Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

the vegetable production which effectually cures cancers. He says that at present he can not, in justice to himself, communicate his knowledge in this matter. I think it will not be obtained, unless the States should think the discovery so essential to the good and happiness of mankind as to be induced thereby to offer him a sum of money for it which would make it unnecessary for him longer to attend to business. This, probably, and this only, I suppose, would draw it from him. I wish the public would take up the matter, for it can not be doubted but that his knowledge herein is important.

I am informed that the Philosophical Society here are preparing to publish another volume.

Mr. Matlock, the late Secretary of this State, was the author of those observations on the principles of vegetation which, through General Warren, I communicated to the Academy. This gentleman is absent. I can not, therefore, now obtain any further information from him.

The question which has been so long and so often agitated, whether the plant is fed from the atmosphere or earth, or whether it receives its nourishment solely from the one or the other, or whether jointly from both, is vet involved in doubt and uncertainty, and perhaps it will so continue, and prove to be one of those subjects of inquiry in which we may not find the most explicit and direct evidence by which we may at once determine on which side the truth lies. But, as it is of importance to ascertain the principles of vegetation as fully as possible, we may with propriety have recourse to the various circumstances which offer themselves to our consideration, which, being collected, and the whole contrasted, may, and probably will, leave the mind at last pretty fully, if not perfectly, satisfied.

Under these ideas of the matter I will offer to your consideration a circumstance which I think will operate in support of the opinion that the plant is fed from the atmosphere rather than from the earth. Though of itself it may prove little, yet, with others, it will have its weight and be important.

A writer in recording his travels through South America says: “ That in the forest grows a tree called properly Malapole, i. e., hill timber. It is of itself a weak tree, but grow

ing near another of considerable bulk, and coming into contact with it, when expanding its branches, it deprives its neighbor of the rays of the sun. Nor is this all, for as this imbibes the juices of the earth the other withers and dies.”

I have not a doubt that trees thus embraced will wither and die, but I think the Historian has formed a wrong opinion respecting the causes of their decease. He attributes them to two, viz., their being masked from the rays of the sun, and being deprived of the necessary juices of the earth, neither of which, I think, are the true ones.

If we admit that the trees are fed from the earth we can hardly suppose that one tree shall possess such powerful imbibing qualities as to deprive the other tree, natural to the soil, of all support, or that the earth can, in process of time, have become so partial to the one and forgetful of the other of her productions.

With respect to the other cause the author assigns for the decease of the tree, that appears to me to have less weight in it than the former, for it has been found by long experience that a plant will flourish and a tree grow vigorously in the shade, secluded from the sun, while there is no other curtain than the sky spread over it. I think, on the whole, that, with more truth, we may attribute the cause of the decease of the tree to its being deprived of its food, which it would have received from the atmosphere, were it not denied this blessing by the branches of its domineering neighbor, than to those assigned by the Ilistorian.

I have to lament that the official duties which I owe the public, and which I must perform, prevent my paying that attention to the American Academy, which inclination would otherwise prompt me to do.

The stone herewith sent was found on the beach of the
North River (or Hudson) near Newburgh.
I have the honor to be,

Reverend sir,
With great esteem,

Your obedient servant,
REVEREND MR. CUTLER.

B. LINCOLN.

CHAPTER XIX.

CORRESPONDENCE with DR. BELKNAP.

[To Dr. Belknap.]

IPSWICH, Aug. 9, 1784. My Dear Friend :—I have been honored with your letter of the 6th inst. by the hand of Mr. Parker, and feel myself under particular obligations to you for introducing me to an acquaintance with that gentleman. I was much pleased with him the little time he spent with me, and hope this may be an introduction to a further acquaintance.

It was not in my power to make any calculations on the observations we made at the White Mountains early enough for the last post. I have since gone over my minutes. I find the quicksilver in the barometer ranged below at 27.99 inches, in 46° of heat by the thermometer. At the top it ranged at 21.80 inches in 41° of heat by the thermometer. These ranges will give the height of the mountains 10,001.6 feet above the level of the sea, and 6513.1 above our tent at the foot of the mountain. The tent 3488.5 feet above the level of the sea. But as I perceived at the top of the mountain that some particles of quicksilver had, by some means, exuded through the leather of the reservoir, and some air bubbles intruded into the tube after the screw was turned down, I made a deduction of 180% from the difference of the upper and lower range of the mercury. The upper range of the mercury will then be 22.60 inches, and give the height of the mountain 9062.5 feet above the sea, and 5614 feet above the tent. In this deduction, I must confess, I have no accurate rule for ascertaining it. In screwing up the reservoir at the top of the mountain, I found the quicksilver did not entirely fill up the tube. I then measured the quantity of this defect, and made it the ground of this deduction, which I think is as great as it ought, by any means, to be. I then hoped, after our return, to have made further observations on the barometer which would enable me to determine this defect with more certainty, but found that the reservoir, in returning, was so injured as to leak out the most of the quicksilver. As the ill-fate of our barometer has prevented an accurate mensuration of the heights of the mountains, I call the height, in round numbers, 9,000 feet above the level of the sea, 5,500 feet above our tent, and the tent 3,500 feet above the sea. These numbers can not be far from the truth, unless there was a much greater defect in the barometer than I have now the least suspicion. It is, however, no small mortification to me not to be able to give a more accurate account of the height of this mountain, after taking so much pains to ascertain it.

In my geometrical observations at the meadow for ascertaining the height of the first summit, I find my base so short as not to subtend angle at the mountain sufficient for determining the height with any degree of certainty, especially as the observations were made in so hasty a manner, and not repeated, and the top of the mountain viewed through so much of a cloud as must occasion a deception in the appearance of its altitude. If any dependence can be made on this measure, it will make the height of the Sugar-loaf above the plain as much as 500 feet. I am now fully persuaded, though we called it but 150, that it is not less than 300 feet. I was led to this opinion by observing an height at Cabot's farm, which was found by mensuration to be upward of an hundred feet, which we all judged, that were on the mountain, could not be more than one-fifth part of the height of the Sugarloaf.

If we are not greatly mistaken in the height of the White Mountain, it must be placed in no inconsiderable rank among the highest mountains on the globe. I can find an account of only four that are higher. The only mountains of which I can find an account of their height in any author I have by me, are: Andes, 20,280 ; Peak of Teneriffe, 13,178; Gammi, 10,110; The Pyrenees, 6,640; the four most elevated points the Alps, viz., Mole., 4,882; Dole, 4,292; Buel, 8,893, and Mt. Blanc, 14,432.

I wish to hear how you feel after your tour. It is not yet entirely out of my bones, but I find myself in a good way. . : :

Your most humble servant,

M. CUTLER. P.S.- ... My minutes of the sun's altitude at the west notch of the mountain I have mislaid, or lost, and can not at present find it. I find the degree of cold at the pinnacle by the thermometer corresponds nearly with the mean degree in Nov. and March with us.

IPSWICH, Jan. 5, 1785. Rev. MR. BELKNAP.

Dear Sir:- I had not the pleasure of receiving yours of the 26th of Nov. until the 20th Dec., and no opportunity has presented for returning yon an earlier answer. I am exceedingly gratified by your repeated accounts of the several appearances of the White Mountains and the state of the weather with you at the same time. I imagined the mountain would have been clothed in its white coat much earlier than the first of November. But the unusual mildness of the atmosphere during the fall months, and the frequent S. W. and Westerly winds, which were predominant with us, might prevent the fall of so great depth of snow on the mountain as not to melt sooner in the year. I shall be much obliged to you and Brother Haven for further accounts.

The barometer and thermometer I expected from London are arrived, and I have had the good fortune to get them home safe. They were made by Nairne & Blunt, and appear to be excellent instruments, but I am sorry to find that neither of them are properly portable ones. The thermometer is a very long tube, graduated 50° below (), and 212 above.

Our good brother, Mr. Little, has been so kind as to spend the last Sabbath with me in his way to Boston, who I expect on his return will forward this letter to you. Pray, write me by the first opportunity. I wish to know if you have heard any thing from Brother Balch. We have not so much as heard whether he is dead or alive. I am, dear sir, with the highest respect, Your most obedient, humble servant,

M. CUTLER.

« VorigeDoorgaan »