THE WRITINGS OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Cobwebs in Barrett's Mill
THE WRITINGS OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
EDITED BY BRADFORD TORREY
JULY 2, 1858-FEBRUARY 28, 1859
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
Ube Riberesie pree1 QCambribg
COPYRIGHT 1906 BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
All rights reserved
CHAPTER I. July, 1858 (1ET. 40-41) 3
Starting for the White Mountains On the Shore of a Broad
River Along the Merrimack Travelling by Carriage -
Senter Harbor The View from Red Hill Tamworth and
Madison Mt. Chocorua The Scenery from Conway to
North Conway North Conway and Jackson Ascending
Mt. Washington In a Colliers' Shanty Plants of the Alpine
Region The Rocks of the Summit Fog on the Mountain
Travelling through Clouds Tuckerman's Ravine The
Snow Arch Setting Fire to the Scrub Meeting Blake and
Brown Hermit Lake Tuckerman's Ravine The Birds
of the Ravine Black Flies Descending the Mountain -
Gorham and Randolph The View from Jefferson Hill -
The View from Bethlehem Notes from Loudon White
Mountain Bears The Ascent of Mt. Lafayette The Sum-
mit of Lafayette Scrub Fir and Spruce Pine Grosbeaks -
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak Thornton and Campton The
Birds of the Mountains The Franconia Mountains Dan-
iel Webster's Old Home The Traveller's Rights Notes of
the Excursion The Best Views of the Mountains Plants
of Mt. Washington A Hawk's Nest with Young Chinese
Quotations A Wood Thrush's Nest.
CHAPTER II. August, 1858 (LET. 41) 68
A Green Bittern Musquash Trails The Water-Lily The
Black Willow Purple Utricularia A Short-billed Marsh
Wren A Pickerel and a Minnow Genista Emerson's
Gun Concord River for Boating and Botanizing Civiliza-
tion and the Wild Fruits of the Earth Black Willows -
A Chinese Novel A Marsh Hawk Varied Lights of the
River The World ruled by Cliques The Daily News A
Goldfinch's Nest Chewing the Cud The Indian-Pipe -
The Yew Berry Myriophyllum The Goldfinch as a Vo-
calist The Mole Cricket's Creak Purple Grass Ber-
ries Shadows of Lily Pads Wood Pewees' Nests Sagit-
taria Leaves Some August Birds Wild Oats The Black
Willows The Fate of the Summer Ducks A Talk with
Minott Flocks of Bobolinks A Celebration in Honor of
the Atlantic Telegraph Bitterns and Blue Herons An Au-
gust Frost A New Sail for the Boat A Soaring Bird -
Emerson as a Sportsman Haymakers A Meadow Mouse
Purple Grasses Minott on Meadow-Haying The
Scream of an Eagle A School of Large Suckers A Sharp-
shinned Hawk Fishworms in Maine Names and Know-
CHAPTER III. September, 1858 (,Er. 41) 141
A Snake swallowing a Toad Chipmunks and Hazelnuts -
Some Grasses A Large Flock of Cowbirds A Handsome
Grass Buchanan's Telegraphic Message A September
Afternoon Rails' Eggs The Little Dipper The Death
of the Leaves Spiders' Nets Eriocaulon Target-Weed
A Southeast Storm The Advent of a New Season -
Gathering Grapes The Truest Beauty Polygonum -
The Carolina Rail Sedgy Hollows Swarms of Gnats A
Cape Ann Excursion From Salem to Manchester The
Musical Sand-- The Magnolia Swamp From Gloucester to
Rockport Annisquam East India Marine Hall Smart
Frosts The Closed Gentian Thistle-Down Nightshade
CHAPTER IV. October, 1858 (ir. 41) 189
Marsh-Birds in Concord A Young Cock The Cat's Orni-
thology A Captive Carolina Rail Red Maples An Ex-
cess of Manner A Conflagration of Autumn Color Phos-
phorescent Wood A Beneficent Misfortune Changing
Foliage The Comet The Scarlet Smooth Sumachs--
Soaring Marsh Hawks A Fat Woodchuck A Fungus -
The Autumnal Tints The Fallen Brakes "Substantial
Justice" Red Pine-Sap The Colors of the Oaks An
Indian Fletcher's Chips Reflections Floating Leaves -
A Small Hawk The Sugar Maples in October- Village
Trees Minott and Billings's Dog The Cobweb Drapery
at Sam Barrett's Mill Making Wooden Trays The Fallen
Leaives- Making Things by Hand- Indian Summer -A
Potato-Field Adventure Floating Leaves The Red and
Brown Oaks The Changing of the Birches The Russet
Fields The Autumnal Tints Ledum Swamp Flocks of
Wild Geese Color Some Late October Tints Milkweed
Down The Browns of the Oaks November Lights The
Turning of the Beech The Rainbow Rush The Bleaching
of the Grasses The Autumnal Tints Red Oak Acorns -
The Last Bright Leaves The Wildness of the Cat Euro-
pean Trees and Shrubs retaining their Habits in America -
Buttonwood Stumps- Titlarks (?) The Scarlet Oak Garden
A Tall Aspen An Hour-Glass Apple Shrub The Coun-
CHAPTER V. November, 1858 (XT. 41) 271
The Dooryard as a Part of the Earth's Surface The Novem-
ber Evening Here The Forest-Flower The Brilliant
Blue Jay The Last Crickets Friends Goodwin, the
One-eyed Ajax Seeing The True Sportsman Guessing
at Ages Snow Buntings The Apple Harvest Virgin's-
Bower A Suicide The Maze of Bare Twigs Walking-
Companions- A Lesson from the Wild Creatures of the
Woods The Yellow Birches The Vanguard of Winter -
A Hen-Hawk A School of Little Fishes Plowing Deep -
The Death of a Hawk November's Silvery Lights A Red-
throated Loon The First Ice Beautiful Feathers The
Scarlet Oak Leaf A Letter from Ricketson Browsing -
Ripeness The Blue Jay Nature turned a Stepmother -
Tracks in the Snow The Bunch-berry Freedom of Speech
The Popular Lecturers A Musquash Lycopodiums -
November Lights Evergreen Ferns The Barren Thistle-
Downs Mocker-Nuts Marsh Hawks The Silvery Lights
again A Halo on the Shrub Oaks The Religious A
Wild Pig A Sugaring of Snow An Uprooted Oak The
Warmth of the Woods The Universal Struggle The Rise
and Fall of Ponds Landlocked Pollywogs and Fishes -
Barren Hollows and Glades The Striped Bream The
White Snow A Perfect Winter Scene A Forest Cathedral
The Tracks of a Hunter and his Hounds A Distant
Snow-Storm -A Rare and Strange Sight "Respectable
Christianity" The Newly Discovered Bream- A Friend
among the Fishes.
CHAPTER VI. December, 1858 (ET. 41) 361
Pollywogs A Salamander Description of the Striped
Bream- A Glaze A New Bedford Whaler The With-
ered Oak Leaves The Freezing of a Pond An Immense
Flock of Snow Buntings A Barred Owl F. hyemalis and
Goldfinches Shrikes The Winter Sky after Sunset -
The Farmer's Sincere Life The Futility of Advice -
Some Family History Skating The Anxious Life of
CHAPTER VII. January, 1859 (ET. 41) 384
Oak Leaves in Winter The Grammarian A Fox and a
Dog The Snow-covered Pitch Pines Nuthatch and
Chickadee Snow Buntings feeding An Acadian Owl -
A Soft Western Sky- The Alder The Pink Light on the
Snow The Cracking of the Ground A Red-shouldered
Hawk Frostwork on Trees A Coat of Icy Mail Won-
derful Frostwork Crows' Tracks Some Peculiar Ripples
Mackerel Sky More Crows' Tracks The Pickerel-
Fisher A January Thaw Caterpillars on the Ice An
Inspired Man The Musquash-Hunters Light reflected
from Grass Stems Insects on the Ice Bubbles under the
Ice Dust on the Ice Concord River Musquash Mar-
ble Ice" A Walden Trout.
CHAPTER VIII. February, 1859 (iET. 41) 434
Death of John Thoreau, Sr. Biographical The Indians -
The Theme and the Essay The Lichenist The Settling
COBWEBS IN BARRETT'S MILL (page 224) Frontispiece
OCTOBER REFLECTIONS 216
WALDEN IN EARLY WINTER 852
ALDER CATKINS IN WINTER 394
THE JOURNAL OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
JULY, 1858 (ET. 40-41)
July 2. A. M. Start for White Mountains in a
private carriage with Edward Hoar.
Notice in a shallow pool on a rock on a hilltop, in road
in North Chelmsford, a rather peculiar-looking Alisma
Plantago, with long reddish petioles, just budded.
Spent the noon close by the old Dunstable graveyard,
by a small stream north of it. Red lilies were abun-
dantly in bloom in the burying-ground and by the river.
Mr. Weld's monument is a large, thick, naturally flat
rock, lying flat over the grave. Noticed the monument
of Josiah Willard, Esq., "Captain of Fort Dummer."
Died 1750, aged 58.
Walked to and along the river and bathed in it.
There were harebells, well out, and much Apocynum
cannabinum, well out, apparently like ours, prevailing
along the steep sandy and stony shore. A marked pe-
culiarity in this species is that the upper branches rise
above the flowers. Also get the A. androsemifolium,
quite downy beneath. The Smilacina stellata going to
seed, quite common in the copse on top of the bank.
What a relief and expansion of my thoughts when I
come out from that inland position by the graveyard to
this broad river's shore! This vista was incredible there.
Suddenly I see a broad reach of blue beneath, with its
curves and headlands, liberating me from the more ter-
rene earth. What a difference it makes whether I
spend my four hours' nooning between the hills by yon-
der roadside, or on the brink of this fair river, within
a quarter of a mile of that! Here the earth is fluid
to my thought, the sky is reflected from beneath, and
around yonder cape is the highway to other conti-
nents. This current allies me to all the world. Be care-
ful to sit in an elevating and inspiring place. There my
thoughts were confined and trivial, and I hid myself
from the gaze of travellers. Here they are expanded
and elevated, and I am charmed by the beautiful river-
reach. It is equal to a different season and country and
creates a different mood. As you travel northward from
Concord, probably the reaches of the Merrimack River,
looking up or down them from the bank, will be the first
inspiring sight. There is something in the scenery of a
broad river equivalent to culture and civilization. Its
channel conducts our thoughts as well as bodies to
classic and famous ports, and allies us to all that is fair
and great. I like to remember that at the end of half a
day's walk I can stand on the bank of the Merrimack.
It is just wide enough to interrupt the land and lead my
eye and thoughts down its channel to the sea. A river
is superior to a lake in its liberating influence. It has
motion and indefinite length. A river touching the back
of a town is like a wing, it may be unused as yet, but
1858] ALONG THE MERRIMACK
ready to waft it over the world. With its rapid current
it is a slightly fluttering wing. River towns are winged
I returned through the grass up the winding chan-
nel of our little brook to the camp again. Along
the brook, in the rank grass and weeds, grew abun-
dantly a slender umbelliferous plant mostly just out of
bloom, one and a half to four feet high. Either Thas-
pium aureum or Cryptotenia Canadensis (Sison).1 Saw
also the scouring-rush, apparently just beginning to
In the southern part of Merrimack, passed a singular
"Horseshoe Pond" between the road and the river on
the interval. Belknap says in his History, speaking of
the changes in river-courses, "In some places these
ancient channels are converted into ponds, which, from
their curved form, are called horseshoe ponds."
Put up at tavern in Merrimack, some miles after pass-
ing over a pretty high, flat-topped hill in road, whence
we saw the mountains (with a steep descent to the
interval on right).
7 p. M. I walked by a path through the wood north-
east to the Merrimack, crossing two branches of Bab-
boosuck Brook, on which were handsome rocky falls in
The wood thrush sings almost wherever I go, eternally
reconsecrating the world, morning and evening, for us.
And again it seems habitable and more than habitable
1 Vide June 3d, 1852, and May llth, 1859.
2 Vide next page.
July 3. Continued along in a slight rain through
Bedford, crossing to Manchester, and driving by a
brook in Hookset just above Pinnacle. Then through
Allenstown and Pembroke, with its long street, to Lou-
don, leaving Concord on the left. Along the sandy
roadside in a pitch pine wood in Loudon, much apparent
Calystegia spithamma in bloom, but I think with reddish
flowers. Probably same with my New Bedford plant.
July 4. Sunday. A. M. Clears up after a rainy
night. Get our breakfast apparently in the northern
part of Loudon, where we find, in a beech and maple
wood, Panax quinquefolium, apparently not quite out,
Osmorrhiza brevistylis (or hairy uraspermum), gone to
seed, which Bigelow refers to woods on Concord Turn-
pike, i. e. hairy sweet cicely. Also ternate polypody (?).
Saw a chestnut tree in Loudon.
Leaving Loudon Ridge on the right we continued on
by the Hollow Road a long way through the forest
without houses through a part of Canterbury into
Gilmanton Factory village. I see the Ribes prostratum,
or fetid currant, by roadside, already red, as also the red
elder-berries, ripe or red.' Strawberries were abundant
by the roadside and in the grass on hillsides everywhere,
with the seeds conspicuous, sunk in pits on the surface.
(Vide a leaf of same kind pressed.)
The Merrimack at Merrimack, where I walked, -
half a mile or more below my last camp on it in '39, -
had gone down two or three feet within a few days, and
the muddy and slimy shore was covered with the tracks
1 This only in the northern part of New Hampshire.
1858] TRAVELLING BY CARRIAGE
of many small animals, apparently three-toed sand-
pipers, minks, turtles, squirrels, perhaps mice, and some
much larger quadrupeds. The Solidago lanceolata, not
out, was common along the shore. Wool-grass without
black sheaths, and a very slender variety with it; also
We continue along through Gilmanton to Meredith
Bridge, passing the Suncook Mountain on our right,
a long, barren rocky range overlooking Lake Winne-
piseogee. Turn down a lane five or six miles beyond the
bridge and spend the midday near a bay of the lake.
Polygonum cilinode, apparently not long. I hear song
sparrows there among the rocks, with a totally new strain,
ending whit whit, whit whit, whit whit whit. They had
also the common strain. We had begun to see from Gil-
manton, from high hills in the road, the sharp rocky peak
of Chocorua in the north, to the right of the lower Red
Hill. It was of a pale-buff color, with apparently the
Sandwich Mountains west of it and Ossipee Mountain
on the right. The goldfinch was more common than at
home, and the fragrant fern was perceived oftener. The
evergreen-forest note frequently heard.
It is far more independent to travel on foot. You
have to sacrifice so much to the horse. You cannot
choose the most agreeable places in which to spend the
noon, commanding the finest views, because commonly
there is no water there, or you cannot get there with
your horse. New Hampshire being a more hilly and
newer State than Massachusetts, it is very difficult to
find a suitable place to camp near the road, affording
water, a good prospect, and retirement. We several
times rode on as much as ten miles with a tired horse,
looking in vain for such a spot, and then almost invari-
ably camped in some low, unpleasant spot. There are
very few, scarcely any, lanes, or even paths and bars
along the road. Having got beyond the range of the
chestnut, the few bars that might be taken down are
long and heavy planks or slabs, intended to confine
sheep, and there is no passable road behind. And
beside, when you have chosen a place one must stay be-
hind to watch your effects, while the other looks about.
I frequently envied the independence of the walker,
who can spend the midday hours and take his lunch in
the most agreeable spot on his route. The only alterna-
tive is to spend your noon at some trivial inn, pestered
by flies and tavern loungers.
Camped within a mile south of Senter Harbor, in a
birch wood on the right near the lake. Heard in the
night a loon, screech owl, and cuckoo, and our horse,
tied to a slender birch close by, restlessly pawing the
ground all night and whinnering to us whenever we
showed ourselves, asking for something more than meat
to fill his belly with.
July 5. Monday. Continue on through Senter Harbor
and ascend Red Hill in Moultonboro. On this ascent
I notice the Erigeron annuus, which we have not, me-
tlinks, i. e. purple fleabane (for it is commonly purplish),
hairy with thin leaves and broader than the strigosus.
Notice the Comandra umbellata, with leaves in three
very regular spiral lines. Dr. Jackson says that Red
Hill is so called from the uva-ursi on it turning red in
1858] TIE VIEW FROM RED HILL
the fall. On the top we boil a dipper of tea for our din-
ner and spend some hours, having carried up water the
Enjoyed the famous view of Winnepiseogee and its
islands southeasterly and Squam Lake on the west,
but I was as much attracted at this hour by the wild
mountain view on the northward. Chocorua and the
Sandwich Mountains a dozen miles off seemed the
boundary of cultivation on that side, as indeed they are.
They are, as it were, the impassable southern barrier
of the mountain region, themselves lofty and bare, and
filling the whole northerly horizon, with the broad vale
or valley of Sandwich between you and them; and over
their ridges, in one or two places, you detected a narrow,
blue edging or a peak of the loftier White Mountains
proper (or so called). Ossipee Mountain is on the east,
near by; Chocorua (which the inhabitants pronounce
She-corway or Corway), in some respects the wildest
and most imposing of all the White Mountain peaks,
north of northeast, bare rocks, slightly flesh-colored;
some large mountains, perhaps the Franconia, far north-
westerly; Ragged (??) Mountain, south of west; Kear-
sarge, southwest; Monadnock (?), dim and distant blue,
and some other mountains as distant, more easterly;
Suncook Mountain, south-southeast, and, beyond the
lake, south of southeast, Copple-Crown Mountain (?).
When I looked at the near Ossipee Mountain (and some
others), I saw first smooth pastures around the base
or extending part way up, then the light green of decid-
uous trees (probably oak, birch, maple, etc.), looking
dense and shrubby, and above all the rest, looking like
permanent shadows, dark saddles of spruce or fir or
both on the summits. Jackson says larch, spruce, and
birch reach to the summit of Ossipee Mountain. The
landscape is spotted, like a leopard-skin, with large
squarish patches of light-green and darker forests and
blue lakes, etc., etc.
On the top I found Potentilla tridentata, out a good
while, choke-berry, red lily, dwarfish red oaks, Carex
Novc-Anglic (?), and a care scoparia-like. Appar-
ently the common Vaccinium Pennsylvanicum, and just
below, in the shrubbery, the Vaccinium Canadense was
the prevailing one. Just below top, a clematis, and,
as you descended, the red oak, growing larger, canoe
birch, some small white birch, red maple, rock maple,
Populus tremuliformis,1 diervilla (very common), etc.,
Heard the chewink on the summit, and saw an ant-
hill there, within six rods of apex, about seven by six
feet in diameter and sixteen inches high, with grass
growing on all sides of it. This reminded me of the
great ant-hills I saw on Chesterfield Mountain, opposite
Descended, and rode along the west and northwest
side of Ossipee Mountain. Sandwich, in a large level
space surrounded by mountains, lay on our left. Here
first, in Moultonboro, I heard the tea-lee of the white-
throated sparrow. We were all the afternoon riding
along under Ossipee Mountain, which would not be left
I The common species afterward on sides and about the moun-
2 Diervilla and checkerberry common after on mountainsides.
1858] TAMWORTH AND MADISON
behind, unexpectedly large still, louring over your path.
Crossed Bearcamp River, a shallow but unexpectedly
sluggish stream, which empties into Ossipee Lake. Have
new and memorable views of Chocorua, as we get
round it eastward. Stop at Tamworth village for the
We are now near the edge of a wild and unsettlable
mountain region, lying northwest, apparently including
parts of Albany and Waterville. The landlord said that
bears were plenty in it; that there was a little interval
on Swift River that might be occupied, and that was all.
Norcross gets his lumber in that region, on Mad and
Swift Rivers, as I understood; and on Swift River, as
near as I could learn, was the only road leading into it.
July 6. Tuesday. 5.35 A. M. Keep on through
North Tamworth, and breakfast by shore of one of
the Ossipee Lakes. Chocorua north-northwest. Hear
and see loons and see a peetweet's egg washed up. A
shallow-shored pond, too shallow for fishing, with a few
breams seen near shore; some pontederia and target-
weed in it.
Travelling thus toward the White Mountains, the
mountains fairly begin with Red Hill and Ossipee
Mountain, but the White Mountain scenery proper on
the high hillside road in Madison before entering Con-
way, where you see Chocorua on the left, Mote Moun-
tain ahead, Doublehead, and some of the White Moun-
tains proper beyond, i. e. a sharp peak.
We fished in vain in a small clear pond by the road-
side in Madison.
Chocorua is as interesting a peak as any to remember.
You may be jogging along steadily for a day before you
get round it and leave it behind, first seeing it on the
north, then northwest, then west, and at last south-
westerly, ever stern, rugged and inaccessible, and omni-
present: It was seen from Gilmanton to Conway, and
from Moultonboro was the ruling feature.
The scenery in Conway and onward to North Conway
is surprisingly grand. You are steadily advancing into
an amphitheatre of mountains. I do not know exactly
how long we had seen one of the highest peaks before
us in the extreme northwest, with snow on its side just
below the summit, but a little beyond Conway a boy
called it Mt. Washington. I think it was visible just
before entering Conway village. If Mt. Washington, the
snow must have been in Tuckerman's Ravine, which,
methinks, is rather too low. Perhaps it was that we
afterward saw on Mt. Adams. There was the regular
dark pyramid of Kearsarge at first in front, then, as
you proceed to North Conway, on our right, with its de-
serted hotel on the summit, and Mote Mountain accom-
panies you on the left, and high, bare rocky precipices
at last on the same side. The road, which is for the
most part level, winds along the Saco through groves
of maples, etc., on the level intervals, with so little of
rugged New Hampshire under your feet, often soft and
sandy road. The scenery is remarkable for this contrast
of level interval with soft and shady groves, with moun-
tain grandeur and ruggedness. Often from the midst
of level maple groves, which remind you only of clas-
sic lowlands, you look out through a vista to the most
[J ULY 6
1858] NORTH CONWAY AND JACKSON 13
rugged scenery of New England. It is quite unlike New
Hampshire generally, quite unexpected by me, and sug-
gests a superior culture. We at length crossed the Saco
from the left to the right side of the valley, going over or
through three channels. After leaving North Conway,
the higher White Mountains were less seen, if at all.
They had not appeared in pinnacles, as sometimes
described, but broad and massive. Only one of the
higher peaks or summits (called by the boy Mt. Wash-
ington) was conspicuous. The snow near the top was
conspicuous here thirty miles off. The summit appeared
dark, the rocks just beneath pale-brown forenoonn)
(not flesh-colored like Chocorua), and below, green,
The road to-day from Tamworth almost to the base
of Mt. Washington was better on the whole, less hilly,
than through Gilmanton to Tamworth; i. e., the hills
were not so long and tedious.
At Bartlett Corner we turned up the Ellis River
and took our nooning on the bank of the river, by the
bridge just this side of Jackson Centre, in a rock maple
grove. Saw snow on Mt. Carter (?) from this road.
There are but few narrow intervals on this road, -
two or three only after passing Jackson, and each
is improved by a settler. We see the handsome Malva
sylvestris, an introduced flower, by roadside, apparently
in prime, and also in Conway, and hear the night-
warbler all along thus far.
Saw the bones of a bear at Wentworth's house, and
camped, rather late, on right-hand side of road just
beyond, or a little more than four miles from Jackson.
The wood was canoe birch and some yellow (see little
of the small white birch as far as to the neighborhood
of the mountains), rock maple, spruce, fir, Populus
tremuliformis, and one grandidentata, etc. In this deep
vale between the mountains, the sun set very early to
us, but we saw it on the mountains long after. Heard
at evening the wood thrush, veery, white-throated
sparrow, etc., and I found a fresh nest in a fir, made
of hemlock twigs, etc., when I was getting twigs for
a bed. The mosquitoes troubled us in the evening
and just before dawn, but not seriously in the middle
of the night. This, I find, is the way with them
Wentworth said he was much troubled by the bears.
They killed his sheep and calves and destroyed his corn
when in the milk, close by his house. He has trapped
and killed many of them and brought home and reared
the young. When we looked up in the night we saw
that the stars were bright as in winter, owing to the
clear cold air.
July 7. Wednesday. Having engaged the services of
Wentworth to carry up some of our baggage and to
keep our camp, we rode onward to the Glen House,
eight miles further, sending back our horse and wagon
to his house. This road passes through what is called
the Pinkham Notch, in Pinkham's Grant, the land,
a large tract, having been given away to Pinkham for
making the road a good while since. Wentworth has
lived here thirty years and is a native. Have occa-
sional views of Mt. Washington or a spur of it, etc.
1858] ASCENDING MT. WASHINGTON
Get by roadside, in bloom some time, Geum macro-
phyllum; also, in a damp place, Platanthera dilatata, a
narrow white spike. Turned off a little to the right to
see Glen Ellis Falls.
Began the ascent by the mountain road at 11.30 A. M.
For about the first three quarters of a mile of steady
(winding) ascent the wood was spruce, yellow birch
(some, generally the largest, with a very rough, coarse,
scaly bark, but other trees equally large had a beauti-
fully smooth bark, and Wentworth called these "silver
birch;" it appeared not to depend on age merely), hem-
lock, beech, canoe birch (according to Willey, "most
abundant in the districts formerly burnt"), rock maple,
fir, mountain maple (called by Wentworth bastard
maple), northern wild cherry, striped maple, etc. At
about a mile and three quarters spruce' prevails, and
rock maple, beech, and hemlock, etc., disappear. At
three miles, or near the limit of trees, fir (increasing) and
spruce chiefly prevail. And near by was the foot of the
ledge and limit of trees, only their dead trunks stand-
ing, probably fir and spruce, about the shanty where we
spent the night with the colliers.
I went on nearly a mile and a half further, and found
many new alpine plants and returned to this shanty.
A merry collier and his assistant, who had been making
coal for the summit and were preparing to leave the
next morning, made us welcome to this shanty and
entertained us with their talk. We here boiled some of
our beef-tongues, a very strong wind pouring in gusts
down the funnel and scattering the fire about through
the cracked stove. This man, named Page, had im-
ported goats on to the mountain, and milked them to
supply us with milk for our coffee. The road here ran
north and south to get round the ledge. The wind,
blowing down the funnel, set fire to a pile of dirty bed-
quilts when I was out, and came near burning up the
building. There were many barrels of spoiled beef in
the cellar, and he said that a person coming down the
mountain some time ago looked into the cellar and saw
five wildcats (loups-cerviers) there. Page had heard
two fighting like cats near by a few nights before. The
wind blowed very strong and in gusts this night, but he
said it was nothing to what it was sometimes, when the
building rocked four inches.
July 8. Though a fair day, the sun did not rise clear.
I started before my companions, wishing to secure a
clear view from the summit, while they accompanied
the collier and his assistant, who were conducting up
to the summit for the first time his goats. He led the
old one, and the rest followed.
I noticed these plants this morning and the night
before at and above the limit of trees: Oxalis Acetosella,
abundant and in bloom near the shanty and further
down the mountain, all over the woods; Cornus Cana-
densis, also abundantly in bloom about the shanty and
far above and below it. At shanty, or limit of trees.
began to find Alsine Groenlandica abundant and in
prime, the first mountain flower.' Noticed one return-
ing, in carriage-road more than half-way down the
mountain. It extended to within a mile of summit
1 Durand in Kane puts it at 730 + in Greenland.
1858] PLANTS OF THE ALPINE REGION 17
along path,' and grew about our camp at Hermit Lake.
The second mountain plant I noticed was the ledum,2
growing in dense continuous patches or fields, filling
broad spaces between the rocks, but dwarfish compared
with ours in Concord. It was still in bloom. It pre-
vailed about two miles below the summit. At the same
elevation I noticed the Vaccinium uliginosum, a pre-
vailing plant from the ledge to perhaps one mile or
more below summit, almost entirely out of bloom, a
procumbent bilberry, growing well, not dwarfish, with
peculiar glaucous roundish-obovate leaves.3 About the
same time and locality, Salix Uva-ursi, the prevailing
willow of the alpine region, completely out of bloom
and going or gone to seed, a flat, trailing, glossy-leaved
willow with the habit of the bearberry, spreading in
a close mat over the rocks or rocky surface. I saw
one spreading flat for three or four feet over a rock in
the ravine (as low as I saw it).4 Diapensia Lapponica
(Menziesia cwrulea),5 beginning about same time, or just
over the ledge, reached yet higher, or to within last
mile. Quite out of bloom; only one flower seen. It
grows in close, firm, and dense rounded tufts, just like
a moss but harder, between the rocks, the flowers con-
I Aye, to summit.
2 Loudon makes three (1) species, and says bees are very fond of
8 According to Durand at 780 N. in Smith's Sound.
SDurand in Kane places this at 650 N. in Greenland, but Kane
(vol. i, p. 462) says that Morton and Hans saw it along the shore of
Kennedy Channel, the furthest coast reached, and that with the south-
ern Esquimaux it is reputed to cure scurvy.
5 According to Durand, at 730 in Greenland.
siderably elevated above its surface. Empetrum nigrum,
growing somewhat like Corema, with berries green and
some turning black.1 Mountain cranberry was abun-
dant and in bloom, a very pretty flower, with, say,
the Vaccinium uliginosum and to within last mile.
Gold-thread in bloom, was abundant to within last
mile. As high as the above, on this side or that ex-
tended dwarf shrubby canoe birches and almost im-
passable thickets of dwarf fir and spruce. The latter
when dead exhibited the appearance of deer's horns,
their hard, gnarled, slow-grown branches being twisted
in every direction. Their roots were singularly knotted
and swollen from time to time, from the size of the
finger into oval masses like a ship's block, or a rabbit
made of a handkerchief. Epigaea.2 At this height, too,
was a Lycopodium annotinum, a variety; and, prob-
ably, there, too, L. Selago, as at edge of ravine;3 sedges,
sorrel, moss, and lichens. Was surprised not to notice
the Potentilla tridentata in bloom till quite high, though
common on low mountains southward.4 Here it was
above the trailing spruce, answering to top of Monad-
nock, and with it came more sedge, i. e. a more grassy
surface without many larger plants. (George Bradford
says he has found this potentilla on Cape Ann, at East-
ern Point, east side Gloucester Harbor.") About a mile
below top, Geum radiatum var. Peckii in prime, and
1 According to Durand, as far as Disco Island, 700 N.; "the
ordinary food of deer and rabbits."
2 And after pretty high on Lafayette.
s Both, according to Durand, at 640 N. in Greenland.
According to Durand at 790 N.
SAnd Russell says in the college yard at Amherst.
1858] THE ROCKS OF THE SUMMIT
a little Silene acaulis (moss campion), still in bloom, a
pretty little purplish flower growing like a moss in dense,
The rocks of the alpine portion are of about uniform
size, not large nor precipitous. Generally there is no-
thing to prevent ascending in any direction, and there
is no climbing necessary on the summit. For the last
mile the rocks are generally smaller and more bare and
the ascent easier, and there are some rather large level
grassy spaces. The rocks are not large and flat enough
to hold water, as on Monadnock. I saw but little water
on this summit, though in many places, commonly in
small holes on the grassy flats, and I think the rocky
portion under your feet is less interesting than at
Monadnock. I sweated in a thick coat as I ascended.
About half a mile below top I noticed dew on the mossy;
tufted surface, with mountain cranberry in the sedge.
On the very summit I noticed moss, sedge (the kind
I have tied together),2 forming what is now to be called
the Great Pasture there, they say; a little alsine and
diapensia; a bright-green crustaceous lichen;3 and that
small dark-brown umbilicaria-like one (of Monadnock),
of which I have a specimen. The rocks, being small
and not precipitous, have no such lichen-clad angles
as at Monadnock, yet the general aspect of the rocks
about you is dark-brown. All over the summit there is
1 Durand says at 730 + in Greenland.
2 Carex rigida, with a black spike.
a Is this Lecida geographic ? Oakes (in "Scenery," etc.) speaks
of the geographic lichen as found on the summit; viz. "the yellow of
the beautiful geographic lichen."
a great deal of that sedge grass, especially southeast
and east amid the smallish rocks. There was a soli-
dago (or aster) quite near summit (not out), perhaps
The only bird I had seen on the way up, above the
limit of trees, was the Fringilla hyemalis. Willey says
the swallow flies over the summit and that a bear has
been seen there.
I got up about half an hour before my party and
enjoyed a good view, though it was hazy, but by the
time the rest arrived a cloud invested us all, a cool
driving mist, which wet you considerably, as you
squatted behind a rock. As I looked downward over
the rock surface, I saw tinges of blue sky and a light
as of breaking away close to the rocky edge of the
mountain far below me instead of above, showing that
there was the edge of the cloud. It was surprising to
look down thus under the cloud at an angle of thirty
or forty degrees for the only evidences of a clear sky
and breaking away. There was a ring of light encir-
cling the summit, thus close to the rocks under the thick
cloud, and the evidences of a blue sky in that direction
were just as strong as ordinarily when you look upward.
On our way up we had seen all the time, before us
on the right, a large patch of snow on the southeast side
of Mt. Adams, the first large summit north of Wash-
ington. I observed that the enduring snow-drifts were
such as had lodged under the southeast cliffs, having
been blow over the summit by the northwest wind.
They lie up under such cliffs and at the head of the
ravines on the southeast slopes.
1858] FOG ON THE MOUNTAIN
A Mr. White, an artist taking views from the sum-
mit, had just returned from the Gulf of Mexico with
the pretty purple-flowered Phyllodoce taxifolia and
The landlords of the Tiptop and Summit Houses,
Spaulding and Hall, assured me that my (Willey's) map
was wrong, both in the names and height of Adams
and Jefferson,- that the order should be reversed,
Adams being the sharp peak, the second large one
north of Washington, but Boardman's map also calls
About 8.15 A.M., being still in a dense fog, we started
direct for Tuckerman's Ravine, I having taken the
bearing of it before the fog, but Spaulding also went
some ten rods with us and pointed toward the head of
the ravine, which was about S. 150 W. Hoar tried to
hire Page to go with us, carrying part of our baggage,
- as he had already brought it up from the shanty, -
and he professeddto be acquainted with the mountain;
but his brother, who lived at the summit, warned him
not to go, lest he should not be able to find his way back
again, and he declined. The landlords were rather
anxious about us. I looked at my compass every four
or five rods and then walked toward some rock in our
course, but frequently after taking three or four steps,
though the fog was no more dense, I would lose the
rock I steered for. The fog was very bewildering. You
would think that the rock you steered for was some
large boulder twenty rods off, or perchance it looked
like the brow of a distant spur, but a dozen steps would
take you to it, and it would suddenly have sunk into the
ground. I discovered this illusion. I said to my com-
panions, "You see that boulder of a peculiar form,
slanting over another. Well, that is in our course.
How large do you think it is, and how far?" To my
surprise, one answered three rods, but the other said
nine. I guessed four, and we all thought it about eight
feet high. We could not see beyond it, and it looked
like the highest part of a ridge before us. At the end of
twenty-one paces or three and a half rods, I stepped
upon it, less than two feet high, and I could not
have distinguished it from the hundred similar ones
around it, if I had not kept my eye on it all the while.
It is unwise for one to ramble over these mountains at
any time, unless he is prepared to move with as much
certainty as if he were solving a geometrical problem.
A cloud may at any moment settle around him, and
unless he has a compass and knows which way to go, he
will be lost at once. One lost on the summit of these
mountains should remember that if he will travel due
east or west eight or nine miles, or commonly much less,
he will strike a public road. Or whatever direction he
might take, the average distance would not be more than
eight miles and the extreme distance twenty. Follow
some water-course running easterly or westerly. If the
weather were severe on the summit, so as to prevent
searching for the summit houses or the path, I should at
once take a westward course from the southern part of
the range or an eastward one from the northern part.
To travel there with security, a person must know his
bearings at every step, be it fair weather or foul. An
ordinary rock in a fog, being in the apparent horizon,
1858] TRAVELLING THROUGH CLOUDS 23
is exaggerated to, perhaps, at least ten times its size
and distance. You will think you have gone further
than you have to get to it.
Descending straight by compass through the cloud,
toward the head of Tuckerman's Ravine, we found it
an easy descent over, for the most part, bare rocks, not
very large, with at length moist springy places, green
with sedge, etc., between little sloping shelves of green
meadow, where the hellebore grew, within half a mile
of top, and the Oldenlandia cerulea was abundantly
out (!) and very large and fresh, surpassing ours in the
spring. And here, I think, Juncus trifidus (?),' and
Lycopodium Selago, and Lonicera ccerulea, or moun-
tain fly-honeysuckle, in bloom, only two specimens; it
is found in the western part of Massachusetts.2 Saw a
few little ferns of a narrow triangular form, somewhat
like the Woodsia Ilvensis, but less hairy and taller;
small clintonias in bloom, and Viola palustris, in prime,
from three quarters of a mile below summit down to
snow; and a fine juncus or scirpus, ccspitosus-like, i. e.
a single-headed or spiked rush; and trientalis, still in
bloom, rather depauperate; and, I think, a few small
narrow-leaved blueberry bushes; at least one minute
mountain-ash. Also the Geum radiatum var. Peckii
was conspicuous in prime hence down to the snow in
the ravine. These chiefly in those peculiar moist and
mossy sloping shelves on the mountain-side, on way to
the ravine, or within a mile of the summit.
2 Oakes makes the plain above the ravine twelve hundred feet or
more below summit.
Some twenty or thirty rods above the edge of the
ravine, where it was more level and wet and grassy
under low cliffs, grew the Phyllodoce taxifolia, not in
tufts, under the jutting rocks and in moss, somewhat
past prime.1 The Uvularia grandiflora apparently in
prime, and, part way down into ravine, Loiseleuria
(Azalea) procumbens, on rocks, still in bloom,2 and
Cassiope hypnoides, about done. These four on a moist
southeast slope. Also Rubus triflorus, reaching to camp,
Just on the edge of the ravine I began to see the
Heracleum lanatum in prime, and the common arch-
angelica, not out; and as I descended into the ravine on
the steep side moist with melted snows, Veronica alpina,
apparently in prime, and Nabalus Boottii (?) budded,
down to snow, and Epilobium alpinum in prime, and
Platanthera dilatata in prime, and the common rue and
the first Castilleja septentrionalis (Bartsia pallida), ap-
parently not long, which was more common about our
camp. I recollect seeing all the last eight (except the
rue and veronica and nabalus, which I do not remem-
ber) about our camp and yet more flourishing there and
Solidago Virgaurea var. alpina, not quite out, edge of
ravine. Should have included Arnica mollis among
those on side of ravine reaching to camp, and, accord-
ing to Hoar, raspberry and linnuea.
We crossed a narrow portion of the snow, but found
it unexpectedly hard and dangerous to traverse. I tore
up my nails in my efforts to save myself from sliding
L According to Durand, at Disco, 700 N.
SAccording to Durand, at 69 in Greenland.
THE SNOW ARCH
down its steep surface. The snow-field now formed an
irregular crescent on the steep slope at the head of the
ravine, some sixty rods wide
horizontally, or from north /I
to south, and twenty-five
rods wide from upper to
lower side. It may have
been half a dozen feet thick
in some places, but it diminished sensibly in the rain
while we were there. Is said to be all gone commonly
by end of August. The surface was hard, difficult to
work your heels into, and a perfectly regular steep slope,
steeper than an ordinary roof from top to bottom. A
considerable stream, a source of the Saco, was flowing
out from beneath it, where it had worn a low arch a rod
or more wide. Here were the phenomena of winter and
earliest spring, contrasted with summer. On the edge of
and beneath the overarching snow, many plants were just
pushing up as in our spring. The great plaited elliptical
buds of the hellebore had just pushed up there, even
under the edge of the snow, and also bluets. Also, close
to edge of snow, the bare upright twigs of a willow, with
small silvery buds not yet expanded, of a satiny lustre,
one to two feet high (apparently Salix repens),1 but not,
as I noticed, procumbent, while a rod off on each side,
where it had been melted some time, it was going to seed
and fully leaved out.. The surface of the snow was dirty,
being covered with cinder-like rubbish of vegetation,
which had blown on to it. Yet from the camp it looked
quite white and pure. For thirty or forty rods, at least,
1 Also apparently S. phylicifolia. Vide Sept. 21.
down the stream, you could see the point where the snow
had recently melted. It was a dirty-brown flattened
stubble, not yet at all greened, covered with a blackish
slimy dirt, the dust of the snow-crust. Looking closely,
I saw. that it was composed in great part of the stems
and flowers apparently of last year's goldenrods (if not
asters),- perhaps large thyrsoidea, for they grew there
on the slides,--now quite flattened, with other plants.
A pretty large dense-catkined willow grew in the upper
part of the ravine, q. v. Also, near edge of snow, vanilla
grass, a vaccinium,' budded, with broad obovate leaves
(q. v.), Spirwa salicifolia (and on slides), and nabalus
(Boottii ?) leaves.
From the edge of the ravine, I should have said that,
having reached the lower edge of the cloud, we came into
the sun again, much to our satisfaction, and discerned
a little lake called Hermit Lake, about a mile off, at the
bottom of the ravine, just within the limit of the trees.
For this we steered, in order to camp by it for the sake
of the protection of the wood. But following down the
edge of the stream, the source of Ellis River, which was
quite a brook within a stone's throw of its head, we soon
found it very bad walking in the scrubby fir and spruce,
and therefore, when we had gone about two thirds
the way to the lake, decided to camp in the midst of
the dwarf firs, clearing away a space with our hatchets.
1 This is apparently V. ccespitosum, for the anthers are two-awned,
though I count but ten stamens in the flower I open, and I did not
notice that the plant was tufted. Apparently the same, with thinner
leaves, by Peabody River at base, but noticed no flowers there. Yet
Gray refers it only to the alpine region!
1858] SETTING FIRE TO THE SCRUB 27
Having cleared a space with some difficulty where the
trees were seven or eight feet high, Wentworth kindled
a fire on the lee side, without against my advice -
removing the moss, which was especially dry on the
rocks and directly ignited and set fire to the fir leaves,
spreading off with great violence and crackling over the
mountain, and making us jump for our baggage; but
fortunately it did not burn a foot toward us, for we
could not have run in that thicket. It spread particu-
larly fast in the procumbent creeping spruce, scarcely
a foot deep, and made a few acres of deer's horns, thus
leaving our mark on the mountainside. We thought
at first it would run for miles, and W. said that it
would do no harm, the more there was burned the bet-
ter; but such was the direction of the wind that it soon
reached the brow of a ridge east of us and then burned
very slowly down its east side. Yet Willey says (page
23), speaking of the dead trees or "buck's horns,"
"Fire could not have caused the death of these trees;
for fire will not spread here, in consequence of the hu-
midity of the whole region at this elevation;" and he
attributes their death to the cold of 1816. Yet it did
spread above the limit of trees in the ravine.
Finally we kept on, leaving the fire raging, down to
the first little lake, walking in the stream, jumping from
rock to rock with it. It may have fallen a thousand
feet within a mile below the snow, and we camped on a
slight rising ground between that first little lake and the
stream, in a dense fir and spruce wood thirty feet high,
though it was but the limit of trees there. On our way
we found the Arnica mollis (recently begun to bloom),
a very fragrant yellow-rayed flower, by the side of the
brook (also half-way up the ravine). The Alnus viridis
was a prevailing shrub all along this stream, seven or
eight feet high near our camp near the snow. It was
dwarfish and still in flower, but in fruit only below; had
a glossy, roundish, wrinkled, green, sticky leaf. Also a
little Ranunculus abortivus by the brook, in bloom.
: Close by our camp, the Heracleum lanatum, or cow-
parsnip, masterwort, grew quite rankly, its great leaves
eighteen inches wide and umbels eight or nine inches
wide; the petioles had inflated sheaths. I afterward saw
it, I think in Campton; as much as seven feet high. It
was quite common and conspicuous in the neighbor-
hood of the mountains, especially in Franconia Notch.
Our camp was opposite a great slide on the south,
apparently a quarter of a mile wide, with the stream be-
tween us and it, and I resolved if a great storm should
occur that we would flee to higher ground northeast.
The little pond by our side was perfectly clear and cool,
without weeds, and the meadow by it was dry enough
to sit down in. When I looked up casually toward
the crescent of-snow I would mistake it for the sky,
a white glowing sky or cloud, it was so high, while the
dark earth on [the] mountainside above it passed for
a dark cloud.
In the course of the afternoon we heard, as we
thought, a faint shout, and it occurred to me that Blake,
for whom I had left a note at the Glen House, might
possibly be looking for me; but soon Wentworth de-
cided that it must be a bear, for they make a noise like
a woman in distress. He has caught many of them.
1858] MEETING BLAKE AND BROWN
Nevertheless, we shouted in return and waved a light
coat on the meadow. After an hour or two had elapsed,
we heard the voice again, nearer, and saw two men, and
I went up the stream to meet Blake and Brown, wet,
ragged, and bloody with black flies. I had told Blake
to look out for a smoke and a white tent, and we had
made a smoke sure enough. They were on the edge of
the ravine when they shouted and heard us answer, or
about a mile distant, heard over all the roar of the
stream! You could hear one shout from Hermit Lake
to the top of the ravine above snow, back and forth,
which I should think was a mile. They also saw our
coat waved and ourselves. We slept five in the tent
that night, and it rained, putting out the fire we had
set. It was quite warm at night in our tent.
The wood thrush, which Wentworth called the night-
ingale, sang at evening and in the morning, and the same
bird which I heard on Monadnock, I think, and then
thought might be the Blackburnian warbler; also the
July 9. Friday. Walked to the Hermit Lake, some
forty rods northeast. Listera cordata abundant and in
prime in the woods, with a little Platanthera obtusata,
also apparently in prime. (The last also as far up as the
head of the ravine sparingly.) This was a cold, clear
lake with scarcely a plant in it, of perhaps half an acre,
and from a low ridge east of it was a fine view up the
ravine. Hoar tried in vain for trout here. The Vacci-
nium Canadense was the prevailing one here and by our
SVide Apr. 15th, 1859, about going up a mountain.
camp. Heard a bullfrog in the lake, and afterward saw
a large toad part way up the ravine. Our camp was
about on the limit of trees here, and may have been from
twenty-five hundred to three thousand feet below the
I was here surprised to discover, looking down
through the fir-tops, a large, bright, downy fair-weather
cloud covering the lower world far beneath us, and
there it was the greater part of the time we were there,
like a lake, while the snow and alpine summit were to
be seen above us on the other side, at about the same
angle. The pure white crescent of snow was our
sky, and the dark mountainside above, our permanent
We had the Fringilla hyemalis with its usual note
about our camp, and Wentworth said it was common
and bred about his house. I afterward saw it in the
valleys about the mountains. I had seen the white-
throated sparrow near his house. This also, he said,
commonly bred there, on the ground.
The wood we were in was fir, and spruce. Along
the brook grew the Alnus viridis, Salix Torreyana (?),
canoe birch, red cherry, mountain-ash, etc., and promi-
nent among lesser plants, Heracleum lanatum, Castilleja
septentrionalis, the swamp gooseberry in flower and in
green fruit, and a sort of Ribes floridum without resi-
nous-dotted leaves! The Hedyotis cowrulea was surpris-
ingly large and fresh, in bloom, looking as much whiter
than usual as late snows do. I thought they must be
a variety. And on a sand-bar by the brook, Oxyria
digyna, the very pretty mountain sorrel, apparently in
prime.' Apparently Viola blanda, as well as wool-grass,
in the meadow, and apparently Aster prenanthes and
Juncus filiformis; also rhodora, fetid currant, ame-
lanchier (variety oligocarpa), trientalis, mountain maple,
tree-cranberry with green fruit, Aster acuminatus, and
Aralia nudicaulis a salix humilis-like, and Polystichum
aculeatum (? ?), and Lycopodium annotinum (variety).
I ascended the stream in the afternoon and got out
of the ravine at its head, after dining on chiogenes tea,
which plant I could gather without moving from my log
seat. We liked it so well that Blake gathered a parcel to
carry home. In most places it was scarcely practicable
to get out of the ravine on either side on account of
precipices. I judged it to be one thousand or fifteen hun-
dred feet deep, but with care you could ascend by some
slides. I found that we might have camped in the scrub
firs above the edge of the ravine, though it would have
been cold and windy and comparatively unpleasant there,
for we should have been most of the time in a cloud.
The dense patches of dwarf fir and spruce scarcely
rose above the rocks which they concealed, and you
would often think the trees not more than a foot or two
deep, as, indeed, they might not be generally, but,
searching within, you would find hollow places six or
eight feet deep between the rocks, where they filled up
all level, and by clearing a space here with your hatchet
you could find a shelter for your tent, and also fuel,
and water was close by above the head of the ravine.
Nevertheless, at a glance, looking over, or even walking
I Seen in Kane's expedition by Hans, etc., at the furthest north
point, or 800+.
over, this dense shrubbery, you would have thought it
nowhere more than a foot or two deep, and the trees
at most only an inch or two in diameter; but by search-
ing you would find deep hollow places in it, as I have
said, where the firs were from six to ten inches in diam-
eter. The strong wind and the snow are said to flatten
these trees down thus. Such a shrubbery would begin
with a thin and shallow but dense edge of spruce, not
more than a foot thick, like moss upon a rock, on which
you could walk, but in many places in the middle of it,
though its surface was of a uniform slope, it would be
found to be six or eight feet deep. So that these very
thickets of which the traveller complains afford at the
same time an indispensable shelter. I noticed that this
shrubbery just above the ravine, as well as in it, was
principally fir, while the yet more dwarfish and pros-
trate portion on the edge was spruce.
Returning, I sprained my ankle in jumping down the
brook, so that I could not sleep that night, nor walk
the next day.' We had commonly clouds above and
below us, though it was clear where we were. These
clouds commonly reached about down to the edge of
The black flies, which pestered us till into evening,
were of various sizes, the largest more than an eighth of
an inch long. There were scarcely any mosquitoes here,
it was so cool.
I [He had found the Arnica mollis the day before (see ante, pp. 24
and 27), not at the time of spraining his foot, as Emerson has it in
his Biographical Sketch. Channing's account of the incident (p. 44)
A small owl came in the evening and sat within
twelve feet of us, turning its head this way and that and
peering at us inquisitively. It was apparently a screech
July 10. Saturday. Wentworth says he once col-
lected one hundred pounds of spruce gum and sold it
at Biddeford for forty cents per pound. Says there are
"sable lines" about here. They trap them, but rarely
see them. His neighbor, who lives on the hill behind
where we camped on the 6th, has four hours more sun
than he. He can, accordingly, make hay better, but W.
beats him in corn. The days are about forty minutes
longer on top of Mt. Washington than at seashore,
according to guide-book. The sun set to us here at
least an hour earlier than usual.
This ravine at the bottom of which we were, looking
westward up it, had a rim somewhat like that of the
crater of a volcano. The head of it bore from camp
about N. 650 W., looking nearer than it was; the highest
rock, with the outline of a face on it on the south rim,
S. 320 W.; a very steep cliff on the opposite side, N. 200
W.; and over the last we judged was the summit of Mt.
Washington. As I understood Wentworth, this was in
Pingree's Grant; the Glen House in Pinkham's Grant.
To-day and yesterday clouds were continually drifting
over the summit, commonly extending about down to
the edge of the ravine. When we looked up that way,
the black patch made by our fire looked like a shadow
on the mountainside.
I Or Acadica ? Saw-whet?
When I tasted the water under the snow arch the day
before, I was disappointed at its warmth, though it was
in fact melted snow; but half a mile lower it tasted
colder. Probably, the ice being cooled by the neighbor-
hood of the snow, it seemed thus warmer by contrast.
The only animals we saw about our camp were a few
red squirrels. W. said there were striped ones about
the mountains: The Fringilla hyemalis was most com-
mon in the upper part of the ravine, and I saw a large
bird of prey, perhaps an eagle, sailing over the head of
the ravine. The wood thrush and veery sang regularly,
especially morning and evening. But, above all, the
peculiar and memorable songster was that Monadnock-
like one, keeping up an exceedingly brisk and lively
strain. It was remarkable for its incessant twittering
flow. Yet we never got sight of the bird, at least while
singing, so that I could not identify it, and my lameness
prevented my pursuing it. I heard it afterward, even in
the Franconia Notch. It was surprising for its steady
and uninterrupted flow, for when one stopped, another
appeared to take up the strain. It reminded me of a fine
corkscrew stream issuing with incessant lisping tinkle
from a cork, flowing rapidly, and I said that he had
pulled out the spile and left it running.' That was the
rhythm, but with a sharper tinkle of course. It had no
more variety than that, but it was more remarkable for
its continuance and monotonousness than any bird's
note I ever heard. It evidently belongs only to cool
mountainsides, high up amid the fir and spruce. I saw
once flitting through the fir-tops restlessly a small white
1 [He seems to be describing the song of the winter wren.]
and dark bird, sylvia-like, which may have been it.
Sometimes they appeared to be attracted by our smoke.
The note was so incessant that at length you only no-
ticed when it ceased.
The black flies were of various sizes here, much larger
than I noticed in Maine. They compelled me most of
the time to sit in the smoke, which I preferred to wear-
ing a veil. They lie along your forehead in a line, where
your hat touches it, or behind your ears, or about your
throat (if not protected by a beard), or into the rims of
the eyes, or between the knuckles, and there suck till
they are crushed. But fortunately they do not last far
into the evening, and a wind or a fog disperses them. I
did not mind them much, but I noticed that men work-
ing on the highway made a fire to keep them off. I find
many of them accidentally pressed in my botany and
plant book. A botanist's books, if he has ever visited
the primitive northern woods, will be pretty sure to
contain these specimens of the black fly. Anything but
mosquitoes by night. Plenty of fly-blowing flies, but I
saw no ants in the dead wood; some spiders.
In the afternoon, Hoar, Blake, and Brown ascended
the slide on the south to the highest rock. They were
more than an hour getting up, but we heard them shout
distinctly from the top. Hoar found near the edge of
the ravine there, between the snow there and edge, Rho-
dodendron Lapponicum, some time out of bloom,' grow-
ing in the midst of empetrum and moss; Arctostaphylos
alpina, going to seed; Polygonum viviparum, in prime;2
1 According to Durand, at 680 in Greenland.
2 According to Durand, at all Kane's stations.
and Salix herbacea,1 a pretty, trailing, roundish-leaved
willow, going to seed, but apparently not so early as the
July 11. Sunday. Mizzling weather. Were visited
by three men from Glen House, who thought it was well
named Tucker's Ravine," because it tuckered a man
out to get to it!
It rained hard all Sunday night, wetting us but little,
however. One of the slender spruce trees by our camp,
which we cut down, though it looked young and thrifty,
being twenty-eight feet high and only six and a half
inches in diameter, had about eighty rings, and the firs
were at least as old.
Wentworth said that he had five hundred acres, and
would sell the whole with buildings for $2000. He knew
a dead log on the fire to be spruce, and not fir, because
the stubs of the lower part slanted downward, and also
by its "straight rift." He called a rotten cane "dozy."
After some observation I concluded that it was true that
the base of the lower limbs of the spruce slanted down-
ward more generally than those of the fir.
July 12. Monday. It having cleared up, we shoul-
dered our packs and commenced our descent, by a path
about two and a half or three miles to carriage-road, not
descending a great deal.
The prevailing under-plants at first, as we descended,
were Oxalis Acetosella (abundantly in bloom), Cornus
Canadensis, Clintonia borealis, chiogenes, Vaccinium
1 According to Durand, at 730 in Greenland.
1858] DESCENDING THE MOUNTAIN
Canadense, gold-thread, Listera cordata, Smilacina bi-
folia. Solidago thyrsoidea, large and prevalent, on more
open and grassy parts, from top of ravine to base of
mountain, where it was in prime, three feet high and
spikes eighteen inches long. Trees, at first, fir and
spruce; then canoe birches increased, and after two
miles yellow birch began. Half-way down the moun-
tain, on the road, saw a whiteweed and one Alsine
Grwnlandica. It [is] surprising how much of that white
froth, the nidus of an insect, there was on the grass and
weeds on and about the mountains. They were white
with it. Carex trisperma (?), three-quarters down. Hear
the oven-bird near base. Dined by Peabody River, three
quarters of a mile south of Glen House. Found Loni-
cera ciliata in fruit there 2 and saw a little white pine, and
Alnus incana was common, and that large, fragrant
Aster macrophyllus (?) was budded.
I had noticed that the trees at the ravine camp fir
and spruce did not stand firmly. Two or three of us
could have pulled over one thirty feet high and six or
seven inches thick. They were easily rocked, lifting the
horizontal roots each time, which reminded me of what
is said about the Indians sometimes bending over a
young tree, burying a chief under its roots, and letting it
spring back for his monument and protection. W. said
they had found the fir the best material for bridge plank-
ing in his town, outlasting other woods!
In the afternoon we rode along, three of us, northward
SOakes says the white birch (here, meaning the canoe) come in
after a burning.
2 Found in Essex woods.
and northwestward on our way round the mountains,
going through Gorham. We camped about a mile and
a half west of Gorham, by the roadside, on the bank of
July 13. Tuesday. This morning it rained, keeping
us in camp till near noon, for we did not wish to lose the
view of the mountains as we rode along.
We dined at Wood's tavern in Randolph, just over
Randolph Hill, and here had a pretty good view of
Madison and Jefferson, which rose from just south the
stream there, but a cloud rested on the summits most of
As we rode along in the afternoon, I noticed that when
finally it began to rain hard, the clouds settling down, we
had our first distinct view of the mountain outline for a
Wood said they had no spruce but white spruce there,
though I called it black, and that they had no white pine
It rained steadily and soakingly the rest of the after-
noon, as we kept on through Randolph and Kilkenny
and Jefferson Hill, so that we had no clear view of the
We put up at a store just opposite the town hall on
Jefferson Hill. It here cleared up at sunset, after two
days' rain, and we had a fine view of the mountains, re-
paying us for our journey and wetting, Mt. Washington
being some thirteen miles distant southeasterly. South-
westward we looked down over a very extensive, unin-
terrupted, and level-looking forest, which our host said
1858] VIEW FROM JEFFERSON HILL 39
was very valuable on account of its white pine, their most
valuable land, indeed. Over this the fog clouds were
rolling beneath us, and a splendid but cloudy sunset was
preparing for us in the west. By going still higher up
the hill, in the wet grass north of the town house, we
could see the whole White Mountain range from Madi-
son to Lafayette.
The alpine, or rocky, portion of Mt. Washington and
its neighbors was a dark chocolate-brown, the extreme
summits being dark topped or edged, almost invaria-
bly this dark saddle on the top, and, as the sun got
lower, a very distinct brilliant and beautiful green, as of
a thick mantle, was reflected from the vegetation in the
ravines, as from the fold of a mantle, and on the lower
parts of the mountains. They were chiefly Washington
and the high northern peaks that we attended to. The
waifs of fog-like cloud skirting the sides of Cherry Moun-
tain and Mt. Deception in the south had the appear-
ance of rocks, and gave to the mountainsides a precipi-
tous look. I saw a bright streak looking like snow, a
narrow bright ribbon where the source of the Ammonoo-
sue, swollen by the rain, leaped down the side of Mt.
Washington from the Lake of the Clouds. The shadows
on Lafayette betrayed ridges running toward us. That
brilliant green on the northern mountains was reflected
but a moment or two, for the atmosphere at once became
too misty. It several times disappeared and was then
brought out again with wonderful brilliancy, as it were
an invisible writing, or a fluid which required to be held
to the sun to be brought out.
After the sun set to us, the bare summits were of a
delicate rosaceous color, passing through violet into the
deep dark-blue or purple of the night which already
invested their lower parts, for this night-shadow was
wonderfully blue, reminding me of the blue shadows on
snow. There was an afterglow in which these tints and
variations were repeated. It was the grandest mountain
view I ever got. In the meanwhile, white clouds were
gathering again about the summits, first about the high-
est, appearing to form there, but sometimes to send off
an emissary to initiate a cloud upon a neighboring peak.
You could tell little about the comparative distance of a
cloud and a peak till you saw that the former actually
impinged on the latter. First Washington, then Adams,
then Jefferson put on their caps, and you saw the latter,
as it were, send off one small nucleus to gather round the
head of Madison.
This was the best point from which to observe these
effects that we saw in our journey, but it appeared to me
that from a hill a few miles further westward, perhaps
in Whitefield, the view might be even finer. I made
the accompanying two sketches of the mountain outline
here, as far south only as what the landlord called Mt.
Pleasant, the route from the Notch house being visible
..Jl^'- ,4-" ,_. ,s --
View of White Mountains proper from town house and store in Jefferson.
Other mountains and Franconia Mountains further to the right. N. B.
- Oakes puts Jefferson next to Washington, but makes it lower than the
This was said to be a fine farming town. I heard the
ring of toads and saw a remarkable abundance of butter-
1858J VIEW FROM BETHLEHEM
cup (the tall) yellowing the fields in this town and the
next, somewhat springlike.
July 14. Wednesday. This forenoon we rode on
through Whitefield to Bethlehem, clouds for the most
part concealing the higher mountains. Found the Geum
strictum in bloom in Whitefield; also common flax by a
house. Got another fine view of the mountains the
higher ones much more distant than before from a
hill just south of the public house in Bethlehem, but
might have got a better view from a higher hill a little
more east, which one said was the highest land between
the Green and the White Mountains, of course on that
line. Saw the Stratford Peaks, thirty or forty miles north,
and many mountains east of them. Climbed the long
hill from Franconia to the Notch, passed the Profile
House, and camped half a mile up the side of Lafayette.
Loudon says of the Vaccinium uliginosum that it
is "taller than the common bilberry," i. e. Vaccinium
Myrtillus, and is "a shrub about 2 ft. high; a native of
Sweden, Germany, Siberia, Switzerland, Savoy, Scot-
land, and the north of England; as well as in the more
northern parts of America, and on its west coast; and on
the island of Sitcha, and in the north of Asia, in marshy
mountain heaths and alpine bogs." High on the moun-
tains in Scotland. "It is said to cover extensive tracts
of land on the west coast of Greenland, along with An-
dromeda tetragona. The berries are agreeable, but
inferior in flavor to those of V. Myrtillus: eaten in large
quantities, they occasion giddiness, and a slight head-
ache." Called the bog Whortleberry, or great Bilberry."
Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. "Berries large, and
known by the name of bluets. A shrub, nearly 2 ft.
high; a native of Canada, about Hudson's Bay and Lab-
rador; and of the high alpine woods of the Rocky Moun-
tains, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The fruit is
large, globose, blackish purple," highly esteemed.
Vaccinium Vitis-Idcea. "The berries of this plant
form an important article of commerce in the seaports
bordering the Gulf of Bothnia, whence they are sent to
the south of Europe along with cranberries." "Mount
Ida Whortleberry, or Cowberry."
Vaccinium Oxycoccus. Bankers in Russia whiten sil-
ver money by boiling it in their juice. "In Russia, and
in some parts of Sweden, the long filiform shoots of the
oxycoccus are collected in spring, after most of the leaves
have dropped off, and are dried, and twisted into ropes,
which are used to tie on the thatch of houses, and even
for harnessing horses."
Cassiope hypnoides. "A native of Lapland, Denmark,
and Siberia, on the mountains, where it covers whole
tracts of land; and on the northwest coast of North
Phyllodoce taxifolia. "A native of Europe, North
America, and Asia. In Europe: in Scotland on dry
healthy moors, rare;" etc., etc. Cultivated in British
Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi. "In Sweden, Russia, and
America, they [the berries] form a principal part of the
food of bears."
Arctostaphylos alpina. "Native of Denmark, Switzer-
land, Dauphin6, Savoy, Siberia, etc." Berries scarcely
NOTES FROM LOUDON
edible. According to Linnaeus very common about the
(Pursh says of the Chiogenes hispidulum that it is
growing always amidst sphagnum.)
Rhododendron Lapponicum. "A native of the arctic
regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, where it
forms a procumbent shrub, flowering in July."
Salix Urva-ursi Pursh. "A native of Labrador."
His (Loudon's) leaves are blunt-obovate!
S. herbacea L. "A native of Britain on the Welsh and
Highland Mountains." "In the Companion to the Bo-
tanical Magazine, it is stated that S. herbacea exceeds in
the elevation of its habitat every other shrub in Britain."
"S. herbacea is the least of British willows, and ac-
cording to Sir J. E. Smith, the least of all shrubs. Dr.
Clarke, in his Scandinavia, calls it a perfect tree in min-
iature; so small that it may be taken up, and root, trunk,
and branches, spread out in a small pocket-book." But
it has a considerable prostrate stem and root. Leaves
used for tanning in Iceland.
S. repens (of Linnaeus) has in plate pointed (!) lance-
olate leaves, which Loudon says are from one quarter
to three quarters of an inch long, while the plant rises
"only a finger's length"! Can it be mine?
Loiseleuria procumbens. "Plentiful on the tops of
mountains in Scotland."
Alnus viridis D. C. Belongs to the continent of
Empetrum nigrum. The north of Europe and of
Asia, abundant in Scotland. "The Scotch Highland-
ers and Russian peasants eat the berries." One of the
plants that would prevail in England with ling, etc., if
let alone, or ground not cultivated.
Willey says of Jackson, The great number of sheep
scattered upon the mountains make it the principal
place of resort for what bears and wolves are yet
left among these hills." Wentworth said that he had
trapped and killed a number of them. They killed
many of his sheep and calves, and destroyed much of
his corn when in the milk, close to his house. A sheep
could run faster than a bear, but was not so long-
winded, especially going up.a mountainside. The bear,
when pursued, would take directly to some distant and
impenetrable thicket, as these dark fir thickets on the
mountainside. He once found some young bears on a
nest made of small dry sticks collected under a ledge,
and raising them five or six inches from the ground. He
carried home the young and reared them. The voice of
a bear was like that of a woman in distress. It was in
Gilead, the first town (in Maine) northeast from Jack-
son, that Bean killed his bear, thrusting his arm down
July 15. Thursday. Continued the ascent of La-
fayette, also called the Great Haystack. It is perhaps
three and a half miles from the road to the top by path
along winding ridge.
At about a mile and a half up by path, the spruce
began to be small. Saw there a silent bird, dark slate
and blackish above, especially head, with a white line
over the brows, then dark slate next beneath, white
1858] THE ASCENT OF MT. LAFAYETTE 45
throat and reddish belly, black bill. A little like a nut-
hatch. Also saw an F. hyemalis on top of a dead tree.
The wood was about all spruce here, twenty feet high,
together with Vaccinium Canadense, lambkill in bloom,
mountain-ash, Viburnum nudum, rhodora, Amelan-
chier oligocarpa, nemopanthes. As I looked down into
some very broad and deep ravines from this point, their
sides appeared to be covered chiefly with spruce, with a
few bodkin points of fir here and there (had seen two
days before some very handsome firs on low
ground which were actually concave on sides
of cone), while the narrow bottom or middle ".
of the ravine, as far up and down as trees ;
reached, where, of course, there was most '1 "
water, was almost exclusively hardwood, apparently
As we proceeded, the number of firs began to increase,
and the spruce to diminish, till, at about two miles per-
haps, the wood was almost pure fir about fourteen feet
high; but this suddenly ceased at about half a mile
further and gave place to a very dwarfish fir, and to
spruce again, the latter of a very dwarfish, procumbent
form, dense and flat, one to two feet high, which crept
yet higher up the mountain than the fir, over the
rocks beyond the edge of the fir, and with this spruce
was mixed Empetrum nigrum, dense and matted on the
rocks, partly dead, with berries already blackening, also
Vaccinium uliginosum. Though the edges all around
and the greater part of such a thicket high up the other-
wise bare rocks might be spruce, yet the deeper hollows
between the rocks, in the midst, would invariably be
filled with fir, rising only to the same level, but much
larger round. These firs especially made the stag-horns
The spruce was mostly procumbent at that height,
but the fir upright, though flat-topped. In short, spruce
gave place to fir from a mile and a half to a mile below
the top, so you may say firs were the highest trees, -
and then succeeded to it in a very dwarfish and procum-
bent form yet higher -up.
At about one mile or three quarters below the summit,
just above the limit of trees, we came to a little pond,
maybe of a quarter of an acre (with a yet smaller one
near by), the source of one head of the Pemigewasset,
in which grew a great many yellow lilies (Nuphar ad-
vena) and I think a potamogeton. In the flat, dryish
bog by its shore, I noticed the Empetrum nigrum (1),
ledum (2), Vaccinium Oxycoccus, Smilacina trifolia, Kal-
mia glauca (3) (in bloom still), Andromeda calyculata (4)
(and I think Polifolia ? ?), Eriophorum vaginatum, Vac-
cinium uliginosum (5), Juncus filiformis, four kinds of
sedge (e. g. Carex pauciflora?), C. irrigua with dangling
spikes, and a C. lupulina-like, and the Scirpus catspi-
tosus (?) of Mt. Washington, brown lichens (q. v.), and
cladonias, all low and in a moss-like bed in the moss
of the bog; also rhodora of good size. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
were quite dwarfish. The outlet of the pond was con-
siderable, but soon lost beneath the rocks. A willow,
rostrata-like but not downy, grew there. In the dwarf
1858] THE SUMMIT OF LAFAYETTE
fir thickets above and below this pond, I saw the most
beautiful linnaeas that I ever saw. They grew quite
densely, full of rose-purple flowers, deeper reddish-
purple than ours, which are pale, perhaps nodding
over the brink of a spring, altogether the fairest moun-
tain flowers I saw, lining the side of the narrow horse-
track through the fir scrub. As you walk, you overlook
the top of this thicket on each side. There also grew
near that pond red cherry, Aster prenanthes (??) and
We saw a line of fog over the Connecticut Valley.
Found near summit apparently the Vaccinium angusti-
folium of Aitman (variety of Vaccinium Pennsylvani-
cum, Gray), bluets, and a broad-leaved vaccinium lower
down (q. v.). Just below top, reclined on a dense bed
of Salix Uva-ursi, five feet in diameter by four or
five inches deep, a good spot to sit on, mixed with a
rush, amid rocks. This willow was generally showing
We had fine weather on this mountain, and from the
summit a good view of Mt. Washington and the rest,
though it was a little hazy in the horizon. It was a wild
mountain and forest scene from south-southeast round
easterwardly to north-northeast. On the northwest the
country was half cleared, as from Monadnock, the
leopard-spotted land. I saw, about west-northwest, a
large Green Mountain, perhaps Mansfield Mountain,
though the compass was affected here.
The Carex scirpoidea (?) grew at top, and it was
surprising how many large bees, wasps, butterflies, and
other insects were hovering and fluttering about the very
apex, though not particularly below. What attracts them
to such a locality 1
Heard one white-throated sparrow above the trees,
and also saw a little bird by the pond. Think I heard a
song sparrow about latter place. Saw a toad near limit
of trees, and many pollywogs in the pond above trees.
Boiled tea for our dinner by the little pond, the head
of the Pemigewasset. Saw tracks in the muddy bog by
the pond-side, shaped somewhat like a small human
foot sometimes, perhaps made by a bear.
We made our fire on the moss and lichens, by a rock,
amid the shallow fir and spruce, burning the dead
fir twigs, or "deer's-horns." I cut off a flourishing fir
three feet high and not flattened at top yet. This was
one and a quarter inches in diameter and had thirty-
four rings. One, also flourishing, fifteen inches high, had
twelve rings at ground. One, a dead one, was twenty-
nine inches -in circumference, and at four feet from
ground branched horizontally as much as five feet each
way, making a flat top, curving upward again into stag-
horns, with branches very large and stout at base, thus:
Another, fir, close by
V t and dead, was thirty
Inches in circumfer-
ence at ground and
only half an inch in
diameter at four and
a half feet. Another
fir, three feet high, fresh and vigorous, without a flat
In an account of C. Piazzi Smyth's scientific mission under
the English Government to the Peak of Teneriffe, in 1856, it is said,
1858] SCRUB FIR AND SPRUCE
top as yet, had its woody part an inch and an eighth
thick (or diameter) at base (the bark being one eighth
inch thick) and sixty-one rings. There was no sign of
decay, though it was, as usual, mossy, or covered with
I cut off at ground one of the little procumbent spruce
trees, which spread much like a juniper, but not curving
upward. This rose about nine inches above the ground,
but I could not count the rings, they were so fine. (Vide
piece.) The smallest diameter of the wood is forty-one
eightieths of an inch. The number of rings, as near as
I can count with a microscope, taking much pains, is
about seventy, and on one side these are included within
a radius of nine fortieths of an inch, of which a little
more than half is heart-wood, or each layer on this side
is less than one three-hundredth of an inch thick. The
bark was three fortieths of an inch thick. It was quite
round and easy to cut, it was so fresh.
If the fir thirty inches in circumference grew no faster
than that an inch and an eighth in diameter, then it was
about five hundred and forty-nine years old. If as fast
as the little spruce, it would be nearly fourteen hundred
When half-way down the mountain, amid the spruce,
"In the hollow of this crater [the topmost] 12,200 feet above the sea
level, though at a lesser altitude they had left all signs of animal life,
they found a population of bees, flies, spiders, as well as swallows
and linnets the birds and insects flying about in numbers."
And of a lower altitude, speaking of the flowers, it is said that
during the early summer "the townspeople [of Orotava] find it worth
their while to pack their hives of bees on mules and bring them to
these upper regions to gather honey from the myriads of mountain
we saw two pine grosbeaks, male and female, close by
the path, and looked for a nest, but in vain. They were
remarkably tame, and the male a brilliant red orange,
- neck, head, breast beneath, and rump, blackish
wings and tail, with two white bars. on wings. (Female,
yellowish.) The male flew nearer inquisitively, uttering
a low twitter, and perched fearlessly within four feet of
us, eying us and pluming himself and plucking and eat-
ing the leaves of the Amelanchier oligocarpa on which
he sat, for several minutes. The female, meanwhile, was
a rod off. They were evidently breeding there. Yet
neither Wilson nor Nuttall speak of their breeding in
the United States.
At the base of the mountain, over the road, heard
(and saw), at the same place where I heard him the
evening before, a splendid rose-breasted grosbeak sing-
ing. I had before mistaken him at first for a tanager,
then for a red-eye, but was not satisfied; but now, with
my glass, I distinguished him sitting quite still, high
above the road at the entrance of the mountain-path in
the deep woods, and singing steadily for twenty minutes.
It was remarkable for sitting so still and where yester-
day. It was much richer and sweeter and, I think, more
powerful than the note of the tanager or red-eye. It
had not the hoarseness of the tanager, and more sweet-
ness and fullness than the red-eye. Wilson does not
give their breeding-place. Nuttall quotes Pennant as
saying that some breed in New York but most further
north. They, too, appear to breed about the White
Heard the evergreen-forest note on the sides of the
1858] THE BIRDS OF THE MOUNTAINS 51
mountains often. Heard no robins in the White Moun-
Rode on and stopped at Morrison's (once Tilton's)
Inn in West Thornton. Heracleum lanatum in Notch and
near, very large, some seven feet high. Observed, as we
rode south through Lincoln, that the face of cliffs on the
hills and mountains east of the river, and even the stems
of the spruce, reflected a pink light at sunset.
July 16 Friday. Continue on through Thornton
and Campton. The butternut is first noticed in these
towns, a common tree. Urtica Canadensis in Campton.
About the mountains were wilder and rarer birds,
more or less arctic, like the vegetation. I did not even
hear the robin on them, and when I had left them a few
miles behind, it was a great change and surprise to hear
the lark, the wood pewee, the robin, and the bobolink
(for the last had not done singing). On the mountains,
especially at Tuckerman's Ravine, the notes even of
familiar birds sounded strange to me. I hardly knew
the wood thrush and veery and oven-bird at first. They
sing differently there.' In two instances, going down
the Mt. Jefferson road and along the road in the Fran-
conia Notch, I started an F. hycmalis within two feet,
close to the roadside, but looked in vain for a nest. They
alight and sit thus close. I doubt if the chipping sparrow
is found about the mountains.
We were not troubled at all by black flies after leaving
the Franconia Notch. It is apparently only in primitive
[His wood thrush and veery were probably the olive-backed thrush
and the Bicknell thrush.]
woods that they work. We had grand views of the Fran-
conia Mountains from Campton, and were surprised by
the regular pyramidal form of most of the peaks, includ-
ing Lafayette, which we had ascended. I think that there
must be some ocular illusion about this, for no such
regularity was observable in ascending Lafayette. I re-
member that when I got more than half a mile down it
I met two men walking up, and perspiring very much,
one of whom asked me if a cliff within a stone's throw
before them was the summit: Indeed the summit of a
mountain, though it may appear thus regular at a dis-
tance, is not, after all, the easiest thing to find, even in
clear weather. The surface was so irregular that you
would have thought you saw the summit a dozen times
before you did, and in one sense the nearer you got to it,
the further off it was. I told the man it was seven or
eight times as far as that. I suspect that such are the
laws of light that our eye, as it were, leaps from one
prominence to another, connecting them by a straight
line when at a distance and making one side balance the
other. So that when the summit viewed is fifty or a hun-
dred miles distant, there is but very general and very
little truth in the impression of its outline conveyed to
the mind. Seen from Campton and' lower, the Fran-
conia Mountains show three or four sharp and regular
blue pyramids, reminding you of pictures of the Pyra-
mids of Egypt, though when near you suspected no such
resemblance. You know from having climbed them,
most of the time out of sight of the summit, that they
must be at least of a scalloped outline, and it is hardly
to be supposed that a nearer or more distant prominence
1858] THE FRANCONIA MOUNTAINS
always is seen at a distance filling up the irregularities.
It would seem as if by some law of light and vision the
eye inclined to connect the base and apex of a peak in
the horizon by a straight line. Twenty-five miles off, in
this case, you might think that the summit was a smooth
inclined plane, though you can reach it only over a suc-
cession of promontories and shelves.
Cannon Mountain on the west side of the Franconia
Notch (on whose side is the profile) is the most singu-
larly lumpish mass of any mountain I ever saw, espe-
cially so high. It looks like a behemoth or a load of hay,
and suggests no such pyramid as I have described. So
my theory does not quite hold together, and I would say
that the eye needs only a hint of the general form and
completes the outline from the slightest suggestion. The
huge lumpish mass and curving outline of Cannon
Mountain is yet more remarkable than the pyramidal
summits of the others. It would be less remarkable in a
mere hill, but it is, in fact, an elevated and bald rocky
My last view of these Franconia Mountains was from
a hill in the road just this side of Plymouth village.
Campton apparently affords the best views of them, and
some artists board there.
Gathered the Carex straminea (?), some three feet
high, scoparia-like, in Bridgewater. Nooned on west
bank of the Pemigewasset, half a mile above the New
Hampton covered bridge. Saw first pitch pines in New
Hampton. Saw chestnuts first and frequently in Frank-
lin and Boscawen, or about 43o N., or half a degree
higher than Emerson put it. It was quite common in
Hollis. Of oaks, I saw and heard only of the red in the
north of New Hampshire. The witch-hazel was very
abundant and large in the north part of New Hampshire
and about the mountains.
Lodged at tavern in Franklin, west side of river.
July 17. Saturday. Passed by Webster's place, three
miles this side of the village. Some half-dozen houses
there; no store nor public buildings. A very quiet place.
Road lined with elms and maples. Railroad between
house and barn. The farm apparently a level and
rather sandy interval, nothing particularly attractive
about it. A plain public graveyard within its limits.
Saw the grave of Ebenezer Webster, Esq., who died
1806, aged sixty-seven, and of Abigail, his wife, who
died 1816, aged seventy-six, probably Webster's father
and mother; also of other Websters, and Haddocks.
Now belongs to one Fay [ ?] of Boston. W. was born two
or more miles northwest, but house now gone.
Spent the noon on the bank of the Contoocook in
the northwest corner of Concord, there a stagnant river
owing to dams. Began to find raspberries ripe. Saw
much elecampane by roadsides near farmhouses, all the
way through New Hampshire.
Reached Weare and put up at a quiet and agreeable
house, without any sign or barroom. Many Friends
in this town. Know Pillsbury and Rogers here. The
former lived in Henniker, next town.
July 18. Sunday. Keep on through New Boston, the
east side of Mount Vernon, Amherst to Hollis, and noon
1858] THE TRAVELLER'S RIGHTS
by a mill-pond in the woods, on Pennichook Brook, in
Hollis, or three miles north of village. At evening go on
to Pepperell. A marked difference when we enter Mas-
sachusetts, in roads, farms, houses, trees, fences, etc., -
a great improvement, showing an older-settled country.
In New Hampshire there is a greater want of shade
trees, but long bleak or sunny roads from which there is
no escape. What barbarians we are! The convenience
of the traveller is very little consulted. He merely has
the privilege of crossing somebody's farm by a particular
narrow and maybe unpleasant path. The individual re-
tains all other rights, as to trees and fruit, and wash
of the road, etc. On the other hand, these should belong
to mankind inalienably. The road should be of ample
width and adorned with trees expressly for the use of the
traveller. There should be broad recesses in it, espe-
cially at springs and watering-places, where he can turn
out and rest, or camp if he will. I feel commonly as if I
were condemned to drive through somebody's cow-yard
or huckleberry pasture by a narrow lane, and if I make
a fire by the roadside to boil my hasty pudding, the
farmer comes running over to see if I am not burning up
his stuff. You are barked along through the country,
from door to door.
July 19. Get home at noon.
For such an excursion as the above, carry and wear: -
Three strong check shirts.
Two pairs socks.
Neck ribbon and handkerchief.
One thick waistcoat.
One thin (or half-thick) coat.
One thick coat (for mountain).
A large, broad india-rubber knapsack, with a broad flap.
A flannel shirt.
Three bosoms (to go and come in).
Pins, needles, thread.
A cap to lie in at night.
Tent (or a large simple piece of india-rubber cloth for the mountain
Veil and gloves (or enough millinet to cover all at night).
Map and compass.
Plant book and paper.
Paper and stamps.
Botany, spy-glass, microscope.
Jack-knife and clasp-knife.
Fish-line and hooks.
Soap and dish-cloths.
Waste-paper and twine.
Pint dipper with a pail-handle added (not to put out the fire), and
perhaps a bag to carry water in.
Frying-pan, only if you ride.
Hatchet (sharp), if you ride, and perhaps in any case on mountain,
with a sheath to it.
Hard-bread (sweet crackers good); a moist, sweet plum cake very
good and lasting; pork, corned beef or tongue, sugar, tea or coffee, and
a little salt.
As I remember, those dwarf firs on the mountains
grew up straight three or four feet without diminishing
much if any, and then sent forth every way very stout
1858] NOTES OF THE EXCURSION 57
branches, like bulls' horns or shorter, horizontally four
or five feet each way. They were stout because they
grew so slowly. Apparently they were kept flat-topped
by the snow and wind. But when the surrounding trees
rose above them, they, being sheltered a little, appar-
ently sent up shoots from the horizontal limbs, which
also were again more or less bent, and this added to the
We might easily have built us a shed of spruce bark at
the foot of Tuckerman's Ravine. I thought that I might
in a few moments strip off the bark of a spruce a little
bigger than myself and seven feet long, letting it curve
as it naturally would, then crawl into it and be pro-
tected against any rain. Wentworth said that he had
sometimes stripped off birch bark two feet wide, and put
his head through a slit in the middle, letting the ends fall
down before and behind, as he walked.
The slides in Tuckerman's Ravine appeared to be a
series of deep gullies side by side, where sometimes it
appeared as if a very large rock had slid down without
turning over, plowing this deep furrow all the way, only
a few rods wide. Some of the slides were streams of
rocks, a rod or more in diameter each. In some cases
which I noticed, the ravine-side had evidently been un-
dermined by water on the lower side.
It is surprising how much more bewildering is a
mountain-top than a level area of the same extent. Its
ridges and shelves and ravines add greatly to its appar-
ent extent and diversity. You may be separated from
your party by only stepping a rod or two out of the path.
We turned off three or four rods to the pond on our way
up Lafayette, knowing that Hoar was behind, but so we
lost him for three quarters of an hour and did not see
him again till we reached the summit. One walking a
few rods more to the right or left is not seen over the
ridge of the summit, and, other things being equal, this
is truer the nearer you are to the apex.
If you take one side of a rock, and your companion
another, it is enough to separate you sometimes for the
rest of the ascent.
On these mountain-summits, or near them, you find
small and almost uninhabited ponds, apparently with-
out fish, sources of rivers, still and cold, strange as
condensed clouds, weird-like, of which nevertheless
you make tea! surrounded by dryish bogs, in which,
perchance, you may detect traces of the bear or loup,
We got the best views of the mountains from Con-
way, Jefferson, Bethlehem, and Campton. Conway com-
bines the Italian (?) level and softness with Alpine peaks
around. Jefferson offers the completest view of the range
a dozen or more miles distant; the place from which to
behold the manifold varying lights of departing day
on the summits. Bethlehem also afforded a complete
but generally more distant view of the range, and, with
respect to the highest summits, more diagonal. Camp-
ton afforded a fine distant view of the pyramidal Fran-
conia Mountains with the lumpish Profile Mountain.
The last view, with its smaller intervals and partial view
of the great range far in the north, was somewhat like
the view from Conway.
Belknap in his "History of New Hampshire," third
1858] PLANTS OF MT. WASHINGTON
volume, page 33, says: "On some mountains we find a
shrubbery of hemlock [?]' and spruce, whose branches
are knit together so as to be impenetrable. The snow
lodges on their tops, and a cavity is formed underneath.
These are called by the Indians, Hakmantaks."
Willey quotes some one 2 as saying of the White
Mountains, "Above this hedge of dwarf trees, which is
about 4000 feet above the level of the sea, the scattered
fir and spruce bushes, shrinking from the cold mountain
wind, and clinging to the ground in sheltered hollows by
the sides of the rocks, with a few similar bushes of white
and yellow [?]3 birch, reach almost a thousand feet
Willey says that "the tops of the mountains are
covered with snow from the last of October to the end
of May;" that the alpine flowers spring up under the
shelter of high rocks. Probably, then, they are most
abundant on the southeast sides ?
To sum up (omitting sedges, etc.), plants prevailed
thus on Mt. Washington: -
1st. For three quarters of a mile: Black (?) spruce,
yellow birch, hemlock, beech, canoe birch, rock maple,
fir, mountain maple, red cherry, striped maple, etc.
2d. At one and three quarters miles: Spruce prevails,
with fir, canoe and yellow birch. Rock maple, beech,
and hemlock disappear. (On Lafayette, lambkill, Vi-
burnum nudum, nemopanthes, mountain-ash.) Hard-
woods in bottom of ravines, above and below.
[The query is Thoreau's.]
2 This is Oakes in his "Scenery," etc.
[The query is Thoreau's.] .
8d. At three miles, or limit of trees (colliers' shanty
and Ravine Camp): Fir prevails, with some spruce and
canoe birch; mountain-ash, Alnus viridis (in moist
ravines), red cherry, mountain maple, Salix (humilis-
like and Torreyana-like, etc.), Vaccinium Canadense,
Ribes lacustre, prostratum, and floridum (?), rhodora,
Amelanchier oligocarpa, tree-cranberry, chiogenes, Cor-
nus Canadensis, Oxalis Acetosella, clintonia, gold-thread,
Listera cordata, Smilacina bifolia, Solidago thyrsoidea,
Ranunculus abortivus, Platanthera obtusata and dilatata,
Oxyria digyna, Viola blanda, Aster prenanthes (?), A.
acuminatus,Aralia nudicaulis,Polystichum aculeatum(?),
4th. Limit of trees to within one mile of top, or as far
as dwarf firs: Dwarf fir, spruce, and some canoe birch,
Vaccinium uliginosum and Vitis-Idwa, Salix Uva-ursi,
ledum, Empetrum nigrum, Oxalis Acetosella, Linnea
borealis, Cornus Canadensis, Alsine Grenlandica, Dia-
pensia Lapponica, gold-thread, epigsea, sorrel, Geum
radiatum var. Peckii, Solidago Virgaurea var. alpina, S.
thyrsoidea (not so high as last), hellebore, oldenlandia,
clintonia, Viola palustris, trientalis, a little Vaccinium
angustifolium (?), ditto of Vaccinium cwspitosum,'
Phyllodoce taxifolia, Uvularia grandiflora, Loiseleuria
procumbens, Cassiope hypnoides, Rubus triflorus, Hera-
cleum lanatum, archangelica, Rhododendron Lapponi-
cum, Arctostaphylos alpina, Salix herbacea, Polygonum
viviparum, Veronica alpina, Nabalus Boottii, Epilo-
bium alpinum, Platanthera dilatata, common rue, Cas-
tilleja septentrionalis, Arnica mollis, Spirwea salicifolia,
1 Vide June 14, 1859.
1858] PLANTS OF MT. WASHINGTON
Salix repens,1 Solidago thyrsoidea, raspberry (Hoar),
Lycopodium annotinum and Selago, small fern, grass,
sedges, moss and lichens.2 (On Lafayette, Vaccinium
Oxycoccus, Smilacina trifolia, Kalmia glauca, Andro-
meda calyculata, red cherry, yellow (water) lily, Erio-
5th. Within one mile of top: Potentilla tridentata,
a very little fir, spruce, and canoe birch, one mountain-
ash, Alsine Grwnlandica, diapensia, Vaccinium Vitis-
Idwa, gold-thread, Lycopodium annotinum and Selago,
sorrel, Silene acaulis, Solidago Virgaurea var. alpine,
hellebore, oldenlandia, Lonicera caerulea, clintonia,
Viola palustris, trientalis, Vaccinium angustifolium (?),
a little fern, Geum radiatum var. Peckii, sedges, rush,
moss, and lichens, and probably more of the last list.
6th. At apex: Sedge, moss, and lichens, and a little
alsine, diapensia, Solidago Virgaurea var. alpina (?),
The 2d may be called the Spruce Zone; 3d, the Fir
Zone; 4th, the Shrub, or Berry, Zone; 5th, the Cinque-
foil, or Sedge, Zone; 6th, the Lichen, or Cloud, Zone.
Durand in Kane (page 444, 2d vol.) thinks that
plants suffer more in alpine regions than in the polar
zone. Among authorities on northern plants, names E.
Meyer's "Plantse Labradoricae" (1830) and Giesecke's
list of Greenland plants in Brewster's Edinburgh Ency-
It is remarkable that what you may call trees on the
White Mountains, i. e. the forests, cease abruptly with
1 And apparently S. phylicifolia (?). Vide Sept. 21.
2 Vide Sept. 21.
those about a dozen feet high, and then succeeds a dis-
tinct kind of growth, quite dwarfish and.flattened and
confined almost entirely to fir and spruce, as if it marked
the limit of almost perpetual snow, as if it indicated a
zone where the trees were peculiarly oppressed by the
snow, cold, wind, etc. The transition from these flat-
tened firs and spruces to shrubless rock is not nearly so
abrupt as from upright or slender trees to these dwarfed
July 21. Wednesday. CONCORD. P. M.-To Walden,
with E. Bartlett and E. Emerson.
The former wished to show me what he thought an
owl's nest he had found. Near it, in Abel Brooks's wood-
lot, heard a note and saw a small hawk fly over. It was
the nest of this bird. Saw several of the young flitting
about and occasionally an old bird. The nest was in
a middling-sized white pine, some twenty feet from the
ground, resting on two limbs close to the main stem, on
the south side of it. It was quite solid, composed en-
tirely of twigs about as big round as a pipe-stem and less;
was some fifteen inches in diameter and one inch deep,
or nearly flat, and perhaps five inches thick. It was very
much dirtied on the sides by the droppings of the young.
As we were standing about the tree, we heard again the
note of a young one approaching. We dropped upon the
ground, and it alighted on the edge of the nest; another
alighted near by, and a third a little further off. The
young were apparently as big as the old, but still lin-
gered about the nest and returned to it. I could hear
them coming some distance off. Their note was a kind
1858] A HAWK'S NEST WITH YOUNG
of peeping squeal, which you might at first suspect to be
made by a jay; not very loud, but as if to attract the old
and reveal their whereabouts. The note of the old bird,
which occasionally dashed past, was somewhat like that
of the marsh hawk or pigeon woodpecker, a cackling or
clattering sound, chiding us. The old bird was anxious
about her inexperienced young, and was trying to get
them off. At length she dashed close past us, and ap-
peared to fairly strike one of the young, knocking him
off his perch, and he soon followed her off. I saw the
remains of several birds lying about in that neighbor-
hood, and saw and heard again the young and old there-
abouts for several days thereafter. A young man killed
one of the young hawks, and I saw it. It was the Falco
fuscus, the American brown or slate-colored hawk. Its
length was thirteen inches; alar extent, twenty-three.
The tail reached two or more inches beyond the closed
wings. Nuttall says the upper parts are a deep slate-
color" (these were very dark brown); also that the nest
is yet unknown. But Wilson describes his F. velox
(which is the same as Nuttall's F. fuscus) as "whole
upper parts very dark brown," but legs, greenish-yellow
(these were yellow). The toes had the peculiar pendu-
lous lobes which W. refers to. As I saw it in the woods,
I was struck by its dark color above, its tawny throat
and breast, brown-spotted, its clean, slender, long yellow
legs, feathered but little below the knee, its white vent,
its wings distinctly and rather finely dark-barred be-
neath, short, black, much curved bill, and slender black'
sharp claws. Its tail with a dark bar near edge beneath.
In hand I found it had the white spots on scapulars of
the F. fuscus, and had not the white bars on tail of the
F. Pennsylvanicus. It also had the fine sharp shin.1
But what then is my hawk killed by Farrar, with so
stout a leg ? Had that any white bars on tail ? 2
July 22. The nest of the marsh hawk is empty. It
has probably flown. C. and I took refuge from a shower
under our boat at Clamshell; staid an hour at least. A
thunderbolt fell close by. A mole ran under the boat.
The wind canted round as usual (is not this owing to the
circular manner of storms?) more easterly, and com-
pelled us to turn the boat over. Left a little too soon, but
enjoyed a splendid rainbow for half an hour.
July 23. Neottia gracilis, how long?
July 26. Button-bush in prime. Edward Bartlett
shows me a nest in the Agricultural ground which had
four eggs, yet pretty fresh, but the bird has now deserted
it. (Vide one.) It is like Farmer's seringo. It is a broad
egg, white with large reddish and purplish brown spots
chiefly about large end. The nest is small and deep and
low in the grass of this pasture. (Vide nest out of order.)
Could not see the bird; only saw bay-wings and huckle-
berry-birds. I suspect it may be the Fringilla passerina ?
He says the bird had a clear yellowish-white breast!
July 28. P. M. To Conantum.
From wall corner saw a pinkish patch on side-hill west
1 Vide Aug. 29th.
2 Vide Aug. 29th.
of Baker Farm, which turned out to be epilobium, a
rod across. Through the glass it was as fine as a moss,
but with the naked eye it might have been mistaken for
a dead pine bough. This pink flower was distinguished
perhaps three quarters of a mile.'
Heard a kingfisher, which had been hovering over the
river, plunge forty rods off.
The under sides of maples are very bright and con-
spicuous nowadays as you walk, also of the curled [ ? ]
panicled andromeda leaves. Some grape leaves, also,
are blown up.
July 29. P. M. To Pine Hill, looking for the Vac-
cinium Pennsylvanicum berries. I find plenty of bushes,
but these bear very sparingly. They appear to bear but
one or two years before they are overgrown. Also they
probably love a cool atmosphere, for they bear annually
on mountains, as Monadnock. Where the woods have
been cut a year or two they have put forth fresh shoots
of a livelier green. The V. vacillans berries are in dense
clusters, raceme-like, as huckleberries are not.
I see nowadays young martins perched on the dead
tops of high trees; also young swallows on the telegraph-
In the Chinese novel "Ju-Kiao-Li, or The Two Fair
Cousins," I find in a motto to a chapter (quoted): "He
who aims at success should be continually on his guard
against a thousand accidents. How many preparations
are necessary before the sour plum begins to sweeten!
S. But if supreme happiness was to be attained in
SVide Aug. 21.
the space of an hour, of what use would be in life the
noblest sentiments ?" (Page 227.) Also these verses on
page 230: -
"Nourished by the study of ten thousand different works,
The pen in hand, one is equal to the gods.
Let not humility take its rank amongst virtues:
Genius never yields the palm that belongs to it."
Again, page 22, vol. ii: -
"If the spring did not announce its reign by the return of the
The moss, with its greenish tints, would find favor in men's eyes."
July 31. P. M. To Flint's Pond.
I see much eriocaulon floating, with its mass of white
roots uppermost, near the shore in Goose Pond. I
suspect it may have been loosened up by the mus-
quash, which either feeds on it, or merely makes its way
through its dense mats. I also see small fishes, appar-
ently shiners, four or five inches long, in this pond. Yet
I have seen this almost all dried up.
I have smelled fungi in the thick woods for a week,
though they are not very common. I see tobacco-pipes
now in the path. You are liable to be overtaken by a
thunder-shower these afternoons. The anychia already
shows green seed-vessels on its lower branches. Petty
morel has begun to bloom in shady swamps, how long ?
Got the wood thrush's nest of June 19th (now empty).
It was placed between many small upright shoots,
against the main stem of the slender maple, and mea-
sures four and a half to five inches in diameter from out-
1858] A WOOD THRUSH'S NEST
side to outside of the rim, and one and three quarters
deep within. It is quite firm (except the external leaves
falling off), the rim about three quarters of an inch
thick, and it is composed externally of leaves, appar-
ently chiefly chestnut, very much decayed, beneath
which, in the place of the grass and stubble of which
most nests are composed, are apparently the midribs
of the same leaves, whose whole pulp, etc., is gone,
arranged as compactly and densely (in a curving man-
ner) as grass or stubble could be, upon a core, not of
mud, but a pale-brown composition quite firm and
smooth (within), looking like inside of a cocoanut-shell,
and apparently composed of decayed leaf pulp (?),
which the bird has perhaps mixed and cemented with its
saliva. This is about a quarter of an inch thick and
about as regular as a half of a cocoanut-shell. Within
this, the lower part is lined with considerable rather
coarse black root-fibre and a very little fine stubble.
From some particles of fine white sand, etc., on the pale-
brown composition of the nest, I thought it was obtained
from the pond shore. This composition, viewed through
a microscope, has almost a cellular structure.
Aug. 1. P. M. Up Assabet.
The radical or immersed leaves of the pontederia are
linear and grass-like, and I see that I have mistaken
them for vallisneria just .springing from the bottom.
The leaves of new plants are just reaching and leaving
the surface now, like spoons on the end of long handles.
Edward Bartlett and another brought me a green
bittern, this year's bird, apparently full grown but not
full plumaged, which they caught near the pool on A.
Heywood's land behind Sleepy Hollow. They caught
it in the woods on the hillside. It had not yet acquired
the long feathers of the neck. The neck was bent back
on itself an inch or more, that part being bare of
feathers and covered by the long feathers from above, -
so that it did not appear very long until stretched out.
This doubling was the usual condition and not appar-
ent, but could be felt by the hand. So the green bitterns
are leaving the nest now.
Aug. 2. P. M. Up Assabet.
Landed at the Bath-Place and walked the length of
Shad-bush Meadow. I noticed meandering down that
meadow, which is now quite dry, a very broad and dis-
tinct musquash-trail, where they went and came con-
1858] MUSQUASH TRAILS 69
tinually when it was wet or under water in the winter or
spring. These trails are often nine or ten inches wide
and half a dozen deep, passing under a root and the low-
est overhanging shrubs, where they glided along on their
bellies underneath everything. I traced one such trail
forty rods, till it ended in a large cabin three feet high,
with blueberry bushes springing still from the top; and
other similar trails led off from it on opposite sides.
Near the cabin they had burrowed or worn them out
nine or ten inches deep, as if this now deserted castle
had been a place of great resort. Their skins used to
be worth fifty cents apiece.
I see there what I take to be a marsh hawk of this
year, hunting by itself. It has not learned to be very
shy yet, so that we repeatedly get near it. What a rich
brown bird! almost, methinks, with purple reflections.
What I have called the Panicum latifolium has now
its broad leaves, striped with red, abundant under
Turtle Bank, above Bath-Place.
Aug. 3. Savory-leaved aster.
Aug. 5. Thursday. 9.30 A. M. Up river to Pan-
It clears up this morning after several cool, cloudy, and
rainy dog-days. The wind is westerly and will prob-
ably blow us part way back. The river is unusually full
for the season, and now quite smooth. The pontederia
is apparently in its prime; the button-bush perhaps a
little past, the upper halves of its balls in the sun looking
brown generally. The late rose is still conspicuous, in
clumps advanced into the meadow here and there. See
the mikania only in one or two places beginning. The
white lilies are less abundant than usual, methinks, per-
haps on account of the high water. The water milkweed
flower is an interesting red, here and there, like roses
along the shore. The gratiola begins to yellow the shore
in some places, and I notice the unobtrusive red of dense
fields of stachys on the flat shores. The sium has begun
to lift its umbels of white flowers above most other
plants. The purple utricularia tinges the pools in many
places, the most common of all its tribe.
The best show of lilies is on the west side of the
bay, in Cyrus Hosmer's meadow, above the willow-
row. Many of them are not open at 10 o'clock A. M.
I noticed one with the sepals perfectly spread flat on
the water, but the petals still held together in a sharp
cone, being held by the concave, slightly hooked points.
Touching this with an oar, it opens quickly with a
spring. The same with many others, whose sepals were
less spread. Under the influence of the light and
warmth, the petals elevate or expand themselves in the
middle, becoming more and more convex, till at last,
being released at their overlapping points, they spring
open and quickly spread themselves equally, revealing
their yellow stamens. How satisfactory is the fragrance
of this flower! It is the emblem of purity. It reminds
me of a young country maiden. It is just so simple and
unproved. Wholesome as the odor of the cow. It is not
a highly refined odor, but merely a fresh youthful morn-
ing sweetness. It is merely the unalloyed sweetness of
the earth and the water; a fair opportunity and field for
THE BLACK WILLOW
life; like its petals, uncolored by any experience; a simple
maiden on her way to school, her face surrounded by
a white ruff. But how quickly it becomes the prey of
As we paddle slowly along the edge of the pads, we
can see the weeds and the bottom distinctly in the sun,
in this still August air, even five or six feet deep, -
the countless utricularias, potamogetons, etc., etc., and
hornwort standing erect with its reddish stems. Count-
less schools of little minnows of various species, chubby
little breams not an inch long, and lighter-colored
banded minnows are steadily passing, partly concealed
by the pads, and ever and anon we see the dimple where
some larger pickerel has darted away, for they lie just on
the outer edge of the pads.
The foliage is apparently now in the height of its
beauty, this wet year, now dense enough to hide the
trunks and stems. The black willows are perhaps in
their best condition, airy, rounded masses of light
green rising one above another, with a few slender black
stems, like umbrella handles, seen here and there in
their midst, low spreading cumuli of slender falcate
leaves, buttressed by smaller sallows, button-bushes,
cornels, and pontederias, like long green clouds or
wreaths of vapor resting on the riverside. They scarcely
leave the impression of leaves, but rather of a low, swell-
ing, rounded bank, even as the heaviest particles of
alluvium are deposited nearest the channel. It is a pecul-
iarity of this, which I think is our most interesting wil-
low, that you rarely see the trunk and yet the foliage is
never dense. They generally line one side of the river
only, and that is the meadow, a concave, passive, female
side.' They resound still with the sprightly twitter of
the kingbird, that aerial and spirited bird hovering over
them, swallow-like, which loves best, methinks, to fly
where the sky is reflected beneath him. Also now from
time to time you hear the chattering of young blackbirds
or the link of bobolinks there, or see the great bittern
flap slowly away. The kingbird, by his activity and
lively note and his white breast, keeps the air sweet. He
sits now on a dead willow twig, akin to the flecks of
mackerel sky, or its reflection in the water, or the white
clamshell, wrong side out, opened by a musquash, or
the fine particles of white quartz that may be found in
the muddy river's sand. He is here to give a voice to all
these. The willow's dead twig is aerial perch enough for
him. Even the swallows deign to perch on it. These
willows appear to grow best on elevated sand-bars or
deep sandy banks, which the stream has brought down,
leaving a little meadow behind them, at some bend,
often mixed with sawdust from a mill. They root them-
selves firmly here, and spread entirely over the sand.
The rose, which grows along with the willows and
button-bushes, has a late and rare look now.
From off Rainbow Rush Shore I pluck a lily more
than five inches in diameter. Its sepals and petals are
long and slender or narrow (others are often short,
broad, and rounded); the thin white edges of the four
sepals are, as usual, or often, tinged with red. There
are some twenty-five petals in about four rows. Four
alternate ones of the outmost row have a reddish or
SVide Aug. 7th and 15th.
rosaceous line along the middle between the sepals, and
both the sepals and the outmost row of petals have seven
or eight parallel darkish lines from base to tip. As you
look down on the lily, it is a pure white star centred
with yellow, with its short central anthers orange-
The Scirpus lacustris and rainbow rush are still in
bloom and going to seed. The first is the tule of Cali-
Landed at Fair Haven Pond to smell the Aster macro-
phyllus. It has a slight fragrance, somewhat like that
of the Maine and northern New Hampshire one. Why
has it no more in this latitude ? When I first plucked it
on Webster Stream I did not know but it was some fra-
grant garden herb. Here I can detect some faint rela-
tionship only by perseveringly smelling it.
The purple utricularia is the flower of the river to-day,
apparently in its prime. It is very abundant, far more
than any other utricularia, especially from Fair Haven
Pond upward. That peculiar little bay in the pads, just
below the inlet of the river, I will call Purple Utricularia
Bay, from its prevalence there. I count a dozen within
a square foot, one or two inches above the water, and
they tinge the pads with purple for more than a dozen
rods. I can distinguish their color thus far. The buds
are the darkest or deepest purple. Methinks it is more
abundant than usual this year.
I notice a commotion in the pads there, as of a
musquash making its way along, close beneath the
surface, and at its usual rate, when suddenly a snap-
ping turtle puts its snout out, only up to the eyes. It
looks exactly like a sharp stake with two small knots
on it, thus: ~ ..
While passing there, I heard what I should call my
night-warbler's note, and, looking up, saw the bird drop-
ping to a bush on the hillside. Looking through the
glass, I saw that it was the Maryland yellow-throat! and
it afterward flew to the button-bushes in the meadow.
I notice no polygonum out, or a little of the front-rank
only. Some of the polygonums not only have leaves like
a willow, especially like the S. lucida, but I see that their
submerged leaves turn, or give place, to fibrous pink
roots which might be mistaken for those of the willow.
Lily Bay is on the left, just above the narrow place in
the river, which is just above Bound Rock. There are but
few lilies this year, however; but if you wish to see how
many there are, you must be on the side toward the sun.
Just opposite this bay, I heard a peculiar note which
I thought at first might be that of a kingbird, but soon
saw for the first time a wren within two or three rods
perched on the tall sedge or the wool-grass and making
it, probably the short-billed marsh wren. It was pe-
culiarly brisk and rasping, not at all musical, the rhythm
something like shar te dittle little little little little, but the last
part was drier or less liquid than this implies. It was a
small bird, quite dark above and apparently plain ashy-
white beneath, and held its head up when it sang, and
also commonly its tail. It dropped into the deep sedge
on our approach, but did not go off, as we saw by the
motion of the grass; then reappeared and uttered its
brisk notes quite near us, and, flying off, was lost in the
1858] A PICKEREL AND A MINNOW 75
We ate our dinner on the hill by Rice's. This fore-
noon there were no hayers in the meadow, but before we
returned we saw many at work, for they had already cut
some grass next to the upland, on the drier sides of the
meadow, and we noticed where they had stuck up green
bushes near the riverside to mow to.
While bathing at Rice's landing, I noticed under my
arm, amid the potamogeton, a little pickerel between
two and a half and three inches long, with a little silvery
minnow about one inch long in his mouth. He held it
by the tail, as it was jerking to and fro, and was slowly
taking it in by jerks. I watched to see if he turned it,
but to my surprise he at length swallowed it tail fore-
most, the minnow struggling to the last and going alive
into his maw. Perhaps the pickerel learn by experi-
ence to turn them head downward. Thus early do these
minnows fall on fate, and the pickerel too fulfill his
Several times on our return we scared up apparently
two summer ducks, probably of this year, from the side
of the river, first, in each case, seeing them swimming
about in the pads; also, once, a great bittern, I sus-
pect also a this year's bird, for they are probably weaned
at the same time with the green one.
Though the river was high, we pushed through many
beds of potamogeton, long leafy masses, slanting down-
ward and waving steadily in the stream, ten feet or more
in length by a foot wide. In some places it looked
as if the new sparganium would fairly choke up the
Huckleberries are not quite yet in their prime.
Aug. 6. P. M. Walk to Boulder Field.
The broom is quite out of bloom; probably a week or
ten days. It is almost ripe, indeed. I should like to
see how rapidly it spreads. The dense roundish masses,
side by side, are three or four feet over and fifteen inches
high. They have grown from near the ground this year.
The whole clump is now about eighteen feet from north
to south by twelve wide. Within a foot or two of its
edge, I detect many slender little plants springing up in
the grass, only three inches high, but, on digging, am
surprised to find that they are two years old. They have
large roots, running down straight as well as branch-
ing, much stouter than the part above ground. Thus
it appears to spread slowly by the seed falling from its
edge, for I detected no runners. It is associated there
with indigo, which is still abundantly in bloom.
I then looked for the little groves of barberries which
some two months ago I saw in the cow-dung thereabouts,
but to my surprise I found some only in one spot after a
long search. They appear to have generally died, per-
haps dried up. These few were some two inches high;
the roots yet longer, having penetrated to the soil be-
neath. Thus, no doubt, some of those barberry clumps
are formed; but I noticed many more small barberry
plants standing single, most commonly protected by a
Cut a couple of those low scrub apple bushes, and
found that those a foot high and as wide as high, being
clipped by the cows, as a hedge with shears, were about
twelve years old, but quite sound and thrifty.'
1 [Excursions, pp. 304, 305; Riv. 374.]
If our sluggish river, choked with potamogeton, might
seem to have the slow-flying bittern for its peculiar
genius, it has also the sprightly and aerial kingbird to
twitter over and lift our thoughts to clouds as white as
its own breast.
Emerson is gone to the Adirondack country with a
hunting party. Eddy says he has carried a double-bar-
relled gun, one side for shot, the other for ball, for
Lowell killed a bear there last year. But the story on the
Mill-Dam is that he has taken a gun which throws shot
from one end and ball from the other!
I think that I speak impartially when I say that I
have never met with a stream so suitable for boating
and botanizing as the Concord, and fortunately nobody
knows it. I know of reaches which a single country-
seat would spoil beyond remedy, but there has not been
any important change here since I can remember. The
willows slumber along its shore, piled in light but low
masses, even like the cumuli clouds above. We pass hay-
makers in every meadow, who may think that we are
idlers. But Nature takes care that every nook and crev-
ice is explored by some one. While they look after the
open meadows, we farm the tract between the river's
brinks and behold the shores from that side. We, too,
are harvesting an annual crop with our eyes, and think
you Nature is not glad to display her beauty to us ?
Early in the day we see the dewdrops thickly sprin-
kled over the broad leaves of the potamogeton. These
cover the stream so densely in some places thatea web-
footed bird can almost walk across on them.
Nowadays we hear the squealing notes of young
hawks. The kingfisher is seen hovering steadily over
one spot, or hurrying away with a small fish in his
mouth, sounding his alarum nevertheless. The note of
the wood pewee is now more prominent, while birds
generally are silent.
This is pure summer; no signs of fall in 'this, though I
have seen some maples, as above the Assabet Spring,
already prematurely reddening, owing to the water, and
for some time the Gornus sericea has looked brownish-
Every board and chip cast into the river is soon occu-
pied by one br more turtles of various sizes. The sterno-
thmerus oftenest climbs up the black willows, even three
or more feet.
I hear of pickers ordered out of the huckleberry-fields,
and I see stakes set up with written notices forbidding
any to pick there. Some let their fields, or allow so
much for the picking. Sic transit gloria ruris. We are
not grateful enough that we have lived part of our lives
before these evil days came. What becomes of the true
value of country life? What if you must go to market
for it ? Shall things come to such a pass that the butcher
commonly brings round huckleberries in his cart? It
is as if the hangman were to perform the marriage
ceremony, or were to preside at the communion table.
Such is the inevitable tendency of our civilization, to
reduce huckleberries to a level with beef-steak. The
butcher's item on the door is now "calf's head and
huckleberries." I suspect that the inhabitants of Eng-
land and of the Continent of Europe have thus lost their
natural rights with the increase of population and of
monopolies. The wild fruits of the earth disappear
before civilization, or are only to be found in large mar-
kets. The whole country becomes, as it were, a town or
beaten common, and the fruits left are a few hips and
Aug. 7. Saturday. P. M. Up Assabet.
The most luxuriant groves of black willow, as I recall
them, are on the inside curves, or on sandy capes between
the river and a bay, or sandy banks parallel with the
firmer shore, e. g. between Lee's and Fair Haven on
north side, point of Fair Haven Island, opposite Clam-
shell and above, just below stone bridge, Lee Meadow
or opposite house, below Nathan Barrett's at Bay,
sandy bank below Dove Rock. They also grow on both
sides sometimes, where the river runs straight through
stagnant meadows or swamps, e. g. above Hollowell
Bridge, or on one side, though straight, along the
edge of a swamp, as above Assabet Spring, but
rarely ever against a firm bank or:hillside, the positive
male shore, e. g. east shore of Fair Haven Pond, east side
above railroad bridge, etc.1 Measured the two largest
of three below Dove Rock. The southernmost is three
feet nine inches in circumference at0 ground, and it
branches there. The westernmost is four feet two inches
in circumference at ground and three feet two inches at
three feet above ground. Or the largest is one foot and
four inches in diameter at ground. They all branch at
the ground, dividing within four or five feet into three
or four main stems. The three here have the effect of
I Vide Aug. 15.
one tree, seen from the water, and are twenty-five feet
high or more, and, all together, broader than high.
They are none of them upright, but in this case, close
under a higher wood of maples and swamp white oak,
slant over the stream, and, taken separately or viewed
from the land side, are very imperfect trees. If you
stand at their base and look upward or outward, you see
a great proportion of naked trunk but thinly invested
with foliage even at the summit, and they are among the
most unsightly trees. The lower branches slant down-
ward from the main divisions so as commonly to rest
on the water. But seen from the water side no tree of
its height, methinks, so completely conceals its trunk.
They meet with many hard rubs from the ice and from
driftwood in freshets in the course of their lives, and
whole trees are bent aside or half broken off by these
causes, but they soon conceal their injuries.
The Sternothcerus odoratus knows them well, for it
climbs highest up their stems, three or four feet or more
nowadays, sometimes seven or eight along the slanting
branches, and is frequently caught and hung by the neck
in its forks. They do not so much jump as tumble off
when disturbed by a passer. The small black mud tor-
toise, with its mfddy shell, eyes you motionless from its
resting-place in a fork of the black willow. They will
climb four feet up a stem not more than two inches in
diameter, and yet undo all their work in an instant by
tumbling off when your boat goes by. The trunk is cov-
ered with coarse, long, and thick upraised scales. It is
this turtle's castle and path to heaven. He is on the
upward road along the stem of the willow, and by its
A CHINESE NOVEL
dark stem it is partially concealed. Yes, the musquash
and the mud tortoise and the bittern know it well.
But not these sights alone are now seen on our river,
but the sprightly kingbird glances and twitters above
the glossy leaves of the swamp white oak. Perchance
this tree, with its leaves glossy above and whitish be-
neath, best expresses the life of the kingbird and is its
How long will it be after we have passed before the
mud tortoise has climbed to its perch again ?
The author of the Chinese novel Ju-Kiao-Li," some
eight hundred years ago, appears to have appreciated the
beauty of willows. Pe, his principal character, moved
out of the city late in life, to a stream bordered with
willows, about twenty miles distant, in order to spend
the rest of his days drinking wine and writing verses
there. He describes the eyebrow of his heroine as like
a willow leaf floating on the surface of the water.
In the upper part of J. Farmer's lane I find huckle-
berries which are distinctly pear-shaped, all of them.
These and also other roundish ones near by, and appar-
ently huckleberries generally, are dotted or apparently
dusted over with a yellow dust or meal, which looks as if
it could be rubbed off. Through a glass it looks like a
resin which has exuded, and on the small green fruit is
of a bright orange or lemon-color, like small specks of
yellow lichens. It is apparently the same as that on the
Monarda fistula is now apparently in prime, four and
more, eight or ten rods behind red oak on Emerson's
Aug. 8. P. M. To Ledum Swamp.
I see at Clamshell Hill a yellow-browed sparrow sit-
ting quite near on a haycock, pluming itself. Observe it
a long time in all positions with my glass, within two
rods. It is probably a this year's bird. I think it must
be the Fringilla passerina, for its breast and beneath is
the clear pale ochreous white which Wilson speaks of,
and its wing-shoulder is distinctly yellow when not con-
cealed in the feathers of the side. Its legs and bill, ex-
cept the upper side of the upper mandible, are quite a
reddish flesh-color. The yellow on its temple is quite
bright, and the pale-brownish cheeks. The crown is
blackish with a distinct white line along the midst. I
see what I call chestnut with the black and whitish on
the back and wings. It stands very upright, so that I
can see all beneath. It utters no note, i. e. song, only a
faint, short, somewhat cricket-like or trilled chip.
I see that handsome fine purple grass now, on Hos-
mer's hillside, above where he has mowed; not yet in
You see now in the meadows where the mower's
scythe has cut in two the great oval and already black
fruit of the skunk-cabbage, rough as a nutmeg-grater,
exposing its numerous nuts. I had quite forgotten the
promise of this earliest spring flower, which, deep in the
grass which has sprung up around it, its own leaves for
the most part decayed, unremembered by us, has been
steadily maturing its fruit. How far we have wandered,
in our thoughts at least, since we heard the bee humming
in its spathe! I can hardly recall or believe now that for
every such black and rather unsightly (?) capsule there
A MARSH HAWK
was a pretty freckled horn which attracted our atten-
tion in the spring. However, most of them lie so low
that they escape or are not touched by the scythe.1
Saw yesterday a this year's (?) marsh hawk, female,
flying low across the road near Hildreth's. I took it to
be a young bird, it came so near and looked so fresh. It
is a fine rich-brown, full-breasted bird, with a long tail.
Some hens in the grass beneath were greatly alarmed
and began to run and fly with a cackling to the shelter
of a corn-field. They which did not see the hawk and
were the last to stir expressed the most alarm. Mean-
while, the hawk sails low and steadily over the field
away, not thinking of disturbing them.
I find at Ledum Swamp, near the pool, the white
fringed orchis, quite abundant but past prime, only a
few, yet quite fresh. It seems to belong to this sphag-
nous swamp and is some fifteen to twenty inches high,
quite conspicuous, its white spike, amid the prevailing
green. The leaves are narrow, half folded, and almost
insignificant. It loves, then, these cold bogs.
The rusty wool-grass is in bloom there with very
short wool. Is it ever long? The Gaylussacia dumosa
var. hirtella is the prevailing low shrub, perhaps. I see
one ripe berry. This is the only inedible species of
Vacciniece that I know in this town.
The peculiar plants of this swamp are, then, as I re-
1 My friends can rarely guess what fruit it is, but think of pine-
apples and the like. After lying in the house a week, and being wilted
and softened, on breaking it open it has an agreeable sweetish scent,
perchance like a banana, and suggests that it may be edible. But a
long while after slightly tasting it, it bites my palate.
member, these nine: spruce, Andromeda Polifolia, Kal-
mia glauca, Ledum latifolium, Gaylussacia dumosa var.
hirtella, Vaccinium Oxycoccus, Platanthera blephari-
glottis, Scheuchzeria palustris, Eriophorum vaginatum.1
I see there, especially near the pool, tall and slender
huckleberry bushes of a peculiar kind. Some are seven
feet high. They are, for the most part, three or four
feet high, very slender and drooping, bent like grass to
one side. The berries are round and glossy-black, with
resinous dots, as usual, and in flattish-topped racemes,
sometimes ten or twelve in a raceme, but generally more
scattered. Call it, perhaps, the tall swamp huckleberry.
The nesoea is fairly begun.
Looking north from Hubbard's Bridge about 4 P. M.,
the wind being southeasterly, I am struck by the varied
lights of the river. The wind, which is a considerable
breeze, strikes the water by a very irregular serrated edge
about mid-channel, and then abruptly leaves it on a dis-
tinct and regular meandering line, about eight feet from
the outer edge of the pads on the west side. The rippled
portion of the river is blue, the rest smooth, silvery.
Thus to my eye the river is divided into five portions, -
first the weedy and padded borders, then a smooth, sil-
very stripe, eight or ten feet wide, and next the blue
rippled portion, succeeded by the broader silver, and
the pads of the eastern side. How many aspects the
river wears, depending on the height of the water, the
season of the year and state of vegetation, the wind,
the position of the sun and condition of the heavens,
etc., etc.! Apparently such is the angle at which the
1 Woodsia Virginica. Vide Sept. 6th.
1858] VARIED LIGHTS OF THE RIVER 85
wind strikes the river from over the bushes that it falls
about mid-channel, and then it is either obliged to leave
,e e, or', c, the otg?
"C c jl _* (* I/
:Q. V .1 '
it at a nearly similar angle on account of the opposite
shore and bushes, or, perchance, the smoothing influ-
ence of the pads is felt to some distance beyond their
edges. The line which separates the smooth from the
rippled portion is as distinct and continuous as that
which marks the edge of the pads. I think that there
is more oily matter floating on the stiller sides of the
river, and this too may have something to do with the
above phenomenon. Then there is the watered appear-
ance of the surface in a shower.
Aug.. 9. Edward Bartlett shows me this morning
a nest which he found yesterday. It is saddled on the
lowest horizontal branch of an apple tree in Abel
Ieywood's orchard, against a small twig, and answers
to Nuttall's description of the goldfinch's nest, which it
probably is. The eggs were five, pure white or with a
faint bluish-green tinge, just begun to be developed. I
did not see the bird.'
It is but little you learn of a bird in this irregular way,
- having its nest and eggs shown you. How much more
suggestive the sight of the goldfinch going off on a jaunt
over the hills, twittering to its plainer consort by its
It is surprising to what extent the world is ruled by
cliques. They who constitute, or at least lead, New Eng-
land or New York society, in the eyes of the world, are
but a clique, a few "men of the age" and of the town,
who work best in the harness provided for them. The
institutions of almost all kinds are thus of a sectarian or
party character. Newspapers, magazines, colleges, and
all forms of government and religion express the super-
ficial activity of a few, the mass either conforming or
not attending. The newspapers have just got over that
eating-fullness or dropsy which takes place with the
annual commencements and addresses before the Philo-
mathean or Alpha Beta Gamma societies. Neither they
who make these addresses nor they who attend to them
are representative of the latest age. The boys think that
these annual recurrences are part and parcel of the an-
nual revolution of the system. There are also regattas
and fireworks and "surprise parties" and horse-shows.
So that I am glad when I see or hear of a man anywhere
who does not know of these things nor recognizes these
particular fuglers. I was pleased to hear the other day
that there were two men in Tamworth, N. H., who had
been fishing for trout there ever since May; but it was a
i Vide next page but one.
THE DAILY. NEWS
serious drawback to be told that they sent their fish to
Boston and so catered for the few. The editors of
newspapers, the popular clergy, politicians and ora-
tors of the day and office-holders, though they may be
thought to be of very different politics and religion, are
essentially one and homogeneous, inasmuch as they
are only the various ingredients of the froth which ever
floats on the surface of society.
I see a pout this afternoon in the Assabet, lying on the
bottom near the shore, evidently diseased. He permits
the boat [to] come within two feet of him. Nearly half
the head, from the snout backward diagonally, is cov-
ered with an inky-black kind of leprosy, like a crusta-
ceous lichen. The long feeler on that side appears to be
wasting, and there stands up straight in it, about an inch
high, a little black tree-like thorn or feeler, branched at
top. It moves with difficulty.
Edith Emerson gives me an Asclepias tuberosa from
Naushon, which she thinks is now in its prime there.
It is surprising what a tissue of trifles and crudities
make the daily news. For one event of interest there are
nine hundred and ninety-nine insignificant, but about
the same stress is laid on the last as on the first. The
newspapers have just told me that the transatlantic
telegraph-cable is laid. That is important, but they in-
stantly proceed to inform me how the news was received
in every larger town in the United States, how many
guns they fired, or how high they jumped, in New
York, and Milwaukee, and Sheboygan; and -the boys
and girls, old and young, at the corners of the streets are
reading it all with glistening eyes, down to the very last