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the wood; they live in log-houses, not the most comfortably in the world. There is another road by way of St. John's, but the deserters avoid it on account of the gar rison or fort. As we approached the American boundary, we found a few settlements, what the Americans call a pitch. They cut down some trees, make a log-house, sow some corn; next year they cut down more trees, and sow more corn, and so on till they produce something in the style of a farm. Instead of cutting down the trees, the Americans very frequently ring them, as they term it, which is cutting a section of the bark quite round: soon after which the tree decays. We saw several potash manufactories as we approached the Lake, and the woods are continued close to the water. We found near the Lake a kind of public-house, where we stopped during the night.
Next morning we could not proceed, because, during the whole night it had blown very fresh, accompanied with a heavy fall of snow, which continued till near mid-day; and as every track on the Lake was covered, we could not venture to go upon it, our conductor not being well
acquainted with the different bearings of the land marks.
The Lake, though 120 miles long, is not broad, seldom above 10 to 15 miles; and there are a great many islands and headlands, which direct the course of the pilot in summer, and the cariole or sleigh driver in winter.
So soon as the weather moderated, we set out on the Lake; and took a guide for some time, till we should fall in with some one going our way, or discover a track in the snow to direct us.
Travelling on Lake Champlain, is, at all times, really dangerous; and I would not advise any one to attempt it, if it can be avoided; which may generally be done by lengthening the route. Instead of going on the Lake to Burlington, or Skeensboro, you may go by way of St. John's, Windmill-point, and Sandbar, to Burlington, and from thence to Skeensboro.
It is very common, for sleigh, horses, and men, to fall through the ice, where the water is some hundred feet deep; and you have no warning of your danger till the horses drop in, pulling the sleigh after them; luckily the weak places are of no
great extent; you extricate yourself from the sleigh as quickly as possible, and you find the ice generally strong enough to support you, though it would not bear the weight of the horses. You instantly lend your aid in pulling out the horses, and in endeavouring to save them, which is done. in a manner perfectly unique, and which will require the greatest stretch of your faith in my veracity, to believe-the horses are strangled, to save their lives.
When the horses fall through the ice (there are almost always two in an American sleigh), the struggles and exertions they make, serve only to injure and sink them; for, that they should get out of themselves, is, from the nature of the thing, perfectly impossible. When horses go on the Lake, they always have, round their necks, a rope with a running noose. I observed that our horses had each of them such a rope; and on inquiry, found out for what purpose it was intended. The moment the ice breaks, and the horses sink into the water, the driver, and those in the sleigh, get out, and catching hold of the ropes, pull them with all their force, which, in a very few seconds, strangles the horses;
and no sooner does this happen, than they rise in the water, float on one side, are drawn out on strong ice, the noose of the rope is loosened, and respiration recommences; in a few minutes the horses are on their feet, as much alive as ever. This operation has been known to be performed two or three times a day, on the same horses; for, when the spring advances, the weak places in the Lake, become very numerous; and the people, whose business leads them often on it, frequently meet with accidents. They tell you that horses which are often on the lake, get so accustomed to being hanged, that they think nothing at all of it.
Pray, tell me, do you not think that this is one of those stories that travellers imagine they may tell with impunity, having a licence?—Seriously, you are wrong.— Though this manner of saving horses, and getting them out of the water, appears extraordinary, yet, I assure you, the thing is very common, and known to every one who has been accustomed to travel on the lakes and rivers of this country, during winter. The attempt however does not always succeed. It sometimes happens, that both
sleigh and horses go to the bottom; and the men too, if they cannot extricate themselves in time. There was an instance of it on Lake Champlain, a few days before I crossed it.
These weak places of the ice, which prove so treacherous, have been later in freezing, than the surrounding ice. In all lakes, and large bodies of fresh water, there are some places which never freeze; and some which freeze much later than others. It is to be accounted for, probably, in this way. The great body of the water, is of a higher temperature than the atmosphere, although the surface has been cooled down below the freezing point, and become ice. The water is constantly giving out its heat to the atmosphere, at some particular place, which thereby is kept from freezing for a considerable time; by and by, when the frost becomes very intense, that place at length freezes, but does not acquire the strength necessary to support the horses.
There is another source of danger to the traveller on the lakes, which it is difficult to account for: viz. large cracks or openings, which run from one side of the Jake to the other; some of them, six feet