advantage of the former, Asia
producing certainly larger animals than Europe. Let us then take
a comparative view of the Quadrupeds of Europe and America, presenting
them to the eye in three different tables, in one of which shall be
enumerated those found in both countries; in a second those found in
one only; in a third those which have been domesticated in both.
To facilitate the comparison, let those of each table be arranged in
gradation according to their sizes, from the greatest to the smallest,
so far as their sizes can be conjectured. The weights of the large
animals shall be expressed in the English avoirdupoise pound and its
decimals: those of the smaller in the ounce and its decimals.
Those which are marked thus *, are actual weights of particular subjects,
deemed among the largest of their species. Those marked thus +,
are furnished by judicious persons, well acquainted with the species,
and saying, from conjecture only, what the largest individual they had
seen would probably have weighed. The other weights are taken
from Messrs. Buffon and D'Aubenton, and are of such subjects as came
casually to their hands for dissection. This circumstance must
be remembered where their weights and mine stand opposed: the latter
being stated, not to produce a conclusion in favour of the American
species, but to justify a suspension of opinion until we are better
informed, and a suspicion in the mean time that there is no uniform
difference in favour of either; which is all I pretend.
View of the Quadrupeds of Europe and of America.
I have not inserted in the first table the (* 4) Phoca nor leather-winged bat, because the one living half the year in the water, and the other being a winged animal, the individuals of each species may visit both continents.
Of the animals in the 1st table Mons. de Buffon himself informs us, [XXVII. 130. XXX. 213.] that the beaver, the otter, and shrew mouse, though of the same species, are larger in America than Europe. This should therefore have corrected the generality of his expressions XVIII. 145. and elsewhere, that the animals common to the two countries, are considerably less in America than in Europe, `& cela sans aucune exception.' He tells us too, [Quadrup. VIII. 334. edit. Paris, 1777] that on examining a bear from America, he remarked no difference, `dans la forme de cet ours d'Amerique compare a celui d'Europe.' But adds from Bartram's journal, that an American bear weighed 400 lb. English, equal to 367 lb. French: whereas we find the European bear examined by Mons. D'Aubenton, [XVII. 82.] weighed but 141 lb. French. That the palmated Elk is larger in America than Europe we are informed by Kalm, a Naturalist who visited the
I. 233. Lond. 1772.
former by public appointment for the express purpose of examining the subjects of Natural history. In this
fact Pennant concurs with him. [Barrington's Miscellanies.] The same Kalm tells us that the Black Moose, or
Renne of America, is as high as a tall horse; and Catesby, that it is about the bigness of a middle sized ox. The
same account of their size has been given me by many who have seen them. But Mons. D'Aubenton says that the Renne of Europe is but about the size of a Red-deer.
The wesel is larger in America than in Europe, as may be seen by comparing its dimensions as reported by Mons. D'Aubenton and Kalm. The latter tells us, that the
I. 359. I. 48. 221. 251. II. 52.
lynx, badger, red fox, and flying squirrel, are the _same_ in America as in Europe: by which expression I understand, they are the same in all material circumstances, in size as well as others: for if they were smaller,
they would differ from the European. Our grey fox is, by Catesby's account, little different in size and shape from the European fox. I presume he means the red fox
of Europe, as does Kalm, where he says, that in size `they do not quite come up to our foxes.' For proceeding next to the red fox of America, he says `they are entirely the same with the European sort.' Which shews he had in view one European sort only, which was the red. So that the result of their testimony is, that the American grey fox is somewhat less than the European red; which is equally true of the
XXVII. 63. XIV. 119. Harris, II.387. Buffon. Quad. IX. 1.
grey fox of Europe, as may be seen by comparing the measures of the Count de Buffon and Mons. D'Aubenton. The white bear of America is as large as that of Europe. The bones of the Mammoth which have been found in America, are as large as those found in the old world. It may be asked, why I insert the Mammoth, as if it still existed? I ask in return, why I should omit it, as if it did not exist? Such is the oeconomy of nature, that no instance can be produced of her having permitted any one race of her animals to become extinct; of her having formed any link in her great work so weak as to be broken. To add to this, the traditionary testimony of the Indians, that this animal still exists in the northern and western parts of America, would be adding the light of a taper to that of the meridian sun. Those parts still remain in their aboriginal state, unexplored and undisturbed by us, or by others for us. He may as well exist there now, as he did formerly where we find his bones. If he be a carnivorous animal, as some Anatomists have conjectured, and the Indians affirm, his early retirement may be accounted for from the general destruction of the wild game by the Indians, which commences in the first instant of their connection with us, for the purpose of purchasing matchcoats, hatchets, and fire locks, with their skins. There remain then the buffalo, red deer, fallow deer, wolf, roe, glutton, wild cat, monax, vison, hedge-hog, martin, and water rat, of the comparative sizes of which we have not sufficient testimony. It does not appear that Messrs. de Buffon and D'Aubenton have measured, weighed, or seen those of America. It is said of some of them, by some travellers, that they are smaller than the European. But who were these travellers? Have they not been men of a very different description from those who have laid open to us the other three quarters of the world? Was natural history the object of their travels? Did they measure or weigh the animals they speak of? or did they not judge of them by sight, or perhaps even from report only? Were they acquainted with the animals of their own country, with which they undertake to compare them? Have they not been so ignorant as often to mistake the species? A true answer to these questions would probably lighten their authority, so as to render it insufficient for the foundation of an hypothesis. How unripe we yet are, for an accurate comparison of the animals of the two countries, will appear from the work of Mons. de Buffon. The ideas we should have formed of the sizes of some animals, from the information he had received at his first publications concerning them, are very different from what his subsequent communications give us. And indeed his candour in this can never be too much praised. One sentence of his book must do him immortal honour. `J'aime
Quad. IX. 158
autant une personne qui me releve d'une erreur, qu'une autre qui m'apprend une verite, parce qu'en effet une erreur corrigee est une verite.' He seems to have
thought the Cabiai he first examined wanted little of its full growth. `Il n'etoit pas encore tout-a-fait adulte.' Yet he weighed but 46 1/2 lb. and he found
Quad. IX. 132.
afterwards, that these animals, when full grown, weigh 100 lb. He had supposed, from the examination of a
jaguar, said to be two years old, which weighed but 16 lb. 12 oz. that, when he should have acquired his full growth, he would not be larger than a middle sized dog.
Quad. IX. 41.
But a subsequent account raises his weight to 200 lb. Further information will, doubtless, produce further corrections. The wonder is, not that there is yet something in this great work to correct, but that there is so little. The result of this view then is, that of 26 quadrupeds common to both countries, 7 are said to be larger in America, 7 of equal size, and 12 not sufficiently examined. So that the first table impeaches the first member of the assertion, that of the animals common to both countries, the American are smallest, `et cela sans aucune exception.' It shews it not just, in all the latitude in which its author has advanced it, and probably not to such a degree as to found a distinction between the two countries.
Proceeding to the second table, which arranges the animals found in one of the two countries only, Mons. de Buffon observes, that the tapir, the elephant of America, is but of the size of a small cow. To preserve our comparison, I will add that the wild boar, the elephant of Europe, is little more than half that size. I have made an elk with round or cylindrical horns, an animal of America, and peculiar to it; because I have seen many of them myself, and more of their horns; and because I can say, from the best information, that, in Virginia, this kind of elk has abounded much, and still exists in smaller numbers; and I could never learn that the palmated kind had been seen here at all. I suppose this confined to the more Northern latitudes (* 5). I have made our hare or rabbet peculiar, believing it to be different from both the European animals of those denominations, and calling it therefore by its Algonquin
Kalm II. 340.I. 82.
name Whabus, to keep it distinct from these. Kalm is of the same opinion. I have enumerated the squirrels according to our own knowledge, derived from daily sight of them, because I am not able to reconcile with that the European appellations and descriptions. I have heard of other species, but they have never come within my own notice. These, I think, are the only instances in which I have departed from the authority of Mons. de Buffon in the construction of this table. I take him for my ground work, because I think him the best informed of any Naturalist who has ever written. The result is, that there are 18 quadrupeds peculiar to Europe; more than four times as many, to wit 74, peculiar to America; that the (* 6) first of these 74 weighs more than the whole column of Europeans; and consequently this second table disproves the second member of the assertion, that the animals peculiar to the new world are on a smaller scale, so far as that assertion relied on European animals for support: and it is in full opposition to the theory which makes the animal volume to depend on the circumstances of _heat_ and _moisture_.
The IIId. table comprehends those quadrupeds only which are domestic in both countries. That some of these, in some parts of America, have become less than their original stock, is doubtless true; and the reason is very obvious. In a thinly peopled country, the spontaneous productions of the forests and waste fields are sufficient to support indifferently the domestic animals of the farmer, with a very little aid from him in the severest and scarcest season. He therefore finds it more convenient to receive them from the hand of nature in that indifferent state, than to keep up their size by a care and nourishment which would cost him much labour. If, on this low fare, these animals dwindle, it is no more than they do in those parts of Europe where the poverty of the soil, or poverty of the owner, reduces them to the same scanty subsistance. It is the uniform effect of one and the same cause, whether acting on this or that side of the globe. It would be erring therefore against that rule of philosophy, which teaches us to ascribe like effects to like causes, should we impute this diminution of size in America to any imbecility or want of uniformity in the operations of nature. It may be affirmed with truth that, in those countries, and with those individuals of America, where necessity or curiosity has produced equal attention as in Europe to the nourishment of animals, the horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs of the one continent are as large as those of the other. There are particular instances, well attested, where individuals of this country have imported good breeders from England, and have improved their size by care in the course of some years. To make a fair comparison between the two countries, it will not answer to bring together animals of what might be deemed the middle or ordinary size of their species; because an error in judging of that middle or ordinary size would vary the result of the comparison. Thus Monsieur D'Aubenton considers a
horse of 4 feet 5 inches high and 400 lb. weight French, equal to 4 feet 8.6 inches and 436 lb. English, as a middle sized horse. Such a one is deemed a small horse in America. The extremes must therefore be resorted to. The same anatomist dissected a horse of 5 feet 9 inches height, French measure,
equal to 6 feet 1.7 English. This is near 6 inches higher than any horse I have seen: and could it be supposed that I had seen the largest horses in America, the conclusion would be, that ours have diminished, or that we have bred from a smaller stock. In Connecticut and Rhode-Island, where the climate is favorable to the production of grass, bullocks have been slaughtered which weighed 2500, 2200, and 2100 lb. nett; and those of 1800 lb. have been frequent. I have seen a (* 7) hog weigh 1050 lb. after the blood, bowels, and hair had been taken from him. Before he was killed an attempt was made to weigh him with a pair of steel-yards, graduated to 1200 lb. but he weighed more. Yet this hog was probably not within fifty generations of the European stock. I am well informed of another which weighed 1100 lb. gross. Asses have been still more neglected than any other domestic animal in America. They are neither fed nor housed in the most rigorous season of the year. Yet they are larger than those measured
VIII. 48. 35. 66.
by Mons. D'Aubenton, of 3 feet 7 1/4 inches, 3 feet 4 inches, and 3 feet 2 1/2 inches, the latter weighing only 215.8 lb. These sizes, I suppose, have been produced by the same negligence in Europe, which has produced a like diminution here. Where care has been taken of them on that side of the water, they have been raised to a size bordering on that of the horse; not by the _heat_ and _dryness_ of the climate, but by good food and shelter. Goats have been also much neglected in America. Yet they are very prolific here, bearing twice or three times a year, and from one to five kids
at a birth. Mons. de Buffon has been sensible of a difference in this circumstance in favour of America. But what are their greatest weights I cannot say. A large
sheep here weighs 100 lb. I observe Mons. D'Aubenton calls a ram of 62 lb. one of the middle size. But to say what are the extremes of growth in these and the other domestic animals of America, would require information of which no one individual is possessed. The weights actually known and stated in the third table preceding will suffice to shew, that we may conclude, on probable grounds, that, with equal food and care, the climate of America will preserve the races of domestic animals as large as the European stock from which they are derived; and consequently that the third member of Mons. de Buffon's assertion, that the domestic animals are subject to degeneration from the climate of America, is as probably wrong as the first and second were certainly so.
That the last part of it is erroneous, which affirms that the species of American quadrupeds are comparatively few, is evident from the tables taken all together. By these it appears
that there are an hundred species aboriginal of America. Mons. de Buffon supposes about double that number existing on the whole earth. Of these Europe, Asia, and Africa, furnish suppose 126; that is, the 26 common to Europe and America, and about 100 which are not in America at all. The American species then are to those of the rest of the earth, as 100 to 126, or 4 to 5. But the residue of the earth being double the extent of America, the exact proportion would have been but as 4 to 8.
Hitherto I have considered this hypothesis as applied to brute animals only, and not in its extension to the man of America, whether aboriginal or transplanted. It is the opinion of Mons. de Buffon that the former furnishes no exception to
it. `Quoique le sauvage du nouveau monde soit a-peu-pres de meme stature que l'homme de notre monde, cela ne suffit pas pour qu'il puisse faire une exception au fait general du rapetissement de la nature vivante dans tout ce continent: le sauvage est foible & petit par les organes de la generation; il n'a ni poil, ni barbe, & nulle ardeur pour sa femelle; quoique plus leger que l'Europeen parce qu'il a plus d'habitude a courir, il est cependant beaucoup moins fort de corps; il est aussi bien moins sensible, & cependant plus craintif & plus lache; il n'a nulle vivacite, nulle activite dans l'ame; celle du corps est moins un exercice, un mouvement volontaire qu'une necessite d'action causee par le besoin; otez lui la faim & la soif, vous detruirez en meme temps le principe actif de tous ses mouvemens; il demeurera stupidement en repos sur ses jambes ou couche pendant des jours entiers. Il ne faut pas aller chercher plus loin la cause de la vie dispersee des sauvages & de leur eloignement pour la societe: la plus precieuse etincelle du feu de la nature leur a ete refusee; ils manquent d'ardeur pour leur femelle, & par consequent d'amour pour leur semblables: ne connoissant pas l'attachement le plus vif, le plus tendre de tous, leurs autres sentimens de ce genre sont froids & languissans; ils aiment foiblement leurs peres & leurs enfans; la societe la plus intime de toutes, celle de la meme famille, n'a donc chez eux que de foibles liens; la societe d'une famille a l'autre n'en a point du tout: des lors nulle reunion, nulle republique, nulle etat social. La physique de l'amour fait chez eux le moral des moeurs; leur coeur est glace, leur societe froide, & leur empire dur. Ils ne regardent leurs femmes que comme des servantes de peine ou des betes de somme qu'ils chargent, sans menagement, du fardeau de leur chasse, & qu'ils forcent sans pitie, sans reconnoissance, a des ouvrages qui souvent sont audessus de leurs forces: ils n'ont que peu d'enfans; ils en ont peu de soin; tout se ressent de leur premier defaut; ils sont indifferents parce qu'ils sont peu puissans, & cette indifference pour le sexe est la tache originelle qui fletrit la nature, qui l'empeche de s'epanouir, & qui detruisant les germes de la vie, coupe en meme temps la racine de la societe. L'homme ne fait donc point d'exception ici. La nature en lui refusant les puissances de l'amour l'a plus maltraite & plus rapetisse qu'aucun des animaux.' An afflicting picture indeed, which, for the honor of human nature, I am glad to believe has no original. Of the Indian of South America I know nothing; for I would not honor with the appellation of knowledge, what I derive from the fables published of them. These I believe to be just as true as the fables of Aesop. This belief is founded on what I have seen of man, white, red, and black, and what has been written of him by authors, enlightened themselves, and writing amidst an enlightened people. The Indian of North America being more within our reach, I can speak of him somewhat from my own knowledge, but more from the information of others better acquainted with him, and on whose truth and judgment I can rely. From these sources I am able to say, in contradiction to this representation, that he is neither more defective in ardor, nor more impotent with his female, than the white reduced to the same diet and exercise: that he is brave, when an enterprize depends on bravery; education with him making the point of honor consist in the destruction of an enemy by stratagem, and in the preservation of his own person free from injury; or perhaps this is nature; while it is education which teaches us to (* 8) honor force more than finesse: that he will defend himself against an host of enemies, always chusing to be killed, rather than to (* 9) surrender, though it be to the whites, who he knows will treat him well: that in other situations also he meets death with more deliberation, and endures tortures with a firmness unknown almost to religious enthusiasm with us: that he is affectionate to his children, careful of them, and indulgent in the extreme: that his affections comprehend his other connections, weakening, as with us, from circle to circle, as they recede from the center: that his friendships are strong and faithful to the uttermost (* 10) extremity: that his sensibility is keen, even the warriors weeping most bitterly on the loss of their children, though in general they endeavour to appear superior to human events: that his vivacity and activity of mind is equal to ours in the same situation; hence his eagerness for hunting, and for games of chance. The women are submitted to unjust drudgery. This I believe is the case with every barbarous people. With such, force is law. The stronger sex therefore imposes on the weaker. It is civilization alone which replaces women in the enjoyment of their natural equality. That first teaches us to subdue the selfish passions, and to respect those rights in others which we value in ourselves. Were we in equal barbarism, our females would be equal drudges. The man with them is less strong than with us, but their woman stronger than ours; and both for the same obvious reason; because our man and their woman is habituated to labour, and formed by it. With both races the sex which is indulged with ease is least athletic. An Indian man is small in the hand and wrist for the same reason for which a sailor is large and strong in the arms and shoulders, and a porter in the legs and thighs. -- They raise fewer children than we do. The causes of this are to be found, not in a difference of nature, but of circumstance. The women very frequently attending the men in their parties of war and of hunting, child-bearing becomes extremely inconvenient to them. It is said, therefore, that they have learnt the practice of procuring abortion by the use of some vegetable; and that it even extends to prevent conception for a considerable time after. During these parties they are exposed to numerous hazards, to excessive exertions, to the greatest extremities of hunger. Even at their homes the nation depends for food, through a certain part of every year, on the gleanings of the forest: that is, they experience a famine once in every year. With all animals, if the female be badly fed, or not fed at all, her young perish: and if both male and female be reduced to like want, generation becomes less active, less productive. To the obstacles then of want and hazard, which nature has opposed to the multiplication of wild animals, for the purpose of restraining their numbers within certain bounds, those of labour and of voluntary abortion are added with the Indian. No wonder then if they multiply less than we do. Where food is regularly supplied, a single farm will shew more of cattle, than a whole country of forests can of buffaloes. The same Indian women, when married to white traders, who feed them and their children plentifully and regularly, who exempt them from excessive drudgery, who keep them stationary and unexposed to accident, produce and raise as many children as the white women. Instances are known, under these circumstances, of their rearing a dozen children. An inhuman practice once prevailed in this country of making slaves of the Indians. It is a fact well known with us, that the Indian women so enslaved produced and raised as numerous families as either the whites or blacks among whom they lived. -- It has been said, that Indians have less hair than the whites, except on the head. But this is a fact of which fair proof can scarcely be had. With them it is disgraceful to be hairy on the body. They say it likens them to hogs. They therefore pluck the hair as fast as it appears. But the traders who marry their women, and prevail on them to discontinue this practice, say, that nature is the same with them as with the whites. Nor, if the fact be true, is the consequence necessary which has been drawn from it. Negroes have notoriously less hair than the whites; yet they are more ardent. But if cold and moisture be the agents of nature for diminishing the races of animals, how comes she all at once to suspend their operation as to the physical man of the new world, whom the Count acknowledges to be `a peu pres de meme stature que l'homme de notre monde,' and to let loose their influence on his moral XVIII. 145. faculties? How has this `combination of the elements and other physical causes, so contrary to the enlargement of animal nature in this new world, these obstacles to the developement and formation of great germs,' been arrested and suspended, so as to permit the human body to acquire its just dimensions, and by what inconceivable process has their action been directed on his mind alone? To judge of the truth of this, to form a just estimate of their genius and mental powers, more facts are wanting, and great allowance to be made for those circumstances of their situation which call for a display of particular talents only. This done, we shall probably find that they are formed in mind as well as in body, on the same module with the (* 11) `Homo sapiens Europaeus.' The principles of their society forbidding all compulsion, they are to be led to duty and to enterprize by personal influence and persuasion. Hence eloquence in council, bravery and address in war, become the foundations of all consequence with them. To these acquirements all their faculties are directed. Of their bravery and address in war we have multiplied proofs, because we have been the subjects on which they were exercised. Of their eminence in oratory we have fewer examples, because it is displayed chiefly in their own councils. Some, however, we have of very superior lustre. I may challenge the whole orations of Demosthenes and Cicero, and of any more eminent orator, if Europe has furnished more eminent, to produce a single passage, superior to the speech of Logan, a Mingo chief, to Lord Dunmore, when governor of this state. And, as a testimony of their talents in this line, I beg leave to introduce it, first stating the incidents necessary for understanding it. In the spring of the year 1774, a robbery and murder were committed on an inhabitant of the frontiers of Virginia, by two Indians of the Shawanee tribe. The neighbouring whites, according to their custom, undertook to punish this outrage in a summary way. Col. Cresap, a man infamous for the many murders he had committed on those much-injured people, collected a party, and proceeded down the Kanhaway in quest of vengeance. Unfortunately a canoe of women and children, with one man only, was seen coming from the opposite shore, unarmed, and unsuspecting an hostile attack from the whites. Cresap and his party concealed themselves on the bank of the river, and the moment the canoe reached the shore, singled out their objects, and, at one fire, killed every person in it. This happened to be the family of Logan, who had long been distinguished as a friend of the whites. This unworthy return provoked his vengeance. He accordingly signalized himself in the war which ensued. In the autumn of the same year, a decisive battle was fought at the mouth of the Great Kanhaway, between the collected forces of the Shawanees, Mingoes, and Delawares, and a detachment of the Virginia militia. The Indians were defeated, and sued for peace. Logan however disdained to be seen among the suppliants. But, lest the sincerity of a treaty should be distrusted, from which so distinguished a chief absented himself, he sent by a messenger the following speech to be delivered to Lord Dunmore.
`I appeal to any white man to say, if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked, and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, `Logan is the friend of white men.' I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Col. Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not sparing even my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it: I have killed many: I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbour a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? -- Not one.'
Before we condemn the Indians of this continent as wanting genius, we must consider that letters have not yet been introduced among them. Were we to compare them in their present state with the Europeans North of the Alps, when the Roman arms and arts first crossed those mountains, the comparison would be unequal, because, at that time, those parts of Europe were swarming with numbers; because numbers produce emulation, and multiply the chances of improvement, and one improvement begets another. Yet I may safely ask, How many good poets, how many able mathematicians, how many great inventors in arts or sciences, had Europe North of the Alps then produced? And it was sixteen centuries after this before a Newton could be formed. I do not mean to deny, that there are varieties in the race of man, distinguished by their powers both of body and mind. I believe there are, as I see to be the case in the races of other animals. I only mean to suggest a doubt, whether the bulk and faculties of animals depend on the side of the Atlantic on which their food happens to grow, or which furnishes the elements of which they are compounded? Whether nature has enlisted herself as a Cis or Trans-Atlantic partisan? I am induced to suspect, there has been more eloquence than sound reasoning displayed in support of this theory; that it is one of those cases where the judgment has been seduced by a glowing pen: and whilst I render every tribute of honor and esteem to the celebrated Zoologist, who has added, and is still adding, so many precious things to the treasures of science, I must doubt whether in this instance he has not cherished error also, by lending her for a moment his vivid imagination and bewitching language.
So far the Count de Buffon has carried this new theory of the tendency of nature to belittle her productions on this side the Atlantic. Its application to the race of whites, transplanted from Europe, remained for the Abbe Raynal. `On doit etre etonne (he says) que l'Amerique n'ait pas encore produit un bon poete, un habile mathematicien, un homme de genie dans un seul art, ou une seule science.' 7. Hist. Philos. p. 92. ed. Maestricht. 1774. `America has not yet produced one good poet.' When we shall have existed as a people as long as the Greeks did before they produced a Homer, the Romans a Virgil, the French a Racine and Voltaire, the English a Shakespeare and Milton, should this reproach be still true, we will enquire from what unfriendly causes it has proceeded, that the other countries of Europe and quarters of the earth shall not have inscribed any name in the roll of poets (* 12). But neither has America produced `one able mathematician, one man of genius in a single art or a single science.' In war we have produced a Washington, whose memory will be adored while liberty shall have votaries, whose name will triumph over time, and will in future ages assume its just station among the most celebrated worthies of the world, when that wretched philosophy shall be forgotten which would have arranged him among the degeneracies of nature. In physics we have produced a Franklin, than whom no one of the present age has made more important discoveries, nor has enriched philosophy with more, or more ingenious solutions of the phaenomena of nature. We have supposed Mr. Rittenhouse second to no astronomer living: that in genius he must be the first, because he is self-taught. As an artist he has exhibited as great a proof of mechanical genius as the world has ever produced. He has not indeed made a world; but he has by imitation approached nearer its Maker than any man who has lived from the creation to this day (* 13). As in philosophy and war, so in government, in oratory, in painting, in the plastic art, we might shew that America, though but a child of yesterday, has already given hopeful proofs of genius, as well of the nobler kinds, which arouse the best feelings of man, which call him into action, which substantiate his freedom, and conduct him to happiness, as of the subordinate, which serve to amuse him only. We therefore suppose, that this reproach is as unjust as it is unkind; and that, of the geniuses which adorn the present age, America contributes its full share. For comparing it with those countries, where genius is most cultivated, where are the most excellent models for art, and scaffoldings for the attainment of science, as France and England for instance, we calculate thus. The United States contain three millions of inhabitants; France twenty millions; and the British islands ten. We produce a Washington, a Franklin, a Rittenhouse. France then should have half a dozen in each of these lines, and Great-Britain half that number, equally eminent. It may be true, that France has: we are but just becoming acquainted with her, and our acquaintance so far gives us high ideas of the genius of her inhabitants. It would be injuring too many of them to name particularly a Voltaire, a Buffon, the constellation of Encyclopedists, the Abbe Raynal himself, &c. &c. We therefore have reason to believe she can produce her full quota of genius. The present war having so long cut off all communication with Great-Britain, we are not able to make a fair estimate of the state of science in that country. The spirit in which she wages war is the only sample before our eyes, and that does not seem the legitimate offspring either of science or of civilization. The sun of her glory is fast descending to the horizon. Her philosophy has crossed the Channel, her freedom the Atlantic, and herself seems passing to that awful dissolution, whose issue is not given human foresight to scan (* 14).
Having given a sketch of our minerals, vegetables, and quadrupeds, and being led by a proud theory to make a comparison of the latter with those of Europe, and to extend it to the Man of America, both aboriginal and emigrant, I will proceed to the remaining articles comprehended under the present query.
Between ninety and an hundred of our birds have been described by Catesby. His drawings are better as to form and attitude, than colouring, which is generally too high. They are the following.
Besides these, we have
To this catalogue of our indigenous animals, I will add a short account of an anomaly of nature, taking place sometimes in the race of negroes brought from Africa, who, though black themselves, have in rare instances, white children, called Albinos. I have known four of these myself, and have faithful accounts of three others. The circumstances in which all the individuals agree are these. They are of a pallid cadaverous white, untinged with red, without any coloured spots or seams; their hair of the same kind of white, short, coarse, and curled as is that of the negro; all of them well formed, strong, healthy, perfect in their senses, except that of sight, and born of parents who had no mixture of white blood. Three of these Albinos were sisters, having two other full sisters, who were black. The youngest of the three was killed by lightning, at twelve years of age. The eldest died at about 27 years of age, in child-bed, with her second child. The middle one is now alive in health, and has issue, as the eldest had, by a black man, which issue was black. They are uncommonly shrewd, quick in their apprehensions and in reply. Their eyes are in a perpetual tremulous vibration, very weak, and much affected by the sun: but they see better in the night than we do. They are of the property of Col. Skipwith, of Cumberland. The fourth is a negro woman, whose parents came from Guinea, and had three other children, who were of their own colour. She is freckled, her eye-sight so weak that she is obliged to wear a bonnet in the summer; but it is better in the night than day. She had an Albino child by a black man. It died at the age of a few weeks. These were the property of Col. Carter, of Albemarle. A sixth instance is a woman of the property of a Mr. Butler, near Petersburgh. She is stout and robust, has issue a daughter, jet black, by a black man. I am not informed as to her eye sight. The seventh instance is of a male belonging to a Mr. Lee, of Cumberland. His eyes are tremulous and weak. He is tall of stature, and now advanced in years. He is the only male of the Albinos which have come within my information. Whatever be the cause of the disease in the skin, or in its colouring matter, which produces this change, it seems more incident to the female than male sex. To these I may add the mention of a negro man within my own knowledge, born black, and of black parents; on whose chin, when a boy, a white spot appeared. This continued to increase till he became a man, by which time it had extended over his chin, lips, one cheek, the under jaw and neck on that side. It is of the Albino white, without any mixture of red, and has for several years been stationary. He is robust and healthy, and the change of colour was not accompanied with any sensible disease, either general or topical.
Of our fish and insects there has been nothing like a full description or collection. More of them are described in Catesby than in any other work. Many also are to be found in Sir Hans Sloane's Jamaica, as being common to that and this country. The honey-bee is not a native of our continent. Marcgrave indeed mentions a species of honey-bee in Brasil. But this has no sting, and is therefore different from the one we have, which resembles perfectly that of Europe. The Indians concur with us in the tradition that it was brought from Europe; but when, and by whom, we know not. The bees have generally extended themselves into the country, a little in advance of the white settlers. The Indians therefore call them the white man's fly, and consider their approach as indicating the approach of the settlements of the whites. A question here occurs, How far northwardly have these insects been found? That they are unknown in Lapland, I infer from Scheffer's information, that the Laplanders eat the pine bark, prepared in a certain way, instead of those things sweetened with sugar. `Hoc comedunt pro rebus saccharo conditis.' Scheff. Lapp. c. 18. Certainly, if they had honey, it would be a better substitute for sugar than any preparation of the pine bark. Kalm tells us the honey bee I. 126. cannot live through the winter in Canada. They furnish then an additional proof of the remarkable fact first observed by the Count de Buffon, and which has thrown such a blaze of light on the field of natural history, that no animals are found in both continents, but those which are able to bear the cold of those regions where they probably join.
(* 1) 2. Buffon Epoques, 96.
(* 3) D'Aubenton.
(* 4) It is said, that this animal is seldom seen above 30 miles from shore, or beyond the 56th degree of latitude. The interjacent islands between Asia and America admit his passing from one continent to the other without exceeding these bounds. And, in fact, travellers tell us that these islands are places of principal resort for them, and especially in the season of bringing forth their young.
(* 5) The descriptions of Theodat, Denys and La Hontan, cited by Mons. de Buffon under the article Elan, authorize the supposition, that the flat-horned elk is found in the northern parts of America. It has not however extended to our latitudes. On the other hand, I could never learn that the round-horned elk has been seen further North than the Hudson's river. This agrees with the former elk in its general character, being, like that, when compared with a deer, very much larger, its ears longer, broader, and thicker in proportion, its hair much longer, neck and tail shorter, having a dewlap before the breast (caruncula gutturalis Linnaei) a white spot often, if not always; of a foot diameter, on the hinder part of the buttocks round the tail; its gait a trot, and attended with a rattling of the hoofs: but distinguished from that decisively by its horns, which are not palmated, but round and pointed. This is the animal described by Catesby as the Cervus major Americanus, the Stag of America, le Cerf de l'Amerique. But it differs from the Cervus as totally, as does the palmated elk from the dama. And in fact it seems to stand in the same relation to the palmated elk, as the red deer does to the fallow. It has abounded in Virginia, has been seen, within my knowledge, on the Eastern side of the Blue ridge since the year 1765, is now common beyond those mountains, has been often brought to us and tamed, and their horns are in the hands of many. I should designate it as the `Alces Americanus cornibus teretibus.' It were to be wished, that Naturalists, who are acquainted with the renne and elk of Europe, and who may hereafter visit the northern parts of America, would examine well the animals called there by the names of grey and black moose, caribou, orignal, and elk. Mons. de Buffon has done what could be done from the materials in his hands, towards clearing up the confusion introduced by the loose application of these names among the animals they are meant to designate. He reduces the whole to the renne and flat-horned elk. From all the information I have been able to collect, I strongly suspect they will be found to cover three, if not four distinct species of animals. I have seen skins of a moose, and of the caribou: they differ more from each other, and from that of the round-horned elk, than I ever saw two skins differ which belonged to different individuals of any wild species. These differences are in the colour, length, and coarseness of the hair, and in the size, texture, and marks of the skin. Perhaps it will be found that there is, 1. the moose, black and grey, the former being said to be the male, and the latter the female. 2. The caribou or renne. 3. The flat-horned elk, or orignal. 4. The round-horned elk. Should this last, though possessing so nearly the characters of the elk, be found to be the same with the Cerf d'Ardennes or Brandhirtz of Germany, still there will remain the three species first enumerated.
(* 6) The Tapir is the largest of the animals peculiar to America. I collect his weight thus. Mons. de Buffon says, XXIII. 274. that he is of the size of a Zebu, or a small cow. He gives us the measures of a Zebu, ib. 94. as taken by himself, viz. 5 feet 7 inches from the muzzle to the root of the tail, and 5 feet 1 inch circumference behind the fore legs. A bull, measuring in the same way 6 feet 9 inches and 5 feet 2 inches, weighed 600 lb. VIII. 153. The Zebu then, and of course the Tapir, would weigh about 500 lb. But one individual of every species of European peculiars would probably weigh less than 400 lb. These are French measures and weights.
(* 7) In Williamsburg, April, 1769.
(* 8) Sol Rodomonte sprezza di venire Se non, dove la via meno e sicura. Ariosto. 14. 117.
(* 9) In so judicious an author as Don Ulloa, and one to whom we are indebted for the most precise information we have of South America, I did not expect to find such assertions as the following. `Los Indios vencidos son los mas cobardes y pusilanimes que se peuden ver: -- se hacen inocentes, se humillan hasta el desprecio, disculpan su inconsiderado arrojo, y con las suplicas y los ruegos dan seguras pruebas de su pusilanimidad. -- o lo que resieren las historias de la Conquista, sobre sus grandes acciones, es en un sentido figurado, o el caracter de estas gentes no es ahora segun era entonces; pero lo que no tiene duda es, que las Naciones de la parte Septentrional subsisten en la misma libertad que siempre han tenido, sin haber sido sojuzgados por algun Principe extrano, y que viven segun su regimen y costumbres de toda la vida, sin que haya habido motivo para que muden de caracter; y en estos se ve lo mismo, que sucede en los del Peru, y de toda la America Meridional, reducidos, y que nunca lo han estado.' Noticias Americanas. Entretenimiento XVIII. 1. Don Ulloa here admits, that the authors who have described the Indians of South America, before they were enslaved, had represented them as a brave people, and therefore seems to have suspected that the cowardice which he had observed in those of the present race might be the effect of subjugation. But, supposing the Indians of North America to be cowards also, he concludes the ancestors of those of South America to have been so too, and therefore that those authors have given fictions for truths. He was probably not acquainted himself with the Indians of North America, and had formed his opinion of them from hear-say. Great numbers of French, of English, and of Americans, are perfectly acquainted with these people. Had he had an opportunity of enquiring of any of these, they would have told him, that there never was an instance known of an Indian begging his life when in the power of his enemies: on the contrary, that he courts death by every possible insult and provocation. His reasoning then would have been reversed thus. `Since the present Indian of North America is brave, and authors tell us, that the ancestors of those of South America were brave also; it must follow, that the cowardice of their descendants is the effect of subjugation and ill treatment.' For he observes, ib. (symbol omitted). 27. that `los obrages los aniquilan por la inhumanidad con que se les trata.'
(* 10) A remarkable instance of this appeared in the case of the late Col. Byrd, who was sent to the Cherokee nation to transact some business with them. It happened that some of our disorderly people had just killed one or two of that nation. It was therefore proposed in the council of the Cherokees that Col. Byrd should be put to death, in revenge for the loss of their countrymen. Among them was a chief called Silouee, who, on some former occasion, had contracted an acquaintance and friendship with Col. Byrd. He came to him every night in his tent, and told him not to be afraid, they should not kill him. After many days deliberation, however, the determination was, contrary to Silouee's expectation, that Byrd should be put to death, and some warriors were dispatched as executioners. Silouee attended them, and when they entered the tent, he threw himself between them and Byrd, and said to the warriors, `this man is my friend: before you get at him, you must kill me.' On which they returned, and the council respected the principle so much as to recede from their determination.
(* 11) Linn. Syst. Definition of a Man.
(* 12) Has the world as yet produced more than two poets, acknowledged to be such by all nations? An Englishman, only, reads Milton with delight, an Italian Tasso, a Frenchman the Henriade, a Portuguese Camouens: but Homer and Virgil have been the rapture of every age and nation: they are read with enthusiasm in their originals by those who can read the originals, and in translations by those who cannot.
(* 13) There are various ways of keeping truth out of sight. Mr. Rittenhouse's model of the planetary system has the plagiary appellation of an Orrery; and the quadrant invented by Godfrey, an American also, and with the aid of which the European nations traverse the globe, is called Hadley's quadrant.
(* 14) In
a later edition of the Abbe Raynal's work, he has withdrawn his censure
from that part of the new world inhabited by the Federo-Americans; but
has left it still on the other parts. North America has always been
more accessible to strangers than South. If he was mistaken then
as to the former, he may be so as to the latter. The glimmerings
which reach us from South America enable us only to see that its inhabitants
are held under the accumulated pressure of slavery, superstition, and
ignorance. Whenever they shall be able to rise under this weight,
and to shew themselves to the rest of the world, they will probably
shew they are like the rest of the world. We have not yet sufficient
evidence that there are more _lakes_ and _fogs_ in South America than
in other parts of the earth. As little do we know what would be
their operation on the mind of man. That country has been visited
by Spaniards and Portugueze chiefly, and almost exclusively. These,
going from a country of the old world remarkably dry in its soil and
climate, fancied there were more lakes and fogs in South America than
in Europe. An inhabitant of Ireland, Sweden, or Finland, would
have formed the contrary opinion. Had South America then been
discovered and seated by a people from a fenny country, it would probably
have been represented as much drier than the old world. A patient
pursuit of facts, and cautious combination and comparison of them, is
the drudgery to which man is subjected by his Maker, if he wishes to
attain sure knowledge.