_A notice of the mines and other subterraneous riches; its
trees, plants, fruits, &c._
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
We are told of a Sulphur
spring on Howard's creek of
Greenbriar, and another at Boonsborough on Kentuckey.
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.
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.
1. Senna. Cassia ligustrina.
Arsmart. Polygonum Sagittatum.
Clivers, or goose-grass. Galium spurium.
Lobelia of several species.
Palma Christi. Ricinus.
James-town weed. Datura Stramonium.
Mallow. Malva rotundifolia.
Syrian mallow. Hibiscus moschentos.
Indian mallow. Sida rhombifolia.
Virginia Marshmallow. Napaea hermaphrodita.
Indian physic. Spiraea trifoliata.
Pleurisy root. Asclepias decumbens.
Virginia snake-root. Aristolochia serpentaria.
Black snake-root. Actaea racemosa.
Seneca rattlesnake-root. Polygala Senega.
Valerian. Valeriana locusta radiata.
Gentiana, Saponaria, Villosa & Centaurium.
Ginseng. Panax quinquefolium.
Angelica. Angelica sylvestris.
Cassava. Jatropha urens.
2. Tuckahoe. Lycoperdon
Jerusalem artichoke. Helianthus tuberosus.
Long potatoes. Convolvulas batatas.
Granadillas. Maycocks. Maracocks. Passiflora incarnata.
Panic. Panicum of many species.
Indian millet. Holcus laxus.
Wild oat. Zizania aquatica.
Wild pea. Dolichos of Clayton.
Lupine. Lupinus perennis.
Wild hop. Humulus lupulus.
Wild cherry. Prunus Virginiana.
Cherokee plumb. Prunus sylvestris fructu majori. }
Wild plumb. Prunus sylvestris fructu minori. } Clayton.
Wild crab-apple. Pyrus coronaria.
Red mulberry. Morus rubra.
Persimmon. Diospyros Virginiana.
Sugar maple. Acer saccharinum.
Scaly bark hiccory. Juglans alba cortice squamoso.
Common hiccory. Juglans alba, fructu minore rancido.
Paccan, or Illinois nut. Not described by Linnaeus, Millar, or
Clayton. Were I to venture to describe this, speaking of the fruit
from memory, and of the leaf from plants of two years growth, I
should specify it as the Juglans alba,foliolis lanceolatis,
acuminatis, serratis, tomentosis, fructu minore, ovato, compresso,
vix insculpto, dulci, putamine, tenerrimo. It grows on the Illinois,
Wabash, Ohio, and Missisipi. It is spoken of by Don Ulloa under the
name of Pacanos, in his Noticias Americanas. Entret. 6.
Black walnut. Juglans nigra.
White walnut. Juglans alba.
Chesnut. Fagus castanea.
Chinquapin. Fagus pumila.
Hazlenut. Corylus avellana.
Grapes. Vitis. Various kinds, though only three described by
Scarlet Strawberries. Fragaria Virginiana of Millar.
Whortleberries. Vaccinium uliginosum?
Wild gooseberries. Ribes grossularia.
Cranberries. Vaccinium oxycoccos.
Black raspberries. Rubus occidentalis.
Blackberries. Rubus fruticosus.
Dewberries. Rubus caesius.
Cloud-berries. Rubus chamaemorus.
3. Plane-tree. Platanus
Poplar. Liriodendron tulipifera.
Black poplar. Populus nigra.
Aspen. Populus tremula.
Linden, or lime. Tilia Americana.
Red flowering maple. Acer rubrum.
Horse-chesnut, or Buck's-eye. Aesculus pavia.
Catalpa. Bignonia catalpa.
Umbrella. Magnolia tripetala.
Swamp laurel. Magnolia glauca.
Cucumber-tree. Magnolia acuminata.
Portugal bay. Laurus indica.
Red bay. Laurus borbonia.
Dwarf-rose bay. Rhododendron maximum.
Laurel of the western country. Qu. species?
Wild pimento. Laurus benzoin.
Sassafras. Laurus sassafras.
Locust. Robinia pseudo-acacia.
Honey-locust. Gleditsia. 1. Beta.
Dogwood. Cornus florida.
Fringe or snow-drop tree. Chionanthus Virginica.
Barberry. Berberis vulgaris.
Redbud, or Judas-tree. Cercis Canadensis.
Holly. Ilex aquifolium.
Cockspur hawthorn. Crataegus coccinea.
Spindle-tree. Euonymus Europaeus.
Evergreen spindle-tree. Euonymus Americanus.
Elder. Sambucus nigra.
Papaw. Annona triloba.
Candleberry myrtle. Myrica cerifera.
Dwarf-laurel. Kalmia angustifolia.} called ivy
Kalmia latifolia } with us.
Ivy. Hedera quinquefolia.
Trumpet honeysuckle. Lonicera sempervirens.
Upright honeysuckle. Azalea nudiflora.
Yellow jasmine. Bignonia sempervirens.
American aloe. Agave Virginica.
Sumach. Rhus. Qu. species?
Poke. Phytolacca decandra.
Long moss. Tillandsia Usneoides.
4. Reed. Arundo phragmitis.
Virginia hemp. Acnida cannabina.
Flax. Linum Virginianum.
Black, or pitch-pine. Pinus taeda.
White pine. Pinus strobus.
Yellow pine. Pinus Virginica.
Spruce pine. Pinus foliis singularibus. Clayton.
Hemlock spruce fir. Pinus Canadensis.
Abor vitae. Thuya occidentalis.
Juniper. Juniperus virginica (called cedar with us).
Cypress. Cupressus disticha.
White cedar. Cupressus Thyoides.
Black oak. Quercus nigra.
White oak. Quercus alba.
Red oak. Quercus rubra.
Willow oak. Quercus phellos.
Chesnut oak. Quercus prinus.
Black jack oak. Quercus aquatica. Clayton. Query?
Ground oak. Quercus pumila. Clayton.
Live oak. Quercus Virginiana. Millar.
Black Birch. Betula nigra.
White birch. Betula alba.
Beach. Fagus sylvatica.
Ash. Fraxinus Americana.
Fraxinus Novae Angliae. Millar.
Elm. Ulmus Americana.
Willow. Salix. Query species?
Sweet Gum. Liquidambar styraciflua.
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.
Maize. Zea mays.
Round potatoes. Solanum tuberosum.
Pumpkins. Cucurbita pepo.
Cymlings. Cucurbita verrucosa.
Squashes. Cucurbita melopepo.
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
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.
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:
`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.
A comparative View of the Quadrupeds of Europe and of America.
I. _Aboriginals of both_.
Buffalo. Bison *1800
White bear. Ours bla Caribou. Renne
Bear. Ours 153.7 *410
Elk. Elan. Orignal, mated
Red deer. Cerf 288.8 *273
Fallow deer. Daim 167.8
Wolf. Loup 69.8
Roe. Chevreuil 56.7
Glutton. Glouton. Ca jou
Wild cat. Chat sauva +30
Lynx. Loup cervier 25.
Beaver. Castor 18.5 *45
Badger. Blaireau 13.6
Red Fox. Renard 13.5
Grey Fox. Isatis
Otter. Loutre 8.9 +12
Monax. Marmotte 6.5
Vison. Fouine 2.8
Hedgehog. Herisson 2.2
Martin. Marte 1.9 +6
Water rat. Rat d'eau 7.5
Wesel. Belette 2.2 oz.
Flying squirrel. Pol uche 2.2 +4
Shrew mouse. Musarai 1.
II. _Aboriginals of one only_.
Sanglier. Wild boar 280. Tapir 534.
Mouflon. Wild sheep 56. Elk, round horned +450.
Bouquetin. Wild goat Puma
Lievre. Hare 7.6 Jaguar 218.
Lapin. Rabbet 3.4 Cabiai 109.
Putois. Polecat 3.3 Tamanoir 109.
Genette 3.1 Tamandua 65.4
Desman. Muskrat oz. Cougar of N. Amer. 75.
Ecureuil. Squirrel 12. Cougar of S. Amer. 59.
Hermine. Ermin 8.2 Ocelot
Rat. Rat 7.5 Pecari 46.3
Loirs 3.1 Jaguaret 43.6
Lerot. Dormouse 1.8 Alco
Taupe. Mole 1.2 Lama
Hamster .9 Paco
Zisel Paca 32.7
Souris. Mouse .6 Sloth. Unau 27 1/4
Tatou Kabassou 21.8
Raccoon. Raton 16.5
Sloth. Ai 13.
Sapajou Coaita 9.8
Tatou Cachica 7.
Little Coendou 6.5
Sapajou Sai 3.5
Tatou Tatouate 3.3
II. TABLE continued.
Whabus. Hare. Rabbet
Great grey squirrel +2.7
Fox squirrel of Virginia +2.625
Sapajou. Sajou 1.8
Indian pig. Cochon
Sapajou. Saimiri 1.5
Lesser grey squirrel +1.5
Black squirrel +1.5
Red squirrel 10. oz.
Sagoin Tamarin oz.
Sagoin Ouistiti 4.4
Sarigue of Cayenne
Red mole oz.
Ground squirrel 4.
III. _Domesticated in both_.
Cow 763. *2500
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
BIRDS OF VIRGINIA.
Besides these, we have
The Royston crow. Corvus cornix.
Crane. Ardea Canadensis.
House swallow. Hirundo rustica.
Ground swallow. Hirundo riparia.
Greatest grey eagle.
Smaller turkey buzzard, with a feathered head.
Greatest owl, or nighthawk.
Wethawk, which feeds flying.
Water pelican of the Missisipi, whose pouch holds a peck.
Duck and Mallard.
Sheldrach, or Canvas back.
Didapper, or Dopchick.
Spoon billed duck.
Red bird, with black head, wings and tail.
And doubtless many others which have not yet been described and
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
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
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
(* 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
(* 7) In Williamsburg, April, 1769.
(* 8) Sol Rodomonte sprezza
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.