« VorigeDoorgaan »
ulæ, variously arranged-large ones with small attendants, some in the shape of a fan, some in the form of an electric brush, issuing from a lucid point; others, of the cometic shape, with a seeming nucleus in the center, or like cloudy stars surrounded with a nebulous atmosphere. A different sort again, a nebulosity of the milky kind, like that wonderful, inexplicable phenomenon near Orion, mentioned by Ferguson, while others shine with a fainter, mottled kind of light, which denotes their being resolvable into stars. He has discovered, besides, innumerable stars, 466 new nebulæ and clusters of stars, none of which have been seen before by any person. Between the strata, he found extensive fields without a single star in them. He has been able yet to visit but a very small portion of the heavens, and supposes he has had but a glimpse of the borders of those starry fields where he has been gazing. Ile is persuaded that improvements in Telescopes are yet in an infant state, and that infinitely greater discoveries of the interior construction of the heavens will one day be made.
I have got a new maggot in my head, which sometimes bites pretty smartly. What think you, my friend of the Ohio Country? Is it not much preferable to these frozen regions? Will the natives of the states do justice to their families and posterity, if they suffer foreigners to come and plant themselves down in incomparably the best part of the United States, without, at least, taking a share with them? It appears to me a matter worthy the serious attention of those who have large families to provide for, and have little or no real estate to leave them, that they should provide for them, as they may now have their choice in the best part of the country. A landed interest in that part of the country will supply a family with all the necessaries and even luxuries of life, with a very small part of the labor which is necessary here to get a very indifferent living. And a small sum will, at this time, purchase such an interest. I will mention my own situation. I am now laboring for a very scanty living. My family is large, and all depending on me for support. When my labors cease, this support is at an end. If I should survive my labors, as may be the case, how am I and my famprovide for future necessities, and to plant my family down in the most eligible part of the country, with comfortable prospects before them. I feel little or no local attachment, except to my people, and as I have served them the greatest part of the best of my days for little more than half a support, I think they can not justly complain, if I look out for myself in the decline of life. My reveries are much in this way, and the matter will end probably in nothing more. You were in the way of getting particular information of the Ohio Country when at Philadelphia, especially from Mr. Rittenhouse. I wish to obtain a particular account, but more to see it myself. I suspect I have got into the field of fancy, and if I have, I wish to be shown the way out. Pray favor me with your sentiments on this subject. Your most sincere and affectionate friend,
M. CUTLER. [From Rev. Dr. Belknap.]
DOVER, March 1, 1786. Jly Dear Sir:
-Your very kind favor of the 10th ult. came safe to hand.
I thank you most sincerely for the communication of Mr. Herschel's discoveries and other matters out of the R. Socy. Transactions, a work which I never
Should any thing else occur in that way, pray favor me with it. I have a strong curiosity to know what is doing in the literary world, and but very little opportunity to grat
llow came you to ask me to account for it, that the cold should be greater at Hartford than at Ipswich on the 18th of January? I find by the papers it was greater still at New York. Pray, how are we to account for this? Is it a fact that where there is a current of water there is a similar current of air? If so, then, as IIartford and N. York are situated on large rivers, whose current is from the N., may not a stream of cold air accompany those waters, and render the air there more sharp at particular times than at places so remote either way? This is all a conjecture of my own, and if it should
putting me on exposing myself thus.
I am very glad you have a Botanical Correspondent in Europe, and wish you may find one in America. As to the question which Dr. Stokes asks about swallows, and which you desire me to attend to, I can say nothing on my own knowledge or observation. It is a received opinion, among those of our country people who give themselves any trouble to think on such matters, that swallows do not leave this for a warmer climate, but remain in wet places. The chief foundation for this opinion is, that they are always first seen in the spring in low, marshy grounds, or near rivers. Two such places in this town are remarkable for their first appearance. My Father, who is fond of making observations of this kind, has repeatedly assured me of the following fact: In the fall of 1774, when General Gage was making his first intrenchments on Boston Neck (which, you know, is marshy ground), and the people of the town were making bricks within a few rods, my Father, with one of his neighbors, walked over to view the works, sometime in October, and observed several swallows flying thereabouts. This was two months or more after the usual time of their disappearing. The most obvious thought on the matter is, that their haunts were encroached upon by the British General; and well would it have been for him and his master, who set hiun to work, if they had no greater mischief to answer for than this! Another thing I have often heard him, i. l., my Father, say, which may give an hint for the solution of another controverted point among Naturalists: When he was a young man, about fifty years ago, while the Work-house in Boston was building, he went up to the scaffolds, which were just under the eaves, immediately after a very heavy thunder-storm, and on those scaffolds, were a vast number of little Toads, not bigger than one's finger-nail, hopping about and falling to the ground. The inference is, that they came down in that shower, for, had they been brought forth in the ground, or in water-puddles, how could they have mounted the scaffolds? Now I have got started in the story-telling way, I will tell
the people of that town being hard put to it for firing, made an attack on a Cedar Swamp somewhere in the neighborhood, and in the thickest part of it found great numbers of Robins in a torpid state. You may acquaint yourself farther with this fact by inquiring of any intelligent person in that town. It is said that a man in this town once shot a wild Pigeon in the month of March which had a green grape, undigested, in its crop. Pray, how far off do you think he picked it at that season? And how long was he flying here? How many seconds intervene from the appearance of a flock of Pigeons on one side of the horizon to their disappearance on the other ? These are known to be birds of passage. Well, suppose Swallows should be shot at their first appearance in the spring, and no food be found in their crops, would not that determine the question about their migration ?
To pass from hence to the migration of nobler animals. The Ohio lands have an attractive energy.
asked Father Little the same question, he would have certainly recommended Penobscot as superior. His heart is much set on the Eastern Country. But I must venture to differ from him so much as to think it more eligible to get from under the sweep of Ursa Major, and were I to emigrate, I should most certainly set my face the same way that the Indians looked for their Heaven, viz., S.W. But I should be loth to part with my night-cap, and therefore should be rather cautious at present how far I ventured into their Territory. All parts of America have in their turn been subject to that inconvenience, and it seems as if the Ohio Country was now more exposed than any other to the depredations of those uncontrolled Lords of the Desert. Were this difficulty out of the way, you would have every inducement of a temporal nature in favor of a removal. The best of land at a low price! (But this will doubtless rise.) No wintering of cattle! Plenty of all the necessary and desirable productions of the Earth! Room enough for your hobby-horse to graze at pleasure, and to canter away Jehu like!
The stories about the Indians may, for aught I know, be
magnified, certainly there are great multitudes of people from Pennsylvania, Jersey, New York, etc., gone and going to Kentucky. Either Mr. Rittenhouse or another gentleman who came from thence (I forget which) said he met thousands of people going there, and I heard the same repeatedly while at Philadelphia and on the road. If you desire any particular inquiries, I can make them for you, and will when you send me a detail of them.
I am, dear sir,
JEREMY BELKNAP. Do n't forget the scale for the thermometer.
[To Rev. Mr. Belknap.]
IPSWICH, March 3, 1786. Dear Sir :- When I first cast my eye over the scale of your thermometer, I imagined you might apply a scale similar to Fahrenheits, but, on further examination, suspect whether you will be able to do it, except by placing Fahrenheit's thermometer by the side of yours. The necessary data on your scale will be two fixed points, that of freezing, and either that at which spirits or water boil. Neither of these seem to be noted on your scale with sufficient precision. I find on your scale 55° cold, 55° frost, and 77o hard frost. Is 65o the precise point of freezing? If it be, you have one of the necessary fixed points given. But, then, you want another, viz., that of boiling spirits or water which are not expressed, for from 7° above 0 to 50 is the region of extreme heat, and then 15° sultry, leaving it altogether uncertain at what point spirit and water boil. There may be difficulty in determining the point at which water boils in a spirit thermometer, but there can be none in ascertaining the point at which spirits boil. On Fahrenheit's scale, freezing point is at 32°. Spirits boil at 175°, and water at 212. These are the points from which the scale is graduated. Now, if you can find the point of freezing, and that at which spirits boil on your scale, you can easily construct and apply one similar to Fahrenheit's, by extending the line from off the scale of your thermometer at freezing point on to your new scale, and do the same from the point at which