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Jan. 14, 1785. Brother Little has greatly disappointed me. He returned from Boston much sooner than he proposed, and called when I was from home, which has prevented my sending this letter by him. Since his return I have been honored with a letter from you and the copper ore from our friend, Mr. Place, forwarded by Mr. James Sheafe. I have not had time to do any thing with respect to the ore, but will pay every attention to it in my power as soon as possible, and send you such information as I may obtain. I have been so extremely busy since I received your letter that I have not had time to calculate the age of the moon, agreeable to your request, but shall be at leisure in two or three days, when I shall take care to do it, and embrace the first opportunity to acquaint you with it.
If you have obtained any information from Mr. Whipple respecting the mountain after we left him, I shall be much favored by receiving it. I am, sir, most affectionately, yours,
Jan. 17. Missing of the opportunity by which I expected to have sent this letter last week, I have been able to calculate the moon's age, agreeable to your desire. It was new moon on the first day of May, 0. S. 1725, at 10 h. 15 m. 52" in the morning.* The moon set in the night of the 8th, about 40 minutes after one o'clock. The time of its setting, however, I did not accurately calculate, presuming it was unnecessary for your purpose.
[From Dr. Belknap.] Rev. M. CUTLER.
Dover, Jan. 25, 1785. Dear Sir :-Yours of the 5th, 14th, and 17th inst, arrived this day, for which I thank you, particularly for your attention to my request about the setting of the moon on the day of Lovewell's battle. The account is, that they fought till midnight, when the Indians withdrew and gave them an opening to retreat, which they did, two hours before day. I was anxious to be ascertained of the moon's age, that the circumstance of fighting so late might be credible.
* The date of the battle of Lovewell's Pond.
I had, the other day, a few minutes' conversation with Mr. Whipple. He mentioned receiving your letter about two months after its date, and inquired very kindly about you. How should you feel to be assured that the Mountain you were upon was not the highest? The doubt was first started by Captain Heath, of Conway, the day I parted with you there, and he and our pilot, Evans, had a smart controversy on the subject. I forget whether I told you this, for I did not give much heed to Ileath's suspicion; but the sedate, observant, and critical eye of our friend Whipple has been busy about the Mountains ever since, and he doubts! He is suspicious that the highest peak is westward of that you ascended, and is determined to make another attempt. I mentioned this to our companion, the faithful and indefatigable Wingate * (who was so kind as to call and dine with me last week), and he joins in the suspicion. He thinks the highest summit is farther westward than where you ascended. The New River is by all pitched upon as the place where the next ascent ought to be made. By the way, I will not omit one circumstance. Mrs. B. had never seen Wingate before, but concluded he was (to use her own expression) “ a White Hill man,” by his manner of entering the door. She had, a day or two before, heard Mr. Little remark that “we” (meaning our company in that tour) “ were all married for life;" and I suppose there was an air of familiarity and satisfaction in Wingate that gave her the idea.
Mr. Whipple informed me that the freshet on the 4th of December was the highest ever known in those parts. His fields and meadows were deluged, his fences broken down, his
* Paine Wingate was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, 1739; graduated, Harvard, 1759. He preached at Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, from 1763 to 1771, when he abandoned the pulpit and commenced the practice of law. He was member of Congress in 1787 and from 1793 to 1795; United States Senator from New Hampshire, 1759 to 1793; Judge of Superior Court, 1799 to 1809 He died at Stratham, New Ilampshire, 1836. IIis wife was the sister of Timothy Pickering. She died in 1813, aged 100 years.
mills damaged, and the water rose as far as his well, within 40 feet of the house. At Conway, the river was six feet perpendicular higher than in the great freshet of October, 1775, when the New River broke out. The bridge and mill just above McMillau's was carried off; also a bridge over Swift River, which had been built since our journey. This is, by an uncommon exertion, already rebuilt, six feet higher than before. The new road at the Notch is greatly damaged. Possibly, whoever goes up the Shelburne road next summer may perceive some alterations since last July. That whole region must, from its nature, be subject to frequent changes by floods.
I am sorry your new barometer is not portable. Can you furnish yourself with those that are against another season? Mr. Whipple says an attempt will not be practicable till about the 25th of June. It would certainly be best before dog-days. If we could be assured of so mild an autumn as the last, September would do ; but the year before it was impracticable the first week in September. I must give the preference to June, on account of the length of days and shortness of nights, and I think the weather is as well settled then as any month. But my opinion is of no consequence. Two hundredweight of mortality, and a pair of lungs by no means related to the adamantine ones, which Pope was laughed at so much about, are very inconvenient in the ascending line, unless an aerostatic machine could be contrived, and even then I suspect my brain would be giddy with the sudden elevation. It is a discouraging circumstance to my making a second attempt.
Your care of my books is very kind. The sale is everywhere slow, and unless something more auspicious turns up, I shall not think it prudent to risk another volume. .. Brother Balch and his family were all well last week. I mentioned to him a circumstance related to me by an old man of this town, now deceased, viz., that he had formerly, when Barrington was in its wilderness state, found native Alum there. After the settlements were made, he lost his landmarks, and was not able to find the spot. Possibly, the
knowledge may be recovered. I have desired Mr. Balch to be particular in his inquiries.
I forget whether I showed you the red earth that I found in Somersworth. Mr. Little examined it, and pronounced it equal to the best Spanish brown. There is a yellow stratum underneath it.
I shall close this letter with an extract from a letter of my friend Mr. Hazard, of Philadelphia, November 6th : “At the meeting [i. e., of the Philos. Society] last night, I proposed Mr. Cutler for a member, and he will be balloted for at the next election.” In another, of December 18th : “ The election of members comes on about the middle of next month. You shall have notice if Mr. C. is elected.” You must know that, when I sent an account of our Tour to this good gentleman, which he laid before the Society, he was so pleased with the mention I made of you as to do the same honor to you he had before done to one much less worthy.
My respects to Mrs. Cutler, and to Dr. Fisher, when you see him. Does he intend to try another shower-bath in the woods? 'Tis a specific. I am, dear sir, with much esteem, Your obliged friend and brother,
JERE BELKNAP. Do tell me whether the Tree-toad is peculiar to America ? I observe Goldsmith has not mentioned it.
You must forgive my asking you questions. It is a trick I am very subject to when I am conversing with or writing to persons who know more than myself.
What are we to believe about animal magnetism?
[To Rev. Dr. Belknap.]
IPSWICH, Feb. 28, 1785. Dear Sir:-Your obliging letter of the 25th January came to hand last Tuesday evening, and that of the 21st inst., the next morning; for both of which I most heartily thank you. Storms and snow-banks have laid such an embargo on sociability with us, that the correspondence of an affectionate iend is enjoyed with the highest relish. Traveling has not en so difficult here for many years. We see nobody, and
do little else than sit in the chimney-corner, repeating over the same dull stories, or gawking at one another with sorry grimace. Your letters were received with avidity, and your account of Mrs. B.'s quick discovery of White Hill people, by their singular airs, has distorted my risibles and given my sides a hearty shake. Woods and mountains, it seems, may form people's manners, as well as assemblies and dancingschools. What curious courtesies and compliments we should have, from a company of ladies, after a tour through those dreary regions!
I still feel pretty firm in the belief that we were on the highest summit, but I do not mean to be obstinate. We were so soon enveloped in the cloud, after we gained the summit of the Sugar-loaf, that there was little time to observe what was about us. I certainly thought myself then so highly elevated that I looked down upon every terrestrial object within the reach of my eye; but it might, like many other elevated fancies, exist only in the imagination. I must confess that my observations on that day were so imperfect and confused, that I am almost ashamed to say any thing about them. Another tour, I hope, will remove many of our present doubts and uncertainties.
From the account you give me of the extraordinary freshet on the 4th December, I suspect some very considerable effect may have been produced by it, on and about the mountains, which may render another expedition the more entertaining. It is a favorable circumstance to have so judicious and accurate an observer as Mr. Whipple so near them. His attention is doubtless the more excited by what has been already done, and I think much may be expected from him in rendering another tour more successful.
There will be no difficulty, I presume, in procuring barometers and thermometers properly constructed for the purpose. There are two barometers and thermometers in Cape Ann, exactly alike, which I am informed may be obtained. I am now constructing an electrometer, on a new plan, which will make a necessary part of our apparatus. I should, likewise, wish to make some experiments with a thermometer in boiling water, at proper distances from the foot to the top of the mountain, for ascertaining