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prevalent in the Western Country, though I believe started first in Scotland, by Dr. Barton, respecting the design of those ancient works--that they were not intended for military, but religious purposes. To me, however, there appears not much ground for the conjecture. The military gentlemen at Muskingum have given up the former opinion, that they were works of defense, and strongly advocate the new hypothesis. I was the only one, I believe, on the ground that dissented. It struck me as rather curious that military gentlemen should contend that they were constructed for religious purposes,
and a clergyman that they were works of defense-opinions so contrary to their professional prejudices.
Have you met with any account of the ancient method of burying the dead in the eastern parts of Asia? Have mounds or tumuli been noticed in that part of the world? Where can I find any account of the manners and customs of the people bordering on the straits between Asia and America ? Have you seen any particular account of the mounds and tumuli in Denmark and Norway? Of those in Ireland and Scotland, I have got all the information I wish for. You will much oblige me by giving me any information relating to these matters, or directing me where to find it.
Yours, most sincerely,
[From Rev. Dr. Belknap.]
Boston, March 13, 1789. My Dear Sir :-Yesterday I received your favor of the 6th inst., but before I say any thing in answer to it, I will transcribe for you part of a letter from Winthrop Sargent, at Marietta, to Mr. Daniel Sargent, which he sent me last evening for
my perusal. It is in the form of a diary : “Saturday, the 10th of January, 1789, departed this life, after a lingering illness, James Mitchell Varnum, Esq., one of the Judges of this Territory.
“ This day terminated the Indian business confirming the boundaries of lands to which their claims are extinguished as settled at McIntosh in 1785. The treaty was signed by the chiefs present of the Senecas and Five Nations, the Wyanthe Directors and Agents, together with the citizens of Marietta, will give a dinner to the chiefs, which, as far as it respects the Indians, is to be at the expense of the Ohio Company. Gentlemen dining with them to pay their club."
Copy of the Invitation Directed to the Linguists. “ You are requested to inform the Wyandots, etc., that we are desirous of celebrating the good work which the Great Spirit has permitted our father, the Governor, with our brothers, General Butler and their sachems and chiefs, so happily to accomplish. For which purpose we will prepare an entertainment on Monday next at 2 o'clock, and our brothers, the sachems and chiefs, to whom we now send tokens, are requested to attend at that time, that we may in friendship and as true brothers eat and drink together, and smoke the pipe of everlasting peace, and evidence to the whole world how bright and strong is that chain which the thirteen United States hold safe at one end and the Wyandots, etc., at the other. We are very sorry that we can not entertain all our brothers, together with their wives and children, but as we have come into this country, from a very long way, some of us 40 or 50 days' journey toward the sun-rising, and could not bring much provision along with us, it is now out of our power. We trust the Great Spirit will permit us to plant and gather our corn, and increase our stores, and that their children and children's children may be told how much we shall always rejoice to make glad their hearts when they come to see us.” “ Tuesday 13th was buried Judge Varnum.
Order of the Procession. Captain Zeigler, with 70 rank and file from the Garrison of Fort
Four Marshals, viz: Mr. Wheaton, bearing the sword Mr. Lord, bearing the civil com
and military commissions of mission on a mourning cushthe deceased on a mourning
ion. cushion. Mr. Mayhew, bearing the Diplo- Mr. Fearing, with the insignia
ma of the Order of Cincinnati of Masonry on a mourning on a mourning cushion.
I will make the inquiries which you desire, and shall be highly gratified by being the medium of communication as you propose, but let it be made to our Academy, and let us have also your botanical researches, unless you should choose to publish them in a book of your own. This may perhaps yield you some profit, and I think you deserve some recompense for your labors.
I am inclined to your opinion concerning the works at Muskingum, and other places, though the circular tumuli are undoubtedly sepulchral. Have you seen Jefferson's notes, in which he speaks of the opening of one in Virginia ? The contrast between your opinion and that of the military gentlemen is rather curious, but do you not recollect that gunpowder was invented by monk, and printing by a soldier? Did I tell you Kirkland's account of the tradition of the Senecas, concerning similar works remaining in their country?
Mr. [Nathan] Dane, of Beverly, can tell you of an opinion started by, I think, a Colonel Symmes, concerning an ancient population, and migration of the Indians of North America. I heard him speak of it at Gov. B—'s table last fall.
As to the manners and customs of the inhabitants of the eastern parts of Asia, I suppose Bell's travels through Tartary and China will furnish some hints. I have seen only an abridgment of the work, and that some years ago. Perhaps Muller's voyages might be some help. The most recent, if not
way, you may consult Coxe's travels and Pontoppidan Bp. of Bergen's Nat. IIistory. These are both in the college library, and I expect to get the former pretty soon, and if there is any thing of the kind you want I will notice and extract it.
By my friend, Captain Magee, lately gone to China, I have sent for the seeds of the Japan varnish tree, concerring which you wrote to me some time ago. I have also given him a memorandum of certain marine productions and aquatic birds, and particularly charged him to inquire for the Bird of Paradise at Batavia.
IIe will not probably return till next August twelve month. He is a very curious, intelligent, and obliging man.
It is probable that Judge Dana, who has been in Russia, may be able to give some account, or direct to some work wherein may be found some account, of Siberia and Tartary. He once showed me a book containing the various habits of the people, subjects of the Russian Empire, delineated and printed with great accuracy.
There is a folio history of Kamschatka. I once saw it sold at a vendue, but I knew not the name of the author, nor the merit of the work.. You must come and spend a day at Cambridge and hunt the catalogues and alcoves. I suppose you may have any book, by leave of the corporation, if you are engaged in composing a literary work.
We have lately had a new Professorship instituted for Natural Religion and Civil Government, by the executors of Colonel Alford, to be called after him. The revenue is now about £90 plum, to be increased by funding. Respects to Mrs. Cutler.
Your affectionate brother,
[To Rev. Dr. Belknap.]
IPSWICH, March 19, 1789. My Dear Sir: . I thank you for the kind offer to make the inquiries I requested. I fear I have drawn too largely on your friendship. You must protest when the bills
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 90 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. He 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