Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

are too high. You mentioned Kirkland's account in a former letter. Mounds of earth are frequent in every part of the Western Country that has yet been explored, if the accounts of hunters may be relied on. Some of those I conversed with were undoubtedly men of probity, and they generally agreed in this matter. Regular banks of earth are found in many places. Several regular works are found in Kentucky, of very considerable magnitude. But those at Muskingum exceed any that have yet been found. The number of people that once inhabited this spot must have been immense, if we judge only from the quantity of labor those works cost. It was probably the Imperial City, and the Emporium of the country. I am in doubt whether any dependence is to be made on Indian tradition respecting them, though many of them pretend to some knowledge about them. I am inclined to think their ideas of the original design of those works have rather been handed to them by the Europeans and Americans with whom they have been conversant, than from their own ancestors. I conversed frequently with an Indian chief of the Seneca tribe, between 80 and 30 years of age. He was a distinguished character among the Indians for his strict veracity, as well as for martial achievements, and one of their greatest orators. I was surprised to see a man of that age with so much sprightliness about him—his body erect, and countenance rather florid; and yet marks of senility were more evident on his body than in his mind. Ile was eccentric as an Indian, for he did not get drunk. On inquiring of him about those ancient works, he said he could not tell who made them, nor for what purpose they were made. It was done a great while ago, and all the Indians had forgotten what they were for. They were to be met with in the various parts of the country where he had been. I asked him if the dead were not put into those high mounds, and if the high banks of the squares were not for defense ? He said he believed so, but did not know. In short, he seemed to make a point of confessing that the Indians knew nothing about them by tradition. When I had examined the trees, I was fully satisfied that the confession of the Seneca chief was honest, that those works were of too early a date to have any thing material respecting them preserved to this time by the natives. I intended to have said nothing to you of the age of the trees, until I could get leisure to collect and arrange my minutes, and give you the whole matter in detail. But, as I have now involuntarily mentioned them, I will just observe that trees were found upon the works in every possible period of existence, from the present year's growth from the seed, to a state of decay so far advanced as only to be traced by the vacuities and depressions in the ground, where they once stood, and their moldering bodies under the leaves. But nothing more than conjecture could be derived from the trees that were dead or fallen. Those in a growing state which bore the greatest marks of age were found to be hollow at the heart. Thrifty trees' only were found to be entirely sound. I was therefore reduced to the necessity of making a calculation, but from such data as will not be disputed. The oldest tree that was sound at the heart had nearly 300 circles well defined—very thrifty, and evidently not arrived to a middle state of existence, accidents excepted. The oldest that was growing was a tulip tree, called in the country the white poplar, and which General Putnam, in his account of the settlement, published in a late paper, erroneously calls a poplar or aspen. It had a pretty large hollow, but I think it will appear sufficiently evident, when the data and calculation is attended to, that it must have been 600 years of age. That the circles are annual growths is a fact that has long been established. But, to satisfy myself, I examined a large number of young paw paws, from one to eight years of age. Their age is easily known by a particular kind of joint in the trunk, which terminates every year's growth (or, rather, marks the beginning of the new year's growth), until they are ten or twelve years of age. In all, I found the circles to correspond with the joints in the trunk.

If conjecture were to be indulged, on a careful view of the stumps of the trees that were living, and on the traces of decayed trees as they appeared when I was on the ground, the date of the works would be carried back as much as a thousand years. And nothing appears but that they might have been erected at a much earlier period even than that.

Colonel Symmes may have started a very rational opinion, for aught I know, to Mr. Dane. I have heard several of his conjectures mentioned, which did not reflect much honor upon his abilities. Credulity has been mentioned by his friends as a distinguished trait.in his character. However, I thank you for the information, and shall inquire of Mr. Dane. I have seen Jefferson's Notes. Muller's Voyages I believe I can get in Salem. Cook's last voyage I have never seen, nor do I know who is the owner. The other books you mention I have not seen, nor do I know where to find them. I think it is probable Judge Dana may be able to give some information, and I believe I shall take the liberty to inquire of him.

I hope the seeds you have sent for by Captain Magee will arrive. My friend, Mr. S. Vaughan, Jr., has sent me a box of seeds, collected from the East and West Indies; among them Bohea and Hyson Tea, and what he calls a third species of tea, though Botanists have made only two, Bengal mountain rice, Bastard Bread-fruit from the Isle of France, Pain de singer Lausania, remarkable for its flower and perfume, Gum Arabic, Square Pea, and Cherry Pea of Pondicherry, etc.

The corporation have permitted me, for several years, to take books from the library. I wish to spend a few days at Cambridge and Boston, but when, I can not say. I intend to begin my botanical rambles as soon as spring opens, which will occupy my time for the summer, and until then I must be very busy about family and other matters. My respects to Mrs. B. and family. Your affectionate friend and brother,

M. CUTLER. [From Rev. Dr. Belknap.]

Boston, October 21, 1789. Dear Sir:-I have not forgot, tho’ I have not yet performed, my promise to give you some thoughts on the formation of a seminary of learning. Inclosed I send you the plan of an academy at Manchester, in England, in which you will find some valuable hints. What I have else to say, I shall say in as few words as possible.

I am not fond of monastic customs, separate buildings, and eating in common. Boys are better when they reside in sober families than when they are allowed to keep a chamber, have furniture, and live by themselves. In this case they are too much exposed to temptations, associate more in gangs, are riotous and ungovernable, and keep bad hours. Their immature age is an insuperable objection to their having so much the direction of themselves. They ought to be under family government, either in the houses of their parents, or such persons as their parents can confide in. This would save a great deal of trouble to the Instructors, and one usual Officer in a College, viz., a steward, would be unnecessary.

As to discipline, there is enough in the Manchester plan to answer the end ; and you will observe there are no pecuniary mulcts, which are in fact a tax upon the parent, and only a punishment to the child, as the parent thereby becomes acquainted with his misdemeanors. If crimes are committed by students which are punishable by the civil law, it will be more proper in certain cases to let that take its course than to have penal statutes against the same crimes; but, if private admonition will reclaim, there is no need of having recourse to either. Let citizens and students be under the same laws, and more peace and less jealousy will be the consequence than if they are under separate jurisdictions.

A Seminary ought, as far as possible, to stand on its own foundation in regard to pecuniary support; but, if it has not a sufficiency, it is far better to recur to the friends of the children who are educated than to any Legislative or other public bodies. From them it is not easily obtained. I hope yours will have a landed Interest, and that in time it will be productive.

If you think of any other particulars upon which I can give you any advice or information; or, if you would wish any farther enlargement on any of these hints which I have now given, I will attend to your request.

I called on Dr. Fisher, and asked him about Charlevoix's Travels, which I lent him four years ago. He said that he had delivered the book to you, to be returned to me. I wish you would look it up, and let me have it, as it is a borrowed one. I ought to have returned it long ago.

In the prosecution of my history of New Hampshire, I shall have to ask you some questions in the Natural History way. I am not at present prepared; but when I am, shall write to you.

Pray, let us have the pleasure of seeing you again this fall-perhaps at Cambridge next Academy meeting. With respects to Mrs. Cutler, I am, dear sir,

Your friend and brother, THE REV. MANASSEU CUTLER.

JERE. BELKNAP.

Boston, May 30, 1792. Sir:-I have the pleasure of informing you that the Ilistorical Society have done themselves the Honor of electing you one of their members. In their name, I ask your acceptance of the election, and that you will unite your efforts with theirs to promote the valuable purpose of the institution.

I inclose to you a copy of the Constitution of the Society and of their circular Letter, and am, sir, With much respect, your very humble servant,

JEREMY BELKNAP,

Corresponding Secretary. TE Rev. MANASSEU CUTLER, LL.D.

IPSWICH, June 26, 1792. My Dear Sir:-I am favored with yours of May the 30th, informing me that I have been elected a member of the Historical Society. The Honor done me by a Society so respectable sensibly impresses my mind, and induces me not to decline an acceptance, though I very much fear it will not be in my power to afford the least aid to the design of the institution. If, at any time, I should be able to contribute the smallest mite, it will give me much pleasure.

Sincerely wishing your exertions may be as successful as your views are laudable, I have the honor to be, with much respect, sir,

Your most obedient, humble servant,
Rev. JEREMY BELKNAP,

M. CUTLER.
Secy. Hist. Society.
VOL. 11.-17

« VorigeDoorgaan »