Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Compare this with the most approved tables of longevity. 1 in 31 arrive at the age of 70. 66 ❝ 70.

In France,

In London,

66

1 in 10

66 64

66

66 70.

66

66

66 66 70.

In Philadelphia, 1 in 15 In Connecticut, 1 in 8 This is considered the ratio for the healthy parts of New England.

From the data afforded by these ministers, and other evidence of the population in each parish at the times when these records were kept, it may be stated that including all the parishes, and all the times above enumerated, one in seventy died annually. Compare this result with other ta

bles.

In Portsmouth it is computed that
In Salem,

66

66

66

66

1 in 48 to 49 die annually. 1 in 48 to 49 die annually. 1 in 47 to 49 die annually. 1 in 44 to 50 die annually. 1 in 39 to 40 die annually. 1 in 22 die annually. die annually.

In Boston,

In Philadelphia,

In the United States generally,
In the great cities in Europe,
In England,

1 in 49

The soil in the first parish denoted to be the most healthy by the tables, is dry. The water is pure and drawn from wells from twenty to thirty feet deep, and comes up through sand or gravel. The harsh north east wind in passing over Muddy Pond woods is somewhat broken and softened, after it passes out of Boston harbour. There are many little streams besides Charles river and Neponset. There are a great abundance of trees and evergreens. The time may come when the physicians in Boston will regard it as a maxim, that they ought to direct a certain class of patients to go out of the grosser atmosphere of Boston, and retire to Dedham village, where they will be defended by the Blue Hills and Muddy Pond woods.

Memoranda for natural history.-On both sides of Charles river, in that section of it which flows near and north of Dedham village, is a peat meadow, containing several hundred acres. The river at this place, on its surface descends six or seven inches in a mile, has perpendicular sides, and a bottom of loose light mud, into which the setting pole penetrates several feet without much resistance. The surface of this meadow in all places, is even with the water in the river, when it begins to overflow its banks. The meadow is of different degrees of hardness in different

places, but may be pierced with an iron rod every where, by the strength of one man's hand, excepting when it strikes imbeded roots and trees. The meadow mud has various depths, varying from one to twenty feet, and rests on a gravel bottom. In some places the meadows are sufficiently hard to support a road, provided care be taken to spread brush on the surface before the gravel is carted on to it. In some places the gravel will sink, as it did under the turnpike near the village. A mile and a half north of the village, the river runs over a hard bottom, which at some former period, may have been a natural dam, causing a pond of water to exist in that precise place, now occupied by the meadow mud. That such has actually been the fact, is probable. The whole mass of the loose mud composing the meadows, is certainly a formation of roots, leaves and trees, with greater or less quantities of earth deposited there by the stream and floods. The surface of the meadow exactly corresponds with the surface of the water at a former time, and has evidently been modified by it. Two or three inches from the surface of this meadow, commences a stratum of peat, from three to four feet in depth. Before peat is taken from its bed, it is black heavy mud, and its whole mass is homogeneous. When it is prepared for fuel, it exhibits numerous fibres, resembling a flax thread, which hold the parts together after the peat is dried. In much the greatest part of this meadow, there is good peat of the above description, but in many places over several square rods contiguous, peat seems not yet to have been formed, or to have been only partially or imperfectly formed. Nothing on the surface of the meadow, or in its interior formation denotes the cause of this, and we are left to conjecture the cause; which may be the existence there of too great a quantity of ligneous substances, which have not yet had time to be decomposed since the water has been removed from the meadows. it may be that too great a quantity of water may have existed there, which would have prevented the decomposition of vegetable matter, by excluding the air therefrom. Near the upland, there is imperfect peat, the cause of which is easily discovered, in there not being a due proportion of earth, wood and water. That portion of the meadow which lies between the peat stratum and gravel bottom, is similar in its appearance and properties to im

Or

perfect peat; it is of a reddish colour when dried, is light and affords very little heat. It is the material for making peat, and whenever the air shall have penetrated it for a sufficient length of time, as it may possibly do by means of the fibres, it will become good peat. An inquiry may here arise, whether the whole of this meadow is not now in a progress to the more perfect formation of peat, both in quantity and quality? The meadows of Charles river, we have seen, were covered much of the time with water, before the settlement of the town. This must have prevented the formation of peat. The peat in England and Ireland is much deeper, than that on Charles river meadows. The peat in some places on Neponset meadows is eight or ten feet deep. Those meadows are likewise much drier than those of Charles river. The fowl meadow grass began to grow in that meadow about the year 1700. There are only a few places dry enough on the meadows of Charles river to produce that crop, although during several of the last dry summers, it has sprung up in several places where it never was before observed.

Such is the situation of the peat meadows at present. I have not observed any fact which seems to support the hypothesis of Dr. Cutler, who has inquired whether the fibres observed in peat, are not evidence of a vegetable organization of a moss sui generis? The new properties which meadow mud acquires, namely, that of being inflammable and fibrous in the process of decomposition, and new combination differs not materially from the changes under the controul of a chemist, excepting in the length of time required to produce them. About ten years ago it was first mentioned as a discovery, that near this village there was abundance of eat. Since that time a small quantity has been dug every season.

It may be worthy of notice, that such a variety of native forest trees should grow on a tract of land so limited as that of Dedham. Of the oak, are found seven varieties, from the shrub oak to the stately white oak, of the walnut, three varieties, white and yellow pine, hemlock, red cedar, and white cedar, white beech, white maple, white and yellow birch, butternut, wild cherry, button wood, hornbeam, poplar, ash, elm, two varieties. The locust, the lime tree, the balsam and the fir balsam, the mountain ash,

flourish in our soil. The white oak is the favourite of the soil, that white oak which yields such a strong heavy and durable material for the works of the wheelwright and shipbuilder, and which furnishes such excellent fuel. There are only a few solitary oaks which may now claim to be cotemporaries with the pilgrims, but all our forest are of modern growth. The white oaks, on particular pieces of land, have been all cut off in several successive generations. When one crop is cut off, another immediately succeeds. The young trees start up with a rapid growth, come to maturity in twenty-five or thirty years, when it is good policy to cut them all off again. How many times, in any given spot, the trees may have been thus cut in successive periods, is not certainly known, probably five or six times. Now these last generation of trees are inferior to the primitive stocks, both in size and in usefulness, although equally good for fuel. The tree which originates from a stump, has necessarily imperfect roots. It may have a few young and healthy roots, but these are few in proportion to the rapidly growing stocks above ground, which receive the greatest part of their nourishment from the old roots. The old roots will decay from age, or from the want of a proper circulation of sap, caused by the cutting off the trunk. We need not assign a cause, since the effect is well known. The experience of every farmer teaches him that the forest trees which spring from stumps come to a premature old age. Not so with trees which spring from acorns or from a spontaneous origin. Their roots are young and healthy and extend in every direction, when the tree is large its roots are proportionably so. Does not this short history of the oak, show that an important era has arrived in regard to their use and cultivation? We have no forest laws nor hereditary lords to protect our most valuable oak forests. I see nothing but enlightened self interest, which will protect them from an indiscriminate destruction. If this does not influence the intelligent owner of the soil, the voice of patriotism, the spirit of poetry will in vain invoke him; they will in vain inform him that he who plants or nourishes an oak forest for the future navy, rears a better monument of his usefulness than most of those who write books, or flourish with a little brief authority in public employments.

There are some places where there has been a succes

sion of different kind of trees, yellow and white pines have succeeded a forest of oak, and oaks again have succeede pine trees.

The soil of Dedham, particularly that of the village rain, nourishes almost every kind of fruit trees and shrubs, which will grow in New England. The pear trees of an hundred varieties transplanted into the gardens from the north of France and the nurseries of Long Island, thrive well. In the garden of Mr. Samuel Richards, where is the greatest variety of fruit trees, and where too may be learned the greatest variety of experiments on transplanting, no decisive evidence is yet afforded of the utility of trees of foreign nurseries, over those in our own immediate neighbourhood, excepting that of their cost.

Experiments in agriculture worthy of notice are few. During the late war attempts were made in Massachusetts to cultivate wheat. It was suggested that a new species of spring wheat brought from Londonderry, N. H., would succeed on the lands near the sea board. It appears that many successful experiments were made, and were fully reported and recorded in the journals of the day. If these reports alone are consulted, they will lead to the conclusion, that blast on wheat is to be attributed to the seed, rather than to the climate. But one thing is certain, wheat crops are now no where heard of on the sea coast. The unsuccessful experiments I believe were not reported. In 1813 and 1814, experiments were made in this town, and both were most decisive. The straw was sufficiently large to have yielded thirty bushels by the acre, yet it was so much blasted that it was scarcely worth reaping.

In Dedham are some swamps and low lands, which were formerly esteemed of little value, the water being so frequently on them, permitted nothing but a coarse meadow grass almost worthless grow thereon. When several patches of these lands were broken up about ten years ago and planted with potatoes, and afterwards laid down and sowed with herd's grass, I well recollect the frequent remark I heard made of them, that these spots of land would soon go back again, and produce nothing but their former crop of coarse grass. Ten years of experience have now shown that lands of this kind, when properly cultivated, are the most valuable mowing lands in town.

Gypsum has been used in various ways, but I have never heard of a single case where it was done with success.

« AnteriorContinua »