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that the ocean has fince, by the operation of certain caufes not yet fully inveftigated, receded. Thefe phænomena, it is prefumed, will authorize this conclufion, That a great part of the flat country which fpreads easterly of the Allegany mountains, had, in fome paft period, a fuperincumbent fea; or rather that the conftant accretion of foil from the various caufes before hinted at, has forced it to retire.
Mountains.] The tract of country eaft of Hudfon's river, comprehending part of the State of New-York, the four New-England States, and Vermont, is rough, hilly, and in fome parts mountainous; but the mountains are comparatively fmall, in few inftances more than five or fix hundred yards in height, and generally lefs. Thefe mountains will be more particularly defcribed under New-England. In all parts of the world, and particularly on this western continent, it is obfervable, that as you depart from the ocean, or from a river, the land gradually rifes; and the height of land, in common, is about equally diftant from the water on either fide. The Andes in South-America form the height of land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
That range of mountains, of which the Shining mountains are a part, begins at Mexico, and continuing northward on the eaft of California, feparates the waters of thofe numerous rivers that fall into the Gulf of Mexico or the Gulf of California. Thence continuing their courfe still northward, between the fources of the Miffiffippi and the rivers that run into the South-Sea, they appear to end in about 47 or 48 degrees of north latitude; where a number of rivers rife, and empty themselves either into the South Sea, into Hudfon's Bay, or into the waters that communicate between thefe two feas.
The Highlands between the Province of Main and the Province of Quebec, divide the rivers which fall into the St. Lawrence north, and into the Atlantic fouth. The Green Mountains, in Vermont, divide the waters which flow eafterly into Connecticut river, from thofe which fall wefterly into Lake Champlain and Hudfon's River.
Between the Atlantic, the Miffiffippi, and the Lakes, runs a long range of mountains, made up of a great number of ridges. Thefe mountains extend north easterly and fouth-wefterly, nearly parallel with the fea coast, about nine hundred miles in length, and from fixty to one hundred and fifty, and two hundred miles in breadth. Mr. Evans obferves, with refpect to that part of thefe mountains which he travelled over, viz. in the back parts of Pennsylvania, that scarcely one acre in ten is capable of culture. This, however, is not the cafe in all parts of this range. Numerous tracts of fine arable and grazing land intervene between the ridges. The different ridges which compofe this immenfe range of mountains,
have different names in different States.
As you advance from the Atlantic, the firft ridge in Pennfylvania, Virginia, and North-Carolina, is the Blue Ridge or South Mountain; which is from one hundred and thirty, to two hundred miles from the fea. This is about four thousand feet high, meafuring from its bafe. Between this and the North Mountain, fpreads a large fertile vale; next lies the Allegany ridge; next beyond this is the Long Ridge, called the Laurel Mountains, in a fpur of which, about latitude 36°, is a fpring of water, fifty feet deep, very cold, and as blue as indigo. From thefe feveral ridges
proceed innumerable nameless branches or fpurs. The Kittatinny moun tains run through the northern parts of New-Jerfey and Pennfylvania. All these ridges, except the Allegany, are feparated by rivers, which appear to have forced their paffages through folid rocks.
The principal ridge is the Allegany, which has been defcriptively called the back-bone of the United States. The general name for thefe mountains, taken collectively, feems not yet to have been determined. Mr. Evans calls them the Endless Mountains: others have called them the Appalachian mountains, from a tribe of Indians, who live on a river which proceeds from this mountain, called the Appalachikola. But the. moft common, and without doubt the moft proper name, is the Allegany Mountains, fo called from the principal ridge of the range. Thefe mountains are not confufedly fcattered and broken, rifing here and there into high peaks overtopping each other, but ftretch along in uniform ridges, fcarcely half a mile high. They fpread as you proceed fouth, and fome of them terminate in high perpendicular bluffs. Others gradually fubfide into a level country, giving rife to the rivers which run foutherly into the Gulf of Mexico.
They afford many curious phænomena, from which naturalifts have deduced many theories of the earth. Some of them have been whimsical enough: Mr. Evans fuppofes that the moft obvious of the theories which have been formed of the earth is, that it was originally made out of the ruins of another. "Bones and fhells, which escaped the fate of fofter animal fubftances, we find mixed with the old materials, and clegantly preferved in the loofe ftones and rocky bafes of the higheft of thefe hills." But with deference to Mr. Evans's opinion, thefe appearances have been much more rationally accounted for by fuppofing the reality of the flood, of which Mofes has given us an account. But Mr. Evans thinks this too great a miracle to obtain belief. But whether is it a greater miracle for the Creator to alter a globe of earth by a deluge when made, or to create one new from the ruins of another? The former certainly is not lefs credible than the latter. "These mountains," fays our author," exifted in their prefent elevated height before the deluge, but not fo bare of foil as now." How Mr. Evans came to be fo circumftantially acquainted with thefe pretended facts, is difficult to determine, unlefs we fuppofe him to have been an Antediluvian, and to have furveyed them accurately before the convulfions of the deluge; and until we can be fully affured of this, we must be excufed in not affenting to his opinion, and in adhering to the old philofophy of Mofes and his advocates. We have every reafon to believe that the primitive ftate of the earth was totally metamorphofed by the first convulfion of nature, at the time of the deluge; that the fountains of the great deep were indeed broken up, and that the various ftrata of the earth were diffevered, and thrown into every poffible degree of confusion and diforder. Hence thofe vaft piles of mountains which lift their craggy cliffs to the clouds, were probably thrown together from the floating ruins of the carth: and this conjecture is remarkably confirmed by the vast number of foffils and other marine exuvia, which are found imbeded on the tops of mountains, in the interior parts of continents remote from the fea, in all parts of the world hitherto explored. The various circumftances attending thefe marine bodies, leave us to conclude, that they were actually
generated, lived, and died in the very beds wherein they are found; and therefore these beds must have originally been at the bottom of the ocean, though now in many instances elevated feveral miles above its furface. Hence it appears that mountains and continents were not primary productions of nature, but of a very diftant period of time from the creation of the world; a time long enough for the ftrata to have acquired their greatest degree of cohefion and hardnefs; and for the teftaceous matter of marine fhells to become changed to a flony fubftance; for in the fiffures of the lime-stone and other ftrata, fragments of the fame fhell have been frequently found adhering to each fide of the cleft, in the very ftate in which they were originally broken; fo that if the feveral parts were brought together, they would apparently tally with each other exactly. A very confiderable time therefore muft have elapfed between the chaotic ftate of the earth and the deluge, which agrees with the account of Mofes, who makes it a little upwards of fixteen hundred years. These observations are intended to fhew, in one inftance out of many others, the agree ment between revelation and reafon, between the account which Mofes gives us of the creation and deluge, and the prefent appearances of nature. Those who wish to have this agreement more fully and fatisfactorily flated, are referred to a very learned and ingenious Inquiry into the original fate and formation of the earth," by John Whitehurt, F. R. S. to whom I acknowledge myself indebted for fome of the foregoing observations.
Soil and productions, vegetable and animal.] The foil of the United States, though fo various that few general obfervations will apply, may be faid to be equal to that of any country in the known world. Among the great variety of its productions are the following:
Indian corn, which is a native grain of America, from whence all the other parts of the world have been fupplied. It agrees with all climates from the equator to latitude 45°. It flourishes beft however between the latitudes 30° and 40°. The banched Guinea corn, is a finall grain cultivated by the Negroes in the fouthern ftates, and affords a fine food for poultry. The fpiked Indian corn is of a fimilar kind.
Rice, which was brought into Carolina firt by Sir Nathaniel Johnfon, 1688; and afterwards by a fhip from Madagascar, in 1696; till which time it was not much cultivated. It flourishes only in Georgia and the Carolinas. Several unfuccefsful attempts have been made to cultivate it in Virginia.
The Wild Rice is a grain which grows in the greateft plenty in fome of the interior parts of North America, and is the most valuable of all the fpontaneous productions of the country. It is of a very fweet and nutritious quality, and in future periods may be of great fervice to infant colonics, in affording them a fupport until, in the courfe of cultivation, other fupplies may be obrained. This ufeful grain grows in the water where it is about two feet deep, and in a rich muddy foil. In its ftalk, ears, and manner of growing, it very much refembles oats. It is gathered by the Indians in the following manner about the time that it begins to turn from its milky ftate and to ripen, they run their canoes into the midst of it, and tying bunches of it together juft below the cars, they leave it in this fituation for three or four weeks, till it is perfectly ripe. At the end of this time, commonly about the laft of September, they
return to the river, and placing their cances close to the bunches of rice in fuch, pofition as to receive the grain when it falls, they beat it out with pieces of wood formed for that purpofe. Having done this they dry it with fmoke, and then tread or rub off the outfide husk, after which it is fit for ufe.
Wheat, rye, barley, and oats, are cultivated throughout the ftates, fome few parts excepted. In Pennsylvania is a kind of grain called fpelts, which grows much like wheat. The grain, however, is better covered, and is good food for horfes. The flour made from it is very white, and is frequently mixed with wheat flour for bread. This grain might pro bably be fuccefsfully introduced into the New England itates.
Potatoes are faid to be aboriginal of America. They are of many kinds, and are raifed in great quantities. The fweet, or Carolina potatoe, does not thrive well in northern climates, nor do the other kinds in the lower parts of the fouthern states.
The culinary roots and plants are beets, carrots, parfnips, turneps, radishes, peas, beans, cabbage, cauliflowers, endive, cellery, angelica, lettuce, afparagus, peppergrafs, lecks, onions, watermelons, mufkmelons, cantelopes, which are 2 fpecies of the muskmelon, but much fuperior in richness and flavor, cucumbers, mandrakes, pumpkins, fquathes, &c. Befides these are feveral other roots and plants of a medicinal kind, fuch as elecampane, fpikenard, or petty-morrell, farfaparilla, ginfeng, liquorice, fake-root, gold-thread, folomon's-feal, devil's-bit, horfe-radish, and blood root.
The gold thread is of the vine kind, and grows in fwamps. The roots fpread themfelves juft under the furface of the morals, and are easily drawn out by handfuls. They refemble a large entangled fkein of filk, and are of a bright yellow. It is exceedingly bitter in tafte, and is an excellent remedy for a forenefs in the mouth.
Devil's-bit, is a wild plant that has the print of teeth in its roots. The Indians have a tradition, that this root was once an univerfal remedy for all difeafes; but fome evil fpirit, envying mankind the poffeflion of efficacious a medicine, gave the root a bite, which deprived it of a great part of its virtue: Hence its name.
Blood root is a fort of plantain, that fprings out of the ground in fix or feven long rough leaves, the veins of which are red; the root of it is like a fmall carrot; when broken, the infide is of a deeper colour than the outfide, and diftils feveral drops of juice that looks like blood. This juice is a strong, bat dangerous emetic.
Of the various aromatic and other kinds of herbs are balm, favory, thyme, fage, balfam, fweet marjoram, hyffop, tanfey, mint, penny-royal, fennel, yarrow, may-weed, gargit, fkunk-cabbage, or poke, wake-robin, bittany, feabious, mullen, wild peafe, moufe-ear, wild indigo, cat-mint, or as it is fometimes called, catnip, nettles, cinque-foil, eyebright, fanikle, plantain of feveral kinds, maiden-hair, urdock, field-dock, 100%Jiverwort, noble-liverwort, blood-wert, mother-wort, wild beans, groundivy, water-crelles, &c. &c.
Mr. Catefby obferves, that the aromatic herbs in the fouthern ftates, are more highly flavoured, and more yplatile than in Europe.
Apples are the most common fruit in the United States. They grow in the greatest plenty and variety in the northern and middle ftates, and in the interior, but not in the maritime parts of the fouthern. In the low country of Georgia, the Carolinas, and fome other ftates, grows a fort of wild crab-apple. The bloffoms are fragrant, the fruit is fmall and four, and makes an excellent preferve, or fweet-meat.
Befides apples, are pears, peaches, quinces, apricots, nectarines, plums, cherries of many kinds, currants, goofberries, rafberries, blackberries, billberries, whortleberries, ftrawberries, mulberries, cranberries, &c. Of the nuts, are chefnuts, black walnuts, hiccory nuts, butternuts, beechnuts, hazlenuts, filberts, and Illinois nuts, or pecannuts. Thefe fruits grow in great abundance and perfection in almost every part of North America.
The Illinois, or pecannut, is of the walnut kind, about the fize of an acorn, and of an oval form; the fhell is easily cracked, and the kernel fhaped like that of a walnut. The trees which bear this fruit grow principally on the Illinois river. The butter or oil nut is much longer and larger than the walnut. Its fhell is furrowed, and contains a large quantity of kernel, which is very oily, and of a rich and agreeable flavor. An oil, equal to that of olives, might be extracted from this nut. The infide bark of this tree is much ufed in dyes. A decoction of its bark or buds is a fafe and powerful cathartic; and is frequently used in the country inftead of a more coilly medicine. Filberts are of the hazlenut kind, but larger and more richly flavoured.
Figs, oranges, lemons, and pomegranates, are not natural to any state north of the Carolinas. The pomegranate requires falt water. Grapes of feveral forts grow fpontaneously from latitude 25° to 45° north. The various kinds of trees, fhrubs, and flowers, fo many of them as are worthy of notice, will be mentioned in the description of the several ftates.
The late Count de Buffon has advanced the opinion, that the animals in America are inferior, in almost every refpect, to thofe on the eastern continent. Mr. Jefferfon, in a very learned and elaborate manner, has confuted this opinion, and proved that the animals of America are, in most inftances, equal, and in many refpects fuperior, to thofe of the old world; and has fhewn that out of two hundred fpecies of animals, which M. de Buffon fuppofes is the whole number exifting on the earth, one hundred fpecies are aboriginal of America.
The following catalogue of animals is collected principally from Catesby, Jefferfon, and Carver.
Beafts common to North America.